Barking up the wrong tree

Rule 1: The body has it right.

Exception to rule 1: Occasionally, the body has it wrong, especially when harmful substances that look like nutrients are absorbed by nutrient receptors. In these cases, we must keep these harmful substances out of the body.

Corollary of rule 1: when scientists disagree with the body, the rule is that scientists have it wrong, misled as they often are, by missing a single key fact.

Habitually, scientists try to make toxins out of molecules that the body is clearly saying are not toxins. But scientists think they know so much more than the marvelous machine.

The following quote is typical scientific rubbish:

“Fasting is generally thought of as a tool to facilitate detoxification, promoting the mobilization and elimination of endogenous substances such as cholesterol and uric acid and exogenous substances such as dioxin, PCBs, and other toxic chemical residue.”     (http://www.healthpromoting.com/learning-center/articles/fasting-back-future)

Dioxin and PCBs, have relatively low LD50s, and unfortunately get into the body, most likely by mimicry. Cholesterol has no LD50, and is avidly absorbed with specific cholesterol receptors.

Uric acid is only mildly toxic to animals. Uric acid has an LD50 of about 5g/kg body weight: (“Toxicity to Animals: Acute oral toxicity (LD50): 5040 mg/kg [Rat].” (http://www.sciencelab.com/msds.php?msdsId=9925393)).

Uric acid is approximately 90% reabsorbed by the kidneys. The four substances are not all of the same ilk.

Scientists have cast cholesterol in a toxic role in heart disease, when the gut, given more than one gram of dietary cholesterol, will absorb a gram of it, equal to what it makes every day. To the body, dietary cholesterol is a macronutrient, not a toxin.

The body treats cadmium and fluoride as micronutrients or toxins, excluding roughly 98% of the daily ingested doses. Scientists consider cadmium as a toxin, targeting bone and kidney, and fluoride as an essential nutrient because they do not realize that fluoride is not necessary for good oral health (all we need is proper nutrition. Weston Price gives us about 2 dozen examples). Do scientists make any sense? The body does; scientists do not.

The body treats some toxins as if they were nutrients because of mimicry. Cysteine-derivatized dimethylmercury looks enough like methionine to fool the marvelous machine.

Scientists have cast NaCl as the cause of hypertension. The body’s aggressive absorption of it and its reabsorption when dietary sources are low should caution against this approach. But it does not – the facts of physiology are routinely ignored. Overdoses of nutrients pose problems for the body, especially when it is weakened by poor health, following years of poor nutrition with considerable toxicity. Overdoses of NaCl are not an exception to the rule. Overdoses of NaCl increase the odds of edema and hypertension, but overdoses of salt per se do not cause them, as the study on the isolated island Kuna, with a whole foods diet to which salt is liberally added. Look for a real toxin, something the body does not absorb, or something that gets into the body only because of mimicry, or something that the body does not reabsorb, or something that comes out of the body (as salt no doubt does) during a period in which nothing is going in (as in Dr. Goldhamer’s 11 day distilled water fast), and hypertension is being drastically reduced. Look to the weaknesses in the defense systems that a poor diet, overloaded with salt, exacerbates. High salt is a strong correlate of a poor diet, which is rich in real toxins, and poor in body-repairing nutrients. Thus, a high salt diet will almost always correlate with a poor diet.

Scientists have tried to sell us the idea that uric acid is a toxic cause of gout, and all kinds of CV problems. The 90% reabsorption rate by the kidneys should discourage them, but they persist.

Diseases have no single cause. Diseases result when genuine toxins (hint: not something the body is absorbing or reabsorbing with great efficiency) exploit weaknesses in our defense systems over time.

Uric acid is not the toxin in the etiology of gout. I do not know what toxins are involved in the etiology of gout (acid-generating microbes in synovial joints might precipitate the uric acid crystals, and the acidic response of the immune system would aid this in the case of non-acid-generating microbes and general wound-healing, and the concentrated uric acid may actually help kill the microbes, which may be cleared prior to scoping the joints, but at any rate would be detectable by PCR but not by culture techniques).

Uric acid precipitation is a marker of the severity of gout, not the cause of gout, and higher circulating uric acid concentrations in many gout patients may reflect larger bodily pool sizes due mostly to poor kidney function, leading to numerous trapped precipitates, and when any one of these precipitates becomes severe enough, gouty inflammation occurs.

Poor kidney function is a potent source of higher circulating concentrations of toxins, any one of which may be involved in precipitating urate crystals in synovial joints.

I do not know what toxins are involved in CAD, but cholesterol is not it. Atheroma is there shoring up weakened connective tissue (sometimes the weakness is a microscopic tear, as Virchow envisaged). Yes, atheroma contributes to CAD, but without it, hemorrhage would almost certainly have already occurred. Quicker death or slower death? Is the body really trying to do us in quickly? Or is the body doing what it is always doing, trying to keep us alive in spite of the fact that we – scientists included- are royal screw-ups?

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A mountain of evidence for causation taken down by a single stick of dynamite

It is the little fact that does not fit that takes down the mountain of evidence for causation. We must then revise our model from causal toward contributory.

Consider this article that claims that consumption of salt greatly in excess of the body’s needs causes high blood pressure. Change the word “causes” to “contributes to” and the article would be A-OK.

The Salt Institute is wrong in denying that overconsumption of salt contributes to high blood pressure. Experiments with the DASH diet say otherwise. The mountain of data presented in this review says otherwise. The review is: “Diet, Hypertension and Salt Toxicity By James J. Kenney, PhD, RD, LD, FACN Copyright 1998-2011 Food & Health Communications, Inc. This CPE course has been approved by the American Dietetic Association for 8 unit hours. Good through 7/7/2013.”

In Kenney’s own words, “As this review will demonstrate the preponderance of scientific evidence links excessive salt intake to a wide variety of disease processes” and “A recent survey found that only about 10% of Americans are concerned about their salt intake. However, as we shall see, more than 90% of Americans will develop HTN at some point in their lives and excessive dietary salt is the primary causal agent.”

A mountain of evidence, indeed!

The American Dietetic Association approved of this – wow! Imprimatur!

Unfortunately, the mountain of evidence for causation at best leads to the idea that:

  1. Overconsumption of salt contributes to high blood pressure, as the facts of physiology begin to work against the person consuming high salt.
    1. When we are healthy, per Guyton, we can move half a mole of salt out of our bodies each day per liter of urine produced.
    2. As our health declines, so does this number, and if salt consumption does not decrease to below the new levels of salt removal capability, edema and higher pressures are almost a certainty
      1. In this model, edema helps to relieve high blood pressure by draining salty fluid out of the bloodstream (mechanistically, high BP is more likely pushing salt water out of the bloodstream).
      2. These increases in edema and BP are reversible over time when salt is reduced. This is the basis of “salt-sensitive hypertension.”
      3. The irreversible damage done in part by long term over-consumption of salt is not reversible by the DASH low salt diet. This is the basis of “salt-insensitive hypertension” that nevertheless may have a component of its etiology in the chronic over-consumption of salt.
      4. This irreversible component may not be that large. Consider the following study in which almost all of the excess BP was removed by a drastic diet.
      5. A diet with an 11 day medically supervised distilled water fast, sandwiched between low salt, low fat vegan dieting, was able to achieve remarkable reductions in hypertension. Upon entry to the study, only 6% of the patients were on hypertensive medication. All of them were able to discontinue them. The data are shown below.
      6. Conclusion: Medically supervised water-only fasting appears to be a safe and effective means of normalizing blood pressure and may assist in motivating health-promoting diet and lifestyle changes.” (J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2001;24:335-9).
      7. Unfortunately, fasting on distilled water does a lot more than eliminate excess salt from the body. The effects on BP are likely to be pleotropic.
      8. Urinalysis should have been done to document what was coming out of the body when nothing but distilled water and air was going in.
      9. It would be interesting to see how much NaCl was in all of the urine they excreted during 11 days.
      10. The Goldhamer group repeated this study on pre-hypertensive individuals and was able to normalized the blood pressure on 82% of them. THE JOURNAL OF ALTERNATIVE AND COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE. Volume 8, Number 5, 2002, pp. 643–650.
    3. The time required for our health to decline explains why this effect, in part due to over-consumption of salt, kicks in after age 60 for most people.
    4. A pure salt effect should be much more rapid and should significantly increase BP in youth. But:
  2. Is there a slow toxic side reaction to the overconsumption of salt, even when the body is able to move it all out each and every day?
    1. Possibly, a slowly progressing fibrosis throughout the arterial system has been suggested, and if so, this complicates even the interpretation of the isolated Kuna Indian data – how long had they been enjoying high salt in their diet when they were surveyed in 1997 and found to be almost free of hypertension in their 60s and beyond? All we have to go on is lore: “Lore has it that the most dramatic changes in lifestyle have occurred in the past two decades.” ().
  3. The etiology of medical conditions and diseases is relatively simple: toxins exploiting weaknesses in our defenses over time. There is no such thing as an instant disease. There is no such thing as a disease without toxins and there would be no disease, no aging, and no death, if our defenses were perfect in every way.
    1. Defective genes are toxins.
    2. Various pollutants in air and water are toxins.
    3. Various viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites are toxins.
    4. Even at low doses, poisonous chemicals, chemicals with LD50s, including salt, which is weakly toxic in an acute manner and perhaps more toxic in a chronic sense, contribute to the total toxic load challenging and weakening the body’s defenses, and perhaps stiffening its arterial vessels with progressive fibrosis right down to the arterioles.
    5. All foods contain some toxins.
      1. Even organic vegetables contain toxins: natural plant-produced pesticides and antibiotics, and although some of the chemicals can also be useful, they burden the body’s defense systems.
    6. The most vital of nutrients, oxygen, can be quite toxic when the defenses are weakened.
      1. The case of scurvy.
    7. When the defenses are seriously weakened, even minor league toxins like Salmonella can produce serious diseases, and even death.
      1. A person on immunosuppressants can easily die from a week-long bout of diarrhea, after consumption of food tainted with minor league toxins such as Campylobacter, Salmonella, Listeria, Shigella, or toxigenic E. coli.
      2. Add acid blockers and/or antibiotics (that is, antibiotics to which the pathogen is resistant) to make the person’s defenses  even weaker, increasing his vulnerability.
      3. Add electrolyte deficiencies at the time of the infection, and death is becoming nearly certain.
  4. Most of the salt in the modern diet is coming from processed and prepared food, and thus salt consumption correlates with the consumption of this food. If over-salting was the only problem with this food, the case against salt would be stronger.
    1. Processed and prepared foods are generally higher in toxins and lower in body-sustaining nutrients.
      1. Consider French fries prepared in polyunsaturated oils exposed to light, oxygen, and heat.
    2. When fortified, processed food tends to be nutritionally unbalanced, and this too contributes to health problems.
    3. Yes, processed and prepared foods are also higher in salt than whole foods.
    4. Years of consumption of processed food runs the body’s health down, and eventually it is not even very good at removing the salt in these foods anymore.

Kenney’s review does not mention these facts of physiology, and in fact, states, errantly:

“It seems likely then that the human body is biologically designed to handle far less salt than is now the norm in modern diets”, but unlike other reviews of hypertension, it does mention the isolated Kuna living their traditional lifestyle, eating their traditional food. However it misrepresents the 1997 findings. In 1944 the isolated Kuna had a diet that was low in salt and their blood pressure was healthy even into old age, 60+.

But by 1997, they had secured a source of salt by trading shellfish for salt with Colombians, and had begun to salt their foods liberally. Their average 24 hour urinary output had nearly 3x more Na+ than K+ (a ratio typical of Western diets) and the amount of sodium in their 24 hour urine samples averaged about 0.135 moles per gram of creatinine. Using about 1.2 grams of creatinine per day as the average production, this would argue for a consumption of about 0.16 moles of NaCl per day. This is a high salt diet. This is over 9 grams of salt a day, about the same as modern Americans. The 1997 study found the same healthy blood pressure in the 60+ group. Had they been consuming the high salt long enough to have the posited long-term toxic effect? Don’t know.

Populations like the isolated Kuna who consume whole foods with high salt enable us to isolate the effects of high salt on BP without the many complications of highly salted processed and prepared foods.

Subsequent studies by this group on the isolated Kuna have tried to make the consumption of cocoa the cause of their healthy BP at 60+. No – at most a contributor, a few points lower, as much as adherence to the DASH diet can lower BP by.

The facts of this study are distorted by this review as follows:

“By contrast, many Kuna Indians of Panama who were moderately obese but ate a diet that was low in salt have a very low incidence of HTN. In this population less than 1% of adults had HTN and BP did not rise significantly with age. Today, many Kuna Indians have adopted a more Westernized diet higher in salt and now experience a significant rise in BP with age. However, among Kuna Indians the incidence of HTN still remains lower than that seen in populations who have consumed a high-salt diet throughout life.”

The significant rise in BP was seen only in Kuna who moved to Panama City and its suburbs, and who had adopted a Westernized lifestyle, including the consumption of processed food, which has a higher toxic load, is less nutritious, and higher in salt than whole foods. Kuna living in the Caribbean Archipelago, eating their traditional foods, but salting them liberally, did not experience a significant increase in BP in their 60s. The review seriously distorts the facts.

Here are the relevant data from the 1997 paper. Kuna Nega is the suburb of Panama City and the data may be combined with the data from Panama City, and opposed to the isolated Kuna living on the islands in the Caribbean Archipelago:

TABLE 1.

Kuna: Location, Demographics, and Blood Pressure by Age Group

Index Island Kuna NEGA Panama City
<40 y (n=35) 41–60 y (n=68) >60 y (n=39) <40 y (n=45) 41–60 y (n=31) >60 y (n=14) <40 y (n=46) 41–60 y (n=29) >60 y (n=9)
Age, y 29±2 50±1 71±2 29±0.7 49±0.8 69±2.0 29±0.1 51±0.3 65±0.4
BMI, kg/m2 23.8±1.5 22.4±0.5 21.9±0.9 22.7±0.6 23.8±0.7 22.1±0.1 23.2±0.1 25.1±0.2 23.9±0.5
MBP, mm Hg 81±2 77±1 80±2 82±1.4 83±1.4 92±4.3* 82±0.2 88±6.3 96±2*
  • BMI indicates body mass index; MBP, mean blood pressure.

  • * P<.001 (correlation with age).

And the data on the high salt in the urine of the Island dwellers:

TABLE 2.

Chemical Findings in Serum and Urine in Island-Dwelling Kuna

Serum 24-h Urine
Na, mEq/L K, mEq/L Urea, mg/dL Creatinine, mg/dL Volume, mL Na, mEq/g Creatinine K, mEq/g Creatinine Mg, mg/g Creatinine Ca, mg/g Creatinine Urea, g/g Creatinine
Study results 138±0.2 3.9±0.04 9.9±0.4 1.1±0.02 1320±84 135±15 47±3 63±4 104±9 5.3±0.3
Lab usual Range 136–142 3.5–5.0 9–25 0.8–1.3 75–200 40–80* 120–245* 50–400* 6.0–17.0*
  • * Not normalized to gram creatinine.

Estimates of nutrient intakes, based on 24 hour recall and a host of assumptions:

TABLE 3.

Kuna Nutrient Intake in San Blas Islands

Index Mean±SEM* Average US Intake (Mean±SEM)
Kilocalories 2221±117 1914±10
Protein, g 67±3.8 75.3±0.5
Protein, % 12.2±0.3 15.7
Total fat, g 56±3 78.4±0.5
Fat, % 23±0.8 36.9
Cholesterol, g 390±23 209±1.1
Cholesterol, % 70.6±2.3 44
Dietary fiber, g 23.3±2.5 15.9±0.1
Calcium, mg 617±50 736±6.4
Potassium, mEq 98.6±9.1 62±0.4
Magnesium, mg 368±22 296±2.8
Sodium, mEq 210±22 121.5±77
  • n=50.

  • * Based on single 24-hour recall.

  •  All averages calculated from NHANES II, except magnesium and fiber, which were calculated using advanced data from NHANES III (male and female adults, all income levels).

 

Robert Koch: Where are you?

Where is Robert Koch to remind doctors that there is no disease without a biological or chemical toxin, or both?

In some cases the toxin is the most vital of all nutrients, oxygen. If you are studying a disease, and you have no toxin, look harder, for you are truly lost. A defective gene, aberrant gene expression, a nutrient deficiency (these deficiencies both weaken our defenses and leave toxic byproducts when chemical reactions are inhibited – example, vitamin B12-deficiency leaves methylmalonic acid to do us great harm; vitamin C deficiency leaves free radicals to do us great harm), the damaging effects of oxygen or another oxidizer, or too much of a reducer. Problems, problems, problems.

Disease = toxins’ exploiting weaknesses in our defense systems.

Usually, toxins and our defenses are equally important in this balanced equation. In some cases, toxins are more important, such as when our defenses are seriously under-developed or nearly non-existent. More often, our defenses are under-powered, and it is our fault that this is so.

Some doctors think that 20% too high an LDL-cholesterol causes heart disease. Where is the toxin? LDL? Nonsense, an evolutionary marvel, that. Cholesterol? Nonsense, not even an LD50.

Chemical adulterants that adulterate LDL-cholesterol, either or both components, are a possible culprit.