Master Your Health
#089 - The Role of Acid-Base Balance in Health - Dr. Lynda Frassetto
On this episode of humanOS Radio, I speak with Lynda Frassetto. Lynda is a Professor Emeritus of Medicine in the Division of Nephrology at UCSF. During her research career, she and her colleagues investigated regulation of acid-base balance in both healthy and older people, as well as dietary influences on acid-base balance.
In particular, she has explored how the ratios of potassium to sodium, as well as base to chloride, differ in the modern diet versus the ancestral diet, and how these changes may be linked to greater risk of chronic disease as we get older.
Anthropological evidence suggests that ancient hominids consumed far less sodium and far more potassium, and specifically more potassium alkali salts (primarily from wild plants). The reduction in potential base in the modern diet increases the net systemic acid load, and this in turn may take a physiological toll in myriad ways. Chronic acid load appears to play a role in osteoporosis, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and even age-related decline in growth hormone secretion.
Naturally, lots of questions emerge from this idea. Which nutritional components determine whether a diet is net acid-producing? And what can we do about it on an individual basis? Should we take potassium supplements to rectify the imbalance? Could restoring a healthy sodium to potassium ratio be a hidden anti-aging tool?
To learn about how you can live a more alkaline life, check out the interview!
#088 - Avocatin B and Obesity - Paul Spagnuolo
On this episode of humanOS Radio, Dan speaks with Paul Spagnuolo. Dr. Spagnuolo has a PhD in Applied Health Sciences from the University of Waterloo, and is currently a Professor at the Department of Food Science at the University of Guelph in Ontario Canada.
His lab has been focused on identifying and developing nutraceuticals as novel therapeutic agents, and figuring out the molecular and cellular mechanisms through which these food-derived bioactive compounds influence cell biology. To that end, the Spagnuolo lab has created a unique, in-house nutraceutical library that is conducive for high-throughput screening. This is useful because it allows the lab to efficiently search for compounds with potent and selective toxicity against cancer cells.
When screening this natural health product library for potential therapeutics, they discovered avocatin B, a mixture of polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols that is found exclusively in avocados. Avocatin B is a potent inhibitor of fatty acid oxidation (FAO), which makes it a promising candidate as a drug to block or delay some of the cellular processes that lead to insulin resistance and diabetes. In theory, reducing FAO in skeletal muscle and in pancreatic beta cells would force cells to burn glucose instead of fatty acids. This boost in glucose oxidation would be expected to lower blood sugar levels and restore insulin sensitivity.
But of course, the only way to know whether it actually works is to put it to the test.
Paul and his team wanted to explore whether this avocado compound could indeed help with metabolic syndrome. To that end, they recently performed a series of experiments testing avocatin B in rodent models of obesity and insulin resistance, as well as a randomized controlled clinical trial in humans. To learn what they found, check out the interview!
#087 - Carnosine and LactiGo - Dr. Brad Dieter
On this episode of humanOS Radio, Dan speaks with Brad Dieter. Brad has a PhD in Exercise Physiology from the University of Idaho, and did further training in biomedical research examining how metabolism and inflammation regulate molecular mechanisms of disease. He is a scientist, a coach, an entrepreneur, a writer, and a speaker, so he wears a lot of different hats.
Brad has been leading research behind transdermal delivery of carnosine. Carnosine is a buffer of acidosis in skeletal muscle, and exercise trials have shown that higher levels of carnosine in muscle can help delay the onset of fatigue during exercise associated with acidosis and enable athletes to work longer at a high intensity. But oral supplemental methods of boosting carnosine - such as beta-alanine - can be cumbersome and time-consuming. You have to take relatively large, divided doses every day for up to 4-6 weeks before you see a benefit.
To that end, he helped with the research and development of LactiGo, the first effective topical carnosine product for humans. LactiGo is a fast-acting gel which delivers carnosine to skeletal muscle through the skin, and tests of this product are pretty persuasive. In one double-blind pilot study, elite soccer players were able to cross the finish line up to 5.9 feet sooner when running the 40 yard dash. And this was just after a single application of the product!
To learn more about how carnosine works, and about LactiGo, check out the interview!
#086 - Gut Microbiome and Immunity - Dr. Lucy Mailing
Within our gut resides a vast ecosystem that guides countless facets of health and performance. Emerging research shows that your gut microbiota may impact many different and seemingly unrelated aspects of health and bodily function, including appetite and body weight regulation, lifespan, mood, cognition, and even athletic performance.
We also know that the gut plays a role in the immune system. In fact, it is thought that over 70% of the body’s immune cells reside in the gut. Throughout life, gut microbes shape and regulate the immune system, and the immune system in turn guides the composition of the flora in the gut.
We think gut microbes work a lot of their magic by generating crucial metabolites, and these metabolites can help modulate the immune system response to invading viruses. For example, one remarkable study from a couple years ago found feeding mice a high-fiber diet increased their probability of survival when the rodents were infected with influenza, and it appeared to be due to increased production of SCFAs.
So, does this mean that eating lots of fiber can help protect us from getting sick? What other components of the diet might modulate the immune system? And how does aging figure into this puzzle - could maintaining a healthy gut microbiome help protect older adults, who are generally at greater risk of infection?
On this episode of humanOS Radio, Dan speaks with Lucy Mailing. Lucy has a Phd in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Illinois. Her research focused on the effects of diet and exercise on the gut microbiome and gut barrier function in states of health and disease.
She recently wrote a broad overview on what we know - and what we don’t know - about the role of the gut in the immune system, as well as some ideas of what we can do to support the gut-immune axis. This is, obviously, a very important and painfully relevant topic, so we knew we had to have her on to discuss it.
To learn more about how gut health affects resistance to infections, check out the interview!
#085 - The Complicated Relationship Between Sleep and Mood - Dr. Jennifer Goldschmied
In this episode of humanOS Radio, Dan speaks with Jennifer Goldschmied. Jennifer has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Michigan, and is currently faculty at the University of Pennsylvania.
Her research explores how altering aspects of sleep can produce changes in mood and emotional regulation, particularly in those with major depression. Jennifer’s work has led her to investigate a long-recognized but poorly understood clinical paradox: Certain individuals actually experience mood improvement in response to sleep loss. You read that right - total sleep deprivation has been shown to have antidepressant effects. Remarkably, an estimated 40-60% of people with major depression may experience significant improvements in symptoms.
Of course, these benefits dissipate once the patient’s sleep is restored, which is probably why interest in this as a therapy has lagged. But Jennifer and her colleagues are starting to figure out why precisely sleep deprivation seems to improve mood, and which individuals might stand to benefit from sleep manipulation. You can imagine that gaining insight into this strange phenomenon may eventually lead to new treatments for depression and other mental disorders. To learn more about her fascinating research, and what is on the horizon for this work, check out the interview!
#084 - Ergogenic Aids to Enhance Sports Performance - Jeff Rothschild
The market for dietary supplements to enhance sports performance has exploded in recent years. In fact, you may have tried some of these supplements yourself to improve your workouts.
Many common supplements, like caffeine, have been studied in the context of immediate performance enhancement, and are used with that goal in mind. But the effect of chronic supplementation, particularly in endurance training, is not as well understood. Furthermore, it is not as clear how performance-enhancing supplements might influence the adaptive response to exercise training. Training-induced adaptations are the product of repeated stimuli from exercise sessions, as well as accumulated changes in gene expression, which gradually result in adaptive changes like greater muscle mass as well as more efficient muscle contractions.
Dietary intake of certain substances can, in theory, affect training adaptations in a couple different ways. They can achieve this by simply increasing the exercise stimulus from a single training bout - basically just enabling an athlete to train longer or harder, or reducing perceived exertion. But they may also be able to affect gains in endurance by altering cellular responses to exercise-induced stress. For instance, supplements like buffering agents and antioxidants may modify the cellular signaling response to training by affecting acid-base balance, reactive oxygen species signaling, or redox status. Importantly, these changes in cell signaling may not be universally beneficial from the standpoint of adaptation.
This raises a number of interesting questions. How significant is the impact of these supplements from a practical standpoint? And how do we separate acute effects on training duration and intensity from chronic effects on training adaptations? Is it possible that a supplement could simultaneously make it easier for an athlete to exercise hard, but also have effects on cellular signaling that actually have a long-term negative impact on the adaptive response to training?
On this episode of humanOS Radio, Dan welcomes Jeff Rothschild to the show. Jeff is a Registered Dietitian with a Master’s in Nutrition Science, and is a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD).
He has worked with an impressive array of athletes - his clients include multiple Olympians, State Champions, collegiate All-Americans, and professional tennis players, as well as recreational athletes and folks who are trying to complete their first triathlon.
Jeff recently wrote a fascinating review exploring the impact of dietary supplements on adaptations to endurance training. He came on the show to discuss his findings, and what they might mean for athletes and generally active people who want to maximize the time and effort that they dedicate to their training. To learn more about how various nutritional supplements might affect your training - both short and long term - check out the interview!
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