Education

girl with fever is not well

Top Tip to Stay Well During Pandemic

What’s the best way to stay well during the COVID-19 pandemic? Taking zinc or vitamin D supplements? Requesting hydrocholoquine treatments? Actually, my top recommendation to stay well is to minimize all sugar intake. Especially high fructose corn syrup.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t keep washing our hands, masking ourselves in crowded public places, and staying 6 feet away from others. If we’re already infected, we need to exercise care not to expose our fellowmen. In particular, we need to be mindful of those who may already have weakened immune systems. But in the long run, staying well is better than being sick and trying not to spread our germs. Wouldn’t you agree?

Sugar Hijacks Our Health

With regard to the current pandemic, there are at least 3 researched paths by which eating more sugar, especially high fructose corn syrup, increases both our risk for infection and our risk for a more severe outcome from the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

First, sugar consumption increases insulin resistance. You understand that the higher the sweetness of your diet, the higher your insulin levels go to compensate. Eventually, your cells become resistant to this hormone. According to Benjamin Bikman, author of “Why We Get Sick,” insulin resistance is the fundamental factor in obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. Of course, you know that these three conditions are the primary risk factors in COVID-19 infection and mortality. High fructose corn syrup, found in most soft drinks, is especially harmful. Gerald Shulman, professor at Yale University School of Medicine explains that, “Fructose is much more readily metabolized to fat in the liver than glucose is….[This] can lead to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. NAFLD in turn leads to hepatic insulin resistance and type II diabetes.”

Can You Stay Well With A High-Sugar Diet?

There are more reasons to watch your sugar intake. Namely, elevated furin levels in your blood. Furin is a protein that SARS-CoV-2 hijacks to increase its infectivity. A 2018 study between researchers in Sweden and Finland found that over 4,000 participants with insulin resistance and diabetes had elevated furin.[1] The implication is that the greater your insulin resistance, the higher your furin levels. Further, the higher your furin levels, the greater your vulnerability to COVID-19.

Finally, sugar, particularly high fructose corn syrup, feeds the pentose phosphate pathway in your body. Researcher Chris Masterjohn describes a process in which the SARS-CoV-2 virus uses this pathway to replicate its RNA. “There is a strong biochemical argument suggesting that fructose,” he says, “would provide extra fuel to the growth of RNA viruses, including SARS-CoV-2. Fructose disproportionately feeds the part of the pathway that fuels viral growth.”

Eat Well to Stay Well

So what’s a sweet tooth to do? Here are some suggestions to minimize your sugar intake and help you stay well:

  • Transition from soft drinks to flavored water, using stevia-sweetened pop as a stepping stone, if needed.
  • Eat a breakfast of at least 15 grams of protein and 8 grams of fat to keep insulin low all day. If insulin spikes with your first meal, you are apt to have a reactionary blood sugar crash a few hours later. Inevitably, that crash instigates cravings. Soon, you are reaching for more insulin-spiking foods. Avoid the pattern by fueling with a low-carb meal first thing.
  • Snack on foods that contain natural fats and slow-absorbing carbohydrates. Maintain lower insulin levels throughout the day by reaching for smarter snacks instead of cookies, candies, and crackers. For example, munch on olives and vegetables or cheese and fruit. How about a hard-boiled egg with some grape tomatoes, or some nut butter on celery?
  • Supplemement with magnesium to improve your insulin sensitivity. When your insulin sensitivity increases, your cravings will lessen to some degree and you will be able to make healthier eating choices. You can work with a certified nutritional therapist to determine what form of magnesium to choose and how much to take.

[1]Fernandez C, Rysä J, Almgren P, et al. Plasma Levels of the Proprotein Convertase Furin and Incidence of Diabetes and Mortality. J Intern Med. 2018 Oct;284(4):377–387.

female measures weight loss with measuring tape

10 Weight Loss Tips

Stepping on the scale, counting calories, and exercising more are old school tools for weight loss. If you’re feeling stuck, try these more effective measures for trimming down your body weight.

Measure fat loss, not weight loss

Since your body fluctuates 2 to 3 pounds daily, and loses weight in fits & starts, it seems futile to be constantly monitoring the scale. The scale isn’t a measure of health, anyway. A person can be very muscular and actually weigh more than someone who is “over-fat.” Therefore, it’s better to assess your progress in terms of fat loss. Use an article of clothing that your try on once every couple of weeks. If you are truly in better shape, your clothing will fit differently, even if can’t measure weight loss in pounds.

Eat fat to lose fat

Fats are necessary for life, so a fat-restricted diet will stress the body. Bodies under stress tend to hold onto their weight as a survival mechanism. Only when your body is convinced there is no threat, will it begin to release its reserves.

However, not all fats are created equal. Avoid chemically-extracted vegetable oils (soy, cottonseed, canola, safflower, and corn); they loose their antioxidant protection during processing and become oxidized. Oxidized oils are one of the top contributors to free radical damage to your body tissues. And damage = inflammation = stress. Also stay away from trans-fats; they make your cell membranes stiff and less able to take in nutrients and excrete wastes.

Good sources of fats include unprocessed raw nuts and seeds, butter from grass-fed cows, and virgin fats that are cold-pressed and unrefined.

Track sugars, not calories

Counting calories is not a natural or intuitive way of life. In fact, it seems a bit obsessive. It certainly isn’t something I would want to do for the next 25 or 30 years.  In my opinion, any weight loss plan needs to be sustainable in order to head off yo-yo dieting.

Additionally, calorie restriction suppresses thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism is a fast-track to weight gain, not weight loss. So, eat plenty of protein and fat to increase satiety, stimulate fat-burning, and provide amino acids and fat-soluble vitamins to the thyroid.

The root barrier to weight loss, in many cases, is high insulin hormone. Unfortunately, you can still have insulin-driven fat storage on a restricted diet. So, if you’re going to monitor anything, let it be sugar. Your fat-free yogurt that seems such a healthy breakfast alternative may have the same amount of sugar as a Red Bull energy drink. Some smoothies have more sugar than Coke, and a medium Jamba Chocolate Moo’d  has more sugar than a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Butter Pecan ice cream.

Differentiate between carbs

With all the media about ketogenic diets, it’s easy to think that carbohydrates are bad. However, they are not bad any more than a knife is. It can be very useful; or it can be very harmful, depending on how it is used. Obviously, a diet of high-sugar, low-nutrient carbs isn’t going to be very health-promoting. Too much bread, pasta, and cereal is going to lead to imbalance. But did you ever stop to think that fruits, vegetables, and legumes are carbohydrates, too?

A helpful way to think about carbohydrates is in terms of their calorie content and their potential to be absorbed into your bloodstream quickly. A food that is calorie-dense and quick-absorbing (such as a grain or a sweetener) is going to signal your body to store all that extra energy for a rainy day. Of course, energy storage is the antithesis of weight loss.

But calorie-light and slow-absorbing foods (such as vegetables) can be very beneficial. Medium-calorie carbohydrates, as long as they are slow-absorbing (whole fruit, legumes, nuts, and seeds), can also be helpful for a weight loss plan.

Be mindful of when you eat

Think of your car. After you gas it up, you can drive a long distance, or you can park it and keep the fuel in reserve for another time. The same principle applies for your body. If you want to burn the fuel, you can’t park yourself in a bed or chair for a great length of time and expect your meals to not become reserves. So, it’s best to front-load your meals. That is, eat bulk of your food when your are going to be most active. That’s because anything you don’t burn within 3 hours of eating is stored as fat. It doesn’t make sense to eat your heaviest meal just before bedtime. It’s a good idea to eat 3/4 of your food by mid-afternoon.

Remember, you’re not the boss

We have been conditioned to believe in the simple equation Energy In – Energy Out = Weight. Therefore, more energy expenditure will equal greater weight loss. But this equation neglects the fact that your hormones are in control. Thyroid hormone is king of metabolism. Cortisol reigns over your state of relative stress or relaxation. Insulin dictates how much fuel gets stored.

No matter how much you exercise, you will not lose weight if thyroid hormone is low, or if cortisol or insulin are chronically high. Exercising under these conditions just creates more stress for the body. Then, it switches to survival mode, and hoards fuel to help you fight or flee.

Ultimately, you have to balance hormones first. A functional practitioner can help you with this process.  Engage in “movement,” as opposed to “exercise” to promote stress-relief.

Address “food on the wrong side of the tracks”

Inflammation prevents weight loss; it’s a physical stress, so your body conserves until it is “safe” to let go of those pounds. Guts can be damaged by antibiotics, stress, chemicals, and sugar. Then, when the gut lining is thin and worn, food gets “on the wrong side of the tracks” and causes inflammation. We then say you are sensitive to those food proteins that are causing the inflammation.

If you’re serious about weight loss, you may have to remove triggering foods and heal your gut for a minimum of 3 months before your weight begins to drop, because it takes a while for inflammation to subside.

Support your liver before weight loss

Your liver is responsible for detoxifying everything that needs to be eliminated from your body. But if that organ is overburdened, it will send toxins to fat tissue to be stored where they cannot damage other tissues in your body. Naturally, weight loss frees those toxins from your fat tissue. If your liver is already overtaxed by medications, chemicals, or hormonal and blood sugar imbalances, your body will not release those toxins and you will continue to retain the fat.

The bottom line is that you need to support your liver first! This includes drinking ample water and eating abundant cruciferous vegetables to help your liver with the “rinse cycle” of laundering out your toxins. Potassium-rich fruits and vegetables are also important to help your body flush its wastes. Be sure to eat enough protein, for detoxification requires ample amino acids.

“Find your happy” at your current weight

It’s easy to think you will be happy when you lose those pounds. But your body follows your mind. Stated another way, your mind decides whether life is good and you can release your garbage, or whether your are unsatisfied and need to hold onto things that protect you (such as body fat). So, if you are genuinely grateful and joyful with who you are, your body can let go of those things that no longer serve it.

Don’t moisten your food with beverages

As mentioned above, healthy weight loss requires plenty of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals to support detoxification. Breaking down and absorbing those nutrients from your food requires good digestion with plenty of strong stomach acid. Although hydration is critically important, it’s best to sip your water between meals. After all, high liquid intake at meal times will dilute stomach acid. Hence, it will impair digestion. If your food seems dry or tasteless, chew it more. Your saliva will moisten it and sweeten it the longer you massage it in your mouth.

 

 

 

An array of supplements to choose from

How to Choose A Supplement

Selecting the right supplement for your own body’s need can be as confusing as deciding between paleo and vegan, between low-fat and keto, or between gluten-free and whole grain. In the circus of marketing tactics, what claims are you to believe?

First, Do You Need to Supplement?

To begin with, I want to make it clear that no supplement, regardless of its benefits, can replace a healthy diet. There is simply no such thing as eating poorly, and expecting to make up for with with a multi-vitamin.  On the other hand, even the cleanest diet may be lacking in targeted nutrients specific to your genes, lifestyle, and environment.

Supplements can give a short-term boost to overcome an insufficiency that has accrued over time. For example, you may need extra vitamin D temporarily after spending a winter at a desk job in the northern hemisphere. Also, supplements can help with a very targeted therapy. For instance, you may need digestive enzymes and probiotics if you are struggling with Irritable Bowels. Finally, supplements can provide insurance against future illness. Since our produce today has many fewer nutrients than just 25 or 50 years ago, you may add magnesium to your regimen to help prevent tension headaches, muscle spasms, and even heart arrhythmia.

Yet overall, food provides greater nutrient density than any supplement. At most, a multi-vitamin contains around 30 vitamins and minerals. A single stalk of broccoli contains over 500 nutrients! Beyond that, a single piece of produce usually contains all of the cofactors to help metabolize it. As a case in point, a beet contains sugar, but also the minerals and vitamins your body needs to process that sugar. No supplement can give you that kind of synergy, nor are supplements always as bio-available as food.

Considerations Before Purchasing a Supplement

The “best” supplement is one you can find, afford, remember to take regularly, tolerate well, and reap some benefit from.  – Tracy Harrison, founder School of Applied Functional Medicine

  • Access: Sure, zinc picolinate is a great immune boost during a pandemic. But is it available? Can you get it locally? Do you have to order online and wait for it to be in stock?
  • Cost: If you buy a supplement, will it take money from your grocery budget that you would have spent on quality food? It may be better to eat real food and forego the liquid chlorophyll than to eat macaroni and cheese, then sip your liquid greens in a bottle.
  • Bio-availability: Is the supplement in a form you can take and absorb? Minerals in foods come attached to amino acids, but inexpensive supplements often attach minerals to salts. This is the case with calcium carbonate or magnesium oxide. Additionally, the supplement needs to be one that you personally can assimilate. In other words, is it a powder if you have trouble swallowing capsules? Is it a liquid if you have trouble digesting tablets? Is it the active form of the nutrient? Many people have trouble converting beta carotene to retinol. The latter is the form of vitamin A your body uses. Other individuals have trouble making methylfolate from folic acid. Consult with a functional practitioner if you need help deciding what form to take.
  • Tolerance: A calcium supplement containing whey from cows is not helpful if you have a dairy sensitivity. Or perhaps, the beneficial nutrient is packaged with binders or fillers. Here’s a good article to understand additives used in supplements.

How to Choose a Quality Supplement

  • Good Manufacturing Procedures: These guidelines assure that a supplement has the identity, strength, composition, quality, and purity that appear on the label. USP and NSF perform third-party testing which certifies that a supplement has been made using these guidelines.
  • Tru-ID: Some large companies perform their own quality assurance tests. These confirm that the ingredients as represented.
  • Non-GMO: This certification insures that there are no measurable GMO ingredients in the product
  • Food-based or lab-derived: Most supplements are lab-derived. This is not a bad thing. Because companies can synthesize nutrients chemically identical to those found in nature, you get a standardized quality and quantity for less money. Lab-synthesized nutrients can also be more concentrated. Therefore, if you prefer that your supplement have whole food ingredients, you will need to take a higher dose in order to get the same benefit.
  • Non-toxic ingredients: Watch out for harmful components, such as sweeteners: corn syrup, sucralose, sugar alcohols (sorbitol) Also beware of aluminum, hydrogenated oils, talc, artificial colors and artificial flavors.

Reputable Supplement Companies

There are way more supplement companies than I can list. The following are some of the most reputable:

  • Thorne
  • Pure Encapsulations
  • Metabolic Maintenance
  • Metagenics
  • Designs for Health
  • Integrative Therapeutics
  • Innate Response
  • Allergy Research
  • Life Extension
  • Vital Nutrients
  • Seeking Health
  • Jarrow
  • Xymogen
  • Synergy
  • Garden of Life
  • Dr. Mercola
  • Biotics
  • DaVinci Labs
  • Quicksilver Scientific
  • Renew Life
  • Gaia Herbs

Unfortunately, the supplement companies at the bottom of the barrel are the ones for the big box stores. That is because they incorporate cheap, inactive forms of nutrients you cannot absorb well. These companies use sweeteners and artificial colors and flavors to make the product more appealing.  They may use talc for a filler. Their products contain allergenic ingredients such as caramel color (gluten) and whey (dairy).

If you are going to put your money into supplements, choose wisely so that you don’t literally flush your nutrients down the toilet.

 

Becoming suddenly diabetic takes years

Suddenly Pre-Diabetic?

Almost no one becomes pre-diabetic suddenly. The onset is progressive. But unless you know the signs, a diagnosis might blindside you. Your lab work might appear “normal” one year, then be over the limits the next.

The Pre-Diabetic Evolves Over Years

Shouldn’t the main question we ask be, ‘Why is this happening?’ instead of ‘What new drug can we find to treat it?’ – Dr. Mark Hyman

Unfortunately, when a doctor gives an unexpected or diagnosis, we want a quick fix. But there are no sudden reversals any more than there are sudden pre-diabetics. The choices that lead to a pre-diabetic outcome are decades in the making! They begin with high-stress, low-nutrient lives, deprived of sleep, and filled with numbing recreation and damaging toxins.

Today, there are probably 100 million Americans with pre-diabetes. However, 90% of them don’t realize it! Because they haven’t been diagnosed yet. But the cycle is the same.

There are pressures. Relationship woes, work deadlines, unmet expectations, and a race to be good enough. You hit the ground running when the alarm goes off. IF you grab breakfast, it’s a “muffin and a mocha.” You work through lunch – or munch on chips and coke. Then you snarf a chocolate bar or an energy drink to get you through the afternoon slump. You put in extra hours to get the job done and have a voracious appetite by the time you eat dinner at 8 p.m. After the pizza, you wrangle with the kids and their homework, the laundry, and the rest of the to-do list. Finally, after bedtime has come and gone, you slump into a recliner to watch a movie while you snack on popcorn.

The stress alone, without any of the junk food, would be enough to catapult you into pre-diabetes. Stress increases blood sugar by design! If you have to fight a saber-tooth tiger, you need quick energy. So, your body converts glycogen stores from your liver and muscle tissue into quick fuel. Next, you start craving. Can you see why? Your body wants more and more fast energy, and it needs to replenish its stores. As a result, you eat more high-glycemic foods. As stress hormones remain high, your sleep tanks! And you become more fatigued and sedentary.

Progression from “Normal” to “Sick”

If we were to put you, the “sudden pre-diabetic” under a historical microscope and examine your life, we would see several distinct stages of change happening over a period of years.

First, as characterized above, you simply have too much stress. Living the modern lifestyle, you exhibit no abnormal blood markers or indicators of inflammation… yet. But you might see the scales reflecting a 10-pound weight gain. If you characterized your diet, it would be more than 50% refined carbohydrates. In fact, you would be consuming the perfect storm of inflammatory fats, low-fiber foods, and an excess of chemical additives and preservatives.

Second, you begin to have episodes of hypoglycemia: blood sugar crashes! Why? Because at this point insulin levels are so consistently high and your cells are becoming so “deafened” to insulin’s message, the fuel cannot get into your cells. Your cellular energy crashes because you are “insulin resistant.” You have to be grazing on snacks all through the day to avoid brain fog, anxiety, irritability, shakiness, and headaches. You might even be drinking a lot of caffeine to stave off headaches and to keep the fatigue at bay. Your stress hormones spike when your blood sugars crash, which sends cravings skyrocketing. You begin to accumulate a little more belly fat, and a lab test might show triglycerides climbing.

Third, some lab markers begin to show up now. Your fasting glucose levels rise above 85 and your c-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation) may be slightly over normal lab ranges. Your organs and tissues, over-exposed to high glucose, begin to show signs of oxidative stress – if you’re looking! You might start having signs of gall bladder disease, heart or kidney disease, or changes to your vision. If a doctor is very astute, he might diagnose you with Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).

Finally, you match the criteria for metabolic syndrome: high triglycerides, low HDL, high blood pressure, and abdominal obesity. Your arteries are forming plaque, and you may have high levels of homocysteine. Your blood sugars are at last consistently high enough to be measured in terms of a Hemoglobin A1c test over 5.7. Suddenly, you are pre-diabetic.

Suddenly Not Pre-diabetic?

Diagnosing pre-diabetes as the first sign of disease is like waiting for a raging house fire to engulf the second story before you decide to buy a smoke detector. – Tracy Harrison, founder School of Applied Functional Medicine

Your retreat from disease will be as dramatic as your lifestyle changes. If you make moderate changes, you’ll likely still end up with diabetes; it just won’t progress as quickly.

Only dramatic change brings dramatic results

So what striking approach should you use? Intermittent fasting, keto, vegan, or perhaps a combination?

What seems to make the most difference is lifestyle changes supported by low-glycemic whole foods. Not all carbohydrates are created equal. You want to choose ones that are not dense, like grains, and that are not quick-absorping, like juice. The lightest, slowest carbs are seeds and non-starchy vegetables.

Here’s a quick checklist of lifestyle considerations:

  • Choose unrefined, clean, whole foods. Remove all products made with flour.
  • Break the habit of needing foods to be sweetened.
  • Anchor your diet with vegetables, building up tolerance to fiber gradually.
  • Hydrate with pure water. Break the habit of self-medicating with caffeine or alcohol.
  • Eat natural fats liberally, but emphasize whole foods and unrefined olive oil.
  • Eat enough protein: at least 15 grams for breakfast and 50 for the daily total.
  • Move. Daily. Get your heart rate up doing something you enjoy at least every other day.
  • Rejuvenate. Prioritize sleep, and choose activities that increase your gratitude and joy.
  • Work with a qualified practitioner to use targeted supplements to re-sensitize your cells to insulin and increase your antioxidant capacity.

 

 

 

 

 

antioxidant berries for inflammation

Antioxidants for Inflammation

You need antioxidants for inflammation. Simply put, inflammation flares when free radicals outnumber antioxidants in your body. While this is a good thing because of surgery or an acute trauma, it’s trouble if it continues chronically. Inflammation is the sign of tissue damage. You want to stop that damage and quench the fire. That’s why you need to eat antioxidant foods AND make antioxidants within your body.

Common Triggers for Chronic Inflammation

You’ve probably heard it before. However, the textbook answers are still true. Here’s a short list of lifestyle factors that contribute to inflammation.

  • Sleep deprivation (Anything less than a consistent 8 hours per night is considered inadequate.)
  • Extreme exercise
  • Sustained elevated blood sugars
  • Eating oxidized or rancid fats (Hint: this includes transfats and vegetable oils such as canola, cottonseed, soy, safflower, and corn.)
  • Toxicity from heavy metals, chemicals, or pathogens
  • Chronic simmering infection
  • High levels of emotional or physical stress

What are Antioxidants?

If your body were a car, the antioxidants would be the steel brushes that removed the rust from your parts. While you don’t actually rust like metal, you still have natural processes at work that can damage your tissues. Without antioxidant molecules, you wouldn’t be able to reverse this damage.

Antioxidant Foods for Inflammation

Look for rich, deep natural colors in whole foods to signal high antioxidant content. For example, dark, leafy greens and bright, red berries are great choices. Interestingly, spices are among the foods highest in antoxidant content. Use both warming spices and cooling herbs in your cooking! In particular, include cumin, ginger, turmeric, parsley, mint, and cilantro.

Another category of antoxidants for inflammation is dark-fleshed fish, such as sardines, salmon, herring, and mackerel. Undoubtedly, these are high in antioxidant omega-3 fatty acids.

How to Synthesize Antioxidants for Inflammation

As important as antioxidant-rich whole foods in your diet are, it’s even more critical that your body be able to make its master antioxidant, glutathione. Indeed, your ability to quell inflammation hinges on this molecule, made from three amino acids, glutamine, glycine, and cysteine. The latter requires methionine for its synthesis. Therefore, getting the essential amino acid, methionine, in your diet is imperative. Eggs, meat, fish, nuts, and seeds are the best sources of methionine.  Legumes, though protein-dense, have very little methionine. Most fruits and vegetables have almost none.

Two other substances necessary to create glutathione are sulfur compounds and vitamin B-6. When you use onions & garlic in your cooking, your are adding sulphur compounds. Also, cruciferous vegetables contain high amounts of sulfurs. This class of vegetables includes broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, turnips, spinach, Brussels sprouts, horseradish, and wasabi!

While prominent in many foods, Vitamin B-6 serves several essential functions besides making glutathione. If your diet and lifestyle are putting heavy demands on your body, it’s easy to be short-changed on this lifestyle. Some conditions that make it likely you have insufficient B-6 include smoking, diabetes, alcoholism, celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease.

The key to vitamin B-6 sufficiency is being able to convert it to its active form. Eating more foods high in this vitamin is not helpful if you can’t convert pyridoxine to pyroxidol 5-phosphate. You can work with a functional practitioner to remedy this problem.

 

 

Viruses provoke immune fitness

Immune Fitness for Viral Survival

What’s your immune fitness? Is your adaptive immunity robust enough to rise above an infection, stronger than before? Although you may not know your capability for viral survival, sound principles of health give you a powerful offense.

Exposure is Inevitable

Viruses are ubiquitous and everlasting. As the most numerous biological entity on the planet, they affect all lifeforms. Because there are millions of kinds of viruses, they appear in plants, insects, animals, and humans alike, transferring between hosts via sap, blood, mucus, or feces. Ironically, viruses technically aren’t a life form themselves. They don’t breathe (respirate), grow, or have their own metabolism (breakdown of food to create energy). In fact, without a host, they are inactive, inert, and non-responsive.

However, there is no such thing as life without viral exposure. Even babies face a constant challenge to their immune systems. But that’s the beauty of it! Your immune fitness requires opposition to strengthen it. Viral exposure is like athletic training. No one aggressively sprints uphill well without practice. Many hill climbs condition you to respond powerfully without collapsing. Similarly, each virus you encounter trains your immune system to recognize a threat and to launch an assertive antibody response.

The Best Defense is a Good Offense

Your immune fitness is a work in progress. When a viral threat confronts your body, your innate immune system – with its macrophages, T cells and killer cells – is like a crew of paramedics. These First Responders assess the situation and call appropriate back-ups. For instance, they might need a neurosurgeon, or perhaps a thoracic specialist. Likewise, the innate immune system rallies the B cells to form antibodies for the particular germ you are facing.

But here’s the clincher: You develop this adaptive immunity only after a successful first innate response. If nothing ever provoked your innate immunity, you would never develop any resistance. Thus, exposure primes your immune fitness. This is the principle behind vaccines.

Make Broad, Balanced Choices for Viral Survival

Another truth is that you cannot restore immune fitness during times of stress. Your body switches into a sympathetic response, known as fight-or-flight, when challenged. This state dilates your eyes, speeds your pulse, increases your respiration rate, raises your blood pressure, and heightens your muscle tension. However, your immune system only replenishes itself during times of rest and relaxation. It requires more nutrients than any other system in your body. But what body will prioritize digestion or sleep when running from the Boogey Man?

Therefore, immune fitness is more than minimizing infection. It is maximizing food nutrients as well as emotional, social, and other lifestyle nutrients. It is prioritizing true health, over just absence of disease.

Develop Immune Fitness

Doritos and Mountain Dew don’t contain the slew of minerals your immune system hogs. The nightly news doesn’t engage your parasympathetic, calm-and-connection nervous system response. You must make deliberate choices to gear up your nutrition and gear down your worry. You develop immune fitness that enhances your viral survival with these tactics:

  1. Chill! For real. Being in a reactive state of worry or fear activates your fight-or-flight system in the body and suppresses immunity. Deliberately stop frequently to breathe deeply, exercise faith, and know that you will get through this. Focus on hope, gratitude and laughter.
  2. Engage! Seize the moment to strengthen relationships in precious, sacred ways. Personal connections raise oxytocin, lower cortisol, and put the nervous system in a state that supports immunity.
  3. Take the Pill of Common Sense. Your body functions best with deep sleep, nutrient-dense food, and frequent movement. Freaking out, losing sleep, eating junk food, and vegging in front of a screen does not support wellness.

 

Eat broth and cruciferous vegetables for immunity

Eating for Immunity

Eating to boost your immunity may be a powerful weapon in these times of uncertainty. While scientists debate which approaches are working in the battle against pandemic viral disease, we can rest assured that nutrient-dense whole foods are never contraindicated! Further, we can start by nourishing ourselves with the primary foods of love, gratitude, laughter and faith.

Eat Cysteine for Strong Immunity

Your body makes its own master antioxidant, called glutathione. Especially in diseases that attack the lungs, you use a lot of this antioxidant to fight inflammation & congestion. However, in order to keep up with the production demand, you have to have a good supply of the amino acids glycine and cysteine. You can augment your stores with the following:

  • a good quality source of whey
  • pastured poultry
  • spinach
  • low-toxicity seafood
  • legumes
  • bone broth

In addition, eating cruciferous vegetables can support immunity. Plant compounds in this family increase glutathione formation. So, load up on kale, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, arugula, radishes, rutabaga, turnips, parsnips, watercress, and horseradish!

Eating Hygiene Impacts Immunity

Your body has a mechanism to kill germs that enter through the mouth. It’s called stomach acid. But stress curtails stomach acid production. So, when you sit down to a meal, breathe deeply, express gratitude, eat slowly & chew thoroughly. It may also help your stomach pH to sip 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water.

Furthermore, you can support healthy digestion and better immunity by feeding your gut microbiota. Did you know that 80% of your immune system is in your gut. Supporting the right kind of microbes goes a long to toward fending off the enemy. The probiotics that live in your GI tract love fiber! In particular, they feast on garlic, onions, oats, Jerusalem artichokes, and asparagus. Eating probiotic foods, such as kimchi, kefir, and kombucha supports healthy immunity.

Boost Immunity with Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamin C and zinc are immunity all-stars. Vitamins A & D are vital, too. But at this point, you are advised to keep your immune system strong by eating nutrient-dense foods, rather than taking high doses of supplements. Maximum doses of Vitamin A and D supplements appear to enhance the receptors through which the corona virus is entering the body.

Top foods for vitamin C include papaya, kiwi, acerola cherries, red bell peppers, and amalaki berries. Oysters are an incredible source of zinc. Other shellfish, grass-fed beef, lentils and almonds contain fairly high levels of zinc, too. You can’t beat liver and egg yolks for their Vitamins A & D content! Sunlight, and yellow-orange-red vegetables are also important.

You might like Immunity Soup, which has a nutrient-rich profile of vitamins and minerals.

Eat Anti-Viral Foods

Not all viruses respond the same way, but a study of a virus related to the current SARS-COV-2, showed that tannic acid exhibited inhibitory activity. This acid is responsible for giving many foods a bitter or astringent taste. Black and puer teas (both caffeinated & decaffeinated) are the highest sources of tannic acid, but you will also find it in red raspberry leaf tea, pomegranates, and cranberries.

Another study found polyphenols to have anti-viral activity against the corona family of viruses. Polyphenols occur in deeply-colored produce such as berries and leafy greens. Along with their anti-microbial benefit, polyphenols serve as fodder for your gut microbes.

Besides tannic acid and polyphenols, selenium may be helpful. Eat selenium-rich foods for immunity rather than taking a supplement. It appears that supplements may enhance receptors in the body that the virus can enter through. Brazil nuts are the most common food source of selenium. Two or three nuts a day is sufficient.

Finally, raw garlic seems to be a good anti-viral food in general. However, at this point, we don’t know if it attacks SARS-COV-2. If you’re turned off at the idea of chomping on a fresh bulb of garlic (I am!), raw garlic is great in salsas, salad dressings, guacamole, mashed potatoes, and hot sauces.

Avoid Inflammatory Foods

One of the reasons people die with pandemic viruses such as the coronavirus is that the disease process sets off a “cytokine storm.” Cytokines are inflammatory messengers your body produces. Already having inflammation in your body puts you at greater risk for this kind of inflammatory storm. Curtail your use of sweeteners, refined carbohydrates, vegetable oils and processed meats. Whatever foods bolster your defenses, I’m sure of this: You won’t fight COV-19 eating Twinkies!

10 numerals for the 10 ways to fight diabetes

Fight Diabetes 10 Ways

How do you fight diabetes when you’re hungry, tired, and the disease runs in your family? Can you fight pre-diabetes when you haven’t got time to sit down for a decent meal? Is it possible to fight rising weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure when work and family demands are so pressing?

You have more control than you think you do. It starts one breath at a time, one bite at a time.

Fighting diabetes isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. Your body got this way day by day over a decade or two. You can make in-roads with baby steps in the right direction until the balance tips. Every effort you make sends your body signals that things are different now. That’s because your body isn’t suddenly non-diabetic one moment and then diabetic the next. There is a progression that starts with increased insulin levels. So anything you do to decrease insulin output will help. Your degree of insulin resistance will creep down until normal sensitivity is again restored. Progress will be slower, but you’ll have a plan you can actually stick to.

How to Tip the Balance

Pick one of these top 4 strategies that feels attainable. Put your heart into it and do it well until it becomes a natural part of your lifestyle. Then pick a second one, and so on until you are doing all of them. When you are ready, move on to the secondary strategies. If you do everything in your power to heal, you will.

  1. Today, do something that brings you joy. Do it again tomorrow. Do it every day. Because stress raises blood sugars more dramatically than food. First, stress releases cortisol, which raises glucose in your blood supply so that your body can mobilize against your stressor. Second, stress creates sleeplessness, which increases insulin resistance. Third, stress shuts down digestion such that only quick sugars are available for immediate energy. This creates cravings for sugary foods. But when you find joy in your life, you raise oxytocin instead of cortisol. These two hormones can’t both be high at the same time. When you release stress by finding joy, you fight diabetes.
  2. Make your first meal of the day your best. Your first foods set blood sugars for the rest of the day. So, if you have juice and a granola bar, or cereal with skim milk, or coffee and a doughnut, you’re “throwing kindling on the fire.” These high-carbohydrate offerings will flare up the glucose levels in your bloodstream. Next, insulin levels with rise to protect you. Yes, insulin stows sugars away to be used later so they don’t damage organs. When insulin has finished its job, your blood sugars will plummet and you will be reaching for a candy bar to stoke them back up again. To protect yourself from this cycle, eat natural fats with your breakfast and make sure you get at least 15 grams of protein.
  3. Snack in style. While spacing food 4-5 hours apart is ideal, it’s not realistic if your blood sugars are dysregulated. But you don’t have to grab chips, crackers, or soda, either. These food-like substances don’t support your fight against diabetes in the least. But combining a fruit or a vegetable with a natural fat gives you energy and satisfies you until the next meal. Check out the 20 suggestions in this post.
  4. Drink pure water. Flavor it if you need to. Beverages in America contribute to diabetes more than anything else we put in our mouths. That includes energy drinks, sodas, juice, lattes, and purchased smoothies. Here’s a tip. Look on the nutrition label at the grams of carbohydrates. Divide by 5. Your answer will be how many teaspoons of sugar you are ingesting. If water just doesn’t taste good to you, consider dropping cut fruit into it, cold-infusing some herbal tea in it, or adding a product such as Ultima Replenisher.

Continue To Fight Diabetes

  1. Eat more vegetables. Did you know we should be eating 6-9 cups of vegetables per day? These nutrient-dense powerhouses fight diabetes by stabilizing blood sugars, providing minerals your pancreas needs, and feeding a healthy microbiome that supports better metabolism. Plus, vegetables take room on your plate that might be filled by pasta, potatoes or pie. Try to make half your plate vegetables.
  2. Sleep longer and deeper. The Sleep Doctor explains, “sleep deprivation increases production of cortisol, which can make cells more resistant to insulin. Lack of sleep also triggers changes to other hormones, including thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and testosterone, which can lead to decreased insulin sensitivity and higher blood glucose.” Try to go to bed early enough that you wake naturally without an alarm
  3. Move your body more. Regular exercise is one of the best ways to increase insulin sensitivity. It helps move sugar into the muscles for storage and promotes an immediate increase in insulin sensitivity, which lasts 2–48 hours, depending on the exercise, according to this study. But you don’t have to go to the gym, as long as you are moving consistently throughout the day, with short intervals of increased heart rate. Make your activity enjoyable and find ways to break up your periods of sitting.
  4. Keep a 12-hour window between your last meal and your first. Intermittent fasting is greatly advantageous for reversing insulin resistance. But you don’t have to skip meals to get the benefit. Start by lengthening the time between dinner and breakfast. If you can’t go 12 hours, go 10, gradually lengthening out your fast. Research shows that a 16-hour window is very beneficial if you can work up to it.
  5. Avoid foods made with flour or sweeteners. Since these are the selections that are most likely to contribute to insulin resistance and diabetes, it only makes sense to eliminate them. Try substituting whole fruit at first, if you need more carbohydrate or miss the sweet taste.
  6. Optimize nutrients. Your body needs zinc, B vitamins, magnesium, carnitine, and many other nutrients to regulate blood sugars. How can your pancreas function optimally if you don’t give it the raw materials it needs. Real foods are your best source, as illustrated by the pictures below. But if it suits your style to use a meal replacement shake once a day to insure you are getting the nourishment you need, MediPro Plus is a great option.
Food-like substances that support diabetes

Don’t eat this!

Real foods that fight diabetes

Eat This!

High blood sugars may indicate a need to reduce insulin resistance

Reduce Insulin Resistance

There are lots of ways to reduce insulin resistance. The best ones for you are the ones you can implement and sustain with pleasure and commitment. There is no one-size-fits-all diet that is perfect for everyone. But there are some important principles that are true, regardless of what plan you choose to reduce your insulin resistance. The more of these principle you can adopt, the greater your chances for a return to healthy insulin sensitivity.

Why is it important to reduce insulin resistance?

Insulin resistance is a precursor to chronic illness, including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, obesity, and liver and kidney disease. It’s the smoke detector that signals that your body is on fire. But waiting until your lab tests show high blood sugars is like waiting until the 2nd story is engulfed in flames before you call the fire department.  Insulin is a critical wellness marker. Ask your doctor, or visit an online lab to request fasting insulin levels. Optimally, your number should be 5 or less.

Breakfast Like a King

If you choose to eat in the morning (many people prefer a fasting approach), your meal should contain at least 15 grams of high quality protein. By high quality, I mean as much wild-caught, grass-fed, free-range and organic as you can find and afford. Filling up on protein not only helps your body build new non-insulin resistant cells, it also helps satisfy your appetite without reaching for another bowl of cereal.

The debate over fats – which ones and how much – is hotly contested. However, it is clear that too many refined carbs will immediately raise blood sugar levels, followed by an increase in insulin. Fats slow down the absorption of glucose into the blood stream. Many people have success by including nuts and seeds in their morning meal, and by using olive oil or coconut oil regularly.

Are Carbs Good or Bad?

Each proponent of insulin reducing diets has his or her own guidelines on carbohydrates. Some say eliminate fruits. Others say eliminate grains. Or both. Still others say fruits and grains are acceptable as long as they are not processed or refined. Regardless of these differing opinions, individuals with insulin resistance are likely to have exaggerated responses to high glycemic foods, even unrefined ones. Therefore, in short-term, it’s a good idea to reduce carbohydrate intake in general.

More specifically, avoid sweeteners of any kind and stay away from flour initially, even gluten-free varieties, as these convert to glucose and raise blood sugars rapidly. Many people find that limiting fruits to one serving a day is helpful.

Vegetables are carbs. But non-starchy vegetables have such a low-glycemic index, are so nutrient-dense, and are high enough in fiber, that they are welcome in any dietary approach. A good rule of thumb is to fill your plate half-full with vegetables, starchy ones excluded. (Corn, potatoes, peas, and root vegetables are best minimized while you reduce your insulin resistance.)

Can a Ketogenic Diet Reduce Insulin Resistance?

The keto approach is too extreme for most people to be able to sustain for more than a month or two. Reducing insulin resistance should be a long-term lifestyle. However, you might find a keto diet is a great way to jump start your progress or get you off a plateau, provided you have the digestive capacity (and gall bladder function) to increase your proteins and fats that dramatically. If you don’t feel well doing keto, you’re just as well off to simply keep your carbs under 100 grams per day if you are moderately active or under 50 grams per day if you are largely sedentary.

Move it!

I think all researchers will agree that exercise increases insulin sensitivity. The best exercise for you is the one you will consistently engage in! Some people are inspired by using a device to count their steps. Others feel they have to sweat! Research shows that high-intensity interval training and resistance training with weights or therapy bands are both effecting in reducing insulin resistance.

Raise Your Oxytocin

Cortisol is released during stress, and cortisol raises blood sugars. When stress is chronic, blood sugars are also chronically high. Since high blood sugars damage organs, your body protects yourself with a continuously high output of insulin to stow those sugars away in various organs and tissues. But chronically elevated insulin leads to insulin resistance. Therefore, even on a clean diet with lots of exercise, stress begets insulin resistance.

The answer to high cortisol levels is to find ways to raise your oxytocin. These two hormones work like a see-saw. When one goes up, the other goes down. You can raise oxytocin by engaging your five senses:

  • Look into the eyes of a loved one.
  • Breathe deeply of diffused essential oils, or better yet, flowers, trees, leaves, and soil.
  • Listen to nature sounds or beautiful music.
  • Savor the complex flavors of a well-prepared nutrient-dense meal.
  • Snuggle with a child, a partner, or a pet.
  • Take up a hobby, such as dancing or painting.
  • Laugh.
  • Notice the clouds, individual blades of grass, the caress of a breeze, or other details of nature
  • Like a child, run your fingers through the sand, or mold a ball of clay, or play with someone’s hair.
  • Write your feelings in a gratitude journal
  • Get acupuncture or a massage
  • Eat to raise oxytocin, using strategies in this post. 

Do You Need Help Reducing Insulin Resistance?

If you have implemented as many of these strategies as you can and need help troubleshooting a lack of progress, I’m here to help! I use my functional approach to detect imbalances that may be creating roadblocks for you.

Eating together raises oxytocin

Eat to Raise Oxytocin

Obsessing about de-stressing? Why not raise your love hormone, oxytocin, instead? Since stress is damaging to your health, you’re under pressure to live a more relaxed life. But isn’t relaxing under duress an oxymoron? However, science assures us that stress hormones come down when oxytocin rises, wouldn’t it be simpler to focus on the pleasurable task of raising oxytoxin?

What is Oxytocin?

You might say that oxytocin is commander-in-chief of your body’s parasympathetic nervous system response. This response is commonly called the rest-and-digest state, or the connection-relaxation state. Though many hormonal and nerve changes switch the body to this response from a sympathetic, or flight-or-flight state, oxytocin oversees the process. You see, oxytocin has many more hats to wear than just making sexual intercourse pleasurable and enabling mothers to birth and nurse their babies. It enhances bonding, appears to modulate fear, and has an anti-depressant effect.

Additionally, oxytocin can reduce anxiety, and lessen symptoms of withdrawal. Both men and women secrete oxytocin.

Signs You Might be Making Insufficient Oxytocin

Obviously, given the roles above, you might be low in oxytocin if:

  • You have trouble bonding.
  • You experience chronic depression, anxiety, or fears.
  • Sexual intercourse is mechanical and/or you have trouble achieving orgasm.
  • You crave addictive substances.

Here’s another sign that’s intriguing to me as a nutritional therapist: you crave sweet, high-carbohydrate foods. There is research that oxytocin counters cravings for sweets. But whether it does or not, this much is clear: stress does raise cravings for sweets. And too much of the stress hormone cortisol blunts oxytocin. So, it only stands to reason that raising oxytocin would diminish sugar cravings.

How Eating Can Raise Oxytocin

We know that social contact, looking in the eyes of loved ones, touch, warmth, and verbalizations of love and gratitude heighten oxytocin production. These factors all come together when you share a meal with family or friends.  But there’s more: you need certain nutrients to make oxytocin, so eating foods high in those factors can enhance your ability to manufacture and release oxytocin.

Here are three nutrients that are effective in optimizing your oxytocin levels:

  • Magnesium: This mineral has a dual function. It helps oxytocin receptors work properly, and it boosts oxytocin’s action. Because most Americans are clinically low in magnesium, you could struggle to have sufficient oxytocin due to mineral deficiency. The top foods for magnesium, believe it or not, are not bananas, although this fruit is #10 on the list. The best choices are spinach, pumpkin seeds, lima beans, tuna, and brown rice.
  • Vitamin C: Oxytocin depends on this vitamin as a co-factor in its synthesis. Vitamin C also seems to stimulate oxytocin secretion. Enhance your Vitamin C stores by eating plenty of acerola cherries, chili peppers, red and yellow bell peppers, guava, parsley, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, lemons, and papayas.
  • Lactobacillus reuteri: This probiotic augments brain oxytocin. It is found in cultured foods, such as cheeses, yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and miso.

My Favorite Ways to Raise Oxytocin

I find it delightful to strive for an oxytocin boost! It’s much more satisfying than writing “manage stress” on my to-do list. Here are just a few of my most enjoyable ways to increase the love hormone.

  • Eat nutrient-rich, whole-food meals with my favorite people. I highly doubt that junk food will give me an oxytocin rush, so I leave processed, refined foods out of the equation.
  • Turn up the heat. Here are several cozy options I indulge in for warming my body: sit in a sauna, soak in some hot springs, place a heated compress on my neck and shoulders, and relax with a foot soak.
  • Listen to relaxing music. It’s even more beneficial to hum or sing along.
  • Engage in body work. I personally find acupuncture, massage, and yoga to be very pleasurable.
  • Notice the sights, scents, and sounds all around: the motion of the clouds, the chirping of birds, the smell of a pine boughs, the laughter of a child, the snapping of a campfire.
  • Engage in deep inhales & long exhales, using the diaphragm, not the chest.

Remember, stress can undermine even the cleanest diet. Contact me to learn more about reducing stress hormones and eating healthier.