Last month I reported that “probiotaceuticals” are likely going to be the next bubble in pharmaceuticals. Knowing Big Pharma, they will come up with a name like “buggutexx” (I should patent it):
“A poorly appreciated truism is that the information contained within the mammalian genome is insufficient for full development of several organ systems, notably the gut, immune system, and other sensory organs. The required information is derived from the environment, including the microbial environment. This suggests that the microbiota is a source of regulatory signals, some of which may be suitable for exploitation for therapeutic purposes. Indeed, it could have been deduced from comparative studies of germ-free and conventionally colonized animals almost half a century ago that the gut microbiota influences the development and maturation of the digestive and immune systems. In some instances, the signals involved have recently been defined molecularly. This opens the possibility of a “bugs to drugs” program of discovery, in which the gut ecosystem is explored as a repository from which bioactives or novel drugs might be mined and translated to human health care. The future of drug discovery in gastroenterology is likely to reside in the lumen!”
It will be interesting to see how these new drugs’ humble origins, friendly bacteria, will be “forgotten,” as it has been the case with drugs developed from herbs and natural products.
The journal Nature, one of the best scientific journals in the world, has highlighted friendly bacteria on its cover issue, March 4th 2010. They report that the 1,250+ species that live in the gut outnumber our body cells 10:1; they also have 150 times more genetic material than we do. This is how they influence practically every function in our body. I predict that soon, it will be malpractice not to look into the ecology of the gut as the root of most medical problems.
This development is but one of many examples of a Greening Economy in the future. We desperately need to boost our economy, particularly locally. Wal-Mart, of all businesses, is beginning to buy its produce from local farmers. I hope they continue that trend.
We need more changes like that to fix our deep-seated economic problems; above all, we need to stop Big Corporations and Finance gamblers from “Looting America.”
Hugo Rodier, MD
Counting calories, obsessing over weight and micromanaging it, and restrictive diets are all failed approaches. It is better to develop “An integrative view of obesity.”
“Plant-based diet and the seamless integration of increased physical activity and social support to alter modern diets and lifestyles hold out the greatest hope for the solution of the obesity epidemic. Both public health and medical nutrition approaches can benefit from this integrative view of obesity.” Sounds familiar?
Here are some new articles that may help you “integrate:”
“Scientists Probe Brain’s Role in Obesity.” Gene variant results in fewer dopamine receptors; this leads to more impulsive eating. Try GABA supplements to promote dopamine function.
“Alcohol Consumption, Weight Gain, and Risk of Becoming Overweight in Middle-aged and Older Women.” One drink a day helps lose weight; more than that adds to the problem.
“Coffee, Decaffeinated Coffee, and Tea Consumption in Relation to Incident Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.” Same as alcohol. Don’t drink more than one cup a day.
“Effect of green tea catechins with or without caffeine on anthropometric measures: a systematic review and meta-analysis.”  It reduces BMI and waist girth.
“Laboratory, Epidemiological, and Human Intervention Studies Show That Green Tea (Camellia sinensis) May Be Useful in the Prevention of Obesity.” Don’t fear the caffeine-like micronutrient in green tea; it’s there to improve function in the liver.
“Metabolically healthy but obese individuals: relationship with hepatic enzymes.” If the liver enzyme ALT is in upper limits of normal or above normal, you may consider taking alpha lipoic acid, an antioxidant from broccoli that became a drug in Europe to help with insulin resistance issues in the liver. By improving liver function, we regulate blood glucose better. Besides, poorly detoxified chemicals contribute to insulin resistance.
“Skeletal muscle insulin resistance: the interplay of local lipid excess and mitochondrial dysfunction.” The mitochondria is where we turn food into energy to fuel our cells. Mitochondrial function is also improved with alpha lipoic acid, which has been shown to reduce insulin resistance.
“Factors related to colonic fermentation of nondigestible carbohydrates of a previous evening meal increase tissue glucose uptake and moderate glucose-associated inflammation.” Fiber-rich diets decrease metabolic problems when consumed before indulging; better to not indulge, but…
Many Americans Have Pre-Diabetes and Should Be Considered for Metformin Therapy.”
Think of obesity as pre diabetes. Taking Metformin is not such a bad thing. It is the only oral treatment of diabetes that helps people lose weight. Why? Because it is the only one developed from an herb, Galega officinalis (see above.)
“Day Napping and Short Night Sleeping Are Associated With Higher Risk of Diabetes in Older Adults .” The stress from sleep loss is the problem, not the napping; the latter is more frequent in people who are not sleeping well at night.
“Dietary Fiber, Magnesium, and Glycemic Load Alter Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in a Multiethnic Cohort in Hawaii.” Supplement magnesium, and fill up with foods high in fiber and low in glycemic content (fruits and veggies.) Even though the study is about diabetes, it also applies to obesity. The common denominator is insulin resistance. Fiber has been shown to improve the health of intestinal flora; an imbalance therein has been related to obesity.
This herb contains flavonoids and oligomeric procyanidins. It has been shown to be helpful in mild forms of congestive heart failure; patients taking it see their blood pressure and heart function improve. It is well tolerated, but some people may experience vertigo, and dizziness. An interaction with cardiac drugs is possible.
“Mutant Cholesterol Fends Off Dementia”
Demonizing cholesterol has created other problems. Since our brain is 80% fat (I know some people whose brain is 100% fat…) we are seeing a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease when lipids are kept too low. Cholesterol is also indispensable for many other functions, like the synthesis of sex hormones. Those who profit from selling cholesterol-lowering drugs often dismiss any such concerns as quackery. The journal Scientific American and the AMA disagree:
“Cholesterol may conjure up associations of cardiovascular disease, but growing evidence shows that the lipid has great importance in the health of the brain, where one quarter of the body’s cholesterol resides. A new study has found that a common alteration to a gene that controls the size of cholesterol particles slows a person’s rate of dementia and protects against Alzheimer’s disease.
“Individuals with the mutation—a swap of one amino acid (isoleucine) for another (valine) in the gene for cholesterol ester transfer protein (CETP)—had ‘significantly slower memory decline,’ report researchers in a paper published online January 12 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In fact, those who harbored two valine alleles experienced cognitive decline 51 percent more slowly than those with isoleucine—and had a 70 percent reduction in their risk for developing Alzheimer’s.”
OK, a bit technical; but remember “nutrigenomics,” the science that has shown that we can modify genetic tendencies by eating a good diet. Rather than despair about your genes, resolve to eat better to lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. For example, lowering insulin levels by eating whole foods, instead of refined sugars and fats helps our brain metabolize energy better. Bad metabolism increases cognitive problems. Also, “Concord grape juice supplementation improves memory function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment.”
“Don’t forget” to have your doctor test you; you might already be developing signs of early disease.
“Association of Intrauterine and Early-Life Exposures with Diagnosis of Uterine Leiomyomata by 35 Years of Age in the Sister Study.” This means that uterine fibroids may be a result of poor detoxification of estrogen disrupting chemicals. I have seen many of them regress with better detox; try indole-3-carbinol, main micronutrient in cruciferous and “myomin,” a collection of 4 Chinese herbs. Besides a good diet, I also recommend lots of fiber, probiotics, NAC and SAMe.
“An Assessment of Potential Exposure and Risk from Estrogens in Drinking Water.” It winds up there when we urinate all the estrogen therapy we prescribe. This problem has been associated with a higher risk of endocrine problems, including cancer.
“Association of Low-Dose Exposure to Persistent Organic Pollutants with Global DNA Hypomethylation in Healthy Koreans.” P.O.P. disrupt our ability to metabolize b vitamins (methylation,) which is critical for DNA and liver function.
“The Effect of Ambient Air Pollution on Sperm Quality.” Sperm cells’ quality and quantity are declining; at this rate we will be shooting blanks in 70 years.
“Reduction in Heart Rate Variability with Traffic and Air Pollution in Patients with Coronary Artery Disease.” Air pollution harms more than just the lungs.
“Exploring a Potential Link between BPA and Heart Disease.” We have known that BPA in plastics compromises metabolism and increases the risk of cancer; add heart problems.
 “Gut Microbes: From Bugs to Drugs,” American J. Gastroenterology 2010;105: 275
 J. Science 2009;325:161
 “A Human Gut Microbial Gene Catalogue Established by Metanogenomic Sequencing,” J. Nature 2010;464:59
 NPR radio, March 25th 2010
 Book of the Month, “Looting America: how Wall street’s game of fantasy finance destroyed our jobs, pensions, and prosperity,” Les Leopold; Chelsea Green Publishing; 2009
 American J. Clinical Nutrition 2010;91: 280S
 J. of the American Medical Association 2010;303:19
 J. Archives Internal Medicine 2010;170:453
 J. Archives of Internal Medicine 2009;169:2053
 American J. Clinical Nutrition 2010 91: 73
 J. Nutrition 2010 140: 446
 J. Metabolism; Clinical and Research 2010;59:20
 J. Metabolism; Clinical and Research 2010;59:70
 American J. Clinical Nutrition 2010;91: 90
 J. Diabetes Care 2010;33:49
 J. Diabetes Care 2010;33:78
 J. Nutrition 2010;140: 68
 “Health Effects of Hawthorne,” J. American Family Physician 2010;81:465
 J. Scientific American, March 2010
 “Metabolic Syndrome Over 10 Years and Cognitive Functioning in Late Midlife: The Whitehall II study,”
J. Diabetes Care 2010;33:84
 “Self Administered Cognitive Screening Test for Detection of Alzheimer’s Disease,”
British Medical J. 2009;338:b2030
 J. Environmental Health Perspectives, March issue, 2010, volume 118