The Arrow #179

Hello everyone.

Greetings from Boulder, Colorado.

This edition of The Arrow may be a little shorter than usual simply because my travel schedule is a bit intense this week. It seems as if every time I’ve written this in previous Arrows, it always ends up longer than usual, so we’ll see what happens. But if it is a little shorter, you’ll know what happened. And I’ll make up for it next week when the travel isn’t so brutal.

Last week’s edition must have struck a chord with a lot of people, because I got more poll responses than ever before. I’m going to go over a few, because if one person writes it another 50 probably think it.

Poll Responses

Difficulty Losing Weight

I started off last week’s Arrow by discussing the difficulty many people have in losing weight. I wrote that the one surefire way to lose was to not eat. Which always works, one hundred percent of the time. Then I wrote that for those having huge difficulty, there is some sweet spot between whatever they are doing diet-wise and not losing now and a total fast. The problem is, finding that sweet spot. Sometimes it takes a bit of effort.

Here is one reader’s struggle as posted in response to the poll. (I’ve minimally edited all these response for clarity and to eliminate typos.)

“As to the first part of today's post. My background: I am seventy three and have been obese since high school; I have lost over 100 lbs now nine times in my life. My lowest weights were 195 in the early seventies and 212 lbs in the early nineties.

The first seven weight loss results were short lived. The eighth was low carb based on your book and also Dr Atkins, I remained low carb for over twenty years, and never ate sugar or grains, though home made keto treats and breads were part of my diet. There were times that starchy vegetables crept in as I am not a moderator.

I started in 2002 and lost over 100 lbs and mostly kept it off for mostly ten years or so. As so many others have reported I remained obese, just less so and the weight loss string ran out after about a year.

Eventually the weight slowly started coming back, and while it never came within 50 lbs of my starting weight, no matter the twists and turns I could not get any long term reversal, just short temporary steps.

I retired due to health issues 9/20 with very high blood pressure and a host of other problems.

By the summer of 2022 I had gotten back to within 30 lbs of my original weight and was dying, I had serious cardiac issues, diabetes, and stage three kidney disease. the various doctors I was seeing had basically written me off.

I pushed harder on keto and reduced my overall food intake and by the last week in March 2023 I had lost 30 lbs.

And then I discovered carnivore and fasting. The first three months of carnivore I lost almost 40 lbs with short duration fasting ranging from 20 hours to 3 days.

Then I became convinced by MDs who were posting on You Tube that fasting was unnecessary and stopped all but intermittent fasting for 3 months and lost no weight, didn't gain any either but not what I wanted.

In November I did 10 and a 14 day fasts and lost over twenty lbs. I went back to limited fasting in December and lost very little. I did a 21 day fast in January and lost over 20 lbs and a 16 day fast in February with similar results.

I had some ultrasound testing in January which found my carotid arteries clear and improvements in my heart damage. I had already had a CAC with a score of 0. In February I had my biannual cardiology visit and was told that my heart function was normal now which left me speechless and stunned as heart problems and early death from them run in my paternal family.

Earlier in 2023 both my A1c and creatinine numbers had fallen into normal range and have continued to get better every blood draw. Not to mention all of the other chronic problems that had disappeared including IBS, psoriasis, arthritis, carpal tunnel and much more. Needless to say I have been deadly serious about doing carnivore, but I cannot lose weight without some type of extended fasting even if it is as short as 3 or 4 days. I know that my story is atypical, but it is my story. [My bold]

I don’t know if this person is a male or a female, but whichever, I doff my cap to him/her. It has been a struggle for this person, but he/she figured out the sweet spot to successfully lose the weight.

This person tells us he/she has had weight problems since childhood, or at least since teenhood. As I mentioned last week, when people become overweight as children, they usually do so by increasing the number of their fat cells. They end up with a lot more normal sized fat cells than their peers. People who are thin or normal sized as children but become overweight as adults, typically do so by increasing the size of their fat cells, not the number. As you might imagine, it is easier to reduce the size of abnormally large fat cells than it is to reduce the size of normal fat cells.

Parents take note: It is important that children not become obese, because if they do, it will be vastly more difficult for them to lose weight as adults as their obesity will be a matter of many, many extra normal-sized fat cells they will have to try to drive to abnormally small sized in order to lose weight.

While I’m at it, it is vastly easier to not become overweight in the first place than it is to deal with being overweight later.

Problem is, when people are young and thin and can eat everything in sight without gaining an ounce, they indulge in the mistaken belief that obesity will never happen to them. So they eat and eat and eat. Often many of the wrong things, and, ultimately, end up overweight. I am a case in point.

So, to paraphrase Willie Nelson, mammas don’t let your babies grow up to be overweight.

Going back to the person in the poll response above, it takes a good deal of fiddling around to find out what works for a given individual. When you do figure it out, it may be something you don’t want to do. That’s fine. Just come to grips with it and realize that for you the denial involved is not worth the outcome and get on with your life.

Seed Oils and Sunburn

“the top anti seed oil proponents (Tucker Goodrich, Paul Saladino, Cate Shanahan) all talk about how eliminating seed oils greatly increases tolerance to sun without burning. Everyone I know (myself included) who has quit seed oils has experienced a huge benefit. I used to burn in 30-60 min of mid day sun w/o sunscreen, but not anymore. I haven't used sunscreen in 4 yrs. I golf all the time and lay in the sun. No burns and a nice tan. If this were the only benefit of eliminating seed oils, it would be worth the effort. I suggest you explore and discuss this in the Arrow.

I’ve heard this a lot, but I’ve never really looked into it in depth. I did read a study or two a few years ago in which rodents were shaved and subjected to UV light. Some were fed seed oils and some were denied them. Those that didn’t get the seed oils didn’t burn. Or didn’t burn as badly. But other than those studies, I haven’t seen anything on the human response other than anecdotal evidence such as that above. Tucker Goodrich is a friend of mine, and he told me he didn’t burn—he’s fair complected—after stopping seed oils, and I believe him.

If anyone has any human studies on this factor, please send them my way.

I avoid seed oils myself as much as possible. I don’t ever use them in any cooking or as salad dressings (other than a bit of olive oil from time to time, but technically that is a fruit oil, not a seed oil), but given my travel schedule, I am often at the mercy of chefs and cooks over whom I have no control. So I never know what kind of oils are added to anything. I try to avoid salads or anything requiring a dressing as I pretty much know it will be soybean-oil or canola-oil based.

I will get burned if I stay out in the sun too long, so I usually use a zinc-based sunscreen for my face. But I’ve been unable to quantify how much less, if any, that I burn now as compared to years ago before I started avoiding seed oils.

Any other experiences out there re sunburning, please let me know through the poll responses or in the comments.

I have other reasons for avoiding seed oils that I’ve presented in detail here.

Don’t Answer the Siren Call of Carbs

Here is a history that is all too typical.

“I am 81 years old and very healthy. Been low carb for over 40 years. Six months ago I started listening to all the Ray Peat followers, Mercola, Saladino, Dinkov, Feldman, Fave, etc and started eating over 300g of carbs a day. Orange juice, milk, ice cream. Wow, it was great! Guess what? Gained over 20 lbs in no time. Surprise, surprise! ”

Just like the study I presented a couple of weeks ago, those who are on a high-carb diet then switch to a low-carb diet lose weight, while those on a low-carb diet switching a high-carb one gain weight.

The person who wrote the response above didn’t say whether he/she was overweight or normal weight before making the switch. He/she said healthy, so maybe normal weight, but I don’t know for sure. But I can pretty much assure folks who are stable on a low-carb diet that switching to 300 g of carbs per day will see their weight go up.

On a related topic, I got emails from two people this last week sending me information about Dr. Mercola. He apparently has gone over the edge into total woo woo mysticism. According to what I read, he has fallen under the spell of some far out guru. If so, that explains his sudden dietary reversal to 400 g of carb per day (or whatever it is). I haven’t had time to really dig into it, but I will and give you a report of what I find in next week’s Arrow.

Treating Diabetes Medications With Carbs

The poll respondent who wrote the comment below started out by saying he/she enjoyed the diversity of subjects addressed in The Arrow, then went on to write:

Some of it very relevant and reassuring to me after an ‘adventure’ I had a week ago that ended with a trip in an ambulance after I became unwell in a restaurant that turned out to have been caused by high blood sugar. This was a scenario I had always dreaded but it has been a wake up call to seriously address the underlying problem. It was a lesson in how clueless the medical profession is in their understanding and how a ‘one size fits all’ is the only protocol on offer. I am very reluctant to take metformin but after a barrage of tests a lovely young lady doctor’s advice was “if you want to eat the second biscuit just pop in another pill”. What I thought about this piece of advice is unprintable!!! [My bold]

What this respondent wrote about in the bolded sentence above absolutely drives me up a wall. It’s especially egregious for those with type 1 diabetes who require insulin injections. I can’t tell you how many patients I’ve had who were on high insulin doses and told me their doctors told them to make sure to eat plenty of carbs so they wouldn’t go into insulin shock.

They end up getting way too much insulin, which they cover by eating carbs. They usually end up overweight thanks to the excess insulin. It’s not so much the same with metformin, which is an oral blood glucose lowering med, but the screwed-up treatment philosophy is the same: If you want to go face down in the carbs, just take more medicine. Jesus wept!

The goal should be to minimize the medications—whether oral or injectable insulin—to keep blood glucose down. Diabetes is a disease of too much sugar in the blood, so why encourage people to eat more? That advice defies belief.

People who have diabetes have a type of medical issue that prevents them from eating the same way as people who don’t have the issue. If they try to eat the way most people who don’t have diabetes do, they get in trouble. Injectable insulin or oral drugs can overcome this trouble to an extent, but only by borrowing other trouble. And often the other trouble is worse.

Telling a person with diabetes to take large doses of meds and then make sure to eat enough carbs to prevent problems with the medications would be like telling someone with bad emphysema to go climb Everest, but make sure to take plenty of oxygen. Nothing but bad could come from that. Same with overprescribing diabetes meds.

Stay In Your Lane

Here is one I’ve received this last week, but have received many times before in multiple variations.

Probably the best for a long time! Nutrition, the weight loss, the big pharma, but not much of a political issues. Stick to what you’re very good at.

The above was pretty mild as compared to some of the others I’ve gotten.

Had I started writing The Arrow five years ago instead of three and a half years ago, I would never have mentioned politics. But I didn’t. I started it on the first Thursday of January in 2021. Trump had but a couple of weeks left in office, and Biden took over on January 21. It was right in the middle of the so-called pandemic.

And from that point on—actually even before that; it really started in mid-2020—medicine became totally politicized. It still is.

All you had to do was watch the public congressional hearings with Anthony Fauci a couple of days ago to see that.

Pretty much everyone knows that Fauci lied through his teeth about funding the Wuhan lab via EcoHealth Alliance, when it was unlawful to do so. And we all know—or should know—that Fauci persuaded the group of virologists, most of whom relied on him for funding, to change their stance on whether SARS-CoV-2 escaped from the Wuhan lab as a consequence of a lab leak or had zoonotic origins. Most of these well-respected scientists thought and had discussed among themselves—as emails were later to show—that the lab leak hypothesis was not only viable, but even probable. Fauci pressured them to write a paper, later referred to as the Proximal Origins paper, stating that SARS-CoV-2 was virtually impossible to have resulted from a lab leak and was assuredly a zoonotic disorder.

Then when asked publicly about the possibility of a lab leak, then later during a congressional hearing, Fauci stated that all these prominent scientists had determined it couldn’t have been a lab leak and was of zoonotic origins. He said this, of course, without disclosing that he had been the driving force behind the paper he was ‘innocently’ ascribing to the top virologists in the world.

Then he was all about masks and even double masking, when he admitted later that there was no evidence showing masks did squat. And he was also a major proponent of the idiotic six-foot social distancing. He also wanted and pushed vaccine mandates. And, maybe worst of all, he said that he, Dr. Fauci, was The Science. If anyone dared attack him, they were attacking The Science.

Now even the NY Times, which hung on Fauci’s every word and worshipped the ground he walked on is starting to believe in the lab leak hypothesis. Public testimony of others involved along with emails obtained by FOIA showed there was no evidence that masks did anything and that social distancing was made up. Even Fauci himself admitted as much.

If you watched the congressional hearings with Fauci a few days ago, you saw Republicans going after him on all these issues. Fauci bobbed and weaved as only a skilled bureaucrat can do, but out-and-out lied in a few places. What was disgusting, however, was how the two parties reacted. The Republicans went after him, while the Democrats, when it was their turn, gave him the congressional inquiry equivalent of a lap dance. It was revolting. Why is this a partisan issue? The Dems should have gone after him just like the GOP did, instead they tried to mitigate the damage the GOP inflicted. Why? It shouldn’t be political.

As I’ve discussed many times, Trump got the mRNA vaccines produced at, dare I say it, warp speed. The Democrats all said they would refuse to take these vaccines if Trump had anything to do with them. If you don’t believe me, just do a search on YouTube.

Then, as soon as Biden took office, these very same mRNA vaccines became God’s gift to the world. The Democrats were the ones promoting mandates, business closures, vaccine passports, and on and on.

For the first time ever in the history of medicine, doctors were told they couldn’t prescribe certain drugs. Ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, for example. The Biden administration leaned on the big pharmaceutical chains to not allow prescriptions written by licensed physicians to be filled if they were for the above two drugs.

I know this for a fact, because it happened to me. I had heard about this, so I wrote a prescription for our son, who had rosacea at the time, for ivermectin. (Ivermectin treats rosacea.) He tried to get it filled at CVS, and the pharmacist called me and told me he couldn’t fill the prescription because orders had come down from on high that no prescriptions for ivermectin were to be filled for Covid.

It doesn’t say on the prescription what it’s for. It just gives the patient’s name, the drug, the dosage, how to take it, and the number of refills allowed. The pharmacist assumes the doc who wrote the prescriptions knows what he/she is doing, and so fills the script. Doctors write prescriptions all the time for off-label uses of medications, and the pharmacies fill them.

I told the pharmacist who called me that the ivermectin wasn’t for Covid, it was for rosacea, which he could clearly see by our son’s bright red cheeks when he came in to pick up the drug. The pharmacist made me go find and give him the diagnostic code for rosacea, so he could put it down and not get in trouble with his bosses for filling an ivermectin script.

Again, this is the first time in US history that licensed physicians couldn’t get their prescriptions filled for off-label use of a drug. All because of politicization of a viral disease. Then when you add in the fact that the government itself and many of its employees (who weren’t required to divulge amounts—remember Fauci when asked at a congressional hearing by Rand Paul how much money he had received in royalties, and he replied, I don’t have to answer that) received huge amounts of royalty money from Big Pharma. Of the $710M (that’s million) the NIH received in pharmaceutical royalties, $690 million of it went to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the subagency led by Dr. Anthony Fauci, and 260 of its scientists.

You may think from the above that I hate the Democrats. Not true, I just think, for whatever reason, they have been wrong on the entire Covid fiasco from A to Z. And I have no idea what the rationale is that drove them to go in whole hog on this issue. Disease and doctoring should not be political, but it sure has become that way.

The Republicans are not blameless in all this. Most of them simply acquiesced in the whole fiasco instead of standing up against it. Rand Paul was a lone exception, though there may have been a handful I don’t know about. Mainly they all stood around wringing their hands silently while the Dems grabbed freedoms right and left and totally screwed the pooch in the handling of the entire pandemic.

So, yes, I get pissed off about all this. Most of the unnecessary bullshit we all went through for two years was political, so I get political in response. I’ll probably continue to do so because it is a medical issue, which is something I do know a thing or two about.

Metabolic Theory of Cancer

I received a question through the poll about Tom Seyfried's work on cancer. After telling me about a loved one having breast cancer, the respondent wrote

we've found Dr Thomas Seyfried's very interesting documents and videos about cancer being a metabolic disease and the successes they've had with keto diet treatments for the disease. If you've perhaps touched on this before can you let me know where to find your article? Or do you have any thoughts on this? Thank you again.

Yes, I have thoughts on that. Tom Seyfried is a friend of mine, and I am totally on board with his theories on the metabolic basis of cancer. I wrote about it in three-part post in my Substack version of The Arrow here, here, and here. Dr. Seyfried has got a new paper out, which was reviewed by another good friend of mine. If I have enough time, I’ll review it today. If not, I’ll do it next week when my schedule is less hectic.

The Best Poll Response of All

Okay, here is the best poll response I got last week. Maybe the best of all time.

Remember how I put up the list of horrible ingredients that went on forever. It was for a product called Totino’s Pizza Rolls.

Here is the best poll response ever.

I would sun bath my butthole while getting a tattoo before eating one of those pizza rolls. Lol. Good stuff this week (as usual).

The Greatest Risk for All-Cause Mortality

I had a terrific paper sent to me by a colleague a few days ago on this subject. The paper was published over a year ago, and I’m almost ashamed to admit I hadn’t found it on my own as I am always on the lookout for just this kind of study.

The study itself isn’t without its flaws, which we’ll address later, but its findings confirm something I’ve believed for ages. So, take what I’m about to write with a grain of salt, because my confirmation bias is as strong as anyone’s out there.

I’ve always believed that good nutrition is the cornerstone of good health. And that people who have good nutrition are likely to live longer than those who don’t, all other things being equal. My good friend Gary Taubes wrote a recent Substack about how people die irrespective of which diet they follow, and some live seemingly forever while following a diet I would think sucks. But this is not a population-wide study; it’s simply a recounting of a handful of well-known people on either low- or high-carb diets who died young or old.

The statistics show that obesity is a risk for all-cause mortality, but basically based on what kind of obesity. Visceral obesity confers a much greater risk than does the same degree of obesity, but with most of the excess fat being located in the subcutaneous storage depots instead of in and around the organs within the abdomen.

Visceral fat vastly increases the inflammatory response as compared to subcutaneous fat. And for years, I’ve believed inflammation was a primary driver of heart disease. Another good friend of mine Malcolm Kendrick has spent years studying heart disease and has managed to persuade me that heart disease is most likely driven by coagulopathies (blood-clotting issues).

I lost faith in the lipid hypothesis—the idea that cholesterol levels drive heart disease—years ago. I then decided inflammation might play a large role, and it may well do so along with coagulopathies.

People who have a lot of visceral fat tend to have more heart disease, diabetes, and the other so-called diseases of civilization. I’ll explain in a bit why visceral fat is more inflammatory, but take it on faith right now that it is.

So, given the above, I’ve always figured nutrition and inflammation play an enormous role in health and longevity. You can imagine my excitement to get a paper confirming this very thing. And actually providing a ranking of how the combo of bad nutrition and a lot of inflammation can lead to an early death.

Before we get into the nitty gritty of it all, you’ve got to recognize that this is an observational study, but that’s about the only choice you have with these kinds of studies. It takes too long to do RCT on longevity. Many of the researchers would probably die before the study was completed.

And not only is this an observational study, it is really just the second of its kind. One other smaller study with fewer variables preceded it, and to my own discredit, I wasn’t aware of it either.

Here’s the deal.

Based on the earlier study, which also looked at inflammation and nutrition, Otvos et al evaluated almost nine thousand subjects preparing to undergo evaluation for coronary artery disease by cardiac catheterization. The researchers collected blood samples and building upon a previous study, which to my discredit I also wasn’t aware of, used these to build a system for predicting all-cause mortality based on these biomarkers. These nine thousand patients were followed for five years. The blood values for those who ended up dying were then evaluated to determine whether or not they correlated with early death, or increased all-cause mortality.

As it turned out, the biomarkers most associated with decreased all-cause mortality were ones associated with good nutrition and lack of inflammation. Those subjects who had markers of good nutrition and lack of inflammation ended up having greater longevity, whereas the ones who died earlier had the markers for poor nutrition and inflammation.

These biomarkers were combined into three multimarker scores: the Inflammation Vulnerability Index (IVX), Metabolic Malnutrition Index (MMX), and the Metabolic Vulnerability Index (MVX), which combines IVX and MMX.

The MVX score was a dominant predictor of 5-year mortality, outperforming 15 other risk factors including age. MVX was strongly associated with mortality risk across various subgroups, including men and women, younger and older patients, those with high and low BMI, and those with or without additional co-morbidities such as heart failure, renal dysfunction, diabetes, and hypertension.

When you look at the graphic provided in the paper, you can see how dominant the MVX is in predicting mortality. The single biomarker most associated with increased risk of death is aging. Which makes total sense. The older we are, the closer we are to dying. Consequently, aging is the most accurate biomarker in terms of risk of death. it is a better predictor than diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity or anything else. 

Until the MVX.  According to the findings of this paper, the risk determined by the MVX dwarfs aging, which itself dwarfs everything else.

Here is the graphic:

Take a look at the difference between the MVX as a predictor compared to aging. Also note how little cholesterol is predictive of early death. It’s so tiny you can’t even see the bar. At all. Next to aging, you have diabetes. And most everything else drops off sharply after that.

It all goes to show just how important nutrition is along with the lack of inflammation in determining how long you live.

As we’ve discussed many times the primary nutrient is protein. Fat and carbohydrates are basically there to provide fuel for the body, but protein is the cornerstone of good nutrition. If you read the paper, you’ll see that one of the biomarkers for extended life is leucine.

Leucine is the amino acid that stimulates the mTOR complex to synthesize muscle. A number of studies have shown that the more muscle mass you have, the longer you live. And vice versa. Loss of muscle mass—sarcopenia—is associated with aging and early death. So it stands to reason that nutritional factors would play a major roles in determining longevity.

For years dietitians and nutritionists have advocated people consume 0.8g of protein per kg body weight. A number of more recent studies indicate this number is too small for older people. In order to increase or even maintain muscle mass an intake of 1.6g/kg body weight is the recommendation. And this amount should be good quality protein that will provide the necessary leucine. These levels can easily be provided by foods of animal origin. 

The bottom line is that good nutrition is tremendously important for good health and longevity.

You may be telling yourself that you may not be nutritionally up to snuff, but at least you aren’t inflamed. You don’t have any infections (that you know of), so that part of your MVX should be fine. Well…

Many things cause inflammation above and beyond what most people think of as inflammation. For example, one of the big sources of inflammation is the fat you store, particularly if it’s visceral fat.

Let me explain.

We all have a genetic predisposition for fat storage. We can pretty much look at our parents and grandparents and tell how we’re going to store fat.  And store fat we do—even if we’re not overweight. The average person weighing, say, 150 pounds has enough fat stored to fuel a walk from St. Louis to New York. That person would be mighty hungry by the time he/she got there, but would have enough fat stored to power the walk.

The main storage depot fat is beneath the skin. Sub-cutaneous (SQ) fat is the first place we put the excess calories we store as fat. And the size and location of these storage depots are pretty much genetically determined.

You can think of these SQ fat storage areas on your body as the closet, attic, and garage of your house. As long as you’ve got room to store excess junk—which is a function of the size of your house, number of closets, etc.—you can maintain a neat house. But if you refuse to throw away anything (an act I’m guilty of), you’ll soon fill up your closets, attic, and garage. Then the excess junk starts to clutter the house.

Same thing happens with fat storage. 

Once we fill these depots, any excess fat storage goes into the viscera where it doesn’t belong. The viscera includes the organs and spaces around the organs in the abdominal cavity. This is not a good place to store fat. In fact, it’s a dangerous place to store fat because it provokes an inflammatory response.

Fat stuffed into the viscera is like having a big splinter or some other kind of foreign body embedded there. Since it doesn’t belong, the body regards it as an invader and mounts an immune response against it. Macrophages flood to the area and worm their way in between and among the fat cells. And as is the wont of macrophages, they send out signals to draw other macrophages to the area. Ultimately, macrophages can occupy 50-60 percent of the volume of visceral fat. 

All these macrophages are sending out all kinds of signals that they need help to fight the invader. These signals called cytokines spread through the blood and reach the liver. The liver mounts what is called an acute phase response, which floods the body with acute phase proteins, which also help mount an immune response and start the healing process.

Most people with visceral fat have elevated levels of the cytokines from the macrophages and the acute phase proteins. Measurement of these is included in the MVX, which is how the level of inflammation is quantified.

Visceral fat is not the only driver of inflammation, though it can be a big one. People may have various kinds of arthritides or auto-immune disorders that add to the inflammatory burden.

Same with chronic infections.

Many people walk around with low-grade bacteria infections. A common one is periodontal disease—ie that of the gums.

Anything that causes an infection adds to overall inflammation. And inflammation itself interferes with the working of mTOR, the major signaling system for muscle protein synthesis. So inflammation even plays a role in inhibiting a response to good nutrition. 

We can look at the total inflammatory and nutritional situation from the perspective of vaccines. This may seem like a leap, but bear with me here.

One of the best books I read about the history of vaccines of all kinds is Dissolving Illusions by Suzanne Humphries, M.D.

The book starts out by describing the squalor in which most people lived until sanitation and clean water became common in the mid 1900s. Before that time, people were riddled with parasites and other infections. I suspect most of the population of the United States had pinworms and Giardia prior to widespread sanitation and anti-parasitic medications.

The living conditions for most people were indescribably awful up until not all that long ago. Not only that, most people were malnourished as well. Protein was expensive, so people loaded up on cheap carbs. Bread was an absolute staple. Bread contains some protein, but not good quality protein. Likewise potatoes, also cheap and plentiful.

When you think about those conditions in terms of the MVX, it’s easy to see why longevity wasn’t all that great, and why it has increased simply because people are better nourished and have fewer chronic infections.

Here is a graphic from the book showing how deaths from all kinds of diseases fell off markedly long before vaccines were developed. The decrease in mortality more or less tracks the increase in sanitation and better nutrition.

Pretty impressive. At least to me.

As you can see, virtually all of the vaccines were developed when the diseases they were supposed to prevent were sharply on the wane and almost non-existent. 

Makes one wonder if they are really needed today.

The MVX study in question is not a randomized controlled trial. RCTs can’t really be done to evaluate longevity. They would be too difficult to randomize, and even if they could somehow be randomized, the researchers would probably die before some of the subjects. Longevity studies in humans are almost impossibly difficult to do.

Consequently, researchers turn to biomarkers of health as they did in this study. I hasten to say, there are issues with this study. For one thing, the subjects were all awaiting cardiac catheterization, so they weren’t the healthiest subjects on the planet. And only the biomarkers the researchers looked for were evaluated. There may be more important and predictive biomarkers discovered later. But this study, and the one before it, do provide a foundation upon which to build.

And since nutrition and inflammation are interrelated and extremely important, it does make sense that biomarkers indicating good nutrition and lack of inflammation would be an important measure of health.

There is nothing you can do about aging. I happens whether you want it to or not. But you can control your nutrition and with some effort your inflammatory status. Especially now that you know how important it is.

I’ll be expanding on this study (and, I hope, similar ones) in future editions of The Arrow. Stay tuned, but work with what you’ve got today.

If you want to support my work, take out a premium subscription (just $6 per month)—it’s cheaper than some trashy Starbucks Vente latte gingerbread whatever. And a lot better for you. It will run your IQ up instead of your insulin.

Odds and Ends

Newsletter Recommendations

Haven’t with all the travel got any fascinating new newsletter recommendations for you this week, other than (of course) the Bride’s Outlander MD on substack. Each post (about one a week) tackles some medical or scientific scene in the popular time-traveling Scottish love story. Is it authentic and correct from a medical perspective or not; and if not, why not? This coming week she examines the murder of Arthur Duncan by cyanide poisoning. Have a look; I think you’ll enjoy it!

Video of the Week

I’ve heard the expression busy as a beaver all my life, but I’ve never spent any time around beavers. In fact, despite spending much of my life in the great outdoors, I don’t think I’ve ever even seen a beaver in the wild. I’ve seen their dams, and I’ve seen trees they’ve toppled, but I’ve never actually seen the beavers that did the work. The video below shows how busy a beaver can be. It’s easy to see how the expression came about. Not only does this beaver work like crazy, it even manages to run off a moose hoping to poach on its food supply. Terrific camera work.

Time for the poll, so you can grade my performance this week.

How did I do on this week's Arrow?

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That’s about it for this week. Keep in good cheer, and I’ll be back next Thursday.

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The information provided in this newsletter and on this site is for educational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice. The author is unable to diagnose, advise, or make medical recommendations for individuals via the internet.

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And don’t forget my newest affiliate sponsor Jaquish Biomedical. Highly recommended to increase your lean body mass.


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