Monthly Archives: December 2012

The Trouble with Wheat #2: The High Glycemic Index and The Insulin Cop

The Trouble with Wheat #2:  The High Glycemic Index and The Insulin Cop

Reference:  Eric Westman, Duke University Weight Loss Associate Professor and American Jr of Clin Nutrition August 2007

The problem with wheat and insulin is pretty easy.  It’s all about how fast the glucose of wheat gets into your blood. The form that carbohydrate is stored in wheat is called amylopectin and is very available to be digested in your gut.  It is composed of long strings of glucose attached to each other, and branched every 24 to 30 glucose units making it have many endpoints, each of which can be attacked by a digestive enzyme to release it.  You can digest it very rapidly, breaking down the chains of glucose molecules into single glucose units.  In fact, white bread has a glycemic index of about 72-75 which means it gets into your blood at about 72% of the speed of pure glucose.

That’s the problem.  Your body has a traffic cop called insulin that sees glucose speeding into your blood at 72% of pure glucose when the speed limit is about a glycemic index of  55.  Foods below a glycemic index of 55 don’t inspire the release of insulin.  (The cop stays in his car, eating his own, low glycemic snack of raw broccoli.)  With a glycemic index over 55, the rapid and efficient secretion of insulin instantly ensues, slowing down the rise of glucose.  And guess what insulin does?  Exactly!  It puts the glucose into the slammer (aka – into fat cells, aka, long term storage) and takes no excuses, no lame pleading, no second chances.  The glucose gets put into those fat cells, where it stays.  Not even three strikes to be out.  First time, long term storage.  “A minute on the lips, a life time on the…….(need I say it?)  We are just getting a real handle on the efficiency of the insulin effect on your body’s ability to mobilize fats.  It’s extremely efficient, effective and rapid.  It takes just a tiny bit of insulin to shut down the release of fatty acids from your fat cells for hours.  That means just only little bit of processed wheat (a donut, a breakfast cereal made from some processed grain, a bagel, a cookie, even just sweetened coffee) and you release some insulin, and your fat cells are slammed shut with about 80-90% efficiency in just a few minutes.  Without access to fatty acids, your cells don’t get any energy and you feel tired and hungry.  Hence, you have to eat more.  Remember last week?  Which came first?  Overeating is COMPENSATORY, not primary.  You eat because you are starving and your cells are crying out for energy.  You set yourself up because you released the stupid traffic cop inside you, insulin, who just did his job and put all the glucose away in the slammer without any excuses.

Wheat has never been refined like we have it in America today.  When you eat it as a whole grain, the glycemic index is about 38. That is well below the 55 speed limit and doesn’t set off the insulin response.  We only discovered how to make fine white flour 150 years ago in Minneapolis when Pillsbury came out with a series of inventions on how to make fine white flour.  Whole wheat flour is not much better.  It’s glycemic index is 72, just the same.  The tiny bit of retained fiber doesn’t slow down the speed of digestion.  (Traffic cop is perfectly color neutral)

WWW. What will work for me.  This is JUST the first layer of trouble.  We have more to go.  But trouble #1 is that wheat is processed into fine white flour and our body is completely unable to handle it.   Still, we refine wheat and make it into about every product we eat.  And that pesky glycemic index is incredibly rapid, merciless and ever watchful.  Your inner sugar cop is ALWAYS on your street corner.  You just can’t cheat, unless you want all the calories you are eating to go into storage.  Think of it.  90% efficient at marshaling (get the pun with the cop?) your calories into storage.  You then are starving.  You eat more to compensate for your hunger when you have all the calories you need, sitting there on your hips, unable to be released. And all because you just ate another free carbohydrate.  Your homework: just try and make it through one day without ANY processed wheat.  Just try.  I’ve been at it for a week.  I’m currently O for 7.   Did I lose any weight this Holiday week?    No no no.

Written by John Whitcomb, MD  Brookfield Longevity and Healthy Living Clinic, 17575 W North Ave, # 160 Milwaukee, WI 53045   262-784-5300

Cancer is a Metabolic Disease

Cancer is  a Metabolic Disease

Reference:  Thomas Seyfried,  PhD Cancer as a Metabolic Disease

You thought cancer was 500 different diseases.  Cancer of the pancreas, the prostate, the breast, the colon and on and on.  Maybe not.  Our current method of treatment is to operate, radiate and poison the cancer.  Operations work. But radiation and chemo have sad limitations.  You get poisoned in the process and the cancer is only slowed down marginally.  Over the last 30 years, we have made only incremental improvements and despite much ballyhooing, our screening has not really saved many lives.  A close look at the data shows that all our screening work has not resulted in a decrease in the numbers of stage 3 and 4 cancers, as would be expected if we were really finding things early and eliminating them.  That’s troubling.

Maybe we need to think about cancer differently and go back to the research bench.  If we can uncover the basic science of how cancer develops, we might come up with different ways of treating it.   Let me take you on a short journey of explanation and exploration and see if this makes sense to you.

Otto Warburg was awarded a Nobel Prize back in the 1930s for the observation of cancerous cells being able to live in the absence of oxygen.  Why is that?   Well, fast forward 80 years and explain what he observed.   All cancers have a change in their basic metabolism. They go from consuming oxygen and glucose to make 38 ATP (that’s called oxidation) to burning glucose without oxygen but only getting 2 ATP molecules.  That’s called fermentation.    It’s much less efficient.  It also makes the cancer cell a voracious consumer of glucose.   Maybe then cancer is not 500 different diseases in 500 different tissues.  Maybe it is one disease that happens again and again in 500 different tissues, and is in fact the same disease of disordered metabolism in all situations.  It varies only by its expression based on the tissue it emerges from.  The key disorder would then be the dysfunctional process of energy breakdown.   Look at mitochondria in cancer under a microscope and see what you see.  You find disordered, disorganized mitochondria that can’t make energy anymore.    Is the first step to cancer a defect in the mitochondria?  Is that the common thread of all cancers?  Is that what makes cancers such voracious sugar eaters and inefficient energy burners?

Now, if that’s the case, the cancer should be vulnerable to manipulation of its environment.  What would happen if you took away the glucose that it needed to live?   Human cells love glucose too, but normal human cells can learn to live with other energy nutrients.   Our normal cells with properly functioning mitochondria, can live with ketones, for example.  But that’s not what we like to eat.  We much prefer to eat sugar.   And the more sugar we eat, perhaps the more food we are giving to our cancer cells.  In fact, as we become more and more overweight in America, and our average blood sugar rises higher and higher, we seem to also be getting more and more cancer.  Is that coincidence or cause?

Hence our reference in the book above.   Dr Sefried has taken the most aggressive cancer of all, the brain cancer called gliobastoma, a cancer that typically kills its owners in just months, and has showed that he can turn it into a much slower disease and even establish a remission.  He does it by feeding the victims a specialized diet that makes ketones in abundance, no carbs or glucose and giving them blocking drugs that block the fermentation process.  The cancer cells just fade away and can’t recover.  Without glucose they starve and the blocking drugs make their remaining energy sources go catastrophically down.

WWW.  What will work for me?  The moral of this story is that all cancer thrives on glucose.  Without glucose it can’t grow.  The more overweight I am, the higher my blood glucose, the more welcoming my body is to nurturing a new cancer.   The more sugar I eat, the more energy I provide to the potentially cancerous cells within me.  I think I need to eat less sugar.  And lose weight? How about you?

Potassium Citrate makes for Denser Bones in Elderly – Alkalizing Works

Potassium Citrate makes for Denser Bones in Elderly – Alkalizing Works

Reference  Jehle and Krapf in JCEM

Once you hit age 65, your risk of premature death is greater from a fall and a fracture than from cancer or heart attack.  We don’t hear much about falls, but we sure know about them.  To prevent that, we put folks on all sorts of expensive medications that have innumerable side effects.  Talk to anyone on a bisphonate and you will likely hear some grousing about GERD or muscle pain.  In the USA, we havehip  fracture rates that are at least 80 fold greater than in societies that don’t eat our “western diet”.  That number comes from comparing African American women to West African women and hip fracture rates.

Why such disparity?  It’s likely caused by our acid eating.  We have become a wealthy society and we can afford and like to eat meat.  Milk, meat, cheese, yogurt, anything animal, ends up generating a tiny bit of acid in the biological ash after all is well and done and digested.  In order to neutralize that acid, we borrow a wee bit of bicarbonate from our bones.  By age 65, our bones are like honeycombs.

The opposite is true of plants.  The biological ash is alkaline.  A bit of bicarbonate in the form of potassium and magnesium salts.  Those salts can be in the form of bicarb, or malate or citrate.  When you look at the malate you realize it’s two bicarbs plugged together. The citrate is three bicarbs.  When you take potassium citrate, you are eating bicarb.  When you eat plants, you are doing the same.

What Jehle and Krapf did was create a great study in 201 elderly folks with pretty decent bone density.  In a randomized, placebo controlled fashion, they took 60 meq a day of Potassium Citrate.  That’s quite a lot.  If you do that, your first morning urine will turn from a pH of 5.5 (on the Standard American Diet) to a pH of 7.6.

After two years, they broke the code and examined high resolution CT scanning of bone density to see if there was a difference between placebo and potassium citrate.  There was.  Statistically significantly, the folks on the potassium citrate had 1.7% denser bones (p < .001).  It took two years and 1.7% doesn’t sound like much. But it’s huge.  They didn’t measure a clinical outcome, fractures. That will take longer but one can reasonably presume that such an outcome could easily follow.

This makes for fascinating conjecture.  I think Jehle and Krapf are onto something unprecedented here.   We tout vegetables for their beneficial effects from all their phytonutrients, flavonoids and colors.  Maybe vegetables are unbelievably good for you as well because they carry alkalizing salts too.  Maybe our bodies are actually simple chemistry sets that are driven dramatically, albeit slowly and subtly, by the inexorable flow of acid – base balance.

WWW.  What Will Work for me.  I can buy potassium citrate over the counter quite inexpensively.  But they are 2 meq pills so you have to take 30 a day to reach the 60 meq dose.   If you have diabetes or kidney disease, you may accumulate potassium.  I tried it for four days with two Holiday parties with lots of cheese.  My pH didn’t change, but it didn’t get more acid either.   My bones are getting denser.  If only there was a better product on the market to make for alkaline supplements.

This study confirms what Amy Joy Lanou documented in her landmark book “Building Bone Vitality”.   If you have thin bones, and normal kidney function, you might just consider this strategy.  It works.  It’s cheap.  No side effects.  You can certainly start with eating more vegetables.

Keep Your Metabolic Idle Running with Keto-DHEA

Keep Your Metabolic Idle Running with Keto-DHEA

Referenece:   Kalman Curr Therapy Research

“I eat like a bird and still gain weight!”.  Ever heard that?  Well, as we get older, it’s true.  We have a perfect storm of metabolic problems that block our ability to burn energy with aging.  The “idle” on our engine slows down.   While at rest, our resting metabolic rate is determined by a variety of factors.  Our muscle mass and the fitness we are in is a large part of that.  Without exercise, the number of mitochondria decline in our muscles.  The number of fibers drops too. So total muscle mass drops.  Our essential organs like our brain, kidneys, liver and our heart are all functioning 24/7 keep working but their mitochondria are affected by declining CoQ10.  They burn less energy too.

We have written how sarcopenia (loss of muscle with aging) can be prevented by alkaline eating (huge amounts of veges).  As we age, we also gradually shift our anabolic/catabolic hormone balance.  At younger ages, our anabolic hormones, those that build us up, exceed the effect of our catabolic hormones, those that wear us down.  Anabolic equals testosterone and DHEA.  Catabolic equals cortisol.  As we age, our balance shifts such that we make more cortisol and less testosterone and DHEA.  We become more catabolic, which means we break our tissue down more than we build it up.  (Yes, women make testosterone too, on the way to making Estrogen.)  Our balance shifts.  We break muscles down.  Our resting metabolic rate goes down further.

Can we give our resting rate a boost?  Can we restore more youthful balance of our anabolic and catabolic hormones?  And the answer to that is YES!  We can replace these hormones!  Here is the tricky thing.  DHEA is on the pathway from cholesterol to estrogen.  It’s just two steps from DHEA to testosterone, and then just one step to estrogen.  When you take DHEA, you will raise your testosterone.  Women may not like that when they have a chin hair or two.  But there is a trick we can play.  Keto-DHEA is a slightly altered form of DHEA that isn’t converted to testosterone.  And it raises your metabolic rate.  When you try to lose weight, your resting rate goes down, you make more reverse T3 and your body becomes more efficient.  You stop losing weight.  Enter keto-DHEA.  It turns on three enzymes that help you burn energy and make more heat.  The net effect is that you maintain your resting rate of burning energy even when you are trying to lose weight.  So, you keep losing weight.

You may need testosterone or estrogen balanced as part of your healthy aging plan.  But if weight loss is part of your goal, adding keto-DHEA to the formula may be a big help.   Recognizing that DHEA is a critically important hormone in the symphony of our hormonal balance means we all need to think about where it fits in our own aging and our own struggle to keep ourselves well and vibrant.

WWW.  What Will Work for me?  I’m staring more women on higher doses of keto-DHEA and so far have seen one quite happy customer.  You can read a nice review article in Life Extension this month if you want to read more.  I’m trying to eat more vegetables to keep myself alkaline and I’m doing my best to keep my muscle mass up with regular exercise.  That way, my own DHEA will have a fighting change to keep my metabolic rate up, and my waste line down.   (Yes, I know how to spell.)

Vitamin D and Breast Cancer “Climb the Hill”

Vitamin D and Breast Cancer “Climb the Hill”

Reference:  Sharif B Mohr Anti-Cancer Research,  Engel Cancer Epid Biomark Pre

We’ve talked about Vitamin D and cancer for a couple of years.  There has been all sorts of data going back and forth as to whether it is safe or not.  Without the benefit of longterm randomized, placebo controlled trials, which are way too expensive to run when they would take 20 years to come to conclusive results, we are left with other studies like epidemiological comparisons.  Some denigrate those studies as being the equivalent of “hear-say” in a courtroom.  There are, however, criteria, by which you can take observational studies and use statistical tools to confirm their validity.  That’s what the Hill Criteria do.   These include a list of criteria like the  strength of the association, the consistency across studies, the specificity, the temporal relationship and plausibility.

Dr Engel looked at 67,721 French women and followed their development over 10 years of breast cancer in relationship to their Vitamin D level.   What he concluded was that the threshold of protection was just too high to reach in northern latitudes without some sort of supplementation in the winter months, particularly as you grow older.   This data was then part of what Dr Mohr dissected into the Hill criteria to see if they could parse out a valid measure of Vitamin D effect on breast cancer.    Their conclusion was that Vitamin D can be shown to meet the Hill Criteria.  That moves Vitamin D from speculation and association to “proof”.

The number that was dissected out was 47 ng as a threshold to reach to get adequate protection.  We discussed, a couple of months back, that free living adults in Tanzania with dark skin will naturally maintain a level of 55 ng or so.  They get sunshine year around.  Not so in France, or in the northern part of the USA.

In Wisconsin, Caucasian women will drop down to about 20-25 ng in the winter, and reach up to 40 ng during the summer.  That suggests that for a couple of months each year, you are protected, and then for a at least half the year, you are not.    As you age, your skin’s ability to make D declines and your tendency to spend time outdoors declines.  Reaching the threshold of adequate D just doesn’t happen enough of the time reliably enough.

Is D a plausible preventative strategy for cancer?   The answer would be yes. The mechanisms are well-known.  D is actually an extremely potent hormone.  Its job is to tell living cells to mature into mature cells.  Immature, dividing cells that become uncontrolled are called cancer.  If they can be persuaded to stop dividing, they will then do their natural function and go through their natural life cycle, which inclues dying and being recycled.  All women likely have early changes of breast cancer in their breasts from age 20 onwards.  The question is not whether immature cells are there but whether their promotion onwards towards cancer can be diverted towards maturity.   The same logic pertains to men with prostate cancer.  Every man over age 70 has it.  The question is not whether you have it, but whether you die from it, or just with it.  Vitamin D becomes the hormone chiefly responsible to turn immature cells into mature cells.  That sounds like a cancer fighter to me.

WWW. What will work for me?  I’m now calling 47 ng my new minimum in all my discussions with folks.  By that criteria, every woman in Wisconsin is low in Dec.  It’s now Dec. Either you buy your ticket to Cancun, or start taking your D before it’s too late.   In our recent trip to France, I enquired at a pharmacy about Vitamin D and was shown a 100,000 IU vial.  “It’s my best seller,” the pharmacist said.  As we were speaking, an elderly lady came in, plunked down one Euro, and he gave her a vial of D.   “We all take that once a month,” he said.    100,000 IU, in a single dose, will raise your level 14 ng in one day.  And its safe.   67,000 French women support you.   65 million Frenchmen and women are taking 100,00 IU of D all the time