Can an open mind save your life?

  A few years ago, I was talking to one of my ex-wife’s ( we were still married then), very good friend. I was talking to her about wellness screening and early prevention. Like many Asian ladies who feel what they don’t know won’t hurt them, she said, “ I really rather not know. That way, I can carry on doing what I am doing” Barely six months later, she discovered she had a lump in her breast and she had to do a needle biopsy. Fortunately for her, the lump was benign. It could have very easily been otherwise.

  Contrast this with a Spanish lady from Thailand who flew in to consult me after discovering she had a small lump that was cancerous. Her lifestyle was okay, her diet was better than mine and no one had any idea why she developed her cancer. She was smart enough after the surgery to remove the lump not to “Let sleeping dogs lie”. She wanted to get to the root cause. In the end we discovered that the smoking gun was a badly leaking mercury filling that was situated in the tooth related to the stomach meridian. For those who have no idea of acupuncture, the Stomach Meridian is one of the few meridians that passes along the pathway of the breast. Most breast cancers have a dental link, either a badly leaking mercury filling or a root canal gone bad.  

The American Medical Association after saying for 40 years that three square meals a day could feed your nutritional needs, has totally reversed this stand. The statement below totally repudiates that stand. The AMA has been forced to revise its views in light of the new evidence. They say it takes 25 years before a new idea takes hold in medicine. In 25 years every medical doctor will be studying nutrition thoroughly. Currently average medical education spends 7 to 12 hours out of a 7 year education on food, vitamins, minerals and health. Can you afford to wait for 25 years before your GP has the “right” education to help you prevent illness? 

“ Vitamin deficiency syndromes such as scurvy and beriberi are  uncommon in  modern (Western) societies. However, suboptimal intake of some  vitamins, above levels causing classic vitamin deficiency, is a risk  factor for chronic diseases and common ……  especially the elderly. Suboptimal folic acid levels, along with  suboptimal levels of vitamins B6 and B12, are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, neural tube defects, and colon and breast cancer; low levels of vitamin D contribute to osteopenia and fractures; and low levels of the antioxidant vitamins (vitamins A, E, and C) may increase risk for several chronic diseases. ……it appears  prudent for all adults to take vitamin supplements…….. Physicians should make specific efforts to learn about their patients’  …. to ensure that they are taking vitamins they should, such as folate supplementation for women in the childbearing years, and avoiding dangerous practices such as high doses of vitamin A during pregnancy or massive doses of fat-soluble vitamins at any age. “ (JAMA. 2002;287:3127-3129)

 I saw this young lady who said she had a lump in her breast. She refused to have it  X-rayed or scanned. I felt that I could not responsibly treat someone without appropriate testing. She opted to work with someone else who promised that her condition would clear up. This someone kept selling her health products for two years giving her the impression that her cancer would improve. She survived for two years and then her cancer went out of control. What would have been a fairly simple issue with the correct surgical intervention with nutritional follow up became a death dealing downward spiral.

 Every other week I see a new young autistic child in my practice. Most of these children which I am treating will within 1.5  years will be unrecognizably positively changed in their physical, mental and emotional ability. They will have the ability to increase their educational and emotional horizons in a way their untreated brother sand sisters will not have.

 Meanwhile there will be mainstream doctors saying nothing can be done and you have to live with it and complementary and alternative physicians saying that  they can do “something” when the reality is that they do not understand what they are dealing with. I attended a International Homeoepathic Conference of mostly classical homeopaths who were still trying to treat autistic cases using classical homeoepathy. Than I heard about acupunturists from China who were claiming to treat autism with acupuncture. Nether group had done any kind of serious formal research to document the effectiveness of their study. I found this really sad. Parents will be given false hope. When these methods fail to provide results, there will be a backlash (like there was in Singapore) and someone will deliver a blanket statement that non of these methods work for “Autism” Its absolutely amazes me how such definitive comments are passed.

What you can do for yourself in the event of having a significant health issue? Educate yourself. Find out what is the standard medical approach? What are the success rates. What are the down sides? Check for complementary approaches to the problem. Explore exactly the same issues, the plus and minuses. Talk to physicians that you trust from both camps about what their experiences are. See if you can find a consensus approach. There are very few absolutes. If someone says that they all the answers on one topic, it may be possible. If they purport to be an authority on a whole scope of unrelated medical conditions, its time to be careful.

Nothing of course beats pre-emptive wellness care. Eat wisely. Exercise appropriately and for long enough (but not too long). Make sure you are taking enough supplements.

And no, taking just 1000 mg of Vitamin C and nothing else is not appropriate supplementation. Make sure that you are taking Vitamins and Minerals. If you are older than  35, ensure you have digestive enzymes and probiotics as well together with a broad spectrum essential fatty acids (Omega 3, 6 and 9). Ensure that you do some form of wellness screening especially after 35 apart from the standard medical testing. What happens after this? Make sure that you have a life worth living. Meaningful work, a happy family. Friends that share your interests and you can have deep conversations with.

A deep meaningful spiritual connection in whatever way that speaks to you. And yes curiosity and an open mind.

 Be well

Dr  Sundardas

Not all essential fatty acids are equal

How much fatty acids do you need? To answer this question, you need to honestly evaluate your eating habits? How much cold water fish and nuts do you eat? Does your family have a history of heart disease? Do you eat a lot of red meat? Do you eat fish? If you still can’t decide and, given the typical Asian diet, there is probably room for supplementation of EFA’s in your diet.

Most people consume too much omega-6 relative to the amount of omega-3 that they get. Vegetarians must be particularly careful because it is much easier to get supplies of omega-6 in the vegetarian diet. The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 that should be ingested is around 6:1 for fish-eaters, and 3:1 for vegetarians (because they need to manufacture their own EPA and DHA). Flaxseed oil (or simply flax seeds) is a good choice to boost the intake of omega-3 provided you are healthy and you can break down the flax seed oil into omega-3 and omega-6 .

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are fats that are essential to the diet because the body cannot produce them. Essential fatty acids are extremely important nutrients for health. They are present in every healthy cell in the body, and are critical for the normal growth and functioning of the cells, muscles, nerves, and organs. EFAs are also used by the body to produce a class of hormone-like substances called prostaglandins, which are key to many important processes. Deficiencies of EFAs are linked to a variety of health problems, including major ones such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. It has been estimated that as high as 80% of the American population may consume insufficient quantities of EFAs.

Very few health issues have received as much attention during the past several decades as the question of fat in the diet. Sixty-eight percent of mortalities in America are related to fat consumption and diet, including heart disease (44% of deaths), cancer (22%) and diabetes (2%). There are several types of dietary fats. Saturated fat is found mainly in animal products, including meat and dairy products, and avocados, and nuts. Cholesterol is a dietary fat that is only found in animal products. Cholesterol is also made by the body in small amounts from saturated fats. Heavy consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol has been linked to heart disease and cancer. Unsaturated fats are typically oils from vegetables, nuts, and are present in some fish. These are considered the healthiest dietary fats. Essential fatty acids are unsaturated fats. EFAs are the only fats that may need to be increased in the American diet.

Scientists classify essential fatty acids into two types, omega 3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids, depending on their chemical composition. Technically, the omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid, stearidonic acid, and two others called EPA and DHA. Alpha-linolenic acid is found mainly in flaxseed oil, canola oil, soybeans, walnuts, hemp seeds, and dark green leafy vegetables. Stearidonic acid is found in rarer types of seeds and nuts, including black currant seeds. EPA and DHA are present in cold-water fish, including salmon, trout, sardines, mackerel and cod. Cod liver oil is a popular nutritional supplement for omega-3 EFAs.
Omega-6 fatty acids are more common in the Asian diet than the omega-3 EFAs. These include linoleic acid, which is found in safflower, olive, almond, sunflower, hemp, soybean, walnut, pumpkin, sesame, and flaxseed oils. Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is found in some seeds and evening primrose oil. Arachidonic acid (AA) is present in meat and animal products.

Both types of EFAs, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, are necessary in a healthy diet. Deficiencies of EFAs have been brought about by changes in diet and the modern processing of foods and oils. Many nutritionists believe that a major dietary problem is the use of hydrogenated oils, which are present in margarine and many processed foods.

Hydrogenated oils are highly refined by industrial processes, and contain toxic by-products and trans-fatty acids. Trans-fatty acids are fat molecules with chemically altered structures, and are believed to have several detrimental effects on the body. Trans-fatty acids interfere with the absorption of healthy EFAs, and may contribute to atherosclerosis, or damage to the arteries. Deep-fried foods, which are cooked in oil that is altered by very high temperatures, also contain trans-fatty acids.

Dietary changes that have contributed to EFA deficiency or imbalances include the increased use of oils that contain few or no omega-3 EFAs; the industrial milling of flour that removes the EFA-containing germ; the increase of sugar and fried foods in the diet that may interfere with the body’s absorption of EFAs; and the decreased consumption of fish.

Symptoms of EFA deficiency or imbalance include dry or scaly skin, excessively dry hair, cracked fingernails, fatigue, weakness, frequent infections, allergies, mood disorders, hyperactivity, depression, memory and learning problems, slow wound healing, aching joints, poor digestion, high blood pressure, obesity, and high cholesterol.
EFA supplementation is recommended for over 60 health conditions. EFAs are used therapeutically to treat and to prevent cardiovascular problems, including heart disease, high cholesterol, strokes, and high blood pressure. EFAs also have anti-inflammatory effects in the body, and are used in the nutritional treatment of arthritis, asthma, allergies, and skin conditions (e.g., eczema). EFAs are used as support for immune system disorders including AIDS, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and cancer.

Common EFA supplements are flaxseed oil, evening primrose oil, borage oil, black currant seed oil, hemp seed oil, and cod liver oil. Consumers should search for supplements that contain both omega-3 and omega-6 EFAs, because imbalances of EFAs may occur if either is taken in excess over long periods of time.

Be well

Dr Sundardas

Are we destroying our future? (children and genomics)

There is an ancient Chinese proverb or a curse depending on your perspective thatgoes something like, “May you live in interesting times”. And yes, we truly live in interesting times. The advances in Science, Technology and Medicine have been truly breathtaking and awe inspiring.

As we gambol merrily along our lives, we have to stop and think about the legacy that we are leaving our children in more ways than one. Are we giving our children a better standard of living? Are we leaving behind a better world? Are we leaving behind a happier world? As we look at these, the answers become a little more complex and less black and white. Yes, as we increase our income levels, they get to live in better quality buildings. Life gets more comfortable. There is access to increased medical care and better facilities. In most Asian countries as they rapidly modernize everything begins to look neater and cleaner. They never go hungry. They have access to appropriate educational facilities.

However lets look a little at the nitty gritty of the cleaner buildings and the other changes in the environment. Most of these changes are facilitated by the advent of modern technological changes. For one thing, every year there are 2000 new chemicals being introduced into the environment that were not there before. One estimate, is that from the time of our grandparents to date we have 100, 000 new chemicals that were not there before. If you ever go into a construction site, you would notice the use of glues, solvents and new chemicals that make the process of designing new buildings easy and the impact on biological systems traumatic. One of the most commonly used ingredients is formaldehyde. This was once primarily used to preserve dead animals It is a very toxic substance and is now used in 200 household items. Imagine what it does to the nerve and brain tissue of developing foetuses in the mother’s womb not to mention young children.

We are at the beginning of one of the most terrifying epidemics that is beginning to sweep the emerging first world economics ie. Asia, India and China. Its not SARs or even the swine flue. It’s the epidemic of Syndrome X. Syndrome X is the precursor to diabetes, heart disease and cancer. What is particularly pernicious about this is that the programming for this condition is in utero. The study of how genes are turned on or off by the environment (nutrition, diet, toxins and emotions) is called epigenetics. The implications of the epigenetic revolution are even more profound in light of recent evidence that epigenetic changes made in the parent generation can turn up not just one but several generations down the line, long after the original trigger for change has been removed.

In 2004 Michael Skinner, a geneticist at Washington State University, accidentally discovered an epigenetic effect in rats that lasts at least four generations. Skinner was studying how a commonly used agricultural fungicide, when introduced to pregnant mother rats, affected the development of the testes of fetal rats. He was not surprised to discover that male rats exposed to high doses of the chemical while in utero had lower sperm counts later in life. The surprise came when he tested the male rats in subsequent generations—the grandsons of the exposed mothers. Although the pesticide had not changed one letter of their DNA, these second-generation offspring also had low sperm counts. The same was true of the next generation (the great-grandsons) and the next.
Such results hint at a seemingly anti-Darwinian aspect of heredity. Through epigenetic alterations, our genomes retain something like a memory of the environmental signals received during the lifetimes of our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and perhaps even more distant ancestors. So far, the definitive studies have involved only rodents. But researchers are turning up evidence suggesting that epigenetic inheritance may be at work in humans as well.
In November 2005, Marcus Pembrey, a clinical geneticist at the Institute of Child Health in London, attended a conference at Duke University to present intriguing data drawn from two centuries of records on crop yields and food prices in an isolated town in northern Sweden. Pembrey and Swedish researcher Lars Olov Bygren noted that fluctuations in the towns’ food supply may have health effects spanning at least two generations. Grandfathers who lived their preteen years during times of plenty were more likely to have grandsons with diabetes—an ailment that doubled the grandsons’ risk of early death. Equally notable was that the effects were sex specific. A grandfather’s access to a plentiful food supply affected the mortality rates of his grandsons only, not those of his granddaughters, and a paternal grandmother’s experience of feast affected the mortality rates of her granddaughters, not her grandsons.

The studies by Pembrey and other epigenetics researchers suggest that our diet, behavior, and environmental surroundings today could have a far greater impact than imagined on the health of our distant descendants. “Our study has shown a new area of research that could potentially make a major contribution to public health and have a big impact on the way we view our responsibilities toward future generations,” Pembrey says.

The logic applies backward as well as forward: Some of the disease patterns prevalent today may have deep epigenetic roots. Pembrey and several other researchers, for instance, have wondered whether the current epidemic of obesity, commonly blamed on the excesses of the current generation, may partially reflect lifestyles adopted by our forebears two or more generations back.

Michael Meaney, who studies the impact of nurturing, likewise wonders what the implications of epigenetics are for social policy. He notes that early child-parent bonding is made more difficult by the effects of poverty, dislocation, and social strife. Those factors can certainly affect the cognitive development of the children directly involved. Might they also affect the development of future generations through epigenetic signaling?

Be well
Dr Sundardas

Why all diets are not equal

Dr James D’Adamo’s initial observations of individuals under naturopathic inpatient treatment showed that certain kinds of people improved on different types of diet. The principles behind the observations of James D’Adamo were researched by Peter D’Adamo, resulting in the basic theory determining the selection of foods according to blood group. This has been comprehensively illustrated in the series of books, starting with Eat Right 4 Your Type (ER4YT), which lists foods according to their status: beneficial; neutral or avoid.

Each of the four blood types, which develop at separate times in human evolution, exhibit biochemical differences. Type O, the oldest and most common blood type, has no true antigens (chemical markers that incite antibody production, the reason why people die when given a blood transfusion which is not compatible with their own blood. The next oldest, Type A, first appeared in Asia or the Middle East between 25,000 and 15,000 BC as an evolutionary response to the rise of densely populated agrarian communities. The Type A antigen causes antibody reactions in Type O and Type B, the third blood type.
The Type B antigen appeared between 10,000 and 15,000 BC among nomads in the Himalayan highlands. The most recent and least common, Type AB, has the antigens of Types A and B, combining many of the characteristics of the two.

The Protein Diet vs Blood Type (Atkins)

The protein diet is one that suggests that a low-carbohydrate, high protein diet is the way to lose weight and keep it off. It also suggests that it is the only way to regulate weight, cholesterol and be healthy. This diet has had its spectacular successes and its adherents. There are people for whom it does not work. The ‘O’ type would benefit from high protein diet (Carbohydate:Protein:Fat in the ratio of 40:40:20.). However all the other blood types would not benefit from this. I actually had a patient who experienced his cholesterol and triglycerides getting worse on this diet years ago.

The 30% Carbo, 40%Protein,30%Fat Diet versus Blood Type (Zone Diet)
This diet which basically revolved around carbohydrate intolerance focused on keeping the Carbohydate:Protein:Fat in the ratio of 30:40:30. This diet works spectacularly for those who have problems regulating their blood sugar levels. It also has its fair share of success. Many people with insulin and blood sugar problems have benefited from it.
Again the ‘O’ type would benefit from this program. (Carbohydate:Protein:Fat in the ratio of 40:40:20.). The other blood types would not benefit as much. The A (Carbo70%) and AB (Carbo 60%) types in particular would have a hard time adjusting to this programme.

The Vegetarian Diet versus Blood Type
The vegetarian diet has two major variations. The raw food proponents who are those who basically juice and eat their salads raw. Then there are vegetarians who eat cooked vegetables. Under this category there are lacto vegetarians (those who drink milk and vegetables), lacto-ovo vegetarians (drink milk and eat eggs and vegetables). You rarely see a fat raw vegetarian. There are however cooked food vegetarians who are overweight.
The ‘A’ type would benefit from being vegetarian. The other blood types would not be as comfortable. If a “O” type attempted a vegetarian diet, they would experience accelerated ageing. One of my very good friends, an “O” type insists on being vegetarian for religious reasons. His skin is beginning to age very rapidly. I once had a patient who was a marathon runner. She was a long term vegetarian despite being an “O” type. Eventually she developed an Achilles tendon injury that would not heal. She was persuaded to eat meat. After a few days of this diet, the injury healed really well. She found herself ravenous for meat.

The Macrobiotic Diet versus Blood Type

We have the macrobiotic diet with its emphasis on cooked grains, and vegetables and modest portions of fish and other meats. The “A”, ‘B’ and “AB” type would benefit from doing this.. If a “O” type attempted it, they would be undernourished and lethargic.

Having had the opportunity to put more than 4,000 individuals on supervised diets, I have had the opportunity to observe that different individuals benefited from each of the different diets. There was no underlying rationale as to why a particular worked until the Blood Type Diet unified these ideas.

The Weight Loss Factor – there are no ‘one-size-fits-all’ diet (METABOLIC)

graph chart for 2.8

be well

Dr Sundardas