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More on Telomeres Telomerase Supplements and Cancer

I have written a ton on these topics before and I refer you to here for more background.

Briefly:

Telomeres are small segments of DNA at the end of every chromosome. They function like biologic time clocks determining when a cell will die. They are very sensitive to life style, toxins, stress, diet, supplements and nutrition, sleep deprivation and sedentary behavior.

Of the half dozen or so supplements that make claims to influence your telomere length, only TA-65 has any human data that suggests efficacy..

There is also an ongoing debate about the role of telomeres and telomerase in cancer which spills over needlessly into the supplement discussion.

Here that is in a nutshell:

Some scientists believe that telomere shortening and cell death is “anti-cancer” because a cell with short telomeres is more likely to have genetic mistakes encoded in its DNA.

Other scientists believe that restoration of telomere length may foster repair of the genome in much the same way that fixing “cancerous mitochondria” may revert the cell back to health. I am one of those and I base my feelings on the work of Maria Blasco who showed that increasing telomerase levels extended lifespan in mice without any increases in cancer incidence. I also postulate that all other areas of cellular aging had to improve such as mitochondrial function, intracellular junk clearing and epigentic marks or the animals could not have lived longer.  Sadly the study was not powered to “prove “ that but I sincerely doubt you could have an animal live longer without at least arresting those problems if not reversing them.

Almost all human cancers have short telomeres on average.  More importantly it may not take an average drop in telomere length to cause or facilitate cancer. More likely a few critically short telomeres on the “wrong” chromosome are enough.

The reason we do not yet have an answer is because the technology that is used in many studies to assay telomere length is not capable of giving us that data. As more and more people use the Life Length assay we will get more data.  At some point I hope the scientific community will universally switch over the way many anti-aging docs like me have.

Approximately 85% of human cancers deal with short telomeres by massive increases in the enzyme telomerase.  I have to say it: that means that 15% do not and they use a non-telomerase based mechanism to extend their telomeres.

This has led some people to worry about increasing telomerase with supplements.  Won’t this increase the risk of cancer or worsen a cancer if you have it?

Not likely to both statements.  Cancerous transformation is not and never has been dependent on telomerase. Once you have cancer the cancer will hijack telomerase for its own purposes to a degree that makes adding a telomerase activator inconsequential.  Indeed several clinicians have added things like TA-65 to their cancer patients’ routines to try and preserve the health of the immune system which universally takes a pounding from both cancer and cancer treatments.

This approach remains unstudied.

Here is another related observation.  First cancers beget second cancers. There is now growing evidence and interest in this linkage.  It appears that the shorter your telomeres are when you get your first cancer, the more likely you are to get a recurrence.  The problem is the timing of the studies has usually been after treatment so no one knows if the short telomeres were the result of “bad luck” as in you were born with shorter telomeres, or whether they were the result of the chemo and radiation these people got during treatment.

So we are left with a very basic notion you have heard before: Take care of your Telomeres!!!!

I offer a few options for you here:

TA-65

Telomere Edge Packs

Ultra 85 Fish Oil

I am one of those who feels very strongly about these associations and I am not willing to let a chance go by to influence them.

You must decide for yourself.

Best,

Dr Dave

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The Ketogenic Diet Part 5 What I learned and what you should know!

The best way for me to cover all the stuff I want to tell you is in simple bullet point form and that is what I am going to do. But first let me say one thing that is critical: If you are a healthy person this diet is not going to pose any serious risks to you.  That said run it by your own personal health care professional before you try it. So let me start the bullet points with a few “safety issues”

  • Ketosis is not Ketoacidosis. Ketosis is not dangerous. Your body can easily run on ketone bodies for a lot longer than you would think-possibly forever- as long as the nutritional makeup of your diet and the number of calories is sufficient to sustain you in healthy condition. Ketoacidosis happens to insulin dependent diabetics and in some less frequent cases to others. Most Type 2 diabetics will not have ketoacidosis but if you are a Type 2 Don’t try this without strict ongoing (like all day everyday) medical supervision from a qualified professional. Or at least get the blessing of yours before you do this!
  • You have heard me mention “starvation range” when referring to ketones of 4 millimoles and higher. This is a somewhat arbitrary definition but these ranges require sever calorie restriction.  Your average Ketogenic Diet will not get you to these ranges and you may not need them to “treat” certain illnesses.  I chose to go Calorie Restricted to try to fill the 2 main recommendations of the CRKD for “cancer prevention” * low blood sugars and high ketones to starve cancer cells and preserve normal ones.
  • Isn’t starvation unhealthy?  For short periods of times no. How short? Well 7 days is no big deal and if you look at the numbers I was only “there” for about 4 days out of the total.  Short term starvation may be just the thing to recycle sick mitochondria via autophagy (look it up!) and sick cells via apoptosis (you’ve heard me explain that one before too so look it up as well!).
  • Isn’t hypoglycemia dangerous!!!  Answer: it depends how you got there.  If you took too much insulin or skipped a meal on your oral anti-diabetic meds you got there artificially and had no time to generate alternate fuels e.g. ketone bodies then it’s dangerous. If you got there the way I did with gradual calorie restriction and you are generally healthy you will not suffer any symptoms from hypoglycemia because your body will have plenty of ketones to run on alternatively. So using this diet to induce hypoglycemia is not dangerous provided you to it the way I did or follow some recommended guideline.

 

Ok now on to some cool observations:

*Fish oil Doses: Because there was so little food intake and specifically almost no Omega 6 fat intake there was no need to hit the fish oil hard. One to three caps every other day was plenty enough to keep the blood flowing easily for my finger stick checks of sugar and ketones.

*In Dr Seyfried’s book he recommends avoiding caffeine altogether and no strenuous exercise- just walking!  I did not obey those commands for various reasons but I can tell you the amount of coffee required to wake up when you are not eating anything goes way, way down.  A 6 ounce cup would be reheated several times throughout the day and still have some left when I went to bed.

You will notice my blood sugars were very low on some occasions and much closer to normal on others. Generally this is the effect of exercise which does several things that are actually shared by caffeine consumption.

First it bangs on your adrenal glands and stimulates them to release “adrenergic” (stimulant) chemicals. This drives up our blood sugar even when there is little or no sugar in your diet.

Initially this comes from stored liver glycogen but that lasts hours not days so the only other reasonable source is gluconeogenesis* This means your body is going to breakdown that hard earned muscle you put on in the gym to keep your blood sugar up!  Remember how I told you weight loss was not the primary goal of this experiment?  Well body building sure as heck wasn’t either!

So the further you go into ketosis the more muscle you are going to lose.

OK now some final observations:

  • Mood and mental function: Although one or two people might disagree I did not notice any changes or moodiness at all.  I felt great and great about myself most of the time LOL! There were moments when my brain did not want to tackle any complex tasks or mental gymnastics but this was not all the time.  I found this to be more a function of high ketones than low blood sugar.
  • The one kinda creepy aspect of the whole thing that really hit me during the hypoglycemia and big time ketosis periods was an eerie feeling that it was ok to keep starving.  Almost like they say freezing to death is not so bad. I just felt like I could keep this up forever. Fortunately my first spoon full of high carb sugary dried fruit “healthy” granola knocked me right back into reality LOL! Yum does my body love SUGAR!!!
  • I “failed” to achieve the constant low blood sugars recommended because I refused to give up my exercise routines which would be considered “intense” under the circumstances.  This was personal choice and a matter of curiosity as well.  I did notice I tried a little bit sooner than usual and occasionally skipped the last set or cut a kilometer off a run but in general my performances were on par and on the last gym visit better than ever!
  • Caffeine and fish oil can be reduced because they will be more effective in the face of reduced calorie intake and absorption will be faster. Do take your multi vites though  as you can start missing critical things quite fast.
  • I needed to sleep more. Indeed I would say I slept a lot more soundly than usual easily grabbing 8-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep when possible versus my usual 7. Again reduced caffeine intake may have played a role but I am not a huge user to begin with.
  • I was almost NEVER HUNGRY during this diet.  I am not 100% sure but I have to assume it is the magic of ketosis as an appetite suppressant.
  • I was really surprised at how little my metabolic rate changed with this diet. Even using the accurate Body Gem I was running a resting metabolic rate of just over 2000 calories when in full blown ketosis and having lost almost 10 pounds. Bottom line ketones are an effective fuel for your body and can maintain your caloric needs just fine thank you!
  • I learned how much of my own eating was “habitual” just used to eating at a certain time and making certain food choices which are actually generally healthy but often high in carbs- like certain fruits.
  • I learned that for me personally Carbs Are the ENEMY. They stimulate my appetite and my cravings and they pack on calories fast. I learned this 4 years ago when I was full bore Paleo for the better part of a year but even this short stint brought that message home in a big way.
  • I learned that it is actually very hard to keep your carb intake below 30 grams since even high protein foods have some carbs.
  • Now here is the kicker: I learned it is easier for me not to eat all together than it is to manage carb intake and “eat healthy”.  I suspect like all habits the carb habit will take some time to kick and it will always be hovering around.  It is harder for me to control my carb intake by eating “just the right amount” than it is to avoid them altogether. I am still processing this fact!

My final thoughts: This was far easier than I thought but you definitely need to have the right mind set and discern “boredom eating” from true hunger. I was not ever able to get to water only even for 24 hours and that will be a challenge I undertake in 3 to 6 months when I do this all again. For me there would be a huge difference between even 300 calories and a little flavoring than nothing but water especially since metabolically I was able to achieve pretty much the same thing. I cannot imagine exercising with zero calorie intake over a couple of days and I am not willing to give up exercising even for a week at this point!

I think overall the effects of this little dietary experiment were totally positive and there will be some long lasting good things from learning about what makes me eat and how certain foods control my behaviors more than others!

As a final bit of good news, by the time you read this I will either have interviewed or be about to interview Dr Thomas Seyfried himself!  I can hardly wait!!!!

A thinner leaner more carb free Doc!

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The Ketogenic Diet Part 4 The results and Why I Stopped Taking my Precious Fish Oil!!

Here are the specific numbers I obtained on the various days after the 2 day induction I described in Part 3 of this series.

I will be starting the numbering series with #1 which was the first day AFTER the induction. In other words this is the first day of the 8 day routine I described in the last blog, 200 to 400 calories and 10ish grams of carbs as my usual daily intake.

Please note you will see references in my notes to dropping body weight. While this was a pleasant side effect of this diet and I suspected it would have to happen it was by no means the main goal. The main goal was to experience CRKD and see how I tolerated it.

Abbreviations. FBS= fasting blood sugar. Ketones = Ketones in millimoles  Wt= how much I weighed at a specific time. BW=Body water as measured on a Tanita Iron man Scale for hydration status. BF= Body Fat on the same scale*  MR is the metabolic rate at the time via the same scale (although once for correlation I used a Body Gem device).

I used an Abbott Precision Xtra to measure my sugars and blood ketones.  I did not look at urinary ketones primarily because if you are truly using ketones for fuel you should not see a lot of them in your urine. Your body should be gobbling them up for food and not peeing them out. Then again at $5 a strip for blood ketones, I can see why people opt for urine testing!

You will notice that occasionally I added some numbers after “eating” exercising etc. in addition to the fasting dry weight numbers first thing in the morning.

You will also notice I left the original “notes” from my diary in some cases so you can see what I was feeling and thinking at the time.

Baseline prior to starting the full blown calorie restriction/ketosis 8 day portion:

Body weight 200.8  FBS 96 (normal is considered 80 to 100)

Day 1 197.8    FBS 74 neg ketones

 

Day 2 195 .5  FBS 68 Ketones 0.3 I did an evening Interval session on the Airdyne cycle consisting of 8 rounds of 3 minutes at 85 to 92% of max heart rate with 2 minute rest intervals in between. I did not feel fatigued during this session.

 

Day 3 water only until 330 PM Fasting AM  Dry wt 193.4  FBS 77  ketones positive at 1.1 mmol

At 3 PM calf fasciculations and minor cramps with exertion plan is to intake protein before night time work out. Noticing some tiredness but could easily be from poor sleep (unrelated!)  NO serious hunger pangs at this point interested to see how exercise goes.  I think I can hang in with this for a few more days with no problem.  I am encouraged by the wt loss though it has to be water!

7:30 PM Glucose 45 min post soup is 66

End of the day tally  total soups 3  total carbs 9 grams +almond milk total calories 270 plus almond milk.

 

Day 4 Plan water and coffee only  Dry wt 192  not sure why I have a feeling this is the body wt plateau and that further losses will be less  I would like to get to 188 and see how I look!  Today BWater is 55.9  BFat 13% on athlete’s measure  Post water lemon and coffee sugar is 71  ketones 0.8. Going to try gym next and possibly running!

Got back from gym  a bit shaky and mild light headedness Ketones down to 0.6  glucose is 87  This is shocking to me unless this is the result of exercise  I find it hard to believe that anything I have put in my body today could be used as non ketotic fuel!  Not hungry though plan to run next will do a 90 cal soup,

From 7 PM to 11 PM Wound up having a total of 3 soups over 4 hours!  Wt 192  Once I ate one it seemed like my appetite came back although I did run 5 K and go to the gym and lifted weights.

Calorie wise I am golden and should be lighter tomorrow morning.  I will be excited to be 190 and am guessing it will take until Tuesday to get in that range solidly although I have dropped 1.5 pounds or more each day I am not sure why I believe the weight to be mainly water and expect it to plateau.  More tired than usual earlier than usual but caffeine intake is lowered as well.

 

Day 5  Wt this am is 189.9 and it shows . My body has sucked down and in spite of having the strength in the gym yesterday the muscle mass is clearly less in my upper body.

FBS 47  Ketones 2.2 both the most extreme I have had so far but I feel fine not hungry  Cut down on fish oil and coffee doses because they are so effective now. I think this is kinda fun but I am a bit concerned about muscle mass and energy  so far I can’t complain,  I keep waiting for the s to hit the fan and it doesn’t …appetite is only a problem when I eat!!!  Tonight’s outing will be interesting. I think I have finally hit ketosis and this is where the real weight and fat loss is going to happen.

Body Water was clearly the lowest in a while 54.8% fat 14+ % again highest ever in recent thanks to Body Water being low. Fasciculations and near cramp in rt Calve.  Need to stay hydrated coffee is diuretic.

Note: after spending the entire night with my calves doing St Vitus’ Dance I discovered that plain old salt in the form of Bragg’s aminos solves the problem of cramps, fasciculations and dehydration (duh! Water follows salt). Laughing because all of my medical training has been to vilify salt consumption and focus on magnesium and potassium replacement with absolutely NO RELIEF!!! All I needed all these years of was salt and water.  Blood Pressure is 110/62 Heart rate a bit elevated at 62 resting.

Day 6  ran out of glucose strips but ketones are a new high of 3.3 so I think my glucose must be on the lower side.  Had to do some snow blowing fairly hard work and now I am hungry  going for soup and cider amino water.    Fingers are getting a bit sore on left hand from repeated finger sticks!

Day 7 Wts were up to 192.2 well hydrated at 9.6% body fat and 59.9% body water no cramps or fasciculations again thanks to the cumulative increase in salt intake,

Ketones are at starvation level  4.1  the highest ever.  I am not hungry  I think I will go to low carb diet slowly introducing with juice for 2 days when I am actually done here.  Clearly I would have to be super dehydrated to hit 185 lbs and the lack of being able to stay up etc is beginning to create a pressure situation with my work. I will be happy if I can get back to 189.  Last night I had a total of 3 soups again and this must be what is causing the water retention along with a significant amount of salt I had with the soups and Braggs aminos.  So I will have to back off those a bit, I want to work out today as well as time permits!  Interesting experiment.

Day 7 nighttime  post gym and 4 mile treadmill run  about 2 hours post  glucose 67 ( water lemon and small amount of aminos) handful of nuts and a few marys gone crackers  wt 191  bw 60%  bf 9.6%  BP 114/66 hr 69 post bath.

Day 8  wt 189.4  BW 58.8%  BF  10%  RMR 2060 via body gem   FBS 62  ketones 6.1 which would now be considered starvation range.  BP 110/61 Pulse 72 resting.

Started to get woozy tired and hungry late in the day. But I  Held it together until 2 AM call, I think I would have been fine had I slept through the night but such is the life of a doctor. After the call I was starving and ate several bowls of cereal and “lo carb” bread. I justified this by saying to myself I had gone a full day longer than I set out to when I started this.  Still it was a total carb pig out and I paid the price in GI distress. You do not want to reintroduce food this way!!!

Final official entry Day 9 wt 192.4 Body Fat 9%  BW 60%  did not run numbers  will go back on less restricted higher but not high carb diet with more calories. You would think that as long as I stay below RMR levels I should slowly continue to lose weight the right way. There are however the endless water shifts to contend with!

OK now the comment about Fish Oil.  I can honestly say that I skipped doses to about every other day and reduced the dose to between 1 and 3 capsules on days I took it.  This is the first time in 14 years I have missed this much and taken this little.

Why? Well if you have read any of my stuff about the Omega6/3 ratios or better yet attended my teleseminar you know the answer or can give it an educated guess.

I will cover this and much more in the next and final blog!

Doc

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The Ketogenic Diet Part 3 How I did it

Ok first if you have not read the first 2 blogs please do so because a lot of info is covered that you need to know: Part 1 and Part 2.

Now here is what I did.

I actually went on the “diet” for a total of 10 days with 8 of them being severely calorie/carb restricted.

Day one was what most people would refer to as a “Juice Fast” that is I consumed mostly juice and water but I was not specifically looking at the total calories I consumed.  I was however looking to restrict Carbs somewhat so I used primarily low glycemic vegetable juice and cut it with about 25% fruit juice.  The total carb count of each 12 ounce serving was probably about 12 grams and I consumed 5 of those the first day.  Calorie wise this size of serving was probably about 180 calories so that alone puts me at 900 calories and 60 grams of carbs. I probably consumed another miscellaneous 100 calories and 10 grams of carbs that day for a grand total of 1000 calories and 70 grams of carbs.

So you have a reference point my height is 6’1 inch my walk around starting dry weight for this experiment was 201 pounds 57+% body water and a body fat of about 12% *

My resting metabolic rate via a Tanita** scale is 2250 ish calories a day which means that is the number of calories I theoretically need to maintain my body weight.  The one big thing that weight alone never really takes into account is water shifts and as we’ll see that becomes a huge factor when you diet and step on the scale.

To summarize Day 1. I was at least 50% below my RMR calorie requirement and I was in what would be considered moderate carb restriction (50 to 100 grams).

Day 2  This was also an “induction day” designed to ease me into the more severe carb and calorie restriction.  For this day I did exactly what I did on Day 1 but I replaced half of the juice with plain water to dilute it. Thus I wound up around 500 calories and 40 grams of carbs.  I was not really checking any numbers yet since the “diet” had not officially begun.

For the next 8 days I pretty much followed this script:

Calorie intake between 200 and 400 per day.  Almost all of this was supplied in the form of “Ideal Protein” soups of various flavors.  All of the soups I chose had 90 calories per serving and 3 grams of carbs.  Depending on the day I ate between 2 and 4 soups at typical intervals of 4 to 6 hours.

Additional calories were supplied by adding a tablespoon of almond milk to 4 ounces of regular coffee which I consumed once to twice daily.  I should note that Dr Seyfried recommends avoiding all caffeinated beverages because they can increase blood sugar. More on that in the next blog.

Doc

 

** Tanita is a registered brand name of a scale. I use the IronMan model but there are other makes and models.  The particular method of measuring values is known as electrical impedence and has some inherent inaccuracies. I will mention the Body Gem device which uses end expired CO2 to more directly measure metabolic rate at that particular moment.  Usually they correlate more closely than you might think so I rely on the Tanita on a daily basis with occasional correlation from the more expensive Body Gem.  Also if you look at those body fats and know anything about the subject you would be thinking, “What a stud Dr Dave must be!” Well sadly I have to be honest.  There are 2 settings on that scale and I have traditionally set it on “athlete” which means 10 hours of hard core exercise a week.  I probably roll in closer to 7 so you need to add about 5% to the body fat numbers. Be nice now and take into account my mid 50’s age and you will see that while I am not true stud material, my body composition is far better than average for my age J

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The Ketogenic Diet Part 2 Some Whats and Whys

Ok today I am going to get into more detail and real experiences for you. I feel compelled to tell you that many other people including some famous and not so famous doctors have endorsed the Ketogenic Diet in its various forms.

The Calorie Restricted Ketogenic Diet is very specific in its application.  It is meant to be utilized as adjunct therapy for cancer.  The cancer preventative aspects of it are very sound scientifically and I will get into them again (I mentioned them in Part 1).  Above and beyond everything else I say here I need you to read and re read this at least 10X:

The words “cancer preventative” have not been tested or proven in human beings.  There is no evidence to suggest that this diet works as advertised and proving or disproving it would be virtually impossible since you would need lifelong studies of people living in a totally controlled environment with some doing the diet and others eating differently.

This is very much the same thing I say when people ask me, “Does TA-65 prolong life” or the corollary, “Does telomerase activation and telomere lengthening prolong life.”

The answer for ALL the same reasons is, “We are not likely to ever know for sure because the study that would PROVE it to everyone is impossible to do!”

So now that I told you that the “cancer preventative diet” is more or less an educated crap shot you might want to know why I tried it.

Refer back to Part 1 for some of the motivations but here is the nutshell:

It is 7 days of my life 2x a year.  If it works that is a small price to pay.  If it doesn’t well then I learned a ton and it didn’t kill me to skip eating for a week!

OK here is the “why it should work” part again.

Cancer cells are different than regular cells in several ways.  The most erudite voices of these hallmarks are Drs. Weinberg and Hanahan who note 6 major differences.  They also recently added metabolic defects after the fact in a tip of the hat to Dr Seyfried.

One of the ways that cancer cells are different is how they process energy. All cancers have this difference although the degree to which they exhibit it varies from tumor to tumor. The simplest way to explain it is cancer does not use oxygen or fuel sources the way regular cells do.

In particular cancer cells seem unable to metabolize fat well and instead prefer glucose (sugar).  This is the real reason sugar feeds cancer!* Of course there is a continuum and some cancers do use fats and not sugars but generally speaking the more “cancer like” cells behave and the nastier cancer behaviors they exhibit the more they are likely to prefer glucose and be slowed, stopped or even killed by glucose starvation.

The Calorie Restricted Ketogenic Diet (CRKD) is designed to do 2 things: It lowers blood sugar depriving cancer cells of their fuel and it feeds regular cells ketone bodies which allow them to thrive while the cancer cells are starved out. So it selectively targets cancer cells and preserves regular cells in a way that no chemo or radiation currently can! That is its sole purpose.

Now a word on other Ketogenic Diets.  It is not necessary to severely restrict calories to treat epilepsy or other conditions.  It is not necessary to severely restrict calories to induce ketogenesis/ketosis although I sincerely doubt the highly touted fat burning that supposedly occurs during these diets happens if you don’t reduce calories.

I am convinced that the “HCG” diet that is/was so popular works because of ketogenesis and severe calorie restriction, and has nothing to do with appetite suppression from HCG.

With any kind of SEVERE calorie restriction you can induce ketogenesis/ketosis even if you eat nothing but carbs. But you will not create the necessary low blood sugars you need to theoretically starve cancer cells. Your blood sugars will remain normal. Ketone bodies will appear in your blood anytime you go way below your needed calorie requirements. This is your body burning fat to supply the extra calories.

But before you go off and try this by eating nothing but a couple hundred calories in fruit and candy bars know this: The preferential use of ketones by your body depends not just on calories but the amount of glucose that is available from you food and other sources ( liver glycogen, gluconeogenesis etc).  Your body will make ketones and use some of them but as long as there is sugar there it will use that first.

If you really want to get the full benefits of this diet you should have BOTH ketosis and hypoglycemia.

Now hypoglycemia is an evil word.  It makes us tired light headed hungry irritable or worse it can kill some people right?!!!

Well maybe but the most interesting thing about the CRKD is that ketosis suppresses almost all of the effects of hypoglycemia including and especially the hunger.  This is personal experience talking. For most of the entire 7 day period I was NOT HUNGRY and if I got a little bit hungry at all simply filling my belly with a big glass of lemon water put a stop to it.

This complete lack of hunger is the big secret shocker I alluded to at the end of Part 1.  I expected to be miserably hungry.  I was totally wrong about that.

Ok now I want tell you how I actually did things.  At this point I have to admit failure at least to a degree. Dr Seyfried’s book talks about a 7 day water only fast in addition to other versions of the Ketogenic Diet.  It was my intention to do this because frankly it was the simplest thing to do.  You just don’t eat anything and drink water.  You don’t have to count calories because water has none. You don’t have to count carbs because water has none.  So Simple!

Well that proved impossible for me to do even for one of the 7 days. It was not the hunger so much as the need for a flavor or a texture other than plain water in my mouth. I will tell you that I don’t think I could do water only unless I were truly starving and had nothing else around me. That said I think my diet was a success because of the numbers I generated and of course all the things I learned.

And that will be where we pick up the next blog my friend!

Doc

Please note do not try this diet without medical supervision. If you are a Type 1 diabetic do not try this diet ever.  If you are Type 2 make sure you have strict medical supervision on a daily basis to do this and follow your blood sugars very carefully.

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A Metabolic Interlude – The thinking behind the Ketogenic Diet

Long ago and far away a man named Otto Warburg hypothesized that cancer was a metabolic disease. In his view it was a defect in mitochondrial respiration. The politics of the world and of science eventually led to Warburg’s theories taking a back seat and a new theory of cancer took hold.

The strongest voice for reinstating and indeed advancing Warburg’s theories is a man named Thomas Seyfried who has recently released the book I mentioned in the first blog “Cancer as a Metabolic Disease”.

Dr Seyfried’s book is probably the most important piece of scientific reading I have done in the past 12 months. I still have many questions and am not 100% sure I believe every single thing written there but I am 100% convinced we are missing something in cancer therapy that this book addresses.

What is Dr Seyfried up against?

Plenty!

The genetic or genomic theory of cancer has been the predominant theory of cancer for the past 60 years so much so that all but for a few scientists Warburg became a forgotten footnote. Interestingly enough many of what you would call “peripheral health care practitioners” often invoked Warburg’s name to “prove” that Ozone therapy works for cancer.

As of this moment there is no evidence to support Ozone although there are the beginnings of glimmers of hope for hyperbaric therapy. *

To be clear what Warburg said was that Cancer cells could be specifically starved by attacking their nutrient source, not their oxygen source. There is scientific evidence to support cancer starvation using something called 2-deoxy glucose a chemical that mimics glucose and blocks its use in energy pathways. While the initial trials are not all successful, the work continues.

Warburg felt that the power houses of the cell called mitochondria had acquired a defect somehow. Examples of what might cause that defect are radiation, toxins and even in my opinion something like a skewed Omega6/3 ratio which promotes inflammation in the body.

This was to be the initial step in cancer formation. Clearly many of the cells would not survive this defect and would die and be removed by normal pathways of cellular trash hauling!

Those that did survive however would be subject to other changes that would allow them to use alternate forms of energy to generate the needed power of life while concomitantly and sequentially acquiring ongoing genomic instabilities and mutations that would allow them to escape normal growth controls among other things.

So the basic premise of this theory is, the respiratory (mitochondrial defect) comes first then the genetic stuff starts popping up.

Genetic theory of cancer proponents do not argue that almost every cancer seen has a metabolic defect that fits Warburg’s theories. They maintain however that the genes change first and downstream, way downstream from that, the mitochondrial defects occur.

In terms of what might be offered to cancer patients, the Warburg/Seyfried theories suggest a common point of cancer origin, a simple inexpensive therapy, at least as an adjunct to other forms, a potential for cancer prevention and quite frankly health improvement in non cancerous individuals, and a beacon of hope in the ever increasingly complex world of cancer therapy.

The genomic origins of cancer suggest: infinite complexity, the need for individual and personal treatment not for just each person but each tumor site, enormous expense and toxicity since even the best therapies still kill a fair number of healthy cells, and an onerous panel of side effects and misery to be endured by “survivors” of cancer. Of course this is also a gigantic source of revenue and business. I would like to say that means nothing but in my experience as an allopathic physician it is disgustingly front and center in this particular field.

Personally I am not convinced that either side is 100% correct and that either side has no merit.  The body is complex and cancer is a complex disease. Still it would be a human tragedy of enormous proportions if we did not further investigate the possibility of simple effective ways to augment what we are trying to do with cancer and cancer patients.

To all my colleagues out there- Do You really personally feel we are winning the war against cancer?

I don’t and this is why I feel so strongly that Dr Seyfried’s work needs as much attention as we can give it including research dollars.

If the Warburg/Seyfried hypothesis is correct, our own bodies may have the power to recycle sick and toxic mitochondria (autophagy, or more specifically mitophagy) and restore health to the cell before or even after cancerous transformation.

Is this not worth a sincere effort to find out!

Dr Dave

*Ironically intermittent Hypoxemia (severe lowering of arterial oxygen for short periods of time) has been used to induce mitophagy (mitochondrial recycling). This would be the exact opposite of hyperbaric oxygen therapy!

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TTAGGG You’re It! Stress, Disease and Telomere Length

The repeating sequence of the Telomere-TTAGGG has proven to be a gold mine for determining biologic age ( how old your body is acting!) and disease prognosis ( how bad you are likely to get something) as well as the effects of stress.

A recent study on the effects of racism on the telomere length of black men was the latest to show how social stress can affect longevity.  I have concerns about how the study was done but I think it makes sense to say that this kind of stress is detrimental to anyone’s health no matter what race or color.

This study builds on previous studies done in orphans who grew up with universally shorter telomeres than non orphans,  and the effects of stress on caregivers responsible for sick children.  All of these situations lead to more rapid aging and faster decline.  You can bet being sick in general can shorten your telomeres and your life.

This was shown by another study involving men between 50 and 75 who were admitted with ACS, acute coronary syndrome. Basically they were on their way to having a heart attack and no doubt some of them did.  The ones with the shortest telomeres did worse.

This study echoes the now famous Farezeneh Far, Blackburn study that showed that Omega 3 (fish oil) levels were protective of telomeres in heart disease.

So it seems everyone is linking just about everything bad that can happen to you to short telomeres and everything good to long telomeres.

It would be a good time for me to mention that other diseases of aging like Cancer and Alzheimer Disease ( yes they dropped the ‘s!) are also linked to telomere length in terms of incidence and severity.

Now there is still a lot of disagreement among researching scientists as to whether telomere loss is actually all that important in aging.  This pretty much depends on what their pet project is and where their grant money comes from.

I have a simple ( my PhD colleagues would say simplistic!) way of explaining this. My friend Maria Blasco did a study recently that showed that turning on telomerase extends life span in adult and old adult mice.  That was the end point of the study.  There are many other people out there looking at things like intracellular junk (lipofuscin) mitochondrial function, calorie restriction, sirtuin proteins and mTOR inhibitors.  None of these strategies have been shown by themselves to lengthen life although some of them seem to improve health.

I am certain that ALL of these things were improved by telomerase activation or the mice would not have lived longer.  You can’t live longer with declining mitochondria, abnormal proteins and increasing intracellular junk.  It’s simply not possible.  But because these things were not specifically measured common sense takes a back seat to scientific skepticism.

Here’s the thing: They would rather remain skeptical than investigate these questions probably because their grand money does not include answering these questions.  It does involve protecting their source of income for their pet project however.

Here’s another thing: as I said above Telomerase Activation seems to be the only current feasible way to extend life in mammals.  The folks spending time on all that other stuff have been unable to demonstrate increased longevity AND healthspan.

Want it to be even more simple?

I will quote that bastion of American Health who brought us the great Dr Oz.

Yes, I am talking about Oprah who said “I want long telomeres!” She should be on TA-65!

You probably should too!

I am entering year 5 with nothing but positive improvements in both telomere length and % of short telomeres. Both are going the right way for decreasing biologic age.

What is youth worth to you?

Doc

PS what I have said here is especially important if YOU are under constant or severe stress, get sick a lot or have a family history of one of those nasty diseases above!

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New Year’s Resolution vs. New Year’s Revelation

Today’s departure from the usual was sparked  by a question sent in by one of Dr Dave’s Best newsletter readers.  By the way if you are not one of them you should be since it is yet another way I keep my people up to date on all things anti-aging along with my myth busting and of course the latest developments.

The question was an interesting and probing one:  “Dr Dave what are YOUR New Year’s Resolutions, and how are you doing with them?”

At first I though, “That’s a bit forward! Isn’t it!”  but then I realized I did have some important info to share with you in that regard.

I have continued to simplify my life and I encourage you to do so.  Each year I hone in on what is most important in my life.

I have narrowed it down to 3 major things and almost all of my resolutions have to do with those things.

They are:
#1 My Health  I hope its not too big of a surprise that my own health is paramount to just about everything else I do. I know of some very famous people in my field both internet types and non internet types who are just flat out sick.  They don’t look happy and they certainly don’t look healthy, no matter how many millions of readers they have.  It always struck me as strange that a person can’t look at someone and say, “Wow they can’t be practicing what they preach or if they are its the wrong stuff!”
In my book if you walk the walk you look great feel great and are a beacon for people who are trying to stay young for as long as possible.  And a wonderful by product of that is you are happy most of the time and people know it!

I think my hero in that department was Jack La Lane!

Now in terms of simplifying how I look at my health my overall approach has been and is: do what works and always keep the long exciting and active future you have in mind as the end goal.

A few of the modifications on previous habits are: Get leaner and eat cleaner even on the road. Exercise MORE when traveling not less.  And a very simple one: eat less calories every day.

#2 Take care of the people I love and those who love me.  Now is a good time for me to remind you: I do what I do for myself and the ones I love. Now as self centered as that may sound frankly its the kind of integrity you should expect from anyone in my position. That is also the way I always practiced medicine. If I would not want me for a doctor or me taking care of my mom then I do not belong in the profession. That attitude has carried over to:

#3 My business: I once spent a little time with one of the top internet guru docs on the planet. Everything I heard was about money and business.  Everything.  Everything that was written and sent to that list was designed to get more business.  Now I admire a certain degree of business savvy but when people are actually doing what you tell them to and spending their hard earned dollars on your stuff I think they would like to know what you personally do and take and how you can help them before they know you are always helping yourself independent of how it may truly affect them.

On occasion that means saying you disagree with the party line on something. Now as I have learned many times over, that upsets people and actually negatively affects your business.  But there are truth seekers out there who are genuinely looking for answers and are willing to at least listen to someone who speaks their truth, backs it up and lives it.

I am not sure if you follow me on Facebook at all but that venue is where I SHOW what I am doing including all the “personal Guinea pig stuff” I am vetting for you. Once again it helps me and keeps me on the cutting edge of my personal space in the world: anti-aging.
It also helps you because you find out about it first from someone who has “been there and done that”. In the next few weeks I will be starting an experiment on myself with 2 other brave souls that I hope will be a revelation.

The resolution behind it was this: Speed up the process of new discoveries in human anti-aging medicine.

Another revelation I have had: my business is important to me because it is me. It feeds #2 above and of course #1 every single day.

Now I want to share a personal Revelation with you that has helped me immensely with all of the above because it has allowed me to find guidance from places far bigger and wiser than I.

Here it is: Let Go of Outcomes! Ask for what you want with faith and positive expectation and then let it go.  You will be shown the way. In the process you will be doing something else magical: Making Space. By quieting your mind and not trying to force, will and control everything you will have space to enjoy the moment and see and hear things around you that will help you make all of your Resolutions come true, and much much more.

If you need help with intuition and creativity or even just more brain power here is my secret It is not the ONLY reason I get some much done, but it is a huge help.

And everyone needs some of that.

What have you done so far and what are you going to do?
I hope its everything and more that you want to do.

Best, Dr Dave

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New Cancer Pathway Involves Telomeres

Drum roll and trumpets please!  A new cancer causing pathway has been found. It involves telomeres of course.

I bring it to your attention though, not for what it has shown us, but for how it its marketed. You see even scientists know they stand a better chance of getting recognition if they blow the trumpets and role the drums.  That means press releases and social media nonsense that is written by non scientists.

Now don’t misunderstand me. I give them the same “get out of jail pass” I often claim: “I didn’t make this world, I just live in it!”

Still as your source of the truth about all things telomere related, especially when it comes to your health and your understanding, I consider it my calling in life to make sure you are not blown all over the map by media hype and internet nonsense.

So let’s go over a few facts:

1)      Fact one: Telomerase does NOT CAUSE CANCER. Every time I write this I hope it is my last but that is never the case it seems.  85% of human cancers turn on telomerase somewhere in the process of becoming cancer. In the one or two cases we are clear on its actually one of the last steps ( villous adenoma to colon cancer) but cancer genetics are a diverse thing and no one knows the exact sequence that mutations happen in all cancers. There is a growing contingent of people out there who feel that contrary to 65 years of research, cancer may not even be a genetic disease. When telomerase is expressed in cancer it can be a) mutated, b) amplified c) transposed d) any other genetic abnormality that can lead to over expression! The key is to understand that things happen to cause cancer long before telomerase expression shows up to immortalize the cells, and that those things lead to the loss of normal control of many genes and their end products. Telomerase over expression does not seem to cause cancer by itself in the absence of other major changes.

2)      Telomerase is required for ultra long longevity and gene integrity in cells. Two of the best examples are germ cells (the things that become sperm and eggs) where there is a large amount of telomerase expression and stem cells where there is less. The later fact is probably one of the main reasons stem cells age albeit at a slower rate than the rest of our cells.

3)      There are normal “cell cycle check point” mechanisms that have been known for some time now that need to be bypassed in order for cancer to take hold.

4)      Longer telomeres are associated with a cleaner genome (fewer mutations) cleaner mitochondrial cell powerhouses (fewer mutations better function and better ability to make new mitochondria) and a lower and less sever incidence of cancer.

5)      While most cancers turn on telomerase there is another way for cancer cells to lengthen their telomeres and survive that does not involve telomerase.  This generally is reserved for the badest of the bad in terms of genetic instability (actually if I am being scientifically correct its “genomic instability” but you know what I mean!). This mechanism is called ALT.

6)      The ability to divide endlessly either using telomerase or ALT is one of the hallmarks of human cancer.

That brings me to the “latest findings”.

One Dr Jan Karlseder of the Salk institute discovered one of the mechanisms behind the ALT method of lengthening telomeres. Dr Karlseder found a protein called ASF-1 that drops down to zero and triggers cells in culture to use the ALT mechanism to lengthen their telomeres.

All well and good but here are my gripes.

Cancers in real life have measurable levels of that protein. It does not drop to zero in ALT driven cancers.

The super irritating insinuation that I see in all such articles “This will help us develop drugs to fight cancer”  is present here. Cancer drugs are expensive, Cancer drugs are deadly, Cancer drugs divert research away from, gasp, cancer prevention which no scientists is willing to admit they believe in. And there is no money in prevention. If you think this is a joke mark my words a cancer preventative treatment that is not a patentable drug will not be released until a drug company owns it. At least not over their dead bodies. That said most of the quacks who claim to have cured cancer and have been jailed for such statements actually do belong there!

Next, the press release is entitled “Cancer Causing Pathway Explained”.

Now I bet this was the sole concoction of the press release company. I do not think that such smart scientists would allow their discovery to be called named this way. The ALT pathway does not cause cancer, it is probably one of the last or later pieces in the puzzle.  By naming it this way they are propogating the myth that telomeres are responsible for cancer.

Next there is the usual talk of “balancing cell aging with risk of cancer” . This implies that we get old and die to prevent cancer from killing us. After I am done with the LOL ing I want to remind everyone that old cells, senescent cells seem to excrete inflammatory and yes cancer causing signals. For this reason it seems nonsensical to propose that getting old protects us from cancer. Especially when cancer is a disease of aging in 95% of all cases!

Summing it up, I would say it this way: We are barking up the wrong tree. Telomerase and telomere lengthening are cancer protective under normal circumstances. Guys you have to keep looking for the chicken that is laying the egg not examining the ingredients in the omelet!   This is also the reason I am intrigued if not convinced of the metabolic cause/component of cancer.  The genetic stuff leads nowhere but to an ever increasingly large ‘room full of pathways’ that has no end. Great for researchers and crappy for people who have or want to prevent getting cancer.

In 12+ years of research I can tell you two things with surety. Walk around with “high” omega 3 levels and keep your telomeres long anyway you can.

There are quite a number of famous scientists who are doing just that even though they will not say it in front of their peers for fear of ridicule. Me? I don’t care who ridicules me. I refuse to sit on my ass and get old when there are real answers to slowing and eventually stopping the process.

I will make this prediction. Classic science just like classic medicine will not make major breakthroughs in aging and health span. They will trumpet their findings just like the article above but the real breakthroughs will come from people who are actively seeking the answers and doing something about it every day .

That is you and me my friend!

Best, Dr Dave

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Why We Get Fat and the World’s Best Diet

I am taking a short break and stepping off my telomere / fish oil soap box to revisit a topic that in the past was a big favorite: diet and obesity.

As I mentioned in my last blog my descent and resurrection from obesity is graphically detailed on the Ultra Strength Fat Furnace page.

My own journey to getting fat is actually pretty typical at least in terms of reasons why.

Those reasons are: significant and sudden decrease in activity, complete abandonment of any dietary restrictions in terms of my food choices, and finally lack of concern over how many calories I took in.  Briefly this was supposed to be an experiment to prove that Ultra Strength Fat Furnace worked and sped up weight loss.  I was going to gain 15 pounds and then hit the brakes and reverse it in a few weeks by reinstating my life style and adding the supplement I had created. I stopped all of my supplements during this time and man was it easy to pack on the pounds. The unplanned part happened when I developed and acute appendicitis and added 6 more weeks of inactivity and another 35 pounds to the weight loss tally.

A few months and 50 pounds less later I learned a couple of very important things I want to share with you about why we get fat and the world’s best diet to lose that fat.

The specific reasons I gave you above are the reason most people get fat. Once again they are:

  • Too many calories in.
  • Too few calories out.
  • Not enough physical activity.
  • The wrong choices of food.

The first 3 are undeniable and pretty much everybody knows this.  But the last one is really a sticking point.

Our diets are loaded with inflammatory food choices. By that I mean foods that tilt the balance of our immune system towards inflammation and cause havoc over time with our health.  But they also set up a kind of chain reaction where inflammation begets more inflammation and now you have a cycle that reinforces itself.  That is much harder to do once that cycle is established than it is to nip it in the bud.

At the same time our diets are loaded with carbs and sugar. Notice I am not distinguishing between simple and complex carbs anymore.  I am saying ALL carbs. Now I can hear the dieticians in the audience grumbling about my obvious “mistake” and oversight but I am very deliberate.

I think the best diet for rapid weight loss and overall health is a diet (e.g. reduced calories!) that leads to ketosis in your body.  You can call it a ketogenic diet if you like.  I think the biggest benefits are seen by the combination of ketosis and dietary energy reduction (DER). Some people would call that “calorie restriction” but I do not want to invoke all the baggage that comes with that term.  My recent sojourn to Wiaken Ranch in Joseph Oregon with OMD Dr Laurel Sander has reinforced that.  Seven days of juice (again some people would call that a “juice fast” and a daily calorie intake of about 50% my usual was easy to maintain and resulted in rapid weight loss of about 7 pounds. And it has stayed off because my appetite has stayed under control.

So if you like Carbs are the enemy. Simple carbs much more so than complex and fruits much more so than vegetables and sugared fruits and juices (ever wonder how they get cranberries to taste sweet?!).  In a month or so I will tackle a seven day water fast and let you know how that goes.

Anything that rapidly cranks up your insulin levels is a bad thing for your weight and your health. Be particularly wary of the “whole grain” agenda. There are a ton of reasons why I am not a grain fan but for our purposes today it’s because they tend to be loaded with calories even in small portions.

The things I really want to stress here are the following: Sugar is indeed addictive and sugary food choices including sweet fruits can sabotage your appetite control. You will get hungry by eating carbs in excess of 20 or so grams a day and this will make dieting miserable, exhausting and most likely, a failure.

I have always found that by day 3 or so of a really low carb ketogenic diet I have a lot of energy even with DER.

So is this the best diet in the world?  Just like my last blog the answer is “It depends”.

I think it is the best one to induce fairly rapid weight loss and long term recognition of your eating “habits”. Eating by routine instead of hunger fuels most of our “waist lines”. It will also teach you how sneaky and pervasive sugar and carbs that easily go to sugar are at getting you to lose control of food choices, portion control and your will power. Carbs and insulin are the enemy and sugars are far more addictive for some of us than we realize.

Finally it will teach you a huge lesson: most of us eat too much! Plain and simple.*

With those lessons you will gain insight into your body and how it works that will help you in ways you never dreamed of and give you a new sense of control over your life.

But as a long term diet I think its too easy to get into vitamin deficiencies if you are not careful. If you decide to do this make sure you take your supplements .

If it all seems too much for you than just go here and make it much easier .

Either way its time to take control of your weight and your life. Let’s make 2014 that year!

Doc

*I am referring to middle aged adults here because that is the “most of us” that is interested in staying younger. On a side note 10 years ago I carried 235 lbs of mostly muscle around. Nowadays its more like 195 with a similar body composition. I think being leaner as you age is just much healthier. And it will keep you from being “one of the many”. When I walk around in the company of guys my age with the huge guts, crappy posture and fat faces I feel like one of us is not human!