Monthly Archives: November 2011

You Are What You Eat – Your Genes are What You Eat

You Are What You Eat – Your Genes are What You Eat

Source:  Cell Research Chen-Yu Zhang, Nanking University Sept 20th 2011

Yea, yea!  We have all heard, “You are what you eat”.  But it bores you to death.  Now, we know something much more profound.  What you eat controls your genes in a very profound way.  Micro RNA.

What’s micro RNA?   Very easy.  It’s a short chain of RNA molecules, averaging about 22 nucleotides long that has been found to be a critical factor in turning on and off your genes.  Your genes are made of DNA.  That we know.  RNA is what results from reading the DNA code.  When we make a protein, we have to copy thousands of DNA nucleotides into a mirror copy of RNA that is also thousands of nucleotides long.  That is then translated into proteins.  So far, so good.  The micro RNAs are just short little pieces of RNA strings – and are a very hot topic of current research.  We have all been confused why the human genome seems to be able to manage on just 20,000 genes that only take up a small percentage of all that DNA.  What is the rest of that DNA being used for?  Well, some of it is being used to make microRNA.  And that microRNA is used to run the expression or silencing of your genetic code.

What did Dr. Zhang discover that was such hot news?  He found that he could measure the microRNA’s from rice in our blood.  MIRI68a is the name of one of those micro RNA molecules.  It is not digested and broken down in our stomach or intestine.  Once in our blood, it travels to our livers where “MIR168a could bind to the human/mouse low-density lipoprotein receptor adapter protein 1 (LDLRAP1) mRNA, inhibit LDLRAP1 expression in liver, and consequently decrease LDL removal from mouse plasma MIR168a.”  Said plain and simple, the micro RNA can get into your liver and affect your genes that manage the removal of LDLs from your blood.  (Did you notice this significant research came out of China?)

The implications are pretty interesting.  The food we eat is not just calories.  It is also messages to every part of your body.   It is a complex web or potpourri of hormones too.   Delicate, nuanced, complex and fully integrated.   This will surely add some heat to the debate about GMO based foods.  When we change the balance of the messages our bodies receive from our food, we are changing the balance of all those messages too.  This becomes a mechanism that can explain some of the odd associations noted with GMO based foods.

WWW. What will work for me?  I’m not changing any behavior with this one.   But it does provide me with a critical new respect for the concept that our food needs to be natural and pure.  Our bodies evolved eating many complex whole foods.  The more I process them, the more I remove the natural balance of messages.  Our food is more than calories and macronutrients.  Micro-RNA affects me.  My rice is my body.

Written by John E Whitcomb, MD  Brookfield Longevity and Healthy Living Clinic,  262-784-5300

Lyme Disease in Iceman and Birds

Lyme Disease in Iceman and Birds

Reference: Science News, Nov 1, 2011 and Lyme Disease Annual Meeting, Toronto 2011

Iceman, or Otzi, had a bad day.  He had just gotten away from his chasers and stopped at the very top of the pass on the border of what is now Italy and Austria in 3200 BC.  He had made it all the way to the top of the mountain and was now stopping for some lunch of ibex meat when a hidden assailant shot him in the back with an arrow.  He likely died quickly, particularly after the blow to the back of his head dispatched him.  His assailant pulled out the arrow shaft but left everything else behind, leaving us Europe’s oldest mummy, frozen in the snow to examine 5300 years later.  When an autopsy was done this year and he was briefly thawed, samples showed that he had Lyme disease in addition to everything else.   So, like tuberculosis, Lyme has been around awhile.  It makes an illness that may not kill you, but sure slows you down until something else does.

Where do we get Lyme disease from?  We thought it was just from ticks carried by deer.  That’s the conventional thought.  If you don’t have deer in your neighborhood, you are safe, right?  Actually, wrong.  In a paper presented at the International Lyme Conference in Toronto last month,  John Scott presented a paper on the incidence of Lyme carrying ticks on birds in Canada.  His paper caught my ear.  200 song birds that spend a fair amount of time on the ground were captured across Canada over the last three years with mist nets or from bird strikes against city buildings.  The birds were then examined for the presence of ticks.  The average bird carried two ticks, with one bird having 18.  And when the 17 different kinds of ticks were examined, 29% of them were found to have B. burgdorferi in them.  (That’s the Lyme bacteria)  These birds migrate up into Canada from their winter homes.  They cross virtually every state in the US.  That means the average bird at your bird feeder may be pretty much the same, and have about a  30-50% chance of carrying the Lyme bacteria in a tick.  Hmmm.

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?  How about something that feels like a cold that doesn’t go away, and then fatigue and malaise that doesn’t go away.  Any new symptoms that wax and wane, you might think of Lyme.   You don’t need to have a rash or a tick bite, as less than 50% of folks who have Lyme do.  And the traditional Western Blot test may not be very accurate.  The controversy about Lyme is unbelievable because there are those who believe you can cure Lyme with 30 days of antibiotic, and those who see patients who don’t get better until treated for Lyme for 1-2 years.   I’ve heard too many stories from credible sources to believe the 30 day theory.

WWW.  What Will Work for Me?  I have a bird feeder and feed birds all winter.  I will continue to do so.  And I will look for ticks until we get a good hard frost when the risk of transmission seems to fall off.  One thing winter is good for.

Floating a Concept: The Proteomic Index – The Protein-”omic”?

Floating a Concept: The Proteomic Index – The Protein-”omic”?

Reference:  CNN Special By Sanjay Gupta and Bill Clinton: “The Last Heart Attack”

This idea is NOT out there so I am asking you to think of a conceptual idea that I believe is coming and explains a lot as to why vegetarian type diets differ from animal diets.  I want to understand why Dr Esselstyn is having success with completely reversing heart disease, and why Bill Clinton is going to see Dr. Esselstyn to reverse his coronary artery disease.  My Uncle Paul did the same thing back in 1977-81.  He completely reversed his coronary artery disease by being a vegan.  Five vessel bypass surgery and he opened his native arteries back up.  We had some interesting Thanksgiving dinners, but he lived and thrived.

Here is the idea.  You are familiar with the glycemic index, right?  We compare different foods and their ability to raise your blood sugar in comparison to pure glucose.  Our body runs on glucose, so it’s a good comparison.  Our body also runs on fats and proteins, but we haven’t counted them to date.  What happens with high glycemic foods is that they set off the release of insulin.  Above an index of 55 or so, you force your body to secrete insulin and that insulin then stores calories as fats.  Curiously, our insulin and inflammation pathways are linked in the “common soil” hypothesis.  High insulin equals high inflammation.  Eating high glycemic foods forces you to get fat and to get inflamed, and then you get the long-term diseases of inflammation.

So, here is the “Proteinomic Index” hypothesis.  When we eat meat, we get complete protein with all 20 amino acids that our bodies use to build our own proteins.  We have always claimed that meat is “high quality” because it provides all of the 8 “essential” amino acids that we cannot make ourselves in our cells.  What we neglect to mention is that our bodies include a condo association in our guts that constitute a separate and distinct organ in an of themselves.   The trillions of bacteria in our colon have 100 times the DNA of the human genome in them and the ability to make all the amino acids our bodies need.  We get amino acids from those bacteria, included the essential ones.  Just slower.  When we eat a vegetarian diet, we feed ourselves and our colonic condo association.  The bacteria in our colons go to work and make their natural products, including the essential amino acids which we then absorb from our colon.  Not to mention that we also get the amino acids we need from the variety of plant products we eat, but again at a slower pace.  We start to see our colon as a vital organ that contributes importantly to our overall health and metabolism.  It’s not just an excretory organ that salvages water.  And its chief contribution might well be the slow and steady release of nutrients back into our bodies, instead of the rapid rise brought about by eating “high quality” animal protein.  This turns the concept of “high quality” on its head and changes it into a slow and steady release, instead of rapid and sudden release.

My hypothesis, if you will, goes as follows.  A slower absorption rate of amino acids is as valuable to us as a slower rate of absorption of glucose and carbohydrates.  The rapid rate of rise of amino acids that follows a meat or animal meal, forces the secretion of insulin (and with meat, glucagon too) and that results in an insulin rise.  The glucagon element is slightly confounding, as that seems to soften the metabolic consequences of meat, but the hypothesis remains.  And the content of essential omega fats is another complementary concept that moves the formula a bit too.  So, it likely needs to be refined further.  But a vegan diet will provide you all the necessary amino acids at a slower pace than a meat diet.  And that is better for you.  That’s the hypothesis.  It may not depend solely on the insulin effect.  It may be a mix of other hormonal and nutritional effects.   But it explains a lot.  I’m putting it out there.

WWW: What will work for me.  I just feel better the less animal I eat.  I love the taste of animal in all its forms.  But I sleep better, think better, feel better with less animal.  And apparently, my arteries, my brain, my immune system, my gut all agree.  I think the evidence is accumulating.  I would plea for any comments, thoughts, agreements, passionate disagreements (always the best).  But I think we have an idea here whose time has come.  How I wish I had 20 years in an academic lab to chase this one down.

Written by John E Whitcomb MD

Brookfield Longevity and Healthy Living Clinic

17585 W North Ave

Brookfield, WI 53045