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Sugar industry funds studies to influence nutrition

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Nutrition experts recommend women consume less than 25 grams, or 6 teaspoons, a day of added sugar (9 teaspoons for men). Yet the average American consumes almost 20 teaspoons a day! And that doesn’t even include fruit juice, a known sugar bomb.

How did we allow ourselves to stray so far? Powerful lobbyists with deep pockets played a big role in our overly lax boundaries with a substance that is tanking the world’s developed nations.

Recent findings show that 50 years ago the sugar industry quietly paid for research to blame fat for heart disease and minimize sugar’s role.

(Of course, now we know that the highly inflammatory effects of excess sugar are a major contributor to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases.)

Unfortunately, the propaganda campaign didn’t stop 50 years ago; it’s still going strong today.

Sickly sweet sales and marketing

For instance, a grape-juice funded study shows grape juice is good for brain function, despite it packing a whopping 36 grams of sugar per cup, more than what a person should consume in an entire day. Sugar is so degenerative to the brain that scientists now call Alzheimer’s type 3 diabetes.

Coca-cola spent more than $130 million dollars to fund research essentially saying exercise is more important than diet in the weight loss battle. While exercise is indeed important, how you fuel your body is equally important. We’ll assume Coca-Cola did not fund the studies showing a link between the obesity epidemic and soda consumption in the United States.

And, in a brazen show of hubris, the National Confectioner’s Association funded research that concluded children who eat candy weigh less than those who don’t. Despite being naysaid by one of its own scientists, the study nevertheless went on to be published in a respected journal.

Although food giants can buy their way into scientific journals, investigative journalists find these studies are poorly designed, incomplete, and only highlight the positives while ignoring the negatives. Because the average journalist is not trained in how to discern good research from bad, bad studies get ample press.

To spotlight these problems, one science writer conducted a hoax study that concluded eating chocolate causes weight loss and watched the media play it up.

Can you believe science? Yes, be mindful of fads

Does that mean you can’t believe any science? No, plenty of good research is still happening.

The trick is to ferret out the nutritional guidelines based on hundreds of solid studies and read the headline grabbers (chocolate linked with weight loss) with healthy skepticism.

At the end of the day, some nutritional truisms have held fast over the years:

  • Eat lots of different vegetables every day
  • Eat a whole foods diet (avoid processed foods)
  • Avoid or minimize sugars, junk foods, sodas, and juices
  • Eat healthy fats
  • Avoid the foods to which you are sensitive (gluten and dairy are common ones)
  • Exercise daily
  • Cultivate positive experiences, habits, and thoughts

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Natural antihistamines shown to provide relief

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If you dread allergy season, then you know what it’s like to suffer from itchy skin, red eyes, a runny nose, sneezing, sinus pressure, and headaches.

Likewise, you may react to certain foods with hives, headaches, nasal congestion, skin problems, a racing heart, or irritability.

What is the common denominator in both scenarios? Histamines.

While many people just give up and suffer, some natural compounds can bring relief. To understand why these natural remedies work, it’s helpful to understand a bit about histamines.

What are histamines?

Histamine is a protein that causes inflammation, redness, and irritation. It is produced in response to environmental or dietary proteins, also known as antigens.

When the antigen comes into contact with the body, the immune system registers it as an intruder and produces antibodies to it. These antibodies cause a release of histamine into your bloodstream, where they can build up with repeated exposure and increase sensitivity.

Histamines are found in many common foods, especially those aged or fermented, such as aged cheese, red wine, and sauerkraut, and also in foods such as eggs, some fruits and vegetables, and some seasonings.

The bright side is that there are a number of natural ways to ease your suffering, whether it’s from seasonal allergies or high-histamine foods.

First — Lower overall inflammation in the body

Before looking at natural antihistamines, it’s important to first address a functional medicine foundation: adopting a diet and lifestyle to lower overall inflammation.

This includes removing foods to which are intolerant (gluten and dairy are most common), stabilizing blood sugar, repairing intestinal permeability, managing low thyroid function and hormone imbalances, and addressing chronic stressors, such as sleep deprivation, over training, toxic exposures, junk food, excess alcohol, and many more.

Quercetin — nature’s Benadryl with Hashimoto’s

Quercetin is a bioflavonoid with anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties.

It also gives both short-term relief and long-term gut repair so you’re you less susceptible to allergies.

Nettles

Nettle leaf is a natural antihistamine that naturally blocks histamine production. It can be made in to a tincture or tea, but for allergy relief, capsules made from dried nettle leaves are the most effective option.

Butterbur

The European herb butterbur has been shown to rival leading OTC drugs in reducing histamine reactions. It’s an anti-inflammatory properties also reduces spasms in smooth muscle and relaxes swollen nasal membranes.

Mangosteen

Mangosteen is a fruit extract that has been shown to reduce inflammation and inhibit histamine release.

Ginger

This Asian medicinal plant has been shown to inhibit histamine production.

Ask me about natural antihistamine relief 

These are just a few of the many compounds effective in reducing histamine reactions. You can benefit from the synergistic effect of these compounds working together in product formulations that combine them.

If you have seasonal allergies or react to foods, contact my office. I can help you determine the source of your symptoms and get you on the path to feeling better.


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Fasting 13+ hours reduces cancer and disease risk

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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A functional medicine viewpoint on birth control pills

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If you take birth control pills, it’s important to understand how oral contraceptives can affect your hormone balancing, your liver, your thyroid, and your brain. This functional medicine viewpoint can help you make an informed decision about contraception, or give you insight into buffering potential consequences.

Birth control pills flood the body with an unnatural amount of hormones that are also synthetic. This can imbalance the body in a number of ways.

Your body’s hormone balance depends on finely nuanced communication between the brain and the hormone glands. The brain determines how much hormone the glands should produce based on hormone activity in the body.

When you introduce hormones into the body, this tells the brain the body has plenty of hormone. As a result, the “feedback loop” of communication between the brain and the hormone glands slows down or becomes dormant, lowering the body’s natural production. This may create symptoms or problems when the time comes to go off the pill.

Functional medicine view of birth control and the liver

Excess hormones can stress the liver as it must break down those hormones for elimination. Chronically overburdening the liver causes it to become sluggish and congested, increasing the risk for inflammation, high cholesterol, and poor immune function.

Also, when the liver cannot properly detoxify estrogen, the hormone goes back into the bloodstream in a more toxic form, raising the risk for breast cancer, endometriosis, premenstrual syndrome, fibrocystic breasts, ovarian cysts, cervical dysplasia, and endometrial cancer..

Functional medicine support of liver detoxification may include the use of compounds such as dandelion extract and milk thistle extract to help mitigate these effects.

Oral contraception and methylation

Taking birth control pills can result in depletion of methyl donors. Methylation is a liver detoxification process in which a methyl group, which is a carbon atom attached to three hydrogen atoms, essentially tags a toxic compound so that the body can eliminate it.

About 20 percent of the population are already slow methylators. Taking birth control pills can compound this problem, making it more difficult to detoxify environmental compounds. Methylation defects have also been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.

Functional medicine view of birth control and the brain

Depleting methyl donors can also lead to lower serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is the “well being” neurotransmitter that prevents depression, and healthy methylation activity is necessary for sufficient serotonin.

Compounds that can support methylation include methyl B12, P-5-P, MSM, and trimethylglycine. Compounds that support serotonin activity include 5-HTP, St. John’s Wort, and SAMe.

Birth control pills and the thyroid

Elevated estrogen from birth control pills can cause symptoms of low thyroid function by hindering conversion in the liver of inactive thyroid hormone (T4) to the usable form (T3).

Elevated estrogen can also create too many thyroid-binding proteins, which prevent thyroid hormones from getting into cells. Both these mechanisms can cause symptoms of low thyroid activity, or hypothyroidism.

Functional medicine risks of birth control pills

The more publicized risks of oral contraceptives include heart attack, stroke, and venous thromboembolism, however these risks are recognized as being minimal.

The purpose of this article isn’t to scare you, but simply to educate you in the ways birth control pills can affect your health so you can make an informed decision or understand how you may be able to mitigate their effects.

Although certain nutritional compounds may be helpful, it’s also important to use an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle approach to optimize the function of your body and reduce risks.

Ask my office for more advice on healthy hormone function.


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LED streetlights: Should you wear sunglasses at night?

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Have you noticed how shockingly bright streetlights are these days? Although they’re great for night time visibility, the newer LED streetlights tamper with the body’s internal clock, skewing metabolic function and raising disease risk.

The effect of blue-rich white light at night on human health is so significant that the American Medical Association (AMA) issued a policy statement about street lighting.

It warns LED street lights are five times more disruptive to the human sleep cycle than traditional street lighting and that recent large surveys link brighter residential lighting with reduced sleep, poor functioning, and more obesity. The lighting also increases the risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

These bright blue-white lights also strain the eyes and can cause problems walking or driving safely at night. Enough blue light can even damage the retina.

How night time lighting can be safer for health

LED lights were introduced because they consume less energy. The AMA suggests ways to make the lighting friendlier to human biology (and that of area wildlife):

  • Lowering the color temperature of the lights away from the blue end of the spectrum (which signals the brain it is daytime) and towards the orange end of the spectrum. Current lights have a color temperature of 4000K to 5000K. Compare this with the use of fire and candles human have used for most of history, at 1800K. The AMA recommends lights be no bluer than 3000K.
  • Better shielding the light to reduce eye-straining glare.
  • Using adaptive controls to dim or extinguish the lights.

Residents complaining about bright lights

You don’t have to understand the science to feel the effects of these lights. Residents in areas where they are installed around the country are complaining, saying the lights feel like a car lot or strip mall parking lot. The LED street lamps also light up the insides of homes, especially in hilly areas such as Seattle.

Davis, California residents found them so objectionable the city agreed to replace all existing LED streetlights with more biologically friendly lighting.

Do you need sunglasses at night?

Of course, it’s dangerous to wear dark glasses at night. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have recourse if LED streetlights are a part of your night life.

You can switch the light coming into your eyes to a more biologically friendly hue by wearing orange or rose tinted glasses that aren’t sunglasses. Examples include affordable Uvex safety glasses from Amazon, orange glasses from Low Blue Lights (these glasses are more expensive because they are scratch resistant), or rose tinted migraine glasses.

Also, cities are taking note of complaints, so be sure to add your voice.

Avoid night time blue lights indoors too

LED streetlights aren’t the only culprits when it comes to confusing your sleep-wake cycle. LED televisions, smart phones, tablets, computers, and LED bulbs also bombard you with too much blue light at night, hindering the output of sleep hormones.

Purchasing orange bulbs for lamps, orange filters to put over your screens, or wearing orange glasses a couple of hours before bed are ways to encourage the production of sleep hormones and maintain the delicate but important sleep-wake cycle.


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Being “hangry” too often ages the brain

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Do you crash when you go too long without eating, losing energy and becoming “hangry?” Hanger—hunger plus anger—is that explosive combination of low blood sugar and irrepressible irritability that turns a normally nice person into a multi-headed hydra.

People joke about being hangry, but when it happens regularly, it means your body and brain are in a perpetual state of alarm. This constant stress raises inflammation and accelerates degeneration of the brain.

In other words, being chronically hangry ages you too fast.

How being hangry ages your body too fast

The low blood sugar that triggers “hanger” sends your body into an emergency “fight-or-flight” mode, causing you to snap at loved ones or fly into a rage because you can’t untangle your earphone cords. This constant stress ages the body and brain.

Low blood sugar also raises an immune messenger called IL-6, which triggers inflammation that destroys tissue.

If you have a chronic or autoimmune condition such as Hashimoto’s or rheumatoid arthritis, the inflammation from low blood sugar can trigger flare ups that destroy tissue, worsen symptoms, and advance your condition.

Autoimmunity means an over zealous and imbalanced immune system is attacking and destroying tissue in the body. Many people have autoimmunity but have not been diagnosed. Low blood sugar can worsen autoimmunity and speed destruction of tissues or glands in the body.

In a nutshell, the stress and inflammation from chronically low blood sugar ages your body too quickly.

How being hangry ages your brain too fast

The low blood sugar from being hangry deprives the brain of fuel and impairs brain function. This speeds degeneration because energy-deprived brain cells die.

Brain-related symptoms of low blood sugar include:

  • Irritable and easily upset
  • Lightheaded
  • Fatigued
  • Feeling shaky, jittery, or tremulous
  • Agitated and nervous
  • Eating gives you energy
  • Poor memory, forgetfulness
  • Blurred vision
  • Lack of appetite or nausea
  • Energy crash around 3 or 4 p.m.
  • Wake up anxious around 3 or 4 a.m.

Being hangry can worsen brain autoimmunity

Chronically low blood sugar also ages the brain by triggering autoimmune flares in the brain.

A number of people have autoimmunity to brain and nerve tissue but don’t know it—it’s more common than realized.

When blood sugar drops too low, it can trigger the autoimmune process in the brain just as it does in the body, speeding the brain degeneration process.

A few common symptoms of brain autoimmunity include fatigue, “crashing” after too much stimulation or exertion, brain fog, memory loss, anxiety or depression disorders, autism or ADHD symptoms, and poor balance.

If you suffer from any brain-related symptoms, preventing low blood sugar is crucial.

Tips on avoiding low blood sugar to slow aging

If you want to function optimally and slow the aging process, make sure to avoid getting “hangry.”

Tips include never skipping breakfast or other meals, avoiding sugars and processed starches, eating plenty of vegetable fiber and healthy fats, minimizing caffeine, eating small meals every two to three hours until blood sugar stabilizes, and avoiding foods to which you are sensitive (such as gluten and dairy for many people).

A number of herbal and nutritional compounds can also help bring blood sugar to normal levels and balance immune and brain health. Ask my office for more advice.


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Scientists confirm gluten sensitivity is a real thing

gluten sensitivity is a real thing

Research has confirmed what many people have long known: Gluten sensitivity is a real thing.

A Columbia University Medical Center study found gluten sensitivity is not an imagined condition, as many seem to think these days, and that celiac disease or a wheat allergy are not required to react to gluten.

Although people with gluten sensitivity may not demonstrate classic symptoms or lab markers of celiac disease, gluten nevertheless causes an acute immune response in gluten sensitive people.

Symptoms of gluten sensitivity vary widely and often include fatigue, brain fog, memory problems, mood imbalances, joint pain, skin eruptions, respiratory issues, and worsening of existing health conditions.

Gluten sensitivity different than celiac disease

In celiac disease, the immune response to gluten happens primarily in the small intestine.

With gluten sensitivity, however, the immune response is systemic, meaning the inflammatory cells travel in the bloodstream throughout the body. This explains why symptoms vary so widely.

Researchers found that six months on a gluten-free diet normalized the immune response and significantly improved patient symptoms.

Gluten sensitivity awareness crucial for patients

Studies like this are important to help educate doctors that gluten sensitivity can cause chronic health problems.

Many doctors still believe that only celiac disease is to blame for a reaction to gluten. Because gluten sensitivity is largely dismissed and conventional testing for it is so inadequate, many patients unnecessarily suffer from undiagnosed gluten sensitivity.

Gluten linked to autoimmunity and brain disorders

What’s worse, gluten is linked to many autoimmune diseases. An autoimmune disease is a condition in which the immune system attacks and destroys tissue in the body. Common autoimmune diseases include Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and type 1 diabetes.

However, the tissue most commonly attacked in response to gluten sensitivity is neurological tissue.

In other words, your undiagnosed gluten sensitivity could be destroying your brain  This is why gluten causes brain-based disorders in many people.

Gluten sensitivity more common than celiac

Celiac disease was long thought to affect about 1 percent of the population, but newer research shows rates have gone up 700 percent in the last 50 years.

Also, numbers are likely even higher because testing for celiac disease is extremely stringent and outdated. (Diagnostic criteria were developed in Europe, where a celiac diagnosis qualifies one for disability payments.)

Estimates for the rate of gluten sensitivity range from 6 percent of the population to considerably higher—a randomized population sample of 500 people conducted by immunologist Aristo Vojdani, PhD found one in three people had gluten sensitivity.

Proper testing and strict gluten-free diet are vital

Most testing for gluten sensitivity is inaccurate as people can react to at least 12 different compounds in gluten. Standard tests only screen for one, alpha gliadin.

Also, many people have cross reactions to gluten, meaning they respond to other foods they eat as if it were gluten. Dairy is one of the most common of these. It’s important to test for cross-reactive foods and remove them from the diet along with gluten.

It’s also vital to strictly adhere to a gluten-free diet as the occasional cheat can keep inflammation high and chances at symptom recovery low.

Ask my office for advice on the latest in testing for gluten sensitivity.