Curebiome Naturopathic

The Top 5 Reasons Why You’re Bloated

The Top 5 Reasons Why You’re Bloated

 

Bloating is not fun and it’s never been a joyful thing that you can’t fit into your pants because of it. Why do we wake up some days with a soft flat tummy and other days with a pushed out full and uncomfortable one? There a few things at play here that we can dive into but it all comes down to the normal bacteria and yeast in our digestive tract. There’s a term called “dysbiosis” which is used to describe an unhealthy balance of our microbiome (the bacteria and yeast in our gut).

 

It’s not unusual, nor do I think it ever has been, for our digestive microbiome to get out of balance. The bacteria and fungi in our digestive tract are easily affected by acute illness, stress, diet and lack of exercise which lead to problems ranging from gas, belching, bloating, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation and more. There are many historical accounts of the diagnosis today known as SIBO (Small Intestinal Microbial Overgrowth), which is the overgrowth of normal bacteria which cause gas, belching and bloating after eating many foods. There were many treatments in the past which were very effective, which is great news but now is a rather small piece of the picture.

 

In the modern-day we perfect ways to create these microbial imbalances like SIBO as part of our daily life. While many of the treatments are still viable, they are less likely to last when recreating the problem is so easy and quick through common foods, antibiotics and lifestyle. So what can we do about it? Well first thing is to understand the details of what causes the imbalance, then remove them while helping correct the balance. Below is a list of some common causes of microbial disruption leading to the dysbiosis that causes gas and bloating.

 

  • Antibiotic use (intentional or unintentional).
    • Thankfully the FDA has taken antibacterial hand soaps off the market, which was a high potential for bacterial disruption in the gut. There are still many cleaners and substances available which can contribute to this effect. When you think of washing your hands or preparing foods on a clean surface, understand that some of what is on your hands or that food will probably hitch a ride with your food – impacting your microbiome.
  • Pesticides and chemicals
    • One example is glyphosate is a more recently uncovered cause of microbial disruption, it’s the chemical herbicide known as round-up. It can commonly hitch a ride on GMO “Round up ready” plants like corn, soy, canola and others.
  • Hygiene
    • The hygiene hypothesis has been taught for decades, which is an observation that children raised in more sterile, clean environments tend to have more allergies, asthma, infections and other immune problems across their life than someone who was maybe raised in a farm rolling around in dirt and exposed to lots of microbes and nature. Being too clean can absolutely be a cause of digestive dysbiosis, which is why getting out into nature more often can help give us an inoculation of different microbes that might promote a healthy microbiome and immune system.
  • Processed foods, imbalanced diet
    • A diet high in foods that have additives, preservatives, sugars or artificial sweeteners can create major disruptions in our microbiome. So can having a diet too high in starchy foods. This is where plenty of vegetables make a big difference in the delivery of optimal foods to balance our GI tract.
  • Sedentary lifestyle
    • The human body was created to be in motion, muscle contraction and normal movements like walking, squatting, lifting, etc actually help to move blood carrying nutrients and oxygen through the body, support muscle and nerve function and also directly impact digestive health and the microbiome. Studies have found that exercise alone can have a positive impact on the microbiome. Sitting around too much can be another cause of your bloating.

 

Whether you’re getting bloated every day or it’s less frequently you can take action by removing some of these main disruptors of your healthy gut bacteria. A few simple habits like regular movement and better food choices can make all the difference in your bloating, which will translate to your health overall when you realize how much the microbiome does for your health TK LINK. Good luck getting after it!

 

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11 Little Known Digestive Related Problems

11 Little Known Digestive Related Problems

 

Is your gut causing brain, mood and hormone problems?

 

“It all starts in the gut,” have you heard this? Are you wondering how it’s possible for headaches, hormone imbalances, depression, anxiety and more can all be related to your gastrointestinal (GI) tract? Wonder no more, we’re gonna dive into some common problems that stem from the GI tract, including the how and why.

 

Some of the common and more easy to figure out problems with digestion are things like heartburn, gas, bloating, indigestion, nausea, constipation, diarrhea or more severe things like Crohns and Ulcerative Colitis among others. These are easy to understand as all of these concerns directly involve the GI tract. Where are they coming from and what’s causing them? Most often we find they are related to either food intolerances and sensitivities and an imbalance of the bacteria and yeast of the GI tract. By addressing these two factors it’s surprising how quickly and how often these problems clear up.

 

What about the unclear and indirect digestive problems?


Some common concerns are brain fog, a decreased mental clarity and low energy. Most of the time if we dig deeper we find that there are also some direct digestive concerns happening at the same time. On the rare occasion where the GI tract is symptomless we look at diet and lifestyle and find that there are a lot of things that are disruptive and harmful to the GI tract. Things like food choices, too many processed and simple carbohydrates, things like regular antibiotic use, stress, dehydration, lack of exercise and more. All of these are going to impact the two things in the digestive tract that can cause brain fog and low energy. That first thing is inflammation, an inflammatory diet and lifestyle is going to drain your resources and create a state where your body is always trying to attack, destroy and remove something – which pulls away from your ability to function optimally. Second is the balance of the gut bacteria which extract nutrients from food and produce neurotransmitter hormones like serotonin which helps us focus and feel happy, they also support the activation of thyroid hormone which promotes energy and metabolism of all of our cells and many more hormones we rely on.

 

What other problems do we see improve when we restore a healthy GI tract?

  1. Brain fog
  2. Depression
  3. Anxiety
  4. Pain (while it may not resolve completely from this approach, it tends to improve dramatically)
  5. Headaches
  6. Irregular Menstrual Cycle
  7. Menopause
  8. Blood sugar imbalances
  9. Hypo and hyperthyroid
  10. Adrenal hormone (cortisol) imbalance
  11. Thyroid hormone imbalance
  12. And others

 

If that sounds good, and you’re now wondering “great, how do I do it!?” jump on our email list and get all of our updates, new materials and our free quick-start Energize checklist to get you started with feeling awesome now.

 

Your Gut: Hormones, Inflammation, Detox and more

Your Gut

Hormones, Inflammation, Detox and more

 

Basic digestive function is extremely important for our health, because if we can’t digest and absorb our food we aren’t getting the building blocks we need for health. There are other reasons outside of digestion and absorption to support a healthy gut. Our immune system and the effect on body wide inflammation, also the production, activation and elimination of hormones and neurotransmitters and finally the elimination of waste and chemicals. These are core functions our digestive tract performs for us, along with many others we won’t get into.

 

Digestion and Absorption

Digestion is an extremely important function of the GI tract, and we sometimes forget how complex of a dance it is from start to finish. We know we need the nutrients of food to function, so we do our best to choose good foods to meet that requirement. The question is, are we taking care to make sure we can actually digest and absorb that food? Here’s a quick run down for most of the things that have to happen to digest and absorb those nutrients we need to function.

 

  1. We see/smell food with eyes and nose which stimulates acid and enzymes in the stomach/pancreas/small intestine and bile production/release from the liver/gallbladder. Initial release of insulin from our pancreas to support absorption of sugar into cells.  
  2. Chew food: food is broken down by teeth and enzymes within saliva help to further break down carbohydrate.
  3. Swallow food: food travels down to the stomach where acid and some enzymes continue breaking down even further. Very little is absorbed in the stomach directly.
  4. Digested food and acid from stomach enters the small intestine where further breakdown and nutrient absorption begins.
  5. The first part of the small intestine has an important role, specific enzymes work best at different pH levels, which means as the acid from the stomach dilutes there are different enzymes that will further break down components like proteins and carbohydrates. This is also where bile from the gall bladder and liver enter to help absorb fats and oils.
  6. Different nutrients are absorbed at different parts of the small intestines (B12, vitamins, minerals, iron, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, etc).
  7. Food enters the large intestine and most water and some minerals are absorbed and remnants like fiber and other waste being excreted from the body continue on until leaving the body.

 

It’s just a quick overview, but realize that something can and often is going wrong in these first few steps. When we eat on the run, our body doesn’t prep for digestion the same. When we eat too much too quickly, or too much of certain foods our body can’t produce enough acid and enzymes to break things down. When we’re stressed, tired, dehydrated, etc our acid and enzyme production goes down. If things malfunction at the beginning, what happens down the rest of the line? Nothing good, and it’s why many of us might eat nutritious foods but we aren’t extracting all the goodness we can from them.

 

Immune Function and Inflammation

We’ve talked about how the microbes in the digestive tract train our immune system before, but there’s a lot more to this story. Roughly 80% of our immune system resides in our digestive tract, 80%! That’s a lot, right? Why is it there and not in our nose or lungs or somewhere else? Our digestive tract is where EVERYTHING has to come in, and since all food has been alive at some point in some way or form – it’s not sterile. Quite the opposite, it’s usually covered in different bacteria, fungi, viruses, etc. So the immune system in our digestive tract has a major job to deal with that. Now there are other things, newer things that are riding along with our food these days – things like chemicals, food additives both natural and unnatural, and even unique new proteins our immune cells are unfamiliar with like found in GMO foods. Each of these creates a situation where there can be a disruption of the immune cells, which almost always leads to an inflammatory response as our body notes these things as potential threat. The more this happens the more of an inflamed digestive tract, the more resources we send in to deal with the problem, and a cycle of inflammation and discomfort is created. How to stop it? Remove the offending triggers, and keep them out. Fortunately the cells of the digestive tract can mostly replace themselves within a couple of weeks, meaning things start to repair quickly, though it can take a few cycles of replacement to get everything back to optimal, which is why elimination diets are recommended for a minimum of 4-6 weeks.

 

Hormones and Neurotransmitters

The microorganisms in our digestive tract have a very interesting influence in our hormones, some of which is a newer understanding. We have known for quite a while that our gut is a site of activation for thyroid hormone, which means a healthy digestive tract is key for healthy thyroid function. More recently researchers have uncovered that it’s also the site of production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and melatonin, has a crucial effect on estrogen production and the breakdown of estrogens to healthy or harmful forms. This is really just the tip of the iceberg as we dig deeper into the complex interplay between hormones, neurotransmitters and the microbiome. One thing is clear, healthy hormones are heavily reliant on the microbiome.

 

Detoxification

The last function we’ll talk about is the elimination of waste and chemical toxins which the digestive tract is responsible for. Fortunately not everything that goes into our body is absorbed, and quite a few things simply pass right through. Most importantly is fiber, which is a fantastic carrier for other waste products out of the body. Fiber is both food for the microbiome and the garbage truck that we dump cell waste and many harmful toxins like metals and solvents into. Of course this elimination of toxins can be undone if there is an unhealthy balance of bacteria which free certain chemicals like solvents from what is holding them in the gut. This is why it’s important to have healthy digestion from start to finish.

 

Digestion is a complex process a lot of us don’t think about, by breaking it down into core components you can see how easy it is for things to goof things up unintentionally. Fortunately most of the big fixes are small habits we can adapt like taking time to sit down and eat more real foods, more plant-based foods, removing the things we already know are harmful (but hopefully know more of why now) and supporting our microbiome. You’ll be surprised at how small steps can make big differences. Good luck getting after it!

Mitochondria and Cancer – The Missing Link

Mitochondria and Cancer

The missing link

Something serious is happening, cancer is taking the lead in causes of death in the United States. There are a few things that are consistent among the many different types of cancers that occur, but one of these similarities is mitochondrial function. In almost all (80-90%) of cancer cells, mitochondria are abnormal. Both their physical structure and their function are effect, on top of having an overall decreased number from normal cells. Mitochondrial dysfunction is a major component of cancer that is often forgotten and ignored by the current treatment strategies.

One thing researchers have noticed time and again is that how the mitochondria within cancer cells look and act. When viewed under an electron microscope the mitochondria from cancer cells look… wrong. Normal mitochondria have many squiggly lines (cristae) but cancer mitochondria often look smooth and have lost many of those lines which is where an important activity called cellular respiration occurs. Respiration allows mitochondria to produce high amounts of energy for our cells. In addition to this change in structure, there also tend to be far fewer mitochondria within the cell than normal, further aggravating the situation of low or absent mitochondrial function.

Mitochondria make ATP, an energy dense molecule, which is a primary function we have come to rely on from them. When they are deformed and absent like we see in cancer cells the energy has to come from somewhere else, more primitive cell pathways called fermentation. This is called the Warburg phenotype, as identified by nobel prize winner Otto Warburg. This leaves the cell with far less energy (2 ATP molecules, instead of 38 ATP with mitochondrial help) and with a lot more potentially harmful byproducts like lactate. High amounts of lactate lead to acidification of the environment directly around the cell, which ends up supporting and protecting the cancer cells and tumor, not ideal. To keep up the cancer cell consumes much, much, much higher amounts of glucose than normal for fermentation, just to survive. The cancer cells become a magnet for glucose in the body, which is exactly how PET scans show tumors.

 

Also notable about cancerous cells is the required components to replicate another cancer cell, which is probably not what you would expect. Going back to cell biology, most human cells have a nucleus and the same is true of cancer cells. The nucleus is home to our cells DNA, and is where many signals target to trigger actions in the cell – so a cell with a cancerous nucleus will probably divide and create more cancerous cells – right? Actually, not quite. Interestingly enough researchers are able to remove and swap the nucleus of different cells, and when they did this with cancer cells, the cancer nucleus alone did not lead to more cancerous cells. In fact it is all of the other components, including the mitochondria, which were cause for replication of more cancer cells. This means any therapies which target and restore mitochondria function will likely decrease the potential of a cancer to replicate and metastasize. Some research is actually suggesting that as mitochondrial function is restored it repairs the ability of the cancer cell to signal its own death (apoptosis) – further solving the problem.

 

Mitochondria are clearly important and play an important role in cancer, so what can be done to prevent and treat cancer through mitochondria? The first and most powerful place to start is with diet, since we mentioned cancer cells expressing the Warburg phenotype literally cannot produce energy through mitochondrial respiration – we can take advantage of this. By dramatically reducing sugars and carbohydrates we can starve cancerous and precancerous cells which have no ability to metabolize fats. There are multiple options for this but the two most common and in my opinion the easiest, are through intermittent fasting and ketogenic diets. Intermittent fasting is simply prolonging the time between meals – usually involving a minimum of a 12-16 hour window which transitions the body to utilize all stored glucose and metabolize stored fats into ketones – which are energy dense molecules which are metabolized by the mitochondria and cannot be used by cancerous cells with impaired mitochondria. Ketogenic diet is taking this to the next level and maintaining elevated ketone levels for 24 hours a day by eating very little carbohydrate, moderate protein and high amounts of healthy fats. Both of these strategies are shown to work very well in different cancers, but are not a magic bullet for every situation – so it’s important to know when you can and cannot rely on this effect.

In addition to ketogenic diet and fasting, other approaches will take a major emphasis on restoring mitochondrial antioxidants and supportive nutrients through oral and sometimes intravenous supplementation. Pulling in environmental medicine, which is assessing for any environmental chemicals and heavy metals – avoiding further exposure and reducing body levels, will also aid in improving mitochondrial function. Fortunately there are many angles to approach the support of mitochondrial health which means we improve the situation even if there are certain things a person can’t tolerate or manage at the time.

The metabolic dysfunction involving mitochondria is a hallmark of cancer, as discovered by Nobel Prize winner Otto Warburg. By adding this knowledge and therapies to address mitochondrial health alongside conventional treatments we see improved outcomes and improved quality of life, as research is showing us in multiple situations across multiple forms of cancer.

6 Cancer Prevention Strategies

Six strategies for prevention (and potential management) of cancer

 

Cancer stinks, and in today’s world almost everyone knows someone who has or had one form of cancer or another. There is a ton of literature and even more people telling us their opinions (whether right or wrong). So I’m sharing three less known cancer prevention strategies and three more well studied ways to prevent cancer, all of which are being used to support treatment of certain cancers. Hopefully some of these will be familiar to you, others may be new or surprising.

Mitochondrial Support

If you’ve read our article on mitochondria (tk link) and cancer, then you already know that it’s extremely common for mitochondria to be abnormal in almost every cancer cell and that this abnormality eliminates that ability of mitochondria to signal the broken cell to die. Mitochondrial support can be supportive for multiple reasons. First if this support can rehabilitate the broken mitochondria, sometimes this can trigger cell death alone. Even if that cancer cell mitochondria does not recover there is the benefit for all the other cells in the body, which can help support more resistance of healthy cells and more susceptibility of the cancer cells to other approaches like chemotherapy.

 

Ketogenic Diet/Fasting

The ketogenic diet is a whole topic unto itself, but there are many fantastic researchers putting this together, like Dom D’agostino (TK link) and more. Ketogenic diet works in cancers through the mitochondrial malfunction we’ve talked about before. Any cancer cell with broken mitochondria is subject to the Warburg Effect, meaning it can only use glucose for energy, where functioning mitochondria can use ketone bodies produced by the ketogenic diet. These ketone bodies are both energy dense and antioxidant, they are protective to the brain and nervous tissues and improve mitochondrial function while starving out and sensitizing cancer cells to other therapies. Fasting functions very similarly in converting stored body fat into ketone bodies, granting very similar benefits. All in all the ketogenic diet is a fantastic consideration for most cancers, and can be utilized on a less intense and more occasional approach for anyone interested in prevention.

 

Detoxification of Environmental Toxins

We mention environmental toxins quite often here at Curebiome, that’s because they are everywhere and responsible for aggravating and causing many problems we are dealing with. Environmental toxins are also low hanging fruit, like mitochondrial support and the microbiome. Almost everyone is going to benefit from addressing these things, either directly through feeling more vitality or dramatically reduced risks of numerous diseases. Taking the time to shift your lifestyle to avoid toxins and even undergo some more extensive detoxification whether mild or intense, is removing many carcinogens from your body and helping to reduce your risk of multiple cancers down the road. Highest concerns are ubiquitous hormone disruptors like BPA, plastics and pthalates.

 

Green tea

If you haven’t heard about green tea and how good it is for you, then you’re one of the few who is in for a treat. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of studies around this plant and the health benefits it provides. Green tea is an antioxidant rich tea, which comes in many forms and includes an amino acid that is very calming and focusing to the brain. This offsets the small amount of caffeine green tea contains. There are studies using green tea extracts in regards to prevention of lymphomas, breast cancers and more.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28396252

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28765341

 

Turmeric/Curcumin

I would be very surprised if you haven’t heard about turmeric, but this is another highly studied plant in regards to cancer prevention and treatment. This plant is amazing for the scope of health benefits it has, for everything from pain, pesticide poisoning, to anticancer properties it makes it important to consider adding this food to your diet. Turmeric is a staple ingredient in Indian and Thai foods, and it’s easy to cook with and incorporate into a lot of dishes. There are things like fermented turmeric teas to we’re looking into which may provide a beneficial dose of healthy probiotics.

 

Physical Exercise

Exercise is huge for everything, including cancer. There are multiple studies showing the effectiveness of regular exercise in cancer prevention, as well as improving outcomes during cancer treatment. Without getting into too much detail, any type of exercise is likely to be a great benefit but the best will be consistent and introduce some variety with a combination of weight training and cardiovascular.

 

Bonus steps

If those three we’re too easy for you, a more difficult yet powerful preventative for cancer as well as diabetes, heart disease, depression, fatigue, etc, etc… I’m just going to give you a few action steps which will help reduce your environmental toxin intake, increase mitochondria health and can be used in conjunction with a ketogenic diet.

  • Eat organic, non-gmo, veggies when possible and affordable. Here’s a great guide to what’s important and what you can slide  on.
  • Eat organic, grass fed, pasture raised meats. And avoid farm raised fish. Here’s a guide to seafood and fish to choose or avoid based on environmental and heavy metals.
  • Drink more water and tea and limit sweetened drinks like sodas (yes that includes diet sodas which can actually lead to weight gain)

Mitochondrial Impairment and Rescuers

Mitochondrial Impairment and Rescuers

Stressors and Inhibitors of Mitochondria

If we want to understand how to improve things then it’s important to understand what’s holding the mitochondria back from functioning optimally. These inhibitors range from nutrient deficiencies, chemical toxins, lifestyle, physical and emotional stress and more. Each of these inhibitors can play a role in how you feel and most importantly how your cells and mitochondria are able to function.

 

Nutrient deficiencies are extremely common, for a number of reasons. First, processed foods pull all nutrients and vitamins that can degrade out to trade for a long shelf life. Processed foods might be fortified again with some nutrients, but  typically these are low quality nutrients not well utilized on top of being not enough and there are still many missing nutrients which are not fortified due to cost or their lack of stability (which is why they were removed in the first place). Other causes of nutrient deficiencies are low variety in diet, mainly a lack of plant based foods and essential fatty acid deficiencies. Refined sugar is another major stressor, which causes loss of nutrients like minerals to compensate the pure sugar and leads to other problems like insulin resistance, oxidative damage and roller coaster effects on blood sugar levels.
There are many chemical toxins that inhibit mitochondrial function, each of which comes with a range of other negative effects. A common class of mitochondrial toxin are pesticides that are found on non-organic or conventionally raised produce, in many rivers and waterways and especially near any agricultural areas. Pesticides interrupt normal function of the electron transport chain (the mitochondrial lifeblood) leading to inhibited function and a decreased energy output if not full on mitochondrial death. Different herbicides also have similar effects, herbicides are common contaminants in certain grain products like wheat and are inherent in the way some of these crops are grown. Outside of pesticides and herbicides there are multiple heavy metals like lead, mercury and cadmium that harm and inhibit mitochondrial function. These are found in sources ranging from high fructose corn syrup (mercury), fish (mercury), plants or animals grown or raised in polluted areas (lead/arsenic), cigarettes (arsenic) and many other places. Finally, and you might find this surprising, many pharmaceuticals are also mitochondrial toxins. Antibiotics are a specific class of medication which have negative impact on mitochondria (as well as the microbiome), this is because mitochondria are an ancient form of bacteria which basically teamed up with our more complex cells for a safe place to live and free food to provide us extra energy output. Chemical toxins are far and away a major inhibitor of mitochondrial and overall health, and always important to reduce our exposures to.

Certain personal lifestyle habits can also decrease mitochondrial function. Specifically, a sedentary lifestyle removes all signals to mitochondria to increase efficiency and produce more mitochondria. This is because when we stress our muscles enough, aka exercise, there are signals to the mitochondria to reproduce in order to provide more energy to prepare for more intense efforts. Without any sort of physical stimulus our body and mitochondria will go into conservation mode, which means less energy production overall.

 

 

Lack of sleep will also decrease mitochondrial function, among other problems. Sleep is where our body releases a number of hormones and antioxidants to signal repair and growth, without it there we miss out on that downtime for mitochondria to reproduce and repair as well. The last stress we’ll mention is emotional stress from a lack of stress management, or intense periods in life, this will also affect how well your mitochondria and cells in general can function. Emotional stress signals cortisol and a cascade of hormones which lock the body into a mode of “hold on tight until we get through this,” whether it’s a life threatening problem like a lion or not, like an angry boss or loss of a loved one. Finding ways to process and manage stress is a major improvement because lets the body move past survival mode and get back into relax and repair mode.

These are just a few of the many things that cause major decreases in mitochondrial function. The good news is each of these are able to be addressed and minimized to preserve and support mitochondria health, and your health and energy overall.

Mitochondrial Support and Rescue

Fortunately for all of us there are a lot of strategies to support our mitochondria. To know where to start we of course have to consider and decide what the most likely causes of mitochondrial inhibition are for us. We’ll cover a general approach right now, beginning with supporting deficiencies then removing the other problem makers.
It’s generally best to begin by addressing any deficiencies, as this will support all of the other forms of support. I like this strategy because giving a deficient system what it needs is almost always a good place to start, as it feeds the cell pathways that help manage the harmful excesses like toxins or stress which burn up many nutrients and lead to more deficiency. Some of the things to consider first are essential fatty acids and nutrient dense foods. Specific foods to consider are colorful plant based foods, wild caught fish and natural/organic meats, nuts and seeds. Specific nutrients are omega 3 fatty acids, B vitamins and antioxidants like Coenzyme Q10, resveratrol, Alpha Lipoic Acid, N-acetyl cysteine and others. The goal here is to restore the basics and mitochondrial antioxidants as we eliminate major stressors, this means doses usually start out low and ramp up for a period then drop back to a maintenance dose.

 

Avoidance and detoxification of harmful compounds is required for healthy mitochondrial function, as well as whole body health. The first place to start is identifying exposures to harmful compounds and systematically decreasing these exposures as much as possible. I discuss this in detail in other places (TK link to avoidance). Once avoidance measures are in place, beginning mild detoxification support is the next step. Nutrients that support glutathione production and recycling like N-acetyl cysteine and more of the same nutrients that support mitochondrial function, many of which are found in a good multivitamin. Sometimes we will pull in more intensive detox approaches, including things like sauna therapies, heavy metal chelation, IV nutrients like glutathione and more. Generally the more exposures a person has had the more important it is to start slow with these approaches, too much too fast will trigger an attempt from the cells and tissues to release more toxins than the body can actually eliminate – which is an unpleasant experience to say the least.

Beyond basic nutrient support, there is very good research and clinical results to support a ketogenic diet and fasting as aids in mitochondrial health. Ketogenic diets involve very low carbohydrates, moderate proteins and high fat intake. This balance of macronutrients leads to body to produce ketones, which are energy dense antioxidant molecules that our brain, muscles and most of our tissues use as energy. There is lots of information about ketogenic diets available, so I won’t go into details right now but it’s very helpful in addressing blood sugar problems, insulin resistance, weight problems and more. Fasting will similarly produce ketones, and is more commonly used intermittently by skipping breakfast or one or more days of water only depending on the person.

Finally there is a more potent nutrient based compound which produces dramatic improvements in mitochondrial function. It is a lipoic acid mineral complex which can be taken orally or administered intravenously, and alongside these other supportive therapies helps to further augment and improve mitochondrial function. It is sold as Poly-MVA and is best taken alongside certain other nutrients to improve its efficiency. While the average person will likely notice benefits, we rely even more on it for support in various chronic illnesses which have a mitochondrial component ranging from cancer, lyme, fluoroquinolone injury and more.

This is just a brief intro into some of the therapies we have found to be most effective to improve both mitochondrial function and health. All of these are not required to be used together or at all and it’s not unusual for any of these therapies to disagree with people which is why it’s nice to have options. There is more than one path to health, and while it might be tempting to jump right in it is extremely important to work with a knowledgeable health practitioner who can guide you towards the most beneficial therapies and away from those which are potentially harmful in your situation.

10 Toxins That Are Messing With Your Hormones

10 Toxins That Are Messing With Your Hormones

Common hormone disruptors affecting your weight, sex drive and health

 

#1 BPA (BPS and BPF)

BPA has been around for a long time, and one of its properties is that it mimics estrogen. For that reason it was even researched at one time for use as an artificial estrogen replacement, though wasn’t found suitable. The main concerns around BPA are the increased risk of certain cancers (estrogen linked), it negatively impacts thyroid and cognitive function, creates an increased risk of obesity and has even been shown to inhibit testosterone production (and more). BPS and BPF are sister molecules to BPA and have very similar impacts on disrupting hormones.

How to avoid

While it might seem like “BPA free” plastics are safe, they generally aren’t since these plastics commonly contain BPS and BPF, molecular brother and sister to BPA, which also disrupts hormone function.

  1. Avoid Canned foods
  2. Caution with receipts (thermal paper is often coated with BPA)
  3. Specific plastics marked “PC” and #7 are much more likely to carry BPA, BPS or BPF. (Though no plastic is guaranteed “safe”)

#2 Dioxins

Dioxins are a class of hormone disrupting toxin we are commonly exposed to. They are a by-product of many industrial processes, they last a long time and bio-accumulate in the food chain and in our body. Food products with high dioxins levels are dairy products like milk and butter, and animal sources like meat, eggs and fish.

How to avoid

  1. Avoid the status quo for these high risk foods. Always choose organic and when possible go for the cleanest local sources you can find.
  2. Bump up your plant based food intake – increasing foods like beans and legumes will both balance out your diet, help bind and eliminate toxins with fiber and decrease consumption of these other foods.

#3 PCBs

PCB stands for polychlorinate biphenyls, which is a mouthful for a chemical that is carcinogenic and known to disrupt immune function, hormones, the nervous system and more. PCBs are a persistent pollutant that were banned for production in the US back in the 1970s. They are commonly found in electrical devices as a coolant – things like transformers, they were also used in hydraulics and carbonless copy paper among other applications. The problem being that the persistence of PCBs means it is found commonly everywhere as it has invaded the ecosystem, including food products – particularly animals and dairy.

How to avoid

  1. Similar to dioxins, the goal here is to focus on the cleanest sources of dairy and animal products and increase plant based foods in the diet

 

#4 Phthalates

Phthalates are a chemical commonly found in many plastics and cosmetic products. Because of the common use of plastics many of us are exposed on a daily basis, and phthalates have a long list of negative health effects. Studies link phthalates to hormone disruption, decreased sperm count and motility, birth defects, weight gain (aka “obesogen”), diabetes and thyroid problems.

How to avoid

  1. Reduce and eliminate plastic from your life as much as possible
  2. Migrate to glass and stainless steel food containers
  3. Carry a glass or stainless steel water bottle with you
  4. Use phthalate free cosmetic products

 

#5 Perchlorate

Perchlorate is a common additive in rocket fuel, and also a common contaminant of produce and milk (strange connection, I know). In humans perchlorate is shown to compete with iodine – causing problems in the thyroid gland, which regulates metabolism and energy.

How to avoid

  1. Drinking clean water – Reverse Osmosis is the current gold standard, though many other options like carbon block filters are a good choice too
  2. Unfortunately we don’t have any great avoidance tips for foods, but if you’re eating a healthy diet it will help reduce the overall impact of perchlorate in your body

#6 Flame retardants

Flame retardants are a large class of chemicals that are very persistent and very hard on the hormone system. These chemicals have been found in animals around the globe, even those in remote locations like the arctic (another great reason not to eat any polar bears). Flame retardants can look like thyroid hormone in the body and disrupt normal thyroid function, again affecting metabolism and energy among others. There are also associations of negative impact on intelligence and brain function.

How to avoid

  1. Keep your house clean, leave your shoes at the door. Dust is commonly contaminated with this class of chemicals

(House plants, air purifiers, and good vacuums can help with this)

  1. When possible choose furniture untreated with flame retardants, special companies offer mattresses like this. Basic wood furniture is usually safe, reduce any foam filled furniture when possible

 

#7 Lead

What’s a list of toxins without lead? Well this list is no different, though there are many negative health effects of lead (like decreased brain function and cardiovascular health) it is another hormone disruptor. It’s been linked with miscarriages, premature birth, decreased levels of sex hormones and signalling problems between hormones and the brain.

How to avoid

  1. A good water filter
  2. Taking shoes off at the door (http://www.curebiome.com/10-tips-for-your-healthier-home/)
  3. Have any lead paint, lead pipes or lead soldering replaced by a professional

#8 Arsenic

I’m a fan of the old movie “Arsenic and Old Lace” (Cary Grant is the man), but I’m not a huge fan of actual arsenic. This is another heavy metal which also is a known poison, increases cancer risks and also disrupts hormones. The hormones affected by arsenic are those involved in blood sugar regulation leading to increased weight gain, insulin resistance, diabetes, high blood pressure and a lowered immune system.

How to avoid

  1. The best way to reduce arsenic exposure is keeping it out of your water with a high quality water filter
  2. Also don’t use or eat rat poison (see #3 below)
  3. Thoroughly rinse rice before cooking and avoid rice milks. Many rice storage facilities use rat poison (arsenic) to manage rodent problems

#9 Mercury

Mercury, like lead, seems to always make an appearance when we talk about environmental toxins. Mercury affects the nervous system, immune system, the pancreas increasing diabetes risk and the female hormone cycle. Higher mercury levels can disrupt normal ovulation and menstruation cycles, among other problems. Most common sources of mercury exposure are fish and dental amalgams. It’s also recently come to my attention that the processing of High Fructose Corn Syrup involves a mercury heavy ingredient in many cases, which leads to contamination of most HFCS – which on it’s own can be considered a hormone disruptor.

How to avoid

  1. Eat clean, sustainable seafood https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/walletcard.pdf . My favorite choice is wild-caught salmon
  2. Opt for resins over mercury amalgams for fillings
  3. Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup containing foods

 

#10 Organophosphates

Organophosphates are one of the more commonly used pesticides with roots from World War II. They kill insects through disrupting the nervous system and for this reason negatively affect our brain function, too. They also disrupt hormones through lowering testosterone, disrupting its normal function and interferes with thyroid hormone levels. It’s more common in non-organic produce.

How to avoid

  1. Choose organic, or at least choose organic for the fruits and vegetable most sprayed with pesticides https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty_dozen_list.php

Make a big difference in your hormones and your health by reducing your exposure to these ten toxins. Remember that it’s not about being 100% clean, it’s about taking your current exposures and lowering them by 5-10% or more when and where you can. Every little bit counts and a detox lifestyle means both avoidance and elimination (who tracks muddy shoes through the room they just cleaned?).

 

Worried about your exposure to hormone disrupting toxins? Call 415-385-2621 or contact us today to schedule a consultation!

 

Mitochondria, Heart Disease and Diabetes

Mitochondria, Diabetes and Cardiovascular disease

Mitochondria are a part of many diseases but very rarely are they the main component. They play an important role, but they are not always the number one problem – more like they are a side effect of everything going on. In diabetes and cardiovascular disease we see this clearly, the leading cause of these two epidemics are diet and lifestyle but a major way they manifest is through dysfunction of the mitochondria.

Mitochondria are crucial organelles within our cell that produce high amounts of energy for our cells through a process called cellular respiration, which functions through the electron transport chain. We also know that mitochondria are present in high concentrations in all muscle and nerve tissue, because these tissues are in high demand of lots of energy to function.

When we look at type 2 diabetes – one of the major problems we see is the inability of cells to take in glucose from the blood due to insulin resistance. The cell receptors have become damaged, and the cell can literally starve in conditions of excess sugar – nutrient deficiencies abound in this environment due to the excess sugar and lack of balance with minerals and vitamins. Oxidative damage is rampant, quickly using up any antioxidant nutrients present – specifically those antioxidants the support mitochondrial function. Eventually nerve cells start to die, leading to lack of feeling in fingers and toes- because the mitochondria within these cells are so lacking they cannot support the nerve cells.

In the heart – our main muscle which must pump all day everyday to keep our body alive we lose mitochondrial function as well. When the mitochondria can’t support this important muscle, it starts to fail and problems abound left and right. This is what we’re fighting, and this is where knowing about and supporting mitochondria make a major difference.

Some common and seemingly benign signs and symptoms of poor mitochondrial health are fatigue and weakness. Everyday things, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them. We mentioned that mitochondria are found in high levels within the muscles, so if too few mitochondria are present or just aren’t working quite right you feel tired and weak. If the problem is more severe it can impact the brain and nervous system, which is experienced as brain fog, trouble concentrating, clumsiness and memory problems or worse.

In diabetes we commonly see that mitochondria are both smaller than normal and that there are just less of them. This might be because of the sedentary lifestyle that leads to diabetes, or possibly environmental toxins. Another important problem is the difficulty diabetic individuals have in making new mitochondria. All of this comes together to further aggravate a system that is already under heavy stress.
So what can we do? The main places to start, as we’ve mentioned before are diet and lifestyle. In this situation intermittent fasting and a plant heavy ketogenic diet can dramatically improve the situation by restoring deficient nutrients, removing excess glucose levels and restoring mitochondrial function. This approach, when implemented properly can correct blood sugar levels many times, and dramatically decrease reliance on insulin. Depending on the situation it has to potential to correct insulin resistance and restore cardiovascular and nerve function. Other therapies that we often include are reduction of environmental toxins, oral and intravenous mitochondrial supportive nutrients, sleep and hormone support.

Mitochondria – the basics

Mitochondria – the basics

What are Mitochondria, what do they do, where are they found?

You might remember mitochondria from science class back in school, where you drew pictures of the anatomy of a cell. The mitochondria looked like little sausages with squiggly lines inside of them (tk image). Most of us don’t remember too much about what they actually do, but you might remember the phrase “power houses of the cell.” This hints at their main function, which is to create energy through production of the molecule ATP.

Mitochondria are really fascinating when you start to understand they are necessary for us to function as an organism made of millions of cells. Mitochondria take our energy output and multiply it by 16 fold. While the base 2 ATP that primitive metabolism extracts from glucose, the mitochondria increases production to 32 ATP! Without this many of our cells would either starve or we would have to eat dramatically higher amounts of food to survive. This is really what lets us be a large, complex organisms with many organs. This includes our muscles and a big energy hungry brain that allows us to think the way we do.

How the mitochondria accomplish this is through the electron transport chain. The electron transport chain is a team of proteins inside the mitochondria which allows the mitochondria to extract multiple times more energy than our cell could otherwise. The process is called cellular respiration and is a highly efficient system. The electron transport chain is important because it’s very sensitive to nutrient deficiencies and chemical toxins, which reduce function and lead to low energy.

Mitochondria enable us to be a large, intelligent person through the enhanced production of energy we’re talking about. When mitochondria function decreases, we function less well, when mitochondrial function stops completely many of our cells will die from starvation. We see this in cases of cyanide poisoning, because cyanide actually binds to part of the electron transport chain and shuts down energy production completely which leads to death within hours to days.

There are a lot of other jobs our mitochondria do, like cell signaling, calcium homeostastis, apoptosis (programmed cell death) and much more. The point is, mitochondria are found in most cells in your body and they help everything work better. They are present in the highest levels within the muscles and brain where we have higher energy needs. Remember this because anytime there is fatigue, low energy or any sort of brain fog or cognitive issues mitochondria are a big part of correcting the issues.

Mitochondria aren’t the only thing to consider, but in a lot of situations they are a big part of the solution. If we don’t think about or even know about mitochondria, then we’re leaving a major part of our health on the table.

The role of mitochondria in health and disease

Mitochondria play a role in many diseases, but very rarely are they the main component. The more common signs and symptoms of poor mitochondrial health is seen in fatigue and weakness. Since mitochondria are found in such high levels within the
muscles, if there are too few or the mitochondria present aren’t working quite right then you’ll feel tired and weak. If the problem is more widespread it may effect the brain and nervous system, which can cause brain fog, trouble concentrating, clumsiness and memory problems.

The more problems the mitochondria have, the more intense symptoms you start to notice. Mitochondrial function is a component in diabetes and heart disease, which often come together. Considering mitochondria help us burn off the energy from sugar, it makes sense. In diabetes we commonly see that mitochondria are both smaller than normal, and there are less of them. Another common problem is that it’s difficult for diabetic individuals to make new mitochondria, all of which comes together to further aggravate a system that is already under heavy stress. In cardiovascular health mitochondria are extremely important. Remember the heart is a muscle that has to function all day every day, so if the mitochondria of the heart are deficient then the heart won’t be able to function well.

A major disease where mitochondria play a role is cancer, as almost every cancerous cell tends to carry abnormal mitochondria. There are a few exceptions, but the exceptions tend to be less severe forms of cancer. There is a lot of interesting research that shows these diseased mitochondria are a major part of cancer cells ability to create more cancerous offspring cells. When mitochondria can be restored, the cell regains the ability to destroy itself for it’s other malfunctions.

The last area we’ll touch on is the health of the nervous system. Mitochondrial dysfunction or inhibition in the brain and nervous system directly correlates with how well our brain can function. There is research directly into how mitochondrial function in the brain relates to Parkinson’s and Alzheimers disease, giving a new target to help slow down progression and even restore function in these diseases.
To sum everything up, mitochondria play a role in most of the major diseases we deal with today – specifically chronic diseases that present later in life. This means there is an enormous opportunity to prevent and improve these diseases by focusing on mitochondrial health. Just as important for those of us not dealing with these problems is that improving mitochondrial
function will ultimately improve our health and functions so that we think, feel and act more optimally.

5 Supplements You Need To Know About

Fish oilThere are nutrients that we can all benefit from especially if we bump up the dosage to therapeutic levels. Here are five nutrients that you should absolutely know about and most can benefit from (of course talk with your doctor and make sure they are appropriate for you as an individual). These supplements are a good multivitamin, EPA/DHA (aka Fish Oil), Vitamin D, Probiotic and N-Acetyl Cysteine. These all have broad actions and benefits in the body, help repair deficiencies and boost function in many areas. Let’s dive in.

Multivitamin

Whats in it?

A good multi contains the basic vitamins and minerals (listed below). The difference between a multivitamin that is OK vs really helpful depends on the form and amounts of nutrients. Not all forms are absorbed easily or provide the same benefits. Someone with a common genetic mutation (MTHFR) benefits more from the “L-5 MTHF” form of folate vs the usual “folic acid”. This can go for many of the nutrients, ones to focus on are in bold.

Vitamins/Minerals and average dose

A (mixed carotenoids and/or retinol) 5000 iu

Calcium 200 mg

C (ascorbic acid or ascorbate) 500 iu Selenium 200mcg

Selenium 200mcg

D3 (cholecalciferol) 600iu Magnesium (citrate, malate or glycinate) 200mg

Magnesium (citrate, malate or glycinate) 200mg

E (mixed tocopherols) 100 iu Zinc 15mg

Zinc (sulfate or picolinate) 15mg

B1 (thiamine) 25mg

Chromium 200mcg

B2 (riboflavin) 25mg

Boron 1mg

B3 (niacin) 25mg

Iodine (potassium iodide) 100mcg

B5 (pantothenic acid) 25mg

Vanadium 1mcg

B6 (pyridoxine) 15mg

Copper 2mg

B12 (methyl or hydroxy-cobalamin) 1000mcg

Manganese .5mg

Folate (L-5 MTHF or folate) 400mcg

Molybdenum 35mcg

Biotin 10mg

Potassium 900mg

 

How can it help me?

Regardless of how good your diet is you probably don’t track every nutrient in every piece of food, it’s likely there are some nutrient gaps day to day. A multi is a great way to cover yourself with the basic nutrients. They contain nutrients shown to improve immune, cell, mood, brain and digestive function they can prevent birth defects, and much more. We’re not always deficient enough to show obvious or life-threatening symptoms, but we could be functioning a few percentage points less. How can you tell the difference between your body functioning at 80 or 90% vs 95 or 100%? I sure can’t tell except in the few rare experiences where I was deficient enough to have a complete symptom turnaround in less than a day with supplementation. A good multivitamin improves function on a cellular level. That translates to feeling sharper and preventing diseases or problems from deficiencies down the road.

How to choose a good one?

Look for:

Optimal forms: (noted above in parentheses)

Optimal dose: for a good multi this tends to be 4-6 capsules a day because you just can’t fit in high enough doses to make the big difference below that.

“Other ingredients”: should be minimal or non-existent. Things you specifically want to avoid: shellac, magnesium stearate, hydrogenated (soy) oils, titanium dioxide and artificial colors and anything you’re not sure about what it is.

Looking for an awesome multi? Find one that meets the minimal criteria of vitamins and minerals with some bonus nutrients. Possible add ins like CoQ10, EGCG, curcumin and Alpha Lipoic Acid are great nutrients that improve cellular and mitochondrial function.

Note: Some multis also have herbs in them, I recommend caution and researching each herb to know if it can cause any undesired side effects and decide whether it’s beneficial to you or not.

Top 3 picks

Pure Encapsulations: Polyphenol nutrients 

ITI: Multiplex 1 without Iron 

Klaire Multivitamin Complex

Omega 3 fatty acids (EPA/DHA)

Whats in it?

Omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. These are two essential fatty acids that we make but our body really just can’t make enough on it’s own. We can get EPA and DHA from fish, algae like spirulina, grass-fed meats, and to a lesser extent eggs and some from veggies and plants.

How can it help me?

Everyone has heard that fish is healthy, and the benefits come from the Omega 3’s. Omega 3’s benefits cardiovascular health, cell function, mental function, decrease inflammation and increase mood and energy. There’s a laundry list of how omega 3’s can benefit you.

How to choose a good one?

Rule 1) Fish oil – pharmaceutically/molecularly distilled. This keeps metals and contaminants at the lowest level possible.

Rule 2) It says how much EPA and DHA per dose on the bottle. Ideally you want to get 1 gram or more (combined) of DHA and EPA per day. You can factor in with how much good fish (like wild caught salmon, anchovies or sardines) you eat a week.

Rule 3) Not rancid: if it smells fishy, or unpleasant at all it’s a bad sign.

You can find good forms in both liquid and capsule.

Top 3 picks

Nordic Naturals ProOmega capsules

Pure EPA/DHA 

Now Ultra Omega 3 

Vitamin D3

Whats in it?

Vitamin D3, cholecalciferol. Naturally made in our body with the help of sunlight.

How can it help me?

Vitamin D deficiency is extremely common in anyone who works indoors. Correcting this deficiency can improve immune function, bone strength, inflammation, allergies, depression and more.

How to choose a good one?

Just make sure it’s Vitamin D3, which is the form our body can actually use. You can take it to a bonus by finding a supplement that includes and balances Vitamin D with Vitamin A and K2.

Top 3 picks

ARG Vitamin D3 complete

Biotics Bio-D-Mulsion 

Now Foods Vitamin D3

Probiotic

What’s in it?

Live beneficial bacteria usually different strains of Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus. These are the same bacteria that live in a healthy gut.

How can it help me?

1) Improve digestion: Bacteria support the breakdown of food and increase nutrient availability.

2) Improve immune function, decrease inflammation: Bacteria help train and regulate a major part of the immune system, this means you’re less likely to react to normal foods and more likely to react to pathogenic bacteria.

3) Prevent infection: Crowd out bad bacteria, no room for bad ones when you’ve got so many good ones there already.

4) Help excrete toxins: Certain strains of “bad” bacteria can prevent the excretion of chemicals. Prevent this by supplementing your good bacteria.

5) Help support healthy weight (find out more here)

How to choose a good one?

1) Multiple strains: preferably 5 or more different strains of different Lactobacillus and or Bifidobacteria.

2) High dose: generally you want to take at least 20 billion CFU (colony forming units) per day, you can’t really do that with a capsule that only has 10 million CFUs.

3) Powder or capsule based on personal preference.

Note: In general it’s recommended to refrigerate all probiotics as it improves the shelf life and potency.

Top 3 picks

1) Klaire therbiotic complete

2) Innate response Flora 20-14

3) NOW foods Probiotic 10

N-Acetyl Cysteine

What’s in it?

N-Acetyl Cysteine is a specific form of one of the non-essential amino acids.

How can it help me?

Research shows NAC can increase cellular levels of glutathione, our major antioxidant. Glutathione helps protect from, process and excrete environmental chemical toxins. We can’t avoid everything that isn’t healthy for us (think air pollution while driving in traffic) but we can make sure our body has the raw materials to manage any exposures.

How to choose a good one?

Specifically want the N-Acetyl form, it shouldn’t cost too much and you want 400-500mg per capsule. Standard dosage is up to 1500mg per day.

Top 3 picks

No major difference between brands with this one, go with what’s available and affordable!