More on FOOD ADDICTION from last month’s issue: the conclusion of a study that looked at food addiction scores (DSM-IV-TR) and the Yale Food Addiction Scale scores and their correlation to the findings of a Functional MRI of the brain. There was greater activation in the anterior cingulated cortex, medial orbitofrontal cortex, and amygdala in response to anticipated receipt of chocolate milk share:
“If certain foods are addictive, this may partially explain the difficulty people experience in achieving sustainable weight loss. I f food cues take on enhanced motivational properties in a manner analogous to drug cues, efforts to change the current food environment may be critical to successful weight loss and prevention efforts. Ubiquitous food advertisement and the availability of inexpensive palatable foods may make it extremely difficult to adhere to healthier food choices because the omnipresent food cues trigger the reward system. Finally, if palatable food consumption is accompanied by dis inhibition, the current emphasis on personal responsibility as the anecdote to increasing obesity rates may have minimal effectiveness.”
Hugo Rodier, MD.
I drink a cup a day; more than that and I get reflux and gastritis, because I have a family history of not optimally replenishing the lining cells of my stomach, which need to be “recycled” every 36 hours. If one does not do this effectively, one may also end up with gastritis and heartburn. Of course, most doctors still blame the stomach acid, not remembering that it needs to be there for proper digestion and to keep bad organisms from colonizing our gut.
These issues are not addressed in the new article about coffee lowering the risk of prostate cancer; neither is the negative effect of coffee on blood pressure and heart rhythm. While coffee is correctly shown to lower the risk of prostate cancer (and breast cancer as well) by 33%, the study’s 6 cups a day give me pause; we may be robbing Peter to pay Paul.
This salutary effect of coffee is also reported with decaffeinated coffee, which points to its antioxidant content as the source of its anti cancer function. Sadly, decaffeination uses many chemicals, unless you find the coffees that use a more organic decaffeination process. Unfortunately, we may be at the mercy of marketing claims that may not be true. I would not give up on “the real coffee,” just yet: caffeine helps potentiate the detoxification function of antioxidants in the liver, it also helps bowel movements, thereby increasing detoxification and elimination of the very xenoestrogens (endocrine disruptors) associated with prostate cancer.
Too much fruit?
I get asked this question at least once a week. There may be some “yeast fanatics” out there advising people to avoid fruit. While this may be true in a few isolated cases, it is not true in most people, even in most diabetics. Sure, your blood sugar goes up when you eat fruit, but, by enriching our cell membranes, we become more “insulin sensitive” in the long run. Diets that have 13 servings of fruits and veggies combined are best. Think of exercising; your heart rate does go up, only to return to a lower average resting heart rate when you exercise routinely.
The journal Neuron, March 3rd 2005 shows fruit raining on the cell membrane on its cover issue, illustrating the need of the right sugars to constitute our cell membranes optimally, so that they may function best, and as noted above, be more receptive to the action of insulin. Remember that this vital hormone takes glucose from the blood stream into our cells to fuel the latter. Another cover issue, the Journal Science, March 23rd 2001, is about “Glycobiology,” the science that deals with how important the right sugars are for us. Natural sugars not only optimize cell membrane function, but the function of most proteins through the process of “glycosylation,” or adding sugar to a protein. Insulin itself is a “glycoprotein.”
Fruits also have a lot of fiber that mitigates the absorption of fructose from the GI tract, whereas sugar in processed foods lack fiber, which leads to a faster absorption of sugar from the GI tract; concomitantly, the resulting dramatic rise in blood sugar potentiates the addicting nature of artificial sugars. Also, fructose is metabolized differently in the liver, a function optimized by the high antioxidant content of fruits, particularly berries and kiwis.
Last but not least, is the fact that we have a genetic “sweet tooth,: which has kept us happy and living longer. BUT, we need to satisfy this sweet tooth with the right sugars, those given to us by Mother Nature, not Kellog or Mc Donald’s. This is the main tenant of Glycobiology. Think of sex as an example: if you do not satisfy those normal needs in a respectful and socially acceptable way (fruit), you will be vulnerable to “temptations” (processed foods.)”
Preventing urine infections
If you have been reading this newsletter for a while, you will say “of course” when you read that probiotics prevent urine infections. Probiotics, as you know, ARE the immune system. So, treat them well by eating whole foods high in fiber and low in trans-fats and refined sugars. The latter are redolent with antibiotics and many other chemicals that compromise friendly bacteria in the gut. Try to avoid frequent antibiotic therapy, which is not good for probiotics. Next time you have a UTI, see if you may get by with cranberry, uva ursi (herb) and vitamin C, 2 grams every other hour to acidify the urine. Urinating after intercourse is also helpful.
More than meets the eye
Selenium helps eye problems when people have an overly active thyroid gland. Why is that?
“The decrease survival of patients with age-related eye disorders suggests that these conditions may reflect systemic rather than only local processes. The improved survival in people taking Zinc [suggests this]“
Sure, take zinc, too, but the main point is that any dysfunction at the cellular level is likely to be at play IN ALL CELLS. That the eye may be affected first is because of genetic tendencies tha may lead to dysfunction therein being noticed first. Besides, the eyes are “windows” to look “inward,” too. In other words, a lack of antioxidants like zinc and selenium predispose the eye (and all other cells) to disease, which then leads to decreased longevity. By the way, a lack of selenium has been associated with aneurisms of arteries, leading to fatal bleeding. If you have a family history, for sure you need to supplement selenium. Selenium is generally lacking in depleted soils, since most of it is found in plant foods. To get the 200 mcg needed, eat 4 Brazil nuts a day.
Are you being treated unnecessarily for hypertension?
Chances are that 40% of people are; hope you are not one of them. A lot of patients’ blood pressure surge when they go to the doctor. We call this “white coat” hypertension. Since I don’t wear a white coat, people must be reacting to how mean some people think I am because I try to take their candy away..
To avoid unnecessary drugs, insist on bringing in blood pressure readings from home (if you own a cuff) or from a pharmacy. If the average BP reading is under 140/90, you probably don’t need medication, although that number signals a developing problem. It would be best to get readings below 130/85. As we saw with the eye story above, spikes of blood pressure, even “white coat” driven, may mean that the cells lining our arteries are beginning to show inflammation/oxidation/toxicity, which drives the spasms of the arterial muscles that elevate blood pressure. In other words, look at any elevation of blood pressure as a sign that ALL your cells are in distress. Treatment with an anti hypertensive drug does not address these underlying concerns; it merely lowers the number, which mechanically may decrease hypertension problems on end organs (brain, heart, kidneys.) But, to work on the real problem (see above,) we need to change our diets and eat more foods with antioxidants (Google DASH diet.) BTW, lay off salt, and consider going easy on ibuprofen-like drugs and even Tylenol. They raise blood pressure.
You may also optimize blood vessel integrity with the amino acid Arginine 3-6 grams, curcumin, vitamins K&D, and omega oils. The same approach may ease Atrial Fibrillation (quivering of the upper chambers of the heart) which is more than 50% preventable by addressing hypertension and obesity. Yoga helps with this, too.
The heart of the matter: the beer-belly
One of the main tenants of metabolic medicine posits that the BMI, counting calories and weighing yourself are micromanaging, ineffective, impractical ways to cope with the Battle of the Bulge. A more practical way is to lok down at your waistline. “Central Obesity and Survival in Subjects With Coronary Artery Disease: A Systematic Review of the Literature and Collaborative Analysis With Individual Subject Data“ goes as far as to say that your beer belly is one of the main factors that determine rate of survival in people with coronary problems.
“Excess Visceral Adipose Tissue/Ectopic Fat: The Missing Link in the Obesity Paradox?” puts it all together: it is insulin resistance or pre diabetes that drives both the beer belly AND heart disease, a fact clearly illustrated by the lipid or cholesterol pattern where the triglycerides are elevated and the HDL or good cholesterol is depressed. Said pattern reflects the effect of insulin resistance on the liver’s ability to handle cholesterol. Patients with coronary issues who have an elevated ratio of Triglycerides/HDL are more likely to have heart attacks in 10 years.
This is why treating high cholesterol with drugs is more successful when antioxidants are added to the regimen; they improve liver function, particularly in those whose liver is said to be “fatty,” a sure sign of insulin resistance.
A more gentle way to treat inflammation
The evidence that anti inflammatory drugs, as helpful as they are to relieve suffering, come at a stiff price (side effects and 100,000 deaths/year) continues to mount; now we learn that these drugs increase the risk of diverticulitis. Consider safer supplements like SAMe, MSM sulfur, glucosamine and Chondroitin instead.
 “Neural Cortex Food Addiction,” J. Arch Gen Psy 2011, April 4th, Epub doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2011.32
 “Coffee Consumption and Prostate Cancer Risk and Progression in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study,” J. National Cancer Institute (2011) doi: 10.1093/jnci/djr151 First published online: May 17, 2011
 “Probiotic Therapy Halved UTI Risk,” J. Family Practice News 2011 May 1st p4. J. Clinical Infection Disease 2011;52:1212
 “Selenium and the Course of Mild Grave’s Orbitopathy,” New England J. of Medicine 2011;364:1920
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 “Atorvastatin and Antioxidants for the Treatment of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease,”
Am J. Gastroenterology2011;106: 71
 “Aspirin and NSAIDs Raise Diverticulitis Risk,” J. Family Practice News 2011 May 1st p20
 “Chondroitin Slowed Joint Destruction on Knee Osteoarthritis,” J. Annals Rheum Disease 2011, March 1st