PODCAST | Ray Peat
Dec 01, 2008 | Herb Doctors: Cholesterol Is An Important Molecule
: Scleroderma Good evening and welcome to Ask Your Herb Doctor on KMUD 91.1 FM.
My name ANDREW MURRAY: is Andrew Murray.
SARAH JOHANNESEN MURRAY: My name is Sarah SARAH JOHANNESEN MURRAY
: Johanesson Murray.
ANDREW MURRAY: Johannesen Murray.
ANDREW MURRAY: who have never listened to our shows, which run every third Friday of the month, from 7 till 8 PM, we're both licensed medical herbalists. We have a degree in herbal medicine and we consult and see a wide range of clients with a wide range of different conditions. And we also have a certified organic medicinal herb farm that produces the herbs for the tinctures and extracts that we also manufacture. Well, this month, again, we're pleased to have Dr. Ray Peat on the show. And for those of you perhaps who've never heard of Dr. Peat, as I'm sure, very often people tune into the show having perhaps never heard it. He will explain who he is and his background.
SARAH JOHANNESEN MURRAY: Welcome, Dr. Peat, to this months' show.
SARAH JOHANNESEN MURRAY: Hello, Dr. Peat?
RAY PEAT: Yes, hello.
SARAH JOHANNESEN MURRAY: Hi.
Welcome to December's Ask SARAH JOHANNESEN MURRAY: Your Herb Doctor show.
RAY PEAT: Thanks.
ANDREW MURRAY: So I don't want to presume everyone who has just tuned into tonight's show knows your background, Dr. Peat. So I would appreciate if you would give our listeners an overview of your professional and research-based work before we introduce tonight's topics.
RAY PEAT: I did my PhD research in aging of the oxidative respiratory systems, and how that's affected, mostly, by the reproductive hormones, and how it causes, for example, the middle age infertility in people and animals. What I found, that was contrary to the textbooks of the time, was that estrogen became the dominant hormone at middle age causing distortion of the oxidative metabolic processes. And that then got me interested in the factors that contribute to that age-related imbalance. And age pigment was one of the things I’ve studied in connection with that change. The age pigment itself is stimulated by an excess of estrogen; and it's formed mostly from polyunsaturated oils. It oxidizes fuel and consumes oxygen without producing anything useful, except some free radicals. The way to prevent that or delay it, I later found, was to protect the thyroid hormone function. So, in the years since then, I worked on ways to use the diet to decrease the formation of age pigment, to retard the increase in estrogen in the tissues, and to maintain an optimal thyroid function.
ANDREW MURRAY: I know that you are very keen to emphasize the nutritional side of a person's lifestyle, rather than simply prescribing drugs or even herbal supplements. So I know many of the people that have been listening to you in the past or know about you, you have a pretty extensive website with plenty of articles on the website and we'll be handing out that website a bit later on. in relation to diet, i know the topic of high cholesterol is a fairly touchy subject, given that many (if not most) of the statin drugs have been implicated in causing severe side-effects. What’s your opinion on the cause of high cholesterol? And how high a cholesterol value do you consider high? And how would you approach it’s treatment?
RAY PEAT: There was a study a few years ago of women in nursing homes, or rest homes, or convalescent hospital situations, and they followed them from the time they entered until they died and watched how the level of cholesterol corresponded to their longevity and ability to function. The optimal cholesterol level for that purpose, living a long time and keeping their mentality sound, was 270 mg/dl.
SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: The current laboratories and doctors recommend that it should be under 200.
RAY PEAT: There was a Framingham study, I think it was about 20 years ago, which looked at the cholesterol level of people as they passed the age of 50, in ordinary life situations. And they saw that those who did not have above a 200 mg/dl cholesterol level were more likely to become demented. It's been known for 80 or 90 years that cholesterol is an antitoxin, anti-inflammatory, basic protective substance. It's like a protective hormone in the cell. If it's -- in experiments with animals, the learning ability, and the measurable ability of the animal improves, just by increasing the amount of cholesterol. And cell division involves cholesterol right in the apparatus that allows the cell to divide normally. It stabilizes red blood cells. Every level of physiology is protected by adequate cholesterol.
SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: Isn't it also true that every one of our cells has a cholesterol membrane?
RAY PEAT: No.
(*laughs*) SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: Or is that another myth?
RAY PEAT: Yea. The cholesterol is everywhere in the cell. It's stucked to the chromosomes, the structural, architectural microtubules and microfilaments all through the cell. It isn't just a membrane form the cytoskeleton] and microfilaments all through the cell. It isn't just a membrane- all the way through that isn't just a surface.
JOHNESSON MURRAY: But it is true that every one of our cells has cholesterol, or utilizes cholesterol?
RAY PEAT: Yah. Even the genetic apparatus. Cholesterol is an essential component of every living process. The ability of cells to move requires cholesterol.
ANDREW MURRAY: Why do you think that modern mainstream medicine considers a figure of over 200mg/dl to be associated with a high incidence of cerebro-
vascular RAY PEAT: I think, it's similar to why the optimal level of blood pressure has been revised downward. They can treat more patients and sell more drugs if more of the population is defined as sick. 30 or 40 years ago there was a study looking at people's blood pressure with aging; and those who's pressure kept rising with the years lived the longest. A decrease of blood pressure indicated the nearness of death. So, as long as the blood pressure is on a steady rise, that was a good indicator.
SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: What values do you consider healthy and normal for blood pressure?
RAY PEAT: Well, the lower number is really partly an indicator of the elasticity of the system. It's how much pressure is there, when the heart isn't beating. So, if a system is elastic the lower number tends to be up around 80, which is usually a good number. The upper number should be less than 50 points higher than that. So 120 over 80 with a 40 points difference is very good. A good plumbing engineer knows that keeping the pressure steady without great rises and falls makes the water circulate more smoothly. It's the same in the bloodstream. You don't want the lower number to drop too low. Otherwise your blood stops moving.
ANDREW MURRAY: Getting back to cholesterol, given that you would consider a value of 270 mg/dl to be acceptable, is this more for elderly people, or would this apply to younger people?
RAY PEAT: That's for old people. It's the same as the blood pressure thing. The cholesterol rises as there is a problem to be soothed; and when the tissues are less efficient, they need more blood supply. So the blood pressure and the cholesterol tend to rise with aging as the tissues need more care and attention.
SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: So do you consider this to be a dangerous treatment that doctors might be prescribing statins to older people when their bodies need a higher cholesterol to protect them?
RAY PEAT: Yah, sure. There have been several studies. They always arouse a great reaction. But back in the mid-80’s in Hungary, there was a big study in which they saw that using a drug to lower cholesterol increased the death rate from just about every cause; cancer, suicide,... Even getting murdered was more probable when a person had their cholesterol artificially lowered.
ANDREW MURRAY: What is cholesterol protective for and what would it be responsible for helping us?
RAY PEAT: It’s the main defensive substance; but it in turn, is converted into other protective substances, the first of which are pregnenolone and progesterone, and also DHEA and other basic protective steroids. It should be massively converted into those more specific protective substances; but it can only be converted when the thyroid is adequate.
ANDREW MURRAY: OK, explain that.
RAY PEAT: Well, in an experiment they have put the bloodstream flowing into an organ (like an ovary or an adrenal gland). And if the blood contains vitamin A and thyroid, the amount of progesterone being produced by the gland varies directly with the amount of cholesterol going into the gland. So, it's a massive quantitative conversion.
SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: So if you have a low cholesterol, then you are going to have a low production of progesterone coming from that ovary.
RAY PEAT: Yes. That's why it's dangerous to have it artificially lowered, because it's the raw material for making all of the very specific protective steroids.
ANDREW MURRAY: This is why dementia would be higher in low cholesterol patients, because these protective hormones are not being manufactured in sufficient amounts to prevent that degradation.
RAY PEAT: Yah. There are several lines of reasoning showing that progesterone, for example, is extremely protective to the brain. It promotes healing and regeneration after the brain has been injured. It's now being tested in people who have had car accidents and major brain damage, for example. It makes just a tremendous difference in survival rate and recovery rate. And if your cholesterol is artificially lowered, your brain in going to be deficient in progesterone.
SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: We talked only about the brain and the ovary, like we've been talking about that they're very important, the cholesterol is very important for those organs. but that's just two of our organs. A lot of organs in the body and a lot of processes require progesterone, is that correct?
RAY PEAT: Yah. Every tissue has it’s response to progesterone; all nerves are stabilized by progesterone, [as well as] the skin, and connective tissue, joints... For example, in animal experiments, as well as in people I’ve seen, they can create emphysema artificially in an animal and then cure it with progesterone. I've seen it happen in a week with a person just supplementing progesterone; and they can breathe very nicely.
SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: Excuse me, Dr. Peat. Can you please hold the phone a little closer to your mouth because we've just had some callers call in and say that they're having a difficulty hearing you. We can hear you fine here in the studio, but perhaps live on the air it's a little bit harder to hear you. Basically, you’re saying that progesterone is very important for anti-aging and for keeping even normal cellular processes going. And if we don't have enough cholesterol in our bloodstream (that's coming from our diet, or that we’re synthesizing), then we probably will have a low level of these protective hormones, progesterone being one of them?
RAY PEAT: Yah. And thyroid has to be present too for that conversion to take place. As early as 1993, it was found that, during the cholesterol treatment of rabbits, which caused circulatory disease, they found that if they g ave the same amount of cholesterol to the rabbits and also some thyroid hormone, it didn't hurt their circulatory system. The experimental cholesterol treatments have turned out to be using a toxic form of oxidized cholesterol. If you just leave cholesterol sitting in a bottle too long before doing the experiment , it's likely to become oxidized. And some of the cooking practices that are recommended create the toxic oxidized form of cholesterol. For example, people often recommend that you steam salmon or fish to cook it at a lower temperature than frying it or grilling it; but it actually increases the toxic oxidized cholesterol. So that steamed salmon has more toxic cholesterol than grilled beef steak. It's the slow exposure of unsaturated fats to oxygen which creates the toxic effect. And the early experiments in Russia, in 1912 treated the rabbits with cholesterol dissolved in vegetable oil. And it turns out that vegetable oil is the actual culprit in heart disease.
SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: So when they slice open someone's arteries around their heart, and they see all this cholesterol that’s blocking the arteries...
RAY PEAT: The cholesterol is there primarily to protect the cells against the free radicals produced by the polyunsaturated fats.
SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: For our listeners, polyunsaturated fats are mainly found in fish oils and vegetable oils (including soy oil, corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, canola oil (called in England “rape seed oil”), cotton seed oil...). So, are you saying that those oils are so damaging and so toxic to the lining of our arteries, that they breakdown andcause this toxic reaction? And the body tries to patch it up with pieces of cholesterol?
RAY PEAT: Yes, that was pretty well worked out in the 1940’s. Lab animals were dying of various symptoms, including infertility and softening of the brain. And it was found that it was because they were adding these unsaturated vegetable oils to their feed. That turned out that it was blocking their thyroid function and preventing them from using the protective cholesterol. That series of experiments and observations had its ramifications through the 1940’s and 50’s; but agriculture took advantage of the anti-thyroid effect of these vegetable oils to use them to fatten animals economically.
\ARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: So instead of pigs being fed waste food, they were being fed corn and soy, and their fat began accumulating a large amount of these vegetable oils?
RAY PEAT: Yah, it was common to use waste food like spoiling apples, and vegetables, and whey from the cheese factories, and so on. But when they learned that they could fatten the pigs on much less food if it contained these unsaturated oils, that became the basic industrial animal food.
SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: It makes sense to me. If there wasn't the industrial revolution, we wouldn't be able to make a product out of the oils so efficiently. This is not something we have naturally been eating for a thousand of years in such a concentrated form; it does make sense that it could be something that could be bad for you.
RAY PEAT: Yah, in Mark Twain's time, he told, when he was driving a river boat on the Mississippi, about hearing merchants talking about how cheap the cottonseed oil was from the cotton industry, and that they were going to teach Americans to eat that instead of butter. That was already in the 1880’s I guess it was.
ANDREW MURRAY: I know there's another subject and I do believe it's linked to thyroid and perhaps you can bring that out for us But diabetes seems to have been a disease that's certainly exploded in terms of the numbers of people that are diagnosed with diabetes. And I know you also brought out last month, or the month before in October, a relatively close-to-home story about your own father who ultimately didn't need to use any medication for his diabetes. But could you mention a little bit about diabetes and what can be done to treat it, and why is it such a prevalent diagnosis today?
RAY PEAT: The diet of Americans and Europeans has changed over these years in which diabetes has been increasing, with the greatly increased consumption of polyunsaturated vegetable oils. Even eggs now, they feed chickens so much corn and soy that even eggs have less cholesterol and more polyunsaturated fats. In 1963 or '64, a researcher named P.J. Randle observed that he could block the oxidation of glucose just by feeding an increased amount of the fatty acids. And that's now called the Randle cycle. When it became popular to feed hospitalized patients intravenously with a fat emulsion to try to keep them from losing weight, they very quickly discovered that it suppressed their immune system and caused a variety of other symptoms. But it almost immediately would cause an elevation of blood glucose. And that was exactly what P.J. Randle had noticed in his animal studies. So, diabetes was basically explained biochemically in the 1960’s, when if you eat more fat, you block the response to insulin, create insulin insensitivity or resistance. And that's now called type 2 diabetes, or syndrome X.
ANDREW MURRAY: And this happens with an increased general fatty diet? Or is it just with the vegetable fat?
RAY PEAT: Well, no. When you feed people or animals a very high sugar diet, you can feed them so much that they greatly increase their own [fat] synthesis; but these fats are saturated, or monounsaturated fats. Even if you feed so much that you cause a great increase in triglycerides (circulating fat), and even cause increased deposition of fat (in the liver, for example), it's lowering the toxic effect of free radicals, protecting the tissues. And it actually helps to lower the blood glucose. It has an anti-diabetic effect to feed a high sugar diet. Contrasting that with starch, the complex carbohydrate that dietitians have been recommending now for 40 years; the starches have the opposite effect; they increase your insulin resistance very quickly (just as if you were eating fat), because the starches don't support our own production of saturated fat.
SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: So you’re saying that it’s actually only the vegetable oils that lead to an increased blood glucose. And the saturated fats actually help protect against the increased blood glucose?
RAY PEAT: Yes. With the qualification that eggs and pork and chickens are now fed so much vegetable oil that their fats are toxic too.
SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: So it would only be the more saturated fats, like from coconut oil, or from butter that are RAY PEAT
SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: So, not only do vegetable oils damage our arteries - and then our body plugs it over with cholesterol (they are actually the cause for supposedly cholesterol -linked heart attacks) - but also they are responsible for elevating blood glucose levels unnecessarily? Okay. And then, I think there's a mention about the -- about estrogen, in particular, being also a co-factor in worsening the situation.
RAY PEAT: What was RAY PEAT
: the co-factor?
ANDREW MURRAY: Estrogen.
Or ANDREW MURRAY: increased estrogen.
RAY PEAT: Yes.
ANDREW MURRAY: increased estrogen fat in the liver and increased circulating triglycerides; but it interacts closely with the unsaturated fatty acids. So that women typically have more of the polyunsaturated free fatty acids circulating than men do.
It's just a peculiarity of estrogen that it creates this bias that makes the polyunsaturated even more toxic than they would be ANDREW MURRAY: What would be the best solution for ladies with a history of high estrogen first, as we're just talking about it, but for babies, perhaps that are listening, to have either a history of estrogen type or estrogen- dependent type situations or just estrogen -- high estrogen in menstruating life? How would they How would they ease the situation with natural or nutritional support?
RAY PEAT: About 70 years ago there were studies in animals that showed how to do that. When people were in prison camps in the Second World War, a lot of them were on the edge of starvation; and when they got out and were able to eat, it was found that many of the men developed breasts. Animals experiments showed that a deficiency of protein causes the liver to be unable to remove estrogen, and also to activate the thyroid hormone. So that just eating more protein can sometimes activate metabolism, and cause the ratio to go toward progesterone, and to eliminate estrogen.
SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: But women must be careful to avoid these animals that have accumulated this polyunsaturated fat in their fat RAY PEAT
: Yes. You wouldn't want to eat mainly pork and poultry and fish, because those are antithyroid. The number of unsaturations in the fatty acid (which is highest in fish oils, for example), corresponds with its ability to suppress the thyroid hormone function. And so, cutting out those oils from the diet as far as possible or eating as little as possible - it isn't possible to eliminate them entirely but eating as little as is possible allows the thyroid to work more efficiently.
And having around 80 to 100 grams of protein a day as a minimum (more doesn't hurt : 130, 150 even is very good for an active person), but also reducing the starches, which suppress our own ability to make the saturated fats, replacing them with fruit sugar For example, in animal experiments they have found that just adding coca cola to an animal's diet will make it lean, able to eat much more food without gaining weight, just because of the sugar in it.
SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: Were they replacing the starches in the animal’s diet with coca cola?
RAY PEAT: Yes.
SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: Then it was more like a sugar, a natural fruit, but in the form of sucrose...
RAY PEAT: Orange juice is the ideal way to get your sucrose. But you can increase your metabolic rate, from the animal experiments successes, to 50%. So you would go from getting fat on 1,500 calories a day to getting lean on over 2000 calories a day.
SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: Just by cutting out on your starches, increasing your protein and replacing the starches with lots of fruit?
SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: What about people who say, "Oh, I can't eat that much protein because I get kidney stones" ?
RAY PEAT: Eating enough calcium, interestingly, is the best protection against that. And the sugar in fruit juice will act very much like vitamin D. In vitamin D-deficient diets, they found that if the animals ate starch, they became deficient in calcium; but if they ate sugar, they acted as if they were able to assimilate and retain the calcium, just as well as getting some vitamin D. So, it’s important to get vitamin D, but the sugar alone makes a tremendous difference in how you handle your calcium. When you eat enough calcium, you suppress the inflammatory agents, including the parathyroid hormone So that the calcium goes into your bones and stays there.
(SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: rather than forming stones in your kidneys) and doesn't go into your arteries and kidneys to poison them SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY
: So, a high calcium diet, in conjunction with a high protein diet, and a high fruit diet is what basically what you're suggesting?
RAY PEAT: Yah. That's why, as a quick therapy diet, I recommend a person having at least two quarts of milk and two quarts of orange juice every day to get the thyroid going and suppress inflammation and help the liver regulate things.
SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: When you recommend that to people, do you recommend that they have it in place of breakfast and lunch? Or as well as their normal three meals a day?
RAY PEAT: As it starts working, it will increase their caloric needs so that if they had been maintaining their weight on 1,000 or 1,500 calories, as the milk and orange juice start to activate their thyroid hormone and lower the estrogen and cortisol, they will gradually be able to increase their caloric intake up to at least 2,000 calories a day.
SARAH JOHANNESEN MURRAY: Quite incredible. It really is quite incredible.
ANDREW MURRAY: If your're listening, you're better let people know what's going on, I think, because we've been so involved with talking to Dr. Peat and listening to his advice that I've forgotten to mention -- you're listening to KMUD 91.1 FM and this show is Ask Your Herb Doctor. Joining us this month is Dr. Ray Peat. And I'm very pleased to have him on the program and he's very steeped in nutritional -- certainly a nutritional approach to illness. And he has many remarkable tenets for his treatment. And also, some of those things perhaps would be counterculture, especially the saturated fat. versus polyunsaturated fat debate that's raging away now.
So it's 7: 37 now. So until the end of the program at 8 o' clock, we usually open up the lines and people are invited to call in with any questions they may have related to this month's topic surrounding high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. So if you live outside the area, the number is 1-800- 568-3723. Or if you're in the area, the regular number is 92 3-3911.
RAY PEAT: We haven't said much about high blood pressure. But the same diet, increasing your thyroid function, regulates the mineral balance. Such that it lowers your adrenaline, lowers the sympathetic nervous system activity’, and allows the minerals to be balanced with water. So that increased thyroid function lowers blood pressure (although many doctors have been misled on this issue).
SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: You would think it’s the opposite. But it’s not. I have an article here from the Clinical Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism from May 2002, showing the role of thyroid hormone in keeping blood pressure stable. And it also showed that there is evidence (based on short term hypothyroidism in humans) that people will have elevated blood pressure .
SARAH JOHANNESEN MURRAY: We'll get back to that in a moment.
We have a caller on SARAH JOHANNESEN MURRAY: the line.
CALLER: Dr. Ray Peat, is that your name?
How do you spell that CALLER: please?
RAY PEAT: Peat.
RAY PEAT: Peat.
Okay, I'm Caller: I heard you talking about producing cholesterol is important for connective tissue? Did you say something like that?
RAY PEAT: Yes.
Caller: I was born with a rare disease where I don't have any connective tissue in my whole body. Have you heard of such a thing?
RAY PEAT: Is your tissue very elastic?
Caller: No, I don't have the elasticity.
Caller: I got blisters. I break open all the time. There is no treatment for it yet. they might find a cure for it.
RAY PEAT: Have you tried increased amounts of vitamin E?
Caller: Yea, I did when I was younger and that very horny. made me very, very horny. It shocked too.
RAY PEAT: Working on your hormones so that you can use enough of the antioxidants, sometimes that corrects that blisters-
susceptible disease Caller: Could I achieve that goal with a hyperbaric chamber?
RAY PEAT: No. Going to a higher altitude, where you get a lower oxygen pressure, is more likely to help. Okay. Well, I guess -- can I have your address? do you have an address that I can write to you further about this?
SARAH JOHANNESEN MURRAY: Do you have Internet access?
RAY PEAT: Yes.
CALLER: I don't.
But I can use CALLER: it here at the library or...
SARAH JOHANNESEN MURRAY: Okay. Let me give you his website and you can contact Dr. Peat through his website. And also, you can read a lot of -- he has a lot of his previous letters online there that you can read for yourself. It's w ww . raypeat .com. So it's www. raypeat.
com and then you can go ahead and SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: contact him directly through there.
CALLER: Okay, Caller
: Thank you very much.
SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: Thank you for your call. Dr. Peat, it's long been known that people with high functioning thyroid (or hyperthyroidism) can suffer from high blood pressure but there is also research that shows that people with low thyroid function can also be suffering with high blood pressure.
RAY PEAT: In general, the research shows that increasing thyroid function lowers blood pressure. And I think what has happened over the last 30 years or 40 years I've seen two or three people who actually had hyperthyroidism without a doubt. But I've seen dozens who were told by their doctors that they were hyperthyroid.
But as I encouraged them to talk to their doctors about how the diagnosis was made, many of them said: "But the doctor says I'm at the same time hypothyroid and hyperthyroid". Doctors have been so confused that they say you can be both hypo and hyper at the same time. Most of these people that I have seen who had a diagnosis of hyperthyroidism were actually classical hypothyroid cases. Just that doctors don't read the old textbooks anymore. For example, one thing that happens very often in hypothyroidism is that the activity of the sympathetic nervous system and adrenalin production increase to compensate for the lack of thyroid actual energy production. I've seen people with 40 times the daily output of adrenaline, times the normal amount, who were hypothyroid.
SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: Because their body is so low on thyroid and their metabolism is so slow, their body is trying to compensate by stimulating adrenaline production And of course, what does adrenaline do? It will raise blood pressure.
RAY PEAT: Yah. And I've seen people who had as fast a pulse as 180 beats per minute at rest, year after year. That was taken as one of the diagnostic features for [their] hyperthyroidism. But when they took thyroid, within a week they had a normal pulse rate of 80 or 90 (by lowering the adrenaline), they were lacking in the first place.
SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: What I want our listeners to be aware of is that a lot of time, modern medicine just treats the disease; it doesn't treat the cause of the disease. High cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes are so common in America and in the world today. And if you look deeper, the cause of this could be thyroid disease, which is easily treated. And there is dietary recommendations, some which were described by Dr Peat tonight, that can help your thyroid health. And the medication is also fairly innocuous and safe to take. Can you tell us anything more about the interaction between the high blood pressure and the thyroid, Dr. Peat?
RAY PEAT: The toxemia of pregnancy (or pre-eclampsia) is one of the things that got me interested in how blood pressure is regulated by thyroid. Starting in the 1950’s, when the drug companies came out with their chemical diuretics, they told women that if they take the diuretics and restrict salt intake during pregnancy, that they will prevent the high blood pressure of toxemia. And what they were doing was starving the developing baby of an adequate blood supply by reducing the blood volume. And they created millions of stressed, damaged pregnancies by restricting the salt intake. And the adrenaline rises when you restrict the salt intake just as it does when you restrict the thyroid function. So I noticed that premenstrual syndrome had many features in common with toxemia of pregnancy. And women were told to restrict their salt intake premenstrually. And because some researchers found that they could cure toxemia and bring the blood pressure down to normal by giving the women adequate amounts of salt and protein, I suggested that for premenstrual syndrome, women who get swollen feet and so on, try eating as much sodium as they crave. And sometimes, that's a very large amount; maybe 15 grams a day premenstrually. That’s what they naturally crave. And they found that it prevented their swelling feet and other symptoms. So, after seeing that work, not only in the pregnancy research, but in many women with premenstrual symptoms, I saw that old people very often had a similar syndrome. And when they would go on a salt restricted diet, they would develop insomnia very frequently, suggesting that their adrenaline had gone up. So I suggested to some friends who were in their 80’s that they start eating as much salt as they felt like; and not only did they sleep better, but their blood pressure came down.
ANDREW MURRAY: (laughter)That’s the completely opposite of what you normally hear.
SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: Salt, at one time, was highly treasured and was used as a monetary trading. It’s a very modern way of thinking that salt is bad for you.
We have been depending upon salt forever RAY PEAT: A man named David McCarron noticed 30 years ago that the actual government figures that were used to support the low salt diet treatment for high blood pressure, the people who ate the most salt had the lowest blood pressure, while those who ate the least salt had the highest blood pressure. He saw that what they had been neglecting was the calcium intake, that often went the other direction of the sodium. When people didn't eat milk and cheese, they would often eat salty snacks. He showed that it wasn't the sodium excess that was causing high blood pressure; it was the calcium deficiency.
SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: So these people that had been on a low salt diet, they need to increase their salt and increase their calcium foods?
RAY PEAT: Yah. And obesity is another thing that is often associated with high blood pressure. But the same thing applies to obesity I noticed it when I was traveling in the Slavic countries. There was very little milk available and lots of the people were very fat. And as soon as I went across the border from Russia into Finland, I saw the stores were full of milk and cheese; and everyone was slender and healthy. That was how I looked up David McCarron's work with calcium. And it turns out that, as you increase both your salt and calcium, your metabolic rate increases your ability to oxidize sugar. The anti-diabetic effect is increased with increasing sodium and calcium. And obesity decreased because you’re burning your sugar.
SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: Rather than converting it into fat and storing it.
RAY PEAT: Yah. With chickens they did that. They gave them lightly salted water (almost like sea water), and all of the signs of aging, as well as obesity, were decreased just by having them drink a little salt water.
SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: So they quickly took the salt water away because they wanted the chickens to be nice and obese, so they could make more money.
RAY PEAT: Yah. [But] those were just lab chicken.
(laughs )SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: So, they couldn't sell that to the chicken industry and say "Here
: the salt is going to fix your financial problems.
" (laughs) RAY PEAT: Yah, no one cares if the chickens live to be healthy old chickens.
ANDREW MURRAY: About diuretics, one thing [inaudible] sodium and salt and diuretics and the kind of osmotic concentration in the blood and how diuretics work to excrete more water, etc., etc. do you have any safe methods for increasing diuresis?
RAY PEAT: Yah. The calcium helps. And by optimizing sugar metabolism, it energizes the kidneys, So that they work better. But baking soda and sodium chloride both have a diuretic effect. The only chemical diuretic that I would recommend in any situation happens to be one that skiers are now using to prevent mountain sickness. It's called Diamox, and it was originally used to lower eyeball pressure to prevent glaucoma. And how it works is that it increases your carbon dioxide in your tissues. And that helps to regulate the salt. And it's used in many conditions, including epilepsy and glaucoma, as well as high blood pressure.
ANDREW MURRAY: We have You’re on the air.
Caller: Hello. I just wondered how olive oil is.
RAY PEAT: A quantity like a tablespoon a day it's fine; but it does have 10% of the polyunsaturated fats.
Caller: Is it OK when it's cooked?
RAY PEAT: Yah. Those unsaturated fats are toxic even if you eat cold pressed; they warm up in your body and then the blood pumps catalysts and oxygen through the warm fat; so it doesn't matter how fresh they are when you eat them. They're gonna get rancid anyway, once they’re in your body.
Caller: OK, thank you. Bye.
SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: Thank you for your call. Carrying on with high blood pressure and the diuretics. Can you explain how salt can actually be a diuretic, contrary To what we have been taught ?
RAY PEAT: In his studies, Tom Brewer and his wife wrote some books, nutrition for pregnant women. Two or three books on the subject. And he gives the research background. But how it works is that estrogen suppresses your ability to make albumin, and it makes your blood vessels leaky, and it causes you to lose sodium easily. And so the blood volume decreases and the kidneys don't get enough oxygen or sugar because of the loss of sodium and albumin. The albumin getting into your tissues causes toxic effects as it leaks out of the blood stream. The kidneys put out hormones that drive your heart to beat harder and tighten up your blood vessels, to try to increase the circulation to the kidneys - and in the case of pregnancy, to the uterus (to feed the developing baby) -. The albumin doesn't work to retain water when there isn’t an associated cloud of sodium atoms bound to the albumin in the blood stream. And so just by eating sodium, the albumin which is still in your blood stream now has an ability to osmotically attract water. And eating salt will pull water back into your blood stream, increase the blood volume.
SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: And then you can excrete it through the kidney.
RAY PEAT: Yah. And then it perfuses the kidneys, energizes them. And they stop driving the blood vessels to tighten up. So it lets the excess sodium out.
SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: We do have time for one more caller.
Caller: How does thyroid relate to Lyme disease?
RAY PEAT: The whole immune system is the issue there. A very healthy immune system can throw off chronic infections like that. It's best to do it quickly with an antibiotic, but you always want to back up the antibiotic with an optimized immune system. And thyroid, calcium and vitamin D are really basic things to make your immune system not cause inflammation, but to be able to eliminate pathogens.
Caller: All right. Thank you doctor. Interesting program.
SARAH JOHNESSON MURRAY: Thank you for your call.
ANDREW MURRAY: as I said, it's three minutes to two now. So we better give an outro.
And for those listeners who would like to read more SARAH JOHANNESEN MURRAY: thank you very much, Dr. Peat, for joining us on this show. who would like to read more about the information Dr. Peat has to share, you can log -- you can go visit his website at www.ray peat.com. He has numerous articles there that are free of charge to read newsletters that he has written.
RAY PEAT: And I can usually send a few references for issues that i don’t have on my website
: people can email me.
SARAH JOHANNESEN MURRAY: Right. If you have questions about specific conditions and you'd like to email Dr. Peat, you can do that. Alternatively, you can consult with Andrew and I and we can email Dr. Peat on your behalf. If you have any further questions, you can call us on 888 -WBM-HERB and that's 9 26-4372. And thank you very much for listening to the show and thank you very much,
Dr. Peat, for joining us this RAY PEAT: OK. Thank you.
ANDREW MURRAY: Thank you for your time.