Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wisdom Wednesday: Sniff Testing

The last step in evaluating inflammation in the body involves three challenges to the sense of smell. The three offenders used are aldehydes, bleach, and ammonia.

Aldehydes, like alcohol and perfume, are processed through both phase 1 and phase 2 liver detoxification. Impairment in either phase can result in poor ability to process aldehydes out of the body. If you get a headache whenever you get near the perfume counter at Macys’, you probably have impairment in the aldehydes pathway. The typical hangover from excessive drinking is also an example of poor liver detoxification.

If a patient reacts to smelling bleach, this generally indicates chronic inflammatory problems. Autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus will cause a bleach response. Neurological problems can also stimulate this pathway.

A reaction to ammonia generally indicates problems with phase 2 liver detoxification. There are 10 pathways in phase 2 liver detoxification. Five of these require sulfur. Sulfur is stripped from sulfur bearing amino acids like methionine and cysteine. Folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 are vital to this process. Please review my early Wisdom Wednesday blogs on each of these B vitamins. The mineral molybdenum is also an important co-enzyme in this process.

Often new patients tell me they want to “do a liver detox”. If inflammation is not fully addressed prior to liver detoxification, the patient will experience lots of symptoms. Liver detoxification should not give you diarrhea, excessive gas, or flu-like symptoms. These negative responses are generally due to ramping up phase 1 liver detoxification to the extent that phase 2 can not keep up.

In general, toxins that require both phase 1 and 2 detoxification are much more toxic after they have passed through phase 1. For example spent estrogen is relatively safe and non-toxic. However, it becomes dehydroxyestrogen after phase 1, which can be carcinogenic. After phase 2, dehydroxyestrogen is water soluble and is harmlessly passed out of the body through the bowel.

Please don’t jump into any liver detoxification without first eliminating all common inflammatory pathways. If you react poorly to exposure to aldehydes, bleach, or ammonia, you have some significant inflammation at work in the body. Simple lab work consisting of a CBC (complete blood count) and homocysteine can confirm these inflammation pathways. Treatment is simply a matter of determining what nutrients are lacking and in what form must they be given.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Should Physicians Stop Prescribing Calcium Supplements?

Calcium supplements should be a thing of the past says Ian R Reid, MD Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Auckland New Zealand.
February, 2014 (Journal of Bone Metabolism)

Reid says use of calcium supplements came about when there were no other effective interventions for the prevention of osteoporosis and was focused on the belief that increasing calcium intake would increase bone formation. Our current understanding of the biology of bone suggests this does not occur though calcium does act as a weak antiresorptive. Thus, it slows postmenopausal bone loss but, despite this, recent meta-analysis suggests no significant prevention of fractures. In sum, there is little substantive evidence of benefit to bone health from the use of calcium supplements. Against this needs to be balanced the likelihood that calcium supplement use increases cardiovascular events, kidney stones, and gastrointestinal symptoms, and admissions to the hospital with acute gastrointestinal problems.

This is another example of hypocognition (acquiring new information but having no basic framework of knowledge in which to place it) in the field of health care. Calcium has many uses in the body. It is necessary for muscle activity and nerve function. Bone is merely the repository for calcium. It acts as a storage site in the body, accepting and releasing calcium as it is needed by the body.

By the way, biphosphanates, like Fosamax and Boniva, the current accepted method of treatment for osteoporosis, increase the rate of hip fracture, rather than reduce it.

The increased risk of cardiovascular events associated with calcium supplementation is urban legend. When plaque accumulates in the walls of arteries, it can loosen over time and become “vulnerable plaque”. The body then deposits calcium into the plaque to strengthen the adhesion to the artery wall. We can measure the calcium content of artery plaque with a high speed CT scan. This gives a “calcium score” that rates your risk of cardiovascular accident. The higher the calcium content, the more vulnerable plaque present. However, the calcium is actually protecting the body, not putting it at risk.

There are only two types of calcification in the body. The first is dystrophic calcification. This is calcium deposition secondary to an injury. Calcium deposit in a torn bursal sac in the shoulder is a common example. So is the calcium in vulnerable plaque. The second form of calcification is metastrophic calcification. This is calcium deposition secondary to a metabolic disorder. Kidney stones are commonly caused by a variety of metabolic disorders. These deposits have nothing to do with calcium intake. In fact, your body with actually take the calcium from bone to create the deposits if either of these processes is active.

The primary purpose of calcium is to buffer the blood stream. The acid-base balance of the blood is very tightly controlled with a pH of 7.36 to 7.44. The body will move calcium in and out of bone to help keep the pH tightly controlled.

Calcium also fills binding sites along the course of the nervous system. When a nerve fires, (depolarizes) calcium is displaced in sequence as the impulse travels along the nerve fiber. If insufficient calcium is present, the nerve will fire spontaneously. This often results in cramping if the nerve innervates muscle.

Calcium is a carrier molecule in the blood stream, transporting other minerals to tissue sites in the body.

Although calcium’s role in bone strength is limited, it is an important mineral in many body functions. Few women get adequate calcium in the diet and must supplement. Men who exercise on a regular basis also need to supplement their diet with calcium.

If you suffer from leg cramps, especially at night, you are probably deficient in calcium. Try taking 500mg of elemental calcium, at night, just before bedtime.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Study Questions Safety Thresholds for Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals

Certain chemicals, such as BPA, are potential endocrine disruptors – compounds that interrupt the processes of natural hormones.
Friday, April 11, 2014 (Medical News Today)

Based on rodent studies, the US Food and Drug Administration say that exposure to such compounds is safe at low levels. But new research has found that rodents and humans have different responses to these chemicals, suggesting that current exposure recommendations need to be evaluated.

Potential endocrine disruptors (EDs) can be found in pesticides, flame retardants and food and drink packaging. Exposure to such chemicals, including BPA (bisphenol A), has been associated with an array of health problems, particularly reproductive disorders, male impotence and developmental disorders.

Past research has suggested that infants, children and pregnant women are most vulnerable to the effects of ED exposure. Most recently, Medical News Today reported on a study suggesting that male fetus exposure to BPA may increase the risk of prostate cancer.

At present, researchers commonly use rodent models to assess how ED exposure affects human health. Once scientists have seen how certain EDs affect rodents, they reduce the observed safety threshold by 100 to work out the safety levels for humans.

But in a new study, researchers from France found that human testes were found to be over 100 times more susceptible to the effects of certain chemicals, such as BPA, than the testes of rodents.

These finding suggest that going forward, the effects of EDs should be tested on both human and rodent cells to ensure the safety risk of chemicals is accurate, according to the research team. “We need to develop specific tools to study chemical toxicity in human reproductive cells; this will allow us to accurately assess safety thresholds for different compounds, and re-evaluate the acceptable daily intake levels to protect human health,” says lead study author Prof. Rene Habert, of the University of Paris.

There is no safe, acceptable level of daily intake for these man-made chemicals. Various plastics, including BPA, BPS (bisphenol S) and BPF (bisphenol F) are used to package many food products. Plastic water bottles are a common example. When heated (during shipping, storage, or the trunk of your car) these chemicals release from the container and enter your food.

They can be found in our drinking water and even in the air we breathe. Currently, state and federal water standards do not require that the levels of these chemical be measured. As a result, you will not see these compounds listed on water quality reports. This is one of the reasons I drink distilled water.

All scientific studies are limited in there scope. They are limited by time, location, and subject. For example, the study noted about the possible correlation between BPA exposure in male fetuses and prostate cancer requires a lifetime from fetal exposure to manifest as disease. By the time we are aware of the potential problem; several generations of humans have been exposed to these dangerous chemicals.

Elimination of BPA from the body is touted as being very quick and complete, with a half-life of only a few hours. However, studies on elimination have to be performed fasting as it is so common in our food supply. Recent studies show a much higher level of residual BPA in the body than anticipated. As a result, several European countries have banned the use of BPA in infant and early childhood products.

Avoid these chemicals as much as possible. Do not allow food stored in containers containing these chemicals to be heated. Do not put these containers in the dishwasher and reuse them. Finally, please do not drink tap water. Spend $120 and buy yourself a distiller.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wisdom Wednesday: Probiotics Revisited

I frequently mention probiotics in my blogs. You can read my first blog of 2014 discussing the topic by Clicking Here. If you haven’t read that one, please take a few minutes to read it and last week’s Wisdom Wednesday on GALT.

Organisms in the gut can be friendly (probiotic), comensal (neutral), or pathogenic (bad). This well accepted classification has been challenged by recent research. At issue is the fact that what is probiotic for you might be pathogenic for me. Let’s look at each group individually:
The pathogenic bacteria that cause Montezuma’s revenge (traveler’s diarrhea) when you visit Mexico or the Bahamas do not harm the local population. For them, the organisms are comensal or even probiotic. They are indigenous to the local population over many generations and cause no harm. You and your family have similar organisms based on where you live and what you eat.

Comensal bacteria are neither good nor bad. They remind me of teenagers. If they are around other good kids, then they behave. But if they hang with troublemakers, they will get into trouble themselves. Candida often falls into this category. A little bit of Candida in the gut is comensal and maybe even acts as a probiotic in some people. However, overgrowth creates a pathological state. I often tell patients that Candida is an opportunistic infection. If you create the wrong environment in the gut, it will quickly multiply and create symptoms.

Probiotics are the least well understood category. Lactobacillus acidophilus is thought to be healthy for most of us, but not all. Lactobacillus bulgaris is also a good guy most of the time. However, your gut flora is unique to you. There is no probiotic product that is healthy for everyone. In fact, even dead probiotics create an immune response as I noted in my blog on GALT.

If you were born by vaginal delivery, then you were inoculated by your mother with Lactobacillus bulgaris. As an infant your gut bacteria grow and thrive first on breast milk, then becoming more diverse as different foods are slowly added to the diet.

In theory, you should never need a probiotic; your body has nurtured a unique blend of probiotics perfectly suited to you and your environment. However, antibiotics, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy distort and destroy the healthy gut environment. Today, there are antibiotics in drinking water so that even if you have never willingly taken an antibiotic, they may be entering you system on a regular basis.

Fermented foods contain active bacterial cultures. While there is potential benefit from probiotics contained in these foods, there is also potential harm. The Paleo Diet restricts the use of fermented foods while the Mediterranean Diet includes some cultured dairy products.

Currently, laboratories around the world are working to identify all the organisms in the gut through DNA analysis. Every month a few more organisms are isolated, cultured, and identified. Slightly more than 100 bacteria can now be identified through DNA analysis of a simple stool specimen. However, there are thousands of unidentified organisms that are common place in digestive tracts around the world.

Eventually, it will be a simple process to analyze a stool specimen to see what you have and what you need. Currently, when a stool analysis is complete, it will list the probiotics, comensal, and pathological organisms found. Generally no more than 10 organisms are isolated and most of them will be labeled as comensal. However, if the secretory IGA is either high or low, then the immune system has been compromised and those comensal bacteria are probably an issue and need to be treated.

Try to avoid antibiotic use. Do not drink tap water or even filtered water. I recommend distilled water. A small home distiller will make up to 5 gallons per day. They cost just over $100 and generally last 3-4 years. If you have to take an antibiotic, follow it up with a simple probiotic like Lactobacillus acidophilus. Run through a bottle, one capsule after each meal, and then stop. Do not take a probiotic daily. If you have a chronic problem with dysbiosis, then a complete digestive stool analysis may help. Just remember, the test has limitations.

Monday, April 21, 2014

NSAIDs Linked To Higher Atrial Fibrillation Risk

Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs appears to be associated with an increased risk for atrial fibrillation (AF), even after adjustment for ventricular end-diastolic dimension, known to be increased with NSAID use, a new study confirms.
April 8, 2014 (BMJ Open)

Patients using NSAIDs for 2 to 4 weeks had a 76% higher risk of developing AF compared with those who hadn’t taken these pain medications, researchers found.

The results suggest that the increased risk occurs shortly after starting treatment and may resolve over time, said the authors, led by Bouwe P. Kriijthe, Department of Epidemiology, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

The underlying mechanism connecting NSAID use with AF isn’t clear and “deserves further attention,” the authors conclude.

AF, a common arrhythmia in the elderly, is associated with stroke, heart failure, increased mortality, and reduced life expectancy. NSAID use has also been associated with myocardial infarction, stroke, and heart failure.
Researchers obtained a resting electrocardiogram (ECG) for participants at the baseline and then followed participants with ECG assessments during follow-up visits. They gathered data on NSAID use from collaborating pharmacies and categorized participants into current users (14 or fewer days, 15 to 30 days, and more than 30 days), past users (stopped for 30 or fewer days, 31 to 180 days) and never users.

Over a mean follow-up of 12.9 years, 857 of the 8423 participants developed AF. At the time of diagnosis, 261 had never used NSAIDs, 554 had used NSAIDs in the past, and 42 were currently using NSAIDs.

All the research on NSAIDs indicates they are effective anti-inflammatory drugs for up to 72 hours of use. Beyond that time, they begin to block the body’s anti-inflammatory pathways as well as the inflammation itself. The omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, which are essential for health, are chemically blocked by the NSAIDs. As a result, cell membranes can not repair cell damage and cell death increases rapidly.

In the US alone over 16,500 people each year die from taking NSAIDs. Most of them are over the age of 60. Less than one third have any warning signals. Most of the deaths are from GI bleeds, the remainder die from liver failure and heart attacks.

Television advertising misleads the pubic by recommending daily use of these potent drugs. “Just take two per day” for relief of pain is a possible death warrant.

AF is an increasing health issue world wide. Clinically, I find AF often resolves, or at least is a dramatically reduced in frequency, by reducing synthetic vitamin B1 (thiamine) intake and increasing natural forms of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacinamide).

When grains are refined the vitamin B1 content is destroyed. The food is then enriched, by adding artificial B1 and other chemicals back into the processed food. Just look at that loaf of bread. The first ingredient is generally enriched flour. I suspect that like so many other health issues we face, AF is related to processed food in our daily diet.

Increasing the magnesium to calcium ratio can also be effective in reducing AF. Magnesium has a calming effect on the heart and nervous system. However, excess magnesium intake can promote diarrhea, so supplementation must be done gradually.

If you must take NSAIDs for relieve of pain, do so sparingly. Don’t take them for more than three days in a row. You might just save your life. Try increasing your omega 3 fatty acids in lieu of taking NSAIDs. You might also try turmeric or curcumin as a natural anti-inflammatory herb. If the NSAIDs have stopped working, please stop them and try ginger or boswellia to reduce inflammation.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Many Kids May Have High Cholesterol

About one of three Texas kids screened for cholesterol between the ages of 9 and 11 had borderline or high cholesterol, potentially placing them at greater risk for future cardiovascular disease a new study has found.
Friday, March 28, 2014 (WebMD News from HealthDay)

Obese kids were more likely to have abnormal cholesterol levels, but a large percentage of normal-weight children also had borderline or high cholesterol, said lead investigator Dr. Thomas Seery, a pediatric cardiologist at Texas Children’s Hospital and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston.

“The reality is that 35 percent of kids who were not obese had abnormal cholesterol as well,” Seery said. Physicians and parents need to teach kids healthy habits, such as eating right and exercising regularly, or as adults they will me more likely to suffer heart disease and stroke, he said. “Cardiovascular disease in children is rare, but we know that atherosclerosis has its beginnings in childhood,” Seery said. “The better a job we do now, the better they will do later in life.”

Previous studies have indicated that as many as 70 percent of children who have elevated cholesterol levels maintained those high levels as they entered young adulthood, said Dr. Patricia Vuguin, a pediatric endocrinologist at Cohen Children’s medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y. “Your cholesterol at 9 is a reflection of where your cholesterol is going to be in your 40s and 50s,” Vuguin said.

Seery and his colleagues undertook their research after new guidelines for juvenile cholesterol screening were issued by the U.S. National Hear, Lung, and blood Institute in 2011 and endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

These screenings present “the perfect opportunity for clinicians and parents to discuss the importance of healthy lifestyle choices on cardiovascular health.” he said. “Our findings give a compelling reason to screen all kids’ blood cholesterol.”

I like the concept of discussing “healthy lifestyle choices” with parents and children. However, the standard American diet (SAD) has condemned fat for the past 30 years promoting refined carbohydrates and processed foods. This is why cardiovascular disease is on the rise. It has little or nothing to do with cholesterol levels.

High cholesterol as a cause of heart disease has never been supported by research. High fat intake as a cause of heart disease is also not supported by the literature. Over 50 percent of people suffering their first heart attack have normal or even low cholesterol.

The elevated cholesterol in our youth is mostly because the medical norms have gradually been lowered over the course of the past 30 years. Beyond that true elevated cholesterol is most commonly associated with a diet high in trans-fats. The second most common cause is an underactive thyroid, not heart disease. The third is the presence of harmful bacteria in the gut.

“Low fat” or “reduced fat” foods have been developed over the past 30 years in response to the myth that fat is bad. The result is food that has been processed to remove the healthy fat and replace it with trans-fats. Butter is a very healthy fat – Margarine is a very unhealthy fat. However, the total fat content of margarine is lower than butter, so it is touted as being healthy. By trying to reduce our fat intake we have dramatically increased the rate of heart disease.

Encourage your children to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Lead by example and avoid the processed foods as much as possible. Don’t buy into the cholesterol myth. That is just an elaborate ploy to sell statin drugs. If you decide to screen your child for cholesterol, run a glycohemoglobin A1c as well to see if they are insulin resistant. That’s where the heart issues begin.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wisdom Wednesday: Gut Associated Lymphatic Tissue (GALT)

You have all seen the television ads with Jamie Lee Curtis telling you that 75% of your immune system is in your digestive tract. Of course, that statement is false. However, 75% of your lymphatic supply is in the digestive tract and it is the first line of defense for the immune system.

When food, bacteria, viral particles, or any other substance enters the digestive tract, the GALT examines these substances. Cells, called dendrites, extend an “arm” into the gut, contact the substance and evaluate it chemically. Sometimes these crane-like dendrites will bring the substance back into the lymphatic system for further analysis.

The process is called “cross talk”. The GALT actually communicates with both friendly and potential pathogenic organisms. The information gleaned from “cross talk” is then transmitted to the immune system via the thymus.

The thymus responds by increasing the percentage of Th1 or Th2 cells released into the blood stream. Th1 cells stimulate infection fighting and Th2 cells respond to food sensitivities or allergies. The total number of cells doesn’t really change, just the focus from infection to allergy. This system helps prepare the body for any potential threat. One of my concerns with immunization, is that it by-passes this defense system and mandates a response directly from the secondary immune system – cell mediated immunity in the blood stream itself.

After treating inflammation in my office, the next step is to evaluate the status of the immune system as it relates to “cross talk”. Th1 problems commonly occur after the use of antibiotics or prolonged use of probiotics. Yes, the use of probiotics often causes problems rather than helping the immune system. This will be covered in the next Wednesday Wisdom blog. Th2 problems are related to food sensitivities. Carbohydrates and proteins are the triggers. As noted on my blog, Inflammation – Part 2, wheat (especially gluten), dairy, soy and corn are the biggest offenders.

If these substances get into the blood stream, the immune system is ready and waiting to attack them. This is a normal immune response. However, if the amino acid sequence of a small protein or viral particle resembles some protein structure in the body, then the immune system goes on to attack the body itself. This is the basis of autoimmune disease. MS (multiple sclerosis), Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Crohn’s Disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis are just a few of several hundred autoimmune diseases thought to be triggered by this process call “molecular mimicry”.

Only single amino acids amino acids are supposed to cross the gut wall into the blood stream. Viral organisms are simple strings of amino acids, long enough to generate an immune response. In similar fashion, only single sugars (monosaccharides) like glucose, fructose and galactose can normally cross the gut lining. If disaccharides (double sugars) like lactose or sucrose get into the blood stream, they can also cause molecular mimicry and create autoimmune disease. Lactose intolerance is basically an inability to break down lactose into glucose and galactose, with some leaky gut issues.

Avoid taking probiotics daily. If you have to take an antibiotic, follow up with a probiotic at each meal for 2 weeks, then discontinue. If you suspect you have food sensitivities, have a nutritional evaluation to find out how you can overcome these issues. Finally, if you suffer from any autoimmune disease, please investigate treatment options for leaky gut, dysbiosis, and molecular mimicry.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Take Heart: Mediterranean Diet Combats Diabetes, Study Says

Adhering to a so-called Mediterranean diet may reduce your risk of diabetes, especially if you’re at high risk for heart disease.
Thursday, March 27, 2014 (US National Library of Medicine, NIH, National Institutes of Health)

Researchers reviewed 19 studies that included more than 162,000 people in different countries for an average of 5.5 years. The analysis revealed that a Mediterranean diet – which is rich in fish, nuts, vegetables and fruits – was associated with a 21 percent lower risk of diabetes compared with other eating patterns. The risk was reduced even more (27%) among people who were at high risk for heart disease.

“Adherence to the Mediterranean diet may prevent the development of diabetes irrespective of age, sex, race or culture,” lead investigator Demosthenes Panagiotakos, a professor at Harokopio University in Athens, Greece, said in a college news release. “This diet has a beneficial effect, even in high-risk groups, and speaks to the fact that is never too late to start eating a healthy diet.”

The number of diabetes cases worldwide has doubled in the past 30 years and this spike has been linked to the growing obesity epidemic. “Diabetes is an ongoing epidemic and its relation to obesity, especially in the Westernized populations, is well known. We have to do something to prevent diabetes and changing our diet may be an effective treatment,” Panagiotakos said.

The Mediterranean diet is an excellent choice for healthy eating and will often reverse many, if not all factors of metabolic syndrome, including insulin resistance and diabetes. Of course, these are factors that lead to heart disease. This diet is also easier to follow than the Paleo diet. Many nutritionists recommend combining aspects of the two diets to minimize, or eliminate the grains.

Of note, is Dr. Pangiotakos statement that it is never too late to start. I have seen full blown diabetics, on multiple medications, reverse and even eliminate their disease with this type of diet change. However, the prevailing attitude among diabetics is they can keep eating what ever they want, because the medication controls their blood sugar.

Unfortunately, even a small elevation in the blood glucose levels damages the tissues of the body. The small blood vessels, kidneys, nerves, and the eyes are most susceptible. Neuropathy, loss of circulation to the lower legs, kidney failure, and blindness will follow if not corrected. Medication merely slows the progression of the disease.

The key is really using fresh fruits and vegetables in place of processed foods. When you are grocery shopping, spend most of your time and money on the perimeter of the store. That’s were the real food is placed. The center isles are primarily for processed foods and non-perishables.

There are several good cookbooks following the Mediterranean diet and you can download shopping guidelines from the internet for free.

If you find the Paleo diet too hard to follow, try the Mediterranean diet, or even the Paleo-Mediterranean diet.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Organic Food Does Not Reduce Women’s Risk Of Cancer

Women who mostly or always eat organic foods have the same overall chance of developing cancer as women who never eat it.
Monday, March 31, 2014 (Medical News Today)

This comes from a new study from the University of Oxford and published in the British Journal of Cancer that followed over 600,000 middle-aged women for nearly a decade.

The word “organic” and the standards that apply to it are slightly different in various countries, but generally it forbids the use of synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers in the production of food.

Outside the organic movement, pesticides are widely used in agriculture, and there are concerns that residues from these get into the food chain and could increase the risk of cancer. But so far, the evidence for this is not strong enough to give any clear answers.

For this latest study, the researchers examined data on 623,080 middle-aged UK women being followed in the Million Women Study, a large national study of UK women’s health that is funded by Cancer Research UK and the Medical Research council.

The investigators asked women whether they ate organic foods, and over a 9-year period, looked at how many developed 16 of the most common types of cancer. The researchers could find no difference in overall cancer risk when they compared 180,000 women who said they never ate organic food with 45,000 who said they always or usually ate it.

When they looked in more detail at each of the 16 different cancers, the researchers found a slightly higher risk for breast cancer and a lower risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in women who said they mostly ate organic food. But they said this result could be due to chance and other factors.

Dr. Claire Knight, health information manager at Cancer Research UK, say the study adds to increasing evidence that eating organic food does not lower the risk of developing cancer, but she suggests people should wash their fruits and vegetables before eating them if they are worried about pesticide residue.

She points out that whether fruit and vegetables are conventionally grown or not, it is important to eat a well-balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables to reduce cancer risk. “Scientists have estimated that over 9% of cancer cases in the UK may be linked to dietary factors, of which almost 5% are linked to not eating enough fruits and vegetables”, she said.

Although I agree with Dr. Knight, the key is eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, this is a flawed study. They did not access the quality of the diet itself. In fact, they relied of the subjects to qualify whether or not they ate “organic” foods and with what frequency. You need food journals as a minimum requirement and that is still too subjective. To qualify as a valid study the diet would have to be monitored. They even admit that variations in the risk for different cancers “could be due to chance and other factors”. A good study controls such factors.

I can not tell you how often I have watched people by junk food at the health food store. Just because it says “organic” does not make it healthy. Organic rice cakes are sugar. They just cost more.

The higher cost of organic food is justified. Organic seed can be over $100 a pound, where non-organic seed might be $4 a pound. All the equipment used in organic farming can not be used in non-organic farming. It takes a minimum of 5 years to convert from non-organic to organic farming. During that time, you have all the organic costs and yet can not sell your product as “organic”.

The “dirty dozen” are foods that you should spend the extra money to buy: apples, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, kale, imported nectarines, peaches, peppers, spinach, strawberries, and summer squash.

The “clean fifteen” have little or no pesticide residual: asparagus, avocados, cabbage, cantaloupe, sweet corn, egg plant, grapefruit, kiwi, mangoes, mushrooms, onion, papaya, pineapple, sweet peas, and sweet potatoes. Don’t bother paying “organic” prices for these items.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wisdom Wednesday: Inflammation – Part 4

Insulin, the hormone produced by the pancreas to escort glucose into the cells of the body, can stimulate inflammation. It is the most insidious inflammatory pathway and very difficult to reverse.

Most cells in the body require adequate insulin in the blood stream to facilitate glucose absorption. However, a majority of Americans are now insulin resistant. They eat too much and too much of the wrong foods – refined carbohydrates. As the pancreas increases the output of insulin to control glucose levels, the body slowly becomes insulin resistant. This occurs long before the eventual diagnosis of Type II diabetes. It is estimated that by the year 2050, over half of all Americans will be diabetic.

Today, many of these young Americans are already insulin resistant and pre-diabetic. The systemic inflammation caused by excess insulin production is evidenced by our inability to process omega 6 fatty acids, like olive oil.

Most nutritionists recommend against supplementing omega 6 fatty acids. They claim that the omegas 6’s are abundant in our diet and that they can be pro-inflammatory. Although both of those claims are true, I disagree with their recommendations. First, the omega 6 fatty acids in our diet need to be converted to GLA (gamma linolenic acid) and many people can not make that conversion. Secondly, it’s only the people who are insulin resistant that take healthy omega 6 fatty acids and convert them to inflammatory compounds. I recommend fixing the chemistry rather than denying the body an essential fatty acid. Essential means just that, your body can not make it, it is essential to the diet.

The key, of course, is cleaning up the diet, reversing all the factors associated with metabolic syndrome – central obesity, high blood pressure, low thyroid function, high serum lipids, and insulin resistance. In the meantime, the addition of sesame seed oil, and possibly GLA, to the diet will support healthy utilization of omega 6 fatty acids and effectively block the conversion to inflammatory compounds.

I have seen uncontrolled type II diabetics, on multiple medications, cut their medication by 75% with the simple addition of sesame seed oil and GLA, while reducing their blood sugar levels from over 250mg/dL to 85mg/dL in less than 3 weeks. Simultaneously, their inflammatory complaints – IBS, musculoskeletal pain, headaches, etc. also improve markedly.

In my office, as soon as I see impaired chemistry on the omega 6 fatty acids, I suspect insulin resistance as the cause. Fortunately, the glycohemoglobin A1c is a simple blood test that tells us what your blood sugar has been averaging for the past 60 days. I mention this test often in my blogs and I advise you to have this test run annually.

Diabetes is epidemic in our county and is not only preventable, but often time’s reversible. The vast majority of pre-diabetics are undiagnosed. The odds are at least half of you reading this blog are pre-diabetic. Get an A1c performed. If you have any of the characteristics of metabolic syndrome and you suffer from inflammation, chances are your pain is being driven by insulin.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Much of Bone is Shock-Absorbing ‘Goo’ that stops it from Shattering

Findings reveal new insights into bone diseases like osteoporosis.
March 25, 2014 (Medical News Today)

A team of chemists from the UK has made a remarkable discovery about the structure of bone and shown that much of the mineral from which it is made comprises a viscous ‘goo-like’ fluid that is trapped between the crystals that form bone.

The goo-like fluid allows movement or slipperiness between the calcium phosphate nano-crystals so they do not shatter under pressure. This newly discovered property is what gives bone its flexibility, say the researchers who write about their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study shows that the goo-like viscous fluid is made of the chemical citrate – which is a natural by-product of cell metabolism – mixed with water. The researchers suggest their discovery may explain how osteoporosis arises and will shift current thinking about the causes of this and other bone diseases.

If the citrate goo leaks out, it fuses with the calcium phosphate crystals, creating big clumps that stick together, causing bone to lose its flexibility and become more brittle.

“Bone mineral was thought to be closely related to this substance called hydroxyapatite. But what we’ve shown is that a large part of the bone mineral – possibly as much as half of it, in fact – is made up of this goo, where citrate is binding like a gel between mineral crystals” says lead investigator Dr. Melinda Duer of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge.

Imagine two panes of glass with water in between, they stick together but can slide with respect to each other. The citrate is what keeps the plates together, without drying out and sticking to each other or flying apart.

Hopefully, this new research will move the medical community away from the use of biphosphanates like Fosamax and Boniva. Drugs like this maintain old brittle bone by preventing the body from dismantling it and subsequently rebuilding with new bone. Although this improves the density on bone density studies, the remaining bone is more prone to fracture. This is why the companies were forced to print warnings about increased hip fractures on the labels.

As bone ages and begins to loose some of it’s’ flexibility, cells called osteoclasts eat the old bone. Then other cells, called osteoblasts produce new bone to replace what was lost. This process is ongoing though out our lives. Fosamax actually prevents the osteoclasts from doing their job.

Estrogen, on the other hand, stimulates both the osteoclasts and osteoblasts, especially the later. That protective factor is very important for women. When women go through menopause and estrogen levels drop, bone loss often escalates, resulting in osteoporosis.

Unfortunately, estrogen supplementation (HRT-hormone replacement therapy) can increase the risk of cancer, especially in the sex organs. Bio-identical HRT appears to reduce that risk by using a much lower dose of estrogen.

I believe the key lies in supporting adrenal health. After menopause (or andropause), the adrenals produce our sex hormones. They produce a little estrogen and testosterone when we are young, but their role increases as they take over for the ovaries and testes.

However, most of us have taxed our adrenals extensively with the stress of modern life. They just are not capable of taking on the additional task of hormone production. Hormone levels fall too far and too fast. This results in hot flashes, mood changes, depression, loss of libido, and osteoporosis.

I will follow this research as nutritional support for osteoporosis may change radically as our knowledge grows. In the meantime, try to reduce your stress. Take some time to enjoy the little things in life. Go the beach and watch the sun rise. Read a good book. Play.

As I have noted in previous blogs, the cardinal signs of adrenal stress are poor sleep habits and low libido. If you suffer from insomnia, maintenance or onset, or your sex drive has dropped, consult a qualified nutritionist. There are several herbs that are quite effective in rebuilding adrenal function.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Don’t Blame Food Additives For Hives

People often blame food additives like dyes, preservatives, emulsifiers and flavor enhancers for chronic hives and other skin eruptions. But a new randomized trail shows that they are almost surely wrong.
March 21, 2014 (The New York Times)

Over 10 years, researchers conducted “oral challenge” tests (in which patients ingest a suspect food and wait for a reaction) on 100 people who had been suffering from skin irritations with no known cause for six weeks or longer, what doctors call chronic urticaria. They tested 11 of the additives most commonly implicated in allergic reactions, including aspartame, monosodium glutamate, yellow dye No. 6, nitrites and nitrates. Forty-three of the patients said they had had allergic reactions to such additives.

In single-blind tests, in which the doctor knew what substance was being tested but the patient did not, two patients developed a skin reaction. But neither had a reaction in a subsequent double-blinded test, in which neither doctors nor patients knew what substance was being tested.

No other patients had responses to any of the 11 additives, and there were no gastrointestinal, respiratory or other symptoms. The findings appeared in the March issue of The Journal of Clinical Immunology: In Practice.

“If you have chronic urticaria, you don’t need to avoid certain foods because of food additives,” said the lead author, Dr. Jessia P. Rajan of the Scripps Clinic in San Diego. “Those things are unlikely to cause exacerbation.”

The most common food sensitivities are, in order – wheat, dairy, soy, and corn. The nightshades like tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes are a distant fifth. The histamine response (see my blog on Inflammation – Part 2) that creates urticaria is to the food that contains these additives, not the additives themselves.

However, that is not to say that those additives are safe or healthy. The effects of most additives are from long term storage in the body as artificial additives are very difficult to remove. They require detoxification through both Phase 1 and Phase 2 liver detoxification.

Everything that the body gets rid of goes through Phase 1. It is Phase 2 that is overwhelmed. In a natural setting, 100 years ago or more, Phase 2 liver detoxification was reserved for spent hormones that our body made and alcohol. I list alcohol as most societies have used some form of alcohol for thousands of years.

Today, virtually every artificial additive, preservative and all other man-made chemicals, including prescription drugs, have to go through Phase 2 liver detoxification in order to be removed from the body. To make matters worse, many of these chemicals are much more toxic and carcinogenic after going through Phase 1 liver detoxification. If Phase 2 is impaired or overwhelmed, then these harmful chemicals are stored in the tissues of the body, mostly in the fat cells. Over time, the chemicals irritate the tissues and cancerous degeneration is often the result.

Avoid these additives and the processed foods that contain them, like the plague. Indeed, they are responsible for much of the chronic disease that haunts our society.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wisdom Wednesday: Inflammation – Part 3

Protein is the most complex fuel used by the body. It is much more difficult to break down than fat or carbohydrate. Initial protein requirements for the body each day are used for growth and repair of tissue. However, additional protein can not be stored like fat or carbohydrate.

Once growth and repair requirements are met, all additional protein is converted to fat for storage or to carbohydrate to be burned as fuel. In either case, the nitrogen is removed and circulates in the blood as “blood urea nitrogen” or “BUN”.

BUN is a waste product and must be removed from the body. The chemical pathway eventually produces nitric oxide (NO) and is ably titled the Nitric Oxide Pathway. NO is pro-inflammatory to the digestive tract, kidneys and lungs. This is a common problem in young men taking large amounts of protein for body building. The excess protein increases BUN and NO levels in the blood stream creating inflammation.

In the office, we use vegetable protein as an oral challenge to evaluate the digestive tract, urinary tract, and lungs. The most common problem is insufficient HCl (hydrochloric acid) in the stomach to combine with pepsinogen and break down the protein to amino acids.

Poor conversion of ammonia to urea in the kidneys is also quite common. People with recurrent UTIs (urinary tract infections), chronic cystitis, or even kidney stones will have impairment in this pathway. Often the simple addition of arginase, an enzyme needed for the conversion of ammonia to urea will solve the problem.

Biotin, the supplement women often take to make their nails stronger is also involved in the NO pathway. All the biotin you will ever need should be produced by the healthy bacteria in your digestive tract. Impairment of the NO pathway can result from an imbalance in the gut flora, especially if there is a history of antibiotic use.

General gut inflammation can also be assessed using the NO pathway. Patients suffering from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s Disease, and other bowel inflammatory conditions can dramatically reduce that inflammation using L-glutamine, another chemical in the NO pathway.

If you suffer from digestive problems, chronic urinary tract issues, or even lung problems the answer may be related to NO inflammation. If your hair and nails are not healthy or you need to take biotin to keep them strong, your gut flora is disturbed and needs some support. If you are yet unwilling to seek the help of a qualified nutritionist, just try adding 1000mg of L-glutamine as a supplement, twice per day, on an empty stomach. If that helps reduce your inflammation, your digestive tract needs to be supported.