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Gas, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea? Could be SIBO

SIBO copy

Do you have gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, IBS…or maybe all of the above? Then you may have SIBO, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.

Doctors have long blamed stubborn gut problems on stress. For the person whose life is dictated by the cruel whims of their digestive system, this can feel like shame and blame. Thanks to new research, these days we know many things cause gut problems. They include food sensitivities (especially to gluten and dairy), leaky gut, gut inflammation, autoimmunity, poor brain function, and SIBO.

SIBO results from too much bacteria that belong in the large intestine migrating into the small intestine. When these bacteria consume sugars and carbohydrates, they produce large amounts of gas that causes not only bloating, belching, and flatulence, but also constipation or diarrhea (depending on the type of gas produced).

These bacteria also inflame and damage the lining of the intestinal tract, causing leaky gut. Leaky gut allows undigested foods, bacteria, yeast, and other antigens into the bloodstream, triggering inflammation, autoimmunity, and chronic disease.

Many different lab tests, stringent dietary strategies (managing SIBO often requires a diet that restricts most everything but meats and a limited variety vegetables), and treatment protocols exist to treat SIBO, and sometimes it’s a matter of trial and error to land on an approach that works.

But if you don’t want a relapse, it’s important to ask why you have SIBO in the first place.

The causes include:

  • Food poisoning
  • Poor diet and excess sugar
  • Low stomach acid
  • Repeated antibiotic use
  • Chronic stress
  • Problems with brain function or health

Brain function is one of the most overlooked and unaddressed causes of SIBO. The digestive system maintains close communication with the brain. Poor brain function leads to poor gut function (this explains why people often suffer from gut problems after a head injury). Digestive juices and hormones are not sufficiently released, motility slows so that food sits longer in the intestines, giving rise to bacterial overgrowth, and the valve between the small and large intestine does not stay shut, allowing bacteria from the colon to escape into the small intestine where it does not belong. All of these are examples of how poor brain function leads to SIBO.

This explains how childhood brain development disorders, brain injuries, brain inflammation, brain degeneration, and brain aging all contribute to SIBO.

The elderly are especially vulnerable to malnutrition caused by SIBO, as are the increasing numbers of children born with autism and other brain development disorders. Fortunately, you can improve gut function through simple exercises that help tone the digestive system and prevent relapses of SIBO.

Managing SIBO does not have a one-size-fits-all solution, and there are various ways to approach it that include both nutraceutical and/or pharmaceutical approaches. Diet is always an important strategy. For more information, contact my office.

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Are you alkaline enough or too acidic? Learn what to do

acid vs alkaline

One of the many downsides to a modern junk food diet low in vegetables is that it makes your body too acidic. The human body must maintain a healthy pH for optimal cellular function. When it’s too acidic, diseases take root.

A body that is overly acidic sets the stage for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, chronic pain, inflammation, autoimmune disease, and other chronic health problems.

Fortunately, you can sway your body toward a more healthy and alkaline pH through your diet.

Symptoms of being too acidic

Many people are too acidic but are not aware of it. Below are common symptoms of over acidity:

  • Swelling and bloating
  • Frequent urination
  • Poor brain function
  • Brain fog
  • Salt cravings
  • Muscle cramps
  • Muscle twitches
  • Constipation
  • Reduced endurance for exercise
  • Difficulty holding breath
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Poor sleep

Testing how acid or alkaline you are

People use several different methods to identify pH levels, but not all are reliable. The most well-known test is a salivary pH test, however this method does not have much support in scientific studies.

Testing blood pH is also not accurate because it only fluctuates in events such as poisoning, kidney disease, or lung disease. However, looking at functional medicine blood ranges of CO2 and anion gap can help identify a pattern of over acidity.

Urine testing has shown to accurately reflect how acidic or alkaline you are. It can also help you assess whether dietary changes, such as eating more leafy green veggies and less sugar, are helping you become more alkaline.

Ideal urinary pH is between 7.2–7.8. Please note, however, that infections, bacterial overgrowth, dehydration, incontinence, and other issues can affect your results.

How do you become more alkaline?

The modern American diet makes it easy to become too acidic. Sugars, processed starches, industrialized oils, and junk foods promote excess acidity.

Excess caffeine, sodas, and alcohol also promote acidity, as does too much meat and not enough colorful vegetables and fruits.

You do not need to become a vegan or vegetarian to maintain good alkalinity, however your diet should be based primarily on leafy green and colorful vegetables and low-glycemic fruits.

An alkaline diet is rich in magnesium, potassium, calcium, and other minerals that help maintain a healthy pH.

An added bonus: A plant-rich diet also feeds the right kind of bacteria in your gut so that you are less prone to food sensitivities, enjoy better brain function, and better immune function.

Avoid an alkaline stomach

The stomach needs to stay strongly acidic in order to digest proteins and fight pathogens. Many people suffer from insufficient stomach acidity, which paradoxically causes symptoms of acid reflux. Taking supplemental hydrochloric acid (as long as you don’t have ulcers) can actually help promote a healthy pH.

Health conditions that promote being too acidic

While being overly acidic can promote poor health, certain health conditions can likewise promote acidity. These include anemia, asthma, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), or high blood sugar (insulin resistance or diabetes).

Acidity that is too severe becomes life threatening. Diabetes, kidney disease, and lung disease acidify the body to a severe degree and require medical attention.

Contact my office for ideas on how diet and nutritional therapy can help improve alkalinity and health.

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BPA may trigger autoimmune damage to nerves

BPA linked to MS copy

If you handle store receipts or use plastics (who doesn’t?), brace yourself for some disturbing new findings about BPA (bisphenol-A), the toxin in plastics and store receipts.

A new study shows BPA is linked with an autoimmune reaction that destroys the lining of nerves. Autoimmune nerve sheath degeneration is connected to autism spectrum disorders, multiple sclerosis (MS), neuropathy, and neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.

Previous research has shown blood levels of BPA spike after handling store receipts for just five seconds, and that the toxin long lingers in the body.

BPA and neurological autoimmunity

A 2016 study found a significant link between an immune reaction to BPA and an autoimmune attack against nerve sheaths.

The important part about this study is that it’s based on immune sensitivity to BPA, not the amount of BPA in the blood.

A person can react to BPA the way people react to gluten, dairy, or other foods, developing inflammatory symptoms.

This means person may have low levels of BPA in their blood yet still have an immune reaction to it that can trigger autoimmunity. Conversely, a person may have high blood levels of BPA but no immune reaction and thus a lower risk of it triggering autoimmunity (although BPA is associated with other health disorders, too.)

Animal studies also show a high degree of correlation between BPA and autoimmunity.

BPA sensitivity in mothers raises autism risk in children

Autoimmunity to nerve sheaths is commonly associated with autism spectrum disorders. In fact, some research has found autoimmunity to nerve sheaths in almost 80 percent of subjects with autism compared to a control group.

Other studies show subjects with autism have significantly higher levels of BPA in their blood than controls.

Most disturbing are the findings that immune reactions to BPA in mothers can be passed on to offspring, thus considerably raising the risk of autism in their children.

Receipts major source of BPA contamination

BPA is ubiquitous in our environment. The toxin is found in large amounts on thermal receipts used by stores, restaurants, gas stations, airlines, ATM machines, and so on. Holding one of these receipts for as little as five seconds is enough to absorb it into your bloodstream.

BPA in plastics and other products

BPA is found in many other common products as well, such as plastic food and beverage containers, toys, tin can linings, and medical products.

BPA is leached from products through heat or exposure to acidic foods or beverages.

BPA also harms hormone health

BPA’s estrogen-like qualities have been shown to cause reproductive defects, cancer, and immune problems in animal studies. In the developing fetus, BPA can cause chromosomal errors, miscarriage, and genetic damage.

BPA is also linked to decreased sperm quality, early puberty, ovarian and reproductive dysfunction, cancer, heart disease, thyroid problems  insulin resistance, and obesity.

BPA-free is no guarantee

BPA-free products are available but many unfortunately still have synthetic estrogens and pose a health risk.

How to protect your body from BPA exposure

In addition to reducing exposure to BPA as much as possible, functional medicine strategies can help protect you from the negative effects of BPA.

The goal is to keep the immune system balanced and not prone to over reacting, which can trigger chemical sensitivities and autoimmunity. Ways to do this include an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle, shoring up your glutathione reserves to protect your cells, and making use of natural compounds to support neurological and immune health. For more information, contact my office.

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Cell phone cancer risk in children finally legitimized

cell phone and kids

It used to be warnings about cell phone safety were deemed conspiracy theory or quack science. Not anymore — the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now recommends limiting cell phone use for children based on a large government study linking cancer with cell phone radiation.

The study found exposure to wireless radiation significantly increased the rates of highly malignant heart and brain cancer in rodents. In other words, cell phones caused cancer in these animals.

The cells affected in the research animals are the same cells in humans that develop into cancers in adult cell phone users.

These results were alarming enough to prompt the AAP to warn parents to limit children’s exposure to cell phones and wireless devices.

The study also showed cell phones damaged DNA in brain cells.

Children susceptible to cell phone cancer risk

The risks for cell phone cancer damage are believed to be higher for children than adults.

Children have thinner skulls, which makes it easier for cell phone radiation to penetrate and absorb into a child’s brain. Children’s nervous systems are also not fully developed and thus more sensitive to damage.

As a result of this information, the AAP warns adults not to keep cell phones on or near their body and that a child’s exposure should be limited or avoided.

How to reduce cell phone cancer risk

Sadly, it’s almost impossible to imagine a world without cell phones these days, despite the risks.

The AAP suggests the following ideas to reduce cancer risk in both adults and children:

  • Choose text messaging as much as possible, and for calls, use speaker mode or hands-free kits.
  • Hold the cell phone at least an inch away from your head.
  • Keep calls short.
  • Do not carry your phone against your body. The amount of radiation you absorb that way may be at an unsafe level.
  • To watch a movie on your phone or tablet, download it first and switch to airplane mode to view. This will help you avoid unnecessary radiation exposure.
  • A weaker cell signal means more radiation because the phone has to work harder. Wait until you have a stronger signal before using your phone or tablet.
  • Avoid making calls in areas where the phone has to work harder for a signal through metal, such as in cars, elevators, trains, and buses.
  • Do not let a child use a cell phone as a toy or for teething.

Cell phone cancer risks little known

Fortunately, cell phone cancer risks are now being legitimized through new research, thus increasing awareness.

For more advice about general cancer prevention through nutrition and lifestyle, contact my office.

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Sugar industry funds studies to influence nutrition

sugar industry buys studies copy

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

histamines and natural relief copy

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.


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.


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


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.