Monthly Archives: July 2015

Raising Growth Hormone with Exercise

Raising Growth Hormone with Exercise

Reference: Godfrey Sports Med

Date July 27, 2015

You want muscle. More is better (up to a point). And we lose a bit every year as we age. We also lose growth hormone as we age.   Growth hormone is your repair hormone. Yes, it makes you grow when you are a little tyke, but it also fixes you.   And it helps you grow muscle.   It peaks when you are about 15-20 years old.   Growth hormone is actually quite elusive and difficult to measure because we secrete it at night in tiny pulses that only last a few minutes.   It is a pretty big molecule, with 191 amino acids weighing about 20 kilodaltons (not much). Now, when you exercise, you secrete a slightly altered form that weighs 22 kilodaltons and can be detected by the ratio of the 20 to the 22. The change in this ratio is how you can tell an athlete is cheating and taking extra on the side.

Growth hormone stimulates your body makes a hormone in your liver called IGF-1. We can measure IGF-1 easily as it hangs around in your blood a bit longer. It becomes our defacto measurement of growth hormones.   An IGF-1 of about 450 is what you have as a teenager.   It progressively declines as you age, hitting 150 by age 50 or so. Once you are below 100, bad things start to happen with reliable frequency.   And at virtually any age, low IGF-1 will sort out those who are doing well, or those who aren’t with any given illness/condition/malady.   And, best of all, growth hormone helps you modulate your fat/muscle ratio.

Ok, if you have such importance with growth hormone, IGF-1, how can we control it and keep it higher?   That is the holy grail of wellness.   Keep my growth hormone up there!   This is where exercise comes in.

Turns out exercise has some of its magic mediated through growth hormone.   But it takes a specific kind of exercise. Not just any will do, at least by our current standards.   You have to get to the point of lactate.   That means walking around the park, which will burn some calories and help you feel better, isn’t enough.   You have to get to the point of “failure”, meaning pushing yourself to the limit of what you can do.   One way of doing that would be to run like crazy for 30 seconds, then rest for 90 seconds. Then run like crazy for 30 seconds…..repeat, repeat, repeat for 6-7 reps. Another method would be weight lifting to the point of “failure”.   Take any given weight that feels a bit heavier than you can manage, and curl it up with your biceps. Repeat the curl until you can’t do anymore. If you can do more than 10, you need a heavier weight. If you fail at about 8 or so, that’s what we want. We want your muscle to be pushing to the point of failure, because that’s when you make lactate.   Lactate is the product of glucose being burned without oxygen – and is the final desperate step of making energy when all else fails.   Rest and repeat. Go for at least 10 minutes. That’s it!   10 minutes. And then, growth hormone surges for a couple of days.   Rest for a day or two.

Longer, aerobic type exercise doesn’t do it. Nor will just one single bout. You need repeated bouts over 24 hours. Sounds like Cross Fit to me.

WWW. What will work for me.   I walk quite a lot. There is good evidence that walking does good things for you. But intense exercise is the magic for growth hormone release.   You have to get sweaty. And you have to “fail”.   I need to add high intensity to my jogging.   I’ve started 3 bouts of intense sprinting in my 2 mile jog. The nice thing is that I get to walk for 45 seconds after the sprint.   (Definition of sprint is very, very loose here.) Or, how about Yoga till “exhaustion”, or Crossfit, or spinning, or…..? You pick.


Pop Quiz

  1. Growth hormone declines with aging. T or F

True.   The IGF – 1 measure drops from 450 to 100 or less by age 60

  1. Growth hormone is a protein hormone, 191 amino acids long.

True. That’s the main one, but you make several others when you exercise. The 191 model is the synthetic

  1. Walking around the park at a 4 mile clip will release my growth hormone. T or F

Not much. It might help a little but current research methods suggest that is not enough.

  1. Running 5 miles a day will raise my growth hormone. T or F

False. It will more likely lower it.

  1. Weight lifting to the point of failure damages my muscles. T or F

True, and that’s what makes you make growth hormone to repair them and make them stronger.   That little bit of damage is what you want.

FIAF – how to Control Your Weight with Fat

FIAF: Fasting Induced Adipose Factor

Reference:   Gut Microbiota and Obesity

Date:   July 20, 2015

You thought you were an individual, leading your life and managing your nutrition with the best way you knew how.   “I eat a pretty healthy life”, you say.   But you are 20 pounds overweight, feel tired a lot of the time, can’t lose an ounce and wonder why.   What you didn’t realize is that you are not an individual. You are the managing partner of a condo association, and your gut has 10 times the number of cells living in it than you have in your body, with 100 times the genetic variation. And they have a voice in the matter.

Surprised?   You have four families of bacteria in your gut:   Firmicutes, Actinobacteria, Proteobacteriad Bacteroidetes .   Their relative balance has a lot to do with whether you gain or lose weight because they cause you to excrete FIAF (Fasting Induced Adipose Factor). As a general rule, a high fat diet leads to more Firmicutes, and reduces Bacteroidetes. Different families of bacteria extract different amounts of calories from the food you eat.   Our own enzymes fall far short of getting all the calories we need on our own. We depend on getting those extra calories.   The tricky thing is understand how to control that when we are overweight and want to lose weight.   Fasting Induced Adipose Factor is made in your liver. One of FIAF’s functions is to block an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase which tells your body to store fat.   When FIAF is elevated, you burn extra fat.   (aka, weight loss)

The trick in this balance is that your gut bacteria also make FIAF, which they use for their own designs.   When you eat a high fat, high sugar diet (donuts, popcorn, cheesecake) your gut bacteria suppress FIAF which causes your body to store those calories.   That’s called getting fat.   Now, insulin chimes in and also encourages your body to store calories.   They work together.

How can you trick them out of this conundrum?   Starve them of starch and sugar.   They then make a lot of FIAF. Lipoprotein Lipase is suppressed. You lose weight. When you feed your gut bacteria sugar and white carbs (glucose and fructose), FIAF plummets and you store fat.   With less glucose, your hormonal messages to secrete insulin and manufacture and store fat also declines.

Now, here is the fun part.   Thin people have more Bacteroidetes in their gut. You can’t take a supplement that increases the number of Bacteroidetes.   There are too many to influence with an outside pill if you don’t make a friendly home for them. You have to change the environment they live in.   You run this condo association. You can do that with coffee. The Bullet Proof Coffee formula that has MCT oil in does that.

WWW. What will Work for Me? I’m trying to get a handle on how our gut bacteria modulate our life.   It is clear they play a role in calming or stoking our immune system.   This FIAF stuff is the means by which their role in our digestion and storage of nutrients plays out.   It should be coordinated with our hormones of calorie storage like insulin.   I’m confused by some apparently contradictory findings, like how high fat leads to more Firmicutes, but also leads to weight loss. Skinny people have less Firmicutes. That seems to be a contradiction. The story isn’t finished. But I wanted you to learn this vocabulary. We can build on it as more information comes forward.

Pop Quiz

  1. Your gut bacteria help you digest food and extract calories from types of food you can’t digest.   T or F


  1. Skinny people have different gut populations that overweight folks? T or F

Also true

  1. You can change the population balance of bacteria in your gut by eating different balances of fat, sugar, carbs, fiber….   T or F


  1. FIAF stands for Fat Induced Adipose Factor. T or F

False. Go back and read the hyperlink

  1. Lipoprotein Lipase is a hormone that instructs your body to store fat. T or F

Bingo. And FIAF inhibits it.


Sleep is your Brain on Drain

Sleep is Your Brain Drain

Reference:   Science Daily June 2015,

What a great feeling to wake up in the morning and feel really refreshed!   You can get stuff done. You have ideas. You feel full of vitality and energy. What just happened?   Your brain got scrubbed, washed, flushed and reset!

Sleep is dangerous.   Mammals get eaten during sleep.   Yet every mammal does it. It must be so important that it is worth the risk.   So, just what is happening? We have reported on it before, so here is a second article building on the first .

In the Journal of Experimental Medicine, Dr Aspelund now reports that he was able to demonstrate the connection of the lymphatic system of the adult human brain to the rest of the lymphatic system.   The lymph vessels are so delicate, and they collapse so completely when not flowing that finding them takes painstaking searching.     And that’s what Dr Aspelund did.   He found the links and anatomical connections.

When you are awake, there is very little flow in the “glymphatic system”. But when you sleep, something dramatic happens. Your neurons begin to shrink and the spaces between cells increases dramatically.   Flow of the brains lymphatic system increases as much as 3 fold during sleep.   More interesting is that when the Alzheimer’s associated protein beta=amyloid is injected into a mouse’s brain, it can be shown to clear more rapidly when the brain is then asleep.

Our brain is a very busy organ, using as much as 25% of our total energy. Just being awake and taking care of business, you are accumulating breakdown products of brain messaging.   The synapses, or connections between brain cells, are often quite far away from the body of the cell.   The wires that connect the cells to their synapses are, of a necessity, long and very delicate. For a small, compact cell, the simply diffusion of chemicals inside the cell allows for breakdown products to be excreted and metabolized.

But what do you do when you have very delicate, long, slender pipes that send chemicals inches away from where they were manufactured?   Of a necessity that stuff is going to accumulate.   For example, we do know that adenosine accumulates during wakefulness.   Adenosine is a break down product of energy useage. It comes from ATP, our cellular gasoline.   When awake, adensosine levels in the brain rise. When we sleep, adenosine gets flushed out and ATP levels get recharged.

What happens if you don’t get enough sleep? A lot. Total sleep deprivation will kill you. Less than 7 hours a night and you start showing higher stress hormones and get on the road to becoming overweight. Less than 6 hours and we can show you start having risks for diabetes.   There may be much more to sleep than just flushing the brain as all these other endocrine disruptions suggest a very intricate balance of functions. But maybe all of them depend on getting a chemical flush.

You thought that sleep was all about your brain getting reorganized and consolidating energy. That’s what we have all been taught.   Now we know differently. Sleep is there to clean out the gunk, to flush out the poison.   It is only with unconsciousness that our neurons shrink, allowing the lymph system to start flowing and the waste products to be washed out. The effects of poor sleep are awful.

WWW. What will work for me.   I just had a great night’s sleep. It feel wonderful. I feel full of energy.   I can write this column.   Try to get at least 7 hours.   Take 3 mg of melatonin at bedtime.   Don’t watch disturbing TV before bed. Turn the lights down lower later in the evening.   Don’t go to bed mad.


Pop Quiz

  1. The lymphatic system of the brain is called the glymphatic system. T or F

T (Open book – open internet makes for great testing, doesn’t it!)

  1. The brain’s lymphatic drainage in humans has been proven to both exist and connect to our other lymphatic system. T or F


  1. Your brain neurons shrink in size when you sleep.

That’s it

  1. Your brain’s lymphatic drainage increases when you sleep

Right on

  1. You build up adenosine, a breakdown product of energy production during wakefulness. T or F


Biohacking Vegetables 101

Biohacking Vegetables101

Reference:   Wikipedia, Biohacking Conference,   PBS,

What is Biohacking?   If I may give the simplest explanation, it’s figuring our how to do what you were designed to do, in the best and most satisfying fashion. Well, when we talk about our own health and life style, it’s all about creating choices with food, sleep, brain health, relationships, activities and exercise that gives us the best chance at being the best we can be.   Some of “biohacking”s proponents are about research on the cheap, outside of the traditional academic world and without the constraints or ethical guidelines developed in those venues.   Research that may harm people should be monitored and restricted.   There is a fine boundary with lifestyle choice and making decisions that could harm people.   For example, is it harmful to tell people to eat more vegetables cut out carbs from their diet? That would be the basis for the Bulletproof Diet.   Considering the massive failure of modern medicine to provide us with smart food guidelines, and the confounding ability of our food and pharmaceutical injury to create dangerous and harmful products, it’s no wonder the biohacking world has developed. My interpretation is that it is “us” figuring out for ourselves, what works best.   This email column is a “biohacking” exploration.

How would we apply biohacking to vegetables?   By way of example, this is how I would consider it.  I would first explore what vegetables do to our bodies. Most green vegetables like spinach, kale, cucumbers, asparagus and broccoli are actually quite high in protein, and relatively low in free sugars.   Broccoli, as one example, has as much protein as steak when it comes to protein content per 100 calories.   Our bodies respond to them without much insulin release because the sugars are released so slowly that we don’t need to release insulin. We metabolize the sugars as fast as they are digested.   That is a nice example of first understanding core biology and physiology. Do the research about how your body functions.

A good biohacker would come to the conclusion that the majority of human food should be from vegetables that are green and have a slow insulin response. Insulin lasts for 6 to 8 hours.   To have the main hormone that controls weight gain, appetite, glucose control be one that last 6-8 hours must mean that for 60 million years, the main diet for humans and their ancestors must have been foods that matched that and provided calories in a fashion that lined up with that endocrine need.   That means green vegetables should be core to our diet.

Then think about root vegetables like potatoes and carrots, or grains like corn, rice and wheat or fruits like apples and pears and you find foods that are filled with many more carbohydrates and mature in September and October. They have a lot of sugar, and less protein. They stimulate insulin. They encourage your body to secrete insulin to store calories for the winter.     A good biohacker would conclude, knowing that about when these foods ripen (fall – or just before winter or just before dry season) that they should be limited to those times of year we seek to gain weight.   You want to gain weight if you are aiming to go into a period of starvation.

The challenge of our time is to figure out how to lose weight, not gain weight. We have been inundated with food filled with high calorie, carbohydrate laden foods. And we have gained weight.    Get the drift?   You can be a biohacker too.

WWWW. What Will Work for Me. (AKA: Biohacking) A good biohacker would conclude that the proper way to lose weight would be to back off completely from all foods that simulate insulin. That comes down to avoiding sugar, grains, root vegetables and too much meat.   What’s left is green vegetables and fat, and a bit of meat.   Want to lose weight? Salads with olive oil, spinach with bacon,……. Read the Book, The Bulletproof Diet by Dave Asprey. He lost 100 pounds. Look up the Bulletproof Diet Cookbook by Chris Kane.


Pop Quiz

  1. Biohacking is the attempt by people in every walk of like to be the best they can be. T or F

That about sums it up.

  1. It’s detractors claim it can be unethical? T or F

Possibly true if you are doing research without informed consent on things that can be dangerous.

  1. Our medical food guidelines represent a massive experiment that has caused immeasurable harm, without informed consent. T or F

True. So what’s the deal? We all got fat, diabetic and high cholesterol on those guidelines.

  1. We can trust that we will soon be following the biohacking crew with food guidelines.   T or F

True.   Institutional medicine will gradually get there.

  1. Want to lose weight, biohack yourself and get off carbs. Watch the weight melt away.

Of course your Do

  1. Want to biohack a bit further and see if avoiding some foods helps you feel better?

Give it a try.   Avoiding some foods is not unethical behavior. Just common sense.