Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is currently one of the hottest topics in health and wellness.  It is a strategy that has been used for hundreds of years.  Its popularity is well deserved as it provides numerous health benefits, but as with anything it is not always an appropriate strategy to implement.  This article will help to explain some of the benefits of intermittent fasting and also some of the instances in which intermittent fasting would be a poor choice.

Before we get into the benefits of fasting you should know that there are numerous types of fasting.  While we are not going to list them all in this article it can be very helpful to understand why there are so many and what they are trying to accomplish.  Fasting can deal with the following variables:

  • Increasing the number of hours without food
  • Reducing the daily ‘feeding window’, or the time when you are allowed to eat
  • Reducing the number of calories at specific feeding windows
  • Specifying which types of foods you can eat during feeding windows

Some fasts will manipulate many of these variables while others just focus on skipping meals.  Regardless of the exact type of fast, the benefits that you are attempting to achieve are the same.  Many systems in the body begin to work more efficiently when periods of fasting are introduced.  In fact, our bodies were designed to be able to ‘switch gears’ in times of reduced food supply.   After all, food in abundance is a relatively new phenomena in human existence.  This article is not designed to review all the different types of fasting, but rather to explain more about how fasting works, when to avoid it, and things associated with fasting that you need to pay attention to.

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

The benefits of intermittent fasting are evident.  The body has a physiologic response to food deprivation and many of those responses are beneficial.  This doesn’t mean that not eating is the best way to live, it just means the using this as a dietary strategy can provide many benefits to our health.  Here are some of the benefits that you can achieve when you are fasting.

  1. Increases the production of Human Growth Hormone (HGH)

HGH is a hormone that is involved in body composition, cell repair, and metabolism.  Many people have heard about athletes using this illegally to help with muscle gain and recovery.  It is a vital hormone to optimal health and we lose production volume as we age.  Helping keep this hormone active can help support weight loss while preventing muscle loss.

2.   Reduces insulin and improves insulin sensitivity

Insulin is released by your pancreas when blood sugar levels rise.  So, when you don’t eat you don’t release insulin.  This has a secondary effect on your cells.  When less insulin is present in the body the cells become more sensitive to insulin.  This means it takes less insulin to the same job.  This is a really good thing because it means that your pancreas has to produce less insulin when you eat.  The flip side of this coin is when your cells become insulin resistant, meaning there is excessive, chronic insulin in your body and the cells stop accepting insulin.  This is exactly what leads to and causes diabetes.  So, long story short, insulin sensitivity is a great thing!

3.  Burns fat instead of sugar

When you fast you are not putting any carbohydrates of sugars into your body.   Your intelligent body senses this and switches to start burning fat for fuel.  Your body’s main source of fuel is sugar (which carbs eventually become), but when sugar is not available it can make fuel from fat that is stored in your body.  So, fasting makes your body switch to fat-burning in order to keep your body running properly.

4.  Improves cellular health

During periods of fasting it appears that your body begins to ‘clean house’ more efficiently.  A process called autophagy begins to be increased and your body begins to remove waste and recycle cellular parts to create new healthy parts.  Other healthy cells begin to become more resilient and work more efficiently in the presence of less nutrients.  Basically, healthy cells start to work better and damaged cells get recycled and improved.

While all of this sounds amazing it doesn’t mean that we should just constantly be in a state of fasting.  That is one of the biggest problems when something becomes popular in the media.  People always assume that if a little is good, more must be better.  This is many times not the case.  The body does needs constant supply of nutrients in order to achieve optimal health.  The real trick is to know how to implement it as one dietary strategy.   There are definitely times when applying intermittent fasting would not be beneficial to health.  Some of the most common instances of this are listed below.

Bad Times to Use Intermittent Fasting

Poor Adrenal Function

If your adrenal system is dysfunctional, intermittent fasting can make this worse!  One of the jobs of cortisol (a hormone produce by your adrenal system) is to pull sugar from cells and bring it into the bloodstream for quick use.  If you begin to restrict food under these circumstances it is going to put more stress on your adrenal system and never let it return to normal status.  Restoring normal adrenal function should be the priority before turning to intermittent fasting.  In these instances keep blood sugar stable with healthy, low-sugar, whole foods is the best strategy

Chronic Caloric Deficit

I have seen many people in my office who are chronically under eating.  There can be many reasons for this but adding calorie restriction or reduction of feeding windows will only make this problem more intense.  A perfect example is the active person who trains intensely 5-6 days week and doesn’t eat enough calories to support this activity level.  In this situation the body is already lacking the calories that it needs to match output, so adding more calorie restriction would be a poor idea. 

Hormone Dysfunction

When hormones are not at proper levels restricting food can make it worse.  The production and regulation of many hormones can be affected by food intake.  While intermittent fasting can in many instances make hormones work more efficiently, it should not be attempted if you know that hormones are already at poor levels.

Eating Disorders

For anyone who has an eating disorder, concentrating of eating less will only make the problem worse.  The negative consequences of adding intermittent fasting to this situation far outweigh any benefits that may be achieved.

If you think you may fall into one of the categories above it is best that you consult with a healthcare practitioner. Improving those situations first will make a massive, positive impact on your health.

Assuming that you are in a good position to attempt intermittent fasting one of the easiest ones to begin with is a 16-18 hour fast.  This is the easiest to do because it takes advantage of the hours that you are sleeping.  So, simply put, it is really just eating dinner at a normal time (between 5-7pm) and then not eating again until lunch the next day.  Many of us have probably done this inadvertently when we were rushed in the morning and didn’t have time to eat breakfast!  So, you unknowingly completed an intermittent fast.  However, there are three really important pieces of the puzzle that you must consider as well.

1. Restricting feeding windows doesn’t have to mean restricting calories

Just because you spend less waking hours eating doesn’t mean that you should necessarily be restricting total calories.  If you are fasting for 24 hours or more then obviously you will be reducing calorie intake, but a 16-18 hour fast doesn’t mean that you have to, especially if you are an athlete or very active person.  You can still realize the benefit of fasting without dropping your calorie consumption too low.  Just consume the same amount of calories in less time.  This is often time reported as reducing feeding windows, or time that you consume food.

2. The types of food you eat really matter

Gaining the benefits of intermittent fasting and then filling your body with processed and unhealthy foods doesn’t really make sense!  Many of the benefits of the fast will be negated by putting harmful foods into your body after the fast.  If you are using intermittent fasting as a health strategy then you should also be conscience of the foods that eat when you are eating.  Eating whole foods can help to continually promote internal health and boost the benefits of intermittent fasting even more.

3.  Re-feeds can be where the magic is

There is some research that shows the real magic and benefit to fasting comes when you break the fast and ingest food.  Your body is ready for nutrients to assimilate and use more efficiently than ever.  Also, restoring your levels of glycogen (stored carbohydrate, or sugar) will help get your body primed for activity and ready to operate smoothly.  So, paying attention to what you eat and how much eat post-fast can be a very important part of the process.  Don’t think that its all about how many hours you can avoid food.

Hopefully this can help you understand more about intermittent fasting and whether or not you should do it yourself.  As was previously mentioned, there are many different ways to fast so if you are interested in it, begin with a 16-18 hour intermittent fast and then begin to experiment with other types of fasts. You may start by a simple fast once a week and then graduate into multiple times per week.  From there, you can increase the fasting windows and see how you feel.  Just remember that it is supposed to be done to improve health, so if you notice negative symptoms when you attempt it, maybe you are not in a good position to do it.  Best thing is to always consult a health professional to uncover the best fasting strategies for your situation. 

Inflammation Decreases Recovery Potential

Inflammation is the root of all evil.  In fact, we know that it’s a part of every disease process known to man.  The tricky thing is that it can be caused by many different things within the body and if it is present it dramatically hinders the body’s ability to perform properly and recover efficiently.   

Inflammation can come from overuse, trauma, gut dysfunctions, food sensitivities, improper eating patterns, hormone dysfunction, and many other things.  The trick is to figure out if there is inflammation present, what various things are causing it, and what strategies are needed to eliminate it.

Unfortunately, most people only think of inflammation in situations where they can see visible swelling.  A sprained ankle, for instance, creates obvious swelling and the damage is apparent.  If the ankle were to stay swollen for many months it would make you concerned and wonder why it wasn’t healing.  You would probably then take appropriate steps to seek medical advice in order to determine why the swelling remains and what to do to eliminate it.  However, inflammation can be present in your body and causing damage without any obvious signs.   This can be the worst kind because it goes on for months, sometimes years, undetected and causes continual irritation and destruction.  This destruction can show up in many different forms: unhealthy skin, dysfunctional bowel movements, brain fog, painful joints, fatigue, frequent sickness, repetitive injuries, etc. 

One of the most common causes of systemic inflammation is gut dysbiosis.  This is basically just a dysfunction or imbalance of the gut environment.  There are many things that can cause this, but all of them cause gut irritation and increased levels of inflammation.  Some common things that cause gut inflammation are chronic medication use, food sensitivities, chronic constipation, viruses, excessive bacterial growth, infections, inefficient enzyme production, alterations in acid production, as well as many others.  What’s concerning about this list is that many of these are very common.  Most people don’t consider GI symptoms like bloating, constipation, diarrhea, etc., to be anything serious. The reality is that these symptoms are telling you that something is wrong!  And if these are causing inflammation then your ability to recover from workouts and the stressors of life is drastically reduced. 

Another common situation that I see in my office is the dysfunction of the adrenal gland.  The adrenal gland is responsibly for many hormones, but most notoriously for cortisol, which is known as our ‘stress’ hormone.  When cortisol is dysfunctional it can not only promote inflammation, but it can also cause problems with sex hormone function and your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar effectively.  These things can further lead to the promotion of inflammation.  Since our collective stress levels have never been higher in the history of mankind, this is an important area to normalize in the body.  Especially for athletes whose use of cortisol is increased due to the normal stress of training on the body.  Training, by nature, creates inflammation on its own, so it is important to know if your ability to handle and recover from that stress is diminished.

First of all, you should understand that inflammation is actually a good thing.  It is a smart response by the body to kick-start processes that lead to healing and detoxification within the body.  Without inflammation we would not be able to heal.  However, the real problem lies in situations where inflammation is excessive or never turns off, and this is more common than you can imagine. 

I like to educated my clients by using the analogy of a bucket.  Your body can handle a certain level of inflammation without negative consequences.  However, when this bucket of inflammation overflows it becomes too much for the body to handle and symptoms begin to appear (fatigue, brain fog, poor GI health, unhealthy skin, painful joints, recurring injuries, etc).  The goal is to keep inflammation at manageable levels and not let your bucket overflow.  Now consider that you have a dysfunctional gut and you consistently eat poor foods.  Inflammation may never shut off and your bucket may be constantly half full just from poor lifestyle choices.  When you add the stress of training to the mix, your bucket begins overflowing and your ability to train hard is reduced.  If you can identify and remove the things that are keeping your bucket constantly half full, then your training will no longer cause the bucket to overflow.

Recovery is your body’s ability to clean up any damage from the day, rebuild tissue, and hopefully grow stronger and more resilient.  It is mainly done while you sleep, but can be hindered if there are constantly fires that it is trying to put out.  If excessive inflammation is present then your body is using all of its energy trying to remedy those situations and has less energy to spend on recovering, rebuilding, and growing.  This is why a reduction in inflammation can help speed and improve recovery.  Your body now has more energy reserves for the building process.  Again, another analogy to help this sink in.  If firefighters are continually putting out fires in your house you have little time and energy to start rebuilding the damaged areas.  Give the firefighters less fire to put out, they can finish the job, then you have plenty of time to rebuild. 

Remember, your ability to recover greatly influences the gains you can make from training.  This is because you are poorly equipped to spend energy on getting bigger, stronger, and faster, if your body cannot sufficiently recover from the previous training session.

So here are some things that can you do to try and reduce your bucket of inflammation:

Eat healthy

Avoid sugar, processed foods, inflammatory oils, known food sensitivities, etc.  What you put in your mouth is the most important thing you can do for your health. Learn how to do it properly and what works best for you.

Sleep well

This is where you recover most so take advantage of it.   Focus on quality, quantity, and timing of sleep.

Supplement with quality supplements

Things like turmeric, fish oil, resveratrol, boswelia, glutathione, etc.  Just remember to only use high-quality supplements from trusted brands or practitioners.  Otherwise you are probably not getting any benefit.

Optimize your adrenal function

Tests like the DUTCH test can help comprehensively assess your adrenal function.  Find someone qualified to help you.  If you don’t know someone then we will be happy to order and analyze this test for you.

Make sure blood markers are looking good

Obviously, blood labs are one of the best ways to analyze internal health.  Running comprehensive panels instead of standard basic panels can help you analyze your overall health, rather than just look for disease. Find a practitioner who is interested in using blood labs to assess your overall HEALTH status.  Again, if you don’t have one then we would be happy to help you with this.

Manage emotional stress

You’ll never conquer stress completely.  Learn strategies that help you reduce your anxiety and stress.  Everyone is different so find what works for you.  Some ideas are meditation, yoga, gardening, walks on the beach, tai chi, etc. If you feel like the activity helps shut off your brain then it is probably a good thing for you!

In summary, we all know that inflammation is a problem when it is allowed to continue excessively in our bodies.  What we need to realize is that there are many things that can cause inflammation that don’t signal us to a problem as clearly as a sprained ankle.  Uncovering and eliminating other more subtle areas of inflammation allows your body to recover faster and more efficiently.  After all, recover is simply the name of the game!  Improve recovery ability and you can train harder and longer!

The Top 3 Things Your Medical Doctor is NOT Testing

Running labs can be one of the best tools to assess heath or uncover disease processes.  There are countless things that can be scientifically tested and the technology gets better and more accurate everyday.  Most people are surprised to find that some of these tests are even possible and that many health status factors can be tested in the comfort of your own home.  The biggest problem is that most of the labs that are typically run for patients are driven by what can be medicated.  Unfortunately, this only tells us when we have already reached the stage where we have a disease.  Don’t you think it would make more sense to start using lab testing to assess health so that you can avoid the diagnosis of a disease?  Well that’s what we are doing at Momentum!  There are many different tests that we use to help people correct or optimize their health.  Here are three examples of ones we commonly use in our clinic.

1.  Adrenal Status: DUTCH testing

If I asked you to tell me one major thing that impacted people’s health negatively, I’m sure many of you would say STRESS.  And for those of you who said that you would be absolutely correct!  However, most people have never had their adrenals tested accurately.  Cortisol, one of the major hormones produced in the adrenals, is your stress hormone.  Your body uses this to help you respond to stressful environments so that you can ‘run from the tiger‘.  However, in today’s world we never stop running from the tiger.  Accurately testing adrenal function can help uncover a huge piece of the health and/or performance puzzle.  DUTCH testing is the newest and most accurate way to assess adrenal health in a comprehensive fashion.     

2.  Digestive Health: GI-MAP

All of the cutting-edge research is continually uncovering the importance of the GI system in overall health.  The ‘second brain’, which is the new name for the GI system, is one of the most important organs in the body.  Not only is it responsible for the absorption of nutrients, but it is also responsible for immune system health, hormone production and conversion, and many other critical processes.  Ensuring that the GI system is healthy and free of harmful ‘bugs’ is a great way to assess health.  The newest technology is called the GI-MAP test.  This test uses DNA technology to analyze the sample for pathogens such as bacteria, parasites, and viruses.  The testing is extremely accurate and one of the best ways to see if your GI system is compromised.

3.  Organic Acids

One advantage of lab testing is that it allows us to create detailed strategies to correct any dysfunctions.  The organic acids test is a great test to give you a snapshot of what is going on inside the body.  The test we use gives 40+ metabolite markers that help show how efficiently numerous reactions in your body are occurring.  It helps to assess nutritional deficiencies, antioxidant deficiencies, fatty acid metabolism, yeast overgrowths, neurotransmitter levels, and Krebs cycle (energy productions) abnormalities.  This comprehensive test is probably one of the best ways to optimize health and improve function. 

These three tests are just a sample of things that can be scientifically tested to truly get a picture of your health.  Once we start using labs to improve normal function instead of just reacting to disease, we can start to help people feel better and avoid many chronic diseases. 

While these are just a few great tests that we use there are certainly many others.  Click below to learn about other labs that we frequently test with our patients.

LAB TESTING

If you are interested in taking look at your true health status, contact our office today for more information.  We can help determine what labs may be best to run for your specific situation and how we can help you optimized your health and start feeling your best!

Are Your Oils Killing You?

One of the most overlooked aspects of healthy eating is which oils people use in their diet.  While it seems easy enough the rules change a bit depending on how you are using the oil.  In order to learn this it is best to first understand why it is so important.  Oils (and their corresponding foods) are most commonly known for their type of omega, most notably omega 3, 6, and 9.  All of these are typically good for us and serve slightly different purposes.  We probably wouldn’t even need to have this conversation if people had just continued to eat real, whole foods and nothing was processed.  However, that is not the reality that we live in so we must adapt.  One of the biggest things we need to pay attention to is the ratio of Omega-6: Omega-3 in our diets.  Many people have started hearing that Omega-6 fats are bad and we need to only consume high levels of Omega-3.  This is not entirely true.  The reality is that both are healthy, but the modern diet is full of high density Omega-6 oils which skew this ratio greatly towards Omega-6.  The problem with this is that this promotes an inflammatory state in our body.  Having a ratio closer to 1:1 is ideal.  So, the reason that people are told to greatly increase their levels of Omega-3 in their diet (wild fish, fish oils, etc.) is mostly because we are trying to get that ratio close to 1:1 for people who are eating lots of processed foods filled with vegetable oils and Omega-6 heavy foods.  Again, if people only ate real, whole foods then it would probably suffice to just also eat foods with high levels of Omega-3 in them to achieve this balance, and use supplement forms to only increase the benefits of higher levels of DHA and EPA. 

Oils are one of the biggest ways that we add all types of fat to our diet since they are very dense and contain high levels of fat in only small amounts.  So, if we add the wrong types of oils we can quickly take our Omega-6: Omega-3 ratio in the wrong direction.  However, if we use the right oils we can easily bring it in the RIGHT direction!

So, a couple of things we need to consider.

Which Oils Should I Be Eating?

This section pertains to oils specifically that we are consuming without cooking them.  So, oils that we use on salads or poured directly over meals that have already been cooked.  The first rule is that you should stay away from most vegetable oils.  Canola oil is an absolute no-no!  If it is in your house, throw it away!  There is never an OK time to use this oil and will only add to the inflammation within your body.  Two great oils to use that have many notable benefits are coconut oil and olive oil.  It seems that many people use olive oil as a staple in many foods so this might not be new information.  The problem with this oil only arises when you cook with it, which we’ll get to in a bit.  For now, just know that if you are consuming a raw oil stick to the basics and just use one of these 2 oils.  This doesn’t mean that certain forms of various vegetable oils aren’t acceptable, but to keep things easy just stick to these two oils and you’ll get plenty of health benefits.  The only other recommendation in this section is to get organic, unprocessed versions as their health benefits will supersede others.

What If I’m Cooking With the Oil?

Here’s where it gets a bit tricky.  This section depends entirely on the smoke point of the oil.  The smoke point is basically when the oil begins to smoke, which is essentially changing the molecular structure of the oil.  When this happens the oil becomes more unstable in its makeup.  This is important because unstable oils have a much higher potential of becoming inflammatory in your body.  So, if you take a healthy oil and heat it past its smoke point, you are now creating an inflammatory oil!  Not a good strategy.  Your good health intentions have now become health hazards.  Extra-virgin olive oil is a common oil that many people use for all purposes.  While the oil is really good in itself, its smoke point is very low which means you must be careful how you cook with it.  Take a look at this list to see the smoke point of various oils:

Fat

Smoke Point )

Avocado

520

Ghee

485

Olive oil (extra light)

468

Palm oil

455

Coconut oil (expeller pressed)*

450

Macadamia oil

413

Beef tallow

400

Duck fat

375

Lard

370

Coconut oil (extra virgin)

350

Olive oil (extra virgin)

320

Butter

250-300

 

As you can see there is a big difference in smoke point between various oils.  You will also notice that depending on the type you buy, the smoke point can change drastically.  For instance, extra-virgin olive oil has a low smoke point, while refined olive oil has a high smoke point.  The same goes for coconut oils.  So, you really need to pay attention to which one you’re using and have 2 versions in your house, using them according to how you’re preparing your food.

Smoke points are the most important when you are using oils to heat up in a pan before adding food.  This rises the temperature in the oil most dramatically so you must be careful.  If this is how you are using the oil you must use one with a very high smoke point, like avocado oil or refined, organic coconut oil.  However, if you are adding oil to a pan that also has other liquids in it, the temperature will not get nearly as hot, so you can get away with using oils with somewhat lower smoke points.  Start to pay attention to how you’re cooking and this will dictate which oil you can use.  While this may seem like a pain at first, just remember that this alone can determine whether the meal you are eating is helping to promote inflammation or reduce it!

What if an Oil is in the Food I am Buying?

This is where you really need to be careful!  Many companies use only inflammatory oils, like canola oil, in their products because it is cheap to use.  But remember, this oil is a ‘no-no’. It can make a ‘healthy’ product immediately unhealthy.  Sometimes this can become difficult to find.  One common food that is considered fairly healthy, but almost always uses unhealthy oils is hummus.  Start paying attention to labels and you will see.  I tell my clients that they are not allowed to buy a product unless they have read the ingredients label and it has passed the test.  You’ll be surprised how many foods you eat are littered with these bad oils, even though they are passed off as ‘healthy’ food options.  So, if the product you are buying uses canola oil, put it back and keep searching.  Even places like Whole Foods use many of these oils in their prepared foods.  If you tend to get some of your lunches or dinners from their self-service area, read the ingredients they provide for each food and start avoiding the ones that are prepared with canola and vegetable oils.  Again, you’ll be surprised how many products use these harmful oils even at places like Whole Foods! 

Eating healthy doesn’t really need to be that difficult.  We have made food a very complicated topic when all we need to do is start eating more whole foods.  It can really be that simply.  From that point all we need to do is start learning a few more tricks to really make our diets healthy.  Figuring out how to use oils is one of those tricks that can really make a huge impact on your health.  Start your learning process in this world and soon it will become second-nature!

Blood Sugar Levels are NOT All About Sugar

Sugar is getting a lot of attention lately, and rightfully so,  It is creating a health catastrophe.  Diabetes rates are skyrocketing and proper advice is still not reaching the general public.  Diabetes Type 2 is a massive problem, and many times is completely reversible.  Proper advice, if followed correctly, can turn this devastating disease around and completely restore health to an individual. 

However, even for those who don’t have diabetes, proper sugar control in the body can be key to restoring optimal health.  I have had numerous clients whose lab tests show normal sugar levels and who are not diabetic, yet still have problems with blood sugar control.  This often times confuses them.  I implement better sugar control strategies in their program and questions always come: “Why do you think I have a sugar problem when my blood sugar levels are normal in my labs?”  Great question!

It is not always about how your fasting blood sugar levels look.  Remember that this is just a snap-shot in time and how your body looked at the exact moment that blood was drawn.  For better indications of how your body is controlling sugar interiorly we look more to symptoms expressed by the patient.  This can be a huge indicator of a problem yet to come.  It is also important to understand that dysglycemia, or poor blood sugar control, is one of the primary dysfunctions that needs to be addressed in order to normalize the body as a whole.  Excessive fluctuations in blood sugar can negatively affect almost every other system in your body! 

Some of the symptoms that I look for to indicate poor blood sugar control are:

  • Irritation or anger when hungry

  • Increased or decreased energy after eating

  • Cravings for carbs

  • Shakiness relieved by eating

  • Fatigue relieved with food

  • Waking at 2-3am

  • Mood swings

  • Poor brain function

  • Anxiety

These symptoms can mean that someone is constantly riding the blood sugar roller coaster.  These fluctuations cause intermittent spikes in insulin levels, which is the true problem with dysglycemia.  However, this doesn’t always mean that someone is eating high sugar snacks and foods all the time.  In fact, I have had many clients who eat ‘really clean’ and yet still display many of these symptoms.  There are many reasons why this can occur, but let’s just cover a few of them.

Adrenal Dysfunction

The adrenal system is crucial to overall health.  It is responsible for the production of many hormones, but most notably cortisol.  Cortisol is your stress hormone and is released anytime your body experiences any type of stress (physical, chemical, and/or emotional).  The main job or cortisol is to release sugar from cells into the bloodstream so that your body has access to quick energy.  A very useful technique when you need to run from an approaching tiger!  However, in today’s society this response tends to stay on all the time.  So, if this is the case, then no matter how ‘clean’ you are eating, your hormones are telling your body to release more sugar into the bloodstream.  This is why this system becomes critical to address if you want to truly control blood sugar.

Timing of Foods

Sometimes people eat ‘healthy’ foods, but just don’t understand how to pair them.  Fruits are not all bad.  While limiting total fruit intake is probably a good idea you can also use another strategy to slow the release of fruit sugar into your bloodstream.  One strategy I always give my clients is to eat fruits with either a healthy fat or protein.  This is not only good to get more good macronutrients on board, but it also significantly slows the sugar absorption into the blood.  This reflexively dampens the insulin response and does not allow for major spikes in insulin release, which can be the sole factor causing dysglycemia.  And once you get on the blood sugar roller coaster it can make it tough to get off for the rest of the day!  This is why a big bowl of fruit in the morning might not be the best strategy.

Not eating

Many people have a goal of weight loss and the first thing that they think to do is restrict calories.  This is an ancient way of thinking and can many times backfire.  Especially if your are trying to maintain a high level of exercise.  Skipping meals, while it can be a healthy strategy for some, can cause harmful effects in others.  Skipping meals causes your body to rely on cortisol to obtain blood sugar.  And if you are someone who has poor adrenal health to begin with,  you may be making your health worse!  These periods of not eating can cause fluctuations in blood sugar to increase in severity, which puts you back on this blood sugar roller coaster.  The longer you can stabilized blood sugar, the more your hormone response will normalize.  This is why many times the goal is to eat frequently and get to a point where you have none of the symptoms listed above.

Sugar Shakes

Protein shakes have become popular both for their convenience and for their ease in getting many nutrients into the body quickly.  However, a major pitfall often occurs when people add things to these shakes.  You must remember that blending foods and drinking them as liquids speeds there absorption into the body.  This can be a good and a bad thing.  People who add mainly fruits into their shakes in the morning are actually just having a sugar shake.  It would be the same as having a big glass of fruit juice.  It is not only high levels of sugar, but it also hits the system quickly.  And while you are getting protein and other nutrients you cannot take the liberty to also add immense amounts of sugar!  Fruit in shakes should be minimal and only used to add some flavor and sweetness.  Just understand that anytime you drink a food it hits your bloodstream faster, so just be aware of what you are putting in your shakes.

 

While these are just a handful of reasons, you can see why blood sugar regulation is not as simple as just avoiding sweets.  Unfortunately, many of the strategies that people think may be helping their situation may in fact be hurting.  You can also see how people can develop poor blood sugar control even if their diet is void of candy, sweets, and soda.  Overall health can be a bit trickier sometimes.  It is important to begin to learn what strategies may help you for your particular situation.  Once you start to learn the reasons why certain strategies are implemented, then you will know when you can use them and when you should avoid them!  It is not always the best idea to just follow the latest trend or do something just because it worked like magic for friend of yours.  Sometimes this pays off, but other times it makes our conditions worse even though we think we are doing something ‘healthy’.

The absolute best way to figure out what health strategies will work best for you is to do some comprehensive lab testing and work with someone who can understand how your symptoms intertwine with the lab data.  As you can see, sometimes certain lab markers make you think everything is fine, when in reality there is a storm brewing that will eventually cause damage.

For more information on how we can help feel free to call our office.  We would be happy to help get your health back on track!

Pre-Diabetes Mostly Ignored by Medical Doctors

Pre-Diabetes Mostly Ignored by Medical Doctors

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A new study recently published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine states that less than 25% of patients received and lifestyle or dietary advice when labs showed that they had pre-diabetes. Diabetes is one of the most serious and rapidly growing conditions affecting society today. It is quickly becoming out of control and the worst part is that the vast majority cases of Type 2 Diabetes are completely preventable and even reversible if action is taken early on in its development. That’s right, I said reversible! This disease progresses as sugar handling in the body and insulin sensitivity become dysfunctional. Both of these are things that can be changed and improved with the correct advice and lifestyle modifications. The other option, which seems to be the preferred course of action in modern medicine, is to wait until it progresses to full blown diabetes and then just prescribe medications for the rest of the patient’s life. Not only does diabetes cause problems with sugar control in the body, but it also affects almost every other system in the body. Hormone production and brain function are vastly affected by dysfunctions in the body’s ability to tightly regulate sugar. Not only that, but diabetes medications always lead to more medications. Inevitably, blood pressure meds, cholesterol meds, and others to help with associated hormone and mental dysfunction are prescribed to help ‘alleviate’ future complications of a disease that could have easily been prevented.
To make this ‘hit home’ just a little bit more, the OC Register just reported that nearly 50% of Orange County adults have either unreported diabetes or are in the pre-diabetes stage. This is absolutely ridiculous! And studies show that up to 30% of these people will develop full blown diabetes with 5 years. This means that 15% of all Orange County residents will have diabetes within 5 years. Read the full OC Register story at http://www.ocregister.com/articles/diabetes-707589-prediabetes-percent.html
At some point we need to accept the fact that what we are doing is not working. Many disease processes are worsening and becoming more prevalent. Diabetes is just one of them. Autoimmune diseases are growing in number and becoming more common than diabetes. If all autoimmune subcategories are lumped all into one category, autoimmune disease is the most prevalent disease in the world. The BIG question needs to be completely changed! We need to stop looking so hard for new medications to treat the symptoms of worsening diseases. Instead, we need to start spending more research dollars on what is actually causing these diseases in the first place. Autoimmune diseases and diabetes, for instance, are many times created and worsened simply by the foods that we eat. All the new research already shows this, but only functional medicine doctors are applying it. More needs to be done to prevent misleading marketing and to start educating the public on what is really creating so many problems. People can and will make changes if they are actually armed with the correct information. The problem is that Big Pharma and Big Food don’t want you to know the truth. They are making serious money and have no intentions of stopping. However, all businesses are directed by consumer demand. As people start to demand healthier foods and alternative to drugs, big corporations will have to listen. So, start being your own advocate for health. Don’t simply take the advice of the guy in the white coat as truth. Do your own research, ask your own questions, and fight for your own health!

14 Medications to Zero

pillsA few weeks ago I heard a great story about a lady’s return to health that made me both happy and frustrated all at the same time. While checking out at Nordstrom’s the woman that was assisting me took down my email address and noticed that ‘Dr.’ was in the spelling. She continued to ask what kind of doctor I was and when I told her I was a chiropractor her face lit up as she told me how her chiropractor was the absolute best and was the only doctor she currently uses. This, of course, makes me smile, but also begs me to get more information. The explanation of her return to health was really summed up in one sentence. She said, “Two years ago I was on 14 medications and now I am on none!”. 14 MEDICATIONS!!!!! It is almost difficult to believe that someone can continue to be handed prescriptions at a rate so high. She said that she finally sought out this chiropractor because she was not satisfied with the direction of her healthcare and didn’t feel right taking that many medications every day. This particular chiropractor took control of her care and in two years she lost 50 pounds and was able to eliminate 14 medications from her life! That is just plain awesome. Can you imagine the negative side effects that 14 medications have on your system? Not only each individual one, but there also must be some negative interactions between these meds. Now, this story is really not to say how chiropractors are the best thing in the world. This could have been any other healthcare professional, like a dietician, a naturopath, an acupuncturist, or even another medical professional. The point is that she was able to turn her life around so drastically and truly control her own health.
This really made me smile as I walked out of the store, but this satisfaction was quickly joined by a feeling of frustration. Clearing 14 medications from the system and returning the body to a healthy state is a massive victory, but it begs the question of how someone can possibly be instructed to take all these medications in the first place. Was this really the direction that her previous healthcare provider(s) thought was in her best interest?? Surely there were multiple medical professionals who each lent a hand in boosting her prescription numbers. And maybe even 3 or 4 of these medications were given temporarily and not meant for long term use. However, this would still leave the patient with at least 10 daily medications and potentially no planned date for ending their use. Unfortunately, this has become a common scenario in today’s healthcare system; partly because multiple doctors are used to control a patient’s health and partly because many medical professionals rely on medications as their primary tool for ‘health’. Luckily, this patient decided to seek out advice from another health professional whose goal would be to fix things without using a prescription pad. My hope is not that we eliminate the use of all medications as there are extremely useful and necessary in many instances. My hope is that we use them only when other methods fail to provide solutions or if the body just cannot sustain health without them. I’m sure there are many stories just like this, but probably even more people that COULD have stories like this if they decided to finally take control of their own health.