Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Thin people

As a weight-conscious American woman, I often wonder, "Why are southeast Asians so thin? Why are eastern Europeans so often thinner young adults than western Europeans (except for the French)? Why is my third child downright skinny?"

I think that Dr. Jason Fung's theories on obesity resulting from insulin resistance--which can be acquired in the womb--help explain why some people seem programmed to be thinner.

In order to avoid developing insulin resistance, one needs to avoid subjecting one's body to chronic high levels of insulin, which insulin is stimulated by high glucose levels in the blood. With my third child, and only with her, I exercised a lot during pregnancy, often taking long walks that lasted into early evening and apparently resulted in me using up all my circulating glucose; I have a strong memory of getting weak and hungry on those walks but pushing through anyway. 

Southeast Asians regularly eat a plant we call water spinach (AKA kangkong, ong choy, Ipomoea aquatica) that is proven in rats to inhibit glucose absorption and decrease blood glucose levels. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17651914, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11746851, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10967485) Certainly, genetics also plays a role, but if you've seen southeast-Asian-Americans whose gestational development and childhood occurred in the USA, you've probably noticed that they tend not to be as skinny as their peers raised in Asia.

Eastern Europeans eat rye bread much more than western Europeans, and rye bread also slows down glucose absorption. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25370913) However, some people in the rye-consuming countries, such as in Finland, also drink caffeinated coffee throughout the day, and caffeinated coffee appears to decrease insulin sensitivity and increase glucose (http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/27/12/2990/, http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/87/5/1254.full, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28031026), so a rye bread effect in them might be counteracted by their constant coffee consumption.

If I could go back in time to my pregnant self, I'd have a lot to tell me.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Schizophrenia, tyrosinase, ginseng, capers, and tyrosinase inhibitors (tea, mate, kojic acid, etc.)

The Texas church shooting two days ago has been weighing heavily on me, for I have a relative with schizophrenia. She refuses mental health treatment. She showed signs of early schizophrenia as early as her adolescence in that she had no close friends despite being able to engage in work, social events, and family events relatively well. Cold, distant, and detached describes her pretty well back then. (http://schizophrenia.com/earlysigns.htm) Then over the next two decades came hypersensitivity, ruminating thoughts, suicidal thoughts and hostility, hygiene neglect, lack of insight, nonsensical logic, delusions, affective flattening, and abusive behavior. It's a horrible thing to watch happen to a loved one, especially because the person, due to brain dysfunction, is convinced that nothing is wrong with her and that her problems are all due to mistreatment by others.

I think that tyrosinase activity is a key to schizophrenia. Tyrosinase is a copper-containing enzyme that is connected to both melanin and dopamine production. Tyrosinase is expressed in the brain. (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1471-4159.2005.03019.x/full) One way researchers bring about schizophrenia in lab rats is by giving them the copper chelator cuprizone. (https://www.pubfacts.com/detail/28989170/Olig2-Silence-Ameliorates-Cuprizone-Induced-Schizophrenia-Like-Symptoms-in-Mice, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3058516/)  A look at an epidemiology map of schizophrenia quickly gives rise to a supposition that melanin and schizophrenia might be inversely related (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epidemiology_of_schizophrenia), and higher melanin appears associated with altered dopamine signalling-connected sensitivity (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5569050/). Dopamine dysfunction is  involved in schizophrenia. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4032934/) As rats grow up, their cutaneous tyrosinase goes from making dopamine to making melanin in a way that temporally mirrors the common adolescent/young adult onset of early signs of schizophrenia in humans. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12832289)

I did some searching to see what could upregulate tyrosinase expression or increase its activity. Lymphoid enhancer-binding factor-1 (LEF-1) regulates tyrosinase gene transcription; overexpression of LEF-1 increases tyrosinase gene promoter activity, while LEF-1 knockdown decreases tyrosinase expression. (http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0143142) This is a promising finding, for LEF-1 is underexpressed in schizophrenia patients. (http://europepmc.org/articles/PMC1888575) Components of ginseng root can upregulate tyrosinase expression, too (https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2014/892073/), and ginseng root extract does not have a net effect of suppressing tyrosinase activity (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12808298).

There are a handful of studies to indicate that ginseng root might actually be able to help ameliorate schizophrenia. A small study nearly a decade ago found that schizophrenia patients who took panax ginseng (AKA Korean ginseng) were less likely to have "flat affect" and other negative symptoms (negative in the sense of there being an absence of normal motivation, pleasure, etc.); the dosage was 200 mg/day, and it was taken for eight weeks. (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ginseng-may-help-treat-schizophrenia/) A 2015 study subjected pregnant mice to stress and then found that ginseng could reverse the prenatal stress-caused behavioral changes in the offspring. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4249748/)

If ginseng can really help with schizophrenia, wouldn't it have been noticed sooner? Ginseng is very important in traditional Chinese medicine. However, something else is very important in Chinese culture: tea, which just so happens to inhibit tyrosinase. (https://www.medscape.com/medline/abstract/10576599) Moreover, throughout eastern Asia, people regularly eat foods containing kojic acid, an important tyrosinase inhibitor in the field of skin-lightening research. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27725765, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/289283346_Inhibition_of_tyrosinase_activity_on_dopamine_hydrochloride_by_kojic_acid)

There are many tyrosinase inhibitors that are in the human diet. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2705500/) There's mate in South America. (http://www.koreascience.or.kr/article/ArticleFullRecord.jsp?cn=HJPHBN_2015_v41n4_391) Perhaps mate is why Uruguay has more of a schizophrenia burden than Argentina despite being full of European-ancestry people and otherwise having a similar diet, for Uruguayans are mate-obsessed. There's rosmarinic acid, named after the culinary herb rosemary, which contains it. (http://agris.fao.org/agris-search/search.do?request_locale=es&recordID=KR2005011915) There's arbutin, found in bearberries, pear skins, and wheat. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8632348) It would take a supercomputer (good thing we live in the 21st century) to calculate the tyrosinase inhibition caused by an individual's diet, and the frequency of intake of the inhibitors would also need to be taken into account, for rare is the person who eats rosemary all day, while green tea at every meal is the rule in Japan and mate lovers in Uruguay seem to spend every waking hour cuddling their mate gourds.

The human diet doesn't appear to contain much in the way of tyrosinase boosters (http://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/22/8/1303/htm). There are capers (https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2F978-90-481-3419-9_127.pdf) and watery grapefruit and pomelo extracts (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20857432).  And then there is the possibility of ginseng root candy being a tyrosinase booster, so I will probably be giving some to my relative for Christmas this year.* This paucity of dietary tyrosinase boosters compared with the plethora of tyrosinase inhibitors is exactly what one would expect to find with an intractable issue like schizophrenia, for if tyrosinase activity is a key to schizophrenia, any tyrosinase boosters in the diet should have started to make themselves manifest by now by decreasing the prevalence of schizophrenia where they are consumed. But who consumes pomelo extract and capers regularly? (Actually, the countries where capers are most often eaten do in fact mostly show up at the bottom of the list for schizophrenia burden...I'm starting to get cautiously optimistic about my little hypothesis....my relative is getting capers for Thanksgiving.) And any tyrosinase boost from ginseng root might have been noted earlier were it not for the simultaneous consumption of tyrosinase-inhibiting tea in China.

* As with everything, ginseng shouldn't be overused. There are published case reports of two men who ended up with manic psychosis from using huge doses of ginseng (15-20 grams/day). (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/261289619_Manic_Psychosis_Associated_With_Ginseng_A_Report_of_Two_Cases_and_Discussion_of_the_Literature) One can always get too much of a good thing.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

New theory on a possible nutrition modification to lessen chance of developing thyroid cancer

Silicon (Si, atomic number 14) as a micronutrient is likely about to get new attention. This year, researchers announced that they had identified "a mammalian efflux Si transporter, namely Slc34a2 (also termed NaPi-2B) a known sodium-phosphate co-transporter, which was upregulated in the kidney following chronic dietary Si deprivation." (http://ajpcell.physiology.org/content/early/2017/02/08/ajpcell.00219.2015) Slc34a2 is highly expressed in thyroid cancer, lung cancer, endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer, and kidney cancer. (https://www.proteinatlas.org/ENSG00000157765-SLC34A2/pathology) There has been recent work on using an anti-Slc34a2 antibody drug-conjugate to fight ovarian cancer. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26156394) What if another way to decrease Slc34a2 expression is simply to make sure there is enough Si in the diet? Might that not work to fight/prevent cancer in the thyroid/ovaries/uterus/kidneys/lungs?

There is circumstantial evidence to support that dietary silicon intake is protective against developing at least one of those types of cancer. Specifically, beer intake tends to decrease the risk of developing thyroid cancer (http://www.nature.com/bjc/journal/v101/n9/full/6605337a.html), and beer is a great dietary source of silicon. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7904687) The silicon in beer comes mostly from barley husks (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100208091922.htm), which during the mashing process are immersed in hot water for hours; this water is separated from the barley and subsequently turned into barley malt extract and/or fermented. The good news for alcohol avoiders (like me) is that no fermentation is necessary to get silicon from barley malt extract. One can make their own wort (i.e., the liquid obtained from mixing hot water with milled malted barley and then filtering out the solids) and use it unfermented to make beverages--I did that a few days ago, mixing my homemade sweet wort ("sweet" = without hops) with lemonade--or purchase barley malt extract and mix it in other beverages, such as warm milk.

Silicon is also quite bioavailable from grains and grain products. (http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/75/5/887.long) Besides possibly helping prevent some cancers, per the hypothesis set forth above, silicon shows potential to help prevent nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28446627) I've never been on the "grains are evil" bandwagon, and the more I learn about our bodies, the more I think that it's probably very unhealthy to avoid all grains permanently. (There's a big difference between a Krispy Kreme donut and pumpernickel bread. Feel free to avoid the donuts forever.)

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Obesity Code, glucose, insulin, and intermittent fasting

I recently read Dr. Jason Fung's book, The Obesity Code, and found it very informative. His basic premise is that weight gain and type 2 diabetes are caused by insulin resistance and insulin. I liked his hypothesis, for I have thought for the past several months that type 2 diabetes is an attempt to protect the body wherein the body combats a surfeit of insulin by shutting down the insulin-secreting cells in the pancreas.* Dr. Fung's recommendations for better health are to 1) decrease insulin resistance by steering clear (mostly--he understands the human need for occasional celebrations) of highly processed carbohydrates and snacking, and 2) lose weight as needed via intermittent fasting.

Intake of highly processed carbohydrates causes blood glucose and then insulin to spike, and eventually the body becomes resistant to insulin, if I rightly understand the studies cited by Dr. Fung. To minimize insulin spikes, I've been looking into natural sources of compounds that slow down absorption of sugar in order to utilize them more in my diet. With each meal, I now consume some ellagic acid--in the form of red raspberry seed meal--because ellagic acid (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20522017) is an alpha glucosidase inhibitor (i.e., it reduces the rate of digestion of carbohydrates) that tastes good and is easy to find. Giving up bread and cold breakfast cereal isn't currently a realistic option for my family, especially since only one older child and myself are overweight.

The story of how that one child started her life overweight is a point of evidence in support of Dr. Fung's hypothesis. I'm generally a fairly healthy eater. But while I was pregnant with her, I ate far too many simple carbohydrates because that was the set meal served in my workplace cafeteria. Lunch, my main meal, was usually rice, potatoes/pasta, a small portion of meat, a dessert, and "jugito," which was basically Kool-aid with a little dried fruit added. During my workday, I snacked on dinner rolls that I'd made at home out of white flour and sugar. I only worked at that location for two years, but unfortunately my pregnancy with that child fell entirely within those two years. She was born weighing 9.5 pounds and broke her collarbone during birth because of her size. And she has remained overweight her whole life despite attempts at dietary restriction and extracurricular sports. It appears, per Dr. Fung's hypothesis, that I passed on my excessive insulin levels to her in utero and made her insulin resistant. None of her siblings are overweight, and I ate far less in the way of simple carbohydrates during their gestational periods.

She has been eating the red raspberry seed meal with me at mealtimes. She and I also already do a monthly fast because of our religion (LDS), but we have recently added additional fasting for breakfast on Sundays. Just to keep the fast from being too unpleasant--and ourselves from gorging on simple carbohydrates at Sunday lunch--we are drinking a little extra virgin olive oil as a breakfast substitute because it has some calories but doesn't raise insulin levels.

* I wonder if the same paradigm could be used to help explain Hashimoto's thyroiditis eventually....

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Doing well while those around us puke and feel miserable

Tuesday, my oldest and I started to feel as though we had caught the "stomach bug" going around our school/babysitting environment (https://petticoatgovernment.blogspot.com/2017/10/vomiting-avoided-happy-me.html), so we took molybdenum and we were fine afterward--a little lingering discomfort in the gut, but then we only took 500 mcg, which is the same amount I'd given the seven-year-old. Thursday morning, the toddler (3 years old) announced that her tummy hurt. She got some powdered molybdenum glycinate mixed in her milk bottle and drank it up. She made no further complaints and never threw up.

So maybe this is just not a very bad stomach bug? No, it is a bad one. It sent the principal of my children's school home all day yesterday. She's a very dedicated principal and wouldn't have gone home over something little. She tried to work and had to give up, leaving the school at 8:10 a.m. and not returning. And last week, the stomach bug put my toddler's babysitter's teenage daughter in bed for a day.

We are escaping the nausea and vomiting that accompanies this stomach bug. If you think I'm exaggerating, just test it for yourself. Have molybdenum on hand (it's cheap) and take it (preferably powdered for fast utilization) the next time your stomach lets you know you picked up a gastrointestinal illness. Then--assuming it works, which I have no reason to to doubt yet--spread the word.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

As the stomach bug moves...

We've been having fun playing "epidemiologist" with my second grader's classroom since she had her short bout with a stomach bug five days ago. (https://petticoatgovernment.blogspot.com/2017/10/vomiting-avoided-happy-me.html) My second grader gets to observe who is out sick each day and where they sit in relation to those who have already been out sick. The illness is short-lived--everyone is only missing one day of school and then they're back...to share--but it is still a nuisance.

Two children of a teacher were out sick yesterday, and their parent told me that it was because of vomiting. The children were back in school today, so there will probably be several other children in their classes missing tomorrow.

In the meantime, I highly recommend having a molybdenum supplement on hand for such occasions. In fact, my eighth grader and I just took some after school today because apparently it's our turn to play "host."

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Vomiting avoided, happy me!

Today is Saturday. On Thursday, my 2nd grader started feeling sick to her stomach in the afternoon. I immediately ran for the molybdenum and gave her 500 mcg* of powdered molybdenum glycinate mixed in a beverage. She drank it all up. She rested on the couch after that for a while, and then she felt better and went about her evening as normal. When questioned about whether any classmates had been absent from school recently, she reported that one classmate had been gone just the day before but was already back in school Thursday. And that particular classmate had literally licked my daughter's hand early that afternoon (she and her classmates play at pretending to be cats frequently).

Because my daughter felt better after drinking the molybdenum, I let her go to school on Friday. She never threw up and is totally back to normal now. However, another one of her classmates was absent on Friday...coincidentally, a classmate who sits right next to the one who was absent on Wednesday.

Experiences like this keep me talking about molybdenum to anyone who'll listen. It stops nausea and vomiting.

* 500 mcg is below the tolerable upper intake level for children her age.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A report of 2/3 migraine reduction from taking 70 mcg of molybdenum nightly

My husband met with someone a few weeks ago who had been dealing with regular migraines. Being an admirable husband who pays attention to his wife, he immediately thought of molybdenum and suggested it to his acquaintance. She tried a couple molybdenum supplement capsules, and since she thought they helped her avoid getting a migraine, she ordered her own bottle of molybdenum. Here is her report on how her personal molybdenum experiment has been going:
I had planned to email you after taking molybdenum for 1 month.  I’ve been taking 70 mcg of molybdenum each night before bed for three weeks now.  As I mentioned when we spoke, I have chronic migraines almost every day, and most often the onset is during the night.  So, I figured I’d take the molybdenum before bed and see what happens.  In the last three weeks, I have only woken up with 1 headache – it is amazing!!!  Interestingly, the one morning I woke up with a headache was also the one night I didn’t drink Sleepytime tea with the molybdenum.  Could be a total coincidence… or not?  At any rate, I have felt better overall.  My headaches that arrive during the daytime have also been cut by 2/3 at least.  It’s truly incredible to feel this good for so long – THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for making the suggestion.   I was waiting until the 1-month mark to give it time and see if the decreased headaches continue (I have taken things in the past that made me feel better for a couple weeks but then stopped).

She has been diagnosed in the past as being sensitive to sulfites, so I think her experience tends to support sulfite oxidase being the most important molybdoenzyme connected to migraine relief. But there are four other known molybdoenzymes in the human body, and I don't exclude them from possible involvement with migraines.

An interesting part of this anecdote is how low the amount of molybdenum supplementation is. One bowl of lentils has more than 70 mcg of molybdenum. She is probably a small woman.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Humility

I just finished looking over a recently-published book titled Humility Is the New Smart: Rethinking Human Excellence in the Smart Machine Age, by Edward D. Hess and Katherine Ludwig. One quote stood out to me:
We define humility as a mindset about oneself that is open-minded, self-accurate, and "not all about me," and that enables one to embrace the world as it "is" in the pursuit of human excellence. 

Humility seems to come down to a willingness to seek the truth of objective facts, individual feelings, and any combination of the two even when one's ego is screaming "Stop!" I recommend this book.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Nutrition vs. IQ-racism

Occasionally on the internet, I run across commenters who posit that intelligence is genetic, the IQs of some racial/ethnic groups are widely different, and that nothing can be done to close the gaps. I strongly disagree with at least one of those claims.

I do think that that genes play a large role in intelligence. After all, they play roles in height, cancer, sociability, athletic ability, artistic talent, autism, and so on. Why then should memory capacity be singularly unaffected by genes?

Secondly, where accurate testing reveals current differences in average intellectual ability between some groups, we must deal honestly with those test results no matter how distasteful and unfortunate we consider them. Willful ignorance of current realities will never help the human family to progress, and hopefully physical and mental betterment for everyone is a commonly-held goal.

However, I reject claims that group IQ gaps are unchangeable. DNA is merely a code of starting instructions, not unalterable destiny; figure out exactly how the code affects IQ, and you can use that information to help everyone have higher IQs, regardless of their underlying genotypes. The more I learn about nutrition, the more convinced I become that nutrition and exposure to toxins (lead, meth, cannabis, betel, alcohol, tobacco, some medications, etc.) are large factors in producing observed differences in group IQs. It thus follows that much can be done to increase intelligence via cessation of substance abuse and targeted nutrition modifications during pregnancy.

Why am I so firmly convinced that this is possible? I have observed marked differences in height and health between similar heritage groups that were nurtured differently. For example, I was an LDS missionary in western Poland for 18 months soon after communism there was ended. I worked with dozens of young European-ancestry American men (some even of Polish ancestry), many of whose parents and grandparents had due to their religion eschewed alcohol, tobacco, and other harmful substances and apparently fed their offspring on high-protein, high-variety diets. As a group, the American LDS young men were quite tall and healthy-looking compared to the Polish young men, who'd been born into communism-caused scarcity, industrial pollution, and Eastern European alcohol abuse. The young Polish men I've seen in more recent years seem to be significantly taller and healthier than I remember their counterparts being in the 1990s. A 2016 article reports that Polish men, similar to many other population groups world over, have grown taller by 5.35 inches on average in the past century. (https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/jul/26/tall-story-men-and-women-have-grown-taller-over-last-century-study-shows) If improved nutrition can make such a large difference in physical appearance in just a century, then why not in brain development?

We know that, among other things, protein deficiency, iodine deficiency, and alcohol abuse during pregnancy tend to decrease the intelligence of the children affected. If we can extrapolate from mice, the deleterious effects of fetal alcohol syndrome may well extend out three generations or more. (https://www.upi.com/Health_News/2017/07/07/Alcohol-in-pregnancy-may-have-transgenerational-effects/3951499434939/) I probably owe much of my current health and cognitive ability to my non-drinking mother, health-conscious maternal grandmother, and my non-drinking great-grandmothers (at least two of four). As for iodine, I have a "white privilege" in that I can enjoy consuming milk as an adult; milk and yogurt are the main foods in which American women tend to get iodine in their diet, and people of European heritage are almost the only people in the world who don't become lactose intolerant with age (although even some of them develop lactose intolerance). Guess who else gets plenty of iodine, though? The seaweed eaters of East Asia, who coincidentally keep topping the charts in international academic tests. And then there's protein....All you have to do is read a bit about kwashiorkor to see that grave, lasting harm to cognitive ability is inflicted by not getting enough protein during early childhood. (http://www.nature.com/pr/journal/v5/n11/abs/pr1971371a.html)

I wish I could take every potential parent in the world and sit down with them to discuss the probable effects of their substance use and family dietary choices on their progeny. Well-informed diet and lifestyle choices by parents appear to have the potential to help equalize cognitive ability between groups.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Some personal anecdotes of home remedies that seemed to help and things that didn't

I like to be healthy and to help my family to be healthy. Unfortunately, there are many small ailments for which medicine doesn't have a sure-fire cure. So when some cold virus or other health annoyance affects my family, I like to look for ways to be healthy that don't involve going to the doctor. If it's a virus, the doctor can't do much anyway, and the doctor's office doesn't need us there to share our sniffles or tie up their resources with our minor afflictions.

So here are some things I've tried with me and my family that don't seem to have worked:
  • Getting rid of a cold sooner with melatonin. While the melatonin helped the sick people fall asleep, it didn't seem to shorten the duration of the cold noticeably.
  • Weight control by increasing the amount of catalase in our diet. While oxidative stress, diabetes, and weight issues go hand-in-hand, simply increasing catalase in the diet didn't seem to help me or my one child who struggles with weight.
  • Weight control by eating dessert before the main dish. This one was a long shot, but it was fun and odd to eat dessert out of order for a week or two.
  • Neti pot for sinus infections. I haven't used my neti pot for over five years because it made my head feel waterlogged and didn't help much (if at all) with the underlying sinus complaint.

And here are some things I've tried that do seem to have a beneficial effect:
  • Chewable vitamin C for avoiding colds. Like the doctor who recently discovered that intravenous ascorbic acid can help cure sepsis (http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/03/23/521096488/doctor-turns-up-possible-treatment-for-deadly-sepsis), I reasoned that ascorbic acid might be more effective if directly delivered to where it's needed rather than relying only on absorption via the digestive system and subsequent transport throughout the entire body. Chewed vitamins get aerosolized to a small degree and so can be carried by breathing to other locations within the respiratory tract. After one bad week of colds at the beginning of this school year, I bought a 500 tablet container of chewable vitamin C and now we regularly give one tablet to family members if they sneeze. No one has come down with a cold since we started doing that. But we are only in October....
  • Oral exposure to pomegranate juice/powder in order to kill flu viruses. This one I'm less confident of, but the two times I've tried it for possible incipient flu infections, it seems to have been beneficial. The reason I think it might work is the pomegranate compound punicalagin, which has been observed in vitro to have a significant effect in inhibiting influenza virus replication. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19586764)
  • Avoiding sinus headaches by manually moving the upper nasal tissues around. Snot apparently causes sinus issues. (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/07/050730100344.htm) I got the idea to try massage a couple of months ago from this website--http://www.wikihow.com/Massage-Your-Sinuses--which told of a "nose rub" technique to help sinuses drain. The women in my family tend to have narrow noses with sinuses that too often stop up, so why not do something that addresses snot buildup in our particular nose structure? Doing the "nose rub" as described on the website made me feel like little Tabitha on the show "Bewitched," just wiggling my nose tip back and forth; so instead when I feel a little sinus congestion starting, I stick my thumb up each nostril in turn and using my index and middle fingers to grip the outside of my nose, I move the upper tissues of my nose in a few circles in both directions. It works to help my sinuses drain themselves. Usually I experience at least one really bad sinus headache each month, but this last month I was able to avoid getting a sinus headache. I caution anyone who tries this to 1) have clipped, smooth thumbnails and 2) don't do it in public. :)
  • Avoiding heme overdosing in order to not have restless legs syndrome. I'm not prone to RLS, but I did seem accidentally to give it to myself by eating around 2 dozen+ canned oysters, which are high in heme. (https://petticoatgovernment.blogspot.com/2017/09/oyster-heme-possible-rls.htmlNot eating additional high doses of heme--plus possibly the hydroxocobalamin and ascorbic acid I took the next day--appears to have been efficacious in limiting my RLS episode to just one night.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Update on excess folic acid findings

A little over a year ago, my friend and I wrote a letter to the editor in which we expressed concern that excess folic acid was linked to the rise in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism spectrum disorders:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27346490: "Unintended consequences of inhibiting dihydrofolate reductase through folic acid supplementation: inattentive-type attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and ASD connections."

Two recent studies indicate that excess folic acid during pregnancy causes--in mice and people-- diminished cognitive function in the offspring:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28069796: "High dietary folate in pregnant mice leads to pseudo-MTHFR deficiency and altered methyl metabolism, with embryonic growth delay and short-term memory impairment in offspring."

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28724645: "Effect of maternal high dosages of folic acid supplements on neurocognitive development in children at 4-5 y of age: the prospective birth cohort Infancia y Medio Ambiente (INMA) study."

I expect more studies will come out with similar results over the next few years. Folic acid just isn't a typical molecule in the human body or diet.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Licorice might be a cognitive enhancer

A year ago, I mused that licorice might be behind the protective effect that smoking tobacco has against developing Parkinson's. I looked specifically at its component isoliquiritigenin. But there's interesting recent research about another licorice molecule: liquiritigenin. It appears it could be a memory enhancer.

Biomol Ther (Seoul). 2017 May 30. doi: 10.4062/biomolther.2016.284. [Epub ahead of print]
The Memory-Enhancing Effects of Liquiritigenin by Activation of NMDA Receptors and the CREB Signaling Pathway in Mice.

Ko YH, Kwon SH, Hwang JY, Kim KI, Seo JY, Nguyen TL, Lee SY, Kim HC, Jang CG.

Abstract: Liquiritigenin (LQ) is a flavonoid that can be isolated from Glycyrrhiza radix [licorice]. It is frequently used as a tranditional oriental medicine herbal treatment for swelling and injury and for detoxification. However, the effects of LQ on cognitive function have not been fully explored. In this study, we evaluated the memory-enhancing effects of LQ and the underlying mechanisms with a focus on the N-methyl-D-aspartic acid receptor (NMDAR) in mice. Learning and memory ability were evaluated with the Y-maze and passive avoidance tests following administration of LQ. In addition, the expression of NMDAR subunits 1, 2A, and 2B; postsynaptic density-95 (PSD-95); phosphorylation of Ca²⁺/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII); phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK 1/2); and phosphorylation of cAMP response element binding (CREB) proteins were examined by Western blot. In vivo, we found that treatment with LQ significantly improved memory performance in both behavioral tests. In vitro, LQ significantly increased NMDARs in the hippocampus. Furthermore, LQ significantly increased PSD-95 expression as well as CaMKII, ERK, and CREB phosphorylation in the hippocampus. Taken together, our results suggest that LQ has cognition enhancing activities and that these effects are mediated, in part, by activation of the NMDAR and CREB signaling pathways.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28554200

I like the taste of the deglycyrrhizinated licorice tablets I bought a year ago and stuck in the fridge. Maybe I'll pull those out and see if I notice a memory-enhancing effect. Of course, now that I've read the research above, there's no way to rule out a placebo effect in me. Also, I'm not suffering memory problems. I need to find someone who is complaining of memory issues and see if they want to try licorice....

Sunday, September 24, 2017

And another molybdenum/migraine success

A colleague was out with a five-day migraine a week ago. Guess what I told her about? Of course. And she tried it. She was able to come back to work (that's how I saw her to give her some molybdenum) but still had the migraine lingering and threatening to descend again, so she took 1000 mcg of molybdenum glycinate. Ninety minutes later, I saw her helping push someone else's broken-down automobile and reporting that the molybdenum had helped her.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Oyster heme & possible RLS

Oysters are really high in heme (a kind of iron) content. (https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-HealthProfessional/) I ate a lot of oysters (canned, not fresh) yesterday because I wanted the zinc and glycine betaine in them. Oysters are fairly foreign to me, and I had forgotten about their high heme content. Over a year ago, I wrote (http://petticoatgovernment.blogspot.com/2016/07/carbon-monoxide-and-restless-legs_15.html) that restless legs syndrome appears to me to be endogenous carbon monoxide excess in the leg muscles, which carbon monoxide is a metabolic product of heme, and so I suggested that people dealing with restless legs syndrome avoid overconsuming heme. 

Guess what woke me at 4 am this morning? This weird feeling in my legs....

I took a hydroxocobalamin lozenge (also suggested in my year-old post as a help since it combined with Vitamin C appears to be a possible treatment for carbon monoxide poisoning) and was able to fall back asleep soon after. My legs still feel a little weird this morning, and I have a bit of a "steely" feeling in my head. So I'll take more hydroxocobalamin and some Vitamin C now, and then I'll set to figuring out why I'm so sensitive to heme intake. It was just one can of oysters! (Which I ate all by myself.)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

One-page summary of nutrition to promote proper methylation

Here is a one-page summary of some of what I consider the most valuable information I've gathered on nutritional factors that promote proper methylation, which appears to help with ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, and possibly preventing cancer. Feel free to share (without alteration, please) as widely as you like.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Recent research roundup

I often have tabs on my browser that I leave open for a week or more because I've been looking into a subject but haven't collected enough interesting material to write a whole blog post. Tonight I'm going to link to my open pages so that I can finally close them on my browser. One tab is connected to hydrogen peroxide and antioxidants, which tangentially goes along with our family research project of testing all our produce for catalase action. (If you want to have fun, put some mushed banana in a glass then pour in some 3% hydrogen peroxide; the results are slow but impressive.) A couple are about iron overload and its possible connection to mental health condition exacerbation (I'm curious as to whether there's a link between fluctuating iron stores in women and symptom severity.). And the rest are my research into whether there is anything special in chicken gizzards, which topic became one of interest a couple weeks ago after I noted that chicken gizzard soup, which I'd never cooked before, made me feel unusually happy and peaceful; the research led me to MUC1, a mucin in gizzards which is upregulated by GABA and which I suspect might help people feel calm (That could contribute to the common relaxed feeling after Thanksgiving dinner, which is the only time Americans tend to eat gizzard--it's part of giblets--broth on the same day. People wouldn't have noticed as large an effect from eating fried gizzards because they usually boil then dry gizzards before coating and frying them; no broth consumed. I think MUC1 might be heat stable at 100C, given that mucin in cooked okra is what makes it so slimy, but I couldn't find any clear evidence of that, only that it's very resistant to heat denaturation at temperatures up to 85C. There are also water-soluble forms of MUC1, which could explain how MUC1 would end up in gizzard broth instead of staying in the rubbery gizzard pieces in my soup. MUC1 is overexpressed in many cancers, so I'm sure much more research on it will be forthcoming.). Kind of random, but that's what roundups are for.

**

Antioxidant effect of red wine anthocyanins in normal and catalase-inactive human erythrocytes. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0955286301001644 “Subsequently, we demonstrate that fractions containing anthocyanins lower ROS (reactive oxygen species) and methemoglobin production in human erythrocytes treated with H2O2. Finally, we reported that the protective effects of anthocyanins were also confirmed in an experimental model in which RBCs were deprived of catalase activity by treatment with 4 mM sodium azide. The results obtained clearly demonstrate that red wine anthocyanins protect human RBCs from oxidative stress.”

Iron overload and psychiatric illness. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8194001
Abstract: Seven patients with varying psychiatric disorders were found to have iron overload as manifested by abnormal serum ferritin, transferrin saturation index (TSI), or excessive urinary iron. All possible sources of secondary iron overload were ruled out. The patients were treated with the specific iron chelator, deferoxamine, given IM for seven to 22 weeks which resulted in significant clinical improvements. These cases indicate a need to be aware that disordered iron metabolism is a somatic cause of psychiatric illness and that there is clinical improvement upon lowering elevated iron levels in patients with iron overload.

Hemochromatosis-induced bipolar disorder: a case report. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0163834311001368
Abstract
Objective - A patient presenting with Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, bipolar disorder was found to be affected by high iron hemochromatosis. This prompted us to explore the relation between bipolar disorder and iron overload.
Method - We report the case and review the peer-reviewed literature focusing on mood symptoms in patients with hemochromatosis or iron overload. Animal studies of brain effects of iron overload are summarized. High iron hemochromatosis was confirmed by genetic testing, and treatment was instituted to address iron overload.
Results -Patient's bipolar symptoms completely subsided after phlebotomic reduction of iron overload.
Conclusion - Clinicians should explore the possibility of iron overload and seek genetic confirmation of hemochromatosis in resistant bipolar disorder to avoid unnecessary medication.

Structure of the glandular layer and koilin membrane in the gizzard of the adult domestic fowl (Gallus gallus domesticus). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1261543/?page=1

Histomorphological and Histochemical Studies of the Stomach of the Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) http://scialert.net/fulltext/?doi=ajas.2015.280.292 “Rossi et al. (2005) observed in the gizzard’s mucosa of the partridge (Rhynchotus rufescens) low folds lined by simple columnar to cuboidal epithelium. The mucosa revealed the presence of tubular glands, which were lined by low cuboidal at their bases, whereas higher at their upper portions. In fact, the luminal surface of the gizzard was lined with secretory product of the mucosal glands, which solidified at the surface to form a hard cuticle of koilin. Selvan et al. (2008) recorded that the gizzard’s wall of the guinea fowl (Numida meleagris) constructed from the usually known four tunics in addition to an internal lining of koilin which was a secretary layer above the mucosa. The koilin showed positive reaction with the PAS. The surface epithelium was PAS positive too. They showed predominance of neutral mucin. The PAS positive material was present in the lumen of the glands and in the cells that were lined both the surface and crypts.”

The differences between the localizations of MUC1, MUC5AC, MUC6 and osteopontin in quail proventriculus and gizzard may be a reflection of functional differences of stomach parts. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1469-7580.2010.01243.x/full “In conclusion, the expressions of MUC1, MUC5AC, MUC6 and OPN in quail proventriculus and gizzard were different. These differences may be a reflection of functional differences of stomach parts. In addition, the localization of MUC5AC in proventriculus was different from those of MUC1, MUC6 and OPN. The immunoreactivity of MUC5AC was present in the lining epithelium of both folds and superficial proventricular glands in the proventriculus, whereas MUC1, MUC6 and OPN reactivity was found in the oxynticopeptic cells of profound proventricular glands. Furthermore, the immunoreactivity of MUC1 in gizzard was different from that of MUC5AC. Although MUC5AC was expressed in the cells of surface epithelium and profound glands of the gizzard, MUC1 was localized in the simple tubular profound glands of the gizzard. However, MUC6 and OPN immunoreactivity was absent in the gizzard. These differences may also be a reflection of the functional differences between the surface epithelial cells and glandular cells of both the proventriculus and gizzard.”

Disease-associated epigenetic changes in monozygotic twins discordant for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3221539/. The top biological function pathway in the SZ gene list was ‘psychological disorders’, comprising nine genes directly implicated in SZ (CCND2, CHRNA2, FXR2, FXYD6, HRH3, MUC1, PFN2, SLC31A2, SLC6A3) (P= 3.64E − 03).

GABA selectively increases mucin-1 expression in isolated pig jejunum. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4607675/ “Porcine jejunum epithelial preparations were incubated with two different amounts of GABA or glutamine on the mucosal side for 4 h, and changes in the relative gene expression of seven different mucins, enzymes involved in mucin shedding, GABA B receptor, enzymes involved in glutamine/GABA metabolism, glutathione peroxidase 2, and interleukin 10 were examined by quantitative PCR (TaqMan® assays). Protein expression of mucin-1 (MUC1) was analyzed by Western blot. On the RNA level, only MUC1 was significantly up-regulated by both GABA concentrations compared with the control. Glutamine-treated groups showed the same trend. On the protein level, all treatment groups showed a significantly higher MUC1 expression than the control group. We conclude that GABA selectively increases the expression of MUC1, a cell surface mucin that prevents the adhesion of microorganisms, because of its size and negative charge, and therefore propose that the well-described positive effects of glutamine on enterocytes and intestinal integrity are partly attributable to effects of its metabolite GABA.”

Oral intake of γ-aminobutyric acid affects mood and activities of central nervous system during stressed condition induced by mental tasks. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22203366 “In this study, we investigated how the oral intake of GABA influences human adults psychologically and physiologically under a condition of mental stress. Sixty-three adults (28 males, 35 females) participated in a randomized, single blind, placebo-controlled, crossover-designed study over two experiment days. Capsules containing 100 mg of GABA or dextrin as a placebo were used as test samples. The results showed that EEG activities including alpha band and beta band brain waves decreased depending on the mental stress task loads, and the condition of 30 min after GABA intake diminished this decrease compared with the placebo condition. That is to say, GABA might have alleviated the stress induced by the mental tasks. This effect also corresponded with the results of the POMS scores.”


Relaxation and immunity enhancement effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) administration in humans. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16971751 “The effect of orally administrated gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) on relaxation and immunity during stress has been investigated in humans. Two studies were conducted. The first evaluated the effect of GABA intake by 13 subjects on their brain waves. Electroencephalograms (EEG) were obtained after 3 tests on each volunteer as follows: intake only water, GABA, or L-theanine. After 60 minutes of administration, GABA significantly increases alpha waves and decreases beta waves compared to water or L-theanine. These findings denote that GABA not only induces relaxation but also reduces anxiety. The second study was conducted to see the role of relaxant and anxiolytic effects of GABA intake on immunity in stressed volunteers. Eight acrophobic subjects were divided into 2 groups (placebo and GABA). All subjects were crossing a suspended bridge as a stressful stimulus. Immunoglobulin A (IgA) levels in their saliva were monitored during bridge crossing. Placebo group showed marked decrease of their IgA levels, while GABA group showed significantly higher levels. In conclusion, GABA could work effectively as a natural relaxant and its effects could be seen within 1 hour of its administration to induce relaxation and diminish anxiety. Moreover, GABA administration could enhance immunity under stress conditions.”

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Another anecdote about molybdenum and migraine

Around nine months ago, I told a friend about molybdenum helping some people with their migraines. She usually gets migraines two or three times in a year. Her migraine triggers seem to be worry, lack of sleep, and caffeine withdrawals. She came down with a migraine a couple of days ago and experienced relief from molybdenum as described below.

This was the first time she tried molybdenum for a migraine. The day before yesterday, she wanted to try it after coming home from work but couldn't find it (I'd given her a bottle of molybdenum months ago; it's only $7/bottle, so I give it to friends who want to try it--like I've said, I'm not getting a dime out of this molybdenum thing) and was too sick to look for it. She took a giant dose of ibuprofen instead. Then in the morning she took more ibuprofen, which dulled the migraine pain for her and made her feel weird; she said that even with the ibuprofen she could "tell the headache was still there" and "felt queasy." She remembered the molybdenum was in her bedside table and grabbed the bottle of it before leaving for work.

While at work, she asked how much she should take, and since she's not a heavy woman, I suggested based on other friends' reports, that she start with around 300 mcg and and then take a little more (up to 500 mcg) if the molybdenum seemed to be having an effect. Considering the tolerable upper limit for chronic molybdenum supplemenation is 2000 mcg/day, 500 mcg is a conservative amount; one could get the same amount of molybdenum by eating 3-5 bowls of lentils. Not that anyone in the USA would eat that many lentils in a day.... She did experience a benefit with a smaller dose and so eventually took a total of 500 mcg.

Before she took the molybdenum, she was experiencing "the aftermath of a headache -- sensitivity to light, aura-like peripheral vision, and queasy stomach." In response to the question of how taking molybdenum affected her, she said, "Gradually the symptoms went away. I had taken a large dose of ibuprofen, so my symptoms were dull and I didn't realize the exact moment that I felt better." She says in the past she usually had symptoms for a week, but this time she didn't. She said she would recommend it to someone else suffering from migraines.

So there's another molybdenum success story.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Back to school!

As happens when children go back to school, they share their germs. Most of the family is dealing with a cold right now. Lots of Vitamin C (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10543583) and rest.

It's almost a given that a "stomach bug" of some kind will start going around our school community within the next few months, and I know I'll feel guilty that almost no one knows molybdenum can help prevent the unpleasant nausea and vomiting that usually accompany gastrointestinal viruses. So I wrote up a short, relatively simple summary of why I think it helps. Here it is:


“Stomach bug” going around?
Molybdenum can help!

A typical part of a viral gastroenteritis infection is damage to the mucosa (lining) of the proximal small intestine (the part of the small intestine closest to the stomach).[1] Our bodies use hydrogen sulfide (H2S) while working to protect the gastric[2] and intestinal mucosa,[3] but the hydrogen sulfide must be broken down quickly because hydrogen sulfide can be toxic at higher levels. The final step of breaking down hydrogen sulfide is one in which sulfite (SO3) is converted to sulfate (SO4). Ingested “sulfites” are known to cause nausea and have other unpleasant effects on health; the FDA had to ban putting sulfiting agents on restaurant salad bars in the 1980s because many people were having to go to emergency rooms after eating sulfited food from salad bars.[4]
The enzyme our bodies use to transform sulfite to sulfate is called sulfite oxidase. It is one of five known enzymes in the human body that use the element molybdenum (element #42 on the periodic table). Molybdenum is an essential trace mineral in the human diet and is typically found at high levels in beans, liver, barley, and oats. Molybdenum bound to the amino acid glycine can also be purchased as a food supplement. By not being deficient in molybdenum, we can help our bodies break down excess sulfite before it makes us nauseated.

Author: CE Taylor (I'm not a medical doctor, just someone who noticed a connection between molybdenum-containing foods and lower levels of "morning sickness" and then whose sister tried molybdenum for a stomach bug and was surprised to find that it protected her from nausea and vomiting. Molybdenum is not a medicine; it is a trace element that already is found in the human diet.)



[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1089575 - Widerlite L, Trier JS, Blacklow NR, Schreiber DS. Structure of the gastric mucosa in acute infectious bacterial gastroenteritis. Gastroenterology. 1975 Mar;68(3):425-30.
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28346391 - Bronowicka-Adamska P, Wróbel M, Magierowski M, Magierowska K, Kwiecień S, Brzozowski T. Hydrogen sulphide production in healthy and ulcerated gastric mucosa of rats. Molecules. 2017 Mar 27;22(4). pii: E530. doi: 10.3390/molecules22040530.
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17241876/ - Wallace JL, Caliendo G, Santagada V, Cirino G, Fiorucci S. Gastrointestinal safety and anti-inflammatory effects of a hydrogen sulfide-releasing diclofenac derivative in the rat. Gastroenterology. 2007 Jan;132(1):261-71
[4] http://www.nytimes.com/1986/07/09/us/us-issues-ban-on-sulfites-use-in-certain-foods.html - Molotsky I. U.S. issues ban on sulfites’ use in certain foods. The New York Times. 1986 July 8.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Mandela's quote is not good science

Many now are talking about a quote of Nelson Mandela's that was tweeted by Obama and has been retweeted more than any other tweet before. Here's the quote:

"No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin or his background or his religion...People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love...For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite."

People don't actually have to "learn" racial bias. It develops naturally in infants as early as six months of age. (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170411130810.htm):

Two studies by researchers at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto and their collaborators from the US, UK, France and China, show that six- to nine-month-old infants demonstrate racial bias in favour of members of their own race and racial bias against those of other races.
In the first study, "Older but not younger infants associate own-race faces with happy music and other-race faces with sad music," published in Developmental Science, results showed that after six months of age, infants begin to associate own-race faces with happy music and other-race faces with sad music.
In the second study, "Infants rely more on gaze cues from own-race than other-race adults for learning under uncertainty," published in Child Development, researchers found that six- to eight-month-old infants were more inclined to learn information from an adult of his or her own race than from an adult of a different race.
(In both studies, infants less than six months of age were not found to show such biases).
***  
"When we consider why someone has a racial bias, we often think of negative experiences he or she may have had with other-race individuals. But, these findings suggest that a race-based bias emerges without experience with other-race individuals," said Dr. Naiqi (Gabriel) Xiao. 

Anyone who has ever observed a very small child freak out or inexplicably behave rudely to someone new who is from a different ethnicity or race knows that these findings reflect the truth. Anyone who has traveled the world has seen how racism exists in every group of people and seems to develop as naturally as greed. Does that mean we give up and just let everyone act on that racism? No, just like with greed, we need to teach people NOT to be racist and penalize and stigmatize those who let their racial bias lead them to engage in criminal and antisocial behavior. We also need to give them early exposure to caring, trustworthy people of many different ethnicities to help them develop warm feelings for all humanity from an early age.

I find Mandela's quote unfortunate because it places blame on humanity for something that grows without being taught. The focus should instead be on working to give young children positive interactions with people of all ethnicities and races to prevent racism from developing in the first place.

(I think the findings above help explain why I've never quite understood all the accusations of "racism" swirling through the air: A Mexican housekeeper crossed the border to take care of me daily when I was a toddler, and when I first started school, I had an African-American friend, violin teacher, and school teacher. People who cared for me, loved me, and taught me built my trust and affection for all people, and my parents supported that development.)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Learning about the CNMI

We learned about the CNMI these past two weeks. Unfortunately, there is very little available about the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Not too surprising, since its population is barely over 50,000, but still I was sad that almost all the video footage I could find was about the Second World War Battle of Saipan, which is grim viewing for children.

The CNMI is land belonging to the United States of America, but because it only has commonwealth status, it maintains a greater degree of flexibility in some of its laws. Because of its tropical location and proximity to Asia, it is a relatively popular tourist destination and is allowed to parole in (allow entry of non-US-visa holders) tourists from Russia and China for periods up to 45 days.

The food offerings there seem to be a mix of Spanish, Filipino, Chamorro, Russian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and other Asian cuisines. The most interesting geographical thing about the CNMI is its proximity to the Marianas Trench, the deepest part of the world's oceans. In 2009, President G.W. Bush issued a proclamation making 95,000 square miles of the trench and its surroundings a protected U.S. National Monument.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

New school year

It's time to head back to school. I'm a homeschooling parent who sends her children to school in the afternoons. It has turned out to be a wonderful way to make sure core academics are covered in a solid, personalized way for each of our children and also give our children the experience of classrooms, fellow students, parties, and non-core-academic instruction by subject specialists. Going for a partial day helps my children feel privileged to be at school rather than "trapped," and they love their school and teachers. Funnily enough, they still sometimes tell me that their favorite thing about school is recess. Kids will be kids.

This year I've been asked to teach part-time at their school, so my schedule flexibility just evaporated. Mornings will be roughly as they were, but field trips won't be happening. Sigh. I'll miss them. And just when my youngest got out of diapers, too.

I'll also miss having as much time to do research. It has been great fun researching along medical/nutrition/cuisine rabbit trails and occasionally finding some real treasures of answers. This isn't the field I studied. My degrees are in math and law. Problem solving and efficient researching are valuable skills that carry over to many other fields, and having learned about the way people eat in different parts of the world has helped me see interesting connections between regional cuisines, nutrition, and human health.

Let me review some of my favorite discoveries and how they affect my life:

  • Molybdenum(!) - Element #42 appears to help stop nausea/vomiting and migraines, especially if sulfiting agent-containing food and drink are avoided. Stomach bugs no longer take a week or two away from our lives when they visit our home, for powdered molybdenum glycinate has thus far proven itself very effective at ending nausea and vomiting. Even for the toddlers, so it's not just a placebo effect.
  • Nutritional support of the two homocysteine-to-methionine enzymatic pathways - We keep folic acid intake low since high intake of it appears to cause a pseudo-MTHFR defect, which negatively affects the availability of MTHFR for methionine synthase. We instead consume a lot of food/drink with naturally occurring folate. We also drink glycine betaine, which is needed by betaine-homocysteine S-methyltransferase, in our milk/juices to make up for the way the western diet tends to dispose of the easily absorbed glycine betaine in cooking water. Doing these things seems to ameliorate some negative Asperger's traits in our family.
  • Zinc - My husband didn't like me to cook much with onions before because of the embarrassment of the smelly gas it brought on afterward, but now that I know zinc binds with hydrogen sulfide--the most smelly element of flatulence--I put zinc in onion-containing dishes and he can handle the dishes. 
  • Catalase - Out of curiosity about which foods can best combat oxidative stress from hydrogen peroxide, we regularly test for catalase activity* in all kinds of raw fruits and vegetables now as a family. I hope my children ask me for science fair project ideas because I have a lot of hands-on research questions I would like to offload on them. :) I suspect that making sure my husband and I eat active peroxidases and catalases regularly will help delay a host of aging-related ills, including heart disease, stroke, dementia, cataracts, and diabetes. We two also started sipping some catalase mixed in water yesterday to see how it might affect us. I teased my husband as I handed him his glass that "this is the water Ponce de Leon was looking for." Will the catalase water reverse any obvious signs of aging? Who knows? We're both at the stage where we consistently get some gray hairs at our temples, and gray hair apparently is a result of oxidative stress, so it's the perfect time for us to see if we can stop our bodies from sliding down the oxidative stress slope that leads to excessive cell death. Catalase turns hydrogen peroxide into oxygen and water, so I don't think we have to worry about side effects, but we'll stop our experiment if we experience any negative ones.
* That sounds fancy, but it just means putting thin slices of the produce in with 3% hydrogen peroxide from the store. Mini sweet peppers created a lovely pinkish-orange foam quite quickly, while cactus pear flesh was a rather nonreactive disappointment.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Oxidative stress, the pancreas, diabetes mellitus (type 2 diabetes), and proposed dietary helps

Time to make a couple suggestions, which partly grew out of considering the Navajo people, who now experience an extraordinarily high prevalence of type 2 diabetes on their reservation. (http://www.nbcnews.com/id/5233093/ns/health-diabetes/t/navajo-families-battle-diabetes-epidemic/#.WYIkx9RuIdU) The Navajo are closely related to the native Americans in the interior of Alaska, and it has been noted for some time that the traditional diet in the far northern parts of North America appears to protect against type 2 diabetes. (http://discovermagazine.com/2004/oct/inuit-paradox/, https://scholarworks.alaska.edu/handle/11122/3485)

Over in Hungary, researchers have made an interesting discovery about catalase (an enyzme in our bodies that breaks hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen): people who are genetically deficient in catalase develop type 2 diabetes more frequently and earlier. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673600032384, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25726767) Hydrogen peroxide is one of the reactive oxygen species that cause oxidative stress, and oxidative stress is currently being looked at as a possible cause of people developing type 2 diabetes. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1448694/) Hydrogen peroxide in excess can induce cell death, and it travels readily through the extracellular matrix because it is a small molecule with a neutral electrical charge. (http://www.cell.com/biophysj/abstract/S0006-3495(09)01228-4) What if excessive hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is inducing death of the beta cells in the pancreas and bringing on type 2 diabetes? Recently published findings show that this could be exactly what is occurring:

Title: Chemistry and biology of reactive species with special reference to the antioxidative defence status in pancreatic β-cells.
Author: Lenzen S
Publication: Biochim Biophys Acta. 2017 Aug;1861(8):1929-1942. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagen.2017.05.013. Epub 2017 May 17.

Abstract
BACKGROUND:
Diabetes mellitus is a serious metabolic disease. Dysfunction and subsequent loss of the β-cells in the islets of Langerhans through apoptosis ultimately cause a life-threatening insulin deficiency. The underlying reason for the particular vulnerability of the β-cells is an extraordinary sensitivity to the toxicity of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (ROS and RNS) due to its low antioxidative defense status.
SCOPE REVIEW:
This review considers the different aspects of the chemistry and biology of the biologically most important reactive species and their chemico-biological interactions in the β-cell toxicity of proinflammatory cytokines in type 1 diabetes and of lipotoxicity in type 2 diabetes development.
MAJOR CONCLUSION:
The weak antioxidative defense equipment in the different subcellular organelles makes the β-cells particularly vulnerable and prone to mitochondrial, peroxisomal and ER stress. Looking upon the enzyme deficiencies which are responsible for the low antioxidative defense status of the pancreatic β-cells it is the lack of enzymatic capacity for H2O2 inactivation at all major subcellular sites.
GENERAL SIGNIFICANCE:
Diabetes is the most prevalent metabolic disorder with a steadily increasing incidence of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes worldwide. The weak protection of the pancreatic β-cells against oxidative stress is a major reason for their particular vulnerability. Thus, careful protection of the β-cells is required for prevention of the disease.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28527893

How do we protect the pancreas's beta cells from an excess of hydrogen peroxide? The pancreas is right in the middle of the abdomen, just under the stomach and flush against the duodenum. The duodenum is the first section of the small intestine and is the first location transited by food and digestive liquids after they leave the stomach.


It's been observed that visceral fat (fat around the internal organs of the abdomen) increases the risk of type 2 diabetes (http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/771168), and it turns out that fat cells increase oxidative stress (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23213032, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5507106/). So the low-hanging (but hard-to-pick) fruit in the quest to not develop type 2 diabetes is to not be fat. Easier said than done, I know, but that's no reason to give up on working toward needed weight loss.

Another thing that can be done is to supplement the body's natural ability to break down hydrogen peroxide with consumption of active catalase and peroxidases (another kind of enzyme that breaks down hydrogen peroxide).

Catalase is in many plants and animals and is found in bovine liver; in fact, bovine liver is the source from which catalase was first isolated from back in 1937. (http://science.sciencemag.org/content/85/2206/366) Guess who ate raw liver and other organ meats? Yes, the circumpolar people's traditional diet included raw and dried organ meat (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15776992), meaning they consumed active catalase regularly and possibly helped protect their pancreatic beta cells from excessive hydrogen peroxide. If this connection I've just drawn has any merit, it cries out for a real study, for catalase now can be easily purchased as an inexpensive supplement which is purported to survive the low pH of the stomach. (https://www.amazon.com/Catalase-500mg-Supplement-Antioxidant-Neutralize/dp/B01MU8OZN4) In general, I'm doubtful of claimed benefits from enzymatic and probiotic supplements because of absorption and inactivation issues, but for the narrow purpose of using catalase to protect the pancreas from hydrogen peroxide, catalase supplementation looks like a plausible prophylactic.

While writing my recently published hypothesis paper on horseradish and radish peroxidases (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306987717301238), I read a lot about vegetable and fruit peroxidases. The longer peroxidase enzymes sit in an acidic environment, such as that of the stomach, the more the peroxidase enzymes become denatured and ineffective at breaking down hydrogen peroxide. The speed at which they become inactive varies amongst plants, but green beans seem to have more persistently-active peroxidases than several other plants. (http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/content/28/1/48.full.pdf, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jsfa.2740360918/abstract) (Unfortunately, people usually cook green beans before eating them, although they taste fine raw.) Sometimes acid-denatured peroxidase enzymes can become regenerated to an extent after being removed from the acidic environment. (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2621.1991.tb07977.x/abstract) Happily for us, the duodenum pH is neutral or slightly alkaline, meaning that it might provide an environment in which acid-denatured peroxidases can become temporarily active again.

Image from Allegheny Nutrition: The Enzyme Specialists; http://www.alleganynutrition.com/index.php?Human%20body%20pic

Therefore, the active plant peroxidases we eat have a chance of being active to some extent in the duodenum where they can help break down hydrogen peroxide before it damages pancreatic beta cells. This possibility fits with the reported link between low intake of fruit and vegetables and an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. (http://www.news-medical.net/news/20160629/Diet-rich-in-vegetables-and-fruit-may-decrease-type-2-diabetes-risk.aspx) So eat fresh--because many forms of preservation use heat and acids specifically to inactivate peroxidases--and reconstituted-after-being-dried fruits and vegetables to avoid developing type 2 diabetes.

The Navajo Nation did the right thing in in 2013 when it tried to remove sales tax on fresh produce, but unfortunately that legislative effort was vetoed. (https://www.abqjournal.com/369402/navajo-nation-should-reverse-health-act-veto.html) Last week I purchased food on the Navajo reservation, and they taxed my graham crackers and my tomatoes at the same rate. The health act veto was unfortunate and short-sighted, in my opinion, and is likely continuing to depress sales of fresh produce on the Navajo reservation; even my young children noticed how out-of-the-way the small produce section was in reservation grocery store compared to our huge, at-the-entrance produce sections of supermarkets in urban Colorado. The traditional Navajo diet included uncooked plants and dried meat--likely sometimes liver meat with high catalase content--and modern Navajos are not getting enough of these foods.

Take a lesson from Weird Al Yankovic, and love your pancreas to lessen your risk of type 2 diabetes.* Don't surround it with extra adipose tissue, and give it lots of help breaking down hydrogen peroxide by consuming catalase and peroxidases (especially ones that are resistant to denaturing by acidic environments).

"Pancreas" - Weird Al Yankovic (you'll thank me later)

* I know some who read this are going to think that I'm far too optimistic about the above suggestions making a difference in type 2 diabetes, but it's relatively uncontroversial that exercise (which leads to loss of abdominal fat--https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/abdominal-fat-and-what-to-do-about-it) and improving one's diet can "reverse" type 2 diabetes. (http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/type-2-diabetes-guide/reversing-type-2-diabetes#1) My Hispanic grandmother successfully put her type 2 diabetes in remission decades ago and ended up dying much later from dementia after decades of staying active and following the advice in Prevention magazines (of which she had a lot lying around her house). Don't be fatalistic. Diabetes mellitus is not a destiny you can do nothing about.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Learning about the Navajo (Diné)

For the past two weeks, our family has been learning about the Navajo, AKA Diné ("the people"). We live in Colorado, so we went all-out with a multi-day family field trip to visit sites on the Navajo reservation in New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona.

The children saw Shiprock, Four Corners, Canyon de Chelly, and Window Rock (which has a great little zoo of animals that live on the reservation). They saw hogans, dirt roads, sheep, horses, a roadside flea market, gorgeous scenery, and cliff dwellings. They ate fry bread tacos and lots of corn and beans; blue cornmeal mush is on the menu for today, our last day before moving on from learning about the Navajo.

We listened to the beautiful, haunting music of R. Carlos Nakai. We learned about sand painting, southwest pottery, and Navajo rugs. We met Navajo dancers at a canyon overlook who were doing a photo op preparatory to a trip abroad to educate about US indigenous cultures.

We went to Mesa Verde National Park, too, although that is outside the Navajo reservation. Who knew that the Navajo are descendants of Native Americans who came from Alaska around 600 years ago? They have been influenced by the other natives who were already living in the southwest, but they weren't the people who built the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Newly-published hypothesis on horseradish and radish peroxides being partially behind the sometimes observed association between fish consumption and delayed cognitive decline

Yesterday, my newly-published hypothesis on horseradish and radish peroxides being partially behind the sometimes observed association between fish consumption and delayed cognitive decline went live online.

Here's the link: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306987717301238  I believe the full article will be free online for the next 49 days.

And here's the title and abstract:

Horseradish and radish peroxidases eaten with fish could help explain observed associations between fish consumption and protection from age-related dementia

Medical HypothesesVolume 107, September 2017, Pages 5–8

Abstract
A juxtaposition of regional cuisines and recent prospective studies of fish consumption in China and Japan points to fresh horseradish and/or radish (HRR) as possible contributors to delaying age-related dementia. The hypothesis is that the inverse association found sometimes between fish intake and cognitive decline is partially due to exposure of the oral cavity to active peroxidases from HRR served in conjunction with fish. This hypothesis can be tested by specifically looking at whether HRR is consumed with fish and whether such HRR is prepared in a way that preserves activity of HRR peroxidases. It is possible that by putting active HRR peroxidases in their mouths, elderly people supplement their age-diminished salivary antioxidant capacity and break down additional hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) in the oral cavity before it can migrate into the brain, thus decreasing the incidence of brain cell death induction by chronically-elevated H2O2. Intentional exposure of the oral cavity to active HRR peroxidases could be a prophylactic for delaying dementia. Because vegetable peroxidases are inactivated by gastric juices, it will be difficult to obtain benefit from HRR peroxidases’ antioxidant effect via ingestion in encapsulated dietary supplements.

I first noticed the possible involvement of horseradish back in September 2016, which I discussed in the post "Down the research rabbit hole and finding a root." Afterward I kept coming across more evidence that supported that idea: evidence of the importance of hydrogen peroxide in oxidative stress, the often nonlinear nature of oxidative stress damage, plausible anatomical pathways for hydrogen peroxide in the mouth to affect the brain (especially via the cribriform foramina) in ways connected to age-related neurodegeneration, and differences in cooking methods and diet from country to country. So I decided to put it together into a medical hypothesis and submit it for publication in hopes that researchers would test the hypothesis.

The journal Medical Hypotheses is peer-reviewed, and one of the peer reviewers clearly hated my hypothesis initially. However, I revised it to include new evidence and explanations, and the reviewer grudgingly accepted that the hypothesis was adequately supported by reported evidence and approved it for publication. That's why it took over six months from submission to publication. However, I'm glad for the criticisms in the peer review process, for they made me address and resolve key issues in the hypothesis.