Category Archives: Weight Loss

Your gut bacteria can play a role in anxiety and PTSD

Probiotic w/ prebiotic foodsNew research has found a link between gut bacteria and anxiety — the diversity and quantity of your gut bacteria can affect your anxiety levels. Scientists believe this could play a role in treating PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
In the study, researchers subjected mice to stressful conditions until they showed signs of anxiety and stress: shaking, diminished appetite, and reduced social interaction. Fecal samples showed the stressed mice had less diversity of gut bacteria than calmer mice who had not been subjected to stress.
When they fed the stressed mice the same live bacteria found in the guts of the calm mice, the stressed mice immediately began to calm down. Their stress levels continued to drop in the following weeks.
Brain scans also showed the improved gut flora produced changes in brain chemistry that promotes relaxation.
These biomarkers, according to researchers, can indicate whether someone is suffering from PTSD or is at a higher risk of developing it. Improving gut microflora diversity may play a role in treatment and prevention.

The role of healthy gut bacteria in the military

Because about 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans suffer from PTSD, the military is interested in the potential of influencing gut bacteria to manage and predict the risk of PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Enhancing gut microflora may also help submarine crews who go for long periods in confined spaces and with no daylight.

How to improve the health of your gut bacteria for anxiety, PTSD, depression, obesity, eating disorders

The quality and diversity of gut bacteria, or the “gut microbiome,” has been linked to not only anxiety, but also depression, obesity, eating disorders, autism, irritable bowel syndrome, and many other common disorders.
In other words, if you want to improve your health, you need to tend to your inner garden and make it richly diverse and bountiful. Although we’re still some way off from a magic-bullet approach, there are many ways you can enrich the environment of your gut microbiome:

Cut out foods that kill good bacteria and promote harmful bacteria: Sugars, processed foods, processed carbohydrates, alcohol and energy drinks, fast foods, food additives, and other unhealthy staples of the standard American diet.

Eat tons of fiber-rich plants, which good bacteria love: All vegetables but especially artichokes, peas, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, as well as fruits. Either way, eat a large diversity of veggies on a regular basis instead of the same thing every day.

Use probiotic supplements: Live, “friendly” bacteria in supplement form will bolster your gut’s population of healthy microbes. Read the label to make sure they are high in multiple strains of live bacteria. Dietary fiber nourishes these friendly probiotic bacteria, earning it the title “pre-biotic”. This combination of pre- and probiotic support is vital for healthy gut bacteria.

Eat fermented foods: Sauerkraut, kimchee, kombucha, and yogurt contain live microbes, and can also help boost the probiotic content of your digestive tract. Not all fermented foods have live cultures so make sure to read the labels.

Protect your existing gut flora: Medications, age, health status, and stress influence your gut microbiome. Eating a fiber-strong, gut-friendly diet and supplementing with probiotics and fermented foods is one of your best strategies for supporting gut health, a healthy mood, and stress resiliency.

Want to get fat? Go on a diet

549 dieting makes you fatIt’s an addiction to insanity in our culture, one of the most overfed populations in human history — the weight loss diet.
Despite plenty of scientific evidence that diets don’t produce lasting results for most people and despite countless numbers of dieters, most of them women, thrown into a lifetime of damaging despair, low self-esteem, and self-hatred thanks to failing diets, our culture still blindly adheres to the low-calorie diet as the panacea for all life’s problems, including those extra pounds.
The reality TV show The Biggest Loser provided the perfect high-profile platform for scientists to showcase what millions of Americans have learned the hard way: diets make you fatter in the long run.

Why dieting makes you fat

For most of our species’ history, meager food supply and bouts of famine have been the norm. As a result, the body prioritizes conserving fat and energy through altering its metabolism and fat-storing hormones.

Metabolism slows dramatically for years

Eating fewer calories to lose weight significantly slows your metabolism and causes you to regain the weight quickly and easily. The body will fight for years to get back to its previous set point. Contestants on the Biggest Loser learned they now burn between 400 and 800 fewer calories six years after their televised weight loss journey. In other words, they have to under eat just to not continually gain fat.

Satiety hormones skewed for years

Diets also skew levels of leptin and other satiety hormones. These hormones control hunger and food cravings. All of the show’s contestants had normal levels of leptin prior to losing weight. After losing weight their leptin levels plummeted to near nil. A follow-up study showed after they had regained the weight leptin levels were at about half of original levels. Other satiety hormones were also out of range.
This caused contestants increased hunger and cravings.

Televised torture for weight loss

The weight loss program The Biggest Loser contestants were put on not only ultimately damaged their metabolisms, it was unrealistic, tortuous, and exhausting. Contestants ate too few calories and exercised many hours a day, needing to quit their jobs to meet the weight loss demands. Maintaining the weight loss required exercising two to three hours a day and continued under eating. They were also left with mounds of loose skin.

Understand how the body works to lose weight

Fortunately, sustainable weight loss is possible for many people who understand functional medicine approaches to metabolism, satiety hormones, and the effects of stress and inflammation on weight. Unfortunately, those who have lost and gained weight repeatedly during their lives will have a bigger battle. It is also important to manage underlying causes of weight gain, such as emotional and addiction issues, PTSD, and chronic stress. For instance, one study showed many overweight women have been sexually abused as children.
Although portion control and regular physical activity are important, so too are managing the types of foods you eat. For instance, processed carbohydrates and sweets trigger the mechanisms that cause cravings and weight gain. On the other hand, consuming ample vegetables can alter the composition of gut bacteria in a way that fosters weight loss. Eliminating foods that are inflammatory, such as gluten in the case of gluten-sensitive people, can reduce stress on the body, thus facilitating fat burning.
And lastly, ditching the self-loathing and shame that accompanies diets can also reduce fat-promoting stress.
Schedule a visit with me if you want to discuss how to release weight in a way that is sustainable and healthy for the body.

Still have hypothyroidism despite normal lab results?

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Your doctor says your hypothyroid condition has been treated, but do you still suffer from symptoms of low thyroid function?

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Memory loss
  • Cold hands and feet

If so, you may suffer from Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease that attacks and destroys the thyroid gland.

Hypothyroidism is usually caused by Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease

Hypothyroidism means your thyroid gland is under functioning and not producing enough thyroid hormone. This is bad news because every cell in the body depends on thyroid hormones. Including brain cells. This explains why people with untreated or poorly managed hypothyroidism are at higher risk for rapid brain decline.

Hypothyroidism affects millions of Americans, many of them whom continue to suffer from worsening health despite treatment. What’s more, 90 percent of hypothyroid cases are caused by autoimmune Hashimoto’s. As Hashimoto’s gradually destroys the thyroid gland, this lowers thyroid function, causing myriad symptoms.

Lab tests can identify Hashimoto’s by testing for TPO and TGB antibodies. If positive, these markers indicate an autoimmune disease is attacking the thyroid gland. In this case, it’s vital to dampen the inflammatory autoimmune attacks against the thyroid and balance the immune system.

However, thyroid hormone medication may still be necessary if damage is already extensive.

How to manage Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism

Managing Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism is rarely a quick fix. Instead, it involves a multi-faceted approach to diet and lifestyle to reduce inflammation and autoimmune flares against the thyroid. Strategies include:

Adopt a strict gluten-free diet. Numerous studies show a strong link between Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and gluten  In fact, people with a gluten intolerance are genetically more prone to Hashimoto’s disease. Gluten sensitivity also promotes inflammation and leaky gut, which flares autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.

Adopt an autoimmune diet. For many people, going gluten-free is not enough to manage Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. You may need to go deeper with an anti-inflammatory diet that eliminates common inflammatory foods, such as dairy, eggs, grains, legumes, and other foods. A whole-foods diet that emphasizes plenty of produce and eliminates processed foods is important to manage Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.

Repairing a leaky gut. Leaky gut, or intestinal permeability, typically plays a primary role in Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and other autoimmune diseases. In leaky gut the lining of the small intestine becomes inflamed, damaged, and porous, allowing undigested foods, bacteria, fungus, and other foreign invaders into the sterile environment of the bloodstream where they trigger inflammation and autoimmunity.

Stabilize blood sugar. Stabilizing blood sugar is vital to managing Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. A diet high in sugars and refined carbohydrates (such as breads, pastas, pastries, and desserts) spikes inflammation, skews hormones, and flares autoimmunity. Energy crashes, fatigue after meals, excess belly fat, hormonal imbalances, mood swings, and sleep issues are all signs you may have low blood sugar or high blood sugar (insulin resistance).

These are just a few of the basics of autoimmune management for Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. Ask me for more information.

Eat breakfast to lose weight

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If you’re like most Americans, you eat a high-carb breakfast packed with grains, dairy, and sugar, or you don’t eat breakfast at all either because you’re too busy or you want to lose weight. Either way, you’re not doing yourself any favors.

Breakfast is exactly what it sounds like — the breaking of a fast. After 8-plus hours of no food, your body needs fuel to bring its systems up to speed and maintain even energy for the day. As it turns out, eating a solid breakfast is one of the best things you can do to lose weight. It also helps assure a clear mind, steady emotions, and plentiful energy throughout the day.

Skipping breakfast can actually make you gain weight!

We’ve all been taught the “calories in vs. calories out” theory for weight loss. In an effort to cut calories, we skip breakfast because it’s the easiest meal to do without, especially if we tend to wake up with no appetite or we’re always in a rush to get to work. But while calories can matter, skipping breakfast can actually lead to weight gain:

When you wake in the morning, your blood sugar is already low. Skipping breakfast (or any meal) allows it to go lower and impairs insulin sensitivity, which leads to weight gain.

Chronic low blood sugar creates a cascade effect in your hormonal system that directly affects your body’s ability to deal with stress. This can result in increased inflammation throughout your body, which can lead to weight gain. Low blood sugar also causes brain fog, mood issues, insomnia, decreased brain function, and other health issues. None of these symptoms will help you stick to a healthier eating plan.

Skipping breakfast has interesting behavioral effects; research shows that people who skip breakfast tend to reach for higher calorie foods once they do eat, leading to higher total daily calorie consumption than those who ate a solid breakfast. This is partly because missing meals causes the brain to become primed toward higher-calorie foods like it would during starvation or famine.

Skipping breakfast makes you more likely to binge on sugary foods that result in an energy crash later in the day—making you less likely to go out and get that much-needed exercise. (PS: A big sweet, milky coffee drink with whipped cream is not a breakfast.)

Eat a protein-strong breakfast for weight loss and steady energy

You know you need to eat breakfast. But eating traditional carb-heavy breakfast foods such as cereals, bagels, muffins, and fruit smoothies isn’t a great idea; they sabotage your weight loss goals by destabilizing blood glucose and insulin after the night’s fast, as well as kicking cravings for quick-energy sugary stuff and junk foods into high gear.

Eating a nutrient-dense, lower carb breakfast with plenty of protein and healthy fats provides the brain and body with proper fuel, balances your blood sugar and insulin, and gives your metabolism a boost for the day.

Studies show a protein-strong breakfast can also reduce hunger hormones, increase the chemical that tells your brain to stop eating, improve your sense of satiety, and reduce evening snacking.

Why diets don’t work

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After studying dieting for 20 years, a researcher concluded diets simply don’t work, a fact countless Americans have spent 20-plus years of their own lives validating.

Why? Dieting is constructed around faulty principles that defy human biology and psychology. The “calories in versus calories out” model fails to account for hormonal shifts during weight loss, the psychological consequences of deprivation, and the futility of willpower when it comes to eating.

In a nutshell, the human body has mechanisms in place designed to compensate for starvation.

Three things that cause diets to fail

The researcher found three key reasons why diets fail:

  • The deprivation of dieting wires your brain to notice food more and to make food appear more appetizing, tempting, and harder to resist.
  • Weight loss through calorie restriction causes hormonal shifts that decrease satiety hormones and increase hunger hormones. As a result, you feel less full on the same amount of food than you used to.
  • Calorie restriction slows down your metabolism so that you become more efficient at storing fat and less efficient at burning it. This is why people actually become heavier after each diet.

In essence, dieting is starving, and your body responds to a diet just as it would to a famine — with these responses that have kept humans alive throughout the ages.

What’s worse, the dieting industry has spun this built-in failure into a $61 billion dollar industry that preys on insecurities and hopes while ignoring some basic tenets of human function.

What about willpower?

When it comes to dieting, willpower is a poor tool. For example, if you use willpower to avoid Facebook during a two-hour work project and succeed except for during the last 10 minutes, that last-minute lapse does not undo your previous success. However, if you sit in front of a platter of donuts during a two-hour meeting and resist them except during the last 10 minutes, that last-minute lapse has undone your previous success.

The study found that the slightest distractions can trigger overeating in those who are dieting. It also concluded that the paltry 5 percent who do succeed at maintaining their weight loss devote their lives to their weight, living like a starving person.

So does this mean I can never lose weight?

Thankfully, no. The key is to eat consciously with a focus on health and nutrition, not to starve your body and trigger binges and rebounds. Many people who follow a functional medicine approach to health find weight loss is just one of the many benefits they experience.

For instance, your excess weight could be the result of low thyroid function, food intolerances, blood sugar imbalances, sleep deprivation, and even over exercising. Excess weight is typically a symptom of a deeper problem and addressing the underlying cause can result in gradual, healthy, and hunger-free weight loss. And not everyone is meant to be rail thin — you may need to adjust your expectations to honor your body’s set point and not society’s.

Also, many people have dug themselves into a deep hole of self-loathing because of their many dieting failures. This causes chronic and sometimes severe stress that can impact your biology and serve as another barrier to weight loss. It’s important to honor your physiology and rewire your belief systems around eating and your body to facilitate more positivity and relaxation.

Ask me for more advice on the proper care and feeding of your body.

SIBO common cause of wasting away in elderly

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Do you have an older loved one in your life who seems to be wasting away no matter what you do to keep them nourished and healthy? This may be due to a condition called SIBO, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. SIBO happens when bacteria that normally belong in the large intestine travel backwards to colonize the small intestine. The small intestine is where we absorb the majority of our nutrients. Because SIBO inflames and damages the small intestine, this prevents these vital nutrients from being absorbed. As a result, the body and brain cannot function efficiently and it is difficult to maintain weight.

Symptoms of SIBO

For most people, symptoms of SIBO are straightforward. One of the most common symptoms is bloating after eating, particularly after eating grains, desserts, or other starchy foods. Other SIBO symptoms include gas, belching, indigestion, heartburn, nausea, abdominal pain and cramping, and either constipation, diarrhea, or both.

Doctors often misdiagnose SIBO as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), as the symptoms are so similar. In fact, SIBO has been found in more than 80 percent of patients diagnosed with IBS.

Wasting away in elderly is usually SIBO symptom

Most doctors and patients haven’t heard of SIBO and blame such a rapid decline in the elderly on aging. However, researchers have identified SIBO, which is treatable, as the leading cause of malabsorption, and thus wasting away, in older adults.

SIBO doesn’t always result in malabsorption and wasting away. People can fall anywhere along a range of symptoms, from asymptomatic to the severe. But those who fall in the middle of the spectrum can become progressively worse. That’s why complaints of bloating and gas after meals should be taken seriously and not thought of as normal.

As SIBO and malabsorption worsen, nutrition status can plummet. Levels of B vitamins drop, which impacts many functions in the body, including brain function. Inflammation may also increase as the body’s ability to regulate immune function deteriorates. Also, it seems no matter how much older adults suffering from SIBO supplement, they cannot improve their low vitamin D status or persistent anemia.

The most devastating consequence of untreated SIBO and malabsorption is that it profoundly affects brain health and function, increasing the risk of dementia. It also saps energy and vitality. When an older person complains of bloating and distention after meals, it should not be dismissed as a minor complaint but rather regarded as a red flag indicating a potential for more serious problems down the road.

The cause and treatment of SIBO

A variety of things can cause SIBO, including antibiotic use, poor diet, and digestive damage, such as from a long-standing undiagnosed celiac condition.

In older adults (and in those who have sustained a concussion or brain injury), another cause to watch out for is declining brain function. The digestive tract depends on healthy brain function to work properly. When signals from the brain to the gut are inadequate, the ileocecal valve  which separates the large intestine from the small intestine, may weaken and allow contents from the large intestine to travel backward into the small intestine, where they colonize. It is not the bacteria themselves that cause SIBO symptoms, but the byproducts they produce. These bacteria also compete with the host for protein from food.

Treatment for SIBO includes a strict diet to starve the bacteria, as well as targeted botanicals to kill them. Doing specific exercises to improve communication between the brain and the gut can also help prevent SIBO from perpetuating.

Check out the apps for iPhone or Android to help you follow a SIBO diet. And feel free to ask me for more information.

Weight loss is bonus to anti-inflammatory diet

3 02 anti inflammatory diet is weight loss dietCounting calories, avoiding fats, miniscule portions, living with hunger—dieting is a drag and the majority of people eventually gain back the pounds they fought so hard to lose. Newer research shows sloth and gluttony aren’t necessarily to blame for excess weight, but instead inflammation, leaky gut, stress, and other health imbalances.

Dieting slows the metabolism, influences hormones that control appetite so you may become hungrier, and can create a cycle of unhealthy yo-yo dieting.

You’ll have better success if you eat with a focus on lowering inflammation, detoxifying the system, and meeting your nutritional needs. Many people take on anti-inflammatory diets to manage constant pain, digestive complaints, skin rashes such as eczema or psoriasis, an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, and other chronic health problems.

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Why you should start walking today, even if you already work out

walk even if you work outWe sit at desks, sit in traffic, and sit at home in front of the TV. Americans have lost touch with the human being’s most basic and unique design function: to walk. Walking daily not only wards off more diseases than you count on both hands, it also soothes the mind, inspires creativity, and heightens the mood. Even if you already work out regularly, walking can still deliver its ancient benefits.

Walking shaped the human brain and keeps it healthy

We departed from the rest of the animal kingdom when we evolved to walk upright on two legs. This adaptation freed our arms and allowed us to conserve energy while moving over long distances, giving us more endurance than any other animal on the planet. The ability to walk also stimulated the development of the human brain into the fascinating and complex organ it is today.

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Chew more thoroughly for better health and weight loss

image3Gandhi’s advice to chew your drink and drink your food has stood the test of time. Although what you eat is important, how you eat deserves equal attention as research shows chewing thoroughly and eating slowly helps prevent weight gain and improves digestion.

Chewing more thoroughly suppresses appetite

A series of recent studies show chewing each bite thoroughly reduces appetite, lowers calorie intake, and can aid weight loss. That’s because the hormones that leave us feeling satiated don’t kick in until 20 to 40 minutes after you begin eating.

For instance, one study measured the release of gut hormones that suppress appetite in subjects five minutes and 30 minutes after they consumed a meal. The results showed eating the meal more slowly increased the secretion of appetite-reducing hormones.

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Do you suffer from sitting disease? Frequent breaks and standing are key

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Do you eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly but sit long hours each day at work? If so, you could be undoing all your good work.

Sitting, even if you otherwise practice healthy habits, is associated with poor cardiovascular health, higher inflammation, and more belly fat, according to a 2011 Australian study. This is bad news for the millions of Americans who must work at a desk. In fact, it can feel downright insulting to learn that all our healthful efforts are being thwarted by our jobs.

Studies link prolonged sitting with compromised metabolic health, higher risk of disease, and shorter life span. Witness this cascade of ill effects:

  • Electrical activity in muscles goes silent
  • Calorie burning plummets
  • Insulin sensitivity drops, raising the risk of obesity and Type 2 diabetes
  • Enzymes responsible for clearing fat and triglycerides from the bloodstream plunge, lowering the levels of HDL (good) cholesterol

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