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All this time I’ve been lying to you!

OK it’s time to come clean. And now that I’ve died and become a disembodied spirit because of my long term consumption of high dose fish oil. I thought I may as well confess another lie to you.

Ultra 85 is really not fish oil.  Technically at least. You see “real fish oil” as it comes from the fish contains only about 30% EPA and DHA which are really the only known relevant Omega 3 fatty acids. The rest of fish oil is other fatty acids including in the case of Tilapia and most farm raised fish, a significant amount of Omega 6 inflammatory fatty acid and a lot of other non essential fats that are used for calories.

But because highly purified highly concentrated Omega 3’s are not exactly what is found in fish a better term for Ultra 85 would be “highly concentrated EPA and DHA”.

I think you’ll forgive me, “fish oil” just sounds better.

And yet there are some other differences that need to be clarified because there is so much bad information out there as witnessed by the whole “fish oil and prostate cancer” nonsense I wrote about recently.

But first the disclaimer: I make and take fish oil in what most people would consider large doses. I use the dose I need to keep my Omega 3 levels in the 60+ % range because this is the range that populations that age well and have the lowest incidence of heart disease and cancer  have. I measure my levels every couple of months with the Ideal Omega test.

Much of what I am going to tell you is contrary to what you will read and even hear from so called experts. It especially contradicts the “just eat fish” and/or “natural triglyceride” stuff. As always I will give scientific reasons to prove my point.

1)      The first thing you need to understand is something I have already told you: Fish are not magical. If there is any magic to be had it comes from EPA and DHA the actual essential fats that fish provide. Fish do have Vitamin D and protein all of which is good, but from the standpoint of fatty acid biology, EPA and DHA is where its at!

2)      The ratio of anti-inflammatory Omega 3 fats to Inflammatory Omega 6 is the main source of inflammation in your body.  While not the only source of free radicals and inflammation it should come as no surprise that these things which either part of your diet or not are the biggest things you can do to fix or increase damage.  Because most people eat everyday several times a day this is the biggest most important way to control your “inflammation stat” which ultimately is the biggest thing that determines your long term health.

3)      Omega 3 fats are oxidized in the body. This is a normal natural thing and your body is able to handle it provided:  a) you have enough intact Omega 3’s in your diet to replace the oxidized ones and b) Your Omega 6 levels are not too high. Most people in this country are 3X higher than they should be with Omega 6.

4)      Said another way #3 means the Omega 6 levels in your body reflect the degree of damage oxidized Omega 3 can do to you. The fault is not the Omega 3 it’s the Omega 6. Don’t blame fish oil, blamed the lousy diet we eat!

5)      Natural triglyceride fish oil is not “better” for you than Ethyl Ester fish oil. Natural triglyceride fish oil is only 30% essential EPA and DHA and is often not in the proportions needed to give the main benefits of EPA and DHA. It is also unpurified and therefore contains whatever toxins are in the waters the fish is harvested from. Ethyl ester fish oil can be concentrated to contain the highest proportion of DHA and EPA and deliver it toxin free.

6)      The ultimate absorption of natural triglycerides is not “better” than Ethyl Ester. It is simply faster. The natural triglyceride fans often cite numbers like 70% absorption for their fish oil and only 21% for Ethyl Ester. This is true if you measure at one hour. They leave out several facts. The sustained slow uptake of Ethyl Ester fish oil over 24 hours provides much better protection from cardiac events as does the superior tissue recovery of Ethyl Esters in the face of ischemic events (references below)

7)      Two fish meals a week is not anywhere near enough to fix the Omega 3 Omega 6 imbalances that occur in this country and other Western nations. The various cardiology societies have defined 2 fish meals a week or at most 3 grams a day of fish oil as “enough”. They conveniently leave out any mention of optimal EPA/DHA levels because they never bother to measure them. If they did they would see that eating fish 2x a week in particular is under dosing the Omega 3’s in a big way. Even if you ate fish everyday once a day you would not get enough to fix the imbalances. Take a look at the mg in the chart below and keep in mind the average American needs at least 6000mg to fix the imbalance.

epa dha graph of sources

Even if you were eating a very high Omega 3 fish like salmon you would need to eat it at least 2x a day everyday and then you would be risking toxin exposure.

8)      It is indeed possible to fix this imbalance with diet alone and I am currently working on 2 separate books which will provide information on how to do that. But you are NOT going to like the food choices you have to make and you have to diligently avoid omega6’s. Sadly and simply put in this case it is just easier to take fish oil supplements! But you do have the option of drastically lowering your Omega 6’s ( hint give up all processed foods most nuts and avocados and eat lots of fish every day and hope it comes from a clean ocean!

9)      When a fish oil trial has shown benefits like cardiac protection it has used Ethyl Ester fish oil not triglyceride. As a matter of fact when the krill marketers want to try to prove superiority to fish oil they ALWAYS use a triglyceride and NEVER use Ethyl Ester fish oil. I will let you guess why.

10)   They say Ethyl Esters are not natural. This is true if you are talking about fish. But human beings normally use the Ethyl Ester form of Omega 3’s for both storage and biochemical reactions. They may not be natural to fish but they are to people!

Ultra 85 is 85 to 92% pure EPA and DHA. It is as clean and toxin free as it can be. I take at least 6 a day and have a very good Omega 3 level as a result. It tastes great, does not cause burping or reflux and if you don’t like capsules or want to give it to kids who don’t want to swallow capsules just bite in and swallow the pleasant tasting orange flavored (natural citrus rind derived!)  oil and spit the cap out!

I have covered a lot today but believe it or not there is a ton more.

Here are the take home points:

Most people in  this country will be unwilling to make the dietary changes needed to reduce Omega 6’s and increase Omega 3’s which is why I make a pure highly concentrated fish oil.

Fish and natural triglyceride oils cannot compare in clinical end points to ethyl esters, in purity to ethyl esters or in concentration. You would have to take 3X the amount of “natural triglyceride” fish oils or 18 caps a day to reach the levels you need to mimic those populations that have healthy Omega 3 levels.

Only ethyl esters can be concentrated and purified. Only ethyl esters offer sustained long slow absorption. The major cardiac trials all used ethyl esters: not krill not triglyceride.

Most of what people tell you about fish oil is a lie! Again last week’s prostate cancer debacle was a classic example

Then again I did lie to you too because ultra 85 is technically not fish oil. Its super pure highly concentrated perfectly proportioned essential omega 3’s.

I told ya fish oil just sounds better!

 

Doc

 

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I wouldn’t give my dog Ethyl Ester Fish oil – Part 1

giant fish oil capsuleSo said the brilliant PhD whose talk preceeded mine at a recent public anti-aging conference.

While I am not 100% sure if this was a deliberate snipe at me I didn’t care because it played right into my hands. I destroyed the arguments that were advanced in favor of “natural triglyceride fish oil” also known as “parent oil” type.  I am sure it hit this guy where it hurt and ultimately he shot himself in the foot and damaged himself, not me.  This was also the same guy who told me he knew more about telomeres than the guy who discovered the human telomerase gene and the Nobel laureates, so I wasn’t too worried about anything else he might have said.

What I did not know was this might not have been his fault. He may have merely been parroting back the current doctrine d’jour with regards to fish oil. It makes for clever marketing speak and for someone who does not intimately know about Omega3/Omega 6 biochemistry in HUMANS it is a perfect chance to pitch a product that is inferior in every way or some other attached agenda.

Here is the short version and then, for those of you who want to learn the reasoning, it follows after another email I got.

ERROR NUMBER 1: Fish is better than fish oil because it contains natural proportions of oils. Natural Triglyceride fish oil is closer to natural fish oil making it a “parent oil”. Populations that eat fish do better than populations that take fish oil for this reason.

The fact: EPA and DHA are the ultimate and most highly active and needed fish oils. There is little or nothing other than these in fish or fish oil that is responsible for health benefits in humans. The body will create these essential fatty acids to a minor extent from shorter chain precursors (like alpha linolenic acid in plants) but it cannot do a good job of this, especially in the omega 6 rich food environment we live in. The Omega 3/6 intake of the best populations is never mirrored in ANY study using fish oil (see part 2 of this blog for why). Much of the oil in fish and natural triglyceride fish oil is used for one major purpose: calories, and fatty fish have a major component of Omega 6 fat as well, although nowhere near their Omega 3 content. In the context of trying to achieve balance in a society that does not reduce its Omega 6 intake, which is most of us, a pure highly concentrated EPA/DHA fish oil remains the simplest way to obtain a healthy ratio. The most common way to create that ultra concentrated potency is molecular distillation, which always yields an Ethyl Ester fish oil. The next two books I am currently writing will, however, have two dozen or more Omega 3 heavy recipes for those who want to use diet as the major tool.

ERROR NUMBER 2: ‘A little mercury and other toxins are OK for you.’  Fish and natural triglyceride fish oils contain the exact toxin make up of the waters they are obtained from. There is absolutely no study showing the effect of low level long term toxin exposure over decades or a lifetime to determine what real level of toxicity we should be concerned with since we are going to need our Omega 3’s as long as we are alive. We do know this:  unless you drastically reduce your Omega 6 intake to a level far lower than most Westerners will tolerate, you need a large amount of Omega 3 (in terms of fish, we are talking far more than Eskimo level) to balance the ratio of 6 to 3 omegas. In point of fact, populations where there are serious reductions in the diseases we accept as “normal aging” achieve a ratio of about 0.75, which means there is significantly more Omega 3 in their tissues than Omega 6. This puts you at risk for many different toxins and xenoestrogens, especially mercury, lead, cadmium and various plastic derivatives. Two specific famous examples of people who tried to correct their levels with large amounts of fish ingestion are Jeremy Piven and Daphne Zuniga, both actors and both mercury toxic as a result of their efforts. There are studies that show an Alaskan subsistence fishermen consuming one cod per week will achieve mercury levels considered accutely toxic by the end of that week, DO YOU want that? I don’t!

ERROR NUMBER 3: Ethyl Esters are not naturally occuring in nature, making them “Frankenfishoil equivalent to GMO’s!”  I gotta hand it to the marketers who came up with that one! Wow, that will convince a lot of people because most people are anti-GMO. Very clever, but also very disingenuous.

Ethyl Esters are not found in fish or seafood; that is true. But they ARE A NATURALLY OCCURING AND BIOACTIVE INTERMEDIATE IN HUMAN BEINGS.  We create them from triglycerides and Phospholipid (non-fish seafood sources) as a normal everyday part of our biology. That makes them about as natural as you can get.

I go on to address more of this nonsense in the next blog but if you understand these 3 points you will understand what you are being fed by the internet gurus. Don’t swallow it!

Dr Dave

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Is Spinach the New Broccoli?

I have written a lot about broccoli and its related Brassica family. Broccoli has long held true “Super Food” status. Unlike some other highly touted foods, it actually has a fairly balanced ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids (although it is extremely low in both) and contains Sulforaphane and Indole 3 Carbinol.

Thanks to the emerging study of how food affects our epigenetics, we know, right down to a sub cellular level, how nutrients like this fight cancer and promote health.

Well, now, thanks to the same type of studies, it has been found that high nitrate foods (not to be confused with nitrite, which is cured meats!) can actually promote muscle strength and health.

It turns out, Popeye may have been right after all: Spinach really may increase your muscle strength. Other high nitrate vegetables include chard, beet root, and certain types of lettuce.

How much do you need? Scientists found that 200 to 300 grams of spinach (about 10 ounces a  day) or 3 beet roots would do the trick. The mechanisms, by which spinach increases strength, seem to have to do with protein synthesis and calcium metabolism by muscle.

What I find particularly cool and interesting is that you can add this to your broccoli consumption for completely different effects from each vegetable. So, we know that at least these two seem to have serious health and anti-aging benefits.

As more and more foods are studied from the epigenetic standpoint, I am certain a lot of myths will be debunked and a lot of old wives’ tales proven true!

Stay tuned and I will keep you posted on foods, supplements, behaviors and lifestyle habits you need to know about to stay as young as possible.

Dr Dave

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Score another one for chocolate

Over the past few years chocolate has garnered a lot of attention as a health food.  Some people have even decided it’s a “super food”, capitalizing on a category that seems to encompass everything your grandmother told you to eat when you were growing up, along with some exotic Far Eastern fruits.

Well, recently chocolate scored again with an article about to be published in the British Medical Journal that explores chocolate as a therapy for people with metabolic syndrome.  Metabolic syndrome is a condition that has a couple of different definitions, depending on where you read about it, but one thing is agreed upon — it carries a high risk of heart disease and stroke.

It is also a very common condition in Western societies, encompassing insulin insensitivity, high triglycerides (blood fats), obesity in most cases, high blood pressure and, you guessed it, a total body inflammatory derailment. (OK, I added the last part that is not normally found in the official definitions, but it should be!).

Who would have ever thought that eating chocolate might help cure this kind of problem?

But there are of course some caveats.

First, it has to be dark chocolate and the darker the better, with at least 60-70% cacao content. Keep the sugar to a minimum — something that is hard for Western Chocolatier’s to do. If you’ve ever experienced anything cacao- derived in its native form, including chocolate, you will know it’s anything but sweet!

Another thing that helps is when the chocolate is enriched by polyphenols. This is the reason one of the few things we carry, that I do not make personally, is Xocai chocolate. Xocai keeps the sugar down and adds tons of berry-derived polyphenols.

So how good is chocolate at preventing heart disease, or mitigating its effects? Well, an estimated 70 people out of every 10,000 would avoid fatal heart attack or stroke, which puts it up there with the best ‘preventative’ drugs!  Now what about dose? Well, that is based on total polyphenols content, not actual amounts of chocolate. If you are using Xocai, that means somewhere between 1 to 3 pieces a day.  Other chocolates may vary in cacao content and polyphenols content, so do some research.

As far as weight gain, again, if you use Xocai, you will be consuming between 100 and 300 calories a day above what you get without it.

Now, I have to be honest. I don’t eat the stuff for its heart or vascular benefits and I don’t eat it every day either.  I have fish oil, Co Q, TA-65 , Carnosine and a whole host of other self-made supplements I use for my anti-aging program.

Still, it’s nice to have a treat that may actually help you!

Doc

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Monsanto and the evil empire

You may or may not know the story of Monsanto.  Simply put, they have built what many consider an Evil Empire around agriculture, exerting such corporate control over the individual farmer that, well- you are either with them or against them.  Woe unto you, if you are a farmer and are against them.  As for the rest of us, we will have them to thank when GMO becomes unavoidable, in this country.  Lots of people think we should do what Europe did and essentially ban genetically modified foods.

Fat chance, when the former and soon-to-be-again future VP of the company is an FDA member, deeply involved in shaping “Agri-policy” for our country and many others.

One of the ploys Monsanto uses is “sustainability”.  The word appeals to all of us who want to go green, but much like the Homeland Security Act, it has dark consequences, if not monitored.

A couple of things that Monsanto would like to do, is push hard for additional soy production, under the guise of sustainable Omega 3’s.  Never mind the fact that fish husbandry and aqua culture have reduced the danger of over fishing significantly and will continue to do so. Let’s just grow our fish oil!

The first attempt will be the genetically modified soy, which produces an Omega 3 known as Stearidonic Acid.  If you’ve never heard of it, you are not alone.  This particular Omega 3, is one step closer to EPA and DHA (the essential 22 and 24 carbon fats found in fish oil) than the usual plant Omega 3 source known as ALA or alpha linolenic acid.  There actually is one advantage to Stearidonic Acid, in that it removes one step from the conversion of plant to animal Omega3’s.  That step, normally managed in people by an enzyme known as “delta 6 desaturase”, is missing in about 25% of people.

So, on the surface, that is a good thing.  It might make it easier for people to use plant Omega 3’s.  If you have been reading my stuff at all in the past 10 years, then you know that only 5% of plant Omega 3’s make it to the needed forms EPA and DHA.  This has long been a problem for Vegans and Vegetarians, who simply do not get enough of the kinds of Omega 3’s they need to be truly healthy. Actually, neither does the typical American, but for far different reasons!

Monsanto’s “healthy” GMO’d soy will actually do nothing to improve the conversion of Stearidonic Acid to EPA and DHA, though.  There are still several steps the human body has to go through to use plant Omega’s in addition to the delta 6 desaturase step, so in essence, it is absolutely no better or healthier for you.  That will not stop them from advertising it as “healthy Omega 3” though, I guarantee you.  Look for their ad campaigns within the next 12 months.

Also, know that they have been busy buying up another technology that will allow EPA and DHA to be produced from a non-animal source. Bacteria and yeast are now being used to create EPA and DHA as an “under the radar” source of non-animal (non-fish) source of these essential fats.

It should not surprise you that all it takes is a little GMO and they will make fish oil. Hey, it’s sustainable and green right!

Beware, because it is right around the corner!

Doc

For more go here:

http://bit.ly/w3iF3I

http://bit.ly/gwrtl

http://bit.ly/JXGzOY

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Your control over cancer

I hope I am not confusing you with my stance on epigenetics.  Ever since we wrote our book The Immortality Edge (Wiley 2010) I have stressed the role of things like diet, meditation, supplementation, exercise and sleep regulation, as a way of influencing your future health, wellness and longevity. In my Longevity Now talks last year, I reviewed how these things affected epigenetics and predicted, at that time, epigenetics would be the hot topic to come.  And now it is.

There is good news and bad news. Bad news first. Epigenetic study is probably not going to reveal a whole lot of new human behaviors that will modify your future.  Again, reference our book. One commenter, on Amazon, noted that “eating right, exercising and meditation are hardly new”, whining that he/she wanted “new” stuff.  Sorry, my friend, what has worked since the dawn of man will continue to work at a micro (telomeres and epigenetics) and macro (your health and wellness) level.  Additionally, the bad news is we know less about the epigenome than the genome. What I wrote about two years ago and spoke about last year, is becoming apparent: we know less about something that may be far more important than our genes in determining our fate!

Final piece of bad news: in spite of what the usual suspects are telling you, we do not know all that much (other than eating right, meditating, exercising, and supplementing) about how to create really favorable epigenomes, out of not so favorable ones. So while “yoga for epigenetics” or “Our diet or diet pill for epigenetics” or “exercise programs for epigenetics” makes sense, they are as yet unproven, so the claims are to be taken carefully, please.

The good news is that there is tremendous interest (funding) for all that and because of ever increasing computer power and global connectivity, the answers will come flooding in over the next few years, faster than ever!

What is likely to happen first is the disease based model we have lived with in medicine for centuries. Scientists will be looking to develop tests and drugs, to combat unhealthy epigenomes – while Mother Nature has already supplied the answer!

Cancer is one area where there is a flurry of epigenetic research and colon cancer, my personal greatest fear, is tops on the list, as of today, with breast cancer a close second.

A recent article, referenced below, has identified something called VELs, Variant Enhancer Loci that can be used to predict the risk of colon cancer. These are not part of the genome, but rather the epigenome.  They represent methylation gains and losses in thousands of histones (proteins attached to DNA – histones really are the major physical arbiters of epigenetics!) spread across the entire genome.  Since this pattern of changes is strongly predictive of colon cancer risk, it will surely be developed into a “pre test” for said cancer, allowing us to see a person at risk, long before a polyp or cancer develops.  And of course it then allows for follow up testing and a chance to change that epigenetic expression by the doctor and the patient. It does not alter your genetics and if you have high risk genes, you can’t change that. But, by far, most people succumb to their epigenetics, not their genetics, so you really can change the balance of these epigenetic marks, from sickness to health.

In case you are wondering about the role of telomeres here, an increasing percentage of short telomeres is almost always found in these situations, so therapy there may also help reverse the damage.

You will soon see profiles for other types of cancer, heart disease and diabetes, as well.  All of these are markers for accelerated aging, in my book, so I am going to predict a significant overlap in these epigenetic marks. Further, I am going to predict that the central clearing house for these effects will be the telomere.

Speaking of books, if you want to know what you can do to clean up your epigenetics, make sure you read our book, The Immortality Edge,  because everything that helps the telomere helps your epigenetics as well!

Stay tuned to the newsletters and blogs so you can get the developments in honest, unadulterated fashion.

Doc

Science. 2012 Apr 12. [Epub ahead of print]

Epigenomic Enhancer Profiling Defines a Signature of Colon Cancer.

Akhtar-Zaidi B, Cowper-Sal Lari R, Corradin O, Saiakhova A, Bartels CF, Balasubramanian D, Myeroff L, Lutterbaugh J, Jarrar A, Kalady MF, Willis J, Moore JH,Tesar PJ, Laframboise T, Markowitz S, Lupien M, Scacheri PC. Source

Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA.

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Diet and Autism – Is High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) the Culprit?

Warning: some may find this treatment offensive. Please refrain from ad hominem attacks on me and internet marketer web site citations as “proof” of your rightness and my wrongness. Use logic, science and facts!  That I respect.

This is a follow on the autism info I published last week; trust me, you will want to read more, if you want a truthful look at the information.  I have looked over the article regarding high fructose corn syrup and autism rates, as well as looking carefully at the posts and comments on various sites that mention it.

I need to apologize again; this is a long blog but it needs to be. It could easily be 3 or 4x as long, but in our ADHD, text, FB etc. culture, most would never read it, and so here is the summary:

High Fructose Corn Syrup combined with heavy metal exposure and essential mineral deficit, lead to the epidemic of autism in the U.S. In at least one country where this does not occur, there is less autism and no epidemic.  Does it or doesn’t it?

Now, once again, the ability to actually read scientific articles is essential.  This was never more apparent than in this particular article.

Allow me a little interpretation, for those of you who don’t want to, or can’t read this article.

The article starts off with the hypothesis that it is diet that has caused the current epidemic of autism we are currently enmeshed in.  It then goes on to look at regional distributions of autism and how they correlate with autism, using Italy (stable and lower incidence of autism), with the U.S.

For the scientific equivalent of a “modus operandi”, it uses mercury toxicity and correlate s the changes, seen in genetic expression, with dietary intakes and dietary exposures.  As I have said and spoken about, at length, at various meetings, this is the crux of epigenetics – how the genes interact with the environment.  It is also “nutrigenomics”, how the genes are directly affected by nutrition.

I pause here, for a moment, so anyone who has decided that food and supplementation are worthless and can’t possibly replace or augment prescription drugs, can digest what I just said. Because, in a nutshell, it says we have been ignoring the way Mother Nature has organized and designed “us”, as we try to fit what goes wrong with us, into drug pathway models.  While drugs may not become obsolete in our lifetimes (unless you are taking TA-65 and plan on sticking around for another 100 years!), the merging of epigenetics and nutrigenomics is the very faint death knell of our “modern science”, as we get one step closer to truly understanding who and what we are! It’s going to get a lot louder very fast!

Ok, off the soap box and back to the study.

The study proposes that Heavy Metal toxicity is a likely cause for autism and its current rise.  It shows how mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium and other heavy metals like copper, commonly found in our food chain, interfere with selenium and zinc levels, which in turn decrease the production of the body’s most important naturally occurring antioxidant; glutathione.

These problems are worsened by lower consumption of calcium, phosphorus and magnesium, which are also common in the American and other Western diets.

Similarly, it goes on to attack the presence of organophosphates in the diet.  I will abbreviate these as OP’s.  Think of them as byproducts of the plastic and fertilizer industries.  In my own study of raw material purity in Omega 3’s, I can tell you that our oceans are the major source of most of these dietary metals and OP’s.  Remember this when I mention my toxicity studies on krill in the upcoming paragraphs.

The study then goes on to hypothesize that the combination of the lack of these essential minerals (calcium, magnesium, selenium and zinc), causes the problem with glutathione production, which leaves the developing fetus and later developing child, at risk for epigenetically induced misfires in gene expression, because they are unable to detoxify the dietary toxins so common in our eating choices.

This then leads to that child landing somewhere in the spectrum of autism disorders. It points out that these defenses are normally able to handle these insults and children who are not exposed to the sources of these toxins, are exposed at lower levels, or who have a more robust genetic/epigenetic constitution, which allows them to overcome these deficiencies, are most likely not going to wind up autistic. This is still the bulk of most kids, by far.

The real bomb this paper drops is that it does not really implicate vaccination. It states that HFCS contains the toxic heavy metals and that mercury and others are found in certain food colorings in tiny amounts, fish and other ocean dwelling animals in not so tiny amounts and yes, even in HFCS in measurable amounts. Similarly OP’s are found in high amounts in marine borne animals and many other food stuffs, due to the use of pesticides. Can you say “fruit bars” anyone!

This paper also correlates low magnesium, calcium and intake with a diet rich in HFCS and that low levels of these essential minerals and high levels of the toxic ones (mercury, lead, arsenic), are found in SOME children with autism.  As far as the OP’s go, the article suggests that a much needed enzyme, which detoxifies heavy metals in humans, is also decreased by the very same combination of toxins and missing minerals. It then correlated the incidence of HFCS intake with OP exposure as well, saying that children aging from 6 to 12 have the highest OP burden, because of the dietary choices they make and are exposed to.  Developing fetuses are obviously at much greater risk, but since the enzyme that detoxifies OP’s naturally lags behind in children, all these kids are at risk to land somewhere on the spectrum of autism disorders if they are genetically/epigenetically vulnerable.

The final very interesting point brought out by this paper, is that in Italy they consume different sweeteners and not HFCS. In the Italian population studied, there is not a deficiency in the enzyme that detoxifies OP’s.  But guess what – they still have autistic children – just not as many!

Finally, the paper looks at B vitamin consumption during pregnancy. The finding should not surprise you. Mothers who take a multi-vite during pregnancy, have fewer autistic children, especially if they were on them at the time of conception and soon thereafter. Once again, I call out the docs and scientists who say vitamins just give you expensive urine.

So, in a nutshell, this paper says that the combination of High Fructose Corn Syrup and heavy metal toxins found in our food chain, are magnified in the U.S by our food industry, our dietary choices and what we feed out kids.  Some children, who are especially vulnerable, will develop an Autism spectrum disorder because of increased oxidative stress and metal/ OP toxicity. It links the increasing rise in autism to these factors and cites a control population in Italy that has a stable incidence of autism to show that, in a country where HFCS is not common, or increasing as it has in the U.S., for the past 30 years, there is no epidemic.

Great, right!? All this human suffering all wrapped up in a tidy little bow and laid at the feet of our Food Industry. The food branch of the FDA (hey, isn’t it their job to prevent this!) is also at fault.  And let’s not forget our schools, especially public schools, for serving our kids this “pink slime” that is so very toxic.

Now here is the truth. Con and Pro in that order…

Con

1)      This is a hypothesis, not a real study. While compelling papers were cited and the logic is strong, scientifically, no actual new studies were done to prove any of this is real. This is a literature review and I suspect it was done fairly quickly to capitalize on some of the most popular search terms like “epigenetics” and “nutrigenomics” and of course autism itself, is a huge search term.  Sadly, scientists and researchers are not above thinking this way. It gets them exposure and grant money!

2)      There are a lot of uses of qualifying words and phrases like “if one assumes”, “model” and other terminology that “wiggles”, or as Wikipedia calls it, ‘weasels’ too much to be ignored.  For instance, the association of HFCS with low magnesium, low calcium, zinc and selenium is weak and not causative. The two conditions may, or may not, coexist and one does not lead to the other.

3)      This paper generates more questions, like any good paper does these days. The hypothesis does little to ease the suffering of those with autism and their care givers. It points blame to what I call the “usual suspects”, with the exception of vaccines, but fails to explain why Italy still has autistic children. So it leaves us in the U.S. with a lot of anger and angst but no real answer. This leads to exactly the reaction you’d expect.  People with “I hate” agendas and conspiratorial theorists, with more ammunition based on hypothesis and conjecture, not fact. There is already too much of that for the beleaguered parents of autistic children. That said, no one questions the need to get our kids to eat better, but folks, whose ultimate responsibility is that, if we ourselves don’t do it first!  The very same things that are cleverly (and who knows, maybe correctly) implicated in this paper as the cause for autism, are playing a gigantic role in our obesity epidemic.

4)      The paper makes no attempt to address “the epidemic of autism” question. The awareness of this disorder and the permutation of the “spectrum” must account for some of the rise we are seeing. It also does not mention how the Italians define autism and whether they are likely to use the same criteria.  My bet is, they don’t and it makes a huge difference.

5)       Similarly, the authors flat out state that the seafood, dental amalgam, thimerosal mercury containing food colorings and additives and food preservative intake in Italy is similar to the U.S. That leaves only HFCS as the culprit. So, come out and say those other things are not the likely cause and blame HFCS full on. Put your money where your mouth is and be willing to incur the critiques from the conspiracy theorists, who’ve built their reputations on selling unsubstantiated theories to people who are suffering.  Was that strong enough?

Please note, I did not say all that stuff was good for you!

6)      I gotta say it. I am already cringing at what the “usual suspects” are going to do with this. I guarantee you they will leave out the most important fact: this is not a scientific study; it’s a literature review that supports a theory – no more, no less. It will be presented as fact and bent to their sales agenda – mark my words! Also mark my words, if they don’t leave it out, it will be because they read this first and know I will call them on their misrepresentation.

OK now the pros

1)      The hypothesis is smart and well thought out and researched. I hope they paid their interns well!

2)      The focus on organophosphates and mercury, arsenic and other heavy metals reinforces what I have been saying for years.  Seafood can be dangerous, so get your Omega 3’s from a highly purified source of pharmaceutical fish oil. By the way, it further underlines the need for the krill marketers to do and publish 3rd party data. I found scary levels of mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium and OP’s in the krill sample I bought from a famous marketer of the product. This was 3rd party independent testing and I showed it at the Longevity Now Conference, the next of which is happening soon!

3)      The importance of glutathione and B vitamins are reinforced for yet another reason – the health of our kids, rubbing it in the face of the “nutritional naysayers”, who say all you should do is eat right and skip the supplements.  By the way, glutathione is notoriously hard to get, so consider using N-acetyl cysteine as its precursor. It is well researched and raises glutathione levels, at a lower cost than most of the glutathione based attempts out there.

4)      It clearly points out that autism is a complex disorder, likely to have many causes and contributing factors and basically minimizes the conspiratorial role of vaccination in causing it.

5)      If the hypothesis is actually ever proven, it will revolutionize our food industry and what we serve our kids in school, raising the current practice to the level of criminal neglect, which I think we all agree on already!

6)      It gives a real world application for both epigenetics and nutrigenomics and in time it might, if proven, lead to therapies for kids who are already affected, as well as minimizing the risk for those who aren’t!

Dr Dave

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Does flax or soy increase the risk of breast and prostate cancer?

I have said, I would admit when I was wrong and when I changed my thinking.  Back in 2005, I mentioned an article that suggested that flax increased the risk of prostate cancer. Specifically, it referred to alpha linolenic acid, the main short chain source of Omega 3’s in flax. I suggested it might overlap to breast cancer as well, since (yes, a little ahead of my time here) the issue was of increased Estrone, a pathogenic form of estrogen that seems to accumulate in men and women, after menopause and andropause.

Similarly, there was a lot of concern about soy based phyto estrogens in people who already had breast cancer. Lately my stance is I would not worry about it too much. Most of the studies I have seen, since 2005, suggest positive health benefits from lignans (phytoestrogen precursors in brans and flax) of which flax does really seem to have a huge amount. There is at least one older study, suggesting an increase in prostate cancer, with flax, but there are a lot of unanswered questions, such as: how was the study done?  Most are either the notorious “food questionnaire”, or lab cell cultures meaning – well, who knows what they really mean in free living people.  If you have had either of these cancers though, you might want to avoid flax just in case!  You see, the issue is not totally settled.  But it is clear to me I was heavy handed back then and I want to make amends!

A much bigger issue is the poor conversion of medium (also called short in the industry) chain 18 carbon fatty acids, from plants and seeds, which is about 5%. I did a finger stick Omega 6/3 test on over 100 vegetarians and vegans, many of whom were supplementing with flax or algae-derived Omega 3’s.  Not one of them had anywhere near a healthy ratio. Bottom line, if you are going to use flax, you pretty much need to use the straight oil and consume a minimum of 4 ounces a day, to get your levels anywhere near a healthy ratio for primary prevention.

I would remind you that marine-based Omega 3 supplementation has positive effects on the incidence of both prostate and breast cancer, far outweighing flax.  The amount of studies is about 12,000 for fish oil in human health, with no specific manufacturer funding and 60-ish for flax and other plant-based sources. It’s about 10 and all company funded, for krill.

While I was looking at flax and soy, I also checked the stats for ovarian cancer.  No solid data either way, it seems. Nothing has reached statistical significance, but again, there seems to be no cause for concern.

What about colon cancer?  Preliminary data in rodents suggests a possible protective effect, but again no clear cut data.

When I reviewed the data on fermented versus non-fermented soy products, I could not find any differences with either type.

So the bottom line is that unless you have already had a breast or a prostate cancer, you probably should not be too concerned about soy consumption. It does not appear to protect you or put you at risk.  So why do we see diminished rates in Oriental populations, with a seemingly direct link to soy consumption? I think I can correctly invoke our old (or new!) friend epigenetics here.  Most of the populations involved in this type of study are more homogeneous genetically, environmentally, socially and epigenetically than in this country, or many Western nations.  And in most of the soy consuming nations, the soy consumption is ongoing from a very young age, including prior to puberty.  Not so in the West.

As far as flax, the conversion of lignans to phytoestrogens yields a different mix than soy and the data is a bit more promising. Remember again, about 5% of the Omega 3’s in flax are effectively converted to the long chain form and this may account for the small but positive data in breast, prostate and colon cancer.  If you are hard core vegan/vegetarian, you will need to consume a lot of flax seeds for lignans and oil for Omega 3, but I suppose it can be done. Also, remember the benefits of sulforaphane and DIM, both from broccoli and broccoli sprouts, and other cruciferous vegetables of the Brassica family.

You really do need to be careful about interpreting studies and of course, much more careful interpreting internet headlines!  A few tricks researchers play include claiming benefits to certain food groups when compared to other food groups.  A favorite is corn or other Omega 6 rich foods, which basically guarantee you will have a higher rate of tumor formation.  This was the case in more than one study I researched and it pretty much deflates those claims in terms of true prevention, although most people do eat too much Omega 6!

It took a long time and lots of studies for me to admit I was wrong, but you’ll pardon me.  Better late than never.

Humbly yours,

Dr Dave

Here are some references:

Soyfoods, isoflavones and risk of colonic cancer: a review of the in vitro and in vivo data

MARK MESSINA PhD, MS

Consultant, Nutrition Matters, Inc.; Adjunct Associate Professor

Loma Linda University, California, USA

MAURICE BENNINK ehD

Professor, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition

Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA

 

Phytoestrogen consumption from foods and supplements and epithelial ovarian cancer risk: a population-based case control study

Elisa V Bandera1,2*, Melony King2, Urmila Chandran1,2, Lisa E Paddock2,3, Lorna Rodriguez-Rodriguez4 and Sara H Olson5

Anna Hsu, Carmen P Wong, Zhen Yu, David E Williams, Roderick H Dashwood, Emily Ho. Promoter de-methylation of cyclin D2 by sulforaphane in prostate cancer cellsClinical Epigenetics, 2011; 3 (1): 3 DOI:10.1186/1868-7083-3-3

Gynecol Oncol. 2012 Mar;124(3):410-6. Epub 2011 Nov 23.

A randomized parallel-group dietary study for stages II-IV ovarian cancer survivors.

Paxton RJ, Garcia-Prieto C, Berglund M, Hernandez M, Hajek RA, Handy B, Brown J, Jones LA

Nutr Cancer. 2006;54(2):216-22.

Chemopreventive effects of dietary flaxseed on colon tumor development.

Bommareddy A, Arasada BL, Mathees DP, Dwivedi C.

Source

Department of Pharmaceutial Sciences, South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD 57007, USA.

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The best diet ever

If you don’t have time to read this blog (it’s a bit long!) here it is, as an aphorism: “test, don’t guess!”

I almost laughed out loud as I looked at the comments on the Amazon reviews page. As an author, (The Immortality Edge) I have come to know firsthand, what it is like to be in the hot seat of public opinion. But this time, the book was someone else’s and it was basically a diet book disguised as a longevity plan.  The comments and reviews were more exciting than the book turned out to be.  There were the usual “this guy is God and anyone who disagrees should be flogged” acolytes. And there were the usual small, but dissenting number of views, who subjected themselves to all kinds of abuse, because they did not agree.  Even funnier was the suggestion that the really glowing reviews must have come from the friends of the author!  I laugh, because this is exactly what was said about some of our reviews- “the authors must have a lot of friends”, even though the glowing reviews were done by total strangers.

Frankly, the only thing missing was the comment that the book had not been out long enough to get this many reviews. That comment was applied to our book, The Immortality Edge, after we had 30 some reviews in 4 months.  This book had 600+ reviews in less than 2 months.  I searched for the question about that, but could not find it.

In case you are wondering where my blog ideas come from, the answer is all over the place!  This particular piece was generated by a long process that started with a request from a reader.  This gal sent me a book title and said, “What do you think of this guy and his book?”

The author of the latest and greatest diet book has written many other books, has appeared on public television and seems to have a good idea about what people want to hear.   The general gist of the book was slanted toward vegetarian behaviors, but with some “Paleo-like” recommendations, like avoid dairy and legumes, thrown in for good measure.  Pretty much either side, (Paleo versus Vegetarian/Vegan) could find something they liked, or disliked.

Frankly, I get asked this question many times and of course, everyone wants me to say their diet is most healthy and best for humans.  Paleos point out correctly, that genetically we are designed for this kind of diet and our ancestors subsisted on it for thousands of years, until agriculture and cities sprung up. They point out, quite correctly, that no one could actually survive a true vegetarian diet, until 1948 when oral B vitamins became available, making vegetarian/vegan lifestyles the true, new kid on the block. They don’t like when I say I am a neo-Paleo, most of the time, but freely admit, I wasn’t around 50,000 years ago, so I remain open to other ideas. They also don’t like when I point out that the Cleveland Clinic just released a diet that forbids red meat of any kind, for their heart attack survivors and high risk people. They do like when I point out the complete lack of studies on free range red meat and the absolute fallacy of including grain feed lot beef, in the same boat as free range. They hate when I point out that, no matter what dietary choices they make, they cannot realistically emulate the epigenetics of their Paleo ancestors. They like that we recommend Paleo, in The Immortality Edge, but they wish we did not mention the benefits of vegetarian/vegan diets, in the same breath.

Vegans/vegetarians like that I understand that longevity, health and wellness is not the only reason many of them chose the lifestyle they do. Animal husbandry figures highly into the choices.  They love that I point out, that basically the same healthy reductions in cholesterol, inflammatory markers, blood sugar and body weight, so widely recommended, can be achieved by “their” diet. The results are as good as any healthy diet, if not better and basically the same as one can achieve, with full blown, hard core Paleo. They don’t particularly like when I show them the 100 vegan/vegetarian people I have Omega 6/3 ratios on and they are very poor, and that this may have long term consequences that do not show up in many of the short term dietary studies. They don’t like when I point out the “China Study”, which is not a study at all, but a bunch of cherry picked citations  that substantiate the authors’ point of view. They hate when I point out, I could write the exact opposite book, supporting free range red meat consumption and in some cases, non-free range meat consumption! They like it even less, when I point out the book Food and Western Disease substantiates this and is a real study, by a real scientist, where the author lived and practiced among surviving Paleoliths for years, rather than merely visiting the country that supports his view point. They are not thrilled with Loren Cordain’s work, showing NEAP (net endogenous acid production) was very low among  Paleoliths,  blowing the argument that “red meat acidifies” to pieces. They love when I cite the extensive literature that shows a reduction, or at least a delay of onset of heart disease, diabetes and cancer in vegan/vegetarian practitioners. They hate it when I point out, the ties of the Whole Grain agenda to Monsanto, or the auto immune issues with legumes, including soy.

No one likes when I point out that there is no real data that shows any diet helps you live longer, that basically you just die of different things!  And on both sides of the argument, no one likes the real application of epigenetics to marginalize their dietary choices. Simply put, most diets study specific populations, in specific areas, with specific ancestry, climate, cultural practices etc., etc., all of which determine their specific epigenetics. I called out one well-known “scientist” on this fact already. Very few people reading this blog have the same epigenetics as the folks in the “China Study”, or the Kitavans in “Food and Western Disease”.

So, if nobody likes what I have to say and few want to believe it, where do I really stand and what about this latest, greatest diet book?

Let me answer the latter first.  The author of this latest and greatest diet book hit it right on the head. His is the perfect diet for all of humanity. Until the next greatest diet book comes out in say… ?… 3 months? Possibly, written by the very same author!

OK, now let me answer what is the best.

The best diet for you, my friend, fulfills the following requirements, and yes, ANY diet that meets these criteria, is fine with me. And yes, you can and obviously should include supplementation as part of this diet, unless you are a practicing Eskimo.

  1. You feel good eating it
  2. It supplies you with a low omega 6/3 ratio- the closer to 1-to-1, the better you are
  3. It gives you 25-Vitamin D level between 50 and 75 ng/ml
  4. It helps you maintain a short telomere percentage, (as determined by Lifelength’s new assay) that is at least 6 years lower than your chronologic age – again, a lower number of short telomeres is better

A couple of honest warnings:  Diet alone will not get you there; it is merely a large piece of the puzzle. Everything we said in The Immortality Edge is needed, including supplements, meditation and exercise.

Next, my recommendations are strictly based on my little myopic corner of the world: health and longevity. They make no attempt to represent spirituality, morality, or really anything other than your own health and longevity. I respect anyone’s right to make different choices, based on different criteria. But if you come at me from a health and longevity angle, you better have some really new and different science that I don’t know about!

I chose the above tests, for one reason alone.** In all of my research and experience, those four things will give you the best statistical likelihood of living as long as you possibly can. And addressing those four things, in regards to your diet and your life in general, will give you the best likelihood of being at the top of the longevity AND health curve, especially if you address them before you are sick.

Surprise, surprise; I want you to test and not guess. How dare I, I know! You might find out the people you believed in were misleading you for fun and profit or simply ignorant. Very well, there is a simple way out.  Those three tests I mentioned will cost you close to $1,000 every time you do them and I would like you do to them every 2 to 3 years, after your first baseline.

You may decide that your life is not worth that. You may decide that what you would have to give up to do those “truth or die” tests, is more valuable to you than knowing the answer. Or you could simply decide that I am a fool or worse, and not believe anything I say and continue guessing.

That is up to you!

I would also suggest the most expensive one be done(the Lifelength test is about $700 plus, whatever your doctor chooses to charge you, to present the data to you and go over it), whenever you incur a big change in your life.  That includes a change in diet, location, exposure to toxins, athletic level, stress levels up or down and yes, new long term supplementation. If you had the money, you could do the Lifelength test as frequently as every 6 months, if the circumstances warranted. Most people would do fine with a baseline in all 3 tests and then a repeat in 1 to 2 years and at longer intervals, thereafter. That is the other warning: if you want the real answer to the diet question, you will have to do something that very few studies have ever done. You will have to follow yourself as a subject, for at least a decade or so, at the above intervals, to get the long term answers for your diet — because some diets are great for a year or two and then the deficiencies start to affect your health. Please note, the world of dietary recommendations and dietary results is sadly lacking in long term studies. Most are either short term, or “population based”. The first helps you short term, but ignores the rest of your life and the second, as I have explained, is likely not to include you because of all the things that determine epigenetics.

But, if you decide to do this, you would know some incredibly valuable information and if things did not turn out the way you anticipated, you would have the chance to address them, or willingly ignore them. You would know whether your diet is up to snuff, health wise or not, for sure.

Then again, ignorance is bliss… for some. And all those diet gurus and people fighting the diet wars would have nothing to stand on.

Shame on me! I must have a lot of friends!

Stay healthy and stay happy!

Dr Dave

** Yes, these 3 tests are, in my opinion, far more important than things like cholesterol CRP, homocysteine and all the other tests that are commonly associated with longevity. Frankly, it would be almost impossible to have good looking numbers on my 3 and not have a great running body that is healthy and well. But, please be advised, these statements are not FDA, AMA, FTC, TSA, or SPCA approved. Also the other gurus, foundations, and clinics out there, do not approve either.  Stay tuned in the coming months and I will give you a lot more detail on the actual longevity research that supports my choices!

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My current take on calorie restriction

Calorie restriction is quite intriguing, but in the end run, we will find a few things that make it of limited value, including the fact that we now have 68% obesity and overweight, in this country. We can’t even get to near ideal weight and now we are to tell people to restrict well below their needs, for that?

So first, it is nearly impossible for most people to do. That does not make it “wrong”, it simply makes it impractical. You might think the promise of health and longevity would be enough, to get people to do some things on a habitual basis, to extend those qualities. Generally speaking, those promises are not enough. In point of fact, food is one of the main entertainments people have and entertainment seems to be far more important, to most people, than health and longevity, as witnessed by the fact they will spend thousands on cell phone apps, cable TV channels they never watch and countless non-productive hours on “social” networking, where no one actually meets face to face!

Second, as nearly we can tell from nutritional anthropology, our Paleolithic ancestors were not, as a whole, calorie restricted. Clearly, there were some lean times and survival issues, but when we evaluate what they ate and how they ate, their overall calorie intake was actually greater than ours today, but far more nutritionally dense, per volume of food. Simply put, they pretty much made a career out of finding food and eating it. Since our genetics haven’t changed much at all since then, this would seem to make the most sense. I highly doubt our ancestors willingly practiced calorie restriction, although I admit, I was not around 50,000 years ago, so I say what I say with that caveat.

Third, the most calorie restricted (and protein restricted) populations, on the planet, are generally the unhealthiest. The largest example of this is our elderly. It is a little unfair to lump Western elderly into this group, I realize, since they are the victims of Western diets. Protein calorie supplementation, in this group, generally improve their health and longevity, albeit not by much, since the “cat is probably out of the bag” at that point.

Fourth, much has been made about higher primates and calorie restriction, citing chimps that are calorie restricted live longer. If you use percentages, it is impressive, less so if you look at absolute longevity in years. And if you look at the two most famous examples “Canto” and “Owen”, for restricted and unrestricted ( I think the clips are still somewhere on youtube) you will see the behavioral differences between calorie restricted and non-calorie restricted higher primates and you will clearly not want to be the restricted one!

Calorie restriction in mice, extends the absolute longevity (the oldest mice are restricted), but does not change mean (average total) longevity.

Next, while there are clear cut genetic similarities between us and higher apes, there are still differences. One of them is the tiny matter of epigenetics, which will eventually prove to be central to all of our research.

I could go on, but here is the most important point for me anyway. CR (calorie restriction) has been intimately linked to the sirtuin pathway. This pathway is linked to p 53 and PPar gamma in humans. I have called these, the cellular gatekeepers. Ultimately, they seem to be under the control of their interactions with telomeres (as we recently found viz mitochondria-telomere length and function seems to control mitochondrial health and biogenesis, not vice versa). I think, whatever benefits on aging CR may have, will be far outweighed by focusing on telomere health. And finally, the effects of cellular regeneration and somatic (body) repair of calorie restriction are, at best, all over the place. Not so with telomerase activation. When the CR society does a mouse (or better yet a human study), that shows the kinds of AGE REVERSAL that DePinho and earlier researchers showed with mice, I will stand up and take notice. Until then, I personally practice a Paleo diet, which to a large extent, mimics the nutritionally dense, but relatively low calorie per unit of food patterns that fit our genetics.

Eventually, we may have a functional calorie mimetic (pterostilbene/resveratrol are not going to be the answer!).

My final point for today on this is CR may actually work (or not), but it will have no more success in an obese population, that loves to eat and we are far from understanding how to mimic CR at levels of the cell, in humans.

All of the above and much more, I have written and said/written, have made me unpopular with the CR people. I am open, to learn more, if I am missing something! I should end by saying that, NO DIET plan has been studied, with regards to human longevity and, given the difficulties involved, probably never will be, in a classic basic research fashion.

Dr Telomere