Tag Archives: insulin

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Intermittent Fasting & Time Restricted Eating: Potential to Influence Insulin & Thus Obesity & Disease

Intermittent Fasting and Time Restricted Eating: Potential to Influence Insulin & Thus Obesity & Disease

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Getting a Hold of Auto-Immunity

Controlling Auto-Immunity

Why Can’t I Fall Asleep?

Insomnia can be one of the most frustrating conditions to deal with. And while not all cases of sleep disturbances fall under this overused and often incorrectly utilized label, when you are sleep deprived you know it, and end up suffering on numerous physiologic fronts far beyond simply feeling tired.

But why does this happen?

How can we fix it?

Unfortunately there are plenty of reasons why our sleep cycle can be thrown off, ranging from diet and stress to outright neurological dysfunction. However, if we utilize our knowledge of physiology and start with a least invasive approach, we can start the balling rolling in the right direction.

We first need to understand and appreciate our body’s natural 24 hour cycle. This is called the circadian rhythm and is our built in sleep-wake cycle. This cycle is heavily contingent upon the inverse relationship between two chemicals: melatonin and cortisol.

Our adrenal glands secrete cortisol in response to stress (chemical, physical and emotional) in order to provide our body with energy to deal with that stress. The adrenals and thus the release of cortisol can be set into overdrive when we are stressed or from constant blood sugar swings. This is important to grasp as cortisol has an inverse relationship with melatonin and is a driver behind the wake portion of our circadian rhythm. This means that when cortisol is elevated, melatonin and thus your ability to sleep is down.

Melatonin on the other hand drives the sleep portion of our 24 hour cycle. When all is functioning properly, our melatonin level rises throughout the day (as cortisol is dropping), ultimately culminating in its peak in the later evening, sending us off to a refreshing slumber. During the evening our melatonin level begins to drop as our cortisol levels begin to rise in response to our lower blood sugar during the mini fast that takes place when we sleep.

Cortisol then peaks in the morning (while melatonin level bottoms out) providing us with wide eyed energy for the day. As the day goes on cortisol level slowly dips and melatonin rises, and we repeat the cycle all over again.

Does this picture of perfect balance and physiological harmony sound like you?

If it doesn’t, you’re not alone as adrenal dysfunction is overwhelmingly common in contemporary lifestyles filled with poor diets and high stress.

Again, starting with a least invasive, general approach, there are things you can do in an attempt to recalibrate your circadian rhythm. The first thing you can do is to start your day out with 10-15 minutes of sun exposure. This exposure to natural light will signal the body that it is day time and lead to increased production of serotonin, which is the reason people tend to feel happier with higher levels of sunlight.

Serotonin is the precursor to melatonin and thus the more serotonin, the more potential melatonin that can be produced. This is why people who are suffering from depression due to a lack of serotonin also tend to have issues sleeping.

In addition to the sun exposure, you can also make sure to provide fuel for serotonin by consuming the amino acid tryptophan as this is the precursor to serotonin. In order to boost the likelihood of this conversion, adequate amounts of magnesium and vitamin B6 are also necessary.

Taking this step can start you on your way to more serotonin, more melatonin, and hopefully more sleep. However, there are some common pitfalls that hinder the pathway from serotonin to melatonin. One of the last steps in this conversion is called methylation. Potential attenuators of the methylation process include a junk food diet (high carb/sugar), birth control pills, hormone replacement therapies, and the bacterial gut infection, H. pylori. Working with a qualified health care provider to identify and rectify each of these situations is a must when attempting to correct that 24 hour cycle.

By far the most common cause of low melatonin is the aforementioned high cortisol. When one of these is up, the other is down. The most common cause of abnormal cortisol is dysglycemia or blood sugar issues. We have covered the causes of this extensively in past posts and it truly is a deal beaker when it comes to ALL aspects of health and longevity. Other than modifying the diet, having fasting insulin and HbA1c levels monitored can point you in the right direction.

A regular recharge by the way of natural, refreshing sleep is another vital pillar to optimal living and longevity.

Use this information.

Contact us for a consult.

Dig deeper.

Do what you have to do to ensure you are stacking the deck in your favor as much as possible in order to live this one and only life to the fullest.

Cholesterol: Rethinking Statins

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.

Healthy Holiday Eating Tips

Thanksgiving is here which means we’ve officially kicked off the holiday season.  As we break bread with loved ones during these times of celebration and reflection we often tend to take feasting to another, many times uncomfortable and self destructive level.  Here again are a few tips for limiting the collateral damage and post meal regret, stomach ache and reactive hypoglycemic nap.

TIP 1: INTELLIGENT ORDER OF CONSUMPTION

I know. I know. It’s a mouthful (pun intended).  However different macronutrients (protein, fats and carbs) have different levels of impact on satiation or our perception of fullness, with protein having the greatest, followed by fats and then carbs.

To utilize this fact to your advantage, go heavier on the bird or hog first, followed by healthy fats like some grassfed butter, olive oil as a dressing or seasoning, or maybe even some coconut oil, which in my opinion goes good with just about anything and is beneficial across the board.

Do not be hesitant to consume these fats making the seemingly logical association that dietary fats = more body fat.  This is a topic for another post but is simply is not the case, as the more accurate association is excess dietary carbs = body fat.

Consume in this simple, intelligent order and bring on that satisfied feeling without becoming the human garbage disposal for the carb heavy favorites that fill the table and that special place in our hearts.

TIP 2: TAKE YOUR TIME

In order to take advantage of the effects noted in TIP 1, you need to allow time for the brain to receive the hormonally delivered message from the digestive system.  Like so many other situations in life, we look forward to a particular event only to rush through it, not even taking a second to breathe and enjoy the moment while in it.

Never is this so true than with holiday feeding frenzies, especially Thanksgiving, where we feed as though we are preparing for a winter long hibernation.

Admire the construction of your intelligently designed plate.

Take time to savor each individual seldom experienced taste that someone spent time to prepare.

Engage in or attentively listen to some of the surrounding conversations.

Taking time to enjoy that moment will allow the appropriate signals to reach the brain and make practicing self-control all that much easier.

TIP 3: DON’T FAST FOR THE FEAST

Another pitfall leading to gluttonous engorging is not eating throughout the day to save room for the big meal.  Creating this energy and blood sugar deficit can set you up for an out of control food overload followed by the subsequent blood sugar roller coaster, and eventual face plant into the couch.  While this makes for good holiday instagram posts for your guests, it could’ve been avoided had you not fasted to feast.

Eat as you would any other day leading up to “the meal.”  Enjoy a nice breakfast after your turkey trot or while you watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Have lunch or a snack as you normally would throughout the day.

Maintaining your usual habits will keep your metabolism on a more even keel and help to curb becoming a rabid animal at the table, drool and all.

TIP 4: ENJOY

For many this kicks off what truly is “the most wonderful time of the year” appropriately with a day that should prompt reflection and expression of gratitude for at the very least, being here for another Thanksgiving.

Exhale.

Laugh.

Enjoy a “rare treat,” as my Mom would say.

And if you are interested in not falling too far off the tracks, implement the tips above.

Thank you.