Episode #110: Dr. Dayan Goodenowe – Neuroscientist, Biochemist, Breaking Alzheimers
My guest is Neuroscientist and Biochemist Dr. Dayan Goodenowe. Dr. Goodenowe drills down on some of the ways we can work on our brain health in his new book Breaking Alzheimer’s. We discuss what some of the real threats to our brain function are and how Plasmalogens impact our neurological health. Believe me that exercise you have commited too is not just for your waistline. We even touched on what is happening neurologically for an Autistic child to give a better understanding to those of us navigating autism with a loved one. He has a ton of free lectures on brain health and function online. Enjoy.
Listen to the episode here:
- The World of Science [00:01:28]
- From Data to Real People [00:12:36]
- A Glance at Autism [00:15:32]
- The Plasmalogen Precursor [00:37:15]
- ProdromeScan [00:42:17]
- Getting In-Depth with Alzheimer’s Disease [00:45:53]
- Brain, Fatty Acids, and Inflammation [00:52:15]
- Brain Volume and Cognition [01:14:39]
Dr. Dayan Goodenowe – Neuroscientist, Biochemist, Breaking Alzheimers
My guest is Dr. Dayan Goodenowe. He is a neuroscientist and biochemist with his latest book out, Breaking Alzheimer’s: A 15 Year Crusade to Expose the Cause and Deliver the Cure. We cover a lot of ground in this, what can we do to prevent things, and practices. We talk a lot about supplements, we even talk about autism. I have a lot of friends that are navigating and doing their best and always looking for new information and resources. I hope you enjoy the conversation.
I want to dive right in because I’m always curious why certain people such as yourself can go in a lot of different directions in medicine and science, and why you dove deep into Alzheimer’s. You’ll hear stories about people whose father had it and they wanted to know more about it. I’m curious for you, what were the reasons you’re trying to unlock these mysteries?
It’s a progression of things. For me, it started in high school. I’m interested in figuring out the world as it is. You take classes in biology, you take classes in physics, and you take classes in chemistry. Biology was interesting because it looked at how organisms interact around the world, in ecosystems, and so on. Physics is interesting because it’s the nature of reality, like quantum mechanics and all that kind of stuff.
Chemistry is interesting because that’s the three-dimensional world that we live in. That’s our bodies. We’re moving atoms around. We’re moving electrons around. It’s the nature of our objective reality. Everything about us is chemistry both in the physical world and in the biological world. Understanding how the world works biochemically became natural. Then as you learn more and more about this, it becomes more intriguing.
What’s nice about biochemistry is it’s modifiable. It’s not innate. It changes as we interact with it. My initial bug was chemistry because it made logical sense of how our world works at that level, and then your curiosity leads you from one thing to the next in understanding how the brain works. My earlier research was in psychiatric research and how the brain processes information.
When the ‘80s and ‘90s happened with the genomic revolution, people said, “We started unlocking the genomes.” Most of the twentieth century was biochemistry. Biochemistry was king. All of the drug development that happened, people forget that in the ’40s and ’50s, there was a psychiatric hospital in almost every corner. We had huge percentages of the population were locked up in psychiatric facilities because of mental disease.
We had a pharmaceutical activity with the chromozene, which was developed for tuberculosis. They realized it was helping people with schizophrenia, so they were able to pharmacologically treat people. It’s how the antibiotics first began. When they first found penicillin, it was this fantasy of, “We can cure everything with antibiotics.” The same thing happened with drugs, but that reaches a limit.
Biochemistry was king for many decades until the genomics revolution happened in the ’90s and people started sequencing genomes, and they said, “Maybe this is how it all works.” Everything is in the genes. It’s a scientific fad. Everything you need to know in the world is in the genes and it consumes a lot of energy.
Scientists like to be famous. They like to find new things. Here’s this whole brand new playground to start discovering new things. It was a lot of work to sequence these genomes because they’re big. A lot of the work was on the plants before we did the human genome. The thing with genetics is that it’s a linear sequence of bases. It has relatively simple building blocks. It’s complicated in the sheer scale of your genome, but the individual sequences themselves are quite simple. Just a lot of work.
Biochemistry doesn’t work that way. Biochemistry is not a linear sequence of subcomponents. Your peptides, proteins have 19, 21 amino acids depending upon what species you’re in. Their genetic code has four, but metabolites like your glucose, fats, steroid, hormones, and lipids, that’s an infinite space. There are more possibilities than there are particles in the universe. It’s not something that can be mapped. Once you’ve mapped the human genome, you have X number of genes that you can now build chips for, technology for, and so on. There wasn’t a technology to this biochemistry because genes are latent risk, but they don’t have any deterministic capabilities.
Genes don’t cause disease. Environment triggers a disease. Disease chooses disease. Your genetics choose which disease you get. They don’t give you the disease that you get. You have a common stressor to 100 people. You have one common environmental stress, but those 100 individuals have different genetic codes, so they will have a different reaction. Their predisposition will determine how that stress translates into them disease-wise.
Epigenetics has become popular. If you took twins with the same genes and expose them, there are certain different factors. When you say predisposed, do scientists and doctors consider not only the genetic predisposition but even the person’s personality? For example, one person who can let things roll off them versus another person who maybe gets anxious or has stress, coupled with lifestyle and other things. When you guys look at it, is this all a consideration? I know you’re looking for the constant and for the science, but I’m wondering if that always shows up.
Absolutely. The goal for optimizing your health and your functionality is to create an environment that your genes are happy to be in, not the other way around. Your genes are there to protect you. Your genes are there to help you survive. Your genes are your friend. You’re not usually a friend back is a problem. If you have a certain genetic predisposition, your genes are saying, “This is my happy place. If you put me out of my happy place, bad things will happen.” They’re usually screaming at you to tell you what that is and we’re too ignorant to listen to them half the time.
How do they let us know?
Your biochemistry will change. Say you have a methyltransferase genetic defect where you can’t methylate properly, your homocysteine levels might be too low or it might be too high depending upon it or your creatinine level. Your biochemistry always tells you what’s going on. Your body will see inappropriate equilibrium
Autistic children and multiple women with multiple sclerosis, for example. That’s a 100% mitochondrial-mediated disease mechanism. Autism is probably one of the best examples of this because here’s the disease that used to be a neurodevelopmental disease. Back in the ‘40s and ‘50s, there’d be one case of autism for 300,000 children. It was a rare disease. Children were born with autism. You didn’t acquire autism.
It was only until the ’70s that it started cropping up and then now in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Now what we have is we have an environmental disease masquerading as an old neurodevelopmental disease. The children are not born with autism. They acquire autism, then we have a risk for it. They usually have a triggering point in their lives. We have mitochondrial insufficiency. The gender bias is driven by beta-estradiol levels. About 25% of boys will have girl levels of beta-estradiol and 25% of girls have boy levels at pre-puberty. Beta-estradiol is a powerful neuroprotectant.
We see three times more boys with autism than girls, and that’s because boys have a genetic or metabolic weakness when it comes to certain oxidative stress. Beta-estradiol is a powerful neuroprotectant. The same number of girls with autism phenotypes. They just don’t express it symptomatically.
Fast forward to women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, you have the exact flip. Three times more women get multiple sclerosis than men. Their disease symptoms go away when they get into the proestrus cycle. Most women with MS get pregnant. They feel the best in their life while they’re pregnant. The disease transitions into the secondary progressive phase postmenopausal. They’re losing some of that protective capability that estrogen has given them over their lifetime. That’s a simplistic view. There are a few more things going on, but that’s fundamentally worked out.
[bctt tweet=”Your body reacts to how your brain thinks.”]
Back to the whole concept of seeing your lifestyle, your autistic children will develop lifestyle modifications to cope with the neural inflammation that they have. If you have OCD and other issues, there are behavioral things that you can do in your lifestyle, managing your stress, creating a life that has less of those trigger points, preventing those diseases from occurring. That’s where this all plays out.
Your body biochemically screens out what your genetic predispositions are because anything that you can physically see between one person and another person manifests in the biochemistry. One sister gets ovarian cancer, the other sister does not get ovarian cancer. The one that gets ovarian cancer will have a plasmalogen defect and a fatty acid elongation over activity. You can diagnose this. You can deal with it. Those are the things that we have a lot of knowledge of.
The problem with science isn’t a lack of knowledge. It’s a lack of applying knowledge and being able to implement it into people’s lives. It’s the logistics of delivering targeted actionable things. That’s where my life has changed to a personal level. I’ve been that ivory tower scientist guy looking at humans, wandering around, free-ranging, saying, “Can I predict who can who’s going to get this disease, do these epidemiological studies, and identify these biomarkers? You say, “What can we do about that?” It’s always someone else’s job to fix it.
These things don’t get translated, so we have all this research and knowledge. Delivering medicine, delivering solutions to individuals is where the big problem arises. My life has changed over the last few years. At some point in time, it’s not someone else’s job. At some point in time, it’s your job, it’s my job. It’s time to roll my sleeves up and deal with real people, not just numbers, ages, sexes, genders, and genotypes on a spreadsheet. That’s where I’ve transitioned from that pure research role into real people.
Your book cover says A 15 Year Crusade to Expose the Cause and Deliver the Cure. You’ve been at this a minute. How was that transition from pure data, pure science to now dealing with real people and all of that? How was that learning curve for you?
I don’t know if it’s just getting older and watching the world, but there’s a big difference between how you want the world to be and how the world is. I’ve run some of the largest colonoscopy trials. We ran a 6,000-person colonoscopy trial in Canada. It can diagnose Stage 0, Stage I colon cancer with 85% with a simple blood test. It doesn’t get implemented. We implemented it in the province of Ontario. We went through about 50,000 people, and then the government decided, “We’re going to stick with the FIT test because we’ve already got the funding for that.”
We do colon and pancreatic cancer screening in Japan. We can screen for pancreatic cancer. If you have a high risk, you can go in for an ultrasound. No woman should die of ovarian cancer in this world. We can predict that way in advance. It’s not even ovarian cancer, it is fallopian tube cancer. The problem with ovarian cancer is that there’s no tissue barrier for it. We can differentially diagnose bipolar schizophrenia from unipolar depression. A man who comes into the manic state doesn’t get given the wrong anti-psychiatric drugs for schizophrenia. A woman typically manifests in the depression state and they give her selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and they can kill her.
Bipolar disease is a big problem because it still takes us seven years to diagnose this disease. They have different treatment protocols for them. I did a longitudinal study on autism and published it years ago. I’ve written a full chapter on the biochemical basis of it. I looked at their parents. I looked at their non-affected siblings. We can diagnose it with 100% accuracy. Fixing it is quite easy. It’s exciting because now we have the oleic acid plasmalogens. Children are getting better quicker. That’s what we do.
I have several friends with sons that are either mildly autistic or a little deeper on the spectrum. I see how diligent they are with the diet and everything that they’re doing. Some of the ones that were a little more intense did a fecal implant, all these things. When you say that there are things that someone can do, can you go back there? A lot of people are impacted. I know we’re here to talk about Alzheimer’s and the difference between dimensions and such, but the fact that you’re talking about it, I don’t want to miss the opportunity.
We’re here to talk about life. We’re here to talk about increased functionality. Alzheimer’s is a great conversation starter and it’s a critical issue. I have a soft spark. We have a serious elder discrimination problem in our society. Autism is fundamentally a disease of neural inflammation and of white matter. People get intimidated by biochemistry and biology. Their regular life, they’re sophisticated and they plan the world out, but when it comes to the medicine, they throw their hands in the air like, “I can’t understand all this stuff because of all these different words and this jargon.”
Half of it is used to protect us from you because we can speak in our little language and we can make all of you sound like a whole bunch of idiots, so you won’t ask tough questions. If you ask tough questions, then we have to have answers and we don’t always have answers. It’s not allowed not to know. We have to have an answer to everything. That becomes a problem.
Let me give an understanding of how the brain works. Your brain isn’t just this big ball of mush inside your cranium. It’s like the wiring of your house and you’ll have conductivity, their switches. There’s a switch on your wall, that’s your plate, and that connects two wires. One wire from the power supply from a power plant, and then one way that goes your light bulb. When you click the switch, the power goes to your light bulb and the light goes on. If you turn the switch off, a light bulb goes off.
There’s a wire in the wall and that is a regular wire that you guys see at a hardware store and has a coating around it. That coating insulates it and allows a signal to come from one part of your house to the other part of the house without burning a hole in your walls because otherwise, that would not be a good thing. If you had a mouse in your house and starts chewing on your wiring, all of a sudden, your lights work, but sometimes they don’t work. It flickers here and there. All of a sudden, all that connectivity disappears.
Your brain has a bunch of cell bodies that are deep inside, the nucleus basalis and all these different cell regions. These are the power plant where the cells are. The fibers transmit out to the outer part of your cranium and that’s where all your maximum surface areas are. That’s where all the switches are going on. Autism is like having a mouse in the wall chewing on your wires. The conductivity has a problem and that’s where inflammation occurs.
When you get a concussion or you get a neurological inflammatory event, people with autoimmune diseases, for example, that inflammation causes a problem with connectivity. What happens is sometimes you have excessive firing in certain areas and these neurons can’t build long-lasting relationships.
The neurological system of your body is like a personal society. It’s relationship building. It’s about being able to have a conversation and say, “I like this person. I’m going to call him back next week, and then I’m going to call him back next week after that.” All of a sudden, I have his phone number memorized and I have this relationship now built up, and I built that up.
If you’re a scatterbrain, if you can’t have enough calmness to establish a relationship, you don’t make friends and you make friends for only ten seconds at a time. You’re always jumping. What happens in an autistic brain is it becomes inflamed and its inability to make those long-lasting relationships. You need to calm the brain down. The way you calm it down is the material that makes that connective tissue. The wiring is called plasmalogens. It’s a myelin sheath. It’s a white matter.
The problem with boys is that white matter in the brain gets preferentially affected. In girls, you get the white matter of the neuro of your Schwann cells, your periphery. The first symptoms are muscular issues, but there are brain issues as well. How you fix autism fundamentally is you provide support for that remyelination phase. Mitochondrial support is the real underlying cause. N-acetylcysteine, Acetylcarnitine, the omega-9 plasmalogens, double-check the B vitamin mix, those basic things work quite dramatically once you lower that inflammation.
People look at their gut health because the gut has a tremendous benefit to anti-inflammatory activities. Health is important. Some probiotics like the reuteri are good. I tell people there’s a simple product. I don’t have any investment in any of these things. It’s a Gerber product. It’s in the baby section called Gerber Soothe. It’s a liquid formulation of lactobacillus reuteri, and that has calming anti-inflammatory effects. You want to resolve that inflammation. Once that inflammation gets resolved, their focus comes back. You can get eye contact.
Because of their lack of connectivity, they can’t filter out stimuli. When you and I are in a conversation with a busy room, we can have a conversation. All the noise around, I can tune that all out and I can hear what you’re saying. Autistic children can’t do that. Schizophrenics can’t do that. They can’t filter out so they’ll create stereotypical behavioral. They create patterns that teach them how to tune out the world that makes it an inability. They can get better and better at it.
Autistic children never grow out of it. They just learn how to live with it. A 45-year-old autistic man has the same neurological inflammation that he had when he’s 12. He’s learned to adapt to it and created patterns to circumvent the issues. The inflammation resolving capacity is powerful. That’s the stuff I’d learned many years ago but we don’t have the ability to get it out there.
Developing the plasmalogen precursors specifically for myelination was important. I synthesized and invented these things back in 2006, 2007. When we do animal studies where we do the myelination, we can completely prevent the myelination and we can completely prevent this stuff. It’s a matter of getting it into the real world and then realizing that humans live messy, complex lives. What’s going to work for exactly one person won’t necessarily work exactly for the other person.
There are general trends and rules. It’s also teaching people that they’re the only real expert that matters. You listen to experts like me and others, we have the expertise, we’ve learned a lot about things, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work exactly in you. You and your child and your life, you have to look at your own. People have to learn to get an expectation of success. If you don’t train yourself to expect results, you won’t ever achieve them. Your brain will override your gut because you think it should work. If it’s not working, it’s not working, then move on to something else.
The thing that I try to teach with people is saying, “The solutions are basic. There are mitochondrial health issues, lipid management in your system. There are some biochemical metrics that are easy to measure and fix.” The biggest thing for people to remember is that health is a singularity. Your health, my health, your neighbor’s health, your son’s health, your daughter’s health, health is health. We know what health is. We’ve been studying health for many years. We know what health is. There’s only one health. Everyone’s health is the same.
What’s different is our disease. Diseases create differentiation because our diseases are different from each other. As you move towards health, everyone has the same trajectory. The pathway to that might be slightly different based upon that individual’s circumstances, but your trajectory is to a singularity. We give disease protagonistic, deterministic qualities. It is some active force. Disease is not an active force. Disease is a passive force. It’s an opportunistic force.
Disease occurs only in the absence of health and it fills the void that loss of health creates. The challenge is it created a biochemical reserve. Athletics, biochemical reserve, and having a savings account in your bank are all the same. It’s creating reserve capacity. You work extra for five days so you don’t have to work hard for two days.
I work out to build muscle strength. On the days that I’m not working out, I have excess muscle strength capacity. I’ve created reserve muscle strength. I’ve created reserve mitochondrial capacity. I have my systems working at less than capacity, which is where you want to be. Biochemically, they’re the same way. You want to create biochemical reserve capacity and you do it the same way you create physical reserve capacity. You understand what systems you want to build up, and then you build them up, and then you maintain them there. You can get athletic for a certain period of time but if you stop, then you’ll eventually lose that reserve capacity.
I call it priming the pump. In the beginning, there’s no water so maybe you have to work hard, but you have to keep it going. The other thing is you do have to change up the external forces so that maintenance stays the same because otherwise, you adapt and you don’t get anything out of it. I love the opportunity to talk to people like you because it’s always a reminder that people do have to be their best own health advocates. I talk about that all the time. Also, you have to be accountable.
If I come to see you and you say, “This is what’s happening, and here’s your homework,” the other side of it is people have to be compliant. That seems difficult for a lot of people to do sometimes. In your mind’s eye when we talk about health, whether you’re in your 20s or 30s or 40s, is it getting first a look under the hood? Is it blood work? If it is blood work, what am I looking for?
We hear all the information about, “Cholesterol is not connected to heart health. There are large particles or small particles. If it’s large, it’s okay.” There’s been a lot of attention to certain markers, versus if you were going to go in or bring a family member in and they’re overall healthy, what are you wanting?
There are 3 or 4 core operating systems for the human body that you want functioning, and then you also want to understand your goal and objective. When you’re younger, you want athletic performance, so on and so forth. First thing is to understand how the body works. The human body is fundamentally a hybrid electric. We burn hydrocarbons. We ingest hydrocarbons, sugars, fats, proteins.
We breathe in oxygen from the air and we convert that oxygen with these hydrocarbons to burn it. We create carbon dioxide and water. You breathe the carbon dioxide out and pee the water out. That’s what your body does. It burns energy and it creates the same thing your car engine does, and then it uses the energy. It converts it into electrochemical energy like battery energy, and that battery energy runs your mitochondria. It’s called the electron transport chain.
At the core of your human existence is mitochondrial function. All inflammation, all oxidative stress come from mitochondrial insufficiency, which is why autism, MS is a big deal. We see that later on in life as well. Most people when they’re younger, have these issues. It is a mitochondrial weakness issue, so you want to create mitochondrial reserve capacity.
First thing is to understand the basic operating conditions. Fasting triglycerides, for example. Number one, fasting triglycerides should be under 100. If you ever find your fasting triglycerides getting over 100 then it means mitochondrial beta-oxidation is insufficient or paroxysm beta-oxidation. Paroxysm is a word that hardly anyone in the world hears but it’s a critical component. Paroxysms are the other organelle in your cells that nobody talks about, but it’s the organelle that is responsible for all the plasma cells in your body, which is 20% to 30% of your brain. This is not small amounts, heart, lungs, kidney.
Your steroids, cholesterol all come from peroxisomes beta-oxidation. That’s your anabolic source. Your mitochondria are your nuclear reactor. Hydrocarbons come in. Carbon dioxide, water, and energy come out. That’s supposed to be a completely pure burning cell system. Number one is that understand that your fasting triglycerides need to get your cholesterol over 200. Your cholesterol should be 200 and 240. If your total cholesterol gets under 200, your all-cause mortality goes way up. We’re killing people trying to get their cholesterol levels low. That’s just not me. This is 164 country data. I’ve got huge datasets on this.
The next part of the human body is the membrane structure. Your body is not a bowl of soup. You’re compartmentalized. We divide ourselves into pieces so that a heart cell can be a heart cell and our lung cell can be a lung cell. We compartmentalize inside ourselves as well. Like your kitchen, your bathroom, your bedroom, you do different functions, and they are separated by walls. What gives the human body physiological structure are these biological walls and they’re made of membranes, of lipids.
The critical component of phosphocholine like lactacin is hard. People don’t keep upon them. Especially nowadays with a lot of people going into a vegetarian diet situation, they get deficient in certain things. The phospholipid distributions and plasmalogens, we measure those things because if those aren’t sufficient, it creates stress and strain on a whole bunch of other systems. That’s part number two.
The third part is your methyltransferase. People may recognize a biomarker called homocysteine. Homocysteine is a measure of methyltransferase activity. This is an enzyme system that’s critical. There are hundreds of them. Your genetic code, for example. Everyone who gets cancer later on in life, their genes become hypomethylated. You’re talking about epigenetics where people think gene methylation turns things off. It’s the opposite.
The biggest risk for aging is not hypermethylation of your genes. It’s hypomethylation of the repeating element of your genes. That’s what keeps your chromatin structure nice and tight. As you get older, if that methylation dissipates, your chromatin structure swells. All cancers have hypomethylation. Your methyltransferase system. Alzheimer’s disease, people think, “The biomarkers for Alzheimer’s, one of them is neurofibrillary tangles of the brain.” Those are 100% caused by methyltransferase defects.
Good old-fashioned, cheapest dirt in a bucket, creatine. People should take 3 to 5 grams of this a day. Creatine is a funny one because we always focus on the bad side of things. “Are we going to get renal failure?” We look at highly uric acid for gout, and so on and so forth. The biggest problem with age community is low creatinine and muscle wasting.
[bctt tweet=”Our body is capable of amazing things and capable of amazing regenerative capabilities.”]
Your body has to make creatine in your kidney part, in your liver. If you take a certain amount of creatine every day, what you’re doing is you’re subtracting that from what your body needs to make every day. Your body makes a lot of it. Good old-fashioned creatine, everyone should probably take them 3 to 5 grams every day. It’s not going to hurt you. It’s going to improve kidney function, muscle function, and so on.
Get your homocysteine levels down in the medium range. Choline deficiencies are a big problem in our society. Without diagnosing Steve Jobs, I can tell you if he had pancreatic cancer, he had a phosphocholine deficiency. Everyone with pancreatic cancer has a phosphocholine deficiency. It screws up your cholesterol transport and a whole bunch of things. That is system number three. Your peroxisomes, plasmalogens keep them up to snuff. Those are your basic things. Keep your inflammation under control.
Once you have the basic operating conditions met, low inflammation, mitochondrial function capacity, your fasting triglycerides are under 100 but not too low. Every biomarker has a U-shape. Even though 9 out of 10 you have a bad triglyceride level, it’s because it’s too high. There are people that have too low, which means they’re in starvation mode.
The problem with the medical community is that we’re in the business of diagnosing disease. It’s about, “Where do you fit in the dictionary of all the codes that I have?” It’s not about treating it to a certain degree. You can’t treat the biomarker because you can trick biomarkers. It’s like having a gas gauge for your car and saying, “I’m going to move the needle and stick a piece of gum and make my gas tank full.” Just because they move the needle doesn’t mean they change the gas in the gas tank. That’s what it’s there for. It’s there to tell me.
If I start messing around saying, “I’m going to move the biomarker where I want it.” All of a sudden, the biomarkers no longer marking. It loses its utility. These are markers that tell us something about what’s going on behind the curtain. Biomarkers understand what’s going on physiologically, and then act accordingly on those.
There are a few basic parameters that you want to get met, then after you meet those parameters, then you can start pushing limbs a little bit. As you perform more, you need more. This is a problem as we get older. People eat less. This is another fact of biology, physiology. There’s a food supply in the world. Plants and animal products have a certain distribution of nutrients associated with them.
Humans have adapted over centuries and millennia to the distribution of nutrients within our food supply, which is knowing our normal active person. When we start changing our distributions with corn-fed animals, and so on and so forth, pro-inflammatory environment, and if we start performing more as super athletes, then the caloric distribution changes.
With the regular caloric diet of a regular distribution, we can have the appropriate nutrients for a normal person living a normal life. When you start pushing the limits, you need to enrich your nutrient status in the caloric region because you now need more phosphocholine, creatine, and more things because you’re now performing at a level beyond what your regular ecological balance would have been, what the human body is adapted to. You are pushing limits and you say, “Here’s where we need to build up a bit.” That’s what I do.
I’m curious about someone like you who knows how you are eating on your day-to-day because it’s always interesting when people know.
I’ve had my dad on these programs for years. He’s in his late-80s and he functions like a 60-year-old guy. He’s an E4 positive carrier for Alzheimer’s. You can fix this. You can circumvent any genetic disease on the planet because genes manifest their symptomology through biochemistry. You can neutralize the evolution of type. You can neutralize the bracket type for breast cancer and ovarian cancer. You can neutralize these genotypes.
Selfishly, I do my own thing. We supplement for performance. We don’t supplement for rebuilding. My program is I make sure I take my vitamins. I like to take my vitamins all separately. I have a hard time with all these blends. Even though I’m a scientist, I don’t like to have to do all the math and try to figure it out. I had this blend, this blend, and that blend. I like taking individual pills. A hundred milligrams would be six, five milligrams would be twelve, a couple of milligrams of methyl folate. You need to get the methylated version, the methylcobalamin for B12, the proper ones.
I’ll take between 2 and 3 grams of acetylcysteine a day. I take 600-milligram capsules. I’ll take two of those. Acetylcarnitine, three of those a day, 1.5 grams. Creatine, I’ll take 1,500 milligrams three times a day, morning, noon, and night. I’d like to split things up because, during the day, you’re supplementing for your catabolic rate, but you’re not building muscle, you’re not building membrane, and you’re not building memories. That all happens when you go to bed at night. When you go to sleep, your body switches from the fed state to the fasting state.
You need to supplement at nighttime for all those functions that are going on at night because some of these nutrients like cysteine, carnitine, and creatine have a relatively short half-life. They’ll build up over time, but there’s an acute effect to them as well. I use the plasmalogen neuro which is a DHA plasmalogen. It’s specifically designed for neurological function and neuromuscular junction function.
People who take it for a while, you’ll realize vision gets better. Your muscle memory and your recovery rates from exercise have quite a dramatic improvement. That’s for that activity. At nighttime, I take the omega-9 for myelination rates. That’s what I do. I take lactacin in the powder. Some people like the oil. I like the powder and I mix it with my salad dressing. I mix it with my food no matter what I do.
On your site, you sell the supplements.
The plasmalogen is my entry into this world, so to speak. I’m an inventor of plasmalogen precursor. We’ve known about plasmalogens for over 100 years. We know how important they are because children are born with genetic mutations that can’t make plasmalogens. Zellweger and Rhizomelic chondrodysplasia punctata, RCDP, are serious neurological diseases. Most children will not make it to their 10th Birthday. Most die before age 5.
Your body makes plasmalogen quite well on demand. We typically don’t run out of them until we get older. I invented a patented whole system called age of adult-onset plasmalogen biosynthesis disorder. As you get older, all cancers have plasmalogens defects in advance. Alzheimer’s disease, the level of plasmalogen defect correlates with the rate of decline.
The plasmalogen in your brain correlates with your cognitive function, but the mortality is even more damning. For people that are in the top 10%, it’s a 30-year difference in lifespan based upon the plasmalogen levels in your blood. A 65-year-old person with low plasmalogens has the same probability of living to their 70th birthday. A 95-year-old with high plasmalogen has the same probability of making it to their 100th birthday.
These are serious things. We’re not dealing with a small trace level sidebar. We’re talking 75% of the ethanolamine of your synapse or plasmalogens. 23% of your entire brain lipid volume and you get zero of these from your diet. Your body physically manufactures 100% of them. It’s a primary molecule that your body uses to resolve oxidative free radicals. It’s designed to be sacrificed.
It’s like having a fuse. It blows and your body rebuilds it. It blows again and your body rebuilds it. When you start losing the ability to rebuild it, it starts to bleed out. We max our plasmalogens levels in the human body, typically max out in the 40s or 50s. From the first 40, 50 years of our life, we’re making slightly more than we need and that’s incrementally building reserve capacity. The brain continues to myelinate.
We talked about early childhood development and how the brain forms, but that brain myelination rate continues into our 40s, 50s even. After 40, 50 years, you build this reserve capacity, and then at some point, your ability to manufacture plasmalogens becomes less than what you’re using on a daily basis and they start to bleed out.
They will reach a critical threshold and then we’ll see symptomologies. There’ll be a risk, of course. Like all things, there’s a risk, and then that risk with the appropriate environmental trigger can turn into a disease. The problem with plasmalogens is we have lots of them. “If I’m eating a nice juicy steak, why am I not getting plasmalogens?” Because they’re designed to be sensitive assets because that’s what they do. They break down all your hydrogen peroxide in the body. They are the principal neutralizer of hydrogen peroxide.
As soon as it hit your stomach, people don’t realize this, but your stomach is concentrated hydrochloric acid, typically pH of 1 to 2, it’ll burn a hole in your pants. It’s acid. As soon as you get that into your stomach, they burst apart. I design molecules that are precursors. It’s more important than the plasmalogens themselves.
For people that have Parkinson’s, the miracle drug is called L-DOPA. It is a biochemical precursor to dopamine. You might ask, “Why don’t we just give people dopamine?” Because dopamine doesn’t get into the brain. It doesn’t get into the dopaminergic neurons. They give a precursor and that precursor gets converted to dopamine in those neurons.
I designed plasmalogen precursors in the same concept. They’re not the final plasmalogen. They get absorbed and they pulse into your brain, they pulse into your neurons. Over a course of 12 to 24 hours, they allow that individual neuron to build your plasmalogens, and then your overall plasmalogens levels will increase. At 24 hours, they have converted to the final plasmalogens.
On a daily basis, you’re pulsing right into those neurons. This is why it’s important for autism and MS because the powerful anti-inflammatory activity is that it goes into that cell, that oligodendrocyte, which is the cell that makes the myelin, and that allows that myelin to make the plasmalogens. It has better availability than the actual final molecule itself. That’s my entry into all this stuff. It’s like, “While I’m fixing your plasmalogens, why don’t I fix a couple of other things here while I’m at it?”
The thing I appreciate is you have also test. It’s not just like, “Take this.” You do also provide a home test.
It’s called ProdromeScan. You asked me how I got into all this genetic revolution thing. I’m a scientist and chemist. There wasn’t a technology that can measure all these metabolites. My first patented invention was a mission called non-targeted metabolic profiling, which allowed me to measure tens of thousands of small molecules in a blood sample. That’s what allowed me to diagnose all these diseases and understand them.
This ProdromeScan is a simpler-to-understand version because you don’t want to be looking at 10,000 biomarkers simultaneously. The core ones come out of it. It has two things. It shows you, “Is there a boogeyman under the bed that it knows there? I’m doing everything super healthy.” I did Ben Greenfield’s bloodwork and he was overworking himself out. That’s a big problem with athletes. They don’t rest.
I tell people, “Exercise is bad for you. Recovering from exercise is good for you. If you don’t give yourself the appropriate recovery time, you’re burning yourself out.” You ask yourself, “Why do all these super athletes age badly?” Because they don’t take care of the recovery time. They think that more is better and if more is better, then more and more must be better and better. That doesn’t work that way.
The blood test is designed to look for that and to give this feedback loop for individuals because you want the physiological response. You want to feel better, you want to sleep better, you want to see your strength better, you want pain from muscles gone. These are things that you can understand. You want your clarity of thought. You want your brain fog to go away. These are physiological things that you can feel. We want to handle that.
We also want to provide that feedback loop and say, “You’re moving in the right direction.” You build yourself up to exercise, and then you can maintain it, which is easier. When you first find out where you have to move your biochemistry, it takes a little more aggressive activity to get there but once you’re there, then you just need to keep it there. You can be a little bit off and on in certain things. The blood test is designed for that. A lot of functional med doctors use it because it’s a feedback loop for the individual and that’s where it’s valuable.
I know sometimes it’s scary. We’re wired to not want to know, but anything that you can catch early and move it in the right direction is going to save so much of a hassle later. I’d like to spend some time talking about your book. You have lectures on your site, too. You have a lot of extensive information. There were many interesting things. One of the things I thought interesting on the curve for me is dementia and Alzheimer’s, but also that men were a little bit larger of a percentage at 71% to 79% in the ‘90s.
In the ‘80s is when women had a higher percentage of dementia and Alzheimer’s, and I thought that was interesting. It made me think about hormones. I have no idea if there’s a positive impact of certain hormones. You’ll hear about, “Is estrogen good? Is it not?” Things like that. I’m curious about some of those statistics because the number of women increased greatly in the ‘80s. They were higher than the men in the ‘80s by sort of a significant amount and a little bit under the men in the ‘70s and in the ‘90s. I wondered why.
First of all, Alzheimer’s or dementia, people use them interchangeably.
They’re different and you talk about that in your book. Let’s go there first. Let’s build a foundation.
Alzheimer’s disease is a pathological designation of an individual. It’s classifying someone. It’s like saying, “It’s a blue car with 100,000 miles on the odometer.” You’re using to characterize it as the string facts together. Back in 1906, Dr. Alois Alzheimer had a patient, a young woman in her late 40s, early 50s who had dementia. When he did a post-mortem analysis of the brain, he identified these tangles, which are these protein tangles inside neurons, and then these cloudy plaques outside of the neurons. This became called Alzheimer’s disease. It was a disease called presenile dementia.
[bctt tweet=”Brain volume is a big deal.”]
The pathology was a way of labeling dementia. They never even thought back then that Alzheimer’s pathology had anything to do with dementia at all. It wasn’t even on anyone’s radar that pathology was causing the disease. They were just characterizing it. “If you see this, this is what I see.” It’s a catalog of this particular situation. It’s considered to presenile dementia for people under the age of 65.
Regular dementia called senile dementia was considered to be mostly related to atherosclerosis for most of the time. It wasn’t until the late ‘60s that people started doing post mortem analysis of other Alzheimer’s patients older in life and they said, “These brains have similar pathologies to what Alzheimer’s disease has.” They called it senile dementia of the Alzheimer’s type.
If I have a patient with dementia, I do an autopsy and then I recognize your dementia. You have these plaques and tangles. I’m going to call this person someone having senile dementia of the Alzheimer’s type. People have Lewy bodies which is a different type of pathology, frontotemporal lobe dementia, vascular dementia from other aspects. There’s more than one type of dementia, which is difficult to differentiate.
Technically, they can if you’re fancy enough, but the differences between them are far smaller than what’s similar. All dementias have this similar aspect of it and it’s the cholinergic function. Ironically, it’s the same as your neuromuscular junction. The same neurons that are affected, the same biochemical system that affects the brain, and dementia is also the neuron system that affects the neuromuscular junction. Sarcopenia, muscle wasting, is a bigger risk factor for dementia than the ApoE genotype, for example. That’s why we’re maintaining muscle mass is a powerful preventer of dementia. People who have good muscle function and lack frailty have low rates of dementia in that population.
Is that chicken and egg? Is it a physical byproduct of a representation that they kept muscle tone?
It is parallel. If your muscles are wasting, your brain is wasting. If your brain is wasting, your muscles are wasting. Alzheimer’s pathology is a characterization. There is no real evidence other than animal models, where we pump them up with this pathology. The pathology is doing anything in humans. Dementia is a thing. Back to this idea of health, a singular disease is diverse.
When your brain starts losing its functionality, then disease opportunistically fills in the blank. When your methyltransferase system becomes impaired, homocysteine tangles form and because that’s one of the systems that require good methyltransferase activity. When your methyltransferase reserve is lost, you get to tangle pathology.
Amyloid plaques come from membrane dysfunction. When your phosphocholine levels and your plasmalogen levels in your brain and your ability to transfer cholesterol go down, your amyloid plaques will go up. These are all symptoms of reduced function of the brain. The other thing to remember, I don’t want to scare everybody, the penetrance of Alzheimer’s is about 80%. When you talk about people in their mid-90s, say the dementia is roughly 30%, 35% of people in their mid-90s, those are the people who lived there 90. Those are the healthiest of the healthiest who have gotten there.
If everybody died of Alzheimer’s or dementia-related pathologies from 60s onward, 80% of 95-year-olds would be with dementia, only 20% would not. You’re dealing with a reversal. Dementia is far more common than not getting dementia with aging. When you talk about age-related or gender differences, you’re talking about arguing over how many angels fit on the head of a pen because it doesn’t matter fundamentally.
Nobody is born with dementia. Dementia is a rate of cognitive decline. Everyone starts with no dementia theoretically, and then the question is, how quickly do you lose cognitive function? If your cognitive function is zero, then you have no dementia forever. If it’s 5%, then I take 170-year-olds and line up in a row and say, “Now I’m going to walk you forward.” Ten years later, the people who get dementia are the ones that had the highest rate of cognitive decline or neurological function. It’s all about function. We need to characterize things. That’s the challenge.
For Alzheimer’s and dementia, dementia is fundamentally a loss of one type of neurological system called the cholinergic system. That’s where phosphocholine comes in and your methyltransferase system comes in. Plasmalogens are critical for the synaptic release of neurotransmitters and all that kind of stuff. It’s a rabbit hole of detail for anyone who wants to dig deep into that kind of stuff.
A lot of people are afraid of this or they are helping someone who is managing this. This is a simple question. Everyone talks about healthy fats for the brain. I’ve heard a lot of different information. How do we feel about saturated fats for the brain? How do we feel about coconut, avocado, and olive oil? Within reason, of course. We’re not talking about drinking boatloads of it or eating boatloads of it.
The fatty acid composition is less important than the phospholipid composition itself. Your phospholipids, which are the soapy parts of your membrane, your phosphorylcholine, your lactacin are important. Then the different fatty acid distributions. There are only four fatty acids that matter to human physiology. All the rest are just big players.
Oleic acid, which comes from olive oil, is primarily involved in that tight compact coating that protects your neurons. Linoleic acid, which is your omega-6, corn, soy canola oil, that typically is the most essential of all our fatty acids. It gets a bad name because we get so much of it in our diet. It’s the most important fatty acid related to cholesterol regulation.
Your HDL system, for instance, your reverse cholesterol transport, phosphocholine drives that. Making sure you have good phosphocholine is critical to maintaining proper cholesterol regulation and transport. When people talk about alpha-linolenic acid, flax oils, and all kinds of stuff, those are good omega-3 but those are precursors. Your body virtually does not use them at all.
Your body has two called polyunsaturated long-chain fatty acids. These are arachidonic acid which comes from linoleic, your omega-6, and it also has a bad rap because it’s pro-inflammatory, and then DHA, your omega-3, fish oil, 22-carbon. These are the two molecules that separate us from a plant because of our biological membrane’s fluidity. Those are critical. People always know about the brain, the retina, and so on and so forth.
Arachidonic acid is the backup mode. You want to have good levels of omega-3 DHA. I’m not a big fan of EPA. There is some data here and there. It’s a drug from a biological membrane perspective. EPA is a biochemical breakdown product of DHA. It’s a good biomarker, but physiologically, it’s not that important.
Those are the three critical ones. Since in today’s day and age we’re bombarded with omega-6 like salt, you can’t get rid of it. It’s everywhere. You want to focus on your oleic acid levels, olive oils, and your omega-3, especially your long-chain ones like your DHA, salmon, fatty fish, and so on. The rest will pick up the pieces from there.
When people start looking at boosting their mitochondria with short-chain fatty acids like MCT oils, those things have power and utility, but you got to make sure that your system is able to perform it because what you’re doing is you’re shoving a bunch of extra energy sources into mitochondria. They work for certain people. There’s a performance enhancement with it, but it should be done carefully. The keto diets are important because they put you into a fasting state. The other lipids, if you’re taking good lecithin and other fat sources, you’re probably going to be fine with your fatty acid composition.
Can you break it down for me? People have the combination of like, “I have the E4.” You mentioned your dad has it. Can we talk a little bit about that education of E2, E3, and E4, how we have two of them, and what this all means in the grand scheme of things regarding Alzheimer’s and your brain?
Equally, a genotype is another one of those examples where it’s overstudied to a point that the core purpose of it is missing. ApoE is a lipoprotein, how your body moves fats around the aqueous system. The pipes of your body, like your veins and arteries, are like your pipes in your house. If you pour oil down your sink, it’s going to clog your sink. You need something that can move that oil from one place to another.
What your body uses to move oil around is called a lipoprotein. These are proteins that are highly water-soluble. They pick up these fat molecules and your fat molecules transport along on these lipoproteins. These lipoproteins then deliver to the individual cells. You have different types of lipoproteins. Lipoprotein B which is LDL, Apolipoprotein B, ApoB. That’s what sends all the cholesterol to your cells, mostly that’s your LDL.
Then you have Apolipoprotein A, which is your HDL system. That’s what delivers cholesterol back to your liver and helps remove cholesterol from your cells. Apolipoprotein E is a unique molecule. It’s ambidextrous. It can act as if it’s LDL and it can act also as if it’s HDL. For instance, people who are born with a genetic mutation that have no Apolipoprotein B, LDL lipoprotein, their body will make excessive ApoE. What keeps them alive is that the peripheral ApoE acts as LDL for them. That’s what they use.
What transports Apolipoprotein E into the famous category is that in the brain, that’s all you have. You don’t have LDL and HDL in the brain. All you have is ApoE. It does both things. Your brain is like Chinatown. It’s a whole bunch of little streets back and forth. The rest of your body is the Interstate Highway System. You have your liver shipping things from long distances and there are long distances coming back.
Everything there uses big transport systems, but your brain doesn’t have that. Everything’s done locally. The cholesterol for your neurons is made right next to them in their astrocytes. It’s not moved anyway. It’s all little streets. It uses ApoE to move all this cholesterol for them. There are different docking stations for ApoE.
The difference between the different ApoE categories is that there is a single nucleotide polymorphism that converts aspartate to cysteine. It’s a sulfur-containing molecule. Sulfur molecules and proteins are like those screen doors with magnets and they snap together. That’s what sulfur molecules do. In the scientific term, it’s called a disulfide bridge. That’s what it is. It’s holding two screen doors together. Apolipoproteins have different abilities to create this disulfide bridge and it changes their ability to efflux cholesterol out of a cell. That’s what changes the difference.
An ApoE4 carrier is a cholesterol saver. They hold on to their cholesterol so they don’t export much. ApoE3 is in the middle and ApoE2 can’t save money for the life of them, so they’re always broke. They’re always spitting out cholesterol. That’s fine. ApoE4 is protective early for parasites and bacterial infections. It’s a protective genotype.
The counterbalance to the ApoE4 genotype is the plasmalogen levels in the membrane. High levels of plasmalogens help export cholesterol. ApoE4 only becomes the risk factor when plasmalogen levels get low. Any two carriers can tolerate low levels of plasmalogens because they inherently get rid of a lot. That’s the basic bottom line of that.
The membrane structure changes with age. The ApoE4 carriers line up with excessive cholesterol in the membranes and that will cause changes in protein function, specifically the enzymes involved in amyloid production. Amyloid precursor protein doesn’t get metabolized properly in an E4 carrier when they get older.
Can people find out at any age if they have an E4? The other thing is you can know. If someone’s reading and we’re all in different phases of our life, are there best practices? Yes, knowing what’s going on, getting your bloodwork, you broke that down. If you could go decade by decade starting in your either the 20s or 30s about the best practices besides checking, getting your bloodwork, and knowing what’s going on. Are there things actively people can do to avoid getting Alzheimer’s?
You hear about this chronic inflammation and chronic inflammation of the brain. The brain is the only part of your body that can let you know. If my knee is sore, I know it’s inflamed. It’s like, “I can do things.” You hear that if your brain is in chronic inflammation amongst the other reasons why you mentioned the neuro fiber tangles and things like that. It’s like you hit a switch, and then there’s no coming back. If we have an opportunity to pull back even if we’re in our 60s and it’s like, “There are things we can do to pull that back and move us further from the ledge of Alzheimer’s or that possibility.”
The brain has powerful regenerative capabilities. This is not just fantasy. MRI studies show brain volumes increasing. If you’re B vitamin-deficient and all of a sudden, you start taking the B6, your brain volume will restore itself to a certain degree. Brain volume loss due to B vitamin deficiency can be restored. You increase neurological function. We see brain volumes increasing.
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The brain, first and foremost, shrinks before cells die. It’s almost rehydrating it at stage one of rebuilding brain health. Lipids are the critical part of your brain. Make sure that your lipid compositions are done properly and then, of course, you need to tilt the scale in the refill category. It takes a while for that to start refilling back.
Early on, the biggest thing is keeping your body switching from the fasting defense state. Your body has two gears every single day. During the day, when we’re young after we stopped eating, we switch to the fasting state relatively quickly because of our caloric changes. As we get older, it takes more hours to switch from fed to fasting. That’s why intermittent fasting is important. As early as they can start getting into a sixteen-hour daily fast is important. If you can’t handle that long, make sure you eat your larger meals in the middle of your day and have smaller snacks that are low glycemic snacks later at night because that’s the critical part.
Sleep is important. Sleep is not just important for building your membranes but it’s also how your brain drainage works. Those are the issues. Moderate resistance training, your body is fundamentally lazy so it’ll use its lungs and heart. Your biceps and your triceps, and basic exercise. If you activate these other muscles, they act as little livers and they help clean your blood for you. Activating this peripheral musculature is important. It improves circulation and also improves the biochemistry of our bodies. Those are the basic things.
Keep up on supplementing in advance. People laugh at the word, immortality. Either you’re interested in immortality or you’re in palliative care. Palliative care is not going to be, “Am I in two-week of palliative care or am I in twenty-year of palliative care?” If you’re trying to manage the rest of your life to your death, that’s palliative care.
Immortality means function. People think, “I’m going to live to 150 or 200.” No, I’m going to live tomorrow, then tomorrow, I’m going to live the next tomorrow. It’s weird because when people think about immortality, they use of mortality mindset to think of immortality. “How am I going to feel when I’m 150?” Who knows? What you want is, “How I’m going to feel tomorrow? If I can maintain functionality, if I can maintain my muscles, eyes, then that’s what immortality is.
Immortality is the maintenance of function indefinitely, and you don’t think about it. When immortality is at the point time where you forget how old you are. That’s the true sense of immortality. “I don’t know how old I am.” The date of your birth becomes irrelevant. The function of your body becomes relevant. People think about how long they will live. They’re saying it’s a contest and it’s like, “Did you make it to 110?” It’s not the point. When you talk about maintaining your health functions, that’s the whole point of health as a singularity.
Early on in life, you want to put yourself in that place. You talk about genetics, epigenetics, and all that kind of stuff, those are all protective mechanisms. That’s your genes trying to protect you from all the dumb you do. That has no controller. You have to relearn to be dumb again. It’s because our biases protect us and we end up overprotecting ourselves to death because we become sensitive to our learned responses. That’s a hard problem.
I’m middle-aged and I see certain little things creeping in. I’m like, “You’re going to have to pay attention to that.” To your point about learned behavior, responses, and things like that, do you have an example that you’re fighting yourself? How do you navigate that or how does that show up?
I can tell you personally since I’ve been thinking about this. My eyesight is back to where it was in my 17, 18 years. I can’t remember my progressives anymore. I don’t get brain fog. I work on computer, spreadsheets. I come home and my brain would be fried. It never happened. My strength, I’m stronger now than I was in my 20s and 30s. I don’t work out as much. I wish I did but I don’t, and it’s weird.
I’m not a super athlete. I’ve always been a moderate athlete all my life. I know enough that I know how my body reacts and recovers. I know my general decline rate, one set to the next. That’s different now and I’m older now, so that doesn’t make any sense. I do one set of reps to exhaustion at rest and the next set is the exact same number. I don’t lose any. This is weird. You don’t want to believe it yourself. Those are little things that come up.
From my personal experience, these plasmalogen precursors have only been around for two years. I’ve invented them almost fifteen years, which is why the book says fifteen-year crusade because you can’t unknow things. That’s the problem. You’re sitting there and you’re watching people die. You’re saying, “This doesn’t have to happen.” We’re all our best test subjects. Those are the kinds of things.
Now that we’re dealing with real people, the stories that come back to me are heartwarming. We have kids getting their function back. We have parents, caregivers with Alzheimer’s. We get some dramatic things. I have Parkinson’s patients that couldn’t move and they’re shoveling snow. The answer is yes. How might be a little bit different in everybody.
As an athlete, it’s like this four-minute mile thing. People thought it was not humanly possible the human heart would burst in terms of breaking the four-minute mile. As soon as one person breaks the four-minute mile, someone says, “If another person can do it, I can certainly do it.” You have to visualize it. You have to visualize the win. You have to plan a pathway through it.
The hardest part is we’re addicted to dying. We have an expectation of reduced function. We don’t expect a function routine. We expect it to be normal to lose function. We’ve suckered ourselves into, “This is just the way it is. It’s always been. It’s never going to change.” I don’t believe it. I certainly don’t have all the answers. I certainly will die trying to find the end. You might as well have fun trying while you’re in the process of it.
Helping other people simultaneously. Can we throw CTE in this bucket for ex-military or people who’ve cut some bangs on the head?
Absolutely. For instance, the omega-9 version that’s a concussion preventer. If I had young kids playing football or hockey, they’d be taking it before every game. If you have omega-9, you can’t get it. Concussion is a focused inflammatory state of the brain. Your body, as it develops, finishes a certain thing. You have compartments that are fairly isolated. They’re not designed to be biologically active.
Those white matter tracts one of those systems. When the brain gets shaken with the concussion, you get inflammation in the white matter. The myelin sheath wraps around an axon. It’s deep inside there that has this inflammatory event. It’s not designed to get a whole bunch of circulatory systems. It’s isolated. It’s on its own. It’s got to fix itself in that location. If we can provide the right nutrients to that location, then you can start resolving that concussion. We’ve seen some interesting things in TBI.
The body is designed to work and function. If you make it past your first year of life, you have a functioning genome. When it stops working, it stops working for a reason. It’s not magic. Something is out of the filter. You have a heart that beats 60, 70 seconds, maybe 45. It’s a lot of beats for a whole lifetime. Humans can’t build anything in the last more than a couple of years. This is a highly functioning organism that we have. What our job is to help it fix itself. We don’t fix the human body, but the human body has incredible regenerative capabilities and our job is to help it fix itself. If you can get a leg up, it can do amazing things.
I heard a great story. Think about the machine. It runs 24 hours a day and overall, it’s quiet. It’s amazing. I would imagine you know this deeper than someone like me. You have the data and the information but every once in a while, one has to step back and be like, “That’s an amazing miracle that we’re walking around.”
We take it for granted. We assume it. It’s quite a remarkable thing. It’s capable of amazing things and capable of amazing regenerative capabilities, but we’re using our own worst enemy is the problem.
That might be a universal theme about us getting in our way. I’d like to finish with tau and then if you bring the relationship between volume and cognition, I wanted to address that a little bit.
Tau is exciting. Tau is called a microtubule. It’s a support protein of your axons, those big long pipes. You have a cell body that makes a whole bunch of stuff. You have this long axon that delivers materials to the synapse, which is this switching plate. Tau is like a peristaltic pump. It’s what your body uses to have accelerated organelle transport.
What it does is when your cell body weighs over here, mitochondria for example, and it’s got a ship it meters sometimes to the end. That’s a long way to go. That’s a slow transport system. Tau acts as a peristaltic pump. When it gets phosphorylated, it squeezes and shrinks. It’s like squeezing a water hose. It’s like squeezing a tube of toothpaste and it pushes the mitochondria or whatever organelle quickly down the axon pipe.
The squeezing process is tau phosphorylation. When tau gets phosphorylated, it squeezes and pushes the mitochondria down. The relaxation phase when the hand opens up again, that’s the next mitochondria, it slips in before it can squeeze again, is called phosphatase or dephosphorylation. It’s that dephosphorylation process that gets impaired with aging and that’s a dephosphorylation process that requires your methyltransferase and homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine contribute to making an inability for those dephosphorylated. That’s what causes the neurofibrillary tangle growth in neurons.
Tau tangles themselves have no physiological consequence. There have been studies where they’ve made animals with high levels of human tau. Their neurological function stays the same. Tau itself is a biomarker of reduced methyltransferase activity. It is not an actual active disease agent, but it’s correlated with reduced function. The reason why it’s correlated with reduced function is that if you have high levels of phosphorylated tau, which you’re not supposed to have, so that’s a bad thing right there, the question is why? What’s causing it?
The reason you’re having it is because you have a methyltransferase defect. That’s tau. That’s why it’s a good biomarker for aging and good biomarker brain health because if you have tau, that means you have a methyltransferase problem, which means you need phosphocholine, you need B vitamins and plasmalogen. That’s the whole thing about tau.
All of this is in the book. You go deep. I know this is natural for you but I saw the organization, the graphs, and the extensiveness of what you put together in the book. Can we talk about brain volume and brain cognition?
Another one of my pet peeves is brain volume. Your brain shrinks. People talk about Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s brain shrinks in one little area one little bit faster than the rest. Fundamentally, it’s like a snowball. It’s like an avalanche coming down a mountain, which is brain shrinkage, and you have a little rabbit chasing away. That’s the difference between Alzheimer’s and the rest of the brain shrinkage. Brain shrinkage is way more important than Alzheimer’s part.
In certain parts, the hippocampal volume will be more associated with cognitive decline, but brain volume itself is the most important thing to maintain. It starts to shrink probably around age 55 to 60. We start seeing brain shrinkage quite dramatically over time. The brain is like a prune or a raisin. It shrinks from the inside out. It shrivels. It sucks itself off to the cranium, and then you get this extra spinal fluid ventricular space. Your brain is fat. Your brain is made of lipids, mostly phospholipids.
Plasmalogen depletion is associated with brain volume loss. Phosphorylcholine like your lactacin and that type of thing. Maintaining brain volume is critical. It’s more associated with cognition, mortality, cardiovascular disease. Your brain volume correlates with cardiovascular disease. As your brain goes, rest your body goes. Brain volume is a big deal. Keeping brain volume up is important and that is mostly lipid methyltransferase related systems to maintain your brain volume.
Also, keeping the activity level because activity begets activity. It’s like your muscles. It’s not like thinking muscles, but physiological. Brain volume is something critical you want to maintain. Plasmalogens are critical for that. The best way to think about brain volume is you’re cooking your favorite chocolate cake for Thanksgiving. You go into the pantry and you have everything you need except you only have half as much flour as you need for your recipe. You have lots of eggs and milk, but you only have half as much flour.
All of a sudden, you are either going to make a full cake that looks like a brick or you’re going to make half a cake that looks right. What happens with the human brain is you lose one of the material building blocks. The entire volume of the brain will shrink accordingly because your cells are little bakers. They can only build your membranes and they can only build those cells depending upon what they have in their pantry. Nutritional status is critical for that.
Is reading, learning, and novelty are still important for the maintenance of brain volume if you’re doing other things for the brain processor?
Cross-training is good for function. Your brains are always on. If you’re living a life, you’re talking to your family, you’re gossiping, or if you’re angry, your brain is working. It’s never off. What you want to do is how you train it in terms of modifying your behavior into positive action, where your positive feelings can come in because your brain creates stress. Your body reacts to how your brain thinks.
If you continually maintain a high-stress load, the rest of your body is going to respond accordingly. Your cortisol levels will go up. Your brain does have huge amounts of control. It’s more related to a healthy, rich environment. Cross-training is good. Anything different is good. Whether it’s directly related to your brain or not, it doesn’t matter because sometimes when you’re doing different activities, it forces you to move differently. Maybe you go to a different restaurant. All these things physiologically cause you to better your life. That’s what we do in the aging community.
Deadlines are good for people because it gets them out of bed. People say, “Social behavior is good.” It’s good because they get up and they say, “If I’m going to go out, I’m going to comb my hair and get dressed. I’m going to get up and we’re going to have a nice meal with somebody.” Living a rich social life is one of the most important parts of brain health fundamentally. The brain is one big gossip. It likes to talk. It likes to be involved. It likes to share and wants to be able to do all stuff.
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- Dr. Dayan Goodenowe
- Breaking Alzheimer’s: A 15 Year Crusade to Expose the Cause and Deliver the Cure
- Gerber Soothe
- Ben Greenfield
About Dr. Dayan Goodenowe
My primary professional interest is the advancement of precision preventative medicine into mainstream medical practice. The achievement of this goal involves the integration and translation of various scientific and technological fields such as basic biochemistry, biomarker discovery, diagnostic technology, biostatistics, clinical trial design and execution, targeted therapeutic development, epidemiology, and healthcare economics. The prevention and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases is my primary focus. As the founder of Prodrome Sciences Inc., my primary responsibility is to build a next-generation team of dedicated researchers and other professionals and to work with and continue to grow this team such that Prodrome Sciences Inc. can reach its ultimate goal of saving lives and improving quality of life by implementing our targeted strategy of disease prevention through prodrome detection and treatment. I am immensely proud of our founding team and consider myself fortunate to have this opportunity to build a new company with them.