Saturday, 26 May 2018

The eicosanoids and their relation with the essential fatty acids

This is a bit complicated, but please read slowly and check the connections with the previous posts.

Not very well known, the eicosanoids have roles in virtually every process in the body. Mainly they are binding to receptors on the surface and inside the cells. They can be categorized in prostaglandins (prostacyclins, thromboxanes) and leukotrienes (lipoxins).

The main substrate for eicosanoids synthesis is the arachidonic acid, resulted from the linoleic acid, one of the essential fatty oils. The prostaglandins synthesis from arachidonic acid, catalyzed by cyclo-oxigenase, can be inhibited by certain non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (Aspirine).

The other essential fatty acid - the linolenic acid - is transformed in EPA - a precursor for other eicosanoids synthesis - types that have more anti-inflammatory properties. We can mention Resolvins - which are made only from EPA.

In US and Norway, the main source for linolenic acid is soybean oil and its derivatives (tofu and other soybean-based products). EPA and DHA are obtained from krill and algae, but the real source is the algae producing the EPA/DHA, which is consumed by the krill, which in turn is eaten by the fishes. (30% of the fatty acids are in DHA form). In the infant formula all over the globe, the DHA  is coming from algae.

As you can see, i mentioned the essential fatty acids, the linoleic (part of the n-6 fatty acids family) and the linolenic acid (part of the n-3 fatty acids family). Those fatty acids need to be provided in diet, the lack of it can lead to poor growth and even death. They are essential because mammals cannot introduce double bonds beyond Carbon10 (counting from the carboxyl (end of the fatty acid). We cannot introduce Delta12 and Delta15, but we can make arachidonic acid (C20:4, N-6) from linoleic acid (C18:2:N-6) and EPA (C20:5,N-3) from linolenic acid ( C18:3, N-3).

The linoleic acid is a precursor for the arachidonic acid, source for various eicosanoids (functions in the body, pain management, immune function, blood pressure regulation and blood clotting). The linolenic acid is a precursor for EPA (eicosapentoic acid) and DHA (docosahexapentoic acid), serving to certains prostaglandins, such as the phospholipids in the brain and retina (from DHA). EPA and DHA can be found only in fatty fish and are sometimes reffered as fish oil fatty acids. A vegan or vegetarian diet will never have any EPA/DHA, so you will need to compensate by choosing good sources for linoleic and linolenic acids.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Dietary fats - Part two (Triglycerides digestion)

Many foods contains substantial amounts of dietary fats. Cooking oils (Sunflower, peanut, olive) got 100% fats as triglycerides. Butter and mayo - got more than 80% fat, bacon and sausages - around 40% fats, as opposed to fruits and veg - little to no fat.

We can have cholesterol only in foods of animal origin (highest amount in egg yolk and shrimps). Saturated fatty acids can be found in lard, butter, coconut oil, and unsaturated fatty acids in vegetable oils. Soy bean oil - has linolenic acids (C18:3), coconut oil - has medium chain fatty acids (8-12 chains, fish oil - has fatty acids with 20-22 chain length. Flax-seed oil is a good source of essential fatty acids (50% linolenic acids).

Fat digestion - we would talk especially about triglycerides digestion. The breakdown of a triglycerides molecule is done under the influence of an enzyme called lipase. It is broken in 2 fatty acids and one monoglyceride attached to a fatty acids. We got lingual lipase, in the mouth, with a role in fat taste detection more than digestion. The process starts in the stomach under the gastric lipase, and it is continued in the intestines, with the pancreatic lipase doing most of the job. When dietary fat enters in the intestines, a hormone called cholecystokinin (CCK) is released, to activate the gall bladder contractions, and the secretion of bile acids. Bile acids are made from cholesterol and are stored in the gall bladder with cholesterol and phospholipids, and has the role of an emulsifier, changing fat in little droplets, for pancreatic lipase easy access. The main bile acid is the cholic acid, can be attached easily to amino-acids like taurine and glycine (making taurocholate and glycocholate - conjugated acids). The broken down fatty acids and the monoglycerides resulted from the digestion of triglycerides form a special structure called mycelle and the bile acids play an important role in it. Then they are taken up by the enterocyte (intestinal cell) and reconverted into triglycerides via a process called re-esterification. Then they are packaged into special particles called chylomicrons - which carry the dietary fats through the body, using the lymphatic circulation (small vessels called lacteals) to reach the subclavian vein.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Fats - intro

The fats, also known by the scientific (fancy) name of lipids, are digested and released in the blood stream, as lipoproteins (ULDL, HDL, LDL), and then stored as fat tissue. An important role is played by the essential fatty acids (linoleic acid and linolenic acid), but about this we will write a bit later.

There are different tipes of fat, and the first classification is by saturation grade (saturated (triglycerides, phospholipids, sterols) and unsaturated. Out of dietary lipids, the triglycerides make 95% of our daily fat. A triglyceride is made from 3 fatty acids linked via a glycerol molecule.
Another classification is made according to the state of the lipids at room temperature - if solid  is called fat, if liquid is called oil.

Fatty acids - are made from a chain of hydrogenated carbon atoms connected to a carboxil group. The chain length could be anywhere between 3 to 24 carbon atoms. The degree of saturation is related to the number of double bonds - unsaturated fatty acids got at least on double bond (mono-unsaturated f.a. has one, poli-unsaturated f.a. at least two double bonds). Point of unsaturation - where the double bonds are located in the fatty acid molecule - n (omega) and delta designation (shows all double bonds. The most abundant fatty acids in our food are oleic and palmitic acids (2/3 of our daily intake).

According to the point of unsaturation, the most common acids in our diet are C16:0 - palmitic acid, C18:0 stearic acid, C18:2 linoleic acid, C18:3 linolenic acic and C18:1 oleic acid.
The lenght of the chain is related to the melting point, shorther the chain, lower the melting point. The more unsaturated, the lower the melting point also. Liquids such as vegetable oils (made from sunflower, corn, olive, peanut, canola or soy) are mostly unsaturated, while solid fats like butter are mostly saturated fatty acids.

Triglycerides are mostly saturated, more stable and less prone to oxidation (one of the important oxidation reaction is the hydrogenation - unsaturated fatty acids become saturated). Hydrogenation is a common process in food manufacturing (or used to be) but it is also transforming the Cis fatty acids in Trans fatty acids, with negative influence on health. The Trans fatty acids are made during industrial processing and in the stomach of ruminants such as cows.

Phospholipids contains a diglyceride, a phosphate and a simple organic molecule such as choline. The got a polar and an apolar side (amphipathic properties). Are major components of cell membranes (you can find them in plant and animal food). They are added during food preparation as emulsifiers, to help the oil and the water to create a stable emulsion (prevents oil and water to separate). They line up tail-to-tail in the membrane of the cell to form a bylayer, as a barrier for entry of many molecules into the cell.

Sterols are the third lipid component in the diet. The main one is known as cholesterol, found in foods of animal origin. The plants have sterols and stanols, most of them being eliminated via stools. Added to the food to reduce the absorption of cholesterol, they can potentially lead to a 10% reduction of the cholesterol in the blood stream .

Monday, 2 April 2018

Supplement trends - Uridine monophosphate

Uridine monophosphate

Uridine monophosphate (UMP), also known as 5′-uridylic acid (conjugate base uridylate), is a nucleotide that is used as a monomer in RNA. It is an ester of phosphoric acid with the nucleoside uridine. UMP consists of the phosphate group, the pentose sugar ribose, and the nucleobase uracil; hence, it is a ribonucleotide monophosphate. As a substituent or radical its name takes the form of the prefix uridylyl-. The deoxy form is abbreviated dUMP.

In brain research studies, uridine monophosphate is used as a convenient delivery compound for uridine. Uridine is the active component of this compound. Uridine is present in many foods, mainly in the form of RNA. Non-phosphorylated uridine is not bioavailable beyond first-pass metabolism, as it is almost entirely catabolised in the liver and gastrointestinal tract.

Uridine Monophosphate, also known as UMP, is one of four major components of ribonucleic acid (RNA); the other three are adenosine, guanine and cytidine. Below are products containing uridine in the form of RNA. However, uridine in this form is bioavailable. It is destroyed by the liver and gastrointestinal tract, and the food intake does not increase the level of uridine in the blood. In infant’s consuming breast milk or commercial infant formula, uridine monophosphate present as, and this is indeed a source of uridine bioavailability and enters the blood. Consumption of food rich RNA may lead to increased levels of purines (adenosine and guanosine) in the blood. High levels cause an increase in purines uric acid levels and can impair or lead to the development of diseases such as gout. Moderate consumption of yeast, about 5 grams per day will provide adequate levels of uridine, for health improvement with minimal side effects. It has been suggested that RNA from yeast products must be chemically reduced, if these products are consumed in large amounts (50 g or more per day) as a source of protein. However, such processing is expensive and is rarely used. Harvard researchers have reported that the addition of uridine and EPA / DHA omega-3 fatty acids in rats act as antidepressants. Uridine plays an important role in glycolysis pathway galactose. There is no catabolic process for the metabolism of galactose. Thus, the galactose into glucose and glucose metabolized in the general way. After converting incoming galactose-1-phosphate (Gal-1-P), it participates in the reaction with UDP-glucose, a glucose molecule attached to a molecule of UDP (uridine di-phosphate). This process is catalyzed by the enzyme galactose-1-phosphate uridiltransferazy and transmits the UDP galactose molecule. The result is a molecule UDP-galactose and glucose molecule-1-phosphate. This process continues for the galactose molecule glycolysis.

Often uridine is used in conjunction with cytidine. Nucleotide such as uridine triphosphate and cytidine monophosphate is used to treat diseases of the central nervous system. Cytidine active substance participates in the synthesis of complex lipids forming the neuronal membrane, preferably sphingomyelin – a chief component of myelin membrane. Furthermore, cytidine is a precursor of nucleic acids (RNA and DNA), is a serious component of cell metabolism. Uridine active substance acts as a coenzyme participating in the synthesis of neuronal structures of glycolipids and myelin sheath, thereby complementing the action of cytidine. Uridine is a source of energy in the process of muscle contraction. The combined effects of cytidine and uridine contribute to the regeneration of the myelin sheath, as well as the proper conduction of nerve impulses and restore muscle trophism.

Indicated for the treatment:

– Neuropathies osteoarticular etiology (lumbago, sciatica);
– Neuropathies metabolic etiology (diabetic, alcoholic polyneuropathy);
– Neuropathies infectious etiology (shingles);
– Inflammation of the facial nerve;
– Inflammation of the trigeminal nerve;
– Intercostal neuralgia;
– Lumbodynia.

Perform classical pharmacokinetic studies practically impracticable, because the medicament contains physiological products and cannot determine with accuracy the amount of endogenous and exogenous components. Due to the heavy load radiological also impossible to carry out analysis using labeled (radioactively) product. Given the low toxicity of the drug, overdose is unlikely even if unintentional excess of therapeutic doses. It does not affect driving and work that requires high concentration and speed of psychomotor reactions. In patients with hypersensitivity may develop allergic reactions.

Uridine can be found in many foods such as tomatoes, beer, and breast milk. Uridine can bypass the blood-brain barrier effectively by one of two neuro transporters known as equilibrate and concentrative. Uridine also when administered orally causes a production of CDP-choline.

Uridine is a Ribonucleoside, which are the building blocks for both RNA and DNA. Uridine is one of the four essential components of RNA (ribonucleic acid), and is absorbed within the intestinal tract. Studies have shown that supplementation of Uridine along with Choline and fish oil increases synaptic formation and function, showing improvement in persons suffering from mild Alzheimer’s Disease. This nootropic may increase or raise dopamine levels within the brain.
(Now these are two side effects that i will be happy to trigger, dopamine being the cause of most of our addictions - hint - decrease or stop smoking, caffeine or alcohol consumption, and synaptic formation and function means that the brain can regenerate and perform better.)

Other key element is that it is working better in combination with fish oil (Omega 3) supplements. I was already talking about the benefits of having a daily supplementation of Omega 3 fatty acids, and seems that a minimal dose of uridine will greatly increase the benefits of the aforementioned fatty acids.

You can find good sources of Uridine online.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Carbohidrates II (About fiber and lactose-intolerance)

Let's continue to explore the carbs story.

As i said in a previous post, there are some carbs that cannot be digested. They are named fibers, and they can be water soluble and insoluble.
-Soluble fibers are known to lower blood cholesterol  (reducing the risk of heart disease), slow glucose absorption (protecting against type 2 diabetes) and hold moisture in stools (preventing constipation).
-The insoluble fibers are known to increase fecal weight, speed fecal passage and provide bulk and fullness feelings when eaten.

At first, in the past decades, researchers believed in a relation between fibers and colon cancer, but recent cohort studies proved that untrue. However, an increase in fibers can improve health, only because we are not having the right amount every day.

Lactose intolerance

What is lactose? Lactose is the sugar from milk, yogurt and dairy. Lactose intolerance is manifested through abdominal pain, bloating, gas development and diarrhea. Is is the result of a deficiency of an enzyme present in the gastro-intestinal tract, called lactase. Lactase can break the lactose in its primary components - glucose and galactose. Anyway, as you age, your body gradually lose the ability to produce lactase. Most of the people around the world will become eventually lactose-intolerant. Globally,most of the Northern and Western Europe is lactose-tolerant, while most of the Asia is lactose intolerant.

Does this means complete elimination of milk and dairy? Not always, sometimes yogurt is better tolerated than milk, but if this is not the case, you can always use lacto-free milk (made from soy or almonds, for example).

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Sweeteners 101

There are two kinds of sweeteners: non-nutritive and nutritive. Non-nutritive sweeteners are also called high intensity sweeteners as they are used in small amounts instead of sugar. Let's see them!

Non-nutritive sweetener / Relative sweetness
Stevia                                  250
Aspartame                      150-200
Acesulfame Potassium      200
Sodium Ciclamate              30
Neotame(Nutrasweet)       800
Saccharin                          300
Sucralose                          600

Only Stevia is a non-artificial sweetener, being extracted from a plant, all the others are artificial made. They are also heat stable, except the Aspartame, which is not, and for this reason is used mainly for diet beverages. The others can be used in baked good without problem. First artificial sweetener discovered before WW1 was saccharin. Next one, discovered in USA in 1965 was aspartame, which was used largely, even as table top sweetener. But lately in the 90's we witnessed the anti-aspartame craze, and some companies like PepsiCo for example, went with the trend and used sucralose, marketing their drinks as aspartame free. Of course, the taste changed, so three months later they started to use aspartame again.  Some interesting facts, there is a direct link between using sweeteners and gaining weight, but no causality established. According to the research, replacing added sugar with sweeteners may result in lower energy and reduced body weight, there were few small studies, but no clear conclusion was drawn. The idea is that you should not have extra drinks or food just because is diet, because this is how you gain weight.

The second category is called nutritive sweeteners, also known as sugar alcohols. Their energy value is between 1.6-3kcal/gram (sugar -4kcal/gram) and their sweetness is slightly lower than sugar.

Nutritive sweetener / Relative sweetness
Sorbitol                       0.6
Maltitol                       0.9
Xylitol                         1
Lactitol                       0.4
Manitol                       0.5

They are used in sugar free gum (preventing tooth decay) and as sugar alternative in sweets for diabetics (smaller increase in blood sugar response, but also a laxative effect in high doses).

Monday, 12 March 2018

Luck and Success

Seems that the role of luck in achieving tremendous success is much more important that we are believing to be. Check this article to find more.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Writing, second language and Nicaraguan signs

* I was listening again the podcast with the guy who is writing a book every 21 days. Few years ago he would get just enough to stop working for a living, but now, two years later, he is averaging 40-50k per months with more than 100 books.

I was not so efficient like him, with two books published in March last year and another two this year in February, reaching the total count of 12.

** When it is about children, a negative habit such as whining or hysteric episodes, the way to deal with them is by using the psychological idea of extinction. But our rate of success needs to be as close to 100% as possible. If we decide to not give in when the child is whining, consistence is the key. If we stop after a while, we will reinforce the idea that we will eventually give up when the child is persistent. So giving in later is a No-No.

***Learning a new language as a child can have its own benefits. The second language will be native if it is learned before age of three, decreasing in quality with each age group (4-15, 15-18, 19-39) After age of 39, you will never speak perfectly, in theory. One good resource to check your child language is The ideal age of acquisition for a second language is before age of 10. A peer group talking in the studied language is ideal. If this is done early, the child will gradually lose the ability to speak first language, even if he/she will understand it. Even if parents are using the language. But not if he/she will have a second peer group where to use the language. An interesting observation was done in Nicaragua, where the deaf children were not supported until 1980s. Because of that, being deaf in there meant that you will have only rudiments of language, but something strange happen. After 1980, they start to create schools for deaf children, and their sign language started to get structure and subtlety with each new generation. The result was called Nicaraguan Sign Language. Main benefits in learning the second language are believed to be a result of switching from one language to another, creating a series of cognitive advantages called executive functions (EF). The main influence of the executive functions are observed in planning, flexibility and stopping/inhibition. They will relate later in life with retirement habits, diet, stopping bad habits such as smoking. Let's talk about diet as an example. Everybody knows the theory, but we do not do the right things, even if we know them. When you are on diet, and see food, the initial response (prepotent tendency) is to eat, but then we switch and stop. Same as when we are French speaking - English, but we are asked in French. The first impulse is to answer in English, but we switch and answer in French.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Food experiment

I just wrote everything that i was eating and drinking for two days, and it is still place to improve.

Statistically speaking, i have 2 meals and 2 snacks of average, with 800-1000 ml of drinks daily. I know, i need to drink a bit more, and probably i can have some better quality snacks prepared. Except this, everything is alright.

Next ones to plan:

7 days diary on my activities by hours
1 month diary on all my income and expenses

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

How to avoid getting fat in few easy steps (part 1)

This is a story of love, a Valentine's Day special, the story of interdependence and attachment between two main macro-nutrients, let's call them carbohydrates and fats.

Carbohydrates can be simple and complex. The simple ones can be classified in monosaccharides (glucose, fructose and galactose) and disaccharides (maltose, sucrose and lactose). The complex ones are glycogen, starchi and fibers.

During digestion, the starch is broken to same degree, under the action of the amylase enzyme, secreted by salivary glands. When the carbohydrates reaches the stomach, the amylase is inactivated by the acidic medium. The digestion continues in the duodenum, under the action of the pancreatic amylase (an enzyme secreted by the pancreas). The starch is broken in maltose, sucrose and lactose. They are transformed in fructose, glucose and galactose under the action of enzymes such as maltase, sucrase and lactase).

Absorbed in the blood stream, the monosaccharides (glucose, fructose and galactose) are then processed in the liver, where almost all the fructose and galactose is used, and a big part of the glucose goes back in the blood stream, in direct relation to the blood sugar level (glucose level).

When glucose level goes up, the pancreas is secreting the insulin hormone, the role of insulin being to transform the glucose from the blood stream into glycogen, and to deposit the glycogen into the muscle and in the liver. After this process the blood sugar level is decreasing. Because of this action, the pancreas is secreting another hormone called glucagon, to break the glycogen from the liver into glucose, and when the liver deposit is finished (for example during a period of fasting), the glycogen from the muscle is used. The glycogen deposit from the muscle it is also used to generate energy when we are exercising. If we finish both of them (the deposits from muscle and from liver), the muscle is used for glycogen and we lose weight.

If both the deposits are up to 100%, the glucose is transformed into fat. But the fat is never transformed back into glucose.


Fasting and exercise are helping us to deplete the glycogen deposits, so the glucose will not be transformed in fat. (Search on Google about intermittent fasting)

If we fast and exercise too much, we will lose weight (but this will be muscle weight and not fat weight).

It is possible to eat plenty of sweets, as long as you are having a fasting period right before/after, or you exercise, or both. (This is by far my favourite conclusion)

(More to come soon - this is an excerpt from the future second edition of the book The Macronutrients Pocket Guide, written by me, of course )

Take care of your glycogen deposits,

Quote of the day

"If you wait, all that happens is that you get older."
(- Larry McMurty -)

In order to achieve your goals, you do not need to be a genius, to have some incredible skills or to be amazing in what you are doing. You do not need to excel, you do not need to be a master planner or an expert. 

You need only to start. Action is the defining difference between winners and losers. Action will make all the difference between success and failure. 

Think about something that you always wanted to do. And start right now. See what it is and how to do it. Go on Wikipedia website. In the next month learn a bit and read a bit every day about your thing. Find the best three books about this and read them. After one month, check where you are. It this getting closer? Did you do it?

I feel inspired. I will check right now some informations about flight and planes. See you soon.


Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Love, time and fool's gold

"Let the beauty of what you love be what you do." (- Rumi -)

I enjoy beauty, whenever i can. Sometimes my perception change and a wave of everlasting beauty appear to manifest all around me. A flower's smell, a ray of sunshine, or just a cat rolling around can make me happy.

There is all this talk about love and how love conquer everything. I am not calling this BS, but seem that beauty is easy to manifest and replicate in your own being, but love, love is infinitely more difficult. Maybe i was not used to love enough, maybe i do not recognize the real love. I love little, and i know that.

So, in response to this matter, not love, but beauty is my religion. I can just see God as infinite beauty, and not defined by any name.

If you were to choose, what would you choose? Beauty of Love?

Life strategies

Read this article. It is quite good and you can see when you need to persuade somebody and when not to do it.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Book published - The No-Diet book - Eat healthy and live longer

Finally, after few years of tinkering, the book about diet is ready. You can buy it now from Amazon.

Link: here

Here are the main chapters:


The theory of healthy eating
The individual nutritional needs
How you plan a healthy diet
The management of weight
Eating disorders. What are them?
Food safety

I hope you will enjoy it and learn something new from reading it. 

(I am happy i finally finish it, hooray!)

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Fasting as a longevity factor

I was writing before about eating in a 6-10 hours interval and fast for the remaining 14-18 hours as a longevity hack. I was also talking about a monthly 24-72 hours fasting monthly with only water as a boost to health and a major "decrease in the inflammatory processes" hack.

In the following article you will also see an interesting detail, the author referring at health span as opposed to life span. As you guessed, the health span is the interval of life when we are healthy, and that is reminding me of James Dean's words "Ideally is to die young, but as late as possible."

Read full article about food and longevity here. Dr.Jason Fung everyone! Enjoy!

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

"Black Swan" Nassim Taleb about Bitcoin

Check the link here.

A very interesting point about it, as i was expecting.

Working extra time is killing us slowly

Nobody died from too much work, some said, but I know at least one case in UK, one in Romania and few more in Japan to contradict those people.

Now I had even the research backing me up. Read this article for more information.

Friday, 12 January 2018

The poetry corner - Rumi

Delusion is a divine curse
that makes someone envious, conceited, malicious,
so that he doesn't know the evil he does
will strike him back.

If he could see his nothingness
and his deadly, festering wound,
pain would arise from looking within,
and that pain would save him.


Saturday, 6 January 2018

How to fail in the right way

Motto: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." (Samuel Becket)

You will now that something is wrong with our society when someone become angry while driving after 5 red lights. If you consider the green light a win, you have the right to be frustrated. We are conditioned to win, and to achieve more than our parents did. Sometimes we will achieve their dreams for them. Why? What happen if i want less than my parents? What happen if i would like to be a painter, even if both of them are doctors?

I repeat. We are conditioned to win. This being the source of our every pain. We do not know how to lose. We do not know how to fail. This is mostly a Western culture problem. Imagine that a Japanese try to solve a riddle for 20 years. And he did it in the end. Can you see yourself doing something similar? We all want to be rich, to be succesful, to have everything we think we deserve. But what if we do not deserve anything? What if we have the same bragging rights like everybody else in this little town where we live. 290.300 equal citizens.

Learning to fail is the most important thing in life. Because the result of that is a neglected skill called perseverance. When you persevere, you can do anything. We often heard about average people, surpassing geniuses. What is their secret? Perseverance. If you learn how to fail, but you fail better every time after first try, eventual you will refine your aim. And reach the final goal. The insurmountable one.

Fail again. But never in the same way.  Fail better. And keep doing that until you succeed. Life is too short to live in an average way.

Good night!