Sunday, July 29, 2012

"On the Run"

A short film about Arthur Lydiard, who created the training technique that Phil Maffetone refined.
"This film showcases legendary running coach Arthur Lydiard's training methods through the example of his acolytes, including reigning Olympic 1,500m champ John Walker. 'Arthur's boys' (Snell, Halberg, Magee) scored attention by winning unheralded medals (two golds and a bronze) at the 1960 Rome Olympics. Lydiard later led the 'flying Finns' to similar success. His method revolves around building stamina to complement speed, and was influential in popularising jogging globally. Beautifully filmed, a doco highlight is Jack Foster's exhilarating scree slope descent."
Thanks to Adam.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

You Are The Long-Term Test (Part 3): Heartburn Pills

Most medications and ingestible products, including foods, are tested for a short period of time in order to determine if they're grossly toxic. Foods, of course, are hardly tested at all: the chef merely has to say voila! and it's out the door; even novel foods. Long-term testing, of the sort that might reveal subtle problems that might occur over decades or generations, are not done at all because it's too expensive.

If we're lucky, there's someone keeping track of what happens to people who use the product, but most often no one does.

So whenever you try an ingestible product, be aware that you're part of the testing protocol. Whether you want to be or not.

Here's the latest example: "Heartburn pills and some very uncomfortable questions... They help millions - yet now doctors warn of long-term side effects":
"...To begin with, the pills had a wonderful effect.

"‘Suddenly the pain was gone,’ she recalls. ‘I could eat all those foods I’d been avoiding, like pastries.’

"But then in 2006, after she’d been taking the pills for 20 years, her health began to decline.

"‘I was getting so tired,’ she says. ‘At night in bed my feet would swell up like balloons. And my appetite had gone — over a year or so I lost four stone.

"'My friends started saying I looked really drained. I had no idea what was wrong with me.’

"Her GP ran some tests and found that she had very low levels of magnesium..."
Turns out Proton-Pump Inhibitors, as heartburn pills are known, can block the body from absorbing magnesium, a crucial nutrient. Whoops...

But that's not all!
"...Just last week U.S. researchers found PPIs raise the risk of developing the superbug C. difficile by two thirds, and warned they should be used ‘more prudently’...."
C. difficile is one of the most prevalent and nasty bugs you can get from a hospital stay... It's a major health issue.

And there's more!
"...Another fairly well known side-effect is an increased risk of bone fracture when PPIs are used for longer than a year.

"This could be because low magnesium levels can reduce the body’s ability to absorb calcium, needed for bone strength.

"Many people with osteoporosis are prescribed the bone-protecting drugs bisphosphonates, but these can cause heartburn, so PPIs are often also prescribed to stop it.

"Yet PPIs can cut the effectiveness of bisphosphonates to almost zero, according to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine last year...."
That's priceless. The second pill that the doctor prescribes to counter the side-effects of the first pill makes the first pill useless. I wonder how many millions of people are taking both these pills, with all their other side effects, and getting no relief whatsoever from their orginal ill?
"...When PPIs first came out, the big hope was they’d cut rates of oesophageal cancer by reducing acid damage to the oesophagus from reflux.

"That hasn’t happened; in fact, rates of oesophageal cancer are rising faster than any other.

"Research published last year in the journal Archives of Surgery found that successfully controlling the symptoms of acid reflux with the drugs actually ‘increased’ the risk of cancer rather than reducing it.

"How could this be so?

"‘Less acid means less pain from heartburn,’ says Dr Steven DeMeester, a gastroesophageal expert at the University of Southern California. ‘But there’s a suggestion it is not the acid that causes the problem to the cells in the gullet, but other chemicals in the stomach fluid that is leaking out. PPIs do nothing to stop the leaking.’..."
Oh well, so much for that. But at least they help gastric reflux, right?

"...And, worryingly, studies have suggested it is very hard to come off PPIs.

"The symptoms come back with a vengeance, and people once again reach for the pills.

"In 2009, Danish researchers gave PPIs or a placebo to 120 healthy volunteers and found nearly half of those on the drug developed symptoms of gastric reflux within just two months after they’d stopped taking the drugs, compared with 15 per cent on the placebo.

"It’s thought that once acid production is no longer suppressed, the body naturally ramps up acid production so heartburn symptoms come back stronger than ever."
Wow, symptoms come back worse with the drug... so in the long term you're better off with the placebo. Why do doctors continue to prescribe these horrors?
"...But many doctors feel under pressure to give their patients a speedy solution."
And as one doctor notes:
"...Shaw Somers, a gastric specialist from St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester, advises: ‘Taking PPIs as a short-term way of dealing with occasional bouts of heartburn flare-up works fine for most patients.

"'But if you need to take them all the time you are at much greater risk of damaging side-effects.

"‘Of course, the drug companies will keep very quiet about this until they are formally required to look into it.’
Lovely. Caveat emptor.

So if you've got heartburn (formally known as GastroEsophageal Reflux Disease - GERD) what do you do?
"Those of us in the business of treating patients with low-carbohydrate diets have known for years that these diets successfully treat GERD virtually 100 percent of the time."
I have a good friend who came down with heartburn during his morning run. It was so bad he collapsed on the side of the road, thinking he was having a heart attack. After a great deal of needling from me and his new girlfriend, he decided to try a gluten-free (and therefore lower-carb) diet. He's completely cured, with no pills, and no nasty side-effects.

That's worth a shot, in my opinion.

Incidentally, the biggest consumers of antacid medications aren't people, they're cattle in feedlots. Cattle in feedlots are fed grain to fatten them up, or increase milk production.
"...Relatively high grain rations are fed today for various reasons. The modern dairy cow is genetically superior for its capability to maintain levels of high production and performance cost effectively by elevated nutrient density through increased grain proportions providing necessary energy. However, a consistent reliance upon finely chopped, fermented feeds, and increased grains, retards rumen fermentation by decreased pH."
The grains give them heartburn.

So I think it's pretty safe to say that grains cause heartburn, and if you'd like to cure your heartburn, you're best off avoiding them.

And no side-effects.

P.S. Fox News star Bill O'Reilly has read Wheat Belly, and cut back his wheat consumption:
“My cholesterol has dropped big time. My indigestion, gone away. And so have my allergies.”
Emphasis mine.

P.P.S. Thanks to Seth, here's another, similar post on the NY Times web site, linking to the FDA warnings on PPIs and listing even more nutritional deficiencies that can be linked to PPIs, and other drug interactions:
"...Studies have shown long-term P.P.I. use may reduce the absorption of important nutrients, vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, calcium and vitamin B12, and might reduce the effectiveness of other medications, with the F.D.A. warning that taking Prilosec together with the anticlotting agent clopidogrel (Plavix) can weaken the protective effect (of clopidogrel) for heart patients...."
The Times article paints a worse picture than the Daily Mail article above does, and also links to the FDA advisories and other research.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Will I Still Beat You, When I'm 64...

Nolan Shaheed
Nolan Shaheed Continues to Break Records:
"...Almost 63, Shaheed is running times that would still win many high school races. 'It's amazing,' he says. 'I still feel the same as 15 to 20 years ago and don't feel slower. It's just a matter of getting over the disappointment when you look at the clock.'"
He's disappointed, I'd be thrilled to be running those times. Gotta get working!

This is great confirmation of the point that McDougall makes in Born to Run; that your fitness at 64 should be the same as your fitness at 19.
"...Although he doesn't count miles, Shaheed estimates that he drops down from 50-55 to about 35 miles a week during the track season. However, to the extent that high mileage training helps burn calories and keeps the weight and body fat percentage down, Shaheed apparently doesn't need the mileage. When running, he eats only one meal a day with no snacks the rest of the day, just water. During his one-month off from running, he eats only one meal every other day. At 5-foot-9, his weight has remained at 123 pounds since his high school days. 'But I have begun eating a little fat now and then, avocado and whole milk, that kind of thing, and I think it has helped me somewhat,' he says. 'It's really hard to know for sure.'..."
That's pretty fascinating. Intermittent fasting and a high-fat, ketogenic diet plan seem to work great for him. (When you're not eating anything, most of your calories come from stored fat and ketones... A ketogenic diet provides calories from the same sources.)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Science: Asking The Important Questions...

Barefoot running...
Study Examines Breast Movement During Bare-Breasted Running.

Tittering aside, this is actually a pretty interesting question, one that I've discussed with women runners. After all, if we're born to run, why do many women need jog bras in order to actually run? As the study notes, it can hurt.

I've surmised that barefoot-style running, which involves less vertical movement that heel-striking, and hence less bouncing, would be less painful for woman runners.

Although there's also the possibility that large breasts evolved as a secondary sexual signal after tribes of people settled down a bit, and women didn't run as consistently as the men did. After all, in most hunter/gatherer societies, the men go out and hunt, and women raise the children and do the gathering.

If the ladies have any thoughts on whether breast bouncing while running improves because you're running barefoot or in barefoot-style shoes, do let me know in the comments below, as it's a pretty interesting topic for women runners.

At least one woman has found this to be the case... All that said, the study Pete links to falls under the "duh" category of research:
"CONCLUSIONS: Bare-breasted kinematics significantly increased with cup size during running. Differences in breast displacement, velocity, and acceleration between cup sizes could be predicted using estimates of breast mass based on conventional brassiere sizing...."
No kidding. I think any man or woman could have explained this to the researchers. They didn't really increase the scope of human knowledge with this study...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Is R.I.C.E. Paleo?

OK, pretty facetious title there, but a serious topic. R.I.C.E. stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation (sometimes Protection is prepended to the acronym, as you'll see).

If you've ever gotten a sprained ankle or similar soft-tissue injury, you've no doubt been advised to do RICE on the affected part. It's nearly a religious ritual for athletes. What I've learned about medicine in the last few years of my barefoot-style running and Paleo/Primal diet experiment is that practices will persist in medicine for decades, if not longer, which not only have no basis based on the medical and scientific literature but which have often been contradicted by that literature, again, often for decades.

So whenever you hear "everyone" telling you that you should do something, you should be skeptical.

In this case, there's good reason to be skeptical, as RICE has been tested extensively, and found lacking:
"The Use of Ice in the Treatment of Acute Soft-Tissue Injury: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials

"Results: Twenty-two trials met the inclusion criteria. There was a mean PEDro score of 3.4 out of of 10. There was marginal evidence that ice plus exercise is most effective, after ankle sprain and postsurgery. There was little evidence to suggest that the addition of ice to compression had any significant effect, but this was restricted to treatment of hospital inpatients. Few studies assessed the effectiveness of ice on closed soft-tissue injury, and there was no evidence of an optimal mode or duration of treatment.

"Conclusion: Many more high-quality trials are needed to provide evidence-based guidelines in the treatment of acute soft-tissue injuries."
So the evidence that we have offers little to no validation of RICE. Recognizing this, this study was proposed:
The PRICE study (Protection Rest Ice Compression Elevation): design of a randomised controlled trial comparing standard versus cryokinetic ice applications in the management of acute ankle sprain.

"...Given these findings, it seems a logical progression to examine if the analgesic effects of intermittent ice application can facilitate earlier therapeutic exercise, and subsequently improve clinical outcome following acute ankle sprain. The safety and effectiveness of incorporating therapeutic exercise with periods of intermittent ice application has not previously been examined in patients with acute soft tissue injury...."
(Unfortunately, I can't find the completed study: I have no idea if it was or was not completed.)

Now, you might find this hard to believe, but devising a treatment and then never bothering to test it in a scientific fashion is par for the course in the medical profession, as is continuing to use the treatment after it's been shown to have no suporting science behind it and to be of questionable efficacy. People would rather "do something", than do nothing, even if doing nothing is the correct course of action. The PRICE study notes this, as well as noting some of the potential issues with the treatment:
"...Recent evidence has suggested that the addition of exercise to ice application is more effective than ice application alone after various soft tissue injuries, including acute ankle sprain [19]. However, by reducing the conduction velocity of other, non-nociceptive fibres, cold application may also have a number of deleterious effects, including reduced muscle torque [20]. This is of particular relevance if ice is to be applied in combination with therapeutic exercise in the early stages after an acute soft tissue injury. Such effects could lead to the development of altered neuromuscular control patterns and potentially, to an increased risk of re-injury...."
The "logic" behind this treatment is the same as that of the use of anti-inflammatory medications: inflammation is associated with pain, and despite the fact that "correlation does not equal causation", the inflammation is treated as if it is the cause of the pain (link to PDF):
"Treating soft tissue injuries with protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation has been the mantra of physiotherapists for many years. Commonly shortened by the acronym ‘PRICE’, this approach is also widely accepted by layman as an essential component of first aid practice....

"...For many clinicians, their rationale for using modalities such as ice and compression after an injury is simply that it controls the clinical signs of inflammation. Applying a cold compress on an injury that is hot, red and swollen is commonsensical; but it clearly overlooks other potentially important physiological, cellular and molecular events. We use the term inflammation constantly in the clinic when referring to acute injuries however few can define what they mean by it. There is continued confusion as to whether inflammation is a ‘bad’ process, or, whether it is in fact fundamental for optimal repair.3 With major advances in our understanding of the inflammatory response in recent years, we can now begin to put these questions into context and consider the clinical implications and pathophysiological rationale for common interventions such as ice...."

"...It is clear that physiotherapists cannot recommend an optimal protocol for ice application beyond conjecture. Similarly, deciding on the most effective compression bandage or quantifying how much rest to advice, is also challenging. O’Sullivan and Keane’s1 study provides further evidence that developing clearer evidence based guidelines for PRICE is an important aim for the future. However, given the complexity of contemporary models of inflammation, we must also consider if is still realistic to produce one set of definitive guidelines to suit every type of soft tissue injury? Furthermore, we must consider that by recommending PRICE, we are recommending a combination of different treatment modalities each with their own unique molecular, cellular, physiological and clinical effects."
The evidence with NSAIDS, a common class of anti-inflammatory medicines, is that by blocking inflammation, they can permanently impair the body's healing process. Inflammation is, of course, the initial response of the body to some injury, and if inflammation is prevented the body does not have a plan B to heal.

From an evolutionary perspective, this "logic" for RICE is nonsense, of course: the body has a healing protocol that, ignoring animal precedents, was honed over millions of years of evolution in Africa, where ice is a rarity. The notion that ice is therefore necessary, or anything more than a distraction, therefore deserves great skepticism. Most likely, by impairing the body's proper function (inflammation), the healing process is impaired, as suggested by higher rates of re-injury.

Your body has evolved a protocol for healing which involves inflammation and pain (to reduce use of the injured part). I think the wisest course is to let the body's protocol operate: it has far more development time behind it than RICE does. (Even the Rest part of the protocol is of dubious value: for many injuries the medical profession now recognizes that immediate activity is essential for proper healing. If this is true for an injury as severe as a colon resection, broken hip, or a hip replacement, why shouldn't it be true for a simple sprained ankle?

My own view of RICE is that its value is in the fact that it simply distracts the injured from thinking about the injury. The discomfort of the ice against the skin gives you something else to think about. There are other means of distracting the injured party: when I had my wisdom teeth pulled, the dentist used music instead of general anaesthesia to keep my mind off what was happening. This was surprisingly effective, without any of the downsides of general anaesthesia.

And without any concern about impacting the healing process.
"Surprise: Scientists discover that inflammation helps to heal wounds

"...Zhou and colleagues found that the presence of inflammatory cells (macrophages) in acute muscle injury produce a high level of a growth factor called insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) which significantly increases the rate of muscle regeneration. The research report shows that muscle inflammatory cells produce the highest levels of IGF-1, which improves muscle injury repair. To reach this conclusion, the researchers studied two groups of mice. The first group of mice was genetically altered so they could not mount inflammatory responses to acute injury. The second group of mice was normal. Each group experienced muscle injury induced by barium chloride. The muscle injury in the first group of mice did not heal, but in the second group, their bodies repaired the injury. Further analysis showed that macrophages within injured muscles in the second group of mice produced a high level of IGF-1, leading to significantly improved muscle repair...."
P.S. Mark Sisson covers this as well.

P.P.S. Follow-up. The doctor who coined the acryonym R.I.C.E has come around.

"Waterlogged – A Dogma-Shattering Book?"


A good review, although the benefit of 60g/hr of glucose for runners is for carb-adapted runners, a point Noakes makes, but the reviewer omits.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

How To Maximize Your Body's Ability To Use Fat For Fuel

"When Torbjørn Sindballe was a professional triathlete, he used the most cutting edge science to make himself the best triathlete he could be. His efforts helped him break the bike course record at the Ironman World Championship, as well as place third there in 2007."
Unfortunately he discovered that some of the difficulties he had as an athlete were due to a congentical heart defect. That discovery ended his career.

But in the meanwhile, he made some interesting discoveries:
"...The easiest way to improve your ability to oxidize fat—turn fat into energy—is to train for long hours on the trails or in the saddle at a relatively slow pace. Generally, you don’t want to go much faster than your Ironman pace if you’re trying to stimulate your fat oxidation capabilities. While most athletes are well aware of this, there are several diet and training tricks out there that claim to increase the quality of the training stimulus these rides and runs provide. I have researched and tried most of these tricks myself while I was an Ironman pro and now have an understanding of what does and doesn’t work.... 
"...I tested the Paleo diet over a six-month period. While the challenge of eating 4,000 to 6,000 calories a day from a diet composed of only fruits, vegetables, meats and nuts was outweighed by the feeling of being super healthy, I did not see any gains in my performance. I kept my endurance, but over time I felt the upper end of my power and recovery fade as I had difficulty replenishing the calories I burned. For athletes with more balanced workloads, the Paleo diet might work fine, but for an Ironman pro with 25 to 40 hours of weekly training, it became insufficient. In other words, I have doubts about its performance potential and have yet to see a study that proves it enhances the body’s ability to burn fat....
I haven't seen any evidence that the Paleo diet "enhances" your ability to burn fat. And if I were a pro triathlete, I'd be eating some dairy and some more animal fats (like pemmican) as sources of high-calorie fats... Which is what I do now.
...After trying out the Paleo concept, I became interested in how my diet affected which fuels—carbs, fat or protein—my body used. I discovered that it is possible to shift our metabolism to burn mostly fat, but we need to eat excessive amounts of fat to do this. That is, up to 60 percent or 70 percent of our daily calories would need to be from fat—a percentage far above what the Paleo diet recommends. Despite the shift in metabolism and fat-burning capabilities, a high-fat diet has no effect on endurance performance, a review of studies by B. Kiens and Burke in 2006 concluded. What’s more, the diet diminishes one’s ability to do intense workouts, surges and sprints as well as the ability to adapt to training if the diet is maintained over a long period of time. These results, along with high-fat diets putting one at risk for developing severe malfunctions in metabolism, suggest that this approach should be categorized as a “useless tool.”
It appears that he was following Cordain's initial conception of a Paleo diet, which I think was overly-limiting and misguided in several ways. I have never seen any evidence that a high-fat diet results in "severe malfunctions in metabolism", or "diminishes one’s... ability to adapt to training"; to the contrary, it's been shown to be completely safe. So I'm not writing it off as "useless" based on this.
"...Inspired by the research, throughout 2007 I did several tests in which I ate a high-fat diet for five to six days followed by two days of carbo loading—I felt one day of carbo loading was too short for the glycogen tank to completely refill. Subsequently, I did a solid Ironman where I felt great the entire way—something that hadn’t happened in years—when I won the Vikingman in Fredericia, Denmark, in early August. I used the same protocol leading up to the Ironman World Championship in October, where I once again felt strong on the later part of the race and made the podium for the first and only time in my career...."
This sounds very similar to the approach used by Jonas Colting, who still eats roughly "Paleo", and has had a very successful career. However:
"...Despite achieving the best results of my life, I was still unconvinced about periodized diets, given there were other possible causes for my breakthroughs. I wanted proof, so in the spring of 2008 I hooked up with Danish scientist Lars Nybo Nielsen and Team Danmark to test the diet. I already had a natural fat-burning rate of 0.8 grams per minute at Ironman pace while taking in carbs during the test—higher than anyone in Carey’s study, even after his test subjects ate a high-fat diet for five to six days. The highest rate of fat burning achieved by the cyclists in Carey’s study was 0.7 grams per minute. In fact, my natural fat burning rate was on par with the highest fat oxidation rate cited by Tim Noakes in Lore of Running. During the days of eating a high-fat diet, I reached a fat-burning rate of 1.2 grams per minute at Ironman pace, confirming the theory that a high-fat diet shifts your body’s reliance on fat for fuel, but my rate shifted back down to 0.8 grams per minute after two days of carbo loading. It seemed the protocol had no effect on me...."
That's a fascinating bit of information. Eating carbs prior to the race significantly reduced his rate of fat burning. It wasn't that the protocol had "no effect", it was that insulin reduces the rate at which the body will produce fat. The effect was the expected one. I think carb-loading is probably not a good idea for this reason, unless your metabolism is super-flexible, and able to switch from one fuel to another quickly.
"...One could speculate that my fat burning ability was already high and that this strategy has the greatest effect on individuals who aren’t as fit as I was or that the two days of carbo loading was too much. I should also note that such a sudden switch in diet puts you at risk for constipation and other digestive problems. Despite the results of my personal study, I decided to use the periodized diet again before Kona in 2008, because it had been successful the year before and it might have an effect on the size of my glycogen stores that we had not yet been able to detect. Unfortunately, the risks caught up with me as my digestion literally stopped the Friday before the race until I was back home five days later. This mistake cost me dearly in the lava fields....
I wish he specified which type of carb he'd loaded with. I could see a pasta dinner having this effect, due to the toxic properties of wheat, but I've gone from days of low-carb eating to a meal with a lot of white rice with no ill effects whatsoever. At any rate, I don't think carb-loading's a great idea, but it shouldn't be this problematic to your gut. But then he discovers:
"...While Paleo, high-fat and periodized diets have little or no effect on enhancing one’s endurance, there is a less risky tweak you can implement in your training to improve your ability to burn fat for fuel—regular rides on water. I began to implement them back in 2007, and at first I could scarcely go for one-and-a-half hours before I bonked. But as my body adapted, I was able to ride three, four or five hours on water alone. This approach has a big effect in activating the genes that stimulate the production of enzymes involved in fat oxidation, as shown in a 2005 study by L.J Cluberton et al. In other words, the water-only rides might be the reason my ability to burn fat was already so high when I did the periodized diet experiment.

"If you decide to implement these water-only rides in your training, remember that these rides are depletion sessions, which leave you drained, and should always be followed by recovery days. During my Ironman building period, I had to work hard on consecutive days, so I did a modified version of these water-only rides that allowed me to maximize the stimulation of fat oxidation without requiring so much recovery. In short, I would do the first two hours of every training session on water alone and then add slowly absorbable, solid carbs, such as whole grain sandwiches or oatmeal-based energy bars. This process kept my blood sugar levels in check so I avoided bonking and could keep the intensity up late in the sessions. But at the same time this allowed my body to predominantly use fat for fuel, and it stimulated enzyme production. Early in the year, when intensity was more important, I would fuel rides from the start and only do a water-only ride once a week.

"My scientific team and I tested the water-only approach and found that during these rides, I would burn fat at a rate of 1.2 grams per minute—similar to the fat burning rate I achieved after high-fat eating on my periodization diet. This indicated that the training stimuli of the water-only rides were the same as those in a high-fat diet...."
Based on Jimmy Moore's interview with Tim Noakes, I think it's a little too soon to write off a low-carb, paleo diet as a fueling strategy. (And I'll definitely be skipping the "whole grain sandwiches".) Unless his "scientific team" was pretty cutting-edge, they were probably steeped in the idea of the supposed necessity of carbs. But the water-only (fasted, essentially) training runs are a great idea, I think. Fasted training sessions also cause the body to increase glycogen stores.

They don't have to leave you depleted, either. If you do them at your Maximum Aerobic Fitness pace, you'll feel just fine afterwards, in my experience. And not just my experience. As Mark Allen, one of the greatest triathletes put it:
"On top of the speed benefit at lower heart rates, I was no longer feeling like I was ready for an injury the next run I went on, and I was feeling fresh after my workouts instead of being totally wasted from them."
The only drawback of a high-fat, fat fueled training program is that if you're starting out of shape, it takes time to retrain your body. There is no short cut that I'm aware of.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth of July

I usually don't post holiday greetings, because this isn't a blog about holidays.

But I do like to post funny or ironic things occasionally, and this one takes the cake. A colleague of mine because a U.S. Citizen yesterday, and below is what he received from the United States Government to commemorate his citizenship:

Made in China

An American flag pin, in a plastic envelope labeled "Made in China". Thank Heavens for the Chinese.

Happy Fourth of July to everyone.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

"A Look At Mitochondrial DNA Damage In Aging"

Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit, today posted a link to this post about a study, about how mitochondrial damage is implicated in many age-related diseases. The post concludes:
"Either way, those mitochondria still need fixing. The biotechnologies capable of that job are on the horizon..."
Or you can do it today, by eating a low-carb diet and training in a way that powers the mitochondria with their preferred food. Glucose causes the bulk of the oxidative and DNA damage that mitochondria suffer... Using fat and ketones as fuel allows mitochondria to repair and multiply.

Of course this isn't a solution that you can sell, so it gets no funding and no promotion. But it does have the virtue of being free...

I've given up on getting scientific progress on topics like this from the current crop of scientists and institutions... It's certainly not going to occur in my lifetime.
"Ketogenic diet slows down mitochondrial myopathy progression in mice"

"Mitochondrial dysfunction is a major cause of neurodegenerative and neuromuscular diseases of adult age and of multisystem disorders of childhood. However, no effective treatment exists for these progressive disorders.

Cell culture studies suggested that ketogenic diet (KD), with low glucose and high fat content, could select against cells or mitochondria with mutant mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), but proper patient trials are still lacking.

We studied here the transgenic Deletor mouse, a disease model for progressive late-onset mitochondrial myopathy, accumulating mtDNA deletions during aging and manifesting subtle progressive respiratory chain (RC) deficiency. We found that these mice have widespread lipidomic and metabolite changes, including abnormal plasma phospholipid and free amino acid levels and ketone body production. We treated these mice with pre-symptomatic long-term and post-symptomatic shorter term KD.

The effects of the diet for disease progression were followed by morphological, metabolomic and lipidomic tools. We show here that the diet decreased the amount of cytochrome c oxidase negative muscle fibers, a key feature in mitochondrial RC deficiencies, and prevented completely the formation of the mitochondrial ultrastructural abnormalities in the muscle. Furthermore, most of the metabolic and lipidomic changes were cured by the diet to wild-type levels. The diet did not, however, significantly affect the mtDNA quality or quantity, but rather induced mitochondrial biogenesis and restored liver lipid levels.

Our results show that mitochondrial myopathy induces widespread metabolic changes, and that KD can slow down progression of the disease in mice. These results suggest that KD may be useful for mitochondrial late-onset myopathies."
[Paragraph breaks and emphasis mine.]

Ketogenic diets have been used to treat varying human illnesses for decades... But the medical profession would rather sell you a pill.

"In the long-term study, Deletor and [Wild-Type] mice of 3–4 months of age were introduced an ad libitum KD (D05052004, Research Diets, Inc., New Brunswick, NJ, USA) or an ad libitum CD (Research Diets, Inc.). In the short-term post-symptomatic study, all the mice were introduced an ad libitum KD at the age of 12 months. KD consisted of fat 89.5 kcal%, carbohydrate 0.1 kcal% and protein 10.4 kcal% and CD of fat 11.5 kcal%, carbohydrate 78.1 kcal% and protein 10.4 kcal%. Both diets contained equal calories from soybean oil and the KD also contained primex fat, which is hydrogenated cottonseed oil and soybean oil and provides a high concentration of trans fatty acids."
If you get your fat calories from soybean oil and trans fats, like the wild-type mice did, you too will get fatty liver and gain weight. It's amazing that this particular implementation of the ketogenic diet made some of the mice better at all, given the toxic nature of the fats. Trans fats have been shown to damage the mitochondria and the liver in mice, after all.

If you're interested in a ketogenic diet fit for mice, or humans, look up Mark Sisson's The Primal Blueprint or Paul Jaminet's The Perfect Health Diet. DO NOT get your ketogenic diet from a doctor or a scientist, if you want to retain your health. (Paul's a scientist, but a real one...)