One of the many downsides to a modern junk food diet low in vegetables is that it makes your body too acidic. The human body must maintain a healthy pH for optimal cellular function. When it’s too acidic, diseases take root.
A body that is overly acidic sets the stage for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, chronic pain, inflammation, autoimmune disease, and other chronic health problems.
Fortunately, you can sway your body toward a more healthy and alkaline pH through your diet.
Many people are too acidic but are not aware of it. Below are common symptoms of over acidity:
People use several different methods to identify pH levels, but not all are reliable. The most well-known test is a salivary pH test, however this method does not have much support in scientific studies.
Testing blood pH is also not accurate because it only fluctuates in events such as poisoning, kidney disease, or lung disease. However, looking at functional medicine blood ranges of CO2 and anion gap can help identify a pattern of over acidity.
Urine testing has shown to accurately reflect how acidic or alkaline you are. It can also help you assess whether dietary changes, such as eating more leafy green veggies and less sugar, are helping you become more alkaline.
Ideal urinary pH is between 7.2–7.8. Please note, however, that infections, bacterial overgrowth, dehydration, incontinence, and other issues can affect your results.
The modern American diet makes it easy to become too acidic. Sugars, processed starches, industrialized oils, and junk foods promote excess acidity.
Excess caffeine, sodas, and alcohol also promote acidity, as does too much meat and not enough colorful vegetables and fruits.
You do not need to become a vegan or vegetarian to maintain good alkalinity, however your diet should be based primarily on leafy green and colorful vegetables and low-glycemic fruits.
An alkaline diet is rich in magnesium, potassium, calcium, and other minerals that help maintain a healthy pH.
An added bonus: A plant-rich diet also feeds the right kind of bacteria in your gut so that you are less prone to food sensitivities, enjoy better brain function, and better immune function.
The stomach needs to stay strongly acidic in order to digest proteins and fight pathogens. Many people suffer from insufficient stomach acidity, which paradoxically causes symptoms of acid reflux. Taking supplemental hydrochloric acid (as long as you don’t have ulcers) can actually help promote a healthy pH.
While being overly acidic can promote poor health, certain health conditions can likewise promote acidity. These include anemia, asthma, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), or high blood sugar (insulin resistance or diabetes).
Acidity that is too severe becomes life threatening. Diabetes, kidney disease, and lung disease acidify the body to a severe degree and require medical attention.
Contact my office for ideas on how diet and nutritional therapy can help improve alkalinity and health.
If you handle store receipts or use plastics (who doesn’t?), brace yourself for some disturbing new findings about BPA (bisphenol-A), the toxin in plastics and store receipts.
A new study shows BPA is linked with an autoimmune reaction that destroys the lining of nerves. Autoimmune nerve sheath degeneration is connected to autism spectrum disorders, multiple sclerosis (MS), neuropathy, and neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.
A 2016 study found a significant link between an immune reaction to BPA and an autoimmune attack against nerve sheaths.
The important part about this study is that it’s based on immune sensitivity to BPA, not the amount of BPA in the blood.
A person can react to BPA the way people react to gluten, dairy, or other foods, developing inflammatory symptoms.
This means person may have low levels of BPA in their blood yet still have an immune reaction to it that can trigger autoimmunity. Conversely, a person may have high blood levels of BPA but no immune reaction and thus a lower risk of it triggering autoimmunity (although BPA is associated with other health disorders, too.)
Animal studies also show a high degree of correlation between BPA and autoimmunity.
Autoimmunity to nerve sheaths is commonly associated with autism spectrum disorders. In fact, some research has found autoimmunity to nerve sheaths in almost 80 percent of subjects with autism compared to a control group.
Other studies show subjects with autism have significantly higher levels of BPA in their blood than controls.
Most disturbing are the findings that immune reactions to BPA in mothers can be passed on to offspring, thus considerably raising the risk of autism in their children.
BPA is ubiquitous in our environment. The toxin is found in large amounts on thermal receipts used by stores, restaurants, gas stations, airlines, ATM machines, and so on. Holding one of these receipts for as little as five seconds is enough to absorb it into your bloodstream.
BPA is found in many other common products as well, such as plastic food and beverage containers, toys, tin can linings, and medical products.
BPA is leached from products through heat or exposure to acidic foods or beverages.
BPA’s estrogen-like qualities have been shown to cause reproductive defects, cancer, and immune problems in animal studies. In the developing fetus, BPA can cause chromosomal errors, miscarriage, and genetic damage.
BPA-free products are available but many unfortunately still have synthetic estrogens and pose a health risk.
In addition to reducing exposure to BPA as much as possible, functional medicine strategies can help protect you from the negative effects of BPA.
The goal is to keep the immune system balanced and not prone to over reacting, which can trigger chemical sensitivities and autoimmunity. Ways to do this include an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle, shoring up your glutathione reserves to protect your cells, and making use of natural compounds to support neurological and immune health. For more information, contact my office.
It used to be warnings about cell phone safety were deemed conspiracy theory or quack science. Not anymore — the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now recommends limiting cell phone use for children based on a large government study linking cancer with cell phone radiation.
The study found exposure to wireless radiation significantly increased the rates of highly malignant heart and brain cancer in rodents. In other words, cell phones caused cancer in these animals.
The cells affected in the research animals are the same cells in humans that develop into cancers in adult cell phone users.
These results were alarming enough to prompt the AAP to warn parents to limit children’s exposure to cell phones and wireless devices.
The study also showed cell phones damaged DNA in brain cells.
The risks for cell phone cancer damage are believed to be higher for children than adults.
Children have thinner skulls, which makes it easier for cell phone radiation to penetrate and absorb into a child’s brain. Children’s nervous systems are also not fully developed and thus more sensitive to damage.
As a result of this information, the AAP warns adults not to keep cell phones on or near their body and that a child’s exposure should be limited or avoided.
Sadly, it’s almost impossible to imagine a world without cell phones these days, despite the risks.
The AAP suggests the following ideas to reduce cancer risk in both adults and children:
Fortunately, cell phone cancer risks are now being legitimized through new research, thus increasing awareness.
For more advice about general cancer prevention through nutrition and lifestyle, contact my office.
Nutrition experts recommend women consume less than 25 grams, or 6 teaspoons, a day of added sugar (9 teaspoons for men). Yet the average American consumes almost 20 teaspoons a day! And that doesn’t even include fruit juice, a known sugar bomb.
How did we allow ourselves to stray so far? Powerful lobbyists with deep pockets played a big role in our overly lax boundaries with a substance that is tanking the world’s developed nations.
Recent findings show that 50 years ago the sugar industry quietly paid for research to blame fat for heart disease and minimize sugar’s role.
(Of course, now we know that the highly inflammatory effects of excess sugar are a major contributor to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases.)
Unfortunately, the propaganda campaign didn’t stop 50 years ago; it’s still going strong today.
For instance, a grape-juice funded study shows grape juice is good for brain function, despite it packing a whopping 36 grams of sugar per cup, more than what a person should consume in an entire day. Sugar is so degenerative to the brain that scientists now call Alzheimer’s type 3 diabetes.
Coca-cola spent more than $130 million dollars to fund research essentially saying exercise is more important than diet in the weight loss battle. While exercise is indeed important, how you fuel your body is equally important. We’ll assume Coca-Cola did not fund the studies showing a link between the obesity epidemic and soda consumption in the United States.
And, in a brazen show of hubris, the National Confectioner’s Association funded research that concluded children who eat candy weigh less than those who don’t. Despite being naysaid by one of its own scientists, the study nevertheless went on to be published in a respected journal.
Although food giants can buy their way into scientific journals, investigative journalists find these studies are poorly designed, incomplete, and only highlight the positives while ignoring the negatives. Because the average journalist is not trained in how to discern good research from bad, bad studies get ample press.
To spotlight these problems, one science writer conducted a hoax study that concluded eating chocolate causes weight loss and watched the media play it up.
Does that mean you can’t believe any science? No, plenty of good research is still happening.
The trick is to ferret out the nutritional guidelines based on hundreds of solid studies and read the headline grabbers (chocolate linked with weight loss) with healthy skepticism.
At the end of the day, some nutritional truisms have held fast over the years:
If you dread allergy season, then you know what it’s like to suffer from itchy skin, red eyes, a runny nose, sneezing, sinus pressure, and headaches.
Likewise, you may react to certain foods with hives, headaches, nasal congestion, skin problems, a racing heart, or irritability.
What is the common denominator in both scenarios? Histamines.
While many people just give up and suffer, some natural compounds can bring relief. To understand why these natural remedies work, it’s helpful to understand a bit about histamines.
Histamine is a protein that causes inflammation, redness, and irritation. It is produced in response to environmental or dietary proteins, also known as antigens.
When the antigen comes into contact with the body, the immune system registers it as an intruder and produces antibodies to it. These antibodies cause a release of histamine into your bloodstream, where they can build up with repeated exposure and increase sensitivity.
Histamines are found in many common foods, especially those aged or fermented, such as aged cheese, red wine, and sauerkraut, and also in foods such as eggs, some fruits and vegetables, and some seasonings.
The bright side is that there are a number of natural ways to ease your suffering, whether it’s from seasonal allergies or high-histamine foods.
Before looking at natural antihistamines, it’s important to first address a functional medicine foundation: adopting a diet and lifestyle to lower overall inflammation.
This includes removing foods to which are intolerant (gluten and dairy are most common), stabilizing blood sugar, repairing intestinal permeability, managing low thyroid function and hormone imbalances, and addressing chronic stressors, such as sleep deprivation, over training, toxic exposures, junk food, excess alcohol, and many more.
Quercetin is a bioflavonoid with anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties.
It also gives both short-term relief and long-term gut repair so you’re you less susceptible to allergies.
Nettle leaf is a natural antihistamine that naturally blocks histamine production. It can be made in to a tincture or tea, but for allergy relief, capsules made from dried nettle leaves are the most effective option.
The European herb butterbur has been shown to rival leading OTC drugs in reducing histamine reactions. It’s an anti-inflammatory properties also reduces spasms in smooth muscle and relaxes swollen nasal membranes.
Mangosteen is a fruit extract that has been shown to reduce inflammation and inhibit histamine release.
This Asian medicinal plant has been shown to inhibit histamine production.
These are just a few of the many compounds effective in reducing histamine reactions. You can benefit from the synergistic effect of these compounds working together in product formulations that combine them.
If you have seasonal allergies or react to foods, contact my office. I can help you determine the source of your symptoms and get you on the path to feeling better.
Extended fasting during the night fast may lower your risk of breast cancer or improve your prognosis. Fasting has also been shown to decrease the risk for other types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
In the first study of its kind, researchers analyzed 11 years of data from non-diabetic breast cancer patients, with surprising results.
The women who fasted less than 13 hours per night showed a 36 percent increase in breast cancer recurrence compared to those who fasted for 13 or more hours per night.
In other words, going at least 13 hours between between dinner and breakfast is associated with a lower risk of cancer.
The study looked at daily sleep and dietary habits, serum blood sugar and inflammation markers (hemoglobin A1c and C-reactive protein), and the recurrence of cancer and breast tumors.
The study showed that each two-hour increase in fasting time made for longer nights of sleep. This is important not only because it helps people feel better, but also because it points to a healthier sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm An imbalanced circadian rhythm increases cancer risk, including breast cancer, along with numerous other chronic diseases.
Each two-hour increase in fasting time also reduced blood sugar and systemic inflammation, hence lowering the risk of diabetes and other diseases.
The longer nighttime fasters showed significantly lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a protein made in the liver that increases with inflammation. Chronic inflammation leads to serious diseases, including heart disease, some forms of cancer, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease.
While the new research makes a strong case for extended nighttime fasting, long fasts may be detrimental to those with low blood sugar or adrenal fatigue.
In these cases, allowing blood sugar to drop too low through fasting can cause a series of negative hormonal consequences that result in insomnia, mood issues, fatigue, and poor brain function.
If you wake up anxious at 3 or 4 a.m., you may be a victim of low blood sugar and need to eat a little protein to fall back asleep. Eating a little bit before bed can also help prevent those all-too-early wakeup calls. You also need to follow a diet during the day that stabilizes blood sugar.
Eating a healthy blood sugar diet over time may help you stabilize your blood sugar to the point that you can comfortably adopt the extended nighttime fast.
These findings suggest that simply extending the time between dinner and breakfast to at least 13 hours may be a simple, non-medical strategy to reduce the risk of breast cancer and chronic disease.
If you have questions or concerns about nighttime fasting, sleep habits, blood sugar balancing, or disease prevention, please contact my office.
If you take birth control pills, it’s important to understand how oral contraceptives can affect your hormone balancing, your liver, your thyroid, and your brain. This functional medicine viewpoint can help you make an informed decision about contraception, or give you insight into buffering potential consequences.
Birth control pills flood the body with an unnatural amount of hormones that are also synthetic. This can imbalance the body in a number of ways.
Your body’s hormone balance depends on finely nuanced communication between the brain and the hormone glands. The brain determines how much hormone the glands should produce based on hormone activity in the body.
When you introduce hormones into the body, this tells the brain the body has plenty of hormone. As a result, the “feedback loop” of communication between the brain and the hormone glands slows down or becomes dormant, lowering the body’s natural production. This may create symptoms or problems when the time comes to go off the pill.
Excess hormones can stress the liver as it must break down those hormones for elimination. Chronically overburdening the liver causes it to become sluggish and congested, increasing the risk for inflammation, high cholesterol, and poor immune function.
Also, when the liver cannot properly detoxify estrogen, the hormone goes back into the bloodstream in a more toxic form, raising the risk for breast cancer, endometriosis, premenstrual syndrome, fibrocystic breasts, ovarian cysts, cervical dysplasia, and endometrial cancer..
Functional medicine support of liver detoxification may include the use of compounds such as dandelion extract and milk thistle extract to help mitigate these effects.
Taking birth control pills can result in depletion of methyl donors. Methylation is a liver detoxification process in which a methyl group, which is a carbon atom attached to three hydrogen atoms, essentially tags a toxic compound so that the body can eliminate it.
About 20 percent of the population are already slow methylators. Taking birth control pills can compound this problem, making it more difficult to detoxify environmental compounds. Methylation defects have also been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.
Depleting methyl donors can also lead to lower serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is the “well being” neurotransmitter that prevents depression, and healthy methylation activity is necessary for sufficient serotonin.
Compounds that can support methylation include methyl B12, P-5-P, MSM, and trimethylglycine. Compounds that support serotonin activity include 5-HTP, St. John’s Wort, and SAMe.
Elevated estrogen from birth control pills can cause symptoms of low thyroid function by hindering conversion in the liver of inactive thyroid hormone (T4) to the usable form (T3).
Elevated estrogen can also create too many thyroid-binding proteins, which prevent thyroid hormones from getting into cells. Both these mechanisms can cause symptoms of low thyroid activity, or hypothyroidism.
The more publicized risks of oral contraceptives include heart attack, stroke, and venous thromboembolism, however these risks are recognized as being minimal.
The purpose of this article isn’t to scare you, but simply to educate you in the ways birth control pills can affect your health so you can make an informed decision or understand how you may be able to mitigate their effects.
Although certain nutritional compounds may be helpful, it’s also important to use an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle approach to optimize the function of your body and reduce risks.
Ask my office for more advice on healthy hormone function.
Have you noticed how shockingly bright streetlights are these days? Although they’re great for night time visibility, the newer LED streetlights tamper with the body’s internal clock, skewing metabolic function and raising disease risk.
The effect of blue-rich white light at night on human health is so significant that the American Medical Association (AMA) issued a policy statement about street lighting.
It warns LED street lights are five times more disruptive to the human sleep cycle than traditional street lighting and that recent large surveys link brighter residential lighting with reduced sleep, poor functioning, and more obesity. The lighting also increases the risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
These bright blue-white lights also strain the eyes and can cause problems walking or driving safely at night. Enough blue light can even damage the retina.
LED lights were introduced because they consume less energy. The AMA suggests ways to make the lighting friendlier to human biology (and that of area wildlife):
You don’t have to understand the science to feel the effects of these lights. Residents in areas where they are installed around the country are complaining, saying the lights feel like a car lot or strip mall parking lot. The LED street lamps also light up the insides of homes, especially in hilly areas such as Seattle.
Davis, California residents found them so objectionable the city agreed to replace all existing LED streetlights with more biologically friendly lighting.
Of course, it’s dangerous to wear dark glasses at night. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have recourse if LED streetlights are a part of your night life.
You can switch the light coming into your eyes to a more biologically friendly hue by wearing orange or rose tinted glasses that aren’t sunglasses. Examples include affordable Uvex safety glasses from Amazon, orange glasses from Low Blue Lights (these glasses are more expensive because they are scratch resistant), or rose tinted migraine glasses.
Also, cities are taking note of complaints, so be sure to add your voice.
LED streetlights aren’t the only culprits when it comes to confusing your sleep-wake cycle. LED televisions, smart phones, tablets, computers, and LED bulbs also bombard you with too much blue light at night, hindering the output of sleep hormones.
Purchasing orange bulbs for lamps, orange filters to put over your screens, or wearing orange glasses a couple of hours before bed are ways to encourage the production of sleep hormones and maintain the delicate but important sleep-wake cycle.
Do you crash when you go too long without eating, losing energy and becoming “hangry?” Hanger—hunger plus anger—is that explosive combination of low blood sugar and irrepressible irritability that turns a normally nice person into a multi-headed hydra.
People joke about being hangry, but when it happens regularly, it means your body and brain are in a perpetual state of alarm. This constant stress raises inflammation and accelerates degeneration of the brain.
In other words, being chronically hangry ages you too fast.
The low blood sugar that triggers “hanger” sends your body into an emergency “fight-or-flight” mode, causing you to snap at loved ones or fly into a rage because you can’t untangle your earphone cords. This constant stress ages the body and brain.
Low blood sugar also raises an immune messenger called IL-6, which triggers inflammation that destroys tissue.
If you have a chronic or autoimmune condition such as Hashimoto’s or rheumatoid arthritis, the inflammation from low blood sugar can trigger flare ups that destroy tissue, worsen symptoms, and advance your condition.
Autoimmunity means an over zealous and imbalanced immune system is attacking and destroying tissue in the body. Many people have autoimmunity but have not been diagnosed. Low blood sugar can worsen autoimmunity and speed destruction of tissues or glands in the body.
In a nutshell, the stress and inflammation from chronically low blood sugar ages your body too quickly.
The low blood sugar from being hangry deprives the brain of fuel and impairs brain function. This speeds degeneration because energy-deprived brain cells die.
Brain-related symptoms of low blood sugar include:
Chronically low blood sugar also ages the brain by triggering autoimmune flares in the brain.
A number of people have autoimmunity to brain and nerve tissue but don’t know it—it’s more common than realized.
When blood sugar drops too low, it can trigger the autoimmune process in the brain just as it does in the body, speeding the brain degeneration process.
A few common symptoms of brain autoimmunity include fatigue, “crashing” after too much stimulation or exertion, brain fog, memory loss, anxiety or depression disorders, autism or ADHD symptoms, and poor balance.
If you suffer from any brain-related symptoms, preventing low blood sugar is crucial.
If you want to function optimally and slow the aging process, make sure to avoid getting “hangry.”
Tips include never skipping breakfast or other meals, avoiding sugars and processed starches, eating plenty of vegetable fiber and healthy fats, minimizing caffeine, eating small meals every two to three hours until blood sugar stabilizes, and avoiding foods to which you are sensitive (such as gluten and dairy for many people).
A number of herbal and nutritional compounds can also help bring blood sugar to normal levels and balance immune and brain health. Ask my office for more advice.