Author Archives: Dr John Whitcomb

About Dr John Whitcomb

Dr John Whitcomb is one of Milwaukee's premier functional medicine and Anti-Aging doctors. He is in private practice in Brookfield. He is board certified in Anti-Aging Medicine, Internal Medicine, Emergency Medicine and has a Masters Degree in Nutrition and Metabolic Medicine. He is also now developing Wellness University, an innovative course to teach the fundamentals of nutrition and self care to individuals and companies.

Building Resiliency: Don’t Visit Pity City

References: LamondCurr Geront Ger Res., J. Psychiatric Research, Philip Chard,

What’s resiliency? The most straightforward definition is that resilience connotes the ability to adapt positively to adversity. Folks who are 100 years old have it. If you are 60, or 50 or 40, and you want to live to be 100, it might just serve you well to start developing resiliency in yourself. In fact, as best we can tell, being resilient might be one of the strongest predictors of healthy aging. Hmmm. Sounds good. 
How do you measure it, define it, study it? If you look at the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale of 1395 women over age 60 in San Diego, you will find that four factors stand out: (1) personal control and goal orientation, (2) adaptation and tolerance for negative affect, (3) leadership and trust in instincts, and (4) spiritual coping. The strongest predictors of in this study were higher emotional well-being, optimism, self-rated successful aging, social engagement, and fewer cognitive complaints. 
My eye caught #2, adaptation and tolerance for negative affect. Why? Because of a recent lecture by one of Milwaukee’s leading lights on psychological wellness, Philip Chard, entitled “Realistic Optimism. In that brilliant lecture, he warns that one shouldn’t spend too much time in Pity City. “You can visit Pity City, but you shouldn’t take up residence there.” 

What does that mean in regard to resilience? You can acknowledge your pain and hurt from life’s left turns. You can name it. You can declare it. But then the parking meter runs out and you need to get out of town. Leave life’s hurts behind you. (Isn’t that easily said.). It’s the practice that is the hard part. To leave painful events behind, you have to practice. And when you see that hurt and leave it behind, you essentially build the psychological muscles, the inner strength, to do it again with harder stuff. “Don’t get your undies in a bundle,” said your Grandmother. “Don’t be such a pity pot,” quotes Holly Whitcomb in her book, “The Practice of Finding” where she details self – pity as an obstacle to gratitude. Gratitude leads to “enough”. Leaving one little hurt behind you and defining yourself as able to do so inherently defines you as able, as strong enough to overcome that little annoyance. Psychological pushups. 
It’s practice that may be the key. Rick Hanson, Ph.D., in his book “Resilient: How to Grow a Core of Calm, Strength and Happiness” details the process of building that resilience. He notes that it is crucial to notice the behaviors you want, then savor them, repeat them, remember them and strengthen the neuro-circuits in your brain with that repetition and remembering. Build brain muscle with the little stuff, and then you have the capacity to survive life’s outrageous slings and arrows.
What happens when you indulge in self-pity? You build the opposite. You are inherently defining yourself as a victim, powerless and unable. The logic appears stronger and stronger in your own brain as you argue for your own victimhood. The longer you linger in Pity City, the more you reinforce the circuits in your own brain that you are weak, ineffective and powerless. And that correlates in opposition to resilience. You become passive, inactive and in chronic anxiety.

Sign up for Philip Chard’s weekly blog. Watch for his next public lecture.

WWW: What will work for me? I love the phrase “Pity City”. It makes the context of psychological pain have an element of humor that disarms the gloomy doom of adversity. “Sounds like the parking meter is running”, I say when I hear the whisper of complaint. I’ve named it, I’ve felt it. I’m allowed 15 minutes. After that, I get a parking ticket for lounging around too long in Pity City. As best I can tell, I pay a visit to that suburb several times a day. I’d rather laugh at myself and relish my abandoning it. “Tick, tick, tick..” muses my spouse when she hears me gripe. “The Meter is running! Do you need more coins or shall we get on with it.”

Pop Quiz

  1. Define resilience! Answer: “the ability to adapt positively to adversity”
  2. Why is it important? Answer: Folks who develop resilience live longer, happier lives.
  3. How can I develop it? Answer: Practice on the little stuff.
  4. How long am I allowed to linger in Pity City? Answer: until the parking meter runs out.
  5. What happens when I let “my undies get unbundled”? Answer: you claim your inner toughness and strength. And you give a nod to your tough old Grandma with all the wisdom of her ages, as resilient and centered as she was.

Insulin release and artificial sweeteners

References: Biomedical ResearchScience DailyNature CommunicationsDiabetes Poster Presentation 2017Medical News TodayTime MagazineJr Sci Food AgPLosOne,

Are artificial sweeteners safe for you? What effect do they have on weight? How do I sort all this out? 
The first and foremost point to understand is that insulin is not, repeat NOT your blood sugar controlling hormone. It is your calorie STORAGE hormone. It is the hormone you secrete when carbs are abundant (just before winter) when it is critical that you put on weight so that you have a margin of calories to make it through the winter. Insulin is the key driver to weight gain. Hence, it’s absence is the key driver to weight loss. With adult-onset diabetes, folks become insulin resistant, have quite high insulin levels but ironically also high glucose levels. 
How is insulin released? This is important to understand. It is not just in response to blood glucose. It’s first release occurs because of the flavor sweet on the tongue. That’s called the cephalic phase. Then, the rate of rise of glucose in the blood has a direct impact. We call that the glycemic index of food. The higher the glycemic index, the faster the rate of rise. The faster the rate of rise, the more insulin is secreted.

This unpacks and explains the confusion over blood glucose levels and artificial sweeteners. If your blood sugar doesn’t go up with the use of an artificial sweetener, does that occur because your insulin level went up faster and earlier? Did you have a burst of insulin that camouflages your metabolic response making it look like the artificial sweetener was just dandy and safe to use?

That’s the confusion that you will see in the discussion about artificial sweeteners. Those folks who are trying to get you to buy the stuff will say “blood glucose didn’t rise” as though that was a virtue. At first blush, you believe them and eagerly sign on to use the sweeteners. 
But cracks appear in the scientific edifice. Clear data shows that folks using artificial sweeteners gain weightDrinking a diet soda a day results in weight gain. Why is that? It’s because the endocrine effect of insulin lasts longer than the glucose. When you stimulate insulin, your body is really thinking there are carbs arriving in the stomach and you will have glucose showing up in the blood for the next 4-12 hours. No surprise then that insulin lasts at least 6-8 hours. If you have insulin around for that long and didn’t have any calories to actually show for it, what happens to your blood glucose 4-8 hours out? Bingo: it is lower than it would have been and you are hungrier to make up for it. You eat more before satisfied. You gain weight. 
Another way to look at it is the effect of insulin on ketones. Ketones are made when you are digesting and burning fat (weight loss). Ketones are present only when your insulin level is very low. I can’t find any original research on ketones except my own repeated experiments on myself. Once I am in a ketogenic state, meaning beta-hydroxybutyrate above 2.0, the consumption of 70 calories of carbs in the form of a single small sweet potato will lower my ketones for up to 36 hours before they recover to the prior level. That happens even when I’m in a Fast Mimicking state of only 800 calories a day. You could make the argument that insulin has some residual endocrine effect for up to 36 hours. 

So what happens with artificial sweeteners? That’s the rub. The most widely quoted study in Jr Sci Food Ag claims that stevia is great because it keeps blood sugar lower than anything else. But to your and my eyes, that should now shout out at you, “It means your insulin was higher than anything else!” This may be why Jason Fung claims in the Obesity Code that stevia raises insulin more than table sugar. And that is horrible. If artificial sweeteners control your blood sugar better, but really actually raise your insulin higher, then they are worse for you than we imagined. You will get fatter, faster. It’s the very nature of the flavor sweet. And being 300 times more potent than sugar, as Stevia is, is actually a curse, not a blessing.

What’s a person to do? We need to think of food as having an insulin index more importantly than a glycemic index. Our ability to flex our fuel source between carbs and ketones (sugars and fats) is completely dependent on the presence of insulin in a responsive, supple state. Artificial sweeteners screw that up.

WWW: What will work for me. We have discussed the disruption of your brain with artificial sweeteners but the concept that even stevia increases my insulin is sobering. I just can’t say that stevia is benign. I’m weaning myself down off the flavor sweet. I’m using half a packet of Stevia in a cup of coffee as my current goal.

Pop Quiz:

  1. What determines the glycemic index? Answer: The rate of rise of blood glucose from any given food compared to pure glucose. Pure glucose is assigned 100 and other foods are percentages of that. The glycemic load combines the rate of rise with the total carb count, which also matters.
  2. Artificial sweeteners do what to insulin? Answer: The flavor sweet on the tongue set off insulin secretion as part of the cephalic phase of insulin response, just like the sight and smell of food.
  3. People who use diet sodas lose weight? T or F. Answer: False, they gain weight.
  4. Some of the artificial sweeteners were found during the course of looking for what environmental poisons? Answer: Pesticides. (Splenda or sucralose resulted.). But the analogy is there. They really are metabolic poisons, best avoided and weaned off.
  5. Some of the artificial sweeteners were found during the course of looking for what environmental poisons?     Answer: Pesticides.   (Splenda or sucralose resulted.). But the analogy is there.  They really are metabolic poisons, best avoided and weaned off.

Prolonged Sitting Isn’t Helped by Fish Oil, But Exercise, Fidgeting, and Standing Does Help

References: Appl Phys Nutr Met., Am Jr Phys Heart Phys,Inter Jour Mol Med., Cosmic Heart, Human Heart,

This is so sobering! You just can’t sit for 3 hours at a time. It’s a big, fat problem. It makes “endothelial dysfunction” in the walls of your arteries. The language that is used sounds like this: “sustained reduction in blood flow-induced shear stress” is what happens when you sit too long. 
What on earth is shear stress? You might be surprised to take a deep dive into how much is known about it. It’s the nugget of what is actually happening in your arteries when a pulse of blood good by. Your arteries stretch, but they also have surface shearing on the face of cells exposed to the blood flowing by. They get stretched by that flow. That sets of “activation of ion channels and of G proteins, induction of oscillations in intracellular calcium concentration, alterations in the expression of various important genes, and extensive cytoskeletal reorganization”. 
But that’s not all. You thought your heart was a pump, pumping blood. Reconsider that. It is probably actually more like a hydraulic ram encouraging the momentum of swirling blood, all of which has negative ions on the surface that electrically and magnetically repel the cells from the negative ions on the surface of the endothelium. Just like fluid naturally flows down your bathtub drain in a swirl, your arteries may be much the same. Now, your bathtub is explained by the Coriolis effect of momentum, perhaps we are more attached to Mother Earth ourselves by magnetism and gravity. Your heart may be sucking blood more than pumping. (Read Cowan’s book: Cosmic Heart, Human Heart.). But all that swirling and flowing causes your artery cells to have a special set of forces on their surfaces. Sitting screws that up. 
And you sit all day long. I sit all day long. Desks. Easy chairs. Televisions. Computers. Cell phones. Couches. Plays, concerts, airplane rides, car rides, church, temples, …we sit. Prior to civilization, prior to chairs and leather upholstery, we stood and walked. The Hazda (the world’s most Stone Age tribe) walk 29,000 steps a day. Yesterday I went for a 6-mile hike and put in 18,000 steps, but the day before, I sat and got 1,850 steps. Bummer.

That’s the takeaway from this week. Sitting makes the lining of your arteries dysfunctional. They can’t do their normal, proper shear-stress thing. Taking fish oil for 8 weeks won’t fix it. Prior exercise helps a littleStanding eliminates it. Even “fidgeting” as defined by wiggling your leg for one minute every 4 minutes helps. Ha. Standing eliminates it. 
What’s a modern office worker to do? We know what we should do. It’s doing it that is hard. Stand. Standing desks, standing at home, walking.

WWW: What will work for me. I was quite inspired with a visit to my new granddaughter in Geneva, Switzerland. Her father (my son) stands at his desk all day long. Doesn’t even have a chair. (Note the change of emphasis from son to the new “princess” who gets all the attention). We need to find ways to make this work. It’s the getting up and down all day long that helps. Fidgeting helps. Getting up and down helps.

Pop Quiz

  1. What is your average step-count per day? Answer: About 5,500. Almost everyone else on Earth walks more.
  2. How does blood flow through your arteries? Answer: It probably spins through, repelled by electrical forces of sulfate ions on the surface of red cells, which explains how red cells can get through capillaries smaller than themselves.
  3. What is shear stress? Answer: the normal ebb and flow, like seagrass in waves, over the surface of your cells.
  4. What is the problem with sitting? Answer: We have a reduction of that shear stress response because our blood flow is simply stopped and plugged up by sitting.
  5. What’s the solution? Answer: Anything but sitting. Fidgeting will work, every four minutes. Standing is better. Walking wins.

Celery Juice – Miracle or Sham?

References: New York TimesKim KardiashianDr MercolaMedical Medium’s Celery JuiceNatural Medicine JournalAdvances in Regenerative BiologyUS WeeklyDirty Dozen Vegetables,

Ok, everyone is doing it! You can’t miss Kim Kardashian no matter where you hide, so when she touts celery juice, you hear about it. US Weekly will tell you all the stars snarfing it down. If you want to look like Jennifer Anniston, go for it. Even the staid New York Times has run an article about it. A little more “out there” is Dr. Mercola who actually has a staff that digs into research and produces reasonably broad scoped articles, albeit all aimed at selling something he has for sale. He likes it. 
That’s not what caught my eye. My attention got caught when one of my clients returned from a health spa where he embarked on a 10 day fast, given only a glass of celery juice twice a day to soften the absolute calorie restriction. He lost over 30 pounds, normalized his blood pressure, felt great. I want to dig into the. connection with fasting, and whether the celery juice thing is anything special or apart. It certainly has hit the wires, in part also driven by the “Medical Medium”, a highly publicized self-made health guru who waves his arms around people and tells them their medical problems, and gives a lot of them celery juice, and a fast. Anthony Williams, the so-called “Medium”, with no degree in anything but 4 New York Time’s Best-Sellers, has abook on celery juice you can read. I did. I’m not here to argue his credentials, or veracity, I’m trying to explore the idea and be open to new concepts, no matter how close to the left-field foul ball line that idea comes. 
Does it have extra nutrients in it? Well, yes. It has a great compound called apigeninwhich provides stem cells an extra boost and appears to have anti-cancer effects and neuron supports effects. Both not bad. One reasonable study looking high blood pressure and 150 mg of celery seed extract in a day, thereby getting 3-n-butylphthalide (3nB), showed blood pressure would dropping 8 mm over 8 mm – equivalent to any pill on the market. Finally, it has a great dose of molybdenum, a trace mineral needed to detox heavy metals. No problem there. 
So, do we believe the hype? Is it hype? There is precious little hard evidence and tons of high-intensity promotion. Celery is on the dirty dozen list of pesticide plants, so you may be a little put off by too much of a good thing. What I believe is that we have to get back to the gut and its biome. If it is made happy, many good things follow. The thousands of yet-to-be-discovered compounds and their even more amazing interactions suggests we are still scratching the surface of what is good for us. Do we need more vegetables? Emphatically, yes! Do we need the fiber in the vegetables? Yes again. (So what are you doing juicing?). Might there be some credibility to celery juice? I haven’t a clue. But if Jennifer Anniston says it’s true, then half of America is in.

WWW: What will work for me? I’m trying to construct a rational, effective method of fasting and I’m suggesting that either cucumber or celery juice may be the two ritualized nutrient liquids you could take that allow you to fulfill your need to eat daily meals, just for the sake of ritual, and that don’t break your ketosis. When I do my 10-day fast, I’m going to dust off my juicer and add this to the regimen. I’ll keep track of my own data with ketones and electrolytes. But I suspect the issue is more the fasting than the juice. Time will tell. I’m not looking for any major medical center to fund a research project that takes people off their pills and cures their weight gain their blood pressure, their gut disorders…..

Pop Quiz

  1. Celery juice is pretty high in sugar, like apple juice? T or F. Answer: False, almost none so you won’t endanger your ketosis.
  2. We know all the nutrients in plant juices? Answer: False: Tip of iceberg only-much less their nuanced, synergistic interactions.
  3. There are many thousands of folks who swear by the benefit of celery juice? T or F. Answer: Yup.
  4. Celery is safe to eat as much as you want. Answer: Whoa Nellie. It’s on the dirty dozen list. Please wasn, rinse, soak in something or other.
  5. You will look just like Jennifer if you drink a glass of celery juice a day. Answer; Close your eyes, count to 10 – and it’s true!

Insulin Levels Predict Heart Disease Better than Cholesterol

References: Cardiovascular Diabetology 2018J Eval Clin PractHarvard Health BlogCell Metabolism, Fung’s Obesity Code,

Obsessed with your cholesterol level? Your doctor tell you that you need to be on statins? Are you a slim, trim 62 year old with a cholesterol of 2018 thinking you will die soon if you aren’t on a statin? Then you fit right in to the 2019 medical model of heart disease care, that is deeply flawed. The flaws started to show 5 years ago from the HUNT II studyof 10,000 Norwegian women that showed that women with cholesterols over 200 live longer than those under 200. (Oops!). And by the way, you most likely don’t need to be on statins. How do you know? How can you make sure? 
As elegantly explained in this week’s review article, the core defect in coronary artery disease is insulin signalling. The net effect is incredibly nuanced through many intricate, cross-matching mechanisms and you can get lost in the details. But, an elegant model that explains it all is as follows. You have about 186,000 insulin receptors on a healthy fat cell. Two have to be next to each other to trigger the uptake of insulin. When you are slender, fat cells are smaller and insulin receptors are closer to each other. You only need a very low insulin level to get effective control of glucose. Skinny people have low blood sugar and low insulin levels. As you get larger, you don’t make more fat cells, they just get larger. But in that size increase, they don’t make more insulin receptors. The insulin receptors get further apart. You need higher insulin receptors to trigger proper blood sugar control. You get bigger and bigger, your blood sugar rises more and more. 
Here is the catch. You can only make so much insulin in a lifetime. It’s as though you were only given a million units of insulin to use up in a lifetime. If you are skinny, you only use up 10 units of insulin a day. That means you have enough insulin to last 273 years. If you use 45 units a day, you will run out by age 60. Oddly enough, that’s just when many folks become diabetic and need to be put on various insulin treatment drugs. But if you examine those folks who are becoming “diabetic”, you will find that their insulin is 23, allegedly in the normal range. The problem is that they are overweight (by a lot) and what their body “needs” is an insulin level of 50, and they just can’t make it. Well, their doctor puts them on insulin, cranks up their level to 100 and sure enough, controls their diabetes, and they get even fatter.

What would happen if they were to lose weight? Smaller fat cells, closer insulin receptors, demand for insulin drops. In fact, on a vegan, green vegetable diet, their demand for insulin drops in hours. Hours. Their blood sugar normalizes in hours as they switch over their bodies from glucose metabolism to the necessary ketone metabolism involved in weight loss. It feels rough for a day or two as the cellular mechanisms of ketone metabolism haven’t been aroused or activated for decades and need to be woken up. But wake up they do. Weight loss ensues. Receptors get closer to each other. Lower and lower levels of insulin is needed and all the nuanced, intertwined mechanisms of high insulin caused damage go away. And heart disease risk plummets. 
Don’t measure your cholesterol. It is an indirect, tangential look at your insulin level. You have high cholesterol because you are eating too many triggers for insulin release like too many carbs, grains, sugar, and animal. Stop eating that. Switch to vegetables and healthy oils (olive, macadamia, avocado, coconut) and delicious spices. Measure your insulin level and do everything you can to get it down to below 5. Don’t settle for the “normal” range your lab says for insulin (3-29). Healthy is below 5. Period. Excellent is below 3.5. Included in the “normal” range are all those millions of folks who are overweight and headed for the cath lab and open-heart surgery.

It sounds complex but it’s actually elegantly simple. It is complex. It is incredibly nuanced, but it has this simple driving mechanism: your insulin level is defined by the size of your fat cells, your diet (as driven by consumption of glycemic carbs, sugar, and animal), and your activity. And that drives your heart disease risk.

WWW: What will work for me. I’ve been measuring insulin levels for 10 years now. It works. It is an accurate, responsive, predictive model of those folks in trouble, and those folks getting out of trouble. It responds rapidly to dietary changes. On the fast mimicking diet, it drops to 5 and under in 3 days, exactly in sync with ketones showing up. Try it. You can get your own lab. If it isn’t below 5, I would hazard the guess your waist size isn’t ideal. Get it there. I just ordered new pants. I’m finally below 38 inches.

Pop Quiz:

  1. A cholesterol level of 200 and above means you should be on a statin. T or F. Answer: that is the American Heart accepted threshold. It is driven by a 30 billion dollar industry, paying for a lot of cardiologists to do flawed research that is looking at the wrong picture. Read the HUNT study from Norway and ponder why women live longer with cholesterol over 200. (Hint: they have large, fluffy, harmless LDLs. It’s small dense ones, driven by high insulin that cause trouble.)
  2. Insulin level reflects what? Answer: The standard answer is the level of insulin resistance but the operative model proposed here is better explained by the spacing of insulin receptors over ever-enlarging fat cells. Lose weight, make your fat cells smaller and receptors closer, and your insulin level goes down.
  3. What is wrong with high insulin? Answer. Wow, read the review article. There must be at least 20 separate, destructive, overlapping, functions of insulin; everything from increasing smooth muscle proliferation in artery walls to more oxidized LDLs to more t
  4. What happens to insulin when you fast, or fast-mimick by eating only green vegetables (that make beta-hydroxybutyrate)? Answer. Plummets. I mean, fast.
  5. Does this mean you can cure diabetes by losing weight? Answer: Yup. If you can reduce your demand from insulin from 45 units a day to 2 units a day, the 50,000 units of insulin your pancrease still has in it will last you decades, with good control, instead of months with marginal control. But you have to lose the weight.

Why do I Need More Iodine?

References: Living NaturallyTher Adv Endo MetaboHuffington PostGuardianJr CancerNIH Fact Sheet on IodineWHO Iodine Prophyllaxis after Nuclear AccidentCanadain Jr Surg,

Svent-Gyorgi got the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1937 for the discovery of Vitamin C. He lived much of his later life in Maine, working at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. He attributed much of his longevity to iodine, taking 1,000 mg a day. Did you get that? 1,000 mg. You are getting 0.250 mg a day if you are an average American eating iodized salt, and taking no extra.

What caught my eye this week was the amount of iodine you get in amiodarone, the number one anti-arrhythmic in the world. A standard 200 mg dose of amiodarone will give you 75 mg a day of iodine. Given its standard metabolism, you will get 6 mg of elemental iodine a day. Whew! But that correlates with my childhood in India, where I took iodine pills all the time for water purification. We didn’t when we lived at home, but with any travel, hiking, going into town or whatever, we had a bottle of iodine tablets that I used liberally to purify water. I would guess that I took at least 2-10 pills of iodine a month.

Now, in America we are all spastic about iodine toxicity because of one really bad research article that has never been refuted. Done in rats, it suggested you get a short-term reduction in thyroid function when you take a large dose of iodine. Projected onto humans, it has led us to believe that too much iodine will suppress our thyroid long term. However, there has been no evidence and no proof of that being the case.

Guy-Abraham at UCLA posited an alternative approach. He measured how much iodine one has to take to excrete 90 % of it in the urine in the following 24 hours: the standard measure of sufficient mineral intake. That comes out to 12.4 mg a day. That’s quite different than 0.25 mg we are getting in America. It is certainly much less than the 1,000 mg Svent-Gyorgy took.

Why do we need so much? This is another whole rabbit hole to go down but I believe we are all bromine overdosed. Bromine, a halide ion just one notch above iodine in the periodic table, acts chemically just like iodine but has never ever been in the human food chain until 50 years ago. But we flippantly add it to all our bread products because it helps make bread more elastic. Even China has banned bromine. But not us. And your carpet and furniture are soaked in it as a fire retardant.

Iodine is pushed off its receptor by bromine. That’s the rub. To reverse bromine toxicity, which our FDA denies, you have to take more iodine. The bread industry is tougher and pays more to politicians than you do, so it doesn’t get studied. (Listen to me! Don’t I sound a little paranoid? Doesn’t make me wrong, just wary.)

But do you need more iodine? Yup! How much? Guy Abraham may have it right. He estimated 12.4 mg a day. I’ve been telling folks at least 12.4 mg twice a month which increases your intake 5-6 fold over what you get now. Svent-Gyorgi lived to age 93 on 500 times that dose. I suspect the range of safety is larger than what we have thought in the past. But I have one client who has taken 12.4 mg a day for 10 years now and it cured her neurological condition. If you have fibrocystic breast disease, that is likely an iodine deficiency syndrome. Breast cancer? Please, please take iodine!

WWW: What will work for me. I believe we are all tip-toeing along the edge of severe iodine deficiency. I have been taking 3-4 pills a month and think I will up my game to at least double that. I’ve been doing it for over 10 years now, and had a childhood similar to that. I don’t eat much bread at all, except when I’m in Europe (where bromine is banned). I think we are also all bromine contaminated, if not poisoned. Ironically, it’s the use of an artificial medication, amiodarone, that woke me back up to the importance of iodine. Bless dear old Svent-Gyorgi.

Pop Quiz

  1. Who was Svent-Gyorgi? Answer: Nobel Prize for Vitamin C who took 1 gram a day of iodine: 6,000 times the RDA of our current American guidelines (150 mcg a day).
  2. How much Iodine are the Japanese taking around Fukushima? Answer: 100 mg a day. (And we haven’t heard of a huge epidemic of thyroid disorders from them.). That is 600 times our current RDA in America.
  3. Do we need more iodine today than 100 years ago? Answer: Emphatically yes. We have been inundated with bromine in many forms. In America, we have been curiously inattentive to it. Europe and even China have banned bromine from bread. We pour it in. But fire retardants made from bromine are all around you.
  4. If you have breast cancer, should you be on more iodine? Answer. Probably but if you have fibrocystic breast disease, (the number one risk for breast cancer) – you MUST be on it.
  5. What can you do to eat more iodine in food? Answer: seaweed. Cod. Shellfish. And that will get you to 200-250 mcg a day. Maybe one 40th of what you need. Eat up. Maybe you just need a pill because of all the bromine in your ecosystem.

Senolytic Therapy for Alzheimer’s? “STOP IT IN ITS TRACKS

References: Aging Cell, Forbes MagazineDiabetes,

It’s getting close to Halloween. Zombies are in everyone’s yards. And zombie cells are in you. You have heard about senescence in this column. It happens to good healthy cells that are “quiescent” (waiting and responsive, able to duplicate) when they tip into “senescence”. A senescent cell is a zombie. It is hanging around but unable to be constructive and helpful. Actually, it is harmful because they ooze inflammatory substances and infect their neighbors. But they don’t go away. Aging is all about accumulating more and more senescent cells in all your organs. And we see that in the blood tests with an inexorable decline in circulating stem cells. We have talked about getting rid of senescent cells with various combinations of supplements on your own, or with Mayo Clinic’s protocol of Dasatinib (a leukemia drug) and quercetin, a well-known supplement derived from onions and apples. 
It’s the accumulation of tau proteins in the brain that appears to be the tipping point in Alzheimer’s, and possibly up to 20 other brain disease. Tau proteins are the stabilizing scaffolding of axons, the wires that connect brain cells. If they get misfolded and disorganized, it’s as though your scaffolding on your new building suddenly collapsed. This paper from the University of Texas shows that a link exists between senescent cells and the accumulation of tau proteins. This means you have senescent cells, zombies, in your brain with broken scaffolding that you can’t clear out. It’s not just that the tau proteins are in the way but the zombie cells won’t go away. No matter how many “Trick or Treats” you give them, they just keep infecting the cells around them. No wonder you can’t think straight! What if……what if you could clear out those zombies? Well, you can. 
You can clear senescent cells from mouse brains that are genetically altered to look like human Alzheimer’s. The “senolytic” treatment given the mice was the same used at Mayo, Dasatinib and Quercetin, once every two weeks over 12 weeks. They then did MRI’s on the mouse’s brains and looked at them under a microscope. 
One of the authors was so enthusiastic about their outcome that he was quoted as saying in Forbes, “It stopped Alzheimer’s in its tracks!” That’s pretty intense. Did it cause the mice any harm? Nope. Not that they could detect. Will this work in humans? Who knows! If you had early-onset Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s…..would you try it?

WWW: What will work for me. This is another classic example of the “ethics” of modern medicine. Is it ethical to take a scientific advance found in mice to you when you are descending into an irreversible disease? If it doesn’t cause harm, that you know of, does that make it easier? Or, do you care if it causes harm? Should this be a therapy used by everyone over 40, as 50% of us are going to get Alzheimer’s someday if we live long enough?

Pop Quiz

  1. It’s Halloween in your brain, what is happening to the zombie cells in your brain? Answer: They are becoming “senescent”
  2. What does senescent mean? Answer: Those cells can’t duplicate anymore but more importantly, they put out inflammatory cytokines that inflame and damage cells around them into becoming senescent.
  3. What appears to be the cardinal marker of ongoing senescence in brain cells? 
    Answer: The accumulation of tau proteins.
  4. n mice, what can you do to clear out those senescent cells? Answer: Dasatinib (chemotherapy drug) and Quercetin, dosed 6 times over 12 weeks.
  5. What else can you do to reverse that senescence? Answer: Walk two miles every day of the world. A bit of sweat is better. Fast mimicking diet if not outright fasting on a routine basis. Growth hormone might also be a secret path.

Prolonged Fasting (10 days) Cures Fatty Liver

References: EMBO Molecular MedicineScience DailyWebMDJ Clin MedEur J GastroJCEM,

If you have gained meaningful weight since you were a teen, and have a waist size 4-6 inches greater than you had before, you likely have fatty liver. If you drink much alcohol, you likely have fatty-liver. That means you join just about 50% of Americans. We all have it. Fatty liver, insulin resistance, diabetes, and big waist size all go hand in hand. In fact, fatty-liver goes hand in hand with SIBO (small intestinal bowel overgrowth), also goes hand in hand, a curious correlation. 
The result of all this is that your liver doesn’t work as efficiently as you would want it to. You have insulin resistance and many other metabolic markers of dysfunction. If you just look at pictures of the endoplasmic reticulum, your body’s metabolic factory where you make critical proteins, you can see that fatty liver just mucks thinks up by making big pools of fat on the factory floor. It’s like parking empty semi-trailers on an assembly line floor – horribly out of context and in the way.

How do you get fatty-liver? Easy. Eating too much stuff that gets turned into fat at a rate so fast you can’t ship it out from your liver. So it backs up. That’s it. Alcohol is a premier example. You instantly make triglycerides and small LDLs in your blood when you drink alcohol and your liver backs up with it if you make more than you can ship to your fat cells. You get a “beer belly” as you keep shipping fat out. That means you are also getting a “beer-liver”. But lots of bread and chips, pretzels and Fritos, bagels and donuts will do it too. Did I mention ice-cream?

GADD45β, (Growth Arrest and DNA Damage-inducible Peptide) appears to be a critical peptide you stop making when you eat or drink too much. It protects you from fatty-liver. Fasting increases its level. There you have it. You can cure your fatty-liver very quickly with a prolonged, 10-day fast. You make more GADD45β. Your liver starts to regenerate and heal itself from the self-induced damage.

Can I explain the sequence of events of what happens to you? Critical to the whole process is turning off insulin, as insulin is the key driver to forcing you to store calories. Part of the storage process is making fat molecules to ship to your fat cells as triglycerides from your liver. Turn off insulin and you turn off the engine driving that process. Sort of like turning off the electricity and your computer printer stops printing. The production of insulin is defined by what you eat. Refined carbs do it best. Any flour will do. But root vegetables, grains, and meat also turn on insulin. Stop eating those foods and your insulin level plummets. The first event in the fasting sequence is turning off insulin, sort of like turning off the electricity. Then, it takes two days to empty your carb reserves when you fast.

By hour 48, you have burned all 1500 calories of carbs that were packed into your muscles and liver as glycogen. You are now in ketosis, meaning you are running on ketones, the breakdown products of fat. You feel differently, sort of like hunger but not really. Your brain feels sharper. You are colder and need an extra sweater. 
Your body is now looking around for calories to burn. First comes the easy to get to tank of fat in your liver. Your fatty liver gets addressed. You start making GADD45β and shipping the fat out to burn. It takes 3-4 days to get rid of that fat, maybe it a bit longer if you have big-time fatty-liver. 
By day 6 or 7, your liver function tests are dramatically better and your blood cholesterol ironically starts to rise. That’s because you are cleaning out the fat from your liver and your arteries. No kidding! Your body needs fuel and that fat is the easy-to-get-to stuff because it’s right there where the blood flows and is access to mobilize. 
Ok, fasting sounds too hard. Traditional methods of treating fatty liver include such advice as “eat less and lose weight”. That hasn’t worked very well because that admonition doesn’t come with recipes of food that don’t turn off insulin. The only foods that don’t turn on insulin are green, above-ground vegetables. Make me a diet of spinach, Brussel’s sprouts, broccoli and kale, and I will get rid of your fatty liver. But you have to eat them only, with a drizzle of olive oil on them and only 800 calories a day. Do that for 4 weeks and your fatty liver will be gone too. Oh heck, just fast for 10 days and get it over with. Come see me and I’ll show you how.

WWW: What will work for me. I’m watching the liver functions of every one of my patients who do 10-day fasts. I’m personally just finished by most recent 5- day fast mimicking diet of 800 calories. I didn’t get hungry, one more time, as my body is now trained to flip into and out of ketosis. It took about 6 months to get there but I’m now quite comfortable getting in and out of it. My liver function tests are now normal and my waist size is back down with two inches of my high school graduation size. It was up over 6 inches from where I am now. Then, I had fatty liver.

Pop Quiz

  1. Who has fatty-liver? Answer: Anyone of us who have gained more than 4-6 inches on our waist sizes since highschool. Hmm: all of us, just about.
  2. What is the cause of fatty liver? Answer: Too much nutrition of fat inducing foods, with a dab of booze on the side.
  3. What’s the best way to get rid of fatty liver? Answer: Stop it. Fast. The fewer the calories, the faster it works. You won’t feel hungry after about day 4-5 but you will feel colder and be more easily fatigued if its the first time you have ever done it.
  4. Can you measure your fatty liver? Answer: Well, yes, with high tech expensive stuff live an MRI or an ultrasound. Better way is your waist size and simply asking if you have gained 6 inches since highschool. Or an SGOT/SGPT liver function tests commonly on the chem panel. GADD45β is really a research tool not on the market for normal folks.
  5. Ok, what’s a more traditional way to get rid of fatty liver? Answer: lose weight more slowly. Takes longer and fails because, because, because. So it doesn’t work very well. This is serious business. Take it seriously. Don’t eat for 10 days. Be a vegan for 7 days before and after. Get lots of help. Read Joel Fuhrman’s book: Fasting Fasting for wellness.

Senescent Cells can by Knocked off with Supplements Too!

References: Forever HealthyAntioxid Redox Signal., WikipediaScientific AmericanMDPI,

The last third of our lives isn’t as fun as the first two. We are in decline. Our bodies are shutting down and falling apart. At the level of the cell, responsive, duplicating, life-sustaining stem cells that are in the “Quiescent” state degrade into a “Senescent” state. They won’t respond to calls to duplicate. They start making mistakes in managing energy supply through the mitochondria and spin-off all sorts of “oxidants”. They develop a unique secretome of chemokines, cytokines and extracellular matrix-degrading proteins, termed the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP), that can actively damage the tissues in which senescent cells reside. They are a mess. We die when too many of our cells become “senescent” and make SASP. 
Last week we reported on the Mayo Clinic’s publication of clinical improvement in patients given chemotherapy drugs and quercetin (plant-based anti-oxidant) that could be shown to clean out, knock off, get rid of senescent cells.

The question arises, can you do it on your own? Are some of the foods eaten by populations that live longer rich in anti senescent qualities? Are there some foods we should add to our diet? 
With that idea in mind, let’s look at the evidence. The answer might be yes! For example, fisetin is a hot topic compound right now. It’s found naturally in strawberries, grapes, apples and onions. Of the six pathways that senescent cells activate to prevent their death (making them hang around like zombies, present but not really alive) fisetin activates 4 of them leading to the cells clearing out and then dying. All the research to date has been done in mice where there is a lot of interesting evidence that it helps.

Beyond eating more strawberries and grapes, can you take a supplement of fisetin? Dr Mercolacertainly thinks so. The protocols that have been used have a doseof around 20 mg per kilogram body weight for two days in a row, here and there. 
Are there other supplements that might work together with fisetin? Well, yes. Quercetin also has some beneficial effects.

Curcumin might also be helpful. It’s the yellow in curry powder from the spice turmeric. It directly binds and blocks the inflammatory pathway with NK-kappa-B and COX enzymes. Like fisetin and quercetin, it is a common food that has many points of activity, but also very low toxicity.

This deep dive can spiral down further and further. Until we have specific tests about how to measure the effectiveness and safety, the level of senolytic cells, the reduction of those cells by your intervention…on an on, it might be a bit premature. But if it doesn’t harm you, is it so bad to experiment? This is food after all! Sounds to me like eating whole, organic, fresh foods might not be such a bad strategy. Doing some strategy twice a year might not be so bad, to cut down on the building burden of senolytic cells.

Or, if you want, can you buy Fisetin take a gram of it three days in a row with a gram of Quercetin and have a nice spicy curry for three days in a row, loaded with fried curry powder so that you get all three? Do that twice a year. Four times a year? 
The other strategy of reducing senolytics should not be forgotten. You can pull back senolytic cells into quiescence by exercise (2 miles of walking daily) and fasting episodically. Growth hormone will also do it.

WWW: What will work for me? Goodness. I love this idea. I’m doing my exercise pretty faithfully. I’ve been doing my 5 day fast mimicking once a month. I bought by spinach to make my soup and curry for my next session. But should I take Fisetin and Quercetin a couple of times a year? I want to find the tests that show improvement. I need one more piece of the puzzle to fall into place.

Pop Quiz

  1. What is senolytics? Answer: The emerging science of getting rid of old, senescent cells.
  2. What are the problems with old, senescent cells? Answer: They give off all sorts of damaging compounds and chemicals that infect the cells around them with aging and poorer function. They can’t multiply. Enough of them and you die.
  3. What are the plant-based three supplements that might be useful to naturally rid yourself of your own senescent cells? Answer: Fisetin, quercetin, curcumin found in strawberries, onions, apples and curry.
  4. Do you need to take these all the time? Answer: No, probably just a couple of times a year.
  5. Do we have human studies to prove the concept? Answer: Very few. Mostly tangential. But sure interesting.

Live Longer by Knocking off your Senile Cells

References: eBiomedicineNatureNature MedicineNatureCellsMediumNIH ResearchCurr Opin LipidologyCell Stem CellAmer Jr of Physiol.,

We want you to have responsive, alert, available stem cells throughout your body. When in this state, we call them “quiescent“. They may be “quiet” but they are geared up and ready to go when called upon. They aren’t dividing or multiplying, but are ready to do so if asked. You just might live forever if your cells were always “quiescent”. The problem is, they become old, damaged and “senescent” or senile.

That is effectively what aging is. Your cells that are able to divide reach a limit (The Hayflick limit of 50 divisions) and stop dividing. They then undergo a whole raft of changes including changes in chemicals they excrete, signals they send out, structure of their internal architecture, etc. They are still metabolically active and doing their “thing” in the organ they belong to, but they can’t divide and they are basically zombies. Like the zombies on horror movies, they can invade you and infect you with their senescence. Transplant senescent cells from old rats to young rats, and the young rats act old. This process is all about the conversation between healthy mitochondria and your nucleus. When that process is humming and healthy, your cells remain responsive and “quiescent”. When it degrades, they become “senescent”. 
Getting rid of senescent cells would appear to be a crafty little idea of helping you live longer. We do know that ailing organs pile up more and more senescent cells as they become more dysfunctional with whatever their disease state is. So what would happen if we found drugs that could selectively kill off senescent cells? 
That’s what this week’s news is about. From the Mayo Clinic, researchers report that they can kill off senescent cells selectively with so-called senolytic drugs. Using an herbal supplement called quercetin and a leukemia drug called dasatinib the study authors found remarkable reduction in the senolytic population that persisted for 11 days after stopping the study. In mice that combination has led to mice living longer. Now we know it appears to be safe in humans in short term studies. We don’t have long term studies, yet. 
But before you rush out and start yourself on quercetin, remember there are other ways to pull your cranky mitochondria back from middle age senescence to more youthful quiescence. Exercise does it! High-Intensity Training, HIT, is the current hot topic where you go nuts for 4 minutes of hard-driving, sweat-inducing and heart rate raising exercise. It works because…..? It wakes up your senescing mitochondria and cells and pulls them back into quiescence. Got that? Anything else? 
Why yes. Fasting. When you fast, you force your body to switch from glucose burning to ketone or fat burning. That’s good for your stem cells and quiesence. In fact, there is increasing evidence that stem cells love your being on ketones. Plain and simple. When you fast, you switch your body into ketone or fat burning (You chop up your fat molecules into ketones once you have burned off all your carbs – usually after about 2 days). That wakes up your middle-aged, sloppy cells on the verge of becoming senescent, and hauls that back into quiescence. What’s the proof? Too much to enter here except to reference all the feeding studies like in Madison, WI where rhesus monkies fed 30% fewer calories lived much, much longer than those fed to satiety. We eat to satiety, and then some.

Any way to speed up senescence? Yes, again. A high-fat diet will do that just fine. Radiation, sedentary life, pesticides, or any other oxidative stress you can think up will all do it.

WWW: What will work for me. Wow. Fascinating. We can use drugs to push old, cruddy quiescent cells out and kill them off. Ok, leukemia drugs make me a bit nervous but quercetin is tried and true safe. It’s the concept that is reinforcing the over-arching concept. We want to keep our cells quiescent. This is the secret sauce of exercise. And then there is fasting. I’m doing my 5-day thing monthly. Did I mention that boosting your growth hormone will do it too?

Pop Quiz

  1. Can you really live longer by knocking off your senile old cells? Answer: Not really proven yet but all the pieces are in place. The longest-lived persons all over the world fit the pattern: they exercise. they fast, they eat less fat
  2. What did the researchers do at Mayo that worked on senescent cells? Answer: They showed they could selectively kill them off with two drugs
  3. Why are senescent cells such a big deal? Answer: They are front and center of just about every disease. You die when your burden of senescent cells piles up too high.
  4. Can you recall how much longer men lived in the Retired Men’s Study from Honolulu when they walked 2 miles a day? Answer: (Bonus points). Double.Nice number.
  5. What are ketones and what do they have to do with senescence? Answer: Ketones are the chopped up fat molecules we make when we have burned off all our carbs. You can get a few ketones in your system every day if you don’t eat for 13 hours. Longer fasting is better. First, you burn off your 1500 calories of carbs. Then you get to theeasy fat hanging out in your fatty liver. Then you plunge ahead and just plain lose weight and wake up all your lazy quiescent cells.