Saturday, January 3, 2009

Brain: Sexual Dimorphisms

Striving to optimize all hormones to evolutionarily-normal youthful levels brings about optimal regression/stabilization of any insulin resistance and vascular calcifications. A side effect is optimal lifespan and vitality. These are lessons learned from trial and error, and backed up by meager medical science (albeit exploding in volume). Though we are all a self-experiment of n=1, I find it astounding that we are more bound by our experiences by our vast similarities than by our vast differences.
--Vitamin D (Calcidiol [25(OH)D] blood levels: 60 - 70 ng/ml)
--HDL-cholesterol (Yes... I believe it is a hormone; HDL-receptor=SR-BI. Large HDL has powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-atherogenic, pleiotropic anti-aging effects. Goal HDL: Concentration greater 60 mg/dl with Large-HDL outsizing and outnumbering Small-HDL by greater than 60% of the total (because HDL2 tracks with longevity). Goal HDL: Avg particle size greater than 9.2 nm on NMR/VAP)
--Insulin (less than 5 mIU)
--Cortisol (stress hormone: low end of normal)
--PTH (parathyroid hormone: lower end of normal)
--Free T4 (active thyroid hormone: upper end of normal)
--TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone: ~ 1.0 mIU)
--Free Estrogen (E2, E3: normal)
--Progesterone (P: normal)
--Free Testosterone (T: normal)
--DHEA-S (normal)
--Omega-6/Omega-3 (Fatty acid profile test: 1.5 to 1.0 ratio (similar to traditional Okinawan and Inuit))
--(Adiponectin, Leptin, Human Growth Hormone, IGF-1, Pregnenolone, Myostatin, Melatonin, Eicosanoids, Retinoids, Essential/nonessential Fatty acids, Saturated Fatty Acids, Essential/nonessential Amino acids (eg Arginine, Taurine), Neuropeptides (eg Tyr-Arg=kyotorphin), etc)

Why are hormones so important? I've wondered this frequently lately after being diagnosed with Vitamin D deficiency. Not only are hormones (and pro-hormones like vitamin D) a focus of many disease reversal protocols (i.e. cancer, infertility, etc), but they define who we are... what we are... what gender... social interactions... moods... libido... bone health... inflammatory status...

Our hormones and/or lack of hormones makes us do a lot of things... Sometimes unconscious thoughtless things... A recent study in oral contraception-users demonstrated how hormone-manipulation lead to different mate selection. Millions of women use hormonal contraception to prevent ovluation, control acne or reduce painful PMS/peri-menopausal/fibroid conditions.
The pill makes women sniff out wrong partner
Effect of Putative Male Pheromones on Female Ratings of Male Attractiveness: Influence of Oral Contraceptives and the Menstrual Cycle

Can these be creating a generation of children with less hardy genetic stock? Does how we perceive sexual characteristics and dimorphisms (like a deep baritone voice, sexy/symmetrical body) affect our future progeny?

Evolution-wise it does indeed make sense that 'opposites attract.'

Let's geek out. Science-wise, this could be translated into 'dichotomous Major Histocompatibility Complexes captivate.'

Our body odor in fact may indicate our MHC's which are genes that encode our immunity. MHCs help determine matches between organ donors and organ receivers. Pheromones are emitted from glands and detectable in body odor. How do we sense pheromones?
Body odour preferences in men and women: do they aim for specific MHC combinations or simply heterozygosity?
MHC-dependent mate preferences in humans.
Human body odour, symmetry and attractiveness.

Through our noses which are connected to our reptilian/fish-brain which control unconscious, visceral functions (cardiac, vascular, GI, pulmonary, reproductive), and other roles vital for self-preservation like focus/flight/fright/fight/fertilization/repetition. Dr. Perricone the tan, attractive dermatologist who knows his hormones discusses the benefits of pheromones in reducing cortisol and adrenaline and the effects on mood and mate selection HERE. PBS television endlessly showcase his lectures during pledge drives. I wonder why? He does offer good science (and he's certainly easier on the eyes vs. Weil or Orman) and good entertainment. His line offered a $200 pheromone product previously, but apparently it has been scaled down to a smaller, less expensive solution (probably more suited to the recession... but uuummmm I wouldn't really know). Does having optimal pheromones make you look younger, more radiant, less wrinkly?? More irresistible to the opposite sex?? Does having optimal hormones build better houses, hunt for bigger bison, fish for copious catches? Does having optimal hormones make you smarter? More alert? More strong? Does having optimal hormones guarantee getting laid??!? I sure hope so...*wink* Being a more attractive and 'appealing' mate sort of guarantees continuation of ancestral genes. Would you want to mate a potato? Attraction to opposite immune MHC's guarantees diverse traits which can increase more optimal gene-environment interactions. Makes immense sense to me. In my little n=1 experiment I started on a topical hGH (human growth hormone) product similar to one offered at Bloomingdale's for the skin. After 1-2wks, I noticed that the skin looked fantastically better. Personally I'm convinced that youthful hormones -- even topical ones -- bring about youthful results. With oral Vitamin D for one year, I have already experienced more youth, ageless abundance of hair/nails/skin, lean muscle gains/speed, imperviousness to infections, and breathing easier (no more asthma). Drowning in your own lung secretions is slightly non-conducive to survival.

One fish species in Central America known as the wrasse (see picture) in fact changes genders via hormone changes. When the male leader becomes absent or a pre-ponderance of female wrasses occurs, a female wrasse will undergo a 'sex change' and transform into a secondary male wrasse.

Male sex organs transform into female structures.

I find that a-s-t-o-n-i-s-h-i-n-g.

We don't need exogenous stem cells. Does all life on earth contain an inherent ability to transform when giving the appropriate hormonal cues and environmental triggers? I witness transformations everyday...from my own practice, co-workers and friends' stories, on the cardiology forums and my Crossfit gym/network. Men with 'man-boobs' (who I envy if they're cup-D or higher *wink*) become male-gendered again. Women with testosterone/estrogen (xenobiotic) excess and progesterone deficiency resume feminine secondary traits. An interesting story that Nicki and Robb Wolf told at a nutrition certification at their Crossfit gym in Chico was how they were going to add a disclaimer on their waiver: Paleo nutrition and Crossfit can cause pregnancy; do Crossfit at your own risk! They reported 11-12 pregnancies ALL in the same month among women who stated they couldn't become pregnant for years...!! I wonder why?? (stopping canola/Mazola/toxic-omega-6s + those 'd*mn dirty grains'; eating fats, fish oil, seafood/grassfed, vegs, nuts/seeds, and adding functional movement with intensity)
Sex Change in the Bluehead Wrasse: Temporal Concordance of Changes in Brain and Behavior (See the Table: great review of neuropeptides Arg-vasotocin v. Arg-vasopressin in mammals and brain, behavior, and subsequent sexual dimorphisms)
Surroundings cause tropical fish to change sex: scientists
Crowds cause sex change

Our middle brain is known as the limbic system (PALEOpallium) which is believed to be derived from early mammals. The limbic system controls ludic behavior (not lewd, l-u-d-i-c, from Latin 'to play'). It is also associated with passion, happiness, fear, love, joy. Have you noticed on Planet Earth that only the mammals play? Birds and bees do not. Neither do reptiles. The genetic advantage of 'playing' maybe connecting learning experiences from the past to the present. Can the promotion of curiosity, exploratory thoughts, and artful/inquisitive natures be a survival benefit? A shore-based diet rich in mollusks, seafood and fish is believed to be the turning point for human dominance of the earth and the food chain (yes, it can be argued otherwise, probably depends on the continent? I dunno). Mollusks and seafood are abundant sources of omega-3 long-chain fats known as EPA and DHA. Land mammals also contain EPA and DHA in organ meats and grassfed dairy/muscle meat/adipose. Omega-3 fats EPA and DHA have been shown in infants to raise IQ points and at high dose, improve signs and symptoms of depression and schizophrenia.

DHA deficits of the third brain, the neocortex/neopallium, are severely correlated to brain disorders like bipolar and schizophrenia. R.C. Caspar, a Stanford researcher, wrote "Human neurodevelopment is the result of genetic and environmental interactions. This paper examines the role of prenatal nutrition relative to psychiatric disorders and explores the relationship among nutrients, mood changes, and mood disorders. Epidemiologic studies have found that adults who were born with a normal, yet low birth weight have an increased susceptibility to diseases such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, and stroke in adulthood. (Nutrients, neurodevelopment, and mood. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2004 Dec;6(6):425-9.)" He discusses beneficial placebo-controlled research results of EPA and DHA on depression and bipolar.
Effects of nutrients (in food) on the structure and function of the nervous system: update on dietary requirements for brain. Part 1: micronutrients.
Attention deficit disorders--drugs or nutrition?
A meta-analytic review of double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of antidepressant efficacy of omega-3 fatty acids.
Role of omega-3 fatty acids in brain development and function: potential implications for the pathogenesis and prevention of psychopathology.
The role of omega-3 fatty acids in mood disorders.

Paleo exercise has a component of 'playfulness' and random spontaneity. At Crossfit, we hardly repeat the same routine. In fact, at with paleo and Crossfit, omega-3 fish oils are highly-suggested. EPA and DHA fish oils can affect physical results, performance and notable gains, as well as cardiovascular disease reversal. Omega-3 oils can allow us to play harder and longer. With stronger hearts and muscles. With great endurance. Without electrical conductance disturbances (like atrial fibrillation).
Omega–3 Fatty Acids, Exercise, Physical Activity and Athletics
Fish oil reduces heart rate and oxygen consumption during exercise.
Intakes of long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and fish in relation to measurements of subclinical atherosclerosis.
Effect of Erabu sea snake (Laticauda semifasciata *SNAKE OIL he hee*) lipids on the swimming endurance of aged mice.

Strength manifests in a variety of avenues. For survival, it appears to me that mental vigor, intelligence, genetic disposition, and physical power are all indispensable. Is it unusual that a convergence between the best things for our brain/sexual-dimorphisms, our also the best for our body and heart. Maybe not! Finally a 19-year study in the BMJ by Dr. S. Blair demonstrates that superior muscle strength relates to lower mortality from heart disease, cancer, and all cause-death in men, even after adjusting for cardiovascular fitness (on treadmill testing). Full PDF click here. I first came across this landmark trial in my fave mag FitnessRx for Men Jan 2009 issue, p. 142-144. I love this journal... for the ummmmm... in-depth... uummm scientific articles.
Association between muscular strength and mortality in men: prospective cohort study.

As the author Fahey EdD concluded in his review...'Get STRONG and live long.'

Don't be sarcopenic.

Greek: Poverty of the Flesh


Anonymous said...

Fantastic post! The human body, when allowed to thrive in an optimal environment, never ceases to amaze me. It truly is a thing of wonder.

If I can nit-pick just a bit though -- I believe that the body's ability to express *power* is a much better indicator of health than is the body's ability to simply express strength. By adding the time element into the evaluation, one then has a more full-dimensional,complete view of the body's ability overcome life's "unknowns".

Dr. B G said...

Hi Keith,

Thanks! I agree -- I like power more. Power entails also the potential and capacity for other strength parameters. I was trying to use the same language as the 19-year strength, mortality article.


Calvin said...

Hi G,

Great subject matter this blog! Thought that I'd share . . .

Geek-out true story:

“Realized Dichotomous Histocompatibility Complexes Prevent Potential Decreased Heterozygosity”

My good friend H got engaged this past summer. Everything seemed fine, then I receive an email addressed to everyone on her wedding invite list stating that she just got “disengaged and couldn’t be happier” about it. Naturally, wondering if she was OK and exactly what she meant by “couldn’t be happier”, and if she was just saying that to cover up her sorrow, in addition to who’s decision it really was to call the wedding off, I checked in with H. We hook up and over wine she tells me that it was her choice and really is relieved after all. Besides trusting me, H knows about my keen sense of smell, and shares the real reasons for breaking the engagement off. OK, the bloke isn’t quite treating H like a total queen anymore; still a good guy, but he’s slipped a couple of notches now that she is wearing his engagement ring. Moreover, let me rewind a little before the clincher: being a pilot, every time that they’ve gotten together over the past 6 months has been when he’s only in town for the regular 3-5 day layovers; he always wears cologne, and H has a few plug-in air fresheners in her place which not only cover up other smells, but also desensitize the nasal passages (any guess where this is going yet?). Fast forward to a short while before the break-up: H flies to blokes homeland for a week plus visit. On his home turf he's casual and doesn’t wear any cologne in addition to not having any air fresheners in his pad. H can finally actually smell blokes scent (read: MHC's) and comes to the conclusion that not only does she not find it agreeable, but that there is no way that she can foresee spending a lifetime with this barnyard smelling animal. Like some of you, I too am wondering if besides the masking smells, was there any use of, or lack of hormonal contraception as possible contributing factor in the decision—I’ll find out later. One more thing: blokes libido wasn’t up to H’s preferences—I wonder if any studies have been done between libido and MHC’s?

Stephan Guyenet said...


Great post. I also suspect hormone imbalance is behind a lot of modern ills. Calcitriol and LEPTIN! Leptin is in there somewhere, whether it's in the driver's seat or not I don't know. But I think it's got a hand on the wheel at a minimum.

I think it's interesting to note that omega-6 consumption indirectly influences the levels of many hormones, including steroid hormones. It may really be one of the fundamental 'hits' in the modern diet that accounts for hormone dysregulation.

So when are you going to post a picture of your biceps? Maybe a before-after?

Dr. B G said...

Stephan my dear,

I believe you are entirely correct. Can't wait to hear your insights about Calcitriol's role...! I had not thought about that but atrophy/calcification of our pineal gland and other internal brain structures explains a lot of 'age-related' CNS declines. Wouldn't you say so? With Leptins (and maybe even Lectins -- perhaps Peter will jump in) added to the mix... Hhhhhhmmm -- I like the synergy on the net and find it somehow intellectually comforting. I'll be posting *wink* after I see more of YOUR phat sexyback!


Dr. B G said...

Hi Cal,

I love that article and story. So perhaps people are not really commitment-phobic, they're just ??nasally-challenged, thus terminally MHC-incompatible? So many things drive Libido...personally I would not be surprised at all if pheromones/MHC are short-term activators. What is our biggest sex organ?

*hee* The brain.

I could be more ludic...I'll restrain myself...

Isn't is funny we're just slowly killing ourselves? Via environmental shifts (artificial scents, BO-deficits), hormonal shifts (fructose/w-6s), and nutrient-density shifts?

Have you happened to read Free the Animal, Richard's blog? I think you will see some insights into it. Yesterday he had a topic regarding HOW FAST we are genetically changing. Are we rapidly de-evolving, quicker than we thought?? Stephan once mentioned a line about our cranial size being (?) 7% smaller than only one century ago (would love that citation BTW *smile*).


Stephan Guyenet said...


Actually it's 11%!

Ruff CB et al. Body mass and encephalization of pleistocene Homo. Nature 387:173-76. 1997.

I haven't read it; I grabbed the citation from "Human Diet: its Origin and Evolution" by Ungar and Teaford.

Dr. B G said...


O my goodness, 11%!

THANK YOU for the citation!!

Anonymous said...

Have you heard of mTOR as a marker for aging? Do you know anything about it?
Thanks in advance,

Dr. B G said...


I am REALLY really into mTOR.

However I've had little luck for some reason doing PubMed searches on it. A Spaniard posting at Whole Health and Peter's Hyperlipid wrote once that he was doing (I recall) research on mTOR but his email didn't work for me.

I have not seen it as a marker for aging... but that makes TOTAL SENSE.

Leucine from animal sources is a big activator of mTOR. Meat is VERY important for human longevity -- no centenarian community is ever vegetarian. NONE.

Are there labs that test it?