Tag Archives: healthcare

8 Pictures That Perfectly Describe Leaky Gut (and how to fix it)!

Our gut has many functions. Changes in the balance of bacteria, leaky gut, bacterial overgrowth and other factors may affect how your GI system works. This may have systemic consequences.

Our gut has many functions. Changes in the balance of bacteria, leaky gut, bacterial overgrowth and other factors may affect how your GI system works. This may have systemic consequences.

Increasingly, chronic disease is being seen as stemming from altered gut function. Follow the arrows to see what the risks for chronic disease are. All of the factors that increase chronic disease risk adversely affect gut function too.

Increasingly, chronic disease is being seen as stemming from altered gut function. Follow the arrows to see what the risks for chronic disease are. All of the factors that increase chronic disease risk adversely affect gut function too.

The bacteria in our gut is EXTREMELY important and there is lots of it. If it becomes unbalanced, all symbiotic functions are lost.

The bacteria in our gut is EXTREMELY important and there is lots of it. If it becomes unbalanced, all symbiotic functions are lost.

These disease have all been linked to changes in the balance of bacteria in the gut

These disease have all been linked to changes in the balance of bacteria in the gut

The gut forms an important barrier between what's inside the intestines and what gets absorbed. Those blue structures highlighted by the orange arrows are tight junctions. They hold the cells together do nothing can squeeze between them and pass into the local blood supply unchecked. This is a very important function.

The gut forms an important barrier between what’s inside the intestines and what gets absorbed. Those blue structures highlighted by the orange arrows are tight junctions. They hold the cells together do nothing can squeeze between them and pass into the local blood supply unchecked. This is a very important function.

All of these factors can lead to breakdown of the tight junctions and leaky gut. NSAIDs are pain relievers like Aspirin, Aleve, Advil, etc. SIBO is an acronym for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.

All of these factors can lead to breakdown of the tight junctions and leaky gut. NSAIDs are pain relievers like Aspirin, Aleve, Advil, etc. SIBO is an acronym for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. Additionally, low exercise levels is a stressor under the category of physical stress. 

LPS are toxic structures located on the surface of the bacteria in the gut. When bacteria die, they are free to potentially enter our bloodstream. This would happen through a leaky gut. If this occurs your body's response is inflammatory. This inflammation alters your energy levels, your mood, and eventually increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and many other chronic diseases.

LPS are toxic structures located on the surface of the bacteria in the gut. When bacteria die, they are free to potentially enter our bloodstream. This would happen through a leaky gut. If this occurs your body’s response is inflammatory. This inflammation alters your energy levels, your mood, and eventually increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and many other chronic diseases.

Start in the upper left corner of the diagram and follow the arrows to see how a leaky gut leads to disease.

Start in the upper left corner of the diagram and follow the arrows to see how a leaky gut leads to disease.

Fixing the problem – follow these steps to fix your leaky gut

  1. Get advanced stool testing done to properly evaluate your GI health.
  2. Eat a paleo-inspired diet full of vegetables, healthy proteins, and healthy fats.
  3. Avoid food sensitivities.
  4. Consume fermented foods regularly.
  5. Supplement according to your needs. This might include nutrient repletion, probiotics, whey protein, anti-inflammatory herbs like curcumin, or fish oil.
  6. Exercise vigorously 3-4 times per week.
  7. Eliminate artificial sweeteners, do not overuse NSAIDs, antibiotics, or alcohol, manage your stress, and manage your stress.

If you do all of that, your can heal your leaky gut and feel better than you ever thought you could!

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The Choice is Your’s

Finally, we’re back with another blog! After a busy July and almost a month without a computer with some major hard drive issues, I am happy to be back writing about health and happiness!

I recently read an article written by Dr. Dean Ornish.  He is an integrative medical doctor that preaches lifestyle changes to solve some of health care’s biggest issues.  Although he and I disagree on the correct diet, we whole-heartedly agree that our medical system can be fixed with a new approach to how we live our lives.

I’d like to highlight one thing that he mentioned regarding heart disease and coronary angioplasty and coronary bypass procedures.  The procedures are performed when patients have blockages in the coronary artery system. This system is what provides blood and oxygen to the heart muscle itself.  Obviously, this is an important job!

In his article Dr. Ornish states that “In 2006, according to the American Heart Association, 1.3 million coronary angioplasty procedures were performed at an average cost of $48,399 each, or more than $60 billion; and 448,000 coronary bypass operations were performed at a cost of $99,743 each, or more than $44 billion.”

He goes on to say that in the vast majority of cases the above listed procedures do not prolong life. Yes, that’s right.  You read that correctly.  These procedures cost Americans over $100 billion per year and are very risky to say the least yet their benefit is suspect.  That doesn’t make sense does it?

Most of these procedures could be avoided if people would change their lifestyle and adopt one that incorporated a healthy diet and exercise.

Make no mistake about it – in the vast majority of cases angioplasty and bypass surgery are choices.  You may choose to experience the joy of these surgeries by eating a poor diet, not exercising and smoking.  Should you make that choice just know that the likelihood that you may need one of these two surgeries one day is high.

Or you may make the choice to live a healthy lifestyle by eating a low glycemic diet, exercising and staying away from cigarettes.  This lifestyle has side effects so beware! Side effects include abundant energy, lower rates of depression, lower rates of cancer and an overall vitality not achieved by most!

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Activity or Exercise? Do you know the difference?

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Exercise is the key to staying healthy.  Studies show that exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle because it reduces heart disease, cancer, depression, stroke and dementia to name just a few.  However, I find that most people do not know what exercise really is.  All too often they confuse it with activity.  Exercise and activity are cousins, but they are not the same thing.

In all of my new patient appointments I ask each person about their exercise habits.  Some people truly exercise, but the vast majority get no regular exercise. Still others think they exercise when in fact they are just active.  What’s the difference?

First, let me say that being active is without a doubt better than being a couch potato. However, it does not substitute for regular exercise.

So what exactly do I mean? Doesn’t being active mean I exercise? Not necessarily.

Here are the two scenarios I hear in my office the most.

The first is the busy mother of a small child.  Routinely they tell me, “I don’t need to exercise, I chase my small child around all day and pick him up and put him down.  That’s plenty of exercise.” Unfortunately that’s incorrect.  This person is active, but does not exercise and cannot possibly gain the benefits of exercise by looking after a small child.  Unless this mother is repeatedly picking up and putting down their child and squatting down over and over in a short period of time to do so and their heart rate is significantly elevated while doing so, they are not exercising.

Now, I understand that caring for a small child is tiring, but so is sitting at the library and doing research. Activities that make us tired do not always qualify as exercise.

The second scenario I hear most often in response to my question of exercise habits is actually one of two things; people will say, “I walk a few times per week,” or “I like to garden on the weekend.” Both of these again, are activities.  Very few people walk fast enough or the distances required for walking to be considered exercise.  I have one patient in particular who actually does walk far and fast enough for it to be exercise, but that’s a rarity.  Gardening will never be considered exercise.  Again, it may be tiring but two things disqualify it as exercise.  First, it does not increase the heart rate enough and second it is not done with enough regularity to be exercise.

Again, I want to stress that being active is a great start and is far superior to sitting on the couch and watching television.  But it’s just that – a start.

Exercise is something that drives heart rate, builds muscle and changes body composition. It should be done with regularity – at least 3 times per week for a minimum of 30 minutes.

I would ask you to consider this question; If you are a person who falls into one of the above scenarios and believe your lifestyle creates an environment in which you do not need to exercise because you are active consider this.

Are you happy with the results?

Are you tired and/or overweight despite chasing your small child around all day or gardening on the weekend?

If you answered no to the first question and yes to the second you should consider changing your point of view on what you consider exercise.

Remember, activity is a good thing. However, it is not exercise and cannot be used as a substitute.  I would encourage you to make time to exercise even if you are busy and active.  It will only help you in the end.

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Hospitalizations from prescription drugs increase 98% in 5 years!

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Below is an article on prescription abuse and misuse in the U.S.  The numbers are startling.  If we want to begin to cut health care costs we need to reign in the pharmaceutical industry and their aggressive marketing.  See my comments at the end of the article.

NY Times Article

By ABBY GOODNOUGH
Published: January 5, 2011

The number of emergency room visits resulting from misuse or abuse of prescription drugs has nearly doubled over the last five years, according to new federal data, even as the number of visits because of illicit drugs like cocaine and heroin has barely changed.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found there were about 1.2 million visits to emergency rooms involving pharmaceutical drugs in 2009, compared with 627,000 in 2004. The agency did not include visits due to adverse reactions to drugs taken as prescribed.

Emergency room visits resulting from prescription drugs have exceeded those related to illicit drugs for three consecutive years, said R. Gil Kerlikowske, President Obama’s top drug policy adviser.

“I would say that when you see a 98 percent increase,” Mr. Kerlikowske said, “and you think about the cost involved in lives and families, not to mention dollars, it’s pretty startling.”

In 2010, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that the number of people seeking treatment for addiction to painkillers jumped 400 percent from 1998 to 2008. And in a growing number of states, deaths from prescription drugs now exceed those from motor vehicle accidents, with opiate painkillers like Vicodin, Percocet and OxyContin playing a leading role.

In September, the Drug Enforcement Administration organized the first national prescription drug take-back program, and thousands of people dropped off old or unused drugs at designated locations around the country. While the effort captured but a tiny fraction of the addictive drugs in the nation’s medicine cabinets, law enforcement officials said it helped people understand how deadly such drugs can be. Another collection day is being planned for April, Mr. Kerlikowske said.

“The most important thing that actually seems to be gaining a lot of traction,” he said, “is the recognition that the prescription drugs sitting in your medicine cabinet can be dangerous. That’s huge.”

Dr. Court’s Comments

In a time when health care costs are through the roof and insurance premiums continue to rise this story explains a lot.

Since 2004 the number of emergency room visits has almost doubled because of complications from pharmaceutical agents that were misused or abused.  This does not take into account the number of people who are hospitalized because of adverse reactions or complications from taking their medications as prescribed.

There is a major war going on against illicit drugs like cocaine and heroin and rightfully so.  But according to this research hospitalizations for prescription drugs exceed those of the illegal drugs.  Why are we not fighting back against this problem?

In my opinion, the aggressive marketing of pharmaceutical drugs is partly to blame.  Just watch the nightly news.  You will see ad after ad for drugs. This leads people to believe that these drugs are basically harmless because of the happy and joyous people you see living their wonderful lives on these drugs.  It desensitizes people to their dangerous side effects.

Don’t believe me?  How much attention do you think the average American pays to the list of side effects that each company is required to state in their commercials?  The level of attention is directly related to how many times to you hear something.  The more you hear it, the less you pay attention to it.  And you hear it all the time!  You can’t get away from it on television.

Prescription drugs have their place, but that place should be as a last resort.  If all other methods have failed, perhaps  a drug will work. Tell me if this sounds familiar:

“If diet and exercise alone are not enough to control your cholesterol, adding Lipitor may help.”

You know what the problem with that statement is?  Diet and exercise are never given a chance.  The first thing that happens when someone is diagnosed with high cholesterol is a prescription is written.  No advice about diet or exercise is given.  Over prescribing has become a habit in the medical community and because of this, we pay the price.

If we want to reduce the number of hospitalizations from prescription drugs we need to reduce the number of prescriptions that are written in this country by using safe and effective alternatives and we need to stop the aggressive marketing of pharmaceutical agents to the general public.

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Obesity Costs U.S. $168 Billion

Obesity 001

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Two-thirds of Americans are overweight.  This means that two out of three people in this country have at least one significant health risk factor.  Not only does that shorten one’s lifespan, but it costs a lot of money too.

New research out of Cornell University and Lehigh University suggests that the total medical costs associated with obesity now tops $168 billion.  This accounts for 17% of total medical costs in the U.S. every year.  The new research also states that being obese adds about $2,800 to a person’s yearly medical expenditures.

Of 33 countries with advanced economies, the U.S. is the fattest.  Roughly 200 million Americans are overweight or obese and the epidemic is getting worse.

So not only is obesity dangerous for your health, it takes money out of your pocket! The question remains – what do we do about it?

Diet

My solutions are simple but they go against some of the traditional thoughts on diet in particular.

First, people must be taught how to eat correctly.  No more low fat, low cholesterol stuff.  I have many patients who are surprised when they begin my diet program to see it includes things like eggs, steak, cheese and whole fat yogurt.  They are used to physicians telling them to avoid fat or you’ll get fat.  Physiologically it doesn’t make sense and it doesn’t play out that way when people eat a diet rich in healthy fats.

I always encourage people to eat a diet low in refined carbohydrates and high in healthy fats and proteins.  Some people are hesitant because they are afraid they’re cholesterol will go up or they will actually gain weight.  After I assure them this won’t happen and they try the diet, they are ecstatic with the results.  No only do people lose weight, but they’re blood work improves too!  They see improvements in cholesterol levels, inflammatory enzyme levels and in blood sugar regulation to name a few.

Learning how to eat correctly is hard for some people at first because of all the misinformation out there.  Here’s a good rule of thumb for you – if it’s packaged don’t eat it.  Now this rule doesn’t always apply.  Somethings that are packaged are ok.  For example, if you buy a package of roasted almonds you’re good to go.  But most things that are packaged are high in refined carbohydrates and unhealthy fats and should be avoided.

Another good rule of thumb is to shop around the edges of the grocery store.  That’s where you’ll find the meats, veggies, fruits and nuts and seeds.  You’ll also likely find the breads…skip that part.

Meals should always have a good source of protein (chicken, fish, beef, etc.) and should always have a fruit or a vegetable.  Here’s what I’ve had for my meals so far today plus a good example for dinner:

Breakfast:
3 eggs, a yogurt and about 20 grapes.
Lunch:
Chicken breast, about 20 olives and a recovery drink (I had just gotten back from the gym and that will take me to my next point!)
Dinner:
I haven’t had dinner yet today but I’ll give you last night’s meal as a good example
Turkey and sausage meatloaf stuffed with cheese and sun dried tomatoes with stir fried Brussels spouts and onions.

Food is critically important.  No amount of exercise or supplements is going to make up for a poor diet.

Exercise

Are you seeing a theme yet?  On my blog you will see the words diet and exercise over and over.  It is because they are the most important things you can do to stay healthy.

You must exercise at least 3 times per week for about an hour.  This is critical.  People often ask me why they must exercise “so much.”  In my opinion, 3 hours a week is not a lot but I do understand that people are busy.  You are not too busy for this.  You can’t afford to be too busy for this.  I have also had people say to me that their parents never exercised and lived to be into their 80’s and 90’s.  This may be true but we must take into account that their activity level was most likely higher than our current activity level.  Fifty or sixty years ago our forms of entertainment were much different.  We didn’t watch as much TV, or play video games, or sit on our mowers to mow the lawn.

Your current fitness level will determine your program.  I suggest that if you are not used to exercising or want to get the best results possible, consider getting a good trainer to coach you through a program.  It is the best way to stay consistent with an exercise program because it makes you accountable to someone else for your exercise.

Your program should be a blend of muscle building exercises and cardiovascular fitness.  Without both you miss out on the unique health benefits that each provides.

This is the only way we are going to solve the obesity epidemic in this country.  There are no quick fixes and there certainly isn’t a pill that’s going to magically make us all healthy.  This is something we must all take responsibility for.  If we do that we can make a difference.

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Fighting Depression Naturally

Depression

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Depression is a huge problem in the United States.  The numbers are quite amazing. Approximately 20.9 million American adults, or about 9.5 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year, have a mood disorder. Depression is not just a disorder for adults, however. As many as one in 33 children and one in eight adolescents have clinical depression.

Depression is characterized by an all-encompassing low mood accompanied by low self-esteem, and by loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities. Unipolar depression, the most common mood disorder in the U.S., was first described by Hippocrates in the 5th century B.C. He believed that depression was caused by an imbalance in the four humors – blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile.  Excess black bile caused depression according to Hippocrates. In fact, the Greek term for depression, melancholia, means black bile.

This view may seem far fetched, but the fact that depression is a physical process is correct. Even Freud wrote of the various presentations of depression which range from mild and cognitive, to severe and somatic.
There are several ’causes’ of depression.  I put ’causes’ in quotes because no one really knows for sure what ’causes’ depression.  There are many theories.  In my opinion, an imbalance in the neurotransmitter system is a scientifically sound explanation as to how a person could develop a mood disorder.  I also like to consider that if a person is not in good general health, depression is more likely to take hold.  This is a view that is also supported by the research.
So if these are two ’causes’ of depression, how can we effectively treat it?  Good question.  See my answers below.

Get Healthy

First and foremost a person that is depressed must make every effort to get healthy.  This includes exercise and dietary changes.  Junk in equals junk out.  Period.  If all one eats is McDonald’s value meals they are very unlikely to be healthy and much more likely to develop depression in my opinion.  Did you ever see the movie SuperSize Me?  A documentarian decides to eat nothing but McDonald’s for 30 days to see what happens.  Not only did he fall apart physically but he developed depression! Now, this is just one case and is a bit anecdotal, but the result confirmed the  hypothesis I made before I even saw the movie.

You must eat a healthy diet in order for your body to work properly and be healthy.  For some reason modern medicine has separated the health of our body from the health of our minds.  It is widely understood that to have a healthy body we need to eat nutritious foods.  It is far less accepted that to have a healthy mind we need to have a healthy diet.  Why is this the case?  The food that we eat provides fuel to our bodies and to our brains. The same food nourishes our entire system, not simply our physical bodies.

Exercise is unbelievably critical.  In fact, research has shown that the #1 cure for depression lasting less than 7 years is exercise.  Exercise does many things for the body. It improves blood flow, is a great stress reliever and changes the chemical balance in the brain to name just a few.  If you feel as if you suffer from depression and you do one thing for yourself this should be the one.  It has long lasting benefits in terms of depression and helps get the rest of your body healthy as well.

Supplements to take

There are several supplements that have been shown to reduce depression.  I would not suggest trying them all at once.  And I would suggest you consult a physician that is trained in functional medicine before you start a program.

5-HTP

If your problem is low serotonin this may help you.  5-HTP is short for 5-hydroxytryptophan.  5-HTP is the direct precursor in the body for serotonin.  Taking it may increase your serotonin levels and improve your mood.

St. John’s Wort

This is an herbal product that is used here in the U.S. to help with depression.  It acts by affecting the serotonin system.  I have found that it helps some, but not all depressed patients.  It’s a popular depression treatment in Europe.

SAMe

Short for the chemical name S-adenosylmethionine, it is pronounced “sammy.”  This has worked well in my practice for many people.  It is available over the counter in the U.S., but it’s used in Europe as a prescription drug to treat depression.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Diets higher in omega-3 fatty acids are known to protect people from depression.  It also appears that consuming more omega-3s reduces the symptoms of depression.  Consuming more in one’s diet is not likely to be enough.  Most people will have to supplement their diet with the oil or capsules to gain the most benefit.

This is just a small sample of the things that one can do to naturally ease depression.  People are most successful when combine exercise, diet and supplements together.  It will give you the best chance of improving your mood and feeling happier and more alive.

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Confessions of a Pharmaceutical Sales Rep

The above video was brought to our attention from a patient of ours who happens to be a medical doctor.  The woman in the video is a former pharmaceutical sales person and speaks about the amazing ways in which Big Pharma tricks doctors into believing what they are prescribing has no downside.

Big business is big business no matter what the company is selling.  Just because the pharmaceutical industry makes drugs that are supposedly good for us (their words, not mine) does not mean they aren’t in it to make as much money as they can possibly make.  The problem is that these drugs are dangerous and Big Pharma tries at every turn to mislead the public and medical professionals to minimize the potential dangers of drugs.  Did you know that 106,000 people per year die from the negative effects of properly prescribed drugs? That number is almost as high as the number of people who die from stroke each year.

I recently read an article about the cholesterol lowering class of drugs called statin medications.  It was a sort of tongue and check article that touched on this subject.  It was written by a chiropractor who works in a hospital.  He has frequent interaction with medical doctors because of this and is privy to the conversations that most people don’t get to hear.  In his article he said that he’s overheard some physicians saying that everyone should be on statin medications because of their “health benefits” and almost nonexistent side effect profile.  He went as far to propose, sarcastically of course, that we should just start putting statins in our water as a measure of public health.  After all we already put fluoride in the water.  Why not add a little statin in there too!?  The problem is that statins have little health benefit and have a very large side effect profile.

Big Pharma is trying to spin these types of ideas day and night.  Anything to increase profits and crush the competition.  At some level, people who work for these corporate giants want to help people and cure diseases.  The problem is that the people in charge care about one thing – money and power.  Power begets money and money begets power.  Once those two things are in the fold, you can forget about honesty in terms of research, marketing and maybe worst of all, political policy.  While they don’t directly control legislation, their 2500+ lobbyists do a great job making sure their interests are well taken care of.

There needs to be a change in the way Big Pharma is regulated.  If we do not, health care prices will continue to increase and America will continue to be one of the unhealthiest nations in the world.

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