All of us experience some kind of disease process during our lifetime, and for some of us these diseases can be chronic or even life threatening. We develop such diseases for a myriad of reasons, but by far the most common one is a compromised immune system. Our immune system is a complex orchestration of various biochemical factors and responses designed to rid our body of potentially dangerous substances - such as viruses, bacteria, chemical toxins and free radicals - or, at least to minimize their negative impact. Without an effectively functioning immune system these substances have free reign to damage the tissues of the body, stress the organs and undermine our overall health.
Continued good health is of paramount importance to our quality of life. On the one hand, we are living in a prosperous environment full of technological innovations; but, on the other hand, our health is rapidly eroding - despite the fact that our collective life-span has been extended, primarily due to reduced childhood mortality. Probably the main reason for this decline in our health is that we are exposed today to types of biochemical and electromagnetic pollution that simply did not exist a hundred years ago.
Biochemical pollution takes the form of agricultural chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers, fumigants, and the antibiotics and synthetic hormones fed to commercially reared livestock) and industrial pollution (whether from automobile exhaust or from factories and other industrial installations). Even our homes cannot offer us much sanctuary. According to EPA statistics, the air in the average home contains significantly higher levels of chemical toxins than the air outside, due to a combination of tightly sealed buildings, air conditioning, household cleansers, and outgassing furniture, carpets and paint (another good incentive to keep your home well ventilated, or to invest in an air filter!). Individually and collectively, these widely used chemicals place a heavy burden on the liver (our primary organ of detoxification) and on our immune system, as well as on the resources of the planet itself. The poisoning of the earth, air, rivers, oceans and our very food supply is posing an unprecedented challenge to our health. It is my belief that the epidemic of cancer we are faced with today is a direct result of this chemical assault that is overloading our otherwise remarkably resilient immune systems. It should be obvious to all of us that disease will be the inevitable result of compromised immunity.
Besides the ever-increasing number of chemical pollutants, we are also exposed to an unprecedented level of what we could call electromagnetic pollution. We are constantly being bombarded with EMFs (electromagnetic frequencies) and ELFs (extremely low frequencies) from such sources as computers, telephones, power lines, cell phone relays, transformers, radios, radio transmitters, televisions, microwave ovens and, of course, nuclear energy installations - some of which are located inside research institutions in the heart of major American cities.
Cellular phones, which are becoming universal accessories, emit electromagnetic radio frequencies that, with sufficient exposure, appear to modify and damage certain structures in the brain. Although recent government reports insist that there is no "conclusive" evidence linking their use with brain cancer (which is, "coincidentally," on the increase), such reports should be treated with a healthy dose of skepticism, as there are significant financial interests at stake! Also, what are currently considered to be "safe levels" of EMFs are based on very little research into their possible long-term effects. And, due to weak enforcement of FCC regulations, many cell phones (including those made by all of the major manufacturers) do not even meet these supposedly "safe" levels!
I am not suggesting shunning all modern technology and closing our eyes to its very real benefits; but I am suggesting that we should not to be blind to its equally real health hazards. We need to use such technologies prudently and judiciously, and to learn to harness their energies in ways that minimize their potentially adverse effects.
It is natural to feel a sense of hopelessness when confronted with information such as this, but hopelessness is probably even more detrimental to your health than pollution itself! Fortunately, there are very real things that you can do to protect yourself. I suggest a two-pronged strategy of avoidance and insurance.
By avoidance I mean that you should try to locate yourself as far as possible from such obvious dangers as high-energy voltage transformers and nuclear energy installations. Try to shield yourself the radiation effects of your computer, and sit at least ten feet away from your TV set. Regularly spend time in natural settings where exposure levels will be reduced, and where the natural energies will help to recharge your own batteries. When using cell phones, use an ear-piece, point the antenna away from your body, and try to limit your calls to two minutes or less. Also, be mindful of the well-being of others around you: speaking on a cell phone while standing in line or roaming the supermarket aisles directs the electromagnetic frequencies (which mainly are associated with the antenna) at the people behind you, as well at yourself. Children are especially vulnerable, because their brains are still developing. Using cell phones inside metal structures (such as cars) tends to boost their signal and, therefore, the size and power of their electromagnetic field. Whenever possible, use a regular phone instead.
By insurance I mean trying to eat organically grown foods whenever possible, drinking clean-source water, eating according to your Metabolic Type and taking metabolically appropriate supplements. Avoid refined sugar, hydrogenated oils, processed foods, and food additives (colorings, artificial flavorings, preservatives, MSG, etc.), and limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol. Be sure to exercise regularly and also to get plenty of rest. All of these measures will greatly help to strengthen your immune system and to maintain you in good health, despite the environmental challenges that confront us. ---
As the holiday season, with its sugary treats and increased alcohol consumption, fades into memory, we are faced with the reality of the annual winter onslaught of colds and flu viruses. We all know the symptoms: sinus congestion, runny nose, low energy, muscle aches, and that all-too-familiar feeling of being "out of it." Some people sail through the winter months relatively unscathed but, for many, it can be a very harrowing time indeed. So what can be done to minimize the chance of catching a cold or the flu, and what are our options should we succumb?
Proper diet, exercise and adequate rest are the cornerstones of prevention. There is no more important time than now to eat the foods appropriate to your Metabolic Type. Keeping your blood pH balanced by eating the right foods will put your body in the best possible disposition to ward off pesky viruses, and it will also help you to bounce back quicker if you do happen to get sick.
It is equally important to keep up with your supplements. Many people resist taking supplements because they feel they should be getting all the nutrients they need from their food. Ideally, this would indeed be the case, but we are faced with a "double whammy": on the one hand the quality of our food has declined due to modern agricultural methods that have depleted the soil of the very elements needed to produce nutrient-dense food; and on the other hand our need for quality nutrition has gone up as we have become increasingly exposed to environmental toxins. Fortunately, supplements can help bridge this gap, boosting our levels of the very nutrients needed by the liver and immune system to deal with the increased toxic load. Keep in mind that supplements should be seen as "supplemental" to a proper diet, not a substitute for it.
Regular exercise helps the body to work more effectively and to flush out toxins, while adequate rest is essential to allow the body time to regenerate. Much of our immune activity occurs during sleep, when the body engages in "mopping up" operations, and sleep is something that many of us are deprived of in our action-oriented society.
Avoid sugar and excessive alcohol (which is itself a form of sugar), as sugar is well known to depress immune function. Overexposure to the cold can also do the same thing, so it is important to keep warm in cold weather. (The origin of the phrase "catching a cold" comes from this property of cold weather to suppress white blood cell activity, thereby rendering us more vulnerable to any viruses that happen to be in the neighborhood). Drink plenty of water and warm drinks (including herb teas or plain hot water) to flush out toxins and keep your body temperature up in cold weather.
Specific nutrients that can help prevent or shorten the duration of a cold or the flu include: vitamin C (ascorbic acid for Slow Oxidizers and Sympathetics and calcium ascorbate for Fast Oxidizers and Parasympathetics), which can safely be taken in doses up to bowel tolerance (i.e. cut back if it causes loose bowels); olive leaf extract, a powerful antiviral and antibacterial agent that can be taken either preventively or therapeutically; echinacea (with or without golden seal; herbalists are divided on whether it is better to take them separately or together); astragalus, a powerful and widely available immune-boosting Chinese herb; and Sambucol™, an elderberry syrup that is often extremely effective in knocking out the flu.
Nutritional supplements and herbs are usually most effective if they are taken at the very first sign of illness. Similarly, try to take a hot bath right away, and keep taking them once or twice daily until you are better. It is important to make the water as hot as you can stand it (but don't burn yourself!), and stay in it until it cools (usually about 20 minutes). Some people find adding a couple of cups of baking soda, Epsom salts or apple cider vinegar to the water is especially helpful. Wrap up well or go to bed immediately after taking the bath. Above all, keep your spirits up; a positive attitude is the very best medicine. ---
Since the devastating events of the last couple of months, a mood of fear, anxiety and uncertainty has descended upon the land. However much we try to put on a brave face and proudly assert our dedication to living our normal lives, our fears remain justified. Who among us has not felt some trepidation upon boarding an airplane, or even opening a letter with no return address? These are stressful times for Americans. No sooner had the initial shocking impact of September 11th started to recede when bioterrorism
began to rear its ugly head, in the form of anthrax tainted mail. We never know when, where or how the invisible enemy may strike again. And yet life must, and does go on, and our resolve must remain strong. The purpose of this article is to offer some useful strategies to help deal with these challenging times.
First, let us look at the threat of bioterrorism. Today it is anthrax, although, it has mercifully thus far only affected a tiny percent of the population; tomorrow it might be smallpox, bubonic plague or some as-yet-unknown new biochemical devastation. What can we do to safeguard ourselves from these deadly organisms?
The most important thing is to keep up our immunity and our body's detoxification capacity. Even the most virulent of plagues does not afflict every member of the population. Those whose immune systems are strong have a much better chance of remaining unaffected, or at least surviving. Eating the foods and taking the supplements that are appropriate to your Metabolic Type is the first step. Exercise is also crucial to keep the system functioning optimally. If you are not already exercising regularly, now is a good time to start. Find something that appeals to you, even if it is
simply walking around your neighborhood or dancing in your living room, and commit to doing it at least three times a week.
Be sure to eat plenty of fresh, preferably organically grown, vegetables. Vegetables contain a host of phytochemicals, nutrients that work synergistically to help the body function at its best. Special honorable mention should be made of the cruciferous, or cabbage family, which contain particularly powerful substances that help the liver - the great organ of detoxification - to effectively deal with chemical toxins. Group I types (Slow Oxidizers and Sympathetics) can enjoy Brussels sprouts (perhaps the most potent of the cruciferous vegetables), broccoli and cabbage, while Group II types (Fast Oxidizers and Parasympathetics) can feast on cauliflower and kale. Whey powder, like cruciferous vegetables, can also help increase the body's level of glutathione, our primary "in-house" antioxidant that is so vital to successful detoxification. Whey can be added to smoothies, or mixed into yogurt.
There are also numerous supplements that can help to further boost the immune system. Several are found in your Personalized Metabolic Nutrition multivitamin formulas, while two of the very best additional ones, lipoic acid and CoQ10, are profiled in the accompanying article. There are also various supplements that are known to have powerful anti-microbial properties, effectively combating bacteria and viruses. These include garlic (such as Kyolic 106), Olive Leaf Extract, already popular among many of our readers as a first line of defense against flu and the common cold, and colloidal silver. Silver has been known since the 1880s to be an extremely effective destroyer of the anthrax bacterium, and has been used as a broad-spectrum anti-microbial for over 100 years. Though it fell out of popularity with the advent of antibiotics, it remains today a very powerful tool against a wide range of pathogens. Unfortunately, not all colloidal silver products are of equal potency and purity, so we offer, as a special order item, the very best we could find, Mild Silver Protein, in which pure silver is bonded to protein molecules to assure optimal assimilation.
Antibiotics such as Cipro or Doxycycline should not be used preventively, partly because they help to breed antibiotic resistant superbugs (a very serious global health problem), and also because they cause "collateral damage" in the user's own system. If antibiotics are required for any legitimate reason (such as anthrax exposure), a proven probiotic (such as Culturelle) should also be taken, albeit at a different time of the day, to minimize the devastation that antibiotics can visit upon the beneficial flora in the gut.
Extra vitamin C can also be taken, both to stave off and to help address any kind of infection. A couple of extra grams a day (of ascorbic acid for the Group I types, and mineral ascorbates for the Group II types) provides extra insurance, while doses as high as 20 grams (20,000 mg) or more can be used during an active infection (gradually titrated, or built up, to bowel tolerance). Other immune boosting supplements that we offer include AOX/PLX, Betacan (Beta 1,3-Glucan), MGN3 and Mycoceutics Ten Mushroom Formula.
The other aspect of the current scenario is the emotional stress factor. While it is important that we, as a nation, remain strong, it is also important not to deny our fears. We should allow ourselves the time and space to fully feel our emotions, and to process them in whatever way feels most appropriate to us - from confiding in friends and loved ones, to artistic expression, spending time in nature, or through prayer or meditation.
Those who need a little extra help to deal with the emotional trauma we have all suffered might want to consider a new supplement, enigmatically named 200 mg of Zen. Its two active ingredients, the amino acids theanine and GABA, are known for their soothing effects, and specifically for their ability to counteract anxiety. Theanine was first isolated from green tea, in which it counteracts the stimulating action of caffeine. Theanine increases the brain's production of alpha waves, resulting in a state of alert relaxation - in contrast to many other herbal sedatives, which tend to have a somewhat soporific effect. It is also believed to increase our production of GABA, an amino acid and neurotransmitter (brain chemical) involved in the relaxation response. The recent introduction of 200 mg of Zen could not have been more timely! ---
Human beings are dependent on food for their survival. Without food, we will inevitably die; and if we eat poor quality food, parts of us will die. Awareness of which foods are best for each individual has always been an issue among nutritionally oriented practitioners and the public alike. Every one of us has choices, but few of us have sophisticated knowledge of the foods that are best suited to our own individual metabolism. It is important to understand your own biochemical make-up in order to wisely select the foods which will lead to optimal health. Metabolic Typing provides just such an understanding, and although many decades of research have been devoted to it, we have just begun to scratch the surface.
I consider two of the most important factors for health and longevity to be insulin levels and blood pH. There are several research scientists and practitioners in particular that I would like to acknowledge for contributing to our understanding of the role of insulin: Professor Gerald Reaven, M.D., Ronald Rosedale, M.D., Richard K. Bernstein, M.D., Barry Sears, Ph.D. and Robert C. Atkins, M.D., and I will be alluding to their work throughout this article. It is important to understand that there are many hormones that raise blood sugar — such as glucagon, epinephrine (adrenaline), cortisol and human growth hormone — but only one that lowers blood sugar, insulin. It has been conjectured that this is because less insulin was needed in the earlier days of human existence, partly because keeping blood sugar levels up was more of an evolutionary imperative than lowering them, and partly because our diet was more centered around animal foods (1). But, with the advent of agrarian foods (primarily cereal crops), we may have developed the need for more insulin to handle the increased carbohydrate load. This may or may not have coincided with the appearance of Type A blood, as D'Adamo has theorized (2).
Insulin is best known for its role as a blood sugar lowering hormone, but it has many other important functions, some of which have potentially negative as well as positive ramifications; these include the following, which are largely drawn from the work of Rosedale (1):
Regulates life span Promotes muscle building (anabolic) Stores protein and nutrients, such as calcium, magnesium and vitamin C Mediates calcium metabolism Mediates IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor 1) Controls conversion of T-4 to T-3 in the liver Controls testosterone and progesterone secretion Stimulates sympathetic nervous system activity Encourages body fat deposition Mediates blood lipids Stimulates cell proliferation (mitosis) Encourages blood clotting Contributes to the retention of sodium and fluids
Insulin resistance — which primarily occurs in the liver, muscles and fat cells, and which can be exacerbated by caffeine consumption, as well as excess sugar and carbohydrates — leads to elevated levels of circulating insulin, contributing to the following:
Premature aging High blood pressure Elevated triglycerides Atherosclerosis Congestive heart failure Inhibition of the release of glycogen (stored glucose) from the liver Development of osteoporosis Reduction of DHEA levels Acceleration of the process of glycation, leading to inflammation and tissue damage Development of malignancies Inhibition of the burning of body fat
Professor Reaven developed the theory of insulin resistance in 1988, though it was not accepted by the medical community for years, and he later went on to develop the theory of Syndrome X (also known as Metabolic Syndrome) (3). Prior to this, the conventional explanation of high blood sugar was insufficient production of insulin by the beta cells of the pancreas. Sears claims that as little as 25% of the population can thrive on carbohydrates (4); but it is my contention that this number is probably closer to 40%. My own work is based around a protocol that tests carbohydrate tolerance, using a specially modified glucose tolerance test that evaluates whether individuals are better suited to a diet higher in complex carbohydrates and lower in fat and protein (which I refer to as the Group I diet), or to a diet lower in complex carbohydrates and higher in fat and protein (the Group II diet).
The mini-glucose tolerance test is administered following a fast of a minimum of six hours. After taking a fasting blood glucose reading, the client is given a 12-ounce glass of water mixed with approximately 40 grams of pure glucose and 1 gram of potassium. Thirty minutes after the ingestion of the glucose challenge, a second blood glucose reading is taken, followed by third and fourth ones at additional 45- and 20-minute intervals. While our primary purpose in taking these readings is to determine the relative acidity or alkalinity of the blood (which is a key element in determining the individual’s Metabolic Type), they also have a great deal of significance in identifying dysglycemia, insulin resistance and other possible systemic imbalances.
An ideal blood sugar curve might look as follows:
Fasting --------- +30 mins. ------- +45 min. --------- +20 mins.
We are all aware that hypoglycemia is frequently a precursor to Type II diabetes. Hypoglycemics are typically put on our Group II protocol (higher in protein and fat, low in complex carbohydrates). This imbalance can be completely reversed in a matter of weeks, assuming good compliance with the suggested diet and supplement regimen.
You will note that the fasting glucose reading of 140 is 14 points above 126, the currently accepted threshold for Type II diabetes. Note also the continued escalation of numbers as the test progresses. This is indicative not only of insulin resistance, but possibly also of compromised pancreatic function (beta cell activity). This type of continuously escalating blood sugar readings suggests that the individual might need more than our normal diabetic diet and supplement protocol. Sometimes dietary changes alone will be sufficient to normalize such elevated readings but, if not, pharmaceutical intervention may be required
A diabetic with a more favorable prognosis might appear as follows:
The normal fasting glucose in the above example means the patient has good beta cell activity, and is producing adequate insulin. However, lack of insulin metabolism occurs when confronted with a glucose challenge. This has to be addressed by minimizing or avoiding carbohydrate foods that produce a similar effect in the body, such as potatoes, grains, sweet fruits and fruit juices. Sugar and all refined carbohydrates should be completely avoided.
Sometimes, however, we see what appear to be pre-diabetic readings, such as the following, in individuals who have removed refined sugar, sweet fruits, potatoes and other starches from their diet:
What we realized over time is that this is an extreme glycemic response that sometimes occurs in a body that has acclimatized itself away from sugar. This is a relatively benign situation that can usually be addressed successfully with lipoic acid (300 mg per day, in divided doses).
It is difficult to distinguish between a lack of beta cell activity and insulin resistance. The only definitive way is to assay blood insulin levels. From a practical standpoint, however, both conditions are addressed the same way.
In my work, as well as the work of several colleagues in the field of Metabolic Typing, I have observed that approximately 70% of diabetics are the Group II Metabolic Types (Fast Oxidizers or Parasympathetics). They require a modified version of the usual Group II diet, which we refer to as the Diabetic Protocol (centered around protein foods, good quality fats, and non-starchy carbohydrates). Often, we even will recommend this same diet to the 30% of Group I diabetics, at least until their blood sugars stabilize, even though this is a very different kind of diet than we would normally recommend to the Group I types.
Syndrome X or pre-diabetic individuals may require either a Group I or Group II diet, depending on their metabolic dominance. We notice the Group I Syndrome X clients tend to develop cardiovascular problems without also developing diabetes, whereas the Group II Syndrome X individuals tend to develop diabetes itself (which may then further progress into secondary cardiovascular disease). In both scenarios, excessive consumption of sugar, refined grain products and trans-fatty acids (from partially hydrogenated and overheated oils) are often the culprits, frequently in combination with a sedentary lifestyle.
Diabetes is essentially a disease of insulin dysregulation. Either there is too little insulin being secreted from the beta cells of the pancreas (as found in Type I diabetes and, occasionally, in advanced Type II diabetes) or the insulin receptors have lost their sensitivity, leading to a build-up of both insulin and glucose in the bloodstream. In an attempt to compensate for this insulin resistance, the pancreas secretes even more insulin into the bloodstream to try to force the issue by swamping the insulin receptors (this is the same principle behind the use of insulin injections for Type II diabetics). While this strategy may help somewhat to reduce glucose levels in the bloodstream, it also leads to an overload of insulin, which, in the long term, only exacerbates insulin resistance.
Insulin sensitivity (effective utilization of insulin) and insulin resistance (ineffective utilization of insulin) represent a dynamic polarity we all have to deal with throughout our lives. Our very health and longevity depend to a great deal on how well our body deals with insulin. Insulin sensitivity is what we should all strive for, but insulin resistance is increasingly becoming the norm. Rosedale mentions that women who consume large amounts of refined carbohydrates and sugar during pregnancy will often induce insulin resistance in their newborns (1). Could this be a major factor in the increasingly early onset of Type II diabetes, which, until recently, rarely manifested until the middle years?
We are entering into a new era where various versions of the Paleolithic diet are coming into vogue (1) (5), and vegetarianism — once the standard bearer of the alternative health movement — is going out of vogue. This swing of the pendulum is as potentially erroneous as the opposite swing, half right and half wrong. We know from our work with Metabolic Typing that some individuals do indeed thrive on a Paleolithic type diet (perhaps 60%), but others continue to require a lower protein, more vegetarian-friendly regimen. Happily, this can be easily determined by our Metabolic Typing procedures. For individuals of all Metabolic Types, the major culprits in our diets today are sugar, refined grains, partially hydrogenated and other damaged oils, and the consumption of meat from animals laden with antibiotics and bovine growth hormone, that have been fed soy, corn and grains rather than their natural diet of grass. Free range cattle have a much more favorable ratio of fatty acids than grain-fed cattle, with a higher percentage of essential fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), and a lower saturated fat content (this is not to imply that saturated fat is bad, as it is not; it is simply that a deficit of essential fatty acids can indeed contribute to various degenerative diseases).
The common denominators for optimal health are insulin control and a balanced blood pH. It is my feeling that when the blood pH is optimal, the individual will no longer have insulin resistance or hyperinsulinemia. There are two primary ways to maintain insulin sensitivity: proper diet (either Group I or Group II foods, depending on the individual's Metabolic Type); and exercise (which reactivates sluggish insulin receptors). Too much glucose, along with insulin, in the bloodstream can be dangerous for many reasons. Linus Pauling knew that white blood cells need vitamin C to stimulate phagocyte activity to counteract bacteria and viruses. He noted that high blood glucose greatly reduces such activity; in fact, a fasting blood glucose reading of over 120 mg/dl reduces phagocyte activity by as much as 75% (1). From this alone, it should be obvious why diabetics have so many health problems!
We all owe a debt of gratitude to the researchers and clinicians who have drawn our attention to this critical area of blood sugar control, and I have personally learned much from them. However, I take issue with their varying recommendations for macronutrient ratios. There is no single ideal diet or macronutrient ratio that is right for everyone, and to state otherwise is simply erroneous.
Let me give you an overview of their recommendations:
Rosedale: 20% carbohydrates, 25-30% proteins, and 60-65% fats
Sears: 40% carbohydrates, 30% proteins, and 30% fats
Reaven: 45% carbohydrates, 15% proteins, and 40% fats
Atkins offers a sliding scale, depending on an individual’s weight loss needs (6), while Bernstein alone resists the temptation to present his own macronutrient ratio (7). However tempting it may be to devise a theoretical, universal macro-nutrient ratio, there simply is no such thing, and our work with Metabolic Typing — which emphasizes a relativistic approach to macronutrients — continues to underscore this much overlooked point. Knowing what foods and supplements are best suited to one's Metabolic Type, thereby promoting optimal blood pH and proper glucose and insulin balance, will go a long towards preventing disease and promoting optimal health and longevity.
Dr. Harold J. Kristal is a pioneer in the emerging field of Metabolic Typing. He maintains a busy clinical practice in San Rafael, California, as well as teaching regular Personalized Metabolic Nutrition Seminars to interested health professionals. He is the author of The Nutrition Solution: A Guide to Your Metabolic Type (North Atlantic Books, December 2002). For a schedule of up-coming Personalized Metabolic Nutrition Seminars for health professionals on the theory and practice of Metabolic Typing, please e-mail email@example.com, or call (800) 772-0646, extension 202. ---
Dr. Gerald Reaven, professor of medicine at Stanford University, noted in 1988 that many individuals were presenting with the phenomenon of insulin resistance, yet could not be classified as Type II diabetics. Furthermore, these same individuals were at greater risk for developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) than the general population.
What is insulin resistance? Essentially it involves the release by the pancreas of more insulin than the cell receptors can handle. Insulin is a hormone with many important metabolic functions, and it has a major impact on our overall endocrine balance. Insulin is essentially an energy delivery and storage hormone, with a mission to deliver glucose into the cells where it can be combusted for energy production, and to store any excess glucose as adipose (fat) tissue. Fat storage is an evolutionary device that allows us to store energy so that we can withstand the periods of food scarcity that were common for much of our history. There are several different hormones that can raise the blood sugar level (such as glucagon, cortisol and adrenalin), but insulin alone can lower it.
Professor Reaven believes that insulin resistance generally develops in response to excess body weight and/or lack of exercise, both of which are results of our increasingly sedentary lifestyles. Other researchers and clinicians point the finger at excess carbohydrate intake, especially in the form of sugar and starches (bread, pasta, bagels, chips, cookies, breakfast cereals, etc.). These food substances excessively raise blood glucose levels and, in response, the pancreas releases more and more insulin. After a while the cell receptors become saturated and may even start to shut down, so both glucose and insulin start to accumulate in the bloodstream. This tends to lead to elevated triglycerides, lowered HDL cholesterol levels and, frequently, high blood pressure, all risk factors for cardiovascular disease. The clotting factor plasminogen activator-1 may also be elevated, increasing the likelihood of excess clotting in the blood. Just as hypoglycemia is often a precursor to diabetes, so is insulin resistance frequently a precursor to CVD.
How does one test for insulin resistance? Measuring the amount of insulin in the blood is one method; however, it can be unreliable. The method of choice is the glucose tolerance test. If an individual’s fasting glucose registers between 110 and 126, this is considered impaired fasting glucose; if the glucose levels rise to between 140 and 200 after two hours, this is considered impaired glucose tolerance. These levels provide the two primary indicators for what Professor Reaven has termed syndrome X.
Syndrome X is generally accompanied by a fasting triglyceride level of 200, or greater (100 or less is the desirable level). Triglycerides are fats found in both the bloodstream and adipose tissue, and they serve as a fuel source for the heart and the muscles. Under normal circumstances triglycerides are released back into the bloodstream from the fat storage cells at times when glucose and insulin levels are low (such as first thing in the morning), as a substitute source of energy for the cells. Conversely, the release of insulin in response to ingested glucose will normally inhibit this release of triglycerides. In the case of insulin resistance, however, there may well be adequate glucose in the bloodstream to generate energy, but because the cells’ insulin receptors are overwhelmed, not enough glucose is getting into the cells to generate sufficient energy. Accordingly, triglycerides continue to be released into the bloodstream to make up the energy deficit. Unfortunately, this has the effect of stimulating the liver to make even more triglycerides, so that the bloodstream becomes overloaded with them - in addition to the excess glucose and insulin! This process accounts for the excess triglycerides found in people with syndrome X.
It is estimated that 25-30% of the adult population in the U.S. has syndrome X, and this goes a long way to explaining the epidemic levels of Type II diabetes and CVD found in this country. (Other factors also contribute to high CVD rates, notably high levels of the intermediary amino acid metabolite homocysteine, primarily due to inadequacies in the diet of the B-vitamins folic acid, B-12 and B-6).
Two of the most important strategies for both preventing and treating syndrome X are exercise and weight loss, both of which improve the cells’ ability to absorb insulin and, along with it, glucose. The other key area is diet, though confusion continues to abound as to what ratio of macronutrients is appropriate. Are Atkins, Sears or Ornish correct, each with their widely varying dietary recommendations? Professor Reaven does not think so, and he weighs in with his own plan: 45% of calories from carbohydrates; 40% from mostly unsaturated fats; and 15% from proteins. He recommends 1800 calories per day, supplemented with additional calcium. Once again we are looking at a "one-diet-fits-all" approach.
The Metabolic Typing protocol centers around a mini-glucose challenge test. We test the fasting blood glucose level, administer 40 grams of glucose (plus 2 grams of potassium), and then track how effectively the glucose is cleared from the blood over the next 95 minutes. Because insulin plays a central role in this process, we are in a perfect position to observe and address the phenomenon of syndrome X. After successfully performing thousands of such tests over the years we can categorically state that there is no diet that is right for everyone. In most cases, balancing the body chemistry metabolically with the diet and supplements appropriate to the individual’s metabolic type will correct glucose dysregulation and lipid abnormalities. In extreme cases, however, it is necessary to initiate the Diabetic Protocol (emphasizing proteins, good quality fats and non-starchy carbohydrates) to stabilize blood sugar and triglyceride levels.
We will be hearing a lot more about insulin resistance and syndrome X in the future, as it represents a major breakthrough in the understanding of the etiology of Type II diabetes and CVD. Our work with Metabolic Typing has much to offer in addressing the detrimental effects of this insidious condition. ---
It is estimated that as much as 30% of the population will suffer from either hypoglycemia or adult-onset diabetes during their lifetime, and, unfortunately, this figure is increasing with each passing year. As hypoglycemia (or chronically low blood sugar) is often a precursor to diabetes, I would like to outline the metabolic events leading to hypoglycemia and diabetes.
In addition to producing digestive enzymes to break down our foods, the pancreas also produces two hormones to regulate blood sugar levels. The first of these, insulin, is secreted by the beta cells of the pancreas when blood sugar levels start to rise. Insulin clears glucose (blood sugar) from the bloodstream, so that it can be taken in to the cells and used to produce energy. Conversely, the second hormone, glucagon, is secreted by the alpha cells of the pancreas when blood sugar levels start to drop too low. Glucagon sends a message to the liver (and, secondarily, to the muscles) instructing them to release glycogen — which is glucose stored in a special starchy form — back into the bloodstream. In this way, the body uses glucagon and glycogen to ensure that blood sugar levels do not drop to dangerously low levels.
A dynamic equilibrium usually exists between these two hormones. Insulin ensures that the blood sugar does not get too high, while glucagon ensures that it does not get too low. The more we can maintain the proper balance between them, the healthier we will be. Problems start to arise, however, when too much sugar or refined carbohydrates are consumed. In an attempt to deal with the excess intake of starchy carbohydrates, and to avoid the potentially damaging effects of elevated blood sugar, the body tends to overcompensate by producing more insulin than is actually needed. However, the overproduction of insulin tends to force blood sugar levels too low, resulting in hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. This condition is characterized by such symptoms as light-headedness, speediness, excess perspiration, heightened anxiety, confusion, irritability and, often, intense hunger. Traditionally, people suffering from such symptoms were told to eat something sweet to restore their blood sugar levels, and, while this does work in the short term, it has the undesirable long-term effect of further spiking the blood sugar, resulting in a destructive see-saw pattern.
If this pattern is sustained over time, the excess insulin that is constantly being produced starts to overwhelm the receptor sites on the surface of the cells. As a result, they start to lose their sensitivity to insulin, and, accordingly, they let in less of it. Because glucose cannot get into the cells without insulin to escort it, less and less glucose also makes its way into the cells. Not only does this compromise the efficient burning of glucose for energy, it also leads to a dangerous build-up of both insulin and glucose in the bloodstream.
This phenomenon of insulin resistance is now understood to be the primary cause of adult-onset (or Type II) diabetes, and it can even be passed on to infants in utero by expectant mothers. It can also be exacerbated by caffeine consumption. Elevated insulin and blood sugar lead to pathological consequences that can severely affect the proper functioning of the cardiovascular, immune and nervous systems, and thus can have a profoundly negative impact on the health of the entire body. Paradoxically, in an attempt to force the issue, the pancreas further increases its already elevated output of insulin, in the hopes that swamping the tired insulin receptors on the cell surface will break down their resistance, so they will relent and let in more insulin (a tactic resembling the relentless persuasions of an over-aggressive salesperson!). The long-term result, however, is usually a further worsening of the condition.
Chronically elevated insulin levels typically lead to elevated triglycerides — one of the major risk factors for heart disease — as well as excessive sodium and fluid retention, leading to edema, high blood pressure and, in some cases, to congestive heart failure. Furthermore, it encourages excessive blood clotting, which greatly increases the chances of a heart attack or stroke. High insulin also over stimulates the sympathetic nervous system (responsible for the fight-or-flight syndrome), and prevents the burning of body fat. As if that was not enough, it also reduces levels of the vital hormone DHEA, interrupts calcium metabolism (thereby contributing to osteoporosis), and stimulates excessive cell proliferation (feeding the growth of malignant cells). As such, it is no exaggeration to say that chronically elevated insulin accelerates the aging process, encourages the development of degenerative diseases, and shortens the life span. The subsequent dysinsulinism (malfunctioning of insulin) also interrupts the many other legitimate functions of insulin, such as muscle building, the storing of such nutrients as calcium, magnesium and vitamin C, and the control of other hormones, including testosterone, progesterone and thyroid.
Meanwhile, the high levels of circulating glucose are contributing to another insidious process, known as glycation. This involves the bonding of glucose (or fructose) with protein molecules, forming non-functioning structures known as advanced glycation end products (conveniently and appropriately abbreviated to AGEs). These troublemakers contribute to inflammatory processes throughout the body, and hasten the aging and demise of all body tissues.
So much for the bad news! The good news is that the Metabolic Typing protocol, through its use of a modified glucose challenge, is very effective at picking up dysglycemic conditions. An aberrant fasting blood sugar can indicate hypoglycemia (a reading of 65, or less) and diabetes (125, or more), while the subsequent readings suggest how effectively insulin is working to clear glucose from the bloodstream. Happily, blood sugar imbalances respond very effectively to appropriate dietary changes, along with exercise which, like a properly controlled diet, helps to lower insulin levels. Thus, eating for your Metabolic Type can help prevent both hypoglycemia and diabetes, sidestep many of the degenerative diseases of aging, and help you to live a long and healthy life. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The pH becomes quite alkaline such as during viral infections, pH shifts acid during the onslaught of bacterial infections
BIOCHEMISTRY OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE Like ourselves, invading organisms depend on their environment, in this case our bodies' biochemistry, for their survival. This environment can be either conducive or hostile to their growth. Basically, infectious illnesses fall into two categories: bacterial and viral. Bacterial infections (like staphylococcus and streptococcus) tend to grow in an acid environment, while viruses (like flus and the common cold) tend to proliferate in an alkaline medium.
The most common forms of illnesses that come on in the cold seasons are viruses. This means that commonly during this time of year, one's body chemistry has a tendency to become too alkaline. The two major reasons for this are temperature changes, i.e., the coming of cold weather, and an alkalinizing diet.
The common phrase that is used is that one "catches cold." In actuality, this is a very appropriate description of what occurs. The eventual effect of exposure to cold weather is that the body chemistry becomes alkaline. Initially, the body reacts to cold by releasing fatty acids to provide fuel to accommodate the change in temperature. This catabolic reaction initially has an acidic effect. But, in an attempt to balance the acidic reaction, the body counters with an anabolic response with the release of sterols, which ultimately results in an alkaline shift.
In addition, the body responds to cold stimuli through the activities of the parasympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system which also causes a biochemical shift in the direction of alkalinity.
Compounding the situation, during the holidays many people indulge in a greater intake of carbohydrates, especially alcohol, desserts and other forms of sugar. However, carbohydrates, especially sugar and alcohol, and other substances such as nicotine, caffeine (in chocolate, tea, coffee) and salt, are all highly anabolic substances and are thus extremely alkalinizing to one's system.
The cumulative effect of all of this is an alkaline imbalance in the body's pH, making the body fertile ground for the proliferation of cold and flu viruses. Fortunately, this situation can often be prevented through diet and nutrition.
MAKING YOUR BODY A HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT TO ILLNESSES
Know one thing for certain . . . what you do can dramatically influence whether you and your immune system or the invading organisms win out. Whether or not you get sick is mostly up to you! Attention to the following areas may have a surprising impact on your well-being:
The first and most important consideration is to identify your metabolic type in order that your diet may consist mainly of foods that contain the proper fuel mixture of nutrients for your body's needs. Learn how to maximize your engines of metabolism. This will assure maximum efficiency on the part of the immune system. Remember, your immune system is totally dependant on the proper nutrient balance...but, what is a right balance for a friend or family member, may be exactly the wrong balance for you. "...One man's food is another's poison."
The second consideration is to enhance immune system efficiency through getting sufficient and regular rest, assuring regular elimination, drinking only pure water and natural juices, exercising regularly, getting plenty of fresh air and sunlight and eating abundantly of whole, natural foods.
Third, try to minimize immune efficiency inhibitors by cutting back on exposure to heavy metal toxins, industrial and household pollutants, stress, stimulants and junk food. And, finally, at those times when you feel that you're losing -- too much stress, fatigue, pollutants, junk food, alcohol, etc. -- and you feel as though you are coming down with a cold, use your diet as a weapon to create a biochemcial environment that is hostile instead of conducive to the proliferation of disease microbes.
Each of the diets recommended for the different metabolic types naturally includes proteins, fats and carbohydrates, but each varies in the kinds of foods recommended in each group, so one should always eat according to his metabolic type requirements. Even more importantly, the proportions of the various food groups can be altered to influence the acid/alkaline balance of the body. Thus, in addition to eating the kinds of foods that are appropriate for one's metabolic type, within the list of one's recommended Allowable Foods, one can also eat a balance of foods which are predominantly acidifying or alkalinizing on a cellular level, depending on whether one is fighting a viral or bacterial infection.
[It should be noted that eggs, if fried, should be in butter only (poached eggs with butter are better, as frying oxidizes the cholesterol in eggs and increases cancer and heart disease), and the stimulants alcohol, caffeine (coffee, chocolate, tea) and sugar are not recommended at anytime. They are included on the list just to show their influence on cellular pH. They should especially be avoided during times of illness.]
When the pH shifts acid such as during the onslaught of bacterial infections, one may help shift the pH more alkaline by maximizing the intake of fruits and vegetables and their juices, and minimizing the intake of meats, nuts and cheese. Whole grains are the least acidifying so their amount may be increased relative to meats, nuts and cheese.
Conversely, when the pH becomes quite alkaline such as during viral infections, one may help shift the pH more acid by dramatically increasing the proportion of protein to carbohydrate in the diet. In addition, vinegar and water (e.g., 1 T. vinegar with 6 oz. water), or a little cherry juice or cranberry juice may be tried. Whole grains with some butter, fried or scrambled eggs (with butter), some tomatoes or tomato juice, and some meat or fowl as in a homemade soup made with stock and vegetables are also indicated. Note that for viral infections, citrus fruit or juice -- because it is highly alkalinizing -- would be very undesirable!
ADDITIONAL IMMUNE SUPPORT Along with getting plenty of rest, drinking lots of pure water, breathing fresh air, getting plenty of natural sunlight, sensible exercise, and following a diet that is in accordance with your individual nutritional requirements and results in the proper acid/alkaline balance, there are some additional natural aids that experience, gleaned from reports from many hundreds of people across the country over many years, has demonstrated to be helpful in supporting the immune system.
Vitamins and minerals, like foods, can also have a direct impact on the acid/alkaline balance. Through their influence on the autonomic nervous system, the oxidative system and the endocrine system and from their innate catabolic or anabolic properties, individual nutrients can have a powerful impact on the immune system and the acid/alkaline balance.
Nutrients found particularly important in combatting viral infections include vitamin A, certain forms of vitamin C, bee pollen, pantothenic acid, propolis, acidophilus, fatty acids, calcium, hydrochloric acid. These nutrients are available in the ANTI-CVF PAK.
Nutrients found particularly important in combatting bacterial infections include vitamin A, certain forms of vitamin C, bee pollen, propolis, acidophilus, fatty acids, potassium, trace minerals, adrenal, thymus, spleen, lymph, bone, liver and kidney substance. These nutrients are available in the ANTI-BI PAK.
In terms of effectiveness, the kinds of nutrients employed are very important. Just as critical are the amounts and the proportions of the nutrients to one another. The forms and amounts vary depending on the kind of infection. ---
'Tis that time of year again, when the changing seasons and colder weather bring with them new strains of upper respiratory viruses. One of the reasons these viruses are generally more active during the winter months is that colder weather suppresses the activity of the white blood cells, your body's first line of defense against pathogens (this explains the origin of the phrase "catching a cold"). It is important to keep warm as the weather turns colder, especially for young children, the elderly and anyone with a compromised immune system. Be sensitive to the temperature shift as you go outside from a heated home, office or store. Wrap up well in colder weather, covering the throat, which is especially vulnerable, and the top of the head, from which a lot of body heat can be lost.
Sugar also depresses the immune system for several hours after its ingestion; and increased sugar consumption is, of course, common at this festive time of the year. Be intelligent about how much you are willing to indulge, and be sure to follow the basic dietary guidelines for your Metabolic Type. As always, this provides the foundation on which your continued good health is built.
Adequate rest is also vital. As a culture, we are so action-oriented that we tend to devalue sleep and "downtime"; yet it is during these times that the body recharges its batteries. For example, the immune system is most active at night, working hard to eradicate whatever viruses or other pathogens we may have been exposed to during the day; so getting plenty of sleep is especially important at this time of the year. Try to minimize any outside distractions (noise, light, etc.) that might interfere with getting a good night's sleep. Too much caffeine, even early in the day, can also be a problem for many people.
From a nutritional standpoint, it would be wise to increase your vitamin C intake during the winter months, as vitamin C is, in many respects, our most important antioxidant. Be sure to use the type of vitamin C specific to you Metabolic Type: ascorbic acid for the Group I types (Slow Oxidizers and Sympathetics) and calcium ascorbate for the Group II types (Fast Oxidizers and Parasympathetics). Our own two vitamins C products, Vitamin C: Group I and Vitamin C Complex: Group II, are specifically formulated for the two groups, and both also contain our proprietary blend of synergistic antioxidants, bioflavonoids and enzymes. For those of you who would like even more immune protection, we suggest 10 Mushroom Formula, a powerful blend of oriental mushrooms and beta-glucan that has been shown in clinical trials to significantly boost the activity of the body's NK (natural killer) cells and macrophages, the foot soldiers of the immune system. Take 3-4 capsules, with or between meals, as a preventative measure.
Should you start coming down with a cold or the flu, we recommend immediately increasing your vitamin C intake up to as much as 10 grams (10,000 mgs,) per day (reduce the dose if you get loose stools). We also suggest keeping some Olive Leaf Extract handy, and taking two capsules three times a day, between meals. Be sure to drink plenty of water with this product, to help flush out the system. Natural remedies are much more likely to be effective if you begin using them at the very first sign of illness. Olive Leaf is a powerful natural antiviral and antibiotic, so we only generally recommend it during an acute illness, though you may want to take a lower dose as a prophylactic measure if you are flying during the holiday season.
Some people find that soaking for 15-20 minutes in a hot bath, especially with a pint of apple cider vinegar, or a couple of cups of baking soda or Epsom Salts in it, can help short-circuit a virus. Do not, however, hesitate to go to the doctor if your symptoms persist for more than a few days. Sometimes lingering viral infections develop secondary bacterial infections that may require antibiotics. If you do resort to them, follow them with a course of Culturelle to replenish the beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract damaged by the antibiotics.
It is the common but unfortunate and perplexing experience of most health practitioners that the allopathic application of herbs produces wondrous results in some cases, little to no effect in others, and at times, adverse -- totally unexpected and seemingly unexplainable -- results in many cases. It has even been observed in rare instances that the very condition for which a given herb was prescribed can actually be made worse by the application of the herb which was known to be effective in previous applications!
Actually, this phenomena is not limited to just herbal therapy. This same syndrome -- what works for one, has no effect on another, and can worsen a third -- is also evident in the application of vitamins, minerals, dietetics, homeopathic formulas, and even prescription drugs, and is the essence of Healthexcel's concept of Metabolic Typing. There is nothing more confounding to the practitioner or disheartening to the patient than such mystifying "backfirings." Yet, from the perspective afforded through the proper understanding of Metabolic Typing, the reason for the phenomena can be clearly and easily understood. More important, the application of herbs (or any biochemical constituents) can be made systematically more effective through the proper application of the knowledge afforded by proper and accurate Metabolic Typing.
The short answer is that "one man's medicine is another's poison." But, the understanding of this concept in its practical application takes a little explaining. To do so, we'll draw on a few of the core premises of our system of metabolic typing:
The complex we refer to as the human body is comprised of and organized through many different levels (systemic, glandular, tissue, cell, nuclear, sub-nuclear, etc.) Nutrients behave differently on different levels (on one level a nutrient can be catabolic, on another it can be anabolic). Any given nutrient has virtually opposite effects in different Metabolic Types (catabolic or anabolic, stimulating or sedating, acidifying in one type or alkalinizing in another). Any given disease, problem or symptom can arise due to virtually opposite biochemical imbalances in different Metabolic Types.
Therefore . . . Diseases or adverse conditions and symptoms are not the problem, they are the symptom, the outer expression or manifestation of the deeper, underlying imbalances
Thus . . . One man's medicine is another's poison. What can correct a problem in one person can worsen it in another. (For example, it has been our experience that in the proper Metabolic Type, a high protein, high fat diet can bring about weight loss and lower cholesterol, just as in the wrong type, the same diet can bring about obesity and hypercholesterolemia.)
It should be clear, even from this extremely brief discussion of Metabolic Typing that any symptom-treatment "cookbook" approach, whether with vitamins, foods or herbs is ludicrous. Any success achieved with such methods will only be the result of chance - not scientific predictability.
Generally speaking, herbs are employed on the basis of their symptom-specific effects. However, the desired symptom-specific effects are not always seen as a result. It is interesting to note that for any specific condition, there is always more than one herb available that can be employed. It is our belief that not every herb known to be beneficial for a given condition is appropriate for every person with that condition. We believe that just as Mother Nature has created differences in metabolism (that we term metabolic types), she has also provided a number of different herbs to address any given condition. What is necessary for the achievement of the desired result is to match the appropriate herb to the appropriate constitution (metabolic type).
Everything that exists in this physical universe of ours is comprised of various elements in various combinations. The various combinations of the various elements determines the nature, character and qualities of these objects. The same goes for human beings . . . and herbs. Different human beings - different Metabolic Types - manifest different qualities due to the various combinations of elements that make up their constitutions. Herbs, also, aside from their known symptom-specific effects, have different natures, combinations of elements, vitamins, minerals, intrinsic factors, etc. In short, herbs have different qualities, characters and constitutions, just like human beings.
If the nature and the constitution of an herb runs contrary to the nature of the human metabolism on whom it is employed, it will have an aggravating influence on the constitution that will override the symptom specific nature of the herb, contributing to existing imbalances or creating new ones, even to the point of worsening the very symptom for which it was employed. For example, Valerian, Hops and Skullcap are commonly employed in formulas for insomnia, but it is a frequent complaint that they "don't work." It so happens that 2 of these herbs actually have a stimulatory influence on certain qualities in certain types. Used in these types, the calming aspects of the herb are offset by their metabolically stimulatory action, effectively neutralizing their desired result.
Just as the natures, qualities, nutrient content, etc., of the various foods must be matched to one's metabolic constitution, so too must the nature and qualities of herbs be matched to one's metabolic constitution for predictable, reliable and desired effects to be achieved. If the same disease can occur in different constitutions, does it not follow that the same herb/food/nutrient will not work effectively in every case of a problem?
CONCLUSION Successful, predictable and reliable application of herbs (or any therapy) requires the presence of three essential factors: * Knowledge of the symptom-specific influences of herbs * Knowledge of the individual constitution (Metabolic Type) on whom they are to be applied * Knowledge of the constitutional nature of the herbs
Armed with this knowledge, one has a systematic, reliable means of selecting the most efficacious herb(s) on the basis of their symptom-specific effect by matching the constitution of the herb to the constitution of the individual.
There’s been a great deal in the news lately about the unacceptable behaviour of British youths. The Government has outlined various measures to deal with yobs, louts and thugs, but like all Government measures, they deal with effects, not the underlying causes of the problem. As Vernon Howard states in The Power of Psycho Pictography, an awakened individual “sees society’s problems in an entirely different way from the social authorities who are called upon to solve the problems.”
One such awakened individual is the chef Jamie Oliver who has been running a campaign to improve the quality of school dinners. He took his campaign all the way to Downing Street together with a petition signed by over a quarter of a million people.
More money will be spent on school meals, and dinner ladies will get better training. It’s a start, but it will take much more than this to change such long established bad eating habits.
Personally I prefer the approach tried in Scotland. Here, the authorities are concentrating in an area where they have a true expertise - bribery. The Guardian reported as follows:
“In a pilot scheme, Glasgow city council awarded children who eschewed burger and chips for the healthy option on the lunchtime menu, with rewards ranging from cinema tickets to iPods and Xbox consoles.”
“It has been so successful that it has now been introduced in all 29 secondary schools in the local authority.”
“The scheme works in much the same way as supermarket loyalty cards. The school children use a swipe card to pay for their school dinner, which also records what they have bought and rewards points based on how healthy it is.”
“If the pupil opts for the burger, it is only four points towards the iPod. Should they, however, opt for the "vital mix" - an option which changes every day but includes things like soups, filled pittas, raisins and yoghurts - they get 40 points.”
“In order to get the 20GB iPod, the pupil must tot up 4,000 points - a hundred healthy meals or a thousand burgers.”
“More easily attainable rewards are also on offer: a pair of cinema tickets for 850 points, or a £10 Amazon voucher for 1,500 points.”
"Nobody is suggesting it's a panacea, but we have had remarkably good results," said Steven Purcell, the council's education convener.”
Although the focus of these campaigns is to improve children’s health, it also has an impact on their brains. Teachers have reported better concentration and behaviour. The food giants will claim this to be nothing more than anecdotal and based on expectation. I don’t think so. For a start, people associate food with health but not behaviour and mental function. Secondly, there is a great deal of research demonstrating an association.
If the powers that be are serious about improving youth behaviour they will carry out policies based on research evidence rather than pandering to the financial greed of large corporations.
The Magic of Water Let’s start with basics - water. Dehydration reduces mental performance. Just a 1% loss of body weight from fluid loss causes mild dehydration. For a 10 year old weighing 30kg, this amounts to only 300ml of fluid. Children who don’t drink enough can suffer from poor concentration, irritability and behavioural problems.
Three years ago there was a report that children weren’t getting enough water to drink because schools were not supplying it. In one primary school where the children were instructed to bring in bottles filled with water each day which they kept on their desks, irritability was noticeably reduced, their concentration improved and learning time was extended.
Niacinamide To The Rescue Brain cells are no different to any other cells in the body. They need to be properly fed, be able to eliminate waste and exclude foreign organisms and poisons if they are to function normally.
Doctors are very resistant to the idea that the brain could be short of nutrients because the body is bound to give priority to it. This may be true but it does not follow that it will be adequately nourished. This should be obvious by the simple fact of pellagra.
This niacin deficiency disease may lead to extreme insanity preceded by nervousness, loss of memory, confusion, irritability, suspiciousness, hallucinations, apprehensiveness and depression. The cure for this is to supply the missing nutrient, vitamin B3. Sanity is restored within a week. This is an obvious case of a mental disease caused by a vitamin deficiency.
Is it so far fetched to believe that other nutrients known to be essential for proper brain functioning might be in short supply and give rise to mental and behavioural problems?
Subclinical Beri-Beri A study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 33 (2): 169 - 530 in 1980. This concerned juvenile offenders who had poor impulse control, were easily irritated and angered, sensitive to criticism, hostile and aggressive.
Their diets were rich in refined carbohydrates and blood tests revealed them to be very short of thiamine. They were each given up to 300mg of vitamin B1 for three weeks until blood levels increased to normal. When the desired level was reached, the personality traits described, disappeared. They were no longer hostile and aggressive.
Another study demonstrated an improvement in children’s learning capacity by 25%. Some even saw their behavioural problems disappear completely.
Mighty Minerals The B group vitamins are particularly associated with mental functioning but it is likely that all vitamins have some role to play.
Vitamin C for instance became implicated in mental disease 60 years ago when schizophrenics saw marked improvement in their condition after supplementation. This may have occurred not because of the vitamin directly but because its deficiency raises copper levels and excess copper is a cause of mental illness.
Five studies have reported that a low selenium intake was associated with poorer mood. The lower the level of selenium in the diet the more reports of anxiety, depression, and tiredness. These findings are particularly relevant the UK since selenium intake is so low.
A study published in The Lancet back in 1976 demonstrated that zinc deficiency may make children irritable, tearful, sullen and have gaze aversion.
Other minerals that are known to affect mental functioning when deficient are potassium, which causes increased nervous instability and mental disorientation, and iodine which in extreme cases causes cretinism. Calcium, magnesium and chromium also have roles in mental health.
Fatty Acids Improve Behaviour Mounting evidence suggests that a relative lack of certain polyunsaturated fatty acids may contribute to related neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders such as dyslexia and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
A research project has been taking place across primary schools in County Durham. Fish oil (omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid) supplements called Eye Q, were given to 110 children with co-ordination problems such as dyspraxia. More than half the children also had ADHD while 20 suffered from dyslexia.
Some of the children were given fish oil supplements. Others were given an olive oil-based placebo. The trials found that about 40% of children taking the genuine supplements were seen to respond “significantly” to treatment, improving markedly in 12 behavioural areas, including inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity — all features of ADHD. Memories were also enhanced while some children saw improvements in their reading age by as much as four years. The research was published in Pediatrics, May, 2005.
Judith Pressley, head at one of the schools, said: “Children were calmer and easier to manage, when before they might have been willing to be disruptive.”
Lord Winston said he believed there was “a lot of evidence” that fish oils were beneficial. “...some of the studies are very encouraging and would suggest that they do change behaviour and cognition in children and probably adults too.”
Reducing Violence In Schools with Metabolic Typing Many studies conducted in juvenile correctional institutions have reported that violence and serious antisocial behaviour could be cut by almost half after implementing diets adequate in nutrients and consistent with World Health Organization guidelines for fats, sugar, starches, and protein ratios.
By 2000, two controlled trials tested whether the cause of the behavioural improvements was psychological or biological in nature by comparing the behaviour of offenders who either received placebos or vitamin-mineral supplements designed to provide the micronutrient equivalent of a well-balanced diet.
These randomised trials reported that institutionalised offenders, aged 13 to 17 or 18 to 26, when given active nutritional supplements produced about 40% less violent and other antisocial behaviour than the placebo controls.
Stephen Schoenthaler, a very well known researcher in this field wanted to test the effect of nutritional supplementation not in correctional institutions but in ordinary schools to see if it made any difference to children’s behaviour.
He conducted a study to determine if schoolchildren, aged 6 to 12 years, who are given low dose vitamin-mineral tablets will produce significantly less violence and antisocial behaviour in school than classmates who are given placebos.
Daily vitamin-mineral supplementation at 50% of the US recommended daily allowance (RDA) for 4 months versus placebo were given. The supplement was designed to raise vitamin-mineral intake up to the levels currently recommended by the National Academy of Sciences for children aged 6 to 11 years.
Of the 468 students randomly assigned to active or placebo tablets, the 80 who were disciplined at least once between September 1st and May 1st served as the research sample. During intervention, the 40 children who received active tablets were disciplined, on average, 1 time each, a 47% lower mean rate of antisocial behaviour than the 1.875 times each for the 40 children who received placebos.
The children who took active tablets produced lower rates of antisocial behaviour in 8 types of recorded infractions: threats/fighting, vandalism, being disrespectful, disorderly conduct, defiance, obscenities, refusal to work or serve, endangering others, and nonspecified offenses.
The paper concluded that “poor nutritional habits in children that lead to low concentrations of water-soluble vitamins in blood, impair brain function and subsequently cause violence and other serious antisocial behaviour.”
“Correction of nutrient intake, either through a well-balanced diet or low-dose vitamin-mineral supplementation, corrects the low concentrations of vitamins in blood, improves brain function and subsequently lowers institutional violence and antisocial behaviour by almost half.” (J Altern Complement Med. 2000 Feb;6(1):7-17)
Cutting Antisocial Behaviour In Prison with Metabolic Typing Bernard Gesch et al from Oxford University tested the influence of nutrition on antisocial behaviour of young adult prisoners.
Participants were 231 prisoners, aged 18–21 years, typically serving long sentences for serious offences. They received dietary supplementation or placebo. The supplementation group received a vitamin and mineral supplement based on 100% of the Reference Nutrient Intakes and essential fatty acid supplements in 4 daily capsules (1260 mg linoleic acid; 80 mg gamma linolenic acid; 80 mg eicosapentaenoic acid, and 44 mg docasahexaenoic acid). The average time spent on supplementation or placebo was 142 days.
Antisocial behaviour was measured using incidents adjudicated by Governor reports (serious incidents such as violence) and minor action reports (for instance, failure to comply with requirements) which had been ‘proven by adjudication.’
Participants receiving supplements were 26.3% less likely to be reported for antisocial behaviour than those who received placebo (mean difference 11.8 less infringements in the supplement group). This rose to 37% for more serious incidents including violence.
Compared to baseline, the effect on those taking active supplements for a minimum of 2 weeks was an average 35.1% reduction of offences, whereas placebos remained within standard error. No participant withdrew due to ill effects of supplementation and there were no adverse events reported.
Supplementing prisoners' diets with physiological dosages of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids caused a reduction in antisocial behaviour to a remarkable degree. Because of the study design these differences could not be accounted for by social or ethnic factors.
The authors believe these results are unlikely to be limited to prisons because “there is no evidence that imprisonment affects the essentiality of these nutrients for human metabolism.” In fact they believe a greater impact is likely on offenders within the community because in custody regular meals are provided. (Br J Psychiatry. 2002 Jul;181:22-8)
Nutrition & Psychiatric Disorders There was an interesting editorial in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, December, 2001 by Charles Popper MD entitled “Do Vitamins or Minerals (Apart From Lithium) Have Mood-Stabilizing Effects?”
He starts off by stating that when farm animals engage in aggressive behaviour, this tendency can be reduced by adding vitamins and minerals to the animals’ diets.
When this information was relayed to Anthony Stephan by David Hardy, an animal nutrition specialist, he tried the approach on his children who had severe treatment-resistant bipolar disorder. Their condition stabilised with no need for medication. Hardy and Stephan have since worked with thousands of psychiatric patients.
They began a collaboration with BJ Kaplan who carried out an open trial of the first 14 adults with bipolar disorder treated with the same nutritional supplement used by Hardy and Stephan, which consists of a broad range of minerals and vitamins, plus 3 amino acids and several antioxidants.
Symptom reductions were clinically noted within 2 weeks and sustained over 6 months of observation. All outcome measures showed significant improvements (55% to 66% symptom reduction), and a strong effect size was observed for ratings of depression as well as mania. Most patients could reduce their doses of psychiatric medications, and some patients became stable without any psychiatric medication.
Kaplan went on to publish two case studies of children with unstable moods and explosive rage in 2002. Mood, angry outbursts, and obsessional symptoms improved when initially treated, returned when not taking the supplement, and remitted when the micronutrient supplement was reintroduced. Both boys have been followed and were stable on the nutritional supplement for over 2 years.
“These cases suggest that mood lability and explosive rage can, in some cases, be managed with a mixture of biologically active minerals and vitamins, without using lithium or other traditional psychopharmacologic agents.”
This was followed by another study of 9 children with mood and behavioural disturbances published last year. Yet again big improvements were witnessed.
Dr. Popper’s interest in nutrition was sparked by a case in his clinical practice. A 10-year-old with bipolar disorder was referred for treatment of severe temper tantrums, which had lasted for 2 to 4 hours daily for 4 months. The well-nourished child had no prior psychiatric history or treatment.
After 2 days on the Hardy-Stephan nutrient regimen, his tantrums showed significant improvement, with the father-psychiatrist reporting a "complete" absence of outbursts or even irritability at 5 days. After 2 weeks, the available supply of the nutrient supplement was exhausted, and tantrums returned within 48 hours.
A similar supplement, containing most of the same ingredients, was then started and produced a moderate improvement, which parents and teachers estimated as 60% of the original effect. When restarted on the original formula, the symptoms were judged to have again responded completely.
He then started his own trials. Among 22 patients who clinically met criteria for bipolar disorder, 19 showed a positive response.
Among the 15 patients who were being treated with medications when they began the nutritional supplement, 11 patients have remained stable for 6 to 9 months without psychiatric medications.
Conclusion Nobody is suggesting that improved diets and nutritional supplementation will make schools, prisons and town centres on a Friday night places of peace and tranquility. But it should be obvious after decades of research that children and young adults are commonly deficient in the nutrients required for proper brain function and behaviour.
Although it may be impossible to persuade young people or their parents to improve their diets directly (without bribery), within the confines of a school, detention centre or prison, the authorities have a captive audience and could provide nutritious meals if they have the political will and are prepared to devote the needed training and resources.
Cancer is a disease caused by an error in a cell’s nucleus, its control centre, that leads to uncontrolled cell proliferation. It is able to create identical copies of itself. And this process continues without stop until the host dies or the process is stopped by medical intervention.
This multiplication of cells is combined with a disruption in normal connective tissue organisation surrounding the cell which enables the diseased cells to spread to other parts of the body (metastasis).
Matthias Rath and his research team, claim to have achieved a breakthrough in cancer research by defining the cellular mechanisms involved in cancer proliferation and metastasis, and developed a natural means of controlling these mechanisms. They have been conducting extensive in vivo and in vitro research on the cellular and molecular effects of nutrients using modern scientific technology. Their research institute is a 23,000 square foot university-standard facility located in Silicon Valley.
Collagen-Digesting Enzymes The body needs to allow cells to move around the body and enter other tissues. Most obviously the cells of the immune system. To do this they must be able to move through the connective tissue that surrounds cells. To move through such dense collagen fibres to reach their target, they temporarily dissolve the tissue with special enzymes called collagen-digesting enzymes.
To begin the process, the cell produces an enzyme called plasminogen activator. This activates a second enzyme, plasmin, which in turn activates a third enzyme, pro-collagenase to convert it to collagenase. This enzyme digests the collagen and allows the cells to move through the extracellular matrix. In the case of immune cells they are now able to reach the target of infection.
The same process happens within reproduction. During the monthly cycle, granulocytes are stimulated to build a wall around the ripening egg follicle. This wall is rich in collagen-digesting enzymes which allows the egg to move through the ovary wall, into the fallopian tube and onto the uterus.
After the tissues have been opened up and the cells or egg have passed through, they are very quickly closed again by collagen-producing mechanisms that block the digesting enzymes and heal and repair the tissue. These enzymes always remain under the strict control of the body’s regulatory mechanisms so that permanent damage to collagen is prevented. In health, any imbalance between the collagen-digesting enzymes and their blocking mechanisms is temporary and is quickly restored.
Unfortunately, this perfectly natural activity is hijacked in disease processes. Infectious agents and cancer cells also need to move through tissues as they try to spread throughout the body. Cancer cells degrade the extracellular matrix by secreting various enzymes called matrix metalloproteinases. The more aggressive a cancer, the more of these collagen-digesting enzymes it is able to produce, allowing it to enter blood vessels, move into the blood stream and travel to other organs. Cancer cells secrete these enzymes on a continuous basis.
Because this cellular migration is a normal activity, the body has not been able to develop strong defences against it. Cancer cells trick the body by using tools that the body already uses under healthy conditions. It doesn’t develop defence mechanisms because it thinks this may be a normal biological process. Leukemias and cancers of the female reproductive system are common because these cells produce collagen-digesting enzymes as part of their normal activity.
Enzyme Blocker L-Lysine While the normal blocks (enzyme inhibitors) to the spread of cancer cells are overwhelmed, there is a second group of enzyme blocking substances that come from our diets. The most important of these is l-lysine, our second line of defence. This essential amino acid, if supplied in sufficient amounts in supplement form, can prevent the collagen-digesting enzymes from attaching themselves to anchor sites in the connective tissue. This allows the connective tissue to maintain its integrity, preventing cancer cells spreading to other parts of the body.
Our daily requirement for lysine is greater than for any other amino acid and our bodies are able to store very large amounts of it, reflecting its importance.
About a quarter of the collagen in the body consists of lysine and another amino acid, proline. A person weighing 11 stone stores about 1½ stone of protein, half of which is present as connective tissue protein, collagen and elastin. 12% (1.2 pounds) of this is lysine. Rath believes that “almost all people suffer from a chronic deficiency of lysine.”
In cancer, the amino acid will be required in high doses on a daily long-term basis to slow down or stop the destruction of collagen. Because the body stores and uses high amount of lysine, supplementing with 10 grams or more a day is not a problem.
A potent chemically-modified synthetic derivative of lysine is called tranexamic acid.
Nearly 30 years a go a group of researchers from Sweden reported on a successful treatment of a case of advanced breast cancer with cerebral metastasis and pleurisy. Radiation and chemotherapy had failed to retard progressive growth and spread of the tumour.
“Adjuvant therapy with heparin combined with the fibrinolytic inhibitor tranexamic acid was followed by regression of the cerebral metastasis as well as the pleurisy. When last seen one year later, the patient was free from symptoms.” (Acta Med Scand. 1977;201(5):491-3)
They also reported on some spectacular successes in the treatment of ovarian cancer. Even in advanced cases with metastasis the therapy stopped the tumours from spreading further. (JAMA. 1977 Jul 11;238(2):154-5)
“A patient with inoperable advanced ovarian cancer with metastases and ascites who had received several courses of radiotherapy and chemotherapy is presented. On her 6th admission, therapy with the fibrinolytic inhibitor tranexamic acid was followed by arrest of ascites and tumor growth; then at exploratory laparotomy, examination of tumor cells revealed encapsulation of fibrinoid substance and proliferation of connective tissue. The patient, still receiving tranexamic acid, is now free from noteworthy symptoms.” (Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 1980;59(3):285-7)
In spite of these exciting discoveries, there was a lack sustained follow up until Rath published Plasmin-induced proteolysis and the role of apoprotein (a), lysine and synthetic lysine analogs in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine in 1992.
Vitamin C & Proline Vitamin C is another vitally important nutrient because it is needed for collagen production and for a strong connective tissue structure (lysine itself, as part of the amino acid chain, is a component of collagen and is used to make collagen).
Like lysine it is required from our diets, yet few people eat enough vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.
Proline is a non essential amino acid that is an important component of collagen. Particularly in disease processes including cancer its supply may become exhausted and supplementation necessary.
Other nutrients including glucosamine, chondroitin and manganese also help strengthen other components of the connective tissue.
Optimal combinations of nutrients leads to stability of the connective tissues and encapsulation of the tumour.
Early Research Step 1 in Math’s research was to use vials with a partition in the middle made of connective tissue similar to that which surrounds body cells. Breast, colon and skin cancer cells were suspended separately in 2 solutions, one containing lysine and one without. These were placed in the upper chambers of the vials and then left for 24 hours.
In the vials without lysine all the cancer cells were able to penetrate the connective tissue. With lysine, 90% of the melanoma cells were prevented from penetrating the connective tissue. However only 38% of breast cancer cells were blocked. Adding more lysine increased the inhibition but involved high doses.
The next experiment was to see the effect of nutrient synergy. In addition to lysine, Vitamin C and proline were added. Now 62% of breast cancer cells were blocked from invading the collagen matrix.
Epigallocatechin Gallate Epidemiological and laboratory studies have identified epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) in green tea polyphenols as the most potent chemopreventive agent that can induce programmed cell death (apoptosis), and suppress the formation and growth of human cancers.
For Rath’s next experiment EGCG was added to the nutrient mix consisting 100mcg/ml of tested nutrients. Now 100% of breast cancer cells were blocked. They lost the ability to secrete enzymes that digest and destroy connective tissue.
In fact it is possible to use this on its own but would need to drink the equivalent of 140 cups of green tea a day. By finding an optimal nutrient combination, a powerful synergistic effect is created that doesn’t require the use of megadoses of any individual nutrient. Further research found this approach to be effective for a number of human cancer cell lines.
The combination found most effective for inhibiting degradation of the extracellular matrix is lysine, vitamin C, proline, arginine, EGCG, N-acetylcysteine, copper, selenium and manganese.
Destruction of Cancer Cells Nutrition has a role to play in the destruction of cancer cells. Conventional treatment kills both healthy and sick cells. Nutrients such as fish oils and genistein have been shown to induce apoptosis in cancer but remain harmless to healthy cells.
Rath and his team also found a natural treatment that is not harmful to healthy cells while effective in destroying cancer cells. Fat-soluble vitamin C (ascorbyl palmitate) inhibited the growth of skin cancer cells and liver cancer by 70-80% without affecting healthy cells from these tissues.
Preventing Formation of Blood Vessels Cancer cells need to develop their own vascular system to survive. These new blood vessels are made from endothelial cells and the tumour secretes vascular endothelial growth factor to trigger this process (angiogenesis). A number of nutrients have been shown to inhibit angiogenesis. These include vitamin C, lysine, proline and EGCG which in one Rath study decreased migration of endothelial cells by 62% and reduced the secretion of growth factor. These nutrients also have anti-inflammatory properties, decreasing the secretion of inflammatory cytokines.
Animal Research Findings Animal research was the next stage and a number of studies have shown the benefits of this approach. In one Rath study a combination of nutrients slowed tumour growth in nude mice by 60% - 80%
The most recent paper concludes: “Results demonstrate that the nutrient mixture of lysine, proline, arginine, ascorbic acid, and green tea extract tested, strongly suppressed the growth of tumors without adverse effects in nude mice, suggesting potential as an anticancer agent.” (Med Oncol. 2006;23(3):411-8)
Conclusion A combination of natural nutrients formulated to support the body in curbing metastasis, inhibiting angiogenesis, suppressing inflammation and reversing tumour growth have been shown to be effective against a variety of human cancer cell lines. In contrast to conventional treatment, healthy cells remain unaffected. ---
According to scientist and doctor, Matthias Rath, who worked closely with nobel prize winning scientist Linus Pauling, the cause of coronary heart disease is not a mystery. It is quite simply caused by an insufficient supply of biological fuel i.e. chronic nutritional deficiency. These deficiencies within the vascular wall cells, which are the most mechanically stressed arteries, cause lesions and cracks to appear.
The body attempts to repair them by using cholesterol, lipoproteins, calcium, fibrin and cellular wastes. These are transported in the bloodstream and are used to cement the artery. Eventually these repair processes become insufficient, causing smooth muscle cells from the outermost cell layer of the artery to migrate to the interior and clump together to form a ‘tumour’. This stabilises the artery further.
If the problem of nutritional deficiencies is not addressed, it becomes a chronic problem with continual cracks and repair that goes on for decades. Over time the repair process overcompensates causing atherosclerotic deposits to build and narrow the artery. If the plaque gets disrupted, exposing its contents to the bloodstream, a chain of events leads to a clot, obstructing the flow of blood.
An Early Form Of Scurvy? How do we know nutrition has anything to do with this? There are a number of pointers both in terms of scientific research and clinical practice.
Rath’s main focus is on vitamin C. In his book ‘Why Animal Don’t Get Heart Attacks...But People Do’ he points out animals don’t develop atherosclerotic lesions of any significance. The reason, he believes, is because, with a few exceptions, they produce their own vitamin C. This stabilises the artery wall. With insufficient vitamin C, a scurvy-like condition comes about. Humans have a body reservoir of vitamin C 10-100 times lower than animals.
To prove low vitamin C levels on its own can cause atherosclerosis, he conducted an experiment with guinea pigs. These don’t produce their own vitamin C. He divided them into 2 groups. Both were kept on the same diet but one group received the equivalent of the Recommended Daily Amount for humans of 60 milligrams, while the other group received the equivalent of 5000mg. After only 5 weeks the 60mg group showed clear signs of diseased arteries while the arteries of the high ascorbate group remained healthy.
There have of course been a number of studies showing benefits of individual nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene, B vitamins, magnesium, coQ10, fish oils etc. which lower cardiovascular disease risk.
Heart Disease Is Reversible Perhaps the two most interesting studies were carried out by Dean Ornish and Rath himself. In the Ornish study, “Intensive Lifestyle Changes for Reversal of Coronary Heart Disease“, Journal of the American Medical Association 16/12/98, patients were put into 2 groups. The first were put on a low fat, wholefood, vegetarian diet including exercise, stress management and psychosocial support. The second had ‘usual’ care.
After 5 years the latter group had an average of 3 cardiac events per patient and saw and increase in artery narrowing by 2.3% representing a 27.7% worsening of their condition. The first group had only 1¼ cardiac events per patient and saw a decrease in narrowing by 1.75%, representing a relative improvement of 7.9%. This study clearly shows heart disease is reversible.
The Rath study was published in the Journal of Applied Nutrition 1996. “Nutritional Supplement Program Halts Progression of Early Coronary Atherosclerosis.” (The paper was sent to JAMA but they turned it down). 55 patients were scanned using an Ultrafast CT which measures calcium deposits in the artery walls. This was carried out over a year so the growth of the disease could be measured. Then they were given a broad spectrum supplement containing around 30 nutrients to take for a year. Scans were taken at 6 and 12 months.
After the first 6 months, growth was slowed a little. But after 12 months there was a considerable drop in the growth of atherosclerotic plaques. Before nutritional intervention the average growth was 44% a year. One year after intervention, growth had essentially stopped. In some patients, deposits reversed and disappeared. Again demonstrating heart disease is reversible.
The nutritional supplement Rath designed for this study had 4 objectives. Stabilise the artery wall. Decrease muscle tumours. Neutralise stickiness of fat molecules. Provide antioxidant protection.
Stabilise artery walls: collagen, elastin and other connective tissues give stability to artery walls. Vitamin C and 2 amino acids are needed in optimal amounts for their production. Exactly how much will vary for each person but 600mg a day can be considered a minimum requirement for vitamin C. Collagen has a particular need for the essential amino acid lysine and the non-essential amino acid proline. About a quarter of this vital structural component consists of these 2 amino acids. A person weighing 70kg has around ½kg of lysine stored in their body. Rath recommends at least 100mg a day of each as a supplement.
Decrease muscle cell tumours: muscle cells in the arteries form faulty collagen molecules in nutritional deficiency states. Optimal supplies of nutrients especially vitamin C and vitamin E inhibits this process. (minimum vitamin E requirement 130IU).
Neutralise stickiness: the most dangerous fat transport molecules are not LDL cholesterol but a variant called lipoprotein (a). Sticky protein molecules attach to LDL’s and accumulate inside artery walls. One aim of nutritional therapy is to neutralise this stickiness and prevent the attachment. The 2 primary nutrients for achieving this are again lysine and proline. By forming a protective layer around lipoprotein (a), further deposition of fatty molecules in the arteries is prevented. Those already deposited can be released, reversing the disease process. Blood levels of lipoprotein (a) can be decreased with high doses of B3 (nicotinic acid) and vitamin C.
Antioxidant protection: free radicals damage lipoproteins in the bloodstream, as well as tissue in the artery walls. A large number of nutrients and food factors have antioxidant activity and are an important part of any supplement programme.
Homocysteine While virtually everyone has heard of cholesterol, few have heard of this important risk factor. This by-product of methionine metabolism needs folic acid, B12, B6, and choline to regenerate it back to methionine, rendering it non-toxic. People with high levels have a risk 3.4 times greater than those with low levels. Homocysteine levels in heart disease patients are on average 31% higher than in those without active heart disease.
Vulnerable Plaques It is clear from both the Rath and Ornish studies that obstructive plaque is reversible. However, around 70% of heart attacks are caused by arteries that are only obstructed by about a third or so. The question is why? A growing number of researchers now believe coronary artery disease is an inflammatory process which makes plaque susceptible to rupture, choking off the blood supply to the heart.
Most plaques grow slowly characterised by small fissures that are healed and repaired again and again. Mature plaques may fill ¾ of blood vessels and cause angina. But they are fairly stable and pose little risk of a major rupture. A clot forming here may be more to do with the blood itself than the vessel wall. Inflammation is not noticeably at work.
By contrast, unstable, vulnerable plaques are younger, soft, fatty, and covered with a thinner fibrous cap. The artery may only narrow by 30% causing no symptoms and may not be spotted on an angiogram. If these rupture they will cause a heart attack. The body tends to respond to vulnerable plaque like an infection. Inflammation is at work here.
Researchers believe macrophages - immune cells - which enter the artery to clear away deposits, get overwhelmed and die off, adding to the plaque. When they do, they release chemicals that are both toxic to the fibrous cap and increase the tendency for blood to clot.
Tests for inflammation and infection could give a much clearer indication of heart problems than cholesterol testing, where 80% of people with severe atherosclerosis have normal cholesterol levels and most people with high blood cholesterol do not die of heart disease.
Markers for Inflammation There are several inflammatory markers. Fibrinogen can induce coronary thrombosis through platelet aggregation, excess coagulation and blood thickening. Those with high levels are more than twice as likely to die of a heart attack. It can be reduced by DHEA, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, beta carotene, fish oils and nettle leaf extract. Platelet aggregation inhibitors, which lowers the risk that fibrinogen will cause a clot, are green tea, ginkgo, garlic and vitamin E.
C-reactive protein increases the risk of fibrous cap rupture and abnormal clotting. Those with high levels have nearly a threefold risk. Some of the same nutrients that lower fibrinogen are likely to be effective especially fish oils, GLA, and vitamin K. MSM at extremely high doses may be effective.
Another important new treatment for inflammation is systemic enzyme therapy. These enzymes help control inflammatory processes by lowering elevated C-reactive proteins and mitigating high levels of fibrinogen. They provide the benefits of anti-inflammatory medication without risks and side effects associated with the long-term use of aspirin and non steroid anti-inflammatory drugs.
Systemic enzymes also boost the immune system and fight bacterial and viral infections. Infectious agents such as chlamydia, cytomegalovirus and herpes, have been implicated in heart disease.
Systemic Enzymes are available as a supplement called Wobenzyme or Protenzyme. (For further information on Systemic Enzymes see my article "Therapeutic Properties of Systemic Oral Enzymes - effective treatment for sports injuries, arthritis, heart disease and cancer" in Positive Health Magazine Issue 71 December, 2001)
Beyond Chelation Dr. Garry Gordon, one of the fathers of chelation therapy, believes new research justifies concentrating on the health of the blood rather than the arteries, something he has been doing for decades in any case.
By manipulating the molecular environment of the bloodstream using a nutritional formula based on the life’s work of Dr. Lester Morrison, he has been able to improve blood flow in his heart disease patients. 95% of those previously recommended for surgery were able to avoid it altogether. The formula consists of 9 tablets containing over 60 ingredients. He calls it Beyond Chelation (not sold in UK).
“Those of my patients taking the comprehensive 9 pill packets of Beyond Chelation combined with 3 to 5 Wobenzym N [Protenzyme] twice daily are conveniently addressing all of the newly recognized molecular mechanisms of heart disease - from controlling homocysteine and elevated cholesterol or triglycerides, to lowering C-reactive protein, which is clearly becoming one of the MOST significant tests in cardiology!”
Conclusion While we may still be unclear as to the underlying cause of coronary heart disease, effective treatment is available. As well as dietary manipulation, exercise, and stress management, nutritional supplementation can support the immune system, chelate, detoxify, combat inflammation, infection, oxidation, excess lipids and excess homocysteine. With such powerful tools, who needs drugs and surgery?
An allergy is any reaction to a food or something in the environment that gives rise to an immune response. Originally, there had to be a positive skin prick test before a diagnosis of allergy could be given.
For a food to be described as an allergen (an allergy causing substance), there had to be a fairly immediate and violent reaction to it, involving swelling of the lips and mouth, vomiting, and in the most serious cases, anaphylactic shock. This is now described as classical food allergy.
In the 1960’s, immunoglobulin E (IgE) was discovered. This antibody was shown to be the main culprit in allergy. A way of measuring the level of these antibodies to a specific allergen was soon developed called a radioallergosorbent test (RAST). Some doctors only accept a positive skin prick test or RAST as proof of allergy.
The problem with this is that not everybody fits into this neat category. It is possible for there to be an immune reaction that doesn’t involve IgE. The results of these tests would be negative in such cases. It is possible for there to be no immune system involvement at all, although chemical messengers are released in the same way as if there was an overproduction of IgE.
It is possible to have reactions to food that are quite different from classical allergy yet give rise to a wide range of symptoms. These are usually called food intolerances.
There are 5 classes (isotypes) of antibodies. IgA, IgD, IgE, IgG and IgM. Unlike the other isotypes, IgE molecules attach themselves to mast cells, (connective-tissue cells similar to basophils except that they do not circulate in the blood). The main purpose of IgE is to protect the body against invasion by parasites, and so most mast cells, although found all over the body, are more common around the nasal passages, bronchi, and intestines. Up to 100,000 IgE molecules can reside on the surface of each cell.
When the allergen enters the bloodstream, it attaches itself to the antibody. It has to cross link two or more antibodies to trigger the mast cell to explode, discharging histamines and other chemicals. Each of these chemicals has an effect on other tissues, producing inflammation and smooth muscle contraction.
Although the body should only be making IgE in response to parasitic invasion, for some reason the mechanism goes wrong and innocuous substances come under attack. And just to complicate things, although allergy prone people would be expected to have a higher IgE level in the blood, not all do. And some people who have higher levels in the blood are symptom free.
To act as an antigen, i.e. to give rise to antibodies, the molecule has to be above a certain size. Most antigens are proteins. Smaller molecules are thought to be able to combine with proteins. Certain foods are more allergenic than others, though it isn’t clear why.
Although food allergens would be expected to cause symptoms in the mouth, they can be responsible for asthma or eczema. Similarly, inhalant allergens can cause skin problems.
Where allergies are inherited the term atopic is used. Faulty genetic information is known to be responsible in these cases, although other factors are also at work.
Although most allergies begin at an early age, the initial exposure to the allergen cannot cause symptoms because no antibodies have yet been formed.
A reaction might occur on initial exposure to a food if molecules have passed from mother to baby before birth or during breastfeeding. The symptoms of allergy often disappear as the child grows although some believe that symptoms are merely suppressed and recur possibly in a different form in adulthood. Food allergies can be responsible for any of the classic allergy diseases: asthma, eczema, hay fever, urticaria, and rhinitis.
Immune Complexes Not all food allergies are caused by IgE. It is not unusual for food molecules to enter the bloodstream after a meal. Peyers Patches - part of the immune system that lies in the wall of the intestines - samples the gut contents and communicates how the rest of the immune system should respond. Since food is not a threat to the body, non-inflammatory IgA antibodies are formed and link up with any food molecule antigens that are absorbed.
These immune complexes are normally cleared by phagocytes in a few hours. It is believed, although not proven, that in allergic people the gut wall may be more leaky than usual, creating a large number of immune complexes that are difficult to clear and end up deposited in blood vessels, causing pain in the joints, skin rashes, and kidney damage.
False Food Allergy Some food molecules are able to fool the mast cells into exploding and thereby releasing histamine and other chemicals even though no IgE antibodies have been formed to the food.
Several groups of compounds found in food are known to have this effect. These are lectins, found in peanuts, beans, peas and lentils; peptides, found in fish, prawns, shrimps, crabs, lobsters, pork, egg-white, tomatoes, strawberries, alcohol and chocolate.
Other chemicals that can do the same are found in buckwheat, sunflower seeds, mango, mustard, fresh pineapple and papaya. A modified RAST is able to distinguish between true and false food allergies. Magnesium deficiency affects around half the sufferers of false food allergy. This mineral is known to affect sensitivity to and release of histamine.
Histamine A leaky gut will allow more histamine, which is formed in foods by the action of certain bacteria, to get into the bloodstream. This can give rise to headaches, rashes, sickness and diarrhoea. The chief culprits are fresh mackerel and tuna, tinned fish, well ripened cheeses, sauerkraut, continental sausages, many alcoholic drinks. People with chronic urticaria are particularly susceptible to histamine in foods.
Food Intolerance Intolerance differs from allergy in a number of ways. With allergy the immune system is considered to be involved. With intolerance the immune system has not been shown to be involved, although that doesn’t preclude the possibility.
Allergic reactions are fairly immediate. With intolerance the reaction can be many hours or even days later.
People can be allergic to foods that are rarely eaten. The intolerant patient reacts to foods that are eaten regularly. Even the tiniest smear of an offending food can provoke an allergic reaction. Larger amounts are needed to provoke intolerance.
Allergic people may remain that way for life. Intolerant people may become tolerant to the food eventually if it is avoided for a long time.
Allergic people do not crave the offending foods. The intolerant person often does. The allergic person has a limited range of symptoms. With intolerance, the symptoms can be many and varied, can come and go, and vary in intensity.
Allergies are confirmed by skin prick and RAST. Intolerances are confirmed by an elimination diet, although a number of other tests have been devised.
Why Does It Occur? This is unknown, but some believe it is a failure of the body to adapt to the change in diet over the last 10,000 years. From eating a variety of wild plants and animals, man started to farm, cultivating wheat, keeping hens and cattle for beef and dairy foods. In evolutionary terms this is a very small amount of time. Others believe that it is more a problem of improper weaning.
How common the problem of food allergy and intolerance is, varies greatly from conservative orthodox doctors who consider the problem to be quite rare, to others who suggest that virtually everybody is intolerant to one or more foods even if they are not aware of it.
Those that believe the problem to be quite common suggest that the symptoms of food allergy and intolerance are extremely wide ranging. Over 100 symptoms have been put into physiological categories by Dr. Mandell, author of Dr. Mandell’s 5-Day Allergy Relief System. The most common symptoms are gastrointestinal in nature: diarrhoea, constipation, wind etc. Others include headaches, fatigue, depression, anxiety, hyperactivity in children, recurrent mouth ulcers, muscle aches, ulcers, nausea, joint pains, and water retention.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome This is one of the most common gastrointestinal problems. Symptoms include: absence of a regular pattern of bowel movements; frequent diarrhoea, constipation, or alternating bouts of each; bloating or swollen abdomen; abdominal pain or cramps; excessive gas. Related symptoms may include fatigue, depression and anxiety.
A number of studies have implicated foods. One study showed that improvement was most likely where diarrhoea was the most dominant symptom. 9 out of 17 patients improved significantly on a two week elimination diet of lamb, fresh white fish, cabbage, carrots, peas, ‘Ryvita’, milk-free margarine and black tea.
14 out of 21 patients eating only lamb, pears and distilled or spring water for one week reacted to specific foods introduced one at a time. Wheat was the most common culprit.
A large study of 188 patients found that 65% of them benefited on an elimination diet, and could identify the offending foods when they were reintroduced. The commonest offender was wheat.
Crohn’s Disease Dr. Hunter of Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge reports that 80% of his patients recovered on an elimination diet. They reacted to specific foods when reintroduced. Of those, 80% have stayed well by keeping away from the foods they reacted to. Another trial has confirmed the good effects of eliminating the intolerant foods with a long term recovery rate of 50%.
Migraine During a migraine attack, the blood platelets clump together, releasing a large amount of serotonin causing the blood vessels in the brain and throughout the body to constrict. The body counteracts the effects of this, but this causes the blood vessels to dilate more than normal.
Until recently, the most popular theory to explain what caused the platelets to clump together in the first place was that tyramine and phenylethylamine found in the brain and in certain foods are not broken down properly by the platelets in migraine sufferers. The foods rich in these amines being chocolate, red wine and cheese. However only a small percentage of sufferers are affected by these foods.
When a broad dietary approach is used a success rate of 80-90% has been achieved. Many studies convincingly demonstrate the benefits of eliminating intolerant foods. In a 1979 study of 52 migraine patients, 85% became headache free after eliminating wheat, oranges, eggs, tea, coffee, chocolate, milk, beef, corn, cane sugar and bakers yeast.
A study published in The Lancet in 1983 involved 88 children with severe and frequent migraine. 78 of them recovered completely on an elimination diet and another 4 ‘improved greatly’. Only 6 children did not respond. 8 continued to remain well even when foods were reintroduced into their diet. 74 children were shown to be affected by particular foods. 40 children were retested double blind, 35 of whom reacted to a tin of food containing the suspect food but not by the placebo. A most impressive result. This particular group of children also suffered from many other problems such as epileptic fits, hyperactivity, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, mouth ulcers etc. In the majority of children these problems cleared up as well.
Rheumatoid Arthritis It is thought that around a third of patients can stay symptom free by avoiding the foods they are sensitive to. In one study 33 out of 45 patients considered their condition to be ‘better’ or ‘much better’ following dietary therapy.
Multiple Sclerosis Chocolate has been implicated in some sufferers. Cutting it out of the diet has stopped any further decline. The other main incriminating products are milk, tannin, caffeine, and yeast.
Mental Symptoms There are many well documented cases of serious mental disorders, the root of which has been found to be food sensitivities. Symptoms reported apart from anxiety and depression include poor concentration, poor memory, confusion, mental exhaustion and fatigue, irritability, violent mood swings and aggression.
As early as 1954, Dr. Speer described ‘allergic tension fatigue syndrome’ in children. The most commonly implicated foods being milk, wheat, egg, beef, corn, cane sugar and chocolate. In adults the term ‘cerebral allergy’ has been used.
Overweight Some practitioners believe that excess weight has more to do with water retention than fat. Food intolerance is said to cause the peripheral arterial capillaries to leak fluid. There is no doubt that many people are able to lose weight once the foods that they react to are eliminated.
Testing For Food Intolerances Some practitioners start off their patients with just turkey and pears or turkey, pears and rice. Others allow the patient to eat a dozen or so foods not often eaten. An alternative is to eat a diet of rare foods; exotic and unusual foods that the patient may never have eaten before. Another alternative is a rotation diet. Allowed foods are separated into groups of four. The foods in each group are the only ones eaten each day, so there is a four day separation between each type of food. Another alternative is to leave out the most common foods that people react to only.
There is always the problem of compliance when dealing with suspected food intolerances in this way. An alternative is to use blood tests.
There are two blood tests available that have a reasonable degree of accuracy. The first is the cytotoxic test which observes whether white blood cells react with each food extract. This is considered to be up to 80% accurate under best conditions.
The problem in the past has been that it needed to be carried out under strict conditions with an expert operator and was rather subjective. Now however these drawbacks have been eliminated with the new automated version that is now available using a haematology analyser.
The second is called the Enzyme Linked Immunosorbant Assay. This measures the IgG antibody reactions to each food. It is claimed to be 95% reproducible.
This article is dedicated to Robert C Atkins MD who died in April, 2003. Dr Atkins was at the forefront of the nutritional medicine movement, writing his first book on this subject, Dr Atkins’ Nutrition Breakthrough, over 20 years ago. However, he is best known by the public for his controversial low carbohydrate diet.
His diet is very much in the alternative medicine tradition in that it works well but is ignored and openly derided by conventional medicine because it lies outside their paradigm of thinking.
Ironically, few complementary therapists would welcome it either, because it is low in the kind of foods considered best for health and very high in protein. Certainly, most therapists dealing with weight loss would prefer an approach which concentrated on educating people to eat whole grains, fruits and vegetables with adequate exercise.
However, only one person in a hundred is able to lose weight and keep it off permanently. Bearing in mind obesity is a major health problem, any approach which allows people to eat luxuriously without hunger, should be investigated seriously and without prejudice.
The Banting Diet Low carbohydrate diets are not new. William Banting wrote his Letter on Corpulence in 1864. Banting was a prosperous London coffin-maker, less than 5½ feet in height and weighing 15 stone. He couldn’t tie his shoelaces and could only walk downstairs backwards. Over the years he tried every imaginable way to lose weight without success.
In his sixties he developed an earache and was losing his hearing in one ear. For this reason only, he consulted William Harvey, a noted ear, nose and throat surgeon. As it happened, Harvey had a particular interest in diabetes and how the body handled the food elements. He theorised that sugar and starches caused weight gain, although medical thinking at the time was that weight loss could only be achieved by cutting back on food intake, with the emphasis on dietary fat. In other words, the same as today.
Since there was nothing organically wrong with Banting’s ear, he wondered if excess fat within the ear might be the cause.
He put Banting on an experimental diet. For each meal, including breakfast, he could eat up to 5 ounces of meat, fish or fowl. Vegetables were permitted but not potatoes, and just a little fruit. Sweets, flour and starch were not allowed. He could drink tea without milk or sugar and was allowed claret and sherry but not beer, champagne or port.
His calorie intake was thought to be high at 2,800 a day (estimated average requirement 2,350). Yet in 4 months he lost 20 pounds and after one year was 50 pounds lighter. His hearing was restored and he felt fitter, better and had greater mobility than he’d done in years.
Although the public were impressed, the medical profession was outraged at the suggestion you could eat fat to lose fat by a presumptuous layman with no scientific qualifications (even though he gave full credit to Harvey). The whole idea was considered ridiculous and dangerous. He was denounced as a charlatan. Harvey also suffered at the hands of his colleagues. After some years he recanted so he could continue his career in peace and quiet.
Many people followed his diet and lost weight. This success led one notable doctor to look into it seriously. However, he assumed meat to be lean. Allowed foods were considered low in carbohydrate and fat, thus missing the whole point of the diet. This modified Banting diet met with some approval from doctors interested in obesity, but Banting himself felt this was far inferior to his own.
Stefansson’s Experience The anthropologist and explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson set out on an expedition to the Arctic in 1906. He missed a planned rendezvous and had to spend the winter months among the native Inuit of Tuktoyyaktut living on meat, fish and water. At first he tried to make the diet more palatable by broiling it, but this made him weak, dizzy and showing signs of malnutrition. Eating it the Eskimo way, he remained in good health.
In a later expedition he and Dr Karsten Anderson, although well equipped with food, chose to live on a primitive diet for 4 years. They only got ill when a key component was unavailable. For instance, when seal oil was missing and only lean protein was accessible. As soon as fat/oil was restored, so did their health. Stefansson wrote about their experiences in The Friendly Arctic in 1921.
As his ideas regarding nutrition were met with scepticism, he and Anderson took part in a strictly controlled experiment at Bellevue Hospital in 1928 under the supervision of the great biochemist, Eugene F. Du Bois. They spent one year on an all meat diet deriving 80% of calories from fat and 20% from protein. They were tested for signs of scurvy and other deficiency diseases; mineral deficiencies; effects on the heart, blood vessels and kidneys; and whether harmful bacteria grew in the gut. Their daily calorie intake varied between 2000 and 3100.
Stefansson started out a little overweight. This was quickly lost and then his weight remained stable. During the weight loss his metabolic rate rose by 8.9%. The research team reported no signs of deficiencies, reduced energy or damaged organs. His blood cholesterol was lower after a year than at the start. Bowel movements were normal. They remained mentally alert and physically active. The results were published, but scepticism remained. How could a diet unlimited in fat and high in calories, lower weight and maintain health?
Lose Weight & Gain Health on Meat, Fat & Water In 1944 Blake F Donaldson, a cardiologist, frustrated by failed attempts to get his patients to lose weight, adopted the low carbohydrate approach in a famous and highly successful experiment with obese patients at New York Hospital. He went on to write Strong Medicine in 1961 in which he explains how he treats obesity and a wide range of health disorders such as heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and high blood pressure, with meat, fat and water.
“The ability to live well on meat and water is the common inheritance of mankind. It is only in the last eight thousand years since man turned to agriculture for a stable food supply that we have had trouble with eating.”
Du Pont Dieters Lose 22 Pounds A few years after Donaldson’s experiments, Dr Alfred Pennington was asked to supervise the slimming of 20 overweight executives at the Du Pont Corporation. Carbohydrates were restricted but fat, protein and calories were not.
The results were spectacular with each obese dieter losing an average of 22 pounds (range 9-54) in 3½ months. They reported feeling well, enjoying their meals, and not going hungry (hardly surprising on 3000 calories a day). Many reported feeling more energetic, none complained of fatigue, those with high blood pressure saw it drop in parallel with their weight.
After sifting through the scientific literature and the findings of this study, Pennington concluded that Harvey and Banting were right. Overweight is the result of the body’s inefficient handling of carbohydrates.
After this experience there was renewed interest in this form of dieting, being called The Holiday Diet.
A Calorie Is Not A Calorie In the 1950’s two acclaimed scientists, Kekwick and Pawan provided irrefutable experimental evidence that a diet low in carbohydrates held a significant metabolic advantage over other diets. They demonstrated weight loss can vary on identical numbers of ingested calories. For instance one subject lost nothing on a 2000 calorie balanced diet, but lost over 9 pounds on a low carbohydrate diet of 2,800 calories.
Critics of low carbohydrate diets maintain that most of the weight loss comes from water, but Kekwick and Pawan showed this to be only a small part of the weight loss. They also identified a fat-mobilising substance from the urine of low carbohydrate dieters. This demonstrated that fat stores were being used as body fuel.
Another criticism is that on few carbohydrates the body goes into ketosis and this is dangerous. During the oxidation of fat, ketones (chemicals related to acetone) are produced. These occur in untreated diabetics since they are unable to handle sugar. They can accumulate until they become toxic. Kekwick and Pawan found that when the body is burning fat for fuel, ketones are only produced at 10% of the level of untreated diabetics. This is mild and not a complication of the diet.
Dr Atkins’ Diet Revolution In 1958 Dr Mackarness wrote Eat Fat & Grow Slim and in the 1960’s the low carbohydrate diet reappeared under the name The Air Force Diet.
Then in 1972 Dr Atkins’ book appeared, claiming that the overweight have a metabolic defect involving insulin. This can be circumvented by restricting carbohydrates. He wrote it after solving his own weight problems and treating ten thousand patients.
But the following year Dr Atkins got a rude awakening when the American Medical Association (AMA) attacked the diet.
“It said, in essence, that what I had been observing and documenting for nine years could not have happened. They denied that my patients lost weight, claiming that people only lose water on such a diet. They denied their improved state of health and laboratory findings by announcing that people would surely get worse.”
Once the gods at the AMA had spoken, no further research on the metabolic advantage of such a diet were carried out in the USA.
But the shocking rise in levels of obesity together with the failure of the approved low fat, high carbohydrate position has led to renewed interest.
Low Carbohydrate Diet Is Vindicated In the May 22nd edition of the New England Journal of Medicine two studies were published. These were commented on in the British Medical Journal of May 31st under the heading Low Carbohydrate Diet Is Vindicated.
“The studies found that a high protein, low carbohydrate diet led to greater weight loss and improved blood lipid concentrations than the recommended high carbohydrate, low fat diet in healthy obese people as well as in obese patients with complicating conditions.”
In one of the studies, decreases in serum triglyceride concentrations and increases in HDL cholesterol were greater in the Atkins diet group.
In the other study serum triglyceride concentrations decreased by 20% in the low carbohydrate group, whether or not the patients were taking lipid lowering drugs, compared with 4% in the low fat group.
Professor Gary Foster of the University of Pennsylvania, who worked on one of the studies, said: “...our initial findings suggest that such diets may not have the adverse effects that were anticipated.”
"You would expect an increase in (bad) LDL cholesterol, but we didn’t see it. We didn’t expect the improvement in (good) HDL cholesterol and triglycerides to the degree we saw," he said.
Conclusion If Banting and other people’s experiences were accepted as reality. If the findings and research of notable clinicians and scientists were taken seriously, we would not have wasted almost a century and a half in pursuing dogma.
No diet is right for everyone, and a low carbohydrate diet will neither appeal to everyone nor be a good diet to follow for all people. Some people’s biochemistry will not be suited to it. It should however have been taken a lot more seriously by the medical profession.
Dr Atkins may no longer be with us, but thanks to his dogged determination, the low carbohydrate diet is now taken seriously and is here to stay. (Note: I would follow the diet for my particular metabolic type, not the Atkins diet; it is somewhat similar to the Protein Metabolic Type diet, but there are significant differences).
When you eat fat and carbohydrate, you burn them in the 500 mitochondria that are in each cell.
All the oxygen you breathe in goes through the mitochondria. You’re pulling electrons from fuel and adding them to oxygen. But there’s always a little leakage from this process to make superoxides or hydrogen peroxide and hydroxyl radicals. These are the very substances you get from radiation exposure. So the process of living is similar to being exposed to radiation.
This is behind the free radical theory of ageing for which the evidence continues to grow.
Mitochondrial decay is a key factor in ageing and degenerative diseases. Defences against this within the cells include superoxide dismutase, catalase and other many other enzymes that are designed to destroy these oxidants. But it doesn’t pay nature to be 100% perfect because nature wants you to reproduce and nature selects for genes that benefit early reproduction. Degenerative diseases come too late to be selective factors.
Every time DNA gets damaged you get a lesion in it. Then repair mechanisms come along to fix the damage so the DNA is unblemished. The other repair systems are specific enzymes, half of which are for oxidants. Meanwhile the lesions undergo chemical changes and end up in the urine. Looking at the urine it was discovered that there are around 100,000 damaged DNA bases that are repaired each day for every cell in the body. This was much greater than expected. The repairs are nearly 100% but not quite, and the efficiency of repair lessens with ageing.
Protein also undergoes oxidation and this process accelerates with ageing. Lipids also oxidize similarly. Mitochondrial decay is a key factor in ageing although not the only one. In the mitochondria, proteins are passed across an inner membrane creating an electrical charge across it. Mitochondria are like rechargeable batteries and it’s that charge that allows ATP, the chemical energy of the cell, to be made and to power our bodies. With ageing the membrane potential goes down, a key lipid functions less well making the membrane stiffer and protein function is less efficient. Oxygen utilisation goes down and oxidant leakage goes up, so more damaging oxidants are made. This slow decaying is at the root of a lot of degenerative diseases.
Acetyl Carnitine & Lipoic Acid Acetyl carnitine is a small molecule that’s used only in mitochondria to transport fatty acids into the mitochondria to be burned. In an experiment with old rats it was found that supplementing acetyl carnitine in their drinking water improved the factors associated with ageing. A key mitochondrial lipid that goes down with age came back up with the supplement.
Membrane potential improved. The only thing that didn’t improve was oxidation. The old rats were still pouring out oxidants at the same rate. So lipoic acid was tried since this is a strong antioxidant and a mitochondrial coenzyme. It was put in their food for a month. It brought down the level of oxidants similar to those of a young animal. Then both were tried together. Glutathione, a key antioxidant, came back up. Aldehydes from lipid oxidation go up strongly with age but came down almost to the levels of a young animal.
The rats were also much more active, had better immune function, and better brain function. Looking directly at the brain it was found that it was RNA and not DNA that was being oxidized. The mechanism is now reasonably well understood. The aldehyde from lipid peroxidation damages key proteins. Acetyl carnitine protects against this and lipoic acid lowers the level of the aldehydes.
It was originally thought that lipoic acid worked by keeping the oxidants in check but it turns out that in part at least it acts as a weak oxidising agent that switches on a signaling system that turns on some of the antioxidant defences of the body. There are around 200 or so enzymes that get turned on when certain chemical groups get damaged. This in turn creates another compound that binds to a DNA sequence called the antioxidant response element that turns on the enzyme defences. Lipoic acid turns on this system. Garlic and broccoli act in the same way.
A meta analysis was carried out on all the clinical trials that had been done with acetyl carnitine for cognitive impairment and mild Alzheimer’s. The overall analysis suggests that it works in humans although the evidence isn’t particularly strong.
For lipoic acid the meta analysis covering a number of clinical trials suggests that it does work. Even if this combination isn’t the whole story, there are so many scientists working in the field of ageing that there is bound to be much progress.
Obesity, Cancer & Life Expectancy Life expectancy continues to improve. It’s 78.9 for women and 71.4 for men. Single men live 8 years less than married men. Although better infant mortality reflects some of this, for those aged 65, life expectancy is also improving.
What in your diet makes you age faster? Since cancer increases with age we can look at cancer as a marker for ageing. Epidemiologists are in agreement that about 30% of cancers are due to smoking, 35% is caused by unbalanced diets, too many calories and too little fibre and micronutrients, 20% by chronic infections (mostly in poor countries) 20% hormones, 2% occupational and less than 1% by pollution, mostly heavy air pollution. But of course America is spending all its money on pollution. Obesity is already a huge and growing problem.
With smoking there are 400,000 premature deaths a year in the USA. Obesity will be much worse. It’s a long-term health problem that’s tied to diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, an abundance of health disorders. This will put a huge financial burden on the country. Diet is an area where real advances in disease and ageing can be made, but doctors aren’t interested in diet. What doctor ever asks you about your diet? Yet it is the main determinant of health.
Nutritional Deficiencies Are Common Vitamins and minerals are kind of old hat because there is little acute deficiency disease any more. But I would argue there’s a lot of ill health that lies between acute deficiency disease and the recommended daily amount. Whatever vitamin or mineral you look at, 10% or more of the population is really low and this is fouling up their biochemistry.
Iron deficiency for example. Worldwide there are 2 billion women and children who are not getting enough. Deficiency knocks out your mitochondria so you age faster and your neurons are the first thing to go. 25% of American women are borderline anaemic. Menstruating women are losing iron and not getting enough in their diets. Iron costs very little. Putting resources where it matters would have a major impact. 10% of the population is very low and deficiency breaks your chromosomes in the same way as being irradiated. It’s probably knocking out your mitochondria as well.
With folate, B12 and B6 deficiencies you get chromosome breaks. Vitamin C deficiency is also common. Poorer members of the population are worse affected because they have poor diets and don’t take multivitamins.
Everything is linked in nutrition. Zinc is in a thousand enzymes turning genes on and off and much else. Without sufficient zinc you are disabling all sorts of defence and other systems, so we have to think of everything in biochemistry as linked together. There are 40 micronutrients we need to be getting in our diet and the optimum is the amount needed for long-term health. We are far from that in the population and yet it costs very little to provide it.
Overweight & Underfed Why are we obese? Is it just calories in and exercise out? I think it’s more than that. Americans are eating junk. The 10 leading sources of calories in the USA that makes up about a third of all calories (for some it’s a lot more than this) represent poor food choices. The first is sugary soft drinks. This is a nutritional disaster. Each drink contains 40 grams or more of sugar going all at once into the gut. with no vitamins or minerals. It contains lots of calories without filling you up. You don’t see a lot vegetable in the top ten, not a lot of whole grains! Obese people have poor diets. They are deficient in everything. They’re low in calcium, magnesium, iron, folate, B12, B6 etc. Whatever you want to measure they are at the low end of the population intake because they rely too much on refined carbohydrate and sugar.
I believe they are hungry all the time. Their bodies are craving the missing ingredients. If you take a rat and keep it zinc deficient, it keeps on eating to get the missing zinc. Two decades ago experiments were done on rats where one group got a high quality diet and the other group ate a junk diet. Although both groups could eat as much as they wanted, the first group stopped eating when satisfied and remained lean. The other group ballooned up. Satiety involves fibre. If you don’t get fibre you don’t get full. It may also be true for a lot of nutrients too.
Another theory is that the gut holds the key. Obese people have chronic inflammation. They are high in C-reactive protein, a measure of inflammation. A leaky gut allows bacteria to enter the system and to create this inflammation. This stops oxidation of fatty acids, raises blood lipids and makes you lethargic. How does their gut become leaky? Their diet is too low in fibre. Need both soluble and insoluble fibre to keep the gut cells happy. They like to live on the fermentation products of soluble fibre, the butyric acids. If these cells don’t get what they need, the barrier function gets impaired and unwanted substances can penetrate the gut wall. Trans fatty acids don’t help either.
Nutritional Deficiency & Ageing It was discovered that when mice were put on a diet that lacked folic acid the mice were full of chromosome breaks. These were worse than what’s seen in radiation exposure. The same is true for vitamins B6 and B12. These are also needed to keep homocysteine levels down. We recently published a paper comparing folic acid deficiency with irradiation. They are not even in the same ball park. People are worried about tiny levels of radiation. There’s talk of spending trillions on cleaning up tiny amounts of radiation. You’d be way ahead of the game by giving everyone a folic acid pill. We worry about the wrong things. Huge resources are put where it doesn’t matter and not where it does matter – diet.
A study put a dozen people on defined diets. The only differences were in the levels of B6. Chromosome breaks were then measured. Once you go down to half the RDA for the vitamin you get breaks in the chromosomes. So getting enough vitamins and minerals is essential. We’ve also shown that sperm count and sperm quality goes down with folate deficiency. We’ve also studied iron. This mineral causes all sorts of mitochondrial damage and oxidants to be produced in excess, but too little iron is a disaster because too little wrecks your mitochondria. Iron deficiency interferes with heme synthesis. Heme carries oxygen in your blood. Deficiencies of biotin, pantothenic acid and copper also do this. The effect is to pour oxygen radicals into the cell. This happens even before anaemia sets in. The consequences of heme deficiency look very similar to what happens with ageing and neurodegeneration. A cheap multivitamin and mineral would prevent all this.
I believe everybody should take one as insurance. The whole northern tier of the USA is vitamin D deficient which is a risk factor for cancer and brittle bones etc. You need 20 minutes of sunshine each day to make this vitamin. There isn’t enough sunshine in northern parts. Blacks and Hispanics get even less as well as people who stay indoors. So take a multivitamin. But you need more than this.
There’s not enough magnesium and calcium in a multi. There’s no fibre. Also need omega 3 fatty acids. These are really important. 30% of the fatty acids in your brain neurons are DHA. If you don’t eat oily fish you won’t get enough. The nutrition community doesn’t like pills. Mark Twain was a little skeptical too: “The main distinguishing characteristic between man and the lower animals is the desire to take pills.”
They think if you tell people to take pills they won’t eat proper food. Trouble is they’ve been trying for 20 years to get people to each fruits and vegetables while their diet continues to get worse. So I feel everyone should be told to take a pill and get a good diet besides.
Mega Nutrition & Genes You can go to a health food store and buy very large quantities of some vitamins. For instance a B100 pill. I thought this was crazy and so did my colleagues. But it might not be. You can raise coenzyme levels with large quantities of B vitamins. If you have mutated genes that deform protein, you can sometimes get over the error with larges doses of vitamins to raise coenzymes. We found 50 different genetic diseases where high dose vitamin therapy had a beneficial effect. For instance there’s a rare genetic disease where children go blind because of a lack of a mitochondrial enzyme. The cause for this was found. It turned out to be a B6 dependent enzyme. When very high doses of B6 were given to children prone to this disease, they didn’t go blind.
The fallout from this won’t be so much in rare genetic diseases as in other areas such as polymorphisms (genetic variations). For instance there are 400,000 people around the Mediterranean that have glucose 6 phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency disease. This lowers glutathione levels in cells. This knocks out the malaria parasite. Malaria was the big killer of kids in Africa and all around the Mediterranean.
This mutation makes kids more resistant to malaria but it makes them more sensitive to oxidation. So if they eat a meal of fava beans - these have oxidants in them - they can get a haemolytic anaemia. Pythagoras, the famous Greek mathematician, told his followers not to eat beans. The classical scholars thought he was a nut, but now it all makes sense.
There are many different mutations but there’s one in an area of India that ought to be curable by feeding them high levels of niacin. Clinical trials will take place to see if high levels of nutrients will help these and other polymorphisms.
In ageing you have the mitochondria decaying. There are all sorts of coenzymes in there. Mitochondrial coenzyme levels can be raised. So theoretically we can do something about ageing. We’ve being doing work in this area and the preliminary results look promising. There are lots of ways to intervene. I think people are going to live a lot longer.
Bruce Ames is professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and senior scientist at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute. His main interest of study is identifying mutagens that damage human DNA, the body's defences against them, and the consequences of DNA damage for cancer and ageing. He has published over 450 papers.
This article is an edited version of a lecture he gave recently. For further information about the work of this renowned scientist please visit www.bruceames.org
They are unquestionably convenient and almost impossible to avoid, but microwave ovens have always been shadowed by controversy. Despite the many serious health issues posed by microwaves, few people are aware of their potential dangers.
One study that did recently receive national press coverage found that broccoli cooked in a microwave oven lost almost all of its antioxidants (a stunning 97% depletion), compared to 11% lost by conventional steaming. Given that the antioxidants in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables (like cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage) are known to have powerful anti-cancer effects (in part by modulating estrogen metabolism), this is indeed a serious loss. This reaffirms an earlier Russian study showing a 60-90% decrease in food value in microwaved foods.
Bad though this is, however, it may pale by comparison with some of the other problems posed by microwaving. A Swiss study from 1992 conducted by Dr. Hans Hertel, which was suppressed by several years of legal maneuvering by a powerful electrical appliance trade organization, found a decreased number of red blood cells, and of their oxygen bearing hemoglobin content, in people eating microwaved foods, along with increased cholesterol levels. Even more troubling is the creation in these foods of radiolytic compounds hitherto unknown in nature, the effects of which on the human body remain completely unknown.
The pièce de resistance of this same study, however, was its report an increased number of leukocytes, or white blood cells, present in the body after the ingestion of microwaved foods. White blood cells are the foot soldiers of the immune system, so what this suggests is that the body perceived the microwaved food as an invader, or toxin, rather than as nourishment. Perhaps the reason for this may have to do with the way microwaves restructure food molecules. The party line is that microwave ovens produce a type of electromagnetic energy similar to that naturally produced by the sun; but solar microwaves generate direct current (DC) while microwave ovens rely on alternating current (AC) to create heat by molecular friction or agitation.
Protein is made up of building blocks called amino acids. These amino acids can be found in two forms: those with a levo or left-handed molecular spin (indicated by the L- suffix), and those with a dextro or right-handed molecular spin (indicated by the D- suffix). Most amino acids are toxic in their D- form, and are not generally found this way in nature. But another study from earlier this year reported that microwaving does indeed reverse the molecular spin on at least one amino acid (the only one studied), changing it from the benign L- form to the toxic D- form. This may very well be the reason behind the Swiss discovery of the immune response mounted by the body following the ingestion of microwaved foods, as well the Russian report detailing the presence of numerous carcinogenic substances in such food.
In addition to the worrisome concerns over how the microwaving process alters food chemistry, microwave ovens also generate a large and powerful electromagnetic field when in use. This field, which can extend as far as six to eight feet from the appliance, has the potential to damage the DNA of any biological system (including you!) that it contacts, and at the very least would be expected to set off a cascade of rampaging free radicals, dangerous molecules missing an electron that steal electrons from otherwise healthy tissues, damaging them, sometimes irreparably, in the process. Because of this, it is extremely unwise to stand near a microwave oven when it is in use, and children in particular should be instructed in no uncertain terms to stay away from them. While technology can indeed offer us tremendous benefits, we would be foolish to ignore the very serious risks that microwave ovens pose to our health in favor of mere convenience. Plenty of other alternatives exist, including quick-heating toaster ovens.
F. Vallejo, F.A. Tomás-Barberán, C. García-Viguera “Phenolic compound contents in edible parts of broccoli inflorescences after domestic cooking”. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, Nov. 2003, Volume 83, # 14, pages 1511-6
Tom Valentine “The Proven Dangers of Microwaves”. NEXUS Magazine (April-May '95). Volume 2, #25
Genetically modified (GM) or genetically engineered (GE) foods are starting to become a hot topic of discussion here in the U.S., as they have been in Europe for many years. While their proponents loudly proclaim their supposed virtues, there are still so many unanswered questions about their safety, both for the consumer and the environment, that caution seems to be warranted. But even the advocates of GM foods should be willing to agree that the consumer has the right to know whether or not they are ingesting such foods. Free access to important information is one of the cornerstones of democracy, and currently GM foods are showing up in a large percentage of supermarket fare without the knowledge of consumers. If you would like to register your support for independent safety testing, mandatory labeling of GM foods, and a call for corporate responsibility, log on to www.gefoodalert.org and fill out the simple e-mail "postcard". It will only take a minute, will not cost you a cent, and is a simple way to make your voice heard on this important issue. ---
Hormones seem to be in the news a lot these days, but few people seem to know exactly what they are. Hormones are powerful chemical messengers secreted by any one of several endocrine glands, such as the adrenals, ovaries, testes, thyroid and pancreas. Typically, they are released into the bloodstream, where they travel to target organs to affect changes in their function. While we usually associate hormones with sexual and reproductive function, they in fact regulate just about every single physiological system and process in the body, including the immune system, digestion, bone integrity, cardiovascular health, cognitive function, and our ability to respond to stress.
Endocrine glands respond to chemical changes in the bloodstream, either directly, or indirectly via the control of the "master glands" in the brain, the hypothalamus and the pituitary. These two tiny but mighty endocrine glands can be seen as the primary orchestrators of the incredibly complex hormonal symphony, responding to changes in circulating levels of hormones by releasing their own set of stimulating or inhibiting hormones, which, in turn, travel to the adrenals, thyroid and gonads to instruct these "downstream" glands to increase or decrease their own local hormone production.
There are many ways to test hormone output, the most common of which is blood testing. Useful though this can be, it is not the most accurate way to test hormones, as only the serum (the watery part of the blood) is tested, and some hormones (like progesterone) are mainly found riding on the fatty membranes of the red blood cells, which are discarded in blood testing. Furthermore, blood testing usually fails to discriminate between free or "bioavailable" hormones and bound ones, hormones that have been inactivated by being bound up to circulating proteins.
Urine testing is another possibility, though it mainly tests hormone metabolites (secondary molecules produced by hormone metabolism) rather than circulating hormones themselves. Arguably the most accurate method is through the saliva (something acknowledged by no less a prestigious institution than the World Health Organization), as it screens out the bound hormones, giving a more accurate picture of bioavailable hormone levels. Saliva testing has the added advantage of being painless and convenient, as the samples can be collected in your own home (although, unfortunately, at this time, most insurance companies do not cover salivary hormone testing).
Metabolic Nutrition is pleased to announce that we have recently started using the services of ZRT Laboratory, founded by David Zava, PH.D., one of the foremost experts in the country on saliva testing, and the co-author with Dr. John Lee of the definitive book on female hormones, What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer. Through ZRT Laboratory, we are now able to offer comprehensive hormone profiles for both men and women, as well as adrenal function panels, and individual hormone tests for follow-up purposes. Hormones that can be tested through the saliva include estrogen (usually as estradiol), progesterone, testosterone, cortisol and DHEA.
So who should get their hormones tested? Ideally, everyone would take a comprehensive hormone test in their early-to-mid thirties to compare with later profiles taken during their middle or later years, as hormone production starts to wane before and during menopause or andropause (the less dramatic but equally significant male equivalent to menopause). Hormone panels are also advisable for younger women with ongoing menstrual problems, anyone experiencing chronic stress, fatigue or an unexplained loss of libido, and anyone with a family history of the hormone driven cancers (breast, ovarian and prostate). If you would like more information, ask for a brochure or speak to one of our staff nutritionists, or call ZRT's 24-hour hormone hotline (503-466-9166) to hear any one of over fifty informative taped messages about hormones, hormone testing and natural (and safe) hormone replacement therapies.