Loss brings determination

November 22, 2015

Life cannot be lived without loss. Losses we call ‘big’ and ‘small.’ Some losses are of a nature that you only know you have lost because you know you will never be able to have an experience you didn’t even know you wanted to have.

My good friend Denmark West has been honoring the life of HaHank Williamsnk 
Williams owing to his recent and unexpected death. He was a pioneering entrepreneur and a tireless advocate for increasing diversity in the technology arenas. Reading Denmark’s heartfelt posts triggered a cascade of thoughts. So, in addition to being supportive of my friend at the loss of his, I’m struck by the nature of my loss having never met Hank. Had I, I’m positive it would have been to our mutual benefit. Also, it was a reminder as to how utterly socially inept I have come to be (my momma taught me better – she doesn’t deserve this) to let soo many months go by since speaking to Denmark (sorry, man – I’m gonna fix that). Then the reminder that there are at least a 1/2 dozen other such people who I need to get with (sorry Todd).

But the most biggest and most insistent word in the word cloud is health. You see, Hank died aged 50 of a viral heart infection. 50.

While I have no more detailed information about the circumstances of his death (other than the news reports), Denmark’s plea in one of his posts honoring Hank kept ringing in my ears:

Denmark on Hank

I created the blog you are reading over six years ago now (after delaying several years) because of repeated requests of friends and acquaintances to share some of the self-taught lessons that have enabled me to continue in excellent health well past the age at which Hank was taken from us.

Sadly, I let these pages languish over the last while. Maybe because in 2015 blogging is just quaint (Oh look, he’s blogging, must be hard to compose those posts on a flip phone). Or maybe there are much better sources from which one would be able to get much of what I have to share (Mark’s Daily Apple, Vitamin D Council, Diet Doctor, Nutritional Science Initiative).

All that may be true, but I am determined to get back to helping people in any way I can.

It’s a small token, but I can say this loss has lead to determination.

Watch these pages. There is more to come.

Here’s an innovative idea: let’s say you have one of those myriad ideas about how to keep people healthy that does not involve a new molecule (pharma) or zapping a patient with neutron gamma rays (medical devices). The oft-repeated lament is “Nobody’s gonna fund that, there’s no money in it!”

But if it’s dirt cheap and so helpful, you ought to be able to convince some large number of people (how presumably have been helped) to chip in to fund the research, huh?

Well, that’s the big idea at Grassroots Health (http://grassrootshealth.net). As far as I can tell, their only (first?) area of interest is in Vitamin D sufficiency (http://grassrootshealth.net/daction). They essentially have people sign up for $60/year. By signing up, members agree to participate in an observational study tracking circulating Vitamin D concentrations (25(OH)D) against a bunch of health conditions. The long-term plan is to build up enough cash to do a clinical trial of a to-be-determined design.

Could be the start of a new model – and give the disaffected throngs a way to push their priorities and note be dictated to by the medical-industrial complex.

Micronutrient Triage Theory

October 30, 2009

What could be a major key to understanding how we progressively acquire  disease, endure chronic conditions and face decline as we age is laboring in obscurity. For my money, it is as cogent an explanation as any I’ve heard for the broad spectrum of ailments, conditions, diseases (pick your terminology) that seem to creep up on us, seemingly out of nowhere, as we age.

Dr. Bruce N. Ames The triage hypothesis posits that the risk of degenerative diseases associated with aging, including cancer, cognitive decline, and immune dysfunction, can be decreased by ensuring adequate intake of micronutrients: the 40 essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids. The hypothesis was first put forth by Dr. Bruce Ames, a Biochemistry  professor at University of California at Berkeley. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s one of the most prolific (and some would say controversial) scientists around. Here’s an hour interview that gives you a pretty good sense of his views.

Perhaps a post on another day would muse about his views regarding pesticide residue in food and the affect of exposure to environmental toxins. This day, though, we’ll let him speak for himself regarding his micronutrient triage hypothesis (from the seminal article):

I propose DNA damage and late onset disease are consequences of a triage allocation response to micronutrient scarcity. Episodic shortages of micronutrients were common during evolution. Natural selection favors short-term survival at the expense of long-term health. I hypothesize that short-term survival was achieved by allocating scarce micronutrients by triage, in part through an adjustment of the binding affinity of proteins for required micronutrients. If this hypothesis is correct, micronutrient deficiencies that trigger the triage response would accelerate cancer, aging, and neural decay but would leave critical metabolic functions, such as ATP production, intact. Evidence that micronutrient malnutrition increases late onset diseases, such as cancer, is discussed. A multivitamin-mineral supplement is one low-cost way to ensure intake of the Recommended Dietary Allowance of micronutrients throughout life.

If this theory pans out, we could see enormous implications on our ability to proactively ensure the optimal set of micronutrients to stave off the scourges of aging. Dr. Ames, in fact, recently published an article homing in on the effects of Vitamin K insufficiency that appears to support the hypothesis.

You’ve got to be in it for the long haul on this one as it will likely take years to build up enough evidence to become mainstream. But, in the meantime, why not fill up you body’s tank of necessary micronutrients with the right diet and appropriate supplementation.

You have very little to lose (a few dollars) and potentially a whole lot to gain.

It has been nearly impossible to escape the tidal wave of interest and sheer volume of ink (in paper or digital form) that has been spent on examining our current healthcare system and the myriad proposals for change that would lead to a more sustainable, humane and equitable system.

The subject of this post is a bite-sized assessment of this problem from Dr. Stanley Skollar of Life Extension Foundation (if you’ve poked around this blog, you know how highly I regard the work of LEF). ‘Bite-sized’ in that it’s not a 400 page tome, but touches on issues that have been broached by people like Clayton Christensen, George Halvorson and others of the thought leaders who I hope will play a major role in shaping our healthcare future.

There are two big numbers (out of an ocean of relevant and important numbers) I’d like to home in on in this post:

According to the Congressional Budget office, the total national spending on healthcare has more than doubled in the last 30 years. The projections are, that by the year 2035, healthcare will require more than 30% of our total GDP, 40% by 2060 and 50% by 2082!

… and …

The medical care costs for people with chronic degenerative diseases account for more than 75% of our nations two trillion plus dollars expense for all medical care!

Yes, these are big numbers and can lead to a myriad of conclusions, however, I’d like to invite you consider the possibility that one of our first orders of business should be to rethink how we provide care for those living with chronic conditions. In many cases, we have approaches that can remedy some conditions, thereby greatly reducing the overall system cost for caring for these patients.

We have more and more mounting evidence that patient-centered, coordinated care focused on overall outcomes (not merely treating the disease end-state) reduces costs and leads to healthier patients. I have been gathering examples of this evidence in my delicious favorites list. The chroniccare tag gives you 50+ examples (as of this writing, anyway) that point the way.

What is so impressive about Dr. Skollar’s article on Life Extension, is that he succinctly provides novel diagnostic guidance for a wide range of issues. Here are just a few examples:

  • He succinctly cites four expressions of molecular pathology that are at the root of both so-called ‘normal’ aging and chronic diseases: oxidative stress, inflammation, glycation and defects in methylation.
  • He goes on to offer novel approaches to diagnosing each of these expressions.
  • Finally, he offers concrete recommendations calling out specific neutraceuticals (nutrients, dietary supplement, etc.) that have been shown to address the detrimental mechanisms previously described

It is well worth the read:

Redefining Healthcare: Towards a Shift in the Medical Paradigm

By Stanley Skollar, M.D.

For those of you in the Seattle area, I’ve been honored to be asked to speak atSeattle Urban League an upcoming “Young Professional Development Summit” held by the Seattle Urban League Young Professionals group. I’ll be speaking on my usual spiel, but will also be joined by two others who have great experience knowledge and insight.

Here are the particulars:

Date: Saturday, May 2nd, 2009
Panel  Time:  9:15 – 10:45AM (includes time for Q & A)
Location: Starbucks Corp Headquarters
2401 Utah Ave S
Seattle, WA 98134
Panel Topic:  “Taking Charge of your health in times of change.”

Cholesterol and Health

February 23, 2009

If you don’t know about UndergroundWellness.com, you oughta. He’s on my blogroll and I highly recommend all his materials as a source.

Recently, he interviewed Chris Masterjohn (cholesterol-and-health.com) who offered as complete and concise an understanding of cholesterol that I’ve had the pleasure to encounter. It’s over an hour, but by the end of the hour, you’ll be in the 99th percentile of cholesterol knowledge.

Did you know there are the myriad functions of cholesterol in the body?

Did you know that LDL and HDL are not ‘cholesterol,’ but lipoprotiens (Low Density Lipoprotein and High Density Lipoprotein) which are merely the vehicle that delivers cholesterol (and many other fat-soluble nutrients like vitamin K) to your cells?

Did you know the majority of cholesterol in your body is in your brain and adequate cholesterol is needed for optimal brain function?

Did you know cholesterol is a precursor to all sex hormones (progesterone, testosterone, estrogens) and is required for optimal circulating levels of these hormones?

Did you know cholesterol is essential for the synthesis of vitamin D?

Did you know there is no ‘good’ cholesterol or ‘bad’ cholesterol – just cholesterol.

Did you know the real hazard is not the level of LDL in the blood but the level of oxidized LDL. Oxidized LDL is not able to bind with the LDL receptors in the liver inhibiting the ability of the liver to to internalize the LDL.

Did you know to ask your doctor to test for pattern size in your LDL and LDL:HDL ratio (total ‘cholesterol’ is essentially meaningless for most of us)? Small, dense LDL is much more prone to oxidation and more easily penetrates the arterial wall and result in a plaque deposits.

Did you know that while statin drugs inhibit cholesterol synthesis in the liver (probably ‘OK’) that such drugs might also inhibit cholesterol synthesis in other vital organs like, say, the brain?!? (see previous paragraph on cholesterol and the brain)

Did you know statins also have the effect of depleting the vital antioxidant Co Enzyme Q10 – lower concentrations of which are correlated with heart disease?

Believe it or not, there is a lot more covered in this interview. It’s a real keeper:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/UndergroundWellness/2009/02/11/The-Real-Cholesterol-Story

The whole idea for this blog was kicked off by friends asking for more information – so I figured I’d write once.

Writing is great, but I’m also very interested in keepin’ it real. So I started a real live face-to-face get together through meetup.com. You can find the meetup here: http://www.meetup.com/Mens-health.

For those of you in Seattle and environs, check it out.