All of us have 23 pairs of chromosomes and on those chromosomes, there are approximately 20,000-25,000 genes that provide the instructions for how our bodies look, and function in the world. The chromosomes that contain the genes and DNA form a double helix that looks like a twisted ladder where the rungs are represented by 3 billion base pairs of 4 amino acids called nucleotides. These chromosomes crammed into the nucleus of every cell in our body contains a molecular blueprint that gives us our ability to either thrive or feel challenged by various health stressors that all of us experience. If you could unwind the chromosomes and stretch it out straight the nuclear DNA of just one cell would be six feet in length!
The Human Genome Project was tasked with the job of sequencing those approximately 25,000 genes (a section of a chromosome) and the approximately 3 billion base pairs of in the human DNA (the rungs of the ladder). It took 12 years and approximately 4 billion dollars and it was completed in 2003. The science that sprung from this is called Genomics and it is dedicated to understanding illness from an individual patient perspective. Using Genomics, doctors, and scientists are taking the information from mapping an individual’s DNA to see if they have a genetic susceptibility to a disease such as diabetes, or depression, or finding out if someone may or may not respond to a specific medication such as a chemotherapy drug. click the title to read more
Mercury is often mentioned as a toxic element that humans have been getting increased exposure to in recent decades. Although mercury is a naturally occurring element that is released into our environment from volcanic eruptions, about two-thirds of the mercury we are exposed to is entering our biosphere from man-made sources including industrial plants, coal burning and incinerators. Coal fired power plants release about 75 tons of mercury into the atmosphere each year. Historically, the chlor-alkali industry is one of the largest industries that used mercury in the processing of sodium chloride brine to chlorine gas, hydrogen gas and sodium hydroxide. Most would be surprised to know how pervasive these chemicals are and how they are used in the food industry, aluminum and textile production, soap and other cleaning agents as well as water treatment and effluent control.
We are coming up on flu season and with it we will be getting the requisite recommendations from various mass media sources to get the flu vaccine to prevent the flu this coming winter. Presently about 40% of adults get the flu shot. Worldwide about 1 million people die of the flu each year, and here in the U.S. there are 200,000 hospitalizations and death rates in the U.S. range from 3,000 to 49,000 annually.
Ninety-five percent of the deaths attributed to the flu each year worldwide occur in people aged 65 or more. In April of this year a study from Yale University suggests that death from influenza in older people may be more related to our bodies damaging response to the flu and not the virus itself. To understand why, the research observed differences in the way our immune cells react to the virus when we are older vs when we are younger. The key difference was the secretion of key antiviral proteins called interferons and they were significantly decreased in an older population. Therefore, this diminished response led to unchecked viral replication and led to an inflammatory response that increased mortality. The conclusions from the study is that the immune system in older people was unable to activate a specific white blood cell called a neutrophil to further activate an anti-inflammatory enzyme known as inflammasome caspases.
There are many factors that influence both depression and sleep. In a previous newsletter I talked about the dangers of GMO foods, and how Glyphosate (Roundup) has been shown to influence the Shikimate pathway of our gut bacteria and their production of amino acids such as Tryptophan and Tyrosine that are precursors to Serotonin and Dopamine. Other newsletters on Heart Rate Variability and stress pointed to the effects of the imbalance of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system and how cortisol fluctuations could influence hormones and sleep cycles. All of those factors are important but this newsletter will focus on Tryptophan, about why it is such an important amino acid, why it is poorly utilized and what can be done to improve optimal levels.
The Serotonin pathway and Kynurenine pathway
Tryptophan is an amino acid that gets converted to a neurotransmitter serotonin and this has been linked to restful sleep, and in the case of low levels, depression and even problems such as obsessive compulsive issues. There are a few biochemical steps that take place in order for this to happen. Tryptophan first gets converted to 5-HTP or (5-hydroxytryptophan) and this in turn is converted in our bodies to serotonin. If you or someone you know has tried either taking tryptophan or 5-HTP as a supplement, they may or may not have had success in achieving restful sleep or avoiding SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressant medications. The following information may explain why.
I recently came across some information from a company called Mother Dirt that I thought was interesting enough to share. The company has developed a line of skin care products, one of which is to deliver bacteria to the skin. Essentially it is probiotics for the skin and the reasoning behind it is based in some interesting science. We commonly see results with the use of probiotics for our gastrointestinal system, so it would make sense that probiotics for our external environment is important too.
The external microbiota
It is a subject that doesn’t get too much attention, but there exists on our skin a “skin microbiome”or “cutaneous microbiome” that protects us. Our skin is our bodies largest organ and modern man’s skin biome has become sterile rather than clean due to our near obsessive use of anti-microbial soaps, deodorants, shampoos and daily showers. All skin and hair products have preservatives in them and this keeps them free of bacteria and gives them a long shelf life but kills the beneficial bacteria on our skin...
In last month’s newsletter I mentioned a last ditch effort by agriculture lobbyists to influence the U.S. Senate to pass a watered down law regarding GMO’s, and to render Vermont’s law for labeling of foods containing GMO ingredients obsolete. This federal law, also known as the DARK Act (Deny Americans the Right to Know) was designed to keep consumers in the dark about what is in our food.
Well, the Senate voted and the winner was Monsanto and big agriculture! The Senate voted 63-30 to enact the DARK act. Congratulations to the lobbyists of big agriculture, and to the senators who financially benefit from their contributions. Condolences to the losers: the state of Vermont whose state law was superseded by this new federal law. Condolences to the nine out of ten Americans who want what 64 other countries already have, which is to know what is in our food. Most of all condolences to our children who will for the most part continually consume GMO foods without any idea of the resulting toxicity from the overuse of glyphosate (Roundup). Oh wait, there was sort of a consolation victory. The Senators did require food companies to put on its packaging a QR code, an indication that it contains GMO ingredients. However, you will have to use a smart phone, and be connected to Wi-Fi in the supermarket to find out for sure.
Two years ago Vermont’s Governor signed a bill that said GMO foods should be labeled by July 1st 2016. This act puts a huge obstacle in the way of large scale agricultural practices in the U.S. The plan by Monsanto’s lobbyists and certain U.S. Senators is to enact a watered down Federal law that would trump any state GMO law. But with the clock ticking down to July 1st, so far it hasn’t gained enough support in the Senate. If the U.S. Senate fails to act, then all food with GMO ingredients will have to be labeled in Vermont or taken off the shelves.
Glyphosate, GMO’s and Monsanto
Glyphosate is an herbicide, and the U.S used about 300 million pounds of it last year. It’s the main ingredient in a product called Roundup made by Monsanto. Despite Monsanto’s and the EPA’s declarations of glyphosate’s safety, the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer, in March 2015 “determined that glyphosate is probably carcinogenictohumans”...
Dr. Sue Shephard experienced regular and debilitating intestinal gas and because of that, her research led to her coining the term and development of the FODMAP diet in 1998. FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. These short chain carbohydrates are incompletely absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and then become easily fermented by gut bacteria. The resulting gas causes severe bloating and IBS symptoms. FODMAP’s also increase fluid to the large intestine and can cause diarrhea.
Others have had similar observations about carbohydrates. Elaine Gottshall wrote a book called Breaking the Vicious Cycle even earlier in 1994, after her daughter who was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in the 1950’s was saved from the surgical removal of her large intestine. By following the diet prescribed to her by Sidney Haas M.D., her daughter recovered and Elaine went on to attain degrees in biology, nutritional biochemistry, and cellular biology. Her diet called The Specific Carbohydrate Diet, only allows monosaccharides. Disaccharides and polysaccharides are not allowed
Fibromyalgia was a condition first noticed and described in the early 1900’s by Sir William Gowers. Over the next seven decades more physicians were noticing similar findings and in 1987 a diagnostic code for Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) was instituted along with a consensus of diagnostic criteria to meet that diagnosis. The consensus was that 11 out of an agreed upon 18 diagnostic points would be tender to less than approximately 2 lbs. of finger pressure. These bilateral points were the inner knee, hips, gluteus muscles, trapezius muscles, lower cervical vertebra, lateral epicondyle, second rib anteriorly, occiput bone, and supraspinatus muscles.
In 1992, The Copenhagen Declaration added that FMS was a painful, non-articular condition. It is often associated with persistent fatigue, non-refreshing sleep and that women were 10-20 times more likely to suffer from it than men. It was also associated with headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, cold sensitivity, patterns of numbness and tingling, exercise intolerance and complaints of weakness. Depression and anxiety are also associated with the diagnosis. Keep reading
In recent weeks we have heard disturbing news about lead contaminated water in Flint Michigan. The city changed its water source to the Flint River instead of Lake Huron and the Detroit River. The water from the Flint River didn’t have corrosion control treatment on the aging lead pipes that delivered the water for use by its residents. It’s estimated that 6,000-12,000 children were exposed to high levels of lead. Because the Flint River was so high in bacteria, higher levels of chlorine were used in treating the water resulting in higher than normal carcinogenic byproducts such as trihalomethanes. The health risks from this exposure is vast and there will be scores of lawsuits that will follow. The chain of command that played a part in this tragedy seems to go as high as the governor of Michigan and possibly into the EPA.
In the book Lead Wars, the authors Moskowitz and Rosner give a detailed history of the lead problem in the U.S. For example, between 1900-1950 all paint was 50% lead carbonate. A child ingesting a chip consisting of a gram or two could be enough to cause convulsions. ( keep reading)
HRV is emerging as an important way of measuring our overall level of health, our ability to handle exercise and stress, and more.
HRV is not heart rate. Heart rate is how many beats our hearts beat in a given period of time. If your heart rate is 60 beats per minute, it is assumed that our heart beats one time each second for 60 seconds. Not necessarily. Your heart may beat 1.2 seconds one beat and .8 seconds the second beat and 1.25 seconds and then again at .9 seconds. This inconsistency is heart rate variability and the importance of measuring it came out of Russia in the mid 1970’s.
In March of 2015, 60 minutes aired a segment about ongoing medical research at Duke University treating brain cancer with an injection of polio vaccine. The virus had been weakened to avoid causing a complication to the patient and the therapy is having remarkable success. Once injected into the cancer cells it activates an immune response within the body that kills the virus along with the cancer cells. This 21st century therapy has already saved lives that would not have survived if those patients had followed conventional treatments for their brain cancer. If you would like to read the transcript click here:http://www.cbsnews.com/news/polio-cancer-treatment-duke-university-60-minutes-scott-pelley/
What is old is new again
I was thoroughly impressed with the story and the way the researchers tricked the patient’s immune system into attacking the brain cancer. I thought “now here’s a shining example of 21st century medicine”. That feeling was tarnished when I recently found out that CBS failed to mention that this therapy has been used before. keep reading