Will eating healthier make it easier to achieve superior skin health? If you’ve had a nutritional consultation at Seasons, then you already know the answer. Yes! The food you put into your body has a direct effect on how you feel and look.
Being diligent about applying SPF and regularly visiting your skin care specialist for rejuvenation treatments are two great ways to keep your appearance in tip-top shape, but consuming the right foods is also important to the health of your skin. After all, you are what you eat!
The following fruits are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients that can help you live longer, look better, and even prevent disease. Here are our picks to keep your skin looking beautiful, healthy, and hydrated this summer!
- Cantaloupe. Consider cantaloupe your secret weapon for smooth, younger-looking skin. You can thank the Vitamin A and its derivatives for boosting cell reproduction. Cantaloupe also increases antioxidants in your body which increases your ability to absorb free radicals and decreases your risk of skin problems.
- Oranges. Like Cantaloupes, oranges are chock-full of antioxidants. Oranges and other citrus fruits are said to be among the best foods for your skin’s health because they are rich in Vitamin C. Vitamin C can help protect your skin against sun damage which reduces your risk of skin cancer.
- Peaches. Not only are peaches great for reviving your skin, but they have benefits that include aiding weight loss, preventing heart disease and high blood pressure, and they contain an abundance of antioxidants.
- Blueberries. Ranked number one in antioxidant activity by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, blueberries can protect your skin from premature signs of aging.
- Apples. An apple a day may keep more than just the doctor away. Apples are rich in pectin – the starch essential in driving away acne! And don’t throw the skin in the trash! Apple skin contains phenols which provide important UV-B protection.
Fighting acne? Food choices are a huge factor contributing to this dreaded skin problem. Like the rest of your body, what you eat directly and indirectly affects your acne. This is one factor that we can easily control by being mindful of what goes into our bodies. So, here are five things to remember:
- Take your vitamins. Whole food multi-vitamins taken daily are a good choice to fight acne. Acidophilus B and garlic are also great acne fighters.
- An apple a day. Eat red or golden delicious apples daily.
- Drink water, water, water.
- Clear is better. You shouldn’t drink sodas for a whole slew of other reasons; but if you must drink a soda, remember that clear is better. The ingredients that make sodas dark can make acne worse.
- Go natural with your sweets. Too much refined sugar can aggravate acne. This means stay away from candy, sodas, cakes and pies! Try to use natural sweeteners, like honey or stevia!
- Saliva testing evaluates the “free” (active) hormone levels. A hormone has to be unbound to elicit a physiologic action. Saliva testing looks at the active hormone inside the cell, at the site of action. Saliva testing has been validated as a testing method for measuring the hormones cortisol, estradiol, progesterone, DHEA, and testosterone to name a few.
- Saliva testing requires no needles.
- Saliva testing has been shown to be well validated and superior than blood, with sensitivities and specificities exceeding 100% and 97.4% respectively. Other than perfection, you can’t get much better than that.
- According to the National Institute for Health, saliva testing is useful in “detecting various cancers, heart disease, diabetes, periodontal disease…”
- Saliva testing is also useful in disease evaluation. Saliva testing of cortisol has been recommended as the first-line test for Cushing’s syndrome due to “high diagnostic accuracy.”
Testing hormones through saliva is backed by science. But don’t take my word for it. In fact, it’s well supported in medical literature and is the right thing to do. Below are links to several abstracts regarding salivary hormone testing. Read them for yourself and learn about the science behind this form of hormone testing.
- Belkien LD, Bordt J, Moller P, Hano R, Nieschlag E. Estradiol in saliva for monitoring follicular stimulation in an in vitro fertilization program. Fertil Steril 1985;44:322.
- Bolaji II, Tallon DF, O’Dwyer E, Fottrell PF. Assessment of bioavailability of oral micronized progesterone using a salivary progesterone enzymeimmunoassay. Gynecol Endocrinol 1993;7:101-110.
- Campbell BC, Ellison PT. Menstrual variation in salivary testosterone among regularly cycling women. Horm Res 1992;37:132-136.
- Aardal-Eriksson E, Karlberg BE, Holm AC. Salivary cortisol- and alternative to serum cortisol determinations in dynamic function tests. Clin Chem Lab Med 1998;36:215-222.
These articles are published in well-respected journals; and if you notice, they are not recent. Salivary testing of hormones has been well published in the medical literature for some time now.
Here are a few quotes from these studies:
- “…salivary cortisol may be used as an alternative parameter in dynamic endocrine tests.”
- “…assessment of ovarian function…can be performed precisely with the saliva estradiol assay.”
- “…saliva collection has provided the medical and research community with an excellent medium for the monitoring of plasma steroid levels.”
Nowhere else in medicine do we blindly treat people without assessing a baseline and post treatment level(s). Balance is the key; not one individual hormone. Unfortunately, the medical field is very slow to learn and change.
For more information about salivary testing, read Evaluating Hormones Requires More Than Just a Blood Test.
TD has become such a widespread problem that one study (The 20-Year Public Health Impact and Direct Cost of Testosterone Deficiency in U.S. Men) projects over the next 20 years TD will:
- Be involved in the development of approximately 1.3 million new cases of cardiovascular disease;
- Be involved in the development of 1.1 million new cases of diabetes mellitus;
- Be involved in the development of over 600,000 osteoporosis-related fractures; *create medical-related costs, in the first year, of approximately $8.4 billion;
- And be directly responsible for approximately $190–$525 billion in inflation-adjusted U.S. health care expenditures over the 20-year period.
So if TD is causing such widespread health issues, how will we solve the Low-T problem? As I mentioned in my last post, there are four components necessary for wellness, good physiologic function, and symptom-free living. Let’s take a look at the fourth on the list.
Hormone receptors must appropriately respond to the signal sent by the hormone to your body. To take a closer look at the Low-T problem, let’s look at androgen receptors.
What is a hormone receptor? Hormone receptors are the landing place for hormones inside your cells. Once a receptor receives the hormone and its message, the receptor undergoes a change sending a signal to the cell nucleus and DNA. [Side note: This is one reason that hormone testing via saliva (not just blood) is such an effective way to evaluate hormones in the body. Saliva testing allows a look at hormones at the sight of action, revealing the free, bioactive hormone inside the cell.]
What is an androgen receptor? Androgen receptors play catch to the two most potent androgens, Testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which actually compete for the same receptor. These two hormones are present in both males and females but are typically known as male hormones. Both Testosterone and DHT are very important in development, but here’s an unexpected fact – the androgen receptor actually likes DHT better than Testosterone. What?
You heard me correctly. The androgen receptor has an affinity for DHT over Testosterone. So why in the world are we prescribing so much Testosterone to cure the Low-T problem if it’s not the best solution? Here are some DHT facts.
- DHT inhibits estrogen production. Remember estrogen is a major culprit in inflammation, obesity, weight gain, and hormone imbalance.
- DHT is a more potent androgen than Testosterone. DHT is the most potent androgen exceeding that of Testosterone by a ratio of 3:1. Its increased potency is through its greater affinity for the androgen receptor. And that greater affinity is by a ratio of 3:1.
- DHT does not get converted to estrogens. This is a major problem with simply prescribing Testosterone to men…the body is converting much of it to estrogen.
- DHT binds with a higher affinity and longer duration (5 x longer) to the androgen receptor. Testosterone compensates for this by increasing it’s concentration relative to DHT. Only about 5% of testosterone is converted to DHT. So, a smaller amount of androgen (DHT) has a larger signaling effect due to it’s higher affinity and binding time with the receptor.
It’s a fact: Americans love eating out. We blog, Tweet, and post about it. It’s very gratifying to share a meal with friends or family while taking a break from cooking at home. Even while on a diet, you may give yourself a pass to “treat yourself” or overindulge while dining at your favorite restaurant. But have you ever thought about what you are eating and where the restaurant purchased their food? Well, it is quite eye-opening!
Dining out will make you fat and very unhealthy! Unless you are dining at a health food type restaurant (which are few in number), the average restaurant meal is usually between 1,000-1,500 calories. Studies show that we eat about 40 percent more when we are in groups as opposed to eating alone. However, the main reason we eat more is due to the portion size at restaurants, usually much larger than we would consume at home.
The goal of most restaurants is to make a profit, not to provide healthy foods that will reduce your risk for heart disease, obesity, and cancer. Because they want you to come back, most restaurants will provide foods that simply taste good but are high in fat in forms of processed oils, trans fat, butter and lard. Even the healthier options can still be loaded with calories. And don’t forget the high amounts of sugar including high fructose corn syrup, a cheap form of sweetener.
Since profit is the main goal, most restaurants are not serving high quality food. Unless they advertise themselves as providing truly healthier options like grass-fed/organic meats, USA or Canadian wild-caught fish or organic grains, fruits and vegetables, they are likely serving you genetically modified foods (GMOs). Since 60-75 percent of grocery foods are genetically modified, the likelihood is pretty great that these cheaper sources of food will be found in restaurants.
In addition to harmful GMOs, you may also end up eating industrially bred and raised food loaded with hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides. There are alarming and unhealthy practices that go on at a CAFO facilities (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation). The problem begins at the massive CAFOs where cows, chickens, and pigs are fed genetically modified corn, soybeans, and excessive grains in general (not their natural diet, i.e. grass), along with many other unbelievable feed ingredients such as:
- Plastics: this is used for many animals whose digestive systems need more roughage to pass through them, thus CAFOs are now feeding them plastic pellets.
- Manure and animal feces: this can include cattle manure, swine and poultry waste. It also can include wood, sand, sawdust and other non-food substances.
- Roxarsone: more commonly named arsenic, which until recently was put into chicken and pig feed to control parasites, though Nitarsone (another arsenic-based poultry drug) is still approved. Chicken litter (containing the arsenic that passes through the birds) is also collected from chicken CAFOs and is fed surprisingly to feedlot cattle.
- Animal byproducts: categorized as “animal protein products,” this includes hair, skin, hooves, blood, internal organs, intestines, beaks and bones, dead horses, euthanized cats and dogs, and road kill.
Fast foods do not fare any better, and are usually chemically laden for shelf life and profit. Two examples of synthetic chemicals in popular fast food chicken nuggets are:
- Dimethyl polysiloxane: a type of silicone with anti-foaming properties used in cosmetics and variety of other goods like Silly Putty
- Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ): a petroleum-based product that has antioixidant properties.
Due to all of the processing (added sugars and other ingredients), studies have shown that eating fast food just twice a week, can cause you to gain excess weight, but even more alarming is that it doubles your risk of developing insulin resistance, the driving force behind many chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Try these strategies for making healthier decisions while dining out.
- Reserve dining out for special occasions, not a bi-weekly habit.
- Seek out healthier-minded restaurants using seasonal, sustainable, non-GMO, organic, free range, or wild-caught ingredients and dedicated to preparing meals with healthy fats in mind.
- Ask questions about where they buy their foods.
- Avoid fast food as much as possible unless they advertise a truly healthier option as mentioned earlier.
Asian Lettuce Cups
- 1 1/4 lb. 93% lean, free-range/organic ground turkey
- 1 Tbsp cold pressed/organic oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/8 tsp. ground ginger (can use fresh equivalent if desired)
- 2/3 cup thinly sliced organic green onions (about 4)
- 1 (8 oz) can sliced water chestnuts, drained and coarsely chopped
- 12 Boston lettuce leaves (or organic iceberg)
- 3 Tbsp hoisin sauce (recipe below)
- 2 Tbsp lower-sodium organic gluten free soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp organic rice vinegar
- 2 tsp. roasted red chili paste, organic if possible
- 1/8 tsp. whole mineral salt
- 1/8 tsp. ground organic black pepper
Homemade Hoisin Sauce
- 4 Tbsp. lower-sodium organic gluten free soy sauce
- 2 tsp. organic white vinegar (or lemon/lime juice)
- 1 tsp. organic sesame seed oil
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted organic unsweetened peanut butter
- 1 Tbsp. organic/raw honey, molasses or brown sugar
- 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/8 – 1/4 tsp. hot sauce/chili sauce (this will vary depending on your preference)
Mix together until blended. (Note: may need to slightly heat the sauce to disperse the peanut butter more uniformly)
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add turkey, garlic and ginger to the pan and cook for about 6 minutes or until turkey is browned. Stir to crumble. Combine turkey mixture, onions and chopped water chestnuts in a large bowl, stirring well, and set aside.
Meanwhile in a small bowl, whisk together hoisin, soy sauce, rice vinegar and roasted red chili paste, salt, pepper and drizzle over the turkey mixture. Toss to coat completely. Add about 1/4 cup turkey mixture to each lettuce leaf, serve, and enjoy!
Recently on his daily television show, Dr. Oz discussed IV nutrition therapy. I was very disappointed when Dr. Oz questioned the validity, benefit, and safety of this invaluable therapy. He had a guest physician on his show to defend IV therapies, but his guest talked in generalizations with no specifics and no scientific data. Dr. Oz’s conclusion at the end of the show, and I will paraphrase, was: “I guess if the Hollywood celebrity types are doing it, there must be some benefit.”
Wow! Now that’s scientific (insert sarcasm). We live in day where we have instant access to data and scientific research, and that is his closing statement?
As physicians, we often forget that we are scientists. Our testing and therapies should be based on science, not opinion. Yet, neither Dr. Oz nor his guest presented any scientific data to support their statements in favor or opposition. So, allow me to do the job that Dr. Oz and his guest did not.
Intravenous nutritional therapy has been around since IV vitamin C was first used for treatment of polio in 1949. Is it something everyone needs? Of course not. Should everyone take insulin? You get my point.
At Seasons, we evaluate a client’s needs based on symptoms. The symptoms lead us to extensive metabolic testing to determine the specific presence and severity of deficiencies of amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, etc. Only then do we recommend IV nutritional therapies using the metabolic test results combined with the client’s symptoms. That is what medicine is all about – using the art and science of medicine for the patient’s benefit.
Another reason to use IV nutritional therapy is that for most Americans, our guts are a wreck (and that is putting it mildly). Absorption problems are a major concern for Americans. If you can’t absorb a vitamin or nutrient, it doesn’t matter how good the source or the dosage of therapy is, it just won’t be absorbed. If you are dealing with severe deficiencies, then you’ll never catch up.
How about an analogy to paint a clearer picture? A patient seeks help from a physician for severe dehydration. The patient just can’t keep anything down. Is the physician going to give the patient a pat on the back, tell them to just drink more water, and send them on their way? Of course not. The physician knows that the patient cannot tolerate oral therapy at that point. The deficiency is severe. The physician knows that he/she must catch the patient up, and then instruct the client to drink more water. And how does the physician “catch” the patient up? Well, IVs of course.
Does Dr. Oz question the safety, validity, and benefits of this therapy? Of course not. That is because it is standard practice. Standard practice is defined as: whatever everyone else is doing. I remember my mom often asking me, So…if everyone else jumps of a cliff, are you going to do that too?
And the testing to determine dehydration? Very limited. Usually, a urinalysis, complete blood count test (CBC), maybe a general chemistry, and of course a physical exam. From experience and training, I can tell you that the IV fluids are started based on the physical exam, before the test results get back. That is not how we approach IV nutritional therapy at Seasons. Dr Oz gave the impression that people just walk into a Doctor’s office to order IVs as one would a hamburger at a fast food drive-through. We customize therapy to specific needs and match it with their specific metabolic demand.
So, what does the science say about IV nutritional therapy? The science is overwhelmingly in favor of IV nutritional therapy.
The research below looks at surgical patients. It is well known that poor nutritional status of the patient undergoing surgery effects outcome. These studies showed that IV nutritional therapy improved outcomes. This is not total peripheral nutrition (TPN). TPN is therapy to replace all nutrition. Intravenous nutritional therapy is just to replace vitamins, minerals, and maybe some targeted macronutrients.
- Bellantone R, Doglietto G, Bossola M, Pacelli F, Negro F, Sofo L, Crucitti F. Preoperative parenteral nutrition of malnourished surgical patients. Acta Chir Scand. Apr 1988;154(4):249-51.
- Rham D. A guide to perioperative nutrition. Aesthetic Surgery Journal. July-August 2004;24)4):385-390.
- Xu J. Yunshi Z, Li R. Immunonutrition in Surgical Patients. Current Drug Targets. Aug 2009;10(8):771-777.
- Beier-Holgersen R, Boesby S. Influence of postoperative enteral nutrition on postsurgical infections. Gut. 1996;39:833-835.
So, what about the other benefits of IV nutritional therapy?
- Wolk RA, Rayburn WF. Parenteral nutrition in obstetric patients. Nutr Clin Pract. Aug 1990;5(4):139-52.
- Rayburn W, Wolk R, Mercer N, Roberts J. Parenteral nutrition in obstetrics and gynecology. Obstet Gynecol Surv. Apr 1986;41(4):200-14.
- Russo-Stieglitz KE, Levine AB, Wagner BA, Armenti VT. Pregnancy outcome in patients requiring parenteral nutrition. J Maternal Fetal Med. 199;8:164-7.
- Zibell-Frisk, Jen KL, Rick J. Use of parenteral Nutrition to maintain adequate nutritional status in hyperemesis gravidarum. J Perinatol. 1990;10:390-5.
First trimester miscarriage
- Acacio B et al. Pregnancy outcome after intralipid infusion among women experiencing recurrent pregnancy loss. Fertility & Sterility. Apr 2008;89(4):S11.
- Roussev RG et al. Duration of intralipid’s suppressive effect on NK cell’s functional activity. Am J Reprod Immunol. Sep 2008;60(3):258-63.
- Klenner FR. Massive doses of vitamin C and the virus diseases. J So Med & Surg. April 1951;113(4).
- Schencking M, Vollbracht C, Weiss G, Lebert J, Biller A, Goyvaerts B, Kraft K. Intravenous vitamin C in the treatment of shingles: results of a multicenter prospective cohort study. Med Sci Monit. Apr 2012;18(4):CR215-24.
- Gorton HC, Jarvis K. The effectiveness of vitamin C in preventing and relieving the symptoms of virus-induced respiratory infections. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. Oct 1999;22(8):530-3.
- Tanaka H, Takayoshi M et al. Reduction of resuscitation fluid volumes in severely burned patients using ascorbic acid administration. Arch Surg 2000;135.326-331.
- Crimi E et al. The beneficial effects of antioxidant supplementation in enteral feeding in critically ill patients: a prospective, randomized, double, blind, placebo- controlled trial. A & A. Sept 2004;99(3):857-863.
- Dentico P et al. Glutathione in the treatment of chronic fatty liver disease. Recnti Prog Med. Jul-Aug 1995;86(7):7-8):290-3.
- Smith SW, Howland MA, Hoffman RS, Nelson LS. Acetaminophen overdose with altered acetaminophen pharmacokinetics and hepatotoxicity associated with premature cessation of intravenous N-acetylcysteine therapy. Ann Pharmacother. Sep 2008;42(9):1333-1339.
- Mitchell JR et al. Acetaminophen-induced hepatic necrosis. IV protective role of glutathione. JPET. Oct 1973;187(1):211-217.
- Chen JY, Chu CC, So EC, Hsing CH, Hu ML. Treatment of postherpectic neuralgia with intravenous administration of vitamin C. Anesth Analg. 2006;103:1616-1617.
- Schencking M, Sandholzer H, Frese T. Intravenous administration of vitamin C in the treatment of herpetic neuralgia: two case reports. Med Sci Monit. 2010;16:58-61.
- Chen JY, Chang CY, Feng PH, Chu CC, So EC, Hu ML. Plasma vitamin C is lower in postherpetic neuralgia patients and administration of vitamin C reduces spontaneous pain but not brush-evoked pain. Clin J Pain. Sep 2009;25(7):562-9.
- Riordan HD et al. A pilot clinical study of continuous intravenous ascorbate in terminal cancer patients. P R Health Sci J. Dec 2005;24(4):269-76.
- Mikirova N, Casciari J, Rogers A, Taylor P. Effect of high-dose intravenous vitamin C on inflammation in cancer patients
- Ohno S, Ohno Y, Suzuki N, Soma G, Inouse M. High-dose vitamin C (ascorbic acid) therapy in the treatment of patients with advanced cancer. Anticancer Research. Mar 2009;29(3):809-815.
- Chen Q et al. Pharmacologic ascorbic acid concentrations selectively kill cancer cells: Action as a pro-drug to deliver hydrogen peroxide to tissues. PNAS. Sept 20 2005;102(38):13604-13609.
- Juraschek SP, Guallar E, Appel LJ, Miller ER III. Effects of vitamin C supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr. May 2012;95(5):1079-1088.
- Schneider MP et al. Superoxide scavenging effects of N-actylcysteine and vitamin C in subjects with essential hypertension. Am J Hypertens. 2005;18:1111-1117.
- Mikirova N, Rogers A, Casciari J, Taylor P, Effect of high dose intravenous ascorbic acid on the level of inflammation in patients with rheumatoid. Modern Research in Inflammation. 2012;1(2):26-32.
- Sechi G et al. Reduced intravenous glutathione in the treatment of early parkinson’s disease. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry. Oct 1996;20(7):1159-1170.
- Hauser RA, Lyons KE, McClain T, Carter S, Perlmutter D. Randomized, double- blind, pilot evaluation of intravenous glutathione in Parkinson’s disease. Mov Disord. May 15 2009;24(7):979-83.
- Kuwabara S et al. Intravenous methylcobalamin treatment for uremic and diabetic neuropathy in chronic hemodialysis patients. Intern Med. Jun 1999;38(6):472-5.
- Ziegler D et al. Alpha-lipoic acid in the treatment of diabetic polyneuropathy in Germany: current evidence from clinical trials. Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes. 1999;107(7):421-30.
As you can see, the benefits of IV nutritional therapy are abound. That is not my opinion, but scientific fact.
How safe is IV nutritional therapy? The studies below showed the safety of IV nutritional therapies in all states of health, including pregnancy.
- Greenspoon JS, Rosen DJ, Ault M. Use of peripherally inserted central catheter for parenteral nutrition during pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol. May 1993;81(f (Pt2)):831-4.
- Valencia E, Hardy G. Practicalities of glutathione supplementation in nutritional support. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care. May 2002;5(3): 321-326.
- Padayatty SJ et al. Vitamin C: Intravenous use by complementary and alternative medicine practitioners and adverse effects. PLos ONE 5(7):e11414.
Just because Dr. Oz (the great and powerful, Dr. Oz) says it is so doesn’t make it so. I hope I’ve helped pull back the curtain and expose the real science supporting IV nutritional therapy.
My pre-60th birthday journey to improve my previous test results from Seasons of Farragut continues! This month I decided to focus on the first tenet in our Seasons wellness regimen – nutrition!
About two years ago I took the ALCAT test and was astonished at my lengthy list of reactive foods! The ALCAT is a fascinating food sensitivity test in which white blood cells are introduced to a variety of foods, chemicals, and herbs. The severity of the reaction determines if a substance is mild, moderate, severe, or normal within my body. Since knowledge is power, I decided to receive the news that gluten and dairy were on my “severe list” as a positive indicator rather than “buyers’ remorse” for having performed the test!
Lyn-Genet Recitas has written a book, The Plan, which explains how inflammation from food intolerance can cause symptoms such as joint pain, skin disorders, fatigue, weight issues, headaches, and digestive disorders. Whereas a food allergy can have almost an immediate effect, a food sensitivity may not show up for several hours to 3 days later. For weight gain, it’s not as much about the calories as the chemistry of the body. One person may benefit from last night’s salmon and broccoli but someone else may actually gain 2 pounds. Inflammation from food intolerance causes damage to the lining of the gut. As the lining becomes “leaky” with gaps present, foods begin to slip through not completely digested. This causes the body to attack undigested foods.
As we age, inflammation can increase which causes our systems to slow down. Many of us have much less stomach acid and digestive enzymes to break down food. This can ultimately alter our weight and our health. Reactive foods cause our bodies to produce more histamine which causes water retention via dilated capillaries. The brain responds by increasing the production of Cortisol. As more Cortisol is produced, fewer sex hormones are produced since both sets of hormones depend on the same building blocks. Increased Cortisol causes an increase in glucose which causes an increase in blood sugar! This domino effect alters the good bacteria in the gut and can increase yeast production. The altered gut flora leads to a weakened immune response since about 70% of our immune system is in the gut.
The thyroid gland can also be affected by food intolerances. White blood cells that attack undigested foods may migrate to the thyroid gland and begin to attack it. Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disorder of the thyroid gland. This is determined by a blood test that measures the number of specific antibodies against the thyroid gland. As I began to avoid gluten, my own antibody level began to decrease. I was able to decrease my thyroid replacement dosage. This month, I repeated my ALCAT test and found that many of my food intolerances had improved. Not only had I attempted to avoid specific foods, but I also worked intentionally on healing my GI tract. I take a powerful probiotic daily as well as a digestive enzyme with my dinner. For one month of each season, I take a protein shake that is loaded with L-Glutamine. This amazing amino acid helps to heal the leaky gut. It is packed with anti-inflammatories and herbs to help my liver and GI tract detox.
Two years ago, I had about a dozen foods on my severe list. This year, I only have one – apples! So, I’m going to give them up for the next 6 months. My moderate reactive list contains 18 foods which I will have to have great discipline to avoid. These are healthy foods but for me, can cause hidden inflammation. Gluten now causes moderate reactions in my body. I have noticed that when I indulge in gluten, the next morning, my joints ache and my stomach hurts. I doubt if I will ever reintroduce gluten. Dairy is moderate also. Fortunately there are lots of great choices for me and I look forward to continual healing of my GI tract. Our Nutritional Consultant, Carolyn will keep me focused on this life-long journey of wellness. Be sure to check out her amazing recipes on our website!
Long term benefits with this specialized nutritional therapy will keep inflammation down and hopefully help me avoid chronic disease as well as weight gain. If you would like more information regarding the ALCAT test, call Seasons today. Let’s age intentionally with nutrition being our number one “medicine!”
Perspective. It affects everything. Take, for example, the beauty of the earth. Some might look at the magnificence of the earth and think of Darwinian theory. But as I stand in my back yard, I am amazed by God’s creation. When I look out of the window on my many plane flights, I am amazed by God’s creation. And when I see the perspective from space as seen by astronauts, I am still amazed at God’s creation.
Perspective colors the way we see everything around us. For those, like myself, who believe in the God of creation, I view the world a certain way. And for those who choose to believe otherwise, they view the world a certain way.
Perspective is an important part of the medical world as well. As technology improves, the amount of information available to me as a physician changes the way I treat my patients because I now have more data than I’ve had in the past helping me make a better decision.
So, let’s talk about how perspective is an important part of evaluating hormones! (And you thought the only important perspective about hot flashes was “where’s the air conditioner”!)
If men were only about testosterone and women were only about estrogen, life would be easy and all would be symptom free. Unfortunately, that is, in a nutshell, the current perspective on treatment of hormone imbalance issues. It is not, however, an accurate perspective based on physiology. Just watch an hour of TV in the evening. The pharmaceutical companies are inundating us with ads about testosterone creams and the like. Regardless of clever marketing, looking at the reality of physiology based on the latest testing methods reveals that hormones are a lot more complicated than treating the level of just one hormone.
When it comes to hormones, there are four important components necessary for physiologic function and symptom-free living.
- Hormone levels need to be in the “normal” range. We don’t need the respective hormone levels too high or too low.
- Hormones need to be balanced. This is where many in the medical field get it wrong since all hormones work together to communicate to the body.
- Your body needs to effectively use the hormones present. Hormone metabolism is a key element in evaluating hormones in the body.
- Hormone receptors must appropriately respond to the signal sent by the hormone to your body.
The past (and current) perspective of the medical community is that the absolute levels of individual hormones are what is important and little attention is given to balance between hormones. Very little attention is given to the balance between hormones. For example, women, post-hysterectomy, are prescribed estrogen only. But we know that prior to the hysterectomy, all hormones are needed for a normal, functioning cycle, not just estrogen alone.
Some of the risks associated with estrogen therapy pertains to how the individual metabolizes or detoxifies the estrogen. Hormone metabolism can be affected by internal factors like genetic variations, or SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms), located in the detoxification pathways. These are small genetic coding errors. Hormone metabolism can also be affected by external factors such as magnesium and zinc, co-factors in those same internal detoxification pathways of hormone production and metabolism. Just the presence of the detoxification pathways does not a functional detoxification pathway make.
Finally, and the purpose of this post, are the receptors. Hormone receptors determine how the hormone’s signal to the body is then interpreted. Here’s an analogy to help you understand hormone receptors. I have four beautiful children. As with any parent, getting them to clean their room is an ongoing battle. The signal I give them is a verbal instruction such as “Kids, it’s time to get your rooms cleaned.” How that signal is interpreted is quite different. That signal may be interpreted differently based on the environment or pre-existing conditions. If my children are in one of their “moods” (side note: all four of my kids are redheads), then they may just not clean their rooms out of defiance. There is a reason we call the youngest one “the spicy tomato.”
All this to illustrate one important fact — how the signal is interpreted is just as important as the signal that is to be interpreted.
Scientifically speaking, hormone receptors are defined as “a large family of ligand-activated nuclear transcription regulators, which are characterized by organization into different functional domains and are conserved, to differing degrees, between species and family members.”
Was that as clear as mud? In plain English, hormone receptors are how the external signal, hormones, provide to the internal genome a message to turn genes on or off. There is also non-genomic signaling, but a large portion of signaling is actually done with your DNA. This is what hormones do — interact and turn on and off the expression of your DNA. Pretty amazing, huh? And you just thought hormones floated through your blood causing hot flashes in women or ED in men. That is the way most, including physicians, see hormones. However, that just couldn’t be more further from the truth. There’s so much more to it than that.
Hormone receptors are being used in the medical vocabulary today. If you know someone with breast cancer, you might be familiar with the term ER/PR positive or negative. This is in reference to estrogen receptors and progesterone receptors. This evaluation occurs from an actual tissue sample from the tumor itself and allows the medical team to determine the best course of action for that particular individual. In ER/ PR positive tumors, hormone therapy is used in contrast with ER/PR negative tumors where no hormone therapy is used.
The medical community is addressing the realities of hormone receptors and the role they play in disease. But what about those individuals with hormone imbalance symptoms like hot flashes or erectile dysfunction? Stay tuned. This testing hasn’t made it to the clinical setting yet, but animal testing holds great promise in helping to complete the full picture and improve the perspective that we have on hormones and all their related issues and factors.
Hormone receptors are my current area of research, and I’m writing articles on estrogen, progesterone, and androgen (male hormones) receptors as part of that research. Visit the Seasons Wellness Clinic blog often in the upcoming months so that YOU can become more educated on the body’s communication system — hormone and their receptors.
Years ago, Art Linkletter (and later Bill Cosby) hosted a television show entitled “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” I remember watching the Cosby-hosted show and laughing until I cried. Well, I might ruffle a few feathers with this post, but folks, I’m telling you that kids aren’t the only ones who say the darndest things. Physicians do, too.
Here are a few examples of what my patients have been told by their physicians:
- “You’re overweight and getting older…you’re going to have to learn to take a pill.”
- “If it works for you…”
- A client with severe fatigue, hair loss, and a Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) of 10 was told, “You are euthyroid.” (That means that you have normal thyroid function.)
- “Synthroid is the only reliable thyroid drug.”
- “You can’t customize thyroid replacement.”
Truth is hard to come by these days. (There is a Flat Earth Society. Really??) Truth has become relative…relative to the person, relative to the situation, and relative to the time. But contrary to relativism, truth does exist.
Take for example, thyroid hormone replacement. As the quotes above show, it is not uncommon for a physician to say that Synthroid, which is synthetic T4, is the only reliable thyroid hormone available or that Armour Thyroid, a combination of bioidentical T4 and T3, is unreliable. And for a physician to say that thyroid hormone replacement cannot be customized indicates that he/she has not done adequate research of the literature and has adopted the easier one-size-fits-all approach to treating thyroid problems.
What is the truth? And how will we know that it is true? In the case of medicine, we look at research. And not just one or two studies. We look at as many as possible. In fact, I spend many hours a week researching the latest findings in my area of specialty. If you want to follow along with my research, subscribe to the Seasons Diigo list here and you’ll see each article I read, what topics it covers, and the significance of the findings.
So let’s start by learning some facts.
Armour thyroid, also known as dessicated thyroid extract, was first used in the treatment of hypothyroid over 100 years ago, in the 19th century. In fact, dessicated thyroid extract has been listed in the US pharmacopeia for over 100 years.
What is synthroid? Synthroid is a synthetic T4. The problem with synthroid is that many individuals don’t convert T4 to T3 well. This conversion requires a healthy 5’-deiodinase enzyme (of which, many aren’t). T3, also known as triidothyronine, has five times the potency of T4. Physiologically, T3 is, actually, the source of the majority of thyroid function.
What is the difference between these hormone replacement strategies?
Armour thyroid is a more customized thyroid replacement strategy. Armour thyroid is a combined T4/T3 product in the ratio of 4:1. Also available is USP thyroid that is in a ratio of 4.2:1. And with a good compounding pharmacist and knowledgable physician, this ratio can be adjusted to customize the thyroid hormone replacement.
Here are two of many studies reveal the importance of T3:
If you are serious about your thyroid treatment, this research is worth the time and effort. Educating yourself is the first step to making an informed decision about your medical treatment. So take some time to read those two articles. And then let’s take a look at a few more.
This recently published article: “Combination Treatment with T4 and T3: Toward Personalized Replacement Therapy in Hypothyroidism,” was a meta-analysis of all English studies published since 1970. Published in the prestigious The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, the purpose of the study was to evaluate combined therapy with T4 and T3. And the conclusion drawn by the authors? “…It may be time to consider a personalized regimen of thyroid hormone replacement therapy in hypothyroid patients.”
In another article, “Effects of Thyroxin as Compared with Thyroxine plus Triiodothyronine in Patients with Hypothyroidism,” combined T4 and T3 was found to be more effective than Synthroid.
In conclusion, a one-size-fits-all approach simply doesn’t reflect the findings in the literature and is ineffective no matter the hormone issue whether it be estrogen, progesterone, thyroid, or any other hormone. While it would be easier to have a broad-based approach to treatment, it’s simply not in the best interest of the patient.
We are all created unique and we should expect our treatment to be as unique as we are – customized to our body’s needs.
The truth is out there. But in this case, we need to dig a little deeper to find it. And, unfortunately, even in the face of overwhelming evidence, some still seek to ignore it.
Even though my 60th birthday is a little over 6 months away, I am planning now for better health, mental acuity, energy, and sense of well-being! My goal is to improve all of the test results that I have previously had at Seasons. You may remember that I did a Telomere test several months ago – a fascinating test revealing how rapidly one ages relative to a normal population. Those results showed that I was above average for my age range; however, there was definitely room for improvement!
For my birthday countdown, I have chosen to begin with a detailed cardiac evaluation measuring specific markers in my blood. My total cholesterol has always been slightly elevated; however, over 50 percent of patients hospitalized with acute myocardial infarctions had normal lipid levels as defined by the traditional blood tests. Functional medicine has identified over 400 risk factors, but they are all exacerbated with inflammation, oxidative stress, and immune dysfunction (chronic infections).
Cholesterol is not the villain portrayed in the statin commercials! It is a biological necessity for creating vitamin D, our steroid hormones, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, as well as other tasks. High levels are not a sure sign of cardiac disease, nor are low levels a promise of heart health. Our bodies manufacture most of our cholesterol with a smaller amount coming from the food we eat.
Since cholesterol has to travel through the blood which is watery, the body packages it in various “containers” called lipoproteins. Lipoproteins vary according to the amount of protein, fat, and cholesterol they contain. Those with more protein and less fat/cholesterol are called high density lipoproteins or HDL. Those with less protein and more fat/cholesterol are called low density lipoproteins or LDL. A third type carries even more cholesterol and fat with less protein and it is called very low density lipoprotein or VLDL.
The LPP test measures not only the type but also the number and size of all these particles. LDL has at least five types and sizes. The smallest size is the most dangerous while the largest size is least harmful. Obviously the number of these particles is also a risk factor. Lipoprotein (a) or Lp(a) is a type that increases risk of heart disease. Apolipoprotein B (Apo-B) deposits cholesterol in the artery wall which can be a marker for atherosclerosis. HDL is similar in that the larger size is the most protective.
So what did my test reveal and how can I get healthier?
First of all, my inflammatory markers – C (reactive protein, insulin, and homocysteine) were all in the normal ranges; however, the latter was borderline for being too high. My total number of LDL particles was elevated but the sizes were in the normal range. However, my Apo-B was borderline which meant I have a risk for atherosclerosis. My VLDL and my Lp(a) were normal. Whew!
With these results and several inflammatory markers from a recent ION Panel – my plan includes the following:
- Reduce inflammation with Omega 3 fatty acids. Studies have shown that this will also increase my levels of HDL, increase LDL particle size, and decrease LDL particle number.
- Drink more green tea which will decrease oxidation of LDL, decrease Apo-B secretion, and increase HDL
- Increase consumption of Vitamin E (which I get in a customized vitamin mix) to reduce Apo-B and lower LDL and increase HDL.
- Add Niacin (B vitamin) to lower LDL particle number and Apo-B as well as increase HDL.
- Stop smoking (just wanted to see who is still reading this!) I don’t smoke, but I can always improve my diet with less refined carbohydrates.
- Have an occasional glass of red wine which will increase the powerful antioxidant, resveratrol. This has been proven to reduce LDL oxidation, decrease inflammation, and improve the lining of cardiac vessels. Another way to obtain this is with red grapes and purple grape juice (but be careful on the sugar content).
- Exercise during the cold months. I love to be outside. But now that the weather is getting colder, I have made a commitment to go to the gym after work. I’m fine once I get there, but I’ll need some accountability to be consistent. Feel free to ask me!
- Continue with other cardiac tests. Seasons will be getting a Heart Rate Variability Test which every patient will have access to.
- Find joy every day and keep stress levels in balance. Studies have shown that heart disease is linked to depression.
- Retest my cardiac markers in May, 2013!
Helen Keller said “life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” May we live this one life with hearts full of gratitude and wonder for the countless blessings our Creator has lavished on us!