Anti-Inflammatory Diet

All health care starts with diet. My recommendations for a healthy diet are here:
Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Lifestyle.
There are over 190 articles on diet, inflammation and disease on this blog
(find topics using search [upper left] or index [lower right]), and
more articles by Prof. Ayers on Suite101 .

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Diet, Carbs, Fat and Weight Loss

Glucose and Insulin Are Required to Gain or Retain Body Fat

The essential fact of weight gain or loss is that fat (triglycerides, TGs) stored in fat cells (adipocytes) is made from glycerol (from glucose) and fatty acids (from the blood or recycled from previously stored fat droplets.) Adipocytes must import glucose to make glycerol and TGs.

Glucose Is a Carbohydrate

Glucose is a sugar or carbohydrate. Once again the word tells the story, i.e. carbohydrates consist of carbons that each have a hydrogen, -H, and a hydroxyl -OH attached. Since each glucose has six carbons, then it can be roughly approximated as (H-C-OH)6. This is convenient notation, because this lets glycerol be considered as a three carbon sugar, i.e. (H-C-OH)3.

Glycolysis Can Convert Glucose into Two Glycerols

The central metabolism of all cells is called glycolysis, literally breaking glucose. The products of glycolysis are usually high energy electrons (carried by NADH), two pyruvates and ATP (chemical energy). Active cells with access to oxygen can use their mitochondria to accept the high energy electrons and pyruvate, and generate lots of ATP and CO2. Fat cells can bring in glucose by glucose transporters, make glycerol instead of some of the pyruvate and use the rest of the pyruvate by mitochondria to make fatty acids (instead of ATP.)

Fats Have Three Fatty Acids Attached to Glycerol: Triglycerides

Fats, triglycerides, are made in a series of biochemical reactions catalyzed by enzymes. The enzymes first make glycerol phosphate from glycerol and NADH, from glycolysis. Then the fatty acids are attached. The fatty acids can come from three sources: from glycolytic pyruvate, from fatty acids offloaded from the blood stream and from constantly recycled stored fat. Regardless of the source of fatty acid, new glycerol phosphate is needed for TG production in fat cells

Insulin Is Required for Glucose to Enter Adipocytes

Glucose is transported into adipocytes by specialized proteins embedded in their cytoplasmic membranes. A few glucose transporters are always present to supply enough materials and energy for basic maintenance of the adipocytes. Even with very high blood sugar (glucose), the glucose uptake of the adipocytes will not be increased without an increase in the number of glucose transporters in the cytoplasmic membrane. Insulin released into the blood by the pancreas in response to an increase in blood sugar, stimulates the adipocytes to introduce more glucose transporters into their membranes and glucose is actively transported into the adipocytes. The adipocytes then convert the glucose into glycerol, fatty acids and ultimately stored fat.

Without High Blood Sugar and Insulin, Adipocytes Lose Fat

Fatty acids in adipocytes are constantly be converted to fats and then released from storage as they are enzymatically removed from the fats to reappear as free fatty acids. As a consequence, the absence of extra glucose in the adipocytes will mean a shortage of glycerol and a net accumulation of free fatty acids from stored fats. Excess fatty acids will mean that fatty acids will be removed from rather than deposited in adipocytes.

Weight Gain Occurs with High Blood Sugar Regardless of Fats Eaten

Fat will be produced in adipocytes if there is high blood sugar and insulin production, because the fat already stored in the adipocytes will be recycled into fat, any fat in the diet will be converted into stored fat and glucose transported into adipocytes will be converted into fat. In addition, protein in the diet and potentially in muscle, will also be converted into stored fat.

Weight Loss Occurs with Low Carbohydrate Diets Regardless of Fats Eaten

Fats that are eaten without sufficient carbohydrates to cause a rise in blood insulin, are metabolized for energy in liver and muscle. Excess fat ends up being secreted into the gut by the gall bladder and lost as feces. Type I diabetics without insulin cannot get enough glucose into their cells to make fat and cannot gain weight without insulin. The amount of glucose, as simple carbohydrates (sugar or starch), needed to raise blood sugar to trigger a rise in insulin production is typically 30 to 50 grams per meal. Hunger, a response to a drop in blood sugar, prior to the next meal is a typical indication of insulin production and fat storage.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Lyme Spirochete Binds to Heparan in Blood Vessels

Borrelia burgdorferi Sticks to Host Cells via Heparin-binding Proteins

A research group at the University of Calgary has watched the binding of fluorescent Borrelia burgdorferi spirochetes, the Lyme disease pathogen, to the surface of blood vessels in mice. (ref. below) A small heparin molecule was shown to block this interaction between the spirochete surface protein BBK32 and the heparan sulfate proteoglycans of the endothelial cells of the skin blood vessels.

The heparin-binding domains in the spirochete protein, BBK32 are easy to spot in the amino acid sequence of this protein that I downloaded from the NCBI protein database:

>gi|19072701|gb|AAL84596.1| BBK32 [Borrelia burgdorferi]
Basic amino acids are K=lysine, R=arginine

The minimal heparin binding pairs, e.g. KKVKSK are shown in red and the strong heparin-binding triplets, e.g. KRK, are shown in blue. Notice that one triplet is augmented with several pairs to further enhance heparin binding.

I would also expect that BBK32 would be internalized into host cells and transported into the nucleus, where it may alter transcription, a la HIV-TAT. The existence of multiple, strong heparin-binding domains may also serve to bind the BBK32 (or the spirochetes) to multiple different heparan sulfate proteoglycans and interfere with the HSPG circulation system. This may have a toxic effect.

Norman MU, Moriarty TJ, Dresser AR, Millen B, Kubes P, Chaconas G. Molecular mechanisms involved in vascular interactions of the Lyme disease pathogen in a living host. PLoS Pathog. 2008 Oct 3;4(10):e1000169.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Cause of Allegies and Autoimmune Diseases

Keyhole Limpet Hemocyanin (KLH): Internalized Antigen

Scanning the literature for a common protein that can be used as an experimental antigen, it becomes quickly obvious that a favorite is KLH. This would seem to be an odd choice -- why a keyhole limpet protein? But that is the wrong question.

Why is KLH such a good antigen, i.e. why is it readily presented to the host immune system? If you have been reading my posts, you might be thinking about triplets of basic amino acids and that is the answer.

As soon as I remembered the prominent use of KLH as an antigen, I checked the NCBI protein database and immediately found an unusual KKK (triple lysine) near the amino terminus of hemocyanin II ( it comes in two pieces). This triplet explains why KLH is such a good experimental antigen, because it is internalized into antigen presenting cells by its strong heparin-binding domain. Other components, adjuvants, are typically added to the KLH for injection to make sure that a strong local inflammation occurs.

Autoantigens Have Strong Heparin-Binding Triplet

I also learned that Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease mediated by the autoantigen thyroid peroxidase. A quick search reveals that thyroid peroxidase is an autoantigen, because it also has a triplet of basic amino acids that can enhance presentation under inflammatory conditions. Grave’s disease of hyperthyroidism is an autoimmune disease in which the thyroid receptor (with a basic triplet) is an autoantigen. The same kind of triplet of basic amino acids was found when I searched today for fire ant antigens and mosquito antigens.

I have also looked for the triplets in protein databases. The triplets are rare in cytoplasmic and extracellular proteins. The proteins that have triplets are usually identified as autoantigens in some disease. The triplets are common in nuclear proteins, since heparin-binding and nucleic acid-binding share the same basic amino acid domains. The nuclear internalization signal also results in rapid cellular internalization, e.g. HIV-TAT, heparanase, IGF-binding proteins. Nuclear proteins are common autoantigens in lupus.

Inflammation Plus Heparin-Binding Internalization: Allergy, Autoimmunity

Chronic inflammation can produce antibodies against proteins (foreign or self) with strong heparin-binding domains (triplets or sometimes neighboring pairs of basic amino acids, lysine or arginine). The generalization explains why particular proteins in pollens, foods, insects, pets, mites, asthma, MS, lupus, celiac, etc. produce antibody responses.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Diet, Nutrition and Health

These are my generalizations (some would say prejudices) from 40 years of experience in plant biochemistry and molecular biology:

Plant Secondary Compounds Are Defensive and Toxic

The development of plant secondary compounds (all of the compounds that are not part of metabolism or structures) is in response to pathogens, herbivores and pollinator/disseminator attractants -- development of these compounds has nothing to do with humans. Examples: Nicotine and caffeine are very toxic to herbivores and are present in plants for protection. Humans learn to play with toxic plant chemicals, just as they have learned to play with fire and explosives.

Plants Are Not There For Us

People have learned to exploit local plants for protection against local human pathogens, but there is no selective advantage to plants (except for domesticated plants) for useful plants to grow near humans. This logic would suggest that rats and mosquitoes, that flourish near human habitations, are there because of their human utility. Human live near places were useful plants grow.

Grains Are Unhealthy

One of the biggest problems with food processing is separating the inflammatory parts = starch and omega-6 oils, from the nutritive parts, the so-called anti-oxidants, vitamins, proteins, etc. Grains, even so-called whole grains, are simply too enriched for starch and inflammatory oils to be healthy. They are not safe to eat in large amounts. Leafy plant parts are healthy, but even those parts are not good in large amounts from a single plant species. Humans are browsers, because the plant secondary compounds are uniformly toxic, but can be tolerated better in a mixture of different toxicities.

Starch Is Inflammatory

Starchy foods should be treated like a fish. The starch should be pared away and discarded, like the fish gut and bones. (The guts and bones could actually be processed to make them nutritious. Not so with the starch. The starch should be fermented.) The potato skin should be eaten and the rest discarded, just as an aphid secretes as honey dew the extra sugar it sucks in from a plant leaf.

Cereals Are Inflammatory

Breakfast cereals are a dietary abomination. They contribute immensely to obesity, inflammation and chronic disease. Oatmeal for cardiovascular health is a total fraud. The fiber might be useful, but the high starch causes cardiovascular disease. Grains/cereal are the foundation of the chronic disease pyramid.

Fructose is Toxic

Fruit juices are another fraud. The juice (fructose) should be removed and discarded. The fructose is very unhealthy. Mice are given type II diabetes for research purposes by feeding them fructose (especially high fructose corn syrup.) Fructose is avoided in the beef industry, because it causes rapid cross-linking of collagen and leads to tough meat. The same thing happens in humans who eat fructose, it causes aging of the skin and other tissues. High fructose corn syrup is a commercial addiction -- it is hugely profitable as a sweetener -- and that is why it is still used, even though it is grossly unhealthy. It will eventually be removed from the market after the industry is protected from subsequent law suits. It is equivalent to the tobacco industry -- too lucrative to eliminate.

Phytic Acid

The active ingredient in fiber that provides its benefits is phytic acid, the same chemical that people are trying to eliminate. Phytic acid acts as a chelator. I don't think it is actually a problem. The problem comes from extracting cations from the phytic acid before it is eaten. Phytic acid should go in saturated, so that it doesn't contribute to deficiencies. The actual problem is that the diet is already low in minerals, because of eating processed foods that are mineral deficient.

Enzymatic Detoxification: P450, Glycosylation and Secretion

Humans are adapted to plant secondary metabolites by the abiltiy to enzymatically detoxify [using p450 and glycosylating (adding glucuronic acid)] and secrete the toxic compounds. These chemical modifications that occur in the intestines and liver are usually effect. They also work on drugs and that is how we eventually clear these compounds from our systems. Grapefruit and black pepper inactivate these enzymes and alter the way we metabolize plant toxins and drugs. The detox enzymes can also convert innocuous compounds into toxins and carcinogens. That conversion is the basis for using liver enzymes in the Ames Test for carcinogens. The activity of the enzymes is dependent on recent diet, so it would make sense to gradually change the amount and type of vegetables that are eaten in a meal to permit the detox system to adjust.

Glucose and Insulin Cause Fat Accumulation

Fat accumulation is dependent on dietary carbohydrates and insulin. Fat and serum lipids accumulates with a high carbohydrate diet and decrease on a low carbohydrate diet. This is more important than the number of calories consumed.

Inflammation Not Serum Lipids Cause CVD: Statin Are Unnecessary

Inflammation is the source of chronic degenerative diseases. Serum lipids are only secondary factors. Statins lower serum lipids, but do not impact cardiovascular health unless they also lower inflammation. Lowering inflammation lowers serum lipids and decreases cardiovascular disease. Statins appear to be a very expensive way of treating cardiovascular disease dependent on their side effect on inflammation. Modest dietary and lifestyle changes are much more effective, cheap and safe than statins.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Insulin-like Growth Factor, Diabetes Autoantigen

IGF Binding to Heparin is Basis for Receptor Interaction, Internalization and Immunization

Examination of the protein sequence of insulin-like growth factors reveals strong heparin-binding domains (triplet of basic amino acids) that are also associated with internalization. Similar heparin internalization domains are also found on allergens and autoantigens. It was a small leap to expect that IGFs would also become autoantigens under inflammatory conditions that minimize heparan sulfate proteoglycan production.

Triplets of Basic Amino Acids Internalize Proteins

In several articles on this blog, I have discussed proteins that are internalized by their heparin binding domains. Heparin binding domains consistent only of a pair of basic amino acids, e.g. RK, flanked by one or more basic amino acids within a hydrophobic sequence of protein, are not sufficient to mediate internalization on heparan sulfate proteoglycans. A triplet of basic amino acids is usually required. Simple inspection of amino acid sequences is sufficient to identify these regions.

Internalization Triplet Identified in Insulin-like Growth Factor Binding Proteins

I noticed in a paper that insulin-like growth factors bind to epidermal growth factor receptors. I have previously written an article showing that EGF1 binds to its receptor via heparin, i.e. both the EGF and the receptor have heparin-binding domains. So I suspected that IGFs also had heparin binding domains. Inspection of the sequences readily identified simple heparin binding domains with pairs, but not triplets of basic amino acids. A search of the literature confirmed that heparin mediated IGF binding to receptors. A further search indicated that the heparin binding domains from proteins that bind and control the activity of IGFs could mediate internalization of proteins into cells and also into nuclei.

Internalization Triplets Are Associated with Allergens and Autoantigens

I have previously noted that all allergens and autoantigens have internalization triplets of basic amino acids. The presence of these triplets in IGF binding proteins suggested that IGF binding proteins might also be autoantigens. A quick check of the literature showed that antibodies against IGFs themselves frequently occur in type I diabetes. This suggests that the IGF-binding protein complexes are internalized and IGFs are immunologically presented during inflammation to produce anti-IGF antibodies. It is interesting that the other autoantigens for type I diabetes, e.g. transglutaminase, also have the expected internalization triplets.

Maruyama T, Murayama H, Nagata A, Shimada A, Kasuga A, Saruta T.
Anti-insulin-like growth factor-1 autoantibodies in type 1 diabetes. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2002 Apr;958:267-70.

Miao D, Yu L, Eisenbarth GS. Role of autoantibodies in type 1 diabetes. Front Biosci. 2007 Jan 1;12:1889-98.

Goda N, Tenno T, Inomata K, Shirakawa M, Tanaka T, Hiroaki H. Intracellular protein delivery activity of peptides derived from insulin-like growth factor binding proteins 3 and 5. Exp Cell Res. 2008 Aug 1;314(13):2352-61. Epub 2008 May 29.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Suffering from Inflammation?

How do you know if your symptoms result from inflammation?

My interest is the molecular basis of inflammation, how inflammation is triggered and how inflammation contributes to numerous diseases. I try to expose the inflammatory underpinnings of various diseases by initially linking a disease to inflammation and then unraveling the molecular events that lead to and make up the disease.

How Do I Link a Disease to Inflammation?

My first task is to check the biomedical literature to see if there are research articles that support anti-inflammatory interventions that prevent or limit the disease. I just do a PubMed search the disease name plus anti-inflammatory treatments, e.g. omega-3 fish oils, vitamin D, NSAIDs, etc. It is also possible to see if a disease, such as diabetes, that produces chronic inflammation is a risk factor for the new disease being examined. It is shocking to me that omega-3 fish oils (EPA/DHA) or even flax seed oil, have been found to be effective treatments for numerous diseases that range from allergies, arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases, depression and even septic shock and multiple organ failure. Aspirin has been used to treat infertility and post partum depression, and at high levels to treat cancer.

Dietary Suppression as Prima Fascia Evidence of Inflammatory Cause

If I find that omega-3 oils have been used successfully to treat a disease, then I attempt to link inflammation to the molecular events that initiate the disease. The biomedical literature is of minimal help here. [Biomedical research is usually limited to assessing the impact of drugs on the symptoms of diseases, so the biomedical literature typically does not provide information on the cause of diseases or ways to cure diseases. Causes and cures do not receive research funding.] I have to learn the basic workings of the organs involved and the alterations of function associated with the disease. I have also found by long experience, that major molecular components are systematically missing from typical explanations of function.

Heparan sulfate/heparin Is Missing in Action

Heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) dominate the extracellular environment and yet they are systematically excluded from biomedical research. On this blog, I have provided dozens of examples of the essential role played by HSPGs and disruption of these roles by heparin. The majority of cytokines, growth factors, clotting events, complement cascades and even lipid transport (LDL) act via HSPGs. Leaking of proteins into the urine, across the intestines or the blood brain barrier is controlled by HSPGs, is reduced by inflammation and can be partially repaired by heparin. Autoimmune and allergic diseases are initiated by disruptions in HSPG metabolism. Viral and bacterial pathogens bind to human cells via HSPGs. Cancer cells reduce their HSPGs and start to secrete heparanase in order to metastasize. Mast cells secrete heparin! HSPGs and heparin are major players in tissue function and yet the major cell biology text book does not even discuss them. HSPGs are not mentioned in medical school training even though heparin is the most commonly administered drug.

One of the insights that I bring to my conceptualization of diseases is the role of heparan/heparin in cellular physiology. It explains a lot.

Check for Inflammatory Symptoms by Trying the Anti-Inflammatory Diet

If your symptoms are due to inflammation, there is an easy way to find out. Since diet is the biggest source of inflammation and most of the cells of the immune system congregate in your intestines, it makes sense to check to see your health problems are rooted in inflammation by making simple changes in your diet. Since this is just a test, don’t worry about whether or not this is diet for the rest of your life. Just stick to it for a week and see if it changes your life.

The Basic Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Lifestyle Guidelines are here.

(Vitamin D and omega-3 fish oil amounts are minimal levels. More severe examples of inflammation will require higher levels. Vitamin D up to 10,000 IU per day has been found safe. Some individuals require up to 12 fish oil capsule per day to experience relief from symptoms. Increases should be gradual over weeks of time.)

Try it for a week and let me know if your symptoms disappear. The prevalence of diet-based inflammation, makes me confident that you will be glad that you tried these simple, healthy changes. For immediate relief of pain, see my articles on capsaicin, castor oil and menthol/Vicks.

This is not medical advice and is used only in appropriate support of primary medical care.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Prostate, Prostatitis, Cancer, Causes and Cures

Prostate problems are pervasive, and progressive in the U.S. -- approximately a quarter of a million prostate cancers are diagnosed each year. Chronic inflammation due to age or diet enhances prostatitis and cancer.

Prostate Surrounds Male Urethra

The prostate is a sexual organ. It responds to sexual stimuli, both physical and hormonal, and as a consequence is vulnerable to the same hazards: infection, inflammation, cycles of elaboration and cancer. The prostate straddles the male urethra and inflammatory swelling of the prostrate can strangle the flow of urine from the bladder. The prostate contributes part of the seminal fluid and backward flow of bacteria from the urethra into the prostate can be a source of infection.

Prostate Cells Require Testosterone for Growth

The prostate tissue responds to testosterone. The ebb and flow of testosterone, associated with sexual activity, results in increased production of prostate fluid containing proteins and other components that enhance performance of sperm in the female reproductive tract. The bottom line here is that prostate tissue and derived prostate cancer, responds to testosterone. For this reason, prostate cancer treatment has been based on blocking testosterone stimulation by removal of sources of testosterone and blocking testosterone receptors.

Testosterone Starvation Is Prostate Cancer Treatment

Testosterone, estrogen and vitamin D receptors are all cytoplasmic and the hormone/receptor complexes act as transcription factors to alter nuclear gene expression. It would be expected that prostate cancer, as well as breast, cervical, ovarian, testicular, etc. will respond in a complex manner to steroid hormones, including androgens, estrogens and vitamin D.

Cancer Requires NF-kB Activation

The common biochemistry supporting all cancers is inflammation that is required for proliferation in tissue. Central to inflammation is the transcription factor NF-kB. Inhibitors that block the activation of NF-kB also stop cancer. Most of these blockers are effective against cancer cells grown in culture flasks, because the inhibitors are taken directly into the cells and make contact with NF-kB (or stabilize the NF-kB inhibitor IkB.) Curcumin from turmeric, is one of the most potent inhibitors of NF-kB activation. It is very effective in cultures, but is only modestly effective against inflammation when eaten.

It is difficult to treat secretory tissues, such as prostate, breast, uterus, etc., because much of the tissue is separated from the blood circulation. Thus, infections in these tissues are harder to treat with antibiotics.

Prostatitis Results from Urinary Infections

The prostate is prone to chronic infections. Thus, urinary tract infections (UTIs) can lead to prostate infections (prostatitis). These chronic infections can contribute to chronic systemic inflammation. One symptom of chronic inflammation is depression (treated with SSRIs, antidepressants) another symptom is premature ejaculation (also treated with SSRIs.) Prostatitis-based inflammation can also set the stage for cancer.

Transglutaminase Autoantigen

Autoimmune diseases are also associated with chronic inflammation. One of the common autoantigens in autoimmune disease is tissue transglutaminase (tTG). Celiac is a classic example of the involvement of tTG, since tTG acts on the glutamine amino acids of gluten and converts them into glutamic acid residues. In the process tTG becomes covalently attached to the gluten. The strong heparin binding domains of tTG also facilitate its uptake and processing as an immunogen under inflammatory conditions and result in antibody production to both tTG and gluten. Anti-tTG antibodies and inflammation can also lead to attack on other tissues, such as the thyroid and skin, leading to a variety of celiac-associated autoimmune conditions.

The prostate produces its own transglutaminase. I think it is likely that prostatitis in some cases progresses to an autoimmune disease and prostate transglutaminase is a likely candidate for one of the autoantigens involved. This also predicts an association with celiac and a requirement for chronic systemic infection with a likely elevation of C-reactive protein and inflammatory cytokines (IL-1, IL-6, TNF). Deficiency of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids are probably major contributors. Increased risk attributed to consumption of a high fat diet and meat, is probably actually due to inflammation from a high carbohydrate diet and high omega-6 vegetable oils (or perhaps corn-fed meat.)

Protect Prostate with Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Prostate problems are frequently assumed to be a natural result of advancing age, but they are actually symptoms of mismanaged chronic inflammation. Men should not just stand and wait for prostate problems.

Avoidance and treatment of prostate problems seems to be an obvious application for an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle.