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728 talking to overweight child copyOurs is a tricky culture in which to raise a child. We idolize thinness, shame the fat, yet live in a society that constantly begs — if not harasses — us to over indulge in sugary, fattening foods. Also, thanks to busy working parents, many kids are left to their own devices when it comes to meals and it’s no surprise they go for junk food and sodas. As a result, about 20 percent of America’s children are now obese and rates of type 2 diabetes among children are on the rise.

Children who are obese are more likely to be bullied. Research shows that not only does bullying impact a child’s mental health and self-esteem, it also further promotes obesity. The bullied kid eats more and is further sedentary in an attempt to cope with the painful emotions of being bullied.

The way children are spoken to, or in front of, by doctors and by their parents, as well as teased by family members, can also further promote obesity, according to research.

In essence, many people unconsciously believe that an overweight person does not recognize they are overweight and that telling them will address the problem and make it go away. As it turns out, this has the opposite effect of worsening the situation among children who are typically acutely aware and ashamed of their weight.

The effects of being bullied by peers and teased or shamed by family members last well into adulthood. For women especially, being teased and bullied about their weight as teens is associated with binge eating, poor body image, and obesity later in life.

About two-thirds of overweight children report being bullied by their peers and about a third are teased by family members. Because so many already experience enormous pressure and disapproval, it doesn’t help the overweight child to point out their weight.

Instead, caregivers and doctors should be careful with their language, focus on health instead of weight, and use positive reinforcement instead of shaming, guilt, blame, or stigmatizing.

Some ideas include:

Opt for neutral words such as “weight” or “body mass index” instead of the more emotionally charged words “obese” or “fat.”

Remember the whole child and not just the weight. Praise them for all that is positive about them so their self-esteem is buoyed when a challenging topic is discussed.

When talking about nutrition and exercise, focus on health and not size or weight.

Make small changes slowly, such as introducing one new vegetable at a time, clearing the kitchen of sugary drinks and junk foods, and introducing exercise in small, regular amounts.

And, most importantly, have the whole family adopt healthy habits regardless of their weight. In the end, thin people can be unhealthy too and good habits in kids start with good habits in parents.

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727 chronic illness children

Because women make up about 75 percent of autoimmune disease diagnoses, this means many sufferers of chronic illness are also raising children. It’s common for women to feel disappointed or inferior because they are not the kind of mom they had envisioned. But the perfect mom is an unattainable myth, and it’s possible your illness is even cultivating good qualities in your children. In fact, some of the world’s greatest functional medicine researchers and innovators who have helped countless numbers of people discovered their passion because of their mother’s autoimmune illnesses.

A chronic autoimmune illness means days when energy is low or non-existent, or when brain fog, pain, anxiety, or depression rule. Regular life may include long treks to other cities or states to see a doctor who understands your condition and can help. Your diet is restricted and the house is void of junk food and sodas. Weekends may be devoted to batch cooking meals for the week and your autoimmune disease may require you to delegate chores to your kids. But none of this has to stand in the way of loving your kids and it may even make them better people.

A recent New York Times article explored the ways in which having a chronic autoimmune illness can benefit your children:

Patience. Everything moves more slowly when you’re chronically ill. Gratifications are delayed and trips to the doctor’s office long. When your kids are in tow, this can teach them patience, something most kids struggle with.

Flexibility. Having an autoimmune disease sometimes means canceling well laid plans because you are having a flare. Though disappointing, this prepares children for the inevitable snafus of life.

Self-sufficiency. Children who have everything done for them suffer when they strike out on their own. The child of an autoimmune mom has long been learning how to do their laundry, make their meals, walk the dog, clean the house, and so on. Adulthood won’t seem like such an ugly shock as a result. Though they may complain, this self-sufficiency is also a wonderful confidence builder.

Consideration. Children are egocentric by design. Having a mom with a chronic illness teaches them about the universality of human suffering and that sometimes we are all weaker than we’d like to be and need help.

Self-care. Autoimmunity means seizing the day when you feel good and retreating and resting when you feel bad. This teaches children the importance of a healthy diet, sleep, and other often ignored facets of good health. If you have a partner who helps and supports you, they also benefit from seeing that partnership in action.

Compassion. By seeing someone they love suffer, your children learn compassion for suffering in all people, including themselves. They may also be more likely to see grumpiness or impatience in others as symptoms of a possible illness.

Emotions. Living with a chronic illness is hard work. Sometimes the fatigue, pain, or disappointment can send us into an emotional tailspin, making it impossible to put on a happy face. Seeing a parent express their emotions around suffering can help children be more ok with their own bouts of emotional turmoil.

726 cannabinoid receptors

If medical marijuana has done anything, it has been to educate us about our own endocannibinoid system (ECS) — a system of receptors on cells that play a role in inflammation, appetite, pain, mood, memory, and even cancer prevention. These receptors have come to light because they respond to compounds in cannabis, or marijuana.

A functioning ECS, which is vital to good health, produces its own cannibinoids and doesn’t need them from cannabis. For instance, the cannabinoid anandamide is so powerful researchers call it the “bliss molecule” because of its role in happiness and higher thought processes.

However, researchers have discovered some people have a endocannibinoid deficiency in compounds such as anandamide. This can lead to chronic pain disorders, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, and more serious disorders. Some suggest this deficiency may be genetic.

It’s believed an ECS deficiency explains why cannabis is medicinal for some people. Cannabis contains more than 100 different cannabinoids, including THC, which produces the psychoactive effect cannabis is most known for. Cannabis also contains cannibidiol (CBD) and terpenes. These compounds are not psychoactive.

CBD has come to be recognized as the compound responsible for many of the medicinal effects of cannabis. Terpenes are the compounds that give cannabis its distinctive aroma are also medicinal.

Controversy exists around whether CBD and terpenes are therapeutic individually, or whether these compounds work better synergistically in a whole plant form. There is also controversy over whether CBD from industrial hemp, a non-psychoactive form of cannabis, is as effective as CBD from marijuana, which has higher THC levels.

Boosting your endocannibinoid system naturally

Psychoactive cannabis and its constituents, such as CBD, is legal in only about half of the states in the US. CBD from industrial help is more widely available. Outside of the US it is legal in a few countries, decriminalized in a number, and strictly illegal in others.

Because the ECS produces its own cannibinoids, it is possible to boost the activity of this system without using cannabis. Following are some suggestions on how to do this:

  • Avoid alcohol. The stress and inflammation caused by regularly drinking alcohol can exhaust the ECS. Preserve its integrity by avoiding this health-sapping spirit.
  • Get bodywork. Research shows that bodywork such as a chiropractic adjustment, massage, or acupuncture can more than double anandamide, the “bliss” cannabinoid.
  • Eat lots of leafy greens. Leafy greens contain a terpene that activate cannabinoid receptors and can help combat inflammation and autoimmunity.
  • Eat more omega-3 essential fatty acids. Some researchers say an omega-3 deficiency will cause the ECS to not function properly. Make sure you get plenty of omega 3 in your diet (and not too much omega 6), or supplement with fish, algae, emu, or hemp oils.
  • Exercise. Some researchers believe the “high” from exercise is caused by increased ECS activity. Just be careful not to overdo it or make it stressful, which can deplete the ECS.

725 carbohydrate density

If you are counting carbs to stabilize your blood sugar, lower inflammation, balance hormones, or lose weight, experts say looking at carbohydrate density is a more important strategy. Carbohydrate density measures how many carbohydrates are present per 100 grams of food. Low carb density foods don’t raise your risk of chronic disease.

Research shows eliminating dense carbohydrates from your diet improves health, prevents disease, and can even improve periodontal disease.

While many diets focus on how many calories or how many grams of carbohydrates you should eat per day, the carb density diet instead focuses on how many grams of carbohydrates are in a food once you subtract the fiber.

Ideally, you only want to eat foods under 23 percent carb density. More importantly, avoid carb dense foods.

Foods with low carb density include meats, vegetables, fruits, and whole nuts.

High density carbs include flours, sugars, breads, chips, rice cakes, granola bars, French fries, popcorn, and other fast and processed foods.

In a nutshell, if it has been processed, it’s going to be more carb dense.

Carb density in foods

Foods with low carb density contain the carbohydrates within cell walls. In these foods, carb density won’t go much beyond 23 percent.

In foods that are carb dense, however, such as flours, sugars, and processed grains, modern processing breaks apart cell walls so that carbs are much more concentrated, abundant, and hit the bloodstream more quickly.

Why high carb dense foods make us sick and fat

The human body was not designed to eat processed foods in which carbs and sugars have been busted out of their cells, concentrated, and able to quickly raise blood sugar.

Carb dense foods overwhelm the body’s cells with too much glucose. This causes cells to become resistant to the hormones insulin and leptin, both of which play a role in blood sugar regulation.

Insulin and leptin resistance in turn promote obesity, inflammation, accelerated brain degeneration, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmunity, and hormonal imbalances — in essence, the foundation to the many chronic diseases of western civilization.

Why regular diets don’t work and the kinds of food you eat matters most

These days, plenty of research has demonstrated why diets don’t work in the long run for so many people. Calorie counting, exercising more but going hungry, extreme diets — these approaches may work in the short term but they pit the individual against primal survival mechanisms and can be metabolically and psychologically damaging.

Although opting for a diet that is made up of healthy meats, fats, vegetables, fruits, and nuts may seem severe initially, it quickly adjusts hormonal responses to food. This reduces cravings, boosts energy, and reverses inflammation — the diet makes you feel so good you no longer feel deprived. You may also find processed foods make you feel terrible, so they lose their appeal.

Ask my office for more advice on how you can manage and even reverse chronic health conditions through diet, lifestyle, and functional medicine protocols.

Antacids stomach cancer

A recent study found regular use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) for acid reflux raises the risk of stomach cancer. PPI users (Prilosec, Prevacid) in the study had twice the risk for stomach cancer compared to those who used H2-receptor acid reducing drugs (Tagamet, Pepcid).

About 20 percent of Americans suffer with acid reflux and heartburn. Most people attribute acid reflux to excess stomach acid. However, the problem is too little stomach acid. How does low stomach acid cause acid reflux?

The stomach is highly acidic by design so that it can quickly break down foods and kill bacteria, fungi, and other pathogens. Good stomach acidity also helps absorb minerals and signal the rest of the digestive tract to release the right hormones, enzymes, and emulsifiers. Sufficient stomach acid is an important first step in ensuring overall digestion runs smoothly and that you are less susceptible to heartburn, indigestion, belching, gas, food allergies, bacterial infection, and abdominal pain.

What causes low stomach acid?

Common factors that cause low stomach acid include stress, bacterial infection, poor diet, and nutritional deficiencies. However, an H. pylori infection, which is linked to stomach ulcers, is the most common cause of low stomach acid.

Other factors that play a role in low stomach acid include hypothyroidism, pernicious anemia, and deficiencies in zinc B12, magnesium, or chloride. People who have been vegetarians or vegans for a long time may be deficient in zinc and B12, which are abundant in meats.

How low stomach acid causes acid reflux

In order for the small intestine to receive food from the stomach, the contents must be acidic enough to trigger that passage. When this fails to happen, the food shoots back up into the esophagus.

Although the food is not acidic enough for the small intestine, it is too acidic for esophageal tissue. This is what causes the burning of acid reflux, or heartburn.

Why antacids worsen acid reflux in the long run

Antacids or acid blockers bring temporary relief but can cause bigger problems in the long run. Without stomach acid to trigger the release of enzymes, digestive hormones, and emulsifiers, nutrient absorption suffers and the digestive tract is more prone to infection, inflammation, and damage.

How to improve low stomach acid

The first thing to do with low stomach acid is address the root cause. As we age, stomach acid naturally decreases. You can boost stomach acid by taking a supplement that contains betaine hydrochloric acid (HCl). However, if you have stomach ulcers or stomach autoimmunity (when the immune system attacks and destroys tissue), supplementing with HCl could make you worse. In these situations you need to address the existing condition first.

Ask my office how to correct low stomach acid, safely supplement with HCl, and improve overall gut health.

723 anemia is a dealbreaker

When people are working to manage an autoimmune or chronic condition, they typically focus on an anti-inflammatory diet and protocol. However, one often overlooked dealbreaker to getting better is anemia. Anemia as is a deal breaker to recovery because it means your cells are not getting enough oxygen. Without oxygen, recovery and repair can’t happen.

Anemia typically causes fatigue, weakness, brain fog, depression, lightheadedness, dizziness, irregular heart beat, cold hands and feet, chest pain, headache, and pale skin.

There are several different causes and types of anemia. Not all anemia is iron-deficiency anemia. It’s important to know this because you don’t want to supplement with iron if you don’t need it. In excess, iron is more toxic than mercury, lead, or other heavy metals.

Types of anemia

Iron-deficiency anemia. This is the most common form of anemia and is caused by insufficient iron. What is less well known is that gluten intolerance and celiac disease can cause iron deficiency anemia. This is because these conditions damage the gut so that it can’t absorb iron. It is also caused by internal bleeding, such as from ulcers. This shows up on a blood test as low iron and low ferritin.

B-12 anemia. Like it sounds, this is caused by insufficient B-12. This could be due to a diet low in B-12. You can screen for B-12 deficiency with a urinary methylmalonic acid and serum homocysteine test.

Pernicious anemia. Pernicious anemia is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks a compound in the stomach called intrinsic factor, which is necessary to absorb B-12. Many people with autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s also have pernicious anemia. This appears as B-12 anemia. Screening for intrinsic factor and parietal cell antibodies can identify pernicious anemia.

Anemia of inflammation or chronic disease. This type of anemia results from the breakdown of red blood cells. You may have symptoms of anemia but serum levels are normal. However, serum ferritin levels are typically high, indicating iron is not being used correctly by the body. Sources of inflammation that can cause this type of anemia are disease, toxicity, infections, gut damage, over training, and more. It’s important to rule this out because taking iron with this kind of anemia can exacerbate the inflammation.

Other types of less common types of anemia include aplastic anemia, anemia associated with bone marrow disease, hemolytic anemia, and sickle cell anemia.

Too much iron in the bloodstream

On the other end of the spectrum from anemia, some people have a genetic disorder that leads them to absorb too much iron. It’s a relatively common condition, affecting about one million people in the United States. Symptoms include joint pain, chronic fatigue, heart flutters, and abdominal pain. If left untreated, it can increase the risk of diabetes, arthritis, liver inflammation (cirrhosis), sexual dysfunction, and other diseases.

Hemochromatosis is managed through regular blood draws and a diet that minimizes iron intake.

Ask my office about getting tested if you have symptoms of anemia.

722 sedentary athlete

A weekly workout routine including high intensity intervals, spin classes, running, weight training and other sports offers us many health benefits. However, recent studiesshow that even if you get a solid hour or two of exercise daily, it may not be enough to counteract the effects of sitting for hours at a time. The good news is you can do something about it — right now — by simply standing up and moving.

Exercise doesn’t compensate for too much sitting

With our convenience-centered, computer-based lifestyle, today’s recreational athlete gets less daily exercise than non-athletes of the past. The average person — even athletes — spends a whopping 7 to 9 hours every day either sitting at work, watching TV, or driving.

Sitting this much puts us at significant risk for health concerns such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, increased risk of dementia, and early death, and the risk increases the more you sit.

Sitting too much also promotes joint stiffness, back pain and disk damage, digestive issues, insulin resistance, flabby muscles, and poor circulation.

Simple lifestyle changes create big strides

Studies show sitting for more than 2 hours at a stretch is unhealthy, and researchers recommend getting up to stand and move every 30 minutes for maximum benefits.

Low-intensity “non-exercise” activities such as standing and walking are more important than most people realize. They play a crucial metabolic role, account for more of our daily energy expenditure than moderate-to-high intensity activities, and offer unexpected benefits.

By getting up and about frequently and standing more you will boost metabolism, improve circulation, regulate blood pressure, keep the muscles toned, keep chronic pain at bay, improve bone health, and increase your energy and vitality.

Following are some ways you can stand up against the sedentary habits many of our jobs require.

Create daily habits to reduce sitting risks

At work

  • Stand while on the phone, at breaks, or lunch.
  • Walk to communicate with coworkers instead of messaging.
  • Invite coworkers to walking meetings.
  • Use an exercise ball as a chair.
  • Try a standing desk, treadmill-ready desk, or a high table or countertop.
  • Move around for one to three minutes every half hour at work.
  • Use an app or quiet alarm to remind you to take movement breaks.
  • Do a few jumping jacks or pushups during breaks (great for mental clarity too).
  • Walk or bike to work.
  • Walk to the next bus stop.

At home

  • Stand to do chores.
  • Get up and move every 30 minutes.
  • Do stretching or easy yoga 10 minutes a day.
  • Limit your TV/computer sitting time.
  • If you watch a screen, stand periodically, and move during commercials.

Out and about

  • Take the long way around.
  • Walk your dog more often.
  • Don’t park so close.
  • Walk or bike instead of driving.
  • Take the stairs.
  • Plan active meetups with friends instead of sitting to socialize.
  • Do chores and yard work manually.
  • Drive less, walk and bike more.
  • Join a club or meetup focused on physical hobbies like frisbee, birding, or dog-walking.

To help you figure out if you’re actually increasing your daily metabolic output, try using this handy online metabolic calculator.