Full Text – Nutrients for Better Mental Performance by Steven Fowkes at Google Tech Talk on December 2, 2009
Introducing Speaker: We have here today Steve with us whom I met not too long ago at something called a Smart Life Forum in Palo Alto, where many of the health professionals from this area meet every month and keep up with the current research. And he was the one person that seemed the smartest there, so I invited him to come here and talk to us and share some of his knowledge with us. So please help me in welcoming Steve here and see how, what he has to say.
Steven Fowkes – Executive Director of the Cognitive Enhancement Research Institute (CERI)
It’s a pleasure to be here. I’m about one week post-flu, so my voice may get a little bit weak, so please bear with me. I’m going to — the plan is I’m going to spend about 40 minutes going through the presentation and then hopefully have 15 or so minutes left for your questions. People like to raise questions and dialogue? Okay. Good.
Okay. I did this first slide with the idea of opening up the dialogue at the point of talking about cognitive performance, mental performance. What does that mean? I mean everybody talks about intelligence and everybody knows about problem solving and reaction time and memory and things like that. But in my opinion, mental performance is about any aspect of mental performance that relates to your health. And the number one aspect that we take for granted is sleep. And I will spend quite a bit of time on, I think, two slides, talking about sleep in more depth. But I wanted to raise this question now just because I want people to think about the context of your questions regarding smart drugs or smart nutrients.
Food – starting with the boring stuff working forward; B-complex vitamins. Okay. B-complex vitamins never really get any respect; haven’t for 40 years because you’re talking about one penny a day of your investment in your nutrition program – I mean that’s just a, it’s too old and too plain – but it’s really critical. Detoxification – we’re starting to get into some more risky stuff in terms of stress to your body. Nutrients can get pretty exotic. You can spend a huge amount of money on nutrients. And amino acids get even more high tech. I’ll get into that in terms brain neurotransmitter levels later. And then we get into the overtly medical: hormone replacement and pharmaceuticals. And I would also put herbs somewhere in this category in terms of a lot of complexity and a lot of potential for toxicity, as well, even though they’re natural.
Okay. So, I’m picking from the questions on the announcement starting off with: which nutrients promote optimal brain function? And the answer is all of them. If they’re deficient they’re affecting your brain. Some of these are also effective way beyond physiological levels. So in a sense, we cannot use Mother Nature as a guide for optimal brain function, because Mother Nature always gives us brain function per unit investment in nutrition. In the wild, the cost of a gram of Vitamin C is actually quite profound. You might fall out of the tree, break your arm and die from trying to get one gram of Vitamin C. But if you’re going to buy it in your health food store, you’re going to pay between two and twenty cents for it. I mean, why worry about it?
Next question I like to ask is: are they sustainable? Because a lot of these dietary supplement formulas out there that are designed to give you a smart pill, are not really sustainable. The first day you take it, it lights you up like a Christmas tree. But after a week, after a month you’re back to baseline again. But you don’t necessarily know that if you’re judging the value of the supplement based on its short term benefit to you, at the point that you started to take it. So the human mind is very able to make a cause and effect connection between something that you do and an effect that happens a minute or an hour later, but if the effect is a week or a month later, good luck. It’s not also about the parts. It’s about how well they work together. So metabolism is a key aspect of how your brain works. 3% of your body uses 20% of your energy. If you have a slight downturn, let’s say 30% in your heart function, you won’t see it if you’re not exercising at peak performance; but if 30% of your brain energy goes away, you are unconscious. So I’ll also get around to talking about some of these other kinds of things.
So this is really, goes to the question of what is your orientation towards a smart drug program and being the best that you can be? A lot of this is not exotic. It’s basic — food, breathing, nutrition, exercise, things that you’ve heard a thousand times before. So I’m not going to give you a real quick fix for how to bypass all of that.
I’m going to intersperse a couple of slides. This is a really fascinating slide to me because it goes down to a really fundamental aspect of nature in life that turns out to be critical to the area of having a brain at all. And that is that anaerobic organisms, the energy levels are so inadequate – the anaerobic systems – that you only get two ATP out of a glucose that’s burned, which is enough to give you life, but it’s not enough to give you robust life. It’s not enough to give you multi-cellular life and it’s not enough to give you consciousness in a brain, a working brain. For that you need aerobic metabolism and you get 38 ATP versus two; this gives you room to play with and this is why the brain uses massive amounts of energy. So if you focus on the issue of energy, you’ll do a good job. Turns out this is critical for Alzheimer’s Disease.
This is the slide from the Alzheimer’s presentation. I’m getting it out of the way. So before anybody passes out, take a deep breath. Okay. Good.
Energy production systems flow into enzyme activity, protein synthesis, healing abilities, the ion pumping and your nervous system membranes manufacture neurotransmitters; all of these functions that are critical to the brain turn out to be dependent upon energy, cellular energy production. So the ATP is like the wire that keeps your brain functioning. Keeps you sharp. Keeps you from having Alzheimer’s Disease.
If you want to look up this entire presentation is, if you go to YouTube and type in Reversing Alzheimer’s Disease, or type in my name, you’ll go to a nine-part series on Alzheimer’s Disease and how to reverse it. And this critical step right here, that relates to the glutathione, the mercury glutathione ratio, when that fails all of this downstream stuff happens for Alzheimer’s Disease. And so if you can reverse this, the Alzheimer’s Disease reverses.
So, anybody want to vote?
Okay. 30% of teenagers using, eating a standard American diet in public schools, have IQ deficits that are correctable by supplementing to correct the deficiencies; 30%. And the IQ difference is 10 points for those kids; 30% percent of the kids. You give them the supplements; their IQ goes up by 10 points. This has been replicated in California and Great Britain. Two studies were done in parallel with exactly the same results. And it’s been replicated in juvenile correctional facilities where they’ve shown that when you correct these nutritional deficiencies, you see broad changes in EEG and behavior.
Here’s an example of a study that was done that showed that RDA supplements of B vitamins; three B vitamins at levels of 30 to 60 times the RDA, resulted in cumulative improvement in marksmanship. So this was a blinded study and so what was fascinating to me – is that the B-complex vitamins have a half-life of about four to five hours and yet the sustainability of these results was observed over 10 weeks.
Here’s a couple of other examples. Zinc in teenage boys. The joys of masturbation lead to zinc deficiencies and that causes the brain to stop functioning. Masturbation leads to insanity. Your grandmother was right. Vitamin D and magnesium are two very wide-spread deficiencies. Anybody who lives at sea level and who lives in an urban environment is very unlikely to ever meet their adequate level of Vitamin D from sunlight, even if you like sunbathing without clothes. Typically in the winter, if you live in San Francisco, nude sunbathing will actually get you some Vitamin D, but if you do that in Oakland, you will not get any Vitamin D at all, even at noon. B-12 and pregnenolone and melatonin in the elderly; examples of deficiencies that can be addressed that are specific to certain populations. I’m going to give you some examples of how this works in terms of a — this is another illustration from the video where it talks about the neuroprotective steroids at the base of the tree; pregnenolone and progesterone which then go up the tree DHEA, testosterone, the estrogens – well it turns out that the estrogens here have an anti-metabolic effect. They impair your synthesis of energy. And this is why women have more stamina than men. But it’s also why when men get inflammation, they make more estrogen and they start gaining weight and they start having all kinds of health problems, as well. The downside of estrogen, of having too much estrogen, is quite profound to the brain.
And so if you have inflammation, this pathway gets activated; that pathway gets activated; and this pathway gets activated. So it turns these protective, beneficial, energetic steroids into anti-metabolic steroids. So if you don’t watch and you have an infection, you can have cognitive consequences from it.
Here’s an example of a broad selection of observed effects that are highlights from stuff that I’ve observed over the last 30 years. Violence tendencies, memory problems, Alzheimer’s Disease, panic attacks, this also includes hiccups, IQ problems, senility syndromes from blood coagulation; this is also a side effect of infection.
PH imbalances in the blood that impair oxygen and binding and release and CO2 binding and release. Brain fog. How many people have experienced brain fog? How many people are getting a little bit sleepy right now from just having eaten? Well, let’s go on. I got two minutes per slide, so.
Okay. How can you get a better night’s sleep? First of all, pay attention, don’t take it for granted. Second one is pay attention to sound. Your brain never stops listening. When you go to sleep, your brain is still listening to what’s going on around you. The paralysis that happens at the brain stem that shuts off your motor control function for your entire body does not affect your hearing; does not affect your sight; does not affect your taste buds. So make sure that you have sound that is comforting and predictable and anticipated. So if you live in an area where you have lots of horns honking and car alarms going off and this kind of thing, put some sound in your background that you can listen to day after day after day, night after night, so that the part of your brain that’s listening doesn’t get alerted.
Sleep with regularity. Don’t stay up to five in the morning and then do an all nighter. Sleep regularly. Sleep in the dark. Stray light suppresses melatonin. You need to be in the dark and the dose and the timing is very critical for melatonin, and when you wake up in the morning, wake up with red light. That’s the dawn and dusk effect. When the sun goes up what color is it? Red. Okay. When it sets, what color is it? Red. And so dark adaptation that happens at night is mitigated by red light. So if you want to set up a light in your bedroom or in your bathroom – I have two flood lamps in my bathroom so when I’m sitting on the john, I just turn them on and I get bathed in red light; incandescent light. Very helpful for keeping your circadian rhythm going. If you need tryptophan for serotonin, you can use that, occasionally. However, I suggest that you keep your dose down. There are some potential adverse health effects from using melatonin – or excuse me tryptophan indiscriminately or 5-hydroxytryptophan. And so if you mix your tryptophan with predigestive collagen protein, you can use doses that are one-tenth as large and get a better hypnotic effect.
This is the tough part. Anybody with chronic inflammation is going to have consequences; health consequences; degenerative health consequences. But identifying inflammation – it’s a tough one. You go to a doctor and ask them to help you with it; good luck. If you have unlimited amounts of money, you can throw PCR tests at things and stuff, but it’s a really tough problem. So if you can focus on the issue of possible infections; if you have chronic issues with, for example, herpes flare-ups; if you can balance yourself with Vitamin D and Vitamin A and reduce that inflammatory effect, your health will benefit greatly as well as your sleep will benefit greatly.
Food allergies; delayed hypersensitivities to things like wheat or corn or yeast or milk; to pick four of the top five food allergies. If you can clean those out of your life, you’ll be better off for it; or adding digestive enzymes to help you digest your foods. And the gut; the integrity of the gut. Things like zinc, for example; low dose zinc with each meal can help tighten up your gut and prevent food, undigested food particles from passing in and producing inflammation.
And if you need a sleep drug, don’t use Ambien. Use Xyrem. Xyrem is a nutrient. It was declared to be the date rape drug by the FDA and then they made it a prescription orphan drug. It’s now available and Xyrem is a great way to get very, very good sleep, and it’s one of the few drugs that enhances the Stage 3 and Stage 4 architecture phases of sleep. Normally when you go to sleep, you go Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3, Stage 4 and then up into rapid eye movement; and that takes about 90 minutes. And as we age, the Stage 3 and Stage 4 phases get compromised. And by the time people reach middle age, oftentimes they will not have any Stage 4 sleep at all. And by the time people hit 70 to 90, they usually don’t have any Stage 3 sleep as well. And what this means is is that you’re not really asleep at night and you’re not really awake during the day. You need to be deeply asleep to be deeply awake. And Xyrem does that. It specifically enhances Stage 3 and Stage 4 sleep. By the way, this is a hundred times more expensive than it was as a nutrient before the FDA took it off the marketplace.
Here’s a challenge for the geeks in the audience, the nerds, a perfect audience to consider this high tech solution: do-it-yourself sleep studies. So what you can do is, is you can set up a camcorder and video tape and audio tape your sleep at night; play it back at 10 times speed the next day; and see what’s going on with your sleep. Are you waking up? Are you vocalizing? Are you moving? Is your breathing changing? Do you have apnea? All of that stuff can be verified at home. At some point in the next 10 years, this will probably be over the counter. Right now, there’s a vacuum.
Is there an alternative to SRI drugs? Lots. Let’s start with the least respect. B vitamins. The Rodney Dangerfield of nutrients.
Steven Fowkes: Yes?
Audience: What’s SRI?
Steven Fowkes: Serotonin reuptake inhibitors. They’re also called SSRIs although the first S is really more promotion than fact. So I just delete the first S. Zoloft, Paxil –
Mineral deficiencies; correcting mineral deficiencies and discovering undisclosed or unrecognized toxicities. I have a 94 year old client who had Alzheimer’s disease, who had an undiagnosed lead toxicity. So these things can go on for 20, 40, 60 years and you don’t know about it.
Audience: Can you define deficiency or just, you’ve been using the term a lot, is it something that if you get more of it, you get better or is there an actual number?: What is a deficiency?
Steven Fowkes: Deficiency? Oh, well there, that’s a good question. The question what is a deficiency? And are there numbers attached to it? And the answers are yes, however, there isn’t a consensus on it. So if you go to Vitamin Diagnostics in New Jersey and ask them, they’ll define it in terms of normative numbers. How many standard deviations in the general population? Are you above? Below? So they define it based on statistics. And most medical tests are done that way. You get a cholesterol level; it’s based on statistics. You get a thyroid T4 TSH level; it’s based on statistics. But there are other kinds of companies like SpectraCell in Texas who do a functional assay. So they’re looking at the ability of white blood cells to proliferate in the presence of a nutritional challenge. And so if you take away B-12 and your cells immediately stop proliferating, then they presume this means you have very, very low B-12 reserves. And so they’re defining deficiency in that context as the performance of those cells under a stress.
But in terms of minerals, for example, I would define it in terms of enzyme activity. In other words, superoxide dismutase uses copper and so is the activity that superoxide dismutase increased if you supplement copper? If the answer is yes, then you were deficient. If the answer is – if there’s a slight increase then you were slightly deficient; if there’s a massive increase, you were seriously deficient. So there’s a lot of that kind of question going on. All I can say is that you cannot assume that kind of question in a straightforward manner and be able to even interpret your own medical results. I’ve had hundreds and hundreds of clients over 30 years who’ve come to me with thyroid workups that were – one was done right. Hundreds of people; one was done right. And I’ve had somebody come to me with a range from let’s say 10 to 100 and they got 11. And the doctor says: “Oh. Your thyroid is normal. You don’t have hypothyroidism.” Okay. And yet when we give that person thyroid hormone, boom. Their energy goes up; their depression goes away; they start sleeping soundly; they lose 20 pounds of weight. And on every measure of functionality they’re better off, but according to the numbers, statistically, they were fine before.
Neurotransmitter precursors. Huge aspect of depression and you can load them up. Tryptophan, 5 hydroxytryptophan is a precursor for serotonin. So if you take it and your depression goes away, guess what? So you can take Paxil to raise your serotonin; Zoloft; or you can take 5-HTP or tryptophan to do it and see. Does it work? You go to a standard doctor. They’re not going to even mention this option to you. D Phenylalanine or L Phenylalanine or Tyracine will raise your Catecholamines. It’s another potential cause of depression.
Hypothyroidism I just mentioned. Get a proper workup. You have to know the right questions to ask. And you want to have checked the results yourself. Anytime a doctor does a thyroid test and just tells you you’re fine, ask for the copy of the results. I actually suggest you do that anyway. Keep a copy of your own medical record in toto.
Estrogen dominance. Iodine therapy is one way to shift estrogen dominance. Estriol is a estrogen hormone that gets very little respect and iodine helps push estrogens into the Estriol form. Estriol is protective against autoimmune diseases in both men and women. In women it’s been proven, and men it’s just inferred. But I’m convinced that it’s actually true.
Estrogen dominance in men. Don’t take your doctor’s word for it when they say: “Estrogen is the female hormone.” It’s not true. Estrogen is the off hormone in both men and women, and if your estrogen is high, you need to know about this.
If you are going to take SRI drugs, you can take them with tryptophan or 5-hydroxitryptophan. So that when this serotonin reuptake inhibitor interferes with the recycling of serotonin, which is what it’s doing, and causes a corresponding depletion of your serotonin storage form, the 5-HT will correct that. And so your doctor may tell you that: “Oh, yes. You can have serotonin syndrome and die from taking these two together.” But actually you have to be quite careless to actually make that happen. And if you do it with care and deliberation, it is entirely safe.
Oh, this is a fun one. I really like talking about nutrition myths. And that whole thing about masturbation leading to insanity was part of an earlier talk about myths in nutrition where I threw that one in the middle just to wake everybody up. But there’s a lot of nutrition myths out there in the world today and some of them are being promoted by industries that have a vested interest in, in having you use their products. Others are based on just plain ignorance. People not knowing what the true information about things are. These are old myths. How many have heard this: hydrogenated fats are perfectly safe? That means you’re pretty old, right? I mean that’s what I grew up with. Corn oil. My father was a cardiologist and I grew up on corn oil. And that was part of that, that kind of myth at the time.
Vegetable oils and margarines are safer than butter. That was the myth. It’s all crap. Bovine soil enhancement. Eating low fat can make you thin. We’re now in a more modern myth. Complex carbs are best for insulin resistance. This is the advice given to people with insulin resistance and Type II diabetes by the American Diabetic Association. It’s not true. Eating fat causes heart disease and obesity. Tropical oils. Anybody remember that campaign in about popcorn in the movie theaters. Was it about 15, 20 years ago? And coconut oil used to be used regularly in movie theaters, and all of a sudden it became some huge crime and it turns out it was the US oil industry that paid for that, abetted by the US Government. And it wasn’t true at all. Tropical oils are not dangerous at all.
Milk and bread are good healthy foods. Of course, it’s the milk purveyors and the bread salesmen who are telling us that.
How many people here have heard that milk is one very fast way to develop osteoporosis? Ten or twelve people. That’s pretty good. You’re ahead of the curve. But it’s true. The correlation with osteoporosis is not that milk is protective. It’s actually a risk factor.
Audience: I have one question. So what is so exactly bad about milk and bread?
Steven Fowkes: What’s bad about milk and bread?
Audience: Yes. If the myth is milk and bread is good, then the fact should be milk and bread is bad.
Steven Fowkes: That’s right. It is. And for the average person. And the reason is because of inflammation. That for most people when you consume milk products, you have an inflammatory response. And it’s probably true of somewhere between 60% and 80% of people, depending upon what your ethnic background, your race is. If you are black, you’re probably 95% likely to have inflammation from drinking milk. If you’re white, maybe it’s 50%.
In terms of bread: bread is a source of wheat and wheat contains a protein called gluten which is extremely difficult to digest. And undigested gluten protein is an inflammatory effect that causes all kinds of degenerative problems and stress to your gut, and inflammatory effects producing heart disease and probably cancer as well. And so my suggestion is, don’t drink milk and don’t eat bread. Very, very, very straightforward. Just eliminate those from your system. And if you’re going to eat them, eat them rarely so that the reason that you’re eating the bread is because you’ve gone to Aunt Mildred’s house for Christmas and you’re trapped. And so it’s okay; it’s once a year; twice a year; that kind of thing. And if you can, take digestive enzymes with you to help offload the burden. It’s not just wheat that is difficult to digest. Corn is difficult to digest. Red meat is difficult to digest. Yeast very, very difficult to digest. The cell wall of yeast is not something that humans have good enzyme profile for digesting it. So try to keep those kinds of things under control, particularly if you have signs of inflammation. If your estrogen to testosterone ratio is high in estrogen, then you want to look for these kinds of triggers.
Audience: So excuse me. Milk includes any milk products, I mean, cheese –
Steven Fowkes: No. Well it does on some level. I would put — there’s a couple of things – one is, when you feed milk to microbes, the microbe takes the brunt of it. Okay. So yogurt there’s still milk content in it because it’s a fairly soft kind of cheese; a fresh kind of cheese; same thing with cottage cheese. But when you start to deal with cheddar or aged cheddars, the content of milk is going down and down and down, the longer the milk has been fermenting; and the bugs in it.
I can’t hear. There’s too much noise. Can you stand up to the microphone?
Audience: And what about the difference between raw milk and processed milk?
Steven Fowkes: Yes. The raw milk has good fat structure and, that’s destroyed by the homogenization. Homogenized milk causes enzyme irritation of the vascular system; antioxidase. So it’s true that raw milk is way better. But in terms of allergy, it may not be better at all. So it depends on your system and whether or not you’re handling it well or not. There is a test that you can do if you want to find out. Is go off of milk for two weeks; all milk products; all egg, butter, anything with dairy. Go off of it for two weeks. At the end of two weeks, sit down at a table with a friend and engage in conversation for about three hours; set up a tape recorder; set up a metronome; adjust the metronome so that it’s not fast and not slow and it’s just synchronized with your, with your body; and then put one drop of milk under your tongue. And watch what happens. And ask your friend to watch what happens. If you freak out; if the metronome slows down; you’re allergic to milk. If your pulse rate goes up dramatically; you’re allergic to milk.
Vitamins only enrich the sewer. We’re going back to the old days, but there’s still people out there who have that kind of attitude.
Okay. Here’s some myths to live by. I’m not going to say this is all quite scientific, because I think that on some level it’s based on prejudice and philosophy and all kinds of stuff. But low carb vegetables is a mainstay for the diet. Eat meat; either tiny amounts to moderate amounts. Tiny amounts can just be simply the bugs in your grain, as it is in India. But we need small amounts of meat to get our Vitamin B-12.
Cultivate fat burning mode. This is a big one. In my opinion, the graceful agers in the world are all in fat burning mode. This is not emphasized in our modern society. It doesn’t happen if we overeat carbohydrate which is a cultural thing. But get into ketosis; cultivate your fat burning mode; flip back and forth into ketosis and out, so you exercise that part of your metabolism. And that, to do that consume tropical oils, coconut oil is my favorite. Eat less carbs and calories than your peers; under eat is a healthy lifestyle. And so —
Okay. Here’s my words of wisdom. If their lips are moving, they’re lying.
Okay. Industry ads: they want to sell you milk; they want to sell you oils that are grown in the United States. Coconut oil is grown in the Tropics. So that’s why the prejudices is, in those industry ads. The food pyramid is upside down. Okay, again the government agents that put that together are working for the industry. Assume your doctor is profoundly ignorant. And that doesn’t mean that they’re not smart. They’re exceedingly smart. They know all kinds of stuff that they really don’t need to know. But the part is, the question is, what do they not know? And what risk does this put you at? What does their ignorance put you at? And doctors will rarely admit their ignorance. You ask them a question they don’t know, they’ll make it up; most of them. But if you know what your doctor knows, and you know what your doctor doesn’t know, you’re in a better position to protect yourself against possible adverse side effects. I had one client that was almost killed because a doctor was using serum potassium to judge his potassium requirement and he was told by his, by the patient and by his wife, that he’s a potassium over accumulator and therefore giving him potassium was dangerous. The doctor said: “No, no, no, no. Serum potassium is an accurate indicator of potassium status” and put it in his IV and drove him into heart failure. Even had him on Digoxin before he, and he still didn’t admit that, that was inappropriate action. Wife had to check him out of the hospital to save his life. And I’m an expert that you should also believe is biased.
Good. You’re not asleep.
Don’t work in a “sick” building. Okay. You’ve got good people taking care of you here, but if you work in a building where you have formaldehyde or acidaldyhyde in the air, you get sick. I had a friend who went to the, who was a teacher at the Oakland Public School, Oakland City High School, who they did a complete earthquake retrofit during the summer, and had double time and triple time crews in the building putting in carpeting and painting and new particle board furniture and stuff. And on the Monday all the kids came in and the teachers came in; they had a 30% absentee rate for the next three months from people getting sick. Well when those people started using Vitamin C and cysteine, they became symptom free. This goes back to 1975 when a research group gave C and cysteine to animals that were exposed to an LD 90 dose of acidaldahyde; which is enough to kill 90% of the animals and make the other 10% violently sick. And when they were given the C and cysteine, they didn’t get sick. They didn’t die. None of them got sick and none of them died. That’s how powerful this particular formula is.
You can go out and drink yourself unconscious and not have a hangover, unless you have the genetic polymorphism in which case you may have some residual hangover. So Asians, Native Americans, Irish, other populations also contain that, it’s called alcohol, or aldehyde dehydrogenase and there’s a deficiency, a genetic mutation that a lot of people carry that impairs their ability to smoothly metabolize alcohol. But this formula helps take care of that.
You take one capsule before the first round; one capsule between each round; and one capsule after the last round; drink a glass of water; and go to sleep. Pretty simple.
So, here’s the, the basic, the active group is the sulfhydryl group here. From cysteine – and cysteine is found in glutathione; it’s a component of it. And cysteine is also found in N-acetylcysteine, which is a dietary supplement form that seems to have some improved transport ability. So for some people it works better.
This is the metabolic pathway and I’m going to partially get into all the negative stuff that happens from alcohol; from cross linking effect which is by far the most dangerous process; this is what gives you wrinkled skin. Carcinogenicity happens as well, but the detoxification pathway here prevents all of these other pathways; competes against them. That’s how it works.
Benefits of alcohol are pretty obvious: lifestyle; biological effects. And so costs of alcohol: cross linking; wrinkles; organ damage; liver damage; oxidative stress; hangovers; pro-aging; addiction. Through glucose addiction; serotonin addiction; and NADH addiction; cancer and degenerative diseases; poisons. Methanol which is protected by the sulfhydryl compounds which is found in some alcoholic drinks and fermentation residues that are found in a lot of distilled drinks; some of these are protected against and some of them are not by that alcohol formula. You don’t need to know this.
Okay. Here’s contact information. I can flip back to this if you’d like. But what I’d like to do now is open it up for questions and here’s some suggestions if you can’t come up with your own. So, step up and ask on the microphone, please.
Audience: I have a question about this milk bread thing. I mean, I just had to laugh when I see this. Like half the world or probably more than half the world is eating bread and milk like for more than, I don’t know, ten thousand years, and you’re telling me: “No, no, no. Don’t do this.” I mean I personally think that’s crazy, but like what is, what else should I do? Should I drink water or? So instead of eating milk and bread should I take like a hundred different colored pills? I mean is that going to help?
Steven Fowkes: Oh no. I mean you can, but I don’t think it particularly wise. Not only are going to spend a fortune, but you’re not going to get good, very good nutrition. The issue is, I mean, certainly children can tolerate milk. But if you look at infant studies and feeding when for, for one reason or another, children cannot be breast fed – there is all kinds of consequences that happen. And if you give prenatal infants milk products, there’s a good chance you’re going to kill them. So if you read the literature on milk, it’s pretty straightforward. And the reason that you may not know about it is because very little of that gets publicized. I think any kind of fluid would probably be better than milk overall. But milk has nutrition in it. There’s, there’s calcium although, you know, that’s what it’s promoted for – that milk has calcium – but it turns out that in terms of calcium, it’s not a very good food. You get better food, better calcium levels from grain, for example. But I’m also telling you to avoid grain. So, the question comes down to what do you eat? And I’d say the answer is the Paleolithic diet is the one that humans are probably best adapted to. And that is unlimited greens, particularly low carb vegetables, the low carb vegetables and fruit and nuts when they’re in season, and meat when you can kill it.
Audience: Okay. So one thing I’ve noticed about milk is that in the US or maybe North America it’s probably the only continent where you can find in lots of like low fat and half fat and whatnot milk. Like in most other countries doesn’t exist. In Japan, for example, there’s only milk that has like 4.5% fat and you know, Japanese people are pretty healthy on average.
Steven Fowkes: Well, it’s not the fat that is my concern. It’s the caseine and whey in the milk that are in my opinion the risk factors. And the galactose. For example, anybody, in the United States, any low fat milk product has had milk solids added to it, to give it a mouth feel. That produce cataracts. That’s a prescription for eye problems. And it doesn’t matter whether you get one percent non-fat; one percent, two percent, three percent; it all starts from non-fat milk in which they take the fat and add it back. So it still has the non-fat milk solids in it. So I’d say go back to raw milk and drink it with all the fat, if you’re going to do that and if you don’t want the milk and you react badly to it, find any other kind of food and you’ll do better with it. I mean people who don’t drink milk as a whole, have a lower risk of osteoporosis. So the whole idea of calcium as being essential for milk is fundamentally just a PR campaign.
Audience: Hi. Yes, I was a little confused as to what advice you had in terms of insulin resistance. You mentioned complex carbohydrates and, clearly I’m guessing what you mean is something along the lines of, oh well, even if it’s complex carbs in your bread, it’s not as good say eating vegetables or, what are you suggesting for insulin resistant individuals?
Steven Fowkes: Vegetables. And carbohydrate control is the number one prescription for insulin resistance. Keeping your carbohydrate down to the point that your body is burning fat for energy, as a fuel, that’s the fastest way to reverse insulin resistance. Ketosis if you can manage it, if you’re actual diabetic, you need to manage that medically to do it safely; but if you’re just pre-diabetic, you just have insulin resistance, get into ketosis.
Audience: Can you explain ketosis?
Steven Fowkes: Ketosis is — there’s two kinds of fat burning mode in your body. And ketosis is where your liver is burning the fat and exporting what are called ketone fuels to the rest of your body. So the fat is basically taking — the liver is taking the fat which is let’s say anywhere from 12 to 20 carbons long, usually 16, 18 and it clips it in four carbon fragments. And those are exported to the body; those are called ketone fuels and the affinity of your body’s tissues for them is about 10 times what it is for glucose. So if you take a, let’s say a rodent with induced congestive heart failure and you inject them with ketone fuels, you’ll see a 50% increase in heart ejection fraction in 30 minutes. That’s how fast it is. And all of the tissues of the body, the liver, the kidney, muscles, they all absorb these ketone fuels at a very, very high rate; very efficiently. And so when you’re in ketosis it’s a very good way of handling issues like end stage organ failure. But it’s not used by our current medical system.
In terms of the alternative to ketosis is just called beta-oxidation. This is what the liver does to make ketones, but all the tissues of your body are also capable of burning fat. So they just take the fat and instead of absorbing it from the liver, they’re just taking the fat and clipping it themselves. And this gives you a source of energy that’s independent of glucose. So if you’re insulin resistant, and you’re depending upon glucose for energy, your energy is sabotaged. You’re browned out. Instead of having 110 volts your brain’s living on 90 volts or 70 volts. It’s going to affect how your brain works. But if you go into ketosis, now you’ve got sugar energy and you’ve got ketone fuels for energy. Your backup generator is now on. So you’re now back up to 110 volts. Even if you’re still insulin resistant, because your backup generator is able to give you that extra voltage to make it work. And what happens is, is that your insulin resistance reverses as you have these ketone fuels out there and so you become better and better able to burn glucose by burning fat.
Does that make sense?
Audience: I could ask a lot of questions and I —
Steven Fowkes: You can. Let me suggest a book. If you haven’t seen it; Gary Taubes. Good Calories, Bad Calories. He’s moving out to the Bay Area, next, sometime soon. So we may have him here to talk. April speaker at the Smart Life Forum.
Audience: So you mentioned glutathione which I’ve read lots of great things about that, but I’ve also read that just taking it directly does not give you much, that it doesn’t get absorbed very much. What can you say about that?
Steven Fowkes: It’s true. There is a problem absorbing it. But the people who say that none of it is absorbed, they’re lying. So there are people who are saying you can’t take glutathione because it’s digested. Well, maybe half of it is digested or maybe three-quarters of it is digested, or maybe one-quarter; so there is some benefit that you get from it, but it is true it’s very inefficient. But the real problem is it’s not sustainable. There’s all kinds of research on people selling dietary supplements with cysteine and N-acetyl cysteine in it saying that it raises your glutathione. Well, there’s a real problem with that. Because if you look a day later and two days later you see it does raise glutathione. But if you look a week and two weeks and two months later, you find out it doesn’t keep it up. The body’s corrective mechanism compensates for the intervention.
Audience: I see. Yeah, I’ve seen N-acetyl cysteine is also prescribed as a decongestant, so I don’t know if taking that over time is good. But one other question –
Steven Fowkes: It’s also an excitotoxin like aspartate and glutamate and aspartame, it’s an irritant to the brain and can aggravate calcium toxicity in the brain.
Audience: So I’m 51 and I have cataracts. And I have a friend who’s 49 who has cataracts or just like her doctor said, and I’m wondering if you know – and by the way, I haven’t taken, I haven’t drunk milk for years – I got off that; I do like hazelnut milk, I think it’s wonderful. But I was wondering if you’re aware of, you know, is there an increase in cataracts in our society? Is there something you’re suspicious of causing this or, or if you had any –
Steven Fowkes: I think the connection to milk is the real obvious one. But there’s a lot of falling apart going on around us. I mean, autism is way up; brain cancer is way up; there’s a lot of different conditions that I think are up trending. Obesity; insulin resistance, anybody else want to pipe up from something out there? So this is not an uncommon thing and when you look at some of the old research there’s a cumulative effect that’s observed with nutritional deficiencies. If you take animals and you run them through several generations, each generation the nutritional deficiency has persisted, the effects become more and more intractable. And I think that that’s going on with us. That we’ve been degenerating our diet for long enough that it wasn’t just, it’s not just us. It’s our parents and our grandparents who were starting this earlier with different kinds of things. I was raised on coconut oil. That means my cancer likelihood is probably triple what it would have been if I hadn’t been. Corn oil. Excuse me. Thank you. Coconut, corn, it’s just. Okay.
Audience: So I actually had three questions for you and you took the first one away just now, because your recommendations are all pretty consistent with Good Calories, Bad Calories. Obviously, you would agree with that and endorse that?
Steven Fowkes: And Ray Peat’s advice, I think has been consistently good for about 30 years. He’s one of those pioneers. This is stuff that I’ve been talking about for a long, long, long time. I’m just glad to put up anybody else as an authority beyond me for this kind of thing, because there is a problem anytime you go out in public and challenge the big lie.
Audience: So this leads me to my second question which is: I don’t know if I missed this from the bio on the page or something, but if we don’t trust anybody, why should we trust you? What’s your background or what’s your qualifications for all this?
Steven Fowkes: You shouldn’t trust me. You should always have some doubt for everything that you’re told. I’m an organic chemist, so that’s my background. Biochemistry, neurochemistry, all of this. But everything I’m talking to you about, I learned outside of an educational institution. So I don’t have a Ph.D. to hold up there. And as a result, I think about the world in ways that are different from people who have been through the Ph.D. mill, who were institutionalized, who did, or educated in an institution. And so there’s a certain level of enablement that happens with that and there’s a certain blindness that happens with it too, where people become tracked. My day job is nanotechnology development. Well, it turns out that my core invention for nanostructural self-assembly system was based on knowledge that I learned in 1972 in my sophomore organic chemistry class. That I drew upon when I was hired as a consultant in 2002. I went back to 1972; 30 year old information, and invented a polymer because I was, just looked at it differently than everybody else looked at it. And it took me three days to invent it. It took me three weeks to even admit that it was an invention because it was so obvious.
Audience: So my third question, you didn’t really talk about this, but the buzz word showed up on the slide, and it’s something that makes me very nervous. You talked about detoxification and there’s a lot of quack schemes out there claiming to be detoxification schemes, but it seems like some people actually might know what they’re talking about also claim to have something to say about detoxification. So could you speak a little bit about that?
Steven Fowkes: I think it’s true. And I’m not an expert enough to give you the pros and cons of all of it. I have the same reaction to herbalists. There are a lot of really amazing herbalists out there, but there are also a lot of people who dabble. And herbs are potentially dangerous. 5% of the weight of the average plant is devoted to chemicals that are designed to kill you. That’s how the plant survives. It can’t run away. It uses chemical warfare. So wheat has estrogens that make male animals infertile, grain, for the buffalo; and mustard has mutagens in it; and alfalfa sprouts have canavanine which is an arginine mimic that produces autoimmune disease in humans and in chimpanzees. So plants are not put there to be our foods from their own perspective. They don’t want to get eaten anymore than we want to get eaten. So that kind of issue of what role toxicity plays is, in my opinion, not obvious. For example, how many people have heard anything that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger? Well to some extent, phytotoxins are like that. That when you expose yourself; you eat a very, very plant rich diet, you get all of these chemicals coming into your body; your liver’s capacity for detoxifying things gets higher and higher and higher and higher, and so you may be much better off having that, that overall defense being higher than you would be if you avoided all toxins; which we know when that’s been done is invariably very, very bad for the animals that are involved. In other words, if you eat a refined diet, not only are you going to live half as long as you normally would, but your resistance to flu and accidents and traumas is way, way, way down. So there is something about stress and the adaptive capacity that’s induced by stress, that is helpful. And this is exercise. How many people have heard that exercise is good? Yeah. Right. Well, exercise produces free radicals. Stress is your antioxidant defense system at the same time. But I’m suggesting that that’s not bad; that the adaptive capacity is good.
So here we are living in Googleplex and we have a radiation level that is half of what people have who live in Denver. And yet do they have twice as much cancer in Denver? No. Do they have twice as much free radical damage in Denver? No. It’s because both of us live in a realm of radiation that is within the human adaptive capacity. You can go up to 10,000 feet of altitude and still be within that window. You put a human in a nuclear reactor and they die. But there’s a bug, a microbe that can live inside the primary loop of a nuclear reactor. And that’s because they have this massive adaptive capacity for oxidative stress. And so they’re able to handle it, 10, 20 times background radiation. So there’s a lot of aspects of detoxification; a lot of aspects of health that are fundamentally based on stress and living in a polluted world. And, and plant pollution, or plant toxins are not fundamentally different from manmade chemicals if you look at them from the perspective of what percentage of them are carcinogens; or what percentage of them are mutagens. The percentages are identical. But there may be some argument to say that on some level maybe we’re adapted; well adapted to eating phytotoxins.
Audience: So my question is regarding allergy testing and elimination. And you mentioned when testing for a milk allergy to eliminate it for two weeks, and I’ve seen some sort of detox programs that are basically around eating well for three weeks eliminating things like bread and milk and so on. So my question is: where does the two weeks or three weeks or four weeks, where does this number come from and how do you know what’s appropriate?
Steven Fowkes: I pick two weeks because the delayed hypersensitivity, delayed hypersensitivity timeframe is seven to ten days. Seven to nine days. In order words, if you make IGA, IGG or IGM antibodies to something, it’s going to take six to nine days for those to fade away. And so if you try to do something in less time than that, you’re not going to have a good baseline. And so two weeks is enough time for those, that response to attenuate and so now you’re in a sense restoring at least a partially naive body. But you can certainly do it longer. But when I look at asking somebody to go for, off of milk for two weeks, it’s like asking somebody to change their religion. This is a lifestyle adaptation which is on the par with an alcoholic giving up booze; or something like this. And so I try to only ask people for some, what I would consider, kind of minimal level of performance to make the challenge as feasible as possible. Bottom line is if you’re not going to do it, it doesn’t matter if I tell you that you can do it. And so to make it worse, you’re just making it tougher for people to comply. But so two weeks is, in my opinion, a very good choice. It fits into people’s natural time frames. People tend to organize their lives in terms of weeks. And so if you say one week, that’s obviously not enough. Three weeks is a week too long. So two weeks is fine.
Do you – do you have one more question?
Steven Fowkes: You want coffee?
Audience: Yes, I want coffee.
Steven Fowkes: Is there a bad side to coffee?
Audience: What’s the real effect on brain performance?
Steven Fowkes: Oh. Well, caffeine is an insecticide. If you take coffee and you feed it to insects, they all die. And coffee beans don’t really need to keep from being eaten by humans, because humans typically don’t hang out where coffee grows. And so, but coffee beans do have to defend themselves against other animals and insect predators and stuff like that. So, how many people have vegetable gardens? Okay. How many people use their coffee grounds in their vegetable gardens? Okay. Half of them.
Yeah. It’s a very good insecticide. You put coffee into growth media for fruit flies and they’ll never develop. They’ll all die. So, but in humans, humans — caffeine is not so poisonous in humans, it’s merely an irritant. Irritant to our central nervous system and so we get edgy from it; we get a lift; and, which we use constructively. But it lasts for about two hours which corresponds to the timing of coffee breaks in the institutional workplace. And the downside is, is that it’s going to interfere with your sleep and it’s going to interfere with your DNA replication, your DNA repair mechanisms. And so it’s probably better if humans don’t get exposed to caffeine, but on the whole it’s a relatively minor irritant in the big picture.
Ah. Okay. Step right up. The question is what kinds of tests would I recommend to find out whether people have deficiencies? And there’s two ways to go that I suggest. One is the medical route. Go to your doctor and ask for certain tests. Those would include a red blood cell, trace mineral profile; a couple hundred bucks. And they test maybe 30, 40 different nutrients. You can also get normative blood cell, vitamin levels. You can have the SpectraCell functional medicine test for nutrients. You can do urine kelation challenge to find out if you have lead poisoning or mercury or cadmium, bismuth toxicity.
The other way is to do it, what I call the self care option. In other words, you take it and you notice: does it work or not? Measure your brain and then see before and after, does taking the nutrient help? And if it does, does it continue to help after two weeks or two months. So do an ABAB process on it after you’ve been on it for two months and stop, and see if you note a decline in your scores. Of course, this requires you to be diligent about measuring your brain function, and there’s basically several ways to do it. One of which is just to pay attention. Well the average person can’t tell a 30% drop in their mental performance from none at all. In order words, we’re pretty insensitive. So that would suggest to me that you need to cultivate computer games; something that’s going to measure eye hand coordination, dexterity, simple decision making, complex decision making. Tetris – two dimensional, three dimensional rotations of blocks and how fast you can do it. A game where you have a cascade failure design where the game gets faster and faster and faster over time and when you make a mistake it then jumps up faster as well. So both the timeframe and the number of mistakes both lead you towards a failure. With this kind of data, you can make decisions extremely rapidly. In terms of B1, B12, you can know in one week whether or not that’s a significant – on a scientific basis – you know in one day just experientially. But if you want to do an ABAB process it’ll take you a week to do it and then you’ll know for sure. And that’s a lot cheaper fundamentally if you’re already a nerd enough to do the study, the measurements of yourself and to build that infrastructure so that you have a really nice data stream and you can tell when it trends up or when it trends down. And the nice thing about doing that, which is why I do it and why I suggest other people do it, is that when you go into a hospital and you get elective surgery and you find that the anesthesia hasn’t fully worn off, you will see the down trend event from that anesthesia, and you’ll know that there’s something that isn’t been resolved. And you go back to the doctor and say: “I need T3 monotherapy for a week” or something else to restore your metabolism that the doctor believes, is, there is no residual effect from.
Oops. I’m late. Over time. Okay.
Introducing Speaker: Okay. Thank you very much.
Steven Fowkes: Thank you.