Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Thyroid Perspective

We need to think biochemically. Thyroid hormone acts by activating receptors --> activating DNA --> causing mitochondria to increase energy output. This is essentially what thyroid hormone does. It increases metabolic rate b/c it increases cellular engine speed - the mitochondria. The brain has the most mitochondria, thus the most thyroid receptors. This is why brain fog occurs - low mito fxn, low brain power. The stomach acid link is here too. The parietal cells in the stomach have possibly more mitochondria than any other cell in the body b/c they need power to pump acid uphill against a 3,000,000:1 gradient. Low thyroid will impair parietal cell fxn, which will weaken stomach acid AND intrinsic factor for B12 absorption. Now low B12 will lead to methylation issues b/c it is METHYLcobalamin - an important methyl donor. Low stomach acid and low brain are caused by many of the same problems. Mitos all over your body will not be working well either, so you feel fatigued.

Everything also is susceptible to stress so when our cortisol and adrenalin are high, sympathetics dominate. This further slows stomach output, and it also changes bloodflow from the cortical areas in brain into the more reptilian, primitive areas. Compulsiveness, anxiety, lack of attention, personality changes - the things that make us human don't function well when we are under chronic stress.

Estrogen affects everything too. It raises binding globulin in the bloodstream so even though the thyroid hormone is in the blood, it cannot activate its receptor. This is why heavy menstruation is associated with low thyroid. When estrogen is high, thyroid is low. Also, liver slows down clearance of hormones so estrogen levels rise higher still. Add to that methylation problems where detox pathways are already slowed, and the hits keep on coming.

Mitos are very sensitive to oxidative stress, to inflammation. Toxins create inflammation and that disrupts mitochondria. This is MOSTLY the reason for all fatigues, including thyroid. It is a toxin-stress equation that burns/rusts/damages our mitochondria and so all cellular function slows down. The thyroid just tries to ramp things up by going into overdrive. This wears out the thyroid, and the adrenals are also involved from the beginning too. People seem to have low thyroid, and live off their adrenal reserve, until it depletes. Then they crash.

So if you are toxic (we all are), if you are also a poor methylator (most are), and if you are stressed out (who isn't), then the entire endocrine system will be distorted. The body will make do with what it has, but some pathways will suffer more than others. The thyroid is just reacting to the imbalance. There is nothing wrong with the thyroid 90% of the time. But how many people just get drugs and are told "live with it"? How many people actually overcome their hypothyroid condition? Too few thats for sure.

We need to detox estrogens, both biological and xenobiotic. We need to get the gallbladder functioning, b/c low bile means low absorption of essential fats and A,D,E, and K. When cells are made of saturated, trans, or hydrogenated fats, they don't communicate very well. They are plastic cells b/c of plastic fats. We absolutely need omega 3's and they improve health by at least 13 different mechanisms. So GB function is needed to absorb fish oils, which are needed in the membranes of your cells. We also need choline and other important methyl donors b/c our diets are deficient, our bodies don't make enough, and we are toxic so we are using more at a faster rate. Choline helps the Liver metabolize fat too.

If you are trying to get pregnant, the risks with age can all be understood as methylation problems. See, women need lots of methyl donors b/f, during pregnancy. Without enough folic acid for example there are neural tube defects. They are 100% preventable with enough nutrition. Same with fetal alcohol syndrome. Alcohol depletes folic acid in the liver and creates a methyl deficiency which screws up development. Methyl donors are critical for all cell division so when we are little and growing, they are very necessary. To make sure you are going to have a healthy pregnancy, of course you want lots of methyl support. With age, our methylation ability drops too so this will help with that. The reason Downs Syndrome appears more often with age is the same thing. Methyl donors are depleted over time and when women become pregnant, its too late. It can be prevented with high dose, quality nutrients.

Well, lots to think about. Just know that the key to changing the body, is to change the body. Chiropractic changes position, nutrition changes composition, and they all work together.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Why Behind Gluten Free

Have you noticed how popular gluten-free is becoming? Have you ever wondered why? Why is it that people all of a sudden are blaming many health problems on gluten? Keep reading and you will know what it is all about.

First lets get a few words straight. Remember that gluten is a protein but it is made up of subunits of peptides called gliadin. The lay public uses the term gluten, but in reality we are talking about gliadin - the 300 or so amino-acid peptides which are the building blocks of gluten. This gliadin peptide is the part of the molecule that gives us trouble. The problem with gliadin is that it has a high number of glutamine repeats in its sequence. This means that the amino acid glutamine occurs frequently along the chain of 300 amino acids. The trouble is that glutamine also repeats frequently in human tissue. So on a molecular level, gluten and human tissue "look alike" in terms of their structure.

This creates a problem when the immune system gets involved. Because of the glutamine repeats in both human tissue and gluten grains, gluten is considered immunogenic (immuno = immune system and genic = to begin). The purpose of the immune system is to determine which proteins belong to self and which are foreign. If we are eating gluten and the immune system comes into contact with the gliadin fragment of gluten, it begins an immune reaction in genetically susceptible persons. In these genetically susceptible individuals, once the immune system is stimulated by gluten/gliadin in the GI tract the immune system travels to other parts of the body to create inflammation and damage tissue.

But who is genetically susceptible you might ask? Aren't celiacs the only the people with a genetic gluten problem? The genes involved in celiac disease are HLA DQ8/2 and approximately 100% of all celiacs have one or both of these genes. So from that we know that all celiacs have the HLA DQ8/2 genes. But these HLA DQ8/2 genes occur in the general population around 40%. Meaning roughly half of our population has the genetic marker shared by all celiacs, therefore this portion of the population is susceptible to gluten sensitivity. This is the big idea here. We are talking about roughly 150 million Americans who have a problem with gluten.

So now we see that there are large numbers of Americans who at least have the gene for being sensitive to gluten. Remember, these are not just celiacs (occurs in 1 out of every 100 persons!) but people with all manner of health problems. As I posted on my site last year, gluten sensitivity can have a wide range of effects. The reason gluten can cause so many wide and varied problems is due to the fact that it involves the immune system. The immune system is over 70 trillion cells and once it "turns on" and attacks gluten, because of the similarity between gluten proteins and human proteins, every tissue in the body is a potential target. This explains why gluten can cause wide and varied symptoms in different people. Each person is going to react to gluten in a different way, with a different tissue being attacked by the immune system.

The WHY behind gluten is really to understand that it stimulates the immune system and leads to biochemical and cellular chaos and damage. We live in the most toxic, polluted, and stressful world ever known to man. We are subjected to all kinds of environmental assault throughout our daily life, the last thing we need to do is add a processed, genetically modified, nutrient-deficient, irradiated, dead food into our bodies. We can deal with a toxic environment outside our bodies only if we choose to clean up the environment within out bodies. A first step in that direction, is getting gluten out of your diet.

On caveat however is that gluten foods are addictive, and many people have an enzyme dysfunction in their GI tract that creates Gliadorphin - an morphine-like molecule - when they eat gluten. This will create some level of withdrawal once gluten is removed from the diet so watch out and be diligent. We aim for perfection but settle for excellence and that includes changing our diet and everything we do.

Once we realize that gluten free is a preventative approach to longer, healthier life then its easier to make the switch. If you are waiting for your body to change overnight then you may be disappointed. Gluten-free is a long-term commitment to new foods, new habits, and self discipline. There are zero negatives from going gluten free - NONE. It is not an essential nutrient. The side effects of gluten free are as follows: clearer thinking, less pain, resolution of chronic diseases, improved digestion, immune system health, reduced inflammation, etc. Zero negatives, only positives.

I predict that in the future 5 to 10 years that "gluten free" will become a massive shift in our food production and consumption. If half of the population has a likely reaction to gluten, then that is a huge market segment. Gluten free is definitely the wave of the future.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Epidemic of Obesity in America

A new report just released has proven that obesity rates in 2011 have increased in 16 states. The report is titled F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2011, and is a joint project of the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). According to the website (click here) the final state by state breakdown of obesity is as follows:


Note: 1 = Highest rate of adult obesity, 51 = lowest rate of adult obesity. Rankings are based on combining three years of data (2008-2010) from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to "stabilize" data for comparison purposes. This methodology, recommended by the CDC, compensates for any potential anomalies or usual changes due to the specific sample in any given year in any given state. States with statistically significant (p<0.05) increases for one year are noted with an asterisk (*), states with statistically significant increases for two years in a row are noted with two asterisks (**), states with statistically significant increases for three years in a row are noted with three asterisks (***). Additional information about methodologies and confidence intervals is available in the report. Individuals with a body mass index (BMI) (a calculation based on weight and height ratios) of 30 or higher are considered obese.

1. Mississippi (34.4%); 2. Alabama (32.3%); 3. West Virginia* (32.2%); 4. Tennessee (31.9%); 5. Louisiana (31.6%); 6. Kentucky** (31.5%); 7. Oklahoma** (31.4%); 8. South Carolina* (30.9%); 9. Arkansas (30.6%); 10. Michigan* (30.5%); 11. Missouri* (30.3%); 12. Texas** (30.1%); 13. Ohio (29.6%); 14. North Carolina (29.4%); 15. Indiana* (29.1%); 16. Kansas** (29.0%); 17. (tie) Georgia (28.7%); and South Dakota (28.7%); 19. Pennsylvania (28.5%); 20. Iowa (28.1%); 21. (tie) Delaware (28.0%); and North Dakota (28.0%); 23. Illinois** (27.7%); 24. Nebraska (27.6%); 25. Wisconsin (27.4%); 26. Maryland (27.1%); 27. Maine** (26.5%); 28. Washington (26.4%); 29. Florida** (26.1%); 30. (tie) Alaska (25.9%); and Virginia (25.9%); 32. Idaho (25.7%); 33. (tie) New Hampshire (25.6%); and New Mexico (25.6%); 35. (tie) Arizona (25.4%); Oregon (25.4%); and Wyoming (25.4%); 38. Minnesota (25.3%); 39. Nevada (25.0%); 40. California (24.8%); 41. New York (24.7%); 42. Rhode Island** (24.3%); 43. New Jersey (24.1%); 44. Montana (23.8%); 45. Vermont** (23.5%); 46. Utah (23.4%); 47. Hawaii (23.1%); 48. Massachusetts** (22.3%); 49. Connecticut (21.8%); 50. District of Columbia (21.7%); 51. Colorado* (19.8%).

Obesity is a chronic disease, like diabetes or cancer, that results from genetic and lifestyle factors. Our healthcare system, dominated by HMO's, PPO's, and an-out-of-date model of care for chronic disease is failing. We are paying a price as a society for disrupting our ancient diets and lifestyles. Obesity is more complicated than too many calories in, too few out. Our food has been modified, processed and altered so that it is rich with calories but scarce in nutrients. By eating high calorie, low nutrient foods our bodies are deprived of the necessary vitamins and minerals required for health.

Our bodies are designed to store excess calories in times of feast to carry us over during times of famine. Yet, the American diet and lifestyle will lead to metabolic syndrome and obesity because the food is depleted of life-giving nutrients and our lifestyle is now very stationary. This study reinforces the seriousness of the obesity issue. It is a wake up call for all of us to focus on healthy eating, healthy exercise, and healthy lifestyle habits like regular visits to your chiropractor. By keeping your spine and body aligned and pain-free, you are more likely to exercise, feel happy, and simply enjoy life - and people who enjoy life and are genuinely happy take much better care of themselves than those who don't!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Statins: Not Effective for Prevention

Statin drugs are the #1 top selling drug in the United States and have been so since at least 2004. One would think that a great deal of benefit would come from taking a top-selling statin drug like Lipitor or Crestor. These drugs are designed to lower "bad" cholesterol and make "good" cholesterol go up. Well, sounds good so far right? We are all bombarded with information that tells us that cholesterol is the bad guy and as long as we control those levels, we will be spared the pain and suffering of cardiovascular disease. That theory of heart disease, that cholesterol blocks up our arteries, has been referred to as the plumber's model of heart disease. Simple enough idea.

Blocked pipes are a bad thing so lets invent drugs to make sure the pipes stay clean. Who can argue with that logic? Yet when we look at the scientific evidence that showed statins are beneficial, there are some major red flags. Researchers have been performing meta-analysis of the supporting research and they have found significant evidence against the use of statins. For starters, recent important research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine June 2010 issue has concluded:

"...results of the trial do not support the use of statin treatment for primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases and raise troubling questions concerning the role of commercial sponsors."

Adding more fuel to the fire is a recent 2011 review of statins published in the prestigious Cochrane Database. In this meta-analysis the authors looked at data from 16 studies and over 35,000 participants. This team reached a similar conclusion in their study:

"...there was evidence of selective reporting of outcomes, failure to report adverse events and inclusion of people with cardiovascular disease. Only limited evidence showed that primary prevention with statins may be cost effective and improve patient quality of life. Caution should be taken in prescribing statins for primary prevention among people at low cardiovascular risk."

These two important reviews demonstrate that basically the pharmaceutical industry lied in their research which they used as justification to establish statins as effective treatment for high cholesterol and heart disease. And to make matters worse, the entire medical system then used this flawed research and incorporated into the standard of practice for all doctors which just perpetuated the problem for everyone. With unethical (criminal?) conduct like this on the part of the pharmaceutical and medical industry is it any wonder that we are in such a health care crisis today? Do medical doctors and policy makers read the research in their own journals?

If only health was that easy - just take a drug and everything will work out. Well if you happen to pay attention to trends or read the literature, the one-drug, one-cause approach is an expensive and painful failure. Chronic disease is still the number one cause of death in the United States. We are spending more money and getting less in return and our flawed approach to health is clearly evident in how statins are being used as a preventative tool when the evidence demonstrates that is useless at best or even harmful (more on this in the next post).

The best approach to be healthy is to change your lifestyle and habits. This can be done by working with a local functional medicine chiropractor or other physician who is trained to use nutrition and lifestyle modification to balance body chemistry and promote optimum function. As Dr. Robert Rakowski said, "Nutrition is not alternative medicine, it is the foundation of life!" We couldn't agree more. Stay tuned for our next article on statins and CoQ10.