Monthly Archives: July 2016

Too Much Thyroid is Not a Good Thing for Your Brain

Too Much Thyroid is Not a Good Thing for Your Brain


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.

The Real Reason Wheat is Toxic

The Real Reason Wheat is Toxic

Reference: Interdiscip. Toxicology, Entropy, The Healthy Home Economist,

Have you ever wondered why you or some of your close friends seem to get sick and just don’t feel good when you eat wheat products? Have you experienced the blossoming of gluten free products with skepticism because your regular doctor scoffs at the notion that you have celiac disease, even showing your a negative blood test? Hmmm. Wheat has been the foundation of modern civilization. Could it have done that and we all felt sick from it. Hmmm.

Ok, follow this thread. Did you know that most wheat is sprayed with glyphosate (Roundup) about 10 days prior to harvest? It helps increase the harvest, kills off all other weeds, but also kills the wheat and helps dry it out, especially in wet years. Guess what happens to the amount of Roundup in wheat when that’s done? Now, did you know that glyphosate causes a lot of “disruption” to a whole host of biological systems. You can actually drink it, and not die on the spot. (Some ag sales reps have allegedly done so.) What it damages are your gut bacteria. They have dramatic shifts in many of their internal biological processes. Most importantly is disruption to their P450 detox system. We have that system too in our livers, but in our guts it is critical to a wide range of beneficial bacteria that have a wide interplay with us and our immune system. The net effect appears to be what we call “leaky gut“.

If you track the application of glyphosate to our crops, and compare that to the incidence of celiac disease you get a pretty scary graph with a R of 0.9759 (which is almost perfect correlation. That’s not proof, but it sure looks interesting. Now, listen to Zach Bush on Youtube and see what you think about the brain diseases we see that are associated with leaky gut, and also glyphosate. Autism, ADHD, schizophrenia to name a few. And then there are autoimmune diseases, all of which have spooky associations with leaky gut and wheat.

The bacteria in our gut are a precious organ. They constitute a separate entity that supplies us with life-giving balance. They help us make critically important amino acids, vitamins, immune reactions and detox lots of trouble making chemicals. We injure that organ to our peril.

So guess what the Europeans did this month to Roundup? Yup, banned it. Gone.

WWW. What Will Work for Me. Goodness. I am not personally obviously affected by wheat, except that I gain weight like a ship’s anchor when I eat it. Perhaps that is being affected. But I feel less bad about avoiding it. This article has given me more determination to just stay away from it. Is it wheat that’s the problem, or our modern farming methods. We aren’t just sure, but I think it may be Roundup that’s giving wheat an extra bad reputation. If I had an autoimmune disease, avoiding wheat would be first on the menu.

Pop Quiz

‪1. I’m glad I live in America where I can get Roundup on my hamburger?

Well, not if you don’t eat the bun.

‪2. It is possible to apply Roundup to your hands and not show immediate harmful effect. T or F


‪3. The p-450 system in our gut bacteria is profoundly influenced by Roundup? T or F


‪4. You probably get the most Roundup in your diet as a consequence of wheat being sprayed just prior to harvest. T or F

In a nutshell, true.

‪5. The damage to your gut bacteria ends up causing “leaky gut”, which is strongly associated with many brain diseases and autoimmune illnesses. T or F

Darn it. Darn it. Darn it. Why can’t we just accept “better living through chemistry” and bury our head in the sand. But yes, it’s true.

Walking Down the Stairs May Lower Your Blood Sugar More than Walking Upstairs

Walking Down the Stairs May Lower Your Blood Sugar More than Walking Upstairs

References: American Heart Meetings,

You can imagine! I’m going to the Mall over the 4th of July weekend and its sweltering hot outside. I’m with my nephew and niece and we’re going to check out school supplies. The mall is massive. At the top of the escalator it says, “Walk Down the Stairs and Take Your Blood Sugar Down With You.” Whoa! Medical literature published in the mall. I’m all over it.

This is their reference. Published a decade ago at the American Heart Association Meetings was referenced study.

Dr. Drexel took 45 sedentary, otherwise non-diabetic adults and had them spend two months taking the ski lift up, then riding it down. Then they spent two months hiking up and taking the ski lift down. They measured compliance by collecting ticket stubs and the personal diary of each volunteer. It was not every day but suggested as 3-5 times a week. That’s pretty good exercise.

Walking down uses muscles differently. Walking uphill uses muscles in a “concentric” fashion whereas walking down is considered “eccentric”. Eccentric is lengthening under load (walking down hill – resisting as you stretch out your legs). Concentric is shortening under load (walking up hill- resisting as you shorten your leg muscles. Did you get that? They are different types of load on your muscles.

The original research on eccentric versus concentric was done back in 1882, but it wasn’t till 2003 that the best demonstration of the power difference was obtained. A contracting muscle under stretch (eccentric), can produce much greater power than a contacting muscle being lengthened (concentric – walking uphill). You can demonstrate that by putting two exercise bikes facing each other with one chain so that one person is biking forward while the other is resisting and pedaling backwards. A big, burly, strong male can easily be resisted by a much smaller, less muscled woman. That’s the power of that difference.

The intriguing detail is that the two types of exercise use different fuel sources. Walking downhill uses glucose. Walking uphill uses fat.

WWW. What will work for me. No one wants to affect just one type of fuel but if you are into the details, this matters. Building muscle works a lot better when you are resisting. You may not be able to lift a weight up, but you can lower it to the ground. It’s not the gravity effect, it’s the lengthening effect of your muscles. So, walking down the stairs allows you to go get ice-cream. Walking up, get some bacon.

Pop Quiz

‪1. You can lower your blood sugar better by walking down stairs than walking up? T or F

Strange, but true.

‪2. Lengthening muscles have more power than shortening muscles? T or F

In a nutshell, true again

‪3. This can be used to your advantage in muscle weight lifting by focusing on the curl up to your shoulder with a barbell. T or F

Oops. Backwards. It’s the curl down that’s the lengthening.

‪4. Eccentric exercise burns calories more for up to 72 hours after you are finished. T or F

Unfair. It’s true but you had to read the article to find it.

‪5. Another good way to help eccentric exercise is to lengthen the time to stretch things out, so lower your barbell over 5 seconds. T or F


True. I’m seriously cheating now. Read the hyper links.

Duct Tape for a Good Night’s Sleep

Duct-Tape for a Good Night’s Sleep

Reference:, Jr Physiology, Red-Green Show, Otol Head Neck Surg 2015,

Ok! Here’s the story. Sleep apnea is being identified as a greater and greater risk for many conditions, including Alzheimer’s, heart attack, obesity, and many other wicked conditions. It keeps climbing the list of medical problems that we haven’t generally addressed. If you take hospitalized folks over age 50, 40% have it.

Well, if it’s so common, how come we don’t understand the cause and the treatment? The common wisdom is that as we get older, you throat muscles get softer and weaker, and you can’t inhale strongly enough to break the collapsing airway. The human airway has elongated over the last 100,000years as we developed articulate speech. That longer shape leads to more muscles that can get mushy with age. That makes sense. It also seems to make sense that added weight on our chests and bellys makes it harder to breathe as we sleep.

But that may not be the key. The key may be how you breathe. Mouth breathing versus nose breathing results in quite different air quality changes in the back of your throat. When you breathe through your nose, you have all sorts of surface area of nasal turbinates to humidify the air. When you breathe through your mouth, the air gets to the back of your throat faster, and dryer. Guess what happens when you dry out your mucous membranes? Yup, you got it. When they come together, they are a bit stickier. You learned this in first grade when you started using glue. You have to hold the glue together until it dries a little, so it sticks better. That’s why glue sticks work better than liquid glue. Same in the back of your throat. When you breathe through your mouth, as most snorer’s do, your throat dries up. When it dries up, it sticks. When it sticks, you have to break the seal with extra effort. That extra effort wakes you up. Presto, sleep apnea.

Could it be that simple? Oh my! You mean, all those expensive, sleep apnea kits could be replaced with something simple that just held your mouth shut? Could Red Green have been right? Could duct tape save your life, keep your brain, preserve your heart? Well, duct tape on your mouth isn’t a safe, long term solution. But this month’s Otolaryngology Jr article reference shows that it works! It reduces volume of snoring, frequency of apnea and just about every other objective measure of apnea severity. Hmmm. Way too interesting. We have to chase this one done. Not much out there yet, but there should be. Stay tuned.

WWW.what will work for me. I don’t snore. I sleep on my side with my face lying to the side. I nose breathe. I haven’t caught myself mouth breathing for over a week now, but I’m trying to see if I can catch myself. I am so interested in this idea, I’ve been telling anyone who will patiently listen to me long enough to hear me out. Forgive me, I think it’s a huge advance. We need safe, inexpensive, non-allergenic tape. Got any ideas. Duct tape won’t work.

Pop Quiz

‪1. Duct tape can save your life? T or F

False. Only if you are holding your ladder together to get out of a fire in your house. You can’t use it on your mouth.

‪2. Taping your mouth forces you to nose breathe, and cuts down on airway obstructions and sleep apnea. T or F

True, in a small, pilot study of mild sleep apnea breathers

‪3. Most mammals nose breathe, and we did until our pharynx changed to allow for articulate speech? T or F

That’s it. In just the last 100,000 years. One of our most recent changes in humans.

‪4. Sleep apnea is a terrible risk for all of us. If we want to prevent Alzheimer’s, we have to address it aggressively. T or F

True. If you are worried about your brain, worry about your sleeping first.

‪5. If you wake up feeling tired every day, sleep apnea should be one of your first considerations. T or F

Right at the top

A Chocolate a Day Is Good for You,

A Chocolate a Day Keeps the Doctor Away, But the Sugar….

Reference: British Journal of Nutrition April 2016, Science Daily,

Published May 2, 2016 Archives at

We have heard about chocolate being good for you for years. The idea keeps popping up and catching our eye. Here is another. Again, it is a bit confounding because it’s based on an open study asking people what they ate.

The Luxembourg Observation of Cardiovascular Risk Study had 1,153 random adults aged 18-69 who were asked about chocolate. Those who reported eating 100 grams a day, each and every day, had better markers for cardiovascular disease, better markers of liver function and metabolic syndrome and better insulin control. The authors claimed that they controlled for tea and coffee consumption because both of those drinks are loaded with the same polyphenol nutrients types that are the putative beneficial compounds in chocolate. The authors did speculate that those who ate chocolate may have also been part of an overall lifestyle factors that correlate with good health, and that wasn’t easily examined.

The authors did raise concern that chocolate often comes along with a lot of sugar, and that’s a problem. And in the last week a study was released about fructose and what it does for your brain. A team from UCLA examined the ability of rats to escape from a maze after being fed either plain water, water with fructose, or water with fructose and DHA (Fish oil). The rats with fructose took twice as long to escape from the maze, an ill effect erased when they also took fish oil. Then the team sequenced their brain genes and they found some 700 proteins that had been altered by the fructose drink. These genes were all part of the portfolio that manage insulin, diabetes, heart disease and blood glucose. And the rats that got the pure fructose had much higher levels of insulin, triglycerides, glucose and all the markers of metabolic distress. Fructose is bad for you. It alters your brain.

What do we do with these two studies? Chocolate is good for you, perhaps. But it always comes with sugar, which is 50:50 fructose. Fructose is just awful for you. It will damage your brain, your metabolism, your insulin, your weight, your lipids. What’s a person to do?

www.What will work for me. I love chocolate. Dove Bars and me are pretty tight. I have learned how to levitate them out of the freezer when I’m watching TV without any evidence that I got out of the chair. Clearly my brain is being altered by an alien. That alien is likely fructose. In the form of sugar, it is too concentrated. When I eat fruit, most of that fructose gets metabolized by the biome in my colon, because the fiber in whole fruit pushes the fructose down to my colon. But pure sugar is just evil incarnate. When I go chocolate hunting today, I’ll look for the 80% cocao stuff.  Do they make chocolate with fish oil?


Pop Quiz:

‪1.  Eating 100 grams of chocolate a day leads to less heart disease. T or F

Whoa Nellie. This was an epidemiological study, but it is intriguing. It’s a hint but this study isn’t proof.

  1. Rats fed fructose, the equivalent of a liter of sugared soda a day (4 sodas), had trouble finding their way out of a maze. T or F


  1. Chocolate usually comes in the form of a bar with sugar. T or F

True. Solid or frozen

‪4. Reducing fructose might be a strong strategy for your personal health. T or F

Probably one of your most important.

‪5. And eating chocolate might transport you into an altered state. T or F

Well. Let’s not go that far. But there are those who……,