Dr Bea's Newsletter
Longevity and Insulin
My persistent challenge
I won't lie to you: I would like to have my cholesterol levels at 225 or under just to satisfy the medical hysterics, but since I am unwilling to take muscle-wasting-liver-destroying-chronically-fatiguing-"suicide-promoting" (Pharmacopsychiatry, 2002) statin drugs, I have been left to muddle and stew in my own research efforts.
Finally, Some Progress!
Elevated cholesterol levels may not have anything to do with fat at all. It just may have to do with insulin levels. It should have occurred to me that maybe there was something other than the cholesterol/fat/Zocor connection that is important in the cholesterol conundrum. Especially when I recently realized that you can lower high insulin levels - and elevated cholesterol levels right along with it - by diet alone (along with a few selected supplements). Let's see now, Zocor, Big Pharma, Billions of Big Bucks, the ever-decreasing acceptable range of cholesterol levels. Hmm. They want to sell us drugs! Why didn't I think of this before? I usually have a very healthy skepticism regarding the motives of the pharmaceutical industry so I'm surprised theyhorns waggledd me for so long.
See - and here's the bottom line - you can't make billions and billions of bucks by curing something with diet and/or supplements. Unfortunately, this treatment of cholesterol levels by very expensive and patented drugs is sadly related to and reminiscent of Dr. Kilmer McCully's research on the connection between high homocystein levels and heart disease. This information was suppressed for 30 years because Big Pharma could not make billions and billions of bucks by devising a drug to lower homocystein levels because a simple B vitamin will do this.
What the…? Insulin and Cholesterol Levels?
Don't you find it a wee bit strange that even with all the body's efforts at being overly generous and giving us more than we need so we can self-destroy a good part of ourselves with impunity and still live, that we only have one hormone - insulin- whose primary role is to regulate and lower excess blood sugar? So, why only one lousy hormone to lower sugar levels? Is this the Big Mistake?
Our Hunter-Gatherer History
Our bodies as Hunter-Gatherers were also designed for maximum exercise and the stress that is induced by maximum exercise; ie. running from the saber tooth tiger, keeping ourselves warm in winter and cool in summer, running for miles after herds of gazelles for food, spearing the impossible fish and travelling nomadically from terrain to terrain lugging entire households on our backs. This all entailed the raising of blood sugar to meet the requirements of fight-flight and stress. Thus, again the reason the five hormones given us to raise blood sugar and only one to lower. Why would we ever need to lower blood sugar?
We are a blink away on the evolutionary timeline from our Hunter-Gatherer ancestors, yet we are a galaxy away in terms of behavior. The way we are living now - little exercise, lots of sugar and refined carbohydrates, eternal day in the form of the electric light bulb and constant feasting - has skewed our sugar and made us a nation of obese, heart diseased, diabetic people. Evolutionarily, we inherited from our Hunter-Gatherer ancestors what is called a "thrifty gene." This is the tendency to store fat for times of famine.
Yet there is no famine. We are in a forever feasting state and therein lies the problem.
The Crux of the Matter
Medical doctors don't usually test for fasting insulin unless you beg for it because they don't think it means anything. When I asked my nice Kaiser internist to order this test she did so quite agreeably but when we discussed my results, she said that the numbers were "insignificant" and that "our endocrinologists don't even order fasting insulin, so we really don't know what this means." Fasting insulin levels are supposed to be anywhere from 0-20mg/dl. Mine were 93.4 mg/dl. I think it's pretty significant.
I suffer from hyperinsulinemia and probably have for years, but because I apparently have an unusually strong and resilient pancreas, I have not lapsed into a more serious Type II diabetic profile. (My blood glucose, which M.D.'s everywhere test routinely, is a bit higher than I want, but within normal limits.)
You don't have to be overweight to have an insulin problem either. Since I am 5'3" and weigh 116 lbs, we'll probably agree that I am not obese. So, with my particular metabolism, and possibly yours as well if you are normo-weight and high cholesterol, instead of the insulin squirreling away excess glucose (as glycogen) into our fatty tissues for winter famine, insulin carries our excess glycogen first into our livers and muscles and then when there is no room left in these primary storage sites, changes the glycogen into saturated fats and stores it in our blood cholesterol, thereby elevating our cholesterol levels. I would not have known this (nor will you) had I not tested my fasting insulin levels.
Now I am certain that I am not suffering from a Zocor deficiency. How many of you have an insulin problem, not a Zocor deficiency? I discovered that i just need better sugar management. Maybe you do too. "The way to control blood lipids is to control insulin." (Ron Rosedale, M.D.) It's rare to have a fairly thin person with highly elevated insulin levels so I probably have an inborn genetic error in my metabolism which makes me exquisitely sensitive to sugar and carbohydrates. And there's a good chance that you do too. You can see now how patently absurd are the suggestions by the medical profession to go on a high complex carbohydrate, low saturated fat diet to lower cholesterol levels. These diets are nothing but a high sugar diet and your body is going to store it as saturated fat and you will, in fact, raise your cholesterol levels.
Furthermore, in almost all cases, if you treat just the symptom - in this case high cholesterol - you are going to aggravate the underlying disease process which is hyperinsulinemia. Remember that a symptom is always there simply as a warning. This is your body's elegant, wise and determined effort to heal itself.
If you take a statin drug, like Zocor, for high cholesterol levels and your problem is insulin, you will dig yourself into a deeper hold. What happens is that because Zocor has lowered your cholesterol levels, your insulin suddenly has fewer cholesterol molecules with which to ferry the excess glucose which will now be dumped into your bloodstream. Consequently, you will be registering a higher and higher blood glucose on your lab reports and you will become diabetic faster. The result of which will be that you will be advised to take a glucose lowering drug in addition to the statin which you didn't need in the first place.
It's a Wrap
Most importantly, stop all sugar now. Secondly, ask your M.D. or me to order your fasting insulin levels.
Woody Allen's character in the 1970's movie Sleeper, learns after awakening from a 100 year sleep that "deep fat...hot fudge...steak...coffee...[cigarettes]...red meat" are all "life preserving" and "have kept mankind alive." I yukked it up royally when I saw the movie years ago because it was so patently absurd in light of the 70's burgeoning low-fat vegetarian epidemic, but now it's not even remotely funny to me. It's actually remarkably prescient.
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Cold and Flu Rescue
You know that something is wrong. Maybe you have the beginnings of a scratchy throat, you've been really tired for the past few days for now reason, your eyes are tired. You know you are coming down with something. What do you do?
First of all, call me ASAP for an appointment. Together, we can figure out what kind of critter you have and through muscle testing decide what kind of supplements you should take either to avoid getting sick or at the very least to short on the length and severity of your cold/flu.
What if you can't get hold of me? What if you are away on a trip somewhere? Here are some basic cold defense products to have on hand at home at all times. Travel with them. You can get most of these products form me.
1) Gan Mao Ling: This is great for the very first line of defense. It's a powerful little pill from China. Don't get the kind at Whole Foods. Get the kind I have from the Asian Market. Start with 5 pills every 2 hours or so, until you think you have averted the problem. Gan Mao Ling is only good at the very beginning - if you think you are getting something. If you already have a full fledged cold/flu, stop taking the Gan Mao Ling.
2) Zinc Lozenges: Start by sucking (not chewing) on 1/4 lozenge every 30 minutes. If you get nauseated, stop immediately as this could be a sign of zinc toxicity.
3) 3% Hydrogen Peroxide: Start this immediately. Put three or four drops of H202 in each ear - one at a time. There will be some tickling bubbling and in the rare case, some mild stinging. Lie down with the treated ear up and wait until the bubbling subsides (5-10 minutes). Do the other ear. Repeat every four hours. Don't get H202 in your eyes. This is safe for kids, but they might be afraid of the loud bubbling.
4) Phytogen, Istatis and Coptis: This will take care of both viruses and bacteria. Start with two of each every 2 hours for the first day, then cut back. Coptis is a foul tasting tincture but works like a dream. Start with 2 droppersfull every 2 hours in a bit of juice or water, then cut back. By then you may have seen me and we can adjust your dose. Don't worry - you can't O.D. on these supplements, and at first, you will need very large doses to jump start your healing.
5) Buffered C Powder: Start by taking about 1/2 tsp every hour in water or diluted juice until you reach bowel tolerance. If you are getting sick, this may be many grams of vitamin C, so be forewarned.
6) Essential Oils: The most important oil now is thieves. Use liberally on your throat, chest, lymph nodes and feet. (Kids: Use liberally on feet.) Also get Purification and R.C. and use the same way, although R.C. is esp. good for chest colds and asthma. Essential oils are not just a pretty face - they are very powerful healing agents.
Other things to do: Don't go to work. Sleep as much as you can. Devote your days to getting well. Eat lightly if at all. (If your dog feels bad, she will refuse food) but drink lots of fluids. As soon as you can, make yourself the following concoction: Recipe: Pour one gallon of filtered water into your big stock pot into which you will put a 5" piece of ginger washed and chopped, 4 organic lemons, skin on and quartered, a whole head of garlic, cloves separated and smashed with your big knife a bit, then cayenne and honey to taste. Simmer for about 1/2 hour, strain and sip the whole gallon throughout the day, hot or cold.
Just say no to drugs. Never reduce a fever of under 102 degrees with drugs. The fever is there for a reason. Fevers are never dangerous as long as you keep hydrated. Most colds and flus are caused by viruses, so antibiotics would never work anyway.
Make sure your bowels are moving well; this will get rid of accumulated waste and toxins. If you are constipated you will retain the toxins longer and be sick longer. Start by using 1 t. of Herbal Bulk (or psyllium) in diluted juice 4 times a day. Eat prunes or take a laxative. A couple of plain or coffee enemas would be very good now.
The Hot Tea/Hot Bath Combo: First of all, make the following tea (or use the one above); A tablespoon each of elder flower, peppermint and yarrow in a quart of water. Or you can just buy a packaged detox or cold/flu tea and use several tea bags to one quart of water. Bring to a boil, turn off the heat, then steep for about 1/2 an hour. Put your strained steeped hot tea in a thermos and drink it while you are in the hot tub. Put at least 1 cup each of baking soda and Epsom Salts in the bath water along with a few drops of Thieves. Lie there and seat for as long as you can. Carefully get out of the tub (you may be dizzy), wrap yourself up in your coziest robe, lie down and keep sweating. This will create an artificial fever and will help your white blood cells zap the bag guys. (If you have a fever forget the hot tub process.)
Prevention: The most important thing: Wash your hands! Keep washing them! This is how bacteria and viruses are transmitted. Shaking hands with an infected person will be more dangerous for you than kissing them. Anti-bacterial soaps are not effective. Don't use them. Stop eating all sugar, esp. around the holidays when everyone is getting sick. Sugar has been proven to kill your white blood cells for up to 4 hours. What will you fight incoming bugs with if you have no immune system? Start upping your raw garlic intake as garlic is an antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal agent. Add more plain yogurt to your diet or take an acidophilus/ bifidus supplement. Eat right and on the alkaline side. Ask me for my sheet that explain acid/alkaline balance. There are also many immune enhancing supplements which you could take. You could ask me about them.
Flu Shots: I avoid them. Flu shots are made from toxic chemicals and virus strains grown on living tissue. Flu shots contain antifreeze, carbolic acid, formaldehyde, aluminum, mercury and neomycin or steptomycin. Flu shots are thought to promote alzheimers disease, cancer, chronic fatigue and very bad cases of the flu. If you still want a flu shot, ask your M.D. to provide you with the insert that reveals the composition of this year's flu vaccination (which is a crapshoot determined by the CDC anyway) and read that. The it's up to you.
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Bleagh. I hate this aspect of growing older. Those of us of an indeterminate age are now tallying up the chits from our years of worshipping the Sun God Ra at country club pools and Mexican beaches. Or in high school; gossiping and laughing with best-friends, lying in the noon-day sun on lounge chairs around backyard pools, our skins glistening with Johnson's baby oil and iodine. Maybe we even blistered a few times. So what. We thought we were gorgeous, looked healthy and had dates for the prom. Those of us lucky enough not to come down with a deadly case of melanoma are now seeing the payback from those carefree days in the sun when we thought nothing could touch us, when we couldn't even comprehend that one day we would look like our mothers or god forbid our grandmothers: For some of us, that time is now.
Instead of contemplating a very expensive and possibly dangerous face lift and risking the chance of looking like a Peggy Lee Halloween mask, I researched skin care for aging folks. I actually found quite a bit, from diet advice to product advice and here it is.
First of all, pray for good genes. How did your parents look as they aged? This counts for a lot. Someone asked Dick Clark, the preternaturally youthful 75 year old how he managed to look so young and he replied, "I chose my parents well." However, I tend to agree with other more natural docs who believe that "it's the little things you do on a daily basis that makes you healthy or makes you sick. Wrinkling and aging are signs of nutritional deficiencies both internal and external caused by our environment and our lifestyle." (Dr .Craig Reese, Spring 2002 Newsletter)
As a great primer and good starting point for you, I suggest you read Dr Nicholas Perricone's book, The Wrinkle Cure. It's full of great information and of course, he wants you to buy his products. Duh. Dr Perricone recommends what to eat and what supplements to take to help get rid of wrinkles. In short, eat lots of salmon, drink lots of water, take additional EFA's (1-2 T flaxseed oil per day and an additional 1 t cod liver oil) and supplements like Alpha Lipoic Acid, Fat Soluble Vitamin C and DMAE which are great for getting your collagen status back to a more elastic state. His lifestyle suggestions are no brainers: Don't smoke, don't drink to excess or do any other kind of drugs.
I have experimented with the Perricone products wince February 1st and have noticed a huge difference in my skin. It's softer, smoother and more youthful looking and instead of seeing Frau Blucher and hearing the horses whinny when I look at myself in the mirror, I see more of who I want to see. I use Amine Complex Face Lift with Vitamin C Ester and NTP complex in the morning and Evening Facial Emollient containing Alpha Lipoic Acid, Retinol and NTP complex at night. Each 4 oz. bottle is $85 and lasts me about 4 months.
I also purchased the Lip Plumper, the Eye area Therapy and the Hand and Body Lotion, all for too much money and it wasn't worth it. You really just need the two creams - one for morning and one for night. You can buy the products at Nordstroms. (I have a bead on a pharmacist who is trying to make the Perricone products for cheaper and better. I am using her first batch and so far so good although her first efforts at the DMAE Face Firming Serum smelled like old cat food.)
Perricone suggests that you also use your moisturizer of choice after using his morning and night creams as they are not really moisturizers, but more reparative creams. For the extreme dryness of our high desert Colorado, I have found that Burts Bee's Moisturizing Night Creme works very well for me and costs about $9 for a 1 oz. jar. For some reason, they don't carry it at Whole Foods, so I send away for it from Burt's Bees.
Here are some suggestions: Use a sunscreen and make sure it addresses both UVB and UVA radiation. Get in the habit of applying it before your make-up in the morning. And don't sit out in the sun except for a twice weekly 15 minute browning per side - as naked as your modesty and circumstances allow - to increase your vitamin D stores. If you are over 50, I recommend as many facials as you can afford - at the very least 3 per year. Dietary advice is simple: Avoid sugar like the poison that it is, eat lots of fish, organic fruits and vegetables and drink your two liters of non-tap water daily and take extra essential fatty acids in the form of flax or pure fish oil capsules. Exersize to the point of sweating. You will wash away surface impurities and increase the circulation to your skin. If you are lucky enough to have access to a sauna, use it daily.
Aside: Apparently, the innocence of the 70's Tupperware party has been replaced by the more sinister 21st century Botox party: See, you get this pot luck thing going with all your girlfriends, buy some decent twist top wine and then you rent your friendly medical entrepreneur to "entertain" by shooting everyone up with botulism toxin injections. You'll want to bring lots of cash because botox is expensive. Wow. This is heaps more fun than buying containers to store leftover tuna casserole.
However, since the face has 44 muscles to possibly injure, I would hate to see just anyone with an offshore medical license waving that venomous syringe at me. On the other hand, the side-effects of botox shots don't seem to be too severe: Numbness or tingling at the injection sites(s), minor swelling and/or bruising, allergic reactions, temporary headache, dropping eyebrow or eyelid which may last 2 or 3 weeks. For this last one (if you find that you can still move your mouth) just practice saying, 'No, I didn't have a stroke, I'm just fine." And, of course, then there is the possibility that you will flatten if not completely extinguish the entire you-ness residing in your facial expressions. For this potential problem, why not forego the botox shots and just buy your Halloween mask of choice? Collagen shots? They give me the creeps. The thought of a needle piercing my very tender lips in many places... uh uh, girl. So I guess that leaves me with "aging gracefully." Sigh.
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A Few New Products Worth Mentioning
"Living Fuel™": I spend thousands of dollars every year experimenting with new companies and new products and I would say that more than 80% of the products and companies don't do the job for me and ultimately for you. Either the product is impure, it doesn't muscle test well, it's too expensive or does not perform the way it purports to do.
"Living Fuel™" is a winner and I am very excited about it. It's a brand new product made by a nutrition scientist who wanted to ut together a high-quality, completely nutritious meal replacement drink, hang the cost. I have tried many supposed meal replacement products and have found that I am ravenous two hours later. This is the first one that has sustained me for hours without even thinking about food, and that's amazing. I will start carrying it in my office soon, but be prepared to cough up about $80 for a huge can of either 14 total meal replacements or many more servings if you use just as a supplement. You can also buy it yourself for about the same cost by contacting livingfuel.com. Downside: The expense of course, and the taste takes some getting use to, but it's certainly doable. With berries in a smoothie, you won't notice it.
Xylitol (aka birch sugar): From what I have read, the only downside to this white, granulated table sugar wannabe is a slight laxative effect in the unadapted individual. I have been using this product for over a month now and have only once found a laxative effect and that was when I used 2 T in one fell swoop as an experiment. (What I won't do for you...) Xylitol, because of its very low glycemic index (10) does not cause blood sugar or insulin imbalances or yeast overgrowth; it inhibits tooth decay, reduces ear infections in children, relieves dry mouth by increasing saliva production, improves breath odor and may help maintain bone health in age-related loss of bone. (Gerontology, 2001; 47;300-305) It is effective against H. pylori. Downside: The laxative effect I mentioned and it's cost and availability. It's much more expensive than other less healthy sweeteners but you could special order it from Whole Foods or buy it from me.
Stevia: The utterly "free" sweetener. No glycemic index, no wild sugar swings. However, most Stevia products on the market taste awful and leave a terrible aftertaste. The only one I have found that I like is Stevia Plus. It's not cheap either - about $10 for 4 ounces, but it's a very intense sweetener, so you will be using just a smidgin at a time. A patient tells me that there is an alcohol-free stevia called Stevia Clear. She claims to like it more than Stevia Plus just because it's a liquid and seems to dissolve better than the powdered Stevia Plus into teas, yogurts etc. She also said that, like Stevia Plus, Stevia Clear has no grody aftertaste and is good for anything cold or room temperature (Any stevia product will leave a terrible after taste when used in hot liquids like coffee or tea. For hot stuff and cooking, I use xylitol.) The Stevia Clear is about $12 a container and lasts (her) about 2 months. Downside: The expense, the taste and its limited usage. Ask me how to use it.
Last May, I went to a spa in Tuscon where they served a delicious punch using stevia. I have pretty much recreated it here for you:
Delicious Punch Recipe: A 2 quart glass container
Allow 3 of the Tazo Passion tea bags to sit overnight in your 2 qt. container in 1 qt. of water. Remove tea bags and add the following to the Passion tea: Juice from the lemons, 1/2 c. of th Knudson's Just Cranberry and Stevia to taste. (I usually add about 2 t. of the Stevia Plus to a 2 qt. container, and since the powder is kind of clumpy, I use my whisk to whisk it into the lemon juice and just pour both the lemon juice and the stevia into the tea at once.) Finally, just fill up your 2 qt. container to the top with filtered water and chill. This punch is very cleansing and your liver and kidneys will love you for drinking it.
Immune-26: This is brand new to me and I will mention it in passing only because I have no really done a lot of experimenting with it, so caveat emptor until further notice. This is how it is made: Healthy chickens are repeatedly inoculated with mostly bacterial pathogens (like E. coli, salmonella, Strep pyrogens, etc.) then are made into an egg powder products. It sounds to me like it may be like a natural flu shot or a natural vaccination of sorts. The product has 50 K worth of scientific research over a 20 year period with over 130 issued U.S. patents. Word-of-mouth ("amazing results") is quite promising and I will experiment on myself during the flu season. You can read about it if you want at www.hyperimmuneegg.org or call the national marketing director, Christopher Jenson at 707-568-7575. Downside: It's a multi-level marketing company, it doesn't taste very good and I haven't tried for any length of time.
Policosonal: According to at least 59 peer reviewed studies, policosonal, which is purified from sugar cane, lowers cholesterol levels "equal or better than simvastatin, prevastatin, lovastatin, probucol and acipimox" but without the side effects. It also "reduces LDL oxidation, platelet aggregation, endothelial cell damage, smooth muscle proliferation, signs of cardiovascular disease, symptoms of coronary artery disease and reduces symptoms of intermittent claudication." (Alt Med Rev, June 2002) Policosonal is also effective in lowering blood sugars in Type 2 diabetes. This is a dynamite supplement that has a lot of respectable research behind it. It won't break your bank either. I am taking 20 mgs per day in one dose before bed. The policosonal I carry also contains guggalipid, which is an old Ayurvedic cholesterol lowering nutrient. Downside: Nothing that I can see.
Morning Flax Drink Recipe: Grind 3 heaping T. of golden flax seeds. Put in your blender with 1 c. of milk and 4 ice cubes. Blend for one minute. Drink. It's delicious, filling and very good for you.
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