What is Functional Medicine?

Conventional medicine asks “what”, Functional Medicine asks “why?” to get to the root cause.

Your body needs certain things to survive and to function optimally, such as oxygen, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants, fatty acids, and even cholesterol. These important things get into your body through a process called assimilation and digestion. Once they are absorbed, they must be transported, and in order for them to be properly transported, you need structural support for things like holding up blood vessels and organ tissues, and your cardiovascular system uses pressure to move nutrients along. Communication must be working properly in order to send messages through neurotransmitters, hormones, and cytokines. Biotransformation and elimination must be effective in order to rid your body of toxins and metabolites via the liver, gut, kidneys, and microbiome to detox and via the colon, kidneys, and skin to eliminate. Throughout this process, your body also needs to protect itself from pathogens through defense and repair, which is where your immune system comes in to break down and rebuild things like bone, for example. And in order to sustain all these functions, you need energy for your mitochondria (remember the “powerhouse” of the cell?) to work, which means you need to feed it the right food!

In the center of these seven things are your Continue reading »

 

Metabolic Syndrome: What is it and Why Should You Care?

METABOLIC SYNDROME: What is it and why should you care?

Metabolic Syndrome is a cluster of symptoms that put you at much greater risk for developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and even cancer.

Look at your body. Are you apple or pear shaped?
If you are pear shaped, your risk for heart diease and diabetes is actually less.

What are the risk factors?
• Waist circumference: Men 40 inches or greater; Women 35 inches or greater
• Fasting triglyceride level of 150mg/dL or greater
• LDL: Men < 40, Women < 50, OR if you are on a statin • High blood pressure: > 140/80 OR on a BP medication
• Fasting blood glucose (sugar) level > 100
*The more risk factors you have, the greater your risk is for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and others.

How can you be evaluated to see if you are at risk or to know if you have Metabolic Syndrome? With something called a metabolomic profile. This is a blood test and requires an overnight fast.


Some things that will be evaluated:

• HbA1C (glycated hemoglobin): an estimated average of your daily blood sugar over about a three month period.
• CRP: produced by the liver, a non-specific marker of inflammation, a strong independent risk factor for atherosclerotic (thickening of arteries) heart disease. This can be elevated with smokers, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and sedentary lifestyles.
• Insulin: a better indicator of the onset of type 2 diabetes than blood sugar, because it will be elevated in very early stages of diabetes. Insulin holds the key to getting sugar, or glucose, into your cells where it belongs. When you have higher levels of insulin, it means your cells are becoming resistant to that key to get all the extra glucose in, and it is producing more to work harder with more keys. So there are more keys working, but your blood glucose level may show to be “normal” even when you are well on your way to a diagnosis of diabetes!!
Leptin: A hormone that normally signals your brain when you are full and to suppress your appetite. With increased fat, steroid use, alcohol, hypothroidism, or depression, you may have a higher level of circulating leptin. Despite what you may be thinking, THIS IS NOT GOOD. The problem is, this increase in leptin causes an interruption in the signal to your brain, and resistance develops (just like with insulin). So leptin is then unable to get the signal to the brain to suppress your appetite! Instead it causes an increase in inflammation. This can cause your arteries to thicken faster and has been associated with heart attacks and strokes.
Adiponectin: This is an ANTI-inflammatory protein that stimulates the release of insulin to get the sugar in the cells. Low levels are associated with metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and others. When adiponectin is too low, it will cause more inflammation, increase your risk for heart disease, and lung and other cancers.

What Can You Do About This?

Exercise regularly! This doesn’t mean an hour every day. A 15-minute work-out is only 1% of your day. Make time NOW, or you won’t have the time later.
• This is no secret, but if you are a smoker, you just gotta find a way to quit.
• Eat more more more more veggies. There are several recipes here if you’re struggling with ideas. Another idea is to start slow and just eat broccoli three times a week for a few weeks. Then add in more! Veggies can save your life. Choose fruits like berries. Cut out the processed foods and eat WHOLE FOODS (they have one ingredient – itself!); cut down on added sugars, and read labels. If there are more than five ingredients, probably not a good idea, especially if the sugar is first and if you cannot pronounce the ingredients!
• If you snore or do not sleep well, get evaluated for sleep apnea and make sure it is treated.
• Eat fish (smaller are better. Wild Alaskan salmon is the best salmon) 2-3 times per week and make sure you get enough omega-3s (EPA & DHA). You can put the supplement in the refrigerator to decrease the fish burps!

OVERALL, decide to make a change, and make it. If you are struggling, give yourself credit for every little step. If you feel like you are “in a mess”, you didn’t get there overnight. Lifestyle changes take time, and you need to feel supported. If you need accountability, which we all do, get your family involved and/or find a buddy! And as always, I am here for you.

 

What’s the Deal with Antibiotics?

What’s the Deal with Antibiotics?

 

We know about the bug that causes infection, thanks to Louis Pasteur and we know about antibiotics to cure them, thanks to Alexander Fleming. This ingenuous “cure” might work for infection, but chronic disease is a different story.  And thanks to big pharma, our nation has developed the mindset that there is a “pill for that.”  And, this is part of the reason that antibiotics are overprescribed – some patients aren’t happy until they get one.

This is where our gut comes in.  We have 100 trillion bugs or bacteria in our gut – that’s about 100 times more than we have cells and genes in our entire body!  Think of the gut like a piece of real estate – we want to keep it clean and house it with good and responsible residents.  If bad residents enter, we want to get them out, but we need to keep the good ones.  The good bacteria control immunity, regulate digestion, protect against infections and even produce vitamins and nutrients! And the bad ones of course prevent these good things from happening, or at least make them weaker.  Antibiotics get rid of the bad bacteria, but they also get rid of some of the good ones.  Wiping out the good guys can allow for overgrowth of bad guys – causing food allergies, fatigue, skin issues, digestive issues, mood disorders, and sugar cravings that lead to increased fat!

Antibiotics treat BACTERIAL infections.  They do NOTHING for viral or fungal infections, and can actually make you worse.  A study in The American Society for Microbiology demonstrated that the gut residents could be disrupted for up to an entire year with just one week of antibiotics!  So, if you’re health care provider tells you that you have a viral infection, that means your body will fight it on it’s own and you do NOT need an antibiotic.

Keep your real estate happy and safe! If you need to restock the good residents, read more about it here.

 

Good Guys, Bad Guys, Probiotics, & Prebiotics

Our gut (stomach & intestines) is the brain and master planner of our entire body.  It is like a little factory in there with very important workers!!  We need to take care of our good workers and make sure that the toxic, bad ones do not take over.  Our job on the outside is to take care of our good guys on our inside.  We are the CEO of this company/factory and they rely on us!  With conventional medicine, we are over-prescribed antibiotics.  Many people believe that if they are sick, they need antibiotics.  First of all, if you have a viral infection, an antibiotic is not going to help you get better.  In fact, it will slow your healing and kill off the good guys whose job is to help you heal and be healthy.  If you do have a bacterial infection, antibiotics can be helpful.  They will kill the bad guys, but they will also kill the good guys, especially if it’s a broad spectrum (non-specific) antibiotic like a z-pac.  So the antibiotics are like a machine gun coming into our factory and wiping out as many workers, good AND bad, as it can.  Our gut factory has 500 different species of bugs (bacteria) and TEN times more bacteria than we have cells in our body!!!   That’s A LOT OF workers!!!  And they weigh 4-5 lbs and have about 500 MILLION neurons!

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Postpartum Health

Please click here for healthy postpartum tips!

 

How to Use Exercise to Reduce Your Risk of Dying

     Do you remember the time when incurable acute illnesses & infectious diseases were the main cause of death? With advancements in medicine & vaccines, & changes in lifestyle, this is no longer the case.  Instead, we are now facing an epidemic of

         preventable chronic conditions 

such as diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer and, according to the CDC, 70% of deaths today are caused by lifestyle-related chronic diseases.  This endless suffering is sweeping our nation and accounts for over 85% of health care costs, and $117 billion each year is due to poor physical activity In fact, $147 billion alone was attributed to obesity in 2008, which was over $1,400 more than those of normal weight in 2006. The more we spend on health care, the less we get. In 2005, 133 million Americans were living with one or more chronic illnesses and 63 million were sick with numerous chronic disorders. By 2020, those numbers are expected to rise to 157 million and 81 million, respectively.  What we are doing is not working.  Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) level is a major factor in one’s risk for chronic illness and death, and the gold standard for measurement is VO2max.  Exercise is a key intervention that demonstrates a significantly positive impact to combat the rising numbers of chronic illness and corresponding mortality rates.  The higher the CRF, the lower the risk. Based on my review of 9 primary research articles and one meta-analysis, the evidence was overwhelming in that 30 minutes or less of HIGH-INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING (HIIT) increases VO2max significantly more than 60 minutes of traditional moderate-intensity continuous exercise, such as walking, running, or biking!

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