Proponents of eating organic now have the results of a new study to support the health benefits associated with their preference for chemical free produce. In the study of fruit flies, those fed extracts of organically grown vegetables were found to have longer lifespans and better fertility than those fed conventionally grown produce.

A few important comments about this study; first, this was a study using fruit flies. Keep in mind that because their life cycle is so short, the accumulated benefits are seen much sooner. So the subtle benefit of added nutrition or the lack of life-sapping chemicals occurs within the time frame of these types of experiments. I believe many of the same benefits occur in humans- but they are difficult to measure with so many other variables over a lifetime. (I should also add that if you frequently keep organic produce sitting on your counter- you might have a swarm of fruit flies in a few days!) – TGG.

Your chances of death may depend on the county you live in, according to a new National Survey, but the reasons for the startling findings boil down to lifestyle factors. Healthy eating habits, smoking, and the environment, including quality of local parks and water were all key components of the ratings. Some of the worst scoring counties in the Survey included: Lake in CA, New Haven in CT, Baltimore City in MD and Menominee in WI – check out the article to see how your county scored!

 

For many years, the relationship between serum vitamin D levels and Parkinson’s disease (PD) has been studied. For instance, in a long-term cohort study, PD incidence was 3 times higher in persons with the lowest serum vitamin D concentration (lowest quartile vs. highest quartile). Along with other neurological disorders, the particular functions of vitamin D seem to play a role in the protection against PD (for further details- see links at the bottom of this article). The obvious question for the clinician and patient is simple: will supplementing vitamin D change the outcome or have clinically meaningful benefits when given to a patient with PD?

Well, just a few weeks ago, such an experiment was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The study was conducted in Japan where patients with PD were given either vitamin D3 or placebo for 12 months. The dose they used was 1,200 IU vitamin D3 per day and all patients were also on the drug Levadopa. The researchers used two different rating scales to determine the changes in the severity of PD over the 12 month trial period. As you would expect, patients given vitamin D saw a great improvement in their serum vitamin D levels (48% were considered deficient at baseline).

When the patients were tested for changes (from baseline) in their PD assessment, those given vitamin D saw no change or even a slight improvement, while those given placebo saw a significant deterioration of their PD condition. They also looked at the effect of vitamin D and placebo based on a specific variant of the vitamin D receptor (VDR) gene known to influence PD. Those patients with the gene variant that makes them more vulnerable to vitamin D-related issues (in this case the TT variant of the FokI allele) had a much more robust response to the vitamin D supplementation than patients with the other variants (CT, CC). Since vitamin D is already known to improve balance and muscle strength, the authors cannot be absolutely positive that all the measured benefits were neurological in nature, but since they are influenced by genetic variations in the vitamin D receptor- we can be fairly certain these changes are related to the supplementation of vitamin D. There were no safety issues and no apparent increase in hypercalcemia at these doses.

Since 1,200 IU (or more) of vitamin D3 is safe in nearly every patient. We believe that every patient, regardless of their PD status, should be tested for their serum D levels and supplemented with adequate levels of vitamin D3. This data should compel physicians with PD patients, to be even more urgent in those patients.

Check out our general Vitamin D recommendations in our White paper Section

Links to additional articles:

After the 10 year trial that most thought (and many hoped) would result in the debunking of IV Chelation therapy for cardiovascular disease, JAMA has published the initial results of The Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy (TACT). The publication is free to download here.

The primary end point was a composite of death from any cause, reinfarction, stroke, coronary revascularization, or hospitalization for angina. The composite of cardiovascular death, reinfarction, or stroke was a pre-specified secondary end point. TACT was a “2×2” factorial trial where patients received 40 weekly infusions of EDTA or placebo and a high dose vitamin and mineral supplement or placebo. Because of the unique challenges created by recruiting patients for the trial, the normal p=value for statistical significance of <0.05 was dropped to a p<0.036 (a more stringent level of statistical significance). The 5-year estimate of reaching the primary end point shows that those given the EDTA chelation had a 18% lower risk (Hazard Ratio 0.82) which met the stringent level of statistical significance (p=0.035). The expectant lukewarm conclusion by authors was that the therapy “modestly reduced the risk of adverse cardiovascular outcomes, many of which were revascularization procedures. These results provide evidence to guide further research but are not sufficient to support the routine use of chelation therapy for treatment of patients who have had an MI.”

It should be mentioned that in the sub-group analysis, they saw much greater benefits in patients with diabetes (risk reduction of 39%, p=0.002) or with previous anterior MI (risk reduction of 37%, p=0.003) when given EDTA.

Not only did JAMA publish this paper, they published an interesting editorial to accompany its publication. While the typical editorial discusses the implications of new data or some clinical perspective regarding the publication, this editorial basically apologized to the JAMA reader for even publishing the TACT trial at all. After all, they are concerned that if JAMA is publishing this (positive) trial of EDTA chelation therapy it might be misconstrued as an endorsement. They wanted to avoid the certain avalanche of comments from readers who were already convinced that EDTA chelation is merely snake-oil in a bag. You might imagine that the editorial would have been much different (and unapologetic) had the primary end-point only reached a p=0.037! Here is the editorial for your reading pleasure [Free Online].

Also: Unpublished Data from TACT presented in San Francisco at the American College of Cardiology meeting earlier in March shows an even stronger clinical and statistical benefit when comparing patients receiving both EDTA and vitamin/mineral therapy compared to those receiving only placebo. A news story can be found here.

Dr. Rangaswamy at Scripps Conference

Dr. Guilliams is heading to The Scripps Conference on Dietary Supplements this week. He and a colleague, Dr. Nagmani Rangaswamy, will be presenting a poster reviewing the immune-modulating effects of mushroom-derived ingredients. There is a new white paper on the same subject posted in the “whitepapers” section, if you are interested in this topic. The Scripps conference is a great way to get the latest information on the use of dietary supplements for clinical use, including mechanisms and actions, regulatory issues and therapeutic considerations. Here is a link in case you want to add it to your calendar for next year.

Losing weight is always difficult, but what if extra fat may be the body’s only defense from dangerous fat-soluble toxins?  Remember the adage: “The solution to pollution is dilution”- we attempt to dilute poisons to reduce their concentration and therefore, their toxic effects. In the case of fat-soluble toxins, many compounds actually trigger the body to produce fat as a protective storage for these additional toxins. This keeps the toxins away from sensitive tissues and cells, but increases body fat and weight which can lead to other serious concerns.

Two things you should think about if you are a clinician or a patient. If you are attempting to lose a lot of weight quickly and you have never considered a detoxification program you should be aware that massive fat reduction will put additional strain on the liver and gall bladder as additional toxins will be released from fat stores and moved into the liver and other tissue. The toxins will also be working to tell your body to produce more fat to re-dilute the toxins. Losing weight slowly while changing the diet to include helpful liver cleansing foods is much healthier. Consider doing a medically appropriate detoxification program after you have lost 10-15 lbs to blunt this affect. Or, consider doing a detoxification program as the start to your weight-loss program.

Below are some links to recent papers which shows the links of certain toxins to obesity and weight-loss- and several showing how pollutants increase risk for diabetes. Some food for thought for the New Year.

I have often suggested that taking a walk a short time after eating a meal is a good way to improve overall glycemic control by directly impacting the post-prandial (after-meal) effects of glucose and insulin. A new study from Mayo Clinic has done a great job of showing how large an impact this might actually have. In order to get this data, however, they required volunteers (healthy controls and Type 1 diabetic subjects) to wear special suits and monitors that recorded their every move and calorie expended for three days in a laboratory/clinic setting.

 

I will focus my attention on the control subject for this report. These subjects were normal weight (avg. BMI-25.6) and in their late 30’s (5 men, 7 women). Before testing the effects of walking on post-prandial glucose, they first recorded the energy expenditure of these subjects based on their activity- something that is important to note.

 

At rest (Basal metabolic rate/BMR):     0.84 kcal/h/kg

Standing                                               1.17 (40% increase over BMR)

Walking 1 mph                                                2.41 (186% increase over BMR)

Walking 2 mph                                                3.08 (266% increase over BMR)

Walking 3 mph                                                4.02 (378% increase over BMR)

 

Notice how much more energy is expended just when they begin to walk even at 1 mph, compared to being sedentary. For me, this data alone made the paper worth reading and another confirmation of why I am planning to install my new treadmill desk soon! Now back to the rest of the data.

 

Each of the 3 meals they consumed for the 3 days was virtually identical and contained 33% of their daily caloric needs. Meals consumed at 7 AM, 1 PM and 7 PM were 30% carbohydrate, 40% fat and 40% protein (no food was permitted outside these meals). Each day, one of the meals was followed by complete sedentary activity (lying in bed for 6 hours) and the other two meals were followed by bouts of walking (averaging 90-95 minutes before the next meal). While these activity levels seem a bit extreme, the metabolic differences were quite dramatic. When measuring the glucose excursion for 270 minutes after these meals, the amount was over twice us much (113% higher) when the subjects had no physical activity, compared to when they were walking (at only 1.2 mph!).

 

What does this mean for the average person? Well, the total distance walked after these meals was actually less than 2 miles. Most people can walk this in 40 minutes (at 3 mph) which is much more practical with a busy schedule. But more to the point, it tells us that any amount of physical activity, especially after a meal, improves glucose tolerance and reduces the level of blood glucose after eating. These numbers are likely to be even more striking in patients with insulin resistance eating higher carbohydrate meals than those tested here (i.e. the average American).

 

Think about how you can change your regular eating habits to allow for a walk afterward, or perhaps schedule your physical household chores to be accomplished right after eating supper so you can avoid plopping down on the couch or in front of the computer for several hours of sitting.

 

Here are some other similar recent studies you might find interesting:

 

Oxidative stress is a culprit in the development of many chronic diseases and may be one reason why those with diabetes are more vulnerable to developing cancer. A healthy diet rich in antioxidants has long been known to prevent cellular damage from oxidation and radiation and now a new study sheds some more light on its protective effects on health. According to a recent study, subjects who consumed 300 g of vegetables and 25 ml of plant oil for 8 weeks raised their serum antioxidants levels and reduced their levels of HgBA1C, a marker which indicates damage to DNA strands. Those who followed a healthy diet but did not consume the 300 g of vegetables reduced their glycated hemoglobin but did not get the important benefits of improved antioxidant status. Click to read more: http://www.foodconsumer.org/newsite/2/Diabetes/vegetables_pufa_diabetes_mellitus_1119120735.html

November is Diabetes Awareness Month and there are some interesting facts you might want to be aware of. According to the latest data released by the CDC, diabetes rates have been increasing at an alarming rate over the past two decades; but not to worry; over 200 new drugs are currently in the pipeline to save us. If you didn’t detect my sarcasm, let me be clear: these two ”unrelated” pieces of information show that we still have much more to be aware of before we can make any headway in our current diabetes crisis.

The CDC released data this month that shows that the number of diagnosed cases of diabetes between 1995 and 2010 grew by 50% or more in 42 states (in the US), and by 100% or more in 18 states. States with the largest increases over the 16-year period were Oklahoma, up 226%; Kentucky, up 158%; Georgia, up 145%; Alabama, up 140%, Washington, up 135%, and West Virginia, up 131%.

And our “hope” to slow this colossal devastation of our health and healthcare system? More drugs, of course. According to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) there are no less than 221 drugs in clinical trials or in the process of FDA approval for diabetes (Type 1, type 2, or diabetes complications) [See News Report here]. Billions of dollars will be spent so a few of these can make it to market; and if I can make a prediction, 10 years from now the diabetes rates will continue to increase and many of these drugs will have been approved and recalled by FDA due to their sides effects. (I can’t help from thinking that the rampant use of statin drugs in the past decade has played a significant role in driving the diabetes numbers in the previous story- but I digress)

While it is agreed upon by most researchers that 70-80% of the cases of diabetes (Type 2) are preventable with lifestyle prevention/intervention; the vast majority of research dollars are still spent on finding solutions which avoid this solution! This is the type of “awareness” that is desperately needed if we are truly to reverse this, and most of the chronic diseases that are plaguing us today- and also the reason I wrote the Original Prescription in the first place. Our solutions must address the root cause if we hope to change the numbers the CDC reports a decade from now.

 

Dr. Guilliams discusses the health benefits of the old adage about an apple a day.
Credit: © Miszmasz | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

Could one apple a day really amount to much clinically? Apparently, yes and for good reason. An apple is more than just one “signal” of health, it is a myriad of dozens of signals which, if given frequently enough, can trigger the healing capacity your body is waiting for (we discuss this in more detail in chapter 6 of The Original Prescription).

One recent study trying to ask this question studied how eating an apple a day might decrease the formation of highly atherogenic complexes which form between oxidized LDL particles (OxLDL) and beta2-glycoprotein I (many researchers believe it is oxidized LDL complexes that are the real culprit behind plaque formation). What they discovered was that when healthy subjects (40-60y) ate one apple every day (alternating between Red Delicious and Golden Delicious) for one month they saw a 40% reduction in these OxLDL complexes. When they tested an extract of apples in a capsule (made from a variety of different apples), they saw a benefit over placebo, but only about half of the effect of eating the apples. This difference might have been due to the variation in specific polyphenols between the extract and the apples (although total content was the same)-the difference in the absorption of these compounds from the apple or benefits from other (non-polyphenol) components of the apple.

I should mention that a 40% reduction of oxLDL complexes is considered to be very clinically relevant, and if you look at some of the links below, apples might help the body do a number of other things which support healthy arteries. By the way, organically grown apples have more polyphenols- especially when the growing season and conditions provide a little stress from drought or pests, as these polyphenols are typically the plants way of protecting itself- which apparently transfers to us if we eat them! Check out these links for more about an apple a day.