Monthly Archives: October 2016

Boron, Mineral Surprise

Boron, Mineral Surprise

References: Science Direct, Wikipedia,

Ever heard of boron? Not a very common mineral in mammals. In fact, it’s considered an “ultra trace” mineral. Produced by spallation and supernovae, it is not an abundant mineral, but is present in many soils in a trace level. There is no obvious known animal use for it as making rats deficient has been a challenge requiring ultra pure diets. Rats then get lousy skin and fur. It’s very light in weight and makes extremely hard crystals, allowing it to be used as an industrial abrasive and in high tech magets and super strong fibers.

Imagine my surprise when I find that it has a surprising role in humans. It is one of the most effective known tools to reduce sex hormone binding globulin. It also may play a surprising role in osteoporosis and arthritis. In parts of the world where intake of boron is less than a mg a day, the incidence of arthritis is 50-70%. In those parts of the world where boron intake is 3-10 mg a day, arthritis is around 0-10%. That’s just epidemiology, and we don’t have good human studies with arthritis.

We do have a study showing boron’s effect on SHBG. SHBG is Sex Hormone Binding Globulin. It is the protein tasked with transporting estrogen and testosterone around the body. Hormones are based on cholesterol, a fat, and fat doesn’t dissolve in water. SHBG allows them to be transported in water. It binds about 99% of the hormones, leading only 1% in the bioavailable or free form. The way birth control pills work is to dramatically increase SHBG, thereby binding virtually all free estrogen and testosterone. The problem arises when you stop the pill, SHBG may not go back to normal.

In fact, SHBG’s continuing to be high may be a problem with men too. Continued high SHBG leads to very tiny levels of free testosterone. Lowering SHBG may be part of how we raise the level of the hormones we depend on for good health, testosterone and estrogen.

In this study, 10 mg of boron was given to eight healthy men for a week. In that short time period, their blood boron increased and their free testosterone increased dramatically by 29%, mostly due to a drop in SHBG. Interestingly enough, CRP, the main mediator of inflammation, dropped dramatically as well. This is a terribly short study, with a tiny number of participants, but it opens a door to think about the benefit of boron. Then, I look at the ingredients in my most effective bone builder, Pro Bono, and I see 2.5 mg of boron daily. The literature on boron and calcium and bone metabolism is thin, but it suggests we do better when we have more.

www. What will work for me. I had no idea that boron played such a big role in general health. I’m sort of fascinated that this arcane, micro mineral might be so useful. I’m determined to follow this further. Between lowering CRP, lowering SHBG, raising testosterone, lowering calcium excretion, we might have a whole host of reasons to consider this spallated mineral to be a little superstar. And it’s fun to learn the term spallation. I’m adding boron to my list of minerals to use for arthritis, inflammation and SHBG management.

Pop Quiz

‪1. Boron is a critical element for human health. T or F

Trick question. We don’t really know. It’s a micro trace element with no known mechanism of action but with many small studies showing beneficial effects.

‪2. Sex Hormone Binding Globulin rises dramatically with boron. T or F

False. It drops. That is good. Make for higher free testosterone.

‪3. Birth Control Pills may lead to a permanent elevation of SHBG. T or F

True. That leads to less muscle, less immune function, less libido.

‪4. Spallation is the creation of minerals by cosmic rays. T or F

True. Boron, beryllium, aluminion, neon, iodine among others are formed this way. Also describes how to make flint arrowheads.

‪5. A good dose of boron is well provided in most vitamins. T or F

Well, we don’t know. Boron is included at 150 mcg in Centrum. May not be enough for optimal effects.

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?


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.

Sunlight: A Lot More Than Just Vitamin D

Sunlight: A Lot More Than Just Vitamin D

Reference: Science News, Cell,   Published Oct 10, 2016

You know that we need Vitamin D and that we get it only from sunshine. (Well, a tiny bit is artificially added to milk and Cod Liver Oil has some in it). And you know that, in Wisconsin, we stop making Vitamin D about October 1, not because it’s cold and cloudy but because the angle of the sun is now so low that almost all UVB is filtered out by the atmosphere. And you know that you need to have a blood level of at least 32 ng and optimally in the range of 45-55, which most folks can achieve with 20,000 iu a week. Ok, so far, so good.

But we feel different in winter, and the human body makes a whole host of other chemicals and hormones in response to sunlight. If you feel that your mood changes in the winter, read on. Here is the explanation.

First of all, as reported in Science News, elegant research in the journal, Cell, shows that mice, exposed to UVB radiation increase the amount of β-endorphin in their blood. It goes away in about a week. β-endorphin isn’t there for your pleasure seeking feelings, it’s present throughout your body and plays a role in many processes, including part of your immune balancing system. When the mice were given a blocking drug to morphine called naloxone, they actually showed some signs of withdrawal, as though they were habituated or addicted to the sunlight. Don’t you feel good when you get good bright sunlight?

Serotonin is one of your happy hormones. Bit by bit we are assembling evidence that sunlight makes for more serotonin. Whether it’s through Vitamin D production, leading to more serotonin, or other complex processes, we aren’t sure, but sunlight does cheer you up. Oxytocin is your bonding hormone. Without it, mother mice reject their babies. With it, we bond and feel great attachment to our mates and our offspring. Again, sunlight appears to increase oxytocin release.

Finally, there is dopamine. It is part of our portfolio of happy hormones. It appears that you might need at least 30 minutes to increase dopamine receptors and thereby increase sensitivity to dopamine, but sunlight does it.

So what’s a person to do in Wisconsin to keep our mood up when the sun goes down? Well, first and foremost, think about the portfolio of hormones that are affected by sunlight and consider other means by which you can increase them. A good night’s sleep, good exercise, entertaining positive thinking, keeping up on supplementation of Vitamin D, enjoying the pleasure of good friends, participating in strong community and loving family…all seems to make good sense, and good hormones.

WWW.What will work for me. I take 20,000 IU of D a week and 50,000 IU when I get a cold. I try to keep exercising regularly so that I get sweaty enough to take a shower. I haven’t had many vegetable oils, but I’ve had lots of vegetables. But I’m really thinking about is a nice trip to someplace sunny. Wouldn’t that be nice? Visualize that 5 mile long beach and how good you feel when you are walking on it.

Pop Quiz

‪1. β-endorphin levels go up in humans with exposure to sunlight? T or F

‪Oops, maybe, maybe not. It’s proven in mice. It’s even blocked with morphine blockers in mice. And humans and mice overlap a lot. But the research was in mice. Not humans. It confirms our hunch about how we feel with sunlight, but it’s not proven in humans yet.

‪2. We go into withdrawal when we stop getting sunlight? T or F

Well, it’s true for me. But we don’t have that research in humans. If you answered true, you may well reflect the majority opinion of how we all feel as the days get shorter and sunlight weaker.

‪3. There are other hormones released on exposure to sunlight. T or F

True. Particularly the “happy hormones”, oxytocin, serotonin, dopamine.

‪4. You can’t make much Vitamin D after October 1 in Wisconsin. T or F

True. Now, if you are particularly sun sensitivity and have very fair skin, and originate from far Northern European countries, your skin is likely still able to pick up some D at midday for a couple more weeks. You won’t burn. If you have olive skin or darker, your chance is past. Dark Africans need 6 times the amount of sunlight to get to the same D level. Older folks getting closer to 70 will need as much as 4-5 times the amount of sunlight to have the same D effect as younger folks.

‪5. When I take Vitamin D, I feel happy. T or F

Well, not really. Except for that you remembered to do it. D may help you make more serotonin and prevent warding off the winter blues, but you don’t feel it immediately. What is more likely is that you don’t descend into January depression. It’s harder to prove the absence of a negative versus the presence of a positive.

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?)