Category Archives: 7. Brain Health

Taurine: Your most abundant and important amino acid

Taurine: Your Most Abundant and Maybe Important Amino Acid

References: JPEN 2016, DisMarkers 2016, Life Extension , J Neuroscience 2016, Amino Acids, Westin Price Slides,

Taurine is the most abundant amino acid in your body. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, like different beads on a necklace. It is highest in your brain and your heart, but is everywhere else as well. It contains a sulfur atom, which is the key to its powerful and beneficial effects. All mammals have this balance, which is what leads animal products to being slightly “acidic” when they are digested and broken down: all the sulfur is turned into acid. When it’s in is though, it’s a huge benefit.

How does that benefit play out? Well, the hear it from the makers of sports energy drinks, who add a bit of taurine to their mix, it helps your brain be sharper. That it does, but the sugar and excess caffeine, from which there have been documented deaths by cardiac arrhythmia, perhaps not helpful enough.

The benefits of taurine are becoming increasingly manifest. The foundation of those benefits is likely the delicate dance with glutamate, another amino acid, and its sulfur atom. Glutamate is an excitatory signal in many cells. Too much glutamate and you have unbridled excitation. How this plays out is in atrial fibrillation where studies show that the balance of glutamate to taurine is out of whack. As we age, our glutamate rises and our taurine falls. By age 80, 15% of us are in atrial fibrillation (where the upper chambers are fluttering spastically and you lose 15-20% of your pumping ability).

The same process of glutamate toxicity happens in your brain. And again, taurine may ride to the rescue. It reduces the imbalance that occurs with aging, and leads to greater loss of hippocampus cells (memory) and increasing accumulation of beta amyloid. Other benefits in the brain include: protecting brain cells against environmental toxins including lead and organic pesticides, preventing mitochondrial dysfunction within brain cells, protecting brain cells against glutamate excitotoxicity, enhancing the inhibitory systems driven by the “relaxing” neurotransmitter GABA, which directly opposes excitotoxic effects, reducing brain inflammatory processes active in production of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, stimulating proliferation and new neuron formation to sustain learning and memory, protecting brain cells against destruction following a stroke, softening the damage caused by beta amyloid protein, a major contributing factor in Alzheimer’s disease. Isn’t that a nice list!

The sulfur atom picks up extra electrons from reactive oxygen species. That makes taurine a pretty good detoxing drug too. More taurine and you have an easier time of making glutathione, getting rid of bile acids…..

I could go on. But you get the gist. You should know about taurine. If you have heart failure or concerns about brain dysfunction, you might consider adding it as a supplement. Just not in the form of high sugar energy drinks.

WWW.What will work for me. I’ve just really learned about taurine and I want to find more. I first focused on it 5 years ago when I read an article about micronutrient in heart failure. When I have a dear friend get hospitalized with atrial fibrillation and heart failure, I took a second look. I’m buying some for her today.

 

Pop Quiz

‪1. Taurine is the name of a constellation in the southern sky. T or F

‪False, You were in LaLaland and not reading the article. It’s your bodies most abundant amino acid and maybe its most beneficial

‪2. Taurine plays a role of balancing too much glutamate. T or F

Exactly right. This is certainly true in the brain and the heart.

‪3. Taurine helps balance the effects of heavy metals. T or F

True. Suggesting that if you are worried about heavy metals, you might benefit from a supplement of extra. Give it try.

‪4. Taurine may also play a role in helping Alzheimer’s. T or F

Yup, it’s been shown to reduce beta amyloid and help memory in animal models.

‪5. Taurine’s benefit may come for it’s containing a sulfur atom. T or F

‪It may be that simple. Yes.

Soccer Headers Cause Memory Loss

Headers in Soccer Cause Instant Damage to Memory

Reference: eBiomedicine Oct 2016, BBC News, Washington Post,

You have certainly heard of all the controversy about concussion in the NFL. And you likely have heard that American youth soccer’s governing bodies have banned headers for anyone under 11, both in practice and in play. The question remains, are headers a problem for those older than eleven? That’s what this study decided to look at.

The design was pretty simple. Young adults, ages 19-25, 14 men and 5 women, were told to perform 20 headers over 10 minutes from an automatic soccer “gun” that was designed to send the ball at a precise speed, similar to a corner kick. Then they were checked for memory ability; before, immediately after and for 24 hours following. All had measurable memory loss. Some of the subjects had error rates increase by as much as 64%. It seemed to all clear after 24 hours. A recent review of the issue from March of this year suggests this is a problem. Soccer is the world’s most popular sport, and the header is a critical part of the current game.

So, I thought I would share with your my research on concussions and prevention. As some of you may know, I have applied for and been granted 5 different patents on the use of “air cells” in helmets to reduce concussive injury. I have spent the last two years making a testing device and developing a series of experiments to show the effectiveness of air cells. There are some serious barriers to making it work, which is why I’ve taken two years at this project, to date. But we finally have air cells that are tough enough to not pop when I jump and down on them (210 pounds). My testing device can go up to 150 gs in force, at which point they do pop. So, I can deliver great force. And what I find is that the concussive force occurs in the first blink of an eye, .001 seconds. It’s the same principle with your phone. When you drop it on concrete, the glass shatters from a force wave in the first .0001 seconds. If you put a dumb piece of rubber around your phone, it just bounces.

When you put the air cells in my testing device, we find that we fall below the “threshold” to even get the data recorder to start. The decrease in G forces is on the order of 80 to 90%. I need to have a threshold of G forces to set off the accelerometer, and when it drops below 3 gs, the machine fires off when you start it from the acceleration, instead of waiting for the deceleration. Nice problem, huh?

I think there is air under these wings. This idea has got credibility. We can reduce concussive force in sports. It is going to take the design and manufacture of new new protective equipment to do it.

WWW. What will work for me. I’m just starting the process of looking for business development help. License it? Make it? Prototype it? I think all sports helmets needs to change. Tough resilient air cells will do it. There are other methods. I’m working on a baseball cap right now, with a layer of air cells in it. I whacked my head today in the garage as I was getting put the snow thrower from the crawl space. If I had had my protective, air cell cap on, I wouldn’t have dinged my brain. Now, I just have to remember how to mail out this email.

Pop Quiz:

‪1. Headers in soccer cause brain damage? T or F

That would be a yes.

‪2. Modest head impacts can also cause change in brain function. T or F

That’s what this study shows here.

‪3. The damage appears to occur in the first .001 second when deceleration reaches its peak. T or F

That is the same effect as you dropping your smart phone on the concrete. If you have a rubber cover, it doesn’t shatter. If you don’t, well, you know that story.

‪4. Air cells save lives in what other event where deceleration causes dangerous damage? (Hint: 35 mph will kill you.)

We call them air bags in cars, and they have revolutionized auto safety, if they don’t kill you with shrapnel

‪5. Moderate impacts appear to clear damage within 24 hours? T or F

That is now considered true. What we do know is that repeat concussions within the first week are much more dangerous, so the damage may not be completely cleared in 24. It may take at least a week for the whole healing process to be completed. And we are now discovering and linking repeated head injuries with later-in-life neurological disease. So many little injuries may not be safe.

Autophagy: A Nobel Prize Idea

Autophagy: A Nobel Prize Idea

References: Nobel Prize 2016, Science Direct, Wikipedia,

Published Oct 24, 2016

What on earth is autophagy? It’s “eating oneself”, and as morbid as that sounds, it is actually a critical function of cells. In effect, it is the processing of degraded and broken internal cellular components back into energy and basic building blocks. It’s like you taking out your old washing machine to the curb to be picked up and taken to the crusher to be made back into a Ford Fiesta.

Autophagy is a key function of the brain, and imagine my surprise when I heard it mentioned on a TED talk. It is known to be a key component of Alzheimer’s Disease. And disordered sleep is a cardinal symptom of Alzheimer’s. Just what is happening when you sleep that makes autophagy happen?

Lots of this science has come together in just the last few years. The discovery of the glymphatic system in the brain and its behavior during sleep is one of the most interesting advances. For those of us who thought that sleep was reorganizing memory and just resting, turns out it is a lot more interesting.

What is now clear is that the entire brain flushes out the accumulated toxins of awake brain function. Every creature that has a brain, has to sleep. The biological advantage of a brain is weighed by the compelling need to pause and flush it out. Sleep is dangerous. Enemies can eat you while you are asleep, so whatever you are doing better be important. And what you are doing is autophagy. You are flushing out the accumulated gunk of consciousness.

We are currently in the midst of an epidemic of Alzheimer’s Disease. 50% of us are getting it, so this is no laughing matter. If we are to prevent it, we better get expert at methods of preventing it. Inducing autophagy is one of the best candidates for effective prevention. So, just how can you induce your own autophagy? How can you flush your brain better? Fasting.

That’s what does it. Turns out fasting is very powerful. It doesn’t have to be all that long, just long enough to deplete glycogen in the liver. It’s probably 12 hours for most of us. And that’s just what Bredesen advises. In fact, Bredesen consider inducing autophagy as his second most important life style function. His advice is that you induce it daily by not eating for 12 hours every day, including 3 hours before bedtime. I find it interesting that virtually every religious tradition throughout history considered fasting to be an important function of spiritual practice. Can you imagine they recognized that those who did it ended up wiser?

WWW.What Will Work for Me. I’m getting better at not snacking at night. I even look at the clock at around 7 and tell myself to chill out a bit. The next step is considering going for a 36 hour fast and skipping a whole day. That is likely even more powerful at inducing autophagy. In the journey of change, I’m in Contemplation. I’m dabbling with the idea and thinking about whether it will be too painful to really do. Or will it induce my brain to be sharper and clearer. How confident am I?

 

Pop Quiz

‪Autophagy is basically eating yourself? T or F

Sounds gross. It’s accurate. And critical at the cellular level.

‪2. What do cells do when they consume themselves?

Digest old internal organelles and turn them into energy or basic break down products for new proteins. Pieces like Golgi bodies, mitochondria, ribosomes, all the internal organs inside the cell that get old and used up. It’s not only good for you, it’s critically important for healthy cells.

3. What disease has autophagy as one of it’s prime components?

Alzheimer’s

4. I can induce autophagy every day by……..?

Not eating for 12 hours, including 3 hours before bedtime. I can get an even more potent spell of autophagy by fasting for a full day.

‪5. Sleep is important to creatures with brains because…..?

It’s your brain on flush, washing out old gunk, markedly assisted by fasting a minimum of 12 hours.

The Great Sugar Conspiracy

The Great Sugar Conspiracy

Reference: JAMA Inter Med Sept 2016,  Published Oct 3, 2016

If you are an average American, you are getting roughly 10-15% of your calories from sugar. Hmmm. Of 800,000 foods in America found by Lustig’s graduate students team, 600,000 of them have sugar added to them. When you go to the grocery store, you find cheerful markers on most food items claiming they are “LOW FAT” and hence, meant to be good for you. But low fat almost always means, high sugar. Where did this all come from?

It came from a remarkably successful PR campaign waged by the sugar lobby back in the 1960s. That’s what this week’s article details. The remarkable influence of the sugar lobby on the leading nutritional experts of the day. In the 1960s there were two leading nutritionists who held opposing views on how coronary artery disease wreaked its havoc. Angel Keys (The K in K-rations) was highly regarded because of his prominent role in Army nutrition. He advocated that fat was the enemy. John Yudkin believed it was sugar. He was off in England and what did those English know anyways!

Now, 60 years later, letters written between scientists and public policy folks are in library archives and open for the public. When these letters were unearthed and examined, the authors of this review find a terribly inconvenient truth.

Rojer Adams, a professor at the University of Illinois, was on the Sugar Research Foundation’s scientific advisory council. His letter, written to Mark Hegsted, professor of nutrition at Harvard, asking him to write a review of article on the mechanisms and risks of sugar versus fat is the smoking gun. Hegsted was also on the Sugar Research Foundations research council. He agreed to write a review article downplaying the risky components of sugar and emphasizing the problems with cholesterol and fat.

Angel Keys rose in time to greater and greater prominence, and he carried the torch forward. He was a bully in public and at meetings of anyone who disagreed with him, and literally hounded any opposing opinion off of the agenda of national meetings. High fat was his bugaboo. As chair of the NIH funding committee for research, you crossed Ancel Keys at your peril.

Early research suggested that sugar was in fact, the enemy. The Sugar Foundation swung into action and started Project 226, essentially to pay Hegsted and his boss, Stare, at the Harvard School of public health to write a review article downplaying sugar and pointing the problem to fat. That article was written, and published in the New England Journal of Medicine without mentioning its Sugar industry sponsorship. Hegsted got paid.

From there, it’s all history. It was the 1980s and food guidelines came out recommending lowering dietary fat, which means more sugar of one kind or another. Over the next 20 years, every food in America became low fat and consequently high carb. Ancel Keys ruled at the NIH and no-one question the hegemony of Hegsted and Keys. You gained 20 pounds.

This was the biggest public health policy disaster in American History. We didn’t let good science be conducted because secret, behind the scenes, payments led to the corruption of our medical research process. It took 20-30 years to fully correct that error. We are still struggling with it today.

WWW.What Will Work for me. It’s a struggle to avoid sugar. It tastes good and all of us are vulnerable to its effects. You eat sugar, you want more and you eat more. I’m so aware of my own sugar sensitivity. If I eat regular peanut butter on a spoon, I stop at one spoon and feel full. If I eat a brand name that has sugar in it, I can have 4-5 spoonfuls before I stop. But the science is now solid. Avoid sugar. If you want to escape the damage of heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

Pop Quiz

‪1. Sugar isn’t as harmful as people make out? T or F

False. It’s the core enemy of metabolic problems. MUCH worse than fat.

‪2. Our belief that cholesterol is the problem is the result of a carefully crafted PR campaign based on bribery to key doctors, paid for by the Sugar Industry. T or F

Spot on.

‪3. Our food guidelines followed the outcome of the PR guidelines, and suggested we eat a ceiling of 35% fat. T or F

True. That’s how we got there.

‪4. 35% fat should be the floor of our eating, with encouragement to go higher – aka, to 50% or the Mediterranean Diet. T or F

Again, true.

‪5. It’s critical for all published research to have openness as to funding sources. T or F

True. (Same idea would be good for politics, don’t you think?)

Vitamin B12 and the Aging Brain

Vitamin B12 and the Aging Brain

Reference: New York Times Sept 6, Wikipedia, Neurology,  Published Sept 19, 2016

Mary Todd Lincoln was a bit imbalanced. She had terrible tragedies in her life, besides the assassination of her husband. But her behavior was erratic and, in retrospect, is thought to have probably been on account of severe B12 deficiency. She finally died of it. Pernicious anemia is one of the first diseases characterized by “modern medicine” and its final understanding took almost 100 years to elucidate. I think B12 is so important, this is my 3rd or 4th summary of it, each from a slightly different angle. Repetition leads to learning.

Vitamin B12 is a huge vitamin. No animal can make it naturally. We are all dependent on certain bacteria to manufacture it for us. The means by which we absorb it is very complicated. First, we have to have stomach acid to release it from its carrier protein in meat. Then, we make our our protective protein in our stomachs to envelope it and shepherd it to our terminal ileum where it is absorbed. That’s a lot of steps. Complicated processes fail. As a consequence, by age 30 many of us are beginning to have less than ideal and by age 50 a significant portion of adults, probably at least 30% are too low.

Now we have the New York Times writing advice article about taking it to reduce risk of dementia. This comes at a time when there is increasing awareness that we don’t have to be victims of risk for Alzheimer’s. We can avoid it. And B12 is right there in that avoidance process. Hooshmand in the CAIDE Study from Sweden published in Neurology, showed that for every 1 mg increase in homocysteine, your risk for Alzheimer’s goes up 16%.

What is homocysteine? It’s a simple amino acid that acts like a shuttle bus. It takes a methyl group from B12 (or folate) and passes it off to glutathione. Glutathione then works to make various toxins water soluble, and thus able to be excreted. The core function of B12 is to pass off those methyl groups as a way of building or changing molecules. If you don’t have enough B12, you can’t get rid of gunk. You also can’t build proteins, or manage many metabolic processes.

This shouldn’t be hard. Homocysteine is our marker we can use to see if you are getting enough B12. If your homocysteine is anything above 7, you have a 16% increased risk of Alzheimer’s. Simplify it to that formula. And you can’t accomplish homocysteine lowering with just B12. You also need methylated folate in the mix, almost proportionately.

Do you know your B12 blood level? Most health system labs say you should have a level of 212 or higher. The Chicago Health and Aging Project (CHAP) showed less cognitive decline with B12 of 500. And in fact, showed that the supplementation of food with folate without adding B12 leads to imbalance and another source of cognitive decline. I want a level of 500 as my normal.

www.What will work for me. I’ve been startled by how many of my own clients have low B12 and high homocysteine. My homocysteine was high when I first measured. I’m taking a B12 supplement, actually a B Vitamin mix. I suspect we all should. It’s so easy to lower your homocysteine with B vitamins, properly balanced. Now, can we get our health systems to pay for measuring the homocysteine? (Not yet!)

 

Pop Quiz

‪1. Your B12 blood level declines with aging because our means of absorbing it decline. T or F

True.

‪2. Your body naturally makes B12 in your gut. T or F

False

‪3. If we are so survive after age 50, one of our markers of good health should be our B12 and homocysteine levels. Give me good targets.

500 and above for B12 and 7 for homocysteine

‪4. Your insurance will pay for you to measure this. T or F

Emphatically false. I’ve done battle with Aurora Health care and they refuse for their own employees to pay for this.

‪5. If you can’t take B12 by mouth, what is the best way to get it?

Under the tongue, or by shots. They should be cheap. I’ll sell them to you for about $ 1 a shot if you buy the bottle.

Melanocyte Stimulating Hormone – Not Just For Tans Anymore

Melanocyte Stimulating Hormone

References: Wikipedia, Curr. Alzheimer’s Res Aug, 2016,

Published August 22, 2016

Not your common table topic, is it? MSH is such an out of the way hormone, virtually no one talks about it much. Until I read an abstract about it’s potential use in Alzheimer’s, I hadn’t heard much about it either. Just what does it do? And how does it have implications for your brain?

Wikipedia will tell you that MSH is basically your hormone that stimulates the production of pigment in your skin, in the so-called melanocytes in your skin. But this is where science is just exploding in increased knowledge, and the internet is making the world flat with access of knowledge to everyone. Bredesen, my Alzheimer’s mentor and guru, maintains there are three distinct pathways to the development of Alzheimer’s, one being inflammatory. How does MSH play a role with that?

This is where folks outside the traditional medical model are racing ahead with new ideas and congealing new ways of looking at brain health. Shoemaker has aggregated lots of information about folks with mold illness and the problems they face with cognitive decline, fatigue and chronic pain. His Biotin pathway puts MSH into context. Here is the short explanation. When you are exposed to mold, you set off a lot of internal immune reactions. The cytokines that are released in response to a mold exposure, block the production of leptin (thought to be one of your appetite hormones) which has a down regulating effect on MSH. Fancy that. That results in less melatonin and lousy sleep. It results in less endorphins and more chronic pain. It affects the gut with leakiness and more intake of endotoxins resulting in chronic immune activation. Curiously, many of these folks have less vasopressin, the hormone that mediates the control of thirst and salt balance in your blood. Hence they will have chronic thirst as they try to keep up with frequent urination. And finally, white cells lose their sensitivity to cytokines, allowing normal bugs to overgrow. You end up with MARCoNs, the invasion of antibiotic resistant staph in your nose, which completes the circle of inflammation setting off more cytokines.

We talked about MARCoNs last week and promised a return. See the link now? We have come full circle.

Mold illness can be devastating as many mysteriously ill folks will tell you. Our traditional model of health care has been stuck trying to figure it out, and ends up shrugging its shoulders and giving chronic pain meds like Lyrica. It is clearly accepted that mold damaged buildings make for chronically ill people. It is also clear that this pathway is part of what gets the brain injured, leading to a decline of cognitive ability if ignored.

How do you tackle this tangled mess? Not easy. Probably you first have to fix the MARCONs first. Cholestyramine has been shown to bind mold toxin. That may be an early step too.

WWW. What will work for me? I’m learning this stuff. These pathways are fascinating, but also not as rare as we think. I’m determined to get my basement dry and make sure it doesn’t ever develop any mold in it. What I would like to find is a reliable method of measuring the presence of mold illness. Next week?

 

Pop Quiz

‪1. Alzheimer’s Disease is caused universally by glucose dysregulation. T or F

False. Probably 80% true and we do call it Type III diabetes, but Alzheimer’s can also be initiated with chronic inflammation, for which mold illness is a strong player.

‪2. MSH is primarily involved in skin pigmentation. T or F

False. That is what it was found for its first action. So it got named for that. But like everything in the body, there are many interlocking actions that lead to a much more complex web. Trick question. True and False

3. Inflammation anywhere can down regulate leptin, leading to further down regulation of MSH? T or F

True. Mold seems quite good at it, but just being overweight also sets inflammation off. And then you down regulate leptin and around and around you go. Terrible trap.

4. MSH is easy to measure. T or F

It may be, but it’s not commonly available. Takes specialty labs. Usually your insurance won’t pay.

5. To get rid of mold-associated illness, I have to fix my MSH. T or F

Yup. You read it right.

Resveretrol and Your Brain

 

Resveratrol and your Brain

Reference: Science Daily July 2016, Neurology,

Published August 8, 2016

You’ve heard of leaky gut, right? That’s where the integrity of the gut membrane is compromised and larger molecules can leak in, setting your immune system off to make inflammation and set you up for auto-immune disease. Did you know there is another barrier between the outside world and your delicate cells? That’s the lining of your blood vessels, called the vascular endothelium. It can also help hold bad stuff back. The final barrier between the outside world and the most delicate cells of all, your brain cells, is the blood brain barrier. It too can be damaged. Leaky brain is a new concept that we are beginning to understand. That we can now measure markers to indicate “leaky brain” through Cyrex Labs helps. And then we can prove that we are repairing it. That is all part of Bredesen’s brain health protocol. Folks with Alzheimer’s disease have leaky brain. Leaky gut and leaky brain appear to go together.

That is what this weeks study did. The researchers took a subset of 19 Alzheimer’s patients with 19 controls and did spinal taps to prove the level of leaky brain. That you can do by measuring the matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) in their spinal fluid. MMP-9 rises with leaky brain. You want it lower. When there are high levels of MMP-9, other substances can leak into the brain, causing damage. The experimental group was given 500 mg a day of resveratrol. That’s where the 1000 bottles of wine comes in. Those folks who got the resveratrol got a 50% improvement in their MMP-9 levels. Their brains also shrank a little. Yes, got a bit smaller. Alarming as that sounds, that may reflect reduction in inflammation, which is exactly what we want. An inflamed, injured, sprained ankle is big. You want small. We do want a big brain, but not made large from inflammation.

WWW.What will work for me. Well, drinking 1,000 bottles of wine will do anyone in. Alcohol is a metabolic poison over a glass a day. Reserveratol has been hotly debated and despite much ebb and flow, hasn’t been a huge hit yet. Some of the folks in the study got some side effects. The question is all about risk/benefit. If I’m worried about my brain, I may consider taking it. But not without having some marker to show that I get better when I do. Getting a contrast enhanced MRIscan of my brain is an expensive test. If it shows I’m saving my brain, hmmm. May be worth it. When your insurance policy sends you a $ 3500 bill for the MRI, you may think differently. This all has to be ironed out. I’m curious.

Pop Quiz

‪1. Resveratrol has been shown to reduce signs of inflammation in Alzheimer’s brains? T or F

T, if you call a 50% reduction in MMP-9 a good thing

‪2. Resveratol has generally been shown to help human health. T or F

Well, not yet. Despite it being on the shelf at Costco and every other health food outlet in America.

‪3. It is dangerous to take resveratol. T or F

F Probably not.

‪4. Alzheimer’s has been shown to have leaky brain. T or F

True. By MRI and by spinal tap. This is all still research stuff.

‪5. Should I call the office to get a spinal tap if I’m worried.

Whoa Nellie. Nice idea, not ready for prime time yet.

Too Much Thyroid is Not a Good Thing for Your Brain

Too Much Thyroid is Not a Good Thing for Your Brain

Reference: JR CLIN ENDO METAB,

What is too much thyroid? Our bodies have a unique method of telling us if we think we are getting enough thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormone is made in our thyroid gland, in the front of our necks. T4 is the substrate molecule that circulates in your body for 36 hours and is gradually changed to T3 by the enzyme de-iodinase. Your hypothalamus in your brain reads how much T4 and T3 it is receiving and decides if that is enough for it to be happy. It then communicates with your pituitary gland to make TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) to nudge the thyroid to make more. TSH has become the established norm for deciding about sufficient thyroid. This study looked at TSH levels and the subsequent development of dementia.

Keeping a healthy brain is one of our highest priorities. As we get older, dementia robs us of our relationships, our memories, and just about everything that is meaningful and important. What this study found was that a LOWER TSH (meaning that your brain thinks you can back off a little on thyroid production) is associated with greater increase of dementia. 313 non demented Koreans were evaluated and followed for 5 years with thyroid testing and mental status testing. Now, the average TSH in the healthy brain group was 2.24 and in the group that showed MCI (mild cognitive impairment) it was 1.78. Those are both, technically, normal. Stated differently, for every 1 mIU/L decrease in TSH, there was a 1.7 fold increased risk for MCI progression. If you already had MCI, a 1 mIU/L decrease in TSH resulted in a 6.8 times risk of progression to frank dementia. Ouch!

This isn’t completely new. TheRotterdam Study in 2000 showed that a TSH below 0.4 (frankly too low – meaning way too much thyroid hormone) had a 3 fold increased risk of developing dementia. That study followed 1843 non demented people for just 2 years. The Framingham study published in 2008 followed 1864 folks and showed that a TSH between 0-1 had a doubling of Alzheimer’s risk. There are more, and all say the same thing. Lower TSH means higher risk for dementia.

Traditional Internal Medicine focuses purely on the TSH. Functional medicine askes us to look at the free T3, reverse T3 and TSH combined. You get a richer picture when you look at all three, but I find there are frequent conflicts where the free T3 is “technically low”, but the TSH is still

Now,low thyroid (shown by HIGH TSH) isn’t good for your brain either. But that’s for another day.

Bredesen, my guru for Alzheimer’s prevention, asks for TSH between 1-2. He doesn’t reference free T3. The big question then comes, which reference point is the most important.

WWW.What Will Work for Me. I’m very interested in this. We aren’t as clear as we would like to be on this topic. For now, I’m putting my chips on Bredesen. For myself, I take a bit thyroid hormone to keep my own TSH between 1-2. Should I let it drift up to 2.4? Stay tuned.

Pop Quiz

‪1. A high TSH means your are getting too much thyroid? T or F

False. This is the mistake of a first time reader. TSH is STIMULATING hormone. A high TSH says your brain thinks you aren’t getting enough, and is trying to get your tired old thyroid to make more.

2. This article is the first to show that lower TSH’s, in the normal range predict cognitive decline in Koreans. T or F

Exactly the point. What’s new is that these folks were in the normal range and they were followed for longer than prior studies.

‪3. Korean’s brains are different than ours, so I don’t need to worry about it. T or F

Sorry, despite the behavior of certain N. Korean leaders who might bring this into question, all of our brains are the same. It’s nice to see the robust Korean medical community starting to contribute to the world body of knowledge.

4. There is a clear connection between free T3 and TSH? T or F

As things currently stand, it’s partially right but mostly helpful when your thyroid function is low, resulting in a higher TSH, now lower.

5. Some of our best Alzheimer’s treatment leaders use thyroid as part of their decision making for Alzheimer’s treatment. Goal: TSH 2-4.5 T or F

Trick question. True, they use it. False. Modern internal medicine says up to 4.5 TSH is ok. Bredesen aims for a TSH between 1-2. Details matter. Low thyroid isn’t any good either.

Obesity, Autism and Gut Bacteria

Obesity, Autism and Gut Bacteria

References: Cell June 2016,

Did you know that women who are obese when pregnant give birth to autistic children at a 50% higher rate? Did you also know that the intestinal flora of obese folks differs from that of normal folks? Ok, take those as givens and follow this research thread.

Take mice and make them obese by feeding them a very high fat diet. You can show that their stool content dramatically changes to being much less diverse. Then, you observe the amount of time their pups spend in social behaviors and find that they interact for only 22 seconds out of 10 minutes, whereas normal pups average two minutes. And the pups of the obese mothers much prefer playing with a plastic cup, whereas normal mothers’ pups play with other pups. Sounds like autistic children, in mouse form.

Now, in mice, you can examine their gut flora in great detail, and then look at brain cells too. The obese mothers’ gut flora was markedly limited, as duplicated in their pups. When the pups were given access to normal mouse feces, (which all mice nibble on – getting probiotic infusions), their gut flora returned to normal, as did their social interaction.

What was most interesting is that the differences in behavior were narrowed down to one bacteria species in the gut; Lactobacillus reuteri. It was 9 times more abundant in normal mothers feces, compared to the obese mothers. This is where their research got really interesting. Taking the “autistic” mice pups, they were given either live L. reuteri or dead L. reuteri in their drinking water. The pups that got the live bacteria were found to have normal brain development of the cells that produce oxytocin, and normal social behavior. The autistic mice pups that got the dead bacteria, didn’t develop and remained socially isolated. The autistic mice pups that got the live bacteria still had 13% less oxytocin producing cells, but that was enough for them to develop into normal social behaving mice.

This evidence is so powerful, there are now multiple studies of oxytocin being given to children with autism. The field of social modulation of behavior is just getting started, with oxytocin front and center in that research. And now, what is opening up is that behavior may be driven by the bacteria in your gut.

Can you take L. reuteri orally as a supplement? You sure can! Each species appears to have it’s own strain.

www.What Will Work for me. Well, I just learned about L. reuteri and it’s effect on the gut, and subsequent effect on social behavior. I’ve seen oxytocin help a bunch of folks needing better sleep, less stress, more calm. Maybe what they need, and we all need is some way to measure L.reuteri in our gut, and some way to replace it if it’s missing. I think the next stage needs to be what diet encourages it’s growth. We know that including it in your diet can prevent weight gain, to some degree. I want to watch this story evolve. Way too interesting.

Pop Quiz

‪1. Obese mice’s pups have less social interaction and fewer oxytocin producing cells in their brains, in alignment with fewer of bacterial species L. reuteri in their guts? T or F

That’s it in a nutshell.

2. The same applies to humans. T or F

Not so fast. The oxytocin connection appears to be true but we can’t biopsy human brains to complete the research circle.

‪3. This research suggests that our mental frame of mind with socialization may be greatly affected by the bacteria in our gut. T or F

Exactly.

4. It is possible to take oxytocin as a supplement to see if it helps you with sleep, intimacy, headaches, social isolation, calmness. T or F

Well, true but it takes a physicians script to get access to it.

5. The diet that supplies the most L. reuteri to your gut is well defined. T or F

False. We don’t know it yet. Fermented foods have it in abundance but often from strains not our own. Each species appears to have its own strain.

Whole Coffee Fruit Extract, Memory and BDNF

Whole Coffee Extract and Brain Growth

Reference:  British Journal of NutritionFuturceuticals Study,

Ever heard of BDNF? Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor. BDNF. It’s the Holy Grail of brain health. It’s the hormone that makes brain cells grow. You want BDNF. Folks with Alzheimer’s don’t have any. It plays a role in helping memory get cemented down. Making memory requires brain cells growing and connecting. Most of our brain cells live just about our entire lives, but memory requires new growth. Exercise boosts it. Niacin helps a bit. But increasing it is the goal of just about every who wants to prevent Alzheimer’s.

It’s known that caffeine increases BDNF too. That’s what led to this study being conducted. The researchers took 25 healthy human subjects and gave them oral doses of whole coffee fruit extract, green coffee caffeine powder, grape seed extract powder and green coffee bean extract powder to get sources of caffeine as well as polyphenols to see which worked best. A single 100 mg dose was given and then blood drawn every 30 minutes for two hours. Interestingly enough, the whole coffee fruit extract was the home run hitter with a 143% increase in BDNF increase, compared to only 31% increase for the green coffee caffeine powder and the grape seed extract.

The results suggests that the stimulatory effect of whole coffee fruit on the BDNF blood level is not from the amount of polyphenols or caffeine per dose. Instead, the effect may be better explained by either the amount of procyanidins or to the unique coffee polyphenol profile of the whole coffee fruit material. That makes coffee fruit a rather unique product. Not the green coffee bean. Not the coffee per say, but the whole fruit. This is interesting.
www. What Will Work for me. I heard that Dr Bredesen from UCLA is intensely interested in it. If he is, I am too. I’ve Googled Whole Coffee Fruit Extract and have not found how to purchase it. I bet it show up pretty soon. This is something we need to follow!

Pop Quiz

1. BDNF is a protein hormone design to make brain cells grow, T or F

In a nutshell, true.

2. The best way to stimulate BNDF is with sleep. T or F

False. Exercise is the best. Sleep isn’t so bad, but exercise is it

3. This study shows that WHOLE coffee fruit extract is now the supplement that increases BDNF the most. T or F

Yes! Coffee helps a little, but 143% for the Whole Coffee Fruit is amazing

4. To cement memory down, you have to grow new brain connections and cells, particularly in the hippocampus part of your brain. T or F

That’s the Cliff Notes version.

5. I need a prescription to get BDNF. T or F.

False. You just need to walk around the block and find the Whole Coffee Fruit Extract, which is not widely available, yet!