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Reproduced from original article:
Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked July 29, 2020
- Senescent cells, in combination with the presence of chronic, low-grade inflammation without overt infection, may raise the potential risk for severe disease with COVID-19
- Senescent cells are no longer able to divide; instead they build up in body tissue and secrete inflammatory cytokines that trigger inflammation and dysfunction
- Senolytic therapies help clear these cells; taking quercetin and following a ketogenic diet are two options that are immediately available to you
For centuries, people have been searching for the Fountain of Youth. Many thought it was a real fountain where a person could bathe or drink to slow the aging process. While that fountain doesn’t exist, there are several strategies you may use to affect a change internally with external results.
Several factors affect aging, including chronic inflammation that leads to chronic disease. Although inflammation plays an essential role in repairing injury, chronic inflammation may result in health conditions like bowel diseases, arthritis, diabetes and heart disease.1
Although many times you won’t notice early visible signs of chronic inflammation, there is mounting evidence that it is an underlying factor in chronic disease.2 There is also evidence that natural remedies are effective in reducing inflammation and thus reducing the potential for chronic disease.3
Underlying or baseline inflammation can exacerbate the aging process and raise the risk of severe infectious disease, as has been demonstrated by the numbers of people 65 and older who have died from COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 8 of every 10 deaths from COVID-19 are people age 65 and older.4
Inflammaging Associated With Frailty and Increased Death
Inflammaging is the “chronic low-grade inflammation occurring in the absence of overt infection.”5 This type of damaging inflammation negatively impacts immunity. Researchers hope that by preventing baseline inflammation, they can improve the immune response.
This is a significant pathway to help reduce the severity of disease in older individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2.6 This novel coronavirus brings about a serious condition in the elderly, increasing morbidity and mortality.
Severe disease often presents with excessive inflammation in the pulmonary system, especially in older individuals with high baseline C-reactive protein, indicating a heightened inflammatory response. Data show that inflammation biomarkers like this are relatively accurate predictors of mortality in the elderly, increasing their susceptibility to all sorts of maladies.7
In a paper published in Science Mag, the authors discuss some of the cellular and systemic challenges faced by older adults in their fight against infectious diseases, including COVID-19.8
They hypothesize that a low-grade inflammatory response may be the result of several mechanisms, including a compromised gut microbiome and obesity. As the body ages, it also slowly loses the ability to clear dead and dying cells, which subsequently increases inflammatory activity.
These senescent cells are no longer able to divide, and they accumulate throughout the body. However, they are not “silent” but rather can secrete inflammatory cytokines and other inflammatory molecules that can trigger inflammation and dysfunction.
Reducing Baseline Inflammation May Lower Disease Severity
If you have a baseline inflammatory response, the flu vaccine may not be as effective for you as expected.9 Researchers have improved the body’s response to an antigen by administering an inhibitor,10 which suggests that baseline inflammation has a significant effect on the immune system.
The authors also theorize this may be relevant to older individuals with severe respiratory tract disease. As we age, the number of senescent cells and the level of baseline inflammation rises. Another way to improve immunity and reduce inflammation, then, may be to eliminate them.
This has prompted the development of senolytic therapies to do just that. The relationship between baseline inflammation and severe disease in older individuals with COVID-19 has not yet been defined, but one hypothesis is that the senescent cells and pre-existing inflammatory cells amplify the effects of COVID-19 in the respiratory tract.
Another theory is that the baseline inflammation in the body is not damaging on its own, but it may start a cellular cascade, which heightens inflammation with an infection. In addition to this, senescent cells can bring about more inflammation. Their buildup in the pulmonary tract may contribute to an increase in severe disease.
While the authors of the perspective published in Science Mag promote vaccination against SARS-CoV-2, they also point out that any effective treatment for the elderly may require a combination of antiviral and anti-inflammatory treatments.
Clearing Senescent Cells With Senolytics
Senolytic therapies were initially developed with the aim of reducing the severity of disease in the elderly and making an impact on the meteoric rise in chronic diseases, including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).11
However, it’s not a big leap to predict that the beauty industry may use the science to develop a new line of products to slow the aging process. According to Mayo Clinic researchers, preclinical data have demonstrated the potential for drugs to selectively encourage apoptosis in dying cells and have a positive effect on:12
|Cardiac dysfunction||Type 2 diabetes|
|Liver steatosis||Vertebral disk degeneration|
|Pulmonary fibrosis||Vascular hyporeactivity and calcification|
The possibility of impacting multiple diseases and functional deficits at the same time excites the scientific community because it can move geriatric medicine from largely reacting to disease to preventing it and thus slowing the aging process.
The potential to extend life and reduce disease has prompted some scientists to investigate the use of antibiotics as senolytics, despite the dangerously high level of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.13 In 2018, a team from the University of Salford in the U.K. published a study with “the goal of identifying and repurposing FDA-approved antibiotics, for the targeting of the senescent cell population.”14
The lab-based study involved human fibroblasts, and the team identified Azithromycin and Roxithromycin as drugs that showed senolytic activity. Another drug in the same family, Erythromycin, did not have the same effect.
In an interview with Health Europa, one member of the research team, Michael Lisanti, said he believes the next steps are clinical trials. He acknowledges they haven’t examined the relationship to antimicrobial resistance and that azithromycin is not an ideal antibiotic in this “context.” He went on to say:15
“Potentially in the future, once researchers identify what it is about the azithromycin that is causing the senescent cells to die, they could develop future drugs — azithromycin is a stepping stone in this context …”
You May Have a Senolytic in Your Vitamins — Quercetin
Although not all scientists agree,16 many argue that quercetin demonstrates senolytic properties. Early laboratory trials using human fibroblast cells showed quercetin “influence(s) cellular life span, survival and viability of HFL-1 primary human fibroblasts.”17
Early results from a clinical trial with chemotherapy agent Dasatinib and quercetin showed the combination of the two may lower the number of senescent cells in people with diabetic kidney disease.18
While encouraging, as one writer points out, “synergy with other compounds is a very different story from unilateral effects.”19 Yet, in other studies using only quercetin, its effect on lung fibrosis was found to diminish inflammation in the lab and to reduce pulmonary collagen deposits in an animal model after induced damage.20
The researchers went on to test the singular use of quercetin in an animal model with induced lung fibrosis and found:21
“Quercetin inhibited the progression of lung fibrosis, reduced the expression of senescent cell markers and SASP, and promoted overall health benefit in an experimental fibrosis model in aged mice. Last, we conclude that the data provided in our study are very promising and may add to current therapeutic strategies for IPF and other fibrotic disorders.”
Metabolic Therapies on the Horizon
Metabolic therapies are another strategy that may be used to halt the progression of viral disease. In the new field of immunometabolism research, scientists have discovered that metabolism has an influence on altering viral replication and affecting the body’s response to a pathogen.
One of the strategies showing promise is ketosis. In a paper published in the journal Cell, scientists said they believe the principal ketone body beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) is highly effective, and is:22
“… a highly efficient oxidative fuel and signaling metabolite. BHB has been shown to have diverse molecular effects, including metabolic regulation; increased cellular resistance to oxidative stress; inhibition of nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) signaling via HCAR2 receptor binding; decreased activity of components of the innate immune system, such as the nonobese diabetic (NOD)-, leucine-rich repeat (LRR)-, and pyrin domain-containing protein 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome;decreased systemic inflammatory burden; modifying gene expression; and acting as a fuel in the context of energetic stress.”
Clinical trials are currently underway to investigate the use of a ketogenic diet to reduce the signs of aging, prevent heart failure and neurodegeneration and manage diabetes. Researchers hope that using a ketogenic diet on intubated patients who are confirmed positive for COVID-19 may help reverse the progression of the disease.23
The authors of the paper warn it’s important to distinguish between ketoacidosis, which is a metabolic dysfunction leading to uncontrolled ketone accumulation, and adaptive physiological levels of ketosis in response to eating a low carbohydrate diet.
In intubated patients in the ICU, they believe using an exogenous source of ketones rather than inducing ketosis through prolonged fasting will have a greater positive effect.
For those who are not intubated, the authors write of potential immunological advantages when a ketogenic metabolic state is initiated. Researchers have also found medications that mimic caloric restriction, such as metformin, can reduce the inflammatory response because they get rid of senescent cells in much the same way that senolytic agents work.24
Fasting and Cyclical Ketogenic Diet Raise Ketone Levels
In addition to quercetin, you may have a significant impact on your health and immune system by practicing a cyclical ketogenic eating plan. There are several other benefits including losing weight, fighting inflammation, reducing appetite and lowering insulin levels.
As I’ve written in the past, limiting carbs and decreasing your eating window to 6-8 hours may help protect you against influenza. A team from Yale School of Medicine tested a theory in a small animal model study and found “… that the consumption of a low-carbohydrate, high-fat ketogenic diet (KD) protects mice from lethal IAV infection and disease.”25
By integrating a cyclical approach to the ketogenic diet, you can increase the health benefits and have greater flexibility in your meal planning. I describe an approach to this in “Will Eating Keto Help Prevent Flu?” In another article I discussed my KetoFast protocol to help reduce metabolic dysfunction.
- 1 Harvard Health Publishing, April 2020
- 2 EMBO Reports, 2012;13(11)
- 3 EcoWatch, January 30, 2016
- 4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- 5 Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine, 2018;5(12)
- 6, 8, 10 Science Mag, 2020;369(6501)
- 7 Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2017;28(3):199
- 9 PLOS|One 2013; doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0079816
- 11 MedicalXpress, January 7, 2019
- 12 Journal of the American Geriatric Society, 2017;65(10):2297
- 13, 15 Health Europa, June 10, 2020
- 14 Aging, 2018;10(11): 3294
- 16 PLOS|One, 2018;13(1)
- 17 Experimental Gerontology, 2010;45(10)
- 18 EBioMedicine, 2019;47:446
- 19 Fight Aging, January 16, 2018
- 20 ATS Journal, 2019;60(1)
- 21 ATS Journal, 2019;60(1), Quercetin in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis: Another Brick in the Senolytic Wall
- 22 Cell, 2020; doi.org/10.1016/j.medj.2020.06.008
- 23 Clinical Trials, June 17, 2020
- 24 Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2016;doi.org/10.1016/j.tem.2016.09.005
- 25 Science Immunology, 2019;4(41)
Reproduced from original article:
by: Sara Middleton, staff writer | January 20, 2020
(NaturalHealth365) These days, you can’t seem to have a conversation about longevity without talking about fasting. Fasting is now considered a promising way to help people live longer – just one of the many health benefits of fasting we’re now seeing in the research.
And boy, is there a lot of research. Scientists are exploring different types of fasting (including time-restricted eating, where you eat for 6-8 hours per day and fast for the rest) in both animal and human models – and, the results may make you want to close up the kitchen for the next half day or so.
Exciting research: How to slow down the negative effects of aging with fasting
A recent literature review published in the New England Journal of Medicine has concluded that, based on years of prior data, fasting can help you live longer! This is consistent with other data from institutions such as the National Institute on Aging (NIA), the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Louisiana’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center, where researchers found that daily fasting improves health and longevity in animal models – independent of what or how much the animals ate!
Aside from maximizing your lifespan, a consistent fasting routine may also help you optimize your healthspan, too. Here are five other benefits of fasting based on the current research:
- It lowers blood pressure – so may reduce your risk of heart disease
- It promotes fat loss and may help treat or prevent obesity
- It enhances blood sugar control by boosting insulin resistance – and thus may treat or prevent type 2 diabetes
- It slows tumor growth and therefore poses as a promising holistic treatment against cancer
- It may promote growth hormone production, which helps build stronger muscles and a healthy metabolism
5 tips on how to fast successfully
- Get medical supervision first: Fasting has been studied on individuals from all walks of life, and it’s shown to be safe and effective even for people with chronic health conditions like obesity and cancer. However, fasting isn’t for everyone, and there are some risks (such as dangerously low blood sugar in people with diabetes). Get your doctor’s approval prior to testing out fasting for yourself – especially if you’re about to explore a prolonged fast lasting 24 hours or more.
- Find a fasting template that works for you: Whether you choose an alternate day fast, time-restricted eating, 5/2 fasting, or some other model, it helps if you something you actually like and will fit your lifestyle. This may require some front-end research and trial and error on your part, but be willing to give fasting an honest go (fasting apps like Zero can be helpful!).
- Drink lots of pure (clean) water: This will keep you hydrated and keep those hunger pangs at bay. Most fasting practitioners also say that calorie-free beverages like black coffee, teas, and seltzer waters are A-OK on a fast, too. To keep yourself from getting cramps or headaches, add a pinch of sea salt to replenish your electrolytes.
- If you’re already a regular exerciser, feel free to be active during your fasting window. Just don’t overdo it. In fact, some research suggests that performing aerobic workouts in a fasted state may enhance endurance and muscles’ ability to use oxygen. Just use caution, stay hydrated (see the previous tip), and modify or stop what you’re doing if you start to notice any exercise intolerance symptoms like lightheadedness or heart palpitations.
- Break your fast with a normal sized meal: Try not to gorge yourself, as this could cause gastrointestinal upset. And if you want to extend the fat-burning state your body is in after a longer fast, consider eating a meal that’s rich in proteins and healthy fats, along with some low-carb foods like kale or cabbage.
Do NOT ignore the health dangers linked to toxic indoor air. These chemicals – the ‘off-gassing’ of paints, mattresses, carpets and other home/office building materials – increase your risk of headaches, dementia, heart disease and cancer.
Get the BEST indoor air purification system – at the LOWEST price, exclusively for NaturalHealth365 readers. I, personally use this system in my home AND office. Click HERE to order now – before the sale ends.
Sources for this article include:
Written by Brenton Wight, Health Researcher
Copyright © 1999-2021 Brenton Wight. All Rights Reserved.
Updated 10th September 2020
Doctors say there is no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, in spite of over 80 billion dollars in research over the last few decades.
This is partly true, as there is no drug, no “magic bullet” to slow or stop this dreadful condition.
Hundreds of studies with new drugs have shown most of the time that those on a placebo did BETTER than those on the drug!
In rare cases, those on the drug did very slightly better, but any improvement was not enough to justify bringing the drug to market.
However, we CAN identify risk factors, and we CAN in most cases prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s, and we CAN in most cases reverse the disease, or at least ease the symptoms to give the patient and the carers a better quality of life.
If the intervention is soon enough, it CAN be CURED in some, but not all cases.
There is no miracle one-shot treatment, but a combination of many factors.
The time to start treatment is not when we are 60 and forget where the keys are, but from birth!
The lifetime changes we need to prevent Alzheimer’s will also prevent heart disease, diabetes, cancer and many other diseases, and give our lives vitality.
How many people are at risk?
In the USA, over 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, and around 14% of the population will eventually get Alzheimer’s, or around 45 million people.
Results in Australia are similar. Over 10% of the population over 65 have Alzheimer’s, and 30% of those over 85 have Alzheimer’s. In the decade from 2010 to 2020, deaths from Alzheimer’s has risen 20% and looks set to replace Cardiovascular disease as the Number 1 cause of death.
Many people now suffer from Early Onset Alzheimer’s, showing signs as young as 30 years of age.
In the USA, it is now the third leading cause of death, but these figures are understated. People do not actually die from Alzheimer’s – they die because the parts of the brain that control bodily functions shut down, so they die when their organs shut down.
The patient may die from pneumonia because the lungs now cannot function or some other organ fails to work and the Doctor or Coroner has to determine which organ failed.
This is a problem in every country, but some countries have very much reduced rates of Alzheimer’s, mainly due to better diets and reduced toxins.
Originally, there was no firm diagnosis without examining the brains of patients after death.
Researchers found that most patients had Amyloid Plaques in the brain, and also high levels of aluminium.
PET scans (Positron Emission Tomography) are used with a radioactive tracer (which binds to amyloid plaques) to determine the amount and location of amyloid plaques in the brain.
However, this diagnosis is still not conclusive, as many people have amyloid plaques, but no sign of any dementia even into old age, although these people have a higher risk. Often symptoms do not appear for decades after the start of amyloid plaque deposits. Other patients have no sign of Amyloid plaques but still have Alzheimer’s, so drugs developed to reduce Amyloid plaques have proven unsuccessful in prevention and treatment.
Standard blood tests for glucose level, triglycerides, kidney and liver function can help determine the risk. However, those with less than optimum blood results may die of Cardiovascular, Cancer or some other disease before Alzheimer’s sets in.
So the PET scan is used with other tests for cognitive performance to arrive at a diagnosis.
Who is at risk?
Genetics plays an important part, and so does diet, exercise, lifestyle and supplements.
Here are some risk factors, in no particular order:
- Age is the greatest risk factor. Dementia can affect about 10% of those over the age of 65, but 33% of those over 80
- Gender – Women represent over 60% of Alzheimer’s patients, but part of this may be due to their longer lifespans
- Gluten – Celiacs often have “Wheat Brain” causing disturbances, anxiety, depression and Alzheimer’s. Many dementia patients recover fully on a gluten free diet
- Prescription medications such as many sedatives, hypnotics, blood pressure, hay fever, insomnia, depression and arthritis medications are linked to higher risk of Alzheimer’s
- Anaesthetics are linked to Alzheimer’s. The more operations people have, the higher the risk
- High Blood Pressure (systolic over 140 in mid-life) doubles the risk of Alzheimer’s and increases vascular dementia by 600%, but blood pressure medications can be just as bad, so reduce it naturally without medication
- Sleep Apnea starves the brain of vital oxygen and increases risk of Alzheimer’s
- B-12 deficiency increases Alzheimer’s risk. Gastric Bypass Surgery, Celiac disease, vegan/vegetarian diets, antacids (like Nexium) and many medications all reduce availability and/or absorption of B-12
- Diabetes doubles the risk of Alzheimer’s (often called “Diabetes of the Brain” or “Type 3 Diabetes”)
- Vision problems increase Alzheimer’s risk. Opthalmologists can detect abnormal widths of blood vessels in the retina which can indicate early Alzheimer’s
- Tobacco – Smokers have double the risk for Alzheimer’s. Family and others breathing second-hand smoke also have higher risk
- Living alone after a partner’s death means we have six times the risk of Alzheimer’s, and those who divorce and live alone have three times the risk.
- Isolation is a significant risk factor for depression and dementia. Find a friend!
- Obesity is a risk. The lower the BMI (Body Mass Index) the lower the risk. Obesity raises risk by around 75%
- Family history increases the risk. See the Genetics section below, but environmental factors, diet and lifestyle choices can be passed on to children
- Education improves outcome, and lack of education increases Alzheimer’s risk. Studies suggest higher education increases “cognitive reserve” which may offset dementia symptoms
- Concussion or head trauma increases Alzheimer’s risk exponentially with the number and severity of head injuries
- Quality sleep is essential for the ability of the body to repair itself by flushing toxins from the brain
- Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to alcoholic dementia and higher risk of Alzheimer’s as well as many other health risks
- Mental activities improves the brain, physically and psychologically. Learn new things strengthens and develops new nerve cells
- Sedentary lifestyles are a large risk for the brain as well as the body. Exercise is a must for the brain and the body
- Chronic bladder disease increases risk
- Chronic Candida infections increase risk
Overcoming risk factors:
- Change the diet – see below
- Get regular, uninterrupted sleep
- Socialising, visiting friends, joining a group
- Crosswords, puzzles, new experiences, learning a musical instrument or another language
- Exercise helps control blood glucose levels, keeps excess weight down, increases oxygen and circulation, and joining a gym can also help with socialisation
- Use the many supplements available
There is a strong genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s, but also there is a strong contribution of environment, diet and lifestyle.
Rates of Alzheimer’s disease have increased much faster than any genetic changes could have occurred.
This means that much is under our control, because even with a genetic predisposition, we can reduce risk with epigenetic (non-genetic influences on gene expression) changes.
Example: The most important genetic risk factor is the ApoE epsilon 4 allele (ApoE4), and 14% to 18% of the population has this gene.
Everyone carries two copies of the APOE gene, which makes the protein ApoE (apolipoprotein E).
There are three different types (alleles) of the APOE gene: E2, E3 and E4, and because we all have two copies of the gene, the combination determines our APOE “genotype” which can be any combination of the 2 copies: E2/E2, E2/E3, E2/E4, E3/E3, E3/E4, or E4/E4.
The majority of people have two E3 alleles (E3/E3) so this is defined as the “average risk”.
The E2 allele is the least common form, and if we have two E2 alleles (E2/E2) or one E2 and one E3 (E2/E3) we have about 40% REDUCED risk of Alzheimer’s.
The E4 allele, present in 14% to 20% of the population, increases the risk for Alzheimer’s, especially late-onset Alzheimer’s, but this does NOT mean that we will get Alzheimer’s disease if we have one or two copies of E4, as about one third of Alzheimer’s patients do not have even a single E4.
All it means is that our risk is increased, also increased is the risk of potential Alzheimer’s at a younger age.
To quantify the risk:
If we have no copies of E4, we still have around 9% risk of Alzheimer’s.
If we have a single copy of E4, our risk increases to around 30%.
If we have two copies of E4, risk is between 50% to 90% but in all cases, we CAN REDUCE the risk.
Many people are horrified to learn that they have up to a 90% risk of Alzheimer’s, but they need not be.
With some dietary, lifestyle and supplement changes, those at greatest risk can easily fall into the 10% who do NOT get Alzheimer’s.
SAD (Standard American Diet)
Genetic statistics above apply only to average people, typically Caucasians living in the Western World and consuming a typical Western diet of processed food, sugar, MSG, hydrogenated oils, chemicals, heavy metals, pesticides, insecticides and other toxic substances.
These statistics do NOT apply to those with a healthy diet of natural, organic food living in a low-toxin environment.
In fact, many people already down the cognitive decline have recovered on a healthy diet and sustained the improvement for several years, according to Dr Dale Bredesen who has been running a program for years now.
Dr Bredesen does not know how many more years it will be, but does know that patients on the program have removed the biochemical drivers which can be measured in blood tests, so so is very optimistic about their future health for many years to come.
Should we get genetic testing?
This is up to the individual. Some people would prefer not to know. Others want to know.
My father died from Alzheimer’s at about age 72 after many years in a Nursing Home, existing but without knowing who his family members were. So did my Grandmother on my Mother’s side, so I assume I may well have inherited a high genetic risk. I am now 73 as I revise this article. For me, testing is irrelevant, because I changed to a Paleo-style diet at age 63, which turned my life around.
From obese to lean, from grey hair to brown, from allergies to everything to allergies to nothing, from high blood pressure and triglycerides to normal, from poor physical strength to strong, fit and full of energy, from frequent headaches to none, from always getting sick to never getting sick.
If I had the genetic test and it was the worst result, I would only continue to do what I am doing now, using dietary and lifestyle modifications.
Have I halted Alzheimers? I hope so, but I often cannot remember some of the thousands of medical terms I have come across in my 10 years of research. Come back here in 27 years as I approach 100 and I will let you know how I have done.
Amyloid Plaques vs Tangles
Amyloid is a protein, normally found throughout the body. In Alzheimer’s, this protein divides improperly, creating beta amyloid which is toxic to brain neurons.
Amyloid is actually antimicrobial and has benefits for the body, but some people, especially those with the E4/E4 alleles cannot naturally break down these plaques, but there are dietary methods which can.
Not all Alzheimer’s patients have beta Amyloid plaques. About 10% of patients have neurofibrillary tangles which cause similar symptoms, but are also inclined to have more aggressive behavior.
Three Kinds of Alzheimer’s
Humans liberate amyloid as a protective response in the body to three different fundamental metabolic and toxic perturbations:
- Type 1: Characterized by systemic inflammation. Blood tests typically reveal high hs-CRP (high-sensitivity C-reactive protein), low albumin:globulin ratio,
and high cytokine levels such as interleukin-1 and interleukin-6. Imaging reveals temporoparietal reductions in glucose utilization.
Those at risk include people with chronic infections or inflammation from other causes, and the normal antimicrobial protective response liberates amyloids
- Type 2: Characterized by normal inflammation, but an atrophic (wasting away) profile, with reduced support from estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, insulin, and vitamin D, often with high homocysteine and insulin resistance. Imaging reveals temporoparietal reductions in glucose utilization. As NGF (Nerve Growth Factor) diminishes, amyloid production increases.
Type 2 in particular can be CAUSED by LOW cholesterol, resulting in atrophy (brain shrinkage), reduced hormone production, poor health and eventually Alzheimer’s.
All because we are taking statins that lower cholesterol, or we are not eating enough healthy fats.
We prevent our cells from doing what they are supposed to do, so we end up with a shrunken brain without the lipid (fat) content we need. A fat-free diet means atrophy of the brain.
See the Cholesterol Fraud and the Big Fat Lie sections below.
- Type 3: Different from types 1 and 2. Still β-amyloid positive and phospho-tau positive), but a younger onset (late 40s to early 60s).
Genotype ApoE is usually E3/E3 instead of E4/E4 or E3/E4 with little or no family history.
Onset usually follows a period of stress, depression, sleep loss, anesthesia, or menopause/andropause.
Memory loss is not a main symptom, instead there are cortical issues: dyscalculia (trouble with arithmetic), aphasia (trouble speaking or understanding speech – damage to the left side of the brain),
executive dysfunction (emotional or behavioural problems from frontal lobe issues).
Imaging studies often reveal extra-hippocampal disease, greater general cerebral atrophy and frontal-temporal-parietal abnormalities.
Lab results often reveal hypozincemia (low zinc) and/or a high copper:zinc ratio, and can indictate adrenal fatigue
(low pregnenolone, DHEA-S (dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate), and/or AM cortisol. Chronic infections like mycotoxins, Lyme, viral infections, HSV-1 (a herpes simplex virus) are all risk factors
Some patients have “Alzheimer’s type 1.5” where a combination of symptoms of both type 1 and 2 Alzheimer’s occurs.
Glycotoxicity (too much sugar in the brain) causes an insulin resistant brain. Combine this with AGEs (Advanced Glycation End products), and we have both inflammation from AGEs, plus atrophic withdrawal response because we are now resistant to insulin.
So we have a double condition of type 1 and type 2.
Type 3 patients often have MARCoNS (Multiple Antibiotic-Resistant Coagulase-Negative Staph), a colonisation of antibiotic-resistant staphylococcus in the nasal cavity.
Also high blood levels of TGF-beta-1 (Transforming Growth Factor beta-1), high C4A (a protein that in humans is encoded by the C4A gene), and low MSH (Melanocyte-Stimulating Hormone) is very common, typically with HLA-DR/DQ haplotypes shown by Dr Ritchie Shoemaker to be associated with CIRS.
Alzheimer’s from nose infections?
We have known for years that our healthy gut bacteria is essential to prevent almost every disease, and now research is looking at the rhinosinal microbiome, the healthy bacteria in our nose.
This is now becoming known as Inhalational Alzheimer’s.
The nose is the most direct route to the brain, and bad bacteria in the mucous lining of the airways can damage the brain.
Pathologists now believe there are unknown pathogens in the rhinencephalon, the “nose-smell” (olfacation) system.
Many Alzheimer’s patients start losing their sense of smell as one of the early signs of the disease, and this is probably why.
I am confident that my nasal bacteria is back to normal after having very bad allergies and taking antihistamines from when I was about 16 to when I was 63.
Allergies stopped when the bad diet stopped.
Dr. Susan Lynch at UCSF has found that the nose problem is not so much an unknown pathogen, but a lack of microbial diversity.
Beneficial microorganisms in the nose protect against many pathogens, and one of the best seems to be Lactobacillus sakei, used to make sake and kimchi.
This could explain why Japanese people have comparatively low rates of Alzheimer’s, although rates are rising in Japan because of the Western influence, with meat and dairy replacing rice as a staple food.
When Japanese people migrate to Western countries and adopt a Western diet, they have the same risk as anyone else.
So for the Japanese, it is not a genetic problem, but a diet problem, and this applies to everyone.
AGEs – Advanced Glycation End products
AGEs are formed when food cooked at high temperatures (over 120 degrees C) combines with sugar. AGEs are very damaging to the body, accelerating the ageing process and chronic disease.
AGEs worsen diabetes, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s, inflammation, atherosclerosis (stiffening of the arteries), cardiovascular disease and stroke.
AGEs cause glycation of LDL cholesterol, promoting oxidation, and oxidized LDL is a major factor in atherosclerosis.
AGEs form photosensitizers in the eye lens, leading to cataract development.
To reduce AGEs, never cook at high temperatures (steaming is best, always at 100 degrees C), eat plenty of raw food (salads, and small amounts of fruit), and eliminate all sugar and processed foods.
Drug companies have been trying for years to get rid of Amyloid plaques, thinking they are the cause of Alzheimer’s.
However, the body needs amyloid to protect the brain, so we need to look at what is causing the plaques instead of trying to get rid of them. Latest research shows that Amyloid plaques are antimicrobial, so can be both damaging and protecting!
Alzheimer’s – “Diabetes Type 3”
Some researchers are now labeling Alzheimer’s as “Diabetes Type 3” because sugar causes Alzheimer’s.
Sugar also causes diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and many more diseases, mainly due to processed foods.
As with diabetes, where sugar causes insulin resistance, we have insulin resistance in the brain, causing degeneration.
When the brain becomes insulin resistant, it means that glucose cannot enter the brain cells, so those cells die.
However, all is not lost. If we switch to a Ketonegic diet, we can feed our brain with fat instead of sugar. More on this diet below.
Diagnosing the type of Alzheimer’s
Unlike cancer, where we can biopsy a tumour, we must look at historical, biochemical, genetic, imaging, and function information to determine the type of Alzheimer’s.
Of course this rarely happens except in research applications. The doctor simply says the patient has Alzheimer’s and may give a drug which in the long term will not make much difference.
This is a shame, because about half of all cases can be halted, and in some cases substantially improved, by reverting to the correct diet.
Even better would be to eat a correct diet from birth, reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s to near zero, as well as preventing cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other modern diseases.
Physical exercise is extremely important to keep the brain and body healthy.
Researchers are not sure why, but LeanMachine says it is obvious:
Exercise burns off the high glucose levels that cause “Diabetes of the Brain” and exercise boosts oxygen levels and circulation in the brain.
Any type of exercise is beneficial, such as:
- Walking, jogging or running
- Push-ups, chin-ups
Exercises have the added benefit of socialisation in a group, such as:
- Join a gym
- Tai-Chi or Yoga classes
- Athletics clubs
- Dancing classes
Exercising the Brain
The body has a disturbing property: Anything not used for a while gets broken down to be used somewhere else.
If we do not use a muscle for a week, the body starts breaking it down.
But if we exercise regularly, we stop muscles wasting, and we actually build up our muscles.
If we do not use parts of the brain, the body starts breaking it down.
But if we exercise our brain, we can hang on to the parts we use, and develop new pathways to replace parts we have lost. Exercises such as:
- Learning a new language
- Playing a musical instrument
- Crossword or other puzzles
- Socialising in groups or clubs
Meditation is not normally seen as exercise for the brain, but sitting in a quiet, dark room away from all daily distractions not only promotes a calming effect, but increases various brain-saving hormones.
Meditation, like dreaming, helps the brain sort out the junk memories and recent problems by concentrating on things that have made us feel good in the past.
We may have pleasant memories like sitting on a sandy beach listening to the waves rolling in on a beautiful sunny day. By concentrating on peaceful and pleasant memories, we forget problems with out hectic daily life.
The modern diet is lacking in vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other nutrients, mainly because of:
- Over-farming – growing the same food in the same ground year after year, depleting these vital elements
- Over-processing – hydrogenation, adding sugar, adding chemicals, overheating
- Toxins from farming chemicals contaminates the environment
- Water is contaminated by fluoride and chlorine
The supplements everyone over 50 should take are:
Organic Coconut Oil, taken several times a day, a tablespoon at a time.
LeanMachine considers this one of the best prevention and treatment methods available for Alzheimer’s.
This encourages the body to burn healthy fats instead of sugar, called the Ketogenic Diet which burns ketones, which is what our ancestors did in their natural low-carb diets. See the Ketogenic Diet below.
Coconut oil appears to break down the amyloid plaque buildup in the brain. Perhaps the plaques are no longer required when the brain is fed by healthy fats instead of glucose.
Coconut oil is also the absolute best for cooking, replacing any other fat, because coconut oil remains stable at high temperatures, and is full of MCT (Medium Chain Triglycerides) which go straight to the liver to be burned as fuel, and cannot be stored as fat in the body.
Coconut oil also contains Lauric Acid, which keeps our skin wrinkle-free and healthy.
– PS (Phosphatidylserene) is a component of the cerebral cortex’s neuronal membrane, and can improve memory and mood, reduce stress, improve learning and more.
It does this by controlling input and production of choline, acetylcholine, norepinephrine, dopamine and glucose.
– Vitamin B-12 because as we age, our stomach acid levels drop, preventing the high-acid conditions required for B-12 absorption from food. Even more essential for vegans and vegetarians as B-12 mainly comes from animal products.
– B-group vitamins because these are vitally important for nerves and brain health.
– ALA (Alpha Lipoic Acid) as an antioxidant to help remove heavy metals from the brain, reduce inflammation, and improve the effectiveness of votamins C and E.
– Vitamin D3 because over half the ageing population are taking statin medication (which they should NOT) and statins halt production of 7-dehydrocholesterol, the first step in the manufacture of vitamin D3. Worse, many of these seniors are in Aged Care facilities and never see the light of day, so cannot make vitamin D3 from sunlight. If they are ever taken outside, it is only early morning or late afternoon when they cannot get vitamin D3 anyway. More info in my Vitamin D3 article.
– Ginkgo Biloba is highly recommended to improve blood flow in the brain. Should not be used in conjunction with prescription blood thinners.
– TMG (Trimethylglycine) is an effective methyl donor for the facilitation of methylation processes. Supports a healthy homocysteine level, which in turn supports healthy cardiovascular function and helps prevent Alzheimer’s. Homocysteine, a damaging amino acid, with the aid of TMG, is turned into methionine, a safe and beneficial amino acid. Methylation is essential for DNA repair and production of SAMe, which helps joints, lifts mood, fights depression and protects brain cells from amyloid plaques. Read more in my TMG article.
– SAMe (S-Adenosyl Methionine) can help protect the brain and also help treat depression, anger, anxiety which are common symptoms in some Alzheimer’s patients.
– Vinpocetine has shown mixed results but mostly beneficial in limited human trials using 10mg 3 times daily.
– Vitamin E is recommended to improve the healthy fats in the brain and increase antioxidants.
– Benfotiamine with Leucine can help remove glucose and improve insulin resistance.
Many other supplements can help, including:
In addition, many supplements primarily used to treat diabetes will also help prevent Alzheimer’s.
The Cholesterol Fraud
Previous research indicated that high cholesterol was a risk factor for Alzheimer’s.
Again, this was wrong. Doctors started prescribing statin drugs for those people with high cholesterol, or those with signs of dementia with normal cholesterol.
What happened? They got Alzheimer’s WORSE and got it FASTER than patients who did NOT take statins.
Researchers only looked at total cholesterol which is a complete waste of time.
25% of the cholesterol in the body is in the brain, mainly in the myelin sheath.
Around 60% of our brain is fat, mainly in the form of cholesterol.
The myelin sheath (oligodendroglia) that surrounds and protects our neurons are 70% cholesterol, 30% protein.
Starve the brain of healthy fat, and we get Alzheimer’s. Almost guaranteed.
Reduce cholesterol and what happens? The protective myelin sheaths break down as they are starved of cholesterol, allowing the brain cells to be damaged. Damage them enough, and they die. Then we have dementia. Damage enough cells, and the brain can no longer support our basic functions, like breathing. Then we die.
This is why statin drugs are BAD.
Sure, in some cases, they can slightly reduce risk of heart attacks, but they INCREASE death from all other causes, including Alzheimer’s.
The net result is that on average, we will not live a day longer on statin medication.
Statins will give us lousy final years with muscle breakdown, osteoporosis, more sickness and dementia.
We need plenty of healthy fats like coconut oil, walnuts, avocados, fish, eggs, butter from grass-fed cows, unheated olive oil.
We must NOT consume bad fats: Canola oil, margarine, anything hydrogenated, anything heated over 120 degrees C.
Cholesterol is NOT the enemy.
We NEED cholesterol, especially HDL (High Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol which reduces inflammation, and helps clean up the body (like a garbage collector). Without HDL Cholesterol, we die within 24 hours.
We also need LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein), still incorrectly called “bad” cholesterol, as we die without it.
LDL has antimicrobial effects, so the idea that we should drive it down to zero is ludicrous. LDL is essential to transport nutrients around the body (and into the brain) as well as helping the body manufacture hormones and other important products. LDL was essential for our evolutionary ancestors millions of years ago, and we still need it.
The brain is mostly fat, and 40% of the brain is CHOLESTEROL.
Many things that were protective in our native environment are problems in our modern environment, but if we go back to our ancestral diet, problems are resolved.
Studies show time after time that people with low cholesterol die young, while people with normal to high cholesterol live longest.
These studies are ignored by the big drug companies. Because statin sales make them billions of dollars, of course they continue the Big Cholesterol Lie, one of the biggest frauds in medical history. Their own study showed increased deaths and terrible side effects so they stopped the study short at that time, supposedly to “save patient’s lives” when the opposite was true.
The dangerous cholesterol is VLDL (Very Low Density Lipoprotein) which cannot easily be tested.
Because triglycerides contain some VLDL, labs estimate VLDL value by simply taking a percentage of triglycerides.
High triglycerides are much more of a danger signal than high cholesterol, and are almost always related to obesity, poor diet of processed foods, especially dangerous fats.
The Big Fat Lie
We have been told for decades that fat is bad for us.
Forget about “low fat” or “fat free” diets.
Another big fat lie, coming from a scientist who plucked figures out of a study to suit an argument he was proposing.
When the data was analysed completely, many decades later, it showed the complete opposite.
The largest and longest study in the world was the Framingham study which showed that those who ate the most fat lived longer than those who ate the least.
Fat is not unhealthy in general, in fact it is essential for health.
The UNHEALTHY fats are man-made artificial fats (margarine, Canola oil) and other processed fats that are hydrogenated to improve shelf life and heated to extremes during manufacture, often going rancid in the process, causing oxidised VLDL (Very Low Density Lipoprotein), the REAL dangerous “food”.
What is REALLY bad is carbohydrates, and when manufacturers remove fats from food, they replace them with carbohydrates, causing most “modern” diseases including Alzheimer’s and Diabetes.
The Ketogenic Diet
For the first two million years of human life on Earth, carbohydrate consumption was very low.
Carbohydrates were uncommon, with the majority of food being nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, fruit and vegetables. Meat was eaten very rarely when an animal was killed.
These people did not burn carbohydrates for energy, they burned FAT. In particular, ketones, the basis of the ketogenic diet.
A ketogenic diet means maintaining a fasting state of ketosis. Ketones are produced when the body is in a state of ketosis.
Ketones fuel cells using a different pathway from glucose.
Glucose has to have insulin to allow glucose into cells, but as we all should know, our typical modern diet is loaded with carbohydrates, forcing the pancreas into overdrive making enough insulin.
Eventually our cells become insulin resistant, so the pancreas produces even more insulin to force glucose into the cells, creating even more insulin resistance.
We are now a full-blown diabetic, and when the pancreas starts shutting down, we need insulin injections for the rest of our life.
However, when we feed the cells with ketones, they simply enter the cell naturally, and do NOT require insulin or anything else to do so.
This is critically important for five of our modern diseases: Obesity, Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular and Alzheimer’s, all caused or aggravated by high blood glucose, bad fats and inflammation.
Ketones are also signaling molecules as well.
Benefits of the ketogenic diet include:
- Helps the body express new restorative and healing genes
- Reduces inflammation (underlying cause of nearly every disease)
- Stimulates the immune system
- Aids weight loss
- Stops or slows degenerative disease
- Reduces risk of Alzheimer’s, Cancer, Cardiovascular, Diabetes and Obesity
The Anti-Alzheimer’s diet
Add these spices to every meal possible.
Of course they will spice up any meal, but also help clear the brain of problems and reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and many more modern illnesses.
- Sage – one of the best brain-saving spices
- Cloves – one of the most potent antioxidants
- Curry – a blend of other great spices
- Ginger – reduces inflammation and improves immunity
- Turmeric – for colour, flavour and Curcumin
- Ceylon Cinnamon – Better and safer than regular cinnamon
Ketogenic Diet – Healthy fats, intermittent fasting.
Read How Cyclical Ketosis can help combat Chronic Fatigue
Avoid Trans Fats
Read Trans Fats Linked to Increased Risk for Alzheimers
Avoid Processed Foods
Only shop in the greengrocer department at the Supermarket, preferably the organic section. Buy or grow your own real food. Nothing in a bag, box, tin because toxic ingredients are sure to be added.
Forget fried foods. Steaming is the best way to cook. Never Microwave. Eat raw salads daily.
This section often updated. Please come back soon (if you remember!)
Copyright © 1999-2021 Brenton Wight and BJ&HJ Wight trading as Lean Machine abn 55293601285.
All Rights Reserved.
Reproduced from original article:
Lori Alton, staff writer
(NaturalHealth365) According to the most current data about gallstones – deposits of crystallized cholesterol in the gallbladder or bile ducts, about 15 percent of the American population are affected by this preventable condition.
And, while many gallstones are “silent” and cause no symptoms, serious complications – including bile duct infection, pancreatitis and an increased risk of heart disease and gallbladder cancer – can sometimes occur. The good news: a variety of natural nutrients and supplements can help slash your risk of developing these potentially troublesome deposits.
Just don’t expect your conventionally trained physician to talk to you about this.
In fact, the “typical response” of Western medicine is to surgically remove the gallbladder (a procedure known as cholecystectomy), if there’s a problem. But, again, you ought to know that there are many non-invasive, non-toxic techniques to ward off gallstones. Let’s take a closer look!
Warning: The standard American diet is a perfect “recipe” for promoting the development of gallstones
When it comes to raising the risk of gallstones, a high (toxic) fat, high calorie and highly processed diet is a primary culprit. Unfortunately, with the ease of obtaining “fast” foods, junk foods and highly processed foods, this is the diet of far too many people.
Other factors that can raise the risk of developing gallstones include obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, increasing age and certain medications, such as diuretics.
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Genetics can also play a role. And, women are statistically more likely to develop gallstones than men.
Note: while losing weight can help cut the risk of developing gallstones, experts recommend that the loss be gradual, and not exceed about 3 pounds a week. As ironic as it seems, prolonged fasting and sudden, drastic weight loss can also trigger the development of gallstones.
The following substances have been shown in human and animal studies to be particularly effective against gallstones. Of course, consult with an experienced integrative physician before supplementing with any of them.
Observational study: Vitamin C supplementation slashes gallstone risk
A potent antioxidant, vitamin C works in the body to scavenge harmful free radicals and reduce the oxidative stress that plays a role in gallstone formation. By helping to convert excess cholesterol into bile acids, vitamin C may help reduce cholesterol concentrations, thereby decreasing the chance of gallstones.
In one study, gallstone patients slated for gallbladder removal were given 2,000 mg of vitamin C a day for two weeks before their surgeries. These patients were found to have improved bile composition, and less cholesterol crystallization, than those who hadn’t received supplementary vitamin C.
But, a 2009 study yielded even more dramatic findings.
In an observational study involving over 2,100 subjects, researchers found that regular vitamin C users were a whopping 66 percent less likely to develop gallstones than those who didn’t supplement.
Imagine if these results were achieved by a brand-new drug?! The pharmaceutical companies would doubtless crow over these remarkable results in a non-stop barrage of commercials.
Ironically, however, non-toxic, natural, inexpensive vitamin C has received no such media fanfare in the decade following this study – a typical result when it comes to the therapeutic benefits of any vitamin.
Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil discourage gallstone formation
Fish oil, rich in beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, has received kudos from natural health experts for its ability to reduce inflammation, support healthy cardiovascular function and ease depression. Now, research shows that EPA and DHA, the primary fatty acids in fish oil, also help prevent gallstones.
Like vitamin C, EPA and DHA inhibit cholesterol crystallization and improve bile composition. In a study published in Journal of Nutrition, researchers gave 11.3 grams a day of omega-3s from fish oil to obese women who were on medically supervised weight-loss diets of 1,200 calories per day.
When compared to the placebo group, the omega-3 group experienced a reduction in the time it took to form cholesterol crystals, thereby slowing gallstone formation. As an added “bonus:” the researchers noted that the group also enjoyed a reduced risk of heart disease.
The team concluded that omega-3 fatty acids can cut the risk of developing gallstones that accompanies rapid weight loss – an especially important point for those looking to improve their health!
SAM-e is a useful tool for promoting gallbladder health
SAM-e, short for S-adenosylmethionine, is a molecule found naturally in the body. With potent anti-inflammatory and mood-elevating effects, SAM-e is currently used to treat a variety of ills, including arthritis pain and depression.
This versatile compound also has a protective effect on the liver and gallbladder.
In addition, SAM-e improves bile flow and decreases cholesterol concentration – two important defenses against gallbladder problems. Like vitamin C, it contributes to antioxidant protection, and reduces the oxidative stress that can trigger gallstones.
Note: researchers have found that women with increased estrogen levels are more likely to suffer from gallstones. Significantly, SAM-e reduced bile cholesterol by almost one third in women taking oral contraceptives.
Natural health experts normally advise SAM-e dosages in the area of 600 mg to 1,200 mg a day, but check first with your own healthcare provider.
Curcumin from turmeric: The “golden spice” has a glowing reputation for fighting gallstones
Curcumin, the active ingredient in the medicinal spice turmeric, has long been valued by natural healers for its ability to ease inflammation, combat infection and fight cancer. A carotenoid, or natural plant pigment, curcumin is responsible for the brilliant yellow-orange coloration of turmeric.
Both animal and human studies have shown that curcumin has the ability to improve cholesterol and lipid metabolism, increase bile flow, reduce gallbladder inflammation and promote normal bile acid metabolism.
There is even evidence that curcumin can reduce post-operative pain and fatigue after gallbladder removal. In an intriguing study published in Surgical Endoscopy, patients who had their gallbladders removed required less pain medication when they were given curcumin.
Curcumin is available in supplemental form, with typical dosages ranging from 500 mg to 2,000 mg a day. Just be sure to look for a formulation that includes black pepper – which greatly improves curcumin absorption.
EGCG in green tea may fight not only gallstones – but deadly gallbladder diseases as well
EGCG, or epigallocatechin gallate, is a flavonoid found in green tea. This potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory has been demonstrated to prevent gallstones in animals – and human studies back this up.
Not only does EGCG prevent gallstones, but it appears to play a role in warding off some of the potentially life-threatening forms of gallbladder disease.
A population-based study in China, published in International Journal of Cancer, showed that drinking at least one cup of green tea for six months cut the risk of developing gallstones by 27 percent, the risk of bile duct cancer by 35 percent and the risk of gallbladder cancer by 44 percent.
Not a bad payoff for merely sipping a daily cup of fragrant and refreshing green tea!
Take action: Reduce the risk of gallstones with natural techniques
You can cut your risk of gallstones by removing white sugar, refined carbohydrates and saturated or trans fats from your diet – while eating plenty of fiber-rich fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy amounts of monounsaturated fats (such as those found in avocados, nuts and olive oil).
Note: an influential 2017 French study showed that people who consumed a Mediterranean diet – which roughly mirrors the above suggestions – enjoyed a dramatically lower risk of gallstones.
And, it couldn’t hurt to add garlic, onions, fenugreek and cayenne to your diet – all have been associated with lower risk of gallstones.
And, finally, increasing your activity level can help ward off gallstones, too. One study showed that between two and three hours of moderate exercise per week could lower the odds of developing gallstones by 25 percent.
Sources for this article include:
Reproduced from original article:
Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola
January 10, 2020
- Heart disease and cancer are the two top reasons people die in the U.S.; data show women who can exercise vigorously have a reduced risk of mortality from heart disease, cancer and other causes
- Women who have high cardiovascular fitness also enjoy a reduced risk of dementia, which may be related to higher levels of a protein responsible for improving mitochondrial biogenesis
- Combining intermittent fasting with the ketogenic diet plan may boost the health benefits and improve mitochondrial health. This includes not eating within three hours of going to bed to reduce free radical damage
- Lack of exercise is globally responsible for nearly 5 million deaths each year; the more you move and exercise the lower the potential rate of death. Aim to sit as little as possible during the day
Heart disease and cancer are the top two reasons people die in the U.S. The term heart disease is used to identify several types of conditions, including cardiovascular disease, coronary artery disease and heart attack. While many think of this as a man’s disease, the CDC1 reports almost as many women will die each year from it.
The most common type, coronary heart disease, affects 6.2% of women 20 and older. Many women report having no symptoms before experiencing a heart attack, but others may have symptoms of angina, nausea or fatigue. Diabetes, obesity, an unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity are all lifestyle choices that increase your risk for heart disease.
Each of these same factors increase your risk of cancer. Some of the types of cancer that more frequently affect women include breast, cervical, lung, colorectal and skin.2 Most cancers strike women after menopause, but gynecological cancers may happen at any time.
Every year 90,000 women are diagnosed with one form of gynecological cancer and 242,000 with breast cancer. The signs of gynecological cancers may be vague and mimic symptoms of other conditions, such as unexplained weight loss, constant fatigue, loss of appetite or feeling full, pain in the pelvis or a change in bowel habits.
Fitness Protects Women Against Risk of Premature Death
New data recently presented at the European Society of Cardiology3 strongly suggest that women who can exercise vigorously experience a significantly lower risk of mortality from heart disease, cancer and other causes. Although there have been multiple studies using male participants or mixed groups, the researchers proposed that information specific to women was scarce.
The study used data from 4,714 adult females who had undergone echocardiograms for known or suspected coronary artery disease. Treadmill stress tests were used with increasing intensity to measure fitness, which the researchers defined as a maximum workload of 10 metabolic equivalents (METs).
Women who were able to achieve 10 METs or more were compared to those who achieved less. A measurement of 10 METs is equivalent to walking up four flights of stairs fast without stopping or going up three flights quickly.
The researchers followed the participants for a median 4.6 years and found there were 345 deaths from cardiovascular disease, 164 from cancer and 203 from other causes. After adjusting for influencing factors, the findings revealed that women in the higher MET group had a lower risk of death from all measured causes.
By comparison, women in the lower fitness group experienced an annual rate of death nearly four times higher and the annual cancer death rate doubled. One researcher, Dr. Jesus Peteiro, noted the average age of participants was 64 years and 80% were from 50 to 75 years. He went on to comment:4
“Good exercise capacity predicted lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other causes. Looking at both examinations together, women whose heart works normally during exercise are unlikely to have a cardiovascular event.
But if their exercise capacity is poor, they are still at risk of death from cancer or other causes. The best situation is to have normal heart performance during exercise and good exercise capacity.”
The women underwent imaging of their heart during the treadmill test to assess function. Those with poor function during the test were more likely to succumb to cardiovascular disease during the follow-up period, but it was not predictive of death from other causes.5 Peteiro said: “The results were the same for women over 60 and less than 60, although the group under 50 was small.”
Cardiovascular Fitness Also Reduces Risk of Dementia
Staying fit is key to reducing your potential risk for many chronic diseases, including those affecting the central nervous system. Across the world there are 47 million who are living with dementia, and this is expected to increase to 75 million by 2030. You may be able to significantly slash this risk by taking simple steps to improve your cardiovascular fitness.
A study from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden showed women with the highest cardiovascular fitness had an 88% reduced risk of dementia as compared to those with moderate fitness. Even maintaining some fitness proved to have benefit as those with the lowest level experienced a 41% greater risk of dementia than those with average fitness.
The researchers did not assess how much exercise the participants engaged in but used an ergometer cycling test during which additional resistance was added as the women continued to cycle until they were exhausted. The authors wrote:
“These results suggest that cardiovascular fitness is associated with the sparing of brain tissue in aging humans. Furthermore, these results suggest a strong biological basis for the role of aerobic fitness in maintaining and enhancing central nervous system health and cognitive functioning in older adults.”
A second way fitness may protect neurological health is by increasing levels of PGC-1alpha responsible for improving mitochondrial biogenesis. Data reveal that those with Alzheimer’s have less PGC-1alpha in their brain. Cells containing more produce less of the toxic amyloid protein associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Participants diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s were enrolled in a four-month supervised exercise program. The results demonstrated they had fewer neuropsychiatric symptoms from the disease than the control group who did not exercise.
A progressive walking program in those with early Alzheimer’s disease led to improvements in cardiovascular fitness and functional ability. This in turn led to improved memory and increases in the size of the brain’s hippocampus.
Mitochondrial Function Linked to Reducing Risk of Disease
Your mitochondria are minute powerhouses in your cells producing a majority of the energy your body generates, as well as coordinating apoptosis, or programmed cell death, important in the prevention of malfunctioning cells that may turn into cancer.
Your brain is the most energy-dependent organ and therefore is particularly susceptible to impaired energy production. This process may then make the brain more susceptible to age-related disease.
As you age, the genes controlling mitochondrial energy generation may be turned down, and mitochondria are noted to be less dense and more fragmented. With insufficient energy and dysfunctional mitochondria, defective cells can survive and multiply.
There are several ways your mitochondria may be damaged, but much of it may result from superoxide free radicals. Although the production of superoxide is part of a normal process, when produced at higher than normal levels it damages the DNA in your mitochondria. This damage increases when you are not metabolically flexible.
That means you burn a higher percentage of carbohydrates for fuel than you do fat. The process of burning carbs leaks more electrons that combine with oxygen to form superoxide. High-carbohydrate processed foods prevent you from burning fat efficiently, which produces less oxidative stress than carbs. Your nutrition is also foundational to protecting your mitochondrial health.
Combining Nutritional Plan With Fitness Boosts Benefits
When you combine a strong nutritional plan to boost metabolic flexibility with cardiovascular fitness you build on the health benefits of both. For many years the standard dietary recommendations were three square meals a day with small snacks in between.
The most obvious risk of this eating plan is the potential of overeating. But, the less obvious risk is metabolic dysfunction, raising your risk of cancer, heart disease and dementia.
For a number of years, I have strongly advised against eating within three hours of going to bed. The authors of one study found that eating an early dinner, or skipping it entirely, changes the way the body metabolizes fat and carbohydrates. This improves fat burning and reduces hunger. The key in the study was eating the last meal of the day by the middle of the afternoon.
The only changes made to the participants’ meals was timing. The total number and types of calories remained the same. Results showed the participants were less hungry and experienced increased fat burning during the evening hours, along with improved metabolic flexibility. It appears that late night eating will boost free radical damage, negatively impacting mitochondrial function.
By taking advantage of your circadian rhythm you optimize your metabolism. During sleep your body requires less energy. Thus, if you eat right before bed, mitochondria produce excessive amounts of free radicals. In one study of 1,800 people with prostate and breast cancer, researchers found that meal timing reduced the risk of cancer.
They also found that those who awakened early had a higher risk of cancer when they ate dinner late in the evening compared to those who were more energetic at night. A very effective option is to combine intermittent fasting, extend the amount of time you go without food and follow a ketogenic diet.
Fasting upregulates autophagy and mitochondrial health, activating stem cells and stimulating mitochondrial biosynthesis. What many don’t realize is that many of these benefits happen during the refeeding phase, making what you eat foods that are essential to your optimal health.
In one study participants lost 3% of their body weight while practicing time restricted eating even though they didn’t change their nutritional choices. While they lost weight, they did not improve important disease parameters, including visceral fat, diastolic blood pressure, triglycerides, fasting glucose or fasting insulin.
When intermittent fasting is combined with a ketogenic diet it provides many of the same benefits of fasting, in addition to improvements in health such as increased muscle mass, improved insulin sensitivity, reduced inflammation, reduced risk of cancer and increased longevity.
Lack of Exercise May Be Worse Than Smoking
Exercise and nutrition are two of the best preventive strategies against many common health conditions. In one study scientists found that the lack of physical activity came with a global price tag of $67.5 billion in 2013 and that it causes more than 5 million deaths each year, while smoking kills 6 million.
Another group of researchers analyzed data on more than 120,000 people and found that cardiovascular fitness had a greater impact on risk of death than smoking, diabetes or heart disease. However, as important as cardiovascular fitness is, you’ll find you can’t out-exercise the number of hours you sit down.
The average U.S. adult will sit nine to 12 hours each day. While sitting is not inherently dangerous, the cumulative effects on your cardiovascular and musculoskeletal system can seriously impact your health and shorten your life.
In a four-year evaluation of 8,000 Americans over the age of 45, researchers found that those who moved more were healthier. There was also a correlation between death rate and the number of hours the participants spent sitting each day. The bare minimum of movement is 10 minutes for every hour of sitting. However, it is wiser to strive to sit as little as possible.
Sitting correctly requires greater muscle activation and will reduce your potential risk of lower back pain and strain. For specific instructions on how to sit right and for a list of some of the negative side effects of sitting for long periods, see “The Importance of Standing More, Sitting Less.”
Reproduced from original article:
Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola
December 20, 2019
- Chronic fatigue syndrome appears to be rooted in mitochondrial dysfunction. Your mitochondria are responsible for energy production, and as the name implies, low energy and severe fatigue are hallmarks of this condition
- Immune cells in the blood of patients diagnosed with chronic fatigue show clear signs of low energy production. The debilitating fatigue they experience is due to an inability to produce the cellular energy needed
- A ketogenic diet, high in healthy fats and low in net carbohydrates, with moderate protein, is a key dietary strategy that helps optimize mitochondrial function
- Patients with chronic fatigue also lack diversity in the gut microbiome, and the presence of certain inflammatory cytokines in their blood closely correlates with symptom severity
- Strategies that reduce inflammation, heal your gut microbiome and support mitochondrial function and energy synthesis are all beneficial for chronic fatigue patients
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), which is thought to affect up to 2.5 million Americans,1 is a debilitating condition in which sufferers experience unrelenting fatigue no matter how much rest they get. Pain and chronic inflammation are other hallmarks. A number of other names are also used for this condition, including:
- Myalgic encephalopathy/myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME)
- Post-viral fatigue syndrome (PVFS)
- Chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS)2
- Systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID)3
The most common designation is ME/CFS and, according to the CDC, about 90% of people with ME/CFS have not yet been diagnosed.4 In the past, ME/CFS was typically brushed off as being a psychological problem, but in more recent years, researchers have discovered physiological commonalities between groups of individuals that validate their symptoms.
For example, ME/CFS patients tend to have similar changes in gut bacteria, and certain inflammatory biomarkers in your blood appear to correlate with ME/CFS symptoms.5 Most recently, researchers have found additional support for the hypothesis that ME/CFS is rooted in mitochondrial dysfunction, which makes logical sense considering your mitochondria are responsible for energy production.
These tiny powerhouses are an interconnected network that rapidly and effectively distributes energy throughout your body’s cells.6 Your mitochondria are also responsible for programmed cell death, and serve as important signaling molecules that help regulate the expression of your genes.
When your mitochondria do not work properly, low energy is a natural side effect. Knowing this, the remedy becomes clearer as well. A ketogenic diet, high in healthy fats and low in net carbohydrates, with moderate protein, is a key dietary strategy that helps optimize mitochondrial function.
What Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Until recently, the diagnosis of ME/CFS has been one of exclusion. This meant all other illnesses mimicking the symptoms of ME/CFS had to first be ruled out before doctors could suggest you were suffering from ME/CFS. Symptoms of ME/CFS can vary widely from one individual to the next.
The most common symptom is one of overwhelming exhaustion that worsens with physical or mental energy expenditure and does not get better with rest.7 It may take up to 48 hours after activity to experience the full extent of the exhaustion. Other symptoms of the condition may mimic other medical conditions, and include:8,9,10
|Muscle pain||Memory problems||Headaches|
|Sore throat||Pain in multiple joints||Difficulty sleeping|
|Tender lymph nodes||Visible muscle twitching (fasciculations)||Difficulty concentrating|
|Short attention span||Word find problems||Excessive sweating|
|Enlarged glands||Intermittent flu-like symptoms||Alcohol intolerance|
|Irritable bowl-like symptoms||Mood swings||Temperature control|
|Food intolerance||Gastrointestinal problems||Hypersensitivity to light and noise|
ME/CFS Is a Side Effect of Cellular Exhaustion
As mentioned, researchers have now identified what appears to be a root problem: exhaustion at a cellular level. This study11 was published in PLOS One at the end of October 2017. Immune cells in the blood of patients diagnosed with ME/CFS “show clear signs of low energy production,” Science Alert reports.12 This strongly suggests mitochondrial dysfunction, as the mitochondria are responsible for energy production. As noted in the featured article:13
“Researchers looked specifically at the metabolic processes of oxidative phosphorylation and glycolysis — two ways cells break apart chemical fuel to transfer energy in respiration. White blood cells taken from 52 patients with CFS and 35 controls were put through their paces under optimal and stressful conditions, testing their capacity to deal with low oxygen levels.
There appeared to be a number of key differences in their metabolic processes. But none were as dramatic as the contrast in maximum levels of respiration. By forcing the cells to boost their energy production, the researchers found those with CFS could only squeeze about another 50 percent from their cells — unlike the controls, who nearly doubled their output.”
In short, ME/CFS patients lack the ability to compensate for increased stress on a cellular level, and the debilitating fatigue they experience is due to the inability to produce the cellular energy needed to keep the body fully functional. Their mitochondria are simply unable to produce enough ATP to maintain an energy gradient across their cell membranes. As noted by the authors:
“Lower reserve capacity observed in CFS patients are indicative of the cells of patients performing closer to their capacity in normal conditions without stress than healthy controls. Lowered maximal respiration suggests that the PBMCs [peripheral blood mononuclear cells] of CFS patients are not capable of the same levels of respiration as healthy controls.”
ME/CFS Also Linked to Lack of Microbial Diversity in Gut
Another study published in the journal Microbiome evaluated the blood and stool of 48 people diagnosed with ME/CFS and compared the results to those from 39 healthy people.14,15 Here, differences were found in both stool and blood samples. Using DNA sequencing, a process of determining the precise order of nucleotides in a DNA molecule, they found a distinct lack in diversity in the gut microbiome in affected individuals.
Although these changes could not be clearly identified as either the cause or consequence of ME/CFS, researchers were heartened by the presence of these markers in 83% of the sample, and the possibility of treatment options to reduce symptoms. Quoted in the Washington Journal, professor of molecular biology and genetics at Cornell University, Maureen Hanson said:16
“Our work demonstrates that the gut bacterial microbiome in chronic fatigue syndrome patients isn’t normal, perhaps leading to gastrointestinal and inflammatory symptoms in victims of the disease. Furthermore, our detection of a biological abnormality provides further evidence against the ridiculous concept that the disease is psychological in origin.”
Addressing Leaky Gut May Help ME/CSF Patients
The researchers theorize the inflammatory markers in the blood could be the result of a “leaky gut from intestinal problems that allow bacteria to enter the blood.”17 Indeed, other recent research18,19 has confirmed the presence of more than a dozen inflammatory cytokines in blood that closely correlate with reported symptom severity in patients suffering from ME/CFS.
This confirms a suspicion of some researchers that symptoms of fluctuating flu-like symptoms and body aches associated with ME/CFS is linked to an inflammatory response.20 It’s important to realize that there is a distinct link between leaky gut and the foods you eat. Probably the single most important factor here is the herbicide glyphosate, which is pervasive. Between 1974 and 2014, over 3.5 billion pounds of glyphosate were used in the U.S. alone.21
Worldwide in 2017, 4.4 billion pounds (2 billion kilograms) of glyphosate were being used annually.22 Glyphosate will decimate tight junctions and contribute to leaky gut. Fortunately, you can radically reduce your exposure by eating organic and avoiding processed foods, which are usually contaminated. You can also check your glyphosate level with a simple urine test, to see how badly you’ve been exposed.
Grains and lectins, even organic non-GMO, are particularly troublesome. Research shows that gluten stimulates a protein molecule in your gut called zonulin, which triggers the opening of junctures between the cells in your gut lining. In essence, it makes your gut more permeable, allowing food particles to escape into your bloodstream, causing inflammation, immune reactions and raising your risk of various autoimmune disorders.
Certain plant lectins may also contribute to leaky gut by binding to receptor sites on your intestinal mucosal cells, thereby interfering with the absorption of nutrients across your intestinal wall. As such, they act as “antinutrients” and can have a detrimental effect on your gut microbiome by shifting the balance of your bacterial flora.
Among the worst culprits are wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), found in wheat and other seeds in the grass family. In fact, according to Dr. Steven Gundry, author of “The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in ‘Healthy’ Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain,” gluten is a minor problem compared to WGA.
Evidence suggests lectins are strongly associated with autoimmune disorders in general, so anyone struggling with a dysfunctional immune system may want to seriously consider experimenting with a low-lectin diet. As for ME/CFS, leaky gut is not an automatic precursor. However, healing and sealing your gut and reducing the inflammatory response in your body may result in a significant reduction in chronic fatigue symptoms by supporting your immune system.
Ketogenic Diet May Speed Resolution of Chronic Fatigue
In 2015, Dr. Courtney Craig, a chiropractor and nutritionist, wrote about her personal experience with the ketogenic diet. Diagnosed with CFS in her teen years, she’s been able to control her condition using a number of integrative health strategies, including intermittent fasting and nutritional ketosis. Describing a particularly harrowing relapse, she goes on to discuss how switching to a ketogenic diet helped her rapidly recover. She writes, in part:23
“I needed a serious immune and mitochondrial reset … So, I shifted my usual paleo-diet around, and astonishingly I bounced back very quickly … I started consuming about 80 percent of my calories from healthy fats … This is something I do periodically when the fatigue rears its ugly head … It’s also advocated by doctors like … Dr. Thomas Seyfried …
I flipped a switch on my metabolism. I stopped relying so much on glucose for metabolism, and instead encouraged my liver to break down those dietary fats into ketones — a much “cleaner” energy source … The downside of burning carbohydrate as fuel, is production of cellular stress and free radicals. Ketones provide a “cleaner” energy for cells and are less damaging to cell membranes … A ketogenic diet can be initiated with a 12 to 72 hour fast.
Then the diet is maintained by consuming 75-90% of calories as fat, with the remainder coming from moderate amounts of protein and very little carbohydrate. The ketogenic diet is one that should be considered when dealing with ME/CFS … A body of research in animals and humans have highlighted some of the mechanisms by which dietary ketones promote cellular health.“
Indeed, when your body is able to burn fat for fuel, your liver creates water-soluble fats (ketones) that:
- Burn far more efficiently than carbs, thereby creating fewer reactive oxygen species and secondary free radicals that can damage your cellular and mitochondrial cell membranes, proteins and DNA
- Decrease inflammation, as they are histone deacetylase inhibitors
- Mimic the life span extending properties of calorie restriction, which includes improved glucose metabolism and reduced inflammation24
- Have a similar structure to branched-chain amino acids, thereby aiding the building muscle mass and promoting longevity
The Importance of Cyclical Ketosis
Nutritional ketosis is the metabolic state associated with an increased production of ketones in your liver; i.e., the biological reflection of being able to burn fat, and is defined as having blood ketones in the range of 0.5 to 3.0 millimoles per liter. As a general guideline, a dietary intake of 20 to 50 grams (or less) per day of net carbs (total carbohydrates minus fiber) while also keeping protein low-to-moderate is usually low enough to allow you to make the shift to nutritional ketosis.
However, once you achieve metabolic flexibility and are able to generate ketones with nutritional ketosis, it’s important to include higher carb intakes every now and then. For all its benefits, continuous ketosis actually has some downsides that are easily avoided by implementing a cyclical “feast and famine” regimen. I detail the reasons for this in my book, “Fat for Fuel.” In summary, long-term uninterrupted ketosis can trigger a rise in blood sugar by driving your insulin level too low.
This paradoxical situation can occur because the primary function of insulin is not actually to drive sugar into the cell but rather to suppress the production of glucose by your liver (hepatic gluconeogenesis).
Cycling in and out of nutritional ketosis will effectively prevent this rise in blood sugar in the absence of high glucose. So, once you are able to burn fat as fuel, having a day or two each week where you eat more net carbs and protein is important, especially when you’re doing strength training, to prevent sarcopenia.
After a day of “feasting,” you then cycle back into nutritional ketosis (the “fasting” stage) for the remainder of the week. By periodically pulsing higher carb intakes, consuming, say, 100 or 150 grams of carbs opposed to 20 to 50 grams per day, your ketone levels will dramatically increase and your blood sugar will drop.
Chronic Fatigue Patients Need Mitochondrial Support
In this 2016 interview, I discuss the importance of mitochondrial function and how it may impact your symptoms of chronic illnesses like ME/CFS. It stands to reason that a condition that triggers an inflammatory response and gut dysfunction, and that results in overwhelming fatigue, will respond favorably to treatment strategies that reduce inflammation, heal your gut microbiome and support mitochondrial function and energy synthesis.
Diet-wise, a cyclical ketogenic diet would be a foundational strategy. The following dietary recommendations will also help heal and seal your gut, lower inflammation and support healthy energy production. You can also read more about supporting your gut health in “Nourishing Your Gut Bacteria is Critical for Health and Mental Well-Being.”
|Avoid gluten and wheat products — Gliadins, a component of gluten, are a class of protein found in wheat and cereals that increase the permeability of your gut. Keep in mind that gluten can also be found in other grains, not just wheat.|
|Avoid lectins — To learn more, including which foods are best avoided due to high lectin content, please see “How to Reduce Lectins in Your Diet.”|
|Reduce your net carbs — The carbohydrate sugar, like grains, will upset the balance of microbes in your gut. Sugar is the food source for bacteria that can prompt damage to your intestinal walls, while fiber is the food source for bacteria that build your intestinal membranes.
Your net carbs are the total grams of carbohydrates you’ve eaten in a day, minus the grams of fiber you’ve eaten. The difference is your net carbs. Seek to reduce your net carbs to 50 grams per 1,000 calories of food you eat each day.
|Increase your fiber intake — The fiber you eat from whole foods is the nutrient source for bacteria in your gut that helps maintain and build the membrane cells in your intestinal walls. This helps to seal the “gaps” between the cells and reduces any leakage of waste products and bacteria into your blood stream. Focus on eating whole food vegetables, nuts and seeds (with the exception of lectin-rich varieties).|
|Eat fermented foods — Fermented foods are a great source of natural probiotics to feed healthy microbes in your gut. Olives, pickles, kimchi, cheese from grass fed cows, homemade yogurt and sauerkraut are just a few of the foods you may not have considered. Your best bet is to make your own. In this video, Julie and I demonstrate how to make your own fermented vegetables at home.
|Supplement with nutrients important for cellular energy synthesis such as ubiquinol, the reduced form of CoQ10, and D-ribose, a core building block of adenosine triphosphate or ATP. Also eat foods rich in glutathione precursors, sulfur and selenium to encourage glutathione production. Glutathione is one of your body’s most important antioxidants and a natural detoxification agent.|
|Intermittently fast, making sure your last meal is taken at least three hours before bedtime. The rationale for avoiding late night eating is directly tied to the way your body produces energy.|
Other Strategies to Help Reduce Chronic Fatigue Symptoms
There is no known cure for ME/CFS, but there are strategies that can help alleviate symptoms,25 over and beyond the dietary recommendations already mentioned. My full metabolic mitochondrial therapy program is described in my book, “Fat for Fuel.” Cold thermogenesis, photobiology, detoxification, exercise and avoiding electromagnetic fields are all strategies that will help improve mitochondrial health and function.
When it comes to exercise, work out according to your ability, with a focus on increasing the amount of exercise you can handle. Research shows that a combination of aerobic activity and strength training can improve pain and fatigue symptoms. Gentle exercise such as yoga can also be an excellent part of your program, and yoga benefits your mind as well as your body.
You may also want to address your mental outlook. In addition to talk therapy, I would recommend trying The Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) to help normalize your bioenergetic circuitry. Emotionally traumatic events can leave “energy blockages” for many years, which then interfere with your overall health, including immune function. There are many different techniques that can be used, but EFT is my favorite, and it’s easy to learn and apply.
- 1 CDC, July 22, 2019
- 2 National CFIDS Foundation, July 2, 2019
- 3 National Academy of Sciences February 10, 2015 Press Release
- 4, 7, 8 CDC, July 12, 2018
- 5 Science Daily June 27, 2016
- 6 Molecular Expressions, Mitochondria
- 9 CDC, November 19, 2019
- 10 Stanford Medicine, October 28, 2014
- 11 PLOS One October 24, 2017
- 12, 13 Science Alert November 7, 2017
- 14 Microbiome 2016; 4(1)
- 15, 16, 17 Washington Post June 30, 2016
- 18 PNAS June 28, 2017
- 19, 20 Science Alert, August 1, 2017
- 21 EcoWatch, January 10, 2017
- 22 Healing Earth, Zach Bush Interview August 4, 2017
- 23 Health Rising April 6, 2015
- 24 IUMB Life April 3, 2017, DOI: 10.1002/iub.1627
- 25 CDC, November 19, 2019, Treatment of ME/CFS
Reproduced from original article:
- Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which your immune system attacks and destroys the pancreatic cells that produce insulin, which is why it’s also referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes
- Type 1 diabetics require a steady supply of insulin for their survival, as their bodies produce little or no insulin at all
- As prices of insulin have skyrocketed, many Type 1 diabetics are now risking their lives by rationing insulin
- The price of insulin tripled between 2002 and 2013, and has doubled again since then. The three dominant makers of insulin, Eli Lilly, Sanofi and Novo Nordisk, all sell their insulin for approximately the same prices, and have raised them in lockstep, raising suspicions of price fixing
- Your lifestyle will have an impact on your blood sugar control. Ways to help manage your glucose levels include limiting your net carb intake, timing your meals appropriately, eating nutritious foods and exercising regularly
Conventional medicine still has Type 2 diabetes misidentified as a blood sugar problem. In reality, the condition is rooted in insulin resistance and faulty leptin signaling, caused by chronically elevated insulin and leptin levels. In other words, it’s a diet-derived condition that can be reversed using a cyclical ketogenic diet and fasting.
This is why the medical community’s approach to Type 2 diabetes treatment, which typically involves the administration of insulin, is fatally flawed and professionally irresponsible. Treating Type 2 diabetes with insulin is actually one of the worst things you can do, as it simply accelerates dying from the disease.
Type 1 diabetics, on the other hand, do require a steady supply of insulin for their survival, as their bodies produce little or no insulin at all. Previously called juvenile diabetes, there are actually more adults with Type 1 diabetes than there are children with the condition, with an estimated 1 million to 1.5 million Type 1 diabetics in the U.S. alone.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which your immune system attacks and destroys your pancreatic cells that produce insulin, which is why it’s also referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes. Tragically, as prices of insulin have skyrocketed, many Type 1 diabetics are now risking their lives by rationing their insulin use.1
Skyrocketing Costs Force Type 1 Diabetics to Risk Their Lives
In a recent article,2 The Washington Post tells the story of Alec Raeshawn Smith, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2015, just shy of his 24th birthday. Two years later, his health insurance coverage under his mother’s policy expired, leaving him with two expensive options: Get his own insurance, which would cost about $450 per month with a $7,000 deductible, or pay for his diabetic supplies out of pocket. The Washington Post continues:
“What Alec soon learned was just how much his insulin would end up costing… The price of insulin — once modest — has skyrocketed in recent years, making the lifesaving medication a significant, even burdensome, expense, especially for the uninsured and underinsured.
The costs are so heavy that they have driven some patients to ration their supplies of the drug in a dangerous gamble with life-threatening consequences. At the time Alec discussed skipping insurance coverage, he told his mother, ‘It can’t be that bad.’ Within a month of going off her policy, he would be dead …
As Nicole [Alec’s mother] cleaned out his cluttered blue car, littered with old prescription receipts, she started to cobble together just how much his insulin and blood sugar testing supplies cost without insurance or discounts. The total, by her count, was nearly $1,300 per month …
That $1,300 was almost $200 more than Alec’s biweekly paycheck. Nicole now believes that Alec was rationing his insulin because of the cost … ‘We realized that he had been taking less insulin and less often than he should, trying to make it stretch until he got his next paycheck.’ He was found dead three days before payday.”
Price Gouging Insulin Should Be a Crime
As noted in the featured article,3 the three researchers (Frederick Banting, Charles Best and James Collip4) who in 1921 discovered insulin — thereby transforming diabetic treatment and offering hope for a more or less normal life for Type 1 diabetics, who were previously doomed to die young — sold their patent to the University of Toronto for $1 each.
According to historian Michael Bliss,5 these researchers were trying to provide a great humanitarian gift to the world. In the hands of drug companies, however, insulin has become a guaranteed profit center totally isolated from the inventors’ benevolent intentions for the use of their discovery.
The price of insulin tripled between 2002 and 2013,6,7 and has doubled again since.8 At present, the three dominant makers of insulin, Eli Lilly, Sanofi and Novo Nordisk — which control 96% of the insulin market9 — all sell their insulin for approximately the same prices, and have raised them in lockstep, raising suspicions of price fixing.10
Drug makers also continue fine-tuning their formulas to prevent low blood sugar episodes, and while that’s good, it also ensures the drug patents don’t expire, preventing generics from being introduced.11
“For decades, manufacturers improved formulas, first using animal parts, then producing human insulin using bacteria and recombinant DNA. The 1990s saw the advent of insulin analogs, synthetic drugs made to better mimic the body’s own insulin production,” The Washington Post writes.12
“Today, critics argue that the price of insulin has far outpaced any innovations … In 1996, when Eli Lilly debuted its Humalog brand of insulin, the list price of a 10-milliliter vial was $21. The price of the same vial is now $275. Those costs can be compounded by the multiple vials that diabetics may require to survive each month.”
Price Hikes Threaten Insulin-Dependent Americans’ Lives
The Washington Post13 cites IBM Watson Health data showing Sanofi’s Lantus brand went from $35 per vial when introduced in 2001 to about $270 today, and Novolog, by Novo Nordisk, which started out at $40 per vial when released in 2001, now sells for around $289.
According to a 2016 JAMA study,14,15 the nondiscounted price for Lantus in the U.S. in 2015 was as high as $372.75, and the discounted price $186.38. Meanwhile, that same drug sold for $67 in Canada, $60.90 in Germany and $46.60 in France.
Even more telling is a 2018 study16 showing the estimated cost of manufacturing a 12-month supply of analog insulin is between $78 and $133 per patient, and $48 to $71 per patient per year for biosimilars. Why are patients having to pay as much as $24,000 a year for insulin that costs less than $133 to manufacture?
In response to growing outcry and lawsuits over insulin prices, Eli Lilly introduced Lispro, a less expensive generic version of its insulin Humalog, in May 2019.17,18 Lispro is said to sell at about half of the list price of Humalog.
According to a company statement,19 “The people who are most likely to benefit from Insulin Lispro Injection are Medicare Part D beneficiaries, people with high-deductible health plans and the uninsured who use Humalog.”
Lack of Competition, Payment Incentives Drive Prices
Why the dramatic increase in insulin prices? A November 2018 congressional caucus report,20,21 “Insulin: A Lifesaving Drug Too Often Out of Reach,” sought to identify the reasons behind these literally life threatening price hikes. As noted in this report:22
“Every day 7.5 million Americans rely on insulin [my note: over 6 million of these are Type 2 diabetics and should not be taking insulin] to manage their blood sugar levels and prevent debilitating, even deadly complications.
This lifesaving drug, however, has become increasingly unaffordable. Its average price has nearly doubled since 2012, putting an enormous financial burden on millions of patients.
For more than a year, Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Tom Reed (R-NY), the co- chairs of the Congressional Diabetes Caucus, have conducted a bipartisan inquiry to uncover the sources of this dramatic price increase.
This culminating report provides an overview of the insulin supply chain, discusses the drivers behind rising insulin prices, and recommends policy solutions to lower costs …
Many of the complicating reasons will be detailed further in this inquiry, including the myriad steps that insulin takes from manufacturer to patient, the perverse payment incentives and methodologies, the lack of transparency in pricing and outdated patent regulations, among other things.
These market failures have allowed a handful of players along the insulin distribution pipeline from manufacturers to health insurers to capitalize on their strategic positions, driving up the price of insulin and minimizing competition.
Congress should pursue a handful of legislative actions to increase price transparency, promote competition among insulin makers, and encourage the use of value-based contracts. Congress should also consider working on targeted patent reforms to prevent anti-competitive practices and streamline the drug approval process at the Food and Drug Administration for biosimilar insulins.”
While 1 in 4 patients gambles with their lives by rationing their insulin supplies by what they can afford,23 others have taken to illegally importing insulin from other countries where prices are more reasonable.
The Washington Post24 recounts testimony from one father who told senators a 90-day supply of insulin for his son costs $1,489.46 through insurance with a high deductible. He’s resorted to buying insulin from a Canadian pharmacy, from which he can get the same amount of insulin for $350 including shipping.
According to the article, while this is technically illegal, “the Food and Drug Administration generally doesn’t prosecute individuals if it’s a short-term supply for personal use.”25 Many others have turned to GoFundMe to raise donations for their insulin purchases.
Why Rationing Your Insulin Is a Dangerous Gamble
For Type 1 diabetics, whose bodies can’t make insulin, getting a steady supply is crucial for their health. Taking lower doses, or skipping doses, can be immediately life threatening and in the long term can result in even more costly health problems. As noted in the featured article:26
“Poor glycemic control can lead to blindness, kidney failure, amputation, heart disease and stroke. In the short term, patients who stop taking enough insulin can lapse into diabetic ketoacidosis, a condition where blood sugars get too high and the body’s blood becomes acidic. It can become fatal in just hours or a few days.”
While not an ideal solution, The Washington Post points out an alternative solution: older versions of insulins, available at Walmart for approximately $25 per vial.
While there’s some evidence showing these older formulas, which came out in the 1980s, are more likely to trigger dangerously low blood sugar and are typically thought to be safer for Type 2 diabetics than Type 1 diabetics, the doctors interviewed by The Washington Post agree it’s better than nothing.
Similarly, in the information sheet, “Diabetes Meds on a Budget,”27 Beverly Thomassian, a registered nurse and president of Diabetes Education Services, points out:
“The older insulins are regular and NPH. They are available as Humulin R and N (Eli Lilly) and Novolin R and N (Novo Nordisk). These biosynthetic insulins take longer to start working and the NPH peaks at 4 – 10 hours.
ReliOn Brand — Walmart sells Novolin insulin Regular, NPH and 70/30 (biphasic insulin) under the ReliOn label at discounted prices … Newer insulins are referred to as analogues. The amino sequence of these insulins has been slightly rearranged through genetic engineering to make them more rapidly available or take longer to absorb …
Given these pricing disparities, please consider reading this article28 published in Diabetes Care, 2009 — that describes the effective use of NPH and Reg to manage Type 2 diabetes.
The authors research shows that for type 2s, NPH and Regular insulins are as effective as the newer analogues in getting glucose to goal. The main drawbacks are well known; the peak of NPH slightly increases risk of hypoglycemia and patients will get better post prandial glucose control by taking regular insulin 30 minutes before meal (vs at meals with the analogs).”
Insulin Makers Sued
As mentioned, the surprisingly similar price hikes by all three makers of insulin have raised suspicions that the companies are in collusion. It wouldn’t be the first time. In February 2010, Mexico fined Eli Lilly and three Mexican drug companies $1.7 million each for colluding to eliminate competition by agreeing to take turns in placing winning bids for insulin, thereby artificially raising prices.29
In January 2017, a class action lawsuit30 was filed against Sanofi, Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly in Massachusetts federal court, claiming the companies are in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.31 The New York Times reported:32
“The lawsuit … accuses the companies of exploiting the country’s opaque drug-pricing system in a way that benefits themselves and the intermediaries known as pharmacy benefit managers.
It cites several examples of patients with diabetes who, unable to afford their insulin treatments, which can cost up to $900 a month, have resorted to injecting themselves with expired insulin or starving themselves to control their blood sugar.
Some patients, the lawsuit said, intentionally allowed themselves to slip into diabetic ketoacidosis — a blood syndrome that can be fatal — to get insulin from hospital emergency rooms.”
In October 2018, the attorney general of Minnesota, Lori Swanson, also filed a lawsuit against the three insulin makers, charging them with deceptive and misleading price increases.33 As reported by The Hill:34
“The lawsuit alleges that there is a deceptive difference between the sticker price of these insulins and the actual price that insurers pay after negotiators known as pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) get discounts.
The attorney general says drug companies are raising the sticker price ever higher so that they can give larger discounts to the PBMs, which helps them secure more favorable coverage of their products relative to their competitors in insurance plans.
The problem, Swanson says, is that the spiking sticker prices hurt people who don’t have insurance or who have high deductibles they have to pay before insurance kicks in.
‘The lawsuit alleges that the list prices the drug companies set are so far from their net prices that they are not an accurate approximation of the true cost of insulin and are deceptive and misleading,’ the attorney general’s office says.”
Biohackers Make Their Own Insulin
Aside from rationing, extended fasting, insulin sharing, using expired insulin, setting up GoFundMe campaigns or illegally importing insulin from other countries, some Type 1 diabetics are taking insulin production into their own hands.
In a recent Elemental Medium article,35 Dana Smith talks about the Open Insulin Project, “a biohacker collective that is trying to produce the lifesaving drug and provide it to people with diabetes for free, or close to it.” She writes:
“The group was founded in 2015 by Anthony Di Franco, a computer scientist with Type 1 diabetes, and a longtime member of the California hacker scene … He and his collaborators think one solution to the pricing crisis lies in enabling patients and hospitals to create insulin themselves.
The group works out of Counter Culture Labs in the trendy Temescal neighborhood of Oakland … ‘If we can make this stuff in our janky lab on a $10,000 a year budget, there’s no way it should cost this much,’ says Thornton Thompson, a molecular biologist who is part of Open Insulin.
‘One of the big goals of the project is just to demonstrate that.’ Scientists make insulin by inserting a gene that codes for the insulin protein into either yeast or bacteria. These organisms become mini bio-factories and start to spit out the protein, which can then be harvested, purified, and bottled.
Scientists at Genentech were the first to synthesize insulin this way back in 1979 from the bacterium E. coli, and drug manufacturers have been using the method ever since. Open Insulin’s goal is to develop a similar way to generate insulin that doesn’t infringe on any patents and can be made publicly available.”
The Open Insulin Project
To produce insulin, the group uses yeast rather than E. coli. A French biochemist named Yann Huon de Kermadec joined the Open Insulin Project about a year-and-a-half ago. He took charge of the manufacturing process and obtained the appropriate insulin gene, which is then inserted into the DNA of the yeast, thereby producing a small amount of insulin protein.
They’ve not yet been able to extract high-enough amounts to move on to the purification stage, so at present they’re still working on increasing the yield. “If they succeed, they will go through the final steps of purifying and testing the protein. Once they’re confident that what they’ve produced really is pure insulin, Di Franco will serve as the group’s first guinea pig,” Smith writes.
According to Open Insulin, 10 liters of yeast culture are enough to make insulin for 10,000 individuals, with a startup cost as low as $1 per person. Indeed, as noted earlier, insulin manufacturing is pretty darn inexpensive — at most around $133 per person per year for an analog, and as low as $48 per person per year for a biosimilar.
Once a well-working insulin has been developed, the group hopes to make the recipe open-source, allowing hospitals and other patient groups make it for themselves. Thompson told Smith:
“What we’re interested in medium- and long-term is to try to organize networks of production and distribution centers that work by a fundamentally different model. We want to partner with hospitals, free health care clinics, patient organizations, diabetes groups. What if you could set up a small-scale production center in the back of a hospital?”
Di Franco adds, “Economically, I think it’s much better to do it in this decentralized way. A very small investment from each patient could fulfill the patient’s needs and make insulin very close to free for everyone who needs it with this kind of technology.”
As you’d expect, others are less than excited about such a prospect, not because it would create much-needed competition, but because of safety concerns. For example, Dr. Eric Topol, chair of innovative medicine and executive vice president at the Scripps Research Institute, told Smith:
“There are so many things that could go wrong in the process: the sterilization, the efficacy, the safety. It’s like Murphy’s law, here. These are potent drugs that can have serious side effects. I just don’t see that that is a safe or practical route.”
Millions of Americans Get Their Medications Outside the US
At present, there are no easy solutions for insulin-dependent diabetics. What’s clear is that it shouldn’t cost thousands of dollars a month for an essential drug required to keep these people alive.
If you’re in this boat, consider talking to your doctor about the possibility of using the older biosynthetics, Humulin R and N, or Novolin R and N, available for about $25 at Walmart. It may not be ideal (you can read about some of the concerns in this Insulin In Nation article36) but it’s probably still better than nothing. Even better, however, especially for Type 1 diabetics, is getting your insulin from overseas — or even just next door, north or south of the U.S. border.
Research published in 2015 shows that 952,000 Californians cross into Mexico every year for lower-priced health care, including prescription drugs.37 From the northern border, a random survey of Americans showed that 8% of respondents or someone they knew had imported their medications from Canada.
In numbers, that adds up to 19 million individuals — with estimates that the numbers are probably much higher — crossing into Canada just to be able to afford medications they may very well not be able to live without.38 But is this legal? And if it is, how do you do it? And if you’re not near the southern or northern U.S. borders, is there anywhere else to go? According to the FDA:
“In most circumstances it is illegal for individuals to import drugs or devices into the U.S. for personal use because … [they] have not been approved for use or sale in the U.S. … The FDA cannot ensure the safety and effectiveness of medicine purchased over the internet from foreign sources, storefront businesses that offer to buy foreign medicine for you, or during trips outside the U.S.”
The FDA does make exceptions for certain medications under specific situations, but even so, the amounts can’t be for more than a three-month supply. That said, Kaiser Health Network39 reports that personal use purchases for drugs not considered a risk by the FDA — such as insulin — in 90-day supplies are not being prosecuted.
And just how much are Americans saving by crossing the border? Kaiser Health gave an example of a woman vacationing in Canada who visited a local pharmacy for an emergency insulin refill for her daughter: The pack of insulin pens, which cost $700 in the U.S., was a mere $65.
The same box costs $73 in Germany; $57 in Israel; $51 in Greece; $61 in Rome and $40 in Taiwan. It’s no wonder millions of Americans are getting prescriptions by mail order overseas! Yet, even though they’re not prosecuting people for it, the FDA is clamping down on mail orders by going after them at international mail facilities.
According to online journalism group Tarbell,40 the FDA intercepted 10,731 prescription drug packages in 2017; by May 2018, they’d confiscated 19,318. Their goal is to intercept 100,000 a year.
So, what can you as a consumer do, if you can’t afford the outrageous — bordering on criminal — pricing and you’re not brave enough to test the system and try to take a vacation out of the country or order by mail? One way to begin could be to study the FDA’s personal importation guidelines to see if there is some way you can qualify for an exception so you can get your insulin from out of the country legally.
Guidelines for Insulin-Dependent Diabetics
Also remember that your lifestyle will have an impact on your blood sugar control. Ways to help manage your glucose levels include the following. Just be sure to consult your physician before making any drastic changes to your lifestyle habits and dietary plan, to avoid wild blood sugar fluctuations.
- Limiting your net carb intake (total carbs minus fiber) — When you eat high-carb foods, your body converts the starches and sugars into glucose, which will enter your bloodstream and increase your blood glucose levels. Make sure you monitor your carbohydrate intake to avoid hyperglycemia.
- Timing your meals appropriately — Meal timing is crucial to the treatment and management of Type 1 diabetes, since it may affect the efficiency of your insulin intake. The best time to eat your meal depends on the type of insulin that you’re taking. For example, regular insulin should be taken 30 minutes before a meal.41
- Eating only nutritious foods — Avoid eating foods that contain sugar, preservatives, trans fat, refined flour and other unhealthy ingredients. Rather, fill your plate with wholesome foods rich in vitamins and minerals. You should also consume foods that are high in healthy fats and probiotics, since these may help you gain better control of your blood glucose levels.
- Exercising regularly — Following an active lifestyle will help regulate your blood sugar levels, as it allows your body to use insulin more efficiently, and can help you avoid long-term complications associated with Type 1 diabetes, such as heart disease.42
- 1, 11 Click2Houston.com March 13, 2019
- 2, 3, 10, 12, 13, 23, 24, 25, 26 Washington Post January 7, 2019
- 4, 31, 35 Elemental Medium May 30, 2019
- 5 Washington Post October 31, 2016
- 6, 14 JAMA 2016;316(8):858-871
- 7 JAMA 2016;316(8):858-871 (Full Study PDF)
- 8, 21 Congressional Caucus on Diabetes November 1, 2018
- 9, 16 BMJ Global Health 2018; 3(5)
- 15 JAMA 2016;316(8):858-871 (Full Study PDF) page 859
- 17, 19 Eli Lilly May 22, 2019
- 18 CNN May 22, 2019
- 20, 22 Congressional Caucus on Diabetes, Insulin: A Lifesaving Drug Too Often Out of Reach (PDF)
- 27 Diabetes Meds on a Budget Beverly Tomassian, Diabetes Education Services (PDF)
- 28 Diabetes Care 2009 Nov; 32(suppl 2): S253-S259
- 29 Reuters February 23, 2010
- 30 US District Court District of Massachusetts, Class Action Complaint No. 1:17-cv-10158, January 30, 2017 (PDF)
- 32 New York Times January 30, 2017
- 33 STAT News October 16, 2018
- 34 The Hill October 16, 2018
- 36 Insulin In Nation September 16, 2016
- 37 USITC Trends in U.S. Health, August 2015
- 38 CMAJ 2017 Jun 19; 189(24): E817–E818.
- 39 Kaiser Health Network February 12, 2019
- 40 Tarbell June 14, 2018
- 41 MedicineNet, Type 1 Diabetes Diet
- 42 Endocrine Web Type 1 Diabetes and Exercise