Dear Friends and Patients:
In the September 2011 issue I began a series of the “Top 5 Foods to Avoid” and discussed healthy and unhealthy fats (including butter, corn, soy, coconut and canola oils) and cholesterol. In the December 2011 issue we discussed issues with unfermented soy products and also risk factors associated with eating a high meat diet, especially barbequed and processed meats. In this issue of our Newsletter I will be discussing concerns with consuming excess peanuts or peanut butter, and also why you should avoid drinking sodas and diet sodas.
The average American drinks more than 50 gallons of carbonated soft drinks each year, and soda consumption in the USA is more than any other country. Since the late 1970`s the soft drink consumption in the United States has doubled for females and tripled for males. The highest consumption is in the males between the ages of 12 – 29; they average 1/2 gallon a day or 160 gallons a year. Soft drinks are the single greatest source of caffeine in children’s diets; a 12-ounce can of cola contains about 45 mg but the amounts in more potent soft drinks can exceed 100 mg – a level approaching that found in coffee. The relationship between soft drink consumption and body weight is so strong that researchers calculate that for each additional soft drink consumed, the risk of obesity increases 1.6 times.
Peanut butter was first introduced to the USA in 1904 at the Universal Exposition in St. Louis. It takes about 540 peanuts to make a 12 ounce jar of peanut butter and any product labeled “peanut butter” in the United States must be at least 90% peanuts. The average American consumes more than 6 pounds of peanuts and peanut butter products each year according to the National Peanut Board, or over 1.5 billion pounds for the country per year. The average child eats 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before he or she graduates from high school.
The most serious health risk from sodas is not often talked about. There may be an increased risk of developing cancer. Sodium benzoate is a chemical additive which has been used for years by the carbonated drinks industry to prevent mold from developing in soft drinks. It is also commonly used in many foods as a preservative. Sodium benzoate is a derivative of benzoic acid. When mixed with acids or even Vitamin C, it turns into a carcinogenic substance called benzene. Benzene has been shown to cause liver and bladder cancers in humans, and has been associated with degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s. In some diet sodas saccharin is used as a sweetener. It is a petroleum derivative that in animal studies has been associated with cancer development. Another non-caloric sweetener is aspartame (NutraSweet). This controversial artificial sweetener was approved in 1974 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as safe in the doses used in the food industry. Aspartame breaks down into phenylalanine, aspartic acid, and methanol (wood alcohol). Phenylalanine can be harmful in patients who have a rare genetic disease called Phenylketonuria (PKU). Methanol is converted in the body into formaldehyde, which is a toxic chemical. In rat studies, aspartame has been shown to cause cancer, even when eaten at a 40% lower level (adjusted for weight) than that approved by the FDA for use in humans. Although aspartame has not been proven to cause cancer in humans, I would point out there is no way of proving what decades of ingestion of low doses of this chemical or the other chemicals mentioned could do to the human body. So there remains controversy about aspartame’s safety in spite of the government reassurances. My suggestion – drink the best quality water you can find and limit soda consumption to those rare special occasions.
No practical way exists to get aflatoxin out of peanuts. A few years ago, Consumers Union looked into the question of aflatoxins in peanut butter and found that the amounts detectable varied from brand to brand. The lowest amounts were found in the big supermarket brands such as Peter Pan, Jiffy and Skippy. The highest levels were found in peanut butter ground fresh in health food stores. This is because fungicides applied to peanut crops significantly reduce the amount of mold on these crops, whereas anti-fungal treatments are not used on organic crops or peanuts labeled as “natural.”
Now eating an occasional peanut butter sandwich or handful of peanuts is unlikely to cause any problems, but a much safer alternative to peanut butter is almond or walnut butter, which contain no aflatoxins. Also, almond butter is much more nutritious and has a healthier fatty acid profile.
The world is full of examples of this highly significant form of chemical reaction. One such example is combustion. An even more rapid form of combustion is an explosion. Likewise the metabolism of food, as well as other biological processes, involves oxidation and reduction reactions. So, too, do a number of processes that take place on the surfaces of metals: when iron rusts; when copper turns green; or when aluminum forms a coating of aluminum oxide that prevents it from corroding. If you take an apple and cut it in half, leaving it exposed to the air, the surface will turn brown. This is because it has become oxidized from the oxygen in the air. If you apply lemon juice, which is an antioxidant, on the cut apple surface, it will delay the oxidation process. Oxidation reactions are responsible for the spoiling of food, and to prevent spoilage, manufacturers of food items often add preservatives, which act as reducing agents.
Oxidative stress in the arteries leads to atherosclerosis. LDL cholesterol, otherwise known as ‘bad’ cholesterol, it not really bad unless it becomes oxidized. Only then can it stick in the arteries. Measuring cardiac C-reactive protein (HS CRP) in the blood is a simple lab test that reflects oxidative risk in this regard. A level of less than 1 mg/L is associated with a low risk of cardiovascular disease and above 3 mg/L with a high risk. In the Harvard Women’s Health Study, results of the CRP test were more accurate than cholesterol levels in predicting coronary problems. Twelve different markers of inflammation were studied in healthy, postmenopausal women. After three years, CRP was the strongest predictor of risk. Women in the group with the highest CRP levels were more than four times as likely to have died from coronary disease, or suffered a nonfatal heart attack or stroke. This group was also more likely to have required a cardiac procedure such as angioplasty or bypass surgery than women in the group with the lowest levels.
As a person ages, oxidation can affect memory. Those senior moments when a person forgets a name or where they placed their keys can be a result of damage to the covering of nerve sheaths in the brain (called myelin sheaths). These nerve sheaths are like insulation covering an electrical wire, and when damaged by oxidative stress, nerve impulses and thinking can be affected. At the Center, there are various supplements we use to help repair this process.
Oxidation may also contribute to the development of cancer as oxygen molecules and other oxidizing agents (toxic metals, ionizing radiation, pesticides, etc), always hungry for electrons, extract electrons from the membranes in human cells. Over time, this can cause a gradual breakdown in the body’s immune system if this reaction is not balanced by removal of the toxins and/or intake of adequate antioxidants in the diet.
Glutathione is composed of three amino acids (protein building blocks) – cysteine, glycine and glutamate. The primary peptide needed to make glutathione in our diets is cysteine. You can get cysteine from eating meat, eggs, garlic, onions, red pepper, and other foods. Certain foods that contain gluten (found in grains such as wheat) or casein (milk protein) inhibit the uptake of cysteine. Wheat and dairy products contribute to chronic inflammation, according to some authorities. Many children with autism or adults with autoimmune disorders do better when they eliminate wheat and milk products from their diet. I would wonder if this is due to a redox reaction mechanism in addition to an allergic component. Of course, not everybody who eats dairy or wheat has poor antioxidant capacity. There are probably genetic factors that come into play. One of the tests we use at the Center to measure oxidative function is the Spectracell intracellular vitamin analysis. This unique test determines whether there is a deficiency of most of the main antioxidants such as glutathione, vitamin C, selenium, cysteine, lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10 and vitamin E at a cellular level. If you have not had a Spectracell study in the past 12 to 18 months, I suggest you call the Center at 352-331-5138 and schedule this lab test.
Methylation and glutathione are tightly connected and there is a metabolic crossroads where cells must decide to either make more glutathione or support methylation. The overall balance between these two options is critical to health. Too little glutathione and we end up with free radical, oxidative damage. Not enough methylation, and many genes will not be properly regulated and viruses suppressed. Excess homocysteine forms and the risk of atherosclerosis goes up.
[I would like to give credit to articles published in the October 2011 Focus Newsletter of Allergy Research Group for some of the data presented in this article. Part 2 of this article will follow in our June 2012 newsletter. It will deal with how vitamin B12 and folic acid fit into glutathione and methylation reactions. The full article is available for viewing at this time on the www.prevent-doc.com website under Articles of Interest.]
Ms. G was given a prescription for natural micronized progesterone cream to apply separately to the breasts, and was instructed to apply her other BHRT gel to the extremities and abdominal skin. Repeat lab work showed an improvement in her progesterone levels and a repeat breast thermography taken in January 2012 was now normal and back to her baseline studies.
Estrogen dominance is a relative risk factor for developing breast cancer. If estrogen and progesterone are not balanced and there is excess estrogen effect (either due to too much estrogen or too little progesterone), and cell proliferation rates in the breast tissue accelerate. Some of the symptoms of estrogen dominance can include swelling of the breasts, fibrocystic breast changes, ovarian cysts, fibroid uterus, mood swings and heavy periods with cramping. Mammography is an anatomical test and does not diagnose estrogen dominance or physiological breast changes.
DITI (digital infrared thermal imaging), better known as thermography, uses a highly sensitive medical infrared digital camera to transmit images to a computer system where thermal patterns and skin temperatures are recorded. The system used at Gainesville Thermography is a Meditherm 2000 and is sensitive up to 0.01 degree C. With thermography, there is no compression of the breasts and there is no radiation. It is an FDA approved modality that is complimentary to breast mammography, but not a substitute for mammograms as it is a physiological test.
The sympathetic nervous system controls body temperature. If our body is too warm, it causes vasodilatation. If our body is too cold, it causes vasoconstriction. The sympathetic nervous system also controls many of the body’s internal organ functions such as urinary output, papillary dilatation, the fight or flight reflex, or gut motility. The sympathetic nervous system arises in the spinal column and its nerves travel through various pathways of the body, including internal organs, and the sympathetic nerves end up in the skins surface where they form “dermatomes”. Dermatomes are specific regions of the skin that reflect sympathetic nervous system physiology. Using thermography, these dermatomes can be analyzed for temperature differentials and thermal pattern changes. For detailed information, go to the www.prevent-doc.com website and link to Thermography.