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As the umbrella covering potential statin (cholesterol lowering drugs) consuming customers grows larger and larger, profits for the pharmaceutical giants continue to soar into the billions. These profits also naturally extend to the middle man, your neighborhood MD. With so many vested hands in the pot, one cannot help but question the expanding prescribing parameters in an attempt to determine whether or not the drug is absolutely necessary on an individual basis; especially with a drug that carries such an extensive list of potential systemic side effects:
This topic is extensive, and we’ve actually touched on different aspects in the past:
Today we will shed some light on the false interpretations of a flawed calculation based upon on an individual’s lipid panel (blood work consisting of total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, triglycerides, etc.).
One of the main numbers utilized to determine the need for a statin is your LDL, more commonly referred to as “bad cholesterol.” Easy to grasp right? As a patient you receive an official print out that shows your HDL or good and your LDL or bad right there in black and white. Easy to read and comply to statin use in order to change the “bad” numbers.
First you must know that cholesterol is not all bad, but rather a necessity for proper brain function, hormone production, internal vitamin D genesis and more. It is also a form of LDL that delivers the cholesterol to the necessary destination to perform these vital functions. As far as achieving the objective of changing the numbers on a print out, statins are successful as they block the ability of the liver to make all cholesterol, thus lowering your numbers. SUCCESS!
Many different ways we can go here, but let’s stick to the basic interpretation of the test results that leads to the prescription in the first place. Most physicians rarely order the specific tests to actually measure LDL, but rather rely on an outdated and limited equation to calculate the number. This equation is based upon your total cholesterol, triglycerides (TGL) and HDL. It’s accuracy is also highly contingent upon other individually specific variables such as insulin resistance, diet (nothing to do with dietary cholesterol consumption), and other genetic variances. It also only works in successfully calculating an accurate LDL value if in fact your TGL and HDL numbers fall in a specific range to begin, otherwise the results of the equation have been shown to be off.
So if you don’t fit just right into the tiny box of necessary equation specifics, the calculated LDL results are inaccurate and more often then not, create the illusion of a qualifier for another statin customer. To add to the blurred lines, there are two types of LDL, with one being vital for optimal function, and one being potentially problematic, paving the way for the most common issue correlated with high cholesterol: atherosclerosis. This calculation does nothing to differentiate between the two.
To even to begin to attempt to obtain a more accurate picture of this critical LDL value, you have two options. In addition to the comprehensive lipid panel, the test must also include a measurement of apoproteinB, or the use of nuclear magnetic resonance testing (NMR), as both provide a more accurate picture of the LDL value that is relied so heavily upon to determine the need for a statin.
As stated, this topic runs deep. At this point we could easily steer the discussion towards just what causes the accumulation of very small or bad LDL (again, nothing to do with dietary cholesterol) and what can easily be done to reverse and prevent it. However, the information provided above serves as yet another piece of the puzzle that can be utilized to play a more active and intelligent role in your own health.
Just another quick note as to why this is so important: as noted earlier statins are being prescribed to more and more people, old and young and now being recommended by some to be consumed as a preventive measure, even if your numbers are “good.” Among other things, statin use has been correlated with an increased risk of diabetes as it essentially destroys a key part of your metabolic processing factory, the liver. Among other things, diabetes has been correlated with an increased risk of dementia, with Alzheimer’s even being dubbed “diabetes type III.” Keep in mind this is just one aspect of the deleterious effects of statin use and another glaring example of the need to become more educated and take an active role in your own fate.
If you have any questions about this topic or any other aspect of your health and would like to explore your options based upon a firm comprehension of human physiology and how to naturally alter that in your favor, please do not hesitate to reach out at any time, in any way.
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The weight loss industry is now and forever will be alive and strong as individuals struggle to keep the pounds off. The majority of motivation may be aesthetics, but the need to shed the excess body weight goes well beyond simply feeling good about your counterpart staring back at you in the mirror.
I become discouraged with loud and large celebrities who look to spearhead the movement of embracing obesity as being comfortable in their own skin. Being comfortable and happy with yourself is no doubt a justifiable desire, but pushing personal acceptance of obesity is reckless to say the least.
This is not about looks or appearance either, although the message of “accepting you for you” will incorrectly cite this. This is about an outright unhealthy state for the body to be in, and the cascade of consequences that follow. Body fat is not a static or silent tissue; rather quite the contrary. Adipose tissue or body fat is actually a highly active metabolic tissue that when in excess disrupts hormonal signaling (including those responsible for appetite, blood sugar and sleep regulation).
It is also a pro-inflammatory tissue, meaning the more you have the more inflamed you will be throughout the body. This lends it’s hand not only to elevated pain levels, but it increases the common denominator behind virtually every condition known (from plantar fasciitis to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s); inflammation.
The bottom-line here is that it’s not about the looks from a quantity and quality of life standpoint. We are talking about a truly taxing state to ask a body to operate in, especially over time, with a list of concomitant issues that far exceeds the few listed above.
This brings us to today’s topic, which is not meant as a standalone solution to the issue, but rather another piece of the intelligently assembled, holistic puzzle.
If you’ve read any articles on this site before, you know we rightfully place an abundance of emphasis on intestinal health or “the gut.” The major player in this system and thus our overall health is our intestinal flora, or the “probiotic” good bacteria that populate our digestive tract.
Researchers have discovered that there is a certain type of bacterial organism (firmicutes) that is more prevalent in obese individuals as opposed to the majority of bacteroidetes found in their lean counterparts. This makes sense as firmicutes are notorious as “fat loving” bacteria with a higher propensity to digest complex carbs, extracting the energy from food and ultimately storing it as fat.
These bacteria communicate directly and indirectly with our brains, and if we are dominated with a strain of flora that thrives off of carbohydrates, the message is sent to our brains to crave and potentially overconsume these fat generating foods. What’s more, we’ve just learned that higher levels of these firmicutes actually turn on genes (epigenetics) that not only increase the risk for obesity, but diabetes, dementia, and cardiovascular disease.
In an individual’s personal war on obesity this serves as a powerful foundational weapon. As previously stated, obviously a variety of lifestyle strategies must be implemented to successfully attain and maintain a healthy weight. However, this piece of information should be universally utilized in order to better control cravings from within, optimize metabolism for the goal at hand, and further substantiate a quality probiotic (and a healthy intestinal tract for it to flourish within) as one of the cornerstones to optimal health and longevity.
Are you one of the millions of Americans who are feeling negatively affected by the ever evolving heathcare reform? Elevated premiums, ridiculous deductibles, limited network provider selection has patients and providers sick to their stomachs (pun intended).
As promised, change did indeed come, and was definitely needed. And while an abrupt upheaval and reconfigurment of an intact system can be quite unsettling on numerous fronts, only time will tell how the future chapters of this book will be ascribed; for better or for worse.
The question we are left with is: now what? How is one to advantageously navigate this new system in order to reap optimal available benefits, while mitigating the economic blow as much as possible?
Like it or not, it is what it is for the time being. And alas, we are left choices. There is always the option to whine, complain, bitch, moan; even get angry and stressed, which will make healthcare all the more necessary for you.
Unless you plan on getting involved in politics and joining the ranks of policy proposers and lewd lobbyists, then the aforementioned option doesn’t do anyone any good.
Let’s talk about an intelligent strategy here to hopefully save some dollars, sanity and ultimately, your health.
First off you will either need to continue to carry a now inflated health insurance or pay a fine for rolling the dice without. This is still an option and the appropriate alternative varies dependent upon your specific situation. This part appears to be an unavoidable reality at the moment so unless you plan on joining the circus in D.C., you may as well come to terms with your decision and move on.
Let’s now talk about how you can really take control of the situation. Are you infuriated by your seemingly unattainable deductible? Are you disgruntled because you feel you have been forced to change physicians or pay them thousands to join their preferred, VIP patient club?
Well, a simple solution exists to eliminating both of these issues. Stop sitting back complaining while you consume the same diet that perpetuates the need for frequent doctor visits in the first place. Stop sitting altogether. Stop talking about exercise or becoming more active, and get up and do it.
The information, research and evidence implicating lifestyle (diet, exercise, stress, sleep, toxins, etc.) as the main driver of genetic expression (epigenetics) and thus chronic disease (diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, auto-immunity, Alzheimer’s, cancer, etc.) now exists, and is thankfully becoming more mainstream. Ignorance is no longer an excuse. The information, and thus the knowledge and power exists to play a more active role in your health, well being and life than ever once imagined.
You see if you don’t like the current sickcare, excuse me, healthcare system, then take a stand on a personal level and remove yourself from it as much as possible. Stop playing the loud, opinionated, helpless victim who does nothing to help themselves.
No matter where you sit on the spectrum of health, there are basic foundational changes that can be implemented and built upon from there. The stronger that intelligently constructed foundation, the less of a need for all those prescriptions and visits to the specialist.
Thus you have improved two aspects of your relationship with healthcare in that you can now pick a plan that makes emergencies more economical, rather than routine visits to attenuate this new symptom and modify dosage of that med. You have also now enabled yourself to take some space from the this new provider who you didn’t much care for to begin with.
Now I realize everyone’s situation is different, especially when it comes to health. Some people may need plans for frequent specialist visits and access to medications, and that’s all good. That’s what they’re there for.
However, the majority of the population can do themselves a service and make the effort to take the proactive step towards optimal health, and thus more independence from the system they declaratively loathe.
The seemingly healthy individual can arm themselves with knowledge and begin to cultivate a lifestyle relatively free of issues down the line; true responsible, wellness care. The boomers and elder set can break some of the lifelong habits and be sure to attentuate the inevitable degeneration as much as possible, leading to a higher quality of life in those golden years. Even the individual with seemingly hopeless, devestating disease diagnosis can explore all options, and do all they can to stack the remainig deck in their favor.
With the abundance of information out there, getting started can be a daunting, seemingly insurmountable task, but it doesn’t have to be. There exists forward thinking healthcare providers like myself, who are passionate about collaborating with individuals in order to unlock the potential to thrive.
Find one you can develop a relationship with, along with some level of trust. Find one who will take the time to not only listen, but explain the anatomy, physiology, and logic and reason behind each aspect of a plan; ultimately creating a more knowledgable, independent advocate of their own health.
This is what we pride ourselves in doing professionally and personally, and are here to guide all those looking to take their lives into their own hands.
As of the spring of 2014 one in four Americans over 45 were taking a cholesterol lowering drug known as a statin. Over 43 million Americans between the ages of 40-75, along with an increasing number of younger customers are now including a Lipitor or Crestor as part of their daily regimen.
As the lab values that serve as the criteria for prescribing a statin continue to change, the umbrella for those deemed in need of statin therapy continues to widen. Leaning on the outdated and now uneducated vilification of fats and cholesterol, the multibillion dollar statin industry continues to thrive. Sad thing is, cardiovascular disease and overall health have not improved despite the low fat, statin fueled culture we know find ourselves in.
So is this widening spread use of statins necessary? Is it safe? Here are some facts about statins and cholesterol that should at the very least provoke some individual concern and subsequent investigation.
In 2012 the FDA issued a statement declaring statin drugs can cause cognitive side effects such as memory lapses and confusion.
An AMA (American Medical Association) study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine demonstrated a 48% increased risk of diabetes (a powerful risk factor for type III diabetes aka Alzheimer’s) among women taken statins.
It is well known that statins paralyze cells’ ability to make coenzyme Q10, a vitamin like substance found throughout the body, where it serves as an antioxidant and energy producer. Depletion of CoQ10 leads to fatigue, shortness of breath, mobility & balance problems, muscular pain & weakness. CoQ10 deficiency has also been linked to heart failure, hypertension & Parkinson’s. CoQ10 has actually been proposed as a treatment for Alzheimer’s. At the absolute very least, individuals currently undergoing statin therapy should consult with their physician about adding CoQ10 to their regimen.
How about Vitamin D deficiency? Vitamin D is derived from cholesterol in the skin. When statins lower cholesterol, the ability to generate Vitamin D is hampered leading to (amongst other things) a heightened risk for diabetes, depression, cardiovascular disease and ultimately dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Consider the fact that our sex hormones are also derived from cholesterol. Lowering cholesterol through use of statins and diet can lead to lower testosterone levels and subsequent decreased libido and ED (erectile dysfunction) which are common complaints amongst statin users.
LOWER levels of cholesterol have been linked to depression, dementia and even earlier death.
This type of information and suffering will hopefully continue to provoke reconsideration and remodeling of the current paradigm. As we learn more through research and prior failures, the appropriate response is to act on this newfound knowledge and improve. Unfortunately pride and profits appear to be standing in the way, so it is on us as individuals to educate and investigate when it comes to our health.
When it comes to evaluating cholesterol levels, they are usually included in a lipid panel. This entire process should be reevaluated as well, but there are ways to alter and more accurately measure your triglyceride and small LDL. Before resorting to a statin, why not attempt to uncover the reason for the unfavorable levels, and attempt to remedy it?
How about starting with rethinking the dietary approach?
No not the seemingly logical, oversimplified and outdated, disproven theory that dietary fats and cholesterol are the main culprits behind “bad” cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.
You must once again look to carbohydrates and the subsequent release of insulin, which triggers fatty acid synthesis in the liver. This starts the chain that eventually leads to the rise of triglycerides and “bad” cholesterol. It is no coincidence that diabetes (a disease which features erratic blood sugar and insulin levels) is associated with the lipid triad of low HDL or “good” cholesterol, and high triglycerides and small LDL or “bad” cholesterol.
(Calling HDL and LDL cholesterol is actually incorrect as the “L” actually stands for Lipoprotein, and the “HD” and “LD” stand for High or Low Density. These are carrier proteins that transport cholesterol throughout the body.)
The majority of type II diabetes can be reversed by reducing carb consumption, and the same holds true for naturally improving your lipid panel.
Another area to look at is thyroid function.
Patients with hypothyroid symptoms often display a lipid panel that includes high triglycerides and high LDL due to the body making fat much quicker than it can burn it. The slower metabolism seen with hypothyroidism leads to:
…a sluggish liver and gall bladder making fat less likely to be metabolized and cleared from the body.
…it causes cells to be less receptive to LDL circulating which sets the stage for the LDL to accumulate and be oxidized. This is actually when LDL becomes harmful, not merely its presence alone as it is actually necessary to deliver vital cholesterol to our body’s tissues.
…leaves an individual less able to burn fat as fuel as a healthy person would. This creates a reliance on glucose (carbs/sugar) for fuel and the subsequent insulin release, fat storage and higher triglycerides and small LDL.
Diet and hampered thyroid function are just two possible reasons for an unfavorable lipid profile, and in many cases can be improved with lifestyle changes and the application of functional medicine. Depending on the individual, cleaning up the menu, fortifying the digestive system, balancing the immune system, supporting the adrenal and thyroid glands and detoxification pathways can all be used to improve underlying function, which in turn creates a healthier human who can hopefully steer clear of statins and the accompanying baggage.
As always, consult with your healthcare provider before making any changes. If you are interested in a unique, knowledgable approach based on the most current research, experience and understanding of the underlying function of the body and would like to learn more, call us today.
It’s a new year and with it comes renewed motivation for change and resolutions. One of the most prevalent goals for the new 365 day cycle is to shed those pounds that may have been accumulating for sometime now.
With all of the quick fixes and abundance of conflicting information out there, it can be difficult to know which way to go. Well, a simple, free way to get the ball rolling is by eliminating all wheat from your diet. Now this may sound way too simple, but there is a physiologic explanation for this and here it is:
The first concept that needs to be understood is that for the most part it is not dietary fat, but rather the carbohydrate that is mostly responsible for increased deposition of body fat. This includes everything from bread, sugar, pasta, and even too much fruit.
This is due to the fact that these foods break down to glucose in the body, which then prompts the release of insulin. Insulin delivers what glucose is needed to fill stores in tissue like the liver and muscles, with the rest being stored as fat.
You see this mechanism came in handy for our Paleolithic hunter and gatherer ancestors who encountered real periods of feast and famine due to the unavailability of food supply. It was at these times that the fat stores would be utilized to survive. For the most part this is not the case today as we live in an age of availability and relative abundance.
The issue arises when, due to high carb meals, insulin is constantly triggered by elevated blood glucose levels. When no more is needed for fuel, the storage of fat begins. The difference being, most people do not fast or skip meals at this point, but rather eat another carb heavy meal when hungry or even out of habit. The fat storage continues, the pounds pile on and the waist circumference balloons.
The higher the carb content of the meal, the higher the blood sugar rises, the more drastic spike in insulin, and the more fat being deposited; mainly around the waist and abdominal region.
This creates a vicious cycle as a high carb meal will lead to a high insulin response from the pancreas. This aggressive clearing of glucose from the blood can then leave you tired and hungry for another ride on the blood sugar roller coaster.
This is also the mechanism behind type II diabetes, as repeated spikes of blood sugar from high carb meals and subsequent surges in insulin in response to the blood sugar spikes leads your tissues to become insulin resistant, not wanting to accept any more glucose. At this point the only place for your body to dump the glucose load is around your waist as body fat.
So why is wheat public enemy #1 if you are diabetic, trying to lose weight or simply interested in overall health? Well if we comprehend the physiologic process laid out above, we understand that the higher the carb load, the more insulin is secreted and the more fat is stored for a rainy day; or better yet a beach day when it’s really appreciated.
Wheat is special due to the fact that it breaks down into a complex carbohydrate (a string of glucose molecules) in the body called amylopectin A. This particular carb has the distinguished honor of spiking the blood sugar more than actual table sugar.
If you are familiar with the glycemic index, you know it is basically a scale or measurement showing how readily absorbed a food is and the effects it will have on the blood sugar levels. Wheat ranks higher on the glycemic index than actual table sugar.
If we combine that knowledge with the knowledge of the carbohydrate digestive process that leads to fat deposition and the road to diabetes that we described above, we know that this is a big, bad deal. It also is essential, empowering knowledge of you are looking to drop the weight.
In addition to leading to weight gain and the metabolic dysfunction described above, wheat packs one more diabolical punch in that it is actually chemically addictive. You may hear people joke about their addiction to bread, but chemically it breaks down and serves as an exorphin to your brain that stimulates the same pleasure generating opioid receptors as heroin or morphine. There is a reason for the overeating of this mind altering, comfort food, and now you hopefully have another reason to kick it to the curb.
Two points in closing:
Many people resist the notion that wheat, or any food they were raised on can have such a negative impact. What needs to be fully understood is that the food, and wheat in particular, of today is not the food of the past. Cross breeding, hybridization and genetic modification has created a new product not in line with our genome, of which the long term effects are not known.
What is known is the basic human physiology and systemic impacts of elevated blood sugar (which wheat is king at causing), as far as weight gain and the path to diabetes. The fact that a diet consisting of heart healthy grains is still suggested to anyone, but especially those with the aforementioned two conditions is outright shameful.
The second point is that while kicking wheat (and all wheat, not just the obvious bread; read your labels) can have a strong impact on weight and blood sugar control, it needs to be accompanied with an intelligent diet. It seems obvious, but if you avoid wheat, but continue to drink soda, eat a high sugar diet (excess fruit included), and high carb/sugar gluten free alternatives, results will in all likelihood be hindered or outright negated.
However, beginning to phase the wheat and gluten out of your regular regimen can have benefits well beyond those covered in this brief post, but is essential if you are looking to drop some weight or regain control of your blood sugar.
If you have questions, need help getting started, figuring it out or devising an implementable and practical plan, please do not hesitate to contact us. (321-848-0987)
Make a move.