Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for January, 2016

girls and adhd

When we think of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) we think of the boys — they’ve received the lion’s share of diagnoses and attention. But turns out we’re focusing mainly on characteristically boys’ symptoms, leaving a lot of girls in the dust with their symptoms and very bad outcomes in adulthood.

While boys act out and are hyperactive, ADHD in girls expresses itself more as disorganization and inattentiveness.

Symptoms include a tendency toward daydreaming, trouble following instructions, and making careless mistakes.

These symptoms can lead to feelings of shame for girls who feel the pressure to perform. They see these symptoms as personal flaws instead of a neurological condition.

Sadly, this continual sense of failure can lead to anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, eating disorders, and a four to five times greater risk of self-harm and suicide.

These girls are more likely to have fewer friendships and get into unhealthy and abusive relationships that mirror their inner lack of self worth.

Girls tend to develop ADHD later than boys and it can get worse as they get older. Many don’t get diagnosed until adulthood and spend their lives trying to manage it on their own and feeling shame about it.

Missing the cues of ADHD in girls

The diagnosis of ADHD in girls has increased 55 percent in recent years, compared to 40 percent for boys. Despite this increase, many girls still go undiagnosed (while there is over diagnosis of boys).

This is because the symptoms of feeling unfocused and disorganized lead to depression and anxiety. As a result, girls miss out on services that may help their symptoms in childhood and instead are prescribed anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications, which can exacerbate symptoms of ADHD. Many doctors also believe girls can’t get ADHD.

ADHD in adult women

As women take on careers and raising children, masking their symptoms of ADHD can become more difficult.

The researchers found that adult women with high IQs and ADHD suffer from constant feelings of being frantic and overwhelmed trying to manage day-to-day basics. Adult women have become the fastest growing users of ADHD medications.

ADHD and functional medicine

With any neurological disorder, including ADHD, we always seek to support the brain as much as possible. This can mean looking at foods that are inflammatory to the brain (gluten is a primary one) and gut health, another known link to brain health. For more advice, please contact my office.

Read Full Post »

534 cholesterol good for you copy

If you’re one of the many people with high cholesterol, you may have been prescribed statin drugs and told to eat a low-fat diet — the standard advice for decades. However, experts have now reviewed the research and found there is no link between heart disease and total fat, saturated fat, or dietary cholesterol.

Statins made me forget where I parked the car

Cholesterol-lowering statins are among the most commonly prescribed and profitable medications in the world, taken by 25 percent of people over age 45. Touted to keep heart disease at bay, statin drugs are now known to be a cause of serious memory loss  fuzzy thinking, learning difficulties, fatigue, muscle damage, and even diabetes.

Why do statins cause memory loss? The human brain is made up of 60 percent fat, much of that cholesterol. The brain uses cholesterol to build brain chemicals that allow neurons to communicate with one another. Without cholesterol, the brain’s cells eventually die from inactivity. Over time, this results in memory loss and other brain disorders. In studies of the elderly  those with high total cholesterol actually have reduced risk of dementia – likely due to their body’s plentiful supply of this brain-supporting substance.

Cholesterol and heart attack risk

In a review of 72 studies  researchers found that most heart attack patients’ cholesterol levels did not indicate cardiac risk; in fact, 75 percent of them had normal, not high LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Even more surprising, 90 percent of them had HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels under 60. Additionally, low HDL is a warning sign for pre-diabetes, and most of these patients had pre-diabetes, or “metabolic syndrome.” We now know that low HDL, not high LDL, is the real driver behind most heart attacks and heart disease, which changes the game on cholesterol management.

What about dietary fat?

Consider the following regarding low-fat diets. (Keep in mind this refers to intake of healthy fats):

  • High-fat diets lower triglycerides  normalize LDL (bad cholesterol), and increase LDL particle size. LDL cholesterol comes in two sizes; large particles that move freely, causing no harm, and small particles that embed in artery walls, causing inflammation the buildup of plaque. You want fluffy large particles.
  • The National Institutes of Health reported that increasing fat intake to 50 percent of calories improved the nutritional status of heart study participants, and didn’t negatively affect heart disease risk factors.
  • The 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee reviewed all the research over 40 years and told us to stop worrying about dietary cholesterol, arguing it is “not a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.”
  • People who consume low-fat diets are at increased risk for depression and suicide (remember how the brain is made from 60 percent fat).
  • And here’s the clincher: Harvard School of Public Health recently admitted that when it comes to disease prevention, low-fat diets don’t appear to offer any special benefits. It’s sugar and refined carbohydrates that contribute to obesity, pre-diabetes, heart disease, and many other health issues.

If not fat, what causes heart disease?

Here are five important factors in heart disease risk:

  • Inflammation in the body.
  • Free radicals that attack LDL and turn it from large (unharmful) into small (harmful) particles.
  • Trans fats that increase inflammation and raise triglycerides.
  • Sugar, which is inflammatory, promotes plaque formation in arteries, and raises stress hormones.
  • Stress, which increases blood pressure and causes other heath issues.

Ask my office how to have better heart health.

Read Full Post »

Loneliness is bad for your health

533 loneliness bad for health copy

Everyone feels lonely from time to time. Maybe you miss a party, move to a new city, or lack a close circle of friends. Ideally, loneliness is temporary, but when it becomes chronic, it can have far-reaching consequences for our health. While we’ve known for decades that perceived social isolation, or loneliness, is a major risk factor for chronic illness and death, only more recently have we gained deeper clues into why loneliness is such a health risk.

Studies show loneliness affects immunity

In a study of overweight but otherwise healthy people, those with loneliness showed higher levels of inflammation when faced with stressful activities; another set of subjects experienced more inflammation, pain, depression and fatigue than normal, plus a reactivation of dormant viruses in the body. More recently, it was shown that loneliness reduced the ability to fight off viruses and bacteria.

Researchers say the body perceives loneliness as a stressor, causing it to go into a “fight or flight” response and release adrenal hormones. Over time this chronic stress response leads to chronic inflammation, setting the stage for numerous disorders, including depression, coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer.

This explains why lonely people have been shown to be at increased risk for cancer, neurodegenerative disease, and viral infections.

Compounding the problem is the fact that chronic inflammation is linked with depression and other mental health issues, which may cause a lonely person to further isolate themselves in a vicious cycle that’s hard to break.

?The remedy for loneliness

Clearly, healthy social relationships are the best antidote to loneliness. Relationships don’t just happen – you have to make them happen.

Ideas to remedy loneliness include: Join Meetup.com groups, or start one; schedule time with friends or acquaintances; attend local events; sign up for classes to learn something new with other people; join a volunteer organization; join a church or spiritual community. If you look outside yourself you will find a cornucopia of healthy social opportunities.

Humans are designed to commune. It’s vital to health because in our history it was vital to survival. The stress response to loneliness and isolation is a red flag that you need the feeling of protection and inclusion socialization brings.

If you feel depression and lack of motivation are holding you back from reaching out to form a healthy social community, ask my office about ways diet and specific supplementation can help boost your desire to socialize.

Read Full Post »

PTSD high and low cortisol

Are you chronically stressed out, chronically fatigued, or both? Are you careful about your diet and lifestyle but nothing works? You may want to consider whether post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) plays a role in your poor stress-handling ability.

Studies show PTSD alters the body’s ability to regulate cortisol, our primary stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands. People with poor adrenal function suffer from usually either low cortisol or high cortisol.

Altered cortisol levels increase the risk for developing chronic conditions, such as autoimmune disease, chronic pain, or chronic inflammation.

More women suffer from PTSD than men

Not just war veterans suffer from PTSD. In fact, more women than men suffer from PTSD.

Why? For one, more girls than boys suffer sexual abuse as children, predisposing women to more severe reactions to traumas later in life. Researchers also found that sexual trauma causes more emotional suffering and is more likely to contribute to a PTSD than other types of trauma.

Women are also biologically more prone to PTSD than men.

Are your stress hormones to high or too low?

Low cortisol causes low blood sugar, blacking out when standing up, weakness and fatigue, waking up at 3 or 4 a.m., depression, hypersensitivity, and an inability to cope with stress.

High cortisol causes symptoms of insomnia, not feeling rested after sleep, weight gain around the abdomen, anxiety, chronic stress, and hormonal imbalances.

Supporting adrenal function is fundamental to good health. The first place to start is with diet, as many cases of =low or high cortisol are simply a matter of too much sugar and too many processed carbohydrates.

Undiagnosed immune reactions to foods, such as gluten, dairy, egg, and soy can trigger adrenal issues.

An undiagnosed and chronic parasitic, viral, or bacterial infection can take their toll on the body’s stress handling abilities and cause low or high cortisol.

And, of course, lifestyle factors affect adrenal function. Over exercising, over working, not getting enough sleep, or being in a stressful job or relationship can certainly tax your adrenals and lead to altered cortisol.

But if you have been addressed all those and low or high cortisol persists, it’s time to investigate whether PTSD is a contributing factor.

Past traumas and even your parents’ traumas can cause poor adrenal function

Studies have shown that PTSD can cause low or high cortisol. An interesting finding is that people tend to have low cortisol if both parents suffer from PTSD. This is likely due to both the biological effects of PTSD as well as the child’s environment growing up.

Research has also found that low cortisol is more often associated with the PTSD symptoms of avoidance, withdrawal, and isolation, while high cortisol is associated with hyper arousal and re-experiencing traumatic events.

Cortisol plays a significant role in your physical and mental well-being and if you suspect you may have PTSD, it’s important to seek non-pharmaceutical treatments. Fortunately, PTSD is much studied these days and many treatment options exist.

Read Full Post »