Sunday, July 22, 2007

Message to Joseph ...

"Sadly, the years have snuck up on me and issued one mammoth smack down atop my head. I was diagnosed with MS about ten years ago and it sucks. My 35 year old body feels like twice that most days. The brain still works well enough, just my body doesn't want to respond well to the commands."

I'm going to start sounding like a Jehovah's Witness in this area ... but have you thought about Intermittent Fasting? IF has been shown to produce remarkable benefits in a variety of areas -- neural protection among them. Take a look here:


Like caloric restriction, intermittent fasting reduces oxidative stress, makes the animals more resistant to acute stress in general, reduces blood pressure, reduces blood sugar, improves insulin sensitivity, reduces the incidence of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, and improves cognitive ability. But IF does even more. Animals that are intermittently fasted greatly increase the amount of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) relative to CR animals. CR animals don’t produce much more BDNF than do ad libitum fed animals.

What’s BDNF? (The Wikipedia definition is actually pretty good)

BDNF, as its name implies, is a substance substance that increases the growth of new nerve cells in the brain, but it does much more than that. BDNF is neuroprotective against stress and toxic insults to the brain and is somehow–no one yet knows how, exactly–involved in the insulin sensitivity/glucose regulating mechanism. Infusing BDNF into animals increases their insulin sensitivity and makes them lose weight. Humans with greater levels of BDNF have lower levels of depression. BDNF given to depressed humans reduces their depression. And Increased levels of BDNF improves cognitive ability. In short, you want as much BDNF as you can get., and with IF you can get a lot.

Look, I'm a cynical and skeptical guy. Beware of people selling you things. One of the reasons I'm optimistic about IF (aside from feeling better myself from having done it) ... is that no one is selling it. (Or not successfully.) The benefits of IF are the sorts of things that late-night infomercials promise the gullible ... but it appears to work. The research appears real. After exercise it may be the single most important step you can take for your health ... and it really might help your MS, to some degree. It does appear to help with other kinds of autoimmune and neural diseases.

I am not a doctor. Don't take any of this as a suggestion of medical treatment on my part, merely as a starting point for your own research, if you're so inclined.

And now I'm going to eat a cookie and go to bed. Sunday is a fast day.


joseph said...

I remember you mentioning IF before, I did not really think about it much beyond "That one day would suck not being able to eat." But after reading that other article where they started fasting at 6 p.m. that seems to make it better. I don't really eat that much anyway. There is a diet I have been trying for a while that is just a low fat diet that is supposed to help. This sounds interesting, usually after we go to a Mongolian grill I don't feel like eating the next half a day anyway.
On the fasting days, do you still get to drink liquids other than water? 'Cus I just gots to have my coffee.

Dan Moran said...

I do drink coffee -- this isn't an exact science, some versions of IF permit you to have up to 300 calories on your off days. I don't do that, but I do permit myself some non-fat milk form in my cappuccino -- about 40 calories worth, a little less than half a cup. I don't try to have zero calories -- the energy drinks I drink are 20 calories, for example -- but I do try to keep it under 100 calories a day.