Categories
Functional Medicine Health Concerns

Cystic Fibrosis: A Functional Perspective

If you were told there’s a disease that about 12 million Americans currently carry the gene for and that this same disease affects more than 30,000 children and young adults in the U.S., you’d want to know about it, right? Of course you would, and that’s why you need to know about cystic fibrosis – from a functional perspective.

Understanding Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited disorder that disrupts normal functions of epithelial cells, the cells that line the passageways of many of our most important organs — including the lungs and respiratory system, liver, kidneys, skin, and reproductive system. People with CF have a certain defective gene that impairs epithelial cell functions causing them to experience a buildup of sticky mucus inside the body, often leading to lung damage and chronic coughs. This defect in turn affects how CF patients breath and filter air, digest food, and absorb nutrients in the digestive tract.(1)

According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, currently CF is considered to be incurable, however certain dietary interventions, supplements, and lifestyle habits can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. (2) Fortunately, over the past several decades cystic fibrosis treatment approaches have come a long way. Most people with cystic fibrosis now live a higher quality, longer life! Research shows early diagnosis, improved understanding of the body, and better supportive therapies make living with CF easier and more attainable!

Earlier Diagnosis & Better Treatment

Early diagnosis (which can now be in-utero and infancy) of cystic fibrosis can help prevent complications and certain developmental problems, helping improve a patient’s quality of life. Before screening, children with CF were often diagnosed after becoming severely malnourished with vitamin deficiencies – making it harder on their bodies to recover.

Neonatal CF screenings, newborn screenings and even carrier screenings can be done for early awareness.

Learn More About CF Screenings

For older children and adults, signs and symptoms from the body are tellers that CF is present. These can include:

  • Thick, viscous mucus secretions in the lungs
  • Changes in color and amount of material coughed up from the lungs called sputum
  • Chronic cough, possibly with blood streaking
  • Wheezing
  • Bronchitis
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Asthma
  • Nasal polyps (fleshy growths inside the nose)
  • Weight loss, failure to thrive in infants, abdominal swelling
  • Excessive salt in sweat, dehydration
  • Failure of newborn to pass stool
  • Abdominal pain, flatulence
  • Fatigue
  • Greasy, smelly feces
  • Failure to thrive

Although these symptoms may not be caused by CF, they are still signals from the body that something is at dis-ease within the body and reason to have in-depth (functional) lab work done and interpreted by a Functional Medicine Provider.

Talk to a Provider

“Treatment,” Support & Symptom Management

With the complexity of genetics, gene therapy is something to be cautious of when considering treatment options for CF. As such, there is no “cure” for CF, but there is LOTS of research on positive effects of supportive therapies. With the “advancement” of modern pharmaceuticals, doctors and researchers have started raising an eyebrow to the most common “treatment” medications and have published their negative effects. In this section, we will share our function perspective on all available therapies. As with any therapy, you should speak with your provider before starting any treatment.

Commonly Prescribed Medications

With any medication, it is important to be cautious of how it effects the body as a whole and the long term effects as most modern medications (even super common ones such as ibuprofen) can deplete the body of necessary nutrients and cause other long term symptoms or make the condition worse.

Medications for CF are often inhaled while others are ingested and commonly include the following:

  • Bronchodilators
    • Using certain inhalants or bronchodilators can help restore breathing and keep infections away, as can the use of devices called oscillatory positive expiratory pressure, which increase airflow to the lungs through use of vibrations that help break mucus. (4, 5) Research shows that approximately 50 percent of patients with CF have some degree of bronchial lability (asthma), which a bronchodilator can improve by increasing clearance of secretions from the chest. Bronchodilators are sometimes used in combination with other therapies, like physical therapy, or anti-mucus medications and salt solutions to expel phlegm and offer even more relief.
  • Mucolytics
  • Decongestants
  • Antibiotics
    • In CF, antibiotics are used to fight lung infections and definitely have their place. However, be aware that they kill the good bacteria that regulate the immune system. Antibiotics are like dropping an atomic bomb on your gut.
    • Some of these bacteria are beneficial to our health, while others are not. When we take antibiotics, it kills off all those harmful bacteria (bugs) that are causing your issues. However, it also wipes out all your good bugs at the same time! We need those healthy bacteria in our body because they play a vital role in digestion, immunity, energy production, and they even produce vitamins and minerals for our body.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)
    • Used to improve weight gain and reduce declines in lung function, but can cause gastrointestinal toxicities, cardiovascular risks, renal injuries, and hepatotoxicity as well as hypertension and other minor disorders (5), (6), (7), (8)
    • Common brands of NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Aleve). Celecoxib (Celebrex), diclofenac (Cataflam, Voltaren) are prescription NSAIDs. Aspirin is also an NSAID, but it doesn’t pose the same heart attack and stroke risks.
    • NSAIDs have been linked to many health disorders:
  • Corticosteroids (Steroids)
    • Commonly referred to as steroids (cortisone and prednisone), they are prescribed to CF patients to reduce inflammation in the airway, but Side effects of oral corticosteroids used on a short-term basis include fluid retention, increased appetite, weight gain, insomnia and mood changes.
    • Side effects of oral corticosteroids used on a long-term basis (for more three months) include:
      • Osteoporosis
      • High blood pressure
      • Diabetes
      • Weight gain
      • Increased vulnerability to infection
      • Cataracts
      • Glaucoma
      • Muscle weakness
      • Thinning of the skin
      • Bruising easily

A Better Way to Support the Body when Managing Cystic Fibrosis

Digestive problems caused by CF or CF medication damage can be improved with:

  • Pancreatic enzymes – which are digestive enzymes made in the pancreas that include Amylase (made in the mouth and pancreas; breaks down complex carbohydrates) Lipase (made in the pancreas; breaks down fats) Protease (made in the pancreas; breaks down proteins)
    • Functionally, taking enzymes alone is not going to do much good unless your provider removes foods that may be causing a reaction such as an intolerance or other sensitivity; THEN replaces the missing enzymes, which may also include hydrochloric acid, bile, or digestive enzymes. Because the body, gut, and brain are SO complex yet so connected, it is also important to continue rebuilding the gut flora while repairing the gut lining with foods & nutrients like lacto fermented vegetables, bone broth, beef liver, L-glutamine, etc. and rebalance the system as a whole through lifestyle: meditative prayer, quiet time, sun exposure, movement  and making sure that there’s time for outdoor play. People forget to play and the importance of reducing stress in healing the gut!

Movement & Complementary Therapies

  • Breathwork – breathing is essential for life. Breathing exercises, specifically diaphragmatic breathwork, will increase the strength of the breath – providing the body with more oxygen and better quality of life while also calming the nervous system and reducing stress and inflammation in the body.
  • Twisting stretches – Twists are postures that generally involve moving the shoulder girdle to face in an opposing direction in relation to the hips. There are different twists that target the upper, middle and lower portions of the torso, all having their own unique set of health benefits. Some of these benefits include increased blood flow (which increases circulation), increased cellular detoxification, and promotes healing  – all very important for people managing CF. 
  • Moderate walking, swimming, jumping, and similar activities can improve lymph drainage, blood circulation, air flow, and improve overall quality of life. Our bodies are designed to move!
  • Chiropractic – regular chiropractic care is more about the nervous system than the spine (find a nervous system centered chiropractor near you). By ensuring no interference in the nervous system, chiropractic can not only help minimize the symptoms of cystic fibrosis, but it can also help with pain that is commonly associated with the disease, adding to the quality of life and overall wellness of the individual. 
  • Acupuncture – Acupuncture was found to be effective in decreasing pain complaints in patients with cystic fibrosis. No side effects or complications were reported in relation to the acupuncture treatment! https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15844843/
  • Massage Therapy – Massage and touch are a necessity for CF.  Engaging movement of the upper body with stretches, rocking, jostling, vibration and tapotement techniques can encourage movement of bound congestion and fluids. Incorporate these techniques into a classic session to maximize benefits of massage for pain reduction, stress relief, decongestion, and improved breathing.
  • Lymph & Fascia Work – Fascia (also known as connective tissue) houses the lymphatic system in its Superficial layer. The fascia and muscles need to be flexible, supple and strong to move the lymph through the lymphatic vessels. Fascia also has a faster communication rate than the nervous system! Doing manual lymphatic drainage and fascia maneuvers to eliminate mucus congestion, improves circulation, and oxygen intake!

Nutrition & Herbal Support

  • Eliminate food allergens and foods that increase mucus production, including dairy (milk, cheese, sour cream, and ice cream), wheat (gluten), soy, corn, potatoes, cabbage, bananas, sugar, preservatives, food additives, and excessive salt and meats. 

Test for food sensitivities!

  • Eat more foods that decrease mucus production, including garlic, onions, watercress, horseradish, mustard, parsley, celery, rose hips tea, pickles, lemon, and anti-inflammatory oils (nuts, seeds, and cold-water fish).
  • Eat more foods containing digestive enzymes, such as papaya and pineapple.
  • Avoid refined foods, such as white breads, pastas, and sugar.
  • Eat fewer red meats and more lean meats, cold-water fish, tofu (soy, if no allergy), or beans for protein.
  • Use healthy oils, such as unrefined, high-quality coconut oil or olive oil.
  • Eliminate trans fatty acids, found in commercially-baked goods, such as cookies, crackers, cakes, French fries, onion rings, donuts, processed foods, and margarine.
  • Avoid tobacco.
  • Drink 6 to 8 glasses of clean water daily.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids. Such as fish oil, to reduce inflammation and improve immunity. 
  • Whole food multi-vitamin with trace minerals
  • Digestive enzymes, with meals.
  • Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). For antioxidant and immune activity.
  • N-acetyl cysteine (NAC). For antioxidant effects.

Gut testing to heal the gut!

  • Mullein tea for lung health. Unless otherwise indicated, make teas with 1 tsp. (5 g) herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots. Drink 2 to 4 cups per day.
  • Green tea ( Camellia sinensis ). Standardized extract, for antioxidant and immune effects.
  • Cat’s claw ( Uncaria tomentosa ). Standardized extract, for inflammation, immune and antibacterial or antifungal activity.
  • Milk thistle ( Silybum marianum ). Seed standardized extract, for detoxification support. Milk thistle may have an estrogen-like effect, so people who have a history of hormone-related cancers should use milk thistle with caution. Milk thistle is in the same family as ragweed and may cause allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to ragweed. Since milk thistle works on the liver, it may interact with medications.
  • Bromelain ( Ananus comosus ). Standardized extract, for pain and inflammation. Bromelain may increase bleeding in sensitive individuals, such as those taking blood-thinning medications, including aspirin. Bromelain may also impact how your body metabolizes antibiotics.
  • Ground Ivy ( Hedera helix ). Standardized extract, to reduce mucus production and to loosen phlegm. Ground ivy can be particularly toxic to the liver and kidneys. People who have a history of seizure disorders should avoid ground ivy. You should only take ground ivy under the supervision of a trained herbalist who is working with your physician.
  • Curcumin for its amazing anti-inflammatory properties.

Cystic Fibrosis Main Takeaways

  • Cystic fibrosis affects more than 30,000 children and young adults in the U.S.
  • Research shows early diagnoses of cystic fibrosis can help prevent complications and certain developmental problems, helping improve a patient’s quality of life.
  • The best ways to naturally manage cystic fibrosis include early diagnosis and care, dietary intervention to prevent deficiencies, help with proper lung function and breathing, and physical therapy and movement.

Additional Resources:

Breathing Exercises for Cystic Fibrosis

Fascia by John Wilks

4 Natural Treatments for Cystic Fibrosis

Categories
Functional Medicine Health Concerns

A Functional Approach to Allergies

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Stuffy noses, constant sneezing, itchy eyes and drainage!

Sounds like “seasonal” allergies. But, what exactly is at the root of these symptoms that come with the change of the seasons and what can we do to support our bodies’ natural responses?

 

What are allergies?

When we understand what’s happening during allergy attacks, treating them naturally seems like common sense. First, picture a grain of pollen — it looks something like a spiny sea urchin.

Now imagine this prickly invader entering the nasal passages and latching onto soft mucous membranes. These mucous membranes line our bronchial and nasal passages and contain immune cells, called mast cells, which are loaded with histamines.

Receptors sit on top of these mast cells, and when an allergen trigger — such
as pollen, mold or pet dander — lands on top of the receptor, it alerts the mast
cells, which respond by releasing histamine and other chemicals. The
histamine initiates a series of reactions designed to help the body get rid of the
intruder, including sneezing, watery eyes and itching. For some people,
particularly those with asthma, this reaction may also include swelling in the bronchial tubes that makes it difficult to breathe.

Most allergy “medications” attempt to block the immune system response your body instigates to get rid of the allergen. But, does it not make more sense to strengthen the body’s defenses before it goes into attack mode? Many of the natural remedies discussed in this post are designed to do just that!

Supporting the Body

Although numerous “medications” are available to treat allergy symptoms, a large percentage of the 26 million Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies agree that their symptom relief is often incomplete, and they often have to rely on multiple medications to control their sniffling, sneezing and itching, wheezing, and watery eyes. Additionally, nearly a third of allergy patients think their medications don’t work at all. Pharmaceutical remedies are often expensive and frequently come with unwanted side effects, such as drowsiness, dry mouth, nasal irritation, nose bleeds, and a kind of “mental fog or disconnect,” — more on this to follow.

Before turning to pharmaceuticals for allergy relief, start by supporting the main systems in your body that will fight allergens – the gut, kidneys, & liver!

 

“We see good allergy relief in patients when we work on the liver and gut as well.”

– Crystal, Functional Medicine Provider

Learn more about how a Functional Medicine Pathway can optimize the health of your gut – as well as your liver, kidneys, and other vital organ systems!

While supporting your body’s internal systems directly, you can externally decrease your exposure to unwanted allergens through some practical lifestyle choices:

  • Flush sinus passages after high exposure to allergens such as pollens, dust, and molds like after mowing the yard, raking leaves, a windy day, etc. Products such as NETI POTS provide a simple way of rinsing away pollen grains in the nose and ease congestion from allergies and the common cold.

Studies have found that nasal flushing is an effective way to treat seasonal allergies in children, and markedly reduced their use of antihistamines.

  • Keep your air clean especially in seasons with lots of commercial spraying and farming. Some practical ways to do this is to keep windows up while driving, avoid window fans as they pull allergens in, clean air vents, and using an air filter when needed.
     

Allergy Symptoms

Sneezing, coughing, runny nose, itchy eyes and/or skin, swelling… these are all signs of, yes, allergies, but also that your body is detoxing the pollens, dust, molds, and dander!

Instead of fighting the symptoms, rejoice that your body is working hard FOR you and not against you!

The supplements our providers suggest help support the body/detox pathways, boost the immune system and/or calm the histamine reaction if it’s overstimulated – like a bad allergy season (Southeast Missouri is a prime example of bad allergy seasons… plus, we have bad mold in the air! eek!)

Natural Allergy Support:

  • Nettle – any and all forms
  • Raw local honey (as close to your house as possible)
  • ButterBur – herbal product in capsules
  • Pulsatilla – homeopathic remedy
  • Lemon, Lavender, or Peppermint Essential oils – use as directed; in deep breaths while diffused and mixed with carrier oil to be rubbed on sinus areas
  • Elderberry Syrup
  • PROBIOTICS &, again, working with the KIDNEYS and LIVER to support this

With all lung/sinus issues (congestion, coughs, colds/flu, croup, asthma, cancer, detox, etc.), nebulizing Colloidal Silver and/or glutathione works great!

Natural Anti-Histamines

  • Nettles
  • Bee Pollen
  • Magnesium
  • Quercetin
  • Vitamin C

Natural Sinus Infection Support

  • Andrographics – This is an herb from China and India.  It’s a very strong anti-viral.  Available from Medi Herb and Herbalist & Alchemist online. Great for sore throats and better than any over the counter medicine for sinus infections!

Many sinus infections are fungal in origin and will not respond to antibiotics for this reason as antibiotics are actually fungal-based drugs that can make the infection worse.

Our Favorite Allergy Supplements:

In addition to lifestyle practices during these seasons of higher allergens, supplements can aid the body while under high environmental stress.

Pre-season, load up on supplements such as quercetin, vitamin C, and bromelain. Some supplements we like for this are:

  • D-hist
  • HistaminX
  • AllerMax

If sinus issues are present, try Earthley’s Sinus Saver Tincture – which is a great herbal tincture made with organic nettle leaf, elderberries, turmeric root, black pepper, and dandelion root.

For sinus infections, or if you feel one coming on, try Sinatrol!

And, for lung issues, try Mullein tea or tincture! Mullein is a very common plant and a supreme, safe, and profound respiratory tonic. It helps open the lungs, eases spasms, tightness, and cough, and soothes irritation and dryness.

Conclusion

  • Allergic reactions, including allergic rhinitis and food allergies, have dramatically increased over the last several decades.
  • Common hay fever symptoms can include having a stuffy nose, sinus pain, headaches, fatigue, itchy throat, watery eyes and more.
  • Medications may provide some relief but usually not as well as natural remedies. Plus, they don’t solve the underlying causes.
  • Treating allergies takes patience and a combination of tactics. Start now by removing foods you are sensitive to, eating foods that boost your immune system, managing stress, and incorporating supplements and complementary treatments into your routine!

Resources & Further Reading

Categories
Functional Medicine Health Concerns Maternal & Pediatrics

A Functional Approach to Infertility

There’s no doubt that infertility is a rising problem in today’s society. The CDC finds that about 10 percent of women (6.1 million) in the U.S. ages 15-44 struggle to get pregnant or stay pregnant – and, based on what we see, we would argue the percentage is likely even higher. The reasons are many (and we may never know all of them), but what we do know is that it causes a great deal of added stress on those it affects – physically, emotionally, spiritually, AND financially.

(In fact, when we tried to find accurate info on how much is spent annually on infertility treatments, we kept getting results for ways to finance treatments for infertility.)

The good news is that, in many cases, the body can reverse infertility naturally if given the correct resources.

Getting to the root of infertility

According to the CDC, the term “infertile” is usually applied to a woman who is unable to become pregnant after a year of trying (or 6 months for a woman over 35).

Infertility, like any dis-ease, is simply a sign that something is not right inside the body and needs support. It isn’t a deficiency in fertility drugs or due to a lack of IVF. Fertility is a natural process in the body, but one that the body can turn off if it doesn’t feel it can safely sustain a pregnancy.

Many of us ourselves or know friends who have struggled to conceive and we’ve all witnessed how painful it is to want to have a child and struggle to get pregnant. Thankfully, in almost every case we see, women are eventually able to conceive by focusing on supporting the body with proper diet, supplements, and lifestyle.

There are so many confounding factors that can cause or contribute to infertility, which is why conventional treatment can vary so much in effectiveness — it simply can’t address all the possible causes unique to the individual.

Fertility drugs and artificial hormones of any kind, including birth control, can make the symptoms seem better, but can make the underlying causes even worse and make future fertility more difficult. Hormonal birth control is often prescribed for various hormonal imbalances and their symptoms… but artificial hormones on top of existing hormone problems does NOT make for longterm success.

What Causes Infertility in the First Place?

Infertility can be caused by a huge number of factors: hormone imbalance, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, anovulatory cycles, physical blockage, inadequate hormone production, short luteal phase, lack of luteinizing hormone, high levels of prolactin, and many others.

Poor nutrition often plays a major role, as does exposure to certain chemicals. Age plays less of a role before menopause than was originally thought. While there are many wonderful naturally minded fertility specialists out there, only certain doctors know how to test for and address any of these possible underlying issues. Extreme fertility treatments do work for some, but can be very emotionally and physically exhausting, not to mention very expensive.

The great news is that dietary and lifestyle changes can make a tremendous difference in fertility, and often help with other issues like excess weight, lack of energy, blood sugar problems, skin issues, and insomnia in the process. Even those who choose to undergo conventional fertility treatments can help improve their chance of working by supporting their bodies in natural ways as well.[/vc_column_text]

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How to Reverse Infertility (and Get Pregnant)

This is a simplified overview of the individualized protocols we use when working with women on fertility, but it is also very useful for helping with other hormone issues such as PMS, cramping, fatigue, heavy periods, and other hormone-related problems. It is designed to address all issues that can contribute to infertility aside from a physical inability to conceive.

Dig deep, then zoom out

Step 1: Cycle Mapping

BETTER TESTING MAKES FOR BETTER TREATMENT

When treating women appropriately and effectively with irregular cycles, fertility problems, or who have had an ablation can be challenging because it is difficult to fully ascertain what their hormones are doing and when.

Here at Kingdom, our providers use the DUTCH Cycle MappingTM test, a complete picture of a cycle in graph format that allows for a more accurate and comprehensive treatment program specific to our patient’s situation. We can understand if and when a patient is ovulating, as well as determine why patients are having mid-cycle spotting or hormonal migraines. It helps us get a clear understanding of how our patients’ ovaries are functioning or look further into fertility issues.These answers help us in our goal of individualized, specific medicine!

Step 2: Nutrition & Gut Health

In modern times, many people are undernourished, despite being overweight. The body simply will not allow conception to occur or a pregnancy to continue if it doesn’t have the basic foundation it needs to sustain a pregnancy.

At our office, nutrition is VERY individual to each person, their lifestyle, and current needs. Which is why, oftentimes, it calls for in-depth lab work to see what nutrient deficiencies may be present, food sensitivities that may be causing chronic inflammation, as well as bacteria overgrowths, parasites, or viruses that could be disrupting the patient’s internal ecosystem.

Some basic nutritional ways to help optimize fertility that may or may not be great for you personally, but generally help:

  • Remove processed grains, other processed foods, sugars, and starches from the diet.
  • Obtain more nutrient-dense carbohydrates from vegetables, some fruits, and starchy sources like sweet potatoes and squash.
  • Increase healthy fats in the diet especially from sources like coconuts, coconut oil, olives and olive oil, butter, grass-fed meats, eggs, avocado, and nuts.
  • Get enough protein especially from grass-fed meats, wild fish, pasture eggs, and nuts. This is also important during pregnancy as adequate protein can help minimize the risk of certain pregnancy complications.
  • Eat a lot of vegetables, especially green leafy varieties like lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard, chard, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and similar veggies.
  • Drink enough water. Hydration is important for so many functions within the body, including fertility.
  • Get insulin levels under control. Even if you don’t have Type II diabetes, a high carbohydrate diet often goes hand-in-hand with some level of insulin resistance. Optimizing dietary factors with the above methods will help make your body more sensitive to insulin, which will help production of other hormones and proper function of the body.

For some women, nutrition alone can be enough to support the body for fertility. It is very important to continue these things once pregnant and not stop giving yourself proper nutrition, which is even more vital for the growth of an unborn child!

Step 3: Address Lifestyle Factors

Any doctor, or even a Google search, should reveal that habits like smoking, drug use, and high caffeine intake can severely impair fertility. There are many other lifestyle factors that contribute as well:

  • lack of sleep
  • exposure to harmful chemicals
  • lack of exercise (or too much exercise)
  • high stress levels
  • certain medications or supplements

Most lifestyle factors are also easy to fix with a little effort. The most common lifestyle factors that can increase fertility are:

  • Getting enough, high-quality sleep.
  • Check the nervous system through chiropractic adjustments: Many people don’t think about how important communication is in the body – just like all relationships! Checking the spine for subluxation is a great way to increase the body’s ability to work as it was designed.
  • Minimizing exposure to harmful chemicals: This should be a book in itself, but most women notice improvement from limiting exposure to household chemicals, plastic water bottles, and conventional cosmetic and beauty products.
  • Getting the right amount of exercise:Getting adequate exercise is important for fertility, but too much can have the opposite effect. Most women do well with several hours of recreational activity a week (walking, fun sports, or swimming) and a few weight training sessions. Too much moderate/intensive exercise will keep the body from ovulation if done regularly. While weight loss can greatly help fertility, having too little body fat (below 15-18%) can make the body go into an anovulatory state (not ovulate).
  • Limiting stress:Easier said than done, especially for anyone who is going through the emotions of fertility difficulties! You’ve probably been told that if you can relax, you will get pregnant. While this is certainly not true for everyone, reducing stress is a good idea. Often, the ideas above will help with many of the physical causes of stress, leaving you more time to (hopefully) relax.
  • Checking side effects of medications:Check with your doctor to see if any medications you are taking could impair fertility. Steroids and antidepressants have been known to do so, as well as any other hormone containing or affecting medications.

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Step 4: Herbal & Nutrition Support

While diet and lifestyle alone often reverse infertility, some women notice better or faster results with the aid of natural supplements and herbs.

Supplements

You can’t out-supplement a poor diet, but when trying to heal a condition consider taking these:

  • Cod Liver Oil – look for a wild-sourced, virgin oil.
  • Vitamin C – look for a whole food source (not ascorbic acid) with copper at the core.
  • Folate – Folate (not folic acid) is well known as a necessary vitamin in early pregnancy to prevent complications, but it is most beneficial when taken for several month before the pregnancy as well as during. It is important to note that many people have trouble using the synthetic form, folic acid, and do better with folate or methylfolate (this post from Wellness Mama explains more).
  • Zinc – Very important for cell division including sperm production and ovulation. Best when taken in combination with b-vitamins.
  • Selenium – Helps protect the body from free radicals and protects sperm and egg. Known to help cell division and might prevent miscarriage.
  • B-Vitamins – Deficiency of B-vitamins is common in anyone who consumes large amounts of processed foods, grains or sugars. Optimizing B vitamin levels can increase luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone to improve fertility.

Herbs

Herbs are such a beautiful, helping gift! The following herbs are often recommended for getting pregnant naturally:

  • Red Raspberry Leaf – A well know fertility herb that is also good during pregnancy. It has a high nutrient profile and is especially high in calcium and is a uterine tonic.
  • Nettle Leaf – Has a very high mineral content. It contains lots of chlorophyll and is nourishing to the adrenals and kidneys. It helps reduce stress and is a powerful uterine tonic. Once pregnant, it is great for getting enough nutrients during pregnancy and has a high vitamin K content to prevent hemorrhage. I add nettle leaf to a tea that I drink before and during pregnancy.
  • Dandelion – Contains vitamins A and C as well as trace minerals. The root is beneficial to the liver and the leaf is mildly diuretic. Can help cleanse the body and remove toxins.
  • Alfalfa – Has vitamins A, D, E and K and eight digestive enzymes. Contains trace minerals and vitamin K and is often added to commercial vitamins because of its high vitamin profile.
  • Red Clover – Has a very high vitamin content and contains almost every trace mineral. It has been known to help balance hormones and restore fertility.
  • Maca – A hormone balancing herb that is known throughout the world for its fertility and vitality promoting properties. Good for both men and women to increase fertility, though women should only take between menses and ovulation and discontinue to make sure it is not taken during pregnancy. It is a very potent herb that often has very noticeable effects on fertility. It comes in powder form or capsule form.
  • Vitex/Chaste Tree Berry – Nourishes the pituitary gland and helps lengthen the luteal phase. It lowers prolactin and raises progesterone. For some women, this alone will increase fertility.

IMPORTANT: Do not take any of these herbs in combination with fertility drugs, hormone treatments, or hormonal birth control! As with any herbs, supplements, or medication, consult a doctor or health care professional about your specific case and do your own research!

Conclusion: YES, You Can Get Pregnant If You Are Currently Infertile.

Struggles with infertility can be agonizing for women and couples, but there is hope! Proper diet and nutrition can greatly aid the body in conceiving and carrying a healthy baby (and are beneficial in overall health).

While sometimes medical treatment is necessary, couples should at least consider dietary & lifestyle support first. The above system is also helpful for women wanting to relief from symptoms of PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, heavy periods, or other hormonal problems.

While some testing can be expensive, we highly recommend the DUTCH Cycle Mapping test and a team of functional medicine providers who can review your test and can answer any questions you have.

Categories
Functional Medicine Health Concerns

The Earth & Our Health

Connecting with Nature is Fundamental to Wellness

We have an inextricable relationship with the natural world and our responsibility to safeguard the planet and its inhabitants. In the long run, we can only be as healthy as our planet.

Here, at Kingdom Health & Wellness, we understand that our connection with nature is fundamental. And, as with all of our functional medicine pathways, we draw on established research as well as ancient wisdom to support whole-body health. For example, Ecotherapy, which is a synthesis of ecopsychology and psychotherapy, uses nature-based interventions to promote physical and emotional wellbeing. Research in this field has demonstrated that cortisol levels may decrease by twice the threshold, pain levels may be alleviated by fourfold, and blood pressure may be lowered. Our connection with the Earth is essential to personal and relational wellness—wherever we live.

We value this principle in all of our programs. When we teach Food As Medicine, we discuss the importance of a high quality plant-based diet to promote wellness. While our healing pathways stress the importance of self-care, self-awareness, and group support to bring presence and connection to ourselves and the world around us; we also stress how big of an impact our environment is as well!

As we celebrate Earth Day, let it remind us to take a mindful pause to put ourself in the present moment, encourage us to tend to gardens, walk in our neighborhood, observe the new Spring blooms, and sit outside and practice a few minutes of gentle breathing. Enjoy the opportunity to be in sync with the natural rhythms of nature and the body. We honor, appreciate, and care for the Earth—as the Earth cares for us!

A Healthy Planet Means A Healthy Life

On every Continent we hear heart-breaking stories of people struggling with erratic climate patterns including floods, fires and cyclones. Thankfully, the population is recognizing that our actions have reactions. And, through more conscious and restrained choices when it comes to food, consumer goods and travel, we can influence our environment in a positive way rather than a negative way!

What is less reported but equally threatening is the direct impact that environmental degradation has on every cell in our body. With over 80,000 unregulated toxins unleashed into our environment in such a short period (there were no chemicals in use 500 years ago), we can begin to understand how this impacts on humans who have not evolved to handle such a burden.

Chronic illness on the rise due to environmental toxins

Many integrative practitioners around the globe are reporting an increase in chronic diseases as a direct result of environmental toxins. A new term describes these illnesses as ‘environmental diseases’ – illness which is caused by chronic exposure to toxic environmental chemicals.

In past generations, there were only a handful of people who struggled with allergies and chronic illnesses driven by exposure to toxins. These were the “sensitive” people who did not detox well. But now, with over 50% of both children and adults struggling with chronic illness, it is clear that even healthy people are not able to manage the wide variety of toxins in our extremely toxic environment.  There are more people becoming ill with a wide range of ‘environmental illnesses.’

What are some of these ‘environmental illnesses?’

There are a wide range of toxins affecting the earth. Here is a list of some of the illnesses which can result from chronic exposure to them:

  • Asthma – there’s a lot of pollutants in the earth’s air these days including vehicle exhaust, chemicals, mould and other toxins. People often have allergic reactions to these toxins and this can be an asthmatic reaction. There’s currently a global epidemic of asthma especially amongst children. For example, 50% of the people in the US have some form of asthma and this figure is on the rise (see study here).
  • Cancer – Man-made chemicals including asbestos, PFOA, PFAS, VOCs and alcohol have been shown to cause some types of cancer in some people. Glyphosate used in herbicide has been found to cause Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma by a California court (see report here). Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the US, causing more than 500,000 deaths each year.
  • Mercury poisoning –people usually get mercury exposure from eating contaminated fish or from amalgam fillings which are still being used by dentists in some areas. The issue is the human body cannot get rid of mercury so it gradually builds up inside the tissues. If it is not treated, mercury poisoning can eventually cause pain, numbness, weak muscles, loss of vision, paralysis and even death.
  • Lead poisoning – we ingest lead either by breathing in fumes from lead paint or lead dust – or by drinking water contaminated with lead. Lead can damage the brain, kidneys, liver and other organs. Severe lead poisoning can produce headaches, cramps, convulsions and even death. Lead is found in mother’s milk as it’s stored for decades in the mother’s bones and released like calcium when breast-feeding (not a reason to stop breastfeeding but a good one to detox before getting pregnant). See more info here.
  • Mold Illness or Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) – this illness is sometimes caused when a person breathes in mould from a building which is contaminated by mould. Often the mould combines with other toxic chemicals in the building materials and this creates a ‘super toxin’ which can cause extreme symptoms including inflamed joints, depression and anxiety, neurological problems and gut sensitivity.
  • Immune System Deficiency – chemicals known as PFAS have been used in industries worldwide since the 1950s and have been shown to harm the immune system. PFAS are found in our water systems, the soil, some packaging and some non-stick cookware. These chemicals have been found to cause damage to the liver and the immune system, as well as birth defects in newborns (see info here).

Take the time to care about our Earth

Earth Day offers all of us an important opportunity to take action and make lifelong resolutions that will benefit our children and our children’s children.  Together we can work to prevent environmental destruction and nurture our ourselves and our planet back to an original state of vitality and abundance.

As Dr Mark Hyman says in his book, Food Fix – Transforming Our Food System for Planet & Human Health – ‘The epidemic in chronic illness will be cured on the farm, in the store, in the kitchen, in our schools, not in the doctor’s office.’

Here are our Top Tips for helping your health while also nurturing our planet.

1. Buy from producers who care – find local producers or look for organic and/or terms that reflect these values in food, paper products, hygiene products, cosmetics, cleaning products, bedding, furniture and clothing.

2. Shop local – for anything and everything – less fuel and energy used in transport, fresher and supports your local community (economic health translates to human health).

3. Work with an integrative practitioner – who supports your body’s evolutionary needs and also supports planet health because they see the correlation and affect it has on all human health.

4. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – a time tested program. When you shop at thrift shops you are reducing your footprint by finding another way to gather your clothing and furnishings and not buying new items which are produced in energy intensive ways which often harm the earth.

5. Create your own organic veggie and herb garden – healthy soil sequesters carbon, supports vital ecosystems, grows nutrient rich plants and keeps the earth healthy.  Dr Mark Hyman, author of  Food Fix is getting the word out– ‘Our food system as a whole is the number one solution to climate change.’

6. Source meat from a regenerative farmer who practices “carbon farming” by managing cattle grazing (sheep and goats too) to produce nitrogen-rich soil which sequesters more carbon (and without toxins from industrial fertiliser or pesticides).  The pure and rich soil this promotes also translates to nutrient rich and non-toxic meat… no plastic in our meat please!

7. Work with your neighborhood to use alternatives to toxic herbicides, fertilizers and EMF pollution – for example, use ethernet connections and avoid 5G where possible.

8. Conserve water – the less water you use, the less runoff and wastewater will end up in the ocean. Catch rain water for your yard and garden; use filtered water, spring water, or well water to drink – try to avoid excess plastic when you can.

9. Be conscious of how you travel – walk, ride your bike or take public transport as much as possible. Plus, you can improve your petrol mileage by 0.6 per cent to three per cent by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure!

10. Give composting a try – Globally, we produce millions of tons of waste every year. Yet, only a small amount of our waste is composted and most ends up in landfill. A little known fact is that food waste is the third largest contributor to greenhouse emissions after the United States and China. So, if more of us composted our food waste, it would help curb climate change while providing remineralization in the soil AND great fertilizer for your plant, veggie and herb gardens.

Categories
Functional Medicine Health Concerns

Supporting Healthy Blood Pressure Levels

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/6″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]Elevated blood pressure predisposes individuals to cardiovascular disease and
increased risk of cardiac events, including stroke and myocardial infarction (heart attack). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as of 2021, the prevalence of hypertension increases with age, with a rate of 22.4% among adults aged 18 to 39, a rate of 54.5% among those aged 40 to 59, and a rate of 74.5% among those aged 60 and older.

Primary or essential hypertension has no direct identifiable etiology, although genetics, suboptimal dietary intake, and other factors, such as sedentary lifestyle and obesity, are believed to be involved. In contrast, secondary hypertension is caused by other disease processes, including renal or endocrine pathophysiology.
Patients may unknowingly begin to trend toward hypertension without any overt
symptoms before diagnosis. This highlights the importance of regular blood pressure monitoring. When present, symptoms may signify more severe hypertension, and include headache, fatigue, vision problems, chest pain, and arrhythmia.

Nutrition and lifestyle intervention serve as important facets of care in preventing and ameliorating hypertension. You can lower blood pressure through the maintenance of healthy weight, increased physical activity, stress management techniques, and adoption of a heart-healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet.

Additionally, nutrients that support vasodilation, healthy endothelial function, and blood pressure regulation can be emphasized through diet or supplementation.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”2025″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” onclick=”custom_link” img_link_target=”_blank” link=”https://kingdomhealthcape.com/2021/05/a-functional-approach-to-high-blood-pressure/”][vc_column_text]

Action Steps to Support Healthy Blood Pressure Levels

Lifestyle Intervention

  • Regular physical activity to support healthy cardiovascular function and a healthy body mass index (BMI).
  •  Stress management practices, such as breath work, meditation, and yoga to
    modulate sympathetic response and tone.

Therapeutic Diet and Nutritional Considerations

  • Consumption of a heart healthy diet such as the Mediterranean diet or dietary
    approaches to stop hypertension, also known as the DASH diet.
  • Support blood pressure levels through intake of magnesium- and potassium-rich foods:
    o Spinach
    o Kale
    o Swiss chard
    o Pumpkin seeds
    o Almonds
    o Beet greens
    o Quinoa
    o Black beans and lima beans
    o Tuna and salmon
    o Dark chocolate
    o Avocado

Supplement support based on practitioner guidance:

  •  Hibiscus tea
  • Hawthorne extract
  •  CoQ10 with lipoic acid
  • Magnesium Taurate

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Final Thoughts

Functional medicine aims to focus on the cause of a medical condition rather than the symptoms. Conventional medical approaches can be quick to use drugs to control the associated symptoms rather than solving the underlying issue which can cause further issues in the long-run.

For example, high blood pressure is sometimes a result of poor eating habits or lifestyle habits such as smoking and drinking. A functional medicine approach looks for the underlying cause and will include a range of different tests to determine what is going on.

The practitioner will consider the full medical and lifestyle history of the individual and use a patient-centered approach. There can be a wide range of triggers for high blood pressure including environmental and genetic causes.

Low levels of certain vitamins such as vitamin D and C, for example, can impact blood pressure and cause raised blood pressure levels. Exposure to high levels of mercury can have a similar effect. Low levels of potassium in relation to sodium also leads to high blood pressure. If someone is pre-diabetic they may have high blood sugar levels and a predisposition to chronic high blood pressure.

The cause of high blood pressure is often different for each individual and, where conventional medicine provides a one size fits all solution, the functional medicine approach looks for the unique factors that are causing the condition.

If someone is suffering from inflammation, for example, their high blood pressure may be a result of that particular health problem. Treating the inflammation and reducing it can in turn result in an improvement in terms of the patient’s blood pressure.

Lifestyle interventions make a huge difference to many chronic conditions we suffer from in the modern world, including high blood pressure. For one individual that could mean adding more foods high in potassium. For another, it might be reducing weight and living a less sedentary lifestyle.

While we recommend the action steps stated above to support a healthy blood pressure, we can not emphasize enough how important it is to talk with a functional medicine provider to create a personalized pathway to restore healthy blood pressure!

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Categories
Functional Medicine Health Concerns

How to Heal Your Thyroid

 

What Does the Thyroid Do?

The thyroid produces two thyroid hormones (T4 and T3) and calcitonin (which helps to lower calcium and phosphate levels in the blood by helping the bones absorb more calcium).  The thyroid hormones are essential for metabolism, as well as normal growth and development. They influence every cell in your body. They maintain the rate at which your body uses fats and carbohydrates, help control your body temperature, influence your heart rate, and help regulate the production of protein.

Unfortunately, most doctors focus on the individual hormones instead of the nutrients and processes that make those hormones. Thyroid dysfunction is a symptom of a much larger, whole body issue. It is just one piece of the puzzle.  Medicating the thyroid is a bandaid, and is not actually addressing any of the underlying issues going on.

The regulation of the thyroid hormones depends on the relationship between the anterior pituitary and the thyroid gland.  The pituitary secretes the thyroid stimulating hormones. This is why the HPA axis is so important in our health and why we can’t just focus on one part of the body. The HPA axis is the hypothalamus/pituitary/adrenal axis. If the HPA Axis is under stress, then the HPT axis is under stress as well- they are connected, and the HPA axis tends to take precedence. You cannot heal the thyroid if your adrenals aren’t healthy.

Gut Healing and Thyroid Health

The gut is one of the first steps to address in healing from any illness. The gut encompasses so much – digestion and nutrient assimilation, gut microbiome, gut/brain axis, and lots of inflammation can stem from the gut!

Stomach acid is so important for utilization of the nutrients needed to support a healthy thyroid, especially copper, iron, potassium and more. When our gut is out of balance, it can increase inflammation in the body which will stress out our HPA axis (and HPT axis). The conversion of thyroid hormones also depends on a healthy microbiome.[/vc_column_text]

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Liver Healing and Thyroid Health

The liver has hundreds of functions in the body. If it is not happy, then lots of things can being going wrong in the body and many processes start failing. Regarding the two thyroid hormones – T4 and T3, T3 is the ONLY form of thyroid hormone that the cells can use. T4 must be converted to T3 before it can be used by the cells. Guess where that conversion takes place?  Yep, in the liver! Thanks to the state of our food and environment, so many people have sluggish lovers because it gets sluggish when we have nutrient deficiencies, chronic underlying infections, and if we have lots of toxins.

Some of our favorite liver healers are castor oils packs, herbal infusions, bitter herbs like dandelion root, bioray liver life and liver detoxes.

There’s also high amounts of autoimmune thyroid issues these days (caused mostly by underlying infections like Lyme and EBV), but also from inflammation from many causes, including gluten and caffeine.

Avoiding gluten, processed foods, and goitrogenic foods like soy, can also help the thyroid. Focusing on a whole foods, organic diet with healthy fats and proteins is essential.

There’s a lot of focus on iodine for thyroid health but in isolated form, it can cause problems for some people. So, unless recommended by your practitioner, it’s best to get it from a good, clean source of sea veggies. Maine Coast Sea Veggies is a great brand!

Selenium is also a very important factor in thyroid health. A Brazil nut a few times a week will cover your selenium needs!

Recap:

There is a lot to thyroid health!

Balancing minerals, replenishing other nutrients, healing the gut, and healing your liver are imperative for healing the thyroid.

Addressing any underlying infections or toxicities will help as well.

Since there are many variations in thyroid dysfunction, fixing the thyroid will be different for most people.

Here are some things you can do now to help your thyroid:

  • Cervical spine chiropractic care
  • Addressing trauma’s and feeling “heard”
  • Addressing oral health such as amalgams & root canals as these are a direct download to the thyroid.
  • Nourish your body with minerals through whole food, natural sources.
  • Avoid taxing toxins & toxicants such as BPA, bromine, mercury, and lead. As these all compete with the receptors for iodine thus inhibiting thyroid hormone production!
    • Cans
    • Strawberries (conventional)
    • Tuna
    • Lead
    • Pesticides
    • Herbicides

Need More Help?

Specific Testing & Working with a Provider

More sources for thyroid healing:

Dr. Brad Shook has many great videos about thyroid health, like this one!

Liver thyroid connection

Gut thyroid connection

Gut thyroid connection: Dysbiosis and Thyroid Dysfunction

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Categories
Functional Medicine Health Concerns

Staying Well This Flu “Season”

With the seasonal changes that come with fall and winter, it is important to aid our immune systems to prevent catching any viral or bacterial infections that prevent us from enjoying all the holiday festivities!

How Did the Flu Become a Season?

Flu season, commonly known as the time of year when people are most likely to get sick from a strain of influenza. Like Summer and Winter, the flu “season” is known across all cultures. Imagine living in a completely different part of the world – would there be a flu season? After a quick online search, it is apparent the idea of a  flu season exists in Europe, Asia, South America, and continents across the world. Does this global virus blow in with the cold winds of winter? How exactly does a virus come to have its own season? Let’s go back to the roots of this virus’s globolization.

Right after World War I, the flu “pandemic” of 1918 spread across all countries involved and was first identified in the U.S. in soldiers after returning from the war. The virus traveled with military personnel from camp to camp and across the Atlantic, and at the height of the American military involvement in the war, September through November 1918, influenza and pneumonia sickened 20% to 40% of U.S. Army and Navy personnel (1).

While popular media called it the “Spanish Flu” that killed more than World War 1, this illness was not isolated to Spain and there is no reliable evidence to support these news headline claims. What we can deduce based on medical records is that vaccinated soldiers contracted the virus which most often led to a fatal pneumonia (2).

From 1916 to 1920 mentions of war in three prominent medical journals far exceeded mentions of influenza.

Alas, this viral infection is now present all around the globe and, like other viruses, can be spread by the coughing or sneezing of an infected person (3). But, people cough and sneeze year round – so, why does it appear that influenza is seasonal? 

A common misconception is that the flu is caused by cold temperatures. Colder weather is not a cause, but a contributing factor to lifestyle. During the winter months, more time is spent indoors, less fresh foods are consumed, and there are more gatherings in close quarters.

A Season of Weakened Immunity

The shorter days of winter already result in less sunlight. This contributes to a decreased ability of the body to make pre-hormone “vitamin” D and melatonin. These low nutrient levels compromise our immune systems, which decreases our ability to fight infections.

Around the end of October, as the weather officially changes, so does the average diet. From Halloween to New Years, stress and consumption of sugar increase. This, combined with decreased sun exposure and outdoor activity, is a major factor in why the risk of being infected with influenza increases during the winter months. 

This is good news! Because we are in control of our lifestyles, we can actually boost our immunity during these times and say good-bye to flu “season!”  [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

How to Reduce Your Chances of Catching the Flu

When it comes to preventing illness, we can try our hardest to “avoid” coming into contact with viruses and bacterias and still fail. Most people encounter roughly 60,000 germs a day (3). Germs are actually a vital part of our immune system – they help keep it strong! Try thinking of these germs as your immune system’s workout regime. We don’t want to eliminate all germs – then our immune system would grow weak from never getting its “work out.” We also don’t want our immune system constantly working – can you imagine working out constantly and never getting a break? This is exhausting and doesn’t make us stronger at all! Strength happens with both exercise and REST. It is a beautiful balance our immune system must have to stay strong.

Don’t exhaust yourself trying to avoid germs. Rather, use common sense to keep a healthy balance of coming into contact with a variety of germs – exercising your immune system, and allowing your body to rest!

Supporting the Immune System

The best way to prevent getting sick and missing out on the joys of the fall & winter season is to support the immune system! This way, when the body is infected, it takes a shorter time to fight it rather than spending weeks feeling awful.

Crystal’s Tips for Supporting the Immune System:

1) Eat REAL Food

When we say real food, we mean food grown and consumed as it was designed – limiting over-processed, nutrient-stripped foods. Focus on eating whole plant foods grown in nutrient-rich soil that are grown in your local area!

In Cape Girardeau, our local farmer’s markets go into the fall months of October and November. When winter comes, we still have access to fresh, local foods grown by greenhouse farmers and sold at local markets or straight from the farm! Of course, if you can’t find local farmers or markets in your area, try to source organically grown whole foods from your closest super market. Organic doesn’t always equate to nutrient-rich, so be mindful. An organic toaster pastry is still a toaster pastry. Whole, REAL foods support the immune system with their nutrients, while processed foods weaken it (4).[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

2) Reduce GMO’s and Artificial Ingredients

When consuming more REAL foods, the intake of artificial ingredients naturally lessen. However, genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) are found in both processed foods and whole foods.

Genetic modification involves the transfer of genes from one species of plant or animal to another, using techniques that can cause mutations in the genome that may have unintended consequences for the crop’s safety. (5) The imprecise rearrangement of genes can create new proteins in these plants that may trigger allergies or promote disease. (6) Our immune systems often do not recognize these new proteins and may mount an immune attack against them if they enter our bloodstream intact.

These unintended gene transfers, along with those that are intended, can lead to significant changes in gut and immune function, and may have long-term consequences that are not yet known to the scientific and medical communities.

When it comes to food additives, there is accumulating evidence from nonhuman laboratory and human epidemiological studies suggesting that colorings, flavorings, and chemicals deliberately added to food during processing (direct food additives), and substances in food contact materials (including adhesives, dyes, coatings, paper, paperboard, plastic, and other polymers) that may come into contact with food as part of packaging or processing equipment but are not intended to be added directly to food (indirect food additives) may contribute to disease and disability in the population such as immune response (7).[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

3) Nourish the Body

When it comes to nourishing the body, add variety! A variety of movement, expression, active rest, and even a variety of foods. Unless we have in-depth testing done frequently, it’s hard to know what exactly our bodies need. However, if we consume a variety of nutrients through our food, then our body has access to whatever it may need!

Add variety through different meals, use different spices and herbs, try a new skill, read a book, enjoy a new essential oil, or go for a hike in a new place! Variety truly is the spice of life and it’s essential to nourishing the body!

4) Heal the Gut & Liver

We can eat all the nutrient-rich foods consumable, but it does us no good unless our bodies are able to absorb them. This is why it is SO important to heal the gut and the liver. Your gut’s influence over your health cannot be overstated. The trillions of microbes and colonies located in your microbiome are the manufacturers and managers of how you look, feel, and think. It makes up 70-80% of your immune system, produces a large amount of your “happy” neurotransmitter serotonin, and contains 10 times more bacterial cells than you have human cells!

The liver is always communicating with other digestive organs, receiving information about the level of available nutrients or the presence of threats like prescription medications, heavy metals or toxic substances. As the main organ involved in detoxification, it’s the liver that recognizes toxic substances and converts them into harmless material that can be released. As described in the World Journal of Hepatology in a 2017 article, “Beyond the metabolic functions, the liver recently has been defined as an organ of immune system (IS) … The liver keeps a delicate balance between hepatic screening of pathogenic antigens and immune tolerance to self-antigens.”

The gut barrier’s job is to allow nutrients out into the bloodstream while keeping pathogens and toxins safely locked inside the gut.When bad bacteria, LPS toxins, and other harmful compounds attack, they damage the gut barrier and escape into the bloodstream. From there, they can reach any part of your body and do even more harm.

The gut and liver do A LOT for us. Here are some things we can do for them:

  1. Reduce their burden through diet (ie. follow tips 1, 2 & 3)
  2. Follow Dr. Axe’s tips on liver health & gut health
  3. Schedule an appointment with Crystal or talk with your medical provider!

5) Support the Lymphatic System

The Lymphatic System is a critical part of the immune system, vital for protecting us from illness and damaging, disease-causing inflammation. Essentially, the lymphatic system is the the body’s inner “drainage system,” a network of blood vessels and lymph nodes that carry fluids from tissues around the body into the blood and vice versa.

The best way to protect the complex series of criss-crossing lymphatic vessels and “nodes” that span almost the entire body (every one except for the central nervous system) is to eat a healing diet (refer back to tips 1, 2, & 3), exercise and take steps to detoxify the body naturally such as massage, foam rolling, and infrared light therapy.

6) Get Outside and Enjoy Lots of Sunshine

Did you know that us Americans spend 90 percent of our lives indoors? Between commuting to and from our jobs, spending likely over eight hours a day working and going about our normal daily business, we see nature more on our TVs than we do in real life.

Not only is that a depressing statistic, but there are real health benefits of being outdoors that we’re missing out on when we’re confined to our homes and office buildings. Research suggests just 120 minutes (that’s two hours) per week is associated with good health and wellbeing. From improving our moods to feeling more relaxed, being outdoors is something we all could use more of.

Aim to spend 10–20 minutes of unexposed time in the sun daily (between 1,000 and 10,000 international units). The range is so wide as it depends on the time of year, how far from the equator you live and how much skin is exposed. If you have lighter skin, less time is needed. If you have darker skin or live farther north (in the Northern Hemisphere, like Boston), you need about an hour of sun in the summer to get about 1,000 IUs of vitamin D.

Struggling to figure out how you can add the health benefits of being outdoors into your lifestyle and spend more time outside? It’s not as difficult as you think.

Exercise outside. Take your yoga sessions to the backyard or skip the treadmill and visit the park instead.

Take a walk. Break up the mid-afternoon slump with a short walk outside, or go on a walk as you chat on the phone.

Eat outside. Enjoy a change of scenery and eat your meals outdoors.

Embrace seasonal activities. Cold outside? Play in the snow, head to the park or go for a brisk walk. Warm out? Try hiking or going to a swimming hole!

7) Laugh!

What’s one way you can hack your brain chemicals to boost your happiness? It’s as simple as laughing more.

Studies have found that people who laugh often benefit from stronger immune systems, more social support, boosts in their happiness and mood, diminished pain, protection against many diseases tied to stress, and even a longer, higher-quality life expectancy.

Not only does it feel good to laugh out loud, but it can lead to stronger friendships, and is even considered “natural medicine” for both your physical and mental health.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Acute Illness Items to Keep on Hand

Contrary to popular belief, a strong immune system does not mean never getting ill. We know how to limit our risk of viral infections and how to support our immune system, but what should we do when we do get ill? Continue to support the body with herbal remedies and supplements!

Crystal’s Recommendations:

Earthley Elderberry Elixir

Earthley Feel Better Fast

Whole-food Vitamin C: Earthley Immune Aid, Pure Radiance, and Berry-C

P.S. Did you know we carry Earthley products in house!? If you’re in a pinch, call our office and hopefully we can share some of our inventory with you!

Make Your Own Fire Cider

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Prepare your roots, fruits, and herbs and place them in a quart-sized glass jar. If you’ve never grated fresh horseradish, be prepared for a powerful sinus-opening experience!
  2. Pour the apple cider vinegar in the jar until all of the ingredients are covered and the vinegar reaches the jar’s top.
  3. Use a piece of natural parchment paper under the lid to keep the vinegar from touching the metal, or a plastic lid if you have one. Shake well.
  4. Store in a dark, cool place for a month and remember to shake daily.
  5. After one month, use cheesecloth to strain out the pulp, pouring the vinegar into a clean jar. Be sure to squeeze as much of the liquidy goodness as you can from the pulp while straining.
  6. Next comes the honey. Add and stir until incorporated.
  7. Taste your cider and add more honey until you reach the desired sweetness.

Share Your Thoughts!

Have you tried any of these tips or recipes? We would love to hear from you! Share with us on social media or in the comments below!

Categories
Functional Medicine Maternal & Pediatrics Women's Health

Top 10 Things To Promote Breast Health

Empower yourself and the women in your life with these top 10 ways we can support breast health.

 
This October and going forward, take control of the things you CAN control… because we believe breast cancer doesn’t have to be 1 in 8.?
 

10 Tips for Breast Health from our provider Taylor:

?1. Regular self-breast exams

See our last post for a how-to picture or ask your doctor/mom/trusted friend to teach you! 
You know your body best – don’t forget to check in on it. If we do regular (weekly or bi-weekly) breast exams, we will be able to catch an unfamiliar lump WAY sooner than if we just wait to get an annual breast exam or mammogram by our physician.
 
 

?2. Diet

Whole, real foods. Avoid grains, sugars and vegetable oils. Get food sensitivity testing done if needed!

This focus becomes so important because breast cancer has increased dramatically over the past few decades.

Whereas one in 20 women had it in the 1960s, today that number has risen to one in eight women. According to The American Cancer Society, over 40,000 women will die from breast cancer in 2025.

These and other statistics suggest environmental factors are driving cancer. What we eat, toxins, chronic stress, sleep deprivation, and other problems in modern-day society become catalysts to increase breast cancer risk.

Through Functional Medicine, we consider the factors that increase breast cancer risk and then eliminates them. From that perspective, we can literally change the soil in which cancer grows.

According to Dr. Hyman, imbalances in seven key systems in your body contribute to breast cancer and every other disease. Among these seven key systems include hormonal imbalances such as high insulin levels that eventually create insulin resistance.

Sugar, along with refined grains, becomes the driver behind high insulin levels. Every time we eat sugar, we raise insulin levels, which make cancer cells grow and promote inflammation – which is made worse with processed vegetable oils. It’s literally like adding fuel to the fire.

High insulin levels also increase estrogen levels. High estrogen levels correlate with increased breast cancer risk.

Sugar, especially as high-fructose corn syrup and other processed carbohydrates, surges our insulin levels, increasing estrogen in the bargain.

Put bluntly: Every time we eat sugar, we increase our risk for breast cancer.

Increased insulin also means our body becomes really good at storing fat, and a vicious cycle ensues as our insulin and estrogen levels stay cranked up. Studies show excess body fat increases our risk for breast cancer.

When someone is deprived of sugar and then injected with radioactive sugar, that sugar goes right to cancer cells, which triggers insulin, inflammation, all while feeding the cancer cells. Cancer cells love sugar.

To become proactive and prevent or reverse breast cancer, you absolutely want to eliminate sugar. For breast cancer patients, we recommend going cold turkey on sugar and processed foods.

 

?3. Avoid estrogen mimicking chemicals

These are found in beauty products, processed canned foods, plastics, commercial soy products, birth control pills, and unfiltered water.

Diet plays a major role in breast cancer, but so do other factors like environmental toxins. The most damaging ones include estrogen and substances that mimic it, which we call xenoestrogens.

Xenoestrogens bind to estrogen receptors that activate estrogen, stimulating cancer pathways. In fact, these estrogen mimickers are 1,000 times more powerful than estrogen, and they react synergistically.

To lessen our exposure to these toxins, choose filtered water and organic food; Always opt for high-quality meat sources like wild salmon and grass-fed beef; Become more aware about how things like household cleaners and cosmetics can increase your toxic load at the EWG.

 

?4. Supplement with antioxidants

such as black seed oil and black cumin!

The amount of healing properties provided by life on this earth will never cease to amaze us! Plants such as herbs, roots, fruits and vegetables are packed with micronutrients, phytonutrients, and essential minerals to aid and repair our bodies.

Antioxidants are plant or phyto-chemicals that protect your cells and tissues from damage caused by electrically charged molecules, a.k.a. free radicals. Cell and DNA damage is at the root of most diseases – including: autoimmune disease, cancer, and chronic inflammation. Antioxidants act like natural sponges, mopping up these free radicals to protect your cells and DNA from damage. This is why it is so vitally important to get as many antioxidants into your body as you can.

Antioxidants can be found in fruits and vegetables as well as herbs. You can ensure you’re getting these cancer preventing photo-chemicals in supplements – our provider Taylor recommends Black Seed Oil or Black Cumin! Talk to us about which brands we love and trust to ensure you are getting a high-quality supplement to aid your body!

 

5. Ditch commercial deodorants

that contain aluminum, parabens, & estrogen mimicking chemicals which increase your risk of breast cancer.

We want to avoid any deodorants with toxins such as aluminum, p-dichlorobenzene, and/or phthalates. We can’t recommend any certain brands – you can also make your own as it is the most effective and affordable. This also ensureds knowing that there are no hidden ingredients and our skin is being protected from toxins.

 

?6. Undergarments

underwire and snuggly bras restrict circulation and lymph flow. Opt for a bralette or wire-free option.

Aside from helping us look good and giving us support, how many of us have thought about how bra wearing affects our breast health?   The fact is women of all breast sizes who wear bras, especially for extended periods of time and especially bras with underwires, are negatively impacting breast health.

Bra wearing confines and constricts the breasts, reducing lymphatic drainage.  It is very important to have optimal lymphatic drainage to remove the toxins from the breasts that contribute to breast congestion and inflammation.  Estrogen is produced in the breasts and fat cells and if the lymph system is clogged, the breast environment becomes stagnant and unhealthy, leading us down a path none of us want to go down.

According to the book Dressed to Kill: The Link Between Bras and Breast Cancer, women who wear bras more than 12 hours a day have a 1 out of 7 risk of developing breast cancer.  While women who wear bras less than 12 hours a day have a 1 out of 52 risk, and women who never wear bras have a 1 out of 162 risk.

Over 85 percent of the lymph fluid flowing from the breast drains to the armpit lymph nodes (also why it’s not helpful to block this detox pathway with antiperspirants). Most of the rest drains to the nodes along the breastbone. Bras and other external tight clothing can impede flow. The nature of the bra, the tightness, and the length of time worn, will all influence the degree of blockage of lymphatic drainage. Thus, wearing a bra can contribute to the development of breast cancer as a result of cutting off lymphatic drainage, so that toxic chemicals are trapped in the breast.

Does this mean we should stop wearing bras? Not necessarily. If you do choose to wear a bra, avoid bras with underwires and make sure you get a proper fit! This makes a HUGE difference in circulation and lymph function.

 

? 7. Avoid medications that impact hormone levels

such as HRT (synthetic hormone replacement therapy) or birth control pills. There are other alternatives out there such as cycle mapping! If you use birth control as a method of hormone balance consider a bioidentical option such as BioTE.

Conventional treatments for hormonal imbalances typically include synthetic hormone replacement therapies, birth control pills, insulin injections, thyroid medications and more. Unfortunately, for the majority of people suffering from hormonal disorders, relying on these types of synthetic treatments often does three things:

  1. It makes people dependent on taking prescription drugs for the rest of their lives in order to keep symptoms under control.
  2. It simply masks the patient’s symptoms, but doesn’t solve them, which means that the patient can continue to develop abnormalities in other areas of the body while the disorder progresses.
  3. It potentially causes a higher risk for serious side effects, such as stroke, osteoporosis, anxiety, reproductive problems, cancer and more.

Is it possible to balance hormones naturally? The good news is: yes, in many cases it is. At our office, we address root causes of hormonal problems, as well as provide treatment options to help you balance your hormones naturally.

 

?8. Exercise

daily movement increases circulation and lymph flow. Rebounding!

Regular, moderate exercise supports cellular health and the cellular process of autophagy, which is the recycle and cleanup of old or damaged cells. We CAN NOT recommend daily movement enough! Go for a walk, garden, turn up your favorite music and have a dance party while you clean… just move your body!

A new study adds to existing evidence linking physical activity with longer survival in women diagnosed with high-risk breast cancer.

Women who engaged in regular physical activity before their cancer diagnosis and after treatment were less likely to have their cancer come back (recur) or to die compared with those who were inactive, the study found.

Studies show regular exercise can decrease your breast cancer risk. Exercise improves insulin sensitivity, helping you balance estrogen and maintain a healthy body weight.

Just like in nature, where there is stagnation – there is disease.

Be sure to move everyday!

 

? 9. Decrease & manage stress

we recommend certain adaptogens, prayer/meditation, and other creative, calming outlets.

Studies connect chronic stress levels with increased breast cancer risk. Whether you opt for meditation, stretching, deep breathing, walking barefoot in the grass, or another de-stressor, find something that works for you and do it.

 

? 10. Quality sleep and good sleep hygiene

effects the body’s ability to repair itself and fight off disease!

Studies show an inverse association between sleep duration and breast cancer risk. Listen to your body or aim for eight hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep every night.

Find our top sleep hygiene tips here!

When it comes to cancer – and really, optimal health – we’re all in this together. We can all learn from each other. If you’ve found ways to reduce your breast cancer risk, we want to hear from you. We would love to hear your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

Categories
Functional Medicine Health Concerns

A Functional Approach to PCOS

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Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Known as PCOS, this condition can happen at any age after puberty. Every month, as part of a healthy menstrual cycle, the ovaries release an egg. In women that have PCOS, the ovaries will develop a thickened outer wall underneath which many partially stimulated eggs form cysts, hence the name polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Normally, the ovaries release a small amount of male sex hormones, called androgens. However, in women with PCOS, the ovaries start making slightly more androgens – which is the reason for masculine symptoms like extra facial and body hair and male pattern baldness.

Traditionally, the diagnosis of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome was made when an imaging study revealed multiple cysts on the ovaries. We now know not every woman diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome has visible cysts on her ovaries. Polycystic ovarian syndrome can still be diagnosed if the majority of other common symptoms are experienced and/or they have the common endocrine abnormalities associated with PCOS. This is because the “cysts” are actually just increased number of follicles.

How Do I Know If I Have PCOS?

Pay attention to your body! Your body is wonderfully and brilliantly made. It will tell you if something is off. At the start of your next cycle, pay attention to these signs.

Symptoms of PCOS:

  • Trouble getting pregnant (infertility)
  • Irregular menstrual cycle
  • Hirsuitism, with hair growth on the face, chin, or parts of the body where men usually have hair
  • Acne on the face, chest, and upper back
  • Thinning hair or hair loss on the scalp; male-pattern baldness
  • Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
  • Darkening of skin, particularly along neck creases, in the groin, and underneath breasts, which is commonly associated with insulin resistance
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Elevated waist to hip ratios, overweight and obesity
  • Fatigue

What Causes PCOS?

While the exact cause of PCOS is unknown, several factors, including genetics, diet, stress levels, and environmental toxins can all play a role because they influence your hormones. The common hormonal imbalances associated with PCOS include high androgens (testosterone/DHEA), overproduction of CRH (corticotropin releasing hormone) and cortisol, elevated insulin/glucose levels, elevated estrone levels and improper ratios of LH (lutenizing hormone) to FSH (follicle stimulating hormone).

High insulin is not just a symptom, it is a major driver.

The body makes insulin but can’t use it correctly increasing risk for T2DM. Insulin lowers your blood sugar by storing glucose in cells. The cells become resistant to the constant insulin and need more to be signaled to lower the blood sugar. When the resistance goes on for a while, this results in high insulin and high blood sugar.

Can I Treat PCOS Naturally?

Diet and exercise are the most fundamental ways to manage insulin and PCOS! Our Functional Medicine providers recommend engaging in moderate exercise for at least 30 min per day to regulate blood sugar.
Regular movement throughout the day helps your body use sugar as it was designed to and, therefore, improve insulin sensitivity!

Things you can do to improve hormone balance and reduce PCOS:

  • Avoid high sugar foods and having low carb diet, rich in protein and fat balance blood sugar.
  • Avoid excess caffeine
  • Prioritize sleep and reduce stress
  • Avoid xenoestrogens/endocrine disruptors – non organic meats/dairy, skincare/cleaning products
  • Replace tampons with pads or menstrual cups
  • Supplements: high quality, recommended magnesium, NAC, inositol, berberine
  • Red light laser therapy (photobiomodulation)

 

Here’s What You Can Do Today

Better Food and Finding a Healthy Weight if Overweight

Consuming a nutrient-dense, low-glycemic diet will improve insulin sensitivity, body composition and androgen levels. In the Journal of Obesity, participants followed a low starch/low dairy food plan for 8 weeks, which resulted in a decrease in testosterone, improved insulin sensitivity and weight loss. In addition, there may be some association with improper detoxification and bodily retention of environmental toxins in patients with PCOS. We suggest most patients consume a whole foods diet, limiting exposure to pesticides, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners. Include a plethora of non-starchy vegetables, grass-fed/pasture-raised meat/poultry, wild-caught fish (salmon is my favorite), nuts/seeds and unrefined oils/fats like coconut oil, olive oil and avocado.

Stress Management

Increased stress will elevate your cortisol levels which in turn elevates blood glucose levels. This will lead to increased weight gain around the abdomen as well as an increase in androgen levels. Excess androgen levels can lead to aromatization and an increase in estrone levels created by the increase in adipose (fat) tissue. Elevated estrone levels disrupt the proper ratios of LH and FSH that lead to menstrual irregularities and the many other symptoms associated with PCOS. Many patients admit to experiencing stress in their lives, however, most are not aware of the real physiological changes that occur when they feel stressed.

Some suggestions for reducing stress are to spend more time in nature, try mindful movement, breathing, and meditation a few times per week. Start a heart-centered meditation, engage in daily prayer, start a journal and ensure that you are getting proper sleep (at least 7-9 hours per night). Other suggestions include acupuncture, energy therapy such as marma therapy, massage and/or chiropractic.

Exercise

Getting regular movement is part of any treatment plan for patients diagnosed with PCOS. It is important to engage in moderate activity to improve body composition, burn fat and lower cortisol levels. Some women make the mistake of engaging in extremely intense activity, which can actually cause more hormonal imbalances. As a general rule, we recommend listening to your body and paying attention to how you feel during and after your exercise routine.

Herbal Medicine

Herbs known as adaptogens can help promote hormone balance and protect the body from the effects of cortisol caused by chronic stress. Ashwaganda, holy basil, rhodiola and maca root can are a few of the herbs that can be helpful in PCOS. Licorice can lower testosterone levels, however, care must be taken if you also have hypertension.  Inositol is another commonly used supplement to improve symptoms associated with PCOS, although it seems to be more helpful in the patients that are not classified as obese. There are two types of inositol: myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol and doses somewhere between 1,200-2,400 milligrams per day can help with follicular maturation, weight loss, reducing leptin levels , lowering triglyceride levels and improving HDL levels. Lastly, omega- 3 supplementation can affect gene expression that is involved in insulin and lipid signaling pathways.

[/vc_column_text][vc_cta h2=”Tried All These Recommendations & Still Can’t Relieve Your PCOS Symptoms?”]

We’re Here to Help You

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References & Further Reading

  1. Sirmans SM, Pate KA. Epidemiology, diagnosis, and management of polycystic ovary syndrome. Clin Epidemiol. 2013;6(1):1-13. doi:10.2147/CLEP.S37559
  2. Sirmans SM, Parish RC, Blake S, Wang X. Epidemiology and comorbidities of polycystic ovary syndrome in an indigent population. J Investig Med. 2014;62(6):868-874. doi:10.1097/01.JIM.0000446834.90599.5d
  3. Ding T, Hardiman PJ, Petersen I, Wang FF, Qu F, Baio G. The prevalence of polycystic ovary syndrome in reproductive-aged women of different ethnicity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Oncotarget. 2017;8(56):96351-96358. doi:10.18632/oncotarget.19180
  4. Gibson-Helm M, Teede H, Dunaif A, Dokras A. Delayed diagnosis and a lack of information associated with dissatisfaction in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2017;102(2):604-612. doi:10.1210/jc.2016-2963
  5. Mathur R, Ko A, Hwang LJ, Low K, Azziz R, Pimentel M. Polycystic ovary syndrome is associated with an increased prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome. Dig Dis Sci. 2010;55(4):1085-1089. doi:10.1007/s10620-009-0890-5
  6. Cooney LG, Lee I, Sammel MD, Dokras A. High prevalence of moderate and severe depressive and anxiety symptoms in polycystic ovary syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Hum Reprod. 2017;32(5):1075-1091. doi:10.1093/humrep/dex044
  7. Jason J. Polycystic ovary syndrome in the United States: clinical visit rates, characteristics, and associated health care costs. Arch Intern Med. 2011;171(13):1209-1211. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.288
  8. Schmidt TH, Khanijow K, Cedars MI, et al. Cutaneous findings and systemic associations in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. JAMA Dermatol. 2016;152(4):391-398. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.4498
  9. Lim SS, Hutchison SK, Van Ryswyk E, Norman RJ, Teede HJ, Moran LJ. Lifestyle changes in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2019;3:CD007506. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD007506.pub4
  10. Lua ACY, How CH, King TFJ. Managing polycystic ovary syndrome in primary care. Singapore Med J. 2018;59(11):567-571. doi:10.11622/smedj.2018135
  11. Kazemi M, McBreairty LE, Chizen DR, Pierson RA, Chilibeck PD, Zello GA. A comparison of a pulse-based diet and the therapeutic lifestyle changes diet in combination with exercise and health counselling on the cardio-metabolic risk profile in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. Nutrients. 2018;10(10):E1387. doi:10.3390/nu10101387
  12. Wolf WM, Wattick RA, Kinkade ON, Olfert MD. The current description and future need for multidisciplinary PCOS clinics. J Clin Med. 2018;7(11):E395. doi:10.3390/jcm7110395

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Categories
Functional Medicine Health Concerns

A Functional Approach to Insulin Resistance

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/6″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]Understanding the cellular mechanisms of insulin resistance helps us choose more effective therapeutic interventions for the treatment and prevention of prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and other chronic health disorders. Insulin resistance contributes to most chronic disease in America, a country with world-renowned health care, yet 90 percent of people who have this condition have not been diagnosed.

Understanding Insulin

Insulin is a peptide hormone that’s made in the pancreas, an organ that contains clusters of cells called islets and beta cells within the islets that make insulin and release it into the blood. Insulin maintains normal blood sugar levels by facilitating cellular glucose uptake; regulating carbohydrate, lipid and protein metabolism; and promoting cell division and growth. It plays a major role in regulating how the body uses digested food for energy. With the help of insulin, glucose is absorbed by the cells of your body and used for energy.

When blood glucose levels rise after a meal, insulin is released by the pancreas into the blood. Then insulin and glucose travel in the blood to cells throughout the body. Insulin is responsible for several mechanisms throughout the body. It helps muscle, fat and liver cells absorb glucose from the bloodstream, thereby lowering blood glucose levels; it stimulates the liver and muscle tissue to store excess glucose; and it lowers blood glucose levels by reducing glucose production in the liver.

Insulin Resistance Symptoms

The higher your insulin levels are, the worse your insulin resistance. Your body starts to age and deteriorate. In fact, insulin resistance is the single most important phenomenon that leads to rapid, premature aging and all its resultant diseases, including heart disease, stroke, dementia, and cancer.

Insulin resistance and the resulting metabolic syndrome often comes accompanied by increasing central obesity, fatigue after meals, sugar cravings, high triglycerides, low HDL, high blood pressure, problems with blood clotting, as well as increased inflammation… Unfortunately, however, we can’t always feel all these symptoms as insulin resistance is building.

How To Treat Insulin Resistance

Get Your Insulin Levels Tested

Think about this. insulin resistance contributes to most chronic disease in America, a country with world-renowned health care, yet 90 percent of people who have this condition have not been diagnosed. A simple test could change all that. Even without these warning signs, one test can determine high insulin levels years or even decades before diabetes develops. Early detection can help you reverse these symptoms, yet doctors rarely use this crucial test that can detect high insulin levels.

Long before your blood sugar rises, your insulin spikes. High insulin levels are the first sign that can precede type 2 diabetes by decades, Damage begins with even slight changes in insulin and blood sugar.

A two-hour glucose tolerance test can help detect high insulin levels. This test measures not only glucose but also insulin levels, yet doctors rarely order it. Instead, they usually don’t express concern until blood sugar is over 110 or worse, over 126, which is diabetes. Many of our patients have normal blood sugar levels but very high insulin levels and other signs of pre-diabetes, yet when they come to see me they have not been diagnosed with pre-diabetes.

Even when patients have a blood sugar level over 100 mg/dl and a two-hour glucose tolerance test result of over 140 mg/dl, 90 percent of patients who display these conditions have not been diagnosed. That’s because doctors don’t measure insulin…

If your results show high insulin, you need to eliminate the things that are sending your biology out of balance and include what’s needed to help your body rebalance itself. These eight interventions can become extraordinarily powerful to normalize insulin:

Eat REAL foods.

Food is information that controls your gene expression, hormones, and metabolism. Choose low-glycemic real foods including fresh vegetables, fruits, legumes, non-gluten grains, nuts, seeds, and high-quality animal protein.

Remove ALL processed sweeteners. 

Far from the free pass some people consider them, artificial sweeteners can raise insulin levels and contribute to insulin resistance. One study in the journal Diabetes Care found sucralose (Splenda) could raise glucose and insulin levels. Give up sugar but also stevia, aspartame, sucralose, sugar alcohols like xylitol and maltitol, and all of the other heavily used and marketed sweeteners unless you want to slow down your metabolism, gain weight, and increase insulin resistance. Many of us have lost touch with what constitutes “sweet,” and we have to retrain our taste buds to appreciate the natural sweetness of, say, natural vanilla or roasted almonds.

Control inflammation. 

Dietary sugars of all kinds and refined vegetable oils are the biggest contributors to inflammation. They increase insulin levels and turn on genes that lead to chronic inflammation, creating a downward spiral into more inflammation, poor blood sugar control, and chronic disease. Besides removing the offending foods, address food sensitivities and allergies to control inflammation. Incorporate plenty of anti-inflammatory foods including wild-caught fish, freshly ground flax seed, and fish oil.

Increase fiber-rich foods. 

Whereas our Paleolithic ancestors got 50 – 100 grams of fiber a day, we now average less than 15 grams. It’s not a coincidence that high-sugar fruits are also high in water and fiber. Fiber slows sugar absorption into the bloodstream from the gut. Studies show high-fiber foods can be as effective as diabetes medications to lower blood sugar without the side effects.  Eat a wide variety of fiber-rich plant-based foods including nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and legumes.

Get enough quality sleep. 

A study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found in healthy subjects, even a partial night of poor sleep contributes to insulin resistance.  Make sleep a top priority to normalize insulin levels. Avoid eating heavy foods before bed and find natural ways relax your muscles (warm baths, gentle stretching, self-massage, etc.). Go to bed and wake up at consistent times, only use your bed for sleep (no phones or tvs!), and try herbal therapies such as chamomile or minerals such as magnesium.

Address nutrient deficiencies. 

A number of nutrients play a role in insulin management, including pre-hormone “vitamin” D, chromium, magnesium, and alpha lipoic acid. Deficiencies in any nutrient can stall your biochemical machinery, knocking your blood sugar levels out of balance and making you more insulin resistant.

Incorporate the right exercise.

Exercise might be the most powerful medicine to manage blood sugar levels and make your cells more insulin sensitive. When it comes to exercise, time becomes a huge hurdle for many people. That’s why I recommend high-intensity interval training (HIIT), also called burst training, which you can do in just minutes a day. A study in the Journal of Obesity found among its other benefits, burst training helped decrease fasting insulin and reduce insulin resistance. Combining burst training with weight resistance provides the most effective, efficient way to normalize blood sugar and insulin levels.

Control stress levels.

Chronic stress elevates cortisol, your main stress hormone. Increased cortisol levels elevate blood sugar and promote the accumulation of belly fat that we commonly see in patients with insulin resistance or diabetes. You can’t eliminate stress, but you can reduce its impact. Find what works for you. That might be prayerful meditation, mindful movement & stretching, deep breathing, or exercise.

If this seems like a lot, don’t worry.

We are here for you!

Each person is unique – so what works for some, may not work for others.
It’s important to listen to your body, address what is interfering with your daily life, and take the steps to aid your body in returning to its optimal state of health!

 

Resources & Further Reading

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1204764/

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes/prediabetes-insulin-resistance?dkrd=hiscr0002

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