Book Review – The 6-Week Cure for the Middle-Aged Middle by Mary Dan Eades, MD, & Michael R. Eades, MD

Book Review – The 6-Week Cure for the Middle-Aged Middle by Mary Dan Eades, MD, & Michael R. Eades, MD

Written by Carol Petersen, RPh, CNP – Women’s International Pharmacy

 

scale and measuring tapeHow many middle-aged adults experience weight gain in their midsection?  Even with no changes in diet or exercise, weight gain is commonplace, particularly around the middle. Worse, this area of weight gain is the very abdominal obesity associated with heart disease. Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades address ways to eliminate unhealthy fat that accumulates around the organs in their book, The 6-Week Cure for the Middle-Aged Middle.

Drs. Michael Eades and Mary Dan Eades gained fame in the 70s for their weight loss success and their bestselling book, Protein Power. Both physicians lost a considerable amount of weight by incorporating principles they learned as they researched their weight problem. In turn, they successfully helped many others lose weight.

After decades of success, however, a problem arose. As the Eadeses prepared for a televised show, although they continued to follow their own prescription for success, the cameras zeroed in on a problem: a middle-aged spread around the middle. They wondered how they could promote the success of their program with this weight concern.

The Eadeses went back to what had worked for them the first time: research. They set out to find what had sabotaged their program for successful weight loss.

The answer? Hormones.

 

Cortisol and Estrogen

During middle age, the adrenal glands may increase their production of cortisol. This may be provoked by a number of factors including stress or sleep disturbances. The increased cortisol levels send signals to store fat, particularly in the abdominal area.

Weight can be affected by both high and low estrogen levels. With aging, estrogen (the hormone associated with curviness in women) decreases, and may contribute to midlife weight gain. The Eadeses recommend using only bioidentical estrogens, estradiol or estradiol with some estriol, as non-bioidentical therapies may not help with weight and may even worsen it.

The Liver and Hormone Deficiencies

6 week cure for the middle aged middle bookIn middle age, the pancreatic hormone insulin rises, signaling the liver to store more fat. Additionally, as we age, the liver creates more sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), a protein carrier for hormones. When the hormones are bound to this protein, they are not available for use by the body.  While SHBG levels increase with age, the sex hormones carried by SHBG such as testosterone, DHEA, and estrogens decline with age. Hormone deficiencies can occur as lower levels of hormones are produced overall and more SHBG binds the hormones that are produced, making them unavailable for use by the body. These hormone deficiencies can lead to loss of muscle and bone mass and an increase in body fat percentage.

According to the Eadeses, what happens in middle age is a combination of a number of factors: loss of sleep, increased stress, a diet lacking in fat (due to concerns with cholesterol levels), hormones imbalances, introduction of new medications, and difficulties with nutritional intake. Their book is not a weight loss plan, but a path to “body-rehabilitation,” as fat stores leave the middle and the body becomes leaner and stronger.

A dietary plan to address abdominal weight gain is spelled out in The 6-Week Cure for the Middle-Aged Middle. The Eadeses report great success for themselves and their patients. For those that are struggling with middle aged weight gain, this book may hold the resources needed to help combat it.

Book Review – The 6-Week Cure for the Middle-Aged Middle by Mary Dan Eades, MD, & Michael R. Eades, MD 2018-01-22T10:50:12+00:00

Book Review – The Bulletproof Diet by Dave Asprey

Book Review – The Bulletproof Diet by Dave Asprey

Written by Carol Petersen, RPh, CNP – Women’s International Pharmacy

In “computerese,” to hack means to devise or modify a computer program, usually skillfully. Dave Asprey challenges us to use the concept of “biohacking” in his 2014 book, The Bulletproof Diet.

Dave Asprey is an early Silicon Valley computer engineer who made millions with Internet hacking. He describes hacking as needing to make complex systems work even when all the pieces of the puzzle are not available. In that respect, he came to understand that the human body is very much like a complex computer program, with some data that is missing or misunderstood. He speculated that it would be possible to use “biohacking” to solve his own health problems.

At the start of his quest, Dave Asprey writes, he was in miserable shape. He weighed 300 pounds and was unable to lose the extra weight, even though he followed various diets and a strenuous exercise program. Other health issues included chronic sinus infections, strep throat, foggy brain and difficulty maintaining focus. He was always tired and overwhelmed with the stress in his life.

Asprey came to look at his body as a complex system. He engaged in what he calls “biohacking,” or “the art of using technology to change the environment inside and outside of your body to take control and make it what you want.” His endpoints of success would be measures such as how he felt, how he performed, the success of his relationships with others, and overall happiness. Just as programmers look to find potential flaws, he took to “troubleshooting” his environment, evaluating what was working and what was not in a scientific manner.

In the end, he concluded that inflammation, toxins, hormones, neurotransmitters, gut bacteria and more play huge roles in the efforts to nourish our bodies and our brains. He asserts that the strongest variable in achieving top performance is—far and away—our diet.

In his “biohacking” journey, Asprey discovered that he had thyroid (Hashimoto’s), adrenal, testosterone and estrogen problems. Realizing that saturated fats and cholesterol are the building blocks for the sex and adrenal hormones, he deviated from the low-fat philosophy being promulgated and started eating butter from the milk of cows who had been raised eating grass. Magic happened as his focus increased, while his weight and inflammatory markers decreased.

Asprey discovered the importance of a molecule called vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) which, when depleted, disturbs our master glands (pituitary and hypothalamus). This leads to problems with insulin and glucose regulation, causing a craving for sweets. Paying attention to the proper functioning of VIP is one of the cornerstone ideas in The Bulletproof Diet.

Because our medical system prefers to use techniques such as double blind, crossover studies (which tend to limit the variables as much as possible), we are prevented from understanding our human functioning as a system. What usually evolves is something like the conventional treatment for hypothyroidism. Practitioners are taught to test for thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). If the TSH gets too high because of the effort to stimulate more thyroid hormone production from the thyroid gland, a single thyroid hormone, l-thyroxine (T4), is prescribed. When the TSH level comes down because of the presence of T4, the treatment is considered a success. In truth, for vast numbers of people, the low thyroid symptoms are not relieved. Their practitioners are unable to shift from their linear thinking to a systems analysis, which requires “biohacking” until the other variables are revealed.

It has taken the efforts of an individual who is systems-minded (and who is trained to collect and evaluate data points in a scientific manner) to open our minds to a new approach to optimal health. Practitioners who have embraced using bioidentical hormones in a symphony of hormones have broken away from their linear thinking and learned to “biohack” for their patients. It’s revolutionary and exciting. Dave Asprey presents much more in his book, inviting us all to learn how to “biohack” our way to greater energy, focus and well-being.

  • Asprey D. The Bulletproof Diet: Lose up to a Pound a Day, Reclaim Energy and Focus, Upgrade Your Life. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Books; 2014.
Book Review – The Bulletproof Diet by Dave Asprey 2017-12-11T17:42:55+00:00

Book Review – Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes

Book Review – Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It by Gary Taubes

Written by Carol Petersen, RPh, CNP – Women’s International Pharmacy

Recently, I was stopped in my tracks when I read a statement I found on the internet “Crash Test Dummies Don’t Reflect Growing Obesity” and found the thought mildly alarming. Gary Taubes may have pondered a similar thought when he set out to write Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It.

Taubes is a science writer who embarked on a project to collect what real science can tell us about the growing problem of obesity. Part of the problem, he says, is that we have embraced a very simple dogma for decades. The dogma is that obesity is a matter of too much stored energy (calories); if you simply control the calories you take in or you increase your energy expenditure by exercise, you will lose the stored fat. The fundamental argument against that simplistic thinking is that it isn’t working. We are faced with a growing epidemic of obesity worldwide.

Taubes’ review of the literature shows ample documentation that when you increase your energy expenditures with increased exercise, you will also typically increase your appetite and food intake. He cites numerous animal and human studies demonstrating that increased exercise actually increased body fat.

Jean Mayer, PhD, a renowned scientist, physiologist and nutritionist, was a huge proponent of the theory that a sedentary lifestyle was the cause of obesity. Taubes explains that Mayer’s thinking was based on the fact that “his job never required that he reduce a fat person to a healthy weight, so his ideas were less fettered by real-life experience,” yet Mayer had a strong influence on the popular press.

Taubes also cites an interesting experiment done in the early 1970s that involved removing the ovaries from female rats.  After the surgery, the rats ate voraciously and became obese. According to the calories in/calories out theory, the rats would become obese because they ate more. However, when another group of female rats had their ovaries removed and also had their food intake restricted, they became fat just as quickly and also became very sedentary. Now, you could argue that the low energy expenditure led to obesity. However, when estrogen was given back to the rats, they were able to return to normal size, along with normal food intake and normal activity.  Taubes explains that what we learned from this experiment is that the removal of the ovaries causes a disruption of the fat tissue, leading to a drive to get fatter either by overeating or restricting energy output. Estrogen, as it turns out, inhibits the activity of an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase, which tends to pull fat into fat cells or muscle cells.

As Taubes suggests, the physiology of fat cells is complex and involves many hormones and enzymes. Insulin is the hormone that trumps them all: the higher the level of insulin, the greater the tendency to store fat. The trigger for increasing insulin is the type of food we eat. Carbohydrates such as fructose, sugar, soda, cereal, bread, potato, alcohol, and pasta all trigger greater insulin levels.  High-fructose corn syrup, which was introduced in the late 1970s, includes about 42% glucose. This combination is now thought to be one of the most fat-creating substances around.

The answer to the obesity problem, according to Taubes, is to return to a more Paleolithic diet, with an emphasis on protein (particularly animal protein) and fats. Carbohydrates should be restricted to low-glycemic vegetables such as green leafy vegetables. Depending upon the carbohydrate sensitivity of the individual, the amount of carbohydrates may need to be very restricted in some cases. The food pyramid, which puts meat and fats at the top to be used sparingly while breads and pastas are at the bottom to be used liberally, should be inverted.

This book is a welcome read, but it is not a book full of recipes and menu guides. It contains and/or references useful scientific information from reputable sources. For example, according to the Lifestyle Medicine Clinic at Duke University, those interested in weight loss should limit their daily intake of carbohydrates to 20 grams per day. This, along with other guidelines, can be found in the Appendix.

Gary Taubes summarizes why this book should be of interest to those grappling with obesity: we “westernized” our diets with too many carbohydrates, and while doing so we also “westernized” our health with the introduction of cancers, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and more. It is time to step back and sort through the food and diet industry propaganda to find out what really works.

Book Review – Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes 2017-12-11T17:39:36+00:00