Tag Archives: cardiovascular disease

Low Carb Beats Low Fat Again, Annals of Internal Medicine article

Once again, a randomized trial demonstrates that a carbohydrate restricted approach is superior to a low fat diet with regards to weight loss, inflammation, body composition and cardiovascular risk factors. This study was recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the official journal for the American College of Physicians.

Men and women aged 22 to 75 years with a body mass index of 30 to 45 kg/m2 (obesity defined as BMI > 30, morbid obesity defined as BMI >35) were recruited from the general public by using mailing lists, fliers, work site and community screenings, and television advertisements.

Neither diet included a specific calorie or energy goal. Participants in each group were asked to refrain from changing their physical activity levels during the intervention

Here is the summary cut and pasted from the abstract.

Objective: To examine the effects of a low-carbohydrate diet compared with a low-fat diet on body weight and cardiovascular risk factors.

Design: A randomized, parallel-group trial. (ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00609271)

Setting: A large academic medical center.

Participants: 148 men and women without clinical cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Intervention: A low-carbohydrate (<40 g/d) or low-fat (<30% of daily energy intake from total fat [<7% saturated fat]) diet. Both groups received dietary counseling at regular intervals throughout the trial.

Measurements: Data on weight, cardiovascular risk factors, and dietary composition were collected at 0, 3, 6, and 12 months.

Results: Sixty participants (82%) in the low-fat group and 59 (79%) in the low-carbohydrate group completed the intervention. At 12 months, participants on the low-carbohydrate diet had greater decreases in weight (mean difference in change, −3.5 kg [95% CI, −5.6 to −1.4 kg]; P = 0.002), fat mass (mean difference in change, −1.5% [CI, −2.6% to −0.4%]; P = 0.011), ratio of total–high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (mean difference in change, −0.44 [CI, −0.71 to −0.16]; P = 0.002), and triglyceride level (mean difference in change, −0.16 mmol/L [−14.1 mg/dL] [CI, −0.31 to −0.01 mmol/L {−27.4 to −0.8 mg/dL}]; P = 0.038) and greater increases in HDL cholesterol level (mean difference in change, 0.18 mmol/L [7.0 mg/dL] [CI, 0.08 to 0.28 mmol/L {3.0 to 11.0 mg/dL}]; P < 0.001) than those on the low-fat diet.

Limitation: Lack of clinical cardiovascular disease end points.

Conclusion: The low-carbohydrate diet was more effective for weight loss and cardiovascular risk factor reduction than the low-fat diet.

Primary Funding Source: National Institutes of Health.

Let’s go through those results again: At 12 months, participants on the low-carbohydrate diet had

  1.  greater decreases in weight. This has been demonstrated in multiple previously published studies.
  2.  greater decreases in  fat mass. This is an important distinction, the low carb group lost more fat, not muscle.
  3.  greater decreases in the ratio of total to high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. This ratio is a measure of cardiovascular risk (risk for heart attack and stroke). It improved more on low carb than on low fat diets.
  4.  greater decreases in triglyceride level. Triglyceride level is also an important cardiovascular risk factor. It went down significantly more as compared to the low fat diet.
  5.  greater increases in HDL cholesterol level. This result is considered to be protective against heart attack and stroke.
  6. greater decreases in CRP level than those in the low-fat group. CRP (C-reactive protein) is a blood test for inflammation and is also a cardiovascular risk factor.
  7. significant decreases in estimated 10-year risk for coronary heart disease as measured by the Framingham risk analysis at 6 and 12 months, whereas those in the low-fat group did not. Say again, the low fat group did not decrease their Framingham risk analysis but the low carb group did.

All of these differences were “statistically significant”, meaning they were unlikely caused by accident.
And what about side-effects?

The number of participants who had symptoms, including constipation, fatigue, thirst, polyuria, diarrhea, heartburn, gas, nausea, vomiting, appetite changes, or headache, did not differ significantly between the low-carbohydrate and low-fat groups, except significantly more participants on the low-fat diet reported headaches at 3 months

The authors concluded:

Our study found that a low-carbohydrate diet induced greater weight loss and reductions in cardiovascular risk factors at 12 months than a low-fat diet among black and white obese adults who did not have diabetes, CVD, or kidney disease at baseline. Compared with a low-fat diet, a low-carbohydrate diet resulted in greater improvements in body composition, HDL cholesterol level, ratio of total–HDL cholesterol, triglyceride level, CRP level, and estimated 10-year CHD risk. Because CVD is the most common cause of death in the United States and obesity is a particularly prevalent risk factor, our study has important clinical and public health implications

Effects of Low-Carbohydrate and Low-Fat Diets: A Randomized Trial, A. Bazzano, MD, PhD, MPH et. al., Ann Intern Med. 2014;161(5):309-318. doi:10.7326/M14-0180

Get rid of the sugar-added foods, processed and refined flour foods and vegetable oils. Send a message to corporate America that crap-in-a bag and crap-in-a-box is no longer in demand. Eat only grass-fed meat, wild seafood, fresh vegetables, fresh fruit and tree nuts. Enjoy better health and better food.

 

Bob Hansen MD.

Stress Reduction and Health

Mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) has been demonstrated to have beneficial effects relative to several physiologic measurements in humans. These include improved immune status, decreased inflammation as measured by blood tests, improved DNA repair (increased telomere length), and alterations in metabolic activity in areas of the brain that are viewed as beneficial relative to stress, anxiety and pain as measured by functional MRI scan of the brain (fMRI). Similarly other forms of meditation have been studied relative to cardiovascular risk in humans. The results indicate that stress reduction from meditation can decrease the “composite risk of death, heart attack and stroke” by 48% in patients who have experienced a previous heart attack. (1)

“A selected mind-body intervention, the TM program, significantly reduced risk for mortality, myocardial infarction, and stroke in coronary heart disease patients. These changes were associated with lower blood pressure and psychosocial stress factors. Therefore, this practice may be clinically useful in the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease.”

This degree of protection exceeds the benefits of statin drugs in patients who have had a heart attack  and exceeds the risk reduction accomplished by cardiac rehabilitation exercise programs.

A review of studies on the effects of meditation on cardiovascular disease reported: (2)

Psychosocial stress is a nontraditional risk factor for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality that may respond to behavioral or psychosocial interventions. …. Randomized controlled trials, meta-analyses, and other controlled studies indicate this meditation technique reduces risk factors and can slow or reverse the progression of pathophysiological changes underlying cardiovascular disease. Studies with this technique have revealed reductions in blood pressure, carotid artery intima-media thickness, myocardial ischemia, left ventricular hypertrophy, mortality, and other relevant outcomes. The magnitudes of these effects compare favorably with those of conventional interventions for secondary prevention

Dr. Dean Ornish utilized both meditation and yoga training in his lifestyle intervention program along with moderate exercise, smoke cessation and elimination of junk food (low fat vegan diet). The results demonstrated reduced coronary artery plaque within 2 years. Although many have attributed this to the vegan low fat diet, I have suggested in the past that the beneficial results were accomplished by stress reduction, exercise, smoke cessation, and elimination of junk food (especially refined sugar, flour, trans-fats and refined vegetable oils)

Our culture is not attuned to the regular practice of meditation or yoga. When I recommend stress reduction with these techniques to my patients few pursue it despite providing them with detailed descriptions of the physical benefits demonstrated by medical studies. One does not need to become a Buddhist in order to benefit from the practice of meditation. In the early 1970s the first stress reduction clinic utilizing MBSR(Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) and Yoga was established at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center by Jon Kabat Zinn PhD. Since then many studies have documented the benefits of stress reduction relative to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, chronic pain management, depression and anxiety.

Patients who have experienced their first major depressive episode can reduce the risk of a subsequent major depressive episode by 50% simply practicing MBSR regularly.

Unlike drugs, angioplasty, coronary stents, surgery, and injections, meditation and yoga have no potential negative side effects or complications. They simply require time, practice and a modest amount of training. Inexpensive self-help books, CDs and on-line resources are available to get started. Measurable physiologic benefits are experienced within a few weeks. Blood pressure drops, stress hormones decrease, blood sugars come down, insulin sensitivity improves, immune cells work better, sleep improves, suffering from chronic pain decreases, and functional status improves. That’s a considerable amount of benefit achieved by simply sitting quietly and observing your breath as it moves in and out of your body.

Meditation and yoga are two ways to reduce stress. For a healthy life to achieve stress reduction we must examine many areas. What aspects of daily life can increase and decrease stress and our physiologic response to stress?

Important factors to consider include social isolation, physical and social contact with friends/family/pets, meaningful work, laughter and humor, time spent outdoors, exercise, proper sleep habits and exposure to natural rather than artificial light. These all play significant roles in governing our stress levels, physiologic response to stress and the attendant changes in health.

Social isolation is harmful while regular contact with family and friends is beneficial. Caring for a pet seems to reduce blood pressure and enhance longevity. Engaging in meaningful work for pay or as a volunteer is essential for health, longevity and happiness. Spending time outdoors regularly and cycling your daily activity with the sun (circadian rhythm normalization) are essential to health and stress reduction. Laughter and social interaction provide healing while rumination over problems causes illness. All of these aspects to healthy living deserve attention but if you are ill, overweight, suffer chronic pain, disability or substance abuse then meditation and yoga can have profoundly beneficial effects. When combined with a Paleolithic diet and adequate restorative sleep, stress reduction techniques provide a powerful healing pathway.

Below is a long list of links to articles related to stress reduction, meditation, and yoga in the areas of chronic pain, cardiovascular disease, cancer, pre-natal care, anxiety disorders, depression, insomnia, smoke cessation, burnout, immune function, inflammation, migraine, blood pressure control, traumatic brain injury and even psoriasis.

Read to your heart’s content.

Bob Hansen MD

(1) Stress reduction in the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease: randomized, controlled trial of transcendental meditation and health education in Blacks.

(2) Psychosocial stress and cardiovascular disease Part 2: effectiveness of the Transcendental Meditation program in treatment and prevention.

Here is the long list of other references. I have tried to group them in categories. There is allot of overlap between categories so my classification is somewhat arbitrary.

Asthma

Yoga intervention for adults with mild-to-moderate asthma: a pilot study.

Cardiovascular Disease:

Stress reduction in the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease: randomized, controlled trial of transcendental meditation and health education in Blacks.

Usefulness of the transcendental meditation pro… [Am J Cardiol. 1996] – PubMed – NCBI

A randomised controlled trial of stress reduction for hypertension in older African Americans.

Effect of meditation on endothelial function in Black Americans with metabolic syndrome: a randomized trial.

Is there a role for stress management in reducing hypertension in African Americans?

Trial of stress reduction for hypertension in older African Americans. II. Sex and risk subgroup analysis.

Yoga for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Randomized controlled trial of mindfulness-based stress reduction for prehypertension.

Yoga Nidra relaxation increases heart rate variability and is unaffected by a prior bout of Hatha yoga.

Influence of psychosocial factors and biopsychosocial interventions on outcomes after myocardial infarction.

Influence of psychosocial factors and biopsychosocial interventions on outcomes after myocardial infarction.

Trial of relaxation in reducing coronary risk: four year follow up.

When and why do heart attacks occur? Cardiovascular triggers and their potential role.

Emotional stressors trigger cardiovascular events.

How brain influences neuro-cardiovascular dysfunction.

CNS effects:

Short-term meditation training improves attention and self-regulation

Central and autonomic nervous system interaction is altered by short-term meditation

Neruoimaging and EEG

Neural mechanisms of mindfulness and meditation: Evidence from neuroimaging studies.

Short-term meditation induces white matter changes in the anterior cingulate

Mechanisms of white matter changes induced by meditation

Meditation’s impact on default mode network and hippocampus in mild cognitive impairment: a pilot study.

Mindfulness starts with the body: somatosensory attention and top-down modulation of cortical alpha rhythms in mindfulness meditation.

Effects of mindfulness meditation training on anticipatory alpha modulation in primary somatosensory cortex.

Effects of mindfulness meditation training on anticipatory alpha modulation in primary somatosensory cortex.

Cancer:

Increased mindfulness is related to improved stress and mood following participation in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program in individuals with cancer.

Impact of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) on attention, rumination and resting blood pressure in women with cancer: a waitlist-controlled study.

A non-randomized comparison of mindfulness-based stress reduction and healing arts programs for facilitating post-traumatic growth and spirituality in cancer outpatients.

One year pre-post intervention follow-up of psychological, immune, endocrine and blood pressure outcomes of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) in breast and prostate cancer outpatients.

Impact of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) on sleep, mood, stress and fatigue symptoms in cancer outpatients.

Keeping the balance–an overview of mind-body therapies in pediatric oncology.

Randomised controlled trials of yoga interventions for women with breast cancer: a systematic literature review.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction in relation to quality of life, mood, symptoms of stress and levels of cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) and melatonin in breast and prostate cancer outpatients.

A pilot study evaluating the effect of mindfulness-based stress reduction on psychological status, physical status, salivary cortisol, and interleukin-6 among advanced-stage cancer patients and their caregivers.

Can diet in conjunction with stress reduction affect the rate of increase in prostate specific antigen after biochemical recurrence of prostate cancer?

Meditation, melatonin and breast/prostate cancer: hypothesis and preliminary data.

Diabetes

Mindfulness-based stress reduction is associated with improved glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus: a pilot study.

Immune System:

Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation.

Insomnia and Sleep Physiology.

Mind-body interventions for the treatment of insomnia: a review.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction compared with cognitive behavioral therapy for the treatment of insomnia comorbid with cancer: a randomized, partially blinded, noninferiority trial.

Experienced mindfulness meditators exhibit higher parietal-occipital EEG gamma activity during NREM sleep.

I-CAN SLEEP: rationale and design of a non-inferiority RCT of Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for the treatment of Insomnia in CANcer survivors.

New insights into circadian aspects of health and disease.

Irritable Bowel

Mindfulness-based stress reduction for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome symptoms: a randomized wait-list controlled trial.

 

Pain:

A comparison of mindfulness-based stress reduction and an active control in modulation of neurogenic inflammation.

The validation of an active control intervention for Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).

[Mindfulness-based therapeutic approaches: benefits for individuals suffering from pain].

Mindfulness-based stress reduction, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, and Zen meditation for depression, anxiety, pain, and psychological distress.

Mindfulness starts with the body: somatos… [Front Hum Neurosci. 2013] – PubMed – NCBI

Altered anterior insula activation during anticipation and experience of painful stimuli in expert meditators.

Differential effects on pain intensity and unpleasantness of two meditation practices.

Self-directed Mindfulness Training and Improvement in Blood Pressure, Migraine Frequency, and Quality of Life.

Effectiveness of mindfulness meditation (Vipassana) in the management of chronic low back pain.

Mindfulness meditation in the control of severe headache.

The clinical use of mindfulness meditation for the self-regulation of chronic pain.

An outpatient program in behavioral medicine for chronic pain patients based on the practice of mindfulness meditation: theoretical considerations and preliminary results.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction for chronic pain conditions: variation in treatment outcomes and role of home meditation practice.

Psych, Depression, Anxiety, Burnout, Students

Mindfulness meditation practices as adjunctive treatments for psychiatric disorders.

Reducing psychological distress and obesity through Yoga practice

Yoga and social support reduce prenatal depression, anxiety and cortisol.

Meditation Programs for Psychological Stress and Well-Being [Internet].

Meditation programs for psychological stress and well-being: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Tai chi training reduces self-report of inattention in healthy young adults.

Mindfulness for teachers: A pilot study to assess effects on stress, burnout and teaching efficacy.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Low-Income, Predominantly African American Women With PTSD and a History of Intimate Partner Violence.

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for generalized anxiety disorder.

Three-year follow-up and clinical implications of a mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction intervention in the treatment of anxiety disorders.

Effectiveness of a meditation-based stress reduction program in the treatment of anxiety disorders.

Enhanced response inhibition during intensive meditation training predicts improvements in self-reported adaptive socioemotional functioning.

Intensive meditation training improves perceptual discrimination and sustained attention.

Home-based deep breathing for depression in patients with coronary heart disease: a randomised controlled trial.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction lowers psychological distress in medical students.

Yoga and exercise for symptoms of depression and anxiety in people with poststroke disability: a randomized, controlled pilot trial.

The effect of yoga on coping strategies among intensive care unit nurses.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction and health-related quality of life in a heterogeneous patient population.

Developing mindfulness in college students through movement-based courses: effects on self-regulatory self-efficacy, mood, stress, and sleep quality.

Differential effects of mindful breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and loving-kindness meditation on decentering and negative reactions to repetitive thoughts.

Psychological and neural mechanisms of trait mindfulness in reducing depression vulnerability.

A narrative review of yoga and mindfulness as complementary therapies for addiction.

The acute effects of yogic breathing exercises on craving and withdrawal symptoms in abstaining smokers.

Yoga and massage therapy reduce prenatal depression and prematurity.

Mind-body interventions during pregnancy for preventing or treating women’s anxiety.

Misc. and General

Mindfulness-based interventions for physical conditions: a narrative review evaluating levels of evidence.

Evaluation of a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program for caregivers of children with chronic conditions.

Empirical explorations of mindfulness: conceptual and methodological conundrums.

Mindfulness meditation: do-it-yourself medicalization of every moment.

Becoming conscious: the science of mindfulness.

Meditate to medicate.

Mindfulness in medicine.

Cultivating mindfulness: effects on well-being.

Mind-body medicine. An introduction and review of the literature.

Tai chi chuan in medicine and health promotion.

Tai chi/yoga effects on anxiety, heartrate, EEG and math computations.

Mindfulness Research Update: 2008.

Development and preliminary evaluation of a telephone-based mindfulness training intervention for survivors of critical illness.

A randomized controlled trial of Koru: a mindfulness program for college students and other emerging adults.

Hair Cortisol as a Biomarker of Stress in Mindfulness Training for Smokers.

A review of the literature examining the physiological processes underlying the therapeutic benefits of Hatha yoga.

Body Awareness: a phenomenological inquiry into the common ground of mind-body therapies.

Cortical dynamics as a therapeutic mechanism for touch healing.

Establishing key components of yoga interventions for musculoskeletal conditions: a Delphi survey.

Hatha yoga on body balance.

Yoga might be an alternative training for the quality of life and balance in postmenopausal osteoporosis.

Becoming conscious: the science of mindfulness.

Organ Transplant

Mindfulness meditation to reduce symptoms after organ transplant: a pilot study.

Post Traumatic Brain Injury

A pilot study examining the effect of mindfulness-based stress reduction on symptoms of chronic mild traumatic brain injury/postconcussive syndrome.

Psoriasis

Influence of a mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction intervention on rates of skin clearing in patients with moderate to severe psoriasis undergoing phototherapy (UVB) and photochemotherapy (PUVA).

Telemorase, DNA, Genes

Rapid changes in histone deacetylases and inflammatory gene expression in expert meditators.

Can meditation slow rate of cellular aging? Cognitive stress, mindfulness, and telomeres.

Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators.

Contemplative practice, chronic fatigue, and telomerase activity: a comment on Ho et al.

Toward a unified field of study: longevity, regeneration, and protection of health through meditation and related practices.

 

Carbohydrate Restriction for Diabetes I and II

A great review article challenging the current low fat dogma has been published. This should be required reading for all physicians. It brings clarity, data, and perspective to the discussion.

Here is the abstract:

Abstract

“The inability of current recommendations to control the epidemic of diabetes, the specific failure of the prevailing low-fat diets to improve obesity, cardiovascular risk or general health and the persistent reports of some serious side effects of commonly prescribed diabetic medications, in combination with the continued success of low-carbohydrate diets in the treatment of diabetes and metabolic syndrome without significant side effects, point to the need for a reappraisal of dietary guidelines.”

Here are the opening paragraphs.

“The benefits of carbohydrate restriction in diabetes are immediate and well-documented. Concerns about the efficacy and safety are long-term and conjectural rather than data-driven. Dietary carbohydrate restriction reliably reduces high blood glucose, does not require weight loss (although is still best for weight loss) and leads to the reduction or elimination of medication and has never shown side effects comparable to those seen in many drugs.

Here we present 12 points of evidence supporting the use of low-carbohydrate diets as the first approach to treating type 2 diabetes and as the most effective adjunct to pharmacology in type 1. They represent the best-documented, least controversial results. The insistence on long-term random-controlled trials as the only kind of data that will be accepted is without precedent in science. The seriousness of diabetes requires that we evaluate all of the evidence that is available. The 12 points are sufficiently compelling that we feel that the burden of proof rests with those who are opposed.

“At the end of our clinic day, we go home thinking, ‘The clinical improvements are so large and obvious, why don’t other doctors understand?’ Carbohydrate restriction is easily grasped by patients: because carbohydrates in the diet raise the blood glucose, and as diabetes is defined by high blood glucose, it makes sense to lower the carbohydrate in the diet. By reducing the carbohydrate in the diet, we have been able to taper patients off as much as 150 units of insulin per day in eight days, with marked improvement in glycemic control – even normalization of glycemic parameters.”

— Eric Westman, MD, MHS [1].

Here is the link to the whole article.

Dietary Carbohydrate restriction as the first approach in diabetes management. Critical review and evidence base

Peace and good health.

Bob Hansen MD

Amputations, Gangrene and Carbohydrates

As an anesthesiologist I have spent more than 60,000 hours in the operating room and cared for over 30,000 patients. I often observe the end-results of bad dietary advice. I am referring to the liberal carbohydrate allowance that the American Diabetes Association and other agencies offer diabetics.

Today was a particularly poignant day as I cared for two diabetics who required amputations for complications of diabetes type II. These complications could have likely been avoided if our supermarkets were not stocked with high carb nutritionally deplete “food” AND if the ADA, physicians and nutritionists counseled diabetics to significantly reduce their carbohydrate intake. Instead, the low fat narrative has so predominated our culture, that we have taken our eyes off of the major dietary threats during the past 40 years, excessive carbohydrates and especially refined carbohydrates.

The leading cause of amputations in modern society are the complications of diabetes including peripheral arterial disease (atherosclerosis in the arteries to our limbs) and peripheral neuropathy (loss of sensation in the feet and hands). The combination of these two, or just one alone can lead to non-healing wounds and ulcers in the feet, then chronic infections and ultimately gangrene. Futile efforts to restore circulation to the legs with vascular bypass surgeries or arterial stents usually just briefly delay the inevitable series of amputations that start in the toes and progress up the leg, step by step until only a stump is left above the level once occupied by the knee.

Gangrene is an ugly thing. During the Civil War the major cause was trauma. Today the major cause is diabetes and indirectly, excess carbohydrate consumption.

The visual experience of gangrene results in a visceral reaction, even after more than 30 years of observation. The knowledge that most of these complications could be avoided by simply eating whole fresh foods instead of crap in a bag or crap in a box is frustrating. The human suffering and economic costs (lost wages, disability, medical expenses) are staggering. Diabetes type II is largely a disease of lifestyle. The lifestyle elements involved include poor dietary habits, lack of exercise, inadequate sleep, and stress. All of these contribute and all are modifiable and avoidable.

Type II diabetes is arguably reversible early in the disease process. As it progresses a patient reaches an irreversible point of no return where the pancreas has been exhausted and the insulin producing cells are no longer efficient and effective. Equally important,  the cells in the rest of the body do not respond in a normal fashion to what little insulin is produced. But even at this stage carbohydrate restriction can mitigate complications if only healthy fresh whole-foods are consumed and modest exercise is practiced on a daily basis.

Other complications of diabetes including blindness, painful neuropathy, kidney failure requiring dialysis, heart attack and stroke all are arguably avoidable with a whole foods paleolithic carbohydrate restricted diet and modest amounts of regular exercise.

What a pity, what a shame, what a waste.

Below are some links and research articles to back up my statements.

Peace, health, and harmony.

BOB

1. Type 2 Diabetes

2. American Diabetes Association Embraces Low-Carbohydrate Diets. Can You Believe It? | Richard David Feinman

3. Nutrition Science on Pinterest

4. Low-Carb for You: Low-Carb versus Low-Fat

And Many More:

Jenkins DJ, Kendall CW, McKeown-Eyssen G, Josse RG, Silverberg J, Booth GL, Vidgen E, Josse AR, Nguyen TH, Corrigan S et al: Effect of a low-glycemic index or a high-cereal fiber diet on type 2 diabetes: a randomized trial. JAMA 2008, 300(23):2742-2753.

Westman EC, Yancy WS, Mavropoulos JC, Marquart M, McDuffie JR: The Effect of a Low-Carbohydrate, Ketogenic Diet Versus a Low-Glycemic Index Diet on Glycemic Control in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Nutr Metab (Lond) 2008, 5(36).

Gannon MC, Hoover H, Nuttall FQ: Further decrease in glycated hemoglobin following ingestion of a LoBAG30 diet for 10 weeks compared to 5 weeks in people with untreated type 2 diabetes. Nutr Metab (Lond) 2010, 7:64.

Gannon MC, Nuttall FQ: Control of blood glucose in type 2 diabetes without weight loss by modification of diet composition. Nutr Metab (Lond) 2006, 3:16.

Gannon MC, Nuttall FQ: Effect of a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet on blood glucose control in people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes 2004, 53(9):2375-2382.

Forsythe CE, Phinney SD, Feinman RD, Volk BM, Freidenreich D, Quann E, Ballard K, Puglisi MJ, Maresh CM, Kraemer WJ et al: Limited effect of dietary saturated fat on plasma saturated fat in the context of a low carbohydrate diet. Lipids 2010, 45(10):947-962.

Jakobsen MU, Overvad K, Dyerberg J, Schroll M, Heitmann BL: Dietary fat and risk of coronary heart disease: possible effect modification by gender and age. Am J Epidemiol 2004, 160(2):141-149.

Siri-Tarino PW, Sun Q, Hu FB, Krauss RM: Saturated fat, carbohydrate, and cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr 2010, 91(3):502-509.

Int J Cardiol. 2006 Jun 16;110(2):212-6. Epub 2005 Nov 16. Effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet program compared to a low-fat diet on fasting lipoprotein subclasses. Westman EC, Yancy WS Jr, Olsen MK, Dudley T, Guyton JR.

Mol Cell Biochem. 2007 Aug;302(1-2):249-56. Epub 2007 Apr 20.Beneficial effects of ketogenic diet in obese diabetic subjects. Dashti HM, Mathew TC, Khadada M, Al-Mousawi M, Talib H, Asfar SK, Behbahani AI, Al-Zaid NS.

 

 

Stomach bacteria can cause and worsen heart disease

A recent study from Italy (1) has identified a relationship between the bacteria that causes stomach ulcers and heart disease. H Pylori is a bacteria that can colonize the lining of the stomach and remain there for a lifetime unless diagnosed and eliminated with antibiotics. This bacteria was demonstrated to be a major cause of stomach ulcers by two physicians ( Dr. Barry Marshall and Dr. Robin Warren) who won the Nobel Prize for their finding.

Atherosclerosis the formation of plaque in the walls of arteries, is in large part an inflammatory process (2,3). The coronary arteries supply oxygenated blood to heart muscle and heart valves. A heart attack (myocardial infarction) occurs when a plaque  ruptures or tears, sending debris downstream in a coronary artery. That debris and/or the exposed ruptured plaque causes  a blood clot that obstructs blood flow to a portion of the heart and if the clot remains untreated a heart attack (muscle damage) occurs within minutes to hours. This process can also result in a fatal abnormal heart rhythm (ventricular fibrillation).

A major source of inflammation that is known to contribute to atherosclerosis and heart attacks is infection (2). Many patients suffer heart attacks following an acute infection or severe emotional stress.  Inflammation is involved in forming plaques, creating unstable plaques, causing plaque to tear or rupture and inflammation is involved in the dynamic process that leads to a heart attack (3). To quote the authors of this study:

Ischaemic heart disorders are the consequence of an atherosclerotic process. A concomitant cause of atherosclerosis is inflammation. Infections represent the single most frequent determinant of inflammation. In case of H pylori infection, the organism colonises the human stomach for life (if infection is not properly treated); therefore, the trigger is continuous and inflammation lasts for a lifetime.

The authors of this study found that a certain subset of H Pylori bacteria carry a protein that is similar to two or more very important and essential proteins in heart muscle. Those proteins are called human tropomyosin and cardiac ATPases. Both types of proteins are essential to the ability of the heart muscle to pump blood through the heart.

The authors postulate a mechanism called molecular mimicry. Because H Pylori proteins are very similar to certain proteins in the heart, colonization or infection in the GI tract by H Pylori results in an immune response directed against these foreign proteins which are very similar to proteins in heart muscle. The immune system”mistakes” these heart muscle proteins for the foreign proteins in H Pylori and mounts an immune response against the heart muscle. The study found that patients infected with certain H Pylori strains had higher circulating levels of inflammatory markers and BNP . BNP is associated with heart failure, (loss of heart muscle contracting ability) and loss of heart muscle function results in a poorer prognosis in patients with coronary artery disease.

Thus this study supports a direct link between bacterial infection in the GI tract and heart disease, mediated through the immune system.

This sort of molecular mimicry has been recognized in medicine as it relates to two very well known diseases caused by infections with a species of streptococcus (as in strep throat). Those diseases are rheumatic heart disease (also called rheumatic fever)  and glomerulonephritis, Either of these can occur as a complication of strep infections, ergo the importance of diagnosing and treating strep throat.

H Pylori represents one of many examples of the interplay between bacteria in our GI tract, the immune system and disease causation. Intestinal dysbiosis (imbalance between healthy and disease causing bacteria that reside in our gut) has been associated with a  multitude of disease processes including obesity, diabetes, psychiatric disorders and cancer (5,6,7,8,9,10).

An essential component of this process is the entry of foreign proteins or other antigens (immune stimulants) across the gut wall into the body where the immune system gets activated. Intestinal Permeability is a term that describes the ability of substances to cross the GI barrier (intestinal wall) and enter the circulation (blood or lymph glands). I have discussed this before. There are many potential causes of increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut) including small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (a specific kind of dysbiosis) dietary sources such plant lectins and saponins found in grains and legumes, stress, sleep deprivation and medications such as NSAIDS. When an individual suffers from leaky gut (increased intestinal permeability) the probability that toxic substances can enter the blood stream increases. Endotoxin (produced by pathogenic bacteria in the gut) has been related to many inflammatory disease processes wreaking havoc when it penetrates the intestinal barrier.

Intestinal permeability, auto-immune disease, molecular mimicry, and gut dysbiosis are topics often discussed in the Paleo community. These topics represent physiologic processes that relate to humans deviating from our evolutionary habits, diets and lifestyles.

References are below.

Peace.

BOB

(1)  Cross-sectional Study: CagA–positive Helicobacter pylori Infection, Acute Coronary Artery Disease and Systemic Levels of B-type Natriuretic Peptide Journal of Clinincal Pathology. 2014;67(3):251-257.

(2) 11. Epstein SE, Zhou YF, Zhu J. Infection and atherosclerosis: emerging mechanistic paradigms. Circulation 1999;100:e20–8.

(3)  Ross R. Atherosclerosis: an inflammatory disease. N Engl J Med 1999;340:115–26

(4)  Mayr M, Kiechl S, Mendall MA, et al. Increased risk of atherosclerosis is confined to CagA-positive Helicobacter pylori strains: prospective results from the Bruneck study. Stroke 2003;34:610–5.

(5) Diabetes, obesity and gut … [Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol. 2013] – PubMed – NCBI

(6) Involvement of gut microbiota in the de… [Gut Microbes. 2012 Jul-Aug] – PubMed – NCBI

(7) Crosstalk between the gut microbiota a… [Clin Microbiol Infect. 2012] – PubMed – NCBI

(8) [The role of gut microbiota in… [Postepy Hig Med Dosw (Online). 2013] – PubMed – NCBI

(9) [Research advances in th… [Zhongguo Yi Xue Ke Xue Yuan Xue Bao. 2013] – PubMed – NCBI

(10) The gut microbiota, obesity and insulin resi… [Mol Aspects Med. 2013] – PubMed – NCBI

Fat consumption, Fat circulating in your blood, Heart Disease

Another nail has been driven into the coffin of the diet-heart hypothesis. The Annals of Internal Medicine (the official journal for the American College of Physicians) just published a review article that considered three kinds of studies related to fat and heart disease. (1)

  1. Studies that evaluated the association between dietary consumption of different kinds of fat and cardiovascular disease (heart attack and stroke)
  2. Studies that evaluated the association between levels of different kinds of fat circulating in the blood and cardiovascular disease
  3. Studies that evaluated supplementation with various kinds of fat and cardiovascular disease.

Most importantly, the authors found no statistical association between consumption of saturated fat and cardiovascular disease. I have previously discussed another large meta-analysis published in 2010 with the same finding. (2)

I have discussed the unscientific demonization of saturated fat many times (3,4,5).

This is important because it again speaks against the dietary advice promulgated by the AHA and the USDA to reduce consumption of saturated fat. The low-fat advice has resulted in a proliferation of low-fat high-sugar and high-carbohydrate food products which arguably have contributed to the epidemics of obesity and diabetes in the US.

Similarly, recent studies have correlated dementia with high carbohydrate consumption. (6) If you reduce fat in the diet you must replace it with something else and unfortunately in the US that something else has been sugar and other refined carbohydrates.

Other statistically significant findings in the Annals of Internal Medicine study were an inverse relationship between circulating blood levels of the omega three fats found in seafood (EPA and DHA) and cardiovascular events. The authors pointed out that although higher blood levels of EPA and DHA were significantly associated with lower cardiovascular risk, supplementation with EPA and DHA have had mixed results  with many studies showing positive results but some showing no protective effects. My comments on the omega three supplement studies are

  1. supplementation with fish oil (omega three fats) will not benefit most individuals unless excess pro-inflammatory omega six fats (found in refined vegetable oils) are reduced/eliminated and that side of the equation has not been addressed in any of the published studies. In other words, the studies did not reduce omega 6 fats, they just supplemented with omega 3 fat. If an individual is consuming 30-60 grams of omega six fats per day, trying to balance that with 2-3 grams per day of fish oil will not achieve a healthy ratio.
  2. many of the fish oil (omega three) supplement studies used very low amounts of fish oil, well below the amounts used in the studies that demonstrated benefit.

I am not suggesting that everyone should take fish oil supplements. Instead, I support eating a whole foods paleolithic diet based on grass-fed meat, free range poultry, free range eggs, fresh wild seafood, fresh vegetables, fresh fruits and nuts.

Finally, the data on trans-fat consumption demonstrated statistically significant correlation with cardiovascular disease. The biochemistry and physiology of manufactured trans-fats demonstrate a disruptive role of these man-made fats and the elimination of these harmful fats from our food supply will likely provide great health benefits.

The authors comment on the complex relationship between fat consumption and circulating levels of specific fats in the blood as demonstrated by Forsythe et al. (6,7) I will discuss this in future posts. For now consider the paradox that high-fat carbohydrate restricted diets result in lower circulating levels of saturated fat compared to high carbohydrate diets. (6,7), Explanation: excess carbohydrates are immediately converted to fat and stored as saturated fat by humans.

1. Annals of Internal Medicine | Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids With Coronary Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

2. Siri-Tarino PW, Sun Q, Hu FB, Krauss RM. Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010; 91:535-46.
PubMed

3. https://practical-evolutionary-health.com/2014/02/16/can-goose-liver-grass-fed-meat-aged-hard-cheese-free-range-eggs-and-cod-liver-oil-prevent-a-heart-attack/

4. https://practical-evolutionary-health.com/2013/11/03/saturated-fat-vs-sugar/

5. https://practical-evolutionary-health.com/2013/11/01/saturated-fat-does-it-matter/

6. Relative intake of macronutrients impacts risk of mild cognitive impairment or dementia. Journal of Alzheimers Dis. 2012;32(2):329-39. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2012-120862.

7. Forsythe CE, Phinney SD, Feinman RD, Volk BM, Freidenreich D, Quann E, et al. Limited effect of dietary saturated fat on plasma saturated fat in the context of a low carbohydrate diet. Lipids. 2010; 45:947-62. PubMed

8. Forsythe CE, Phinney SD, Fernandez ML, Quann EE, Wood RJ, Bibus DM, et al. Comparison of low fat and low carbohydrate diets on circulating fatty acid composition and markers of inflammation. Lipids. 2008; 43:65-77. PubMed

Peace,

Bob Hansen MD

Can goose liver, grass-fed meat, aged hard cheese, free range eggs and cod liver oil prevent a heart attack?

The data suggests that the answer is yes. The first four of these health foods are rich sources of vitamin K2 and the last food item is packed with Vitamins A and D. The proposed mechanism for their protective effect rests in a wonderful biological quartet. The instruments of this quartet include  the fat soluble vitamins D, K2, and A playing harmoniously  with a ubiquitous human protein called Matrix gla protein  (MGP).

The basic science is exquisite. Vitamins D and A acting together enhance the expression of MGP.  In other words, these two fat-soluble vitamins cause our bodies to increase the production of MGP.  MGP resides throughout our bodies including the walls of our arteries. Vitamin K2 then activates the MGP which in turn regulates (prevents) the calcification of plaque in the walls of our arteries. MGP masterfully plays this role in many arteries and it’s artistry is particularly effective in the coronary arteries that supply blood and oxygen to heart muscle.

Heavily calcified coronary plaque (the nasty stuff that produces atherosclerosis) as compared to un-calcified plaque is much more likely to rupture and create an acute blockage, thereby causing a heart attack. By inhibiting calcification of coronary plaque activated MGP decreases the risk of a heart attack. The biochemistry and physiology of this process are well accepted and discussed in the opening of several papers that address this topic. (1,2,3)

The data that support this theory includes a lot of basic science that describes the interaction between the four players as well as nutritional studies in humans and rodents.

The first major human study was the Rotterdam study published in the Journal of the American Society for Nutritional Sciences, 2004. Here is a quote from the summary.

“Vitamin K-dependent proteins, including matrix Gla-protein, have been shown to inhibit vascular calcification. Activation of these proteins via carboxylation depends on the availability of vitamin K. We examined whether dietary intake of phylloquinone (vitamin K-1) and menaquinone (vitamin K-2) were related to aortic calcification and coronary heart disease (CHD) in the population-based Rotterdam Study.”

The study followed 4801 adults for over 7 years and analyzed the relationship between Vitamin K intake and incidence of heart attacks, (fatal and non-fatal), death from all causes, and atherosclerosis in the aorta (the major artery of the body). The results were impressive. The analysis divided the 4801 people into three equal groups, 1/3 with the highest consumption of Vitamin K, 1/3 with the lowest consumption, and 1/3 in the middle. The higher and middle groups compared to the group with the lowest consumption had:

  • significantly fewer non-fatal heart attacks,
  • significantly fewer deaths from heart attack,
  • significantly fewer deaths from all causes.

In addition, the group with the highest consumption of Vitamin K2 had significantly less calcified plaque in the walls of their aortas.

Comparing the group of the highest intake of vitamin K2 to the group with the lowest intake, the highest intake group had 41% less risk of non-fatal heart attack, 57% lower risk of death from heart attack and 26% lower risk of  death from all causes after adjusting for multiple factors that are believed to play a role in heart attack risk.  (Those other factors included age, gender, total energy intake, BMI, smoking status, pack-years smoking, diabetes, education, alcohol consumption. consumption of saturated fat, poly unsaturated fat, flavonoids (anti-oxidants) and calcium.)

Vitamin K2  consumption showed these significant associations whereas Vitamin K1 did not. Vitamin K2 is found most abundantly in animal foods that contain  erroneously demonized saturated fat, Vitamin K1 is found in plants that do not contain much if any saturated fat. So this represents not only a strong statistical signal for the health benefit of Vitamin K2, but also supports the health benefit of consuming animal foods with saturated fat. The individuals who consumed more meat and more full fat fermented cheese (the two major sources of vitamin K2 in this study) had dramatically reduced risk of heart attack (both fatal and non-fatal), reduced risk of death from all causes, and less calcified plaque in the major artery of the body, the aorta. Vitamin K2 is a fat soluble vitamin which means it comes with the fat in these foods. Eating low fat foods misses this healthy opportunity.

Five years after the Rotterdam study was published, another study demonstrated similar findings. The title tells the story.

“A high menaquinone (vitamin K2) intake reduces the incidence of coronary heart disease.”

This study followed 16,057 women aged 49-70 years for 8 years. The study participants had no known heart disease at the start of the study. The results:

“After adjustment for traditional risk factors and (other) dietary factors, we observed an inverse association between vitamin K(2) and risk of CHD with a Hazard Ratio (HR) of 0.91 [95% CI 0.85-1.00] per 10 microg/d vitamin K(2) intake.”

Translation: for every increase in daily consumption of vitamin K2 by 10 micrograms per day, there was an average 9% reduction in risk of coronary disease events.

Let’s look at how much Vitamin K2 was consumed in the three groups described in the first study. Going from the lowest to the highest daily consumption the groups averaged 15.1, 26.9 and 40.9 micrograms per day. To put this in perspective, you can view a table of the Vitamin K2 content of various foods produced by Chris Masterjohn, a portion of which appears below. Before you do that, let me explain some facts about Vitamin K2.

Vitamin K2 actually represents a group of very similar vitamins that differ chemically only  in the number of specific chemical side chains. The  number of these side chains varies from 4 to 10, so these are referred to as MK-4 through MK-10. From Wikepedia:

All K vitamins are similar in structure: they share a “quinone” ring, but differ in the length and degree of saturation of the carbon tail and the number of “side chains”.[1] The number of side chains is indicated in the name of the particular menaquinone (e.g., MK-4 means that four molecular units – called isoprene units – are attached to the carbon tail) and this influences the transport to different target tissues.

MK-4 is made in the tissue of grass-eating mammals that convert Vitamin K1 (from the green plants) to Vitamin K2 (MK-4). This can be obtained from animal muscle, organ meats, or the milk and milk products of mammals, including human breast milk.

The other forms of Vitamin K-2 (side-chain length > 4) are made by bacteria during the fermentation of foods (such as cheese, sauerkraut, kim chee and Natto). Here is the table from Chris Masterjohn. Go here for the original table.

The percentage of vitamin K2 present as MK-4 represents that synthesized by animal tissues, while the remainder represents that synthesized by bacteria during fermentation.

FOOD VITAMIN K2 (MCG/100G)
Natto 1103.4 (0% MK-4)
Goose Liver Paste 369.0 (100% MK-4)
Hard Cheeses 76.3 (6% MK-4)
Soft Cheeses 56.5 (6.5% MK-4)
Egg Yolk (Netherlands) 32.1 (98% MK-4)
Goose Leg 31.0 (100% MK-4)
Curd Cheeses 24.8 (1.6% MK-4)
Egg Yolk (United States) 15.5 (100% MK-4)
Butter 15.0 (100% MK-4)
Chicken Liver 14.1 (100% MK-4)
Salami 9.0 (100% MK-4)
Chicken Breast 8.9 (100% MK-4)
Chicken Leg 8.5 (100% MK-4)
Ground Beef (Medium Fat) 8.1 (100% MK-4)
Bacon 5.6 (100% MK-4)
Calf Liver 5.0 (100% MK-4)
Sauerkraut 4.8 (8% MK-4)
Whole Milk 1.0 (100% MK-4)

Where did our paleolithic hunter-gatherer ancestors get their Vitamin K2? They did not consume dairy products. Vitamin K2 is heavily concentrated in the pancreas, brain and liver of humans and animals. Hunter-gatherers do not waste these valuable fatty organs, in fact offal was deemed the most treasured part of a successful hunt among many hunter-gatherer societies studied during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Not many Americans eat offal such as pancreas, brain and liver so similar to Holland (where these studies were conducted) most Vitamin K2 in the American diet probably comes from hard cheese and egg yolks.

But what is the weakness in drawing conclusions from these two studies?

First they were epidemiological studies, the data was obtained from FFQs (food frequency questionnaires). They were not randomized controlled clinical trials (RCTs). There have been no RCTs that have looked specifically at Vitamin K2 relative to coronary artery disease and deaths. Having said that, you should be aware that most nutrition studies that have been published (in particular those that  demonize saturated fat ) fall into the same category, they are epidemiological studies based upon food frequency questionnaires (FFQs) and such studies have been criticized with regards to reliability of data and for lack of controlling the multiple dietary and non-dietary factors that can influence health outcomes.(4)

Unlike the two studies discussed here that statistically adjusted for multiple known or argued risk factors, the epidemiologic studies that are alleged to suggest potential harm from saturated fat did not control or adjust for other statistical “con-founders”. In addition, the review papers that have so overwhelmed our society causing fat-phobia have ignored the large body of evidence that demonstrates the health benefits of consuming animal foods that contain fat soluble vitamins as well as many other vital nutrients. (4)

Regarding randomized controlled trials, there have been many convincing RCTs in rodents that demonstrate not only prevention of calcified plaques in arterial walls but actual reversal of atherosclerosis in rodents with high doses of vitamin K2. (5)  Furthermore, a certain breed of experimental rodent that completely lacks MGP suffers from early death caused by severe atherosclerosis further supporting the fundamental role of activated MGP in maintaining vascular health. (6)

1. Dietary Intake of Menaquinone Is Associated with a Reduced Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: The Rotterdam Study

2. A high menaquinone intake reduces … [Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2009] – PubMed – NCBI

3. Vitamin K status and vascular calcification: eviden… [Adv Nutr. 2012] – PubMed – NCBI

4. Dietary Fats and Health: Dietary Recommendations in the Context of Scientific Evidence

5. Regression of warfarin-induced medial elastocalcinosis… [Blood. 2007] – PubMed – NCBI

6. Two sides of MGP null arterial disease: chondrogenic lesions dependent on transglutaminase 2 and elastin fragmentation associated with induction of adipsin.