2 June 2019 RUSSIA TODAY — German historian Marie Sophie Hingst, famous for her blog about family members who perished in the Holocaust, has been caught in a lie. The revelation also put the media, which […]
The document that was used by the United States as its premise for invading Iraq in 2003 is called “The National Intelligence Estimate on Weapons of Mass Destruction,” or NIE. After delays and redactions, a […]
By Jonathan Stempel | 30 May 2019 REUTERS — Los Angeles County sued Monsanto Co on Thursday, seeking to force the unit of Germany’s Bayer AG to help pay for reducing PCB contamination in dozens of […]
People who like money too much ought to be kicked out of politics, Uruguayan President José Mujica told CNN en Español in an interview posted online Wednesday.
“We invented this thing called representative democracy, where we say the majority is who decides,” Mujica said in the interview. “So it seems to me that we [heads of state] should live like the majority and not like the minority.”
Dubbed the “World’s Poorest President” in a widely circulated BBC piece from 2012, Mujica reportedly donates 90 percent of his salary to charity.
Mujica’s example offers a strong contrast to the United States, where in politics the median member of Congress is worth more than $1 million and corporations have many of the same rights as individuals when it comes to donating to political campaigns.
Summer and sunshine-filled days are upon us and, with that, increased calls for the use of sunscreen. Unfortunately, most sunscreens contain toxic ingredients that are easily absorbed through your skin and can jeopardize your health.
The good news is you can support healthy skin and protect it from ultraviolet damage from the inside. Scientists have identified several nutrients that have UV protective activity which can reduce your risk of sunburn and related skin damage. Here, I’ll review the top contenders: astaxanthin, lycopene and beta carotene, vitamins D and E, and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).
Astaxanthin — Most Potent Nature-Made Sunscreen
Astaxanthin, one of nature’s most potent antioxidants, has been shown to offer significant protection against UV radiation damage by acting as internal sunscreen. It has very strong free radical scavenging activity that protects your cells, organs and body tissues from oxidative damage.
Astaxanthin is produced by the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis when its water supply dries up, forcing it to protect itself from ultraviolet radiation. Astaxanthin is essentially the algae’s survival mechanism. It is this “radiation shield” that explains how astaxanthin can protect you from similar radiation, thereby helping prevent skin photo-aging and wrinkles. As noted in a 2010 study:1
“Repetitive exposure of the skin to UVA radiation elicits sagging more frequently than wrinkling, which is mainly attributed to its biochemical mechanism to up-regulate the expression of matrix-metalloproteinase (MMP)-1 and skin fibroblast elastase (SFE)/neutral endopeptidase (NEP), respectively.
In this study, we examined the effects of a potent antioxidant, astaxanthin (AX), on the induction of MMP-1 and SFE by UVA treatment of cultured human dermal fibroblasts …
UVA radiation elicited a significant increase in the gene expression of MMP-1 as well as SFE/NEP (to a lesser extent) which was followed by distinct increases in their protein and enzymatic activity levels …
These findings indicate that, based on different effective concentrations of AX, a major mode of action leading to the inhibition elicited by AX depends on inhibition of UVA effects of the reactive oxygen species-directed signaling cascade, but not on interruption of the IL-6-mediated signaling cascade. We hypothesize that AX would have a significant benefit on protecting against UVA-induced skin photo-aging such as sagging and wrinkles.”
A second paper,2 “Cosmetic Benefits of Astaxanthin on Human Subjects” published online in 2012, noted a combination of 6 milligrams taken internally with 2 milliliters per day of topical astaxanthin led to “significant improvements” in skin wrinkling, age spots and skin elasticity, texture and moisture content by week eight.
Astaxanthin Protects Against UV-Induced Cell Death
When it comes to UV radiation protection, astaxanthin specifically helps protect against UV-induced cell death. Unlike topical sun block, astaxanthin does not actually block UV rays, so it doesn’t prevent UVB from converting into vitamin D in your skin; it simply protects your skin against damage. This protective effect is so potent studies even show it helps protect against:
- Total body irradiation,3 primarily by scavenging intracellular reactive oxygen species and reducing cell apoptosis (programmed cell death)
- Burn-wound progression, by reducing oxidative stress-induced inflammation and mitochondrial-related apoptosis4
Cyanotech Corporation funded a study5 through an independent consumer research laboratory to measure the skin’s resistance to both UVA and UVB light, before and after astaxanthin supplementation. After taking 4 mg of astaxanthin per day for two weeks, subjects showed a significant increase in the amount of time necessary for UV radiation to redden their skin. According to the authors:6
“Results ranged from over 50% more energy needed to burn the skin on some subjects to little or no effect on some subjects. The average of all subjects was approximately 20% more energy, a statistically significant improvement.”
Animal studies lend further evidence to astaxanthin’s effects as an internal sunscreen. For example, in a 1998 in vitro study7 using fibroblasts from rat kidneys, beta-carotene, lutein and astaxanthin were all found to protect against UVA-induced oxidative stress, “with astaxanthin exhibiting superior protective properties.”
Another study demonstrated the UV protective properties of other carotenoids: lutein and zeaxanthin. Here, lutein and zeaxanthin were found to provide a fourfold increase in protection when taken internally, and a sixfold increase when used topically as well as internally.8,9
Many athletes report astaxanthin allows them to stay in the sun for longer periods of time without feeling ill and without burning. Less burning also means lower skin cancer risk.
For general skin health and protection against the sun, a daily dose of 4 mg is likely sufficient, although if you’re an outdoorsman or athlete who exercises outdoors on a regular basis, you may want to consider a dose between 8 mg and 12 mg/day, at which you’ll also start reaping benefits in exercise performance and recovery.
Lycopene and Beta Carotene Also Improve Skin’s Natural SPF
Lycopene also acts as an internal sunscreen, although it’s not nearly as protective as astaxanthin. A study10,11 published in 2001 found tomato paste helped protect fair-skinned individuals with a tendency to burn rather than tan.
Nineteen men and women with fair complexions, blue eyes and light-colored hair were instructed to add either 10 grams of olive oil or a combination of 10 grams of olive oil plus 40 grams of tomato paste (about 5 tablespoons or half a small can) to their daily diet.
Previous work by this research team had shown cooking improves the bioavailability of lycopene in tomatoes;12 hence the use of tomato paste in this study. The oil further facilitates your body’s uptake of the nutrient.
During the 10-week trial, the researchers periodically tested the participants’ tolerance to sunlight by irradiating a small patch of skin on their backs with a sun lamp, to see how long it took for reddening (erythema) to occur.
The olive oil only group experienced no change in tolerance over the course of the study, but those who ate oil and tomato paste combo experienced 40% less reddening at the end of the 10 weeks compared to the first four weeks.
According to the authors, “The data demonstrate that it is feasible to achieve protection against UV light-induced erythema by ingestion of a commonly consumed dietary source of lycopene.”13 Similarly, a 2008 systematic review14 of feeding studies evaluating the effectiveness of beta carotene for the protection against sunburn concluded that:
” … (1) beta-carotene supplementation protects against sunburn and (2) the study duration had a significant influence on the effected size. Regression plot analysis revealed that protection required a minimum of 10 weeks of supplementation with a mean increase of the protective effect of 0.5 standard deviations with every additional month of supplementation.
Thus, dietary supplementation of humans with beta-carotene provides protection against sunburn in a time-dependent manner.”
Vitamin D Lowers Skin Cancer Risk
If you’re like most people, you’ve probably fallen for the misguided advice from most dermatologists and public health officials to stay out of the sun to avoid skin cancer.
Unfortunately, total sun avoidance is inadvisable, as it can actually increase your risk rather than lower it. In a nutshell, the vitamin D your body produces in response to UVB radiation helps protect against melanoma. As noted in one Lancet study:15
“Paradoxically, outdoor workers have a decreased risk of melanoma compared with indoor workers, suggesting that chronic sunlight exposure can have a protective effect.”
Optimizing your vitamin D through sensible sun exposure can also help protect against many internal cancers, the death tolls of which are far greater than melanoma. Vitamin D is also crucial for the prevention of many chronic diseases, and has been shown to be an important criteria for longevity.
For example, a Swedish study16 published in 2014, which followed 29,518 middle-aged to older women for up to 20 years, found women who avoided sun exposure and tanning beds were twice as likely to die over the course of the study. The researchers attributed this finding to the protective influence of vitamin D. As noted by the authors:
“We found that all?cause mortality was inversely related to sun exposure habits. The mortality rate amongst avoiders of sun exposure was approximately twofold higher compared with the highest sun exposure group, resulting in excess mortality with a population attributable risk of 3%.”
The key is to optimize your vitamin D level while avoiding sunburn, as sunburn is the factor that raises your risk of skin cancer (including squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma and melanoma). As noted in one 2009 paper on vitamin D synthesis versus cancer development:17
“Concerning MM [malignant melanoma], numerous epidemiologic investigations analysing solar UV-exposure parameters have consistently reported an association between the development of MM and short-term intense UV-exposure, particularly burning in childhood.
It has been convincingly demonstrated by many investigators, that the incidence of MM increases with decreasing latitude towards the equator. However, in contrast to short-term intense exposure, more chronic less intense exposure has not been found to be a risk factor for the development of MM and in fact has been found in several studies to be protective.”
Vitamin E Plays Important Role in Photoprotection, but Choose Your Supplement With Care
Another vitamin that helps prevent sun-related skin damage is vitamin E, especially when combined with vitamin C.18 An article19 on Oregon State University’s Micronutrient Information Center website discusses the many functions of vitamin E in skin, noting that “vitamin E can absorb the energy from UV light. Thus, it plays important roles in photoprotection, preventing UV-induced free radical damage to skin.”
Food is your best source of vitamin E, since food contains a combination of the eight types of vitamin E. If you’re using a supplement, there are key considerations that need to be heeded. Synthetic vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) is derived from petrochemicals and has known toxic effects.
Natural vitamin E includes a total of eight different compounds, and having a balance of all eight helps optimize its antioxidant functions. These compounds are divided into two groups of molecules as follows:
Tocopherols are considered the “true” vitamin E, and many claim it’s the only kind that has health benefits. Part of the problem with tocotrienols is that they simply haven’t received as much scientific attention. In my view, it’s safe to assume you would benefit from a balance of all eight and not just one.
Synthetic vitamin E supplements typically include only alpha-tocopherol, and research20,21 published in 2012 concluded that synthetic alpha tocopherols found in vitamin E supplements provided no discernible cancer protection while gamma and delta tocopherols found in foods do help prevent colon, lung, breast and prostate cancers. Bear in mind that a supplement will not actually tell you it’s synthetic, so you have to know what to look for on the label.
- Synthetic alpha-tocopherol is typically listed with a “dl” (i.e., dl-alpha-tocopherol)
- Nonsynthetic or naturally-derived is typically listed with a “d” (d-alpha-tocopherol). Note that when vitamin E is stabilized by adding either succinic acid or acetic acid, the chemical name changes from tocopherol to tocopheryl (as in d-alpha-tocopheryl succinate, for example).
Vitamin E Recommendations
I strongly recommend avoiding synthetic vitamin E supplements as they’ve been shown to have toxic effects in higher amounts and/or over the long term. Synthetic vitamin E has also been linked to an increased tumor progression and accelerated lung cancer in mice.22
So, if you opt for a supplement, make sure you’re getting a well-balanced all-natural vitamin E supplement, not a synthetic one. Also look for a supplement that is free of soy, soybean oil derivatives and genetically engineered (GE) ingredients (some of the most common GE ingredients found in supplements are derivatives of corn, soy and cotton seed).
According to a scientific review23,24,25 published in 2015, a mere 21 percent of the global populations studied had a vitamin E serum level of 30 micromol per liter (?mol/L) or higher, which appears to be the threshold above which beneficial health effects are obtained.26
According to the paper27 “100 Years of Vitamins,” a special issue in the International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research published in 2012, achieving a level of 30 ?mol/L requires a daily intake of 15 to 30 mg of vitamin E.
A primary reason for such widespread deficiency is that most people eat a primarily processed food diet, which tends to be lacking in vitamin E and other important nutrients.
Moreover, following a low-fat diet can have the undesirable side effect of lowering your vitamin E level, as your ability to absorb the vitamin E present in the foods you eat or supplements you take is then impaired. Since vitamin E is fat-soluble, taking it with some healthy fat, such as coconut oil or avocado, will increase its bioavailability.
Green Tea Antioxidant Helps Prevent Genetic Damage in UV-Exposed Skin
The antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), found in green tea, has also been shown to prevent genetic damage in skin cells exposed to UV radiation. The study,28 published in The Journal of Nutrition in 2011, found women who drank a beverage with green tea polyphenols (total catechin content 1,402 mg) reduced their risk of sunburn compared to controls. As reported in this study:
“Skin photoprotection, structure, and function were measured at baseline (wk 0), wk 6, and wk 12. Following exposure of the skin areas to 1.25 minimal erythemal dose of radiation from a solar simulator, UV-induced erythema decreased significantly in the intervention group by 16 and 25% after 6 and 12 wk, respectively.
Skin structural characteristics that were positively affected included elasticity, roughness, scaling, density, and water homeostasis … In summary, green tea polyphenols delivered in a beverage were shown to protect skin against harmful UV radiation and helped to improve overall skin quality of women.”
To boost the benefits of green tea further, add a squirt of lemon juice to your cup. Research29 has demonstrated vitamin C significantly increases the amount of tea catechins available for your body to absorb. The addition of 30mg of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to 250 ml of tea boosted EGCG recovery to 56% to 76%, while normally less than 20% of green tea catchins remain post-digestion.
Another study30 published in 2012 confirmed plant polyphenols in green tea “exhibit significant antioxidant, chemopreventive, and immunomodulatory effects in protecting the skin,” noting that:
“UVA radiation is far more abundant (90%) and penetrates much deeper into the epidermis and dermis of the skin. It is weakly absorbed by DNA but reacts with other nonDNA chromophores that lead to the formation of ROS which damage DNA, proteins, and lipids in the skin.
Singlet molecular oxygen produced by UVA targets DNA base guanine producing 8-oxo-7,8-dihydroguanine (8-odHG) which is an important marker of oxidative stress … Additionally, stress signals created by UVR [ultraviolet radiation] trigger protective signaling responses in the cell membrane, nucleus, and mitochondria that lead to cell cycle arrest or apoptosis.
Chronic and excessive UVR exposure overwhelms and depletes these cutaneous defense mechanisms. Therefore, compounds with antioxidant and cell repair potential are promising additions to our sun protection armamentarium …
Topical application of EGCG in a hydrophilic ointment demonstrated better photoprotective properties versus oral consumption in mice …Earlier studies using topical and orally consumed GTPP [green tea polyphenols] in mice decreased UVR-induced carcinogenesis, by inhibiting the activity of chemical tumor initiators and promoters …
Photoaging is caused by chronic UV exposure. In vitro studies using cultured human skin fibroblasts pretreated with GTPP showed a decrease in hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)-induced ROS … As discussed in this paper, GTPPs have important antioxidant, immunomodulatory, and photoprotective functions.
Their ability to modulate critical biochemical functions through topical and oral formulations makes GTPPs a promising candidate for chemoprevention and treatment of disease.”
Healthy Skin and Natural Sun Protection Are Created From the Inside Out
As you can see, there are many ways to improve your skin’s ability to withstand the sun’s rays, thereby allowing you to get the benefits without adding much risk. As mentioned, the key to preventing skin damage and skin cancer is to avoid burning.
As soon as your skin starts turning the lightest shade of pink (which will be relative, depending on your base skin color), it’s time to get out of the sun or put on protective clothing. A wide-brimmed hat to protect your face is advisable at all times. A majority of your vitamin D production comes from exposing large areas of your body — not your face.
Topping the list of nutrients that protect your skin from sun damage is astaxanthin. Taking somewhere between 4 mg and 12 mg daily can allow you to spend far more time outdoors without risking a sunburn. Just remember — it will take a few weeks before the effects become apparent, so start early.
That said, optimizing your vitamin D and taking natural vitamin E can further add to your body’s natural sun protection, as can drinking green tea or taking an ECGC supplement.
Strong, shiny hair and fingernails (and toenails) that are smooth and uniform in color, and soft, glowing skin are typically viewed as some of the more visible signs of health. Most children have all of the above, but often with factors like stress hormones, oxidative stress and a less-than-healthy diet, your hair and nails can become dry and brittle, and your skin rough and blemished.
If you’ve ever roamed the aisles where supplements are stocked, no doubt you’ve noticed — and possibly even tried — vitamins or minerals advertising help for your hair, skin and nails. You also may have noticed that there are dozens of products to wade through. It’s hard to know what will work and which will be a waste of money.
How possible is it for something in a capsule to make a difference? Can something that’s good for your hair also help your skin, and vice versa? One thing that may make such questions even more complicated is the fact that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t have the authority to regulate dietary supplements before they hit the market.1
While dermatologists may say they aren’t in the habit of recommending supplements to healthy people, that doesn’t mean they won’t be beneficial. In fact, here’s where they make themselves useful: Besides lifestyle changes, knowing the nutritional and supplemental choices you need to make can make all the difference.
Factors That Can Compromise the Health of Your Hair, Skin and Nails
Healthy hair, skin and nails depend on three main structural proteins: solubilized keratin, collagen peptides and elastin.2 Other integrative interventions include the herb Polypodium leucotomos extract, a plant-based supplement for sensitive skin,3 nicotinamide (aka niacinamide) for skin cancer protection4 and phytoceramides (plant-derived lipids).5 Factors that cause problems fall into two categories:
- Intrinsic factors such as the aging process affect the levels of all three proteins, as well as your hormone levels, while inflammation and high blood sugar damages both the integrity of collagen and its production.
- Extrinsic factors such as ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sun exposure can cause free radical damage and increase enzyme activity that breaks down collagen and elastin; air pollution and smoking are examples of “outside” forces that cause skin damage.
Is There Help for ‘Bad’ Hair, Sad Hair and Hair Loss?
While the prescription drug finasteride is touted by the medical industry as the “gold standard”6 for hair loss, particularly male pattern baldness, clinical studies note that it is also prescribed for an enlarged prostate, and the side effects are hair-raising. One of the most notorious is that it can suppress sexual function. Says Harvard Health:
“In April 2012, the FDA issued a warning on finasteride. It stated that sexual side effects could persist even after stopping the medication. Those side effects include decreased sex drive and ejaculation problems. The warning was based on about 100 reports the FDA received over nearly 20 years.
Before taking finasteride, men should consider the risk of sexual symptoms and other, more serious side effects. For example, some studies have shown that men who use finasteride for extended periods and develop prostate cancer tend to have a more aggressive and faster-growing form of the disease.”7
While the caveat says finasteride may not have been at fault, and the sexual side effects are “probably rare,” such problems occurred in 4% to 6% of the men who took the drug, and the effects were “usually” reversible. It’s safe to say that among those numbers, none of the men who experienced them would say it was worth it.
Other problems involving hair include those resulting from vitamin and/or mineral deficiencies, such as low levels of vitamin D and iron, as well as hypothyroidism and alopecia.
Androgenetic alopecia is a type of hair loss that, for men, starts with a receding hairline; for women it’s usually all-over thinning hair.8 Alopecia areata produces unexpected balding in circular patches or all over.9 Traction alopecia results from hairstyles like tight ponytails or “corn rows,” which is often reversible.10 A 2017 study suggested that “efficacious therapies are possible in the foreseeable future.”11
Supplements for Hair Loss
Weill Cornell Medical College clinical instructor Dr. Michelle Henry says for those wanting to avoid taking the pharmaceutical route, a combination of specific supplements can help, including the following:
• Biotin — According to Henry, studies on biotin (vitamin B7) once concentrated on nail growth, but because hair and nails are similar systems, supplementing with biotin will work for both. She recommends taking 2,500 to 5,000 micrograms a day, as it’s a type of vitamin B that’s “essential for nail growth, and potentially hair growth as well.”12
Sunflower seeds, walnuts, pecans and avocados are all good plant-derived sources of biotin, while protein-based sources of biotin include organic pastured egg yolks as well as milk, butter and cheese made with organic raw milk from grass fed cows, grass fed organ meats such as liver and kidneys, and wild-caught Alaskan salmon.
• Collagen — Found in many beauty supplements, collagen can help your hair as well as your skin, Henry says, noting a marine collagen supplement may be useful for vegetarians or vegans with hair loss, as, “It does provide a source [of] additional protein for them, which is critical for hair growth.”13
Your body cannot produce the essential amino acids that make up collagen, so you must obtain them through either your diet or supplements. One industry-funded study showed that women taking 50 milliliters of a collagen-based product daily for 60 days had fewer wrinkles and less skin dryness after 12 weeks.14
• Vitamin D — Another common cause of hair loss is a vitamin D deficiency, which in some cases leads to alopecia. Vitamin D stimulates hair follicles to grow, so when you don’t get enough, your hair can be affected.15
You should maintain a vitamin D level between 60 and 80 ng/mL (150 to 200 nmol/L),16 in spite of the fact that health officials sometimes suggest much less is sufficient. That said, checking your levels regularly is important, and getting vitamin D via sensible sun exposure is ideal.
• Saw Palmetto — An abundance of research shows why men and women alike reach for this supplement to treat thinning hair. Derived from a palm tree and used by Native Americans for centuries, it inhibits an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase.
This enzyme converts testosterone to the powerful androgen hormone DHT. Henry says saw palmetto is for people with androgenetic alopecia, “which is basically alopecia due to sensitivity to their own testosterone.”17
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, “Alopecia areata also can affect your fingernails and toenails. Nails can have tiny pinpoint dents (pitting). They also can have white spots or lines, be rough, lose their shine, or become thin and split.”18
Saving Your Skin: ‘Minimally Invasive’ Remedies or Diet and Lifestyle Changes?
Some doctors recommend “minimally invasive” cosmetic interventions such as laser skin resurfacing, dermabrasion, chemical peels, radiofrequency treatments, injections of botox, vitamin A derivatives, topical estrogen or other treatments to accomplish three of the most-desired outcomes: improved skin elasticity and decreased wrinkles and pore size.
They also may recommend applying sunscreen before going outside, but that comes with its own problems. The FDA admits that of the sunscreen ingredients used in the U.S., 14 of the 16 are unsafe, and research on 12 of them has never been clinically proven.19 Oxybenzone, found in many sunscreens, is an endocrine disruptor shown to reduce male fertility,20 and that’s just one problem among many.
But although diet and lifestyle changes may seem tedious to some, they cost little and will improve innumerable aspects of your health, not just those concerning your hair, skin and nails.
One of the most effective strategies involves eating a diet that curtails both processed foods and sugar, focusing on healthy fats instead. The other is getting adequate sleep, which is a minimum of seven hours every night and up to nine hours, according to the National Sleep Foundation.21
One study found poor sleep quality even accelerates intrinsic aging and diminishes the skin’s ability to recover from external stressors, like excessive exposure to UV light.22,23
Other natural substances are beneficial for your skin and hair. Ashwagandha also stimulates your DHEA levels, which triggers the production of collagen. Your skin benefits by maintaining a youthful glow due to the production of natural oils. It also fights off free radicals that cause wrinkles, dark spots and blemishes.24
And a small study in Italy showed that a synthetic derivative of sandalwood oil can help regrow scalp hair, and is shown to treat baldness by increasing growth hormone and keratin levels, noted for both hair growth and signaling skin regeneration.25
Fasting has been practiced for centuries. In fact, science shows that, like animals, we have a fasting instinct that extends through the ages: Hippocrates prescribed and championed fasting while using apple cider vinegar.1
Religions around the world developed fasting independently as a practice and the Greeks not only prescribed it for illness, but required it in preparation for many rituals to contact supernatural forces. Fasting has also been used as a means of political protest.
Gandhi fasted on at least 14 different occasions, three times for as long as 21 days. One of the longest recorded political fasts was by Terence McSweeney, past mayor of Cork, who for political reasons fasted 74 days until his death in 1920.2 Fasting may seem daunting and a challenge, but can provide long-term benefits and helps your body remove toxins.
The detoxifying effects of fasting are in fact why I developed the partial fasting regimen detailed in my latest book, “KetoFast.” KetoFasting combines a cyclical ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting with cyclical partial fasting to optimize health and longevity and support safe detoxification.
Fasting Improves Insulin Sensitivity
Like other studies before it, recent research finds fasting may improve insulin sensitivity,3 reverse diabetes4 and supports your weight management efforts when combined with exercise.5
The research, presented at Digestive Disease Week 2019,6 was based on the fasting prayer practices of Muslims during Ramadan. The pilot study enlisted 14 healthy individuals who routinely fasted for 15 hours a day from dawn to dusk over 30 days.
Researchers collected blood samples before the individuals began their religious fast and at the end of the fourth week of fasting. An additional blood panel was drawn one week post fasting. The research work was partially supported by a National Institutes of Health Public Health Service grant.7
Fasting for 30 days raised the levels of tropomyosin (TPM) proteins that in turn improved insulin resistance and reduced the adverse effects of a diet rich in sugar. Higher levels of TPM 1, 3 and 4 were found in the blood samples of the participants.8 TPM is a key factor in maintaining the health of cells important to insulin resistance.
TPM 3 plays an important role in improving sensitivity to insulin, which means better blood glucose control. The research team was led by Dr. Ayse Leyla Mindikoglu, associate professor of medicine and surgery at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, who commented on the results:9
“Feeding and fasting can significantly impact how the body makes and uses proteins that are critical to decreasing insulin resistance and maintaining a healthy body weight. Therefore, the timing of and duration between meals could be important factors to consider for people struggling with obesity-related conditions.
According to World Health Organization data, obesity affects over 650 million people worldwide, placing them at risk for any number of health conditions.
We are in the process of expanding our research to include individuals with metabolic syndrome and [nonalcoholic fatty liver disease] to determine whether the results are consistent with those of the healthy individuals.
Based on our initial research, we believe that dawn-to-sunset fasting may provide a cost-effective intervention for those struggling with obesity-related conditions.”
Fasting May Promote Pancreatic Beta-Cell Growth
An editorial written in the BMJ10 by noted research scientist James DiNicolantonio, PharmD.,11 discusses the results of several studies that have found repeated episodes of fasting may induce cell growth of pancreatic beta cells in mouse models.
The growth is associated with an increased expression of Ngn3,12 a protein involved in converting DNA into RNA critical for endocrine cells in the pancreatic islets of langerhans, the cells responsible for producing insulin.
The increase in islet beta cells induced through intermittent fasting was accompanied by a marked improvement in blood sugar control in the animal studies. These observations were of greatest interest to individuals suffering from Type 1 diabetes, as they often experience near complete inflammatory destruction of the islet beta cells.
However, the same occurs in the later stages of severe Type 2 diabetes. DiNicolantonio believes these findings may be replicated clinically, opening the path to reversing Type 2 diabetes in those with “enough discipline and commitment to adopt a lifestyle that would have prevented diabetes in the first place.”13
As a first step, he recommends you first practice a diabetes preventive lifestyle, eating a diet primarily of whole foods, complemented with regular exercise. This will help improve your insulin sensitivity and may prove sufficient for those with a recent diagnosis of diabetes to reverse their condition over time.
In those who fail to respond, he recommends an intermittent fasting protocol. Making the transition back to a health protective diet from fasting, supplemental measures may be implemented to shield the beta cells from toxicity so they retain functional capacity.
Reducing islet oxidative stress may be accomplished using spirulina, NAC and/or berberine.14 The goal is to achieve normal blood sugar control without drugs and maintain compliance with a diabetic preventive diet and lifestyle.
Skipping Breakfast Before a Workout May Support Weight Management
Another recent study evaluating the effectiveness of omitting a meal before an early workout was published in the Journal of Nutrition.15 The researchers wanted to see if skipping breakfast before working out would affect the relationship to food for the remainder of the day.
While exercise plays an important role in weight management and overall health, past studies have demonstrated people who begin a new exercise program often compensate for energy burned during exercise by eating more later in the day, or by moving less.
The researchers enrolled 12 healthy, physically active young men who all completed three stages in randomized order separated by over one week.16 During the one stage, the participants ate a breakfast of oats and milk followed by rest. In another they had the same breakfast and then exercised for 60 minutes.
During another stage, the participants fasted overnight and then exercised in the morning before eating. The following 24 hours of caloric intake was monitored and calculated. The researchers found those who fasted and then exercised had a negative 400 calorie intake during the day as compared to those who ate and rested or who ate breakfast before exercising.
According to the researchers, these results have implications for those who want to include exercise in their weight control efforts.17 Javier Gonzalez, Ph.D., from the University of Bath, oversaw the study and suggested working out on an empty stomach probably will not trigger overeating, but instead may lead to a calorie deficit.
The study was small and used fit young men. The researchers question if the results would be comparable in groups of older, overweight, out of shape or female participants. The study did not explain why the participants who had skipped eating before exercise did not continue to eat all day.18 Gonzalez hopes to study these questions.
Obesity Rates Climbing, Affecting Multiple Health Conditions
Diabetes is a condition in which your body develops a resistance to insulin and leptin signaling, which drives your blood glucose level high. Conventional medicine aims to treat the symptoms of diabetes, while the condition is in fact preventable and in most cases reversible simply by changing your diet and lifestyle habits.
One significant risk factor for insulin resistance is overeating carbohydrates and added sugar, as these spike your insulin level and gradually increase cellular resistance to insulin. Overeating carbohydrates and sugar is also a primary cause of obesity, a growing epidemic in the U.S.
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey19 is an in-depth survey designed to assess health and nutritional status of Americans. In their most recent findings, published for 2015-2016,20 data showed an increasing number of health conditions associated with obesity, including diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, arthritis and certain cancers.
The rate of adults with obesity from 2007-2008 to 2015-2016 increased from 33.7% to 39.6%.21 A variety of reasons may be attributed to these rising numbers, including a sedentary lifestyle,22 increased highly processed food consumption,23 medications24 and psychological triggers,25 to name a few.
Additional Benefits to Fasting
In addition to supporting your weight management efforts, fasting also offers several other benefits that are foundational to optimal health. This cycling of feeding and fasting mimics the eating habits of our ancestors and restores your body to a more natural state, allowing a host of biochemical benefits to take place.
When you eat throughout the day, your body becomes adapted to burning sugar and carbohydrates as a primary fuel, down-regulating enzymes involved in the use and burning of stored fat. This increases your insulin resistance and your risk of gaining weight.26 It’s important to realize that in order to lose body fat, your body must be able to burn fat.
Two powerful ways of shifting to a fat burning metabolism is fasting and eating a cyclical ketogenic diet. In addition to promoting insulin and leptin sensitivity, fasting also normalizes ghrelin levels,27 known as the hunger hormone.
Human growth hormone (HGH) production is also affected by fasting, rising as much as 1,300% in women and 2,000% in men.28,29 HGH plays a role in fitness, longevity and muscle growth, and boosts fat loss.30
Fasting also helps suppress inflammation and reduce oxidative damage,31 improve immune function32 and reduce your risk of heart disease.33 One of the side effects of rising ketone levels produced during fasting is an improvement in cognitive function34 and a reduction in neurological diseases, such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.35
Additionally, fasting helps reduce your cravings for sugar as your body adapts to burning fat,36 thus boosting your weight loss efforts even further. According to research presented at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting,37,38 intermittent fasting will also drastically reduce a woman’s risk of breast cancer.
Avoid Eating at Least Three Hours Before Bed
While the featured study demonstrated those who practice intermittent fasting from sunup to sunset experienced health benefits, eating too close to bedtime can have negative health repercussions. Adding to the problem, the late-night meal tends to be the largest meal of the day for most Americans, and often consists of heavily processed foods.
Under the best of circumstances, your stomach takes several hours to empty after you eat. As you age or if you experience acid reflux, the process takes even longer. When you recline for sleep, it’s easier for acid to enter your esophagus, leading to acid reflux.39
You may have acid reflux even if you don’t experience heartburn but have symptoms like hoarseness, chronic throat clearing and even asthma. Eating late at night also throws off your body’s internal clock.
In my previous article, “What You Really Need to Know About Your Mitochondria,” Dr. Lee Know, a naturopathic physician and author, addresses the issue of timing your meals and explains what happens when you eat late in the evening, at a time when your body does not need the energy.
In short, it may be one of the worst things you can do, as it detrimentally affects your mitochondria.40 A foundational cause of many degenerative diseases are your mitochondria, little powerhouses located in most of your body’s cells.41
When they receive inappropriate amounts of proper fuel they may begin to deteriorate and malfunction. This dysfunction lays the groundwork for subsequent breakdowns of various bodily systems.
Take Control of Your Health With Fasting
Millions suffer from Type 2 diabetes, but it is not an inevitable risk of life. Fasting is the most profoundly effective metabolic intervention I’m aware of. It’s like getting a free stem cell transplant, and it massively upregulates autophagy and mitophagy.
It also stimulates mitochondrial biosynthesis during the refeeding phase, which allows your body to naturally regenerate. For these reasons, fasting not only is beneficial for Type 2 diabetes and obesity but also for health in general, and likely even longevity. There’s even evidence to suggest fasting can help prevent or even reverse dementia, as it helps your body clean out toxic debris.
Other ailments that can benefit from fasting include polycystic ovaries, polycystic kidneys and fast growing cancer cells. The reason for this is because when autophagy increases, your body starts breaking down old protein, including fast growing cells.
Then, during the refeeding phase, growth hormone increases, boosting the rebuilding of new proteins and cells. In other words, it reactivates and speeds up your body’s natural renewal cycle.
Gradually easing into longer fasts will naturally minimize most side effects associated with fasting, as will transitioning over to a high-fat, low-carb diet, to help your body to adjust to using fat as a primary fuel.
The so-called “keto flu” is often related to sodium deficiency, so it’s recommended to take a high-quality unprocessed salt each day. I typically pour salt in my hand and lick it throughout the day when fasting, as I obviously can’t put it on food. This will also help reduce the likelihood of intractable muscle cramps at night.
An alternative to eating salt straight, or putting it in water, is to add it to a bit of bone broth. Another important mineral is magnesium. It’s particularly important if you are diabetic, as magnesium deficiency is very common among Type 2 diabetics. This is another possible culprit if you’re getting muscle cramps.
It is also important to understand that when you’re fasting, you’re going to automatically liberate toxins from your fat stores. Using an infrared sauna and taking binders like chlorella, modified citrus pectin, cilantro or even activated charcoal can help eliminate these liberated toxins from your body and prevent their reabsorption.
As mentioned, my KetoFasting protocol addresses this and other important fasting concerns. Lastly, although it’s highly beneficial for most, fasting is not for everyone. You should not do any type of extended fasting if you are underweight, pregnant, breastfeeding or have an eating disorder.
For tips on how to integrate a cyclical ketogenic diet into your health plan and the wide-ranging health benefits of fasting and intermittent fasting, including radically improve sleep and improved cognition, see my previous article, “How to Make Fasting Easier, Safer and More Effective.”
1 Research suggests the following herbicide and desiccant, when combined with lectin-rich foods such as peas, beans or potatoes, can trigger the neurological damage seen in patients with Parkinson’s disease:
2 Which of the following media platforms have taken measures to censor information relating to vaccine safety?
3 Which of the following bacteria are responsible for 80 to 90% of all urinary tract infections?
4 The blue light from LED light bulbs damages your eyes primarily by:
5 According to research, one of the primary benefits of cupping — an ancient treatment with Chinese, Egyptian and Middle Eastern roots — is which of the following?
6 In the documentary film “Farmer’s Footprint,” which practice did the Breitkreutz family implement first in their transition to regenerative agriculture?
7 To prevent cardiovascular disease and death from cardiovascular disease, your best bet is to:
In Tank’s conversation with Matthew Anderson, he answered a question on the GCR