Monday, May 27, 2013

The One Thing That Will Lower Your Risk of Dying Prematurely

If you could do only one thing to lower your risk of dying prematurely, what would it be?  Exercise?  Lose weight?  Become vegetarian?  Or eat paleolithic?  Take a statin drug to lower cholesterol?  Quit smoking?  All of these have been espoused for longer life.

Of course all of these (well, maybe not taking a statin drug) will improve health and possibly prolong life.  However, the one thing that beat these hands down was having enough vitamin D in the body.

A new German study was published in the April 2013 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (ACJN).  (  The German scientists measured vitamin D levels in almost 10,000 people ages 50 to 74 years.  They were followed for an average of nine and a half years, recording all deaths, which ended up being about 10% of the study participants.  43.3% died from cancer, 35% from heart disease, and 5.5% from respiratory diseases.

People with the lowest vitamin D levels were more likely to die of all causes.  The lower the vitamin D, the higher the mortality rate.  Low vitamin D specifically increased death rate from cancer, heart disease and respiratory diseases.

Of course vitamin D deficiency is famous for causing rickets in children, and has been considered a third world disease.  There is a belief that rickets no longer exists in the US since vitamin D was added to infant formula and milk.  However, stories are showing that the rate of rickets in children is growing.

Vitamin D is made from cholesterol after being exposed to UV light from the sun.  Being in the sun has been so maligned that we cover our children and ourselves in suntan lotion (which, by the way, has never been proven to protect from skin cancer).  The sun is a life giver and a life saver.  When we have adequate vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in our body, the sun does not cause cancer.  We should be taking a high potency multivitamin-mineral supplement rather than use sun block.

Vitamin D is also in fish, beef, and eggs.  Beef and eggs went on the no-no list when doctors decided cholesterol was the bad guy.  So they stopped everyone from eating beef and eggs and gave them medicine to lower cholesterol.  Because we were already staying out of the sun, there is a huge epidemic of low levels of vitamin D.  The great majority of my patients who are not supplementing are low in vitamin D. 

(It has never been proven that low cholesterol prevents heart disease.  However, it has been proven that low cholesterol in the elderly increases overall death rate.  Besides being the pre-cursor to vitamin D, cholesterol is the molecule that makes all of the sex hormones, along with cortisol, the body's stress hormone, and aldosterone, which controls the body's fluid level and blood pressure.  Cholesterol is important for a healthy immune system.  Also, dietary cholesterol is NOT a strong contributor to body cholesterol levels.  The body increases cholesterol to deal with stress and illness. It needs it.  However, inflammation can cause cholesterol to attach to the walls of the arteries.  Inflammation is usually the culprit, generally not cholesterol.)

Other studies show that:
  • Low vitamin D is the leading cause of osteoporosis; not low calcium.
  • Low vitamin D increases the risk of pneumonia.
  • Vitamin D improves muscle function
  • Pregnant mothers taking at least 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 improved their rates of infection, premature labor and premature birth.  The newborns had higher levels of vitamin  D and lower rates of infection
  • Women who were in the sun at least 1 hour a day had a 40% lower rate of fibroid tumors. 
  • Vitamin D is important for gene expression that assists in DNA repair, immune response and response to stress.  The genes affected by vitamin D act on more than 160 pathways linked to cancer, cardiovascular disease, and autoimmune disorders.
  • Taking vitamin D and calcium while on a healthy weight loss diet increases loss of body fat.
So this summer, go out in the sun (start slowly and work your way up--it is still not safe to burn a lot), eat fish, beef and eggs, and supplement with vitamin D3. 

Because of the importance of vitamin D, SuperMulti Plus contains 2,000 IU of vitamin D3, more than almost any other multi, along with good levels of antioxidants to protect from sun damage.

Until we meet again,
Dr. Judi


Friday, May 3, 2013

The Liver Disease Affecting 1/3 of American Adults

Over the past ten years of my practice I have observed a rapidly increasing number of patients with elevated liver enzymes. On investigation, the majority of them suffer from nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.  Alcoholic fatty liver disease has been the major cause of cirrhosis of the liver until recently.  Now roughly one in three Americans suffers from the stealth condition known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD.

Most of those with fatty liver disease don't know they have it.  NAFLD may go undetected for years, and may progress to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), liver inflammation and scarring (cirrhosis) or full-blown liver failure.

Cause of NAFLD
NAFLD is linked to obesity, metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes and diabetes.  It is related to poor dietary choices, but genetic factors can also play a role in NAFLD’s progress.  High fructose corn syrup is implicated in the dramatic rise in NAFLD.  But the Standard American Diet (SAD) of high sugar, high flour (processed grains) and high fat diet is the biggest culprit.

Diagnosis of NAFLD
The early stages of NAFLD are without signs or symptoms.  As it progresses there may be no physical symptoms, or there may be a vague feeling of discomfort in the right upper part of the abdomen, which many people mistakenly cosider to be a gallbladder problem.  As the problem gets worse there may be elevated liver enzymes.  On this finding many doctors will do a liver ultrasound, but until it progresses the ultrasound may be normal.  The gold standard of diagnosis is a liver biopsy. 

If a person has elevated liver enzymes, does not drink a lot of alcohol or use a lot of tylenol, and has not had viral hepatitis, more likely than not they are suffering from NAFLD.

Treatment of NAFLD
Medical science has proven relatively helpless at preventing or treating NAFLD and NASH, leaving millions of Americans vulnerable to their effects. The only medication shown to help somewhat is the diabetic medication Metformin.

However, when a person goes on a healthy diet such as my Sugar Stabilization Program (which can be accessed in earlier blogs or downloading my free e-book on diabetes on, lose weight, exercise, and stay away from alcohol and tylenol, the level of fat in the liver can decrease.

I add for my patients Dr. Christopher's Liver-Gallbladder Formula (I use the Western Botanicals brand), 2 capsules twice a day until liver enzymes come down, then 2 capsules per day. I also add SpringTree Glucose Balance, 2 with each meal, to balance the insulin.  Insulin increases sugar conversion to fat.  I will recommend SpringTree SuperMulti Plus for the high levels of mixed tocopherols (Vitamin E) and antioxidants, and recommend 3-4,000 mg of high quality fish oil per day to lower triglycerides.  I may also recommend L-carnitine 500-1,000 mg for better fat utilization in the cells.

In every instance, if the patient is consistant with this regimen, the liver enzymes will decrease and go back into the normal range, which is proof of improvement.  This will guarantee that the problem will not progress to cirrhosis and death.

Prevention of NAFLD
Prevention is through diet:  reducing sugar, flour, high sugar drinks (including large amounts of fruit juice) and processed food intake, avoiding high fructose corn syrup, changing to healthy fats (olive oil, coconut oil, grape seed oil, walnut oil, etc.).

Exercise changes how much insulin is produced and how the body utilizes fat. 

A recent study has shown that Vitamin E prevents NASH in mice with a genetic propensity to NAFLD.  SpringTree SuperMulti Plus has 800 mg of mixed tocopherols.

If you find that you have metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes or diabetes, follow the Sugar Stabilization Program.

Ask your doctor to check your liver enzymes, your Hemoglobin A1C, and your triglyceride levels.  If any of them are elevated, you either have or are at risk of having NAFLD. 

Until we meet again,
Dr. Judi