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Archive for August, 2014

lazy and unmotivated copy

Are you lazy and unmotivated? Do you have plenty to do, yet spend all your time watching TV or goofing around online, and then beat yourself up for it? Your lack of motivation could signal chronic health issues more so than regrettable character flaws. Although we all need some degree of discipline, life’s daily duties shouldn’t feel like insurmountable chores. Good health means you have the energy, motivation, and desire to not only manage daily life, but also make in time for hobbies, sports, socializing, and special projects.

In functional medicine, laziness and lack of motivation are seen as symptoms of larger health issues that, when addressed and corrected, can make the couch feel like a prison and life outside a playground of adventures waiting to be experienced.

Health issues that can make you lazy and unmotivated

Below are issues that may be sapping your energy, motivation, and desire to more fully live your life.

Blood sugar blues. If you skip breakfast and other meals, subsist on coffee and energy drinks, or if the majority of your meals are based around rice, noodles, pastries, cereal, sugar, and other processed carbohydrates, you are probably riding a roller coaster of blood sugar highs and lows.  Eventually this causes fatigue, brain chemistry imbalances, depression, poor stress-handling, and other fallouts that will send you to the sofa.

Hypothyroidism. Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid gland. It is the leading cause of hypothyroidism and causes symptoms that include depression, fatigue, weight gain, lethargy, and low motivation. If you have lost your get-up-and-go, have your thyroid screened using functional medicine lab ranges.

Brain chemistry imbalance. Brain chemicals called neurotransmitters relay messages between neurons and play a large role in how we feel and function. When the neurotransmitter dopamine is low it can cause poor motivation and low self-esteem. Serotonin, GABA, and acetylcholine are other neurotransmitters that affect mood, energy, and motivation. Hormonal imbalances, hypothyroidism, high or low blood sugar, and chronic stress are factors that can skew neurotransmitters.

Brain fog. Brain fog is a symptom of brain inflammation. It simply means your brain is firing slowly, causing that heavy, thick, tired feeling in your brain. Things that can cause brain fog include chronic inflammation, an autoimmune reaction in the brain (when the immune system attacks the brain), food sensitivities, hypothyroidism, leaky gut, and hormonal imbalances.

Gluten intolerance. Gluten intolerance has become more common and really drains the energy out of some people. It also causes inflammation, depression, fatigue, and other symptoms that make the couch awfully inviting. Other foods that may cause these reactions include dairy, eggs, soy, corn, and other grains.

Leaky gut. Leaky gut means the lining of the small intestine has become inflamed and overly porous, allowing undigested food particles, bacteria, fungus, and other pathogens into the bloodstream, where they don’t belong. This triggers inflammation in the body and brain. The result can be fatigue, lethargy, lack of motivation, and other couch potato characteristics.

These are just a few examples of how a subtle but chronic health issue can drain you of your drive. Of course, it’s hard to make drastic lifestyle changes when you have no energy or motivation, but start with something small and gradually add in new changes. Ask my office for help on restoring the energy and vitality you were meant to enjoy in life.

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blood sugar imbalancesOften chronic health problems can be traced back to one thing: unstable blood sugar that comes from eating too many desserts, sweet coffee drinks, processed grains (bread, pasta, etc.), and other starchy foods. Our cultural complacency with high-carbohydrate diets has made us the most obese and chronically sick population in the world.

How blood sugar becomes imbalanced

We only needs about a teaspoon’s worth of sugar in the bloodstream at any one time, a level we can meet just by eating vegetables. Consistently indulging in high-carb foods — dessert, pasta, potatoes, rice, sweet coffee drinks – requires the pancreas to secrete increasingly larger amounts of insulin to lower overly high blood sugar. These insulin surges cause blood sugar to drop too low and create symptoms. As a result, you crave sugar or high-carb foods to reboot your blood sugar, which starts the whole cycle all over again. Although these blood sugar highs and lows constitute a normal day for many Americans, they underpin many chronic health issues, including hormonal issues, autoimmune flare ups, fatigue, depression, anxiety, insomnia, poor brain function, chronic pain, and more.

Eventually, these extremes exhaust the body’s cells. In a move of self-protection they turn off their receptors for insulin so that neither insulin nor glucose can get into the cells. This is called becoming insulin resistant and is a stepping-stone to diabetes. Blood sugar levels remain too high in the bloodstream, damaging the arteries and the brain, while glucose can’t get into the cells to make energy, causing fatigue. The excess glucose in the bloodstream is eventually converted to fat for storage.

What is normal blood sugar

You can test your fasting blood sugar with a store-bought glucometer  Fasting means you have gone at least 12 hours without eating or drinking anything other than water; it’s best to test first thing in the morning.

The lab range for fasting blood glucose levels is usually 70 to 105 mg/dL. In functional medicine we like to see your fasting blood glucose level between 85 and 99 and consider anything over 100 to signify insulin resistance. The American Diabetic Association designates a fasting blood sugar level of 106 to 126 to be insulin-resistant or prediabetes, while anything above 127 is diabetes.

Symptoms of low blood sugar

If your blood sugar is below 85, it is important that you eat every two to three hours to keep blood sugar stable. You don’t have to eat a whole meal, just a few bites of a low-carb, sugar-free snack between meals and a light snack before bed.

  • Craving for sweets
  • Irritability if meals are missed
  • Dependency on coffee for energy
  • Becoming lightheaded if meals are missed
  • Eating to relieve fatigue
  • Feeling shaky, jittery, or tremulous
  • Feeling agitated or nervous
  • Become upset easily
  • Poor memory, forgetfulness
  • Blurred vision
  • Insulin Resistance

Symptoms of high blood sugar

If your blood sugar is over 99 you may have insulin resistance. You need to moderate your carb intake so you don’t feel sleepy after meals and avoid overeating. It’s also important to exercise regularly to help the cells become more sensitive to insulin. If your blood sugar is over 126 you should be screened for diabetes.

  • Fatigue after meals
  • General fatigue
  • Constant hunger
  • Craving for sweets that is not relieved by eating them
  • Must have sweets after meals
  • Waist girth equal to or larger than hip girth
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased appetite and thirst
  • Difficulty losing weight
  • Migrating aches and pains

Ask my office for more advice on balancing your blood sugar for better health.

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 libido and health

Do you vaguely remember a time when you had a libido? Sexual desire is a sign of good health and if yours is absent, it may be your body needs a tune up. Of course major stressors, traumas, bad relationships, raising babies, and other chaotic intrusions can squash your libido, but you should otherwise consider it a normal part of life. If yours has gone missing it’s your body’s way of raising a red flag to gain your attention.

People who use functional medicine to improve their health commonly report a return of their libido, even though that may not be what drove them to seek help in the first place. Instead they may have come for hypothyroidism, depression, fatigue, pain, or some other chronic condition.

When a chronic health issue has you in its grips, it’s no wonder libido disappears — coping with constant illness and discomfort leaves room for little else. On the other hand, some people’s chronic issues are subtle enough they don’t know their health is flagging, just that their libido is.

Factors that can cause low libido

Below are some factors that can contribute to your loss of libido:

Adrenal fatigue. Your adrenal glands sit atop each kidney and secrete hormones to help you cope with stress. Most people deal with so much stress that the adrenal glands and the adrenal pathways in the brain start to falter. This is one of the primary causes of hormonal imbalances, especially in women, and can lead to loss of libido.

Leaky gut. Leaky gut means the small intestine has become overly porous from damage and inflammation. When the gut is leaky, undigested foods, bacteria, and other compounds slip into the bloodstream where they don’t belong. This has been shown to trigger inflammation, pain, depression, fatigue, autoimmune flare ups, inflammatory bowel disorders, and other chronic problems that leave one feeling decidedly unsexy.

Gluten intolerance. Gluten? Really? Yes, gluten wreaks such havoc that sometimes it is the main cause of myriad health disorders, including autoimmune disease, skin rashes, joint pain, irritable bowel disorders, fatigue, depression, brain fog, and so on. Just removing this one food can restore enough vigor and vitality so that libido robustly returns. You may also need to avoid other foods, such as dairy, other grains, eggs, or soy. Getting the right food sensitivity test can help you determine which foods might be mooching your mojo.

Low blood sugar or high blood sugar. If your blood sugar is out of whack it’s going to bring the rest of your body down, particularly your hormone function. Skipping breakfast, skipping meals, and subsisting on coffee and pastries, pasta dishes, smoothies, or other high-carb meals is a recipe for hypoglycemia. This causes irritability, spaciness, fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, and other libido-sapping symptoms. On the other hand, overeating and eating too many sweets and high-carb foods can cause blood sugar to be too high, which brings its own set of symptoms, particularly feeling sleepy after meals. Many people swing between the two, which is very stressful on the body and robs you of a healthy libido.

These are just some basic underlying causes of the many health disorders that often result in loss of libido. Of course it can be more complicated, but one must always start with the foundations of good health. From good health springs a healthy libido, which can in turn provide for a more satisfying relationship with your loved one.

Ask my office for support in helping restore your libido.

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412 what is leaky gut

Leaky gut conjures unpleasant imagery of intestinal contents spilling into the body. Unfortunately, that is pretty much what happens, and the results are a wide array of chronic health issues. When compounds from the intestines pass through a damaged gut wall into the sterile environment of the bloodstream, they can trigger various health conditions: skin problems, joint pain, chronic pain, autoimmune disease, mysterious symptoms, puffiness, fatigue, brain fog, depression, anxiety disorders, poor memory, asthma, food allergies and sensitivities, seasonal allergies, fungal infections, migraines, arthritis, PMS, and more.

Leaky gut is also referred to as intestinal permeability, and means the lining of the small intestine has become inflamed, damaged, and overly porous. This allows undigested foods, bacteria, molds, and other compounds to enter into the bloodstream. Because these compounds don’t belong there, the immune system views them as toxic and attacks them. This in turn causes inflammation, which is at the heart of so many chronic health problems today.

Leaky gut now medically recognized

Leaky gut was once maligned by conventional medicine as naturopathic folklore, but researchers have now validated it and linked it with many chronic disorders. It’s fortunate this condition is gaining a foothold because the gut is our largest immune system organ. Studies have now linked it with inflammatory bowel disorders, gluten sensitivity and celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, type 1 diabetes, depression, psoriasis, and more. Given the influence of gut health on immunity, repairing leaky gut is vital to managing any chronic health disorder.

How to repair leaky gut

It’s important to know what contributed to your leaky gut when you work to repair it as this will better your chances of recovery. However, diet is foundational regardless the cause.

This is because the most common cause of leaky gut is a poor diet of processed foods and excess sugars. Food intolerances also play a major role, especially a gluten intolerance. A leaky gut diet, also known as an autoimmune diet, has a strong track record of helping people repair leaky gut. Keeping blood sugar stable is also important as blood sugar that gets too low or too high contributes to leaky gut. This requires eating regularly enough so you don’t “bonk” and avoiding too many carbohydrates that can send blood sugar soaring and crashing.

Other common causes of leaky gut include antibiotic use, overuse of NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, drinking too much alcohol, an imbalance of gut bacteria, hypothyroidism, and autoimmunity. Many nutrients can help repair a leaky gut, but it’s important to also address what caused it. If you have an autoimmune condition, managing leaky gut can be a lifelong process requiring food restrictions and careful attention to lifestyle to prevent provoking inflammation and flare ups.

A leaky gut protocol is foundational to improving health. Not only can it relieve symptoms but it can also improve energy, enhance well being, make you happier, and clear your head. Ask my office for advice on implementing a leaky gut diet and protocol.

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