28 Oct

Detoxing Pathways to be Prepared before Starting Weight Loss

toxic chemicals

Weight loss releases the toxins locked in your body. Before starting a weight loss program, it is important to open up your detoxing channels.

Body stores harmful chemicals and heavy metals in the space between cells (extra cellular matrix) and inside the cells, including fat cells. Losing weight releases the toxic muck from the fat cells and the extra-cellular matrix. Your liver must break these toxins down, convert them into harmless forms and send them out of the body through intestine, kidneys and skin.

This flow chart shows the weight-loss related detoxing process:

Detoxing Pathways

Your Personal Toxic Load

The more toxins you expect to handle during weight loss, the more mindful you should be about opening your detoxing channels “before” you start the weight loss program:

  • The faster you lose weight (e.g. bariatric surgery, fasting, VLCD), the more toxins your body will have to handle.
  • The older you are, more will be the accumulated toxins.
  • Also, if you live in a large city, eat processed food, exposed to toxins at work (which could be as benign as the carpet and furniture in your office), your toxic load is likely to be higher.

When the amount of toxins released by the body during weight loss is more than what the detoxing channels can handle, the toxins will get reabsorbed in to the body (lesser evil) or damage the organs involved in detox. The damages remain undetectable for years, if not decades. So, hardly anyone is even aware of this.

Opening up the Detoxing Pathways

Use the flowchart (above) as a guideline. Start with the components at the bottom of the flowchart and work upward.

Opening up the Skin

Anything the encourages perspiration is going to open up your skin. Here are two options available to you:

  • Sauna. If you can access a far infrared sauna, it is better.
  • Exercise

Of course, you should also drink plenty of water.

Supporting the Urinary Pathway

Take the following supplements to ensure the health of your kidneys while detoxifying:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin C
  • Lipoic Acid
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium

And don’t forget to drink plenty of water.

Evacuating the Large Intestines

Liver breaks down the toxins released into the blood stream, push them into the intestine through bile ducts. The toxins reach the intestine, mixed with the bile. At the intestine, you will have to ensure the toxins move out of the body as quickly as possible.

Supplement with Binding Agents

Supplement yourself with food grade

  • Bentonite clay
  • Charcoal and

These are known to bind the toxins using different mechanism and move them through the gut. With bentonite clay, if you over do the dosage, you will end up with constipation.

Improve Gut Lumen and Reduce Gut Poroticy

Supplementing with the following improve the quality of your intestinal wall

  • Prebiotic foods (fiber, fermented food, etc.)
  • Probiotics (prescription strength)
  • Glutathione
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin B5

Administer Daily Enema

Daily colon cleanse with plain water enema vacates the contents of the colon, with metabolized toxins in it, faster. If you are new to self-administering enema, get help from someone in the know. Also:

  • Make sure that you use pure water (boiled and cooled, at room temperature). Your body doesn’t have any protection against pathogens that may be present in enema fluid.
  • Anything that goes into colon gets absorbed into the body. So, be careful to avoid stuff in the enema fluid that will add to your toxic load.

Don’t Eat these

While you are under detox program, take care not to eat the following:

  • Don’t eat celentra as it makes you reabsorb mercury into your body

Supporting the Liver

When the toxins from your tissues get demobilized, they reach the liver. In the liver, the toxins are broken down and flushed out. This happens in a 2 step process. You will have to support both the detox phases.

Supporting the Phase-2 Liver Detox

Phase-1 detox process breaks down the toxins to highly reactive chemicals. Phase-2 takes them and converts (conjugates) into less harmful molecules and gets them ready to be flushed out. So, before the Phase-1 activity starts, it is important to ensure that your Phase-2 detox is ship shape.

Supporting the Phase-2 detaox is super-important. Consider this: Cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy should detox the drugs in their liver. Cancer studies show that many chemo patients who do not receive sufficient Phase-2 support end up developing more secondary cancer!

You will need the following to support your Phase-2 detoxification:

  • Minerals
    • Zinc
    • Selenium
    • Magnesium
  • Amino acid replacement, especially sulfur-containing amino acids
  • Flavonoids
    • Ellagic acid
    • Green tea catechins
  • Glucosinolates
    • Cruciferous vegetables
    • Onions
    • Garlic
  • Monoterpenes
    • Citrus peel
    • Cherries
  • Silymarin (milk thistle)
  • ALA
  • NAC
  • Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)
  • Glycine
  • Magnesium glycinate
  • Malic acid
  • Calcium D-glucarate

It is a big list and you don’t need everything in it. Regarding what to take and how much to take, seek help from an expert/physician who is in the know.

Supporting the Phase-1 Liver Detox

This is where the entire detoxing starts. To support the Phase-1 detoxification, you will need the following nutrients:

  • Vitamin Bs
    • Riboflavin (B-2)
    • Pyridoxine (B-6)
    • Methyl B-12
    • Niacin (B-3)
    • Folic Acid
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA)
  • Branched chain amino acids
  • Glutathione
  • N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC)
  • Carotenoids
    • Beta-carotene
    • Lycopene
    • Lutein
  •  Bioflavonoids
    • Beets
    • Berries
    • Grapes (anthocyanadins)
    • Pomegranate
    • Strawberries
    • Raspberries
  • Walnuts (ellagic acid)
  • Omega 3 fish oils
  • Green tea catechins (polyphenols)
  • Fruit and vegetable skin (quercetin)

Again, this is  a big list. You don’t have to eat everything. Take help from an expert who is in the know.

Overall Health Status

Phase-1 and Phase-2 detoxing are metabolically expensive processes. So, before they start, it is important to ensure that the patient is healthy enough to handle them.

Detoxing Other Tissues

While losing weight, large amount of toxins from extra cellular matrix and fat cells move out. Since you are preparing your detox pathways to handle the toxins, why not use this opportunity to mobilize rest of the toxins out of the body too?

Detoxing the Lymphatic System

Lymph nodes act as a reservoir of biological toxins. To make the lymph nodes to release the storage of its toxins, you will have to do one of the following:

  • Exercise
  • Lymphatic massage
  • Ayurvedic massage
  • Dry-brush massage
  • Far Infrared Sauna

None of them is guaranteed to produce complete results. So, you will have to stack them up.

Chealation: Mobilizing Remaining Toxins out of Tissue

Chealation is as process wherein the heavy metal toxins are bounded with chealating agents (like EDTA) and flushed out of the body. This can be used to remove toxins from non-fat tissues. The most popular method of chealation is to administer the chealating agent intravenously.

Chealation also flushes out useful minerals from the body. So, anyone who goes on chealation must adequately supplement with helpful minerals.

Related Links

Proper detoxing is also important for patient with chronic diseases including

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Cardio Vascular Diseases
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Parkinson’s
  • Autoimmune diseases and more.

Of course, the specifics of detoxing protocol is tweaked based on the disease being handled.

Feedback?

Do you have a feedback or need additional information? Please leave a comment.

26 Oct

Best Cancer Prevention Science can Offer (2017)

Preventing cancer from growing

Breakthrough understandings of cancer that have come about over the last few years have substantially improved the survival of cancer patients. Many people are already out-living their cancer. Using these latest understandings, here are a few things you can do to escape cancer.

TLDR: It is harmless when it is tiny. And you can keep it that way.

Tim Ferris, the author of 4 NYT best sellers (starting with 4 Hour Work Week), by the time we are 40, we have a 40% chance of having a micro cancer growth in our body. By the time we are 70, that probability increases to 100% (here). If you are insulin resistant (most over-weight/obese, all pre-diabetic/diabetic), that probability increases.

Fortunately, all adult cancers take anywhere between 5 to 40 years to grow and break out. While cancer is dormant, you can do several things to stop the cells from multiplying and growing. As long as you are able to keep the cancer cells from growing and breaking out, even if you already have microscopic cancers in your body, you don’t have to worry about it at all.

Other than stunting their growth, you can also do a few things to stop the cancer cells from forming or kill some of the cancer cells that have already formed.

Cancer and Anti-Cancer

Each cell in our body has thousands of tiny objects floating inside them called mitochondria. Mitochondria does the respiration in the cells. Meaning, they taken in oxygen, use it to burn the energy molecules from the food we eat and produce energy. This energy is used by the cells to sustain themselves (this post).

Mitochondria also seem to have a say on the integrity of our genes. When the mitochondria are damaged, the DNA material in our genes gets wrongly coded. To make things worse, damaged mitochondria also prevent the DNA damaged cells from programmed cell death. When the mitochondria is damaged, cells with damaged DNA flourish. One or more of these cells turn into cancer.

So, protect the mitochondria from getting damaged is important.

Environmental pollution can damage your mitochondria

» Eat organic/grass-fed, no GMO (until proven otherwise), keep off food additives and pollutants

Heavy metals and toxins can damage your mitochondria

» No hair die (cadmium), no tuna (mercury), no mercury amalgam, avoid plastics (innumerable toxins) as much as possible...

Poor blood circulation can damage your mitochondria by reducing the supply of oxygen

» Exercise, stay lean. Get hyperbaric oxygen administration once in a while

Cell are stuffed with too much of energy packets (glucose/fat)

» Ensure insulin sensitivity (HOMA-IR = 1); keeping body fat percentage to around 16% will get you there

Free radicals, which are byproducts of regular metabolic activities, can damage the mitochondria

» Use good quality anti-oxidants, eat non-starchy, multi-colored, fresh vegetables, drink black coffee

Nutritional inadequacy can damage the mitochondria/DNA

» Ensure optimal nutritional profile (needs medical supervision). Particularly
- Argenine
- Coenzyme Q10
- Curcumin
- Fiber
- Glutathione/NAC
- Indol 3 carbinol
- Melatonin
- Omega 3
- Quercetin
- Resveratrol
- Selenium
- Vitamins A, B, C, D, E
- Zinc

Chronic infections can damage your DNA

» Identify and treat chronic infections (needs medical supervision)

Cells with damaged mitochondria cannot energize themselves through oxygenation (i.e. aerobic route). These cells resort to using an ancient pathway to produce energy by fermenting glucose (mostly) and glutamine (an amino acid). Excess sugar in the blood feeds the cancer cells.

» Keep fasting blood sugar between 83mg/dL and 87mg/dL. That way, you won't have too much of blood sugar to feed your cancer cells, if any.

Keeping the blood sugar absolutely low for a few days kills many cancer cells.

» Once an year, for a week, go on water fast or calorie restricted ketogenic diet. Keeping the blood sugar between 50mg/dL and 65mg/dL for a week will kills most cancer cells (needs medical supervision)

If you do something else during this period to further weaken the cancer, it has added effects.

» High dose intravenous Vitamin C and high dose oral pancreatic enzymes both are known to destroy cancer cells (needs medical supervision)

Cancer hijacks body’s wound healing mechanism to grow and spread. For a healthy person, this is not a problem. However, for someone who is suffering from chronic inflammation (due to, for example, autoimmune diseases), this is a major issue.

» Keep the inflammation status of the body low by getting rid of autoimmune diseases and infections (needs medical supervision)

Most autoimmune diseases start in the gut, mainly due to poor balance between good and bad bacteria in the gut.

» Maintain gut microbiome balance (start here)

Cancer cells grows rapidly, though they are inefficient users of nutrition. So, cancer needs lots of blood supply to support their growth. Cancer does this by making new blood capillary to grow in its vicinity. This process is called angiogenisis. Without angiogenisis, cancer chokes and dies.

» To stop angiogenisis, drink three cups of green tea every day (soak the tea leaves for 8-10 minutes in hot water; drink within an hour).

When some of the hormones (particularly, the sex hormones) are not in the youthful levels, they can promote cancer growth.

» Balance your hormones. Ratio between the hormones is more important than the absolute numbers (needs medical supervision).

Many food items, including some vegetables and certain ways of food preparation are known carcinogens.

» Avoid carcinogenic food items. Eat cancer preventive foods.

Many food items are known to be cancer preventive. They contain anti-cancer nutrients, rich in antioxidants, etc.

» Eat anti-cancer foods wherever possible
- virgin cold-pressed olive oil without over-heating it
- turmeric with black pepper
- ginger
- garlic
- onion
- calciferous vegetables
- broccoli sprouts (excellent)
- colored non-starchy vegetables
- tomatoes (cooked in olive oil)
- soy
- mushrooms
- cooking herbs and spices
- berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, raspberries)
- stone fruits (plums, peaches)
- citrus fruits (oranges, lemon)
- pomegranate
- dark chocolate
- beetroot

Lastly, we have no clear evidence about mobile phones causing cancer. Though, many tentative evidences have been emerging from all over the world.

» But just to be safe, keep your mobile phone at about 3ft from your body (use a Bluetooth hands free device (v 4.1 or later) to speak into), particularly when you are in fast moving  vehicle or when the signal strength is poor.

Be wise. Wherever I suggested that you need medical supervision, get one. Diet, nutrition and hormones be managed within an optimal window. And the optimum varies from person to person. If you DIY these things, they may blow up and make things worse. What is “worser” is that when things go wrong, it may be so subtle that you may not even realize it.

Related Posts

Questions, suggestions? Leave a comment below.

 

24 Oct

Beginning of the End of Cancer

living after cancer

In the last post, I wrote about the beginning of the end of type-2 diabetes. Here is something even more sensational:

Science is beginning to understand cancer and…it is turning out to be a pussy!

Let me explain.

TLDR: calorie restricted ketogenic diet is a powerful anti-cancer tool

 

Cancer is not a genetic disease

First, some cell physiology. Let me use a hen’s egg as analogy to explain structure of the cells in your body:

  • Each cell has a membrane holding its contents (like an egg’s shell).
  • Everything inside the cell membrane is called the cytoplasm (like the white of the egg).
  • The liquid component of cytoplasm is cytosol.
  • Many pieces of cellular machinery float around in the cytosol.
  • The largest of the flotilla is called the nucleus of the cell (like the yellow of the egg).
  • The nucleus of the cell contains our genetic material (DNA, etc.).
Note: Cells come in many shapes, not just in an egg or a box shapes.

Here is a simplified block diagram of a cell.

Animal cell (block diagram)

You were told that cancer starts when our genes undergo damages (mutations), right? Well, that turns out to be wrong.

Take two cells, one normal and another cancerous, and interchange their nucliei:

normal and cancer cells

If cancer were a result of gene mutations, the cell that ends up with damaged nucleus should become cancerous, right? Surprise, surprise, the opposite happens!

cancer cell with normal nucleus

When you put the nucleus of a cancerous cell into a normal cytoplasm, the cell behaves normally. Whereas, when you put an undamaged nucleus into the cytoplasm of a cancer cell, it becomes cancerous. So…

something cytoplasm causes cancer; not the damages to the DNA!

For decades, the cancer treatment strategies were designed to go after the gene mutations. Looks like the culprit is sitting in the cytoplasm all along. No wonder cancer remained untreatable!

 

Cancer is a metabolic disease

Remember we mentioned earlier that many cellular machinery float in the cytosol? Among them are tiny structures (or organelles (ogranum = tool, organelle = tiny tool (no, not that))) called mitochondria (singular: mitochondrium).

mitochondria

Mitochondria are the power plants of the cells. Each cell has thousands of mitochondria. In a process called aerobic (using air, or oxygen) energy production, mitochondria generate energy for the cells to use.

Trivia: You get all your mitochondria from your mother. Sperms carry mitochondria in their tail. When a sperm enters an egg, the tail with mitochondria is left behind.

Billions of years ago, mitochondria were free roaming “animals” like bacteria. Then, the eukaryotic cells (which, we are made up of) captured the mitochondria and made bonded labors out of them. Eukaryotic cells feed and house mitochondria. In return, mitochondria produce fast and ample energy for the eukaryote using oxygen.

Before enslaving the mitochondria, eukaryotic cells used to produce energy through the slower process of fermenting glucose. This energy pathway doesn’t use oxygen. It is called an anaerobic (i.e. without air) pathway or glycolytic pathway.

Note: Cells can also anaerobically extract energy by fermenting an amino acid called glutamine. But we can ignore it for the time being.

When the mitochondria in a cell become damaged, they cannot produce energy using the aerobic pathway anymore. So, the cell start to fully depend on the ancient and slower fermentation route. Unfortunately, many of the gene mutations that are responsible for up regulating the fermentation pathways also play a part in:

  1. Mutation of cell DNA
  2. Evading programmed cell death (all our cells are programmed to commit suicide under certain circumstances), so damaged/mutated cells continues to live
  3. Encourage growth of new blood vessels (without sprouting new blood vessels, cancer cells cannot grow into a tumor larger than 0.2mm to 2mm)

So, DNA mutates, evade self-destruct program, encourages new blood vessels to bring it extra energy, resulting in a runaway cell multiplication. The cluster of such cells become a cancerous tumor.

Note: I have over simplified the mechanism of cancer here. But it works for our purpose.

 

Sensible Cancer Treatment Strategy

When our genes start mutating without oversight (since mitochondrial damage destroys many control systems in the cell), the mutations happen in thousands of ways. Attacking the genetic mutation in a cancer cell is like fighting the Hydra of Lerna. New mutations keep popping up faster than you can kill the old ones.

Fortunately, once you understand that cancer is a metabolic disease, a simpler and more elegant solution becomes available. We know that cancers seem to start with poor aerobic energy production, and that cancer cells rely on glucose as the primary source of energy! So…

if you keep the blood glucose levels in the range of 50-65mg/dL, cancer cells start dying out of hunger.

When the blood glucose goes this low, normal cells with functioning mitochondria can live on by producing energy through alternative means.

To keep the blood sugar levels continuously low, one must eat a lot of healthy fats (about 80% by calorie intake) and very little of proteins (15%) and carbs (5%). This type of diet is called a ketogenic diet.

 

Wait, there is more

Including the mitochondrial dysfunction, there are a total of 14 vulnerabilities in cancer’s armor:

  1. Help improve the gene reproductive integrity
  2. Fix the expression of the damaged DNA
  3. Inhibit abnormal signal transduction
  4. Inhibit abnormal transcription activity
  5. Normalize cell membrane potential
  6. Normalize mitochondrial function
  7. Encourage normal cell to cell communication
  8. Inhibit abnormal blood supply to cancer cells
  9. Inhibit spreading of cancer cells to distant parts of the body
  10. Support the immune system
  11. Maintain cellular detox mechanism
  12. Normalize cell suicide mechanisms
  13. Maintain gut function
  14. Normalize the cancer cells

We have seen how to exploit one of these 14 vulnerabilities, namely mitochondrial dysfunction. Mitochondrial dysfunction is perhaps the worst vulnerability the cancer cells suffer. But to beat cancer, you will have to attack every one of the 14 vulnerabilities.

Funny and incredible as it may sound, despite the billions we have been spending on drug discovery, we have no drugs to fight against any one of these 14 vulnerabilities. Nothing. Nada.

Fortunately there are robust, evidence based (yes, evidence based) diet and nutrition regimen that you can implement to support us with each of these 14 battles. If you go to war with cancer on all these 14 fronts, then…

cancer becomes just another chronic disease to be managed over long term. Like, say, diabetes!

Also, because these interventions are made up of diet and nutrition, they are non-toxic. Nutritional interventions even revitalize a cancer patient and make them stronger.

With nutritional management…

even the patients with the most aggressive form of cancer can live 2 to 5 more years than predicted.

If you buy few more years with nutritional therapy, new medical breakthrough may come along, adding more years. Also…

if you attack an easy-cancer using diet and nutrition, many patients may end up outliving their cancer!

 

How can I help?

Implementing a comprehensive anti-cancer protocol is super-cumbersome. If someone you know needs help with managing their disease, please get in touch with me either by leaving a comment (or sending me a message form the contact page, if you are concerned about privacy).

I will connect you with my friends who specialize in this area of medicine.

 

13 Apr

Microbiome: Antibiotic for the 21st Century Diseases

Gut-Microbes

If you haven’t heard the word “microbiome”, this post is going to be the most important thing you read in a long time.

All posts in this series

Introduction Agents of Dysbiosis

I am working on creating an enterprise (Food Clinic) that will specialize on reversing/managing chronic diseases using food as the 1st medicine. Of all the knowledge we are going to use in our practice, the most fascinating and the strangest thing is the knowledge of the friendly micro-organisms that live within, and on, us. These little guys are collectively called our microbiome.

First, the fascinating bits:

  • The number of micro-organism cells we food and shelter is 10 times more than our own cells.
  • These microbes take active part in running our bodies. They even train our immune system and switch on and off our genes.
  • After our stomach and small intestine extract energy and nutrition from the food we eat, the microbes digest the leftovers in the large intestine, producing even more energy and nutrients for us.
  • The large intestine is not just a waste-bin like we were told in our schools.

What’s in it for you?

  • If you eat the food that is eaten by the good microbes in your gut, all good things happen to you. When you avoid feeding the good microbes, they die out and the gut gets crowded by the bad microbes. Then the hell breaks loose.
  • More precisely, the gut lining breaks loose and lets undesirable things from inside of the gut (e.g. toxic chemicals, food fragments, pathogens) to escape into the blood stream.
  • When that happens,
    • The toxins in the blood cause inflammation all over the body
    • The immune system over-reacts to the inflammation
  • When the immune system overacts, you get auto-immune diseases like
    • Allergies
    • Arthritis
    • Asthma
    • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
    • Eczema and psoriasis
    • Lupus
    • Irritable Bowl Syndrome
    • Crohn’s Disease
    • Insulin Resistance
    • Multiple Sclerosis
    • Obesity
    • And more
  • Till date, there are no reliable cures for any of these diseases.
  • But now, it is beginning to look like all these autoimmune diseases can be reversed by re-balancing the gut microbiome!
  • How come? If you remember, there is mounting evidence that most auto-immune diseases start with imbalance in the microbiome.
  • There are exceptions. Certain type of autoimmune diseases damage the body irreversibly. They don’t get better by re-balaning gut microbiome. Examples are Type-1 diabetes and autism.

How do you re-balance the microbiome?

There are five simple things you can do:

  1. Eat right: Eat stuff that the your good bacteria likes (fiber, sulfur, fermented food, etc.). These are also called prebiotics. Also, avoid sugar, simple carbohydrates, red meat and high fat diet (personally, I am not convinced about avoiding high-fat).
  2. Probiotics: Only if it is industrial strength and only if you take it for several months or years. Which, to the best of my knowledge, are not available in India.
  3. Medicines on the negative list: Unless your life depends on it, avoid antibiotics, long exposure to acid reducing medication, steroidal medication and toxin filled cosmetics. When you use these medication on kids, the effect is even more pronounced.
  4. Stay dirty: Be less clean. Play in the dirt. Don’t use anti-bacterial wipes. Bath less often (ahem). Don’t use mouth wash (ahem, ahem). Don’t use alcohol based perfumes (ahemn)
  5. Fecal Material Transplant (FMT): This is a stylish way of saying that the excretion of a healthy human being is pushed into the rectum of someone with poor gut microbiome. The material is held within the abdomen of the patient for an hour or so, and then pushed out. The process transfers microbiome of the healthy individuals to the unhealthy one.

Does it work?

Yes! BIG YES!!

Anecdotes from clinics around the world have it that patients with multiple sclerosis and chronic fatigue syndrome are getting better, even  going into complete remission, after a few sessions of FMT!

There is research evidence, though with a small sample size, that FMT from lean individuals to individuals with insulin resistance makes the later become insulin sensitive! Let me translate it for you:

  • FMT can reverse diabetes
  • Diabetes is probably a disease of the gut

Reversing insulin resistance is a big deal because IR often leads to heart disease and several cancers.

For other diseases like C. Diff. (Clostridium Defficile) bacterial infection, IBD, Crohn’s, etc., balancing the gut flora, with or without FMT, is the only known possibility of a cure. 85% of C. Diff. infection gets cured within hours after an FMT. 95% cases are cured after just to FMT sessions. Other autoimmune disseases don’t have such fantastic success rate. But still, they are impressive.

Autoimmune epidemic

Incidence of every one of the autoimmune diseases I listed above started to climb around 1950. One number that has been etched in my mind is this: During 1940’s, 1 out of 10,000 American kids was diagnosed to be autistic (we are beginning to suspect that autism is an autoimmune disease). In 2010, the number was 1:68.

Many autoimmune diseases started skyrocketing starting 1950s to 1980s.

Several things happened around in the period between 1950 to 1980. They include introduction of certain pesticides to beginning of the usage of high fructose corn syrup.

One thing that seem to play a role in all  autoimmune diseases is this:  Antibiotics were introduced in 1944 and their usage exploded from the 50’s. This also includes usage of antibiotics on farm animals. Farmers discovered that when low dose antibiotic was administered to animals every day, they gained significantly more weight. With that, antibiotics were everywhere.

When humans use antibiotics for a long period of time, or if they are exposed to antibiotic while they were still infants/toddlers, their microbiome gets substantially damaged. If they are also on some other medication that can disturb the microbiome (e.g. acid blockers, steroidal medications), things get worse. If this person is a  picky eater who hates their veggies, or lives in a super-sterile environment that is an antithesis to microbiome diversity, God save them!

Looking in the wrong places

Whatever I’ve told you till now is summarized in the pyramid below:

 

Many of your chronic diseases start with bad microbiome (the technical term for this is “dysbiosis”). Unfortunately, instead of paying attention to the bottom of the pyramid and working on the root cause, we are busy treating the bio-markers (for example, cholesterol and blood sugar numbers). In medical field, it is called “treating the numbers”.

No wonder we have no medication to permanently fix any of the chronic/life-style diseases!

Take Home

When germ theory was understood, it demystified all the infectious diseases. Germ theory eventually brought us antibiotics, which put an end to infectious diseases. Till then, infectious diseases were periodically wiping out a substantial chunk of of human populations.

Take Home 1: Autoimmune diseases, lifestyle diseases and many mental disorders that plague us today are loosely called the 21st century diseases. We are beginning to understand that many of them are just one disease: Dysbiosis. With more understanding, treating the 21st century diseases is going to become surprisingly simple and elegant.

Take Home 2: Enriching your gut microbiome is a simple, but life-time, endeavor. If you put a little efforts to understand it, you can start enriching your microbiome today!

Some interesting books on microbiome

  • 10% Human (this is an intense book; but it’ll give you a nice foundation)
  • The Microbiome Solution (for the practical person, with oodles of how-to instructions)
  • Eat Dirt (five types of leaky gut and treatment for each one of them)
  • Brain Maker (effect of gut microbiome on the brain)

Localizing all this knowledge

These books constantly tell you to eat local. There are three reason for this:

  1. Local food is fresh. Processed food is nutrition depleted, sterile and destroys gut microbiome diversity. Though we don’t eat much of processed food in India, if we can eat food within few hours of farming, it brings us additional nutrition.
  2. Locally grown food, provided you live close to a place where your ancestors  evolved, must have evolved along with you. So, it must be more friendly to your guts.
  3. For a similar reason, local microbes are thought to be better than microbes that are shipped from far away land.

So, if you want to tend to the balance of your microbiome, localizing the best practices of the West is extremely important. This includes charting one’s gut microbiome. At Food Clinic, we have started to nibble at this problem from the edges. Send us a mail if you want to be posted about the exciting developments that are going to come.

All posts in this series

Introduction Agents of Dysbiosis

 

04 Sep

Laura Carstensen: Age brings happiness

Laura Carstensen

Laura Carstensen of Stanford had spent her life researching the state of mind of the elderly.  She and other researchers working in the field have come up with some eye-opening insights, which run completely counter to the conventional wisdom.

Psychological Stability

Contrary to the popular image of “grumpy old man/woman”, older people seem to be psychologically more stable!  Human brain seem to become more stable with age.  If an elder person is depressed, they are most probably suffering from what started when they were young.

 

Older Brains are Stable

Also, people who are neurotic seldom learn to become happier with age.  They often start from such a low baseline that any improvement in the inner happiness simply doesn’t muster enough force.

By the way, women of all age seem to be reporting more psychological distress than men.  It is not clear if this is due to self-denial that most men are known for.

Experience more Positive Emotions

Older people experience more positive emotions.  There are lesser threats in their lives and lesser uncertainties.  With age, sources of anxieties start decreasing, either because they have been resolved or because people learn to live with them.  Contrary to the popular wisdom, youth, it seems, is the most miserable period in one’s life!

More Positive Emotions

After about mid sixties, the number of positive emotions being experienced by a person seem to come down with age.  Part of it has to do with age associated impairment of health.  If so, with modern anti-ageing techniques, the dip will be postponed by a decade or two. Does it mean that the increase (in positive incidences) will continue for another decade or two is a different question. If the answer is yes, then age-extension programs will yield some of the happiest human societies we have seen till today!

Ignore Negativity

Older people emotionally disassociate themselves from negativity!

There is a module in the brain called amygdala, which lights up (becomes active) when people encounter emotionally charged stimulus.  When researchers put younger and older subjects in a brain scanner and showed them emotionally positive and negative pictures, something very interesting came out.  The amygdala of younger subjects was activated when they encountered both positive and negative stimulus.  Older people had much bigger spike for positive stimulus than younger people, and they ignored the negative stimuli!

Emotionally Ignore Negativity

Older people have learnt to ignore the negativity.  At the same time, they have learnt to appreciate positive emotions better.  No wonder they are happier!  This has become more obvious through another experiments conducted by the researchers.  They showed younger and older subjects pictures of positive and negative faces and measured the amount of attention they paid.

Positive Bias

 

Older ones paid poorer attention to negative faces and paid better (than younger people) attention to positive faces.  It is as if the elders have become really good at ignoring negativity!  It may not always be a good thing (what good can it be if one ignores all atrocities in the news paper).  At least, it, makes them happier!

Emotionally dense Social Network

With time, emotional life of people becomes richer and more complex.  As people get older, they tend to retain the emotionally close and meaningful relationships and the casual relationships fall off.

Social Network of Older People has much more meaningful realtionships

With age, people become more selective about who they socialize with.  The riff-raff, not-so-close, meaningless relationships dwindle in numbers.

In Laura Carstensen’s words, as people grow older, they tend to

  • Live in the moment
  • Know what’s important
  • Invest in sure things
  • Deepen relationship and
  • Savor life

From the teachers of positive psychology and the science of happiness, we know that these are sure recipe for lifetime of happiness.  Add to this a more stable brain, no wonder that people are much happier as they grow older (of course, we are only talking about healthy individuals, who are also financially self-reliant).

Even anecdotally speaking, when I look around, I see that everyone I know, including myself, is much happier now in the middle ages than we were in our twenties or thirties.  Carstensen must be on to something here!

To learn more about Laura Carstensen’s work, you can watch this Youtube video or read her book A Long Bright Future.