Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Manipulation is Not Bad

It represents the weight of scientific evidence and has stood the test of time. We would all be better off eating mostly vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds, beans and lentils, whole grains, and plain water to address our thirst - with or without additions of anything else. Concocting the perfect ingredients to freeze eggs without forming ice crystals has become the Holy Grail of the fertility industry. A single strand of 23 chromosomes dangles in the center of the eggs, held in its precise position by a network of threadlike spindles. One ice crystal poking at the innards can decimate the supporting structure and send the DNA into a tizzy. Several teams in the United States are in a tight race to patent formulas. If they ever come on the market, not only will women have to decide whether to freeze their eggs but they will have to weed through the marketing campaigns to decide which freezing method to choose. Though details vary, there are basically two ways to freeze an egg: slowly or quickly, not in between. Either extreme minimizes ice crystals. The slow freeze takes about an hour and a half. The temperature drops gradually, allowing ice crystals to form outside the cell, not inside. The newer rapid freeze is called vitrification because it forms a glass-like casing around the egg. A significant number of adults over age 60 already have dementia and, by age 65, 1 in 10 people are afflicted with Alzheimer's disease, a form of dementia that is the fifth leading cause of death among seniors. A new case of Alzheimer's is detected every 66 seconds. The importance of preventing or slowing down cognitive decline and the development of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia cannot be overstated. The toll it takes on patients and families alike can be significant. Symptoms of this devastating disease include impairment in memory, behavior, and mood, and the inability to handle complex tasks like managing money and driving. While not that long ago, there was no clear evidence about the effects of lifestyle on the onset of dementia--in fact, the Alzheimer's Association website still claims it's the only top ten cause of death that cannot be prevented, cured, or even slowed--I'm happy to report that that may be changing. According to Prevention magazine, citing a study published in the American Journal of Physiology, while not specifically about interval training, a study conducted at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center followed almost 20,000 people over the course of 38 years, evaluating their midlife fitness levels and the later-life development of all-cause dementia (Alzheimer's disease, as well as other types of dementia). The study concluded that higher midlife fitness levels seem to be associated with lower hazards of developing all-cause dementia later in life.

Another important study, this one conducted at the University of Illinois, followed 59 inactive individuals between the ages of 60 and 79. Over a six-month period, half of them were enrolled into an aerobic training regimen, and the other half participated in a toning and stretching program. Adding fish and seafood might make the overall diet better for some, but it might not. The same goes for modest additions of dairy, poultry, eggs, and unprocessed meat. We should, we really should, all eat diets made of whole, wholesome foods, mostly plants. Michael Pollan asserted just that, appending not too much. But there is no extra work involved in eating not too much when the diet is made up mostly of whole, wholesome foods, mostly plants. Among the many virtues of such wholesome foods in such a sensible assembly is that they fill us up on fewer calories. If we can do that on fewer calories rather than more - and we certainly can by making the right choices - then weight control and satisfaction need not be mutually exclusive. I am going to make the case that the truth about food, the truth about diet and health, is as simple as that. Is it really even worth the effort of writing (for me), or reading (for you) a whole article to establish such simplicity, to reaffirm the obvious? For we have lost our way. Technically, the egg is not frozen because there is no ice. It is vitrified (converted into glass) and rewarmed, not frozen and thawed. So far, the vast majority of babies born from frozen eggs come from the slow-freeze technique, but increasingly, doctors are turning to vitrification. One embryologist told me that vitrification has to be done with a sense of urgency, so quickly you don't even have time to answer the telephone, which makes me wonder why an embryologist dealing with a woman's delicate egg and her potential future baby should even consider answering the phone in the midst of it all. A sperm entering an egg. Courtesy of Vanessa Guelman and Pasquale Patrizio, of Clinica Genese, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. There are similarities between the two recipes: Both methods dehydrate the cell and replace it with a sugar/alcohol or salt/alcohol cocktail. The egg marinates in a highly concentrated sauce that lures water out of the cell as the alcohol seeps in.

The cocktail is called a cryoprotectant, as in protection from freezing. The alcohol is not the same kind used to mix cocktails, but it is toxic. Researchers took 3D MRIs of the regions of the brain associated with age-related decline both before and after the exercise intervals. The results found significant volume increases in both gray and white matter regions of the brain only for those who participated in the aerobic training. The authors concluded that . The take-home message of these studies is that, in addition to all the other known health benefits of exercise, it also positively affects the brain and its ability to function. And while the University of Texas study showed the importance of getting fit in midlife, which positively affected brain functioning years later, the University of Illinois study noted that positive changes are possible in just six months for a group of older individuals. Although these studies weren't specifically about HIIT, there's no reason to think that you can't get similar results--in much less time--with HIIT! A stroke is the sudden death of brain cells, most commonly from a blockage of an artery that delivers blood and oxygen to the cells. Complications include loss of speech, weakness, and paralysis, making strokes one of the leading causes of serious long-term disability. According to the American Heart Association, someone in the US suffers from a stroke approximately every 40 seconds, and someone dies from a stroke every four minutes. While this represents a serious problem, most strokes are fortunately preventable with lifestyle changes. We have lost our way repeatedly for decades. And the cost is staggering. We are surrendering years from countless lives, and life from countless years. Rates of obesity, obesity related death, and chronic disease are rising alarmingly around the globe. The impact of injudicious dietary patterns on aquifers, biodiversity, the climate, our microbiomes, and antimicrobial resistance is rising as well. We risk bequeathing a blighted future to our children and grandchildren - a future mired in chronic disease and the ruins of a ravaged planet. How bad might it all be? The CDC projects that should current trends persist, by about the middle of the 21st century, between one in three and one in two American adults will be diabetic.

Some of us will still be around, but the day of our dominion will have come and gone. The day will belong to our children and grandchildren, and it will be disfigured and blighted. Eggs remain intoxicated until you are ready to use them. Then, every drop of cryoprotectant must be removed from the egg before it mates. Nothing about the egg freezing/thawing business is predictable. You cannot even tell if the egg has been damaged until it defrosts. So you can be paying for storage for dead eggs and not know it. Both methods create a thawed egg with an excessively hard shell, so hard that the sperm cannot break inside. The frozen-egg industry was helped tremendously by another fertility technique developed to help men with sluggish sperm. In the late 1980s, fertility specialists started poking holes in eggs to nudge slow sperm inside. The method is called ICSI (pronounced icksee) and stands for in intracytoplasmic sperm injection. ICSI is the only way to get sperm inside a thawed egg. According to a study published in the American Journal of Physiology, HIIT performed twice a week for 12 weeks positively influenced estrogen levels and markers associated with the hardening of the arteries in post-menopausal women, reducing their risk of stroke by 40 percent. The study focused on the effects of the exercises on vascular function, noting that vascular dysfunction significantly increases the chance of cardiovascular events, including stroke. On average, participants in the studies engaged in HIIT three times per week for 12 to 16 weeks. Among the many positive effects reported for HIIT was that it was more effective at improving brachial artery vascular function than MICT. Diabetes dramatically increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes, as well as disabling nerve, kidney, and eye damage. Approximately 30 million Americans are afflicted with this serious medical condition, and another 8 million are likely afflicted but undiagnosed. What's perhaps more alarming is that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that another 86 million American adults--more than one in three--are estimated to have prediabetes, a condition characterized by higher-than-normal blood sugar levels, but not yet high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes. Without intervention, approximately 15 to 30 percent of those adults will have the disease within five years.

While these statistics are worrying, and immediate action is certainly needed to prevent and treat this debilitating condition, the good news is that it's well known that exercise is one of the most effective means to improve the regulation of blood sugar. And HIIT is proving to be particularly effective. And it will be our fault, for failing to embrace the simple truth while there was yet time. As we reflect on the challenges of paying the health care bill now, we are invited to consider the financial implications of that massive and avoidable calamity. Our children do not need to be diabetic adults. The United States of America does not need to be hopelessly insolvent by mid-century. We need not deplete aquifers, ravage the land, melt the glaciers, assault the seas, sully the air, and devastate biodiversity. We could, instead, embrace the truth about food. If we did, we could potentially fix all that is broken. As I write this, a recent study out of Loma Linda University suggests that simply by substituting beans for beef as a matter of routine - nothing more - Americans could provide more than half the greenhouse gas emission reductions called for in the Paris Accord. So, rather than going from 28 million to 128 million with diabetes, we could reduce the ranks of such victims. There are compelling reasons we don't use what we know, and do what we could. In the past 30 years, the number of women in their early 40s having their first child has catapulted 25-fold. The escalating rate reflects, in part, an increasing number of women postponing motherhood because of careers or because they have not found the right partner. It also reflects increasing success of fertility treatments. For egg-freezing entrepreneurs, the growth of the older-mother brigade means a growing client base--customers who may be interested in buying someone else's frozen eggs or paying to freeze their own. The early impetus, to help cancer patients like Lindsay Nohr Beck, has been eclipsed by bankers eying a lucrative market among single women. Dr Jeffrey Boldt, an embryologist at Community Hospital in Indianapolis, is a medical director of Cryo Eggs International, touted as the first for-profit frozen-egg donor bank. They ship eggs worldwide. Eggs travel like sperm, each tiny packet cushioned in a vat that is about 2 feet high and 1 foot wide.

No comments:

Post a comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.