Average Autism and Alzheimer’s Rates Differ by Gender

Autism is more of a risk for boys than girls by a factor of four boys for every one girl or three boys for every one girl diagnosed with autism depending on the type of study and diagnostic criteria. There is some speculation that autism in girls presents with less obvious symptoms than in boys. Girls with autism may have less repetitive behavior and be able to fit in socially better than boys with autism and may have less obvious focus on one main topic of interest. (1)

At the other end of the age spectrum females have a greater rate of Alzheimer’s Disease than males. (13)

The difference has been shown to be significant, not just a difference in diagnostic criteria. Estrogen is a female hormone that may be protecting girls from the risk of developing autism but then in menopause is no longer protecting older females from the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. Patients with Autism and Alzheimer’s have been shown to have a tendency to have increased amounts of protein clusters (amyloid beta) in the brain which in normal health would be cleared away. An animal based study found a genetic strain of mice with a clear gender and age difference. Young male mice developed autism like symptoms and older female mice developed Alzheimer’s like symptoms.

A different study found a gender difference in the amount of a protective protein (ADNP) in young male mice with autism like symptoms and older female mice with Alzheimer’s like symptoms. (6) Complete lack of the protective protein leads to very early death with neural tube defects in animal studies.  (7) The neuroprotective protein (ADNP) seems to promote autophagy (our body’s recycling method, it makes us more energy efficient and helps detoxify/remove old cells or material such as the beta-amyloid protein for reuse, read more:  14) and the deficit of it may also be involved in schizophrenia. (8) The protein is involved with control of the dendritic branching of brain cells which is typically found to be  different in children with autism. The protein also plays a role in regulating over 400 genes involved in embryo development including ApoE and the tau protein which is found to collect in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s Disease in addition to beta-amyloid protein. (9)

The role of apoE involves membranes, cholesterol, cannabinoid receptors and lipid rafts – chemistry geeks have fun, three dimensional drawings and a discussion of cholesterol within the brain and its role in several neurodegenerative diseases is available online in full text, the brain includes 25% of the body’s cholesterol even though the brain only accounts for 2% of the total body weight, on average. (10).  A briefer description of the role apoE plays in the brain and with estrogen and Alzheimer’s risk is available with a discussion of the gene differences that are known to increase but not guarantee risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. (11)

Disclosure: a genetic screening suggests I do have one of the higher risk differences in the ApoE gene. (rs2254958)

Strategies to help increase autophagy may help reverse some of the risk factors associated with reduced ApoE/reduced ADNP levels –

  1. vigorous exercise,
  2. a ketosis promoting, low carbohydrate diet, regularly or occasionally,
  3. fasting for a day or a partial day occasionally. (14)

The activity of the apoE protein on other genes can be affected by cannabinoids, too little cannabinoids may be a problem or too much.

The take home point – magnesium and adequate cannabinoids seem to be involved in helping clear the protein clusters during normal health.

  • Nutritional strategies recommended to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease include increasing intake of magnesium. Research has found that low levels of magnesium promoted build up of  beta amyloid protein while high levels of magnesium promoted breakdown of the misshapen proteins.

“Lab studies show that magnesium modulates enzymes involved in amyloid beta production; at low levels, magnesium favors amyloid beta buildup, while at higher levels it favors amyloid beta breakdown.101,102″ [2]  (from a  2014 post)

Certain genetic conditions and chronic health conditions or older age can make the body less able to make cannabinoids endogenously/internally. External sources of cannabinoids have been shown to be helpful for clearing the protein clusters involved in Alzheimer’s Disease. (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160629095609.htm)

An underlying infection with bacteria or yeast may be involved in the buildup of the protein clusters as they have a protective effect against some types of infection, so addressing low grade chronic infection may be needed to help stop the over production of the amyloid beta protein clusters in addition to providing adequate magnesium and cannabinoids. Note that there are non-euphoric cannabinoids and legal food sources in addition to medical marijuana. Pumpkin seeds are a good source, $200 billion per year is estimated to be spent on Alzheimer’s care annually at our current rate of the disease prevalence – that would buy a lot of pumpkin seeds. (15 )

That article also mentions that 192 pharmaceutical chemicals have been anticipated and tested in hope of a cure or effective treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease but which have ultimately not been found to be successful. One hundred and ninety two chemicals tested, one hundred and ninety two chemicals found ineffective – magnesium and cannabinoids however have been found effective at helping the body to naturally break down the tau and  beta-amyloid protein clumps that lead to brain damage and later symptoms of dementia in Alzheimer’s Disease and a few other neurological conditions including traumatic brain injuries and autism. (15 ) (links re tau/amyloid in autism & Alzheimers) (links re tau/amyloid protein in traumatic brain injury)

Ibuprofen is a pharmaceutical that is no longer covered by a patent and it has been found to be beneficial in protecting against Alzheimer’s Disease (link: 16) and the underlying reason is likely that ibuprofen prevents the break down of cannabinoids (17)(Search term: “ibuprofen prevents break down of cannabinoids”) – but you need cannabinoids first and some people might no longer be able to make them after a certain age or state of health or may never have been able to make them as well due to genetic differences.

So celebrate protecting your brain today by eating pumpkin seeds, cardamom spice, the herb rosemary, chocolate, or leafy green vegetables. – and the brightly colored tiny inner part of a piece of corn that you can see when eating corn on the cob is also a good source.

  • The misshapen tau/amyloid-beta proteins have a protective effect against bacteria and the yeast Candida albicans so a chronic lowgrade infection may be an underlying cause of the accumulation of beta amyloid placques. [3] [4] (from a  2014 post)

There are many more legal food sources of cannabinoids or a precursor available, a longer list is included below. The progression of Alzheimer’s Disease can take twenty years before symptoms are obvious, so getting an early start on protecting against the tau/beta-amyloid protein build-up makes sense to me (Disclosure, I have a direct family history of the disease in older relatives and a genetic screening suggests that I am more at risk, so I am biased towards preventing the disease in my own brain or other family members.)

Phospholipids are part of cannabinoids and other phosphorus containing nutrients are important in energy production. The phospholipids and cannabinoids are important for the health and function of skin and other membranes lining cells and organs, and/or if you care more about having a good hair day than whether you might get Alzheimer’s Disease in several decades, then the phospholipids are also important for hair growth: *The phospholipid mixture in this animal-based study was applied on the skin surface for hair loss associated with inflammatory skin dermatitis: (18)

(Additional Discloure: I am also genetically at risk for Male Pattern Baldness which became visibly apparent when my autoimmune disease was more severe, however with my switch to phospholipid rich foods my hair has since grown back and my autoimmune condition is in remission as long as I continue with my new health habits).

Other nutrients including the B vitamins, vitamin E, and zinc are also important for healthy hair growth (read more) but many of the following list would also be good sources of B vitamins, vitamin E, zinc and other trace minerals and essential omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Pumpkin seeds are a good vegetarian source of zinc, otherwise the mineral is more commonly available in meats.

  • Food Sources of Phospholipids and other phospho-nutrients: Hemp seed kernels and oil; Artemisia turanica/wormwood leaf; amaranth seed; asparagus; avocado fruit or the inner kernel, dried and powdered; beans/legumes; cardamom seeds and powder; carrots; celery stalks and leaves; cocoa beans and cocoa powder, baker’s chocolate, dark chocolate and to a lesser amount milk chocolate and chocolate syrup; coconut; cumin seed/powder; fennel seed, flax seed, pine nuts; sesame seeds, pumpkin seed kernels, squash seeds; butternut squash and pumpkin; gingko leaf; grapefruit and orange juice with the pulp; Jerusalem artichoke (this is a root vegetable rather than a green artichoke); lettuce, spinach and mustard leaves and other leafy green vegetables and herbs; nuts/peanuts, cashews, walnuts; oats; okra seeds; onion root, leek leaves, garlic;  parsnip root; pomegranate seeds and pomegranate peel extract;rice, white or brown but the bran is the best source; rosemary; sorghum;  sweet potato or yam; buckwheat (a seed botanically that is not wheat and is gluten free); wheat. (G.26)

That topic took a walk around the block and picked some daisies along the way but the important message might be that eating well and exercising regularly may promote healthy hair, a fit body right now while helping maintain healthy brain function into the future. Genetic susceptibility may be involved in the rate of young males with autism and older females with autism and prevention might include more magnesium and phospholipid rich foods in the diet with a diet that is moderate in carbohydrates and regular vigorous exercise to promote autophagy to help promote the natural recycling of tau and beta-amyloid protein that tends to accumulate in the brains of people with autism and Alzheimer’s Disease. Lack of ADNP protein may lead to lack of ApoE or a genetic difference may cause reduced ApoE and the deficiency may lead to a reduced level of autophagy.

Fasting for a day or partial day occasionally or a low carbohydrate diet, even just a diet balance as low as 30% of calories, and vigorous exercise are three natural ways that may help promote autophagy – our body’s natural method for removing and reusing old cellular material. (14) Those strategies might help a woman with Alzheimer’s risk but for an infant or toddler may need to be adapted to simply allowing vigorous, safe play, and a diet that with a greater percentage of healthy fats than average. The list of phosphonutrient rich foods are generally healthy and safe for prenatal diets or other stages of life and would likely promote a fit body and healthy hair for a person of any age and gender – and what is good for the hair is good for other membranes throughout the body and is also good for the brain. The hair is a protein that is a modified form of skin tissue and so is fingernail protein – beauty is more than skin deep.

Some daisies.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes. Thanks.

  1. Sarah Deweerdt,  Estimate of autism’s sex ratio reaches new low, April 27, 2017,  spectrumnews.org https://www.spectrumnews.org/news/estimate-autisms-sex-ratio-reaches-new-low/ 
  2. Liam Hawkins, Nutritional Strategies and Alzheimers, March 2013 lifeextension.com, http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2013/3/Nutritional-Strategies-to-Combat-Alzheimers/Page-02
  3. Lisa Conrick, What is Causing Beta-Amyloid Production in Alzheimer’s and Autism?, Oct. 23, 2012, ageofautism.com, http://www.ageofautism.com/2012/10/what-is-causing-beta-amyloid-production-in-alzheimers-and-autism.html
  4. Molnar Mark, Alzheimer’s Disease Emerging Role of Infection,  http://miklossy.ch/
  5. Why women have more Alzheimer’s disease than men: gender and mitochondrial toxicity of amyloid-beta peptide. J Alzheimers Dis. 2010;20 Suppl 2:S527-33. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20442496
  6. Activity-dependent neuroprotective protein (ADNP) exhibits striking sexual dichotomy impacting on autistic and Alzheimer’s pathologies. Transl Psychiatry. 2015 Feb 3;5:e501. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25646590
  7. Shmuel Mandel, Gideon RechaviIllana Gozes, Activity-dependent neuroprotective protein (ADNP) differentially interacts with chromatin to regulate genes essential for embryogenesis. Developmental Biology, Volume 303, Issue 2, 15 March 2007, Pages 814-824. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0012160606013960

  8. Shlomo Sragovich, Avia Merenlender‐Wagner, Illana Gozes, ADNP Plays a Key Role in Autophagy: From Autism to Schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s Disease. BioassaysVolume39, Issue 11, November 2017, Pages 1700054 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/bies.201700054

  9. Gozes Illana, (2015) Activity-dependent neuroprotective protein (ADNP): from autism to Alzheimer’s disease. SpringerPlus. 4. L37. 10.1186/2193-1801-4-S1-L37.  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282802744_Activity-dependent_neuroprotective_protein_ADNP_from_autism_to_Alzheimer’s_disease
  10. M Maccarrone, G Bernardi, A Finazzi Agrò, and D Centonze, Review: Cannabinoid receptor signalling in neurodegenerative diseases: a potential role for membrane fluidity disturbance. British Journal of
    Pharmacology, Themed Issue: Cannabinoids in Biology and Medicine, Part I, Nov. 16, 2010. http://files.iowamedicalmarijuana.org/petition/2012/bjp-aug-2011-1379-1390.pdf
  11. Hilary Lampers, ND, 5 Reasons to Know Your APOE:  Understanding Your Alzheimer’s Disease Risk. June 13, 2016 thenatpath.com
  12. http://thenatpath.com/body/5-reasons-to-know-your-apoe/
  13. Maxwell A. Ruby, Daniel K. Nomura, Carolyn S. S. Hudak, Lara M. Mangravite, Sally Chiu, John E. Casida, and Ronald M. Krauss, Overactive endocannabinoid signaling impairs apolipoprotein E-mediated clearance of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Sep 23; 105(38): 14561–14566. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2567196/

  14. Nick English, Autophagy: The Science-Backed Way to Cleanse Your Body, July 4, 2016, greatist.com, https://greatist.com/live/autophagy-fasting-exercise
  15. Stuart W Titus, PhD, Dr. Titus’ Insights: Alzheimer’s Research and the Work of Dr. Schubert, Aug. 5, 2016, medicalmarijuanainc.com,  https://www.medicalmarijuanainc.com/dr-titus-insights-alzheimers-research-work-dr-schubert/
  16.  Neuroscientists say daily ibuprofen can prevent Alzheimer’s disease., March 26, 2018, sciencedaily.com,   https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180326140239.htm

  17. K. D. Rainsford, IbuprofenDiscovery, Development and Therapeutics. 
    John Wiley & Sons, June 25, 2015, page 134, https://books.google.com/books?id=CAcLCgAAQBAJ&pg=PA134&lpg=PA134&dq=ibuprofen+prevents+break+down+of+cannabinoids&source=bl&ots=oJ_cjSrWXr&sig=yQgwSrdZOkA1MNDkbf7EF7waItY&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjf7ZKPrcnaAhVlneAKHeDyAuAQ6AEIlQEwCA#v=onepage&q=ibuprofen%20prevents%20break%20down%20of%20cannabinoids&f=false
  18. Seong-Hyun Choi, Jeong-Su Moon, Byung-Suk Jeon, Yeon-Jeong Jeon, Byung-Il Yoon, and Chang-Jin Lim, Hair Growth Promoting Potential of Phospholipids Purified from Porcine Lung Tissues. Biomol Ther (Seoul). 2015 Mar; 23(2): 174–179. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4354319/
  19. ADNP related syndrome FTNW, *lack of ADNP genetically leads to reduced muscle tone and can cause eating problems in children. https://www.rarechromo.org/media/information/Chromosome%2020/ADNP%20related%20syndrome%20FTNW.pdf

Macro and micronutrients: an overview and food sources

Nutrients:

There are two main groups of nutrients: the Macronutrients and the Micronutrients, both of which include many subgroups.  Water doesn’t officially get listed in either group but it is the most essential nutrient as we are mostly water, roughly 70%, with some of the other nutrients holding us together in the form of membranes, muscles, skin and bones. Water helps the blood carry nutrients to the cells and remove waste products to be excreted by the kidneys in the form of urine. Water helps us stay cool in the form of sweat on a hot day. Water is the best thirst quencher and is what our brain expects as a beverage. In nature there is no juice tree, only whole fruit with fiber slowing down digestion of the sweet fruit juice carbohydrates. We need about eight cups of water per day, more on a hot sweaty day and more if diuretic beverages such as coffee or alcohol are consumed. Without water we wouldn’t be able to digest our macro and micro nutrients. So drink and be merry with a glass of water, nature’s favorite thirst quencher! If you think you don’t like it you may just need to try a glass when you are very thirsty, and relax and remember how good it feels, then maybe next time you’re thirsty you’ll reach for a glass of water because it just sounds good.

Macronutrients

Macronutrients are needed in larger amounts within a daily diet because they are used for energy and to build new cells and other body tissue. They include carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates (G.18) are also known as sugars, starches, and fiber. They are all made up of individual molecules of sugars called monosaccharides (See Table 2.4 for images of all the types of monosaccharides: G.13)). Different monosaccharides can be connected to each other as disaccharides which include table sugar called sucrose, or they may be in long chains called polysaccharides which can be straight or branching in widely varied shapes.

Fiber is also made up of monosaccharides but the bond connecting them requires digestive enzymes that humans do not make, so they are considered indigestible but help with fluid balance within the small and large intestines and adequate fiber in the diet can help prevent both constipation or diarrhea. Bacteria ( known as our microbiome) within the digestive system  may be able to break down some types of fiber and convert it into more beneficial nutrients for us, called short-chain fatty acids, which are a type of fat. The types of fiber that can be converted into beneficial fats by beneficial bacteria are called prebiotics and include resistant starches, inulin, gums, pectins, and fructo-oligosaccharides.

Food Sources of Carbohydrates and Fiber: Fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains are all sources of fiber and carbohydrates. Sources that contain a greater amount of the prebiotic fiber include garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, dandelion greens, bananas, and seaweed. Raw forms of the vegetables contain more than cooked forms except resistant starches may be increased after the food, such as rice or tapioca starch, is cooked and then chilled. (G.19) Nuts and seeds also contain some carbohydrates and fiber but are more concentrated sources of fats and protein. (G.20)

Food Sources of Essential Monosaccharides (See Table 2.4: G.13):

  • Glucose: Honey from bees. It is one of the monosaccharides of table sugar, the sucrose disaccharide, along with a molecule of fructose. Table sugar may be made from beet sugar or sugar cane. Glucose is also one of the monosaccharides of lactose – milk sugar, and it is part of larger starches found in grains, seeds, and starchy legumes and vegetables such as beans, peas, corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and squash and some is found in fruits in addition to fructose. Glucose is also found in “Cocoa, Aloe Vera, Licorice, Sarsaparilla, Hawthorn, Garlic, Echinacea, Kelp.” (G.40)
  • Glucosamine: Animal cartilage released in bone broth – soup stock made with bones; supplements derived from the shells of shellfish such as shrimp, crab or lobster; a few fermented grains. (G.39) Vegetarian sources: “Shitake mushrooms and a red Japanese Algae called Dumontiaceae.” (G.40)
  • Galactose: One of the monosaccharides of lactose, milk sugar, that is found in dairy products or human milk. Some people make less of the enzyme needed to digest lactose and may require a digestive enzyme with dairy products to prevent discomfort and promote better digestion. Anyone may become temporarily lactose intolerant after a severe illness with symptoms of diarrhea as the enzyme is formed in surface cells of the intestine which may need a week or two to regrow after a severe intestinal sickness. Hard aged cheeses have a lower lactose content then soft cheeses or milk and butter products. It is also found in some fruits and vegetables, some herbs including “Echinacea, Boswellia, Fenugreek, and chestnuts.” (G.40) Sour cherries. (G.41)
  • Galactosamine: Beef or shark cartilage, and “a Red Algae called Dumontiaceae (as a constituent of dextran sulphate)” (G.40)
  • Mannose: “Gum Ghatti which is made from the sap of Indian Sumac; Black currants, red currants, cranberries, gooseberries, Aloe Vera Gel from the leaves, Fenugreek, soybeans, green beans, capsicum (Cayenne Pepper), cabbage, eggplant, tomatoes, turnip, Shittake mushrooms and kelp” (G.40) Sweet Cherries (G.41)
  • Xylose: Cranberries, raspberries. (G.15Guava, pears, berries, blackberries, loganberries, raspberries, Goji Berry; Aloe Vera, Echinacea, Boswellia; Psyllium Seeds; Broccoli, Spinach, Eggplant, Peas, Green Beans, Kelp, Okra, Cabbage, Corn.” (G.40)
  • Fucose: “Human breast milk, certain types of mushrooms, seaweed – kelp and wakane, beer yeast.” (G.40) Chanterelle and Penny Bun/porcini mushrooms. (G.42) Maitake, Shiitake, Reishi mushrooms. (G.43) Fucose in human breast milk helps a beneficial type of bacteria called Bacteroides (G.43) become established after the infant is born. It helps protect the infant from more harmful bacteria becoming established in the previously sterile intestinal tract.
  • Glucoronic Acid: Usually formed within the liver as it is a very polarized molecule. It is found in heparan sulfate, dermatin sulfate, and chondroitin 4, 6 sulfate. (G.44)
  • N-Acetylneuraminic Acid (Sialic Acid): “Human breast milk, dairy foods, whey protein isolate, and eggs.” (G.40). After infancy it is generally up to us to make it for ourselves internally. It is electrically polarized and helps stabilize vessel walls by lining the interior and repelling the opposite sides similar to magnets repelling each other.,

Proteins

Proteins (G.17) are made up of molecules called amino acids which, unlike the monosaccharides, can only be connected together in straight chains. The protein chain of amino acids may spiral like the DNA molecule of genetic material or bend in some other way rather than being perfectly straight, and it can then be folded into different 3-dimensional shapes and combined with other protein chains to form larger 3-dimensional shapes. The basic structure is straight though like a string of beads or a sentence of letters.

The monosaccharides can connect to each other in multiple places and form more complex shapes like a crossword puzzle of letters or a branching tree made up of letters. This difference is important for the immune system as the complex antigen/antibody recognition seems to be based on the language spelled out by the types of monosaccharides on the antigens found on the surface of cells. Antibodies are made by immune cells to help the immune cell recognize foreign proteins or mislabeled or defective human cells. Antigens and antibodies contain monosaccharides and proteins or lipids. The combined molecules are known as glycoproteins and glycolipids. The combination makes it possible for them to do more complex chemical functions within the body than a simpler protein, carbohydrate or fat molecule. (G.14)

Food Sources of Protein: Dairy products, eggs, meats, poultry, and fish provide all the essential amino acids that humans can not convert from other molecules. Grains, beans, peas and lentils, nuts and seeds, and other vegetables provide protein but most are missing a few of the essential amino acids that we need to consume from our daily diet. (G.17) Fruits and other vegetables also provide some protein but in smaller amounts. Avocado, dried figs, melon and nectarine, artichokes, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, corn, mushrooms, spinach and potatoes are slightly better sources than other fruits and vegetables. (G.23) (G.24)

  • The nine essential amino acids are:  histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. (G.21) Beans/ legumes and nuts/seeds and grains provide balance within a meal by providing some of each of the essential amino acids. Grains are good sources of methionine, tryptophan and cysteine while legumes/beans/nuts/seeds are lower in those amino acids except for soy beans and nuts/seeds which are a good source of tryptophan. Grains, nuts, and seeds are low in isoleucine and lysine while legumes/beans are a good source of them. (G.22)
  • Conditional amino acids  may not be able to be made during illness or stress and would be required from the diet for better function and health: arginine, cysteine, glutamine, tyrosine, glycine, ornithine, proline, and serine. (G.21)
  • Non-essential amino acids can be regularly produced in the body and include: alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, and glutamic acid. (G.21)  Excessive amounts of aspartic acid and glutamic acid from dietary sources may have negative health effects due to their ability to increase activity within brain cells and are also known as excitotoxins. Mono-sodium glutamate and other seasoning ingredients are sources of glutamic acid and the artificial sweeteners Nutrasweet/Aspartame/Neotame are sources of aspartic acid.

Fats

Fats are also known as oils, lipids, and as essential fatty acids, or trans fats which may be formed during processing of other fats or found ins some animal products naturally. The artificially produced trans fats may increase heart disease risk and it is recommended to limit their use in the daily diet. Molecules of fats can be found as short chain fatty acids or long chain fatty acids which may be then be joined into small groups called triglycerides. Branched chain amino acids are also possible but the branching is somewhat different than the type formed by monosaccharides.

The chains of fats may include more or less hydrogen molecules. Saturated fats have more hydrogen molecules, monounsaturated fats are missing one hydrogen molecule and polyunsaturated fats are missing several along the chain. The point in the molecule without a hydrogen is more reactive. Saturated fats are more stable than polyunsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats may be more helpful for reducing risk of heart disease while saturated fats may increase risk. However we do need a variety of the types as each type is involved in different ways throughout the body. Omega 3 fatty acids and omega 6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that have important roles in health and help reduce risk of chronic illness. Phospholipids are a combination of a lipid with the mineral phosphorus. They are important for helping make flexible membranes and play a role in immune health and energy metabolism.

Food Sources of Fats: Avocado, coconut, coconut oil, olives and olive oil, nuts, seeds, and oils, butter, dairy products, egg yolk, meats, poultry, fish.

While all the sources have a mixture of specific types of fats some sources have more of one or two of the types:

  • Food Sources of Saturated Fats: Animal products such as butter, cheese, and other high fat dairy products; marbled beef and higher fat processed meats; palm oil and palm kernel oil; coconut and coconut oil. The effect on the body can vary based on the source while too much of any fat is a problem the coconut products have other healthy nutrients while the palm oil and palm kernel oil may promote increased insulin levels and increase appetite. The production of palm and palm kernel oil also may be worse for the environment and cause loss of wild animal habitat. (G.27)
  • Food Sources of Mono-unsaturated Fats: Olives and olive oil, canola, sesame, safflower and sunflower oils, peanut oil and peanut butter, almonds, avocados, cashews, peanuts, eggs, red meat, tea seed oil (Camellia seed). (G.33) (G.34)
  • Food Sources of Poly-unsaturated Fats: Nuts and seeds and oils made from them; salmon and shellfish (G.28).
  • Food Sources of Trans Fats: Margarine and other products made with hydrogenated oils such as coffee creamer,(G.35), commercial baked goods such as frosted desserts or cookies, biscuits, doughnuts, crackers, microwaveable breakfast foods, microwave popcorn, frozen pizza, fried fast foods, cream filled candies. (G.36)
  • Food Sources of essential Omega-3 Fatty Acids, including EPA and DHA: Fatty fish such as sardines, tuna, herring, lake trout, and salmon, omega 3 enhanced eggs, omega 3 fortified dairy products, and seaweed,(G.37), shellfish, (G.28) krill and krill oil, (G.38), and vegetarian sources that contain a precursor include flax seeds, walnuts, canola, soybean and walnut oils, beans and tofu and other soy foods, and leafy greens.(G.37)
  • Food Sources of essential Omega-6 Fatty Acids, including Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA): Borage oil, black currant oil, hemp seed oil; butter made from milk from cows that were grass fed; spirulina/blue-green algae. (G.25)
  • Food Sources of Phospholipids and other phospho-nutrients: Hemp seed kernels and oil; Artemisia turanica/wormwood leaf; amaranth seed; asparagus; avocado fruit or the inner kernel, dried and powdered; beans/legumes; cardamom seeds and powder; carrots; celery stalks and leaves; cocoa beans and cocoa powder, baker’s chocolate, dark chocolate and to a lesser amount milk chocolate and chocolate syrup; coconut; cumin seed/powder; fennel seed, flax seed, pine nuts; sesame seeds, pumpkin seed kernels, squash seeds; butternut squash and pumpkin; gingko leaf; grapefruit and orange juice with the pulp; Jerusalem artichoke (this is a root vegetable rather than a green artichoke); lettuce, spinach and mustard leaves and other leafy green vegetables and herbs; nuts/peanuts, cashews, walnuts; oats; okra seeds; onion root, leek leaves, garlic;  parsnip root; pomegranate seeds and pomegranate peel extract;rice, white or brown but the bran is the best source; rosemary; sorghum;  sweet potato or yam; buckwheat (a seed botanically that is not wheat and is gluten free); wheat. (G.26)

Micronutrients

Micronutrients are needed in smaller amounts within the diet and some can be stored by the body and reused so they may not be needed in the diet everyday as long as they are being eaten occasionally; while others can not be stored and are needed in the diet everyday. Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. Minerals may be needed in slightly larger amounts or smaller amounts and the ones needed in smaller amounts are also known as trace minerals – because we only need them in trace amounts. Vitamins are grouped into fat-soluble vitamins which can be stored in the body and may not be needed in the diet everyday as long as they are included weekly or monthly depending on the nutrient. Water-soluble vitamins can not be stored and need to be included in the diet everyday for ideal health.

Minerals

Food Sources of some important Minerals:

  • Calcium: dairy products and fortified substitutes made from almond, soy, rice or hemp. Sesame seeds, almonds and other nuts, seeds and beans. Canned salmon and sardines.
  • Magnesium: oat bran, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, leafy green vegetables, chocolate, and molasses.
  • Phosphorus: most foods contain this nutrient, particularly dairy and protein rich foods, also cereals, nuts and beans. An excess may be provided if carbonated beverages are used regularly.
  • Potassium: all fruits and vegetables and juices are the richest sources, but animal products also contain some potassium.
  • Sodium: processed foods containing salt and added table salt are the main sources but use of “softened” water can also increase a person’s daily intake of sodium.
  • Chloride: table salt and processed foods also provide the electrolyte, chloride.
  • Iron: meat, poultry and fish and shellfish (G.28) contain a form called heme iron which is more readily absorbed. Vitamin C eaten along with whole grain or beans, nuts and seeds can help increase absorption of non-heme iron.
  • Iodine: iodized salt and processed food made with iodized salt. Seaweed and coconut products and any other produce grown near the ocean may contain more iodine than produce grown inland.
  • Selenium: selenium is also more available near coastal waters. Seafood and meat can be better sources and Brazil nuts provide more than other foods. Two Brazil nuts per day may provide the 200 mcg recommended for daily needs. Excess intake regularly may cause toxicity symptoms. One milligram or more per day may cause vomiting, loss of hair and nails and skin lesions. (Nutrition & Diet Therapy, 8th Ed.)
  • Zinc: shellfish, (G.28), beef, dairy products, nuts, beans, pumpkin seeds. (G.zinc)
  • Copper: shellfish, (G.28); organ meats such as liver and kidney; cocoa and chocolate; beans such as lentils, nuts such as almonds, sunflower seeds, potatoes, asparagus and leafy greens; mushrooms, dried fruits such as apricots and prunes; blackstrap molasses, black pepper, and yeast. (G.29) (G.30) The modern diet may tend towards too much copper and not enough zinc and the two minerals need to be in balance with each other for optimal physical and mental health. Excess copper and deficient zinc is associated with mental illness symptoms.

Vitamins

Food Sources of some important Vitamins:

  • Thiamin (B1): fortified flour or rice, whole grains, pork, beans, nuts, nutritional yeast, eggs, cantaloupe, green vegetables.
  • Riboflavin (B2): Fortified cereal, milk, eggs, meat, fish, beans, nuts, and seeds. (G.riboflavin)
  • Niacin (B3): nutritional yeast, meats, red fishes such as salmon and tuna, grains and fortified cereals, beans and seeds, milk, green leafy vegetables, coffee and tea. (G.Niacin)
  • Vitamin B6: fortified cereal, barley, buckwheat, avocados, baked potato with the skin, beef, poultry, salmon, bananas, green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts, sunflower seeds. (G.Nutritive Value of Food)
  • Folate: Fortified cereal and rice, beans, black eyed peas, green peas, grains, asparagus, green vegetables, orange juice. (G.folic-acid)
  • Vitamin B12: shellfish, (G.28), fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, cheese, dairy products, Nutritional or Brewer’s yeast. Vegetarians who don’t eat dairy, eggs, fish or other meat products may need a supplement of B12 or nutritional yeast, a vegan food source of vitamin B12. (G.B12)
  • Vitamin C: many fruits and vegetables and fortified juices including green peas, cabbage, potatoes and citrus fruits.
  • Vitamin D: fortified dairy products or their substitutes made from almond, soy, rice or hemp. Salmon, sardines, mushrooms. And sunshine during summer months, 15-20 minutes several times per week.
  • Vitamin E: nuts, seeds, and oils made from nuts and seeds, peanut butter, avocado, asparagus, spinach and other leafy green vegetables, pumpkin, red pepper, mango, swordfish. (G.16)
  • Vitamin K and K2,  vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) and vitamin K2 (menaquinone): Vitamin K is found in leafy green vegetables such as kale, lettuce and spinach, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage, and smaller amounts in fish, liver, meat, eggs and grains. (G.31) Vitamin K2 is found in animal products such as meat and dairy foods and in fermented products such as Natto, (G.32),  Japanese traditional fermented soybeans, (G.45). 

Disclaimer

  • Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has a service for locating a nutrition counselor near you at the website eatright.org: (eatright.org/find-an-expert)

 

 

 

Calcium and vitamin D supplements are not recommended to help prevent hip fractures

A recent meta-analysis  published in JAMA (2) of research on the efficacy of calcium and vitamin D supplements to help prevent hip fractures and other types of bone fractures in Senior Citizens or post-menopausal women found no benefit compared to placebo or no treatment.  The meta-analysis included 33 clinical trials involving 51,145 participants.

The brief overview article does not mention if harm was found but concludes with the simple statement that the findings do not support a routine recommendation or use of calcium and vitamin D supplements in community dwelling older people. Read more: Thumbs Down on Calcium and Vitamin D to Prevent Hip Fracture (1)

Adequate magnesium in a form the body is able to absorb well, which may require a topical form such as soaking with magnesium sulfate salt (Epsom salt) or magnesium chloride products, is required for maintaining bone health. The minerals silicon and boron are also important and the mineral strontium in microgram amounts may help. Vitamin K from leafy green vegetables and green herbs and spices (or in the form of vitamin K2 supplementally may be helpful) is also important for maintaining bone density. (3)

  1. Jack Cush, MD, Thumbs Down on Calcium and Vitamin D to Prevent Hip Fracture, Medpage Today, Jan 13, 2018, https://www.medpagetoday.com/primarycare/dietnutrition/70497?xid=nl_mpt_DHE_2018-01-16 (Medpage Today)
  2. Jia-Guo Zhao, MDXian-Tie Zeng, MDJia Wang, MDet al, Association Between Calcium or Vitamin D Supplementation and Fracture Incidence in Community-Dwelling Older Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis, JAMA. 2017;318(24):2466-2482,     https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2667071?redirect=true (2)

  3. Charles T Price, Joshua R Langford, and Frank A Liporace,

    Essential Nutrients for Bone Health and a Review of their Availability in the Average North American Diet, Open Orthop J. 2012; 6: 143–149.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3330619/ (3)

 

EMFs and Intracellular Calcium – Magnesium is nature’s calcium channel blocker

Electromagnetic fields, (EMFs) are the non-ionizing radiation that makes WiFi connections work and other devices like televisions and cellphones. The electronic details are beyond my field of experience and they are generally claimed to be harmless however research is being done on the health effects on people and other species. As more and more ‘hotspots’ become active and there is discussion of making entire regions WiFi spots the question of whether the radiation is truly harmless or not is important.

The research that has been performed suggests that the mode of action is on the ion channels in cell membranes called voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs). The EMF radiation seems to activate ion channels and allows the interior of the cell to fill with calcium which then can proceed to activate membrane breakdown and other actions within the cell. Oxidative stress can involve an excess of calcium within the interior of the cell which leads to other free radical chemicals – electrically active chemicals which antioxidant nutrients can help deactivate. See: (1)

Oxidation is a normal part of cell function as it is how glucose sugar energy is freed for use. Too many oxidative free radical chemicals also called, reactive oxygen species (ROS), can overpower the natural antioxidant chemical pathways and lead to increased cell damage and even cell death. (2, 3, 4)

Ion channels refer to chemicals that contain atoms that have a positive or negative charge which can be used to provide energy for chemical reactions. Ions in nature generally are found in pairs with a balance of positive and negative charges so the grouping is fairly stable. Calcium and magnesium both have ionic forms with a chemical charge of +2, which means they are missing two electrons. Sodium and potassium have ionic forms with a chemical charge of +1 – they are missing one electron each.

An ion is an atom or chemical that has more protons than electrons and carries a positive charge or has more electrons than protons and carries a negative charge, while a free radical specifically has at least one unpaired electron in its outer electron shell/valence which makes it very reactive but does not necessarily mean an electron is missing nor suggest a negative charge. Depending on their chemistry they may be able to receive or donate another electron and are very reactive, very active chemically, as the outer shell prefers to be stable chemically. The presence of an unpaired electron makes the free radical chemically encouraging other chemicals to give up or receive the unpaired electron even if the other chemical is more chemically stable. (7) The electrons in an atom are arranged around the inner ball of positively charged protons and neutrally charged neutrons in layers of electrons (valences) which prefer to be in groups of 2, 6 or 8 electrons, so a free radical with an outer layer with one electron might want to donate it while one with an outer shell with seven electrons might want to receive an extra electron.  Element valences are slightly different than what might be expected looking at the Table of Elements – here is a chart of the typical ion or free radical charges: (6)

Oxygen can carry an electrically negative charge of -2, meaning it can accept two additional electrons in its outer valence. And hydrogen can accept or donate an electron, +1 or -1, (6) which chemically can result in our most important molecule for life – water, H2O, formed from two atoms of hydrogen sharing their unpaired outer electron with one atom of oxygen which wants an additional two electrons. The slight preference for different electric charges gives the molecule of water a slight polarity, the oxygen part of the water molecule has a slight negative charge on average while the hydrogen parts of the molecule have slight positive charges. (8) A more thorough description of the chemical structure of the water molecule and its electrical charge distribution with illustrations is available here: (12).

Why is this important? Because our bodies are made up of at least 70% water and electromagnetic radiation does have effects on water (9) so a basic understanding of the chemistry can help understand the more complex issues of why having region wide areas of WiFi might affect health of humans and other animals, plants and possibly even microbial life. There is evidence that microbes can modify nearby DNA of other species via EMFs generated by the microbial DNA when both sets of DNA are in a watery dilution. (10, [1602 from ref 9]) This may increase infection or risk of cross contamination of infectious substances. We don’t know what we don’t know. The research may simply confirm the need to be concerned about Electromagnectic fields on DNA. The negative effect of EMF exposure to DNA and an increase in DNA breakdown/fragmentation was mentioned in the first link. See: (1)

Research that looked for epigenetic effects on DNA that might be associated with leukemia or other cancerous changes found that Extremely Low Frequency-Magnetic Fields which have been labeled potentially carcinogenic as some association with leukemia has been noted, did not consistently lead to epigenetic changes in the study. Changes that did occur were more likely to be found when the genetic material, called chromatin, was in a more open and active form rather than when it was in the condensed, non-replicating form. (13) Pregnancy would be a time when DNA is expected to be more active and infancy and childhood are also times when growth and replication of cells is expected. Concerns and a review of available research about the risk of EMF radiation for adults and childhood development is discussed in a Special Section of the journal Childhood Development: (14)

Calcium channel blocker medications have been found to help reduce the effects of EMF radiation for individuals who seem to be more sensitive to ill effects from the form of radiation than the average person. See: (1)

Magnesium is nature’s calcium channel blocker so there may be an underlying deficiency of magnesium in the the people who are more sensitive to EMFs. A number of conditions can make the intestines absorb less magnesium and more calcium than average and the kidneys can be better at holding onto calcium and more likely to excrete magnesium than average. The food and water supply is not as rich in magnesium as it was during earlier centuries of human development. Magnesium deficiency as a risk factor in sensitivity to EMFs is discussed in the first link and it introduces a protective factor that can be increased with more variety of vegetables and other phytochemical rich foods in the diet – nuclear factor erythroid-2-related factor 2 (Nrf2). See: (1)

Specific foods or phytochemicals mentioned to help increase Nrf2 include:

  • sulforaphane from cruciferous vegetables, (such as broccoli and cauliflower);
  • foods high in phenolic antioxidants, (This is a large group including bright yellow and red fruits and vegetables, and deep purple produce. The group includes the subgroup flavonoids which include anthocyanins, flavonols, and it also includes the less familiar subgroup chalcones which are found in the commonly used fruits apples, pears and strawberries. The group also includes aldehydes which are found in vanilla and cinnamon, phenolic acids which include salicyclic acid, and tannins which are found in tea, coffee and wine. Baking cocoa and cherries, beans and whole grains are also mentioned, the summary point would be eat more fruits and vegetables; see: (11))
  • the long-chained omega-3 fats DHA and EPA, (salmon, tuna, sardines, krill oil, ground flax meal, walnuts, hemp seed kernels);
  • carotenoids (especially lycopene), (such as carrots, winter squash, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, apricots, and lycopene is in tomato, watermelon, pink grapefruit, guava); 
  • sulfur compounds from allum vegetables, (such as onions, garlic, shallots, green onions); 
  • isothiocyanates from the cabbage group and
  • terpenoid-rich foods. (Terpenes are found in real lemon and lime oil, rosemary, oregano, basil and other aromatic green herbs).
  • The Mediterranean and the traditional Okinawan Diets are also mentioned as being Nrf2 promoting diets. See: (1)

A 2012 article that discusses the science known at the time and reviews cellphone cases designed to redirect EMF radiation away from the user available at the times suggests some health evidence exists but that the information is not conclusive yet but that no study has been longer than ten years. Children have less dense bone structure and may be accumulating more life time exposure so limiting use of cellphones around children or their use by children may be playing it safer until more research is available. (5) Turning off cellphones when not needed can save battery time and would be turning off the WiFi when it is not needed. You can always check for messages when you turn it back on again. Using a hard wired computer at home or at least turning off the laptop at night is recommended along with other tips in the first link. See: (1)

Disclaimer

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has a service for locating a nutrition counselor near you at the website eatright.org: (eatright.org/find-an-expert)

  1. Joseph Mercola, The Harmful Effects of Electromagnetic Fields Explained, wakeup-world.com, Dec. 22, 2017, https://wakeup-world.com/2017/12/22/the-harmful-effects-of-electromagnetic-fields-explained/ (1)
  2. Chapter 1: Cell Injury, Cell Death,
    and Adaptations, sample, not final copy, Elsevier, pdf http://www.newagemedical.org/celldeath-injury-link2.pdf (2)
  3. Khalid Rahman, Studies on free radicals, antixidants, and co-factors., Clin Interv Aging. 2007 Jun; 2(2): 219–236., https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2684512/ (3)
  4. V. Lobo, A. Patil, A. Phatak, and N. Chandra, Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health, Pharmacogn Rev. 2010 Jul-Dec; 4(8): 118–126., https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249911/ (4)

  5. Joseph Hanlon, Radiation-reducing phone cases: saviours or snake oil?, Aug. 13, 2012, https://www.cnet.com/news/radiation-reducing-phone-cases-saviours-or-snake-oil/ (5)

  6. Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. “Valences of the Elements – Chemistry Table.” ThoughtCo, Mar. 7, 2017, thoughtco.com   https://www.thoughtco.com/valences-of-the-elements-chemistry-table-606458 (6)
  7. UCSB Science Line, What is the difference between ion and radical?, 04/01/2015, http://scienceline.ucsb.edu/getkey.php?key=4833 (7)
  8. Biochemistry, Chemistry Tutorial, The Chemistry of Water, biology.arizona.edu, http://www.biology.arizona.edu/biochemistry/tutorials/chemistry/page3.html (8)
  9. Martin Chaplin, Water Structure and Science: Magnetic and electric effects on water, 2001, last update by Martin Chaplin on Nov. 3, 2017, lsbu.ac.uk http://www1.lsbu.ac.uk/water/magnetic_electric_effects.html (9)
  10. [1602 from the above reference] L. Montagnier, J. Aïssa, S. Ferris, J.-L. Montagnier, C. Lavallée, Electromagnetic signals are produced by aqueous nanostructures derived from bacterial DNA sequences, Interdisciplinary Sciences: Computational Life Sciences, 1(2009) 81-90. L. Montagnier, J. Aissa, E. Del Giudice, C. Lavallee, A. Tedeschi and G. Vitiello, DNA waves and water, Journal of Physics.: Conference Series, 306 (2011) 012007, arXiv:1012.5166v1 (10)
  11. Maria de Lourdes Reis Giada, Chapter 4: Food Phenolic Compounds: Main Classes, Sources and Their Antioxidant Power, Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology » “Oxidative Stress and Chronic Degenerative Diseases – A Role for Antioxidants”, book edited by José A. Morales-González, ISBN 978-953-51-1123-8, Published: May 22, 2013    https://www.intechopen.com/books/oxidative-stress-and-chronic-degenerative-diseases-a-role-for-antioxidants/food-phenolic-compounds-main-classes-sources-and-their-antioxidant-power (11)
  12. Martin Chaplin, Water Structure and Science: Water Molecule Structure,  2000, last updated by Martin Chaplin Oct. 15, 2017, lsbu.ac.uk, http://www1.lsbu.ac.uk/water/water_molecule.html (12)
  13. Melissa Manser, Mohamad R. Abdul Sater, Christoph D. Schmid, Faiza Noreen, Manuel Murbach, Niels Kuster, David Schuermann, and Primo Schär,

    ELF-MF exposure affects the robustness of epigenetic programming during granulopoiesis, Sci Rep. 2017; 7: 43345.    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5339735/ (13)

  14. Cindy Sage, Ernesto Burgio, Electromagnetic Fields, Pulsed Radiofrequency Radiation, and
    Epigenetics: How Wireless Technologies May Affect Childhood DevelopmentContemporary Mobile Technology and Child
    and Adolescent Development, edited by Zheng Yan and Lennart Hardell, A Special Section of Child Development, 2017, Pages 1–8, https://eliant.eu/fileadmin/user_upload/de/pdf/Sage_Burgio_Childhood_2017_Epigenetics.pdf (14)