InflammAging: Fight The Fire

Posted by Jennie Ann Freiman MD on

Too much of a good thing is a basic principle of nature: some is good, excess is often harmful. Inflammaging, how inflammation speeds up aging, is a perfect example of this principle. As intended, inflammation is nature's healing response to infection or tissue injury, a self limited process that protects us from disease. In short doses, inflammation is essential for human survival. When taken to the extreme by becoming an unnatural, continuous state, aging accelerates, health problems and premature death follow. A nonstop inflammatory attack on organs and tissues leads to chronic disease, including type-2 diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer's, cancer, macular degeneration and osteoporosis. Healthspan and lifespan are compromised by unchecked inflammation.

As time passes, all roads lead to inflammaging. Genetics, the environment and the many factors that drive the complex process of aging are, at the core, the outcome of a pro-inflammatory vs anti-inflammatory tug-of-war. Luckily, lifestyle modification can tame inflammation-promoters, stopping, and sometimes reversing the damage they incite. The goal is to be vital and live a long life while feeling good and looking good.

There are no specific biomarkers of aging, but markers of inflammation are reliable predictors of accelerated aging and its destructive consequences for health and well being. Easily available blood tests that raise a red flag for inflammaging include:

Screen for generalized inflammation:

CRP (C-reactive protein)

ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate)

WBC (white blood cell count)

Screen specifically for blood vessel inflammation, risk for heart/cardiovascular disease:

hs-CRP (high sensitivity C-reactive protein)

Test available, but not mainstream as of this time:

IL-6 (interleukin-6) - may be ordered with CRP for additional information

A sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diet, stress and exposure to environmental toxins are modifiable factors linked to elevation in some or all of the above blood tests, and inflammaging. All anti-aging strategies power the side of the inflammation tug-of-war pulling for immune boosting, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant actions.

These lifestyle interventions fight inflammaging:

  • Calorie restriction in the range of 25 - 50% daily, is the most scientifically authenticated anti-aging strategy, more so when practiced in combination with good nutrition. The downside is most people find it tough, if not impossible, to follow long term. Another option, time-restricted eating, also known as intermittent fasting, is an excellent, more user-friendly way to reap similar benefits. Confining eating to an 8 - 12 hour window every day (i.e. finish dinner at 7PM, then no more food or drink until 7 AM) mimics ancestral feeding patterns, promotes weight loss and improves longevity.
  • Treat zinc deficiency. Zinc wears many hats in supporting immune function, notably cold prevention and wound healing. Zinc deficiency, not always recognized, is common in the general population due to poor gut absorption (related to aging, alcohol use, Crohn's and other gastrointestinal diseases), and is more likely to be an issue with low-protein, vegetarian or vegan diets. If the blood test for zinc is low, the level can be brought to normal with diet and/or supplements. Meat and poultry are zinc-rich foods.
  • Mediterranean Diet Considered by many to be the world's healthiest diet, MeDi works some of its anti—aging magic by modifying the gut microbiome in favor of good bacteria that fight inflammation. Prebiotic (high in plant fiber) and probiotic (fermented) foods have a similar effect, supporting intestinal health that in turn drives the suppression of aging.
  • Flavonoids, plant compounds best known for anti-oxidant activity, are now recognized for fighting inflammation by acting as epigenetic agents, able to influence gene expression, literally turning them on or off. Flavonoids are found in nuts, tea, dark chocolate and colorful produce and spices. Blueberries, cacao and turmeric are a few flavonoid superstars.
  • Sleep is called "beauty rest" for a reason. Aging skin is the tip of the inflammaging iceberg, a cosmetic window into what goes on behind the scenes, inside the body. Sleep allows for system maintenance, a cleansing time during which potentially toxic cellular trash, the daily byproducts of healthy metabolic function, is removed. Tips to naturally improve sleep hygiene do not include sedatives.
  • Physical exercise helps prevent DNA damage that promotes aging. Olympic athletes need not apply: as little as 20 - 30 minutes of moderate, daily exercise is all it takes to slow down the aging clock. Aerobics, dance, walking, doesn't matter. Just move!

Aging happens, but how we choose to age and how much we act to delay the inevitable, is in our control. Frailty and the diminished quality of life associated with aging is largely a result of our modern lifestyle, but it doesn't have to be that way. Living well is the best revenge, so why not adopt a wellness plan that supports a new normal for aging?


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.

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Risky Business: Dangerous Drugs Treat 5 Common Conditions

Posted by Jennie Ann Freiman MD on

Popular over-the-counter and prescription drugs commonly cause more harm than good, which flies in the face of FDA-approval confirming they are safe and effective when used as directed. Ongoing research and experience continue to uncover alarming links to dementia, heart disease and death in short and long-term users of bestselling and blockbuster pharmaceuticals that treat everyday complaints. Prescribers are slowly becoming aware that widely accepted drugs can damage healthspan and lifespan. Drugs that undermine brain function and overall longevity are worth avoiding completely, using only when essential, and/or substituting with less noxious alternatives.

Beware the drugs that treat these 5 common disorders:

Depression: Anti-depressants are the most consumed drug category in America. Multi-millions take them, including 10% of the population at or over age 12. Some anti-depressants are classified as “anti-cholinergics” because they work by blocking acetylcholine, a brain chemical critical for learning and memory. Anti-cholinergic drugs impair higher thinking, shrink the brain and make the chance of developing dementia or mild cognitive impairment (considered to be an Alzheimer’s precursor), four times more likely with as little as 6 months of use. The stronger the anti-cholinergic effect, the more likely the drug is to mess with your brain.

The anti-depressants with the strongest acetylcholine suppression are:

  • paroxetine / Paxil™
    amitriptyline / Elavil™
    desipramine / Norpramin™
    doxepin / Sinequan™

A lesser (but real) effect is seen with:

  • venlafaxine / Effexor™

Each of these five drugs, available by prescription only, carries a black-box warning for increasing suicide risk in children, adolescents and adults under the age of 25.

Heartburn/ Acid Reflux: Proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs), available both by prescription and over-the-counter, reduce stomach acid, and prevent and treat gastrointestinal ulcers. The news goes downhill from there. PPIs are linked to increased hip, wrist and forearm fractures, and an increase risk of serious infection and all-cause death. It is suggested that PPIs promote dementia by lowering B12 and magnesium and enhancing levels of beta-amyloid (a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease). Overall, significant adverse effects are more likely the longer the drug is used.

These PPIs are available both over-the-counter and by prescription:

  • omeprazole / Prilosec™/ Prilosec™ OTC,
  • ansoprazole / Prevacid™/ Prevacid™ 24HR

These PPIs are by prescription only:

  • esomeprazole / Nexium™
  • dexlansoprazole / Dexilan™
  • pantoprazole / Protonix™
  • rabeprazole / AcipHex™

Concerned researchers advise avoidance of PPIs, but take note that some of their alternatives have issues as well. The H-2 blocker class of heartburn drugs are anti-cholinergic, linking them to the same problems as noted above for anti-depressants.

Common H-2 blockers are:

  • cimetidine / Tagamet™
    ranitidine / Zantac™

High Cholesterol/Risk of Heart Disease:  At least one in four middle aged adults takes a statin drug to lower cholesterol and help prevent heart attacks. Recently updated guidelines on dietary cholesterol and heart disease risk may result in more users, especially among younger people. The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended screening adults between ages 40 - 75 for cardiovascular disease and considering statin treatment for those with a 10-year risk above 7.5%…by their criteria, that’s a lot of people. To find out if you're a statin candidate based on USPSTF guidelines, use this heart risk calculator. A more thorough, comprehensive evaluation of cardiovascular risk can (and should) be established through medical testing.

The downside of statin use is formidable and very sobering, particularly because these drugs are intended for lifelong use. Strong evidence links statins to an increased risk of diabetes, breast, prostate and other cancers, severe muscle damage, and memory impairment. Some of these effects occur because statins deplete the body of CoQ10, a coenzyme required for normal function of every cell in the body. Aside from direct effects that raise the risk of dementia, statins cause sleep disturbance and elevate blood sugar, each of which is, in turn, a risk for Alzheimer’s disease and reduced cognitive function. A number of studies have demonstrated no benefit to overall mortality rates with statin use.

Statins available by prescription include:

    •    atorvastatin / Lipitor™
    •    fluvastatin / Lescol™ / Lescol XL™
    •    lovastatin / Mevacor™ / Altoprev™
    •    pravastatin / Pravachol™
    •    rosuvastatin / Crestor™
    •    simvastatin / Zocor™
    •    pitavastatin / Livalo™

Insomnia: Convenience is one reason over-the-counter sleep aids are top sellers, generating in excess of $400 million in annual profits. Anti-histamines are one class of sleeping pills that raise red flags with both short and long term use. Yet again, these drugs are anti-cholinergics, making them especially harmful to seniors, whose production of acetylcholine naturally decreases with age, a case of adding insult to injury. The risk for dementia with these sleep aids is related to the cumulative lifetime amount taken rather than current use of the medication. Since insomnia itself is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, using anti-histamines to treat it creates a double whammy.

Common over-the-counter anti-histamine sleep aids:

  • diphenhydramine / Benadryl™
    doxylamine / Unisom™

Other anti-histamines (for cold, allergy, etc) have significant anti-cholinergic effects:

  • brompheniramine + phenylephrine / Dimetapp™
  • chlorpheniramine / Chlor-Trimeton™
  • carbinoxamine /Arbinoxa™ / Palgic™ / by prescription

Pain: One third of Americans, about 100 million, report living with chronic pain, which in turn drives drug use. As narcotics prescriptions skyrocketed, so did opioid-related overdose deaths. Over-the-counter painkillers, generally seen as safer, also come with serious health risks that went unrecognized for many, many years, creating a false sense of security about their safety.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are used for both acute and chronic pain relief. Except for aspirin, all NSAIDs raise the risk of heart attack and stroke,  and in turn death, a risk which can occur after as little as one day of use.

Over-the counter NSAID painkillers include:

  • ibuprofen / Advil™ / Motrin™
    naproxen / Aleve™
Prescription NSAID painkillers include:
  • celecoxib / Celebrex™
    ibuprofen / Motrin™
    indomethacin / Indocin™
    mefenamic acid / Ponstel™
    meloxicam / Mobic™
    naproxen / Naprosyn™ / Anaprox™

A popular OTC pain alternative, acetaminophen / Tylenol™, widely perceived as harmless,  is the leading cause of acute liver failure in the US, and linked to an increase in cancer (lymphoma, leukemia) and death from overdose. In the case of drugs for pain relief, less is more.

Anti-cholinergic drugs in widespread use are injurious, especially to the brain, making them worthy of further consideration. A list of drugs with anti-cholinergic activity (aside from those already mentioned in this post) can be used as a guide for pharmaceuticals to avoid as much as possible. Consider this about anti-cholinergics:

  • Just one dose is related to reduced focus and attention, slower reaction time and cognitive impairment
  • Cognitive effects may not be fully reversible, even with short term use
  • Simultaneous use of these drugs (ie. heartburn + sleeping pills + anti-depressants) has not been studied, therefore it’s not known if the adverse effects on brain and overall health are additive or have a greater, multiplier effect.
  • First line pharma for Alzheimer’s disease is a class of drugs that prevent acetylcholine breakdown, which means they are ANTI-anti-cholinergics (or pro-cholinergics). It makes no sense that we try to preserve brain function with drugs that spare acetylcholine, but treat common conditions (depression, insomnia, heartburn, allergy, etc) with drugs that destroy it, in turn raising the risk of death, dementia, and other chronic ailments. (?)
  • As the use of these drugs in the general population has increased, so has the incidence of their associated chronic ailments (Alzheimer’s, diabetes, insomnia).
  • As a class, anti-cholinergics increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality.

Periodic reassessment of health risks should drive every wellness plan and include measures to reduce dependency on acute and chronic drugs. To be safe, never make any drug-treatment changes without consulting a qualified healthcare provider.

Dietary and lifestyle measures can be very effective for prevention and treatment of each of the 5 health conditions mentioned here, without the serious side effects of drugs. Check out these sleep tips to help fight insomnia and the need for sleep aids. Consider daily use of  2000 mg of whole turmeric supplements for arthritic pain, shown to be equally effective as NSAID treatment, and well accepted with fewer side effects.

What natural approach(es) do you use for the above problems?

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.

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The Fat Wars: What's A Health-Conscious Consumer To Do?

Posted by Jennie Ann Freiman MD on

The recent release of the American Heart Association (AHA) advisory on dietary fats and cardiovascular disease is a call to action, but exactly what that action should be is debatable. The AHA recommends replacing dietary saturated fat with unsaturated fat, especially polyunsaturated fat (in an overall healthful dietary plan) as a strategy to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. The panel offers a one-size-fits-all recommendation, specifically the goal of lowering LDL, AKA “bad” cholesterol, as the primary, actionable risk-reducing measure. Their controversial comment that got health partisans in an uproar was: “we advise against the use of coconut oil.” Reactions ran the gamut from support to outrage, and as expected, resulted in sensational clickbait:

“Coconut oil isn’t healthy. It’s never been healthy.” Ashley May / USA Today

The internet is rife with opinion, so what’s a health-conscious consumer to do? The AHA based their recommendations on a review of population studies and randomized trials but those do not speak to any one individual’s personal risk. Regardless of your dietary bias, laboratory testing is an objective way to get a handle on cardiovascular risk and the potential need for dietary intervention.

Traditional cholesterol testing is not the most accurate way to assess cardiovascular risk. A quick screen that only checks total cholesterol can be very misleading. Total cholesterol measures the aggregate of HDL (“good” cholesterol) and LDL (“bad” cholesterol) in your bloodstream, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. For example, a high cholesterol superficially suggests an elevated risk for cardiovascular disease, but in fact, the risk is low if a very high amount of HDL (“good” cholesterol) is responsible for upping the total number. On the other hand, a normal total cholesterol may be falsely reassuring, if LDL makes up most of the value. Including a more complete “lipid profile” in annual medical testing is the minimum required for actionable information, but even that isn’t enough.

The generally accepted recommendations for cholesterol values come from the  National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Triglycerides, one of the very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL) are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease fully independent of cholesterol levels. Excess calories are converted to triglycerides and stored in fat cells. VLDL are precursors in the production of LDL cholesterol. Risk assessment based on cholesterol and triglycerides is far more accurate than basing it on either of those values alone. It should be noted that cardiovascular disease also rises when total cholesterol is too low; there is a sweet spot.

basic lipid profile to assess cardiovascular risk

To dig deeper and uncover even more valuable cardiovascular risk information, it’s necessary to fractionate LDL and HDL into their respective subtypes. Both particle number and size influence risk. Large, fluffy, buoyant LDL particles are cardio-protective. The bad guys, the ones that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease as much as threefold, are the small, dense, sticky LDL particles which promote inflammation, and increase blood clotting and plaque formation. As many as one third of those with low LDL levels, which seem superficially favorable, actually have increased risk because of elevated levels of hazardous, small LDL particles. Interestingly, low-carbohydrate diets selectively lower small particle LDL more than overall LDL, thus lowering cardiovascular risk. The NMR LipoProfile test evaluates lipoprotein particle size and number along with markers of insulin resistance to derive a more comprehensive view of cardiovascular risk.

NMR lipoprofile advanced lipid testing

The VAP (Vertical Auto Profile) test goes even further in assessing cardiovascular risk by breaking down LDL into four measurable risk sub-factors: total LDL cholesterol, real LDL cholesterol, lipoprotein-a and intermediate density lipoproteins. The results generate very different dietary and supplement/pharmaceutical interventions that can be tailored into a treatment program targeting each individual’s specific results. Generic recommendations including low carb intake or a low fat diet, omega-3 supplements, niacin, statins and exercise do not optimize individual risk reduction.

VAP lipid test cardiovascular risk

The AHA recommendations for dietary actions to reduce cardiovascular risk are flawed:

  • The AHA advises against the dietary use of coconut oil while simultaneously admitting, “clinical trials that compare direct effects on CVD (cardiovascular disease) of coconut oil and other dietary oils have not been reported.”
  • All of the studies supporting the AHA conclusions were performed in North America and Europe, on populations whose diet is not based on coconut oil.
  • Avoiding a more nuanced look at cardiovascular risk factors is simplistic and reductive, in no way reflecting the best interest of consumers serious about improving health.
  • The 2015-2020 US Dietary Guidelines no longer recommend lowering cholesterol and place no limit on dietary fat or cholesterol intake.

When deciding whether or not to include coconut oil, which is about 90% saturated fat, as part of a heart healthy diet, consider these facts:

  • Coconut oil raises total and HDL cholesterol.
  • Coconut oil lowers triglycerides and central, abdominal fat, both independent risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
  • Coconut oil reduces insulin resistance, another independent cardiovascular risk factor.
  • Countries with highest dietary intake of coconut oil are among those with lowest incidence of cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular risk rises when refined vegetable oils, specifically those recommended by the AHA, are introduced to these populations.

For those choosing to incorporate coconut oil in an overall health plan, stick to organic, unrefined, virgin coconut oil.

Health can’t possibly be promoted by any one-size-fits-all recommendation because those don’t take into account the infinite variety in our diet and lifestyle. To find out what’s right for you, a good start is to assess cardiovascular risk based on laboratory results but don’t forget these values are only one part of an overall lifestyle that should include exercise, sleep hygiene and stress management to reduce cardiovascular risk. Before dismissing coconut oil as risky, remember current AHA recommendations come from the same group who previously endorsed the now-disavowed low-fat-high-carb diet approach and didn’t recognize the risks of trans fats in a timely manner. The rate of cardiovascular disease in Western populations has skyrocketed over the last fifty years or so, in tandem with what they and other governmental and health professional organizations told us to do.

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.

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"Barbaric Relic" Is Modern Cure

Posted by Jennie Ann Freiman MD on

Blood-letting, the practice of removing blood to prevent or cure illness, was standard-of-care for thousands of years until it was marginalized as “pseudo-science” in the late 19th century. It’s not the barbaric relic it sounds like: a body of modern science supports adding this practice to the wellness toolbox.

bloodletting blood donation phlebotomy wellness prevent disease oobroo

Like so many other health measures, iron levels are subject to the Goldilocks effect, in which too little or too much is harmful, and the just-right amount is the sweet spot for health. Blood-letting is used to treat hemochromatosis, a genetic iron overload disorder, but it’s also a great solution for the too common, non-genetic iron overload that results from our modern lifestyle. Donating blood is a simple way to lower the risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart and other chronic diseases, and of course, build good-karma points.

“Only the dose keeps any substance from being a poison.” -Paracelsus

Iron is an essential mineral, a nutrient required for life-sustaining functions that must be sourced through diet because it can’t be produced by the human body. Healthy adults absorb 1 - 2 mg of iron daily through the small intestine. On average, total body iron is 4 grams for males and post-menopausal females, and 3.5 grams for pre-menopausal females, the result of a tightly controlled balance between intake through the gut and loss through sweat, exfoliated skin cells and stool. The human body has no natural process for removing excess iron, so if the amount absorbed exceeds what’s needed, the surplus is stored, causing “iron overload.”

It’s common knowledge that low iron levels trigger anemia and downstream effects, from the typical tired-weak-pale triad to the more extreme: rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, chest pain, headache, lightheadedness and dizziness. On the other end of the spectrum, iron overload is a less well known, toxic source of organ damage that can lead to a number of chronic disorders. While  heredity iron overload affects between 1 in 200 to 1 in 400 people, the incidence of the lifestyle-related form was found to be 1 in 10 in 2007, and is likely even higher now, affecting all ethnic groups. Absent proving otherwise, consider yourself at risk.

Non-heredity risk factors for iron overload:

  • Alcohol consumption
  • Dietary iron intake (animal protein)
  • Iron supplements
  • Vitamin C supplements
  • Cooking in iron pots/pans (especially slow cooking and acidic food)
  • Occupational iron exposure (foundry, welding, mining)
  • Metabolic syndrome / insulin resistance
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Chronic hepatitis B and/or C infections
  • Chronic hemolytic anemias
  • Therapeutic blood transfusions

The most common presentation of iron overload is no presentation at all: most of those affected are symptom-free and learn of the disorder through blood tests. However, blood tests for iron overload are not part of the standard screening ordered with annual checkups and routine doctor visits, which contributes to delayed diagnosis. When they exist, early symptoms are general and can be confused with many other disorders.

Early Signs Of Iron Overload:

  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Memory Loss
  • Vertigo
  • Hair Loss
  • Palpitations / abnormal heart rhythm
  • Abdominal pain
  • Joint pain/arthritis, especially hands (knuckles of 2nd/3rd fingers)
  • Impotence / decreased libido / infertility / irregular menses
  • Hyperpigmentation of the skin (“bronzing”)
  • Spoon nails (nails become flat or concave)

Iron overload leads to deposition of iron in organs, causing damage mainly through oxidative stress and the production of toxic free radicals which attack cellular DNA, lipids and proteins. Iron can accumulate in any bodily tissue, but excess stores are mainly found in the liver, heart, pancreas, brain, thyroid, sex organs and joints. Detectable symptoms usually require significant iron accumulation, tending to express after age 40 in men and post menopause in women. Overall, men present at a younger age because they lose, on average, 1 mg of iron daily, whereas women during childbearing years shed approximately 500 mg of iron per pregnancy and 40 mg per natural menstrual period. Monthly blood loss from birth control pills is generally less than the natural amount.

Serious Disorders Associated Iron Overload:

  • Liver cirrhosis / fibrosis
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes / insulin resistance / metabolic syndrome
  • Alzheimer’s disease / dementia
  • Heart failure/cardiomyopathy
  • Progressive polyarthritis (wrists, spine, knees, hips)
  • Cancer of the liver, pancreas
  • Testicular failure / shrinkage
  • Amenorrhea (no menses)
  • Osteoporosis / osteopenia
  • Sepsis / bacterial and viral infections
  • Accelerated aging / premature death

Regular blood donation, also known as “iron reduction therapy,” is a fast, efficient way to optimize iron levels and is especially important for  for men and post-menopausal women. Eligibility rules are simple, requiring adult blood donors to be healthy and minimally weigh 110 pounds; more specific details, including medication exclusions, are available from the American Red Cross. Each donation of one pint (about 500 ml) of whole blood represents 8 to 10 percent of the total amount of blood in the body and can be repeated as often as every two months. A doctor’s prescription for “therapeutic phlebotomy” allows blood donation for those who are ineligible due to age, weight, use of excluded drugs or other reasons. Federal law mandates blood donation centers remove blood if prescribed as therapy, in which case it’s discarded rather than donated. There are many short and long term benefits to blood donation.

Short term benefits of blood donation:

  • Burns 650 calories per unit donated

A routinely performed panel of blood tests is free and you can request results:

  • Blood type, Rh and antibody screen
  • Liver enzymes
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV types 1 and 2
  • Syphilis
  • Human T-lymphotrophic virus types 1 and 2
  • West Nile virus
  • Chagas disease

Some donations are also tested for:

  • CMV (cytomegalovirus) if blood will treat immunocompromised recipients
  • Malaria
Long Term Benefits Of Blood Donation:
  • Lower cancer risk and mortality (lung, colorectal, prostate, lymphoma, liver, others)
  • Reduces heart disease (88% reduced risk of acute MI)
  • Improve metabolic syndrome (markers of cardiovascular risk and glycemic control)
  • Lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders
  • Improve longevity and healthspan

The best test to determine iron overload is through a blood test called “serum ferritin.” Ferritin is a protein that carries iron inside cells, making it an excellent proxy for measuring stored iron where it causes the actual damage. Laboratories recognize the normal ferritin range as 20 - 80 ng/ml, but it’s optimal at 40 - 60 ng/ml. For point of reference, pre-menopausal woman and highly conditioned athletes typically have ferritin levels around 25 ng/ml. If too low, iron replacement should bring the levels up. Iron overload is directly related to how high the ferritin level is, generally starting at 100. Almost everyone with long term levels over 300 will sustain serious organ damage. For most, each pint of blood removed drops ferritin by 30 - 50 ng/ml and removes about 250 ml of iron. Twice-weekly, aggressive bloodletting is recommended for for those with ferritin levels over 1000 ng/ml until its brought below 1000, at which point the donation schedule can be readjusted.

These steps also lower iron overload:
  • Reduce alcohol consumption
  • Reduce animal protein / iron fortified food (breads, cereals, pasta) consumption
  • Mediterranean, vegetarian or vegan diet
  • Increase fiber intake
  • Consume turmeric / green or black tea / coffee / milk thistle
  • Reduce or eliminate iron and vitamin C** supplements
  • Cook/bake with stainless steel / ceramic / glass
  • Reverse osmosis filtration system if water high in iron
  • Eliminate tobacco products / nicotine gum
  • Daily aspirin
  • Physical exercise

**Note: Megadosing vitamin C through supplements creates a risk that is not generally seen with normal dietary intake.

Regular blood donation is a no-brainer for improving health, wellness and longevity. That it helps qualify you for superhero status, is an extra, added bonus.

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.



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Aging Is Officially A Disease

Posted by Jennie Ann Freiman MD on

The search for eternal life isn’t new, but how far we’ve come from the Holy Grail, the Fountain of Youth and the hidden valley of Shangri-La, is truly a sign of the times. Today, the crossroads meet between the natural tendency to find an easy way out, and the seductive promise of profits. The quest is on for how to put longevity in a pill.


Two years ago, investigators convinced the FDA to green light a human lifespan study of Metformin, a drug currently used as first-line treatment for blood sugar control in type 2 diabetes, and off-label for polycystic ovary syndrome, weight control and cancer prevention. If successful, Metformin will be the first drug to be FDA-approved for the indication of aging, but it won’t be the last. With a potential audience of 7½ billion people worldwide, pharmaceutical companies will race to fund clinical trials for discovery of new, more expensive drugs.

High levels of blood sugar and insulin are important factors in degenerative disorders, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and aging. Metformin lowers blood sugar, which in turn, lowers insulin levels and insulin resistance. The drug intrigues researchers because its protective effect on aging goes beyond the power to control sugar and insulin.


The TAME Study (Targeting Aging With Metformin) began in 2016, aiming to enroll 3,000 seniors, ages 70 - 80, and study them for 5 - 7 years. Study subjects can have or be at risk for any or all of 3 common aging conditions: cancer, heart disease, and dementia. The question is whether Metformin can delay or prevent cancer, heart disease, cognitive impairment, diabetes and death in non-diabetics. If it does, the obvious next step is to test it for use in much younger people.

Clues about Metformin's role in anti-aging come from studies of fruit flies, roundworms and mice. Most of the credit goes to an enzyme few people have heard of, AMPK (adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase). AMPK regulates how cells process energy, which, when working well, helps prevent all of the chronic diseases associated with aging, and aging itself. The goal is to activate AMPK to gain its benefits and live a healthier, longer life.

AMPK Benefits For Healthspan And Lifespan:
  • Increases metabolism
  • Burns fat and sugar / Weight loss                
  • Improves body composition
  • Increases blood flow
  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Cell detoxification and renewal


There is good reason for skepticism:

    ~Aging is a chronic, inflammatory process that leads to a loss of structure and function, impairing both healthspan and lifespan. Aging is best addressed with health and longevity promoting strategies, not disease prevention.

    ~Aging is multifactorial. Elements that benefit or harm longevity work together in synergy. The magic bullet approach, focusing on one aspect of disease, works for simple problems like treating a strep throat with penicillin, but disappoints for complex chronic disorders and aging. It has failed over and over, but investigators refuse to let it go.

    ~Every drug has side effects and risks that must be weighed against its benefits. Metformin carries a black box warning for the rare, but real, risk of developing lactic acidosis, a potentially fatal build up of lactate in the blood, especially for anyone with reduced kidney function. More common side effects are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache and drowsiness. Let's don't forget the "inactive ingredients" that act as toxic counterweights to any drug benefits. Metformin's inactives include titanium dioxide, polyethylene glycols and synthetic black iron oxides, among others.

    ~Metformin may promote Alzheimer's Disease. Type 2 diabetes is a risk factor for Alzheimer's, so researchers assume drugs that treat diabetes will prevent dementia. Unfortunately, studies link long term Metformin use to a greater risk of developing AD and worsening its progression. One study proposed this occurs because the drug increases production of beta-amyloid, a protein universally recognized as a hallmark of Alzheimer's.

    ~Metformin may accelerate existing cancer and cancer-related mortality by promoting AMPK-induced cellular uptake of glucose, which effectively feeds the tumors cells. Aspirin, a more widely used drug than Metformin, also activates AMPK and may be a safer choice if going the drug route.

    Generally, when something sounds too good to be true, it is. Activating AMPK promotes longevity, but isolating one strategy from the context in which it normally occurs is like a game of Jenga: disrupt the delicate balance and the whole thing falls apart.

    There is a better way.


    Calorie restriction is the most successful method of slowing and reversing markers of aging. The idea is to lower calorie intake a moderate amount to induce a healthy level of stress that strengthens cells and organs, but not so much as to cause malnutrition. The ongoing CALERIE study is monitoring healthy individuals committed to a 25% reduction in caloric intake. So far, results are promising.

    Intermittent fasting (also known as "time-restricted feeding") is an alternative to calorie restriction. Confining eating to an 8 to 12 hour daily window reduces inflammation and free radical damage, and has been shown to fight dementia, cancer and promote longevity.

    Exercise uses up energy, which activates AMPK. High intensity, short interval exertion is especially effective. Muscle contraction during both aerobics and weight training stimulates AMPK and increases insulin sensitivity.

    Cold water immersion after exercise enhances AMPK and cellular renewal. Going from the sauna into the plunge pool, or taking an ice cold shower after a workout are easy ways to practice cold shock.

    Healthy eating habits activate AMPK. Go for a well rounded diet of unprocessed, organic, highly colorful foods including:

    • turmeric
    • legumes
    • green tea
    • red wine
    • blueberries
    • EVOO

    Get good sleep. Impaired quality and/or quantity of sleep is incompatible with long term health. For example, obstructive sleep apnea is related to a 20% reduction in life expectancy, weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, earlier than average age of onset of memory disorders and cognitive impairment. Melatonin, the sleep hormone, activates AMPK and cellular rejuvenation, protecting against cardiovascular and other sleep deprivation related disorders.

    Acupuncture is effective in treating obesity and improving cognitive function. It upregulates AMPK in the hippocampus, the brain center for short term memory and ground zero for the development of Alzheimer's Disease.

    These and other natural anti-aging strategies are consistently practiced in Blue Zones, unrelated regions around the globe where the most long-lived people are found. Drugs and "longevity genes" are not the reason this Guinness World Record-worthy group boasts a large number of centenarians. Their way of life is the secret sauce for extending healthspan and lifespan.

    Whatever your age, it's never too late for a healthy system reboot. Start now by adopting a lifestyle game plan that promotes healthy longevity.

    Next stop, Methuselah.

    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.

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