The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it. ... In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act. George Orwell

Saturday, September 24, 2011

How Our Genes Respond to the Foods We Eat

Interesting and important research coming from Berit Johansen,Ingerid Arbo, Hans-Richard Brattbakk et al., from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (note *):

Feed Your Genes: How Our Genes Respond to the Foods We Eat


If you could ask your genes to say what kinds of foods are best for your health, they would have a simple answer: one-third protein, one-third fat and one-third carbohydrates. That's what recent genetic research from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) shows is the best recipe to limit your risk of most lifestyle-related diseases.

NTNU researchers Ingerid Arbo and Hans-Richard Brattbakk have fed slightly overweight people different diets, and studied the effect of this on gene expression.

"We have found that a diet with 65% carbohydrates, which often is what the average Norwegian eats in some meals, causes a number of classes of genes to work overtime," ... "This affects not only the genes that cause inflammation in the body, which was what we originally wanted to study, but also genes associated with development of cardiovascular disease, some cancers, dementia, and type 2 diabetes -- all the major lifestyle-related diseases," she says.

"Both low-carb and high-carb diets are wrong," says Johansen. "But a low-carb diet is closer to the right diet. A healthy diet shouldn't be made up of more than one-third carbohydrates (up to 40 per cent of calories) in each meal, otherwise we stimulate our genes to initiate the activity that creates inflammation in the body." This is not the kind of inflammation that you would experience as pain or an illness, but instead it is as if you are battling a chronic light flu-like condition. Your skin is slightly redder, your body stores more water, you feel warmer, and you're not on top mentally. Scientists call this metabolic inflammation.

It was not only inflammatory genes that were putting in overtime, as it would turn out. Some clusters of genes that stood out as overactive are linked to the most common lifestyle diseases.
"Genes that are involved in type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's disease and some forms of cancer respond to diet, and are up-regulated, or activated, by a carbohydrate-rich diet," says Johansen.

"We're not saying that you can prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer's if you eat right, but it seems sensible to reduce the carbohydrates in our diets," she suggests.

The immune system operates as if it is the body's surveillance authority and police. When we consume too many carbohydrates and the body is triggered to react, the immune system mobilizes its strength, as if the body were being invaded by bacteria or viruses.
"Genes respond immediately to what they have to work with. It is likely that insulin controls this arms race," Johansen says. "But it's not as simple as the regulation of blood sugar, as many believe. The key lies in insulin's secondary role in a number of other mechanisms. A healthy diet is about eating specific kinds of foods so that that we minimize the body's need to secrete insulin. The secretion of insulin is a defense mechanism in response to too much glucose in the blood, and whether that glucose comes from sugar or from non-sweet carbohydrates such as starches (potatoes, white bread, rice, etc.), doesn't really matter."

Johansen has some encouraging words, however, for those of us who have been eating a high carbohydrate diet. "It took just six days to change the gene expression of each of the volunteers," she says, "so it's easy to get started. But if you want to reduce your likelihood of lifestyle disease, this new diet will have to be a permanent change."

The best is to cut down on potatoes, rice and pasta, and to allow ourselves some of the good stuff that has long been in the doghouse in the refrigerator.
"Instead of light products, we should eat real mayonnaise and sour cream," Johansen says, "and have real cream in your sauce, and eat oily fish.

Fountain-of-youth genes

Johansen's research also shows that some genes are not up-regulated, but rather the opposite -- they calm down rather than speed up.

"It was interesting to see the reduction in genetic activity, but we were really happy to see which genes were involved. One set of genes is linked to cardiovascular disease. They were down-regulated in response to a balanced diet, as opposed to a carbohydrate-rich diet," she says. Another gene that was significantly differently expressed by the diets that were tested was one that is commonly called "the youth gene" in the international research literature.
"We haven't actually stumbled on the fountain of youth here," Johansen laughs, "but we should take these results seriously. The important thing for us is, little by little, we are uncovering the mechanisms of disease progression for many of our major lifestyle-related disorders."

(I wish to express my thanks to chili_in_a_can from McDougall's vegan forum for publishing the article link)


Contact: Berit Johansen, Department of Biology, NTNU
TEL. +47 73 59 86 91 E-MAIL: berit.johansen at bio dot ntnu dot no

More articles on this topic:

What should we eat to stay healthy?

Best diet: One-third protein, carbs, fat


*) Note the effect this article may have had in Norway, recently (December 2011): link


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Destruction of economy by parasitic governments and financial institutions


The destruction of our economy by parasitic governments and financial institutions


Most countries’ financial centers and governments are currently in the process of expanding the supply of world currencies and cheap credit, in order to boost their own budgets, salaries and political power and to avoid recessions.   One of the effects of this policy is the protection of their own personal wealth consisting of paper assets such as bond and stock funds that would otherwise have collapsed.


A similar expansion of the monetary supply has historically led to the de-industrialization of  entire regions or countries that followed such policies for a sustainable period of time, typically over several generations.   On the surface, the mechanism of such de-industrialization seems to work by inflating the costs of doing business faster than the price inflation of manufactured goods and services produced by affected companies, thus destroying profitability, especially when a vast supply of goods is available from peripheral provinces or from other countries.  One such example was the 5th century Roman Empire (see Fall Of Empire essay), the other one is 16th century Spain under Philip II.

“Nuts and bolts”

Industrial companies that may initially enjoy the cheap credit, use it to expand production facilities or other business assets, which then leads to excess production or excess supply of services and inevitably destroys profitability.   Decreasing profitability reduces investment yield, the Return On Investment (ROI) but it also serves to restrain the inflationary pressure fuelled by the financial expansion.   The reduced inflationary pressure due to collapsing profitability allows the central banks and governments to maintain the low inter-banking lending interest rate which in turn facilitates the issuance of even more credit, including borrowing by the governments for virtually limitless spending on themselves.

Risk management, CDS and leverage

The issuance of more and more credit to an expanding circle of corporate and other borrowers at a time of falling yields would have normally been stopped at some level by the rising risk premium preventing a further reduction of interest rates.  Rising loan risk would have acted as a negative feedback preventing the currently observed unprecedented drop in interest rates and related bond yields.  It would have ultimately prevented excessive credit generation.   The negative risk-mediated feedback has been sabotaged by the use of a special form of financial credit insurance called “Credit Default Swaps” (CDS).   CDS allowed the lending institutions to exceed the lending limits imposed by the normal risk avoidance standards (and by common sense) , by allowing them to profitably lend, giving very low and falling loan interest rates.   In this low interest rate environment, it was necessary to lower the required capital reserve for banks and financial institutions such as hedge funds in order to maintain the expected profitability.  Until recently, this required capital reserve was decreed to be 1:11 (capital-to-total loans), which was recently further reduced by the “Basel 3” agreement to 1:30 bringing the world banks to similar “standards” as hedge  funds which “enjoyed”  the 30:1 leverage even before the 2008 crash  (Leverage is the inverse of the capital requirement).

Positive feedback loop of destruction

Apart from destroying industrial profits, the excessive credit also creates bubbles in selected investment sectors such as stock, futures and bonds.  Rising bond prices are further depressing  the yields and interest rates which further accelerated the lending.  This situation is described in science and engineering by the term “positive feedback loop”. This means that even a small input stimulus is amplified by the system and fed back to an input, amplifying itself further until the system reaches some very large deviation from an equilibrium, and saturates or the system breaks down.

Eventually financial companies flee the market where interest rates and Return On Investment (ROI) has been depressed, moving most of their investment capital off-shore to countries where the ROI is still high.   The process is repeated until all manufacturing economies end up eventually running unprofitable industries, subsidized at first by the investment capital influx, later by government subsidies to maintain employment and to prevent the paper assets backed by industry from crashing.   Subsidized manufacturing in poorer countries floods the world market with underpriced industrial goods allowing prices of industrial goods to remain stagnant (deflation) in spite of the rapid expansion of the financial system and money.
I saw the future...
The last stage of this economic destruction is the breakdown of the unprofitable manufacturing, resources and agricultural sectors when the subsidies run out or when the employees refuse to work under the austere conditions imposed upon them by the profit squeeze. This process, like the credit growth itself, is also governed by the positive feedback law.   Once started, it will accelerate, fuelling itself like a cancer or fire.  This will happen specifically, when food prices and the cost of living overtake the wages paid by unprofitable manufacturing companies causing industrial disruption due to strikes and closures, leading to further increases in the cost of living and so on.   

The impact of this upon the developed countries that almost totally depend upon the subsidized under-priced production from the developing countries, will be equally severe.  A decline of the subsidized imports of industrial and consumer goods will cause the supply chain to break down in the developed economies, leading to explosive inflation of all prices for manufactured goods, commodities, food and services.  The ensuing inflation will put an upward pressure on interest rates which government will no longer be able to obfuscate or manipulate using financial techniques alone.


The  inflation-induced jump in interest rates and yields will crash the bond market (bond values are inverse to their yields).  Old bonds will drop in value destroying most of the pension funds and probably most of the financial institutions, given that it may trigger an avalanche of CDS claims (another positive feedback) which will accelerate the institutional and systemic collapse.  At the same time, the new bonds will become very expensive for borrowers to issue, thereby derailing the “gravy train” enjoyed by governments and large corporations the world over.  It may even make the refinancing or rollover of old debt impossible.

The break-down of the government bond market will cause currency exchange rates to vary wildly and may cause some currencies to crash and disappear, beginning with those countries that will default on their government bonds first and ending with probably all presently known paper currencies disappearing and being replaced by something else.  

Science, technology and ideas (including business ideas) are unlimited.   Completely new industrial companies, technologies and services will be created, filling in the present business vacuum, using new-old forms of self-financing and capital-rising that are more robust and do not depend on large financial institutions and governments.  This will happen in the countries that  provide a legal framework effective in protecting private ownership and civil order yet not stifled by any excessive legislation or taxation.

The good news is that that which worked in the past, will work in the future, and what didn’t work in the past will not work in the future either.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Milk and 40 Countries Study

An old paper: "Differences in Coronary Mortality Can Be Explained by Differences in Cholesterol and Saturated Fat Intakes in 40 Countries but Not in France and Finland"

The study found that "...with comparable intakes of dietary cholesterol in France and Finland, the CHD mortality rate for men aged 55 to 59 was four times higher in Finland than in France."

In science, finding an exception to a theory always serves as an opportunity to revaluate the theory. Except with the "Fat And Cholesterol Theory" (of heart disease). Since Fat And Cholesterol Theory is treated as fact, finding exceptions to the theory has been used instead to revaluate the exceptions rather than the theory.

One reason that I would consider table 3 having higher chance of reflecting some possible real effects, is that it shows the countries of the similar culture, level of development and standard of living, where as the statistical correlations shown in table 1 are done over vastly dissimilar populations whose different level of development produces totally different set of health hazards that may completely mask any food influence.  For example, most developed countries exhibit both high meat consumption and high CHD (but also higher longevity!). Similar statistics done within one country show typically completely different correlation, the most striking feature is typically a disapearance of correlation between Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) and fat, like for example in Malmo Study.

Correlations between Cholesterol and Saturated (fat) Index (CSI) or other consumption attributes and heart disease across Europe may or may not reflect causal connections. There may be many spurious factors possibly involved. However, if we assume, for the sake of discussion that the correlations in Table 3 may be reflecting some causal connections, then this presents us immediately with another "paradox" and not just about France but also involving other West European countries! Namely, that cholesterol and saturated fat cannot possibly explain the huge discrepancy of CHD stats between France, Germany (West), UK and Finland! One immediately notices that while CHD almost doubles from one country to the next in table 3, cholesterol and saturated fat consumption index is roughly the same! More specifically, the fact that butterfat remains also roughly the same (given typical low accuracy of the food statistics) - automatically invalidates the authors' conclusion published at the end (at least the part implicating "butterfat"). Comparison of other factors (except milk) between Germany and the UK also shows no clear trend, yet the CHD is vastly different!

Milk on the other hand, shows a clearly rising consumption trend in Table 3, that tracks the magnitude of the CHD! Not milk fat, not butter and not milk protein (cheese) - just milk! Why milk, what milk, is it real or spurious? If real, does it apply only to milk in Europe or in other parts of the world as well?