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Health Notes

The essential nutrient that’s essentially unknown 

We’re all working hard for that coveted 20-year bonus to our life-spans. I talk a lot about the nutritional approaches for adding those extra years to your life. For the most part, it’s more a matter of what you shouldn’t eat (namely sugar and starch) than what you should eat (rare or raw meat, eggs, unpasteurized milk, and other fresh dairy products).

And then there’s medical politics, which you’ve also read about in various issues of Dr. Douglass’ Real Health Breakthroughs. You might not think that politics have much to do with how long you live, but it’s all the medical industry back-scratching and interest in the bottom line that’s most likely to cheat you out of that golden- year bonus.

But today’s lesson in longevity is about nutrients. You know all about vitamin C, coenzyme Q10, and all of those “anti-aging” superstars. And you also know about the B-vitamins and how important they are to your overall health. Most of the information on B-vitamins focuses on B6, B12, and folic acid (which is another type of B-vitamin), and all of these are definitely critical to a long, healthy life. But with all of the attention pointed in their direction, some other essential nutrients are often overlooked.

Right now, let’s talk about biotin. I mentioned it briefly in the April issue of Dr. Douglass’ Real Health Breakthroughs (in the article titled “Still scared of eggs?”), but it’s so important to your health and to helping you add as many years to your life as possible that I thought it deserved its own Health Note.

First, a little bioscience. Biotin is part of the B complex of vitamins. Up until recently, no one worried much about it because we thought we got plenty from our food. But it turns out that there’s a sneaky substance called avidin, which is detrimental to your health and your quest for a 20-year bonus. Avidin binds to biotin, which causes a biotin deficiency–and that can cause symptoms ranging from twitching to hair loss.

One scientist commented on biotin and avidin recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, saying, “from an evolutionary standpoint, avidin probably serves as an antibacterial in egg whites.”

What does that have to do with “evolution”? The rest of his report was just as convoluted. Don’t you get sick of this pseudo-science masquerading as science? After a little digging, I came to the point of all his mumbo-jumbo, which was that, because of avidin, we may not be getting enough biotin after all.

Actions to take:

Oddly enough, even though biotin is essential for health, no one has any idea what the daily requirement is. (That’s probably a blessing in disguise: The “experts” in charge of deciding such values usually get them wrong anyway.)

(1) Eat a raw egg every day or medium rare liver (chicken liver is by far the tastiest) once a week, and you won’t have to worry about a biotin deficiency.

(2) If you’re squeamish about doing it my way–raw this and raw that–you can get biotin supplements at the health food store. A dose of 500 to 1,000 micrograms a day is sufficient.

References:

“Biotin: the forgotten vitamin,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2002; 75(2): 179-180

The diet advice even babies should be following: Eat that pork fat! 

All right, you have religious or scrupulous reasons for not eating pork. Then eat your beef fat, lamb fat, or chicken fat. I have been writing about the importance of animal fat in your diet for the past 20 years. Now there’s a new report supporting my stance, but this one even goes a step further and gives the stamp of approval to fat as an essential part of babies’ diets.

Scientists at the University of California, Irvine report that a high-fat diet protects the newborn brain from seizure damage.

There was one line in this article that I found particularly amusing. It said: “Medical advice rarely supports a high-fat diet, but a team of UC Irvine researchers report” (Emphasis added-Ed.).

I’m not sure where this guy has been, but he seems to have completely missed out on years’ worth of studies, months’ worth of headlines, and hours’ worth of news coverage –all of it stating that medical advice now does, in fact, support high-fat/ high-protein diets, even for babies.

References:

“High-fat diet protects newborn brain from seizure damage, study suggests,” University of California, Irvine (press release), 2/28/03

Vitamin C and diabetes: turns out “too much” just isn’t enough 

This is not the hottest news in the world, but, just in case you missed it, vitamin C plays an important role in sugar metabolism, making it a key player in the treatment of diabetes. A study reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, disclosed that diabetics, in general, have a 30 percent lower level of vitamin C in their blood than non-diabetics.

When they gave patients 1 gram of vitamin C daily, researchers found that it had no effect on the blood sugar. But when they gave the patients 2 grams, they noticed that the subjects’ blood sugar levels went down significantly.

Remember in the “olden days” (1997) they used to say that when you took large doses of vitamins, all you did was produce expensive urine? Well, back then 1,000 milligrams (1 gram) of vitamin C was considered an overdose by the establishment nutritional “experts.” All you needed, they claimed, was 100 milligrams a day, more or less.

Funny how things change: Now, even the most conservative of “experts”–the CDC–is saying that 2,000 milligrams is a safe, effective treatment for hyperglycemia. No more talk of “expensive urine.”

References:

“Does diabetes mellitus increase the requirement for vitamin C?” Nutrition Review 1996; 54(7): 193-2023

Meat kills? Read the small print 

“Eating less meat boosts longevity, says German report,” or so says Reuters in its report of the report. This is a perfect example of how the media uses headlines as mind-bending propaganda. But it got worse before it got better: After the headline, the article stated that “people who eat little or no meat can expect to live significantly longer than the general population, a new report from the Center of Cancer Research in Germany (DKFZ) says.”

Well, gee, that’s pretty astounding and bodaciously scary, since I have built my entire career on the principle that you can live to 114, more or less, by eating a diet of meat, the fat of meat, eggs, and fresh dairy products. Since that has been the best and most successful diet of man for thousands of years, I thought I was on to something. Now these uppity Germans are telling my readers they will live longer doing the opposite of what I told them. So I had to read on and find out where they were coming up with all of these wild claims.

Well, surprise, surprise: If you read into the body of the Reuters article–not just the headline and first few sentences–you find out that the researchers didn’t say that at all.

Here’s the REAL story:

Between 1978 and 1999, the DKFZ monitored almost 2,000 people who ate either no meat or less than average.

Researchers compared the study group with the general population every five years during the course of the investigation. For every 100 deaths in the general population, there were an average of 59 deaths in the study group. Now if that were the end of it, maybe I could see where the reporter came up with the far-fetched claim he made in his headline. But then he goes on to say “the study also revealed that completely avoiding meat does not make for the healthiest diet: within the group: For every 100 deaths among vegans, there were 66 among vegetarians and 60 among meat eaters.”

Wait just a minute here. Did he forget what he said at the beginning of his report–that “Eating less meat boosts longevity”? He must be a vegan with a short-term memory problem.

Action to take:

Don’t settle for headlines– always read the whole story.

References:

“Eating less meat boosts longevity,” Reuters Health News (www.reuters.com), 3/11/03

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