July 4th: Beware The "How" Of Food

Posted by Jennie Ann Freiman MD on

Generally, how food is prepared gets less attention than what's eaten or when it's consumed. In fact, the how, what and when of food are all important. July 4th is a great time to shine the light on how because the barbecue rules, even for those who don’t usually prep food that way. Grilling is a form of high temperature cooking and browning that produces advanced glycation end products (AGEs), toxic compounds that accelerate aging and promote chronic disease. Western tastebuds strongly favor AGEs because they improve the taste and smell of food. For wellness, the less AGEs, the better: that means cooking methods is a practical strategy to improve health.

  • AGE basics: Glycation is a chemical reaction that binds sugar to protein or fat, creating advanced glycation end products. Anyone managing elevated blood sugar (diabetes, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, polycystic ovary syndrome) is familiar with Hemoglobin A1C, a test that assesses one AGE: glycated hemoglobin (higher A1C means less well-managed blood sugar). The baseline level of AGEs that form naturally through cell function is heightened by exposure to UV radiation, smoking, diet and other lifestyle factors. 
  • AGEs and health: AGEs damage cells by increasing inflammation, harmful free radicals and other cell stressors, in part by increasing insulin resistance, cholesterol and triglycerides. Elevated AGEs are associated with cardiovascular disease, chronic liver, kidney, pancreatic and neurodegenerative disorders, and many types of cancer. They are being investigated for use as a biomarker, a measurable indicator for the onset and progression of disease. For example, there is a direct, causal relationship between stepped-up AGE levels and Alzheimer’s, which affects both the incidence and timing of the disorder. Population studies find dietary AGE consumption correlates strongly with Alzheimer’s prevalence: dementia is low in countries with low AGE intake and high in countries with high intake. As the Japanese people transitioned from their traditional diet to a more Western, meat-based, AGE-rich diet, Alzheimer's rates rose significantly. The more AGEs in your system, the more likely you are to experience mental decline, and the quicker that decline progresses. AGEs accumulate in the body over time, compounding their damage.
  • AGEs in food: All foods naturally contain AGEs and more form through processing and cooking. AGEs are low in carbohydrates and don't significantly increase with cooking. Meat, cheese and processed foods are high in AGEs; prolonged high temperature cooking adds more. Dry heat cooking can raise AGEs one hundred times above than the amount found in the same uncooked food. The Mediterranean, traditional Japanese and other Asian diets are rich in diverse, low-AGE foods, with little meat and dairy consumption. There is no official recommendation for dietary AGE intake, but investigators suggest it not exceed 7500KU/day. A 3oz (90 gm) serving of chicken thigh, barbecued with the skin on, has 16,688KU of AGEs, and if roasted, 10,034KU. The AGE content of standard serving sizes of many foods, available in an online database to help guide meal planning, can be referenced by clicking this link from The SEEDS Plan website. Food is an easy target for reducing the total body burden of AGEs, and in turn, the risk of disease. 

There are four general categories of dietary AGE-promoters:

table of dietary advanced glycation end product AGE promoters from the seeds plan book oobroo dot com

Strategies for July 4th (No one wants to be the grinch who hates Independence Day tradition, so here are some tips for reducing AGE formation in grilled food): 

  1. Pre-treat protein with an acid-based marinade for 1-2 hours (lemon, citrus fruit, vinegar base)
  2. Use herbs, spices and condiments generously
  3. Choose lean cuts of meat
  4. Pre-cook protein to reduce the total amount of time on the grill
  5. Use portion control to eat less meat and up the veggies
  6. Pair the meal with antioxidant-rich fruit for dessert…especially berries

Strategies for the long term (July 4th strategies hold true all year long / supplement them with these practices that lower AGEs):

  1. Cook with high smoke-point oils (coconut oil, ghee) 
  2. Practice calorie restriction
  3. Improve the gut microbiome with fermented and prebiotic foods
  4. Stick to a low-glycemic diet (especially avoid fructose which causes 10X more glycation than glucose: I’m looking at you, high fructose corn syrup!)
  5. Increase exercise
  6. Maintain adequate intake of vitamin B1 and B6
  7. Quit smoking 

This table summarizes dietary AGE-busters:

Table of tips to lower advanced glycation end products AGEs from The SEEDS Plan book oobroo dot com

  • Quick note for new mothers: AGEs in infant formula are up to 70-fold higher than in breast milk.
  • Can I get tested for AGEs?: Other than the readily available Hemoglobin A1C, AGE testing is currently a research tool.

Lifestyle-related disorders can be meaningfully impacted by lifestyle change. Because these conditions represent the majority of the top ten causes of death in the United States, reducing their incidence prolongs longevity and healthy aging. Lowering AGEs is a simple intervention with much reward. Have a happy, healthy, safe 4th! The SEEDS Plan can help.


Disclaimer: This article was created for informational purposes only, is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Oobroo™ Inc or its staff.

References available on request: email TeamOobroo@oobroo.com

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Preserve & Protect Memory With Coconut

Posted by Jennie Ann Freiman MD on

Food isn’t immune to fake news: coconut and coconut oil are perfect examples. You won’t hear about it much, but around the world, populations that regularly consume coconut are extraordinarily healthy, with low rates of heart disease, cancer and dementia. Tropical oils were commonly used in U.S. cooking until the 1940s, when the edible oil industry successfully campaigned to replace them with polyunsaturated vegetable and nut oils, and threw trans fats into the mix. The rest is history. We now suffer high (and rising) rates of obesity and chronic illness, and year upon year, life expectancy has declined since 2015.

Coconut has a bad reputation because it contains saturated fat, but that’s only part of the story. Fat is not generic. Saturated fat can consist of long-chain triglycerides (the bad guys, if consumed in excess), or medium chain triglycerides (the good guys, found in coconut and breast milk). The difference, for health, is huge.

The brain is 60% fat by weight, so healthy fats are key to keeping our center of thinking and emotion robust life long. Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) strongly support brain fitness both in those with normal mental function and in those suffering cognitive impairment, including Alzheimer’s disease. This makes sense, based on how the brain works. A healthy brain can use glucose or fat, in the form of ketones, to fuel its function. The brains of those with memory loss and mental decline lose the ability to metabolize glucose, so end up running on empty unless provided with healthy fats as an alternative, usable source of energy.

“Type-3 diabetes,” demonstrable on PET scans, is a form of brain-specific insulin resistance that can occur even when blood tests for diabetes are normal. MCTs and coconut oil solve this problem by being easily absorbed and broken down to ketones, which travel through the bloodstream to the brain, to keep it humming. In contrast, long-chain triglyceride saturated fats are not terribly effective brain nutrients because they’re hard to break down.

Animal studies showing memory enhancement with coconut oil are confirmed by human research that finds cognitive improvement in Alzheimer’s patients. This is nothing short of amazing and it stems from the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant and anti-stress activity of coconut oil. Coconut oil also protects brain cells from the damaging effects of beta-amyloid, the protein that aggregates into plaques in the Alzheimer’s brain.

Anyone interested in preserving mental function and preventing cognitive decline, take note, because brain pathologies associated with cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s occur decades before symptoms become obvious. It’s never too soon adopt behaviors that safeguard the brain.

Aside from its brain-healthy MCTs, coconut is a highly nutritious functional food rich in vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. Studies show it fights obesity, hypertension, heart disease, insulin resistance and abnormal cholesterol, all of which, coincidentally, are risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease.

To leverage the health promoting effects of coconut oil, consider these measures:

  • Consume two to four tablespoons of organic, unrefined, virgin coconut oil daily to promote brain health and reap the benefits of clearer thinking, better memory and overall mental function. Two tablespoons daily is associated with weight loss and reduction of abdominal fat. If that’s too much to eat, rub part of the daily allotment into the skin as a moisturizer or massage oil.
  • Cook with coconut oil, because it has a relatively high smoke point: 350°F ( = 177°C). The high smoke point makes this oil less likely to form harmful advanced glycation end products (AGEs) that result from high temperature cooking. AGEs promote inflammation, hastening aging and its associated chronic, degenerative diseases. From a taste point of view, coconut oil is not appropriate for cooking some foods; ghee is a good alternative with an even higher smoke point, but it doesn't contain MCTs.
  • Oil pull with coconut oil, an Ayurvedic tradition for minimizing over thirty health conditions and for freshening and stimulating the mind. Habitual oil pulling strongly modifies risk factors for serious systemic diseases. The recommended 20 minutes daily is a difficult time commitment to make, but shorter times are also helpful. More information and simple instructions re: oil pulling can be found here.

The health-boosting effects of coconut oil are more potent with whole oil than its component parts because coconut oil is much more than just medium chain triglycerides. Whole coconut oil is recommended over ketone and MCT supplements because they isolate one or more “magic” ingredients at the expense of others, and are subject to contamination associated with processing.

Incorporating organic, virgin coconut oil into your daily routine is a simple tactic for significantly improving healthspan by preventing, slowing and reversing chronic disease. Protecting memory is key for successful longevity.


Disclaimer: This article was created for informational purposes only, is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Oobroo™ Inc or its staff.

References available on request: email TeamOobroo@oobroo.com


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Food, Glorious Food

Posted by Jennie Ann Freiman MD on

With the exception of the last hundred or so years… the time when science promised to outperform nature… humans relied on food both as a source of nutrients and for its ability to prevent illness. History repeats.
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Normal Isn't Always Good Enough

Posted by Jennie Ann Freiman MD on

“Normal” is often not good enough, especially when it comes to health. We consider something “normal” if it’s an accurate statistical representation of a given outcome. In the case of standard laboratory testing, generally normal results do not necessarily equate to optimal outcome for the individual. Until personalized medicine (tailoring diagnosis and treatment to each patient) is fully realized, it makes sense to scrutinize current laboratory reference ranges defined as “normal.” Frequently, we can do better.

These are three important examples of tests whose normal results are linked to specific (avoidable) disease states:

Thyroid health: Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) is the standard screening test for assessing thyroid function. Most laboratories (and doctors) accept a range of 0.4-5.5mIU/L as normal, despite overwhelming evidence that adverse health outcomes are linked to TSH above 2.0, even when thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) are normal. Health conditions associated with a TSH in the upper half of normal include an increase in blood lipids, cardiovascular disease and mortality, fracture (and low bone mineral density, especially in post-menopausal women), male and female infertility, complications of pregnancy (miscarriage, preterm labor), mood disorders, dementia, and autoimmune thyroiditis (Hashimoto’s disease). Experts have known about the increase risks of high-normal TSH for over two decades, but so far this awareness hasn’t led to a revised consensus for diagnosis and treatment. One recent recommendation for evaluating thyroid disease involves screening with a combination of TSH, free T3 and T4, and consideration of the individual’s clinical status. Redrawing the lines of “normal” to the narrower 0.4-2.0 mIU/L range for TSH would cause millions of Americans to suddenly be diagnosed as hypothyroid, creating an unwelcome burden for insurance companies.

Vitamin D3: Vitamin D plays an important role in both skeletal and non-skeletal health. Public health recommendations for sun-avoidance, successful in protecting against skin cancer, contributed to epidemic levels of vitamin D deficiency in the general population. The lower end of the common laboratory “normal” range of 20-50ng/mL is not optimal. Insufficient vitamin D3 is associated with an increase in fracture, cancer, and cardiovascular, autoimmune and neurodegenerative disorders. The Vitamin D Council recommends 50ng/mL as the ideal level. Prudent sun exposure and vitamin D intake by diet and/or supplements to reach this level is strongly recommended. Note: Levels of vitamin D above 100ng/mL are too high and pose health risks.

Homocysteine And Vitamin B12: Homocysteine is commonly tested as a marker for cardiovascular health but its relationship to cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease should be considered in assessing normal reference ranges. Homocysteine reflects the status of vitamins B12, B6 and folate, all of which are key to optimizing mental function. The normal range for homocysteine in women is <10.4 umol/L and in men, <11.4 umol/L. Clinical studies find that homocysteine levels at the high end of normal are linked to a 1.15 to 2.5 relative risk for dementia. Optimal homocysteine is less than 7.2 umol/L. Similarly, normal vitamin B12 levels of 200-1100pg/mL are associated with dementia at the lower end of 200-400pg/mL. Homocysteine, B12, B6 and folate can be improved by diet and supplements.

Optimizing health is the best insurance policy for resilience against disease. Take steps that make a difference.


Disclaimer: This article was created for informational purposes only, is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Oobroo™ Inc or its staff.

References available on request: email TeamOobroo@oobroo.com


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This Year, Skip The Flu

Posted by Jennie Ann Freiman MD on

February just started, yet the 2017-2018 flu season has already recorded the highest level of infection since the swine flu pandemic of 2009. Nationwide, the flu has many hospitals at “surge capacity,” the limit of their ability to handle a sizable uptick in the number of people needing urgent care. H3N2, the main flu strain, is highly contagious, virulent and deadly. The flu vaccine is only 10% effective against H3N2, so preventive measures are the best hope for staying safe.

These strategies help:

Wash hands often, with plain soap and water. Prevent flaking and dry skin (a portal of entry for germs) by moisturizing with organic coconut oil after washing. If soap and water are not available, alcohol (i.e. vodka) or a few drops of organic lavender essential oil are effective, non-toxic hand sanitizers.

Avoid touching your face (eyes, nose, mouth), which spreads germs. No hands in the mouth, including nail biting. On average, the hand-face connection happens 16 times an hour!

Don’t share eating or drinking utensils, even if the person isn’t obviously sick, because flu has an incubation period of 1 - 4 days before symptoms show.

Use a neti pot or daily nasal syringe bulb rinse to flush out viruses and secretions that trap them. Buy a saline nasal rinse or make your own by combining 3 teaspoons of iodide-free salt plus 1 teaspoon of baking soda in 1 cup of distilled water.

Avoid areas in which air is re-circulated, such as shopping malls, locker rooms, long term care facilities, hospitals, mass transit and airplanes.

Sanitize surfaces, including doorknobs, handles, staircase rails, phones, computer keyboards, remote controls, faucets, water fountains, gym equipment, elevator buttons and anything that many people touch throughout the day. Viruses can live on surfaces for more than 24 hours. No sanitizer available? Grab surfaces with your hand wrapped in a tissue or paper towel.

Avoid close contact with those who are sick: sleep in separate bedrooms, don’t share towels.

Slowly breathe out until 10 feet away from anyone coughing or sneezing to avoid inhaling contaminated air.

Strengthen your immune system with lifestyle factors that make a difference: get enough good sleep, exercise regularly, reduce stress, eat real, organic food.

Up your intake of organic herbs and spices with known anti-viral activity, including oregano, onion, turmeric, ginger, (crushed, raw) garlic. Organic supplements are available.

These foods/nutrients have been scientifically shown to reduce the incidence of flu:

  • Vitamin D: practice prudent sun exposure and/or take a vitamin D3 supplement to optimize blood levels to 50 – 70 ng/ml.
  • Green or black tea: 1 -5 cups daily.
  • Probiotic foods: live culture yogurt, kefir, kombucha, natto, pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh. Organic supplements are available.
  • Mushrooms: consume daily, shiitake and maitake are the best. Organic supplements are available.

The flu season commonly extends through May, so commit to these measures over the long haul. Why combat the flu when you can just skip it?


Disclaimer: This article was created for informational purposes only, is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Oobroo™ Inc or its staff.

References available on request: email TeamOobroo@oobroo.com

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