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Posts Tagged ‘inflammation’

fasting for better health

Extended fasting during the night fast may lower your risk of breast cancer or improve your prognosis. Fasting has also been shown to decrease the risk for other types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

In the first study of its kind, researchers analyzed 11 years of data from non-diabetic breast cancer patients, with surprising results.

The women who fasted less than 13 hours per night showed a 36 percent increase in breast cancer recurrence compared to those who fasted for 13 or more hours per night.

In other words, going at least 13 hours between between dinner and breakfast is associated with a lower risk of cancer.

The study looked at daily sleep and dietary habits, serum blood sugar and inflammation markers (hemoglobin A1c and C-reactive protein), and the recurrence of cancer and breast tumors.

Longer fasting for better sleep and less disease risk

The study showed that each two-hour increase in fasting time made for longer nights of sleep. This is important not only because it helps people feel better, but also because it points to a healthier sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm  An imbalanced circadian rhythm increases cancer risk, including breast cancer, along with numerous other chronic diseases.

Each two-hour increase in fasting time also reduced blood sugar and systemic inflammation, hence lowering the risk of diabetes and other diseases.

The longer nighttime fasters showed significantly lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a protein made in the liver that increases with inflammation. Chronic inflammation leads to serious diseases, including heart disease, some forms of cancer, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease.

Got low blood sugar or adrenal fatigue? Then a bedtime snack may be appropriate

While the new research makes a strong case for extended nighttime fasting, long fasts may be detrimental to those with low blood sugar or adrenal fatigue.

In these cases, allowing blood sugar to drop too low through fasting can cause a series of negative hormonal consequences that result in insomnia, mood issues, fatigue, and poor brain function.

If you wake up anxious at 3 or 4 a.m., you may be a victim of low blood sugar and need to eat a little protein to fall back asleep. Eating a little bit before bed can also help prevent those all-too-early wakeup calls. You also need to follow a diet during the day that stabilizes blood sugar.

Eating a healthy blood sugar diet over time may help you stabilize your blood sugar to the point that you can comfortably adopt the extended nighttime fast.

A simple, non-medical strategy for reducing cancer and disease risk

These findings suggest that simply extending the time between dinner and breakfast to at least 13 hours may be a simple, non-medical strategy to reduce the risk of breast cancer and chronic disease.

If you have questions or concerns about nighttime fasting, sleep habits, blood sugar balancing, or disease prevention, please contact my office.

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why you need cholesterol

We frequently hear about the dangers of high cholesterol, but keeping cholesterol as low as many doctors recommend may be doing your body more harm than good.

Although conventional medicine has demonized cholesterol and many healthy foods as a consequence, too little cholesterol can be harmful in a variety of ways. Your body uses cholesterol to make cell membranes, hormones, vitamin D, bile acids (to help you digest fats), and it’s vital to good brain function.

Cholesterol prevents depression and memory loss

Cholesterol is abundant in brain and nervous tissue. It provides insulation around nerve cells that transmit electrical impulses, thus maintaining healthy communication in the brain. It also supports the activity of neurotransmitters, chemicals used for communication that greatly affect our mood, personality, and cognitive function. In fact, sufficient cholesterol is necessary to prevent depression and cholesterol-lowering medications have been linked with loss of memory and cognition.

The majority of your brain is made up of fat and the fats you eat help determine the chemical structure of your brain. Many of the foods people are told to avoid in order to lower cholesterol—eggs, fatty meats and fish, butter—also contain choline, a precursor to a brain chemical called acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is necessary for learning, memory, concentration, and focus. It’s important to eat healthy, natural fats and avoid processed vegetable oils. You also want to strictly avoid trans fats, or hydrogenated oils, which have been shown to damage the brain and raise your risk for heart disease.

Cholesterol needed for healthy hormones

Cholesterol is a primary building block for the reproductive hormones, such as estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and adrenal hormones. When cholesterol is too low, hormone deficiencies may result. Sufficient cholesterol is also necessary to digest vitamins A, D, E, and K, which are found in fats and are important antioxidants.

Although cholesterol scares are over inflated, it is nevertheless important to pay attention to other lipid panel markers, such as the ratio of HDL to LDL, triglyceride levels, and small, dense LDL. It is important to note too that some people have a genetic tendency toward extremely high cholesterol. In those situations medical attention beyond diet may be necessary.

Inflammation is the real culprit in heart disease

Researchers are increasingly finding chronic inflammation, not healthy dietary fats, damages the walls of the arteries and raises the risk of heart disease. Cholesterol’s job is to repair this damage by creating patches, or plaques—it is more the Band-Aid for arterial damage than the cause.

High blood sugar and insulin increase inflammation and heart disease risk

High blood sugar and insulin levels are a primary cause of chronic inflammation. Sweet and starchy foods such as desserts, pastries, cereal, white rice, sodas and sweet drinks, and any other foods that spike the blood sugar and subsequently insulin are the real threat to the arterial walls.

When it comes to looking at your risk of heart disease on a blood test, inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP), a protein in the blood that rises in response to inflammation, are important to check. High triglycerides and abnormal blood sugar levels are other markers that can reflect whether your diet may be promoting inflammation.

To learn more about healthy cholesterol and a genuine heart-healthy diet, contact my office.

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gluten-free grain-free autoimmune

For many people, a gluten-free diet erases all their chronic health problems like a magic wand. For others, it doesn’t make a dent, despite a proven gluten intolerance. What gives? A diet that also eliminates dairy, grains, and other foods may be necessary, along with nutritional compounds to restore gut health.

Gluten damages the small intestines and causes chronic inflammation. This inflammation extends to other parts of the body and helps explain why gluten triggers so many disorders, including joint pain, skin disorders (eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, etc.), fatigue, depression, or mood disorders from inflammation in the brain. It even increases the risk of death for people with celiac disease.

A gluten-free diet reduces inflammation and allows the gut to recover, which often alleviates symptoms elsewhere in the body.

However, newer research showed that the small intestines of up to 60 percent of adults in one study never completely healed on a gluten-free diet, especially in those who didn’t adhere to the diet fully.

In another study, only 8 percent of subjects fully recovered gut health on a gluten-free diet for 16 months, and only 34 percent recovered after a gluten-free diet for two years in yet another study.

These are pretty grim numbers for a diet that has taken the natural health world by storm. Does this mean a gluten-free diet is not worth the effort?

Absolutely not.

Going beyond a gluten-free diet for gut healing

These studies shed light on the fact that a gluten-free diet often is not enough to recover gut health. One may still suffer from gut inflammation, poor absorption of nutrients due to damage of the intestinal lining, and leaky gut (leaky gut allows undigested food and pathogens to escape into the bloodstream, where they cause more inflammation).

This explains why some continue to suffer from chronic inflammatory disorders and autoimmune disease despite a gluten-free diet.

So what’s the solution? One is to look for other food intolerances. Because gluten causes leaky gut, undigested food escapes into the bloodstream and provoke an immune reaction. This leads to allergies and sensitivities to many other foods. Ferreting out these foods with a strict anti-inflammatory elimination diet is an important first step. Many people find they feel and function better eliminating all grains, as well as dairy and even legumes.

Using nutritional therapy to unwind gut inflammation

In functional medicine we have also identified nutritional and botanical compounds that can help unwind the chronic inflammation in the gut and, thus, elsewhere in the body. These include nutrients to support glutathione, the body’s main antioxidant, as well as nutrients that dampen inflammation through nitric oxide modulation. Glutathione in particular is essential to repairing and protecting intestinal health.

The botanical compounds resveratrol and curcumin have also been shown to dampen inflammation. Resveratrol is a compound derived from Japanese knotweed, and curcumin is derived from the popular curry spice turmeric. Both are well known for their antioxidant qualities.

Research shows that taking them together creates a synergistic effect, making them potent tools for quenching the inflammation and damage in the small intestines and elsewhere in the body.

Enhancing the gluten-free diet goes the distance

Although a gluten-free diet is vital to restoring health for people with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, it might not go the whole distance. Removing other foods and using nutritional therapy to quench inflammation are also important steps to restoring gut health.

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glutathone autoimmune hashimoto's hypothryoidism leaky gut

The term “antioxidant” has become popular in a multitude of products from acai to dark chocolate, but the most important antioxidant is the one made by your body: glutathione. Sufficient glutathione is vital for good health.

Glutathione is a molecule that protects the body in many ways. It shields cells from damage caused by oxidation and inflammation, it aids in detoxification, and it helps the immune system function at its best.

When glutathione production drops, you are more vulnerable to:

  • autoimmune disease
  • chemical sensitivities
  • heavy metal sensitivities
  • inflammatory disorders
  • intestinal permeability (leaky gut)
  • other immune issues

Chronic stress depletes glutathione

When we are healthy, our bodies make enough glutathione to protect us. However, chronic stress, whether it is from toxins, poor diet, sleep deprivation, smoking, excess sugar, or other stressors, eventually exhausts glutathione levels. Glutathione levels also decrease gradually as a result of aging.

A glutathione supplement is not effective taken orally. Instead, people can boost glutathione levels through a liposomal cream, nebulizer, suppository, or IV drip. These methods will help raise glutathione levels and your general antioxidant status, which can reduce inflammation and improve health. However, they do not raise glutathione inside the cells.

Glutathione recycling raises levels inside cells

To raise glutathione levels inside the cells, where it can protect the cells’ energy-producing factories called “mitochondria,” you must enhance your body’s ability to recycle glutathione. Recycling glutathione means taking glutathione that has already been used to protect the cells, and rebuilding it so it’s ready for action again.

Studies show a correlation between the inability to recycle glutathione and increased autoimmune disease. Glutathione recycling helps balance the immune system, protect body tissue from damage caused by inflammation, and also helps repair damage. Good glutathione recycling is an important tool in managing autoimmune disease.

Glutathione recycling helps repair leaky gut

Glutathione recycling also helps protect and repair the gut. It’s common for people with autoimmune disease and inflammatory disorders to have leaky gut, which exacerbates their immune condition. Poor glutathione recycling weakens gut integrity, making a person more prone to multiple food sensitivities and chronic gut issues. Good glutathione recycling is a vital part of restoring and protecting gut health.

Boosting glutathione recycling

One of the most important steps to enhance glutathione recycling is to remove stressors depleting glutathione levels. These may include lack of sleep, smoking, food intolerances, diets high in sugars and processed foods, excess alcohol intake, and metabolic imbalances, such as with the hormones or immune system.

Beyond that, a variety of nutritional and botanical compounds have been shown to support glutathione recycling. They include:

  • N-acetyl-cysteine
  • Alpha-lipoic acid
  • L-glutamine
  • Selenium
  • Cordyceps
  • Gotu kola
  • Milk thistle

Booting your glutathione levels with a glutathione liposomal cream and then supporting glutathione recycling can profoundly enhance the management of autoimmune disease, inflammatory disorders, chemical sensitivities, food sensitivities, and more.

Contact my office for advice on how you can support your glutathione recycling system.

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You could eat a “heart-healthy” diet, exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy weight and still be at risk for heart disease.

heart disease inflammation hypothyroidism gluten

Why? Because the root cause of heart disease is inflammation, and managing inflammation goes beyond standard prevention advice.

The whole grain diet, inflammation, and heart disease

Are you following popular guidelines by eating a whole grain diet? Opting for whole wheat bread may seem like a healthy choice; however research suggests that as many as one in five people have a gluten sensitivity.

For the gluten-intolerant person, even whole wheat products cause inflammation, increasing the risk of heart disease. In fact, more and more people are discovering that they can significantly reduce inflammation by eliminating grains all together.

Other foods—such as dairy or eggs—may also cause sensitivities and increase inflammation. An anti-inflammatory diet can help ferret out which foods increase inflammation.

Whole grains and blood sugar

A grain-based diet may also be too high in carbohydrates for some, causing blood sugar to swing dramatically between extreme highs and lows. This leads to a drop in energy, sugar and/or caffeine cravings, sleep issues, and most importantly, inflammation. High-carbohydrate diets—even those high in fibrous whole grains and legumes—can prove too inflammatory for some people. Leafy, colorful vegetables and mildly sweet fruits (such as berries) are a better choice.

Gut health and heart disease

Other causes of inflammation include: an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the gut, poor function of the digestive organs, and gastric irritation. All play a role in increasing the risk of heart disease.

Studies suggest that the overgrowth of one strain of gastric bacteria in particular—“H. pylori”—increases the risk of heart disease. Caused by insufficient acidity in the stomach, the usually symptomless H. pylori is responsible for peptic ulcers—a condition estimated to affect many Americans.

How inflammation increases the risk of heart disease

Inflammation creates lesions on arterial walls, thus contributing to the formation of plaque within the arteries—a process known as “atherosclerosis.”  In order to quickly repair the lesions, the body “patches” them up with cholesterol. Although an effective short-term fix, this eventually leads to the creation of artery-clogging plaque, and drives up the risk of a heart attack.

Hypothyroidism and heart disease

Whenever I see high cholesterol in a patient, I immediately screen for hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism increases triglycerides, cholesterol, and “bad” LDL cholesterol.

Most people in the U.S. with hypothyroidism have it as a result of Hashimoto’s disease—an autoimmune disease that attacks and destroys the thyroid gland. An unmanaged autoimmune condition is another factor that can lead to chronic inflammation, increasing the risk of heart disease.

The source of inflammation is different for everyone

You can see why reducing inflammation is “at the heart” of reducing your risk of heart disease, and why statin drugs do not address the root cause for most people. The source of inflammation can vary for each individual, but typically it involves evaluating one’s diet, immune health, and digestive function.

This explains why I look at more than just cholesterol when evaluating the risk of heart disease. I examine other markers on a blood chemistry panel, including fasting blood sugar, homocysteine, C-reactive protein, immune markers, and thyroid values.

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A new study found older women who take cholesterol-lowering statin drugs increase their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by almost 50 percent.

Statins diabetes cholesterol naturally

Researchers say it isn’t clear why the drug raises the risk of diabetes, and that the findings could be applied to men.

Many people don’t realize that inflammation, not a statin deficiency, underlies high cholesterol, and that the condition usually can be managed naturally.

The study looked at data of more than 150,000 women ages 50-79 for over 12 years. Interestingly, the risk was greater for Asian women and women of a healthy body mass index.

Statins most commonly prescribed drugs

Darlings of the health care industry, statins are the most commonly prescribed drug, accounting for $20 billion of spending a year. About one in four Americans over 45 take statins, despite such common side effects as muscle weakness and wasting, headaches, difficulty sleeping, stomach upset, and dizziness.

Beware low cholesterol

As a result, lab ranges for healthy cholesterol are skewed too low. Not only do statin users grapple with side effects and raise their risk of diabetes, but they also risk symptoms of low cholesterol. Cholesterol is necessary for brain and nerve health and to manufacture hormones, including the sex hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.

Low cholesterol can imbalance hormones and increase the risk for anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders.

In functional medicine, we don’t like to see cholesterol go below 150 mg/dL.

Statins do not address cause

Although statins lower cholesterol, they do not address the underlying cause of high cholesterol, which is typically inflammation. The body uses cholesterol to patch up damage caused by inflammation. In fact, research shows inflammation is the primary cause of heart attacks and strokes, not high cholesterol.

Hypothyroidism, a condition estimated to affect more than 20 million Americans, raises cholesterol. Many find a gluten-free diet lowers cholesterol, as gluten is inflammatory for so many people.

Research also shows diets low in fat and high in carbohydrates increase the “bad” form of LDL (there are two to look at) and decrease the protective HDL.

Lowering cholesterol naturally

Functional medicine is highly effective for the person wanting to lower cholesterol naturally.

Management includes an anti-inflammatory diet, exercise, and rooting out causes of inflammation. These include hypothyroidism, autoimmune disease, bacterial infections in the digestive tract, poor blood-sugar handling, or other chronic health issues.

By addressing the cause of high cholesterol not only do you avoid the dangerous risks and unpleasant side effects of statins, but also you journey into your golden years with improved energy and well-being.

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