Muscles act as metamaterials due to collective behavior, physicists show.


musclemetamaterial (1)

http://phys.org/news/2013-06-muscles-metamaterials-due-behavior-physicists.html

Source: http://phys.org

Silver Boosts Antibiotic Efficacy.


Silver makes bacteria more susceptible to antibiotics by weakening their cell membranes and inducing overproduction of DNA-damaging oxidative radicals.

StaphA_310

The antimicrobial properties of silver have been known for thousands of years, but it was not clear how the metal wreaked havoc on pathogenic invaders. Now, researchers have explained the cellular processes by which the precious metal weakens bacteria and makes them more susceptible to antibiotics, according to a study published yesterday (June 19) in Science Translational Medicine. The findings suggest that silver could be used to enhance the effectiveness of antibiotics against drug-resistant bacteria.

A team lead by Jim Collins, a biomedical engineer at Boston University, showed that dissolved silver ions interfere with several cellular processes in bacteria, including disulfide-bond formation, iron homeostasis, and metabolism. These changes not only make the cell membrane more permeable, but also lead to increased production of reactive oxygen species, which can induce cell death via DNA damage. (Last month, a report from a different group found that vitamin C has a similar effect on the bacteria that cause tuberculosis.)

When Collins and his colleagues supplemented antibiotics with a small amount of silver, both in vitro and in a mouse model of a urinary tract infection, the combination killed up to 1,000 times more bacteria than the antibiotics did on their own. In addition, the researchers showed that silver sensitizes Gram-negative bacteria to vancomycin, a large-molecule antibiotic that usually can’t breach the outer coating on the bacterial cell membranes.

“This work shows that silver can be used to enhance the action of existing antibiotics against Gram-negative bacteria, thus strengthening the antibiotic arsenal for fighting bacterial infections,” the authors wrote.

Vance Fowler, an infectious disease physiologist at Duke University in North Carolina, told Nature that the study is “really cool” but warned that silver can be toxic. But Collins said that even with non-toxic doses of silver, his team observed enhanced antibiotic efficacy in mouse models of infection. Collins added that other researchers might now attempt to find non-toxic compounds that mimic silver’s bacteria-weakening mechanisms.

Source: http://www.the-scientist.com

Real-Life True Blood: Synthetic Blood Is Coming — And So Are a Host of Potential Complications.


true-blood

Season 6 of HBO’s vampire drama True Blood premieres on Sunday night, presumably following up on last year’s cliffhanger where the factory that produces Tru-Blood — the bottled synthetic blood that allows vampires go “vegetarian” — was burned to the ground, destroying the product that made it possible for vampires to non-violently co-exist with people.

But out here in the real world, the future of synthetic blood is just beginning. After decades of global research, controversies, and failed approval petitions, the UK’s Medical and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency finally gave researchers at the Scottish Centre for Regenerative Medicine the go-ahead late last month to start developing synthetic blood with adult stem cells.

The license allows the researchers to use already-recognized stem cell technology to create a compound that would both eliminate the risk of infusion-transmitted infections and supplement (if not eventually take the place of) chronically limited blood banks worldwide. After years of partial synthetic successes at best, it will permit the first-ever human clinical trials of synthetic blood. Oh, also? The license permits blood manufacturing “on an industrial scale.” Cue the True Blood overture (albeit sans vampires).

And according to Ruha Benjamin, a sociologist at Boston University, the arrival of synthetic blood is also likely to come with some serious socioeconomic and ethical issues, including ones that have complicated many medical advances before it.

Benjamin is the author of People’s Science: Bodies and Rights on the Stem Cell Frontier, a new book that explores the social forces that inform and arise from scientific research, especially controversial medical practices like stem cell trials. Though her research focuses specifically on the politics of paying clinical egg donors in California, the patterns of structural inequality she outlines are in danger of repeating themselves in Scotland – and later, in the rest of the world. The two major quagmires, she told Wired, lie in how clinical trials for synthetic blood are conducted and in the potential patenting of the technology.

Testing Tru Blood

According to its statements in The Scotsman, the Scottish Centre for Regenerative Medicine will produce synthetic blood for the trials using induced pluripotent stem cells – adult cells that can be forced to act like embryotic stem cells. That means they’ll need stem cell donors as well as, later on, transfusion recipients, and neither of those come free.

“Most clinical trials offer some compensation,” said Benjamin. “They don’t call it payment; they consider it a stipend, ‘to offset the burden of participating.’ That means that, for the most part, people who are well off are not participating. People signing up on websites for clinical trials are often working-class people.”

This sort of compensation is substantial enough, she says, that it has resulted in professional guinea pigs: transient “workers” who make a sparse living ($15,000 to $20,000, roughly) by participating in clinical trials. They know where trials are held, who is conducting them, and where communal housing is available to them across the country, and they rack up “paychecks” as they go. A decent percentage of clinical trials include these participants, said Benjamin, at least in the U.S.

“It’s a case in which people who can’t find any other kind of work discover that the little bit of compensation you get through participating ends up being enough,” she said. Those people, again often working classes, “are willing to bear the risks of the trials.” She says that there’s no reason to think that the participants in the testing of synthetic blood will be any different.

Clinical trials for any foreign substance like synthetic blood also need to be performed on “pharmaceutically naïve” subjects: people whose bodies aren’t already full of drugs. Again, that often means exploiting the working class, as well as outsourcing to developing countries.

“It’s a regulatory question [researchers] have to ask: ‘What kind of place will allow us to come in and gather data and not put up as many barriers?’” Benjamin explained. “Often, these tend to be countries that have weaker governments, or that don’t have their own research community that would feel threatened by outside researchers coming in.” This reproduces the global North-South dynamic, the divide that allows richer, “northern” countries to regularly take advantage of “southern” second- and third-world nations.

Tru Blood to the Highest Bidder

And then there’s the potential danger of ownership. If the researchers at the SCRM choose to patent their technology (the way it would seem the sole manufacturers of the fictional Tru Blood did) they could stand to make a fortune off the stuff–and destroy a lot of potential future research in the process.

Consider the very recent Supreme Court case, Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc. Myriad had patents on two genes their researchers identified as being hereditarily linked to breast cancer: the genes themselves, not the method of finding them. (If you’ve heard of this case before, it’s probably thanks to the work Myriad did for Angelina Jolie.) Myriad’s patents not only made testing for the gene very expensive, but rendered second opinions impossible.

On June 13, the Supreme Court ruled in the AMP’s favor, saying that Myriad could not patent actual DNA, which is found in nature; the company could, however, patent cDNA (or complementary DNA), synthetically engineered clones of said genes. The Myriad ruling applies almost solely to genetic research, however, which means that synthetic blood–which is similar to cDNA in that it’s created using biological templates–is still likely to be patented.

If the SCRM’s synthetic blood tests are successful and it does get patented and sent to an international market, it’s likely that pricetags will be set high. (Want some precedent? Myriad Genetics’ patents allowed them to charge upwards of $3,000 for a test that would generically cost about $300.) That cost could seriously impact patients, especially in the U.S. and other nations with non-nationalized healthcare.

Ironically, if Benjamin’s research says anything, it’s that the people who can’t afford a medical breakthrough are often the people who secured its success in the first place.

“If a patient doesn’t have insurance, for example, you can imagine a doctor deciding, ‘Okay, do we use the synthetic blood that works faster and better [than real blood], and is more expensive? Or are we going to use the cheaper, real blood with this patient—if the patient doesn’t have insurance?’ It’s very likely doctors will choose the lower-quality product. The very same population who are the substrate for the research are, because of the class and racial dynamics, the same population denied access to it later because they’re uninsured.”

She says the Affordable Care Act may change this disparity, depending on what tests and treatments it covers.

Of course, none of this has yet come to pass in the case of the Scottish synthetic blood trials, since the trials themselves haven’t begun. Admittedly, there’s an outside chance that its potential success could still go the way of the polio vaccine; as its inventor Jonas Salk told a reporter in 1955 when asked who owned the patent for his discovery, “Well, the people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?”

But that magnanimity is unlikely in this day and age. As Benjamin points out, “The context in which synthetic blood is coming to market is a far cry from the days of Jonas Salk.”

Source: http://www.wired.com

Prebiotics and Probiotics: The Importance of Gut Health.



You have about 10 trillion human cells in your body and around 100 trillion microbial cells(meaning microbes, otherwise known as bugs).

Doesn’t that bug you? (Pun intended.)

Of course, not all bugs are made equal. In fact, some microbes are essential to the proper function of our guts; they help us to break down food, protect us against the bad bugs, and as it turns out could even help prevent obesity.

You’ve probably noticed advertisements promoting the added benefits of probiotics for digestive health in various foods and as supplements. The term probiotic was first coined by researchers Lilly and Stilwell in 1965 to describe substances secreted by one organism that stimulated the growth of another, beginning a new era for digestive health research. Industry data indicates that from July 2010 to July 2012, sales of probiotic foods and supplements has increased as much as 79 percent. Clearly, we have come a long way since 1965.

Interestingly, we are more familiar with the “opposite” of probiotics: antibiotics. Antibiotics are powerful medicines used to fight bacterial infections. If used properly, antibiotics save lives, but there is also an increasing concern about over-prescription and creating possible resistance in bacteria. So one question to ask today is whether overprescribing of antibiotics and antibiotics use in animals (and hence our food) has led to an increased interest in and need for probiotics. Our bugs are just not what they used to be. It may also be that pre- and probiotics are simply a hot topic in the mainstream media and health care journals.

Let’s take a step back and examine what exactly are probiotics (and prebiotics). Prebiotics are the non-digestible carbohydrates that stimulate growth and activity of bacteria in our digestive systems. Prebiotics are found naturally in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, radish, asparagus, and whole grains.

Probiotics are mostly bacteria, which assist in the maintenance of the natural balance of microorganisms (microflora) in the intestines. Therefore, prebiotics feed the probiotics. An average human digestive tract has approximately 400 types of probiotic bacteria. These probiotic bacteria reduce the harmful bacteria, suggesting that probiotics can prevent infections in the digestive tract and reduce inflammation. Some medical professionals go as far as recommending probiotics for the common cold.

Lactobacillus acidophilus, which is found in yogurt, is the largest group of probiotic bacteria in the intestine. Other food sources of probiotics include sauerkraut, miso soup, sourdough bread, and pickles. And if those foods don’t sound appetizing, supplements can be found almost everywhere vitamins are sold. Although most probiotics are bacterial in form, a yeast known as Saccharomyces boulardii (a type of baker’s yeast) can also deliver health benefits if consumed live.

So why is there an increasing focus on adding probiotics to the diet, whether through foods or specific products? Poor digestive health places a burden not only on an individual but on the health care system. The National Commission on Digestive Disorders in the U.S. reported in 2009 that 60 to 70 million Americans are affected each year by digestive diseases at a cost that exceeds $100 billion in direct medical expenses. Each year, an additional 105 million visits are made to physicians related to digestive diseases. If pre- and pro-biotics can help us reduce even a portion of these costs, they are worth serious consideration.

Implications for the use of pre- and probiotics in the developing world for diarrheal diseases may be equally important. Diarrhea remains a primary cause of preventable deaths in children younger than age 5. A 2010 Cochrane review examined 63 trials of probiotics, which included 8,014 people with infectious diarrhea. Findings revealed that people who took probiotics were generally sick 25 hours less, without any adverse effects, and the risk of diarrhea lasting four or more days reduced by 59 percent.

On June 12, The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science at the New York Academy of Sciences and The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP), held a conference entitled Probiotics, Prebiotics, and the Host Microbiome: The Science of Translation. The conference served as a neutral forum to critically examine the potential population-wide economic and public health benefits of translating current research into innovative functional foods and biotherapeutics for a broad spectrum of conditions including obesity, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and undernutrition. The conference intended to present both the pros and cons of prebiotics and probiotics, identify gaps in knowledge and urgent research questions, and initiate debate among the scientific community to ensure evidence-based decision making.

All signs point to a growing public interest in the possible benefits of prebiotics and probiotics in digestive health and beyond. However, science has to lead the way to ensure sound evidence is the basis for introduction of interventions for public health and new products in the marketplace. Continued research, evaluation, and public health campaigns are necessary to disseminate accurate and unbiased information.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com

Do You Really Need to Take Testosterone?


Story at-a-glance

  • After age 30, a man’s testosterone levels begin to decline, and continue to do so as he ages, leading to symptoms such as decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, depressed mood, and difficulties with concentration and memory
  • Testosterone replacement therapy is only clinically advised for men with “unequivocally low testosterone levels,” a condition known as hypogonadism. To determine this, you have to test your testosterone level
  • According to recent research, the number of testosterone prescriptions have tripled over the past decade, causing researchers to sound the alarm that men may be abusing the hormone
  • Dietary and exercise changes, particularly limiting sugar/fructose, eating healthy saturated fats and engaging in high-intensity exercises, Power Plate, and strength training, can be very effective at boosting testosterone levels naturally
  • Other strategies to boost testosterone include optimizing your vitamin D levels, getting sufficient amounts of zinc, reducing stress, and supplementing with saw palmetto and DHEA in conjunction with astaxanthin.
  • testosterone

Testosterone is an androgenic sex hormone produced by the testicles (and in smaller amounts in women’s ovaries) that is typically associated with “manhood.” Beginning around age 30, a man’s testosterone levels begin to decline, and continue to do so as the years go on.

A wide range of chemical exposures, including prescription drugs like statins, can also have an adverse effect on your testosterone production.

While primarily associated with male sexuality and reproduction, testosterone also plays a role in maintaining muscle mass, bone density, levels of red blood cells, and a general sense of vigor and well-being.

Symptoms of declining testosterone levels include decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, depressed mood, and difficulties with concentration and memory. Men with low testosterone may also experience weight gain, breast enlargement, and problems urinating.

According to recent research123 the number of testosterone prescriptions have tripled over the past decade, causing researchers to sound the alarm that men may be abusing the hormone.

This should come as no surprise considering the many direct-to-consumer ads now promoting a testosterone prescription as the answer if you feel you’ve lost the spring in your step… In fact, in a related commentary medical ghostwriter Steven Braun says4 that the sales of testosterone are being driven by:

“A sophisticated marketing effort to define low testosterone as a disease for which the treatment is [testosterone-replacement therapy]. I know this because, as a professional medical writer, I have helped craft that message for transmission in a range of media to both physicians and consumers.”

While declining testosterone levels can certainly be problematic, I know first-hand that such a fate is not an automatic outcome of aging, provided you incorporate certain lifestyle strategies that can naturally boost your testosterone levels, which I’ll review in this article.

Many Men Are Taking Testosterone Without Evidence of Deficiency

According to the Endocrine Society, which is responsible for setting the clinical guidelines for testosterone replacement therapy, testosterone should only be given to men with persistent symptoms and “unequivocally low testosterone levels,” a condition known as hypogonadism.

To determine this, you have to actually test your testosterone level, which is done with a blood test—ideally more than once, as your testosterone level can rise and fall during each day.

The current findings indicate that 25 percent of men given a prescription for testosterone did not have their levels tested prior to receiving a prescription, and of the remaining 75 percent, it was unclear as to how many actually had a testosterone deficiency. In all, the study tracked 11 million men through a large health insurer, and found that:

  • Since 2001, testosterone prescriptions have tripled
  • More than two percent of men in their 40s and nearly four percent of men in their 60s were on testosterone therapy in 2011. Men in their 40s represent the fastest-growing group of users
  • About half of men prescribed testosterone had a diagnosis of hypogonadism
  • About 40 percent of men prescribed testosterone had erectile or sexual dysfunction
  • One-third of men prescribed testosterone had a diagnosis of “fatigue”

Potential Side Effects and Benefits of Testosterone Therapy

While your levels can rise and fall daily, the average testosterone levels for most men range from 300 to 1,000 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dl) of blood. Again, hypogonadism can be a bit tricky to diagnose based on total testosterone (total T) alone, and since your levels can rise and drop dramatically from day to day depending on factors like sleep and stress, you need to measure your levels more than once.

That said, according to a 2012 study5 looking at the sensitivity and specificity of total testosterone (total T) as an indicator of biochemical hypogonadism found that a total T level below 150 ng/dl is indicative of hypogonadism, while levels above 350 ng/dl excludes the condition in most cases. If you fall within that range of 150-350 ng/dl, the authors advised measuring free or bioavailable T levels, which are thought to identify biochemical hypogonadism more accurately.

There’s a fair amount of controversy on the subject of testosterone replacement therapy. Some of the evidence suggests it may cause worrisome side effects (especially if you’re not actually deficient), including:

Thickening of the blood / blood clots Acne
Reduced sperm count Increased risk of heart disease
Increased risk of prostate cancer Male infertility6
Liver problems Male breast growth
Increased male pattern baldness Worsening of urinary symptoms

Others disagree. For example, according to Dr. Abraham Morgentaler, MD, a professor of urology at Harvard Medical School and the author of Testosterone for Life, men with low testosterone are the ones at greater risk for prostate cancer and other health problems, including heart disease and osteoporosis. For an interesting article that contains a lot more information about this, read Dr. Morgentaler’s report Destroying the Myth About Testosterone Replacement and Prostate Cancer.7

You Can Raise Your Testosterone Levels Naturally Through Exercise

Personally, I do not recommend using testosterone hormone replacement to enhance your performance. If you indeed have low testosterone, you can consider trans rectal DHEA cream, which I’ll discuss below. But I believe many of you may not even need that, were you to take full advantage of your body’s natural ability to optimize hormones like testosterone and human growth hormone (HGH).

Just like testosterone and ubiquinol levels, your HGH levels also sharply decline after the age of 30, as illustrated in the graph above. Both of these hormones are also boosted in response to short, intense exercise. As an example, I’ve been doing Peak Fitness exercises for just over three years now, and at the age of 59, my testosterone and HGH levels (listed below) are still well within the normal range for a young adult male without the aid of ANY prescriptions, hormones and hormone precursor supplements:

  • Total testosterone: 854 ng/dl (normal test range: 250-1,100 ng/dl)
  • Free testosterone: 117 pg/ml (normal test range: 35-155 pg/ml)
  • HGH: 14,000 pg, more than three times the normal test range of 1,000-4,000 pg/24 hours

Below is a summary and video demonstration of what a typical high-intensity Peak Fitness routine might look like. As you can see, the entire workout is only 20 minutes, and 75 percent of that time is warming up, recovering or cooling down. You’re really only working out intensely for four minutes. It’s hard to believe if you have never done this, that you can actually get that much benefit from only four minutes of intense exercise, but that’s all you need!

  • Warm up for three minutes
  • Exercise as hard and fast as you can for 30 seconds. You should feel like you couldn’t possibly go on another few seconds
  • Recover at a slow to moderate pace for 90 seconds
  • Repeat the high-intensity exercise and recovery 7 more times

How to Further Boost Testosterone and HGH Release…

Interestingly, Whole Body Vibration Training (WBVT) using a Power Plate can also independently increase growth hormone levels. Like high-intensity exercise, WBVT also works all three types of muscle fibers, and it does so more effectively and efficiently than straight cardio or weight lifting. You can accomplish more from 15 minutes on the Power Plate than from an hour of traditional strength training. By stimulating your white muscle fiber, the Power Plate kick-starts your pituitary gland into making more growth hormone, which helps you build lean body mass and burn fat.

Another effective strategy for enhancing both testosterone and HGH release is intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting helps boost testosterone by improving the expression of satiety hormones, like insulin, leptin, adiponectin, glucacgon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), cholecystokinin (CKK), and melanocortins, which are linked to healthy testosterone function, increased libido, and the prevention of age-induced testosterone decline. When it comes to an exercise plan that will complement testosterone function and production (along with overall health), I recommend including both high-intensity interval training and strength training.

When you use strength training to raise your testosterone, you’ll want to increase the weight and lower your number of reps. Focus on doing exercises that work a wider number of muscles, such as squats or dead lifts. You can take your workout to the next level by learning the principles of Super-Slow Weight Training. For more information on how exercise can be used as a natural testosterone booster, read my article “Testosterone Surge After Exercise May Help Remodel the Mind.”

Why I Recommend DHEA Over Testosterone Replacement

I personally do not use any hormone treatments as I have been able to get my hormone levels within the healthy young adult range using the protocols described above. However, if you choose to use hormones it is really crucial to use bioidentical versions. There are synthetic and bioidentical hormone products out on the market, but I advise using bioidentical hormones like DHEA if you opt for this route. DHEA is a hormone secreted by your adrenal glands. This substance is one of the most abundant precursor hormones in your body. It is crucial for the creation of vital hormones, including testosterone and other sex hormones.

Prior to puberty, your body produces very little DHEA. Production of this prohormone peaks during your late 20’s or early 30’s. With age, DHEA production begins to decline. The adrenal glands also manufacture the stress hormone cortisol, which is in direct competition with DHEA for production because they use the same hormonal substrate known as pregnenolone. Chronic stress basically causes excessive cortisol levels and impairs DHEA production, which is why stress is another factor for low testosterone levels.

It’s important not to use any DHEA product without the supervision of a professional. Find a qualified health care provider who will monitor your hormone levels and determine if you actually require supplementation.

Also, rather than using an oral hormone supplementation, I recommend trans-mucosal (vagina or rectum) application. Skin application may not be wise, as it makes it difficult to measure the dosage you receive. This may cause you to end up receiving more than what your body requires. Applying a trans-mucosal DHEA cream to your rectum (or if you are a woman, your vagina) will allow the mucous epithelial membranes that line your mucosa to perform effective absorption. These membranes regulate absorption and inhibit the production of unwanted metabolites of DHEA. That said, I do NOT recommend prolonged supplementation of hormones, even bioidentical ones. Doing so can trick your body into halting its own DHEA production and may cause your adrenals to become impaired.

Three Additional Supplements That Can Be Beneficial for Symptoms of Low T

Another supplement that can address certain symptoms commonly associated with low testosterone is saw palmetto. This herb may also help increase testosterone levels by inhibiting up-conversion to dihydrotestosterone.8 There are about 100 clinical studies on the benefits of saw palmetto, one of them being a contributed to decreased prostate cancer risk. When choosing a saw palmetto supplement, you should be wary of the brand, as there are those that use an inactive form of the plant. According to industry expert Dr. Moerck, what you want to look for is an organic supercritical CO2 extract of saw palmetto oil, which is dark green in color. Since saw palmetto is a fat-soluble supplement, taking it with eggs will enhance the absorption of its nutrients.

There is also solid research indicating that if you take astaxanthin in combination with saw palmetto, you may experience significant synergistic benefits. A 2009 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that an optimal dose of saw palmetto and astaxanthin decreased both DHT and estrogen while simultaneously increasingtestosterone.9

Also, in order to block the synthesis of excess estrogen (estradiol) from testosterone, there are excellent foods and plant extracts that may help to block the enzyme known as aromatase, which is responsible producing estrogen. Some of these include white button mushrooms, grape seed extract and nettles.10

Five More Ways to Naturally Increase Your Testosterone Levels

In addition to what I’ve already covered above (high intensity exerciseintermittent fasting, saw palmetto, and DHEA in conjunction with astaxanthin), the following lifestyle strategies can also help you normalize your testosterone levels, without resorting to hormone replacement:

  1. Lose Weight by Optimizing Your Diet. If you’re overweight, shedding the excess pounds may increase your testosterone levels, according to recent research.11 Testosterone levels decrease after you eat sugar, which is likely because the sugar leads to a high insulin level, which is another factor leading to low testosterone. The most efficient way to shed excess weight is to strictly limit the amount of sugar/fructose and grains in your diet, and replacing them with vegetables and healthy fats.

Ideally, keep your total fructose consumption below 25 grams per day. If you have insulin resistance and are overweight, have high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol, you’d be well advised to keep it under 15 grams per day.

In addition to eliminating or severely limiting fructose, it will be vital to eliminate all grains (including organic grains) and milk in your diet. Milk has a sugar called lactose, which has been shown to increase insulin resistance so it will be wise to avoid it if you are seeking to lose weight. Replace these dietary troublemakers with vegetables and healthy fats, such as organic pastured egg yolks, avocado, coconut oil, butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk, and nuts like almonds and pecans. Saturated fats are essential for building testosterone.

Research shows that a diet with less than 40 percent of energy as fat (and that mainly from animal sources, i.e. saturated) lead to a decrease in testosterone levels.12 My personal diet is about 70-80 percent healthy fat, and other experts agree that the ideal diet includes somewhere between 50-70 percent fat. I’ve detailed a step-by-step guide to this type of healthy eating program in my comprehensive nutrition plan, and I urge you to consult this guide if you are trying to lose weight.

  1. Consume Plenty of Zinc: The mineral zinc is important for testosterone production, and supplementing your diet for as little as six weeks has been shown to cause a marked improvement in testosterone among men with low levels.13 Likewise, research has shown that restricting dietary sources of zinc leads to a significant decrease in testosterone, while zinc supplementation increases it14 — and even protects men from exercised-induced reductions in testosterone levels.15

Your diet is the best source of zinc; along with protein-rich foods like meats and fish, other good dietary sources of zinc include raw milk, raw cheese, beans, and yogurt or kefir made from raw milk. If you decide to use a zinc supplement, stick to a dosage of less than 40 mg a day, as this is the recommended adult upper limit. Taking too much zinc can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb other minerals, especially copper, and may cause nausea as a side effect.

  1. Optimize Your Vitamin D Levels: Vitamin D, a steroid hormone, is essential for the healthy development of the nucleus of the sperm cell, and helps maintain semen quality and sperm count. Vitamin D also increases levels of testosterone, which may boost libido. In one study,16 overweight men who were given vitamin D supplements had a significant increase in testosterone levels after one year.

To get your levels into the healthy range of 50-70 ng/ml, appropriate sun exposure is your best bet. If sun exposure is not an option, a safe tanning bed (with electronic ballasts rather than magnetic ballasts, to avoid unnecessary exposure to EMF fields) can be used.

As a last resort, a vitamin D3 supplement can be taken orally, but research suggests the average adult needs to take 8,000 IU’s of vitamin D per day in order to elevate their levels above 40 ng/ml, which is the absolute minimum for disease prevention. Furthermore, if you opt for a supplement, you also need to make sure you’re getting sufficient amounts ofvitamin K2, as these two nutrients work together. In fact, vitamin K2 deficiency is frequently the cause of symptoms associated with vitamin D toxicity, which includes inappropriate calcification that can lead to hardening of your arteries.

  1. Have Effective Strategies to Address Stress: When you’re under a lot of stress, your body releases high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which actually blocks the effects of testosterone.17 Chronic stress, and subsequently elevated levels of cortisol, could mean that testosterone’s effects are blocked in the long term, which is what you want to avoid. My favorite overall tool to manage stress is EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). It’s a handy, free tool for unloading emotional baggage quickly and painlessly, and so easy that even children can learn it. Other common stress-reduction tools with a high success rate include prayer, meditation, laughter and yoga, for example. For more tips, see my article 10 Simple Steps to Help De-Stress.
  2. Ancient Indian Herb, Ashwagandha, May Help: This perennial herb is known as an adaptogen, which can help boost stamina, endurance, and sexual energy. Research published in 201018 found that men taking the herb Ashwagandha experienced a significant increase in testosterone levels. Ashwagandha helps promote overall immune function, and can help increase your resistance to occasional stress.19 It also supports healthful levels of total lipids, cholesterol, and triglycerides already in the normal range. While some adaptogens are stimulants in disguise, this is not the case with Ashwagandha. It can give your morning exercise routine a boost, and when taken prior to bed, it can help you get a good night’s sleep as well. I recommend using only 100% organic Ashwagandha root, free of fillers, additives and excipients, to ensure quality.

Take Advantage of Your Body’s Innate Ability to Self-Correct and Heal

The fact that testosterone prescriptions have tripled over the past decade is a testament to the fact that men are increasingly suffering from feeling less than their best. Unfortunately, we still don’t know for sure whether hormone replacement therapy is entirely safe. Personally, I strongly recommend implementing lifestyle strategies that are known to optimize testosterone levels naturally before you do anything else.

If you’re still deficient in testosterone after implementing high-intensity exercise and strength training, along with the dietary strategies detailed above and, ideally, intermittent fasting, then you could try trans-mucosal DHEA. Again, remember to confer with a qualified health care practitioner and get your levels tested before supplementing with DHEA or any other hormone, including testosterone.

Personally, I’ve been able to maintain both testosterone and HGH levels comparable to that of men half my age, simply by implementing high intensity exercise and intermittent fasting, along with my standard dietary recommendations, which apply to everyone, regardless of age or gender. You have nothing to lose to give these strategies a try, and everything to gain.

Source: mercola.com

This Interval Training Infographic Helps You Pick the Right Workout.


By now you may have heard the good news: exercising at very high intensity interspersed with periods of moderate rest, a program known as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), is one of the best ways to get in shape.

That’s good news because the workouts are considerably shorter than you’re probably used to and involve as little as four minutes of intense activity combined with rest for a total workout of only around 20 minutes.

hiit

Because HIIT is so intense, you should only do it two to three times a week, max, making it a workout that even the most time-crunched individuals can fit in their schedules.

Interval Training 101

If you’re wondering what HIIT is all about, Greatist has summed it up nicely in the interval training infographic that follows.1 From explaining the benefits and why it works to how to perform a variety of different HIIT workouts, this is the place to start if you want to give HIIT a try.

Research Overwhelmingly Supports HIIT

Compelling and ever-mounting research shows that the ideal form of exercise is short bursts of high intensity exercise.

Not only does it beat conventional cardio as the most effective and efficient form of exercise, it also provides health benefits you simply cannot get from regular aerobics, such as a tremendous boost in human growth hormone (HGH), aka the “fitness hormone.”

One study published in the Journal of Obesity2 reported that 12 weeks of HIIT not only can result in significant reductions in total abdominal, trunk, and visceral fat, but also can give you significant increases in fat-free mass and aerobic power.

Other research published in the journal Cell Metabolism3 showed that when healthy but inactive people exercise intensely, even if the exercise is brief, it produces an immediate measurable change in their DNA.

Several of the genes affected by an acute bout of exercise are genes involved in fat metabolism. Specifically, the study suggested that when you exercise your body almost immediately experiences genetic activation that increases the production of fat-busting (lipolytic) enzymes.

Yet another study found that unfit but otherwise healthy middle-aged adults were able to improve their insulin sensitivity and blood sugar regulation after just two weeks of interval training (three sessions per week).4 A follow-up study also found that interval training positively impacted insulin sensitivity. In fact, the study involved people with full-blown type 2 diabetes, and just ONE interval training session was able to improve blood sugar regulation for the next 24 hours!5

Which HIIT Workout Is Right for You?

There are a large number of variations when it comes to HIIT. The infographic outlines three of them, including the Tabata Method, which calls for just 20 seconds of all-out drop-dead effort, followed by a mere 10 seconds of rest. This intense cycle is repeated eight times.

When the Tabata Method was performed four times per week for six weeks, participants in one experiment increased their anaerobic capacity by 28 percent, and their VO2 max (an indicator of cardiovascular health) and maximal aerobic power by 15 percent. This is in contrast to the control group, who performed an hour of steady cardiovascular exercise on a stationary bike five times a week. These participants improved their VO2 max by just 10 percent, and their regimen had no effect on their anaerobic capacity.6

As the infographic explained, this protocol is likely best for those who are extremely fit have very little time. I have not even attempted this protocol as I know how hard Peak Fitness is, which has a 90-second recovery. I shudder to think how painful the Tabata protocol is with only 10 seconds to recover… that said, if you’re looking for an extreme intensity workout, this may be it. For those of you just starting out with HIIT, you may want to try Peak Fitness first.

For the past couple of years, I’ve encouraged the use of high-intensity interval training as a key strategy for improving your health, boosting weight and fat loss, promoting HGH production, and improving strength and stamina. I’ve been doing it myself since April 2010 after meeting fitness expert Phil Campbell (author of Ready Set Go), so I can also vouch for its effectiveness from personal experience.

The HIIT approach I personally prefer and recommend is the Peak Fitness method of 30 seconds of maximum effort followed by 90 seconds of recuperation. I personally modified the number of repetitions from 8 to 6 this year, as it was sometimes just too strenuous for me to do all 8. So by listening to my body and cutting it back to 6 reps, I can now easily tolerate the workout and go full out. Plus, I no longer dread doing them.

Another tweak I made is to incorporate Butyeko breathing into the workout, which means I do most of the workout by only breathing through my nose. This raises the challenge to another level. I will discuss more of the benefits of this in a future article, as I do believe it has many benefits. I then finish my Peak Fitness workout with Power Plate stretches, 10 pull ups, 10 dips and 20 inverted pushups, and call it a day.

When you’re first starting out, depending on your level of fitness, you may only be able to do two or three repetitions of Peak Fitness. That’s okay! As you get fitter, just keep adding repetitions until you’re doing eight. And if six is what your body is telling you, then stop there. If you have a history of heart disease or any medical concern please get clearance from your health care professional to start this. Most people of average fitness will be able to do it though; it is only a matter of how much time it will take you to build up to the full 8 reps, depending on your level of intensity. For a demonstration using an elliptical machine, please see the video above. Here are the core principles:

  • Warm up for three minutes
  • Exercise as hard and fast as you can for 30 seconds. You should be gasping for breath and feel like you couldn’t possibly go on another few seconds. It is better to use lower resistance and higher repetitions to increase your heart rate
  • Recover for 90 seconds, still moving, but at slower pace and decreased resistance
  • Repeat the high-intensity exercise and recovery 7 more times. (When you’re first starting out, depending on your level of fitness, you may only be able to do two or three repetitions of the high-intensity intervals. As you get fitter, just keep adding repetitions until you’re doing eight during your 20-minute session)
  • Cool down for a few minutes afterward by cutting down your intensity by 50-80 percent

Rounding Out Your Exercise Program

In most cases, HIIT workouts should only be done two or three times a week. But that doesn’t mean you should take all the other days off. Switching up your workouts will ensure your muscles continue to be challenged and prevent plateaus in your fitness growth. You want to avoid overtaxing any one area of your body, too, and having a varied workout program helps you to do this naturally. I recommend incorporating the following types of exercise into your program on days when you’re not doing HIIT:

  • Strength Training: If you want, you can increase the intensity by slowing it down. You need enough repetitions to exhaust your muscles. The weight should be heavy enough that this can be done in fewer than 12 repetitions, yet light enough to do a minimum of four repetitions. It is also important NOT to exercise the same muscle groups every day. They need at least two days of rest to recover, repair and rebuild.

For more information about using super slow weight training as a form of HIIT, please see my interview with Dr. Doug McGuff.

  • Core Exercises: Your body has 29 core muscles located mostly in your back, abdomen and pelvis. This group of muscles provides the foundation for movement throughout your entire body, and strengthening them can help protect and support your back, make your spine and body less prone to injury and help you gain greater balance and stability.

Exercise programs like Pilates, yoga, and Foundation Training are great for strengthening your core muscles, as are specific exercises you can learn from a personal trainer.

  • Stretching: My favorite type of stretching is Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) developed by Aaron Mattes. With AIS, you hold each stretch for only two seconds, which works with your body’s natural physiological makeup to improve circulation and increase the elasticity of muscle joints. This technique also allows your body to repair itself and prepare for daily activity. You can also use devices like the Power Plate to help you stretch.
  • Non-Exercise Activity: One of the newest recommendations I have is based on information from NASA scientist Dr. Joan Vernikos, who I recently interviewed: simply set a timer when you are sitting and stand up every 10 minutes. I even modify this further by doing jump squats at times in addition to standing up. This will help counteract the dangerous consequences of excessive sitting.

You can prevent, and to a great degree, delay the damage associated with a large portion of biological aging, especially the most crippling, which is pain with movement and loss of flexibility that you had as a youth. To do so, FIRST you need to make sure you’re engaging in more or less perpetual non-exercise movement, as this is an independent risk factor. You then want to add structured exercise on top of that to reap all the benefits associated with exercise.

Going to the gym a few times a week for an hour simply isn’t going to counteract hours upon hours of chronic uninterrupted sitting, which essentially mimics a microgravity situation, i.e. you’re not exerting your body against gravity. Only frequent non-exercise movement will do that. The key point is to move and shift position often, when you’re sitting down. Meaning, you want to interrupt your sitting as often as possible.

Source: mercola.com

 

Nutrition in Cancer Care.


Good nutrition is important for cancer patients.

Nutrition is a process in which food is taken in and used by the body for growth, to keep the body healthy, and to replace tissue. Good nutrition is important for good health. Eating the right kinds of foods before, during, and after cancer treatment can help the patient feel better and stay stronger. A healthy diet includes eating and drinking enough of the foods and liquids that have the importantnutrients (vitaminsmineralsproteincarbohydrates, fat, and water) the body needs.

When the body does not get or cannot absorb the nutrients needed for health, it causes a conditioncalled malnutrition or malnourishment.

This summary is about nutrition in adults with cancer.

Healthy eating habits are important during cancer treatment.

Nutrition therapy is used to help cancer patients get the nutrients they need to keep up their body weight and strength, keep body tissue healthy, and fight infection. Eating habits that are good for cancer patients can be very different from the usual healthy eating guidelines.

Healthy eating habits and good nutrition can help patients deal with the effects of cancer and its treatment. Some cancer treatments work better when the patient is well nourished and gets enoughcalories and protein in the diet. Patients who are well nourished may have a better prognosis (chance of recovery) and quality of life.

Cancer can change the way the body uses food.

Some tumors make chemicals that change the way the body uses certain nutrients. The body’s use of protein, carbohydrates, and fat may be affected, especially by tumors of the stomach or intestines. A patient may seem to be eating enough, but the body may not be able to absorb all the nutrients from the food.

Cancer and cancer treatments may affect nutrition.

For many patients, the effects of cancer and cancer treatments make it hard to eat well. Cancer treatments that affect nutrition include:

When the head, neck, esophagus, stomach, or intestines are affected by the cancer treatment, it is very hard to take in enough nutrients to stay healthy.

The side effects of cancer and cancer treatment that can affect eating include:

Cancer and cancer treatments may affect taste, smell, appetite, and the ability to eat enough food or absorb the nutrients from food. This can cause malnutrition (a condition caused by a lack of key nutrients). Malnutrition can cause the patient to be weak, tired, and unable to fight infections or get through cancer treatment. Malnutrition may be made worse if the cancer grows or spreads. Eating too little protein and calories is a very common problem for cancer patients. Having enough protein and calories is important for healing, fighting infection, and having enough energy.

Anorexia and cachexia are common causes of malnutrition in cancer patients.

Anorexia (the loss of appetite or desire to eat) is a common symptom in people with cancer. Anorexia may occur early in the disease or later, if the cancer grows or spreads. Some patients already have anorexia when they are diagnosed with cancer. Almost all patients who have advanced cancer will have anorexia. Anorexia is the most common cause of malnutrition in cancer patients.

Cachexia is a condition marked by a loss of appetite, weight loss, muscle loss, and general weakness. It is common in patients with tumors of the lungpancreas, and upper gastrointestinal tract. It is important to watch for and treat cachexia early in cancer treatment because it is hard to correct.

Cancer patients may have anorexia and cachexia at the same time. Weight loss can be caused by eating fewer calories, using more calories, or both.

It is important to treat weight loss caused by cancer and its treatment.

It is important that cancer symptoms and side effects that affect eating and cause weight loss are treated early. Both nutrition therapy and medicine can help the patient stay at a healthy weight. Medicine may be used for the following:

  • To help increase appetite.
  • To help digest food.
  • To help the muscles of the stomach and intestines contract (to keep food moving along).
  • To prevent or treat nausea and vomiting.
  • To prevent or treat diarrhea.
  • To prevent or treat constipation.
  • To prevent and treat mouth problems (such as dry mouth, infection, pain, and sores).
  • To prevent and treat pain.

Source: NCI

Good nutrition is important for cancer patients.

Nutrition is a process in which food is taken in and used by the body for growth, to keep the body healthy, and to replace tissue. Good nutrition is important for good health. Eating the right kinds of foods before, during, and after cancer treatment can help the patient feel better and stay stronger. A healthy diet includes eating and drinking enough of the foods and liquids that have the importantnutrients (vitaminsmineralsproteincarbohydrates, fat, and water) the body needs.

When the body does not get or cannot absorb the nutrients needed for health, it causes a conditioncalled malnutrition or malnourishment.

This summary is about nutrition in adults with cancer.

Healthy eating habits are important during cancer treatment.

Nutrition therapy is used to help cancer patients get the nutrients they need to keep up their body weight and strength, keep body tissue healthy, and fight infection. Eating habits that are good for cancer patients can be very different from the usual healthy eating guidelines.

Healthy eating habits and good nutrition can help patients deal with the effects of cancer and its treatment. Some cancer treatments work better when the patient is well nourished and gets enoughcalories and protein in the diet. Patients who are well nourished may have a better prognosis (chance of recovery) and quality of life.

Cancer can change the way the body uses food.

Some tumors make chemicals that change the way the body uses certain nutrients. The body’s use of protein, carbohydrates, and fat may be affected, especially by tumors of the stomach or intestines. A patient may seem to be eating enough, but the body may not be able to absorb all the nutrients from the food.

Cancer and cancer treatments may affect nutrition.

For many patients, the effects of cancer and cancer treatments make it hard to eat well. Cancer treatments that affect nutrition include:

When the head, neck, esophagus, stomach, or intestines are affected by the cancer treatment, it is very hard to take in enough nutrients to stay healthy.

The side effects of cancer and cancer treatment that can affect eating include:

Cancer and cancer treatments may affect taste, smell, appetite, and the ability to eat enough food or absorb the nutrients from food. This can cause malnutrition (a condition caused by a lack of key nutrients). Malnutrition can cause the patient to be weak, tired, and unable to fight infections or get through cancer treatment. Malnutrition may be made worse if the cancer grows or spreads. Eating too little protein and calories is a very common problem for cancer patients. Having enough protein and calories is important for healing, fighting infection, and having enough energy.

Anorexia and cachexia are common causes of malnutrition in cancer patients.

Anorexia (the loss of appetite or desire to eat) is a common symptom in people with cancer. Anorexia may occur early in the disease or later, if the cancer grows or spreads. Some patients already have anorexia when they are diagnosed with cancer. Almost all patients who have advanced cancer will have anorexia. Anorexia is the most common cause of malnutrition in cancer patients.

Cachexia is a condition marked by a loss of appetite, weight loss, muscle loss, and general weakness. It is common in patients with tumors of the lungpancreas, and upper gastrointestinal tract. It is important to watch for and treat cachexia early in cancer treatment because it is hard to correct.

Cancer patients may have anorexia and cachexia at the same time. Weight loss can be caused by eating fewer calories, using more calories, or both.

It is important to treat weight loss caused by cancer and its treatment.

It is important that cancer symptoms and side effects that affect eating and cause weight loss are treated early. Both nutrition therapy and medicine can help the patient stay at a healthy weight. Medicine may be used for the following:

  • To help increase appetite.
  • To help digest food.
  • To help the muscles of the stomach and intestines contract (to keep food moving along).
  • To prevent or treat nausea and vomiting.
  • To prevent or treat diarrhea.
  • To prevent or treat constipation.
  • To prevent and treat mouth problems (such as dry mouth, infection, pain, and sores).
  • To prevent and treat pain.

Source: NCI

NASA finds “unprecedented” black hole cluster near Andromeda’s central bulge.


Spotted by the Chandra X-ray Observatory.

NASA has discovered an unprecedentedly large cluster of black holes in our nearest galactic neighbor, Andromeda.

blackholes

The 26 black hole candidates were spotted with the Chandra X-ray Observatory, which made more than 150 observations spread over 13 years.

Each of the black holes was formed after a star collapsed in on itself. Now, as they suck in material from other stars that orbit or pass nearby, the material gives off X-rays as it is consumed. These X-rays are what Chandra has spotted.

To filter Andromeda’s black holes from other X-ray sources—such as neutron stars or much larger black holes that are farther away than Andromeda—the astrophysicists had to look at attributes like the brightness, variability, and color of their emissions.

These black holes are relatively easy to spot because they have companion stars that provide the material that emits X-rays. Without these companions, there would be no X-rays. “While we are excited to find so many black holes in Andromeda, we think it’s just the tip of the iceberg,” said Robin Barnard of the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, lead author of the study published in The Astrophysical Journal. “Most black holes won’t have close companions and will be invisible to us.”

The 26 black holes join a previous group of nine found using Chandra data. They are close to Andromeda’s “central bulge,” the spherical network of huge, old stars that is at the heart of most galaxies.

Andromeda’s bulge is larger than the Milky Way’s, and the larger number of stars means there is also a corresponding greater number of black holes for us to spot.

Source: http://arstechnica.com

‘Silver Bullet’ for Gram-Negative Bacteria?


Silver ions can increase the permeability of bacterial cell walls, disrupt bacterial metabolism, and boost the presence of oxygen radicals — all promising findings, given that the bacteria in question were of the troublesome Gram-negative variety.

The results, reported in Science Translational Medicine, come from studies in mice, so they aren’t ready for clinical application. Still, the researchers write that silver could be “a potent antibiotic adjuvant.”

An infectious disease specialist quoted by Nature cautions that too much silver can cause argyria in humans, permanently turning the skin blue-gray.

Source: Science Translational Medicine

Stroke Thrombolysis Beneficial for Long-Term Well-Being.


Treating ischemic strokes with thrombolysis gives patients better quality of life and functional capacity up to 18 months later, according to new findings from the IST-3 study, published in the Lancet Neurology.

Researchers studied over 2300 patients from 10 countries who were randomized, either to intravenous alteplase within 6 hours of stroke (an off-label indication) plus usual care, or to usual care alone. Overall, the adjusted odds of being alive and independent at 18 months were 28% greater with thrombolysis (survival alone did not differ). In addition, thrombolysis was associated with significant improvements in self-reported well-being on a scale measuring mobility, self-care, activity, pain, and anxiety.

A commentator praises the researchers for taking a patient-centered approach to evaluating outcomes and calls the findings “clinically meaningful.”

Source: Lancet Neurology