JOBS' WASTING-AWAY HEALTH PROBLEM
Byron J. Richards, CCN
January 6, 2009
Steve Jobs floated a description of his personal health problems into
the public; calling them “a hormone imbalance that has been ‘robbing’
me of the proteins my body needs to be healthy. Sophisticated blood
tests have confirmed this diagnosis. The remedy for this nutritional
problem is relatively simple and straightforward, and I've already begun
treatment.” His press release describing his health issue was
timed to quell market concern and Apple’s stock price, as Jobs
failed to appear today to deliver his almost cult-like yearly Macworld
response to his announcement Apple stock rose, as investors were apparently
encouraged by the near-meaningless description of Jobs’ very serious
health condition. There are two headline stories here. One is about
Steve Jobs’ health, which he has now held out for public discussion
and holds many important lessons for others struggling to maintain weight
in the face of some type of health problem. The other is about risk
Street, in the past year, has shot itself in both feet while wiping
out over 30% of the investment wealth in the stock market. In no small
part this was due to the greed-driven use of computerized risk models
that were unethically and unintelligently applied – with the net
result of wiping out hundreds of billions in wealth – while putting
taxpayers on the hook to keep these reckless companies in business.
Starting 2009 with a jaundiced eye; no investor is interested in being
further snookered on the subject of risk.
one man is the brand his personal health takes on significant importance.
On a personal basis, his health problems are and should be protected
by privacy laws. However, once he starts making announcements about
his health that are designed to quell investor concern, then he is forsaking
privacy rights to build investor confidence and in my opinion should
make his health records public.
his problems as a hormone imbalance and a nutritional problem, compared
to having a recurrence of his pancreatic cancer, has the net result
of lessening investor concern about the risk in an Apple stock investment.
However, such a description of his health problems is vague and potentially
misleading, as it downplays their severity.
may be somewhat difficult to understand, considering the ever expanding
waistlines of most Americans, that inappropriate weight loss is a far
more serious health problem than obesity. This problem is typically
triggered by an intense level of stress such as divorce, loss of a loved
one, illness, accident, or injury. During the intense period of such
a stressor inflammation is out of control, appetite is suppressed, and
weight loss can get out of hand. For many people, as the acute nature
of the stress subsides, their body bounces back and they can then regain
their weight and recover. The common cause of all body wasting problems
is excessive inflammation.
problem can also be self-inflicted, as with anorexics who don’t
eat enough food. What starts out as a desire to be thin gets locked
in place as an inflammatory problem – setting the stage for chronic
body wasting. Also, as any serious cancer progresses this body-wasting
malnutrition sets in and is often the cause of death.
Jobs problems are far from simple and by no means easy to fix. In 2004
he was successfully treated for an islet cell neuroendocrine tumor,
a slow-growing form of pancreatic cancer. While his treatment was considered
successful from the point of view of surgically removing the tumor,
his pancreas became a war zone. Even a successful treatment causes bridges
and building to be knocked down, in this case affecting cells in his
pancreas that produce the hormones insulin and glucagon, key regulators
of his nutritional status.
the last year he has lost considerable weight. Considering his health
history, this is not good news at all. It means his body is locked in
an inflammatory pattern of unknown cause, but likely the result of his
pancreatic problems. When a person gets stuck in an inflammatory-driven
body wasting trend, the longer they are in it the more serious the nature
of the problem. It is like a forest fire burning out of control. During
this process proteins are broken down and lost, as protein-containing
body structures are “burned.” This not only includes the
loss of muscle and bone, but eventually the loss of structural integrity
of key body organs such as the heart, kidneys, pancreas, and liver.
A year of inappropriate weight loss is like 15 years of aging.
getting over the inflammatory trauma of a bad divorce in a period of
months, the nature of Jobs’ health problems is harder to define.
The source of the problem is not clear. Is it actually the return of
his cancer? Is it a consequence of his previous treatment? Is it another
problem altogether? Answering these questions may help doctors settle
on the appropriate medical treatment, but this is clearly a situation
where Jobs would benefit from a comprehensive nutritional program to
support whatever medical treatment is appropriate.
issues apply to any person stuck in an inappropriate trend of weight
loss – so it is worth taking some time to explain how to fix them.
one wishes to view Jobs’ problem as a simple nutritional issue,
then the explanation is that he has negative nitrogen balance. This
means that he does not have enough dietary protein (which contains nitrogen)
to sustain the structure of his body, thus he is in a trend of body
wasting. The simple solution is to increase protein intake to at least
three-fourths of his ideal weight in grams of protein per day –
especially glutamine and the branch chain amino acids. If he is very
lucky, then that would work – and it would be a simple solution.
Jobs has questionable ability to digest and absorb protein, he needs
some of his protein intake in easier to use supplemental forms. I would
suggest up to 10 grams of glutamine per day, along with another 60-70
grams of high quality whey protein that is rich in branch chain amino
acids. Glutamine is the single most important amino acid to protect
against body tissue break down. Branch chain amino acids are needed
to fuel insulin signaling and muscle metabolism once basic nitrogen
balance has been obtained. In other words, once his liver gets enough
protein to meet nitrogen balance, then it is vital that he has a surplus
of proteins that are metabolized in muscle so as to fuel muscle regeneration,
which is the value of the branch chain amino acids.
he needs to eat this much protein regardless of whatever else he does,
it is quite likely that he will need to do more in order to get anywhere.
That is because protein is a structural raw material like 2 x 4s and
plywood, not the carpenter. He needs to stop the inflammatory demo crew
that has gone wild while getting his remodeling crew into action –
in addition to increasing protein intake. Otherwise, his inflammatory
forest fire will keep burning down his protein-containing trees.
and Cortisol Levels
wasting is always a problem of excess inflammation. Your adrenal glands
make higher amounts of cortisol to deal with any increase in inflammatory
stress, as a defense mechanism to cool off the inflammation. Cortisol
is like oil in a car engine – it is needed to keep it running
with less friction. Since Mr. Jobs is overheating, excess cortisol is
constantly produced unless his adrenal glands run out of gas, at which
point cortisol drops and even more serious problems set in (like driving
a car with no oil).
problem with cortisol being released in high amounts is that cortisol
is actually a catabolic hormone that, in excess, actually helps fuel
the break down of his body proteins. The best way to stop this problem
is to drastically increase anti-inflammatory nutrients, which helps
address the actual source of the problem.
that reduce inflammation while at the same time assisting tissue recovery
are the key to turning this problem around. Top choices include grape
seed extract, fish oil, bromelain, papain, curcumin, quercetin, silymarin,
and r-alpha lipoic acid. These nutrients not only help his physical
structure they directly help turn down the inflammatory gene signaling,
which then enables cortisol production to diminish.
Low Leptin, De-energized Condition
many Americans with expanding waistlines and high levels of leptin (leptin
resistance), Jobs has low leptin. Leptin is made in body fat and his
body fat levels have been reduced to dangerously low levels. Leptin
is needed so that his energetic systems can come on. Leptin is also
a primary anti-inflammatory nutrient, especially in the brain. And he
needs normal leptin levels to support proper insulin signaling in his
key nutrients that support both leptin status and insulin function are
zinc and vitamin D. Zinc is also needed to help him make his own pancreatic
digestive enzymes. He’ll need 75 mg to 100 mg of zinc per day,
in the form of zinc picolinate and/or zinc citrate (the two biologically
active forms of zinc). He will need at least 2000 IU of vitamin D per
day, and possibly more if a blood test shows him lacking.
is vital that he prop up his failing leptin system or he will have no
energy to function, no creative drive, and feel like he has worked 12
hours a day when he has only worked 10 minutes. Maybe that’s the
real reason he didn’t want to give the keynote at Macworld –
he didn’t have the energy to make anything that excited him this
Thyroid System on the Brink of Conking Out
problems are a major jolt to healthy thyroid function. T3 is the biologically
active form of thyroid hormone. Reverse T3 is the brakes that slow down
thyroid function. A thyroid lab test that measures free T3 is actually
a score of both active T3 and reverse T3. Ongoing inflammation causes
reverse T3 levels to rise. Steve Jobs is in a situation where he really
needs to know his actual reverse T3 score – as it will directly
predict the likelihood of any recovery. As reverse T3 elevates one’s
ability to recover dwindles.
can also use nutrition to help make thyroid hormone as well as to activate
it. By boosting his own T3 levels, reverse T3 will lesson. Nutrients
such as iodine, selenium, and manganese can be key to maintaining thyroid
status in the face of inflammatory stress.
and Growth Hormone
bottom line for Jobs is that he must get thyroid hormone, insulin, and
growth hormone all acting in harmony to facilitate body tissue repair.
These hormones are the managers within his body that will use the protein
and mild exercise to form new body tissue.
I mentioned above, zinc and vitamin D are essential for his insulin
system to work well. He also needs to rest his pancreas between meals
so that he can build up insulin to release correctly when he eats. Thus,
snacking is out of the question as are meals that are too large. He
is best eating four meals spaced four hours apart.
growth hormone status is reflected by his appetite as well as his ability
to improve muscle strength from mild resistance exercise. The appetite
signal is called ghrelin, which also acts to stimulate growth hormone
activation. Thus, if there is no appetite, then there is no growth hormone
release from the food that is ingested – and little ability to
build body structure from the food that is eaten.
this is the case he should drink some warm vegetable broth ½
hour before eating, in an effort to stimulate an appetite signal by
bringing warmth to his inflamed digestive tract. He can also take an
herb like ginger or slippery elm, which soothes and promotes blood flow
to the digestive system. He can also take digestive enzymes ½
hour before eating. He should also do some form of relaxation before
eating. His goal is to get an appetite signal and when he gets it to
these strategies do not produce an appetite signal then he should consume
fairly large amounts of first milk colostrum, which contains IGF1, the
growth hormone signaling molecule.
may have other digestive problems that need to be addressed, and these
can vary considerably.
have used the above tips many times to help individuals recover from
weakened physical states, regardless of the cause. These tips do not
interfere with any needed medical treatment for any problem that can
be identified. Rather, they help turn the tide so that any needed medical
treatment can work better.
Jobs’ problems are not simple, they are solvable. However, the
longer he stays in an inflammatory wasting condition the more damage
that is caused, the faster he ages, and the higher the risk for cancer
to return. If doctors better understood how to use nutrition to improve
difficult health situations an awful lot of hardship could be spared
and the odds for success could be improved for many health problems.
will be interesting to see how the Steve Jobs story unfolds. Will he
rise above his own health problems and a medical profession that pretends
to be the authority on health but often falls short? If I were a risk
taker, I’d bet on Jobs.
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