BRAIN GUT 13: WHERE OPTIMAL MEETS ALL WORLD PERFORMANCE

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READERS SUMMARY:

1.  WHY IS DHA IN ITS EVOLUTIONARY PACKAGE THE KEY TO THE MASSIVE METABOLIC RATE OF THE HUMAN BRAIN AND HEART?

2. WHAT EVER MAKES CELLULAR SIGNALING “CLEAN” FOR AN ORGANISM LEADS TO OPTIMAL HEALTH.

3.  WHAT THE BIOCHEMISTRY OF NEURAL LIPIDS MEANS FOR HOMO’s SOLUTION?

4.  WHAT ARE THE KEY METABOLIC NEUROLOGIC KEYS TO OUR REAL SOLUTION FOR HEALTH?

5. WHY METABOLIC NEUROPHYSIOLOGY = OPTIMAL HEALTH?

 

 

Many have asked me how I have the physical and mental ability to do all I do.  It is pretty simple. On my own journey to Optimal I stumbled into some neural science that showed me where optimal nutrition meets optimal performance of all types.  Since I found this evolutionary use, all my abilities have increased exponentially.  I can do things now that I could not do even in my prime years when I was in college, medical school, or in neurosurgical residency.  I mentioned this when I was in Austin in March.

This blog series is my goal of fulfilling a promise I made in March 2012 at Paleo Fx that there was a lot more to the paleolithic template than the current tribe believed.  It was there, in Austin, that I first mentioned the possibility of an Epi-Paleo template for our species.  Many in attendance were non believers and visibly upset just by the suggestion that there might be something above the Paleo template for our species.  My intentions were never to upstage the movement at all, I just wanted to share ideas with people.

Ironically, the people I most wanted to talk with were not interested in speaking with me.  My goals are to make sure the movement knows it may not be on solid ground with some of their core beliefs.  If a movement is going to make an impact on modern science and medicine it had better have a strong foundational base that is supported in all the literature we read.  This same case was made at AHS 2011 by Dr. LaLonde.  He did not face a lot of flack over his perspective back then and I do not think my perspective should be a big deal now for the community.

This series is painstakingly showing you the data supporting the Epi-Paleo Rx for our species that I mentioned in Austin.  This data is well known in my field of neurosurgery/neurology and in several others, but is not well known in the Paleo arena.  That is where the problem really lies for the movement.  If they are going to get their foot in the door of medicine, they are going to have to examine this data carefully and re create their current solution to include the parts they did not know about.

This science paints a new picture for optimal health and performance.  I think this data may make people like Ben Greenfield, look deeper into Usain Bolt or Mike Phelps diets and see the marine connection for ATP and VO2 max abilities.  This is not a story of favored genetics.  It is was based upon good genes being feed a steady diet of optimal fuels.  You will find that Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong also use the marine template to their advantage to compete.  This data is now so overwhelming in my own field,  that neural chemistry will soon be dictating the alterations of dietary templates for all modern humans to save money on health care costs.

The emerging science places nutrition, and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in particular, in an integral role in the evolution of human cognition, performance, and  intelligence. Moreover, this data is causing the creation of a “new database” of the bony fossil record, which catalogues fossils at the level of individual collections, has been analyzed to demonstrate that a turning point in human evolution coincides with the inclusion of seafood in the diet.

SO WHAT ABOUT DHA MAKES IT CHANGE SCIENCE PERSPECTIVE ON EVOLUTION? 

GEEK FEST:  DHA is a long chain PUFA and is the most unsaturated fatty acid found in all mammals.  It has 22 carbons and 6 double bonds.  It is designated by 22:6n-3 or 22:6 omega 3.  The double bonds configuration is found in a specific arrangement known as homoallylic, which implies that the double bonds and the methylene groups alternate along the carbon chain.  The double bonds also all have a cis configuration in the molecule.  This is consistent with other PUFA’s found in mammals too.

The molecular structure of DHA impart its rather unique biophysical properties that DHA has in tissues.  The alternating double bonds and the methylene groups make DHA very unstable and susceptible to to chemical attack by active agents like ROS.  The methylene group between the double bonds is is considered to be doubly activated by being doubly allylic.  The cis configuration further activates this position along the carbon chain.  All of these features make DHA very susceptible to oxidation by molecular oxygen.
When the DHA molecule is altered by hydroperoxides it becomes unstable and makes DHA further react with other biomolecules, like fats proteins, or even DNA.  The damage inflicted to the DHA molecule must be removed by metabolic repair mechanisms, like autophagy, because they no long function correctly.  This is precisely what happens to DHA molecules in Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, depression, and in eating disorders. If you read the first cite below the data is there for you to examine.

The curious ability of DHA to remain chemically stable in an oxygenated form in tissues, so that it can also activate and modulate, the physiologic responses of cells is critical in understanding why this lipid was selected for in connecting neuronal tissues by Mother Nature.  This is why DHA is found in abundance neural lipids with very high metabolic rates to support physiologic function.

Ironically, the chemical structure of DHA, outside the brain substance, makes it extremely vulnerable to attack by oxygen and by light.  This is why we must be careful when our only form of DHA comes from supplements, and not in our diet.  This is a grave error I see repeated all over the blogosphere .  When DHA is extracted from fish tissues, DHA is rapidly degraded in air because it no longer has its evolutionary antioxidant protectors with it.  They are stripped out in processing.  It is best when it remains in its evolutionary package and ingested.  This is how DHA retains its best chemical abilities.

After it is eaten and assimilated into tissues, it remains very stable because it is in its evolutionary package protected by iodine and the back up antioxidant systems in cells.  In that package has developed an amazing biologic scavenging system to protect DHA from oxidation and to repair damaged DHA.  Oxidized DHA can no longer connect neurons at the synapse.  It loses its ability to support the amazing metabolic rates that neurons contain.  With out this connective ability, cognitive function crashes quickly.  One of those protection systems in tissues, is the presence of Vitamin E.  Within neurons, mitochondria are again distributed to regions of high metabolic demand, like synapses, nodes of Ranvier, and myelination/demyelination interfaces (Kageyama and Wong-Riley, 1982; Berthold et al., 1993; Rowland et al., 2000; Bristow et al., 2002)  Vitamin E is oxidized before DHA is in cellular life,  and the oxidized products are more stable and can be dealt with more easily by neurons.  There is also the endogenous glutathione peroxidase system as well in the brain.  The endogenous iodine systems is the most impressive protection system for DHA.  It tends to be most critical in the areas where oxidative damage occurs the most frequently, the synapses, where neurons share electrical signals.

NON GEEKS:  The efficiency of antioxidants in protecting DHA is quite astonishing, considering that DHA concentrations are always highest in human tissues that have the highest metabolic rates dictated by physiologic requirements, and by that necessity this means they have the highest levels of activated oxygen.  This is a chemical paradox that shows you just how incredible DHA is for a high performance engine that humans possess in their heads and their chests.

This implies that tissues like the brain and heart need DHA to improve their cellular signal transduction even though oxidation is this molecule’s biggest risk!  DHA has chemical abilities that no other lipid has, so evolution has devoted massive resources and energy toward aquisition and preservation of their own DHA stores and DHA innate protection from oxidative damage.

Let us take a look at this gem from Cite number 1 below:  “Experimental and evolutionary evidence supports the notion of a unique role for DHA in cell membranes. Salem et al.  report that the loss of a single double bond from the hydrocarbon chain significantly alters the properties of the membrane. Computerized three-dimensional energy-minimized structures of DHA (22:6 n-3) compared with DPA (22:5 n-6) demonstrated that the final double-bond in DHA (not present in DPA n-6) enables the molecule to take a slightly spiral (helical) structure. This property is thought to provide the membrane with a certain molecular order or “fluidity” that may be required for optimal functioning”

THE BRAIN AND DHA:  Let us look deeper into the secrets of the neural lipid membrane for our health

DHA is concentrated in the brain and in neural lipids, especially cell membranes.  The reason is simple.  DHA allows for complex signaling that no other lipid can match from a chemical standpoint.  Brain DHA concentrations are remarkably constant accross many terrestrial species irrespective of the diversity of the natural diets.  This has deep implications for all of us with respect to health.  Moreover, this finding is also found in many fish species living in environments over a very broad temperature ranges too.  The colder the temperature of their environment, the more DHA the fish species tends to have.  This is also true in sea mammals.  The reason for this,  is the more DHA a fish has the better fluidity is found in their cell membranes to allow for optimal cellular signaling of complex systems.

All of this data implies that DHA has a very specific molecular role in life.  Many detailed studies show that omega 6 PUFA’s can not replicate what DHA can do in the brain or in nerves.  Vegetarians do not seem to realize this.  The closest omega 6 PUFA is docasapentaenoic acid (22:5n-6, DPA omega6) which has the same number of carbons but only has one less double bond compared to DHA.  Otherwise, it is bioidentical to DHA.  Dietary deprivation of DHA in many species experimentally shows a rise in tissue DPA omega 6,  and a  big fall in DHA.  This result than impairs cellular physiology directly, by altering signaling.  This implies DHA has special cellular signaling properties that can not be replicated by any other lipid.  The real interesting part of the story is that animal based omega 3 DHA is only found in the marine food chain.

Plant based omega 3 is called alpha linolenic acid (ALA).  ALA in human systems is not well converted to long chained DHA in humans because of the enzyme biochemistry in humans is not well developed.  This implies to us that DHA had to be present in abundance when we evolved to naturally select for our big brain.  In humans, ALA is oxidized and used as a source  of energy most frequently, and for carbon backbones to synthesize nonessential compounds like saturated fatty acids and cholesterol.  We now know because of the work of Kaduce in 2008, that adult neurons can make DHA endogenously, but its ability is sharply limited.  These facts are laid out in extreme detail in Cite 1.  If you believe paleo is the solution for a mammal with a large brain, you better examine cite 1 very closely many times before you believe that meme.  This new science shows you it is just not factual.

In adults humans, the DHA synthesis pathway is very inefficient and essentially stops at DPA omega 3, causing a sick brain to be dependent upon a constant source of new DHA.  This is another reason why the Epi-paleo Rx is the best evolutionary answer for a mammal with a large brain.  If that mammals brain is diseased for any reason at all it even becomes more critical for repair.

The interesting evolutionary correlate for humans is the DHA concentrations in breast milk is substantially greater than those of DPA omega 3. This is also true in all tissue of humans too.  Breast milk has a similar profile of the long chained PUFA’s found in neural tissues.  Dr. Remko Kuipers is probably the world expert in this area, and recently spoke at AHS 2012 in Boston.  It appears from reports out of Boston from Kuipers own tweets, his talk was not well attended by our paleo community.  This tells me very few in our community really understand the significance of his work or its implications for our species.  The leaders of this movement were all there, but apparently this talk was not important to their message?  You can ask yourself why?

An uncomfortable thought that goes against a groups dogma is not ‘our” personal enemy.  It might liberate our mind to Optimal health.

The “paleo thought pyramid” is especially interested in promoting mediocre types that promote safe and boring life visions, retread recipe cookbooks, because then one ever needs to fear for his position, which, in case of serious controversy, they’d be forced to defend.

Therefore, for those paleo’s on the top of the pyramid, ‘controversy’ is structurally undesirable.  For them, innovative thinking becomes inevitably controversial. They attack the person and not the ideas they stand upon.

 

Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.

 

I believe it is the mark of an educated mind to sow doubt and disruption where dogma lives.

 

The reason breast milk matches neural tissues is because humans are born immature neurologically.  They have to be to fit out of their mother’s pelvis, so brain development must be stunted to get a live birth.  The human brain grows dramatically for the first 6 years of post natal life. Moreover, the brain is not well myelinated to save space for a successful live birth.  This is how the brain saves space to fit out the mother’s birth canal.  It also has another evolutionary side effect on immunity.  It is the reason why the neuro immune system is deficient for 6 months and the mother has to protect the child from antigens.  Myelin is also the insulation fat that covers many neural fiber tracts.  This is why an infants can’t walk, talk, or perform complex neurologic tasks because its brain fiber tracts are not well insulated and functions much like a person who has MS.  Myelin insulates nerve fibers.  MS is like having massive amounts of short circuits in an electrical system and having no way to to regenerate the immune system response of T helper cells.  This is precisely what MS is like in the human brain and why people with MS have neurologic compromises.

 

METABOLIC  FUNCTIONS OF DHA IN THE BRAIN:

The brain has massive concentrations of DHA in its foundational structure compared to other organ in the body.  This suggests that it is indispensable for the special metabolic functions found in the brain.  It also appears this was critical in overcoming the structural constraint of connect neurons to new places in the brain to develop new abilities.

GEEKS:  Let us again revisit cite number 1 for this massively important insight to human physiology that many seem to be oblivious too:  “These recent advances in understanding the influence of the highly unsaturated DHA molecule in the membrane phospholipids has fueled speculation that it may work as a metabolic “pacemaker” for cells, and perhaps influence the metabolism of the whole organism via an impact on the basal metabolic rate. This theory was tested by Turner et al., who demonstrated a positive linear relationship between the high molecular activity of the enzyme Na+K+ATPase (the sodium-potassium pump) and membrane concentration of DHA in the surrounding phospholipids in brain, heart, and kidney tissue of samples from both mammals and birds. Further, the highest concentration of DHA was found in the mammalian brain as was the highest activity rate of the pump. This is significant as the sodium-potassium pump accounts for some 20% of the basal metabolic rate but approximately 60% of the energy utilization in the brain.

NON GEEKS:  Here is biochemical foundational proof that performance is found in the Epi-paleo Rx and not in offal and bacon.

 

Another interesting factor is the requirement that each organ of the body has for omega 6 and 3 fatty acids. I decided to look into this issue more several years ago when I was researching how to reengineer my own health best. I had always been taught to believe that the brain had a larger DHA omega 3 component than an omega 6 level and it turned out I was dead wrong. The brain makes up 2-3% of our body weight (BW) but has a 100 to 1 ratio of 06 to 03 within it normally. It appears the 0mega 6 to omega 3 ratios and their relationship to phosphotidyl choline and phosphotidyl serine ratios are most critical for cell membrane signaling of environmental signals to our brain.  The amount of these moities in the brain is totally tied to the biochemistry of calcium efflux and calmodulin function.  These function is completely tied to the electromagnetic field of the sun and Earth at the time child forms in utero.  The omega 6/3 ratio is critical for protein confirmational bending in the lipid membrane structure after proteins are made in the brain. This single insight made me realize that mammals do something special with their omega 3’s and 0mega 6′s for some environmental reason.

It appears in certain diseases of the brain, the ratio’s gets dramatically altered, and may actually be a good biomarker for us to use diagnosis and prognosis in neurodegenerative disorders and epigenetic diseases. Skin makes up 4% of our Body Weight and has 1000 to 1 ratio of O6 to O3 normally. Skeletal muscle makes up 50% of our Body Weight and sets its O6/3 ratio at a 6 to 1. Our internal organs, make up 9% of our BW have the lowest ratios at 4 to 1. Adipose tissue sits at 22 to 1 ratio and makes up 15-35% of our total BW depending upon how fat or thin we are. The trend is the lower the metabolic rate of the tissue the lower the amount of DHA is present.  It appears metabolic rates are highly dependent upon the DHA in the tissue.  Why Is that?

 

DHA IS A PROXY FOR METABOLIC RATES AND TISSUE PHYSIOLOGY ABILITIES:

Since the brain has the highest metabolic rate of any tissue in the human body, DHA concentrates in it to improve energy efficiency.

PERFORMANCE ATHLETE ALERT: There is an evolutionary reason for this fact buried in performance physiology.  DHA is not burned for energy in humans.  Once it is obtained it is avidly retained and reused. It is protected from oxidation by the brain’s massive antioxidant system.  this involves iodine, Vitamin E, glutathione, DHEA, Oxytocin, and melatonin in life.  The brain makes up 2-3% of our body weight but consume 20-25% of whole body energy!  It is the ultimate energy hog!  This is why I often refer to it as our Ferrari engine in our head.  It performs rapidly but requires serious resources to remain functioning optimally.  Most of the energy in the brain is tied to phospholipid recycling for cell membrane recycling.  This was reported by Purdon and Rapoport in 2007.  Most people in the research circles think DHA is concentrated in the brain because of conformational fluidity of DHA, but this does not appear to be the case because melting points past the first three double bonds in PUFA’s does not alter melting point abilities of other PUFA’s substantially.  Turner’s paper (cited below) has even deeper implications for humans.  It appears that DHA lipids allow humans membranes to do some unique electrophysiologic things that few other mammals can do.  DHA acts as a metabolic neuro-physiologic pacemaker to amazing biochemical abilities.  DHA appears to directly impact and influence the metabolism of the whole organism via an impact on the basal metabolic rate because of the linear relationship in how the Na/K ATPase functions.

TRUTH BOMB ALERT:  Read this again carefully:  This is significant as the sodium-potassium pump accounts for some 20% of the basal metabolic rate but approximately 60% of the energy utilization in the brain.   This expands all cellular performance like no other physiologic attribute in any mammal on this planet.  This is precisely why humans have special abilities that no other mammal does.  This physiologic dynamic is what really powers the human brain so efficiently.  It is tied to the ability to carry current on these cell membranes.  These neocortical cells abut the CSF that is filled with water to further improve energy efficiency by increasing oxygen release with increased blood blood to the cortex.  How this happens is called quantum magic.

 

TRUTH BOMB #2:  Our biggest attribute is the ability to think. This allows us to radically change the environment that we are ideally adapted to. It has allowed us to dominate all habitats and create havoc in most of them as well. The real human miracle of our minds is not that we can see the world as it is……but that we can see it as it is not, and then change it.

If we think and act incorrectly, we can quickly recalibrate and overcome it. Conversely, we seem to be a prisoner to our paleo-cortex (older less evolved brain), and resist change even when we know it must occur. Many times we will subjugate the best interests of our survival to suit our emotional needs or desires. The real paradox of humanity is that our reasons for the things we do are often weak but our sentiments to do them remain quite strong.  Interestingly, we have overcome that liability as a species many times so far in our history already. Some of us even find comfort in that ability at times.

 

BACK TO THE METABOLIC BRAIN:

 

This is how the brain solved its energy constraint and it is also how the heart and kidney do it too!  The more tissue omega 3 DHA they have the more efficient that are to make energy.  This is found in their physiologic ability to make ATP.  ATP is the key to all life and performance by unfolding proteins to have access to more water binding.  Adding CT to the mix is gravy for this performance.  Cold increases certain types of conduction in a biologic system.  The lower the temperature the more DHA can be applied to a cell’s membranes.  This is why deep sea mammals have so much tissue DHA %.  They need it to maintain performance in ridiculous cold seas over 10,000 feet deep where life almost comes to a standstill.  This directly implies that performance is improved dramatically by increasing tissue omega three levels.  I wonder if any cross fitters or performance athletes realize this foundational fact yet?  I tried to tell them this in Austin in March and the Paleo fx, but they just thought bacon and offal are enough.  The physical culturists just scoffed and laughed at the suggestion and deferred to their “pyramid leaders” who had no clue about this neural biochemistry and what it might mean for our species solution to Optimal.  I warned them proof was coming, but they chose to align themselves with a meme over being open minded to what the science reveals.  Ignorance may be bliss for some, but it wont help you live longer or perform better with bad data.  I think they are operating their businesses with a lot of flawed assumptions from data they have been fed.

 

NON GEEKS:  Our lipids are physiologic superior because of the DHA and iodine contained in the neural lipids of our brain.  This feature is a DEFINING feature of our species and is supported only by a marine food chain.  Still think bacon and offal are that important for your solution to optimal health?  Ask questions when you are not sure of something.  You might find a better answer or a better question to ask about getting to optimal.

 

HOW ABOUT THE EYE?  

This is where the circadian signals first begin to register in the brain’s SCN. (Think CT 4 and 6)

 

NON GEEKS:  I told you the suprachiasmatic nucleus was a big deal to aging and biology in the massively important CT-6.  When your ability to signal light is altered through your eye you die quicker.

 

GEEKS: What does make a difference in paper is the biochemical reactivity of G-protein coupled receptors and DHA because of the addition of that last double bond in DHA.  When neural lipids have that last cis double bond unique things begin to happen when proteins are embedded in the lipid bilayer loaded with DHA.  For example in the eye, the G-protein called rhodopsin, a light sensing protein, markedly alters its biochemistry and metabolism in its interaction with DHA.  DHA actually changes the abilities of rhodopsin to allow it to transduce light quickly because it is able to solubilize rhodopsin more strongly than the saturated fat , palmitate in the cell membrane.  When DHA is removed from the cell membrane we lose the ability to transduce light.  This has been experiementally shown in infant retina who were deficient in DHA.  This effect is mediated by the pi electron cloud I spoke about in Brain Gut 5.  It is a quantum effect directly on the biochemistry of the neural lipid’s interactions with these G coupled proteins.

It is specific to DHA alone.  Again, DHA is only found in the marine food chain in quantities enough to build a human brain.  The better signaling that occurs in the eye is then passed to the SCN.  Optimal signaling in the SCN, means the correct signals will be transduced in the brain to control the giant pharmacy in our hypothalamus that controls the hormones that control our circadian biology and our health.  When the signaling is poor because of low DHA and iodine content in the eye, the ability to signaling correctly  is eroded and aging and disease follow there after.  We laid that foundational work out in Brain Gut 11.  Light can kill us just as well as a fired bullet or a bad western diet can.  The only difference is the intensity and time scale.  The result, however, is identical.

 

IF DHA SUPPORTS HIGH METABOLIC FUNCTION WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR NEOLITHIC DISEASE GENERATION?

GEEKS:  It also turns out that these G- proteins are ubiquitous in all human neural tissues and impart tremendous abilities that we find in the human brain. We also learned recently that human neural tissues are exquisitely vulnerable to low dietary DHA supply early in life.  This is a time when the brain places severe demands on the omega 3 supply to create new structural lipids in neurons.  When the diet is low in DHA in infants, functional deficits become very common.  In adults who are DHA starved (SAD or the standard paleo diet), the brain becomes very effective at preserving and maintaining its DHA levels, while it depletes other tissues DHA levels.  This is why the tissue omega 3 to six ratio’s in humans can be quite instructive to the astute clinician when taking care of patients in the clinic.  When you eat a diet deficient in the DHA your other tissues and organ become depleted of them very quickly very quickly.  The eye is one of those tissues that loses its DHA content quickest.  This is why eye diseases are all linked with the inability to have accurate circadian signaling that leads to diseases of aging.  This is what a cataract is at its foundation.  As this physiologic process progresses we wind up with macular degeneration.  This is what macular degeneration is all about.  It’s incidence and prevalence in the modern world are sky rocketing too.  Read this link.  It is also why people with macular degeneration tend to age faster than one would expect when we look at their labs and their other tissues like arteries.  We talked about how the SCN affects aging and circadian signaling in CT 4, and the CT-6 blog series.

 

DHA LOSS IN ADULTS = SUB-OPTIMAL OFFSPRING:

In adult humans, the DHA deficiency does not just affect the brain composition, in the medium term in the adult life cycle.  We usually do not see functional deficits in adults until later in life.  Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease are great examples of this.  If these adult humans happen to have offspring while they also have a DHA and iodine deficit,  we will see the functional deficits in their children’s neuro-physiology  very quickly.  This is where autism, spectrum disorders, depression and other neurologic disease manifest today in clinical medicine.  Modern medicine has no answers for these disease because they do not realize they are the result of the epigenetic draining of the brain of DHA and iodine.  Yes, these diseases are nutritional diseases at their foundational core.  This is the major reason why modern medicine is oblivious their real causes.  We do not understand the links of diet to bioenergetics.  Life fails without a constant source of efficient energy. A body without ATP is called a corpse.  An organ with an ATP deficit is called an organ in failure.  For example, congestive heart disease or heart failure is a loss of ability to make ATP efficiently.

Also, as a human ages, their total body DHA stores are used up by the brain if the diet is not re supplied constantly with DHA.  The cellular process of autophagy which occurs during sleep,  is when DHA is replaced  and replenished in our sleep.  Melatonin is a critical anti-oxidant hormone in this biologic process.  This is why a low melatonin level is associated with many neuro-cognitive diseases in modern man.   It is also seen in epithelial cancer generation in humans because of how their circadian cycles are uncoupled from our cell cycle that controls cellular growth.  We covered that in Brain gut 11 as well.

 

DHA and FACTOR X = a sped up epigenetics.

Moreover, this is why all neurodegenerative disorders are now becoming more common place in the the 40’s and 50’s instead of later in life, as we saw 50 years ago in epidemiologic studies.  This data has been verified consistenly in shift workers over the last 25 years but has yet to make a major impact in clinical medicine because modern medicine is not privy to the importance of circadian biologic signals and optimal health.  The SAD has been steadily and massively depleted of DHA,  as the diet has become more industrialized and man made.  This is now obvious to anyone in the world.  The problem is modern medicine has not yet realized the functional changes of this effect in their patients as yet.  Supplementing with fish oil is not the answer to a bad diet as some have advocated in their books.  Fish oil can not over come a bad diet, or even a marginally good paleo template, contrary to what you have been led to believe.

Moreover, it has huge implications for a mammal with a large brain, like us, because we rely on massive DHA stores to function well.  The paleo diet will supply some animal based omega 3 DHA, compared to a SAD, but not nearly enough for the optimal functioning of our type of brain.    To replenish dwindling stores and iodine  to help offset neolithic disease, we need a constant marine source.  If you understand how DHA works in human tissues, with their high physiologic functions and metabolism, it should become clear why a diet steeped in shellfish contains the precise nutrient density for a mammal with a big brain and a physiologic need for an efficient system to support its high metabolism.  No tissue uses more ATP  and oxygen than neurons.  Man made food leads to illnesses called neolithic diseases primarily because of the loss of ability to make ATP well in organs.

This ability also extends to other organs to really have a major clinical impact on the physiologic function of all organs, but especially of those of organs with high metabolic rates, like the brain and heart.  If you are following this blog well, it should be no longer be a surprise to you now why heart disease is the number one killer in humans today.  If your brain is deficient in DHA so will your heart.  And your heart also needs a massive supply of oxygen and ATP.  When it does not get it heart failure and a heart attach are the result.  The story about DHA and iodine is all about bioenergetics.  Any tissue that has massive bio-energtics requirements, needs massive supplies to DHA and iodine to run optimally long term.  When you do not have this present, neolithic disease is the result.

THE REAL REASON WHY SEAFOOD MATTERS TO THE HEART:

It also should be intuitive now why dietary DHA content correlates with cardiac health in most modern studies now.  The answer is simple.  DHA preserves its ability to perform optimally, because of its high metabolic and physiologic demands placed upon the organ, namely the heart.  The same is true of the human brain.  Here is where form meets function once again for evolutionary fractal design.  This is why we are seeing higher incidence and prevalence of neurodegeneration, depression and anxiety, and brain tumor formation today.  The best way to avoid brain and heart ailments is to replenish your DHA with a constant source of brain specific nutrients, like iodine.  These nutrients specifically improve the physiologic metabolic demands that organs can function upon.  If you eat the Epi-paleo Rx you are essentially fine tuning your Ferrari engine up constantly your whole life while you age.  Moreover, as you age and your organs slowly fail, as they use up all their stem cells, doing this even becomes more important for health and longevity as we age.  This is why the Mediterranean diet is also consistently found to correlate with longevity.  It is a function of the DHA and iodine in the diet from seafood and salt, that imparts the ability to perform better physiologically over time and not much else for humans.

 

Summary:

Human brain evolution was hampered by two major constraints in evolution that radically changed in transitional apes.  The first was the a metabolic constraint of an alternative fuel source to supply an “energy hog” forming in our skulls over the last 6 million years.  This conundrum was solved by Mother Nature by the development of  subcutaneous fat for brain construction to feed the bioenergenics of the massive neuronal network we evolved from chimps.  Chimps do not have this subcutaneous fat layer because they have a rudimentary brain.  The metabolic neuro-physiology of the brain alone, dictates this evolutionary move and nothing else.  This will be further expanded later in the series.

The structural constraint of brain growth was solved by dramatically altering the use of DHA to alter cell membrane signaling.  Because DHA has unique signaling properties,  it allowed for a more complex array of signaling than was seen previously in primate history and this removed the structural constraint on neurons being connected in many new ways to impart the many unique abilities our species possesses.  Iodine helped further this by providing massive antioxidant protection to the massive increases in synaptic density in the human brain.  DHA is is the single most important lipid in our evolutionary history because it allowed us to connect more neurons to many more new places within the transitional ape’s cerebral cortex.  This exaptation then allowed for the explosion in cognitive abilities we see in the hominid family tree.

 

Now, hopefully, you are beginning to see why Brain Gut 6 is really Homo’s solution to the amazing metabolic rates required by the human heart and brain.  It is also why we have unique abilities compared to chimps too.  The human brain is where all signaling begins to optimize physiologic function.  

 

Once it fails……..your health and performance fails.  Welcome to my new reality and maybe your new reality too.

 

NON GEEKS:  These next 3 paragraphs from Cite 1 will destroy your current reality if you buy the meme of the current “paleo pyramid theme”:

“Broadhust et al. provide compelling evidence that the discovery and subsequent multi-generational exploitation of seafood coincides with the rapid expansion of the cerebral cortex that is unique to modern humans. The brains of 42 modern mammalian species were studied by Crawford et al. and found to be similar in brain chemistry, particularly in the predominant use of DHA in the membrane-rich neural tissues at synapses and in the retina. They found that Homo sapiens are characterized by the disproportionately large brain size in proportion to the body. In every other land-based mammalian species they studied, brain size decreased logarithmically with increases in body size.

Crawford et al. argue that these findings are explained if the relative rate of brain to body growth was rate-limited by the inadequate biosynthesis of DHA in the liver. Support for this theory is given by evidence that in the absence of a significant source of preformed DHA in the food chain, land-based mammalian brains did not substitute the 22-carbon omega-6 fatty acid, docosapentaenoic acid (DPA 22:5n-6), despite its abundance. Thus, they argue, it was brain size that was sacrificed, not the degree of unsaturation in the phospholipid membranes.

TRUTH BOMB ALERT #3:     For those of you who don’t get this importance here it is simply stated:  If you think eating bacon and offal alone is optimal, the opposite might be true.   Your brain will  shrink over time as you age and we can see it on a CT or an MRI scan.  Try that on for size as you live your life.  

By comparison with early humans, the gross expansion of grey matter and enlarged cerebral cortex coincides with increased intelligence in modern humans. The decline in myelination from non ketotic diet leads to autoimmune issues in our modern world.  Perhaps the most widely held theory of evolution explains the growth of human intelligence as due to an interaction between tool making, language development and brain expansion. However, Cunnane and Crawford argue that brain expansion due to the discovery of a convenient source of high-quality dietary nutrients is likely to have preceded both the expansion of the grey matter and the development of language and tools making.”  Becker’s work on the DC current from myelin points to the explosion of neuro immune and autoimmune diseases in our modern world.  Those nutrients that support grey and white matter expansion in humans are all found in the marine food chain of Brain gut 5.

Become aware of what you might not know.

 

When you know better you do better.  Period.

 

CITES:

1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257695/  (Major link to why Epi-paleo Rx was homo’s solution by evolution)

2. Bloom, M. et al. Insights from NMR on the functional role of poly unsaturated lipids in the brain.  Magnetic Resonance and Brain Function- Approaches from Physics, ed. B. Maraviglia.  Proceedings of the 1998 Enrico Fermi International School of Physics, Enrico Fermi Lecture, Course #139, Varenna, Italy, pp. 1-27.

3. Broadhurst, c.L. et al. Brain specific lipidsfrom marine Lacustrine, or terrestrial food resources: Potential imapcton early African Homo Sapiens.  Comp Biochem Physiol. B. Biochem Mol Biol. 131: 653-673

4. Budkowski, P. Crawford, M.A. 1985.   ALA as a regulator of metabolism of  A: Dietary implications of the ration-6:n-3 fatty acids.  Proc. Nutr. Soc 44:221-229

5. Bourre, J.M. et al. The effects of dietary alpha linelenoic acid on the compensation of nerve membranes, enzymatic activity, amplitude of the elctrophysiologic parameters, resistance to poisons and performance of learning tasks in rats.  J. Nutr 119 (12): 1880-92.

6. Crawford, M.A. et al. Evidence for the unique function of DHA during the evolution of the modern hominid brain.  Lipids 34:S39-s47.

7.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14610651  (The Turner paper referenced in the blog)

8.Muriel E., Ruiz J., Ventanas J., Antequera T. Free-range rearing increases (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids of neutral and polar lipids in swine muscles. Food Chem. 2002;78:219–225.

Comments

  1. Well here we are

  2. Jack, is there a limit to the amount of DHA that can be absorbed every day? In other words, if I have two pounds of oysters should I eat it all at once or over two or more days? I assume absorption occurs in the small intestine?

    • As far as I have read there is not. The more we eat the more we store and the faster we turnover our older DHA in our cells to keep signaling optimal. When signaling is optimal disease does not appear.

    • As far as I have read there is not. The more we eat the more we store and the faster we turnover our older DHA in our cells to keep signaling optimal. When signaling is optimal disease does not appear.

  3. ..
    Ok get this… If you mess with your blood glucose and cause inflammation by eating crap you start dumping out tons of insulin (in addition to other stuff, focus here for a sec) to deal with it. This messes with the Na/K ratio which in turn, turns down the brain metabolism functions stealing away from that 60% which will make you cognitively foggy… While the excess Na messes with our BP, thanks to our kidneys, our electrical system of our heart becomes “foggy” too. Which could possibly result in dysrythmias and an inability to sense vascular trouble before it happens leaving someone at
    risk for an MI…. How about that!?!

    • I’d say you got the full implications of DHA in humans………Once one system goes……all signaling goes. This is why we see neolithic diseases as we age. It is gradual decline due to inability to signal because of nutritional losses of the key part of our system’s design. The whole is dependent upon optimal signaling.

  4. TRUTH BOMB ALERT #3: For those of you who don’t get this importance here it is simply stated: If you think eating bacon and offal alone is optimal, the opposite is true. Your brain will shrink over time as you age and we can see it on a CT or an MRI scan. Try that on for size as you live your life.
    Now THAT is going to leave a mark…

    • Like I said recently in the BG 12. When you first hear the truth……it is gonna piss you off. Then if you absorb it and assimilate it and adapt……..well, Optimal is within your grasp. That is the essence of transformational change and what I was trying to convey in my opening remarks at Paleo Fx.

  5. Your work is amazing! Makes so much sense! Obviously food is the best place to get iodine, but would supplements be worth it for someone that won’t eat seafood often? Would kelp be of any benefit?

    • No, as I mentioned to Ben G above……Fish oil can never replace a good or bad diet. It must be contained in the proper evolutionary envelope as I laid out in BG 6.

  6. Ben Greenfield says:

    Great post, and really eye opening (pun intended) in terms of DHA importance (and also the subpar nature of many sources…I’m interviewing Brian Peskin tomorrow for my podcast, incidentally).

    So this made me feel especially smug in light of all the fresh sashimi wrapped in nori I had for lunch. But relevance…are there folks out there reading your blog who are actually shying away from marine food sources? I mean, is there some kind of fish-fear epidemic I’m unaware of?

    • @Ben G go read the popular paleo 1.0 books. They rarely mention seafood at all. In fact one of the more popular ones has a fish oil calculator in it that will kill you if you follow it. The Paleo Answer is the best Paleo 1.0 book out there in terms of bibliography and scope…….one huge problem……..Homo did not evolve in the paleolithic. We came before it so what our solution is not found in the paleolithic…….it is found in the pilocene……where the cold swept into Africa when the sea did. BG 4 lays out that geology in excruciating detail; What I am laying out is the very massively important details for us as a species to follow. Evolution dictates are more important than any book my friend. I am just the guy with the flashlight showing you what I have found in my 40 some odds years of exploration.

  7. If someone’s body is flooded with halides like flouride, etc and the ability to uptake iodine is impaired would the other brain antioxidants (assuming they were plentiful in the body) take over to keep the DHA oxidation to a minimum until iodine is plentiful again?

  8. I’m going to try to inject a little common sense here. I think the debate over whether shore based food was a significant part of the early hominid diet is somewhat ridiculous. All life optimizes available resources. Since we know that early man clustered along marine and lacustrine enviroments, it makes eminent sense that marine and lacustrine food sources would be a significant part of their diet. Hominids would certainly have exploited land based food sources as well. However, what is easier? Digging for clams at low tide, using fish traps (easy to build with stones) or spears, gathering seaweed and collecting scallops adhered to rocks or spending days hunting a large mammal? I’m sure both scenarios occurred with regularity, but humans clustered around water sources because of the ease of collecting the basis of their diet.
    Cunane and Crawford have summarized and quantified published data that shows that humans cannot make sufficient docosahexaenoic acid to maintain normal infant brain development.That’s kind of “end of the story”, don’t you think? They also provide evidence that the fossil record shows that some of the earliest hominids were regularly consuming fish.
    I think abundant evidence is showing that access to shore-based diets containing abundant DHA was necessary for hominid encephalization beyond the level seen in the great apes.
    I think I’ll have steamed clams for dinner.

    • @Kathylu Sense is neither common or sensical when there are different modus operundi’s underlying the dogma of a movement.

    • When I think of the early stone age tribes that lived in North America, it would seem that the vast majority lived inland, not on the coasts. Geographically, coastal areas are very small compared to inland area. Many hunted buffalo and had no access to seafood.

    • This is so illustrative and such fun to read! I love this- “Since we know that early man clustered along marine and lacustrine enviroments, it makes eminent sense that marine and lacustrine food sources would be a significant part of their diet. Hominids would certainly have exploited land based food sources as well. However, what is easier? Digging for clams at low tide, using fish traps (easy to build with stones) or spears, gathering seaweed and collecting scallops adhered to rocks or spending days hunting a large mammal? “

  9. What about eating animal’s brains as a source of DHA? thanks.

    • A nice source but not one that is constant. There is not great record of hominids specifically evolving around a pile of animal skulls to eat their brains constantly but there is overwhelming data that we lived around water as we evolved and as we moved out of Africa. What formed us from apes was DHA from the marine environment. What sustained in the later paleolithic is a different matter all together. Were optimal lies for our species is based upon how we evolved and not what we can adapt to……..and that is the essence of what this series is exposing for the reader. Examine the data and then decide whose solution is best for you.

  10. Awesome Post..!
    And congratulations for the new website. Excellent work..!!

  11. Dr. Kruse,

    Don’t know how much you know about Udo Erasmus (He wrote fats that heal, fats that kill back in the 90’s–pushing epa/dha heavy back then emphasizing how damaging heat,light, O2 are to oils). He always use to point out how most of the fish oils are lousy and oxidized, therefore no good. He has his own brand of Vegan DHA that he grows in from the algae in tanks and claims that they aren’t oxidized at all (http://udoerasmus.com/products/oil_blend_DHA_en.htm) In your opinion, do you think it is is a marketing gimick/impossible to get undamaged DHA in a packaged oil (avoiding heat/light/O2), or might it be possible his is really undamaged/unoxidized?

    • @Ben G. I think there is no better source than DHA from the marine food chain when you are human. Fish oil alone in supplement form will never meet the biologic or bioenergics of DHA from shell fish and seafood.

      • Love the new layout. Easier to read. great blog. Like watching the tapestry of life slowly filling in. (Quilt of life). I’ve been hanging around here for awhile, just getting better, and I need to shout out to y’all something that I have fully absorbed. Jack is a very patient man, but he’s probably stated this more than anything so far. EAT WHOLE SEAFOOD AND SEA VEGETABLES. NO SUPPLEMENTS,DRUGS OR EXTRACTS WILL WORK AS WELL OR SAFELY. THIS IS A WHOLE FOODS DIET. WHOLE SEAFOOD WILL MAKE YOU THE BEST THAT YOU CAN BE. Add proper circadian living and a cold swim everyday and you will become optimal. This is really simple. If you want to know why this is true read the blogs. Thank you Jack.

  12. I don’t know if Paul Jaminet has it right but he thinks high concentrtions of DHA are cancer causing because of angiogenesis:
    http://perfecthealthdiet.com/2011/05/dha-and-angiogenesis-the-bottom-line/

    • I’ll stick to the the published literature and the work I have cited here as what is best for us. Paleo has its own special brand of quackery and it really is for the user/consumer to decide what is based firmly in evolutionary medicine and what is not.

      • Well Said. How can we recommend huge Fish consumption when Most of it is Farm bred and Fed with grain and soy? Surely there is a Big difference in iodine and dha Levels Depending on Wild versus Farm Fish? How about Heavy Metal consumption on a Daily Shellfish Nutrition?

  13. Are you saying that Hashi’s can or cannot be reversed with an epi-paleo? Also, why is this considered a genetic disease (my mom has it, as well, and my children are likely to get it as well?) if iodine and DHA can be replenished through diet, and counteracted via CT? Does a mother’s diet during pregnancy set the lifelong stage for the fetal brain development? Same with ADHD? How much control do we really have in prevention and/or reversal of these diseases?

  14. Allright, just a practical problem. A friend of mine noticed the expensive fish oil capsules in her stool. She then started crushing them. Apparently the capsules can be very tough to digest. I suggested liquid Carlson’s cod liver oil- cheap and no bad taste. I understand it’s better to eat the whole shellfish and finfish than supplements. But if u have massive inflammation, hi cortisol levels, i had read to also take supps up to 10-15 gms to bring the inflammation down. A twist on it, is to add some borage oil to block something called side conversion (i can’t remember if that is the correct term.)

    i was listening to a Jimmy Moore podcast. he asked why they don’t put coconut oil in fish oil capsules instead of the crap they actually use. He must not have been aware that sat fat blocks some DHA absorption if taken at the SAME meal.

    • Jimmy is not a man of science. He is a social media connector. View him as such. When he delves into science himself I remain silent. When he reports on what men of science say, I listen. There is a big distinction there.

      • @ Dali Dula said
        “EAT WHOLE SEAFOOD AND SEA VEGETABLES. NO SUPPLEMENTS,DRUGS OR EXTRACTS WILL WORK AS WELL OR SAFELY. THIS IS A WHOLE FOODS DIET. WHOLE SEAFOOD WILL MAKE YOU THE BEST THAT YOU CAN BE. Add proper circadian living and a cold swim everyday and you will become optimal. This is really simple. If you want to know why this is true read the blogs. Thank you Jack.

        We all need something true and simple to follow-your smart, pithy summary is a good take home message for all new comers and an excellent reminder for those of us caught up in the complexities of understanding these great blogs.

  15. Do Alzheimer’s brains shrink?
    Once a brain shrinks can it grow again if one eats an Epi Paleo diet?

  16. Dr Kruse, if “food
    is my medicine, not my entertainment” this means that marine
    food ,CT and circadian cycles are essential for optimal health for
    the years we have left to live. Paleo is not particularly helpful but
    not harmful. Everything else that we eat & drink is our decision
    to become ill. Standing-up and walking, perhaps a sprint now and
    again, and that should be enough exercise. Is that the 30,000 ft
    view?

    • Paleo is helpful to a person with a bad diet diet…….it is harmful if it keeps from an Optimal diet. Exercise should be in MovNat form and no you dont need a ton of it if youre doing everything else correctly.

  17. To dig into fish oil supplements a little further… Along with my epi paleo diet including lots of seafood, I am still taking fish oil supplements as recommended by a cardiologist. I have mild non-symptomatic CAD, and fish oil (plus fish from food?) has helped to keep my trigs low. Is a fish oil supplement of any use in this context? Should I try to stop them to see impact on the trigs? Thank you, Doctor, you have changed my life!

  18. To dig into fish oil supplements a little further… Along with my epi paleo diet including lots of seafood, I am still taking fish oil supplements as recommended by a cardiologist. I have mild non-symptomatic CAD, and fish oil (plus fish from food?) has helped to keep my trigs low. Is a fish oil supplement of any use in this context? Should I try to stop them to see impact on the trigs? Thank you, Doctor, you have changed my life!

  19. Are lamb brains a good source of DHA and iodine?

  20. Jack,
    I got through about the first paragraph before I had a dozen or so new tabs open looking up various things about DHA. Still have more reading on it, but awesome info.

    In tying things together, is it correct that to say that the cold exposure in CT would help the body to more readily assimilate DHA into tissues along with the other benefits?
    As a result, we see further improved cellular signalling, which helps the hormone balances we fix with proper circadian cycles, better gut health, and improved leptin sensitivity become more efficient since, which lets us absorb more nutrients we need and further improves our ability to properly account for food calories, which allows UCP to burn calories for heat, which is elevated by CT, which lower inflammation and helps us be reductive instead of oxidative, and we have a nice happy optimal circle where disease is reversed and health is restored? So awesome! Am I missing anything?

    Sidenote – Loved your comment about viewing food as medicine vs. entertainment.
    Made me think then when food is used for entertainment for too long the body begins to look and feel like times square after new years eve.

    Thanks for the awesome info you provide!

  21. Jack: I wonder if you could email me the blog post by the young Australian gymnast that had to be removed? I have a friend whose son is having trouble healing an ankle injury and I want him to know there are options other than meds. Thanks

  22. Mitch Moore says:

    I’ve noticed for many years that aging robs us of our subcutaneous fat layer never realizing it’s relationship to disease – DUH – how could I have missed that connection. Aging is sooo disease!
    So Jack, it sounds like the nutritional remedy is DHA, iodine, and omega-6 fats (in appropriate amounts). What are the best sources of omega-6 fats come from in an Epi-Paleo diet?

    Also you mentioned vitamin E, phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylcholine – same question – best EP sources?

    Thanks for your help!

  23. Love your Brain Gut posts! Would the benefits of CT outweigh the downsides of chlorine exposure? I have access to a pool but it is unfortunately chlorinated, not saltwater. Or would you just stick to ice and/or cold bath?

    • @Meghan great question that I honestly dont know the answer for. I would imagine if you had a large toxin burden you would need to consider moving to salt water pools or the ocean

  24. Also, I’ve had lower back issues for years (since college) and recently injured it exercising. If I went on an aggressive Epi-Paleo diet and treated it locally with ice/cold, how long do you think it take for bone/muscle integrity to substantially increase? I’m assuming being a vegetarian up into my late 20’s has comprised the integrity of my spine… I’m 31 now, but hopefully its not too late…

  25. Jack, you recommend fish and krill oil supplements on yor web page. I have purchased them. In this blog, you seem to say they are ineffective. Please clarify – should I continue to buy them?

    • @Count. Everything has its context. The blog may not contain your proper context. Without knowing about your particular situation there is no way to say. What the blog says the best way to get DHA and iodine is by eating real food. That idea never changes. Supplements have their time and place.

  26. Dr Kruse, I purchased a book of biochemistry by Stryer et al, which I was told is the bible of the subject… and there is not one mention I can find of DHA! You are indeed a shining light. Having trouble accessing your comments on the new site, and it would help me if you could explain further your comment that food containing DHA CAN'T be burned for energy. I have also been viewing depictions and explanations of the brain. The pinal gland is a light-sensitive clock which affects sleep and sex glands. Flippantly, is this a lights on/lights off situation?

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