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Top 10 Health Stories of 2011
By Byron J. Richards, CCN
January 04, 2012
Picking right up where 2010 left off, 2011 is another year marked by an explosion in gene-related nutritional science. The data is now overwhelmingly positive that nutrition can influence genes to help weight loss, lower cholesterol, prevent cancer, treat cancer, correct faulty brain function, prevent age-associated disease, and slow aging. On the frontiers of this new science is emerging evidence of the possibility that nutrition may actually be able to resolve psychosomatic illnesses as well as turn back the clock. These are exciting times. Here is my take on the top 10 health stories for 2011.
#10 Brain Damage from Brain Medications
Despite the fact that brain medications hardly work at all, Big Pharma continues to push its “assets” down the throats and into the brains of 10% of the U.S. population, a costly con job of unbelievable magnitude requiring a gullible population of befuddled and confused people and a powerful lobby on Capital Hill.
The year actually started out on a bad note for Big Pharma as researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston published a study outlining six areas where Big Pharma manipulates facts and often breaks laws in an effort to sell patented drugs with high profits to people who do not need them and should not take them. The six marketing scams revealed were reducing thresholds for diagnosing disease, exaggerating safety claims, exaggerating efficacy claims, relying on surrogate endpoints, creating new diseases, and encouraging unapproved uses. All of these topics permeate the sale of brain medications. Even when companies are fined hundreds of million for breaking the law or settling damage claims, that is all part of the cost of business picked up by taxpayers. Psychiatrists are the masters at inventing mental health conditions that match existing Big Pharma drug patents.
In addition to the tens of billions that are wasted on these Big Pharma delusional treatments, the medications turn out to be incredibly harmful. Data now indicates they cause brain damage, breast cancer, heart attacks, and early mortality. Don’t expect the FDA or Congress to wake up from their medicated state any time soon. The juggernaut poisoning the brains of Americans rolls on.
Drug Marketing Injures Patients
Why Antidepressants Cause Brain Damage, Breast Cancer, and Early Mortality
Top-Selling Antipsychotic Medications Triple the Risk of a Fatal Heart Attack
Top Selling Antipsychotic Medications Cause Loss of Brain Volume
On the positive side of health, nutrient science is reaching a level required for broad public usefulness. The tocotrienol form of vitamin E is a case in point. I began the year by outlining twenty years of research on this nutrient, both to lower cholesterol and prevent/treat cancer. The interesting thing about the tocotrienol form of vitamin E is that it has real brains, knowing which genes to activate depending on the cell and its situation. If it is a struggling healthy cell it helps it survive, if it is a cancer cell it helps it die. This “nutrient intelligence” is what the new gene science is proving in many nutrients. Tocotrienol E is leading the charge.
Tocotrienols showed they could reverse the adverse gene signaling caused by a high cholesterol diet. A human study showed tocotrienols could boost HDL cholesterol so much it equated to a 22.5% risk reduction for stroke, while at the same time lowering the number of advanced glycation end products (a key anti-aging marker). Scientists reviewing all the new tocotrienol science said these nutrients were so good that they could help change or improve every single problem associated with the metabolic syndrome (an epidemic in America).
Furthermore, tocotrienols were found to change the gene signaling in old cells to make them more resistant to stress, significantly bolstering genes influencing antioxidant enzymes to work better. In fact, tocotrienols could pump “spent” antioxidants out of nerve cells to protect them from excitotoxic death. And in a stunning study tocotrienols extended the length of telomeres and prevented DNA damage, mechanisms of action that actually turn back the clock.
As 2011 came to a close cancer researchers at University of Louisiana at Monroe proclaimed, “The synergistic antiproliferative and apoptotic effects demonstrated by combined low dose treatment of gamma tocotrienol with other chemotherapeutic agents may provide significant health benefits in the prevention and/or treatment of breast cancer in women, while at the same time avoiding tumor resistance and toxic side effects associated with high dose monotherapy.” The science shows that tocotrienols damage cancer cells in many different ways while posing no toxicity – a real breath of fresh air as an adjunct for cancer treatment.
Tocotrienols: Twenty Years of Dazzling Cardiovascular and Cancer Research
Tocotrienols Boost Gene Signaling to Protect the Heart
Tocotrienol E Boosts HDL Cholesterol While Lowering Advanced Glycation End Products
Tocotrienols Can Help the Metabolic Syndrome
The Unique Antioxidant Properties of Tocotrienols
Alpha Tocotrienols Guard Against Neurodegeneration & Stroke
Tocotrienols Extend Telomeres and Turn Back the Clock
Gamma Tocotrienol for Breast Cancer Prevention and Treatment
It may come as news to some people that the synthesis of that horrible and evil LDL cholesterol is actually the backbone of your ability to survive. Sure enough, too much of it indicates problems, as does not enough cholesterol. It is no longer appropriate to think in terms of cholesterol as only good and bad. In fact, how energetically and robustly your body processes and uses cholesterol is a key to your cardiovascular well being.
In this new view of cholesterol fitness statins are the equivalent of taking a sledgehammer to your foot and then trying to go for a jog. There are no quick fixes for faulty cholesterol metabolism, as there are hundreds of potential variables influencing this vital survival system. In February I made a grand effort to explain the basics of this new approach to one and all in my comprehensive article, The Five Key Things You Can Do to Lower LDL Cholesterol Healthfully.
As the year moved on, nutrient after nutrient showed it could help with cholesterol metabolism. It is clear that nutrients don’t work like the statin sledgehammer. Rather, they work on a consulting basis and help to guide metabolism and gene function in the right direction. While they are not a quick fix for a number, they do represent a practical path to the true restoration of health and prevention of cardiovascular disease – for those who wish to walk the walk.
Statins Develop Mainstream Cracks in Their Image
How Green Tea Improves Cholesterol Metabolism
Green Tea Extracts Lower Total & LDL Cholesterol
Pantethine Lowers Cholesterol in Americans at Moderate Risk for Heart Disease
Tangeretin and Nobiletin Lower Cholesterol by Inhibiting ApoB Production
Nobiletin Helps Prevent Fatty Liver, High Cholesterol, Weight Gain, and Insulin Resistance
Whey Protein Improves Fatty Liver while Lowering Cholesterol
Blueberries Lower Cholesterol & Reverse Memory Decline
Pterostilbene: A Cholesterol and Blood Sugar Improving Anti-Cancer Nutrient
Silymarin Helps Lower Cholesterol
Quercetin Benefits Blood Pressure & Cholesterol Metabolism in Apo E 3/3 Genotype
DHA Supplementation Improves Cholesterol Quality
It is no secret that America is in the middle of an obesity epidemic. It is also no secret that the older you get the harder it is to lose weight. While exercising more and eating less are important if you are not active and if you over-eat, these approaches have been preached far and wide while America keeps getting fatter and fatter.
When people eat better and exercise more and still can’t lose weight they not only get frustrated, but also wonder what is going on. This issue is one of metabolic inefficiency. How many ways can monkey wrenches be thrown into your metabolic system, slowing it down or even grinding it to the proverbial halt? Unfortunately, the answer turns out to be quite a few – and many of these are rather surprising.
In a series of groundbreaking articles, I explain the primary reasons people who eat better and exercise may still struggle to lose weight. These reasons range from key nutritional deficiencies to more complex problems, yet these are the common issues I see over and over again in clinical practice. It is typical that any person struggling to lose weight will find answers to their problems in this revealing series of articles.
The Leptin Diet Weight Loss Challenge #1 – Overview and Basic Needs
How Digestive Problems Prevent Weight Loss – The Leptin Diet Weight Loss Challenge #2
Why Toxins and Waste Products Impede Weight Loss - The Leptin Diet Weight Loss Challenge #3
Malfunctioning Immunity Causes Weight Gain – The Leptin Diet Weight Loss Challenge #4
Germ Gangs Block Weight Loss – The Leptin Diet Weight Loss Challenge #5
Unclog Your Liver & Lose Abdominal Fat – Leptin Diet Weight Loss Challenge #6
Curcumin suffered an unusual fate this year; it was studied in great molecular and genetic depth by researchers at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. It is important to understand that we are talking about the most advanced, mainstream, and leading cancer research facility in the country. Their detailed cancer research led them to state the following, “Recently, natural compounds, such as curcumin, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), and resveratrol, have been shown to alter epigenetic mechanisms, which may lead to increased sensitivity of cancer cells to conventional agents and thus inhibition of tumor growth. Curcumin (diferuloylmethane), a yellow spice and the active component of the perennial herb Curcuma longa, commonly known as turmeric, is one of the most powerful and promising chemopreventive and anticancer agents, and epidemiological evidence demonstrates that people who incorporate high doses of this spice in their diets have a lower incidence of cancer. Furthermore, epidemiological evidence exists indicating that there is a correlation between increased dietary intake of antioxidants and a lower incidence of morbidity and mortality…. How curcumin exerts its powerful anticancer activities has been thoroughly investigated, and several mechanisms of action have been discovered…. curcumin exerts its biological activities through epigenetic modulation.”
The researchers then explain, in great depth, how curcumin changes the regulation of DNA to help kill cancer. They also point out that it seems to influence some of the very same factors in healthy cells to survive better. The researcher can’t say enough good things about curcumin:
“Extensive research over the past five decades has indicated that curcumin reduces blood cholesterol levels; prevents low-density lipoprotein oxidation; inhibits platelet aggregation; suppresses thrombosis and myocardial infarction; suppresses symptoms associated with type II diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease; inhibits HIV replication; suppresses tumor formation; enhances wound healing; protects against liver injury; increases bile secretion; protects against cataract formation; and protects against pulmonary toxicity and fibrosis. These divergent effects of curcumin seem to depend on its pleiotropic molecular effects, including the regulation of signal transduction pathways, and direct modulation of several enzymatic activities. Most of these signaling cascades lead to the activation of transcription factors.”
Interestingly, MD Anderson Cancer Center researchers also explained their findings showing curcumin could combat obesity and many of its inflammatory complications. “Obesity and metabolic syndrome are considered to be major public health crises not only in the United States but also globally…Americans spent as much as $34 billion out-of-pocket on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in 2007…Extensive research within the past two decades has revealed that obesity, a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, cancer, and other chronic diseases, is a proinflammatory disease…Curcumin-induced alterations [in inflamed, overweight people] reverse insulin resistance, hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia, and other symptoms linked to obesity….Curcumin and the other spices have favorable effects against obesity and insulin resistance as well as against various complications resulting from these diseases.”
The news is twofold: A) Fantastic science showing curcumin can benefit many health problems, including prevention and treatment of cancer, B) The advanced research was spearheaded by a mainstream institution, a sign that the Western medicine view of nutrition is drastically changing.
Curcumin Helps Change Gene Function to Combat Cancer
Curcumin Now Touted as a Significant Weight Loss & Disease Prevention Nutrient
The subject of homeostasis is all about how your body bounces back from stressors to achieve a state of balance. Think of stress of any kind as a rubber band stretching. In conditions of poor health the rubber band does not return to normal. It may become twisted, broken, or lose its elasticity but it does not come back to a baseline of balance that reflects healthy function. Virtually all illnesses of aging or the inability to bounce back from an accident, emotional loss, injury, or pregnancy reflect inherent problems with homeostasis.
Dealing with stress of any kind implies an increase in energetic output along with higher levels of inflammation due to the increased speed of performance and/or nature of the stress. Thus, loss of homeostasis implies an inability to resolve inflammation along with a loss of ability to protect your body from the side effects of too much inflammation. While this understanding of homeostasis has been known for some time, a precise mechanism explaining how your body manages this recovery to return to a state of natural balance has never been known. Indeed, much of Western medicine is based on the notion that any type of stressful treatment can be applied to the human body and it will somehow bounce back in a desirable way – assuming that homeostasis is an inherent right or privilege.
Numerous new studies show that homeostasis is managed by the essential fatty acids DHA and EPA, especially DHA. These nutrients produce metabolic byproducts called resolvins and protectins which manage the process of homeostasis from beginning to end. This is a major scientific discovery. The fact that it is nutrition that regulates this process is also a dramatic finding. Other processes such as autophagy (see next point) are also important to homeostasis. However, it appears that DHA has the overall CEO role in managing the homeostasis operation.
Homeostasis is of the utmost importance to your health and survival. Don’t run low on your DHA.
Resolvins and Protectins: Did You Get Your Anti-Aging DHA Today?
DHA Regulates Glial Cells to Reduce Nerve Damage & Boost Nerve Rejuvenation
DHA Reduces Stroke Damage
Fish Oil Reduces Brain Shrinkage in Alzheimer’s Patients
DHA Offsets Genetic Weakness that Contributes to Alzheimer’s
The new gene science is beginning to unravel the very nature of disease and the unexpected findings are stunning. Autophagy is a natural process that occurs within every cell of your body. It is part recycling, part trash removal, part defense system, and part energy management. It is another key to cellular homeostasis. Autophagy is a fundamental principle of health and disease.
One of the key roles of autophagy is regulating how your cells degrade and recycle old or damaged cellular parts. In some ways this is similar to the idea of taking out the trash. When a damaged cellular component is tagged for removal, autophagy genes are activated which set off a sequence of recycling events. It has now been discovered that in virtually any condition of poor health there is an accumulation of cell components that have been tagged for removal and not removed—meaning that trash removal has broken down. This is especially true in virtually all states of nervous system malfunction and decline, diabetes type 2, obesity, heart disease, cancer, etc. In other words, this type of a problem is a very big deal.
While other factors can stress your body and produce excess free radicals and inflammation, once autophagy processes can no longer keep up with the demands, free radical damage and inflammation are drastically increased, sending a person on a path of deteriorating health.
Nutrients now showing they can help autophagy function better include tocotrienols, DHA, vitamin D, niacinamide/ nicotinamide (a form of vitamin B3), quercetin, curcumin, green tea (EGCG), resveratrol, fisetin, zinc, melatonin, blueberries, lipoic acid, bromelain, licorice, and silymarin. This list is by no means complete; rather, it represents the first wave of scientific exploration. Autophagy processes also occur in plants as part of their survival ability and defense system against pathogens. Therefore, many of the flavonoid components/antioxidants of fruits, vegetables and whole grains will help humans to regulate autophagy.
The ability of your body to perform appropriate autophagy will be a large determining factor in your quality of health, the prevention of adverse rapid aging, and the prevention and possible reversal of diseases of aging.
A telomere is a repeating sequence of DNA at the end of a chromosome. Each time a cell replicates and divides the telomere loses some of its length. Eventually, the telomere runs out and the cell can no longer divide and rejuvenate, triggering a poor state of cell health that contributes to disease risk and eventual cell death. The Hayflick Limit places the maximum potential lifespan of humans at 120, the time at which too many cells can no longer replicate and divide to keep things going.
Various stressful factors speed up the rate that telomeres shorten, in turn speeding up the rate of biological aging. Many conditions of age-associated poor health are associated with short telomeres. Telomeres reflect the vitality your body displays to keep up with demands and challenges. As telomeres shorten and/or or become functionally impaired, your body now struggles to keep up. In this situation, damaged molecules accumulate in your body, repair processes are hampered, and aging is accelerated. This sets the stage for early onset poor health of any kind based on whatever your weak spots may be. Disease is more likely; quality of health declines.
An abundance of new science now shows that various nutrients can slow the rate your telomeres shorten, thereby slowing down your rate of biological aging. Preliminary science even shows that some nutrients may be able to lengthen your telomeres, literally turning back the clock. These are indeed exciting times if your goal is to live a long time in a healthy condition.
Many people suffer health problems that stem from malfunctioning brain chemistry. The notion of psycho-somatic illness has long been recognized, but no mechanism for it has ever been demonstrated. This year a number of studies have helped piece together the puzzle of psycho-somatic illness. These are findings that can benefit many people.
The real breakthrough actually came from a study in patients suffering from concussions. I explain this in my groundbreaking article, How to Recover from a Concussion – Athletes Take Note. Advanced brain imaging shows that the thalamus region of the brain is significantly disturbed by a concussion, potentially resulting in excessive formation of abnormal circuits in the thalamus. The thalamus handles subconscious sensation perception, thus disturbances in it were found responsible for post-concussion physical symptoms and sensations that were not really injury symptoms. This was the very first time a precise area of the brain could be associated with psycho-somatic symptoms.
This data meant that any painful trauma, emotional or physical, could create an ongoing inflammatory event in the brain that “burned” an imprint into the thalamus via excessive substance P activation, a problem that could linger on long after the trauma in the form of psycho-somatic symptoms (unexplained pains, sensations, emotions, etc.).
Various other studies lend support. Autopsies on those with a single traumatic brain injury found high levels of brain tangles years later, indicating an inflammatory “fire” had burned for years. It was also found that back pain itself could trigger similar cognitive problems. Even tinnitus fell into the category of psycho-somatic. And rather interesting magnesium research found that fear could actually be changed to unlock a stuck pattern related to similar brain signaling.
The key to solving this problem is restoring synaptic plasticity to the thalamus in particular and brain in general. Many nutrients can help lower substance P, boost rejuvenating BDNF, and improve synaptic plasticity (I summarize these in the above concussion article). The degree to which the thalamus gland is impacted by any past trauma determines the likelihood of psycho-somatic illness.
This new data says that it is possible to use nutrition and exercise to undo the physical pain and emotional scars of the past and restore new vitality to subconscious perception, thereby improving all manner of psycho-somatic issue.
A Single Traumatic Brain Injury Can Provoke Serious Cognitive Problems Years Later
Back Pain Induces Cognitive Impairment
New Insights on Tinnitus
Magnesium Boosts BDNF and Synaptic Plasticity to Help Overcome Fear & Anxiety
Magnesium is Essential for Preventing Substance P Overload
In the face of all this exciting nutrition science you would think the FDA would be interested in helping the public understand the dramatic health benefits that dietary supplements have to offer. Nothing could be further from the truth. This year they have made an aggressive effort to set supplements back 20 years, trying to issue regulations that would remove 1/3 of what is on the market under completely false pretenses of safety problems that do not exist. The issue is far from settled.
I say its time we Throw Them All Out, to borrow the title from Peter Schweizer’s new book about politicians getting rich on insider stock tips that would send any of us to jail. Let’s start with FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, who seems to be on a mission to turn the FDA into an international health police force. Her husband, Peter Fitzhugh Brown, runs Renaissance Technologies’ Medallion Fund, a super-secret private hedge fund that is one of the most profitable hedge funds on Wall Street, giving the Hamburg family an income of 10 million dollars per year, not to mention several more million going to family members who also benefit from this private hedge fund. Are we really supposed to believe her husband knows nothing about what’s going on at the FDA regarding drug approvals and disapprovals? And why does the SEC allow this super-secret Medallion Fund to not disclose any of its short positions to the public? Investors are wondering out loud. There is no oversight at all, just plenty of leeway for cronyism and crime, a hundred-year tradition at the FDA.
At any rate, the FDA appears to be on a mission to drastically limit your natural health options for the profits of drug companies. Oddly, the issue has galvanized the highly fragmented dietary supplement industry, which may be forced into an all out legal assault on the corrupt FDA. In 2011, the battle lines were drawn in the sand and the ball is now in the FDA’s court. Expect fireworks in 2012, or maybe a delaying tactic by the FDA during the election year. If Obama’s FDA gets four more years then health freedom is in dire straits, along with many of your dietary supplements. It is one more glaring example of government slime working against the good of the people.
I explain the serious threat to your supplements in a collection of articles:
Senator Durbin & the FDA Viciously Attack Dietary Supplements
The FDA’s Scheme to Reclassify Nutrients as Drugs
FDA Propaganda Attempts to Destroy the Dietary Supplement Industry
FDA To Supplements: Drop Dead
The Revitalized Eugenics Movement & the FDA’s Role