We have reporting on the brain-gut connection since the inception of this newsletter. Briefly, it means that the food we eat, the toxins generated in the gut and in the environment, and the bacteria that live therein influence brain function, including mood and cognitive issues. The evidence is as overwhelming as it is ignored by most people in the health care field. This does not serve patients well; they could benefit by optimizing their gut flora, diet and gut function.
The article “Psychobiotics: a novel class of psychotropic”1 documents that friendly bacteria in the gut may also be called “psychobiotics” since they help depression and other psychiatric disorders. Bifidophilus infantis is lacking in the gut of depressed patients; replacing it helps in recovery. Lactobacillus helveticus and rhamnosus are lacking in patients with anxiety. The latter specifically attach to GABA receptors. GABA is an amino acid needed to make the soothing neurotransmitter dopamine in our body.
Our gut flora is in charge of metabolizing the food we eat and detoxifying noxious chemicals. Poor gut flora means poor fuel for the brain; it also means more oxidation and inflammation therein.
Perhaps “psychobiotics” will get more attention when they become pharmaceutical products…. Hugo Rodier, MD
A while back the National Institute of Health concluded a large and long awaited study on chelation of heavy metals; it did not show any benefits, or so they thought. Revisiting the data more thoroughly (and no doubt with less biased eyes) they have found that chelation decreases the risk of Diabetes by 15%. There is also a 40% reduction in total mortality and a 40% reduction in heart attacks.2 Other than that it doesn’t work…
Before fully endorsing chelation I must warn you about boutique clinics who charge too much for it; they use IV and sometimes suppository chelation. I prefer to recommend EDTA and DMSA, the principal chelating agents available over the counter, much cheaper and ingested by mouth. Google “chelex” for more information.
Also, do not try this at home: you must make sure you are on a good diet and that your gut and liver are working well to eliminate the heavy metals once they are “shaken loose” by chelation. Think of dusting rugs indoors with the windows closed. AND, replace minerals while doing it. Better yet, find a doctor-not a boutique one-who can guide you through chelation at least the first time.
Food fights and facts
- Is there still anyone reading this newsletter that believes soy is harmful? Other than GMO soy, it is quite safe and beneficial as oft reported herein. Soy helps with hormones, including thyroid, and lowers the risk of cancer, including female cancers and prostate, contrary to old and dated information stemming from the word “phytoestrogens.” The researcher who came up with that name still regrets the angst it has generated. Another example of soy helping with cancer came out in March; it increases survival in women with lung cancer.3
- Animal protein, especially red meat, increases the risk of Gestational Diabetes, whereas vegetable protein reduces it, especially nuts.4 Speaking of nuts, they lower overall mortality.5 This proves that it is not just sugars that cause Diabetic issues, but any type of food that increases toxicity, oxidation, inflammation and mitochondrial problems. The best is the Mediterranean Diet; it reduces sugar, lipids, improves cognition and lowers risk of cardiovascular problems.6
- Breast feeding reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.7 If you start to get symptoms of AD you may not use that as an excuse to solicit breast feeding…
- Despite very good evidence that cancer patients benefit from nutritional intervention many oncologist continue to tell their patients that diet has nothing to do with cancer. While we cannot tell patients that nutrition will cure them, it is well established that nutrition can help lower the risk of cancer, increase the chances of a better outcome, and even synergize the effect of chemotherapy.8 Diet as well as optimizing one’s lifestyle, lengthens the tail of our chromosomes, which has been associated with less cancer risk, including prostate cancer.9
- Vitamin supplementation may slow down the progress of HIV diseases.10 Despite dramatic results like this one, some people still deny the value of supplementation…
- Our “shadow” could use a little help if you believe testosterone commercials. Could it be that they are instigating the overuse of testosterone? There is no question that many men need it, but, it was shown recently that replacing testosterone in patients who have had a heart attack or a stroke leads to higher mortality.11 While this study is not to be interpreted as a call to stop replacing testosterone, it should give us pause. Hopefully, other studies will clarify this issue. For sure, shun boutique and anti-aging doctors who prescribe testosterone even to those who walk in with a hangnail.
- It is widely believed that Prozac and other anti-depressants are over prescribed and not as effective as they would like you to believe. No doubt many patients need them. But, are we emphasizing enough non-pharmaceutical interventions? Exercise may be as good as any other therapy. Cognitive therapy has been found to be as good as Prozac.12 Prozac is a SSRI medication. The whole class has been shown to increase the risk of fractures, even more than steroids and acid blocking drugs.13 In general, anti depressants have also been shown to increase the risk of sugar regulation problems.14
- We worry about glaucoma as we age. But, do we ever stop to think what might have contributed to the problem? Birth control pills do.15 This does not mean that we should not use them, but that women should be informed; they may choose a different method of birth control.
- We have known for a while that Tylenol causes over one half of all cases of liver failure in the USA. This is why there is talk of reducing the dose of all Tylenol-containing pills to no more than 325 mg. Now we have good evidence that Tylenol is also harmful to our kidneys.16
Oxidation = Inflammation = Mitochondrial function
Many other articles have made this association clear. This is why diets high in antioxidants like the Mediterranean diet are so good for all diseases. One of the mechanisms linking both oxidation and inflammation is mitochondrial function. All 3 are an integral part of the TOIL17 that our cells are subjected to. Take a look at this quote form a recent article:“Known regulators that decrease mitochondrial respiration include reactive oxygen species generated by the respiratory chain, suggesting that targeted antioxidants could be beneficial to reduce chronic inflammation.”With toxic environments the TOIL gets worse; all cellular functions are thus compromised, particularly the metabolism of our cells,18 or how they use Energy and Information. The bottom line: eat plant based diets; supplement Alpha Lipoic acid, a mitochondrial antioxidant. It is found in broccoli.
1. J. Biological Psychiatry 2013;74:708
2. “The effect of an EDTA-based chelation regimen on patients with diabetes mellitus and prior MI in TACT,” J. Circulation Epub November 19th 2013
3. “Soy Food Consumption and Lung Cancer Survival in Women,” J. Clinical Oncology Published online before print March 25, 2013, doi: 10.1200/JCO.2012.43.0942
4. “Prepregnancy Dietary Protein Intake, Major Dietary Protein Sources, and the Risk of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus; A prospective cohort study,” J. Diabetes Care February 1st 2013 Epub
5. New England J. of Medicine 2013;369:2001
6. J. Annals of Internal Medicine 2013;159:584
7. “Breastfeeding reduces risk of AD,” Epub August 14th 2013 J. PLOS ONE
8. “Dietary recommendations during and after cancer treatment: consistently inconsistent?” J. Nutrition and Cancer 2013;65:430
9. “Effect of comprehensive lifestyle changes on telomerase activity and telomere length in men with biopsy-proven low-risk prostate cancer: 5-year follow-up of a descriptive pilot study,” J. Lancet Oncology 2013;14:1112
10. “Micronutrient supplementation and HIV disease progression,” J. of the American Medical Association 2013;310:2154
11. “Association of testosterone therapy with mortality, myocardial infarction and stroke in men with low testosterone levels,” J. of the American Medical Association 2013;310:1829
12. “Preventing Depressive Relapse and Recurrence in Higher-Risk Cognitive Therapy RespondersA Randomized T rial of Continuation Phase Cognitive Therapy, Fluoxetine, or Matched Pill Placebo,” J. of the American Medical Association-Psychiatry Epub November 2013
13. “SSRI Fracture Risk Exceeds That of Corticosteroids and PPIs,” American Society for Bone and Mineral Research 2013 Annual Meeting
14. “Antidepressant Medication as a Risk Factor for Type 2 Diabetes and Impaired Glucose Regulation: Systematic review,” J. Diabetes Care 2013;36:3337
15. “Birth control pills linked to glaucoma,” American Academy of Ophthalmology 2013 Annual Meeting. Presented November 18, 2013
16. American Public Health Association 141st Annual Meeting: Abstract 290307. Presented November 4, 2013
17. T, toxicity; O, Oxidation; I, Inflammation; L, Less than optimal mitochondrial function
18. “Cell Metabolomics,” OMICS: A Journal of Integrative Biology 2013;17:495