Category: Science

Here you will find posts related to the most groundbreaking science that is available to us as it pertains to gluten intolerance and brain health. We all have the gift of brain plasticity, meaning that if we apply the conclusions of these studies to our daily lives we can actually grow new brain cells!

Some posts to get you started:
The Process of Neuroplasticity
Increasing Gluten Sensitivity?

Health Benefits

Health Benefits of Social Interaction

According to the World Health Organization, the biggest threats to our health, globally, are now chronic degenerative conditions, not infectious diseases. What a transition! As opposed to various epidemics of diseases that were so common in our history, what is now threatening health, across the planet,  is chronic degenerative inflammatory conditions – diseases that we most fear. These include things like Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, diabetes, coronary artery disease, and autoimmune conditions as well.

So it makes sense that we must do everything we possibly can, from a lifestyle choice perspective, to keep ourselves healthy and lower our risk for these chronic degenerative conditions.

No doubt lifestyle issues like diet and exercise have received a lot of press, but what we don’t hear about so often is the importance of social interaction. Continue reading

Asthma Epidemic Explained

Asthma – An Epidemic Explained

So much has been written in scientific journals recently about how the loss of microbes in the gut, especially earlier in life, affects the immune system. For example, researcher Marsha Wills-Karp, at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, recently revealed how early life exposure to antibiotics is associated with a substantial increased risk for the development of asthma.

Asthma has become an epidemic in America, affecting 1 in 12 Americans and totaling around $60 billion in direct medical costs, as well as lost work and school days, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

When we are exposed to antibiotics, which may well be a necessary medical treatment, the intervention isn’t really a targeted assault on a particular offending organism. Rather, these days doctors prescribe “broad spectrum” antibiotics that are effective in wiping out a vast array of organisms, well beyond the offending agent, and this may include some of the good guys as well.

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Dr. David Perlmutter and Dr. David Ludwig

Today on The Empowering Neurologist,  I interview Dr. David Ludwig. Dr. Ludwig is a practicing endocrinologist and researcher at Boston Children’s Hospital, Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, and Professor of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health.

Dr. Ludwig has published over 150 scientific articles, and presently serves as Contributing Writer for JAMA.

He is founding director of the Optimal Weight for Life (OWL) program at Children’s Hospital, one of the country’s oldest and largest multidisciplinary clinics for the care of overweight children. OWL serves as a home for research into innovative approaches to treat childhood obesity.

Dr. Ludwig also directs the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center. His research focuses on the effects of diet on hormones, metabolism and body weight. He developed a novel “low glycemic load” diet (i.e., one that decreases the surge in blood sugar after meals) for the treatment of obesity-related diseases.

Described as an “obesity warrior” by Time magazine, Dr. Ludwig has been featured in the New York Times and on NPR, ABC, NBC, CBS, and CNN, among others.

Today’s interview focuses on his new book, Always Hungry?.

From Amazon:

ALWAYS HUNGRY? turns dieting on its head with a three-phase program that ignores calories and targets fat cells directly. The recipes and meal plan include luscious high fat foods (like nuts and nut butters, full fat dairy, avocados, and dark chocolate), savory proteins, and natural carbohydrates. The result? Fat cells release their excess calories and you lose weight-and inches-without battling cravings and constant hunger. This is dieting without deprivation.

Forget calories. Forget cravings. Forget dieting. ALWAYS HUNGRY? reveals a liberating new way to tame hunger and lose weight . . . for good.

The book really does deliver in terms of both providing the science in an understandable way, as well as giving the reader a user-friendly, actionable plan. I’m really glad I was given the opportunity to read the manuscript for this important work.

glyphosate_GMO

A New Powerful Reason to Reject GMO Foods

Glyphosate, the patented herbicide now used around the world, is the active ingredient in the more commonly recognized product known as RoundUp. RoundUp kills those nasty weeds that want to grow in our gardens, around our fruit trees and along our streets. We’ve got to get rid of weeds at all cost!

RoundUp is what’s in the tank on the backs of those people spraying the verdant median of our roadways. Yes, I’m talking about the same RoundUp that you can buy right off the shelf at your neighborhood Home Depot or any number of other garden stores. It’s sold right out in the open and we’re encouraged to buy it despite the fact that it represents an incredible threat to our health.

Glyphosate, you may recall, was determined to be a “probable human carcinogen” by the World Health Organization publishing in the journal Lancet Oncology in March of this year.

But here’s what’s even more concerning about glyphosate. It turns out that the research indicating the danger of this chemical is not really telling the whole story. Continue reading

Acid Blocking Drugs

Acid Blocking Drugs May Threaten Health

We’ve all seen the commercials. A man tries to eat a sausage sandwich, and the sausage turns away. The implication is that if he eats the sausage he’ll get “indigestion”…whatever that means. The call to action is to reach for an acid-blocking pill. Then, he can eat whatever he wants, and the world is a better place.

Generally, the reason people don’t tolerate foods has little to do with the food’s effects on stomach acid. When, like our friend above, foods aren’t tolerated, it might just mean there’s a good reason we shouldn’t be eating them in the first place.

But somehow, the idea that we are all suffering from “excess stomach acid,” has really taken hold in our society – no doubt because the fix for this condition is as easy as popping a pill.

To be clear, there are a handful of medical conditions in which there truly is an increased production of stomach acid, like Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, and there are conditions, like Barret’s esophagus and ulcer disease, in which reducing the production of stomach acid is worthwhile.

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Antibiotics_Diabetes

Antibiotics and Risk for Diabetes

If you’ve been following the microbiome story you are likely aware of the emerging literature that squarely places gut bacteria in a pivotal position as it relates to any number of physiological processes. From regulating the balance of the immune system to determining the level of inflammation that a person may experience, it is now becoming mainstream knowledge that our gut bacteria are poised to regulate our most critical, life-supportive processes.

In Brain Maker, and certainly on this blog, I have written extensively on the important role of the microbiome in terms of regulating blood sugar and insulin sensitivity. As such, we would expect that environmental events that disrupt the gut ecology might have a causative role, or at least show correlation with type 2 diabetes.

Recall that several months ago I called attention to the interesting study from Israeli researchers in which changes to the gut bacteria brought on by exposure to artificial sweeteners were dramatically associated with increased risk for issues related to glucose regulation, insulin sensitivity, and, therefore, type II diabetes.

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Flu_Shot

Should You Get a Flu Shot?

Newspaper ads, television commercials and pharmacy marquees are all seemingly pointing us in one direction – get a flu shot, and do it today!

But is this really ironclad advice? To help answer this important question, let’s see what the very best research reveals about the effectiveness of the flu shot. In other words, whether it even works or not.

To answer this question, I visited two sources. First, WebMD described the flu vaccine as “reducing the odds of getting the flu by 70% to 90%.” Who wouldn’t be impressed by those statistics! Continue reading

Mapping the Human Microbiome v1

Mapping the Human Microbiome – A New Museum Exhibit

The awareness of the role of our resident microbes just seems to be exploding. I’ve recently learned that the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City has just opened an exhibit called The Secret World Inside You that is dedicated to the incredibly important role the vast array of microbes (the microbiome) living within each and every one of us plays in our health.

The focus of the exhibit seems to be dedicated to the notion that we are each an actual interdependent “ecosystem.” This is certainly a new way of thinking about the human body.

The descriptions of the exhibit indicate that it is quite revealing in terms of correlating the human microbiome with things like immune function, detoxification, and regulating metabolism, using animations and other visual presentations. Can’t wait!

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Vitamin D and Athletes

Low Vitamin D Status in Athletes

As the years go by it is certainly being made clear that clinicians like myself, and scientists alike, have dramatically underestimated the importance of vitamin D in human physiology. As it turns out, we are now in a position to recognize that we have been significantly off-base in terms of what it means to have a  “healthy vitamin D level.” Continue reading