Category Archives: Miscellaneous

We are Back – Blame the SQuirreL

https://flic.kr/p/6jnhP8
An eastern fox squirrel. (Photo: Dawn/flickr)

Why am I always getting the Blame.  I had nothing to do with the lack of posts on this Blog I was far too busy with gathering fat-rich nuts, defending my territory and finding a mate before the winter.  Nope nothing to do with me.

OK  – it was not the Squirrel but the SQL  – our bad!

This is the culprit, a corrupt SQL file that did not allow any posts! Nothing to do with Squirrels as such.

A vexing little corruption that took the good people at Urban Design in Phonm Penh a day to resolve.  I strongly recommend Urban Design Studio for innovative and unique graphic and website designs.  From simple (!) logo design, to entire branding campaigns and website development, this team is exceptionally professional and cost competitive.

Urban Design Studio -Strongly Recommended for your corporate and website designs.

You can contact Urban Design Here.  Ask for Mark Lind or Sreychen Sok.

Now that we are back online –  its time to publish some materials.  There are a few projects that are evolving including a study of the relationship between CFCs and ozone, an analysis of the reported Fukushima radiation levels and releases and much more.

A Ketogenic Diet Extends Longevity and Healthspan

A very interesting study in Cell Metabolism demonstrates that energy-controlled high-fat low carbohydrate diets are not detrimental to health, but rather a ketogenic diet (with a very high proportion of fat) extends lifespan and slows age-related decline in physiological function in mice.

Graphical abstract. Study shows increased longevity, improved motor function and memory in aging mice and no weight gain where calorific intake is managed.

For information on ketogenic diets in humans

Download the Full Paper

Calorie restriction (CR) has long been shown to increase longevity in animal models.  However longitudinal studies in humans are not possible.  The exact mechanism for contributing to increased longevity in CR animal models remains unresolved however it has long been recognised that CR induces a shift from carbohydrate to fat metabolism.  Low carbohydrate diets (LCD) have been shown to induce a shift from carbohydrate towards fatty acid oxidation metabolism.

In this paper the authors have studied the most extreme LCD, the ketogenic diet in an animal model.  They studied mice by strictly regulating their diet and generated three cohorts:  LCD group fed 70% of their kcal as fat, a KD group fed 89% of their kcal as fat and a control group fed 65% of their kcal as carbohydrate.

The results of the study have confirm earlier studies which showed that a KD promoted an anti-inflammatory metabolic state with elevated blood ketone levels comparable to CR.  This study however goes well beyond previous studies following the population from birth to post-mortem. The primary objective of this study was the evaluate the influence of LCD and KD on longevity and health-markers in mice.

The results of this study include:

  • The results clearly demonstrate that lifespan is increased in mice consuming a KD  when a feeding strategy is followed that mitigates weight gain in adult mice.  It is often assumed that a high-fat diet will shorten life expectancy  however, this study indicate that a calorie-controlled LCD started in middle-aged mice does not have a negative impact on aging.  Further evidence does not support the idea that level of protein is primarily responsible for the increased longevity;
  • This study shows that a KD slows cognitive decline and preserves motor function in aging mice.  KD maximizes and preserves forelimb grip strength with age. Respiratory quotient was decreased by an LCD or a KD compared to a control diet.
  • KD mice showed glucose intolerance however insulin sensitivity after a 4 hr fast was enhanced by a KD if compared to the LCD, indicating that insulin signalling is functioning normally in mice fed a KD
  • Ketones would appear to positively impact muscle homeostasis and may play an important role as neuro-protective signalling molecules
  • The level of acetylated p53, a key tumour suppressor protein, was 10-fold higher in liver after 1 month on a KD and as a likely consequence, incidence of tumours at time of death, particularly histiocytic sarcoma, was decreased with a KD

For information on ketogenic diets in humans

Download the Full Paper

A Ketogenic Diet Extends Longevity and Healthspan in Adult Mice

Megan N. Roberts, Marita A. Wallace, Alexey A. Tomilov, Zeyu Zhou, George R. Marcotte, Dianna Tran, Gabriella Perez, Elena Gutierrez-Casado, Shinichiro Koike, Trina A. Knotts, Denise M. Imai,
Stephen M. Griffey, Kyoungmi Kim, Kevork Hagopian, Fawaz G. Haj,
Keith Baar, Gino A. Cortopassi, Jon J. Ramsey, Jose Alberto Lopez-Dominguez

ABSTRACT

Calorie restriction, without malnutrition, has been shown to increase lifespan and is associated with a shift away from glycolysis toward beta-oxidation. The objective of this study was to mimic this meta­bolic shift using low-carbohydrate diets and to deter­mine the influence of these diets on longevity and healthspan in mice. C57BL/6 mice were assigned to a ketogenic, low-carbohydrate, or control diet at 12 months of age and were either allowed to live their natural lifespan or tested for physiological func­tion after 1 or 14 months of dietary intervention. The ketogenic diet (KD) significantly increased median lifespan and survival compared to controls. In aged mice, only those consuming a KD displayed preser­vation of physiological function. The KD increased protein acetylation levels and regulated mTORC1 signaling in a tissue-dependent manner. This study demonstrates that a KD extends longevity and healthspan in mice.

Is it Time to Tax the Fat?

Lunch break

Obesity has become a real worldwide epidemic with an estimated 700 million people being so classified.  A new report in the latest issue of  New England Journal of Medicine highlights the issues and the conclusion are truly alarming.  This collaborative  (~200 researchers) research (funded by the Gates foundation) evaluated the trends in the prevalence of the overweight and obesity as well as the patterns of deaths and disability-adjusted life-years related to high BMI, according to age and sex, in 195 countries. This analysis supersedes all previous results from the Global Burden of Disease study with respect to high BMI by comprehensively reanalyzing all data from 1990 through 2015 using consistent methods and definitions.

Here are their key findings

  • In 2015, an estimated 604 million adults and 108 million children worldwide were obese. That represents about 12% of all adults and 5% of all children.
  • The prevalence of obesity doubled in 73 countries between 1980 and 2015 and continuously increased in most of the other countries.
  • China and India had the highest number of obese children. China and the U.S. had the highest number of obese adults.
  • Excess body weight accounted for about 4 million deaths — or 7.1% of all deaths — in 2015.
  • Almost 70 percent of deaths related to a high BMI were due to cardiovascular disease.
  • The study finds evidence that having a high BMI causes leukemia and several types of cancer, including cancers of the esophagus, liver, breast, uterus, ovary, kidney and thyroid.
  • In rich and poor countries, obesity rates increased, indicating “the problem is not simply a function of income or wealth. Changes in the food environment and food systems are probably major drivers. Increased availability, accessibility, and affordability of energy-dense foods, along with intense marketing of such foods, could explain excess energy intake and weight gain among different populations. The reduced opportunities for physical activity that have followed urbanization and other changes in the built environment have also been considered as potential drivers; however, these changes generally preceded the global increase in obesity and are less likely to be major contributors.”

The level of obesity across the western world is nothing short of alarming and will place enormous strain on an already burdened health case system.  Not surprisingly the USA is the fattest nation on the planet with a staggering 38% of the population over 15 YO being classified as obese and the percentage of obese women is even higher. The USA also holds the record for age-standardised childhood obesity, at 12.7%.  Australia, Canada, Mexico, UK and several European nations are not far behind.

Age Standardized Prevalence of Obesity Worldwide in 2015

More alarmingly there has been  a rapid increase in obesity levels across the world, driven by an abundance of high-energy food and effective marketing.

Relative Percent Change in Obesity Prevalence between 1980 and 2015 for Males >20
Relative Percent Change in Obesity Prevalence between 1980 and 2015 for Feales >20

It just seems that when large portions of the human population have ready access to food they simply cannot stop themselves from eating.  A portion of the issue is likely genetics.  Humans in cold climates that more efficiently converted calories into fat-stores were better able to survive the winter and better able to care for their offspring and had a higher chance of passing on their genes.

This advantage however fails the host when there is an inexhaustible supply of high calorific value food and exhaustible supply of will power or intelligence.

Health Effects of Obesity

There are consequences for obesity as well all know and these consequences are very expensive for the public health systems and devastating for the individuals concerned.

Epidemiological evidence supporting causality between high BMI and disease

A Solution

Education has simply failed.  In the west for too long, at schools and across the media excessive consumption and obesity have been major public health issues.  The shopkeepers have done a fantastic job in generating products and spaces which are appealing to consumers.  They have rarely acted in the public interest for example, adding salt and excessive sugar to breakfast cereals because it results in  consumer addiction.

It is time for somewhat more dramatic measures.  Western government could instigate 20% sugar and fat taxes on fast foods (in addition to existing consumer taxes) and reduce consumer taxes to zero on healthy alternatives for example unprocessed fruit and vegetables.  If this fails in addition to education then health care billing related to BMI could be a more draconian measure.  It is time to tax fat and reduce obesity.

Original Research

BACKGROUND

Although the rising pandemic of obesity has received major attention in many countries, the effects of this attention on trends and the disease burden of obesity remain uncertain.

METHODS

We analyzed data from 68.5 million persons to assess the trends in the prevalence of overweight and obesity among children and adults between 1980 and 2015. Using the Global Burden of Disease study data and methods, we also quantified the burden of disease related to high body-mass index (BMI), according to age, sex, cause, and BMI in 195 countries between 1990 and 2015.

RESULTS

In 2015, a total of 107.7 million children and 603.7 million adults were obese. Since 1980, the prevalence of obesity has doubled in more than 70 countries and has continuously increased in most other countries. Although the prevalence of obesity among children has been lower than that among adults, the rate of increase in childhood obesity in many countries has been greater than the rate of increase in adult obesity. High BMI accounted for 4.0 million deaths globally, nearly 40% of which occurred in persons who were not obese. More than two thirds of deaths related to high BMI were due to cardiovascular disease. The disease burden related to high BMI has increased since 1990; however, the rate of this increase has been attenuated owing to decreases in underlying rates of death from cardiovascular disease.

CONCLUSIONS

The rapid increase in the prevalence and disease burden of elevated BMI highlights the need for continued focus on surveillance of BMI and identification, implementation, and evaluation of evidence-based interventions to address this problem. (Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.)

Read the article in full
Read the supplementary materials

Lieut Charles Louis Collin

Lieut Charles Louis Collin, aged 29, was a very promising young Queenslander when he was killed in France in September 1918. Prior to the war he was in the Department of Agriculture and upon taking up a military career was appointed ADC to General Lee, of the first and then the second military districts. He left for France and went through some severe fighting.

Lieut Charles Louis Collin, aged 29

Charles was of French descent although borne in Queensland. He was very popular with all who came in contact with him. He had a fine physique and was a strong swimmer and an enthusiastic oarsman, belonging to both Brisbane clubs at the time. He was an only son of Gustave and Alice.

Charles joined the 42nd Battalion, 3rd Division AIF in France 5th January 1918. He was wounded in action with a gunshot wound to the shoulder after his Battalion had secured the high ground to the east of Bray-Cambrai road above the village of Sailly-Laurette. He was repatriated to England, 8th April 1918 and after several months in hospital was transferred to an OS Training Brigade, 30th July 1918 ahead of transfer back to his unit on 12th August 1918. The entire allied front to the east of Amiens had advanced against German positions commencing on 8th August 1918. The 42nd Battalion advanced to a secure position at the top of the slope above a steep gully along Rue de l’Eglise by the evening of 29th August 1918 and dug in.

Over the next several days the 3rd division participated in heavy fighting to secure the heavily defended position of Mont Saint-Quentin and Peronne. The 42nd Battalion and other units pushing along the ridge towards their immediate objective – the high ground above Moslains. The 42nd advanced towards the ridgeline south of Bouchavesnes after a thin barrage. Some of the 42nd sighted three German field batteries to the SE and Lewis gunners shot down one and captured five guns. The pause allowed the Germans to rally to the Scutari and Boussa trenches to the east. To the south the 41st Battalion experienced the fiercest fire it ever experienced loosing 5 officers and 100 men.

Charles in command of D Company advanced upslope into the Quarry Farm area to face a German garrison on the high ground of 80 men and 8 machine guns who quickly gave in when outflanked to south and bombarded by rifle grenades. After taking the position Charles come to confer with the Officer Commanding D Company during the advance and when he got off his knees to go was hit by machine gun fire from the NE. He died within a few minutes.

Initially buried where he fell. 49°58’6.55″N 2°56’39.36″E. While I stood there on the Somme on a bright sunny day in 2013 and spoke with my mother she informed me that my middle name was in his honour.  She had forgotten to tell me of that until that very moment. 

COLLIN Charles Louis Lt Sea Transport Svc Adjt A28 to Hon/Lt CCo/42Bn WIA 5-4-18 shoulder near Albert F&B reported shot by MG at Quarry Farm near Peronne buried Sailly-Saillisel British Cemetery France (Prov 2/Lt ASqn/2 LH 1-10-15 to staff 2 MD ADC to Maj Gen George Lee in Brisbane 1916-17 CMF) KIA 1-9-18

“A very intelligent and precise man”

He remains greatly missed by his family.

Collin, Charles Louis Headstone

The Truth About Jet Lag

Courtesy of Boeing, the interior of the Boeing Dreamliner

Richard A. Friedman  Professor of Clinical Psychiatry and Director of the Psychopharmacology Clinic at Weill Cornell Medicine recently wrote an excellent article in The New York Times about the joys of jet lag – and what to do about it. If this does not effect you – then you are not flying between time zones.

In Summary: Travel east and you’ll need morning light and evening melatonin; go west and you’ll need evening light and morning melatonin.

“There’s a psychiatric hospital not far from Heathrow Airport that is known for treating bipolar and schizophrenic travelers, some of whom are occasionally found wandering aimlessly through the terminals. A study (see below) from the 1980s of 186 of those patients found that those who’d traveled from the west had a higher incidence of mania, while those who’d traveled from the east had a higher incidence of depression.”

“Clinicians have long known that there is a strong link between sleep, sunlight and mood. Problems sleeping are often a warning sign or a cause of impending depression, and can make people with bipolar disorder manic. Some 15 years ago, Dr. Francesco Benedetti, a psychiatrist in Milan, and colleagues noticed (see below) that hospitalized bipolar patients who were assigned to rooms with views of the east were discharged earlier than those with rooms facing the west — presumably because the early morning light had an antidepressant effect”.

Supporting Research: Morning sunlight reduces length of hospitalization in bipolar depression.

BACKGROUND:

Bright artificial light improves non-seasonal depression. Preliminary observations suggest that sunlight could share this effect.

METHODS:

Length of hospitalization was recorded for a sample of 415 unipolar and 187 bipolar depressed inpatients, assigned to rooms with eastern (E) or western (W) windows.

RESULTS:

Bipolar inpatients in E rooms (exposed to direct sunlight in the morning) had a mean 3.67-day shorter hospital stay than patients in W rooms. No effect was found in unipolar inpatients.

“When you quickly cross several time zones, your circadian rhythm remains stuck in the city you left behind. Arriving in Rome with your New York City brain is what produces the unpleasant symptoms of jet lag: fatigue, malaise, poor concentration and mood changes. When you leave New York at 6 p.m., the Italians are probably in bed asleep. But you won’t feel ready for sleep until around 11. To make the right adjustment, you need to shift your internal clock earlier by six hours”.

“The clock in your brain doesn’t just take cues from light, but from the hormone melatonin as well. Every night, about two to three hours before you conk out, your brain starts to secrete melatonin in response to darkness. Taking a melatonin supplement in the evening will advance your internal clock and make it possible to fall asleep earlier; taking it in the morning will do the opposite. (You might assume this would make you even more tired during the day but it won’t; you could think of it as tricking your brain into believing you slept longer.)”

Next time you travel:

  • Flyin East: Get morning sunshine and take melatonin in the evening
  • Flying West: Get evening light and take melatonin in the morning

But what about those patients in the Heathrow hospital, that was more than just the usual jet lag or are they just end members of the inability of our body to cope with the chemical imbalances that result. Friedman suggests there is more to jet-lag than simply exhaustion, it deeply effects our state of mind but in a systematic manner. While most of you wont suffer from pathological psychiatric disorders when you fly maybe we all suffer from minor psychological issues when we cross time zones. The most obvious may be mild depression. There is a strong suggestion that travelling to the west is simply depressing. So next time you travel try the medication, sunlight and take a few days off work ideally by the sea. PS The sleeping pills wont help the underlying issue at all but sunlight and melatonin just might.

A Garden in the Panygurishte

Roses in the Panygurishte

Roses and almost everything else grows  with abandon in the valleys of the Panygurishte.  This region is famous for the

Panygurishte Treasure

The Panagyurishte Treasure  is a Thracian treasure excavated on December 8, 1949, by three brothers who worked together at the region of “Merul” tile factory near the town of Panagyurishte, Bulgaria: Pavel, Petko, and Michail Deikov. It consists of a phiale, an amphora and seven rhytons with total weight of 6.164 kg of 24-karat gold. All of the objects are richly and skilfully decorated with scenes of Thracian myths, customs and life. It is dated from the 4th-3rd centuries BC, and is thought to have been used as a royal ceremonial set by the Thracian king Seuthes III. As one of the best known surviving artifacts of Thracian culture, the treasure has been displayed at various museums around the world. When not on a tour, the treasure is the centerpiece of the Thracian art collection of the National Museum of History in Sofia.  If for no other reason this is why you should visit Sofia, Bulgaria.  The treasure should be housed in the town of Panygurishte.

Once Again a 5 Year Old


On January 12th I managed to fracture my 5th Metacarpal on my right (dominant) hand.  Not so painful but really a little inconvenient and its for the next 4-6 weeks.  Turning adversity in opportunity I am learning to write with the left hand and I will post the daily result here.

This is a remarkably interesting experience.  I now recall learning to write, something I had thought little about.  I now appreciate the issues our kids face.  This exercise also requires the most intense focused concentration.  In a short time I have noticed a significant improvement and my diary does not look quite so chaotic.