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The Plague and Heavy Metals

Talking about the plague and heavy metals may seem like a kind of odd subject to talk about but bear with me, it will be worth it. Just this past weekend I was a speaker at the Weston A. Price Foundation’s (WAPF) annual international conference where I heard a talk from the controversial doctor, Andrew Wakefield. He was the guest of honor and he made a very impassioned speech but there was one comment he made where I had an “ah ha” moment.

As some of you might know, Dr. Wakefield is the British gastroenterologist who made the claim that autistic children had inflamed guts, more so than the average child, and that there seems to be a correlation with the MMR vaccine. He has been vilified by the media and his own professional organizations despite having solid evidence to back his position. His talk at WAPF was passionate and information. Then he made a comment about the plague and heavy metals in the Siberian steppe. This picked my interest despite him only briefly commenting on it.

So why would this three second snippet get my attention? Simple, what he said was that researchers found the plague bacterium, Yersinia pestis, in marmots on the Russian steppe but only those who foraged on heavy metal laced grasses died of the disease. All of these members of the rodent family had the bacterium but only those with higher levels of heavy metals died of the plague.

This got me to thinking, how many diseases are dormant in our bodies waiting for a trigger to turn them virulent? And I’m not just talking about viruses, bacterium like the plague or parasites like toxoplasma gondii, but chronic diseases like type II diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or cancer. We get a load of toxins building up, like heavy metals or petrochemicals and when a critical mass is reached, bang, a disease begins to ravage us. This phenomenon can explain a lot of sudden onset disorders which come out of the blue.

My take on this is to not only be on the constant outlook for toxic exposure but to make it a lifestyle choice to always look to detoxify yourself regularly. Whether you follow the protocols of Dr. Andrew Cutler for heavy metal detox or use glycine and other amino acids for petrochemical removal, just do it and do it all the time.

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Concussions – There is Hope

Tonight I watched a segment on 60 minutes that got me really pissed off. It was about our brave soldiers who have suffered concussions due to explosions in Iraq and Afghanistan and how it has damaged their brains. They went on about how great it was that someone had funded an institute to help test the men and women but in the end, there are no treatments for all the damage that was done. Bulls**t!!! There is lots that can and should be done.

When I worked with Robert Crayhon at Crayhon Research, we focused on nutrients that were beneficial to the brain. One of the amazing people I got to work with aside from Robert was Dr. Parris Kidd. He has shown in two books how a pair of nutrients, Glycerophosphcholine (GPC) and Phosphatidylcholine Serine (PS) have been helpful in brain issues. When you can help people post stroke to regain cognitive function, you might think that people might want to do some additional research on concussions. But, when your main thrust is to make money on patented drugs, nothing can be further from the truth.

GPC and PS along with ALCAR (acetyl-L-carnitine) have over 60 human studies on brain health. They are just the tip of the iceberg on using natural substances to help save the brain. Stroke victims, dementia patients and others have shown significant improvement when given these nutrients. I have seen the benefits first hand as I have suffered four major brain injuries in my life time (2 skull fractures and 2 concussions). The changes in cognitive function that I have seen have been dramatic and life changing.

We haven’t even talked about things like Longvida© which has been shown to help Alzheimer’s patients and Down’s Syndrome children improve. Concussions can be devastating but we have tools to help reverse the effects. Here is my protocol for helping those who’ve had a concussion:

  • 1200 milligrams of GPC daily
  • 200 milligrams of PS daily
  • 500 milligrams of ALCAR daily
  • 500 milligrams of Longvida©

Using this protocol, you can see incredible improvements in just 6 weeks time. I have no vested interest in any of these products but have seen them help people time after time. If you know of anyone struggling with mental issues, have them try this protocol for a few months and see the results.

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Brain Health – How to Improve Cognition

Brain health is one of the most important topics in health today due to our aging society. Not only do we want to stay healthy and vibrant as possible, we also want to stay as mentally sharp as possible. Today’s blog is focused on how to improve brain health for as long as you live.

Earlier today, I was on the weekly radio show I do each Monday (1-2 pm PST) on Sirius/XM radio with Frank Jordan (Healthy, Wealthy and Wise) when the question of brain health came up. Being in my mid-50’s, it is an issue I am quite interested in and have done a lot of research. I’ve done a number of lectures around the world on the subject, with my next ones being in Australia the next two weekends.

The first, and certainly most important thing to do is eat right and exercise. There are numerous studies showing that eating a well balanced diet and staying away from sugar laden foods and drinks is a way to keep your brain health at an optimal level. Exercise is another well documented way to keep your mind sharp. Just walking a few miles a day is enough to keep dementia at bay. But what if you want to reverse cognitive decline or better yet, keep your brain from going down hill? There are some simple, yet effective nutrients that are available from your health food store today.

The first nutrient I would recommend to improve brain health is GlyceroPhosphoCholine, or GPC for short. I was introduced to this powerful nutrient by Dr. Parris Kidd who I had the honor to work with in the past. In his book on GPC, he shares its many amazing uses for brain health. Study after human study has revealed how this nutrient found in the brain can help people slow down cognitive decline as well as invigorate your mind. From stroke victims to healthy young adults, GPC is a powerful nutrient that helps memory and mental sharpness. The important thing to remember is the dosage. Most supplements come in 300 milligram capsules but to get the documented results you need to take 1,200 milligrams per day, preferably in the morning.

Next up is acetyl-L-carnitine (also known as ALCAR) which has also had strong research into its ability to improve brain health. I was first turned on the this amazing amino acid like compound by the late clinical nutritionist Robert Crayhon. Numerous human studies have been done on this natural supplement that show how powerful it is in protecting brain health where it acts as a powerful antioxidant, protecting brain cells from deteriorating. My suggestion is to supplement with 500 milligrams to 1 gram daily for maximum benefits.

Other nutrients or supplements that can be brain invigorating include Phosphatidyl Serine (PS), vinpocetine, and of course, omega 3 fatty acids. With Omega 3’s, don’t forget what Dr. John Young talks about which is to take it with protein.  You can use his whey protein or something like Synerplex Amino Acids which I formulated. Whatever you try, eating well and exercising are crucial in keeping your brain health is at its optimal level.

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Urine Organic Acid Testing – #2

Urine organic acid testing is essential for developing the best possible body composition, increasing fat loss and achieving optimal health. The test is considered a functional test as it reflects the nutritional needs of the body instead of just measuring levels of nutrients and co-factors. This allows it to take genetic, environmental and stress factors into account.

In my book, Achieving Victory Over a Toxic World, I dedicated a chapter to the issue of weight loss and how environmental toxins can effect the energy cycle (Kreb’s or Citric Acid Cycle). Much of our energy expenditure during a normal day is spent by our resting metabolism. As I mentioned in the previous blog on the environmental pollutants test, a block on the Pyruvate/Lactate entry point caused by the toxins can cause carbohydrate metabolism to be shunted towards fat production. The urine organic acid test can pinpoint this issue and using the Lab Assist report, you can develop a nutritional program to break the log jam.

What make the urine organic acid test so valuable is how it can pinpoint disruptions throughout the Citric Acid Cycle, and what can make the energy production more efficient. What I pointed out in my book, is if toxic chemicals depress the cycle by as little as seven percent, you can eat well, exercise regularly but still gain anywhere from ten to thirty pounds a year.

Other issues that can be picked up by a urine organic acid test that have big impact on health include markers for dysbiosis, specific B-complex nutrient deficiencies, excessive ammonia build up (improper detoxification of high protein intake), and much more. It can also see if specific amino acids are inadequate functionally as opposed to a direct measurement as done in a plasma amino acid panel.

In my classes on laboratory testing and the art and science of biochemical individuality, I highlight this test as it is one of the most vital tools available to anyone interested in helping their clients achieve optimal health.

 

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Amino Acid Testing – #5

Today’s blog is the first in a five part series to uncover what I believe are the best tests to help increase fat loss, improve muscle production and achieve optimal health faster. I’m sure there will be disagreements and differing opinions, but I come at this from experience. Over the past 27 years, I’ve seen over 60,000 lab tests and feel that these tests really make a difference.

Today’s blog is an overview of what I feel is optimal to achieve maximum results. It would be impossible short of a 400-500 page book (it’s in the works) to give you all the information I’ve learned over the years. But, if you come to one of my classes (Sydney and Melbourne, Australia in February, Lake Tahoe at the end of April) I guarantee you will walk out with more immediately usable information than any class you will take.

#5 – Plasma Amino Acids

As many of you know, amino acids are the building blocks of hormones, muscle, collagen, neurotransmitters and so much more. They are every personal trainer’s best friend and are essential to good health. The problem lies in the quality of protein that most of us get in our diet and the co-factors that allow the amino acids we take in to be processed and metabolized properly.

Imbalances in amino acid composition are an issue I see all the time, regardless of the fitness of the individual. Over the years I dealt with world class athletes, weekend warriors, generally fit people and the full spectrum of the chronically ill and I have seen only a handful with truly balanced amino acid profiles. Having a properly balanced amino acid profile is not that hard to achieve but you have to know what it looks like to get maximum benefits.

People trying to get fit or maximize fat loss can gain a lot from a plasma amino acid profile. Here are some examples. In order to improve fat metabolism, you need adequate taurine. To build muscle you need the branch-chain amino acids (BCAA’s), leucine, isoleucine and valine. But there is a problem with branch-chains that I’ve seen over the years especially with highly fit individuals. Many of them have elevated BCAA’s which indicates a lack of proper metabolism.

Without giving away the farm information wise (you’ll have to come to my classes for that) here one issue with high levels of the BCAA’s is that they may cause a blockade at the site of the blood brain barrier and can interfere with the ability of tryptophan to enter into the brain which can cause a problem with serotonin metabolism and other tryptophan related pathways. In my classes, I review case studies with high BCAA’s in plasma and how to get them to metabolize properly. I also make the case why I recommend plasma or bloodspot testing over urinary amino acids.

Other amino acids that can make a huge difference in fat loss and improved health include glycine (a potent detoxifier), arginine (helps improve circulation) and lysine and methionine (helps to create carnitine which is essential in fat metabolism). Deficiencies in any of these can hinder your bodies ability to metabolize fat properly. Excesses can point out nutrient deficiencies in a biochemically individualized manner.

This is just a scratching of the surface of everything you can get out of an amino acid panel. The amount of information available is enormous. Because no one can hope to remember every nuance, I developed the Lab Assist™ Report which provides all the information possible to interpret the results in an easy to understand and easy to use format.

Tomorrow lab test #4.

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Depression – A Serious Worldwide Issue

Depression is a silent epidemic striking millions of people worldwide. I know about this issue personally as I suffered from depression when I was in my twenties. It wasn’t until I met my mentor John Kitkoski that I found out why I was suffering from depression and what I needed to do to get over it.

What compounded my problem was my exercise induced anorexia which I have blogged about earlier. That and the nutrition worlds mindset that fat and protein were bad and complex carbohydrates were good. The days of carbohydrate loading was a disaster for many of us. What we know today is that our old concepts were way off track and was the fore bearer of an age of obesity, chronic disease and yes, depression.

The reason I decided to blog about the topic of depression should be obvious after the horrific mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. People all over the world were shocked and likely depressed because of the tragedy. Many will need counseling and many more will need much more help than you can imagine. That is why I want to talk about this and give some simple advice. Understand that my blog cannot answer all the issues surrounding depression, just a few basic tips. Also, depression is a major problem during the holidays especially if we are away from our loved ones.

First off, potassium is a critical electrolyte/mineral that needs constant replenishing to keep the nervous system and brain healthy. It is something that can be easily measured in a blood test, typically found in a standard chemistry screen. The typical reference range is 3.5 to 5.5 mEq/L but I get concerned with any reading below 4.0. Raising potassium levels with foods like avocados and bananas as well as potassium rich electrolytes are very helpful. But there is a caveat and that is you can overdose potassium and cause a heart arrhythmia if you don’t balance it with enough sodium and magnesium.

The second tip to remember is the use of amino acids and fatty acids in depression. When I was a runner back in the 1970’s and 80’s, protein and fat were bad and complex carbohydrates like whole wheat were good. The problem is, amino acids and fats are critical to keeping mood up and balanced. Amino acids have been used by functional doctors for years in treating depression. Tryptophan which is a precursor to serotonin and tyrosine which is precursor to norepinephrine are key amino acids but not the only ones. A balance is necessary to achieve success.

As for fats, the brain is built with fats and keeping them out of your diet is a sure way to cause mental issues. Cholesterol, a fat that circulates within all of us has long been vilified as being somehow bad for you. Wrong. According to an editorial in Circulation magazine in September of 1999 that low cholesterol, under 160 (4.1 in countries other than the U.S)  increases the risk of depression, suicide, accidents and some forms of cancer. Now, I’m not advocating loading up on lard (which really isn’t bad for you), but getting a good amount of Omega 3, 6, 9 fatty acids from fish and meats is a good idea for optimal brain health.

Another tip concerning fats is how helpful Omega 3 fatty acids are in treating depression. I typically recommend 3-5 grams per day with 250 milligrams of l-carnitine for each gram of fish or flax oil.

Above all, in order to have the best outcome for people with depression is to maximize their nutritional intake by eating the cleanest foods (organic when possible) and to take supplements to fill in deficiencies and not to overcome bad habits.

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Laboratory Testing – How Important?

If you listen to some experts, they would tell you that we do too much laboratory testing in Western medicine. To those of you who know me, you might be surprised by my answer as I fully agree. Of course that agreement comes with a caveat. The real reason is that quite often we do the wrong laboratory test and most health care practitioners don’t know how to interpret the results when they get them.

In my classes, one of which I will be doing in Sydney, Australia (February 8-10, 2013), I go over numerous case studies with laboratory test results of people ranging from elite professional athletes, weekend warriors, to people with extreme health disorders to people just wanting to feel better. What I try to bring out is what particular laboratory tests are best suited to different situations as well as how to use one of the most advanced interpretive reports available, Lab Assist.

Here is an example of a case study. A trainer came to me with a high-performance professional athlete in his early 30’s who is losing his edge. The man is having real concentration issues and sustained energy problems. His doctor had run GI tests (don’t know why) and a number of other random laboratory tests with no solution. My suggestion was to run a urinary organic acid test and a plasma amino acid test as well. The results we got back along with the biochemical fix was not surprising to me but was to the trainer.

Urine organic acid testing when done with the right lab, is one of the best functional lab tests out there. It looks at numerous metabolic pathways to determine if there are specific nutrient deficiencies that are making the system inefficient. Recent research has noted that measuring B12 levels in the blood can be misleading and miss functional B12 deficiencies. A metabolite in urine known as methylmalonate is vastly superior and can catch the deficiency before it manifests in a clinical presentation.

Another important area that urine organic acids can see is if the citric acid cycle, the primary way our bodies produce energy, is operating efficiently. With the athlete mentioned previously, his system was a mess. We were able to pinpoint what was wrong and what to do about it nutritionally. When we looked at the results of the amino acid test, we found some important deficiencies but surprisingly, he was high in the branch chain amino acids, leucine, isoleucine and valine that he had been supplementing with regularly. The problem was his lack of some essential nutrients to metabolize them properly to help build muscle.

This is just one example of many that I will be presenting. In my next blog about my class in Australia (and the next one in the U.S.) I will go over some other topics I’ll be covering like cognitive function, environmental toxicity, and mineral balancing.

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Amino Acids – We Need A Balance of Them

Amino acids are the building blocks of life. It is what also makes up proteins. Many plants that we eat contain amino acids but our main sources of complete proteins (containing all the essential amino acids) come from meat and fish along with eggs and some dairy. Each food has a different amino acid make up. Because of this, we need to eat a wide variety of foods so we can get a balance of the essential amino acids we need to maintain good health. Why this is so will become apparent as you read on.

Science has shown us that there are nine essential amino acids that we cannot make so we must get them from our diets. They are – Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan and Valine. Children though have a few more essential amino acids as their systems don’t make them efficiently yet. These are – Arginine, Cysteine, Taurine and Tyrosine. Having enough of each of these amino acids makes it possible to build other amino acids and more complex proteins like collagen.

Collagen is abundant in bones giving it flexibility. It is also found in skin, muscle, tendons, eyes, blood vessels, the gut and between your disks in your spine. All your hormones and neurotransmitters require proteins. For proper thyroid function you need tyrosine, your brain needs glutamic acid and GABA in proper balance, and the list goes on and on. Of course, your DNA and RNA, the genetic instructions that allow for life are made of specific amino acids. As you can see, you need amino acids to survive.

One of the most disturbing aspects of today’s Western diets is how few foods we tend to eat. The typical American for instance only eats about 8 to 10 foods. What does this have to do with amino acids? Plenty! The old adage that we are what we eat should be apparent here. If we eat just a few different foods we will be getting a narrow band of amino acids. Some will be more than we need and some we won’t get enough of. If we continue this way year in and year out, we won’t be able to make some hormones or neurotransmitters or we’ll make less of them than we need to stay healthy.

To top things off, the foods we eat today, are different than what we’ve been eating for millennium. Cattle, chickens and pigs eat grains that they never ate before and that changes their amino acid make up. Grass fed beef for instance has a very different amino acid makeup than what you would find in grain feed beef. I believe that many of the health issues we face today are because of the changes in the amino acid makeup of our foods.

So how do we reverse this trend? Supplementation with a balanced amino acid blend. There are a few ways to go. One would be a cold processed whey protein shake like the one Dr. John Young has. Or you can try the amino acid complex I developed called Synerplex. Synerplex uses a collagen based blend derived from chicken bone marrow. But neither can overcome a bad and narrow diet. You need to eat more naturally fed or organically grown foods to stay healthy.

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