Welcome to the first installment of our new weekly podcast segment, Wellness Weekly.
We have combined Wellness Journey Monday, Research Tuesday/Thursday, & Supplement Saturday into one video/audio segment for your listening pleasure (previously these segments were only on YouTube).
This episode covers:
Wellness Journeys: H.E.R.O Acronym & Psychological Resilience
Research Article 1: Smoking, Brain Inflammation, & Alzheimer’s
Research Article 2: Neighborhood Poverty & Cognition
Supplement Discussion: Manganese
Lifestyle Medicine with Dr. Harris
Dr. Richard Harris [0:00] Hello, my name is Doctor Richard Harris, and welcome to Strive for Great Health Podcasts; and this is our first in our new podcast segment, Wellness Weekly, and so what we’re doing is we’re combining all of the short videos we used to make on our YouTube channel into one segment, and so there will be video. You get to look at my pretty face if you want to on the YouTube channel, and the audio will be available on the podcast platform, of course, wherever you get your podcasts, and so for those who aren’t familiar with the videos that I used to put on YouTube, I used to do a segment called Wellness Journey Monday where we talked about some aspect of the mindset and basically, what’s something or an example of something that I’m walking through in my own Wellness journey.
We’d do research Tuesday and Thursday, which would cover 2 research articles and go into what they found and how you can use that information to benefit your health. And then the last thing that we would do is that we would discuss a supplement on Supplement Saturday, and we were doing something in our Rootine series. Rootine is a customized, personalized supplementation program. I’m actually a clinical advisor, and so we’re going to be continuing that series today talking about Manganese.
Dr. Richard Harris [2:00] So the first thing is, let’s start off with Wellness journey, and what we want to talk about today is the hero acronym, and it’s something related to Psychological Resilience. We know resilience is so important. Resilience is, you know what happens around me, doesn’t affect my internal clock, my internal drive, my internal emotion.
And people who are resilient are tough people. They are people who make it; they are people who are able to roll with the punches. And part of that resilience is the acronym HERO and its hope.
We absolutely need hope. We need hope, and we need faith. We need faith that things are going to change, and we need hope to steer us in that direction that there is light on the other side.
And that’s so important. You know, one of the things I always tell my clients is, and this is an element of cognitive behavioral therapy is don’t focus on the emotion in the moment. Focus on how the emotion will change, and that’s hope.
Even when things are at the darkest, even when things are at their worst, I know that things will change. I know that things will get better. A lot of that for me is my faith in God.
But I know that I can make a difference. I can do the things I need to get me out of that situation, and I’m hoping that my actions and my beliefs will lead to a better tomorrow and I take this approach whenever there’s a setback, ’cause there’s always setbacks, and I know that if I have a setback, that’s OK, I can just get back on the horse and get back to where I was before.
Dr. Richard Harris [3:39] And then the next part about resilience or about hero is efficacy, and this is so important. You know we always talk about, oh, you know, just do it, but we need to make sure what we’re doing is efficacious it’s’ working, and if it’s not working and we talked about this in the growth mindset is if it’s not working, come up with a plan.
To make it work to tweak it to try something else, you know, find help. Find people who have done it, who can steer you in the right direction.
And that’s part of efficacy. What are we doing? The things that are actually working is what we’re doing actually working. Is it helping to get us to our goals? And this is one of the reasons why I recommend the health inventory.
You know something goes wrong, or if I’m not achieving my goals, then I sit back and say, OK, let me look at the things I’ve done. The things that I added, let me try and figure out you know what’s working. What’s not working?
Dr. Richard Harris [4:48] Of course, there is resilience, and that’s what the R stands for. And that is our ability to roll with the punches. Our ability to know that there’s going to be bad times everyone is going to have bad times. But we prepare for those bad times. And you can do that through your mindset, through your training. Through the way you look at life and then a lot of times, what I’ll tell my clients here is don’t end the sentence on a negative. You’ll say I’m not where I want to be, or this takes me back.
This is a setback, but I’m going to get where I want to be, but I can learn from this, and then you turn that into a positive. And that’s rolling with the punches. That’s resilience.
Dr. Richard Harris [5:24] And the last is optimism. And that’s a belief that things are going to get better, that things are half-full that. Good things happen to good people. You know all these things are are things that you’ll hear optimists say, but in general, I think of optimism is looking at things in a positive light. Even things that happen to us that don’t go in our favor. We look at them in a positive light.
And again, these are all aspects of the growth mindset and resilience. Is that when something bad happens to me, I say what can I learn from this? Or who can I help with this information that I’ve gained from this? Or looking ahead, saying OK, this thing happened, what can I do to prevent this from happening again? Or, if it does happen, how can I prepare myself for that situation?
And I think all of these things are so important to our Wellness journeys because life is going to be up and down. You’re going to have setbacks if your goal is fat loss. There may be some weeks where it plateaus. There may be some weeks where it reverses, where you gain. Instead of getting hopeless and saying I can’t do this and quitting.
No, we need hope. We need to go and see if what we’re doing is effective. We need to do that health inventory and see if there is something I need to tweak. Is there something I need to change, or this is a momentary blip? But I need to stay the course. We need to be resilient and know that we’re on the right path and that the path is going to be hard, but that’s not going to stop us. That’s not going to detour us.
And we need optimism to know that we can achieve our goals and put people around this that are positive and speaking life into us and uplifting us. And so all these are important on our Wellness journey because things aren’t always going to go as planned. You know, just like Mike Tyson said, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. Boy, you’re resilient when you get punched in the mouth. It doesn’t sway you from your course. You are ready for it. You’ve prepared for it. You’ve got the right mindset, and you still head off in the direction of your goals. So I thought that was really important, especially given what I see all the time with my clients and even myself in my own Wellness journey. So, of course, I’m still dealing with my own issues, and these principles are how I help myself overcome and deal when I have setbacks, ’cause there’s always going to be setbacks.
Dr. Richard Harris [7:59] So let’s move on into the research article, this first article. So I thought it was a really interesting article because it looked at what happens in the brain with smoking and the risk of developing dementia. So the article gives some great background information; we know that smoking increases your risk of dementia by 100% and that higher spinal fluid levels of beta-amyloid, beta-amyloid is the plaque, it’s the misfolded protein that leads to inflammation and destruction associated with Alzheimer’s disease. And I’m going to go more into this in the Alzheimer’s podcasts that I release next month.
But we know higher CSF levels of beta-amyloid are strongly associated with Alzheimer’s disease. And so this amyloid, like I said, promotes plaque formation oxidative stress, which is inflammation, and it causes the loss of neurons brain cells. And so people with mild impairment show oxidative stress before the onset of dementia symptoms, so we’ll talk about this more in the podcast, but there’s really seven stages of dementia, and so this mild impairment that we see there’s already markers. There’s already cracks. If you knew where to look, and that’s one of the reasons I’m a big proponent of oxidative stress testing.
We also know that oxidative stress plus inflammation equals accumulation of beta-amyloid, and we’ll talk about more on that mechanism in the next podcast about Alzheimer’s. And we know in animal models, reduced ability to deal with oxidative stress is associated with beta-amyloid, especially reduced superoxide dismutase or SOD. This is an enzyme that turns these free radicals into things that are harmless. And we also know that the reduction in nitric oxide and enzymes responsible for nitric oxide synthesis are associated with Alzheimer’s.
And we just talked about nitric oxide in the last podcast and how nitric oxide was important for inflammation, important for blood flow, important for the immune system, and also functions as a neurotransmitter. So it’s important for getting signals to our other nerve cells.
Cigarette smoking, unsurprisingly, is associated with increased inflammation. And one of the inflammatory mediators, TNF Alpha, TNF Alpha is one of the ways our immune cells talk to each other. And is a pro-inflammatory molecule, it also increased inflammation and reactive oxygen species or ROS. So whenever you see our ROS, think oxidative stress and basically what this means is you have molecules with free electrons, and these electrons can pull other electrons from DNA or proteins. And this can cause damage, so that’s what reactive oxygen species mean.
And that’s how you get oxidative stress, which leads to inflammation. So increased inflammation and oxidative stress is associated with decreased BDNF, and we’ve talked a little bit about BDNF on this podcast before. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor, BDNF, is basically nerve growth fuel. It’s maintaining the normal function of our nerves. It’s shown to protect against dementia. It is shown to protect nerve cells.
So why did I say all this? Well, this study wanted to look at the cerebral spinal fluid or CSF levels, and that’s the fluid that surrounds our brain and our nerves in our spinal cord. So I want to look at CSF levels of amyloid, oxidative stress, inflammation, and BDNF in a group of nonsmokers versus people who smoked at least 10 cigarettes a day for at least one year, and this was men in China.
And So what were the results? The nonsmokers had lower spinal fluid levels of TNF, lower levels of amyloid, higher levels of BDNF, higher levels of SOD, higher levels of nitric oxide synthase, both the inducible meaning, the version that gets upregulated when necessary, and the version that’s just always active, what we call constitutive.
And they found that the beta-amyloid levels correlated more strongly with TNF Alpha, the inflammatory mediator, than with levels of SOD, the superoxide dismutase, the thing that helps us deal and convert free radicals into non-harmful particles.
And I think this is really interesting because it shows the mechanism behind the links between Alzheimer’s and cigarette smoking. And it’s just another in the long line of reasons why cigarette smoking is one of the worst things we can do for overall health, and it’s linked to so many adverse outcomes.
And the risk of developing Alzheimer’s with cigarette smoking appears to be dose-dependent, meaning the more you do it and the longer you do it, the more increased risk.
Cigarette smoking is known to induce oxidative stress, induce those free radicals. There’s a lot of reactive oxygen species in cigarettes. There are short-lived ones in long-lived ones.
It’s known to disrupt the blood-brain barrier; the blood-brain barrier is kind of the literal barrier between the blood supply and the brain. Its main function is to keep toxins out, allow nutrients to move in, allow metabolic byproducts to move out. You know, keep bacteria out, and that’s the function of the blood-brain barrier.
So that’s disrupted. You can see how nutrient deliveries impaired, toxin removals impaired, and things that shouldn’t be there are now able to get there.
Cigarette smoking also activates microglia. Microglia are innate immune cells. If you want to know more about innate immune cells, go listen to our immunity podcast. We talk a lot about the immune system. And these make more these inflammatory mediators, which lead to nerve cell damage.
Smoking is also been shown to have mitochondrial dysfunction again on mitochondria, the powerhouse of our cell. It’s the literal energy making molecules in ourselves, and this can lead to further disruption. Also, amyloid plaques have been shown to impair mitochondrial function as well. We’ll talk about that on the Alzheimer’s podcast because that leads to abnormal brain metabolism, especially abnormal brain glucose metabolism. And then TNF Alpha, that inflammatory cytokine that inflammatory messenger, increases amyloid levels by suppressing its clearance so the brain normally will clear amyloid through several different mechanisms. Sleep is very important for that.
But we’ll talk more about this in the Alzheimer’s podcast. So basically, this study was a teaser to a podcast that’s coming in December about Alzheimer’s, and we’re going to dive really deep into the pathophysiology, the underlying mechanism of Alzheimer’s, and what you can do to protect yourself from Alzheimer’s.
Dr. Richard Harris [15:45] So research study number 2, and if you want access to the studies, I should have mentioned this earlier, join our Strive for Great Health Facebook group. I post a Google Drive link so you can look at these studies and make your own interpretation from these studies. I always tell people don’t just believe me. Right, don’t just get your information from me and say, OK, that’s it. Doctor Harris said this, no go and look and search the data for yourself. And so I give people access to all the studies I read to make these conclusions.
So Research Article 2 is all about looking at neighborhood poverty, cognitive decline, and changes in the literal structure of the brain. So a little background, the study wanted to evaluate whether neighborhood poverty is associated with cognitive function. And then the structure of two areas in the brain, the prefrontal cortex, and the hippocampus. And if that was different from the association, we see with household social-economic status. So basically, this study was looking at the village effect, you know, is it just the effect of the parents in the immediate household or does the other environment, the collective status of the people we are around impact our cognitive ability, our thinking ability and then does it impact structures in the brain.
We know that early poverty is associated with cognitive function deficits and lower test performance. You’re more likely to fail a course, drop out of school, and be put in special education if you grow up in poverty.
And there’s also brain findings associated with this as well, so it’s not just test performance.
There’s literal changes in the structure of the brain. So household poverty has been shown to have lower hippocampal volumes, and this is important because the hippocampus is very important for memories. And this is thought to be due to a high amount of steroid receptors, a specific steroid called glucocorticoids. Cortisol is one of these, the major stress hormone, and that chronic stress leads to what we call HPA axis dysfunction. This is what people used to call adrenal fatigue. And we’re going to do a whole podcast on HPA axis dysfunction because it’s very important. HPA axis dysfunction is the underlying mechanism of why stress causes harm.
So when there is HPA axis dysfunction in the brain, this can damage surrounding tissue. We also know that poverty is associated with increased toxin exposure, poor nutrition. In fact, lower-income areas or the kids are eight times more likely to see fast food commercials than higher-income areas. And then disruptions in parent-children relationships, we know that matters as well.
There’s also evidence that lower socioeconomic status has adverse effects on the development of the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is our executive decision-making area. It’s really why, you know, as humans, we love roses are red violets are blue. We love this higher-order thinking.
And that’s our prefrontal cortex. So if you have damaged your prefrontal cortex, you’re going to have damage in decision-making and the ability to integrate all the information that we get in the environment and then make a decision. So the study thought that the authors thought that neighborhood context may also be important.
There’s previous evidence that showed that if you live in a disadvantaged neighborhood, that increased your risk of cardiovascular disease, and other research shows that there’s an increased allostatic load and allostatic load is basically a term meaning how much stress is on our system. It’s a system stressor. That’s what increased allostatic load means, so they have more stress on their biological systems, more disruption in their biological systems in areas of neighborhood poverty.
So what did they do in this study? They looked at household SES, they looked at adversity, and they looked at the neighborhood scores, and they found that higher household income was associated with higher scores on cognitive tests. That’s been proved before.
Lower adversity was associated with higher scores on vocabulary, reading, and other measures. Higher neighborhood poverty was associated with lower scores on cognitive tests. Higher neighborhood poverty was associated with lower hippocampal and prefrontal cortex volume, meaning there was less of the development in these areas in these kids. And so, these findings for neighborhood poverty stood even when they accounted for household income and adversity.
So when they looked at the specific household measures, there was still a finding that neighborhood poverty was significant, even accounting for those factors. So what that basically means is that yes, individual social-economic status of the household and individual adversity is a major factor, but there’s also, in addition to that, an element of neighborhood poverty that’s at play too.
So social-economic status and adversity was generally a stronger effect than neighborhood poverty, but neighborhood poverty still had an effect.
And as we talked about earlier, the hippocampus is important for long-term memory consolidation, meaning for aggregating all the information that our brain gets. And for saying, this is something I should store, and this is something that I shouldn’t. Again, the prefrontal cortex is important for language processing, providing organizational support for encoding these memories. And then also for decision-making, once we’ve accessed our memory bags and then deciding what we should do based upon all available information that we have currently and information from related situations.
And another interesting thing about the prefrontal cortex is it supports top-down processing of stimuli, meaning that it prevents automated responses and allows flexibility. So we don’t do, or hopefully, we don’t do reflex responses to certain stimuli. So allows us to think it allows us to pull from those memory banks to make a better decision. So as you can see, if you have lower hippocampal volume and lower prefrontal cortex volume, how that could significantly impact your cognitive ability, your decision-making abilities, and how that can have far-reaching adverse effects for disadvantaged neighborhoods.
Dr. Richard Harris [23:14] So, let’s move on into the supplement portion of Wellness Weekly. Today we’re gonna be talking about Manganese. And we’re still in our Rootine series. If you want to go back and look at the other Supplement Saturdays talking about a routine where we covered B12, we covered Folate, head to our YouTube channel. It’ll be there under the playlist Supplement Saturday if you wanted to see more of these quick research articles that we’ve done. We’ve done overviews of the research articles. There’s the Research Tuesday and Thursday on the YouTube channel and then the Wellness Journeys where we talk about mindset and something that I’m walking through. They’re also on the YouTube channel. They’re just now all integrated into this Wellness weekly.
So Manganese is a trace mineral. It’s really important to our overall function. It’s important for antioxidants. It’s important for eliminating waste in something we call the urea cycle. It’s important for cartilage and bone formation, energy production, and digestion. It’s important for a process called gluconeogenesis. This is basically how the liver can make new sugar. And of course, we need to maintain some blood sugar, right? If your blood sugar was 30, that’s a problem. So even in low carb states, which you know, I’m a huge fan of low carb for a lot of different situations, our body still needs to be able to make sugar to meet and keep our blood sugar at a certain level.
In case we’re in times of, you know, fasting or energy deficit or during exercise, these are all times that might be important. Manganese is important for that. It’s important for the immune system and for making amino acids, the building block of proteins.
So what causes manganese deficiencies? It can be actually excess intake of things that compete for absorption. So in people who are taking far too high amounts of iron calcium. That can actually decrease manganese absorption. If you’re taking a lot of copper or folic acid that can decrease manganese absorption, phosphorus, or antacids, or laxatives containing magnesium, that can decrease manganese absorption. And this is typically not seen in regular doses. This is for supernormal doses. You know people who are taking way more than they should, which is not uncommon because people think that you know some supplement is good, more is better. That’s not always the case. You can give yourself nutrient deficiencies by taking too much of another nutrient.
Deficiencies could also be caused by epilepsy, osteoporosis, and diabetes. If you have pancreatic insufficiency, meaning your pancreas is unable to make all of the digestive enzymes, it needs. And then people on dialysis can also have deficiencies of Manganese.
So what are the symptoms? What disease states is it associated with?
Bone and connective tissue problems. You can have problems with glucose and lipid dysregulation, so abnormal cholesterol, abnormal blood fats, and abnormal sugar metabolism. It’s been associated with infertility and increased oxidative stress inflammation, been associated with gout and elevated ammonia levels. Ammonia is a byproduct of metabolism. If the levels are too high, it can be toxic, especially to the brain.
Food sources of manganese nuts, especially almonds and pecans. Green leafy veggies like spinach, organ meats, and legumes.
So what are some genes that are associated with Manganese in its function?
The SCL398A gene and this is the manganese receptor. This is not something that’s usually done in clinical practice. That’s more of a research tool.
But what we do, is look at the SOD gene. The superoxide dismutase is actually manganese superoxide dismutase, so Manganese is essential for dealing with oxidative stress in the mitochondria, in the powerhouse of the cell. So what can happen when we make energy from foods? You can get these reactive oxygen species as a byproduct, and so the mitochondria where that process happens has a way of dealing with it, and SOD is one of them, so if you have abnormalities in the function of your SOD gene. You may need more Manganese to help your body deal with the oxidative stress.
Some other testing that we can do. We can measure manganese levels. We can look at certain byproducts like homovanillic acid, VMA, 5-OH indoleacetic acid, all of these byproducts. The levels can be checked to see if we have adequate Manganese. Then we can look at certain amino acids like Arginine, Glutamic acid, which Manganese is essential for normal levels. And we can look at aminobutyric acid as well. So these are all things that either we can directly measure Manganese, or these particular metabolites need Manganese for normal levels, so those are something that we can look at, and that’s something that we do look at in routine.
So the dose, the RDA is 2.3 milligrams for men, 1.8 milligrams for women. Most of the products you’ll see are somewhere around that dose or a little bit less. It’s really well-tolerated in doses below 11 milligrams per day. So much higher than the RDA, and you usually don’t use those doses for just general maintenance unless someone has a, you know, a manganese deficiency, and you might use higher doses for a little while and then back them back down to a smaller dose. Because higher doses may increase the risk of neurotoxicity, and people with severe liver disease can be susceptible to accumulation.
Alright, so that was our first Wellness Weekly. What do you guys think? Did you like the format? You know this format may change. This is basically Ground Zero for a new podcast format that’s integrating some of the weekly videos that I used to do into one cohesive video in one cohesive podcast. So let me know what you think. If you want to hear about any supplements, reach out to me. If you want to hear about any studies or my interpretation of any studies you might hear, reach out to me? This Wellness weekly is literally an update for you about something going on in Wellness.
You know whether that’s mindset, whether that supplements, whether that’s research. That’s the whole focus of this segment, so I hope you enjoyed as usual. This is Doctor Richard Harris. The Strive for Great Health Podcast. Have a blessed day.