Friday, January 29, 2016

BPA Makes You Fat

In the U.S., about 75 percent of men and 67 percent of women are now either overweight or obese. This has risen significantly from figures gathered between 1988 and 1994, when "just" 63 percent of U.S. men and 55 percent of U.S. women were overweight or obese.
Complicating matters, research published in Obesity Research & Clinical Practice found that the same caloric intake and exercise program would result in a body mass index (BMI) that is about 5 pounds higher in 2006 than it would have been in 1988.

In other words, in order to maintain the same weight as in 1988, today you'd need to exercise more and eat fewer calories. The results suggest "factors other than diet and physical activity may be contributing to the increase in BMI over time," but what factors, exactly?

This remains to be seen, but increasing evidence suggests environmental chemicals, particularly endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are playing a role.

Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals Linked to Significant Disease and Dysfunction

Endocrine disruptors, a number of which are found in plastic products, electronics, cleaning products, and even food, are similar in structure to natural sex hormones such as estrogen, thereby interfering with their normal functions. As stated in a report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG):

"There is no end to the tricks that endocrine disruptors can play on our bodies: increasing production of certain hormones; decreasing production of others; imitating hormones; turning one hormone into another;
… [I]nterfering with hormone signaling; telling cells to die prematurely; competing with essential nutrients; binding to essential hormones; accumulating in organs that produce hormones."

Recent research published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism further revealed that exposure to EDCs in the European Union are likely to contribute substantially to disease and dysfunction and result in about $209 billion in health and economic costs.
Among the chemicals known to be EDCs are:
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
Perfluoroalkyl compounds
Dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE)
Organophosphate and organochlorine pesticides
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)

BPA: The 'Poster Child' of Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals

Bisphenol-A (BPA) was first created in 1891 by a Russian chemist. By the 1930s, it was found to mimic the effects of estrogen in the human body. Still, in the 1950s BPA found its way into industry, as a chemical that could produce strong, resilient and often transparent plastics.
BPA is also used to make BPA resins, which keep metal from corroding and breaking. As such, it now coats about 75 percent of cans in North America. The chemical is surrounded in controversy as research continues to build that it's detrimental to human health.
Yet, the BPA market was valued at over $13 billion in 2013, and sales are set to expand 5 percent annually. As of 2012, 10 billion pounds of BPA were produced worldwide, sales of which amount to tens of millions each day.

Most Americans have BPA in their blood, usually in the range of 1 part per billion (ppb).
This might seem like too miniscule an amount to cause problems — and that's just what regulators and chemical companies have long stated — but'endocrine disruptors like BPA, which act like hormones, don't 'play by the rules,' says Patricia Hunt, a geneticist at Washington State University."

According to Hunt, "exposure to low levels of BPA — levels that we think are in the realm of current human exposure — can profoundly affect both developing eggs and sperm."
BPA has been linked to a number of health concerns, particularly in pregnant women, fetuses and young children, but also in adults, including:
Structural damage to your brain
Changes in gender-specific behavior, and abnormal sexual behavior
Hyperactivity, increased aggressiveness, and impaired learning
Early puberty, stimulation of mammary gland development, disrupted reproductive cycles, ovarian dysfunction, and infertility
Increased fat formation and risk of obesity
Stimulation of prostate cancer cells
Altered immune function
Increased prostate size and decreased sperm production

Much of the research on BPA has involved animals, leading skeptics (usually those in the chemical industry) to say the effects may not necessarily be the same in humans. But research involving humans has shown similar risks.
For instance, BPA from cans or plastic bottles can raise your blood pressure within just a few hours of ingestion.13 And in the NHANES study, published in 2010, adults with the highest levels of BPA in their urine were more than twice as likely to develop coronary heart disease as those with the lowest levels.

In Health, 

Dr. Brad Niewierowski 

BPA Makes You Fat

January 13, 2016

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Reduce Your Risk of FUTURE Back Pain by 25 to 40% -- It's Simple

Eighty percent of people will experience back pain at some point during their lives. It’s one of the most common health challenges, yet many people fail to find lasting relief, even after seeking medical help.
If you visit a doctor for back pain, you’re likely to receive a prescription as a solution. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is the recommended first-line drug treatment for back pain, despite the fact that a recent systematic review and meta-analysis found it to be ineffective for this purpose.1

Chris Maher, a physical therapist and researcher at the University of Sydney in Australia told NPR:2
"We've got this perverse incentive in our health care system where we encourage people to innovate in terms of drugs, but we don't have the same system to get people to innovate in terms of physical activity."

Perhaps if we did, there would be a lot fewer people struggling with chronic back pain.
Exercise Works for Reducing Your Risk of Back Pain
Maher and colleagues reviewed 21 studies, which included more than 30,000 people, to determine what really works for preventing low back pain. Commonly recommended back belts and shoe insoles didn’t help but exercise did.3

Among people who had experienced back pain, those who exercised had a 25 percent to 40 percent lower risk of having another episode within a year than those who did no exercise.
Further, the type of exercise didn’t seem to matter. Strength exercises, aerobics, flexibility training and stretching were all beneficial in lowering the risk of back pain. This makes sense since your body needs regular activity to remain pain-free.
For example, when you sit for long periods of time, you typically end up shortening your iliacus, psoas, and quadratus lumborum muscles that connect from your lumbar region to the top of your femur and pelvis.
When these muscles are chronically short, it can cause severe pain when you stand up as they will effectively pull your lower back (lumbar) forward.
Imbalance among the anterior and posterior chains of muscles leads to many of the physical pains you experience. By rebalancing and strengthening these muscles, you can remedy many pains and discomforts, including low back pain and similar pains, like neck pain.
In one study of neck-pain patients, for instance, 30 percent of those who exercised became pain-free compared to just 13 percent of those treated with medication.4

Staying Active Is the Opposite of Sitting
It’s not surprising that exercise may help rid you of back pain, or that the type of exercise seems to be less important than the mere act of staying active. Pilates is another example.  

A Cochrane systematic review found that Pilates was more effective in relieving back pain and disability than minimal intervention, although it’s not necessarily superior to other exercises.11 What most types of exercise have in common is that they keep you up and active instead of sitting and sedentary.

Sitting puts more pressure on your spine than standing, and the toll on your back health is even worse if you're sitting hunched in front of a computer. It's estimated that 40 percent of people with back pain have spent long hours at their computer each day.

The disks in your back are meant to expand and contract as you move, which allows them to absorb blood and nutrients. When you sit, the disks are compressed and can lose flexibility over time. Sitting excessively can also increase your risk of herniated disks. Also it is important to recognize that continuous standing can also be problematic. The key is movement. 
In Health, 
Dr. Brad Niewierowski 

Exercise Works Best for Lower Back Pain

January 20, 2016

Friday, January 22, 2016

Why Are Americans Becoming Wary of Aspartame?

As more research links aspartame to health risks, increasing numbers of people are looking to avoid it in their diets. That's why Pepsi was proactive in removing it from their diet soda.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved aspartame for use in dry foods in 1981 and as a general artificial sweetener in 1996.
Unlike other artificial sweeteners that move through the body without being digested, aspartame can be metabolized by your body and exerts a number of concerning effects. For instance, aspartame has been found to increase hunger ratings compared to glucose or water and is associated with heightened motivation to eat (even more so than other artificial sweeteners like saccharin or acesulfame potassium).
For a substance often used in "diet" products, the fact that aspartame may actually increase weight gain is incredibly misleading. Aspartame also exerts changes on the microbial composition in your gut, the consequences of which are unknown.
However, emerging evidence suggests gut microbes play a role in metabolic diseases that aspartame is known to increase, pointing to alteration of gut microbial composition as one of its mechanisms of harm. According to research published in PLOS One:

"Regular consumption of artificially sweetened soft drinks is associated with disorders of the metabolic syndrome, including abdominal obesity, insulin resistance and/or impaired glucose tolerance, dyslipidemia and high blood pressure.
In particular, daily diet soda consumption (primarily sweetened with N-a-L-aspartyl-L-phenylalanine methyl ester, aspartame, APM), is reported to increase the relative risk of type 2 diabetes and the metabolic syndrome by 67 percent and 36 percent respectively.
Given this data, and the presence of APM in over 6000 food products, there is a need to understand the potential role of APM sweetened products in the development and maintenance of metabolic disease."
Independent Studies Link Aspartame with Depression, Headaches and Other Adverse Effects
A 2004 BMJ study gave aspartame a clean bill of health, in part because it noted 100 percent of industry-funded studies concluded aspartame is safe. Yet, in an editorial response published in BMJ in 2005, it's revealed that 92 percent of independently funded studies found aspartame may cause adverse effects, including depression and headaches.
A recent study also found the administration of aspartame to rats resulted in detectable methanol even after 24 hours, which might be responsible for inducing oxidative stress in the brain.

Aspartame is made up of aspartic acid and phenylalanine. But the phenylalanine has been synthetically modified to carry a methyl group as that provides the majority of the sweetness. That phenylalanine methyl bond, called a methyl ester, is very weak, which allows the methyl group on the phenylalanine to easily break off and form methanol. When aspartame is in liquid form, it breaks down into methyl alcohol, or methanol, which is then converted into formaldehyde and represents the root of the problem with aspartame.

Why Aspartame May Be Toxic

Both animals and humans have small structures called peroxisomes in each cell. There are a couple of hundred in every cell of your body, which are designed to detoxify a variety of chemicals.
Peroxisome contains catalase, which helps detoxify methanol once it is turned into formaldehyde. Other chemicals in the peroxisome then convert the formaldehyde to formic acid, which is harmless, but this last step occurs only in non-human animals.
When methanol enters the peroxisome of every animal except humans, it gets into that mechanism. Humans do have the same number of peroxisomes in comparable cells as animals, but human peroxisomes cannot convert the toxic formaldehyde into harmless formic acid. According to Dr. Woody Monte, professor emeritus at Arizona State University in food and chemistry:

"The methanol bounces off the catalase or bounces off something there. What happens then is every cell in your body cannot metabolize methanol. Wherein the animal body, every cell can metabolize and turn it to formic acid, which is safe. What happens to the methyl alcohol?
That's the key. In humans, methyl alcohol could just as easily not be metabolized at all. That would be the ultimate and best outcome, and you could urinate it away or sweat it out and you would be fine.
Unfortunately, there are some locations in the human body, particularly in the lining of the vessels of your body, especially in your brain, that are loaded with alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) that converts methanol to formaldehyde …
… [A]nd there is no catalase present so enormous amounts of damage are created in the tissues."

In Health, 
Dr. Brad Niewierowski 

Aspartame and Shame

January 12, 2016