Category Archives: 3. How We Should Eat

Are You a Food Addict? Take the Susceptibity Test

FReferences: Bright Line EatingSusan P Thompson’s Susceptibility ScaleValidation of Yale Food Addiction Score in ChildrenPhilos Trans R SocWheat FactsCornAm J Physiology56 names of sugar,

There is a growing science of measuring addiction susceptibility in humans. Criteria for being an addict include developing tolerance to a substance, withdrawal when use is stopped, needing larger and larger doses, persistent desire coupled with the inability to stop using, spending increased time to access the substance, continuing use of the substance even though you know it causes harm and giving up social or recreational activities to use the substance. Sounds dour and threatening, doesn’t it? Could this be chocolate? Or just plain sugar? 
The body of research supporting human food addiction is actually getting more robust as we look at our obesity epidemic and ponder what is driving it. Animal models of addictive eating show that rats given access to sugar or highly processed foods exhibit the classic behavioral and biological signs of addiction (e.g., withdrawal, tolerance, dopaminergic downgrading). Hmmm… For example, get rats addicted to cocaine, then expose them to a choice of cocaine or sugar, and they go for the sugar instead of the cocaine. Hmmm….. 
More to the point, functional MRI scanning of active circuits in the human brain show pretty remarkable overlap between sugar, white flour, and heroin. 
And processed food appears to be at the forefront of this addictive behavior. What’s in processed food? 80% of American food has sugar or high fructose corn syrup added to it. Often it is given a different name hoping you are willing to let dehydrated cane juice, agave, or honey trick you into thinking it’s not sugar. Some foods even boast that they have no, underline NO high fructose corn syrup, and then have pure beet sugar instead. The difference between the two is subtle, at best.

What is processing? It’s actually very simple. Take a whole grain with the surface area of the grain, and grind it into talcum powder. We call that flour – whether it be from wheat, or corn, or rye, it’s still talcum powder. 10-100 fold increase in surface area, with the encasing protective fiber also gone. When you eat it, your enzymes can get to that greater surface area faster. A whole grain will have a glycemic index below 30% of pure glucose. A grain that has been broken in half, like steel cut oats, will have a glycemic index of 50% of glucose. Just cracking the grain in half increases the ability of your enzymes to access the glucose packed in that grain. But crush the grain flat and call it “Quick Oats” and you increase the surface area enough to increase the glycemic index to 70-80, depending on how finely you crush it. You put out insulin in an increasingly rapid fashion in response to the rapid glucose rise. Insulin blocks leptin in your brain stem, making you want to eat more. And there you have it. Any grain will do the same. Corn is just about the foundationof everything we eat because of its use in animal feed.

But wheat occupies a special place in addiction. Not only is it made into talcum powder but that talcum powder is put into about every package or processed food, be it pasta, gravy, bread, crackers, cookies, or any other form that leads to the 6 oz of wheat flourwe each eat every day. And wheat has wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) in it and that is a special devil. It is an insulin agonist/antagonist, leading to more insulin binding to fat cells, less to muscle cells and more leptin blocking, all of which engineer weight gain and more addictive consumption.

With all that hitting you when you eat processed foods, is it any wonder that you act like an addict? It’s almost amazing we all aren’t.

Do you want to take Susan Thompson’s quiz? This is the link. I’m not sure it’s the final word in understanding why we overeat, but it sure gives you some insight into why we all have so much trouble losing weight. She claims that about a third of us are not affected by addictive tendencies, about a third are modestly affected, and a third are rabidly vulnerable. That would be me. All of us can act with addictive tendencies, given constant exposure and reinforcement.

WWW: What will work for me. I took her quiz and scored an eight. Ha! That explains just why it is so easy for me to start with 8 chocolate chips, then return for 45 more, then finish off the bag. And that done only when there are no human witnesses. The dog, fortunately, doesn’t tell. And I know I won’t sleep well when I do it. And I’m fully aware it’s awful for me. But, but, but……

Pop Quiz

  1. What percent of humans are vulnerable to food addiction? Answer: All of us, given enough exposure though only about a third show a particular penchant for it.
  2. What are some of the features of addictive behavior? Answer: developing tolerance to a substance, withdrawal when use is stopped, needing larger and larger doses, persistent desire coupled with the inability to stop using, spending increased time to access the substance, continuing use of the substance even though you know it causes harm and giving up social or recreational activities to use the substance.
  3. What is the link with flour products to addiction? Answer: the more a grain is ground up, that easier it is to digest, and the faster blood sugar goes up. That results in greater insulin release, resulting in more leptin blockade and fat storage
  4. Explain to me what WGA is? Answer. Wheat germ agglutinin is a small protein in wheat germ that messes with your insulin receptors, pushing calories into fat but starving muscles. This results in disordered glucose management, and makes for your gaining weight and developing diabetes.
  5. Dehydrated cane juice is safe to use as it is a dryer form of sugar. T or F Answer: Please, please, please tell me that you didn’t fall for that. There are over 56 names for sugar. If you answered yes, click this link and learn the other names.

ChronoNutrition – What you eat is as important as WHEN you eat it!

References: The Big Breakfast StudyCenter for Health ResearchWhat to Eat When by Roizen , FASEBInt Jr Obesity,

It’s the first of the year. You have resolved to do a little better this year and lose weight. Humpf! Good luck! Nice try! You’ve done this before. Well, here is another piece of science to put in your pipe and think about. Michael Roizen, chief wellness officer for the Cleveland Clinic and Dr Oz show advisor and frequent guest has a book to help you while you are at it. Just published this week. 
Here’s the skinny you want to know. First, basic physiology of how you work. At 7 in the morning your cortisol surges by about 7-10 fold from a level of 2 at 4 in the morning to a level of 18-20 at 8. Cortisol helps you mobilize energy and makes your brain feel alert and awake. It’s your natural wake up, git up and git hormone. You can get stuff done when you have cortisol surging. If you don’t have it, you can’t. Under circumstances of high stress, you can stimulate yourself to put out more cortisol. Sweaty exercise stimulates you to put out more cortisol. Hot saunas alternating with freezing showers does the same. Cortisol last 5-6 hours and with a great sauna or a good run, you feel pumped up, alert and alive for the next 4-6 hours.

In the evening, your cortisol falls off, your melatonin starts to rise as it gets dark. Your body temperature falls off. Your immune response weakens and allows your fever to rise. You are slowing down and cooling off. You can’t burn energy as easily. The only thing that feels good is lots of extra carbohydrates as that raises your blood glucose, and also turns on fat production. (Just look at night shift workers. The easiest way to deal with night shift is to eat all night. Doing that gets you through the night, but at the cost of storing half the calories as fat.) 
What did nature design us to do? For most of human history, we didn’t have light bulbs and electricity, much less ipads, TVs, computers or even books and magazines. We ate when the sun was up and went to bed when it got dark to stay warm. 
Now, all of this biological clock stuff is managed by this tiny little 20,000 cell area of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus that mediates more than just your cortisol. It also impacts your sensitivity to insulin, which rises and falls with the day as well. You are naturally more sensitive to insulin in the morning and some fat cells show 50% difference in insulin sensitivity between noon and 8 pm. 
The exact same pattern has been shown with experimental mice. Given carbs during their normal inactive time, they get fat and eat more (just like humans on night shift). What you eat, when really matters. In fact, it might be argued that it’s the whole ball game. We are pretty certain you can lose weight when you compress your calories down to under 10 hours a day. That’s true. And we are pretty sure you need to get away from sugar. That’s true. And we are pretty sure that vegetables are, in fact, a back door ketosis food (just ask the gorillas) because your gut bacteria turns the cell walls of green veges into beta-hydroxybutyrate.

So now, think about timing your eating and what you eat when. Read Roizen’s book and think about training yourself for a hearty breakfast, during sunlight hours and a smaller dinner.

WWW: What will work for me. Well, I’m gradually prying myself off any eating after 6 pm. I know it’s dark at 5 now but I don’t get home till then anyway. I’m pretty good with the sugar and the vegetables. I’m having bigger spinach breakfasts of late. Hope I can stick with that. I want to see if other folks can make Roisin’s ideas work for them. I think there is truth to it.

Pop Quiz

  1. Your biology runs on a clock driven by….what? Answer: Light affecting your brain.
  2. What part of your brain registers that? Answer: Ok, this is an honors answer – the suprachiasmatic nucleus with it’s teeny little 20,000 cells.
  3. What hormone surges the most at 7 am? Answer: That would be cortisol.
  4. What hormone has its sensitivity altered throughout the day, with a peak at noon and a 50% drop by 8 pm? Answer: Insulin
  5. Is chononutrition easy to understand? Answer: Not yet. It’s a new idea that needs to settle in with more research. But what promise it has!

The Trouble With Flavor

The Trouble with Flavor

References: Yale Food Addiction ScaleThe Dorrito EffectEur Eat Dis Review,

If I were to ask you a delicate question…bear with me…..why do you have sex? Is it procreate and have children? Or do you have this deep urge to seek intimacy with someone you really like and just have fun with them? Of course, it’s fun and satisfying and connecting. Oh yeah, and you had one kid while you were at it. Now, extend that analogy to food. Why do you eat your food? Is it to get enough Vitamin A and B1, iron, and protein? Do you sit down at the table and ask, “What calories do I need today?” Come on…… you open the fridge and say, “What looks good to me?”. Do you look at the table in front of you and reach for what looks tasty?   Yup!  that’s it.  Sex and food are both deeply primal functions that we have to have to survive. And both derive their power from the satisfaction of those drives, and the pleasure they invoke. Pleasure. With food, that’s all about flavor.
Here’s the problem. As brilliantly explained by the author Mark Schatzker in his book, The Dorrito Effect, The Surprising New Truth about Food and Flavor, it’s all about flavor. We humans evolved to have specific flavors on our tongues and in our noses that represented rare and very valuable foods. It was greatly to our advantage to stuff ourselves silly when fruit season came around so that we put on weight and stored enough calories to make it through the next lean period, whether it be dry in Africa or cold in Asia. Hence, sweet is smack dab in the middle of your tongue. Along with about 5 or 6 others on your tongue. Then there is your nose, with 50,000 different flavors and trillions of combinations.
You are hard-wired to seek some flavors. In fact, good science shows it is the anticipation that drives your behavior more than the flavor. That is all about prior exposure, memory, and emotion. It’s that interplay of emotion, happiness, pleasure, memory, all hardwired to get you to eat abundantly when you find those flavors. Guess what the food industry has found out! Yup. Exactly what those flavors, memories, feelings and vulnerabilities are. Much of the drive to discover those flavors has been the inadvertant “blanding” of food. What used to be tasty chicken is now blah tasting white meat. What used to be delicious……name almost any food and its flavor has declined with industrial farming, yield improvements, genetic manipulation and long-distance shipping, storage, and mass marketing. Getting a chicken to grow to maturity in just 6 weeks, with just 4 pounds of food, with giant breasts,,,,has resulted in a very bland chicken.
No problem! We can fix bland food by adding more flavor to it of a very specific nature…and you will obediently eat it. Not one serving, but two or three.

This book is exceedingly insightful into the battle for your taste. This is a battle not of your conscious brain but of your very primal, survival-based brain stem. It tiptoes along the edge of creating out of control eating. Addiction? In fact, the Yale Food Addiction Scale was recently developed because so many of us are showing eating behaviors that look a lot like drug addiction. Take the test yourself. You may not be totally addicted, yet. You can’t chose not to eat, thus avoiding the addictive exposure to flavors. But if you can’t lose weight and feel utterly stuck, you might want to consider thinking how you can insert your conscious, rational, logical forebrain into the discussion and avoid the overwhelming power of flavor. Start with sweet. Avoiding sugar means you don’t purchase 80% of American food products that have sugar added to them. Consider peanut butter.
Next week gets even more interesting. Flavor is very, very important.
WWW. What will work for me. I can’t have ice cream in the house. It took me about a year to wean myself off it. The only way I can escape is to not purchase it. I haven’t succeeded with Indian All-You-Can-Eat Buffets yet. Fortunately, they are remote and not so easily brought home. And if I give in and have one heaping tablespoon of peanut butter….well, odds are, I have more.

Pop Quiz

  1. The flavor sweet was present through most of human history when?         Answer: With ripe plants that show up briefly at the end of the growing season, right before the starvation season.
  2. Where does sweet flavor fit?                                                                                Answer: Right in the middle of our tongues. Front and center.
  3. What is the most important driver of flavor choices?                                      Answer: The anticipation based on prior memory and feelings.
  4. What percent of food in America have some sugar in them?                        Answer: 80
  5. How much you eat may be based most on what feature of food?               Answer: It’s flavor.

 

Mitochondrial Primer 5: Beta-hydroxybutyrate, The King of Ketones

References: Front Mol MedWikipediaPerfect KetoAm J PrimatologyPeer JBiochemical Journal,

When you burn fat (the stuff that’s in your belly and cellulite and second chin) you produce two ketones primarily. Ketones are what we make from fat burning as we break down stored energy and ship it around the body. The primary one is called beta-hydroxybutyrate, or BHB. The other is called acetoacetate (ACAC). ACAC is what you measure in your urine to show ketones but can be changed to BHB, and thereby not show up in urine. Hence, measuring urine for ketones is iffy and can have false negatives. BHB takes a blood test and is more reliable.
Now, what I find interesting is the enzyme that switches ACAC to BHB and thence into the electron transport chain is actually in the wall of mitochondria. Ketones are such an important part of normal metabolism that mitochondria have all the normal enzymes to incorporate ketones into our energy flow. Did you get that? Our body has all the tools to burn ketones, all the time. It is built in. Through all of human history, ketones were our main fuel source to fall back on in lean times.

What happened in our rich, 21st-century environment? We never, ever run on ketones. There are no lean times. We always run on carbs. We store up what and corn in giant silos, formulate them into delicious foods and provide them to ourselves three times a day in exquisitely flavored recipes. And our body has a default switch that has us burning and running on carbs preferentially. It’s the universal signal to turn on fat making, storage.
This is the key to weight gain and weight loss. Our natural tank of carbs is only 1500 calories. That’s it. Anything over that and we signal our hormones that we have too many carbs. That means it must be September or October when carbs ripen – at the end of the growing season. Our blood sugar rises. We turn on insulin. Insulin switches everything into storage mode. We make triglycerides in our liver and ship those extra fats all over our body in little lipid bundles called LDLs. LDLs then deliver that newly manufactured fat to storage warehouses called your butt, your chin, your muffin top.

Think this through teleologically. We had to be designed like this to survive in a world where carbs show up suddenly, just before the starvation season. We would then evolve a hormone to store those calories when they showed up in abundance. (That’s where insulin comes in.) And we would be favored to have sweet flavor in the middle of our tongue so that we seek carbs avidly, whenever we find them.
But most of the year, we should be running on ketones. Normally. When you are surviving through winter, you are meant to be burning your fat stores. That’s ketones. When you eat green vegetables (present from April till August), your colon turns spinach into ketones. Gorillas, eating 15 pounds of green leaves a day turn those into 70% ketones.
Now there is a whole raft of websites touting the increased performance of athletes on ketogenic diets, how to induce ketogenesis etc. But most importantly, we are proving that inducing ketosis turns on stem cells. It’s so important to run on ketones, Bredesen is insisting we all do it every day for 12 hours and every month for 5 days. Gundry has jumped on board. The tide is changing.

Ketones, otherwise known as Beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), are your main, proper food source. BHB rules. It’s the boss! And teaching your body, encouraging your body, forcing your body, manipulating, managing, teasing…..whatever you want to call it…..but do it. Get your body to run on ketones. That means, no grains, no sugar and lots and lots and lots of green vegetables.
WWW. What will work for me. I’m wrapping my head around this technology. I’ve done the Fast Mimicking Diet 8 times and found that it jump starts me into ketosis in three days. I’m going to try taking some Beta-hydroxybutyrate supplement the next time and see if it eases me into ketosis with a little less stress. What I do believe is that this is the pathway forward. Our bodies are aching for us to break our addictive habit of carbs. It just wasn’t meant to be so. The only time we were meant to gorge on carbs was at the end of the growing season when getting ready for winter. Brings a whole new meaning to Halloween candy. Doesn’t it? So, we ended up at the Pancake House for breakfast. I ordered the Eggs Benedict with spinach on the side. Didn’t eat the English muffin. Double spinach please, no potatoes.

Pop Quiz

  1. The human primary fuel is?                                             Answer:  Beta-hydroxybutyrate. The ketone you make from burning fat, your colon digesting green vegetables, the ketone you make from digesting coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil……
  2. Exposed to carbs, your body will switch to what fuel? Answer: Glucose. Instantly. The microsecond you put out insulin. Three french fries will do it.
  3. Running on insulin instantly is incredibly important. Why? Answer: Because through most of human history, carbs were rare, and present just before the lean, starvation system. Remember, pears and apples ripen in October; right now. So sugar is on our tongues as our preferred taste so we gorge, turn on insulin, store calories and then…survive through winter.
  4. How big is your carb fuel tank?                                                   Answer. 1500 calories, called glycogen. Fill up that tank with…….one plate of pasta, rice, flour.
  5. And what happens to green vegetables?                                 Answer. Your colon bacteria break them down into beta-hydroxybutyrate. The King (or Queen) of Ketones. BHB rules. You’ll have BHB anytime you fast 12 hours or more. You will have a blood level of 3 and more if you do the fast mimicking diet for 3+ days. The Fast Mimicking Diet: best way yet to get you in ketosis.

Statin Rage

Statin Rage

References: QJMPharmacotherapyPharmacotherapyTrans NeurodegenAm J MedATVBScientific AmericanGraveline,

You know statins are widely advertised as being good for your heart. And the literature supports that if we look at you as a “walking heart” with little more attached on the outside. Considering that the house of medicine makes the most money off you for heart disease, cardiologists hold a lot of sway over the health care system. Hence, when the heart doctors (aka medical “God”) say, “Thus spoketh….., thou shall take statins!” the house of medicine snaps to attention and does so. I’m not here to argue the whole case, just the case of cognitive damage as shown in “statin rage”. These are not innocuous drugs, and you are more than just a heart. Your brain might be important too. If you act like a jerk, your love relationships suffer and they might be more important to you than your arteries.
What does the literature say about cognitive effects? Quite a lot actually. What caught my attention was a plea from a client who has repeatedly felt terrible anger when exposed to statins. And he is a very high risk for heart disease, and “needs” his statin. Or does he? Is there another way? (Hint: YES!!)
I reviewed several studies. The first in Translational Neurodegeneration suggests there are two competing processes going on. They review all the studies of cognitive decline, and find design problems with all the studies: for example, most patients in some studies are on low dose statins whereas high dose is what makes the side effects, and most patients are actually on higher doses. But they end up concluded that there really are some folks who get pretty severe memory issues, and get better when the statin is stopped. They plead that we be aware of those effects and be brave enough to stop the statin if memory issues occur. Just stop!
In the QJM study, four patients were found with “manifestations of severe irritability” included homicidal impulses, threats to others, road rage, generation of fear in family members, and damage to property. All got better on stopping the statin, and worse again when it was restarted. Conclusion: be brave enough to stop!
There is more. Scientific American has a nice review on memory loss and statins. Duane Graveline, NASA astronaut, lost his memory for the duration of being on statins and wrote a book about it. You might want to read that book if it catches your eye.
www. What will work for me. Loss of memory, road rage. How much can you take? These effects may not be common, but they are indications that there is brain damage/effects of taking statins. And published studies in randomized fashion of cognitive ability again show damage, albeit not that commonly. One could ask, just how well do the people selling the drug report of effects that could damage their sales? Only you can answer that one. As for me, I’ll change my diet to avoid taking statins. There are other answers that are just as effective. For example, consider Gundry’s report at the American Heart meeting just a month ago. Hmmm. Cheaper, better, no side effects.

 

Pop Quiz

  1. Statins can damage your brain. T or F                                     Answer. True as shown by memory loss, cognitive decline, rage, and mood…….
  2. The only organ that matters in your body is your heart, and as long as you let your heart be the only organ that is talked about, statins are useful. T or F                 Answer: Ok, do you get the irony?
  3. Randomized studies, conducted by the folks selling a product, are likely to be absolutely clear about picking up pervasive, subtle shifts in cognitive ability?       Answer: Can you tell that I’m on a rant here? I’m deeply skeptical about the integrity of our pharmaceutical industry, considering their demonstrated history.
  4. Is there a role for statins?                                                                              Answer: I think there is. Someone who wants to keep eating donuts and ice cream, sugar and white flour, and has had a heart attack, likely needs to be on a statin. Those willing to eat differently and let their lab tests, including their cholesterol, be their guide, there are choices.
  5. How common is statin rage?                                                                 Answer: Rare. It’s there, but not common. Many other brain effects. It’s a “no brainer”. Gotta stop.

 

 

The Case Against Alcohol

 

The Case Against Alcohol

References: The LancetCNNCell Commun SignalScience,

This is no small study. Using 694 “data points” for alcohol consumption by populations and 592 prospective and retrospective studies on alcohol use from 195 countries, projections were made about the total and real risks of alcohol. This is an important study because it shifts the overall net balance of alcohol’s effect to negative from positive. They looked at 23 health outcomes against alcohol use and developed a new method of assessing what is the lowest risk point for consumption (aka, what can you get away with).
For decades, we have been saying that a drink a day was good for you. Maybe not for women, but generally ok. That changes now. The data is hard to deny, much as alcohol itself makes us want to say it is ok.

The details are as follows. For the age group of 15-49 which generally doesn’t die of diseases, alcohol is the leading cause of death when you take into account accidents, suicide, overdose and everything else (bar fights, drunk driving, domestic disputes). Women, ages 15-49 have a 3.8% chance of death from alcohol and men a 12.2% chance of death in that age range that can be attributed to alcohol. With that sort of granularity, reading the study gives you confidence that the authors did a pretty deep dive to get to these conclusions.

For older folks above age 50, the rise of cancer in relationship to alcohol consumption becomes the driving statistical engine to bring the net benefit to zero. Zero. There is no safe level. Young or old. No safe level.

Now, guess what the alcohol industry has frantically said in response….you got it. They quote the American Heart study saying a drink a day keeps the doctor away, etc. Even the vaunted Harvard Men’s Health Study had one drink a day as part of their formula for extra longevity. The problem with all those studies was looking at JUST one condition, like death from heart attack, instead of the whole spectrum.

And the data is equally clear for alcohol and driving. No level is safe. No level.
Now, I’m curious about mechanism and what’s behind all this. I think the clue comes down the Longo’s research into longevity and resiliency. His research shows that alcohol turns off mTOR, the gene that builds protein and cells. Growth and development helps you reproduce and make babies, but inhibiting it helps you live longer. Yin and yang. Dietary restriction is hard on reproducing but great on living longer. Alcohol turns it off living longer. Bummer.

Is there a benefit to alcohol? Well, yes. When structured in cultural practices that use it to create community, enhance connection and love between humans, that’s good. It’s a pretty slippery slope. Seeking pleasure is a universal force. Comes with a price.

www.what will work for me. Lousy puritanical message. I heard so much of this in my conservative boarding school background. It’s wearingly tedious to admit that those rigid old Victorians were right. I’m no tea-totaller. But I’m cutting down. One drink, only when I go out with friends. Time to back peddle down to two drinks a week, not one a day. And only in the social context of having a meal with loved ones. And then not driving with my loved ones with alcohol. Grrrr.

 

Pop Quiz

  1. One drink a day will help you live longer. T or F Answer: Used to be called true, now called false.
  2. Why the change? Answer: When you take into account all the conditions like trauma, domestic violence, traffic accidents as well as everything else, you fine other causes of death that statistically contribute to higher death rates.
  3. What was the prior error? Answer: If you would focus only on heart attacks, well yes, there are a few less. Or just one age group.
  4. Is there blowback against this data? Answer: Hell doesn’t freeze easily. The alcohol industry is bigger than we are.
  5. What is a prudent person to do? Answer: Love and connection is what life should be about. Cherish your loved ones. Don’t drink and drive, but do create community, family, dinners together, connection, sacred spaces. Have some communion together. And maybe that much alcohol……..0.25 oz communion wine.

 

 

 

Avoiding Lectins Reverses Endothelial Dysfunction – The Proof

References: ATVBBill Davis of Wheat Belly,

Gundry has got his smoking gun! A poster presentation at the AHA meetings with an abstract is now on the books. This is bigger than you may think. It certainly is the first step. This is exactly along the same line as Bill Davis, of Wheat Belly fame. 
Endothelial dysfunction is code word for the first step to vascular disease. Vascular disease is the process that ends up with a heart attack or stroke. Half of us are dying from it, so this is getting right to the “heart” of the matter. But Gundry has now collected and published the data that proves how you eat can reverse the first steps, and reverse the driving dynamic behind heart disease. 
What Gundry is reporting here is not the strongest of evidence because of the design of the study he has done. He took 200 folks in sequence who presented to his clinic. Higher quality studies get subjects at multiple sites with multiple varied doctors reviewing them, and randomize them with a placebo group. This study involved subjects ages 51-86, M:F ratio 3/2, with known vascular risk factors of high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, prior heart attack, a stent or heart surgery. They were enrolled in a dietary program which emphasized large amounts of leafy green vegetables, olive oil, radical reduction of grain products, legumes, nightshades, and fruits; and generous amounts of grass-fed animal proteins, emphasizing shellfish and avoiding commercial poultry. All patients were instructed to take 2-4,000 mg of high DHA fish oil, 200mg of grape seed extract, and 50 mg of Pycnogenol per day. All patients had endothelial reactivity testing before and after a 5-minute arm occlusion using the EndoPAT 2000 machine (Itamar, Israel) at baseline and at 6 months.

Their Endothelial Reactivity went from 1.88+/-0.7 to 2.25+/-0.5 (range 1.2-3.6) (p<0.01) over 6 months. Only 40/200 (20%) remained with ED, but all had increased ER numbers. Ten patients stopped the polyphenols after a normal PAT; all redeveloped Endothelial Dysfunction all over again on repeat PAT. Put simply, eating the supplements with the diet made the patients arteries get stretchier, and stopping the program made them worse again.

That’s what you want to see. A stretchy artery helps carry the pulse wave forward. A rigid, stiff artery pushes back against the heart and cuts down on the blood flow in the heart as it shortens the time between heart beats during which blood flows into cardiac vessels. Our elders called it “hardening of the arteries” and it was. The endothelium (think “the lining”) of your artery does much more. 
Your vascular tree of blood vessels is huge and the lining of it, called the “endothelium” is the largest organ in the body, considering that we have about 100,000 miles of blood vessels in our bodies. Its ability to function properly is right at the nexus of what we eat and what our cells see. Many chemicals flood into the blood from your gut and the endothelium of blood vessels is the last barrier between the outside world and your precious, vulnerable cells. A proper working endothelium is critical for many functions; filtering out dangerous chemicals, carrying the pulse wave along, watching for invading bacteria. And Gundry just proved that taking care of it is the first step in the right direction. It can be reversed. Plain and simple. 
To reiterate: Supplement with pycnogenol, fish oil, and grape seed extract. Avoid lectin-rich foods: wheat, legumes, nightshades, grains and animals fed those foods like poultry and cattle. Eat lots of green, leafy vegetables and not so many roots. And lose the sugar. In all its forms. Your arteries will heal. 
WWW.what will work for me. I already was taking the fish oil and the pycnogenol but I will start with the grape seed extract. I have an ED machine in my office and have a baseline. If I had calcium in my arteries, I would be doing this all the more passionately. I also want to start measuring the reactivity of my blood to adequate carotenoids. That’s next week. Stay tuned.

Pop Quiz

  1. What is the largest organ in the body?                                  Answer: Ok, ok, we can fight about it. The liver is the biggest of the traditional internal organs and the skin gets the prize for size. Recently the “interstitium” which is all the additional connective tissue has been touted as the biggest. But if you get down to that detail, the lining of your blood vessels wins – the endothelium.
  2. High endothelial reactivity demonstrates out of control blood pressure? T or F Answer: FALSE. No, you want a stretchy, flexible endothelium. The stiff, rigid low score means you are stiff and rigid. Getting old. Gundry showed an increase of 1.88 to 2.25 in just 6 months with his program.
  3. How does all this improvement work?                                 Answer: Stay tuned. We don’t know all the details but Gundry’s books make the arguments that the lectins in plants that set off inflammation collectively damage our endothelium. Our bodies have not had enough time to adapt to them after we came out of Africa. Avoiding bad foods is the first step. Then, providing the tools to calm down inflammation is the next layer
  4. Why fish oil on the list?                                                          Answer: Fish oil is a rich mix of omega three fats which are the precursors to building anti-inflammatory messengers. Giving more precursors pushes the balance of inflammation towards being calmed down instead of amped up which regular fats do.
  5. Why is grape seed extract included?                                   Answer: Proanthocyanidins and catechins are the potent antioxidants in grape seeds that are believed to be 20 times greater than vitamin E and 50 times greater than vitamin C

Low Histamine Diet

Low Histamine Diet

References: AJCNInter J of ImmunopathFactvfitness.comMarion Institute,

Ok, the source I started with was a bit odd. She knocked on our office door after we were closed and had the front lights turned off. She was a teacher with CIRS (Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome) who had been flying to California to see a CIRS doctor and wanted to know if we could pick up her care. When I asked her what she did that made the biggest difference, she said, “When I followed a histamine-free diet, I got better.” Histamine Free! What’s that?
Histamine is easily made in your body. It is a neurotransmitter used in your brain. It is widely present in your gut but most of it shows up in mast cells that set off allergic reactions. You block those reactions when you take an antihistamine. When you get hives, your immune system is blasting off, releasing histamine all over the place. Once it has been released, it is meant to be degraded promptly by degradation enzymes, notable Diamine Oxidase.
Here is this week’s study. If you take 14 folks who present to an allergy clinic but have negative skin testing for allergies, don’t have celiac disease but get better when placed on a low histamine diet and test them Diamine Oxidase deficiency, you find something very interesting. Those folks have a diamine oxidase activity of 7, whereas 34 normal folks without the symptoms have levels of 39. That’s a big difference. Diamine oxidase deficiency is a real entity. It’s a “condition” that leads you to being vulnerable to too much histamine.

Here is the rub. In CIRS, your innate immune system (the primitive, reactive, non-specific part) fires off constantly and without proper supervision and control by the adaptive system (precise, targeted, controlled). And it sets off histamine-like crazy. Some folks have all sorts of reactions to histamine with the least provocation. This is often matched with very high C4a, and you can see it by taking a blunt object to their backs and drawing a tic-tac-toe board – you make wheals from all the histamine release. That’s called dermatographism.
Where do you get histamine from in your diet? Fermented food is the most common source. Anything fermented. Wine, sauerkraut, eggplant, spinach, avocado, any old stale food out of the fridge, the list is very long. In fact, there is a risk of malnutrition if you take the list too seriously for too long. The goal is to cut back dramatically on any food that may be setting off symptoms and then sit tight for a few weeks. Fresh food, prepared at home with minimum spices and eaten immediately is the first step to cure. For example, fish you catch and eat promptly is ok but once it’s in the grocery store, the tiny bit of spoilage involved in shipping, packaging, and selling is enough to generate sufficient histamine to get you sick. Normal folks with enough DO activity can tolerate it. It has to be a journey of self-discovery.

What is the most common clinical symptom? Gastrointestinal distress is probably the biggest problem. Cramps and diarrhea 15 minutes after eating leftovers out of the fridge would be a pretty common clue. Reflux, urinary frequency, itching, hives, nausea and vomiting and just about everything else coming on after eating all point to the syndrome. Symptoms are so diverse, it’s easy to not consider because no two people are quite alike.

We don’t have a test for it, yet. The Diamine Oxidase test isn’t commercially available. But you can draw on your back. C4a is hard to get an accurate result but worth the try.

WWW.what will work for me. I’m trying to eat fresh vegetables as much as possible anyways. But fermented foods have many fine qualities to them. The probiotic effect of fermentation is profound and in most circumstances beneficial. And what’s not to like about promptly prepared free meat. I must say, when I was fishing last month, the fresh fish was wonderful. But I don’t have CIRS.

 

Pop Quiz

 

  1. Where does histamine come from?                                             Answer: Fermented and stale foods and some particular foods like alcohol, soy, chickpeas, peanuts, cashews…..
  2. Where is histamine concentrated in your body?                       Answer: in MAST cells in your gut and skin.
  3. Eating high histamine foods will do what?                                  Answer: Frequently set off all sorts of gut issues like cramping and diarrhea, hives, asthma….all histamine chemical effects
  4. What’s the histame free diet? Answer: Simple:                          Avoiding those foods, discovered by eating freshly made foods not on the list, and seeing how you react.
  5. What’s the cure?                                                                              Answer: Go upstream to the cause. It’s frequently CIRS brought on by mold sensitivity in a person with a vulnerable HLA type. Fix the mold and clean them up with Cholestyramine and you are on the way.

 

 

The Alkaline Diet IS the Keto Diet of Choice

The Alkaline Diet IS the Keto Diet of Choice

References: Pure WowDr AxeBook of DanielSaddleback ChurchU of BCJournal of Nutrition,

There has been a recent flurry of articles in the media about the alkaline diet with a few “expert dieticians” poo-pooing it and suggesting you should just follow the Mediterranean diet instead. What’s the confusion for? Let me straighten this out for your so that you get the gist of it.

First of all, the alkaline diet isn’t anything new. The Book of Daniel in the Bible talks about it with the first recorded RCT (Randomized, Placebo-Controlled) experiment in history. That was from 3,000 years ago. Daniel and his fellow observant Jews ate vegetables, (alkaline) and the members of Nebuchadnezzar’s court ate meat. Daniel’s crowd did better. Even got published in a reputable journal that is still read avidly (Bible). And as best I can tell, is still helping people lose weight.
What is the Daniel Diet? Or the Alkaline Diet? Vegetables. Vegetables are filled with potassium and magnesium salts which participate in making your urine pH positive, or greater than seven, which is neutral. Your blood doesn’t change its pH in any measurable fashion, but just that tiny amount enough to switch buffers. You have a complex system of buffers in your blood that helps balance your pH very precisely and exquisitely. You breathe every breath as part of that balance, so it is virtually impossible to measure the changes on a second by second basis in your blood. But you can see it in blood samples of folks eating an alkaline diet. Their red cells are coated with alkaline salts and flow separately from one another. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. And your kidneys just pump out the acid or alkali as fast as they can. In meat/animal based America, everyone’s urinary pH is quite low, around 5.5 We have kidney stones, osteoporosis, vascular disease, cancer all as possible resulting outcomes. Very very few of us eat an alkaline diet. The guy who invented, Robert Young, got way ahead of the curve and ended up in prison for practicing medicine without a license. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t right, just not licensed.

Why is this so valuable? For most of mammalian/hominid history, we were vegans and our kidneys (which control your acid-base flow, and eliminate acid or base) were designed to rid you of alkaline salts, most notably potassium or magnesium. That’s because we ate massive amounts of alkaline foods. All hominids except humans eat mostly raw plants. Gorillas eat 15 pounds of leaves a day. Orangutans, 20 pounds of green leaves (except in fruit season). Their urine is alkaline. Your kidneys can still excrete massive amounts of potassium and sodium. But not acid. With acid, we struggle a little. Humans living a hunter-gatherer lifestyle today (Hazda in Africa) still eat mostly alkaline foods. They know some 250 edible plants in the forest, which they eat. But our brains require more calories to support their energy needs, and animals became more important. About 5 million years ago, we started adding animal to our diet. We like animal. We thrived with more of it.
But animal-based foods have more sulfur salts in them, which are acid. The more animal we eat, the more acid we become. That includes cheese, milk, eggs, fish, and yes, meat. Cheese is the most acid of all because it also has lots of salt added to it. And grains are also acidic, altho a little less so.
All that acid has to flow through you, in your blood. Your blood pH can’t change and doesn’t. But your buffers do. The balance of buffers is read with exquisite sensitivity by your bone cells and every membrane in your body. You start giving up calcium carbonate to balance the buffers, which is the slippery slope of beginning osteoporosis.
What about fat? Fat is neutral. Neither acid or base. Just pH neutral. It has some baggage though. Saturated fat, when from animals, comes with animal protein, which is acidic. Unsaturated fat, from seeds, is high in omega six fats which start inflammation.
And here is the kicker. Remember, gorillas digest green leaves into short chain fatty acids. So do we. A diet rich in green vegetables is a high-fat diet. Then add olive oil and you are even better off. A green salad diet smothered with olive oil is an alkaline, healthy, Daniel diet. Get that? A vegetable-based diet is a keto diet, provided you avoid the roots and the grains. Eating spinach is actually getting fat. Keto redux. You lose weight. You have less cancer. You have less heart disease. You have fewer autoimmune diseases. Your body can heal.
That leaves you with an alkaline diet rich in leafy, green vegetables with lots of safe fats as the diet of choice. The alkaline diet is the purest form of the keto diet. The only question is whether you can be so pure. Ah, there is the rub!

www.What Will Work for me. I’m shifting my animal proportions to more vegetable. Instead of two eggs for breakfast, one egg in spinach. For lunch on the plane, I took an avocado, cut in half at home. Made a great lunch. And I’m fascinated by the Fast Mimicking diet. It’s vegan with nut oils. It’s a keto diet too. In time, we will let Robert Young out of prison and say sorry. (There’s a lot of Robert Young’s work that is pure quackery, but the alkaline part is not.)

 

Pop Quiz

  1. A diet of mostly vegetables, olive oil and a tiny bit of fish is currently called? Answer: The Mediterranean Diet (whatever that is, as all the countries around the Mediterranean have different cuisines, except for their abundant use of olive oil and vegetables)
  2. To be on an alkaline diet, you have to do what? Answer: Eat enough vegetables and little enough meat and cheese to shift your urinary pH to something greater than 7. Very hard to do. Almost no meat.
  3. How does your body balance acid flowing through the system to be excreted by your kidneys? Answer: by a system of buffers, by giving up a tiny bit of Calcium Carbonate from your bones, and by breathing a little more deeply.
  4. The first advocate for the alkaline diet has been elevated to hero status in the annals of medicine. T or F Answer: Are you kidding, he is in prison for reaching way beyond the core truth of his alkaline diet idea.
  5. What is the most recent evidence-based diet, beyond the Mediterranean Diet, that is taking the literature by storm? Answer: The Fast Mimicking Diet that adds fasting to the mix

 

 

 

Artificial Sweeteners and the Risk of Dementia

References: StrokeObesityWashington Post,

Whoa, Nellie! Now artificial sweeteners are bad! Help, help, help. We’ve been telling everyone not to eat sugar, and now you turn around and point at sweeteners. What’s the deal? Better, what’s the evidence?
Ok, an observational study from the long-term, Framingham heart study prospectively followed 4,272 older adults for 10 years with follow-up for risk of stroke and dementia. They found 97 strokes and 81 cases of dementia over that time period and compared those outcomes to the frequency of sugar and artificial sweetener use. Compared to controls within those groups, after statistically accounting for the proper variables, they found a 2.97 times increased risk of stroke and 2.87 for increased risk of dementia by drinking one diet soda a day. One measly, little diet soda. Sugar didn’t show any negative effect.
Well, out come the critics in full force (from the soda industry, of course). They claim it was a lousy observational studies without any proof of causation. (True) They attacked because it wasn’t large enough. They griped because the sugar use wasn’t found to be dangerous when every other study shows it has. And the accompanying editorial in the journal pointed out that the risks go away when incident diabetes and vascular risk factors were taken into account.

Ok, ok, so the evidence isn’t perfect. But it is there. Is there a plausible mechanism we can construe that carries a tiny bit of credibility?
Well yes, there is. Here it is. First and foremost, drinking diet soda has been shown to lead to weight gain, not weight loss. The means by which that happens is thought to be by confusing your brain’s appetite sensor into thinking calories are coming because you taste sweet, and then you secrete some insulin, which lowers your sugar, and 4 hours later, you eat more. Presto, fatso.

It may be along this line that we will find an answer. The interplay of human hormones is so complex, it is extremely hard to parse out a single hormone in isolation. The breadth of knowledge is advancing in that direction. Here is one plausible bench research explanation: there is pretty good evidence that being fat makes you insulin resistant, and higher insulin with higher glucose leads to your tummy fat making more amyloid precursor protein (APP). And it’s APP that breaks off in your brain to make agglomerations of beta-amyloid plaque. Ok, so you drink diet soda, make a little extra insulin, get fatter and gain weight, make more beta-amyloid and there you have it. Diet soda makes for more dementia.
WWW.What will work for me. Well, well. Not the strongest of evidence but the gun is smoking never the less. I just drove for 4 hours yesterday and got a big gulp of 32 oz of diet Pepsi at a QuickTrip because I was sleepy. Bummer. I can feel the beta-amyloid crawling up my neurons. I’m weaning myself off sweeteners bit by bit. Sounds like it’s time to increase that effort. Is Stevia just as bad? Haven’t got a clue.

Pop Quiz

  1. If you believe this study, you triple your risk of dementia by drinking artificial sweeteners. T or F                                                           Answer: True unless you nit-pick over 2.87 fold vs 3.0
  2. Women who drink diet sodas stay thin. T or F                         Answer: False, they gain weight.
  3. Belly fat makes amyloid precursor protein, which is the protein that then calves beta-amyloid in your brain, the cardinal sign of Alzheimer’s. T or F                      Answer: Bingo
  4. Is sugar safe to put in your drinks?                                            Answer: No, not at all. In fact, to me, that was the weakest sign of this paper because, on every other front, more sugar is worse for you in ever so many ways. This study sort of absolved it.
  5. Now that you know belly fat makes APP, want to lose weight?                    Answer: oh my goodness, yes.