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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Two Research Papers I've come across Lately

The first is interesting in that it further demonstrates that researchers are looking beyond symptoms into actual causes...and our old friend inflammation is rightly getting the blame it deserves.  What's more, there is a trend of identifying inflammation as causative of mental dysfunction.

As I am many others have said, the evidence is there that chronic inflammation causes all the pathologies of modern humans.  I just like to celebrate when it gets the attention it needs. Here's the substance of their conclusion: 

"Our findings contribute to a growing body of evidence that immune system dysfunction, including inflammation, may be involved in the pathophysiology of major psychiatric disorders...

"A new analysis of existing studies strongly supports the idea that there are increased levels of chemicals, called cytokines, in the body and brain that promote inflammation in individuals who are contemplating or have attempted suicide, even when compared to patients being treated for the same psychiatric disorders who are not suicidal.

"These cytokines are known to be involved in problems in other body organs, such as the joints (arthritis), the coronary arteries (atherosclerosis) and the lungs (asthma). Studies have long suggested that cytokines are released under conditions of psychological stress and that inflammation in the brain contributes to depression. Thus, the current study suggests that suicide emerges in the context of a relatively greater activation of the immune system than typical stress or depression."
And in another study, the headlines is this:
"Fat, sugar cause bacterial changes that may relate to loss of cognitive function"

Fat gets first billing even though the gist of the study indicates that the high sugar diet cause the most gut biome disruption.  Too many are still stuck on FAT being a culprit.  But the actual study is more interesting.  I sent for that actual paper that is going to be published.  Here are the breakdowns that don't appear in the headline.

The percentage of macronutrients are:
high fat (42% fat, 43% carbohydrate (CHO),
high sucrose (12% fat, 70% CHO (primarily sucrose)
normal chow (13% kcal fat, 62% CHO) diets 
I'm not sure what one can conclude from a high fat diet that is still 43% carbohydrate.  Isn't that still a high CHO diet?  And normal mouse chow is even higher...who says mice do best on this diet?  OK, I have lots of unanswered questions.  I'm inclined to think more than are answered...but their conclusions are actually more about the high sugar diet with just minor changes in cognitive function from what they are calling high fat.  Their Highlights are: (sucrose being table sugar and Bacterioides being the gut bacteria that are implicated in staying thin)

*High sucrose diet altered more gut bacterial orders and genera than high fat.
*High sucrose diet impaired spatial memory and cognitive flexibility.
*Increased gut Clostridiales was associated with decreased cognitive flexibility.
*Decreased gut Bacteroidales was associated with decreased cognitive flexibility.

I think the take away from this is low sugar, for sure, for healthier gut and brain but I think the info about high fat is suspect..

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Answering Two Questions

I recently had a couple questions from a friend of mine who is looking a health ideas and wondering about such things.  It's been a while since I addressed these ideas, so I'm including my responses in today's post.  The questions are:
1.  "Why can't we just get all the nutrition we need from food?
2.  "Why do I need to give up all carbs?"
1.  I think ideally, it's possible to get everything we need from food--but I also think there are some big caveats.  If the sources of our foods are impeccable.  If the soil has not been depleted of minerals.  If the animals we eat (and things like eggs and cheese and milk) have been produced in healthy ways (not stuffed with grains and antibiotics and junk).  If we have maintained levels of nutrients throughout life so the organs where these things (often minerals) are stored in our bodies are not depleted.  If we never binge on things that do damage or cause cellular dysfunction. 
But I am a pragmatist, too, and once the deficits or damage has occurred, I don't think food has a chance in hell to overcome it.  And what actually happens is that the damage of the standard American diet is accumulating over decades and people go along not recognizing the insidious development of dysfunction because the body is marvelously adaptive about self healing and making do. 
What happens is I see people in their 50's and some times earlier or later, who wake up with debilitating diagnoses and then they decide it's time to figure it out.  Like me and my arthritis.  Or my clients like the gal with COPD, or the one with asthma, or the relative youngster with multiple diagnoses of fatty liver disease and bleeding ulcers and kidney stones,  or many others I've then the nutrition possible from the best food (if even available) is just too little too late.  There is no way you can get enough selenium from food if it simply is not IN the food and your organs have no selenium stored like they need.  So I am a believer in supplements and have seen near miracles from including them.
2.  The other thing I want to emphasize is that I don't recommend no carbs.  I think vegetables and fruits have an important place in nutrition.  They contain micronutrients that can only help.  But grains--especially grains that have been ground so the cellular nature is destroyed, offer no nutrients we need (really, they lied to you) and lots we do not (especially sugar but also phytic acid, gluten, lectins).  And while generally  both veggies and rice are carbs, a half cup of cooked rice is 50 grams of sugar but it takes 4 and a half cups of broccoli to get 50 grams.  And who eats a half cup of rice????  In fact if you get 50 grams of carbs a day on a low carb diet like I'm doing right now, that's still a lot of veggies and berries.  More animal fat and protein do almost nothing to bounce up blood sugar and insulin, but carbs are 100% to blame for it.  And your brain function as you age is more dependent on blood sugar and insulin that the "experts" are saying.  Want a sharp mind?  Keep fasting insulin low and that takes less sugar in your food and blood!
Get your tests done.  (A1C, Fasting Insulin, Vitamin D and CRP)  They tell the story.  Bad numbers mean chronic disease processes are going on--and while that manifests  differently for different people, it does manifest eventually.  Aging does not have to mean diseases and aches and pains and low energy.  Yes, you will die some day.  but the things most people are dying of are not normal aging and not inevitable.
Can such stuff be healed?  I think so and I see it often.  I had one client contact me after less than a week of no grains and no sugar and ask if he was just imagining his arthritis was better so quickly.  So I ask people, "What's it worth to you to be free of pain and the chronic or acute disease that plagues you?  Do you even believe it's possible to have robust health?  At any age." 
I think healing is possible at almost any stage of disease--at least dramatic improvement...but it takes a lot and not everyone wants to be free of pain or disease--there is much psychology tied up in things like 'do I want to live or die?' or "does my disease get me attention I like or get me out of things I don't want to do????'  The answers are different for everybody and sometimes I just have to watch people makes choices I wouldn't want for myself...But for some of us, the effort to clean up what we're putting into our bodies is worth it!