What’s New In Medicine?

© 2014 Dr. Sharon Norling

To be a happy, successful person, health is a must.

As education is often the key to health, keeping abreast of advances in medicine is critical, if challenging — even for physicians. In the past, physicians were taught to “blame or name” a disease. Today, however, we’ve learned that there is no such thing as a single disease, but rather underlying causes of an illness that create diseases. If the underlying cause of a symptom is not identified and treated, disease or illness often occurs. This explains why people are often diagnosed with multiple diseases or symptoms as they get sicker and sicker over time. Following is an update on relevant information for your health.

Did You Know?

We have about 25,000 genes in our body. Interestingly, chimpanzees have 98 percent of the same genes. The difference between us and the animals is that our genes are expressed in networks and “clumps.”

The exciting news is that health is defined by how we express our genes. We used to think we were just born with our genes and that was our destiny. Today we know that our personal choices and environment either “up regulate” (activate) or “down regulate” (deactivate) gene expression in 75 percent of our genes.. We are in charge of gene expression, and therefore, our health! We are the lifeguards of our gene pool.

The food we eat, and how much of it, is just one of the choices we make that affects our DNA. Studies show that caloric restriction reduces DNA damage by enhancing DNA repair, as reported in the journal Nucleic Acids Research in 2007.

Genetic stability also requires doses above the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of folic acid and vitamin B12. So eating fewer calories, increasing our vitamin and mineral intake and living a healthy lifestyle directly impacts “good” and “bad” gene expression and decreases your risk of disease, including cancer. Genes are like light switches. We can turn them on and we can turn them off depending on the lifestyle we choose.

Inflammation

Inflammation is the underlying cause of all illnesses, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and autoimmune disease. A 2007 research study published in the American Journal of Nutrition showed that eating a high carbohydrate diet or standard American diet up regulated (activated) 62 genes that create inflammation. Switching to a Mediterranean-type diet consisting of “minimally processed, high-fiber, plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts along with fish oil, cinnamon, phytochemicals and exercise will markedly blunt blood sugar imbalance and inflammation,” according to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in 2008. Fish oils with 3,000 mg of EPA/DHA (essential fatty acids) and foods containing curcumin, green tea, N-acetyl cysteine and vitamin D3 can also lower inflammation.

Heart Disease

About 50 percent of all heart attacks occur in people who have normal cholesterol. This includes naturally normal cholesterol and normal cholesterol that has been lowered by statins. This is why it is crucial to be tested for C-reactive protein and homocysteine (both inflammatory markers), the enzyme Lp-PLA2 and lipoprotein(a) (Lp(a)).

If someone has an elevated Lp(a), which is an inherited trait, they are much more likely to develop more severe cardiovascular disease at a younger age. Lp(a) does not respond to diet, exercise or statins. It only decreases with niacin. How much niacin should you take? Check with your doctor, but in general 1,000 mg of non-flushing niacin will help lower the Lp(a) risk factor.

There are natural, effective, evidenced-based options to heart health which have been shown to be as effective as the pharmaceutical drugs. Did you know Lipitor represents sales of $20 billion per year for Pfizer? It is interesting to note that the CEO of Pfizer, Jeffery Kindler, was the president of MacDonald’s prior to taking this position.

“Individuals at high risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) who modify their diet toward a Mediterranean diet plan showed significant reduction in cellular lipid levels and LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol oxidation (inflammation),” as reported in 2007 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

What can you do?

  • Have yourself tested for C-reactive Protein, homocysteine, Lp-PLA2, Lp(a) and insulin.
  • Eat a healthy Mediterranean diet.

Supplements

Fish oil and other quality heart healthy supplements are an important addition to the Mediterranean diet. Work with your doctor to determine which supplements you need to take based on your individual health issues and specific test results.

When buying supplements, make sure they are high quality and GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) certified. Today 40 percent of all supplements purchased over the counter or on the Internet contain contaminants or do not contain what the label indicates.

A bottle of fish oil may state 1,000 to 2,000 mg. The important part is the EPA/DHA. EPA/DHA should be 1,000 to 3,000 mg. You can test for quality by putting your soft gel fish capsule in a small ziplock bag, opening it with a knife and smelling it. If it smells putrid or rancid, discard the bottle you have and buy a high quality fish oil.

Toxins

The more plastics we have in our bodies, the higher the risk for disease. “Higher BPA (Bisphenol A, a plastic) exposure may be associated with avoidable mortality. There is a strong relationship between Bisphenol A and the risk of CVD, type 2 diabetes, and liver enzymes abnormalities,” reported the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2008.

When our bodies contain toxins like plastics, the liver produces an enzyme called Gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT) in an effort to make glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that can neutralize toxins. GGT is associated with an increased risk of CVD, diabetes, high cholesterol, high C-reactive protein and toxins, and elevated GGT is also found in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

The tri-peptide glutathione acts as an immune system booster and a detoxifier. Often called “the master antioxidant,” glutathione is required by all other antioxidants — even vitamins C and E — to function properly. Also described as “food for the immune system,” glutathione is not well-absorbed orally. However it can be given in higher doses intravenously and will go directly to the cells via the blood system.

Avoiding toxins as much possible is the best way to keep healthy; don’t store food in plastic, don’t put plastic in the dishwasher and don’t heat food in plastic in the microwave. If you have an elevated GGT, exposures to toxins or a neurological disorder, you may benefit from intravenous infusion of glutathione. Supplementing with EPH/DHA, vitamin D3 and supplements can also help your body detoxify.

Live “Blue”

The healthiest people in the world, according to author Dan Buettner in his book, Blue Zone, live in Costa Rica, Japan, Okinawa, Sardinia, and Loma Linda, California.

The general principles associated with longevity in “Blue Zones” are:

  • 80 Percent Rule (stop eating when you are 80 percent full).
  • Plant Power (more veggies, less protein and avoid processed foods).
  • Red Wine (consistency and moderation) or use resveratrol.
  • Plan de Vida (know your purpose in life).
  • Beliefs (spiritual or religious participation).
  • Down shift (work less, slow down, rest, take a vacation).
  • Move (find ways to move mindlessly, make moving unavoidable).
  • Belong (create a healthy social network).
  • Your Tribe (make family a priority).

In general, to live a healthy life:

  • Follow the Blue Zone principles.
  • Find the underlying cause of your illness.
  • Test the levels of the nutrients in your body.
  • Use the best supplements and IV therapies.
  • Add love and laughter to your life.

Written By: Dr. Sharon Norling, MBA