All posts by shubham J

Good brain health depends on using your legs

While math games and crossword puzzles seem like a logical way to boost your brain, but what it may prefer instead is you get up from your chair and go exercise your legs. A recent study showed that exercising the legs, especially with weight-bearing exercises, signals the brain to create new nerve cells. These findings can not only help people boost their brain function but also explain why loss of leg function leads to rapid decline and provide insight for improved therapies.

Considered a groundbreaking study that will alter neurological medicine, the study illustrates how vital load-bearing exercises are to brain function. It can help explain the decline seen in patients who lose leg function to multiple sclerosis, motor neuron disease, spinal muscular atrophy, and other diseases of the nervous system. 

The mechanism also affects those who are bed ridden, astronauts in space who do not have gravity to work against when using their legs, and those who sit all day — “sitting disease” raises the risk of many common diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.

The researchers found that not using your legs alters your body chemistry by lowering the amount of oxygen in the body and altering the expression of genes involved in cellular growth and regeneration. These alterations dramatically decrease the numbers of neural stem cells and thus the ability to produce new neurons. 

Lack of leg function also hinders the function and development of specialized cells that insulate the nerves.

To prevent this, you simply need to use your legs regularly, especially in weight bearing activities. Regularly exercising your legs will literally grow new 

nerve cells.

Without this, not only will brain function suffer, but your ability to handle the stressors and challenges of daily life will diminish. This study adds to our knowledge base about why regular exercise helps combat stress, anxiety, and depression.

It also demonstrates that no matter how smart you are or how much you engage your brain intellectually or artistically, your brain’s health and function depends on regular exercise that incorporates the large leg muscles. A sedentary lifestyle is as damaging and possibly even worse than smoking. 

The study involved restricting the hind legs of mice for 28 days. The mice went about their normal eating and grooming activities and did not appear stressed. At the end of the study researchers examined the area of the brain in the mice responsible for maintaining nerve cell health and producing new nerve cells in mammals.

They found the mice who had their hind legs restricted showed 70 percent less stem cell activity compared to the control group of mice who had full use of their hind legs. The study mice also did not have full support or development of the cells that insulate neurons. 

Although research abounds about which forms of exercise are superior, just going for regular walks can significantly boost your brain health and function if you are typically sedentary. You can also try squats, leg lifts, lunges, and other simple exercises that make your legs work against gravity. 

Additionally, although any form of exercise is great for the brain, raising your heart rate through aerobic exercise and high-intensity interval training boosts metabolism, hormones, and chemicals in a way that boost brain function and improve and preserve brain health.  

However, it is vitally important you not overdo your exercise and cause yourself stress and inflammation. Both of these will work against you by sabotaging function in the hippocampus and causing it to degenerate more quickly. This is important because the hippocampus is the area of learning and memory and the first area of the brain to degenerate in Alzheimer’s and dementia. 

Ask my office about how to improve your brain health and function. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Floss your teeth daily to reduce your risk of stroke

You may be familiar with common stroke-prevention strategies: Exercise regularly, eat plenty of vegetables, minimize stress, and keep inflammation at bay. But did you know taking good care of your teeth and gums is a major way to lower stroke risk?

A new study has found a significant link between stroke and oral bacteria. An analysis of blood clots from 75 ischemic stroke patients found almost 80 percent of them had oral bacteria DNA concentrated in the blood clots that weren’t found in other blood samples from the same patient. 

The presence of oral bacteria in blood clots rounds out a much larger picture that shows the role gum disease and oral bacteria play in cardiovascular and neurological health.

The same research team has also found that blood clots containing oral bacteria cause heart attacks and brain aneurysms, that thromboses in the leg veins and arteries contain oral bacteria, and that oral bacteria is linked to heart infection. 

Other research has linked oral bacteria from gum disease with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. The bacteria produce toxins in the brain that give rise to the misfolding of proteins in the brain that is the hallmark of Alzheimer’s. 

An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot starves a part of the brain of blood flow and vital oxygen, causing massive tissue damage. It is commonly caused by the narrowing and hardening of the arteries from plaquing, or atherosclerosis. 

There is evidence that oral bacteria activates platelets and speeds up the development of atherosclerosis and blood clotting. 

Here’s a tip to motivate you to floss

We get it, flossing is tedious and annoying. You just want to brush your teeth and be done. 

Here’s a little tip that may motivate you to floss and brush more regularly: After you floss between a couple of teeth, smell your floss. If it has a foul odor that’s a sign you’ve got oral bacteria accumulating on your teeth and gums. This is also a sign your breath probably stinks as well! Smell check your floss after flossing each section of teeth — you may find areas that need extra attention. 

Reacquaint yourself with healthy flossing and brushing habits and consider investing in a water flossing device. These devices use water to deliver extra cleaning power to the teeth and to stimulate gum tissue, so it stays healthy. However, please note that a water flosser should be an adjunct to flossing and not a substitute. Water flossing is not as effective as using dental floss. 

Use functional medicine to prevent strokes

Healthy teeth and gums also depend on a healthy diet and lifestyle. This ties in with general stroke prevention strategies — 90 percent of strokes are caused by dietary and lifestyle habits. 

Strokes are the third leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of disability. 

Studies have found the following factors are the most common causes of strokes:

  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Poor diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Excess alcohol
  • Stress and depression
  • Diabetes
  • Excess abdominal fat
  • Heart disorders

As research continues, poor oral hygiene may get added to this list.

Functional medicine strategies to prevent stroke

Focus on whole foods, plenty of vegetables, and healthy fats. Ditch the sodas, desserts, sweet coffee drinks, and processed foods. It might be hard at first, but you’ll start to feel heaps better.

Stabilize blood sugar

High blood sugar from too many sweets and processed carbohydrates causes chronic inflammation, which damages and thickens arterial walls and promotes the formation of arterial plaques and blood clots. Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance, or pre-diabetes, increase your risk of stroke by two to four times. 

Regular exercise prevents strokes and makes you feel awesome

Exercise is a magic bullet when it comes to preventing strokes and promoting a healthy brain. Regular physical activity keeps blood vessels strong, improves oxygenation of the brain, and increases your metabolism. Exercise after a stroke also significantly reduces the severity of the repercussions and improves recovery. 

Ask my office how we can help you lower your risk of stroke and support your brain health.

 

How to reduce your toxic burden and protect immunity

We live in a sea of toxins and we all carry significant amounts of heavy metals and environmental toxins in our bodies. Even if you eat all organic foods, drink filtered water, and use non-toxic home and body products, you will still come in contact with numerous toxins as a part of daily modern life. 

Thankfully, we can support our health and buffer the impact of these toxins on our bodies. Strategies include a diet that helps your body detoxify regularly and that minimizes toxic exposure, anti-inflammatory protocols to buffer the inflammatory effects of toxins on your body, supporting the pathways of elimination, and including binders in your regular protocol to “sponge up” toxins in your system. 

Anti-inflammatory diet

Toxins are inflammatory to the body. One of the best things you can do is reduce your inflammatory load with an anti-inflammatory diet. Although even organic foods are shown to contain toxins these days due to air, water, and soil contamination, choosing foods that have not been produced with pesticides, hormones, or antibiotics will reduce your overall burden. 

You also want to keep your blood sugar stable by avoiding sugars and foods that are high in processed carbohydrates. This means not letting yourself crash from low blood sugar and not overeating yourself into a food coma.

Especially important is to avoid the foods that trigger an inflammatory response in you. If you have a food sensitivity or intolerance, eating a food that flares your immune system will keep it in a state of constant red alert, stoking inflammation throughout your body. The most common immune reactive foods are gluten, dairy, soy, egg, and corn. 

In addition to minimizing your dietary sources of inflammation, certain supplements can also tame and reduce inflammation. 

Studies show taking larger doses of the antioxidants resveratrol and curcumin can help protect the body from the damage of toxins, especially if you take them together in a liposomal form. 

Glutathione that is liposomal or in another absorbable form is another way to lower inflammation and protect your body. In fact, insufficient glutathione increases your risk of developing chemical sensitivities. In addition to taking an absorbable glutathione you can also raise glutathione levels inside your cells with n-acetyl-cysteine, cordyceps, Gotu Kola, milk thistle, L-glutamine, and alpha lipoic acid. 

Binding toxins in your body

Taking nutritional compounds on a regular basis that bind with toxins for easy removal is another way to buffer your body. Binders can help remove heavy metals, environmental toxins, mycotoxins from molds, infectious bacteria, and fungal infections from your body. 

Here are some examples of effective binders:

Modified citrus pectin: This is derived from citrus peel and processed in a way that it allows it to enter the bloodstream and bind with toxins for safe elimination from the body. Modified citrus pectin also serves as a great “prebiotic,” or a nutrition source for your good gut bacteria. A healthy gut microbiome is critical to helping protect you from toxins. Look for a source that is free of fillers.

Activated charcoal: Activated charcoal is a popular and affordable binder for toxins. It can also help soothe common digestive complaints.

Bentonite clay: Bentonite,  montmorillonite, and illite (French clay) are used to bind toxins. When mixed with water, these clays develop a sponge like quality and take on an electrical charge to attract harmful compounds. Look for a quality product that does not have lead contamination.

Zeolite: Zeolite is formed from volcanic rock and ash and is a well-known binder for heavy metals and other toxins.  

Chlorella: Chlorella is a blue-green algae that has an affinity for mercury and lead. It is also rich in B vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. You may need to avoid chlorella if you take blood thinners. 

Silica: Most people think of silica to improve their hair, skin, and nails, but it’s also good at binding metals such as thallium that are harder to detox. 

You must support your pathways of elimination when you detoxify

Binders work great at latching onto toxins, but if your body’s pathways of elimination are faulty, you could make yourself more toxic. You also want to ensure you are sufficiently mineralized — heavy metals can bind to cellular receptors in the absence of necessary minerals. 

Ways to support the elimination of toxins include supporting healthy liver and gallbladder function, supporting healthy bowel elimination, and making sure you stay hydrated and take care of your kidneys and bladder. Eating 25–38 grams of fiber a day, staying well hydrated, eating foods that are good for the liver (like bitters and greens), exercising regularly to stimulate the lymphatic system, and sweating regularly are some examples of how to keep toxins flowing out of your body. 

Avoiding chemical sensitivities

Although we want to minimize our overall toxic burden, we especially want to avoid developing chemical sensitivities. In the end, your overall toxic burden may not matter as much as whether you have an immune reaction to these toxins. You can react to a toxin the same you can react to gluten or dairy. This is problematic as it’s much harder to eliminate a toxin from your environment than a food from your diet, especially if that toxin is prevalent in the air, such as benzene, or in plastics, such as BPA. 

This is why it’s so important to live an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. If you already have chemical sensitivities, ask my office about methods to lower your sensitivity so you can better tolerate everyday life. 


Depressed & anxious? Volunteering reduces symptoms

Depression and anxiety are hitting all-time highs these days, sending millions of Americans in search of relief. While many avenues reduce or eliminate symptoms, particularly functional medicine protocols that reduce chronic inflammation, one must still tend to the health of the psyche. One powerful but overlooked relief from depression and anxiety is to spend time volunteering

Volunteering has been shown to relieve depression and anxiety, lower blood pressure, release the social bonding hormone oxytocin, improve contentment, and trigger the same dopamine reward centers in the brain that food, drugs, and sex trigger. 

In fact, studies on volunteering suggest it’s beneficial for us because the human brain is wired to help others. Although greed and selfishness are characteristic human traits, researchers have also found that altruism and cooperation are inherent qualities that set us apart from much of the animal kingdom. 

Volunteering can be a way to exercise these areas of the brain and the mind that can easily go neglected in our overly busy survival-oriented society. However, human survival over the millennia has been credited to our ability to work together in child rearing, hunting, gathering, creating domiciles, and caring for sick or older members of the community. 

Given our evolutionary history, it’s no wonder so many people are depressed and anxious. Social isolation and loneliness are considered just as risky to health as are obesity and smoking. Most Americans live in single-family dwellings with no links to their neighbors or a community.  

How volunteering helps relieve depression and anxiety

Depression and anxiety can be very inwardly focused disorders. Even if that focus is intensely negative, it creates a feeling of separation and isolation from others. People with these disorders also commonly complain of feeling like they are useless and a burden to others.

Volunteering, on the other hand, has been shown to help people feel more connected to others, more optimistic, and more useful and purposeful. This is believed to be due in part to the release of oxytocin that volunteering triggers. Oxytocin is a “love and bonding” brain chemical that is also released during sex or from cuddling a baby or a pet. 

Oxytocin not only makes you feel better, it has also been shown to reduce stress levels and lower inflammation — two powerful factors in causing depression. 

Volunteering works on another powerful neurotransmitter when it comes to mood: Dopamine. Dopamine is our “pleasure and reward” neurotransmitter that is released when we have feelings of accomplishment, pleasure, or reward. Addictions are dopamine surges run amuck as people become hooked on the dopamine rush that comes with drugs, gambling, and other pleasurable indulgences. 

However, sufficient dopamine is necessary to help us get things accomplished as well as to feel self-worth and purpose in life, two things people with depression often lack. Volunteering triggers a healthy dopamine release that then extends into other areas of their life. 

Researchers also point to the fact that volunteering simply takes you out of yourself. Although dismissing your woes doesn’t make them go away, having compassionate perspective for other people’s struggles can help put your own in healthier perspective. 

Also, while volunteering has mental health benefits, a caretaker position is also your source of income is commonly linked with increased stress and burnout. 

The paradox of “being too busy” to volunteer

Most people cite their overly busy lives and booked schedules for not being willing or able to volunteer. But the experience of volunteers frequently shows that a paradoxical effect happens when you work it into your schedule anyways — the stress-lowering and mood-boosting effects of volunteering reduce the sense of chronic overwhelm that many people experience daily. 

Volunteering can calm the over anxious mind and relax the muscles and breathing.

Functional medicine and depression

Although volunteering has proven benefits for depression and anxiety, it’s important to nevertheless pay attention to physiological factors that cause depression. 

Depression has now been linked to things like chronic inflammation, lack of gut bacteria diversity, too much bad gut bacteria, leaky gut, and compromised brain health, such as from a past brain injury or brain inflammation.

These dysfunctions can stem from food intolerances, blood sugar imbalances, poor nutrition, a sedentary lifestyle, undiagnosed autoimmunity, hidden infections, or other underlying disorders that antidepressants will not address. 

Ask my office for more ideas on how functional medicine can help you relieve depression and anxiety.

 

Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation Alters TMS Induced I-Wave Excitability and Shortens the Cortical Silent Period

Spinal manipulation has been well-documented to decrease pain and improve the functional abilities related to many musculoskeletal disorders through a multi-layer mechanism of action.  Several published studies have examined the effects of altered afferent input due to spinal joint dysfunction.
This study from JEK has taken that research one step farther and examines the sensorimotor effects of spinal manipulation. The results indicate a shortening of the TMS-induced cortical silent period and an increase in I-wave amplitude after spinal manipulation; which can result in increased strength.
The potential clinical implications of this research are astounding. Strengthening is a critical component of everything from rehabilitation to sport-specific performance enhancement. Applying this knowledge
through a combination of passive and active care has helped our office achieve fantastic results for our patients suffering from musculoskeletal issues.

“…chiropractic manipulation significantly increased the amplitude of the first I-wave. Finally, the CSP (cortical silent
period) duration was significantly reduced after spinal manipulation in the lower limb muscle.”

“The changes observed in the I-waves and CSP duration in this study provide evidence that spinal manipulation can result in a significant increase in the excitability of the motor pathways to low threshold motor units of human tibialis anterior muscle.”

“These findings may have important clinical implications as they provide support that spinal manipulation can be used to strengthen muscles.”

The Immediate Effects of Manual Stretching and Cervico-thoracic Junction Manipulation on Cervical Range of Motion and Upper Trapezius Pressure Pain Thresholds

Repetitive use, postural issues, or trauma often precede the myofascial pain and restricted range of motion we see each day with our patients who present with neck pain. The ability of spinal manipulation to reduce pain, increase range of motion, and decrease muscle sensitivity has been well-established. However, this study examined the effects of both HVLA (high-velocity low amplitude) spinal manipulation and stretching in a randomized setting. The results indicate that both stretching and manipulation can provide positive effects on pressure pain threshold levels. Additionally, the manipulation group had statistically significant improvements in range of motion. In our experience, a combination of modalities, including both manipulation and stretching, can provide fantastic results for patients who are suffering from neck pain.

“Spinal manipulative therapy has been associated with onset of LTP (long term potentiation) at both spinal and supra spinal levels.”

“Previous studies have also found a reduction in inflammatory cytokines and pain mediators in surrounding joints after manipulation.”

“This study demonstrates the effectiveness of HVLA thrust manipulation at the CT junction compared to manual stretching of the upper trapezius in increasing pressure pain thresholds in the upper trapezius and improving range of motion.”

Repetitive use, postural issues, or trauma often precede the myofascial pain and restricted range of motion we see each day with our patients who present with neck pain. The ability of spinal manipulation to reduce pain, increase range of motion, and decrease muscle sensitivity has been well-established. However, this study examined the effects of both HVLA (high-velocity low amplitude) spinal manipulation and stretching in a randomized setting. The results indicate that both stretching and manipulation can provide positive effects on pressure pain threshold levels. Additionally, the manipulation group had statistically significant improvements in range of motion. In our experience, a combination of modalities, including both manipulation and stretching, can provide fantastic results for patients who are suffering from neck pain. Pre and Post Intervention Outcome of Pressure Pain Thresholds Pressure Pain Threshold (kPa) 180 360 Pre-Intervention Post-Intervention Manipulation Stretch Contro

 

Your gallbladder can cause gut and health problems

People tend not to think about their gallbladder unless gallstones become a painful and debilitating problem requiring surgery. However, your gallbladder could be causing gut problems or chronic inflammatory issues, even if you have no overt gallbladder symptoms.

In fact, gallbladder issues are one of the most common reasons people have chronic gastrointestinal symptoms that are difficult to treat. This is because people rarely consider gallbladder health. 

The gallbladder is reservoir for bile, which it secretes to emulsify fats in the diet. 

The issue with many cases of poor gallbladder health isn’t gallbladder stones but instead biliary stasis. This is a condition in which the bile becomes overly thick and doesn’t secrete well to help digest fats. 

Gallstones are obvious and easy to diagnose. Symptoms of gallstones include:

  • Severe and sudden pain in the upper right abdomen and possibly extending to the upper back.
  • Fever and shivering.
  • Severe nausea and vomiting.
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
  • Clay colored stools or dark urine.

Typically, gallstones include a trip to the emergency room and gallbladder removal surgery, one of the most commonly performed surgeries today.

However, by paying attention to your gallbladder health, you can not only avoid an unnecessary surgery that raises the risks of developing other health problems, but also you can improve your gut function and lower inflammation. 

Sometimes in cases of biliary stasis, an ultrasound can show gallstones that have formed but not yet obstructed the gallbladder. However, for many people, overly thick bile is the problem. This can be identified via symptoms.

Symptoms of biliary stasis include:

  • Bloating after meals
  • Burping after meals
  • Fish oil burps from fish oil capsules
  • Fatty foods make you feel worse
  • Floating stools
  • Chronic constipation

These are symptoms that a conventional doctor may dismiss altogether, and that can also be caused by other imbalances. 

Biliary stasis is especially common in overweight women over 40 who have had children due to the effects of hormonal shifts on the gallbladder.

It’s important to address gallbladder function and biliary stasis as sufficient bile flow is necessary to digest fats. When fats aren’t digested, the undigested fats cause imbalances elsewhere in the body. 

Undigested fats can lead to poor sphincter function in the digestive tract, which facilitates the transport of bacteria from the large intestine into the small intestine, causing a condition called small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). SIBO causes myriad symptoms, including chronic constipation, chronic diarrhea, or both. Bloating is also common with SIBO.

Biliary stasis also backs up the liver’s detoxification pathways. As a result, the liver cannot effectively detoxify hormones, toxins, and other metabolites. This increases the toxic burden on your system, which in turn increases inflammation.

Many people with poor gallbladder function and biliary stasis naturally start avoiding fats, even healthy fats like olive oil and avocado oil. They also may avoid fish or fish oils because they get “fishy burps.” This increases health risks, particularly for the brain and the hormones, because we need ample healthy fats for optimal function. It also leads to deficiencies in the vital fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. 

If you are taking all the right GI supplements and doing the right gut health diets but still not improving, your gallbladder health is one thing you may want to consider. 

How to improve your gallbladder health

Fortunately, various nutritional compounds support gallbladder health, fat digestion, and liver detoxification, including dandelion root, milk thistle seed extract, ginger root, phosphatidylcholine, and taurine. 

These compounds can also help if your gallbladder has been removed, along with ox bile.

  • In order to improve and maintain your gallbladder health, also include these practices:
  • Eat 25–38 grams of fiber a day.
  • Avoid processed and excess starchy carbohydrates (white flour, sugar, potatoes, pasta, etc.).
  • Avoid trans fats, hydrogenated fats, and processed vegetable oils.
  • Get plenty of essential fatty acids and omega 3s.
  • Eliminate foods to which you have an immune response; gluten and dairy are the two most common.
  • Support low thyroid function or autoimmune Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.

Ask my office for more advice on how to support your gallbladder health or your general health if your gallbladder has been removed.

 

Nine possible reasons why you can’t lose weight

For some people weight loss is pretty straightforward: They just need to cut out sodas and sweets and hit the gym regularly. For others, especially those with a chronic health disorder, weight loss remains elusive despite and weight gain happens far too easily despite doing everything right. 

Weight gain and weight loss resistance are very common symptoms among people with chronic health disorders. Contrary to popular belief, an inability to lose weight or keep it off is not a sign of a character flaw but instead flaws in your metabolic, immune, or neurological health. 

Fat shaming is culturally accepted, particularly in the alternative health spaces and against women. The truth is, overweight and obese people may have some of the healthiest diets and lifestyle practices you’ll encounter.  They have to — should they dare to eat “normally” they would quickly balloon out of control.

Instead of beating yourself up if you can’t lose the weight or you have mysteriously gained it too easily, consider if any of the following underlying causes may apply to you. 

Nine possible reasons why you can’t lose weight — none of which are due to being lazy or undisciplined

  1. You are a veteran lifelong dieter. The multi-billion-dollar diet industry coupled with unrealistic cultural body image standards have turned low-calorie dieting into a way of life. That works great in your youth, but as you age your metabolism fatigues from constant famines. 

The human body responds to famines by progressively lowering metabolism and increasing fat storage hormones. As a result, each low-calorie diet can make you a little bit fatter than the last one once you resume normal caloric intake. This explains why diets have such low long-term success. 

This phenomenon was most poignantly illustrated in a study of participants from the The Biggest Loser reality TV show. Six years after participating in the show, researchers found they were burning 800 fewer calories per day and the majority of them returned to their pre-show weight and had to under eat by 400–800 calories a day just to not gain weight.

  1. Your hunger hormones are out of whack

Conversely, if you routinely eat ample sugar and desserts and processed carbohydrates (breads, pastas, white rice, etc.), you likely have leptin resistance and skewed hunger hormone function that causes constant food cravings and hunger. Minimizing or eliminating processed carbohydrates and exercising regularly helps improve leptin sensitivity so your hunger cues and fat burning returns to normal.

  1. Your thyroid isn’t working well

One of the most common causes of weight gain and weight loss resistance is hypothyroidism, or low thyroid activity. And the most common cause of this is Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease that attacks and damages the thyroid gland. This is why many people do not lose weight even after they start taking thyroid medication. It’s important to address the underlying causes of Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism to improve your health and lose weight.

  1. You are chronically inflamed

Chronic inflammation skews hormone function, metabolism, and gut health in a way that can promote fat storage and prevent fat burning. 

Many people enjoy easy weight loss by following an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle. Nutrient-dense foods void of inflammatory triggers also manage pain, gut problems, autoimmune diseases, high blood pressure, depression  anxiety, and other health issues.

  1. You’ve had a brain injury or have compromised brain function

Many sufferers of concussions and brain injuries find they suddenly gain weight after their injury and are not able to lose it. Brain injuries cause inflammation in the brain, which can not only impact brain function, but also disrupt metabolic, hormone, and immune in a way that promotes promotes weight gain and inhibits fat burning. Brain injury victims also often struggle with fatigue, exercise intolerance, depression, and other symptoms that interfere with appropriate fat burning and storage. 

  1. You have mold illness

Mold illness is increasingly being identified as an underlying cause of many health disorders and symptoms, including weight gain and weight loss resistance. Almost a quarter of the US population is susceptible to mold illness. Toxicity from mycotoxins, the byproducts of molds, can seriously impact metabolic, immune, and neurological health leading to unexplained weight gain and weight loss resistance. This refers not just to the dreaded black mold but also the more commonly found strains of mold caused by leaks and water damage in buildings. 

  1. You were born with an obese gut microbiome

Research into the gut microbiome, our trillions of gut bacteria, show they impact virtually every aspect of our health, including whether we are more likely to be thin or heavy. 

Studies on both mice and humans have shown that obese subjects inoculated with the gut bacteria of thin subjects went on to quickly and easily lose weight. 

Factors that impact your gut microbiome “signature” in a way that promotes obesity include being delivered via C-section, being formula fed versus breastfed, and frequent antibiotic use in childhood.

  1. You are a victim of childhood sexual abuse or sexual assault or have PTSD

After more than two decades of trying to understand why most obese people regained the weight they lost, an obesity researcher made an accidental discovery — the majority of his study subjects had been sexually abused as children or sexually assaulted right before the time their weight gain began. This can drive complex PTSD and the genesis of a food addiction to cope. 

Likewise, researchers have found a correlation between food addiction and PTSD in women. 

  1. You have a brain-based disorder that promotes food addiction and an eating disorder

For many people with weight issues, food becomes the source of torturous addictive behaviors that can then morph into eating disorders. It is increasingly being found that addictions and eating disorders are linked to brain-based disorders such as ADHD. Skewed neurological function triggers the obsessive thought patterns that lay the foundation for addictive eating and eating disorders. 

Look for the underlying cause of weight gain and weight loss resistance to develop self-compassion

I hope this article helps you understand some of the factors that play into a chronic struggle with weight gain and weight loss resistance. Our society begs us to gorge on eat sugary foods and drinks through incessant advertising while a multi-billion-dollar diet industry and impossible pop culture body ideals value human worth based on thinness. 

The result is millions of people, the majority of them women, internalize society’s fat shaming and develop shame and self-loathing around food and their bodies when the real sickness is in the society and not the individual.

The body is a miraculous machine that operates in constant service to us. You can learn to live and eat in a way that honors good health and function regardless of your size. Ask my office how we can help you.

 

 

 

 

Controversial new study reports statins useless

A controversial new study found that high cholesterol does not shorten life span and that statins are essentially a “waste of time,” according to one of the researchers. Previous studies have linked statins with an increased risk of diabetes. 

The study reviewed research of almost 70,000 people and found that elevated levels of “bad cholesterol” did not raise the risk of early death from cardiovascular disease in people over 60. 

The authors called for statin guidelines to be reviewed, claiming the benefits of statins are “exaggerated.”

Not only did the study find no link between high cholesterol and early death, it also found that people with high “bad” cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL) actually lived longer and had fewer incidences of heart disease. 

The co-author and vascular surgeon went on to say that cholesterol is vital for preventing cancer, muscle pain, infection, and other health disorders in older people. He said that statins are a “waste of time” for lowering cholesterol and that lifestyle changes are more effective for improving cardiovascular health.

Naturally, the paper drew fire and its conclusions were dismissed by other experts in the field. Statins are among the most commonly prescribed drugs — one in four Americans over the age of 40 take statins and the drug accounts for more than $20 billion in spending each year. Statin use has gone up more than 80 percent in the last 20 years. 

Statins linked to higher risk of diabetes and other health disorders

In functional medicine we recognize cholesterol as a vital compound in the body for multiple functions, including brain function and muscle strength. Overly low cholesterol is linked with an increased risk of several health disorders, including diabetes.

 One study of almost 9,000 people showed that people in their 60s who used statins had an almost 40 percent higher risk of type 2 diabetes. They also had higher rates of high blood sugar and pre-diabetes, or insulin resistance. High blood sugar disorders underpin numerous chronic inflammatory conditions, including Alzheimer’s and dementia. 

Previous research found a 50 percent increased risk of diabetes in women who took statins.

In addition to raising the risk of high blood sugar and diabetes, statins also may cause such side effects as muscle weakness and wasting, headaches, difficulty sleeping, and dizziness.

Statins do not address the underlying cause of heart disease: Chronic inflammation

Statins may lower cholesterol, but they do not address the underlying cause of heart disease, which is typically chronic inflammation (some people are genetically predisposed to cardiovascular disease). The body uses cholesterol to repair arteries damaged by inflammation — the primary cause of heart attacks and strokes. 

For instance, the vast majority of people who have heart attacks have normal cholesterol. In other countries where people have higher cholesterol than Americans, they also have less heart disease. In fact, low cholesterol in elderly patients is linked to a higher risk of death compared to high cholesterol.

Improving heart health through functional medicine instead of statins

Functional medicine is a great way to improve cardiovascular health because it avoids drugs that cause potentially harmful side effects. Although lifestyle changes may require more work than popping a pill, they address root causes of your disorder versus overriding them. This means you feel and function better overall. 

What does a functional medicine approach to heart health look like?

  • An anti-inflammatory diet
  • Releasing feel-good endorphins on a regular basis through exercise (endorphins are anti-inflammatory)
  • Targeted nutritional support
  • Identifying and addressing the root causes of your inflammation, which are different for everyone. Possibilities include high blood sugar, poor thyroid function, an undiagnosed autoimmune disorder, chronic bacterial, fungal, or viral infections, leaky gut, or a brain imbalance, such as from a past brain injury.

It’s important to address things from this angle because cholesterol is vital to good health. It is found in every cell and helps produce cell membranes, vitamin D, and hormones. It’s also necessary for healthy brain function.

Inflammation promotes heart disease

Chronic inflammation and not cholesterol is the concerning factor in heart disease. The blood marker C-reactive protein (CRP) identifies inflammation. If it’s high, you have a higher risk for heart disease than those with high cholesterol. Having normal cholesterol but high CRP does not protect you from heart disease.

By using functional medicine to lower your inflammation and improve your heart health, you not only avoid the risks and dangers of statins, but also you get to better enjoy your golden years thanks to improved energy and well being.

 

 

 

 

Gut problems can have different root causes

In the world of functional medicine, it has long been known that gut health is paramount to the health of the rest of the body. For decades we didn’t fully understand why, although we knew the gut was the seat of the immune system and chronic inflammation. Now with the gut microbiome renaissance underway, we also understand how integral gut bacteria is to health. 

As such, addressing gut health has always been one and continues to be one of the first steps in managing a chronic inflammatory or autoimmune condition. However, people tend to fall into the trap of thinking everyone needs to follow the same gut healing protocol, wondering why it works for some and not others.

As it turns out, repairing gut health is not a one-size-fits-all approach. There is not just one diet, one type of probiotic, or one gut healing powder that works for everyone. Although there are some basic foundations to gut healing — remove immune reactive foods, keep blood sugar stable, and create a healthy gut microbiome — the truth is you still need to know why your gut health deteriorated in order to address the root cause.

Examples of root causes of poor gut health

For example, a number of patients can come in with a complaint of constipation. While laxatives may help the patient, it is nevertheless important to understand why they are constipated in the first place. This goes for any digestive complaint and not just constipation.

Here are some different reasons why a person can develop a digestive complaint such as constipation:

  • A past brain injury has dampened activity of the vagus nerve, which carries communication back and forth between the gut and the brain. This slows down motility of the intestines and causes constipation. 
  • The gut’s nervous system, called the enteric nervous system, has degenerated significantly due to chronic gut inflammation from immune reactive foods, too many sugars and junk foods, chronic stress, gut infections, or brain degeneration. Intestinal motility depends on a healthy enteric nervous system, and constipation develops. 
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) releases gases that shut down motility.
  • Medications impact intestinal motility and cause constipation. 
  • Dysautonomia, a dysregulation of the central nervous system, prevents the body from getting into the “rest and digest” state that allows for healthy bowel function.

A one-size-fits-all gut protocol can completely heal one person, create improvement in another, do nothing at all for a third, and perhaps make another even worse. 

It’s also important to screen for more serious conditions. These can include gastric ulcers from an h. pylori infection, intestinal permeability — or leaky gut — from damage to the microvilli of the small intestine, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, or Crohn’s disease. Knowing whether these conditions are an issue also impacts how you manage gut health. 

Also vital is knowing whether gut autoimmunity is the root cause of your gut issues. You can test for this through Cryex Labs. If so, this changes your expectations of your outcomes and how you evaluate your progress. Autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system erroneously attacks and destroys tissue in the body. Eventually this leads to symptoms and breakdown of function.

Although autoimmune disease cannot be cured, it often can be dampened or driven into remission for long periods of time. However, unpredictable flare ups also happen, and the person with gut autoimmunity must have realistic expectations in order not to feel demoralized if their symptoms flare and recede. Also, there is still much we don’t know about autoimmunity. For some people it’s easy to manage and for others it’s a constant battle. In these cases, the goal can be as simple as “more good days.”

This is an overview of why common gut-healing protocols work gangbusters for some people and little to not at all for others. Our digestive system is one of the most fascinating, complex, and influential systems in the body. The more scientists learn about it, the more apparent it becomes that gut health largely determines the health of the rest of the body, including the brain. 

This is why we are seeing so many chronic health conditions in modernized societies that subsist largely on industrialized agriculture and food processing. The commercialization of cheap, processed, chemically laden, and highly sweetened “foods” largely void of produce has inflamed and damaged the digestive tract, decimated the gut microbiome (some researchers call it an extinction event), and ravaged the brain in today’s modern populations.

Fortunately, functional medicine excels when it comes to repairing and maintaining gut health. Ask our office how we can help you.