Tuesday, December 30, 2014

skin cells transformed into egg and sperm, epigenetic changes can be REMOVED

The Guardian | Scientists have made primitive forms of artificial sperm and eggs in a medical feat that could transform the understanding of age-related diseases and fertility problems.
Researchers in Cambridge made the early-stage sex cells by culturing human embryonic stem cells under carefully-controlled conditions for a week.
They followed the success by showing that the same procedure can convert adult skin tissue into precursors for sperm and eggs, raising the prospect of making sex cells that are genetically matched to patients.
The cells should have the potential to grow into mature sperm and eggs, though this has never been done in the lab before. The next step for the researchers will be to inject the cells into mouse ovaries or testes to see if they fully develop in the animals.
Perhaps more intriguingly, the cells may hold the secrets for treating certain age-related diseases. As people age they accumulate not only genetic mutations, but other changes to their DNA. These epigenetic changes can be caused by smoking, exposure to chemicals in the environment, or diet and other lifestyle factors. But the cells that form sperm and eggs are wiped clean of their epigenetic changes early on. “This could tell us how to erase these epigenetic mutations. Epigenetics is used to regulate gene expression, but in age-related diseases, these changes can be aberrant and misregulate genes,” Surani said.

Friday, December 19, 2014

exercise changes your dna

PLoS Genet | A sedentary lifestyle, a poor diet and new technologies that reduce physical activity cause health problems worldwide, as reduced energy expenditure together with increased energy intake lead to weight gain and increased cardiometabolic health risks . Obesity is an important predictor for the development of both type 2 diabetes (T2D) and cardiovascular diseases, which suggests a central role for adipose tissue in the development of these conditions . Adipose tissue is an endocrine organ affecting many metabolic pathways, contributing to total glucose homeostasis . T2D is caused by a complex interplay of genetic and lifestyle factors , and a family history of T2D has been associated with reduced physical fitness and an increased risk of the disease . Individuals with high risk of developing T2D strongly benefit from non-pharmacological interventions, involving diet and exercise . Exercise is important for physical health, including weight maintenance and its beneficial effects on triglycerides, cholesterol and blood pressure, suggestively by activating a complex program of transcriptional changes in target tissues.
Epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation are considered to be important in phenotype transmission and the development of different diseases . The epigenetic pattern is mainly established early in life and thereafter maintained in differentiated cells, but age-dependent alterations still have the potential to modulate gene expression and translate environmental factors into phenotypic traits . In differentiated mammalian cells, DNA methylation usually occurs in the context of CG dinucleotides (CpGs) and is associated with gene repression . Changes in epigenetic profiles are more common than genetic mutations and may occur in response to environmental, behavioural, psychological and pathological stimuli. Furthermore, genetic variation not associated with a phenotype could nonetheless affect the extent of variability of that phenotype through epigenetic mechanisms, such as DNA methylation. It is not known whether epigenetic modifications contribute to the cause or transmission of T2D between generations. Recent studies in human skeletal muscle and pancreatic islets point towards the involvement of epigenetic modifications in the regulation of genes important for glucose metabolism and the pathogenesis of T2D ,. However, there is limited information about the regulation of the epigenome in human adipose tissue .
The mechanisms behind the long-lasting effects of regular exercise are not fully understood, and most studies have focused on cellular and molecular changes in skeletal muscle. Recently, a global study of DNA methylation in human skeletal muscle showed changes in the epigenetic pattern in response to long-term exercise . The aims of this study were to: 1) explore genome-wide levels of DNA methylation before and after a six months exercise intervention in adipose tissue from healthy, but previously sedentary men; 2) investigate the differences in adipose tissue DNA methylation between individuals with or without a family history of T2D; 3) relate changes in DNA methylation to adipose tissue mRNA expression and metabolic phenotypes in vitro.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

yet another potential danger of genetically modified food organisms

theatlantic | Chinese researchers have found small pieces of rice ribonucleic acid (RNA) in the blood and organs of humans who eat rice. The Nanjing University-based team showed that this genetic material will bind to receptors in human liver cells and influence the uptake of cholesterol from the blood.

The type of RNA in question is called microRNA (abbreviated to miRNA) due to its small size. MiRNAs have been studied extensively since their discovery ten years ago, and have been implicated as players in several human diseases including cancer, Alzheimer's, and diabetes. They usually function by turning down or shutting down certain genes. The Chinese research provides the first in vivo example of ingested plant miRNA surviving digestion and influencing human cell function in this way.

Should the research survive scientific scrutiny -- a serious hurdle -- it could prove a game changer in many fields. It would mean that we're eating not just vitamins, protein, and fuel, but gene regulators as well.

That knowledge could deepen our understanding of many fields, including cross-species communication, co-evolution, and predator-prey relationships. It could illuminate new mechanisms for some metabolic disorders and perhaps explain how some herbal and modern medicines function.
This study had nothing to do with genetically modified (GM) food, but it could have implications on that front. The work shows a pathway by which new food products, such as GM foods, could influence human health in previously unanticipated ways.

Monsanto's website states, "There is no need for, or value in testing the safety of GM foods in humans." This viewpoint, while good for business, is built on an understanding of genetics circa 1960. It follows what's called the "Central Dogma" of genetics, which postulates a one-way chain of command between DNA and the cells DNA governs.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

global surge in ADHD diagnosis has more to do with marketing than with medicine

sciencedaily |  You can't catch attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Yet the diagnosis and treatment of this behavioral condition is spreading like a contagion -- surging as much as tenfold in some countries.

Call it an economic and cultural plague, but not necessarily a medical one, says Brandeis professor Peter Conrad. In a recent paper in the journal Social Science and Medicine, Conrad and coauthor Meredith Bergey examined the growth of ADHD in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Brazil.

Until recently, North America tallied by far the most ADHD diagnoses, and the United States consumed 90 percent of all Ritalin, one of the most common ADHD drugs. ADHD diagnoses continue to grow in the U.S., but Americans account for only 75 percent of Ritalin users today.

Conrad and Bergey attribute ADHD's growth to five trends. Drug companies are effective lobbyists, and have spurred some countries to relax marketing restrictions on stimulants. Psychoanalytic treatment with talk therapy is giving way to biological psychiatry -- treating psychological problems with drugs. More European and South American psychologists and psychiatrists are adopting the American-based Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) standards, which are broader and have a lower threshold for diagnosing ADHD. Vocal ADHD advocacy groups work closely with drug companies to promote pharmaceutical treatment. Lastly, the easy availability of ADHD information and self-diagnosis via the Internet empowers consumers to ask for prescription treatment.
Many websites promoting ADHD drugs offer checklists with questions like these:
  • Do you fidget a lot?
  • Is it hard for you to concentrate?
  • Are you disorganized at work and home?
  • Do you start projects and then abandon them?
"These checklists turn all kinds of different behaviors into medical problems," Conrad says. "The checklists don't distinguish what is part of the human condition and what is a disease."

According to the study, in the U.K., diagnosis of the disorder in school-age children grew from less than one percent in the 1990s to about five percent today. In Germany, prescription ADHD drugs rose from 10 million daily doses in 1998 to 53 million in 2008.

Growth in Italy and France has been slower, in part due to those countries' more restrictive pharmaceutical drug laws. However, even those nations are becoming more lax, says Conrad. In Brazil, a rising number of ADHD advocacy groups, many with close ties to the pharmaceutical industry, are raising awareness of the disorder.

suicide epidemic in utah and one neuroscientist thinks he knows why

mic |  Renshaw believes that oxygen-poor air tampers with brain chemistry, leading to a drop in serotonin and an uptick in dopamine. Serotonin and dopamine are neurotransmitters, brain chemicals that relay signals between neurons and other cells. 

Serotonin, an inhibitory neurotransmitter, helps stabilize emotions. Antidepressants — SSRIs, (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor), which include Prozac and Lexapro — work by blocking the transport of serotonin back to the neurons, thereby increasing its supply in the brain.

Dopamine, an excitatory neurotransmitter, plays a vital role in our ability to focus. Too little dopamine can make us scatterbrained, whereas a dopamine increase causes hyper-concentration and feelings of euphoria. Caffeine, prescription drugs, including some ADD/ADHD medications, and illegal stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine, work by increasing the availability of dopamine in our brains.

So why do some people enjoy the benefits of the Utah air's impact on increased dopamine levels, which should make us happier, and some fall victim to the impact on decreased levels of serotonin, which would make us more depressed?

The answer lies in how changes in neurotransmitter levels affect our individual brain chemistry.
As Renshaw's theory goes, serotonin deficiency exacerbates symptoms of pre-existing anxiety and depression, increasing the likelihood of becoming suicidal (mental illness is a factor in about 90% of suicides). People with an existing mood disorder, or a predisposition to mental illness, would be more sensitive to the effects of waning serotonin levels.

Women, who naturally have half as much serotonin as men, Renshaw said, are more likely to develop a mood disorder as a result of living in the mountains (about 24% of middle-aged women in Utah take an SSRI — double the national rate. The various anecdotes about anxious Utah women, Renshaw believes, bolster his theory).

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

don't do it: drugs are not the answer for incompetent parenting...,

NYTimes |  Every time Matthias is kicked out of a school or day camp for defying adults and clashing with other children, his mother, Joelle Kendle, inches closer to a decision she dreads. With each morning of arm-twisting and leg-flailing as she tries to get him dressed and out the door for first grade, the temptation intensifies.

Ms. Kendle is torn over whether to have Matthias, just 6 and already taking the stimulant Adderall for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, go on a second and more potent medication: the antipsychotic Risperdal.

Her dilemma is shared by a steadily rising number of American families who are using multiple psychotropic drugs — stimulants, antipsychotics, antidepressants and others — to temper their children’s troublesome behavior, even though many doctors who mix such medications acknowledge that little is known about the overall benefits and risks for children.

In 2012 about one in 54 youngsters ages 6 through 17 covered by private insurance was taking at least two psychotropic medications — a rise of 44 percent in four years, according to Express Scripts, which processes prescriptions for 85 million Americans. Academic studies of children covered by Medicaid have also found higher rates and growth. Combined, the data suggest that about one million children are currently taking various combinations of psychotropics.

Risks of antipsychotics alone, for example, are known to include substantial weight gain and diabetes. Stimulants can cause appetite suppression, insomnia and, far more infrequently, hallucinations. Some combinations of medication classes, like antipsychotics and antidepressants, have shown improved benefits (for psychotic depression) but also heightened risks (for heart rhythm disturbances).

But this knowledge has been derived substantially from studies in adults — children are rarely studied because of concerns about safety and ethics — leaving many experts worried that the use of multiple psychotropics in youngsters has not been explored fully. There is also debate over whether the United States Food and Drug Administration’s database of patients’ adverse drug reactions reliably monitors the hazards of psychotropic drug combinations, primarily because only a small fraction of cases are ever reported. Some clinicians are left somewhat queasy about relying mostly on anecdotal reports of benefit and harm.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

dopamine hegemony can be disrupted by... fatty acids?

Science Daily | Taking omega-3 supplements reduces craving for nicotine and even reduces the number of cigarettes that people smoke a day, according to a new study conducted at the University of Haifa. "The substances and medications used currently to help people reduce and quit smoking are not very effective and cause adverse effects that are not easy to cope with. The findings of this study indicated that omega-3, an inexpensive and easily available dietary supplement with almost no side effects, reduces smoking significantly," said Dr. Sharon Rabinovitz Shenkar, head of the addictions program at the University of Haifa's school of criminology department and of the psychopharmacology laboratory at Bar-Ilan, who conducted this study.

Chronic exposure to smoke-derived toxicants is the primary cause of progressive pulmonary and immune dysfunctions, as well as carcinogenesis Cigarette smoking is connected not only to cardiovascular dysfunction, immune system dysfunction and cancer, it also reduces the levels of essential fatty acids in the brain, especially that of omega-3. A deficiency in omega-3 damages the cellular structure of nerve cells and interrupts neurotransmission in areas of the brain involved with feeling pleasure and satisfaction. These areas are essential in reward and decision-making, and are very important in the process of the development, maintenance and relapseof the addiction and to the inability to stop smoking. In simpler terms, omega-3 deficiency makes it harder for the smoker's body to deal with its craving for another cigarette. "Earlier studies have proven that an imbalance in omega-3 is also related to mental health, depression and the ability to cope with pressure and stress. Pressure and stress, in turn, are associated with the urge to smoke. It is also known that stress and tension levels rise among people who quit smoking. Despite all this, the connection between all these factors had not been studied until now," Dr. Rabinovitz Shenkar said


Monday, November 17, 2014

you are what you eat

pnas | Significance

Human mucosal surfaces contain a wide range of microorganisms. The biological effects of these organisms are largely unknown. Large-scale metagenomic sequencing is emerging as a method to identify novel microbes. Unexpectedly, we identified DNA sequences homologous to virus ATCV-1, an algal virus not previously known to infect humans, in oropharyngeal samples obtained from healthy adults. The presence of ATCV-1 was associated with a modest but measurable decrease in cognitive functioning. A relationship between ATCV-1 and cognitive functioning was confirmed in a mouse model, which also indicated that exposure to ATCV-1 resulted in changes in gene expression within the brain. Our study indicates that viruses in the environment not thought to infect humans can have biological effects.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

dopaminergic foundations of personality and individual difference

frontiersin |  The dopamine system can be divided into several anatomically defined branches or pathways. The nigrostriatal pathway (projecting from the substantia nigra to the striatum) is involved in motor control, and has long been of interest in the context of Parkinson's Disease and its therapeutic management via dopamine replacement (see Cenci, 2007). It was initially thought that motor control was the primary or even sole function of dopamine (e.g., Koob, 1982). However, this perspective has given way to a reward-processing interpretation of dopamine, focussed primarily on the mesolimbic pathway (projecting from the ventral tegmental area to limbic and forebrain areas including the striatum) (Robbins and Everitt, 1996; Wise, 2004; Schultz, 2007). One early theory helped integrate these diverging perspectives by proposing that the ventral striatum, a target of both nigrostriatal and mesolimbic dopamine, was responsible for converting motivation (i.e., to approach desire goal states) into action (Mogenson et al., 1980).
The reward-processing functions of dopamine have been discussed in terms of motivation by reward, enjoyment of reward, and learning from reward—or “wanting,” “liking” and “learning” (Berridge et al., 2009). Initially it was theorized that dopamine mediated reward “liking”—the hedonic impact of rewarding stimuli (Wise, 1982), and that these pleasure responses sustained reward-directed behavior. This theory enjoyed widespread influence for some time, and explains why dopamine was popularly dubbed “the pleasure chemical,” but has now been abandoned (Wise, 2004). One critique came from the addiction literature, which showed that dopamine-mediated escalation of drug dependence is accompanied by decreased pleasurable responses to those drugs (Robinson and Berridge, 2003). This favors the theory that dopamine mediates motivational “wanting” of reward by conferring stimuli with “incentive salience”—the process through which stimuli become motivationally attractive (Robinson and Berridge, 2003; Berridge et al., 2009). Dopamine is also thought to be responsible for reward learning, with phasic dopamine activity providing the “teacher” signal hypothesized in reinforcement learning models (Schultz et al., 1997; Schultz, 2007). Although reward wanting theories appear compatible with reward learning theories, they have not yet been integrated into a cohesive theoretical framework (see Alcaro et al., 2007).
Dopamine also has a major role in cognitive function and dysfunction. The mesocortical dopamine pathway (projecting from the ventral tegmental area to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex) is implicated in higher cognitive functions such as working memory and decision-making (Robbins et al., 1996; Arnsten, 1998; Floresco and Magyar, 2006). Although these appear strikingly different to the motivational functions of the mesolimbic dopamine system, mental representations and operations seem likely to facilitate motivated action. That is, the mesocorticolimbic dopamine pathways may jointly coordinate the “anticipation of reward and activation of representations in the PFC needed to achieve it” (Miller and Cohen, 2001, p. 182). The higher cognitive functions of dopamine have implications for creative behavior, which is typically operationalized using tests of cognitive flexibility and divergent thinking. Ashby et al. (1999) suggest that this may explain the apparent impact of induced positive affect on creativity; positive affect is often preceded by reward delivery, which will often stimulate dopamine release. Finally, an enduring theory has posited a central role for dopamine in the cognitive disturbances seen in schizophrenia (e.g., Gray et al., 1991). A later iteration of this theory has related mesocortical dopamine to cognitive deficits (e.g., executive dysfunction) and negative symptoms (e.g., anhedonia), and mesolimbicdopamine to positive symptoms (e.g., hallucinations and delusions) (Lindenmayer et al., 2013).
This brief overview is only intended to orient the reader, illustrate the breadth of processes to which dopamine has been linked, and thereby foreshadow the diversity of topics addressed in this special issue. For more in-depth perspectives on dopamine function the interested reader is encouraged to consult the references cited here.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

adhd is what happens to boys when you eliminate daily p.e., recess, and play in the neighborhood...,

theatlantic |  Mental exercises to build (or rebuild) attention span have shown promise recently as adjuncts or alternatives to amphetamines in addressing symptoms common to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Building cognitive control, to be better able to focus on just one thing, or single-task, might involve regular practice with a specialized video game thatreinforces "top-down" cognitive modulation, as was the case in a popular paper in Nature last year. Cool but still notional. More insipid but also more clearly critical to addressing what's being called the ADHD epidemic is plain old physical activity.

This morning the medical journal Pediatrics published research that found kids who took part in a regular physical activity program showed important enhancement of cognitive performance and brain function. The findings, according to University of Illinois professor Charles Hillman and colleagues, "demonstrate a causal effect of a physical program on executive control, and provide support for physical activity for improving childhood cognition and brain health." If it seems odd that this is something that still needs support, that's because it is odd, yes. Physical activity is clearly a high, high-yield investment for all kids, but especially those attentive or hyperactive. This brand of research is still published and written about as though it were a novel finding, in part because exercise programs for kids remain underfunded and underprioritized in many school curricula, even though exercise is clearly integral to maximizing the utility of time spent in class.

The improvements in this case came in executive control, which consists of inhibition (resisting distraction, maintaining focus), working memory, and cognitive flexibility (switching between tasks). The images above show the brain activity in the group of kids who did the program as opposed to the group that didn't. It's the kind of difference that's so dramatic it's a little unsettling. The study only lasted nine months, but when you're only seven years old, nine months is a long time to be sitting in class with a blue head.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

diet affects male and female gut microbiomes differently

sciencedaily |  The microbes living in the guts of males and females react differently to diet, even when the diets are identical, according to a study by scientists from The University of Texas at Austin and six other institutions published this week in the journal Nature Communications. These results suggest that therapies designed to improve human health and treat diseases through nutrition might need to be tailored for each sex.

The researchers studied the gut microbes in two species of fish and in mice, and also conducted an in-depth analysis of data that other researchers collected on humans. They found that in fish and humans diet affected the microbiota of males and females differently. In some cases, different species of microbes would dominate, while in others, the diversity of bacteria would be higher in one sex than the other.

These results suggest that any therapies designed to improve human health through diet should take into account whether the patient is male or female.

Only in recent years has science begun to completely appreciate the importance of the human microbiome, which consists of all the bacteria that live in and on people's bodies. There are hundreds or even thousands of species of microbes in the human digestive system alone, each varying in abundance.

Genetics and diet can affect the variety and number of these microbes in the human gut, which can in turn have a profound influence on human health. Obesity, diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease have all been linked to low diversity of bacteria in the human gut.

One concept for treating such diseases is to manipulate the microbes within a person's gut through diet. The idea is gaining in popularity because dietary changes would make for a relatively cheap and simple treatment.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

like pink salt, almond milk is strictly for suckers

motherjones |  Now, I get why people are switching away from dairy milk. Industrial-scale dairy production is a pretty nasty business, and large swaths of adults can't digest lactose, a sugar found in fresh dairy milk. Meanwhile, milk has become knit into our dietary culture, particularly at breakfast, where we cling to a generations-old tradition of drenching cereal in milk. Almond milk and other substitutes offer a way to maintain this practice while rejecting dairy. (Almond milk has been crushing once-ubiquitous soy milk, perhaps partly because of hotly contested fears that it creates hormonal imbalances.)

All that aside, almond milk strikes me as an abuse of a great foodstuff. Plain almonds are a nutritional powerhouse. Let's compare a standard serving (one ounce, about a handful) to the 48-ounce bottle of Califia Farms almond milk that a house guest recently left behind in my fridge.

A single ounce (28 grams) of almonds—nutrition info here—contains six grams of protein (about an egg's worth), along with three grams of fiber (a medium banana) and 12 grams of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (half an avocado). According to its label, an eight-ounce serving of Califia almond milk offers just one gram each of protein and fiber, and five grams of fat. A bottle of Califia delivers six eight-ounce servings, meaning that a handful of almonds contains as much protein as the mighty jug of this hot-selling beverage.

What this tells you is that the almond-milk industry is selling you a jug of filtered water clouded by a handful of ground almonds. Which leads us to the question of price and profit. The almonds in the photo above are organic, and sold in bulk at my local HEB supermarket for $11.99 per pound; this one-ounce serving set me back about 66 cents. I could have bought nonorganic California almonds for $6.49 per pound, about 39 cents per ounce. That container of Califia, which contains roughly the same number of nonorganic almonds, retails for $3.99.

Monday, July 7, 2014

backlash against those eschewing (as opposed to chewing) contemporary wheat

NYTimes |  The swelling ranks of Americans adopting gluten-free diets have given rise to another hot trend: people calling the whole thing a bunch of baloney. And then requesting that the baloney be sandwiched between two pieces of white bread. Served with a cookie for dessert.

David Klimas has a friend who recently went gluten-free, a development that the 46-year-old real estate sales manager greets with a slow eye roll. He thinks that the gluten-free thing is just a fad, promoted by food companies “as a way of making money.”

“In the ’50s, everyone had ulcers,” he says. “Then, it was back problems. Now, it’s gluten.”
Gluten abstinence has grown dramatically over the past several years. According to a survey by the NPD Group, a market-research firm, nearly a third of adults say that they’re trying to either eliminate or cut back on gluten, a combination of proteins found in wheat and other grains. And this movement has spawned a burgeoning food industry valued at at least $4 billion and perhaps more than $10 billion — and climbing. 

Entire aisles at grocery stores are dedicated to the diet. Restaurant chains including Bob Evans, Hooters and, impressively, Uno Pizzeria and Grill, offer gluten-free­ menus. Trade shows devoted to gluten-free products have popped up nationwide. Bars use menu icons to denote gluten-free beers.
All of which makes some people want to bang their heads against a flour mill.

“I don’t get it,” Klimas says of his friend’s decision to cut gluten from his diet. “How can you all of a sudden be gluten-free? He’s 45. We’ve been friends for 19 years. Sometimes, I think it’s just for him to be cool in front of the waiters.”

Sunday, June 22, 2014

modern wheat is what's making people fat and sick

thealternativedaily | Modern Wheat is an Appetite Stimulant
It is estimated that up to 10% of the population has a sensitivity to the protein in wheat known as gluten (some estimate it may be higher, closer to 30%). However, the other 90% of people who consume wheat really should not be eating it either. Here are a few reasons why:

Gluten is a two part protein that is comprised of gliadin plus glutenin. Glutenin has a unique elasticity that gives us the ability to stretch our pizza or bread dough or even spin it over our heads, if we are inclined to do so. Gliadin, the other part of the gluten protein, was heavily studied in the 1970′s by psychiatrists who found that if they took all of the wheat out of the diet of their patients with schizophrenia, they improved markedly.

When they put the wheat back, they found that the condition worsened. So the question asked was what was in bread that led schizophrenics to hallucinate? It was traced back to the gliadin protein which, when ingested, enters the brain and binds to opiate receptors where it stimulates appetite.
In addition, gliadin, acting like an opiate in the brain, has other disastrous effects. For example, people with ADHD become hypersensitive and have behavioral outbursts, people with schizophrenia have major hallucinations, people who are bipolar become increasingly manic and those with eating disorders, such as binge eating, will develop food obsessions.

By 1985, everything at the supermarket with wheat in it came from the prolific semi-dwarf strain or a spinoff. Interestingly enough, if you compare what happened to America’s weight prior to and after 1985 it is evident that there was an obesity explosion that is still happening today shortly after the “new” wheat was introduced.

A huge increase in the number of diabetics also followed. Although cause and effect cannot be proven scientifically – it seems evident that we have all been fed an appetite stimulant.

Modern Wheat Raises Blood Sugar
Two slices of whole wheat bread raise blood sugar higher than 6 teaspoons of table sugar. How does this happen when whole wheat is considered a complex carbohydrate that we are encouraged to eat more of? The complex carbohydrate of wheat is called Amylopectin A, which is highly sensitive to amylase, which we have in our stomach and mouth. This makes it very easy to digest and raises blood sugar rapidly. Wheat for breakfast, wheat for lunch and wheat for snacks results in visceral fat that encircles the intestines, heart, liver and kidneys. Repetitive high blood sugar results in what Dr. Davis calls a “wheat belly.”

Modern Wheat Causes Inflammation
When bacteria or a virus enters the body our immune system responds in many ways. Plants do not have the same type of immune system, but they have lectins which are proteins that are toxic to mold, fungi and insects. Some lectins are benign to humans like the lectin found in spinach while some are very toxic. The lectin in wheat (Wheat Germ Agglutinin) is a four part complex molecule.

When this lectin is isolated and given to rats in very small amounts, it destroys the small intestine. Average Americans consume about 10-20 mg of the wheat lectin in a day, that’s enough to do significant damage.

When we consume wheat the gliadin protein unlocks the normal intestinal barrier and allows foreign substances entry into the bloodstream – substances such as wheat lectin. This is why people who eat wheat have autoimmune and inflammatory distress such as joint inflammation, bowel inflammation, acid reflux, inflammation of the brain, inflammation of the airways etc. In fact, there is not one system that escapes the inflammatory assault of wheat.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

fasting for as little as three days can regenerate your immune system

telegraph |  Fasting for as little as three days can regenerate the entire immune system, even in the elderly, scientists have found in a breakthrough described as "remarkable". 

Although fasting diets have been criticised by nutritionists for being unhealthy, new research suggests starving the body kick-starts stem cells into producing new white blood cells, which fight off infection.
Scientists at the University of Southern California say the discovery could be particularly beneficial for people suffering from damaged immune systems, such as cancer patients on chemotherapy.
It could also help the elderly whose immune system becomes less effective as they age, making it harder for them to fight off even common diseases.
The researchers say fasting "flips a regenerative switch" which prompts stem cells to create brand new white blood cells, essentially regenerating the entire immune system.
"It gives the 'OK' for stem cells to go ahead and begin proliferating and rebuild the entire system," said Prof Valter Longo, Professor of Gerontology and the Biological Sciences at the University of California.
"And the good news is that the body got rid of the parts of the system that might be damaged or old, the inefficient parts, during the fasting.
“Now, if you start with a system heavily damaged by chemotherapy or ageing, fasting cycles can generate, literally, a new immune system."
Prolonged fasting forces the body to use stores of glucose and fat but also breaks down a significant portion of white blood cells.
During each cycle of fasting, this depletion of white blood cells induces changes that trigger stem cell-based regeneration of new immune system cells.
In trials humans were asked to regularly fast for between two and four days over a six-month period.
Scientists found that prolonged fasting also reduced the enzyme PKA, which is linked to ageing and a hormone which increases cancer risk and tumour growth.
"We could not predict that prolonged fasting would have such a remarkable effect in promoting stem cell-based regeneration of the hematopoietic system," added Prof Longo.
"When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged," Dr Longo said.
"What we started noticing in both our human work and animal work is that the white blood cell count goes down with prolonged fasting. Then when you re-feed, the blood cells come back. So we started thinking, well, where does it come from?"  Fist tap Dale.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

always hungry? here's why..,

NYTimes | FOR most of the last century, our understanding of the cause of obesity has been based on immutable physical law. Specifically, it’s the first law of thermodynamics, which dictates that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. When it comes to body weight, this means that calorie intake minus calorie expenditure equals calories stored. Surrounded by tempting foods, we overeat, consuming more calories than we can burn off, and the excess is deposited as fat. The simple solution is to exert willpower and eat less.

The problem is that this advice doesn’t work, at least not for most people over the long term. In other words, your New Year’s resolution to lose weight probably won’t last through the spring, let alone affect how you look in a swimsuit in July. More of us than ever are obese, despite an incessant focus on calorie balance by the government, nutrition organizations and the food industry.

But what if we’ve confused cause and effect? What if it’s not overeating that causes us to get fat, but the process of getting fatter that causes us to overeat?

The more calories we lock away in fat tissue, the fewer there are circulating in the bloodstream to satisfy the body’s requirements. If we look at it this way, it’s a distribution problem: We have an abundance of calories, but they’re in the wrong place. As a result, the body needs to increase its intake. We get hungrier because we’re getting fatter.

It’s like edema, a common medical condition in which fluid leaks from blood vessels into surrounding tissues. No matter how much water they drink, people with edema may experience unquenchable thirst because the fluid doesn’t stay in the blood, where it’s needed. Similarly, when fat cells suck up too much fuel, calories from food promote the growth of fat tissue instead of serving the energy needs of the body, provoking overeating in all but the most disciplined individuals.

We discuss this hypothesis in an article just published in JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association. According to this alternative view, factors in the environment have triggered fat cells in our bodies to take in and store excessive amounts of glucose and other calorie-rich compounds. Since fewer calories are available to fuel metabolism, the brain tells the body to increase calorie intake (we feel hungry) and save energy (our metabolism slows down). Eating more solves this problem temporarily but also accelerates weight gain. Cutting calories reverses the weight gain for a short while, making us think we have control over our body weight, but predictably increases hunger and slows metabolism even more.

Friday, May 2, 2014

the moving meditation

Several years ago, I would get up before the crack of dawn and run between 2.5 and 5 miles - depending on how early I woke up and thus how much time I had available before needing to shit, shave, and shower for work. Other variables effecting how far I would go included, how many surplus calories I had available from dinner, desert, and cocktails the night before, and whether or not I had recently injured anything in my feet, shins, knees, hips, etc....,

If I didn't get my run in in the morning, I would make a point of doing it that night or afternoon. One way or another, since about the age of 26, I had managed to uphold a daily ritual of running in any kind of weather, no matter where we lived, no matter what I was doing for a living - the cornerstone of my ritual habitual was this daily moving meditation. 

I suppose that if I had been been as self-aware as I've long prided myself on being, it would never have come to pass that my dietary habits would overcome my generalized good health, principally manifesting as painful knees and joints to the point where I could no longer tolerate getting out for the daily run. But the truth of the matter is, I had no idea concerning the source of my failing subsystems. Ideas came and went, and obviously - as Dale has noted to my attention - I'd been told that gluten might be giving me problems - but that idea went straight in one ear and out the other. The only thing that persisted was a collection of bad dietary habits and a stubborn refusal to listen to and take action in response to the admonishments of folk who were telling me that "food is medicine". (Denmark Vesey) 

For 25 years since the age of about 20 I had been able to take my diet largely for granted, eat and drink whatever I pleased (or so I imagined) and my arctic-negroe constitution would deal with it and serve up the finest in health and well-being. Every day, I could take the measure of my panem nostrum supersubstantialem when I went out to pound the pavement.  Long after I gave up the daily moving meditation, I continued to profess that that remained the case, through about an extra 8 inches of waistline and various and sundry other associated declines into undisciplined entropic malaise.

So here I was last year, much bigger for the intervening years of dietary wear and tear without the compensating mechanism of my moving meditation. However, I had not given up weight training or tennis. In fact, I had begun doing wind sprints between games in order to kick up the declining quality of my movement on the court. Last summer, after playing a couple of epic tennis matches in blistering heat with my arch-nemesis from St. Louis, and, after regularly playing my son and doing these wind sprints - my knees rather abruptly began hurting to the point where I was no longer able to move effectively at all. In other words, they had begun to hurt so acutely that I had become afraid to move sharply on the court at all, and had finally devolved down to that most miserable of spectacles, the "old man's" tennis game. 

In fact, not only my knees, but also my left hand (which had never been injured, never done any running or engaged in any other meaningful repetitive motion aside from typing) had became so stiff and sore that I found it difficult to function for fear of bumping or jostling the hand and suffering waves of inexplicable pain.

Well, as I've briefly recounted over yonder, one of my old homeys came through during the holidays and convinced my entire crew to eliminate gluten from our diets. For me, a precipitating factor in accepting the prescription had come in the earlier form of taking the juice of two limes daily as a method of relieving some of the pain in my knees and hand. One of my wife's girlfriends swore that this is how old men stay spry and mobile in the Phillipines and counteract the aches and pains in joints that comes with the years. 

The limes worked well enough that they enabled me to get a good nights sleep, free of unprovoked pain, however, they didn't clear up all discomfort and did little or nothing by way of alleviating motion induced pain. So by the time we're hearing about gluten, I'm contemplating Humira or surgery or other profoundly repulsive options to address the painful symptoms whose cause I could not identify or come to terms with. 

Five months into a gluten-free diet, no bread, cake, cookies, crackers, pasta, or beer, and carefully reading ingredients on anything in a package. I'm completely free of joint pain.  Today was day 6 of my return to the religion of the moving meditation. (some of you would call it jogging - though it didn't quite rise to that level on days 1-4 and by no means has it reached the former level of something that I could respectably call running) Today I made it 1.5 miles and got fully back into the breath, the stroke, the coordinated, correct, and disciplined movement of my entire body - beginning with the deep abdominal breathing. 

Breathing in through the nostrils, pulling with the abdomen all the way down to/through the pelvic floor, I managed to open my lungs all the way back up like they haven't been at any time during this past several years of pain induced slacking. So of course when you do this, you look like the Buddha breathing with your formidable belly poked all the way out. At the rate that that's shrinking thanks to my return to the daily moving meditation, by July I should be able to jog in public with no shame in my belly game. 

I can't even begin to tell you the totality of what you lose when you don't or can't move freely with no pain outside regular muscular fatigue. That a dietary staple was the root cause of what for me has been a catastrophic lowering of my overall quality of life, and that I lived hardheadedly blind to the cause for nearly 6 years - is a wholly unacceptable fact. I'm only and wholly grateful that I finally woke up to what was killing me at an accelerated rate, and, what had grossly undermined my health and well-being for much longer than just when the symptoms became unbearably bad. Fixing the problem didn't involve any pain or expense, it merely involved a conscious and purposeful change of habit.

Now that everything works again, I can resume working again - at the level and the intensity which I formerly took for granted. Everything else is, as they say, merely conversation....,

Saturday, January 4, 2014

why so little plain talk about sugar being more addictive than crack?

theatlantic | There’s no biochemical reaction that requires alcohol. Thirty-nine percent of Americans are teetotalers, and while they might be missing out on some fun, they’re not exactly ill.

Which brings us to sugar. Another fun substance, full of energy, made up of two molecules linked together: glucose (kind of sweet, and not that much fun), and fructose (very sweet, and a whole lot of fun). Glucose is a nutrient, although not essential—it’s so important, that if you don’t eat it, your liver will make it. But what about fructose? Is fructose a nutrient? As it turns out, there’s no biochemical reaction that requires dietary fructose. A rare genetic disease called Hereditary Fructose Intolerance afflicts 1 in 100,000 babies, who drop their blood sugar to almost zero and have a seizure upon their first exposure to juice from a bottle at age six months. Doctors perform a liver biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. From that moment on, they’re fructose-free for the rest of their lives. And they’re among the healthiest people on the planet. Alcohol and fructose both supply energy. They’re fun—but they are not nutrients. Strike two.

But oh, do we want it. As an example, rats are not big fans of lard. But if you lace the lard with some sugar (called “cookie dough”), that’s another story — indeed, in a controversial abstract at this year’s Society for Neuroscience meeting, rats were found to prefer Oreos to cocaine. And we humans are not far behind. A recent study by Dr. Eric Stice of Oregon Health Sciences University looked at our obsession, by parsing out the fat from the sugar. Subjects laying in an MRI scanner consumed milkshakes where the fat and the sugar concentrations were dialed up or down.  Bottom line, fat stimulated the somatosensory cortex (in other words, “mouthfeel”), but only sugar stimulated the reward center. And adding fat to the sugar didn’t increase the reward any further. This study shows we want sugar way more than we want fat.

I've argued previously that excess sugar has been added to processed food because the food industry knows that when they add it, we buy more. And 77 percent of the food items available in the American grocery store are spiked with added sugar. But is this just “wanting”, or are we “needing”? Is sugar just abused, or is it downright addictive? In animals, it’s a “no-brainer.” Dr. Nicole Avena of Columbia University exposes rats to sugar water in an excess-deprivation paradigm for three weeks, and they demonstrate all the criteria needed to diagnose addiction: binging, withdrawal, craving, and addiction transfer (when you’re addicted to one substance, you’re addicted to others as well).