This episode covers the following topics:
➡️Wellness Journey – My life as a pansy
➡️Article 1 – Gene expression and brain thickness
➡️Article 2 – Subjective well-being and health behaviors
➡️Rootine Supplement – Vitamin E
Lifestyle Medicine with Dr. Harris
Dr. Richard Harris: Join me, Dr. Richard Harris, as we strive to unlock the secret to the human body. Strive for wellness, strive for great health. Follow the show on iTunes, Spotify, Google, and Android.
Hello, and welcome to this episode of the Strive for Great Health podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Richard Harris. And before we begin, let’s have a word from our sponsors. Our sponsor this week is Rootine. Rootine is a really innovative company; changing the supplement market Rootine takes personalized supplementation to the next level.
We combine genetic data with metabolite and micronutrient data. So not only looking at the blood levels of say B12 but also looking at what B12 is being used for in the body to really determine if we have a deficiency or not. And then also combines that with lifestyle data. To create a truly unique supplementation that you take once a day, mixed with water, truly game-changing.
And if you want to learn more about Rootine or possibly use Rootine, head to our website, theghwellness.com/services, and scroll down to the bottom to take the free lifestyle assessment to see how you would benefit from Rootine going forward. We are going to be advertising now on the podcast.
If you want to have an advertisement-free version of the podcast, the insider group will have ad-free podcasts. To join the insider group, head to theghwellness.com/services or sorry, theghwellness.com/podcast, and click on the green button that says become an insider. It’s also how you can support the podcast If you’d like to support the podcast. And also the last announcement. This is our last episode of the year, go 2020, you know, whatever you may think of the year or what your situation is. This was year has been a blessing to my family and me. And even though things didn’t go how I wanted them to go or how anybody thought they would go.
I always look to the Lord for his blessings and thank the Lord for all that he has blessed my family and myself with. So let’s start this wellness journey. Well, before we start the wellness journey, I should say that we will be back on January 4th. That’ll be our next podcast release. And we’re going to be talking about the growth mindset.
So important, so timely to help you guys with your resolutions. If you’re a resolution person, I’m not a resolution person. I just decide to do things when I’m going to do them. And then find a way to make them work with my schedule. But the growth mindset is absolutely, absolutely absolutely essential to wellness.
So let’s start this week’s episode, the wellness journey. We’re talking about my time as a pansy, and this is probably one of my favorite stories, one of my favorite life moments. So in basketball camp, we were at rice basketball camp, and I think I was a junior in high school. And part of the camp, what we did was we would break into three on three teams, and there was a camp-wide competition.
You know, we break into smaller groups, and in each group, there would be multiple three on three teams. And so our team the first day got absolutely demolished. I mean, we were the worst team in camp, the absolute worst. I mean, we didn’t even come close to winning any of the [00:04:00] games; we lost by a wide margin.
And so when it came to pick a team name, you know, that was a practice day. We couldn’t decide on a team name, and actually, the name was picked for us, and they called us the pansies, and that made us so angry. We said that we would never lose another game. And from that moment on, we didn’t; the pansies actually won the championship.
We won the camp championship, and it was so funny because teams would see our name and think that we were going to be a pushover, that they were just going to steamroll us. And then they get demolished. I have never seen three strangers come together as a unified cause to win like that. We went from last to first, literally first.
And we played some of the best basketball that I’ve ever played because it was team ball. None of us cared who got the glory. None of us cared who made the points. We all defended hard. We played good team basketball. I remember our movement was an immaculate art. We would set picks that were incredible. We would move the ball.
There was no wasted movement. It was all so fluid. It was literally like basketball is supposed to be played, and it was glorious to behold. And the coaches, when they saw us come together after that initial horrible, horrible start, said they’d never seen a turnaround like that before. No, they have never seen a team called the pansies win a championship.
And I learned a lot through that experience about teamwork, about hard work, about perseverance. However, you pronounce it, not on my, a game this morning. But that was such a valuable life lesson, and it taught me. It’s not how you start. It’s how you finish. It also taught me, do not let terms define you.
We were called pansies, but we weren’t pansies. We were champions. Someone else called us that, but we didn’t believe that on the inside; we believed that we could be good. And the competition we beat was bigger, stronger, faster than us. You know, we weren’t the tallest guys there. We weren’t the most athletic guys there.
But we had such a high basketball IQ, and we just came together, and we worked perfectly, you know, I’ve never seen these guys again. I didn’t even know who these guys were, but we came together in the moment. That was just so amazing. And what I want you to take away from this is it’s not how you start; it’s how you finish. Don’t let somebody else’s labels define you and pigeonhole you. You are so much more than what someone else says you are. Sometimes even what you say you are. We believed on the inside that we were champions, and we manifested that into actual champions.
And then the third thing is that teamwork is so essential. We won not because we were the most talented, not because we were the most gifted athletes, but because we work the best as a team; we were such a fluid and cohesive unit. And we each did our roles, but we were able to fill in for each other. And none of us saught glory, individual glory.
We didn’t care who took the last shot. We didn’t care who scored the points. We would do whatever was necessary to win. And if there was a matchup advantage, we took advantage of it. We did everything we possibly could. And so we used our minds. We used our brains. We use thinking as our advantage. And so that was my time as a pansy.
And that was one of the biggest life lessons that I ever got as a teenager. And that really determined so much of my future course [00:08:00] based upon what I learned in that experience.
So let’s move into article one. The first article, the title, is association of epigenetic metrics of biological age with cortical thickness, a lot of big words.
So we’ve talked about epigenetics on the podcast. That’s how our genes express themselves, how they turn themselves on and off like light switches, how we modify the expression of our genome—one of the ways. And then cortical thickness is just what it sounds like. It’s how thick the cortex is. That’s a part of your brain.
And we think that this, the prefrontal cortex, we think of decision-making executive functioning, all of that. So this is a really important area of brain function. So the introduction, the background, we know that aging causes a reduction in cortical thickness in some adults and some adults, it doesn’t.
And we usually can test this on brain scans, on MRIs. We also know that methylation can be used as a measure of biological age, and it can even be used to estimate pretty accurately chronological age. Now the discrepancies come because of either acceleration or deceleration of the aging process. We talked about that a lot on the longevity podcast, how you decelerate the aging process.
But we know that you can accelerate the aging process. You can make your cells older than their chronological age. So you can increase your biological age or decrease your biological age. No, as of right now, there’s no time machine. So we can’t do anything about our chronological age. You know what year you’re born, what month you were born, that type of thing, but our biological age.
You can do things, either help it or hurt it. And we know accelerated biological aging, as determined by impaired methylation, is associated with numerous chronic diseases. Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s down syndrome, HIV cancer, cardiovascular disease, and what we call all-cause mortality, which is death from all medical causes.
Previous research shows that acceleration of biological age is associated with negative changes. In the white matter, we talked about white matter. That’s the covering of the nerve cells, the axons, and there’s more lesions, the lesions are more severe, and there’s decreased integrity of that.
So if those white matter tracks are damaged, then your brain literally has problems sending signals too other nerve cells into the rest of the body. So it’s the highway. It’s how the nerve cell body sends communication down these axons through these white matter tracks. So if you have discrepancies or disruption in that area, you have a problem sending signals, and we all know how important communication is sending the message and how the message is received is just as important as what the actual message is.
We also know that biological age acceleration is associated with decreased hippocampal volume. The hippocampus is really important for memory encoding and memory retrieval, and characterizing the association of biological age with cortical thickness may lead to new preventative screening methods. So this may be a way that we can look at your epigenetics, look at your scans MRIs or some other techniques and say, Hey, you’re really putting your body forward in time. We need to decelerate that biological age to prevent or maybe even help reverse or treat chronic disease. So what this study did was it used methylation markers and biological age, and it hypothesized that there would be a negative association with biological aging cortical thickness.
And that acceleration would be further associated with critical thinning [00:12:00] beyond the effects of chronological age. So basically that we know that age causes this in some people, but what we’re anticipating with the study and what we’re looking for is that if you have accelerated biological aging, you’re going to see the changes, the negative changes in the brain because of that.
So they recruited 82 healthy adults. They took blood samples and MRIs to look at the cortical thickness, and they took the blood samples to look at methylation. Now, what did they find? They found that women, on average, had lower biological age compared to men, and that correlates with some other data that, in general, women are more concerned about their health.
In general, women have more health-promoting behaviors. In general, women seek preventative care more often. And earlier than men, it also found that there was a significant negative association between both chronological and biological age and cortical thickness across many brain regions. So as chronological age went up as biological age went up, there was thinning of the cortex.
So thinning of that area in the brain, And the areas that they found this in were in multiple areas, the temporal lobes, which are associated with memory, the motor and sensory centers of the brain and the visual areas of the brain. Now, they also found that acceleration of biological age was a significant factor and was associated with lower cortical thickness than as expected from chronological age. So this means the greater the biological age, the more pronounced the thinning of the brain is. And this is really, really important in that discussion. They talked about that the areas of the brain associated with this are involved with so many of the functions that we see decline with aging and with some of these neurocognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s and like sometimes with Parkinson’s. So you saw this in the fusiform and ventral temporal cortex. These are areas associated with visual processing, with object and face recognition.
And that’s something that we know declines as we get older, but also seems to decline as you accelerate your biological age. They also saw this in the parahippocampal cortex that’s associated with spatial navigation. So this is why we’ll see this a lot in people who have Alzheimer’s and dementia, and they get lost. They lose their ability to recognize landmarks. It was also seen in the left posterior superior temporal cortex, which is associated with language processing, including storage and retrieval of phonetic information.
So this is why you’ll see a lot of speech problems in people with dementia, where they can’t retrieve words. They can’t pronounce words. This was also seen in the orbital frontal cortex, which is associated with rewards and motion and decision-making, and it was seen in the somatosensory cortex, which is associated with a tactile sensation and then also recognizing where we are in space. So this is why a lot of people, as we get older, have balance issues; this is why so many elderly people have falls because of dysregulation in this area of the brain. So the limitations of the study, they use a blood test to mark for methylation. They didn’t take brain samples.
However, previous studies show that the blood samples correlate very well with tissue samples. And then, of course, this was just a cross-sectional study, meaning it, they took a piece of sample in time. So this wasn’t a longitudinal study, which means that we followed people over time. So we’re not seeing how things change over time.
So that’s the next step in this study is you measure people’s biological age [00:16:00] and then do brain scans over time. So you keep measuring the biological, keep measuring the chronological, and keep doing the brain scans to see how things change over time. So what’s the key takeaway from this study? The key takeaway is that epigenetics and how our genes express themselves are so important to our overall function, including how our brains work and how we age.
So we can either age gracefully, we can turn back the clock, or we can accelerate the clock. And that’s all based upon how you interact with your environment to learn more about that, check out our longevity podcast. We talk about that in-depth.
So the second study was called subjective wellbeing and health behaviors, and I thought this was a really interesting study for what we’re going to talk about right now.
So in the introduction, there was a really good proverb, a Bulgarian proverb that I thought was really interesting. And it said as long as there is health, everything else will fall into place. And I thought this was interesting because this is something that I say all the time. I say that if your health causes problems. If your health degrades, everything else stops, everything in your life stops until hopefully, you can get your health back in a place that allows your body to respond to your environment like it’s supposed to respond. And so what the study talks about is people likely overestimate the causal impact of health on happiness.
Meaning that people say, Oh, as long as I am healthy. I’ll be happy. People underestimate the impact of happiness on health. People say that it doesn’t matter if I’m happy or not. I can be healthy otherwise. And if you’ve listened to this podcast, you know that that is absolutely a hundred percent not true.
So it talks about wellbeing and what is wellbeing? Wellbeing has a cognitive component, a life satisfaction component. And then there’s two components, positive and negative effect. Basically, are you an optimist, or are you a pessimist? That’s kind of the best way to think about the positive and negative affect.
So higher wellbeing are people are more satisfied with their lives. They have higher levels of positive affect, lower levels of negative affect. So why does this matter? Because previous research shows that happier people live longer, have less cardiovascular disease, stronger immune systems, and increased survival if you’re healthy and if you’re ill.
So definitely, if you’re sick, we need that happiness component to help fight off the illness, and to stay healthy, we need that happiness and joy component to stay healthy. We also know that happy people tend to engage in more health-promoting behaviors. They exercise more, eat more fruits and vegetables.
Also, the more positive affect you are, the more you tend to sway towards the optimistic side, the better your health overall is. So this study was designed to look at associations between subjective wellbeing and health behavior through a Gallup poll survey in about 2 million, 550,000 adults in the US okay.
So what they did was they wanted to measure life satisfaction, measure affect, both positive and negative health behaviors, and then look at other factors that may influence this, such as age, sex, education, income, stress, and pain. So, what did they find? They found that positive life evaluation; this is no shocking; no surprise here is less likely to smoke. If you have negative emotions, you’re more likely to smoke. So you’re more likely to look for coping mechanisms [00:20:00] that are going to try and help you deal with your life. And that’s smoking. In this case, the negative affect was strongly predictive of not having eaten healthy on the previous day; positive affect was different.
It had the opposite effect. So you’re more likely to eat healthy the previous day. If you had a positive affect, what I thought they found that was interesting was that stress, pain, and smoking had little effect on the variance in another model. So it had little effect on the overall subjective wellbeing when they did change the model a little bit.
And then, other demographic factors like age, sex, marital status, income education accounted for less than 5% of the of the variance in the models, the stress pain smoking less than 1%. And I thought that was really interesting. You know, they found that the biggest factor here was the positive affect.
They also found that older people tend to report more engagement in healthy behaviors. And there’s some other literature that, that corroborates that, you know, there’s that blue cross blue shield survey that showed that this generation, the millennial generation, is far unhealthier than their parents.
And I think the generation below that, if you looked at the data too, would be the same. I mean, we’re are progressively creating more genetically, epigenetically, fragile children, children who are developing chronic disease earlier and earlier because of how we interact with our environment. And those signals are getting passed down to our children, that the environment is not safe, that the environment is hazardous, and that’s causing a lot of different issues.
So in the discussion, you know, the findings show that wellbeing promotes health independently of the detrimental effects of being ill on health. And I think that’s really interesting. So the more we laugh, the more we enjoy ourselves, the more we smile, the more likely we are to exercise, eat well and stay away from smoking.
And they found that overall that positive affect was the strongest effect. Even stronger than stress, pain, money, access to food, and medical condition. And what they also found that was interesting, it was the people who evaluate their lives as very bad have no difference in those with only a moderately satisfying life.
Limitations are, you can’t really generalize this to other countries. It also uses polls, which are very subjective and subject to multiple different biases and errors. The overall key takeaway from this study is that our subjective wellbeing is an important measure, an indicator of the health status of a population. And it shows you that health is more than just numbers.
Health is more than just lab reports. Help is more than just images. Health also starts in the psychological principles of our mind, and this is why we in our wellness program and a lot of us holistic medical practitioners, advocate for social interaction advocate for physical touch advocate for us to shift our mindset into that optimistic mindset.
I’m not an optimist at heart. I’m a realist, but I’ve tried to be more optimistic with my faith because I know that that’s important for my health. There’s, there’s hard data that shows this. This is not something that’s fluffy. This is lifesaving material. So let’s finish our wellness weekly with our supplement discussion.
This time we’re going to be talking about Vitamin E. We are still in our Rootine series going through all the [00:24:00] 18 vitamins and minerals that are in Rootine. So what does vitamin E do? It’s an essential fat-soluble vitamin, meaning that we can not get it from our own body. We have to ingest it. So deficiencies are rare, but they do happen total.
We have about three to eight grams of Vitamin E stored in our bodies, or we should, and unless you’re deficient, which is enough to last about four years or so. Now there’s many different forms of vitamin E. The medical term is Tocopherols. That’s the medical term. And they exist as Tocotrienols.
Those are basically medical terms, and then each form has an alpha, beta, gamma, and delta. So the key takeaway there is that there are multiple different forms of Vitamin E. And they have slightly different biological functions. Now, the alpha tocopherol is the, is the major form in the body. There’s some evidence that the gamma is beneficial for vascular cells, and gamma is the major form that’s found in food.
So fortified foods use a synthetic Vitamin E, which is less potent than the natural Vitamin E. And what I love about Rootine is they use the natural form, the D alpha tocopherol, and they actually use it with an acetate molecule just to help with stabilization and absorption. But this is the biological version is the same absorption, without the acetate form.
And this form, the biological version, is twice as bioavailable, meaning it gets into the bloodstream in a two X, depending on the study you read, you know, 1.3 to two X amount gets into the bloodstream. So the biological form is better absorbed and better than the synthetic form. So what are Vitamin E functions in the body?
It’s an antioxidant. It regulates cell signaling. It’s important for immune system function. It inhibits clot formation. And there’s some evidence that it’s an anti-neoplastic or anti-cancer agent, and that’s in renal, bladder, in gastric cancer. And there is some evidence that the mixed derivative of forms, so the mixed alpha beta gamma forms can increase nitric oxide. We talked about that on the nitric oxide podcast and how important nitric oxide is to our overall health. So definitely go check out that podcast. It also increases superoxide dismutase, which is an enzyme that helps our bodies deal with free radicals.
We’ve talked about free radicals a lot on the podcast and how damaging these are. So overall increasing nitric oxide production, increasing SOD production is a net benefit. So what are deficiencies caused by? Malabsorption and proper fat intake, Again, all these fat-soluble vitamins, A D E and K and fat-soluble nutrients, our fatphobia and then our. By fatphobia, I mean avoiding eating fats; our avoidance of eating fats has caused a dramatic decrease in the amount of fat-soluble vitamins; a lot of people are deficient in these things. And then the fact that we’re eating the wrong type of fats, which if you’re eating a lot of seed oils, Omega six fats, it changes the composition of a lot of our own fat byproducts.
A lot of our own oils that we make. It also changes the way our cholesterol molecules function to learn more about cholesterol. Go listen to our cholesterol podcast. It’s one of my top five podcasts that I’ve done. The cholesterol podcast to really give you the information needed to understand what cholesterol is.
So if we’re not eating the right fats, that impairs our entire fat-soluble vitamin and mineral transport. [00:28:00] Medications can cause it, specifically orlistat, phenobarbital, phenytoin. These are all medications that have been associated with Vitamin E deficiency. So what are the symptoms, neuropathy, which means a nerve inflammation, ataxia, which means balance issues, muscle weakness, eye inflammation, and increased risk of cardiovascular disease, prostate cancer, and cataracts.
What are the food sources of Vitamin E? Olive oil, eggs, hazelnuts, peanuts, spinach, carrots, avocado, dark leafy greens are your food sources?
What are the genes associated with Vitamin E? There’s a couple of them we can use. Look at CD36 and SCARB1. Both of these are involved with Vitamin E uptake.
This is not something that is routinely done. That’s more of a clinical, or sorry, laboratory practice. I also look at the APOE genes. We talked about the APOE, the Apolipoproteins on our cholesterol podcast. So I’ll defer to that podcast for you to learn more about APO. But those are involved with the transport of fat-soluble vitamins and minerals.
You can also look at CETP, which is another enzyme involved with the whole cholesterol and lipid metabolism system. That’s involved with the transport of these. So all of the fat-soluble vitamins and nutrients, it’s important if you’re looking at genetic analysis to look at the APOE genes, to look at CETP, to be able to ascertain do you have problems transporting fat-soluble vitamins? Because if you have problems transporting fat-soluble vitamins, it means we’re going to have to use higher doses of those fat-soluble vitamins.
Now laboratory the testing, we can look at a few things. Beta-alanine, amino acid cystine, and cysteine, which again, we’ve talked about, looks at our inflammation, ratio looks at our oxidative stress. You can look at glycine, taurine, and then evidence of oxidative stress directly 8-OHDG and lipid peroxides. We’ve talked about these on the podcast before. Now. These are all markers of oxidative stress, which is stress caused on the body at the cellular level.
This is an increase in reactive oxygen species, which causes damage to cells, DNA, proteins. And we can measure that. How much of that is occurring in the body through looking at your cystine and cysteine ratio, looking at the 8-OHDG, which is a DNA base that’s been oxidized, it’s very easily oxidized.
So we know there’s a lot of, of that oxidative, that molecular stress, the reactive oxygen species damaging that DNA. And then lipid peroxides are just that lipids, fats that have been oxidized and oxidized fats are what caused cardiovascular disease and what causes inflammation.
So when we look at the dosing of Vitamin E, the RDA is 22 international units, which is 15 milligrams.
Now medical doses will be anywhere from 200 to a thousand IU based upon what you’re treating. There is some concern about high dose Vitamin E and showing adverse outcomes. Now the studies that show that looked at the synthetic forms of Vitamin E, and they’re already looking at people who have cardiovascular disease and some of these risk factors.
And there is some evidence that high dose Vitamin E actually has the opposite effect. So a lot of the things that we use are what we call biphasic, meaning they have different effects at low doses and high doses. And so, some of the antioxidants [00:32:00] are actually what we call pro-oxidants. They work by causing a little bit of oxidative stress.
And so, if you take too much of them, it shifts that balance over. And so there’s some evidence that Vitamin E at high doses actually is a pro-oxidant, but it also could be because they were using the synthetic form of vitamin E, which we know has different absorption properties. And that’s why it’s always better to use natural forms of vitamins and minerals.
That’s always better to use a product that has the natural forms.
So side effects, it’s generally well tolerated. It’s usually if there are side effects, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sometimes cramps. Now the vaping products use something called Vitamin E acetate, which is a synthetic vitamin E that is probably what’s causing a lot of lung injury with vaping.
So that’s a completely different product, a different method of getting that into the body. So oral Vitamin E is not associated with that. It’s this vaping product, when it’s combusted, that’s been associated with lung injury. So that’s a question I get a lot about Vitamin E. Does it cause a lung injury? Only associated with vaping products and that specific type of Vitamin E that synthetic Vitamin E.
Well, this has been our third wellness weekly. I hope you guys are enjoying the format again. We’re taking a break until January 4th. Content burnout is super real, so I need some time off, but we have a lot of episodes. Now, this is episode 52, so we have plenty of episodes for you to catch up on, and we have plenty of episodes coming.
As soon as we get back in January. So I wish you all a Merry Christmas, happy holidays, you know, whatever you celebrate, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah, whatever it is, you celebrate, whatever your religion, whatever your creed. I wish you the best of times during this holiday season. So thank you for listening to the Strive for Great Health Podcast with Dr.
Richard Harris. I’m signing off till January 4th. Still praying for you guys. Have a blessed day.
Thank you for listening to this Strive for Great Health Podcast, with your host, Dr. Richard Harris. It’s our mission and goal at the podcast to impact as many lives as possible. To empower individuals, to take control of their health, and live a life full of joy and purpose.
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Thank you again, and God bless.