In this episode, I am speaking with Isaac Eliaz, MD, a leading expert in integrative medicine, specializing in cancer detoxification, immunity, and complex chronic conditions. We will discuss his recent book, The Survival Paradox, the Galectin-3 pathway, hormesis, and more.
Table of Contents
In this podcast, Dr. Eliaz and I discuss:
- The Survival Paradox and what it means to you
- Galectin-3 and the critical role it plays in low energy levels and chronic illness
- The best compound to lower Galectin-3 levels
- How hormesis is a key factor in preventing disease and fatigue
- Why meditation and letting go is critical for healing
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Listen outside iTunes
Ari: Hey, this is Ari. Welcome to The Energy Blueprint Podcast. With me today is Dr. Isaac Eliaz who is a leading expert in the field of integrative medicine, specializing in cancer detoxification, immunity, and complex chronic conditions. He is the author of the recent book, The Survival Paradox, which is what we’re going to be focused on in this conversation today. I think you’re going to find this to be a fascinating discussion. I think you’re going to get a lot of value from it. It centers around a biochemical pathway called the galectin-3 pathway, which Dr. Eliaz believes is central to the development of many chronic conditions.
Also, a little bit more on Dr. Eliaz, he’s a respected physician researcher, best selling author, educator, and mind-body practitioner. He partners with leading research institutes like Harvard, Columbia, and the National Institutes of Health, to coauthor studies on integrative therapies for cancer, heavy metal toxicity, and others. He’s also the founder and medical director of Amitabha Medical Clinic in Santa Rosa, California, where he has pioneered the use of therapeutic apheresis as an adjunctive blood filtration treatment for detox and chronic degenerative conditions. With no further ado, I hope you will enjoy this podcast with the brilliant Dr. Isaac Eliaz. Welcome to the show, Dr. Eliaz.
Dr. Eliaz: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
The Survival Paradox
Ari: Such a pleasure. I have to say, in reading your book and in following your work, something interesting has struck me, which is in knowing thousands of different health experts and reading, jeez, probably close to 10,000 books on health over 25 years, and having hundreds of podcasts with health experts, it’s not often that I encounter somebody that just has a radically novel paradigm of human health and disease. I would say that you fit into that category.
I would like to start off by focusing on allowing you to outline and give an overview of what this paradigm is for our audience. You have a book called The Survival Paradox. I would like you to, first of all, I think as an entry point into this discussion, explain how you view the body’s survival response, and what is going on with it, and what types of things engage our body’s survival response.
Dr. Eliaz: It’s a great intro, and it’s true, The Survival Paradox does offer a new paradigm. It’s really a result of decades of clinical work, spending decades meditating, and long retreats, and so distilling mind-body work, meditation, clinical work research into this more accessible concept. The Survival Paradox, as it sounds is a paradox because we are built to survive. That’s why we are here. Every cell in our body is built to survive. The same mechanisms that help us survive are the mechanisms that get us sick, that affect the quality of life, that shortens our lives.
It drives every chronic disease, and drives acute diseases. Because we are built to survive, it’s innate in us, it’s automated. It’s automated through our sympathetic system, through our autonomic system. It’s how we react in a fraction of a second, as you know, by either fighting, which equates to inflammation, or by flight, by running away, by hiding, which equates to isolation, to creating a microenvironment to a place where we can’t be found. This microenvironment becomes a ground for bacteria to hide, for infections to hide, for pesticides to hide, for diseases to develop that we are not aware of.
Like one day we wake up, and where did the cancer come from? This basic movement starts in the autonomic nervous system with the sympathetic response, and a relaxing parasympathetic response with a deep breath, with meditating, with doing yoga, with surfing, with whatever unwinds us. Then there is a biochemical response. The biochemical response is your alarm proteins. These alarm proteins don’t turn off as quickly as the autonomic nervous system. They’re what we call upstream molecules. One of the key ones I’ve researched for almost 30 years and made the key discoveries about blocking it to block inflammation fiber, this is called galectin-3.
This upstream protein starts a cascade of survival, which equates to inflammatory dysregulation, the cytokine storm, and immune dysregulation, or the fibrotic dysfunction process. When we look at diseases, we found, wow, there is this protein that drives it, that by now has over 10,000 published papers yet so many people don’t know about it. I’m talking a lot about it because people who know me say, “Isaac, your work is the best kept secret in town, it’s time to really share it.” Blocking it is key. Blocking it with something as simple as modified citrus pectin, but also understanding the liability of living in a survival response.
What it does to us, what it does to our environment, how it affects the people around us, how it affects our offsprings, and the genetic and epigenetic influence that we are experiencing, which cause us to respond the survival response. While this sounds like a very big concept, and it is, it affects our whole life quality, in the same time, it affects how our cell membrane is behaving. Our energetic production outside the mitochondria happens. can we get a pyruvate into the mitochondria? Can we produce energy in a relaxed, safe way, and regulated way, or do we have to go into survival energy production, which works for a very short time, just like survival, but at a very heavy cost? That’s a little bit of the overview.
Ari: Let’s pretend for a moment that my audience listening to this is mostly composed of very high-level scientists who understand physiology and who understand biochemistry. I say that because in general, my audience is pretty sophisticated. Most of them are not scientists of course, but they generally have a good foundational knowledge of human physiology. I want to ask you to go deeper and more detailed into how things work. I also want to play devil’s advocate a little bit if that’s okay with you.
The role of Galectin-3
First of all, the basic paradigm here is things that our body is engaging to survive are becoming dysfunctional in a way that is ultimately damaging to us and is driving aging and disease. Now, take me through the story of this. How does this originate? What kinds of stressors? Then what are the specific physiological mechanisms or biochemical pathways that are engaged in response to that? Then step by step how that then ends up being dysfunctional? It’s okay if your answer is 10 minutes long here. I want you to go into detail of how this works.
Dr. Eliaz: Of course, I’d love to. It’s great that you gave me an understanding of the audience, because I love to take people through the journey of the biochemistry inside the cells, very specific, and they can look it up afterward. Stressor is anything that creates a survival reaction. It can be emotional stress, it can be psychological stress. It can be physical stressors, if it’s a disease, if it’s an injury, if it’s pesticides, if it’s heavy metals, if it’s mycotoxins. It can be a genetic and epigenetic influence that I talk in the book about my own story, carrying the pain of my grandfather that I’m named after.
Who his 10 out of 12 siblings were killed by Hitler, and how I went through my own healing and my symptoms went away. Then my mother got a healing experience without knowing what I’m doing because I went back two generations, and it went back to her. We’re looking about energetic effects on a global interpersonal, multidimensional level. The same thing happen in our cell. When we react, so of course the physiology will be how it affects the gut and the brain, and I’ll touch it. I love touching it. Let’s go into the journey into the cell. The cell now is not feeling safe.
The cell is not feeling safe, or we are at a place of survival that one can create a neurological pathway response, because we have to remember, we always do our best. It’s important for people listening to realize, don’t be hard on yourself for something you have done 20, 30, 40 years ago. It was the best you could have done. The problem that we get stuck in the pattern; neurologically, physiologically, and on a biochemistry level.
Now if we get the sense of danger, if we get the sense of inflammation, our macrophage outside of the cell can turn into inflammatory M1/M2 macrophage and excrete galectin-3, or galetin-3 senses a danger in a certain place. It’s coming to fix, to do injury repair. How? Again, through inflammation and fibrosis. It comes into the cell environment, It blocks insulin receptors, and now the cells metabolism is to shift into a survival response.
Ari: This protein, galectin-3, has a positive function. It’s not all bad. It’s also serving a positive role in helping facilitate healing and recovery of damaged cells. Is that accurate?
Dr. Eliaz: It facilitate injury repair. Injury repair is very different from healing because the mechanism it uses is inflammation and fibrosis. If it could have a signal for five minutes and then just relax, it would be great, but it doesn’t. That’s the problem. The cell, I’m sure your audience knows this, when we are in a place of safety of peace, we produce energy through proper mitochondrial function. Now we get 36 ATPs for 1 molecule of glucose. Very efficient, no byproducts, oxidative stress is being handled, and the cells pH is normal. We do it by opening pyruvate dehydrogenase.
We need the cofactors if it’s thiamine, alpha-lipoic acid, but the mitochondria, which is our smallest boundary. The same boundary we have as people, we decide what comes in, what goes out through the breath, through the skin, through the gut happens on the cell membrane, and within the cell we got our energy production facilities, the mitochondria. PDH is very efficient. Now we have to go into a survival mode. Survival mode, we survive at any cost. We can produce energy 100 times faster, so quickly, which is amazing, but only 5% to 6% efficiency.
Two molecules of ADP for every glucose, and a lot of lactic acid. Now the cell has a sense that if it doesn’t have oxygen, if we right now held our breath for a minute or two, or three, whatever your capacity, at some point we’re going to do survival. That’s what the cell feels. The cell then stimulate something called hypoxia-inducing factor. Oh my god, I have no air, I’m in trouble. It blocks further than mitochondria and pushes glycolysis further, and you get this vicious cycle. AMPK, the precursor for normal production of energy, gets blocked. M2 or M1 gets stimulated.
There’s a lot of work with anti-aging with using berberine and metformin to actually try to shut down M2 or M1 and honokiol. We get this M2 or M1 being activated. Again, it pushes HIF, it pushes something called AKT. PDK is the enzyme that blocks the movement of PDH into the mitochondria, gets activated, we go into glycolysis. This can drive autoimmune diseases. This will happen with metabolic diseases, and this is what happen when a cell wants to go into survival mode. The classical–
Ari: The galectin-3 is present for too long, cell goes into survival mode, is stuck in survival mode, you get this prolonged uncontrolled inflammation that is now suppressing optimal mitochondrial energy production, and the cell is switching to anaerobic glycolysis.
Dr. Eliaz: Right. In cancer, for example, and galectin-3 drives cancer, I’m just presenting it as [unintelligible 00:14:05] on the 16th, a multicenter trial on biochemical recurrence of prostate cancer, where when we blocked galectin-3 with modified citrus pectin, we slow down the growth of the cancer or stopped it in over a long period of time, 18 months in 90% of people. Now, the MCP, modified citrus pectin, didn’t kill the cancer. It allowed the cell to go into normal metabolism. What happened is not only the cell, the cell is one example, physiologically, you get the cytokine storm.
Galectin-3 drive interleukin-6, interleukin-1B, interleukin-10, TNF alpha. Some of my work is actually in sepsis. I have a large NIH grant studying what happen when we remove galectin-3 with therapeutic apheresis or we block it. We’ve shown in animal models that when we block galectin-3, we significantly drop the rise in interleukin-6, a key cytokine, we reduce the damage to the kidneys, and we reduce mortality of the animals from 60% to 20%. When we remove galectin-3 completely, mortality goes to under 10%. This is part of what happened physiologically.
Anything we can do to restore the sense of safety, to allow normal function on a bigger level; psychologically, emotionally, mentally, and restore it on a physiological and on a cellular level will help to reverse this. The classical cell that goes into a survival mode, and what is survival from a philosophical point? Survival is when we don’t accept that everything is impermanent, that anything that expresses itself has an end. A cell has to know it. We are composing, I’m rounding it a little bit up, of 50 trillion cells. 50 trillion, not million, not billion. Trillion.
Each cell, and I didn’t know it until a few years ago when I looked it up, each cell has up to 1 million reactions a second. Can you just imagine? The fact that you and I are talking now is nothing less than a miracle. All of this is working together. There is an interdependence and harmony and mutual support between the cells and between our cells and our microbiome. 100 trillion organisms. When a cell says, no, I want to survive at any cost, it creates a microenvironment, it changes its metabolism. We call this cell a cancer cell. That’s a typical definition of a cancer cell. The shift from a survival response has a profound effect in cancer.
For example, immunotherapy in cancer doesn’t work well if galectin-3 is elevated, but it also have an effect in how we experience our life, in our ability to take a deep breath, in shifting from reactivity, which is an immediate survivor response, ego holding response, to responsiveness. whatever comes, we respond with an open heart, we respond with nourishment. The beauty that our body is built to survive, and our body is built to explore responsiveness. In Judaism we call it the tikkun, the fixing. In Buddhism, you’ll call it finding our true nature. The organ in charge of it, the organ that allows us to transform the survivor response, which is really our life’s journey, is our heart.
Why the body can heal itself
Ari: Beautiful. I feel bad saying this after how beautiful your last little words there were, but I would like to play devil’s advocate on a couple of points. I want to challenge you and then allow you to tell me why my thinking is incorrect. The first thing that comes to my mind as far as a fundamental skepticism or problem I have with the paradigm is it feels very conventional medical model, in terms of the search for one particular biochemical pathway that is abnormal, and then trying to find some drug that is going to interrupt this pathway, and that’s going to be the cure for the disease.
What we know from however many decades of the conventional medical model pursuing that kind of approach, In terms of the paradigm, as far as how they approach curing disease, is, I think the statistics are something like only 2% of chronic diseases that are considered to actually have cures. Most of those are things like antibiotics for bacterial infections, but for the broad categories of what represents over 80% of the disease burden, things like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, neurological disease, cancer, heart disease, these kinds of things.
I would go so far as to say that the paradigm that seeks to identify abnormal biochemical pathways and provide drug interventions for them has been an astounding failure. Where there is some kind of positive result, let’s say you can take statin drugs to lower your cholesterol levels successfully, or you can take an SSRI antidepressant to maybe elevate your mood, there is almost always a tradeoff as far as negative side effects. These drugs always come with a long list of side effects. Let me now loop this back into what you’re doing. Coming from–
Dr. Eliaz: Maybe loop it into what you think I’m doing, because actually I totally agree with your paradigm. You are not actually challenging me. You are supporting me, and you’ll see it in a moment.
Ari: Exactly. The challenge I have in the paradigm that you’ve presented so far is why would our bodies be designed this way? You said a minute ago our bodies are performing 1 million chemical reactions per second in our cells. This is a miracle. This is this astounding miraculous feat of millions of years of evolution that we can do this, we can have this conversation with one another. If we have this frame of awe and reverence for this miraculous vehicle that we exist in, why would it be designed with this flaw of this galectin-3 being present for too long and driving all of this disease process? Why would we be designed with a fundamental flaw that in response to stresses, our own body triggers this self-induced damage?
Dr. Eliaz: You talked about a lot of things. I completely agree with you. Galectin-3 is just an expression of our survival response. There’s something called cell danger response. No, it’s bigger. Survival response is how we experience life. We are built to survive, and at any cost. That’s the first thing. For me personally, I’m not only a licensed acupuncturist and much more trained, I’m trained vertically in multiple– I’m not an MD who studied other stuff. I started my training at the age 15 with meditation and Taekwondo in Korea, and yoga. I spent 20 years, 2 to 3 months a year by myself in the mountains, and 10 years half-day retreat.
I spent tens of thousands of hours undoing, unlearning, just being in nature in the mountains, the snow on my own. I have certain a little bit of insights. I translated it into the survival product. My personal journey in one level, I recognize this important protein which is an instigator. Why is it important? Because it’s an upstream molecule. I’m not trying to block TNF alpha like certain drugs do, or interleukin-6. I’m dealing with a protein which is very much at the starting point. It is definitely not a miracle. The ideal thing is to block galectin-3 as part of a whole strategy.
That’s why from a supplement point of view, it’s great to combine it with other treatments. In the same time, I also do work with therapeutic apheresis with this blood filtration outside the body. Now we are bigger than our body. Then what really I’m passionate about is about open-heart medicine. I really believe we can heal anything with our mind. It’s our life experience. That’s contrary to just doing one thing. I probably wrote my first statin prescription being an MD since 1986 in the last year. Anyway, I agree with you very much. In any case, the thing is that we need to survive.
When we are very young, when we living in an harmonious place, our survival response comes out of a sense of safety. For example, Hawaii is an example. Hawaii is a paradise. The vegetation, there are no snakes, there are no predators. That’s why when a plant come from the outside, it devastates the island because there’s a sense of safety, of harmony. Very unusual, right? It’s the furthest away from any other place, so it was able to create this environment. As we age, our body now is functioning based on patterns that we acquire during our life.
As we acquire them we learn that this worked for us and we respond. We no longer can get a cut in the skin and have it completely healed, which in my book, I mentioned the Buddhist metaphor of a bird flying in the sky and it goes away, or writing in water, it leaves the scar, and then the scar creates a blockage. Then when we get an insult again, now the insult is driven by our past habits. Our life journey is a life of letting go. Galectin-3 rushes to help with the injury. You know what’s the amazing thing? It doesn’t go up a lot. If you look at the research, like my studies, galectin-3 will go up by 50%, will double, let’s say, in animal models.
Interleukin-6 will go up thousandfold, 2,000-fold. Galectin-3 backs off. It went up and it stopped working. It doesn’t go up anymore. The problem is the cascade it lives on that keeps going, keeps going, keeps going. Nothing is stopping it. It still gets a message. In this sense, you are very correct. We are built, first of all, evolutionary to survive, and we’ll do anything to survive. Sometime, the survival mechanisms have a cost. We get injured, people fighting wars, they get injured, some people get killed, but they get injured, they survive and they protected their environment.
It’s really a consequence. We have to respect our survival ability. We shouldn’t disregard it otherwise we wouldn’t be here. I think that the Holocaust is a great example. That’s one end. In is the same level at the same time, we have to know there is a different way of doing it. A different way of doing it is the process of letting go. The letting go is one when we create space in our being. If we look at space in our being from a meditation point of view, we experience spaciousness, but from the cellular point of view, there is more space. There is more space, there is more oxygen.
There is more oxygen, there is less response of survival. We can take a deep breath. The cell can take a deep breath. That’s one level when we can do it. The other level is we can connect in our body to the physiology and the organs that behave differently. Every cell in our body, every organ in our body takes clean blood, takes nourishment as part of its survival, and lets go of what it doesn’t want, what it consider to be toxic. Either it’s certain compounds or pesticides, or minerals, or an emotion that was stored in the cell. Then it goes with the lymph system, venous system, and where does it go?
It goes to the only organ in the body that takes all the dirty blood from everybody, which is the heart. The heart’s survival is to accept with an open heart all the stuff that our body didn’t want. That’s where the transformation happens. As you can imagine, galectin-3 adversely affects the heart. It drives fibrosis of the heart. Just as a biochemical example, but with the saying in Hebrew, you can have a stone which is like a heart, and a heart which is like a stone. Now, all the blood comes to the heart. The heart connects with the universe through the breath, because our drama for the universe, it can contain it, it doesn’t affect it.
From a perspective of understanding, the molecule of air in our mouth when we breathe is connected to the whole universe and to multiple times. Now we get clean air coming in, we have an exchange in the lung in order to serve the heart. Then the heart gives clean blood to the whole body. Only when the heart finishes contracting and giving blood to the whole body, it’ll relax. The coronary arteries outside of the heart will open, and the heart will nourish itself. The only organ who nourishes itself after it finished giving to others. That’s the selflessness of the heart.
When this stops, when the flow stops, we are dead. Survival, thinking what to do, running away, fighting is a place of stuckness, of reactivity. That’s really our journey. Absolutely, the more you do through your mind, through your heart, the less you have to do through medicine, through supplement. There is another level to this. The heart gives. What it gives flow through the blood, but the cell has to be willing to accept. The cell has to be willing to relax and open up. This is very much what happen in the world. Our heart electromagnetic field is bigger than our body.
What we feel in our heart affects every cell in our body in every second, but it also affects people around us. Part of healing is not only connecting with the ability of the heart to transform difficulties, suffering, toxicity into nourishment, but it’s also connecting with the cell in our body and letting them open up to the nourishment from the heart, and recognizing that these cells, the reasons they’re contracted or blocked to abnormal, it’s not only because of what’s happening right now, it’s because of our life story, it’s because of the endless people that made us over countless generations, and the epigenetic effects.
All of it is expressed in the cell. Part of the sheet of people that work with healing, with meditation is to feel the connectivity, inseparability between the cell and the whole being, between the cell and the heart just like we have the interconnectivity between us and everybody around us, which is something you can experience in meditation, this quality of oneness. The oneness on the outside that some people can feel the openness is actually happening inside our body. That’s the amazing thing. This will translate into physiology, into biochemistry, into galectin-3 and other.
In interleukin, and a lot of other activating molecules of signs of inflammation, dangers, infection. Then it becomes an amazing biochemistry. A scientist can focus on one or two, and what happens? They lose the big picture. My personal journey is I always was interested in the big picture, and I happen to fall into this one molecule that represents a big picture. I’m working it on both sides. On one level I’m a scientist and a research, and I publish paper and made grants, but then I spent maybe the biggest part of my life just letting go of all of it. It’s a little bit a combination. I hope it answers a little bit.
The pros and cons of Galectin-3
Ari: It does. Basically, the question that I was presenting to you is around the tradeoffs of galectin-3. In terms of from an evolutionary perspective, usually, the body doesn’t create compounds by mistakes. Usually, it doesn’t produce things endogenously, it doesn’t manufacture compounds in the body that are just all bad. Normally things are maybe produced in a certain context where they have benefits, and maybe in other context they have harms, or if they stick around too long, they have harms, that sort of thing.
We’re talking about from that perspective. I was asking you, what would happen if we were able to completely eliminate galectin-3? We raised a young human baby into an adult, and that child and that adult never had any galectin-3? To some extent these experiments have been done in animal models where they do genetic knockouts of galectin-3. What is that? What does that picture look like of the tradeoffs, the positives, and negatives around galectin-3?
Dr. Eliaz: It’s a great question. As you ask me, I realize that I may have not defined. Galectin is a carbohydrate-binding protein. A protein that binds a sugar. Not a sugar like glucose, but a carbohydrate. There are many galectins, Ari. There are at least a dozen galectins more. There are about seven, eight are researched. Most of the research is on galectin-3. Some of the balancing acts are done by another galectin. Looking back at galectin-3, we mentioned that galectin-3 is, I coined the name, the survival paradox. It really an alarm, and it’s really an injury repair protein, but it’s a survival protein.
Embryonally, it’s very important for helping normal embryogenesis, especially in the kidneys. This is intracellularly, inside the cell. Once we are born, once we go through life, once we go through stressors, through injuries, the galectin-3 that is on the cell membranes, that is in the circulation, the galectin-3 that can be excreted quickly by microphage, it’s our go-to agent for injury repair. The mechanism it uses is inflammation and fibrosis. As such, it plays a very important role. It starts the process. When you look at galectin-3 knockout models, they’re always aberrations in papers.
The vast majority show that when you use galectin-3 knockout models, you get better results. You get less autoimmune disease, you get cancer not spreading as much. One of the key papers that really was chosen by the editor of the best paper of the journal, was in 2020, I think, or 2019, was a multi-center trial on 1,100 patients were accepted to the ICU after CABG, after coronary artery bypass. In the animal model part, they created acute kidney injury, damage to the kidneys that happens when you don’t have a blood supply in the heart.
When you put someone on the heart-lung machines, there are a few moments when there is no blood supply, and it creates kidney damage. In this animal, the kidney damage triggered galectin-3 that traveled to the heart, and created damage and fibrosis to the heart. When you used knockout animals, which means the AKI damage that was created artificially by shutting down the circulation couldn’t excrete or stimulate galectin-3, there was no damage to the heart. When you created the damage and gave modified citrus pectin, there was no damage to the heart.
What was fascinating, that when you use the same knockout animal that cannot produce galectin-3, you created the kidney damage, but you injected bone marrows that can produce galectin-3. The message from the kidneys went to the bone marrow, stimulated excretion of galectin-3 that went to the heart, and created the same damage. In this sense, most of the studies are showing that there are benefits when you eliminate galectin-3. However, the story is very different when you block or when you deplete galectin-3.
The reason is you are blocking it on the surface of the cell, or you’re blocking it in the circulation, but the cell can still produce galectin-3 through up-regulation of mRNA, a message to the cell, you’ve got to produce galectin-3, which is a cycle that once you have inflammation, the cell produce galectin-3. While you are blocking it, you can still get it at the targeted tissue. That said, I want to really expand this part of my view on life, on health that we discussed in the first part, and the lot in the second part. Galectin-3 is in no way the whole story.
It’s a part of it. What is so intriguing about it is that it gives it signals, and it doesn’t need a big change to create a signal. Then you got the outpour, the downpour of the waterfall of cytokines that go out of control. One of the great examples is in our animal studies in sepsis, we show that the animals where sepsis was created artificially, if they went into sepsis, galectin-3 went up twofold, maybe threefold. Interleukin-6 went up a thousandfold, 2,000-fold. We have here an up-regulator, a molecule that is a very starting point, and in many level it’s very important to address it.
It also exemplifies for me the importance of regulating our survival response, which is a fascinating topic. I was just speaking on another summit today on inflammaging, and with very scholastic doctors interviewer, and they were mentioning fasting. I was talking about fasting as a survival response, an immediate response. Fasting is a longevity response, very different. Here we are dealing with the immediate, everything is on fire. I don’t care what is the cost. I got to survive. We all go through this in life, emotionally, psychologically. Us, our family, our relative, previous generation, it affects us genetically and mainly epigenetically.
We are this very complex being with so many influences, and the body naturally developed multiple mechanisms. What you said is really wise, I want to tell you there’s a very legendary researcher, Dr. David Sachs. Dr. David Sachs discovered the MHC II molecule. This is a self-recognition molecule, recognizes what is ours, what is not. Brilliant guy, amazing. He did some of the galectin-3 depletion studies for me. He was telling me, “Isaac, maybe you’re asking too much out of galectin-3.” Sure enough, after the result, he actually wrote me, he said, “Isaac, you really are up to something, because I didn’t expect it.”
There are certain molecules that have a big regulatory effect. Now we can affect them directly or we can affect them wisely by changing our lifestyle or affecting associated molecules. For example, we talked a little bit. I remember if we talked, or we didn’t, or it was after, but we talked about the effect of the survival response sympathetically, biochemistry, cell membrane, and then the effect of the mitochondria that you’re so interested in. Then if you balance the mitochondria intracellularly, you will have an effect on the cell membrane.
You will have an effect on P53 expression. Now you are translating an intracellular effect outwardly into the cell membrane. There is a dialogue between multiple movement, but the idea of a survival paradox beyond the galectin-3, the galectin-3 is just a biochemical expression, is that we are really addressing our basic survival. Evolution falls into it, adaptation falls into it, energy production falls into it.
Wherever we can find balance, we will find better efficiency. Balance has a price. As I mentioned, when you look at treating cancer, for example, people sometime in the holistic level alternative say, “I want to balance the patient.” It’s great if you balance the patient, but if you balance the cancer, it’s not a great idea. If you can cause more damage to the cancer compared to the body, there is a price. For example, it will be like causing increased ROS in order to get an adaptive, better response from the body.
Ari: I just want to make sure that people follow that. We’re talking there about increasing levels of reactive– ROS is reactive oxygen species, free radicals basically to induce an adaptive response like you lift a weight, you challenge the muscle, the muscle grows stronger.
Dr. Eliaz: Right. That’s like on what you’re interested in, [unintelligible 00:43:03] If you think about it, this is what we do, for example, in cancer, but the normal cell has a better glutathione function. The normal cell we hope will survive, while the cancer cell will not. Then comes the integrative medicine. Should we give antioxidants? Shouldn’t we give antioxidants? Or when should we give them in the cycle? It’s a very dynamic approach. I think we need to respect the wisdom of the body. Last time we talked a lot about– we used the term “conventional medical models”. We used this term.
Conventional medical model is really logic-based. It’s even something not logic-based. They see something and they try to explain it. It’s very unusual that there is a whole philosophical thing that somebody tries to perform, a lot of medications are accidents. In this sense, it’s very linear. It misses all the multidisciplinary, multi-dimensional understandings of life. I’m saying it is somebody who has seen things that science can never explain, that people will not believe in, but you see them with your own eyes. In the same time, there is great value to science and to understanding what’s happening in the mitochondria?
What’s happening in the biochemical processes? When we look at data, when we look at studies, we have to understand they represent a population. We, each of us, you, me, each one person, is an individual with adaptation that are fit for our own survival, and therefore we may react a little bit differently in that the value of n=1 medicine, where the one person is a whole universe, and that’s it. A person who has a disease that 99% of the people get cured, and he’s the 1%, they don’t care that it’s 99%, and vice versa.
It’s an amazing journey. Galectin-3 just is a biochemical part of this very, very primal, very innate movement. The adaptation can be peaceful and useful but when everything is on fire, when you just have to run away, no matter if you’re going to get scratched and cut and have to do smoke inhalation, and get poisons on the way, if you can survive and not die, the body will do it. We all know it.
How Galectin-3 is connected with diseases
Ari: I want to dig a little deeper on some of the connections between galectin-3 and specific diseases, physiological symptoms, mechanisms, systems. One that I’d like you to talk about is cancer. Another one is atherosclerosis. I’d also then like you to talk about the connection with mitochondria and energy production.
Dr. Eliaz: Of course. The whole research in galectin-3 started with cancer. What they found out, and it was really interesting, what they found out is that galectin-3 drives angiogenesis. It drives the metastatic process. There are galectin-3 receptors on the endothelium that the cancer cell and thrombocytes attach to and they create a colony. They produce inflammation, they break the blood vessels, and they create colony. This was the starting point. Interesting enough, Ari, the first study on this showing that in animals, when you injected prostate cancer to their hip, and you gave modified citrus pectin, you were able to dramatically reduce metastasis in the lungs.
There was never a study on any substance, pharmaceutical or natural, that demonstrated this. This was published in JNCI, Journal of National Cancer Institute. Somebody just asked me in an interview this week as, “How come everybody doesn’t know about it?” I said, “If this was a drug, everybody would have known about it.” This was the initial observation and then, when I was ready, when they published my first data on MCP on prostate cancer, there was an interesting observation. The data was published in the journal, Prostate, very prestigious, is a statistical method.
Then the actual results were published in another oncology journal. In the Prostate, there were 9 out of 12 patients had response. In two of them, the primary tumor got smaller, but these patients were excluded by the physician assistant because said it’s impossible that MCP will affect the primary tumor. Interesting, right? A few months later, [unintelligible 00:47:57] came with another article in JNCI, showing that there’s an inhibition of angiogenesis in effect on the primary tumor. You’re likely to drive the growth of the primary tumor. It blocks apoptosis of cancer cells.
It activates BCL-2, which is a very aggressive metastatic gene in cancer, and it promotes a metastatic process. Interesting enough, I am presenting in this interview taking place in early February, I’m presenting in about 10 days in ASCO GU, our multi-center trial on biochemical relapse of prostate cancer on 60 patients with 90% benefit over 18 months. I never thought about using MCP on metastatic disease.
It looked to me, wow, that’s– interesting, in Israel, the same principal investigator, this is a population who doesn’t do supplement, doesn’t do anything. They gave to people with metastatic prostate cancer who didn’t want to go through the hormonal therapy, they gave them MCP. The results were so surprising and amazing. Now I think we have a few dozens of them, so we’re going to publish the data. This is really going to create a wow, I think, how a natural substance can do this.
Ari: What were the result?
Dr. Eliaz: We are seeing people with metastatic cancer where the cancer is stopping to grow and getting better. It’s not 1, it’s not 2, it’s not 10. It’s probably already not 20. It’s a very high percentage. It’s a wow. It’s interesting how somebody who is a great guy, amazing oncologist, not an expert at all in nutritional alternative conventional one, but that’s one agent he is studying. He said let’s try it. He was opened enough. It’s a lesson about being open. I wouldn’t have done it. Sure enough. I’m very excited. We just need to write it up now. It’s an issue of time. The data is there.
As the interest came with cancer, I was observing in the late ’90s, that people’s blood pressure were getting better, that people’s joint pains were getting better, and the people memory was improving. I realized that there is an effect on inflammation on the circulation. Since then, there are a slew of studies showing the effects of galectin-3 on producing aortic stenosis, arteriosclerosis, and the benefits in animal models dozens of papers of blocking galectin-3 is a way to improve arteriosclerosis. We are seeing in animal models at least.
Again it’s a reversal of a arteriosclerosis, a reversal of aortic stenosis. I see in patients where I use a process called therapeutic apheresis where I filters the blood from inflammatory compounds and I combine with galectin-3 blocker, I’m seeing in chronic kidney disease across the board improvement in kidney function. Again, it’s something that a nephrologist, it’s not in the radar. Part of it is that people are built, we are programmed to have expectations. The moment we have expectations, we are limiting the potential because if you talk to a nephrologist, they will tell you we have now great drugs.
They really slow down the deterioration of chronic kidney disease which is, Ari, I wasn’t aware until six, seven years ago, 17% of the US population have chronic kidney disease. It’s the most prevalent disease, the most expensive disease for Medicare. People are not aware of it. Often not followed until it’s too late. We actually, and there are some studies showing improvement in chronic kidney disease.
That’s one of my future project, if I can offer something simple for chronic kidney disease. These are people who see a big sign on the door, dialysis, and often they’re too old, they can’t get a kidney transplant. That’s fascinating. That’s the arteriosclerotic part. Now, because galectin-3 drives the cytokine storm, because galectin-3 through activating macrophage to become inflamed, causes the dysfunction of the insulin receptors, and because galectin-3 can block insulin receptors, change P53 expression, but also affect AMPK. adenosine monophosphate kinase, the activator of normal mitochondrial function.
What happens, the moment that P53 is blocked, the cell goes into a survival mode, into a crisis mode. The cell has a signal inside, hypoxia, hypoxia, hypoxia, I don’t have oxygen. I’m in trouble. I have to produce energy fast. We move into glycolysis. mTORC1 get activated, AKT get activated, and PDH, and get blocked by enzyme called PDK, pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase. Then now, the substance that causes energy to be produced very efficiently by the mitochondria is not being able to get into the mitochondria. It’s pyruvate and oxalic acid. Then it starts moving in the Krebs cycle.
Ari: The quick summary for people who don’t have a biochemistry background is we ideally want energy to be produced inside of our mitochondria, inside of the respiratory chain or the electron transport chain. We want carbohydrates and fats to be getting oxidized aerobically in the presence of oxygen in that process. What he’s saying is that, and this also parallels the cell danger response and it parallels a lot of work that people have done in the field of cancer research, also is there’s a shift away from mitochondrial energy production towards anaerobic glycolysis, towards this much less efficient process of producing energy outside of the mitochondria in the cytosol of the cell.
It produces far less ATP and it also produces lactic acid as a byproduct, and that process occurs. Just to add maybe one layer that links up with this, anaerobic glycolysis is a pathway, is an energy system of the cell that is used in higher-intensity physical activity. At low-intensity physical activity, we predominantly rely on oxidizing carbs and fats from inside the mitochondria. Then as the intensity increases, we start to rely less on fats, rely more on carbohydrates.
Then as the intensity increases beyond a certain threshold, beyond what the mitochondria can do in this aerobic process of energy production, then we start relying on this faster energy production of anaerobic glycolysis, again, in the context of moderate to high-intensity exercise, strenuous activity. What Dr. Eliaz is talking about here is a shift towards that energy system at rest not in the presence of high-intensity exercise.
Dr. Eliaz: Exactly. Is a great example. just to give people a sense what you mean because for example when we are in danger it shifts immediately. We are talking about producing 100 times more energy at an efficiency of 5% to 6%. Instead of 36 ATP per glucose, 2 ATP per glucose. If you multiply 100 by 20, we are consuming 2000 times faster substrate. Glucose is produced 2,000 times faster.
That’s why in cancer cells we use this PET scan and the it lights up when we get radioactive glucose like similar compound, it’s called SUV, it’s because the cancer is using glucose so much. This happens, as you said anaerobic. The problem is that in cancer, the cells goes into this mechanism even in the presence of oxygen. That’s aerobic glycolysis, it’s the Warburg effect.
Ari: There’s also research in people with chronic fatigue syndrome showing that there’s an increased reliance on that increased shift towards anaerobic glycolysis.
Dr. Eliaz: Lactic acid and lower pH. Then it’s a vicious cycle because the moment the cell sends lactic acid for the cell, it means hypoxia and then AJF hypoxia inducing factor goes up and it even pushes stronger glycolysis. This is something that we can do for a short period of time. We know we can run at full speed for 100 yard if we are good, for 200 yard if we are an Olympic athlete, maybe for 400 meters. Then we are done. That’s the same. Some of us living this way, can you imagine the inner stress. The value of shift from different energy systems and the value of adaptivity is like keeping a rubber band flexible.
If you don’t use a rubber band, it’s going to dry out. If you push the rubber band too much, it’s going to get cut. Interesting in the pulse, when we look at the pulse as an expression of longevity, you want the pulse to go up and down. People who are trying to push their longevity in an imbalanced way, you will get a rubber band pulse, which the way it see you see it is that it gets stretched in the edges, then it gets soggy in the middle. Now when you stretch a rubber band first, it stretches at the end, not in the middle.
This is the value of being able to be adaptive, being able to be flexible. I was mentioning to you when I was a yoga teacher and I was in medical school at the same time, and I was noticing that people’s blood pressure can get better when they just relax and meditate, but then it can get better when they exercise, when they put energy and they are moving. Two different things. I try to explain the adaptive and we didn’t have the terms we have now. It was 40 years ago, but I couldn’t get the professor to really go with me and do the study. Adaptivity is very important.
How hormesis benefits health and longevity
Ari: Fortunately we now have things like this, which I want to talk to you more about textbooks full of thousands of scientific references on hormetic stress and the anti-aging cytoprotective, cell protective mechanisms that it induces. It engages in the cells that lead to disease resistance, stress resistance, and longevity enhancing effects. We now have that research that you were yearning for back then.
Dr. Eliaz: It’s fascinating. In this end, it’s the principle of adaptivity, of flexibility, of flow. It’s really life and health is about do we flow, do we let go or do we get stuck or do we hold? In this sense, really is my ultimate healing tool that I actually wrote in Hebrew the book completely, but then I didn’t publish it. I published my second book as the first book. It’s called Open Heart Medicine: The Infinite Healing Power of Love and Compassion. Beyond the words, the heart is an organ that flows all the time. Blood is flowing in the heart nonstop. The survival of the heart is to keep the flow. How does the heart keep the flow?
What does the heart need to do in order to give nourishment? It needs to take all the stress from every cell in the body. It needs to take all the junk from every cell in the body. If it doesn’t get the junk, it won’t fill up, it won’t be able to really give. Our mind works differently. Our mind stops and analyzes, stops and looks and thinks. Naturally, it’s very hard to get the mind to be open and flowing. It takes a lot of training. It’s much easier to connect with the heart.
The concept of adaptivity of flow is really evolutionary process and within it, we really have to recognize at least my life experience and a lot of studies, of course, supporting it. We always do the best we can. It’s really important. Sometime we hold to something that happened to us, why did we do it? It was the best we could have done at the time. Many times we get into this neurological pattern, into habits, into multi-generational epigenetic habits or behavioral habits that really affect us.
The real process is the process of letting go. In this sense, one of the reasons why we see changes, you can say in mutation and adaptation, is really to offer us a lot of choices for survival. While people talk about mutations that are lethal but are part of training us to survive, they are the cost. One of the images in life, like when people in the army go through basic training, some people get injured and killed as part of the training. This is part of the immune maturity.
This is really as you said. You said, “There’s always a trade-off, there’s always a reason.” Why do we have childhood diseases? That’s a sensitive topic. I want to go into the treatments for this politically, but we have childhood diseases to train the immune system. It’s a training, it’s an adaptation. We can see that when population don’t have childhood diseases, they have more chronic diseases. It’s very well documented. More cancers. People that don’t spike fever have more cancer. Why? Because–
Ari: There’s research for example on Chickenpox, on Varicella-zoster and you get exposed to that as a child. Kids who got that infection have decreased incidents as an adult 40, 50 years later of various kinds of cancers. That’s what you’re referring to, right?
Dr. Eliaz: Exactly. It’s well-documented. Families where you have a lot of cancer, you will see the members don’t spike temperatures. They just cannot spike, which is part of the training. That’s what I’m talking about totally.
Ari: Which again speaks to these trade-offs. If you say chickenpox is all bad, let’s get rid of chickenpox, and let’s say you accomplish that objective. Now you are paying a price for it as adults where you now have increased risk of cancers. Obviously, for people listening, this is just one example. There’s research that already exists and many other examples beyond chickenpox of these trade-offs around childhood infections for example. It’s likely that probably this extends far beyond even what the existing science tells us.
Dr. Eliaz: Of course. Again, it’s a trade-off. When we look in society, it’s addressed based on the lowest socioeconomic basis where people can’t get treatment. How can you prevent? Each one makes their own decision, but that’s an example of trade-offs. It’s huge. It’s an example of survival. You want a child to survive, even if there is a cost later on in life, that’s example of a trade-off.
Other people would say, “No, I’ll take the risk because I want my child to be healthier later on.” That’s a philosophical point of view, but it’s an example. This is really the quality of adaptation is to be able to handle stressor in order to create a beneficial response. That’s actually a very important statement. Why? Because we live in a reactive world, where when we have a stressor or when we have a problem we react with anger, with stress.
These are not the beneficial approaches. The beneficial approach has the adaptive approach. From a biochemical point of view, if we create enough reactive oxygen species. For example, when we exercise, we want to hope that the body will be able to use this to improve its antioxidant capacity and be more–.
Ari: That’s right.
Dr. Eliaz: Next time when you have a stressor that is emotional, psychological the body will respond in a healthier way. This is really the role of the heart, Ari. The heart is built to do this because when the heart gets the junk from all the other body, it doesn’t react to it. It accepts it, it uses it to connect with the universe and it transforms it into nourishment for the body. That’s really the principle of hormesis in a interpersonal level, in an holistic level. Really it affects every cell in our body because the electromagnetic field of the heart reaches every cell in our body. This is amazing. This research is fascinating because it’s putting into science what people experience intuitively for millennia.
Ari: In the original conversation we had, you presented this information on galectin-3 and it was more from the frame of stress or threats in the body, things that cause damage, raise galectin-3, and then this creates this toxic vicious cycle. What I asked to you and I would like to ask again to you though you’ve already presented a lot of layers preceding that in this version of the discussion that help already answer this question.
I would like to ask directly, so we can speak to this. How does the concept of hormetic stress fit into this narrative of how stressful, damaging stimuli stimulate galectin-3 and then this results in accelerated aging and pathology and disease? How can we create a synthesis with the idea that hormetic stress, things like exercise, things like breath holding, which also induce this thing you talked about earlier, hypoxia-inducible factor, which sends the cell the signal that puts it on this trajectory towards anaerobic glycolysis?
We can have hormetic stressors that induce some of these same factors, stimulate reactive oxygen species, hypoxia-inducible factor, heat-shock protein that create some damage in the cell as a result of these sorts of stressors and yet paradoxically they’re linked with disease resistance and extensions in longevity. How do we make sense of that?
Dr. Eliaz: Oh my God, I want to make sure I don’t get carried away, but yes it’s a great question. You can look at these challenges as a training. When you don’t use a muscle, it atrophies. We are using the repair mechanisms of the body in a dosed approach. It’s very dosed. We do intermittent fasting, that there is a big difference. I think we talked about it last time. I don’t know if it was on the recording or after. The difference between intermittent fasting and autophagy and ketogenic diet, very different.
I would like to touch it to explain fasting as a immediate survival compared to longevity survival. When we give small doses, we get the body to exercise its repair, and slowly, slowly we can build up. When you exercise, you can’t run 10 miles right away. It’s really interesting. I really don’t like running, really and I never. I couldn’t run half a mile. Then I decided about a year ago that I’m going to see what the mind can do. The first day I ran 300 yards, and then within a month, I ran I think 13 miles up and down the hill, I had to call the clinic to cancel [laughs] the appointments. With a cold, it was cold, but it was the mind relaxing into this.
I could feel how I’m using this to actually expand and get healthier. Because my mind was into it. It wasn’t competitive. I didn’t care how fast it’s going to be. I really was in the process of it. In this sense, the hormetic stress is essential because it depends on the people. hormetic stress is essential for people who underutilize their capacity. People who are very smart, who can get away with learning only for five minutes or with knowing 10% of the material and they can put it together.
A little bit, we can do the same with our life, with what we do, with our life, with how we use our body. The hormetic stress mobilizes other parts in our bodies that usually are not active. When these parts are not active, and I’ll give you another image of this. If you’re using 70% of the body and 30% of the body is not utilized, it’s not getting oxygen exchange, it’s having a different microenvironment. It’s not under the ongoing control of the body, and it’s really a time bomb because things can grow there, develop there, which really can travel like cancer, for example.
When we are creating this stress, we are utilizing the body to the maximum as long as we don’t tear the rubber band. In this sense, I am more and more convinced that intermitting fasting is essential. If you look at so many cultures, they used to eat early in the morning and stop eating at 2:00 PM at 3:00 PM At 4:00 PM. Which was there was no light, there was no how to make the fire at night, and whatever. This gives the body a repair time. Really, if you look, I thought about the autophagy, intermittent fasting from your question about hormesis. If you think about intermittent fasting, once you run out of your glycogen, or most of it, the body’s getting a survival signal, a stress signal.
Ari: For people listening, glycogen is stored carbohydrate, we store it in our muscles and we store it in our liver as a fuel source during the long periods without food.
Dr. Eliaz: Now we go to the immediate fuel source and the body feels, “Oh my God, I got–” Then it starts mobilizing storages. It usually would start with fats because it’s smart. Then it will use protein. Now because fats are not highly used like protein and carbohydrates and because many toxins are fat soluble, it’s a great place to store stuff we don’t want. Now, we know toxins, but in my books, the survivor products for people who read it, you will see that I treat the cells like beings, like live entities with a personality. We also store traumas in the fatty tissue because we don’t have to mobilize them, we don’t have to deal with them. It’s a closet.
As we start breaking a little bit of fat, it’s only intermittent fasting, we start releasing some of these stressors. It’s in a capacity that we can detoxify. It’s not too much, Ari. It’s a little bit. That’s the beauty of it. If our MTHFR works well, if our detox work well, we are coming out of it lighter and cleaner. This is a little bit of a deeper view of the whole idea of autophagy. You fix the road at night when there are no cars. You can’t fix them when there is traffic. That’s the value of this. As we fix them, we are repairing something that is not working well and is not working well, it comes to the surface at the time of induction of stress, because if not, we function at 50% capacity, we function at 30%.
We start exercising after a few minutes, we got to mobilize our mitochondria. Then we get adaptation. We can run longer, it’s easier. Our muscles don’t work. That’s the hormetic effect. Not only on longevity on an immediate level. The same thing happens from a meditation point of view. I want to talk a little bit about it because people think that meditation is just clearing your mind and not engaging in thoughts or just staying in the place between thoughts. Really, meditation gets deeper. The feelings are not our enemy. Meditation is not what we experience, is our relationship with what we experience.
The process of meditation, when you really let go, all this stuff comes at you, and either you push it away, you detoxify, or you just relax into it and let it dissipate. As it dissipate, you feel a major cleansing. That’s an hormetic effect. The stressors that usually will cause damage are now used for a release process, for a letting go process. That’s why you can benefit and improve your health with meditation, and you can improve your health with exercise and fasting. You do the best when you do them together, of course. Which is in so many cultures. When I teach my retreat, it’s a few days and we see cancer markers getting better.
We do intermittent fasting, we do a cleanse with lemon and olive oil at night. We eat very, very clean. There is a breakdown process. We do yoga, we do qigong, we work the body and we also let go and do healing and lie down and do visualization. You do the letting go and you get the circulation. That’s why sometimes you see in the stories about meditators who were in caves for years and got very sick and finally, they got out and started taking a walk and their health get so much better because they’re integrating the movement. Yes, it’s a dance. It’s an amazing dance.
It’s tough for people in the conventional medical community because people are so built into algorithms. If A happens, you do B, if C happens, you do D, life ends so simple. [laughs] That’s bad news and we have to adapt to it. It’s part of our messes?
Ari: With hormetic stress, this is interesting because we become stronger by challenging ourselves, our cells as well. We literally make ourselves stronger, and this happens on many different levels. We challenge our mitochondria during stress, for example, exercise, for example, fasting, breath-holding, sauna, cold exposure. We are challenging our mitochondria, putting stress on them, and in response to it, they are growing stronger. We are stimulating free radicals, which transiently cause stress and damage the system.
By doing so, we engage adaptive mechanisms inside the cell where they increase their internal antioxidant supply to neutralize, to better resist, and be more resilient in the face of future exposures to reactive oxygen species, to free radicals. We train the cells to become better at neutralizing those forces. Linking this up briefly with the lactic acid story in the anaerobic glycolysis. A lot of very interesting stuff around that from exercise physiologist Iñigo San Millán, who has really in recent years reshaped our understanding of lactate. He’s done a lot of work on the role of lactate in relationship to cancer, which you’ve touched on, and a lot of other aspects of it that we didn’t know.
I don’t want to digress too much, but a lot of very interesting aspects of how lactate works in the system. One of the things that happen with hormetic stress, particularly endurance exercise, is we train our mitochondria to better use lactate as fuel. Particularly in slow-twitch muscle fibers, they become much more efficient at soaking up the lactate. Given that, as you described earlier, that becomes a signal that locks the cell into this anaerobic glycolysis by making our body more efficient at creating more of a lactate sink, so to speak, a disposal mechanism for lactate. We clear it much faster.
We don’t allow it to build up and cause as much toxic effects. What’s interesting is, in between our last conversation and this one, I spent some time looking up research on exercise in relationship to galectin-3. I found a number of studies that show as a parallel when you do exercise for the first time, you get a lot dorms, a lot of delayed onset muscle soreness. You feel sore for a day or two or three. This is in part, muscle damage and inflammation and things like that.
If you keep doing that activity, the same activity that induced lots of soreness the first time or two that you did it no longer induces soreness a week or two later after doing it, after repeated exposures to that stimulus multiple times. What’s interesting is there’s research on this in relationship to galectin-3 where they’ve shown that exercise induces a big spike in galectin-3, but repeated exposure to exercise with exercise training, you actually reduce baseline levels of galectin-3, which is similar to, again, this parallel of reactive oxygen species. Exercise spikes reactive oxygen species but then by engaging these adaptive mechanisms, you’re paradoxically lowering baseline levels.
Dr. Eliaz: Fascinating. Totally. That’s great research. I didn’t look at it specifically for exercise. Again, exercising really for a muscle to contract, it has to relax. For a muscle to relax, it has to contract. That’s the basic movement. When we come to this world, the first thing we do is we cry, we let go. We exist. That’s what we need in order to inhale. The last thing we do in this world is we let go. We exit somebody. It’s always a dance, and the body is wise. I think the beauty is there is so much research, so many publications going on, and so many great researchers that we are finding all these amazing analogies. The principles are very similar.
We can get to it from many angles. One thing that we can take as a practical advice from the study that you talked about galectin-3 in exercise, is that consistency and repetition is very important and patience one thing. The other thing, it’s important to change routines in the same time because the body sometime needs a break so it doesn’t develop tolerance so it doesn’t get stuck into a certain habit because it’s part of the flexibility is to shift habits. When we look at the concept of miracle, what is a miracle? Miracle is something that is unexpected statistically. That’s really the definition of a miracle.
If we have the same habit and we do the same thing again and again, our chances of an unexpected outcome is not as great. This is part of adaptability. In this sense, you can say that it’s part of the spontaneous mutation process. The thing that unexpected happens and certain cells die, and certain cells discover an amazing way to survive because there are no habits there. It’s very random. Of course, certain stresses will push mutation into a certain way. Of course, epigenetic expression is a survival mechanism. It’s an adaptation, and it really is a fascinating– really the word trade-off for the listeners, viewer, the word trade-off that you used is bigger than trade-off. It’s really dense.
Ari: Okay. Sorry, go ahead.
Dr. Eliaz: No, go ahead.
Ari: I want to loop this into something we discussed in the last conversation that I think is an important layer to this story. Are you okay on time, Dr. Eliaz?
Dr. Eliaz: Totally. Yes, totally.
The most common diseases associated with elevated levels of Galectin-3
Ari: I want to talk to you for five more hours, but we’ll try maybe for 15 more minutes. As I asked you to last time, can you give a list of diseases that are associated with elevated levels of galectin-3?
Dr. Eliaz: Yes. If you look, there’s a very important paper. It’s called the A to Z list. Basically, galectin-3 is associated with almost every disease, if you look at different organs, but the classical ones, so we have cancer, multiple cancers, well published. Then we have the inflammation and fibrosis-driven diseases. Autoimmunity in general. Autoimmune diseases, and then the different organs. Chronic kidney disease directly related. You look at patient with chronic kidney disease, the higher the galectin-3 is the same level of kidney function, the faster they will deteriorate more than this.
Patients on dialysis that have a higher level of galectin-3 will have more morbidity and more mortality. Acute kidney injury, of course, sepsis. Galectin-3 is a driver of sepsis. The paper I published, I was part of the group. Patients coming to the ICU with sepsis without preexisting conditions. The level of galectin-3 admission will determine who will die later on in the next months. Then we have all the dysfunctional organs. Heart failure is more deadly heart failure is what we call the ejection preserve. The fibrotic heart failure. NAFLD, N-A-F-L-D-S.
NAFLD is actually the most prevalent liver disease, much more than hepatitis C. People just are not aware of it. Non-Alcoholic fatty liver disease, pulmonary fibrosis, strokes, all the neuroinflammatory diseases, Alzheimer, Parkinson’s, they all have galectin-3 element in them. Then a lot of infectious diseases because galectin-3 is not only our survival tool, it’s also the survival tool of the infectious agents. For example, the spike protein of COVID is almost identical to galectin-3. It’s a survival protein of the coronavirus.
The galectin-3 will be the backbone of the biofilm and will help bacteria [unintelligible] fungus, [unintelligible] whatever, you name it [unintelligible] The arteriosclerotic plaque has a big galectin-3 component. Galectin-3 can bind to heavy metals. It can bind to oxidize lipids. We have all of these groups of circulator illnesses. As you can see, some of the more significant autoimmune diseases where galectin-3 plays a role is SLE, rheumatoid arthritis, and scleroderma. A lot of them as you can see.
Factors that influence Galectin-3 levels
Ari: This list encompasses cardiovascular disease, neurological disease, cancer. These are the major killers of western society right now. These kinds of diseases comprise a massive portion of the overall disease burden, the vast majority of it. What’s interesting is that most of these diseases don’t exist in hunter-gatherer populations. We have to I think consider what it is that those populations are doing that might be affecting this galectin-3 story. In between the last conversation and this one, I had some time to look into this, and I found one, this exercise angle.
I think a lot of this research hasn’t been done yet. I think it’s still very much in its infancy in relation as far as answering this question that I’m referring to right now. There’s certainly research on exercise. We know hunter-gatherers were much more physically active. We know that’s part of this story. We can expect galectin-3 levels to be much lower in traditional living populations where they’re doing much more physical activity each day. There also seems to be a strong link with galectin-3 and body composition. The more overweight you are, the higher galectin-3 levels tend to be. Also in the case of diabetes.
When we’re looking at this question, why don’t these diseases that are driven in large part by galectin-3 exist in these hunter-gatherer populations that are not consuming modified citrus pectin? We have to look at what are these other layers of the story that might be modifying these galectin-3 levels.
Dr. Eliaz: Absolutely.
Ari: I think exercise, body composition, probably some other factors that are going on there as well.
Dr. Eliaz: Absolutely. You can see, for example, modified citrus pectin doesn’t lower galectin-3, it just blocks its damaging effects. It’s when your inflammation gets better when you live a healthier lifestyle that galectin-3 goes down. Absolutely. You talked about the exercise. Now, it’s interesting. Hunter-gatherers also have to be very adaptive. They face short-term stressors a lot. They also have this adaptivity, and the most important thing, not the most, one of them, they’re really connected to nature. You know the value.
I walk on the sand in the beach with bare feet is an incredible medicine that no supplement can really match. They are connected with nature and nature is a buffering effect and nature is the ultimate adaptation tool. If you look, I often say you look at the hurricane coming. A hurricane comes and it makes a mess. Then a few hours later, it’s sunny. Nature doesn’t remember that there were hurricanes. It’s only the houses that were built on the place and everywhere and the people and their cars and their business and the electricity. Nature moves on.
Hunter and gatherers are connected with this. Then they’re connected with nature. One of my hobby as a child, it started at the age 12 in Israel, I was a beekeeper. For hours, I would just sit and watch the bees just to get a sense of the seasons and how their energy is adapted to what’s going on outside and the communication between them. It was amazing. People who are hunter-gatherers are really dependent on what’s happening in nature, they’re not manipulating nature, they’re just living with nature.
That’s something that’s hard to come by. You have to travel to far places [laughs] to really connect with it. I want to sound a big sound of optimism. Maybe it’s not justified but it goes back to hormesis. Because we have learned to survive and to thrive many times, in such stressful times, you think about the amount of radiation we are exposed, all kinds of EMF nonlinear EMF is like 10 to the 15th power more than 100 years ago. People can even comprehend the number. It makes trillion pale like 1000 trillions.
I think I mentioned, I don’t know if I mentioned to you that I really feel if you took a yogic from the Himalayas, you put them next to Wall Street, they’ll die in five minutes because there is not enough adaptivity. I was talking to my daughter who’s an ordained lama about this concept. That’s why now when we take a few hours off, it’s like, I know from my own experience, I take a few hours and meditate is like what happened when I would take two weeks off 30 years ago.
Because we are used to be bombarded with stimulation so much, that if we really let go, the adaptation is so dramatic because the body is all the time trying to adapt and suddenly it gets a supply of substrate to adapt into. That’s why these shorter-term retreats, that are built properly can create such powerful healing experience. At the same time, you know from your lifestyle, I know from my lifestyle, that when you take longer periods time of nature, it’s another quality of adaptation. You can go deeper. One of the amazing thing like sharing from an experience of a retreat I did it once it didn’t work out but I was planning to go for three years to the mountain.
Sadly, my family was very considerate. It was 2009. Pretty recently, I sold my car and that’s it, went to the mountains. After four months, I had to come back but [unintelligible 01:33:37] there was no schedule. You have to have a certain level of training to do a retreat with no schedule. With no structured practice, you just let go, let go, let go. Whenever you wake up, you’re in nature in the snow, walk. Then you realize you wake up in the morning and there is no pressure, oh, my God, it’s going to end, you just let go and let go and let go and let go and more layer of pills and one more layer of pills and one more layer of pills.
These days because we have to do this adaptation, the hormetic approach that you were talking about, is really how we survive. Because we have to do this, now, if we can dedicate time, the benefit of the time are really on steroids compared to what it would be when everything was slow and you live in a very slow environment. Slowing down a little bit more is not as dramatic but when you go at 120 miles an hour and suddenly you really let go, it’s profound and the body will release. From this point of view, the letting go is very powerful and we have to have the ability to detoxify, to have the antioxidant mechanism to have the right approaches.
That’s really fascinating how you can change people’s life in a short period of time by engaging in such approaches.
Ari: Absolutely. I think also given, as you alluded to there and many aspects of what you said, the ubiquitousness of stress and stressors in the modern life, I think the solution has to be making ourselves more resilient. Rather than trying to operate in a model where we think stress is bad, we need to try to avoid any sort of stress at all costs, we have to focus on increasing the resilience and the adaptive capacity of our organism, ourselves, our body and brain in order to handle the modern world.
Dr. Eliaz: It’s the key. We look at it from a point of diet, people are very strict on their diet. Who have a very strict diet until they eat only rice and water. It’s really like you’re restricting your life experience. If you’re resilient, you can certainly digest stuff you were not able to eat before, it’s part of resilience. It has to be balanced. Yes, totally. Resilience allow us to experience more of life compared with eliminating and eliminating and eliminating and eliminating. It’s a road and there is a stage where you have to do the cleanup and you have to do the elimination. Again, that’s the beauty of something like intermittent fasting is that it gives you a chance to do a cleanup every day a little bit in a gentle way.
Dr. Eliaz top practical tips to lower Galectin-3 levels
Ari: I would like you to wrap up with three practical tips that you want to leave people with, I assume one of them, obviously, is modified citrus pectin, which you’ve spoken about probably 50 times in this conversation. It’s a big focus of your book and seems to be just a wonderful compound with many benefits, including helping to bind and detoxify heavy metals. You can either include that as one of your three or maybe add three [crosstalk]
Dr. Eliaz: I will add. I think again, it’s going to be different [laughs] to what I told you yesterday because of the discussion but I think adaptivity is huge. To be adaptive, the key things, if we can, is very simple lifestyle principles that sometimes we can do and sometimes we can’t is, getting enough sleep, getting good hydration, and finding the time to adapt, to let go. What I talked last time is using the time before bedtime and the time when you wake up because as busy as we are when we go to sleep, if we take a few moments and we look at our day’s activity and whatever we did that benefited us and whatever we did that helped other people we rejoice.
Our heart rejoices and then we get a sense of happiness that goes all over the body. Whatever we did that hurt ourselves or hurt others, we regret, we deeply regret. We don’t feel guilty about, very different. We regret and the regret, meaning we let go of it. We release like the large intestine, the colon releasing. Our being releases, the cell releases, the heart transforms this. Then with this, if you want, you can visualize white light coming through the top of your head or whatever works for you. You just sit a little bit until you feel it the sense of spaciousness of letting go penetrates every cell in our body until we feel really more relaxed.
Then we feel a little bit more relaxed and we are just about ready to fall asleep, stay a little longer and then we go to sleep. We are going to sleep while one, we are more spacious and relaxed. Two, we started our letting go process exactly what we took from the adaptation, the body starting to release things from the day. Our repair work works much better. We can see it will affect our dream quality, our dream content. Then when we wake up, our mind has been quieter for a few hours. It’s a unique opportunity. Before we jump, we can sit in bed for a few moments. First, we take three deep exhalations and then the third one, just go like, “Huh.” Just let go.
Let our vision open up to all the directions and just stay there until we feel that our visual field and our experience expands. When you are there, same time, stay there for another 30 seconds, another five minutes, for another two hours, just until this quality of spaciousness is penetrated a little bit inside of us. It will change the quality of our day. We’re using very short times before our time of rest and before our time of activity to give a different message. This will have a profound effect, including on our mitochondrial function, because now it’s functioning with a sense of peace. With affinity, it can handle stressors. I think exercise.
Each one can find whatever they want to do, exercises that build mitochondrial function. Especially for people who will lack in the ability to detoxify whatever weak antioxidant mechanism, don’t push into extreme exercises. I personally support more exercises that are non-competitive that are not goal-oriented but are more process-oriented. Movement is critical and we don’t move enough so many people. If we do this, we’ll be healthier. There’s no doubt. The other part is just one is letting go and the other one is accept that other people can have a different opinion than you. It’s okay. Try to-
Ari: No. They need to all be censored.
Dr. Eliaz: [chuckles] Try to be more accepting because if we can have more acceptance, there will be less struggle then we’ll be healthier.
Dr. Eliaz: That’s a little bit of advice.
Ari: Dr. Eliaz, I said this to you yesterday. First of all, I need to also say thank you again for taking the time for double the time that we should have taken had we not had a mishap with recording. I’m very grateful that you took extra time to do this again with me. Thank you so much for that. The other thing I want to say is I said to you the other day is I really love how your answers to these questions traverse the territory from the minutiae of biochemistry all the way to the spiritual realm and the whole landscape of the territory in between.
It’s really beautiful to have this conversation with you. I really enjoyed it two times over and I love how different this conversation was from the previous one. It gives me a chance to get to know you and gain insights from you personally in double the amount of time. Again, tremendously grateful for all of your time and for sharing your expertise and wisdom. The last thing is just let people know where to find you, where to follow your work or get in touch with you, or wherever you want to direct people.
Dr. Eliaz: People can come to my website, Dr. Eliaz dreliaz.com. I have a weekly newsletter. As I mentioned, I really hope in the second part of this year to offer a few days of a retreat as a free offering on Zoom. Even on Zoom, I’ve seen in during the COVID, people can take two to four days. You can really experience a shift in your life, a shift in your health.
Ari: Beautiful. Thank you so much, Dr. Eliaz. An absolute pleasure. I really look forward to our next conversation. I’m sure there will be one soon. I hope there will be one soon.
Dr. Eliaz: There will be one. I’ll be nagging you because I learned so much from you in this. Lucky me, we had two conversations.
Ari: Wonderful. Thank you so much, my friend. I really appreciate it.
Dr. Eliaz: Thank you.
The Survival Paradox (01:34)
The role of Galectin-3 (07:40)
Why the body can heal itself (18:10)
The pros and cons of Galectin-3 (34:56)
How Galectin-3 is connected with diseases (47:47)
How hormesis benefits health and longevity (1:01:30)
The most common diseases associated with elevated levels of Galectin-3 (1:25:26)
Factors that influence Galectin-3 levels (1:29:29)
Dr. Eliaz top practical tips to lower Galectin-3 levels (1:38:44)
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