Many times I have pointed out vaccines are not tested, and by that I mean that they don’t do double-blind, placebo-controlled studies of vaccines. They say it would be unethical. So, how do they know if they are effective? They don’t. They do tests to see if they raise the antibody titer, as desired, but does that translate to protection from disease? They hope it does. But, I readily admit that vaccines are not 100% effective. They work, except when they don’t. However, they claim that If you do get the flu after getting a flu shot, that it’s likely to be milder. Is that a big consolation to you? It’s no consolation to me.

It’s similar with hypertension drugs. They say it would unethical to do double-blind, placebo-controlled trials. But, how dangerous can it be when millions of people have hypertension and don’t even know it?

It’s all about reducing the risk of catastrophic events: heart attacks and strokes. So, how much do hypertension drugs lower the risk? Again, they don’t know because they refuse to test it. They just say that all hypertensives should take drugs.

But, which drugs? It depends entirely on the whim of your doctor. There are many different kinds of hypertension drugs and many different drugs within each class.  One doctor may start you off with a diuretic which lowers your blood pressure by dehydrating you and disturbing the composition of the urine. It throws a monkey wrench into the machinery of your kidneys. It may lower your blood pressure a little, but probably not much, and it certainly isn’t worth the havoc that it causes.

Before I proceed any further, let me clarify that I am talking about the usual mild-to-moderate hypertension that affects millions. I am not talking about acute malignant hypertension, where the pressure spikes up so high, it causes headache, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, etc. That’s a medical emergency, and I am not going to second-guess what the emergency docs might do for it.

I am talking about the non-emergency, garden variety hypertension that affects millions, where you go to the doctor for your annual physical, and he tells you that you now have hypertension, and you need to start taking medicine for it, and for the rest of your life. Usually, there are no symptoms.

So, he might give you a diuretic to tamper with your kidneys. He might give you an ace inhibitor to suppress certain hormones, and that is intended to reduce vascular tension. He might give you a beta blocker to weaken your heart so that it can’t contract as hard, so that it will move less blood with each beat. Or, he might give you a calcium channel blocker, which is the most dangerous hypertension drug of all. Or, he might give you a combination of drugs.

But, If you go to 5 different doctors, there is a good chance they will give you 5 different drug regimens. Do you see how arbitrary the whole process is?  You are managing your health according to someone’s whim.

I don’t like any of the blood pressure drugs. They each, in their own way, cause havoc within the body. And in the case of mild to moderate hypertension, especially younger to middle-aged persons, for whom the risk of having a vascular accident is very low, even if left untreated, how many heart attacks could the drugs be preventing? That it is very few knows of no doubt, but whether it is any at all is the big question. But again, they won’t test. They think it’s a crime to leave anyone with even mildly elevated blood pressure untreated.

The real crime is starting these people on lifelong drug regimens. Most doctors won’t even reevaluate over time. It’s drugs, drugs, drugs, for the rest of your life.

Well, just think about this undeniable fact: the drugs do not remove or correct the causes of high blood pressure. They just play tricks on the body to lower the pressure. They just tamper with something else- that isn’t broke- in order to force the pressure down. It’s really a misguided way to handle the problem.

So, what should a person do when they get the word that they have mild to moderate hypertension? They should take it as a wake-up call to change their ways and start taking better care of themselves.

That means eating better, with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, and other whole plant foods, such as raw nuts and cooked beans and legumes. It means stopping all bad habits, including smoking (anything) vaping, drinking alcohol, and drinking coffee. It means getting  your salt consumption down, way down. It means shedding body fat if that‘s an issue for you.  It means exercising regularly, and there is nothing better than walking. And it means addressing the stress level in your life and getting enough rest and sleep.

So, you start doing all those things as soon as you get the news that you have hypertension, and if you’re smart, you’ll do them anyway. Why wait?

And then, if you want to do more, you could consider taking some safe supplements which support and encourage the lowering of blood pressure, such as magnesium, which has a relaxing effect on the smooth muscle of arteries: CoQ10, omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamin D3, resveratrol, melatonin, and there are other things you could take. The nice thing about these supplements is that they can’t hurt you. They don’t throw a monkey wrench into your machinery.  Rather, they gently coax a better blood pressure through normal physiological adjustment.

And I can tell you from experience that for the vast majority of people, this approach is going to work. And it is far superior to taking drugs. 

So, if you get caught with mild to moderate blood pressure, and your doctor tries to put you on drugs, just tell him or her: no thanks. Then get started doing the right thing.

 

 

 

 

 

Let me tell you something that is absolutely true: if you walk, and if you make a point of including some hills in the walk, where you are walking uphill, you will be  giving your lower body all the exercise it needs. You need do nothing more.

Obviously, walking doesn’t do a lot for your arms. It does tone your arms, but it won’t pack muscle on your arms. But, if you do the walking that includes hill work, then a little resistance training, such as weights,  or pull-ups and push-ups, to strengthen your upper body, is all you are going to need to look great and be fit.

As far as stamina and heart health, walking does it all. As far as improving sleep, enhancing immunity, elevating mood, improving digestion, controlling weight, burning fat, walking does it all. Walking delivers all the benefits that exercise can achieve for the body and mind. It does everything but strengthen your arms. So, you have to add a little bit of upper body work; and that’s it. Then you’ve covered everything.

Walking has so many advantages.  You can’t get hurt. Well, I suppose you could trip over the curb and fall, but we’re talking low probability. Walking is the safest exercise there is. Anything else you can name is more dangerous than walking.

Walking is the least expensive exercise there is. It’s worth it to get good walking shoes. But hey, you’ve got to buy shoes anyway. So, in reality, walking is free.

What’s really nice is if you can walk right from your door. So, when people are out to buy or rent a home, they should make it a factor. “What’s this neighborhood like for walking? Will I be able to take a peaceful, attractive, comfortable walk? Are there hills nearby so that I can get in some hill work?” It’s great for walking where I live, and I would never move into a place where I couldn’t take nice walks right from my door.

Of course, if you have to drive a little to a park or greenbelt to walk, that's fine too. There's nothing wrong with it. 

 

Of course, you’ve got to be diligent about it. When you’re out on a fitness walk, don’t stop to talk to the neighbors. Wave, be friendly, but indicate that you’re on a fitness walk and you’ll talk to them later. Don’t stop to smell the roses or anything else. Walk briskly; keep going; and don’t stop until you’re done.  And if you’re not in good shape to begin with, then start with shorter walk and build up.

Walking lowers your blood pressure, helps keep your prostate healthy if you are a man, helps prevent cancer (by relieving the pooling of blood in the abdomen in pelvis, where  most cancers occur) helps you think more clearly, helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, and it even helps relieve and prevent acid reflux.

Walking is the most natural movement, and the cadence of walking (which is biomechanically complex) is hard-wired into your brain. It’s a beautiful mechanism.

And the older you get, the more sense it makes to make walking the primary and central exercise that you do. There is simply nothing better.

Most people think that osteoporosis is the lack of calcium in bone, but no; that’s osteomalacia.  Osteoporosis is the degeneration of the protein matrix in bone, and the calcium loss takes place secondarily to that. Osteoporosis starts with a loss of protein in the bones.

But, how can bones lack protein when most people, in countries such as the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Australia eat plenty of animal protein?

Well, you know that muscle wasting happens to people in those countries as they age. I get queries from people in their 30s asking why their once firm toned butt is now flat and saggy. Did I mention that they’re in their 30s?

The fact is that muscle protein retention peaks about age 25 and then it starts going down. Naturally, if you do heavy exercise, you may be able to counter it. But, when you reach your 40s, muscle atrophy accelerates and with each passing decade. And it’s insidious because if you replace muscle with fat, your weight may not go down. It could even go up, even though you are shrinking where it counts.

And it’s true of everything: your brain shrinks; your organs shrink. Women are well aware that their breasts tend to shrivel up with age. Guess what else can shrivel up, guys?

Age-related atrophy is a natural tendency, and it occurs in nature in wild animals. In a herd of elephants, the older males look shriveled compared to the younger ones.

That’s what osteopenia is about. It is the age-related degeneration of bone, the whole bone, and it corresponds to sarcopenia, the age-related degeneration of muscle. And as with muscle, it starts with the loss of the protein matrix.. And there is a lot of protein in bone.

The point is that downing a lot of calcium as a strategy to treat or prevent osteoporosis is not going to work. It requires a comprehensive program that addresses total nutrition and not just calcium. It requires exercise, of course, and also Vitamin D3, and you are never going to make enough from the sun alone. Forget about it.

Getting enough sleep is extremely important because lack of sleep hinders anabolic processes, and that’s what we’re talking about.

Maintaining optimal hormone levels is also very important. I take 25 mgs DHEA every morning, and I have for years, for decades, and I believe it has contributed a lot to maintaining my bone and muscle. I have my blood level of DHEA Sulphate tested every year when I do my blood tests in April.

Osteoporosis is a curse, and it’s a waterfall that we are all heading for. The prevention of it pertains to preventing the wasting processes of aging, in general. Throwing calcium at it will never suffice.

Perhaps you are aware that I am very much in favor of plant-based diets. I don’t say people have to be strict vegetarians. But, I do say that eating a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables and other unrefined plants is a very good idea whether or not you also eat meat.  People need to load up on plants, and the more the better. 

However, having said that, I also think it is insane what is going on in the world of Medicine where cholesterol is demonized.

You realize that cholesterol is a vital substance, that every cell in your body relies on it to build its membrane and maintain its intra-cellular environment.  Without cholesterol, animal cells would just dissolve.  Cholesterol is also the building block for all the sterol hormones, and there are quite a few. Cholesterol, as cholic acid, is the main component of bile acids, which are important to digestion. Cholesterol is also extremely abundant in the brain, and it’s so important that the brain has the ability to make its own cholesterol.  And it makes a heck of a lot of it. .It does not depend on the liver.

So, how could such a vital substance, so essential and crucial to human life, also be our doom? And the simplistic way in which they claim it is our doom is really childish. They think that just the amount of cholesterol in the blood determines whether plaque is going to be deposited in your arteries. But, that is ridiculous because a cholesterol above 200 is considered high today, whereas 150 is considered healthy. So, why would a 25% reduction of the amount of cholesterol in the blood make any such difference? Don’t you think it’s far more likely that if there is a tendency for plaquing to occur that it’s going to occur just as readily at blood cholesterol 150 as at blood cholesterol 200? There is still plenty of cholesterol available in the blood at 150.

Here is what the stupidity comes down to: they act as though there is a gradient going on in which having a little more cholesterol in the blood pushes the gradient so that plaque formation occurs, just from having the higher level of cholesterol, and getting below a certain threshold makes all the difference and stops the process. That is really stupid. So, what is the reality?

The reality is that they are confusing cause and effect. It’s not that having more cholesterol in the blood causes plaquing; it is that the conditions which cause plaquing cause more cholesterol to be in the blood.  

Arteries plaque because of irritation, and that irritation can be chemical from toxins, or it can be the damaging effect of high blood pressure.

An example of a chemical irritant that causes plaquing is cigarette smoke. You know about the toxins in tobacco, but in addition, there are toxins in smoke, and it’s true of any and all smoke. Carbon combustion involves the formation of polycyclic hydrocarbons and other toxins which are very irritating. They are so irritating to the very delicate cells of the endothelium, which is the inner lining of your arteries. So, the body lays down plaque as a response to irritation; it’s a coping mechanism, a kind of insulation. 

And there’s no doubt about it because there is no cholesterol in tobacco or tobacco smoke, and yet, we know that smoking tobacco is a powerful instigator of the atherosclerotic process.

And we know that high blood pressure is involved in plaquing because plaquing doesn’t occur in veins, which have low pressure. However, when you take a vein and make it do the work of an artery, such as when they use the saphenous vein to bypass a clogged coronary artery, that vein, now under high pressure, plaques very quickly, and I mean within months.

So, how much does cholesterol itself induce atherosclerosis? Probably not at all in its proper form. However, if cholesterol becomes oxidized, then that’s another irritant, and plaquing may be increased by it.

So, I think the medical practice of forcing the blood level of cholesterol down with a statin drug is extremely misguided. And yet the current President of the United States takes a statin drug and has for years.  So, it goes to show that even a billionaire can’t get decent health care in this country.  

I have blood work done every April, and this April my total cholesterol was 162, and I’m happy with that. But, even if it was 262, I wouldn’t take a statin drug.

And I think the people who celebrate super-low cholesterol, such as less than 100 are misguided too.  They act like the stuff is poison. I’d be curious to know how much testosterone a man with super-low cholesterol has. His testosterone is probably low too, and who wants that? We need to stop demonizing cholesterol. I would be concerned if my cholesterol was below 130. I don't want it lower than that. 

I mentioned oxidized cholesterol. For instance, frying animal foods can cause the cholesterol to oxidize. So, the best way to cook eggs is to boil the water; turn the heat off; then put the eggs in the hot water and let them seep for 7 or 8 minutes. And I think it’s a good idea to get the pastured eggs too.

Studies have shown that taking statin drugs barely lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke at all, that 100 people have to take statins for a year to prevent one heart attack. The very meager benefit, if it exists, is surely due to the anti-inflammatory effect of statins, which is in addition to their cholesterol-lowering effect. Cholesterol lowering probably has nothing to do with it.

But, at the same time, statins raise your risk of diabetes, cancer, kidney failure, and dementia. So, is it worth it to take them? Not to you. To the pharmaceutical companies, yes, but not you.

I predict that someday, the anti-cholesterol campaign is going to be seen as one of the biggest follies in the history of Medicine, and Medicine has had a lot of follies. Let me be crystal clear; I would never ever take a statin drug or any other cholesterol-lowering medicine, ever.   

 

 

                        

 

 

 

I don’t take any calcium supplements, and I don’t eat dairy either I’m content to get the calcium in green vegetables, nuts, and beans and leave it at that. I don’t want any more than they contain, and I’ll tell you why.

First, one of the universal processes of aging involves pathological calcification, where soft tissues become calcified. You know what it does to your arteries; it hardens them.  The most definitive test for arteriosclerosis is the coronary calcium test. I believe it’s accurate, but I don’t recommend it because it involves a large amount of radiation.

But, it’s not just your arteries that get calcified. Calcium deposits in the skin cause wrinkles. Calcium deposits in the joints cause arthritis. Calcium deposits at the end of the tendons cause rotator cuff and frozen shoulder. The pineal gland becomes calcified in just about everybody. And the list goes on and on.

So, every time you put calcium in your body, you have to wonder: is it going to go someplace good or someplace bad?

But, there’s another reason I don’t want to take calcium. You know that Vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium, and when there is a lot of calcium coming in, the body gets lazy about activating Vitamin D. But, it’s the activated Vitamin D that has the potent anti-cancer effect, for instance, to deter prostate cancer in men. So, since I think prostate cancer poses a bigger threat than osteoporosis, I’d rather err on the side of less calcium.

I have been avoiding calcium supplements forever. I never got into it. So, what are the results? Have I suffered? I don’t think, and  I’ll tell you why. First, I haven’t lost height, and for being 68, that’s amazing. Well, maybe I have lost a small fraction of an inch, but that’s it. I’m short, 5’6”, but I’ve always been this height. And I meet people my age all the time who have lost 2 or more inches of height. Second, I’m doing well with my teeth, and my dentist says I’ve got good mineral density in my teeth, and remember that teeth are just specialized bones. And three, I’m doing well holding on to muscle. I’m not experiencing sarcopenia, which is age-related muscle loss. And know that sarcopenia and osteopenia go together. Bones and muscles tend to deteriorate simultaneously. So, if my muscles are strong, and they are, then my bones are probably strong too.

So, I am very content not to take calcium supplements, and I am not losing any sleep worrying about my bones.  But, am I saying that nobody should take calcium supplements? Well, if a slender, light-weight, small-boned woman asked me if she should take calcium supplements, I would feel compelled to tell her to take some, since she is at high risk for osteoporosis.  But, I wouldn’t recommend 1000 mgs or even 800, as you commonly hear. I’m thinking more like 200 to 300 mgs a day.

But, even though I don’t take calcium, I do take some magnesium, which is the second most abundant mineral in bone and in the body. There is no disease comparable to pathologic calcinosis relating to magnesium. And magnesium does a lot of good things, including help prevent diabetes, which, as you know, is extremely common. Magnesium also helps keep your blood pressure low because it has a relaxing effect on the arteries. And it actually helps you relax overall and may help you sleep better at night, and without any adverse effects.   Magnesium is involved in hundreds of biochemical reactions in your body, and although it is widely distributed in foods, it is actually a bit challenging to reach an optimal level from diet alone.  You can easily do it if you eat a lot of kale and collards, but you really have to load up. I eat those foods and I recommend them, but I also take some magnesium, just for insurance, because there is no harm in doing it, and it’s not expensive.

So, the bottom line for me is that I don’t think I need to take calcium supplements. If my condition changes, I am open to changing my mind, but at this point in time, I have no qualms about avoiding calcium in pill form.

 

 

 

I wrote and produced a low-budget film called My Stretch of Texas Ground, and I am asking you to watch it. It is a “clash of titans” story between an Islamic warrior, Abdul Latif Hassan, and a small town Texas sheriff, Joe Haladin. What they clash over is the life of visiting senator, Harlan Cruthers, who is a very aggressive war hawk. He never met a war he didn’t like.

So, these two men, from vastly different cultures and continents, are barreling towards a certain and head-on collision, and the one thing they have in common is that they are both very capable men.

But, underlying the story and pervading it throughout are piercing questions about war and terrorism. What’s the difference between them? If you kill innocents with a smart bomb, is it any different than killing them with a suicide vest? Morally? 

So, these questions are raised amid a life-or-death struggle in which the peace and tranquility of Arlettsville are disrupted like never before, and Sheriff Joe Haladin is tested like never before.

I feel very good about this film because I think it succeeds on two levels: as a gripping, fast-paced, action thriller AND as message movie about the horrific death toll from the post-9/11 wars, which most Americans are unaware of. In 2015, the Physicians for Social Responsibility hired Nobel Prize winning researchers to tabulate the death count, and they reported that between 1.3 and 2 million people had been killed. But, hundreds of thousands more have been killed since 2015 in Syria alone. This has been a human catastrophe of gargantuan and historic proportion. 

So please watch my movie. It was a labor of love, and I think we succeeded at delivering a very gripping and compelling story. Thank you for reading this. 

 

https://www.amazon.com/Stretch-Texas-Ground-Jeff-Weber/dp/B07RP4C92H/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?keywords=My+Stretch+of+Texas+Ground&qid=1557574546&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmrnull&fbclid=IwAR2tJ0r_3kjXWDJbwZLuEGzs_M7mT-a5KFO7m_Cki2IHm7gPrBH2cdPAgxc

 

It’s terribly tragic when someone suffers major deterioration over something that is easily prevented, such as Vitamin B12 deficiency.  I’m sure there are tens of thousands of people in this country being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, or other form of dementia, when what they are really suffering with is a severe Vitamin B12 deficiency.

Well, magnesium deficiency falls into that category too because magnesium is cheap, safe, and widely available, yet, the lack of it is doing a lot of harm.

Magnesium is extremely versatile. On the one hand, it is the second-most abundant mineral in bone, after calcium, and it puts the finishing touches on making your bones hard, strong and dense. The same goes for your teeth. But, besides its structural role in bones, magnesium is involved in a vast array of biochemical reactions. It serves as a “co-factor” in these reactions, and the includes hormonal activation for thyroid, parathyroid, and more.

It includes the proper activation of insulin, such that magnesium deficiency leads to diabetes. You know that there is an epidemic of diabetes among the elderly. To what extent is it due to magnesium deficiency?  It’s significant, for sure.

Magnesium is involved in maintaining normal blood pressure. It has a relaxing effect on smooth muscle, and that helps to keep your blood pressure low. It can even be used therapeutically. If a person has high blood pressure, and they load up on magnesium, they can drop their systolic pressure 5 to 10 points.  That’s what I’ve found.

Magnesium has a relaxing effect overall, such that taking it at night may help with sleep.

Magnesium has been shown to fight heart disease, and since it’s also known to fight diabetes, that’s 2 out of the 3 major killers.

So, where do you get magnesium? You get it from unrefined plant foods, particularly green vegetables, but also legumes, nuts, and whole grains. Magnesium is at the center of the chlorophyll molecule, so when you see the green color of spinach and other leafy greens, you are looking at the magnesium. Of course, magnesium is white, but chlorophyll is like a prism that absorbs the red and blue spectra of light, so that all you see is the green.

There is little magnesium in animal foods. Of course, milk has some, since babies need it, but I hope you know that you shouldn’t be drinking milk. Cow’s milk is for calves, goat milk is for “kids” (goat kids, not human kids) etc.  There is some magnesium in the white of an egg, but you’d have to eat a heck of a lot of them to amount to anything, and who wants to stuff oneself on egg whites? What fun is that?

So really, plant foods are where it’s at for magnesium. And, it is possible to get all you need from food alone if you really hone in on the kale and other greens.  And I do eat those foods and often. However, I do take a magnesium supplement, in addition, because it’s cheap and safe, and I would rather err on the side of more than less. With magnesium, the only thing that can happen if you take too much is that you might get some loose stools.  It’s the whole mechanism behind “Milk of Magnesia” for constipation. I take Klaire Lab’s MAG COMPLETE because it has several highly absorbable forms of magnesium, and it avoids the magnesium oxide that other companies use, which is poorly absorbed. Each capsule provides 120 mgs magnesium, and I typically take 2 a day in divided doses.

You might find it interesting that I don’t take any supplemental calcium at all, and I have my reasons, which I’ll explain next time.  

It is probably true that brazil nuts are the most widely eaten wild food in the world. Yes, commercial brazil nuts grow wild in the Amazon without human intervention. The brazil nut tree is the tallest tree in the Amazon rain forest. The nuts grow in pods that are so heavy, that if one falls from the tree and hits you in the head, it could kill you.

Brazil nuts have very high nutrient content, including protein, healthy fats, and vitamins and minerals. And what they are most noted for is their very high selenium content- the highest of any food in the world. In fact, their selenium content is so high, there is concern about selenium toxicity from them. However, I have yet to come across a clinical report of anyone suffering from “selenosis” from eating too many brazil nuts.  And that’s surprising because surely you would think that someone might have loved the taste of brazil nuts so much that he hate a half a pound a day for months or years and got sick. But, I have not come across such a thing.

And brazil nuts have been tested as a selenium “supplement” and in some cases, feeding a person just one single brazil nut a day has resulted in a significant rise in their blood selenium level.

So, if one brazil nut could do that, how come there are no reports of disaster from eating too many of them? I am going to speculate about it. Besides being the highest food in selenium, brazil nuts may also be the highest food in phytic acid, which is a form of phosphoric acid which binds minerals.  Generally, phytic acid is considered a bad thing since it binds minerals and makes them unavailable. But naturally, if this happens in relation to preventing selenium overload, then it’s a good thing.

But, foods are complex, and it’s possible that the body has a mechanism to limit selenium absorption in the context of a whole food like brazil nuts. We know that absorption is not just a passive process like diffusion, but rather, an active one in which carriers are involved, and it may be that the body has a way to let the excess of selenium in brazil nuts pass through the system. But, as I said, I am just speculating. But, there does seem to be a general consensus that one should not eat more than 3 brazil nuts a day, and I think that is sound advice.

 

So, should you make a point of eating 1 to 3 brazil nuts a day? I think it depends on several factors, including whether you like brazil nuts. I like them a lot, but I’ll qualify that by saying that I like them when they are fresh. One way you can tell is by biting one in half and looking at the color of the flesh inside. The whiter it is, the better. And if it’s brown, spit it out because that one is rancid.

Many people today take selenium supplements or they get selenium in their multivitamin supplement. And there are other foods that are high in selenium, such as fish and seafood. So, not everyone needs the high selenium fix that comes from eating brazil nuts.

It wasn’t always the case, but brazil nuts have become relatively expensive. They used to be cheaper than cultivated nuts, such as almonds and walnuts, but these days, brazil nuts are more expensive than those two. However, there are more expensive nuts than brazils, such as macadamias and pecans.

But, in any case, brazil nuts are a nutritional powerhouse, and I find it strangely empowering the thought of eating a wild food.  So, I will continue eating brazil nuts while respecting the recommended limits. But, keep in mind that I am a nut aficionado. I am simply nuts about nuts.

  

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