I occasionally read through veterinary catalogs for horse supplements. These animals, worth up to millions of dollars get the best of care and often state of the art medicine before it percolates down to humans. Many herbal and nutritional supplements are described for effectiveness in terms that the FDA would prohibit for people -which tends to prevent good information from getting to us about how to use nutritional supplements.
As I was reading through the catalog it struck me that the weight-gain supplements contain some of the very same ingredients that are touted for weight loss in articles and ads all over the web. What gives? Continue reading Digestion and Weight Gain→
This month’s Scientific American has an article on a subject close to my heart, “Your Inner Ecosystem.” Only 10% of the DNA in our bodies is human. In other articles I have advanced the idea that we are walking colonies of microbes, worms and fungi in a human superstructure, where ecological balance is the goal of health rather than purity. That begs the question of which creatures might be pathogenic- I certainly don’t want ebola in my ecology. Not only doesn’t it play well with my other creatures, but it is deadly.
Ebola is easy to classify. However some organisms are difficult to classify. Acidophilous is great in your gut, especially if you have difficulty assimilating nutrients but it can eat away at your teeth where you might prefer Streptococcus oralis. There are benign E. coli strains, sold in Europe but not the USA as probiotics, which tend to predominate in thin people while firmiciute bacteria like the Lactobaccili predominate in fat people and can make thin rats fat. Even low level staph infections on the skin may crowd out nasty drug-resistant MRSA.
Heliobactor pylori is another example. This bacteria increases acidity in the stomach, resulting in both the environment where it thrives and breakdown of food. However in susceptible individuals, it causes ulcers. When Dr. Martin Blaser, now professor of microbiology and internal medicine at NYU found H. pylori 25 years ago, he approached it as a simple pathogen causing ulcers- and with antibiotic treatment ulcer diagnoses have reduced by more than 50%. But in 1998 he published research showing that in the vast majority of people H. pylori is beneficial, regulating the acidity of the stomach properly. H. pylori was also linked to a reduction in adenocarcinomas. In 2008 he found that H. pylori regulates ghrelin which tells your body to stop eating. When ghrelin levels are high you become hungry. After you eat -unless your H. pylori levels are low- ghrelin levels plummet. In a study of 92 veterans treated with antibiotics to lower H. pylori for ulcers, gained weight in comparison to uninfected peers. Lower H. pylori is also linked to higher diabetes rates.
One of the curious things is that two or three generations ago something like 80% of children were hosts to H. pylori. Now fewer than 6% of children have the appetite suppressing bacteria, perhaps because of broader-range antibiotics and the inclusion of antibiotics in meat production which could account for less exposure to seed the microbiota. There is apparently preliminary information suggesting a second mechanism for this where antibiotics silence bacterial signalling for undifferentiated stem cells to make tissue other than fat.
The hygiene hypothesis also may affect the acquisition of H. pylori. Water is cleaner. Plant food trucked across the country may contain fewer live bacteria. Increased C-section rates may prevent the transmission of a mother’s microbiota to the infant in the birth canal. We have fewer commensal bacteria now altogether and H. pylori is a stunning example of the reduction of a bacteria that can help keep us thin.
However it appears that adding H. pylori may not be helpful once you are fat and possibly the age of acquisition is important. In further experiments people who were obese and diabetic had higher levels of H. pylori. Researchers think lowering H. pylori with antibiotics might help lower A1c levels in diabetics. Is H. pylori exerting a U-shaped influence where too little and too much cause weight gain? We don’t really know. In the human body with all its feedback loops, direct interventions work quite differently than in petri dishes.
Still, farmers have known for some time that adding antibiotics and increasing starchy feed is the best way to get animals fat for market. When we do this to ourselves and our children, it should not surprise us if we get the same result. While it is not a likely single cause of obesity and diabetes, its effect may be far from trivial.
A recent report report from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy indicates that 25% of hospitalized H1N1 victims in a California study were morbidly obese versus 4% of the US population and more than half were obese. It did not collect data on whether the heavy patients had other underlying conditions although the analysis found that probable. Now the question is, is obesity an independent risk factor or a proxy for other conditions that make flu infection worse? Continue reading Obesity and Swine Flu: A Chinese Medicine Perspective→
Adding herbs to lifestyle changes doubles the likelihood of lowering blood sugar in people with metabolic syndrome and according to the study will prevent progress to Type 2 diabetes unlike lifestyle changes alone. Three proprietary Chinese formulas included Jiangtang Bushen, Xiaoke huaya and Tang Kang yin. The ingredients were not specified but when I searched Pub Med I found that the lead researcher has done positive research on American ginseng saponins, puerarins from kudzu, glucosides from bai shao and berberine from coptis for the problem. Herbs such as rhemannia, jiaogulan and mai men dong are also traditionally used for diabetes, depending upon the Chinese medicine pattern. And I suggest that Continue reading Chinese Herbal Formulas May Prevent Diabetes→
The video by Robert Lustig of UCSF is extremely interesting, but wonky. If you work in health care or are dealing with blood sugar issues, I highly recommend listening. I do anyway. But here are the highlights for the rest of you:
We have a worldwide epidemic of obese six month olds. Yes, 6 months. So it isn’t all about more food in and less exercise out.
Americans now eat 141 pounds of sugar per year, 63 pounds of which is high fructose corn syrup and over half of which is fructose in all forms.
A calorie is not a calorie. Some calories are nutritious, some are merely empty, some are poisonous.
If we are consuming 275 extra calories a day compared to 20 years ago, it is because our regulatory hormones like leptin are not stopping us. We had as much food available 50 years ago, but less obesity. Something in us changed.
And it isn’t our fat consumption, which has dropped. Fat dropped significantly after 1992 when the food pyramid was established, suggesting we increase our carbohydrate consumption.
As someone who has dealt with obesity since kindergarten, when they pulled me indoors from climbing trees all day, I have dealt with fat, diets and fat fallout all of my life. I was on Metrecal shakes in the third grade, and at 16 my Italian doctor was shocked at the diet pills my US MD had prescribed since age 14. Every kind of diet- low fat, low carb, low calorie, Weight Watchers, fad diets, macrobiotics, non diets,- lots of exercise, hypnosis, EFT, and positive imagery was tried. I know all the supplements, the portion sizes, the caloric values, the allergens and the energetics of foods. And like most fat people I have had the will power to lose weight many times over. Continue reading Ten Things About Being Fat→
Watching this You-Tube video from the University of California at San Diego might be one of the best things you can do for your health. It explains clearly and in detail which levels of vitamin D3 are necessary to prevent a great variety of diseases. Rickets, the disease our woefully inadequate RDA was designed to prevent, needs very little Vitamin D. Cancers, diabetes, heart attack, falls, fractures, hypertension, neurological impairment, even pain will be prevented by raising your blood Vitamin D levels to the recommended range.
I have been taking 10,000 iu of Vitamin D3 daily for the last year and am only in the low end of the recommended range.
A blood level of Vitamin D (have your doctor test it) should be 40-60 ng/ml, which is likely higher than the reference range of the test. You would need to reach 200 ng/ml to suffer from toxicity. The amount you need to supplement will vary, but is way way higher than you find in any multi. Unless you seek out a special high concentration vitamin D supplement, you are not getting enough, at least above the Mason-Dixon line (and usually below as well.)
(Schwarz, Eleanor et al. University of Pittsburgh. Quoted by the New York Times April 22, 2009)
A study from the University of Pittsburgh looked at the health history of 139,681 women and concluded that the longer women nursed their babies, the lower their risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease. While mothers who nursed only one month had lower blood pressure and diabetes, those who nursed at least one year had significantly lower rates of cardiovascular disease as well.