So I stumbled upon this recent post on Mother Nature Network on the use of a paleo diet for cancer. Confused by the death of a healthy eating friend, she questions whether her paleo diet is really helping her stay healthy and cancer free. To pour gasoline on the fire, there’s even evidence of a neanderthal skeleton with a tumor. What are we to do?
While I don’t think the existence of a non-human skeleton with cancer debunks the paleo diet (although any death before the modern period is apparently proof against it), it bears going into why and how a paleo diet could possibly stop the mother of all diseases.
The Warburg Effect
According to research conducted at UCLA by Dr. Thomas Graeber, cancer cells undergo a profound shift in the way they get their nutrients. It is based on an observation by Nobel Laureate Otto Warburg, who noticed that cancer cells went through the process of glycolysis up to 200 times faster than healthy cells.
How is it possible for them to do this? By ingesting glucose of course. The mitochondria of cancer cells are fundamentally unequipped to dealing with ketones and other metabolites of fat consumption, but can stay happy when there is glucose in the bloodstream. As a matter of fact, some estimate that cancer cells have as many as 18 times the amount of insulin receptors than normal cells.
Maybe the author’s ‘health freak’ friend was eating a vegetarian diet high in grains, was eating starches to support extended cardio training, or something similar. There could be more to this after all.
Prevention and starvation
So if we’re in a situation where there are 16 times the insulin receptors on a cancer cell, we are effectively in a situation where cancer cells will grow 16 times faster, gram for gram, with any insulin spiking carbohydrate you consume. Have you passed the rolls yet?
The implications are obvious for someone who has already been diagnosed with cancer. There are stories abound of people who have used a low carb paleo diet to overcome the mother of all diseases. Like chemotherapy, in which you take enough poison to kill the cancer but not you, you can starve yourself enough to kill the cancer but survive.
Wait, I misspoke. You don’t actually have to starve yourself, you just have to cut out the insulin spiking grains, starches and sugars in your diet. Load up on salad dressing, intelligently cooked meats, avocados and whatever fatty foods you like – the cancer can’t use it! Even modern medicine is finally coming around to this idea. Insulin potentiation therapy has been shown to reduce the doses needed for chemotherapy by 85-90%.
Due to lifestyle factors, contaminants in the environment and even stress, there are cells that can and do go rogue at any time. Our bodies have the mechanisms to make these cells go through controlled death but when they don’t well hey, we have a big problem.
As someone who has lost loved ones to cancer unexpectedly it’s not something I take lightly.
Can a paleo diet be your second line of defense? Maybe. There has never been a controlled study on the incidence rates of cancer for people on paleo vs. standard diets. But knowing the basic facts about cancer cell metabolism would lead one to believe that staying in ketosis as much as possible would be protective. If the first line of defense gives out, maybe a bloodstream barren of grain and starch based insulin would starve it out before cancer can do damage.
So a few weeks ago I made a post about a project I have been working on for the past few months and the day has finally come to announce it. Through my constant research on optimal survival nutrition, I got in touch with this company developing the most efficient form of protein designed specifically for survival situations.
I came across this small team of highly experienced pharma and biotech guys with 75 years of experience between them that had set their sights on developing amino acid based formulations to help in a number of nutritional deficiencies. Needless to say these guys spoke my language. They had enough of the rat race and decided to start something on their own using the experiences they gathered over the years to build a small totally independent company.
After getting to know them a bit, I found out that they were preppers themselves! They had designed a product specifically designed for survival to overcome what they couldn’t find in the market. I told them that I had developed one of the most intelligent audiences on the blogosphere interested specifically in nutrition. By the end of the conversation we had discussed the potential for a product that would be the lightest, smallest and highest efficiency protein source available today.
What’s the point?
Three months of protein in a shoebox. That was their promise. I told them that the most important thing for preppers was space, weight and shelf life (more on that later). Protein is the most important macronutrient when it comes to survival but by now we know it’s the hardest to maintain. Meat spoils in a few hours, vegetarian and canned sources are poorly absorbed, and if you miss key amino acids you’re in trouble. If we could take care of the hardest and most important part of the equation, the rest would fall into place.
Those were the specifications they went after. They found a highly efficient protein replacement formula backed up by decades of research that was shown to have the ability to maintain muscle mass when dietary protein is not available. The result? SurvivAMINO, the lightest, smallest and highest efficiency protein source available today.
How does it work?
By now we all know the importance of amino acids. Instead of providing a whole protein source which takes up space, can rot and is possibly inefficienct, SurvivAMINO is made up of pure amino acids. And not just any amino acids. This product only contains the essential amino acids, in ample supply. It contains every amino acid you need to survive, indefinitely.
How do they get it so small? The answer is in efficiency. When you eat protein, your body breaks part of it down into useable amino acids and the rest into sugar and nitrogen waste. The amount that’s used is called the Amino Acid Uptake rate, or AAU. Most over the counter proteins have an AAU of 20% or less. This formula was engineered to maximize AAU and has a 99% AAU rating. So that means that taking 5 grams of this is the same as taking 25 grams of the other stuff. And even better, because there is no nitrogen waste.
It would seem almost too good to be true if it wasn’t backed by over a decade of research. From trials on top level track athletes to dieters, it’s been proven time and time again to be a complete source of protein. My personal favorite: a study in which a woman crossed the Talikmakan Desert of China for ALMOST A MONTH with this formula as the only source of protein.
You can get your 3 month supply and keep it in your trunk for a rainy day and be all set. This stuff is pure amino acids and does not break down or rot like regular food. One bottle is
enough for up to a week depending on your size and activity levels. So if you have a family of three you’ll be good for at least a month with a 12 bottle box. The essential amino acids are more important for developing children and the elderly, who are physically weaker. I even gave some of this to my 81 year old grandmother who was recovering from a hip injury and she felt better after the first day.
If you subscribe to my idea that the most important item on your bug out bag list is you, there are huge benefits to taking this regularly. This formula has been used for over a decade by top flight triathletes and was a closely guarded secret. If you look into the research, trials have shown muscle gain of up to 2 lbs per week, fat loss and general markers of health. It’s amazing what your body can do when it has the amino acids it needs.
Available for the first time
Up until now, products with this formula have spread only through word of mouth. And you can imagine hyper competitive triathletes aren’t too keen to share their new advantage with friends. People paid quite a bit for this formula in the early days. My friends are taking this formula public and making it available for order online. While they are pretty savvy businessmen they appreciate that providing value to the customers is the most important thing, so they made a few changes.
First, the price has been brought down from the triple digits where it used to be. They needed to make it accessible to the average consumer. Moreover, they’re adding bulk discounts. The three month supply is over 25% off.
Second, they decided to up the ante on the quality of the ingredients. Instead of going the standard route, they went to the best pharmaceutical amino acid producers in the world. These guys provide the same amino acids that are used in IVs in hospitals worldwide. They spared no expense.
Finally, they added a 60 day unconditional money back guarantee. If you have any doubts with this formula, try it out on them. If you don’t like it for any reason you’ll get your money back. It’s that simple. They are so confident in the product they’re willing to back it up.
How can I get it?
You might have noticed the banner I’ve put on the side of the site. This is the first time I’m ever doing an advertisement and I’m doing it because I love this product. Full disclaimer, I became an affiliate so if you click on that you’ll be helping me keep the lights on for this blog.
It’s a great product from a great team and I’m starting to use it every day. I took some instead of eating dinner after a rough jiu-jitsu class and I was nowhere near as sore as I should have been. I even give this to my grandma!
Take a look and let me know how if works for you!
My girlfriend used to joke with me when I started taking paleo seriously that after taking out this food and that food eventually the diet I would be on would just be no food. She ended up being right! At least partially.
The benefits of fasting and calorie restriction have been known for decades to the scientific community. Populations like the Okinawans which are known for their longevity seem to have calorie restriction behavior as well. Animal models have even shown an increase in lifespan of up to 200%!
So am I suggesting you close this window right now and clean out your pantry? Hardly. It turns out you might not have to starve yourself to get these benefits. At least not forever.
Enter intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting is the practice of not eating for a fixed amount of time (the fast). After the fast has ended, eating continues as normal. Some popular protocols for this include leangains (16 hour fast, 8 hours eating per day), eat stop eat (24 hours once a week) and even religious holidays like Yom Kippur.
Research has shown that fasting for short periods of time can have the same effects as calorie restriction on a cellular level. In fact, our bodies are programmed to behave like this. The answer lies in our evolutionary past.
Feast and Famine
Up until the creation of the modern agricultural system, human beings were subjected to intermittent fasting all the time – and not by choice. As a hunter-gatherer, it could be days before a kill could be made or some nutrient rich plant foods could be found. As we evolved, our bodies developed systems to maintain the health of our cells during the times when food could not be found.
In times of plenty, the hormone insulin determined the majority of activity within the cell. We’ve covered insulin before in a number of posts but on a very basic level it exists to tell our cells to grow. In the presence of insulin, nutrients are added to cells, new cells are created and pro-inflammatory activities occur. All very necessary activities if done in moderation.
However, in times without food, insulin is downregulated and conservation becomes the primary goal. This is accomplished through the release of Human Growth Hormone (HGH). During fasting, the genes for HGH secretion are ‘turned on’ epigenetically, boosting the rate up to 2000%. The goal of this is to increase repair, which is less costly from a metabolic perspective than growing new cells. It also increases the use of fat as a fuel source, preserves muscle tissue and turns on the genes for cell death in non useful cells (often fat cells).
Using Intermittent Fasting for Survival
Because of the cultural norms in the western world, most people are never in a true fasted state. Eating 3 meals a day, riding the blood sugar rollercoaster and eating high glycemic foods like bagels first thing in the morning prevents fasting from ever taking place.
Seeing the benefits of fasting can be as easy as skipping one meal a day to start off. Skipping breakfast can take advantage of the average 8 hours of fasting you are doing every night by sleeping. If you eat a late dinner at 8PM, say, skip breakfast, and eat lunch at noon, you will have just completed a 16 hour fast.
The applications for this in a true survival scenario are myriad. First, food supplies can be conserved if the window for eating is smaller. Not having to worry about eating first thing in the morning is a load to be taken off the mind. The benefits of increased HGH for your health will keep you strong, prevent aging and accelerate repair of any wounds. Not to mention protect from muscle loss to keep your ability to move and defend yourself.
Stress is part of all of our lives. Where it comes from can be different for each person but the fact of the matter is that it’s something we all have to deal with. That being said, what if there are epigenetic consequences to our stress? Can they hurt, and more interestingly, could they even help?
Negative epigenetic effects of stress
The way in which our bodies respond to stress is a relic of our evolutionary past. In order to survive, we needed to make the most out of our fight or flight response which is determined largely by how our stress hormones function. In situations of increased and regular stress, being able to command these hormones would make us more likely to survive. This is where epigenetics comes in.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins have shown that exposure to stress hormones can cause permanent epigentic changes in as little as 4 weeks in animal models. The animals who were exposed to hormones showed a change in the gene Fkbp5, which has been linked to mood disorders like depression and bipolar disorder. Another study measured the effects of stress in rats over several generations. The stressor (in this case a food toxin) created a disturbance in how hormones related to metabolism were expressed, causing weight gain. Furthermore, the effects persisted for up to 4 generations!
Hormesis: the positive effects of stress
Interestingly enough, the effects of stress happen to go both ways. Hormesis is the process by which the body responds to a stressor, making itself less vulnerable it. This is the basic principle to gaining immunity to such things as poisons. Very useful for anyone planning to engage in a duel of wits with a Sicilian. It is also the basic principle by which your muscles adapt to the stress of going to the gym or any other physical activity. Recent research has shown that the lasting effects of hormesis can be linked to epigenetic changes.
The key to eliciting a hormetic response is to use a small dose, to space out enough time for recovery. Unfortunately, exposing oneself to chronic stress would not likely produce a positive response. However, there are a number of instances in which something ‘bad’ can produce a positive epigenetic response. One example is alcohol, which has been shown to have a positive hormetic effect on blood and cardiovascular markers when taken in moderation. Periodically fasting has also been shown to increase longevity through a similar process. The list goes on.
What we can learn from these animal studies is that stress can have very real effects on ourselves and our children. While we’ve been evolved to avoid sabretooth tigers and stampeding mammoths, the threats today are not ones we can get away from. Deadlines, social pressure and financial struggles are not something that can be run away from. Learning to cope with this stress is important if it can’t be avoided.
In addition, the positive effects of stress can be taken advantage of to affect our genetics positively. Any one of these warrants a blog post. Stay tuned for more updates on how to change your genome positively and improve the most important item on your bug out bag list.
There has been a big hullabaloo lately over a TED talk by anthropologist Christina Warriner. Paleo haters have been sending these links out to their whole-food eating friends in droves, presumably while eating a bagel with a smug grin on their face. Does the science even hold up? Let’s see what Warriner is ACTUALLY saying.
What’s really being debunked?
- A person compared to a straw image; a sham.
- A sham argument set up to be defeated.
I was very intrigued with what this video could have contained due to the amount of press surrounding it. Christina is a very intelligent young woman and actually brings a number of very good studies from the forefront of the field of anthropology to the table! Unfortunately the main hypothesis isn’t that eating a paleo diet may not be all it has cracked up to be uses a ‘straw man’ conception. Eat what the cavemen eat, they say! Live forever!
So the talk continues to go on to how actual cavemen ate differently than what we consider a natural paleo diet today.
Professor Warriner brings some great insights into what was actually consumed by our ancestors. According to recent research, legumes and grains may have been consumed earlier than we anticipated, according to dental plaque analysis on ancient bodies. In addition, the stable isotropic readings used by many to justify meat consumption of our ancestors may be somewhat flawed. Finally, for all the demonization of agriculture, it has produced the edible forms of the fruits and vegetables paleo folks around the world eat every day. You couldn’t eat a full calories load off of foraging, which many agree with.
Shades of a vegetarian agenda in attacking the consumption of red meat in the paleo community. While getting a fair amount of fat may be easier in red meat, paleo folks eat meat of all kinds, from fish to fowl. In addition, describing paleo as being targeted towards men is way off the mark and there are thousands of women on the internet to prove otherwise. Finally, the conception of paleo as a fad diet is a bit distasteful. The earliest conception of the paleo diet can be traced back to William Banting’s Letter on Corpulence, Addressed to the Public written in 1863. As long as
diets have been discussed, the damage of grains has been part of the conversation.
An attack is launched on there being no single paleo diet. In general this is a ridiculous argument – it would be like saying there’s no cure for cancer because there are so many ways to get there. Regardless, this leads to a great section on the end which argues about eating seasonally and locally. I don’t really understand why this is presented as evidence against because it’s been part of the paleo conversation forever. This brings the bulk of the nutritional advice to the presentation (predictably).
In reality we are looking to reduce consumption of toxin laden survival foods produced by modern agriculture, grains and legumes containing antinutrients of all sorts, avoiding inflammation by consuming healthy fats, and eating more vitamin rich, organic sources of vegetables and meat. Being healthy is more important than following some hokey, quasi-religious set of rules based off of some pop-culture conception of our past.
We follow the research. I would bet dollars to donuts that any paleo guru follows the nutritional science community closer than the anthropological community because it’s about health!
That being said, it’s important for those of us who follow paleo diets to be informed about research like this. The cliff notes version of paleo diet (“We’re not evolved, man!”) might not be enough today. If we buy into dogma we’re no better than the ‘fad dieters’ this talk is trying to go after.
Before we get started, this isn’t going to be an extended endorsement of the paleo diet. While the benefits of removing contaminated mass produced modern foods are myriad, they will not be the focus of this post.
Remember when we talked about methylation? It’s the process by which your body modifies portions of your DNA to change how they are expressed. Effectively, it’s the workhorse of how epigenetic effects. Research has shown that lack of methylation can cause a number of problems with health. Animal studies have shown that a lack of the nutrients needed to methylate certain portions of the DNA can cause a lifetime of under methylation. And while the link between cancer and epigenetics is still an emerging field, many tumors have much lower levels of DNA methylation than healthy cells.
In summary, your body needs to be able to methylate to regulate your own DNA properly. And in order to do that, you need to provide the nutrients it needs.
Eating for methylation
In order to select which foods to eat, the process of methylation needs to be understood. On the most basic level we are looking for nutrients which act as a methyl donor, able to give a methyl group to DNA that needs to be modified. There are a number of nutrients which can accelerate this basic pathway.
Methionine - Our old friend, the amino acid methionine plays a key process in methylation of DNA. It is the precursor to SAM (s-adenosyl methionine) which transfers methyl groups directly to the DNA. Good sources of methionine include eggs, brazil nuts, sesame seeds, and meat.
B-Vitamins - A number of B vitamins play a key role in transformation of methionine into SAM. B6, B9 and B12 in particular are important. In addition, these vitamins are vital to preventing the potentially harmful rise in homocysteine that might come from eating elevated levels of methionine.
Choline -Choline acts as a methyl donor to SAM which in turn donates methyl groups to DNA. It also happens to be deficient in a number of individual based on the recommendation of mainstream nutritionists. Only 2% of post menopausal women were found to be consuming a sufficient amount of choline in a recent study. The best sources of choline include liver, fatty meats and egg yolks.
Butyrate/Butryic Acid – Taking a slight detour from the methylation pathway, Butryric acid increases epigenetic expression at the histone level. It has been shown to have a positive effect in certain forms of cancer, further supporting the benefits of epigenetic effects. Butyric Acid can either be found in food sources such as butter and fatty meat, or synthesized within the gut. When gut flora comes into contact with fiber from whole fruits and vegetables, it is converted into butyric acid.
It’s a tip that was probably told to you by your mom, but one that could have a serious effect on your health for years to come. We all know that getting enough sleep is important for wellness, but could the effects range beyond feeling groggy the next day? According to scientists at the University of Surrey, the answer is yes.
Epigenetic effects of sleep restriction
The study measured the effects of sleep restriction on how genes were expressed in two groups. Unlike a genome analysis, which examines the DNA, analysis was conducted on the transcriptome, which measures the RNA used by cells to function. For the first time, the effects of sleep deprivation were measured in how genes were actually expressed.
The protocol had two separate groups, one sleeping an average of 5.7 hours per night and the other an average of 8.5 hours. Both groups were then exposed to staying awake for 40 hours continuously.
The results were staggering. Over 711 genes were affected by sleep deprivation, governing everything from metabolism to immune response to mental performance. In addition, the sleep deprived condition made the effect of staying awake for 40 hours even worse. By the numbers, seven times as worse, with the affected genes going from 122 to 856.
What this means for you
The concern of the researchers immediately following the results was that these results were only seen after one week! People (myself included) can often go for months if not years of not catching up with sleep. No research exists onthe epigenetic effects over this sort of timeline but the effects of insufficient sleep are known. All of these have serious implications in a potential survival scenario.
A decrease in vigilance and cognition is one of the most well known association with lack of sleep. Whether on watch or trying to plan your daily activities, any decrease in this could be dangerous. In self-defense situations it can only take one mistake. If there is an epigenetic basis to the effects of sleep deprivation, any lost sleep could be inhibiting your ability to perform in this regard over the long term.
Those of you that have served in the military will no doubt point out that sometimes sleep deprivation is not a choice, especially when it comes to watch. However, the findings of the study that long term sleep deprivation made the affect of continuous deprivation worse is very important. When the time comes that you may be forced to be on the guard for an extended amount of time, the effects will be less bad if you have been good about your sleep leading up.
General health is also greatly affected by sleep deprivation. From general mortality, to cardiovascular disease, to diabetes and obesity, the way in which the 711 genes can affect your body’s function are widespread. Knowing that the most important item on your bug out bag list is you, sleep needs to become a priority.
How do you plan to get more sleep? One thing that helped me was making the decision to wake up at dawn and set hard limits on when to go to bed in the evening. As someone who is very sensitive to light, this ensures that the sleep I have is in darkness. Melatonin, the neurotransmitter that signals tiredness, is also shut off by blue light that is seen at dawn.
Let me know any tips you have in the comments!
We know how wheat can potentially affect every cell in the body through transglutaminase. We also know how wheat has been changed throughout the years. A fascinating and terrifying article just came across my desk which brings to attention consequences that could be far worse than the effects of transglutaminase.
While lawmakers in the US sign bills to protect Monsanto from investigation, our friends in other developing nations are taking steps to protect their citizens. Australian scientists have taken steps to force investigative action on GMO wheat developed by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Press conference footage is below:
In a nutshell
Using genetic modification, exposure to toxins and radiation wheat was transformed into the current popular form of dwarf wheat
This quote was taken from my article a few weeks ago on how wheat was changed. Essentially, the ability to force changes in the genome of wheat is partially due to epigenetic mechanisms. Where breeding new forms can take decades, epigenetic modification can be done over a single generation. Bomb the DNA with chemicals, methylate part of the code, and change what is expressed.
It would be so convenient if it weren’t for the fact that these same chemicals work on us.
What this means for you
Did you ever hear the one about humans sharing half their DNA with bananas? It’s an old tidbit that illustrates the fact that we share a lot of genetic code with other living organisms. This is because there aren’t too many chemicals that can be used for energy within cells – glucose, starch, ATP and glycogen. We all run on the same fuel for the most part.
Here’s where it gets scary, if we share the same DNA code, something that modifies that code will work regardless of the organism it’s found in. Professor Heinemann has found over 7 pages of direct matches between the code being modified by wheat which exists in humans. The wheat on store shelves contains these chemicals and can modify that code within your body.
The DNA in question was being modified to change the way that the wheat produced carbohydrate, presumably to create a higher yielding crop. This can change how carbohydrates are produced in the human body as well.
Glycogen is what we convert all carbohydrates into in order to move and function. It is stored in the muscles and liver for use in short burst activity as well as a number of other tasks. It is essential to life. Professor Judy Carman points out that children who lack the enzyme to produce glycogen
tend to die by the age of five, and adults get sluggish, sick and eventually die. (Sound like anyone you know?)
What to do?
Devil’s advocates, I know you are pointing out that this is taking place in Australia. Don’t be fooled into thinking it isn’t happening over here. In a country where the president is protecting corporations instead of the people, it’s likely we’re just not paying attention to it.
If you’ve been waiting to cut out processed wheat here is another reason. People with children should be even more concerned. If you absolutely must eat wheat, be 100% certain you know of its origin. Bargain basement flour for your survival foods store is unlikely to come from a small farmer. Question your sources and stay safe.
Researching the consequences of my own genetic makeup has made me ask some serious questions. Am I condemned to the limits of my traits? Do I have an expiration date attached to the various illnesses I’m susceptible to? When is the last time I watched Gattaca?
With 23andMe, results are given with a very important caveat. Given as a chance of out of 100, the fine print reads that all results are given considering all other things equal. And looking at it, there are a lot of things to consider. What we eat, how much we sleep, what part of the world we live in, what sort of stress we subject ourselves to.
I don’t want to chime in on the nature vs. nuture debate which has been going on for decades. But recent research has brought into light the ability for people to permanently change their genes through a process known as epigenetics.
What is epigenetics?
You probably know a pair of identical twins. At first, you probably couldn’t tell the difference between them but as you got to know them, you probably learned a number of traits that you could use to tell them apart. From anything from physical traits, to health, to personality, identical twins can be very different.
If genes told the whole story, these differences wouldn’t exist. But through life, an identical genome can be expressed in different ways as certain genes are turned on or off. This is the process of epigenetics, which literally translates to ‘above the genome’.
How it works
The DNA molecule itself is very delicate, and small chemicals binding to it can change whether any portion is expressed or not. Entire genes can be rendered inactive by a process known as methylation. In this process, a methyl group attaches to either a gene or the histone that contains it to render it active.
This is actually how your body’s cells differentiate themselves. All cells have the same DNA, but the genes that are turned on or off determine whether it is a skin cell or a brain cell.
Your lifestyle, your genome
Where it gets interesting is when methylation comes from outside the body. Different environmental factors such as food, sleep and stress. Studies on twins have suggested that these epigentic factors accumulate as we age. As time goes on, genetically identical twins can have totally different genes expressed.
These changes can be positive or negative. While toxins from food or smoking can create cancer, trials for drugs designed to use epigenetics to ‘turn off’ the genes that make cells cancerous have shown promising results.
All about the genes?
So it turns out I might not be doomed to be a Alzheimer’s ridden, Crohn’s disease addled slow twitch marathoner after all. By looking into the epigenetic factors controlling my health, we can make the most out of the genome we have. Fortunately, some of the recommendations for this are the same things we would be doing for normal health with a few counterintuitive tweaks. Stay tuned for more updates on how you can maximize your genome.