Ask Dr. Akiba http://askdrakiba.com Lake Norman Health and Wellness Fri, 06 Jul 2018 04:21:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.0 Too much salt nukes your gut bacteria and inflames you http://askdrakiba.com/too-much-salt-nukes-your-gut-bacteria-and-inflames-you.htm Fri, 06 Jul 2018 04:21:39 +0000 http://askdrakiba.com/?p=3987 805 salt kills gut bacteria

A high-salt diet has long been connected with cardiovascular disease. Too much sodium in the bloodstream causes fluid retention, which makes the heart work harder to move the extra volume of blood. This can stiffen blood vessels and lead to high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, and kidney disease.

However, a recent study shows a high-salt diet also raises blood pressure by damaging healthy gut bacteria. This destruction increases the inflammation that contributes to high blood pressure and the development of autoimmune disease — when the immune system attacks tissue in the body. Common autoimmune diseases include Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis, and psoriasis.

Mice. The study shows that mice fed a high-salt diet killed off beneficial Lactobacillus murinus bacteria in the gut. It also raised blood pressure and activated pro-inflammatory immune cells.

The mice also showed signs of encephalomyelitis, an autoimmune condition similar to multiple sclerosis in humans.

When the mice were given supplementary Lactobacillus, their blood pressure and inflammation came down.

Humans. The humans in the study experienced similar results. Consuming a high-salt diet for two weeks killed off their Lactobacillus bacteria and increased inflammation.

However, if they took probiotics for a week before starting a high-salt diet, their Lactobacillus levels and blood pressure remained normal.

Can gut microbes protect against a high-salt diet?

While the study showed probiotics can protect against a high-salt diet, the researchers cautioned that taking probiotics cannot protect you from the damages of a high-salt, fast-food diet.

Manage your salt intake with good daily habits

While the average American consumes a whopping 3400 milligrams of sodium a day, the USDA recommends no more than 2300mg of sodium a day — about a teaspoon of table salt.

However, some people are more sensitive to the effects of salt than others, so it’s recommended that individuals with hypertension, African Americans, and middle-aged and older adults should limit intake to 1500 mg of sodium a day.

Adopt these habits to lower your salt intake:

  • Read food labels.
  • Choose foods low in sodium.
  • Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Consume foods that are rich in potassium, such as leafy green vegetables and fruits from vines.
  • Potassium can help blunt the effects of sodium on blood pressure. The recommended intake of potassium for adolescents and adults is 4700 mg/day.
  • Flavor food with pepper, herbs, and spices instead of salt.
  • Choose unsalted snacks with savory flavors.

Build good gut bacteria to protect your health

The digestive tract is home to roughly four pounds of bacteria — your gut microbiome. Some strains are helpful, some are harmful. Both have roles to play, but it’s important to support your “good” bacteria for healthy immune function, brain function, and mood, and to avoid leaky gut, SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth), and systemic inflammation that leads to autoimmunity and other chronic health conditions.

It’s easy to support a healthy gut with these simple habits:

  • Eat plentiful and varied produce; this is the best way to support a healthy gut environment.
  • Supplement with probiotics; they work best in a gut environment that’s already being supported with plenty of fiber from fruits and veggies.
  • Avoid excess sugar.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Drink plenty of filtered water.

What if I have low blood pressure?

Adequate blood pressure is necessary to push blood carrying oxygen and nutrients into your tissues. Chronically low blood pressure can result in reduced brain function and neurodegeneration.

Low blood pressure is also often a sign of chronic stress, adrenal fatigue, autoimmunity, or chronic infection.

If you have low blood pressure you need to get it up as close as you can to 120/80.

Salt can help raise blood pressure. While a high-salt diet is not recommended for most of the population, people with chronically low blood pressure may need to consume more than the recommended daily amount of salt. It’s a matter of experimentation to see what level of salt intake is appropriate for you without raising symptoms of inflammation.

Glycyrrhiza. Extracted from licorice root, this natural compound increases the hormone aldosterone, helping to retain sodium and raise low blood pressure. You can use a liposomal cream version or an oral licorice root extract.

When you work with salt and glycyrrhiza to raise your blood pressure, you will need to purchase a good home-use blood pressure cuff. Measure your blood pressure throughout the day and experiment with dosages. A return to normal blood pressure typically results in a dramatic increase in overall energy and brain function.

For help with low blood pressure or dietary management of salt intake, contact my office.

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Diet soda raises risk of dementia and stroke http://askdrakiba.com/diet-soda-raises-risk-of-dementia-and-stroke.htm Sat, 30 Jun 2018 18:34:28 +0000 http://askdrakiba.com/?p=3982 805 diet soda raises dementia risk

You’re supposed to ditch regular soda for diet soda because it’s better for you, right? Wrong — research shows people who drink diet soda daily are three times more likely to develop dementia or have a stroke compared to those who drink it less frequently.

A 2017 study that tracked almost 3,000 people ages 45 and over for 10 years found those who consumed diet soda daily were almost three times more likely to suffer from ischemic stroke (from blood vessel blockage) or develop Alzheimer’s disease.

Diet sodas are basically a fizzy soup of toxic chemicals, including saccharin, acesulfame-K, aspartame, and artificial colorings.

And while the study did not find the same stroke and dementia risk with sugary sodas, plenty of evidence shows sugar sodas come with their own significant health risks, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, COPD, and other inflammation-related disorders.

This means you shouldn’t switch from diet soda to sugar soda. Instead, drink neither.

Additionally, if you drink diet soda because you’re watching your weight, you may be surprised to learn diet sodas have been shown to make people fat and prediabetic.

This is because diet sodas skew the composition of gut bacteria in a way that promotes obesity and diabetes. Mouse studies show mice given artificial sweeteners regularly developed high blood sugar compared to control mice and even compared to mice given a diet of high fat and sugar water.

A small follow-up study on human volunteers showed similar results — people who consumed artificial sweeteners developed higher blood sugar and obesity-promoting gut bacteria in just one week.

Artificial sweeteners have also been shown to be toxic to the brain. For instance, the majority of complaints to the FDA about aspartame have been neurological in nature. People report such symptoms as headaches, mood alterations, hallucinations, seizures, nausea, insomnia, anxiety attacks, vertigo, fatigue, rashes, irritability, heart palpitations, slurred speech, loss of hearing, loss of taste, and gut problems.

Aspartame is a known excitotoxin, meaning it causes brain cells to dysfunction, degenerate, and die.

Aspartame also creates toxic byproducts that are linked to lymphomas and leukemias. In one study, rats given the equivalent of four to five bottles of diet soda a day had high rates of these cancers.

If you can’t drink diet soda or sugary soda because you care about your health, what can you drink?

Thankfully, sparkling water has become increasingly popular and available. If you’re not willing to give up a cold fizzy drink, simply opt for sparkling water both at the store and when eating out.

Ditch soda and shore up your healthy gut bacteria

It appears the effect of diet soda on gut bacteria may be an important factor that makes it a health risk.

One of the most importants things you can do for your health is to improve the composition of your gut bacteria.

One of the best ways to do this is to make vegetables the primary part of your diet, including cultured vegetables. Not only are they high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, but they also feed the good bacteria in your gut and help them grow and thrive.

Additionally, avoid processed foods, sugars, and artificial sweeteners, all of which promote bad bacteria and promote health problems.

Ask my office for more advice on satisfying beverages and foods that are actually good for you.

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Is Hashimoto’s causing your hypothyroidism? http://askdrakiba.com/is-hashimotos-causing-your-hypothyroidism-3.htm Sat, 23 Jun 2018 04:44:58 +0000 http://askdrakiba.com/?p=3979 804 diagnosing hashimoto s

If you have symptoms of hypothyroidism, how do you know if it’s caused by Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune thyroid disease? Although about 90 percent of hypothyroidism cases in the United States are caused by Hashimoto’s, most doctors do not test for it. Why? Because it does not change their treatment. However, it’s vitally important for you to know whether you have Hashimoto’s to stop the damage to your thyroid and prevent other autoimmune diseases.

Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid gland over time. Even if medications normalize TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) on a blood test, an unmanaged autoimmune Hashimoto’s condition continues to damage and destroy the thyroid gland and cause symptoms.

One of the most common scenarios with undiagnosed Hashimoto’s is that your hypothyroidism and symptoms continue to worsen even through you take your thyroid hormone medications. Your doctor may also continually increase your dosage.

Another common scenario is when symptoms and TSH levels fluctuate between being under active and over active. The person can feel like they are hypothyroid one week and hyperthyroid the next. In fact, some doctors may even mistakenly diagnose them with hyperthyroidism when in fact it’s the result of autoimmune Hashimoto’s waxing and waning attacks on the thyroid gland.

This means the patient could suffer from fatigue, headaches, constipation, and depression one week and then when the thyroid becomes over active they suffer from heart palpitations, anxiety, tremors, and insomnia. Blood tests will also show the TSH level going up and down during these swings, which may result in an inaccurate diagnosis.

Sometimes TSH can even be normal as it’s going through a swing resulting in a misdiagnosis all together. Instead, the patient is diagnosed with an anxiety disorder or even bipolar disorder.

What causes these swings with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism? Autoimmune diseases are not steady. Instead they flare up or go into remission depending on triggers, which can be dietary, chemical, stress related, hormonal, and so on.

When an autoimmune flare damages the thyroid, it releases hormones that are stored in the gland. These thyroid hormones flood the bloodstream in excess causing symptoms that look like hyperthyroidism.

To confirm whether you have Hashimoto’s, you need to run thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO Ab) and thyroglobulin antibodies (TGB Ab) test. It’s also helpful to rule out hyperthyroidism, or Graves’ disease.

But keep in mind that because the immune system fluctuates with autoimmune disease, it’s possible to produce a negative antibodies test result. If symptoms strongly suggest Hashimoto’s it’s important to test again.

Ask my office for more advice on identifying Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.

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Syncing productivity with your menstrual cycle http://askdrakiba.com/syncing-brain-productivity-with-your-menstrual-cycle.htm Fri, 15 Jun 2018 21:14:51 +0000 http://askdrakiba.com/?p=3975 803 syncing productivity with cycle

While the eight-to-five workday may suit a man’s physiology, female researchers are finding women can capitalize on periods of heightened creativity, productivity, enhanced communication, and reflection depending on where they are in their menstrual cycle. We tend to think of female hormonal cycles as problematic or negative, but the truth is they can facilitate different aspects of productivity once you learn how to use them to your advantage.

Understanding your hormonal cycles of productivity can help you learn the best time to launch or finish a project, brainstorm a creative endeavor, meet with a boss or coworkers, or step back and reflect on operations.

Looking at a functional medicine view of female hormones — aiming for optimal functional and balance instead of just focusing on when things go wrong —can help you plot your course through each work week. Women can look at their cycles as offering four different periods of enhanced performance, with day 1 representing the first day of your period:

Days 1-5, Intuition and Reflection: During your period, your left and right brains are communicating more efficiently, allowing you to better access intuition, analytical thinking, and long-range visionary thinking. This is the time to reflect on past and future endeavors, re-evaluate whether your course aligns with your vision, and consider which relationships need attention.

Days 6-14, Creativity: During the follicular phase, which actually begins day 1, estrogen is increasing and you are at your creative peak. This is a good time to start new projects, plan, strategize, and brainstorm.

Days 15-17, Communication: During the ovulation phase your communication skills and magnetisms are at their height. This is a great time for negotiations, meetings, and pitches.

Days 18-28, Power: During the luteal phase you are primed to power through project completion, take care of all those administrative tasks, and follow up on meetings.

When your hormones are out of balance

Unfortunately, thanks to stress, unhealthy diets, environmental toxins, and other facets of modern life, it’s easy for your cycles to become unbalanced.

One of the most common causes of hormonal imbalances in women is chronic stress and poor blood sugar balance (another form of stress).

Eating a high-carb diet of pastas, breads, and other processed carbohydrates, eating too many sweets, drinking too many sweetened coffee drinks, not sleeping enough, being too stressed out, not getting enough physical exercise — all these things can drive both estrogen and progesterone out of whack and give you miserable hormonal symptoms.

PMS, irregular periods, infertility, hair loss, overly heavy periods, and other symptoms of hormonal imbalance are signs you need to bring your diet and lifestyle habits more in line with nature’s design.

Through functional medicine protocols of anti-inflammatory diets, blood sugar balancing, gut healing and repair, liver support and detoxification, and stress-reduction, our office can help you better balance your hormones so you can function at your best.

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Is social pollution and workplace stress harming you? http://askdrakiba.com/is-social-pollution-and-workplace-stress-killing-you.htm Fri, 08 Jun 2018 21:53:05 +0000 http://askdrakiba.com/?p=3971 802 social pollution workplace stress

Thanks to science and public awareness, we know environmental pollution from industry harms our health. Same goes with tobacco. But did you know “social pollution” is just as harmful? Social pollution refers to the long hours, lack of economic security, high cost of health care, exhaustion, surviving in a gig economy, lack of parental support, and high stress that has come to characterize work life in the United States and other industrialized countries. It is now recognized as they fifth leading cause of death.

In the new book Dying for a Paycheck, author and Stanford University professor Jeffrey Pfeffer uncovers the disastrous toll of modern work life on human health.

Sixty-one percent of American workers say workplace stress has made them sick, and 7 percent have been hospitalized by it.

Workplace stress leads to the chronic diseases that make up three quarters of the health problems crushing our health care system, including diabetes, metabolic syndrome (pre-diabetes) cardiovascular disease, and circulatory diseases. Disorders such as alcoholism, drug addiction, and overeating are also linked to high stress and the erosion of family and social structures from work-related stress.

In fact, one of the worst aspects of modern work life is the effect it is having on our social support structures. Long, stressful hours at work breaks up marriages, children, and families, leaves too little time for healthy socializing with friends and family, and makes it difficult for single people to date or establish new relationships.

Research clearly shows regular healthy socialization is vital to good health and that isolation and lack of positive social time can be as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

When work place stress and social pollution keeps you stuck in fight-or-flight mode

One of the many downsides to workplace stress and social pollution is that it can keep your nervous systems stuck in fight-or-flight mode. A normal stress response is to flee, fight, or freeze. When work stress and the havoc it causes on your home life is constant, you never get a chance to unwind from being in a constant fight-or-flight state.

The chronic stress from this is devastating to brain and body health. It accelerates brain aging, causes leaky gut, raises inflammation, imbalances the hormones, and increases the risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and addictive habits.

What can you do to protect yourself from social pollution and workplace stress

Unfortunately, most of us cannot single-handedly change this unhealthy situation in which we find ourselves. However, you can be aware of and not psychologically buy into the subtle or not-so-subtle shaming and unhealthy expectations around productivity.

Companies expect longer hours at lower pay yet provide little to no job security, sick days, maternity or paternity leaves, and so on. Be aware of this and don’t internalize the messaging that working long days with no days off makes you a better person. It doesn’t, it makes you a sicker person.

If you can downsize your housing, car payments, or other expenses, consider the positive impact living more modestly can have on your health. It could be the ticket to a dramatic health turn around.

However, not everyone can afford to downsize as many are working non-stop to barely get by. Although there is no easy answer to this, recognize your situation and don’t ask too much from yourself.

The more people who are aware of the problem, the better chance we have at changing public perception and workplace policies.

In the meantime, support your health the best you can with an anti-inflammatory diet, seek out support, and make sure to include healthy, restful, and relaxing time in your life as much as possible.

If you have a desk job and are too tired to make it to the gym, take regular breaks to move your body and go for short walks as frequently as possible. Regular physical activity is vital to the heath of your brain and body and will help protect you from the harm of workplace stress.

Ask my office for more ways we can help you buffer your body from the negative effects of too much stress.

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Optimizing your body’s best defense against toxins http://askdrakiba.com/optimizing-your-bodys-best-defense-against-toxins.htm Sat, 02 Jun 2018 00:05:54 +0000 http://askdrakiba.com/?p=3968 801 optimizing glutathione

You’ve heard antioxidant foods and supplements can help fight inflammation and protect you from toxins, but the most important antioxidant is one we make in our own bodies: glutathione.

Unlike common antioxidant sources — vitamins C and E, beta carotene, turmeric, resveratrol, and foods such as blueberries, tomatoes, and red wine — you can’t take plain glutathione as it’s too hard to absorb. However, you can take glutathione precursors or special forms of glutathione that can be absorbed by the body.

Glutathione: the “master antioxidant”

Antioxidants are molecules that inhibit other molecules from going through oxidation, a chemical reaction that produces toxins called free radicals.

Free radicals are unstable molecules created as a result of natural biochemical processes. We can also ingest them via toxins in food, air, water, and even medication. Left unchecked, free radicals damage cells and contribute to the development of serious health problems.

While we need plenty of dietary antioxidants from varied and plentiful fresh fruits and vegetables, our most powerful antioxidant source is the glutathione our bodies produce.

In fact, glutathione is so powerful it’s referred to as the “master antioxidant.”

Two vital duties of glutathione

Two of glutathione’s most important duties are promoting liver detoxification and dampening inflammation.

Liver detox. In the liver, glutathione binds with toxins to help move them out of the body. This process is so effective people who overdose on Tylenol receive an IV infusion of NAC (N-acetyl cysteine), a precursor, or building block, for the body to produce more glutathione.

Inflammation and immune function. When you have enough glutathione in your cells, it “takes the bullet” by offering itself up to free radicals so they don’t attach to and damage cells.

However, when your glutathione reserves are too low, free radical damage can spiral out of control, leading to cell damage and the foundations for inflammatory health condition such as:

  • Intestinal permeability (leaky gut)
  • Chemical sensitivities
  • Heavy metal sensitivities
  • Autoimmune diseases and flares
  • Inflammatory and immune disorders

Glutathione depletion is also linked to a number of other disease states and groups:

  • Aging
  • Athletic overtraining
  • Major injuries and trauma
  • Patients with wasting diseases such as HIV and AIDS
  • Lung cancer
  • Gut-based diseases such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Alcoholism and fatty liver disease
  • Diabetes and low glucose tolerance
  • Cancer

In many of these cases, raising glutathione levels has shown therapeutic benefits.

Support glutathione’s antioxidant status

In these overly-stressed times of inescapable toxic burdens, it’s nearly impossible to maintain proper glutathione levels strictly through diet. You can find plain glutathione over-the-counter, but it’s not worth taking because your gut breaks it down before you can use it.

However, it is possible to support your glutathione status in the following ways:

S-acetyl glutathione is one of the newest and most accessible forms of glutathione that the intestinal tract can efficiently absorb. It can be helpful in managing autoimmunity.

Oral liquid liposomal glutathione covers two bases by providing both bioactive glutathione and glutathione precursors that help your body make glutathione inside the cells.

Liposomal cream is used in localized areas of pain or inflammation, such as an inflamed knee or on the thyroid for autoimmunity.

IV drip is highly effective but is expensive and difficult to access for some patients.

Other glutathione delivery methods include glutathione suppositories, glutathione nebulizers, and sublingual glutathione.

Support glutathione recycling for optimum immune function

It’s important for the body to be able to make glutathione inside the cells to protect mitochondria, the energy-producing factories that lie at the foundation of our health and longevity. To do this, the body must be able to recycle glutathione.

For glutathione to be recycled, it must be reduced:

There are two main forms of glutathione in the body:

  • Reduced glutathione
  • Oxidized glutathione

When there is plenty of reduced glutathione in the cells, they sacrifice themselves to free radicals — “taking the bullet” as previously mentioned — to protect the precious mitochondria. An enzyme called glutathione peroxidase triggers the conversion of reduced glutathione to oxidized glutathione, a free radical itself.

However, when there is sufficient glutathione in the cell, the newly unstable oxidized glutathione pairs with available glutathione with the help of an enzyme called glutathione reductase. This sends it back to reduced glutathione status and ready for duty.

To support glutathione recycling, it is important to first reduce stress on the body:

  • Balance blood sugar
  • Restore gut health
  • Address food intolerances: An elimination diet or a lab test can help you determine which foods are responsible
  • Manage your autoimmune disease
  • Manage hormonal imbalances
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Cut down on an over-committed schedule
  • Get adequate exercise
  • Make time for play and enjoyment
  • Minimize exposure to toxins in and out of the home

If these factors don’t bring the needed relief, then the following botanicals and nutritional compounds can help support glutathione recycling:

  • N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) is rapidly metabolized into intracellular glutathione.
  • L-glutamine is important for glutathione generation.
  • Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) directly recycles and extends the metabolic life spans of vitamin C, glutathione, and coenzyme Q10, necessary for glutathione recycling.
  • Selenium is a trace element that serves as the essential cofactor for the enzyme glutathione peroxidase, which converts reduced glutathione to oxidized glutathione so glutathione can “take the bullet” to protect cells.
  • Milk thistle significantly increases glutathione and positively influences the ratios of reduced and oxidized glutathione.
  • Gotu kola increases the activity and amount of glutathione peroxidase and the quantity of glutathione.
  • Cordyceps activates glutathione synthesis and protects cells by engaging the glutathione enzyme cycle.

Taken together these botanicals and compounds activate the glutathione peroxidase and reductase enzymes to promote a healthy glutathione recycling system.

To optimize your glutathione levels and recycling, contact my office for guidance.

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Cholesterol, good fats, bad fats, and heart health http://askdrakiba.com/cholesterol-good-fats-bad-fats-and-heart-health.htm Fri, 25 May 2018 22:27:37 +0000 http://askdrakiba.com/?p=3965 752 good vs bad fats

Conventional medicine is slowly admitting that instead of fat, sugar and refined carbohydrates are the biggest sources of high cholesterol. Excess sugars and carbs drive good cholesterol down and triglycerides up, leading to the small, dangerous particles that encourage plaque buildup in the arteries. This contributes to heart disease and insulin resistance, or pre-diabetes.

High blood sugar and insulin levels also drive chronic systemic inflammation, playing a large role in heart disease and most other chronic illnesses. Systemic inflammation arises not only from poor diet, but also from an inactive lifestyle, chronic stress, food sensitivities, chronic viral and bacterial infections, and more.

Recently busted cholesterol myths include:

  • Statins: Recent research shows that statin benefits are likely due to their ability to lower inflammation, not cholesterol.
  • Heart attack: 75 percent of those who have heart attacks have normal cholesterol levels.
  • Age: In older patients, those with higher cholesterol have a lower risk of death than those with lower levels of cholesterol.
  • Harvard research has shown that a high level of systemic inflammation ranks higher than high cholesterol for putting subjects at risk for heart disease.

Consume plenty of fats from healthy sources

Conventional medicine has touted a low-fat diet for years, but researchers and doctors are coming to realize we need more fat in our diet than previously thought. However, not all dietary sources of cholesterol are created equal. The type of fat you consume matters more than the quantity.

For the health of your entire body, it’s important to consume plenty of healthy, unprocessed fats and avoid processed vegetable oils. Avoid all trans fats as they raise your risk of cardiovascular disease and can damage your brain.

Omega 3 and monounsaturated fats improve the type of cholesterol in our bodies.

The dietary reference intake (DRI) for fat in adults is 20 percent to 35 percent of total calories from fat. That equals about 44 to 77 grams of fat per day for a 2,000 calorie diet.

*Below are the recommended consumption ratios:

  • Monounsaturated fat: 15 percent to 20 percent
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 5 percent to 10 percent
  • Saturated fat: less than 10 percent (unless keto)
  • Trans fat: 0 percent
  • Cholesterol: less than 300 mg per day

Unsaturated fats. Typically liquid at room temperature, sources include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. When used in place of saturated fat, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can lower cholesterol levels.

Monounsaturated fats. Healthy versions come from plant-based sources such as nuts, olives, and avocado. Avoid canola oil.

Polyunsaturated fats. Healthy plant-based sources include nuts. Avoid processed seed and grain (corn) oils due to frequent rancidity.

Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that help lower inflammation. Good sources include cold water fish (salmon, tuna, herring, and anchovies), flax and chia seed, and walnuts.

*Saturated fats. Typically solid or waxy at room temperature, these come from animal products and tropical oils. Taking in too much saturated fat is linked with raising levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood and increasing internal inflammation. Healthy foods high in saturated fat include:

  • Beef, pork, lamb, veal, and skin of poultry
  • High fat dairy products
  • Butter, lard, and bacon fat
  • Palm, palm kernel, and coconut oil

*Low-carb and ketogenic diets: The rules on fat ratios change on diets that are very carb-restricted due to how carb levels affect saturated fat in the bloodstream. People on these diets are able to consume higher ratios of saturated fats safely.

Trans fats form when a liquid fat is changed into a solid fat through a process called hydrogenation. This extends shelf life, however trans fats raise levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and decrease levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. 

Avoid trans fats completely! Sources of trans fat include solid margarine, shortening, powdered and liquid creamers, and most convenience and prepackaged foods.

Ask my office for more advice on how much and what types of fats to eat in your diet.

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No more egg shaming; cardiovascular risks unfounded http://askdrakiba.com/no-more-egg-shaming-cardiovascular-risks-unfounded.htm Fri, 18 May 2018 19:08:30 +0000 http://askdrakiba.com/?p=3962 751 eggs and cardio risk

For years we’ve been warned the cholesterol in eggs raises the risk of cardiovascular disease, however new research shows that in people with pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes, eggs do not raise cardiovascular risk if they are part of a healthy diet. What’s more, they pose no additional challenges to weight loss. These findings, along with previous research, indicate we need to jettison the outdated stance on cholesterol dangers.

The study emphasized a healthy diet that replaced saturated fats such as butter with monounsaturated fats such as olive and avocado oil. In tracking cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure, no significant differences were found between groups.

Researchers tracked two groups for one year: a high-egg group that ate 12 eggs per week and a low-egg group that ate fewer than two eggs per week. They found the following:

  • In the firsts three months of the study, neither group experienced an increase in cardiovascular risk markers.
  • During the second three months, both groups participated in a weight-loss diet while continuing their egg consumption protocols and achieved equivalent weight loss.
  • In the final six months, both groups achieved equivalent weight loss and showed no adverse changes to cardiovascular risk markers.

Eggs are commonly immune reactive

While the heat is off regarding egg consumption in relation to cholesterol levels, it’s important to know that for many people eggs are immune reactive and need to be avoided. Cyrex Labs offers a variety of panels that test for reactivity to eggs.

“Despite being vilified for decades, dietary cholesterol is understood to be far less detrimental to health than scientists originally thought. The effect of cholesterol in our food on the level of cholesterol in our blood is actually quite small.”

— Dr. Nick Fuller, lead author in the research

Why we need cholesterol

Conventional medicine would have us believe dietary cholesterol is bad, but we need to consume plenty of it in the form of healthy, natural fats.

Cholesterol is found in every cell of our bodies, and without it we wouldn’t survive. We use cholesterol to make vitamin D, cell membranes, and bile acids to digest fats.

Sufficient cholesterol is necessary to digest key antioxidant vitamins A, D, E, and K.

Cholesterol is also a necessary building block for our adrenal hormones and our reproductive hormones such as progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone.

The brain is largely made up of fat, and the fats we eat directly affect its structure and function, providing insulation around nerve cells, supporting neurotransmitter production, and helping maintain healthy communication between neurons.

Unraveling “good” vs. “bad” cholesterol

We hear a lot about “good” HDL and “bad” LDL cholesterol. They are actually lipoproteins, small fat and protein packages that transport cholesterol in the body.

HDL: High-density lipoprotein. Called “good” cholesterol, HDL helps keep cholesterol away from your arteries and removes excess arterial plaque.

LDL: Low-density lipoprotein. Called “bad” cholesterol, LDL can build up in the arteries, forming plaque that makes them narrow and less flexible, a condition called atherosclerosis.

Triglycerides. Elevated levels of this fat are dangerous and are linked to heart disease and diabetes. Levels can rise from smoking, physical inactivity, excessive drinking, and being overweight. A diet high in sugars and grains also puts you at risk.

Lipoprotein (a) or Lp(a). Made of an LDL part plus a protein (apoprotein a), elevated Lp(a) levels are a very strong risk for heart disease.

When considering test results, your doctor will pay attention to:

  • HDL levels vs. LDL levels
  • Triglyceride levels
  • The ratio between triglycerides to HDL
  • The ratio between total cholesterol and HDL
  • The size of the particles

There are small and large particles of HDL, LDL, and triglycerides. Large particles are practically harmless, while the small, dense particles are more dangerous because they can lodge in the arterial walls, causing inflammation, plaque buildup, and damage leading to heart disease.

More important than knowing your total cholesterol is knowing the ratio between your HDL and your LDL, and especially the size of the particles.

However, according to the Mayo Clinic, many doctors now believe that for predicting your heart disease risk, your total non-HDL cholesterol level may be more useful than calculating your cholesterol ratio. Non-HDL cholesterol contains all the “bad” types of cholesterol; it is figured by subtracting your HDL cholesterol number from your total cholesterol number.

However, either option appears to be a better risk predictor than your total cholesterol level or simply your LDL level.

In some cases, people have a genetic tendency toward extremely high cholesterol. In those situations, it may take more than diet to manage cholesterol levels.

Contact my office to learn more about diet and lifestyle to support healthy cholesterol levels, find out about your cholesterol levels and heart disease risk, and to test for egg reactivity.

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NSAIDs — the dangers and the alternatives for pain http://askdrakiba.com/nsaids-the-dangers-and-the-alternatives-for-pain.htm Mon, 14 May 2018 20:35:42 +0000 http://askdrakiba.com/?p=3959 750 NSAID dangers and alternatives

According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 50 million American adults have chronic pain or severe pain. The conventional medical model teaches us to reach first for medication to relieve pain, with ibuprofen and other NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) at the top of the list. However, with research mounting to show NSAIDs have a notable list of dangers, it makes sense instead to look for the root causes of pain.

Many people turn to NSAIDs for relief from pain and inflammation. Common NSAIDs are ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Aleve). Celecoxib (Celebrex), diclofenac (Cataflam, Voltaren) are prescription NSAIDs. Aspirin is an NSAID, but it does not pose the same risks for stroke and heart attack.

Ibuprofen is metabolized by the liver, and can cause lesions, liver failure, or jaundice over time. The FDA has even warned against NSAIDs because they increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.

NSAIDs promote leaky gut

Another reason to avoid NSAIDs is their tendency to promote leaky gut.

In leaky gut, the lining of the small intestine becomes damaged and overly porous, allowing undigested food, bacteria, yeast, and other pathogens into the bloodstream. This triggers inflammation and pain throughout the body — the same thing people use NSAIDs to relieve.

So, if the typical go-to medications for pain aren’t an option any more, where do we turn? Functional medicine offers solutions.

Address inflammation to root out pain

When pain is treated with NSAIDs, it typically comes back when the medication runs out. However, in functional medicine the goal is to identify and address the cause of the inflammation and pain instead of simply putting a temporary Band-Aid on it.

It’s understandable to want relief so you can feel and function better. The good news is many people find their chronic pain diminishes substantially or disappears completely when they adopt functional medicine strategies.

Following are a few ways functional medicine can relieve pain and inflammation:

Anti-inflammatory diet. Remove foods that trigger inflammation, such as gluten, dairy, grains, legumes, eggs, sugar, and nightshades. This is typically done as an elimination and reintroduction protocol where you follow the diet strictly for a period of time and then customize it depending on your food sensitivities.

Avoid nightshades. Vegetables in the nightshade family can cause pain and inflammation in the joints. These include eggplant, potatoes (but not sweet potatoes or yams), peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos, hot pepper products and pepper-based spices. Simply removing nightshades from the diet has brought relief from joint pain for many, especially those with rheumatoid arthritis.

Turmeric and resveratrol. Each is a powerful anti-inflammatory alone, but research shows that taking them together is much more effective, making them potent tools for quenching the inflammation and damage associated chronic inflammatory disorders.

Improve your posture. Chronic pain can develop due to spinal misalignment. Rarely do patients with chronic pain have even pressure on both feet or eyes that move in synchrony. Many patients experience significant or total relief of chronic pain by addressing these imbalances.

Nutrients that fight inflammation and pain. These include vitamin D, vitamins A, E, and K, and plenty of omega 3 fatty acids.

White willow bark is an herb traditionally used for pain relief.

Moderate to high intensity exercise can help reduce inflammation. It also improves insulin sensitivity, a bonus for diabetes prevention. Just make sure to choose exercises that do not exacerbate joint pain; there are lots of options.

Balance your blood sugar. Many people have blood sugar dysregulation issues that contribute to systemic inflammation and pain. In addition, imbalanced blood sugar is one of the risk factors for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Support production of SCFA. Short chain fatty acids (SCFA) produced by your “good” gut bacteria are helpful in dampening inflammation. Eat abundant and varied fresh vegetables daily, eat probiotic-rich fermented foods, and take SCFA-supporting supplements such as butyrate, Saccharomyces boulardii, Lactobacillus sporogenes, and DDS-1 Lactobacilli acidophilus.

Support glutathione. The most important antioxidant in your body, glutathione aids in detoxification, helps maximize immune system function, and shields cells from damage caused by oxidation and inflammation.

A healthy body makes enough glutathione, but faced with chronic stressors such as toxins, poor diet, sleep deprivation, smoking, and excess sugar, glutathione become depleted.

Glutathione supplements are not effective taken orally. Instead, boost glutathione levels through a liposomal cream, suppository, nebulizer, or IV drip.

One must also support glutathione recycling to balance the immune system, protect body tissue from damage caused by inflammation, and help repair damage.

To enhance glutathione recycling, remove stressors depleting glutathione levels such as lack of sleep, smoking, food intolerances, diets high in sugars and processed foods, and excess alcohol intake.

The following nutritional and botanical compounds have been shown to support glutathione recycling:

  • L-glutamine
  • N-acetyl-cysteine
  • Alpha-lipoic acid
  • Milk thistle
  • Selenium
  • Cordyceps
  • Gotu kola

These are just a few ways to use functional medicine to address the root causes of inflammation and pain so that you can stop taking NSAIDs. Ask my office for more advice.

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Chronic viruses linked to inflammatory diseases http://askdrakiba.com/chronic-viruses-linked-to-inflammatory-diseases.htm Mon, 14 May 2018 20:35:33 +0000 http://askdrakiba.com/?p=3956 749 viral infections autoimmunity

The Epstein-Barr virus infects more than 90 percent of people in the United States by the age of 20. At least one in four of those infected will develop the commonly-known disease mononucleosis, or “mono,” experiencing a rash, enlarged liver or spleen, head- and body aches, and extreme fatigue.

However, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is not only related to mono. Recent studies indicate it may be a catalyst for at least six more diseases, most of which are autoimmune in nature. These include multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, Type 1 diabetes, and juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

EBV isn’t the only virus associated with autoimmunity. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) has been linked to Sjögren’s syndrome, upper respiratory viral infections and human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) have been linked to multiple sclerosis (MS), and EBV has previously been linked to lupus.

Chronic viral infections can contribute to chronic inflammatory diseases

It has long been thought that viruses play a part in the development of chronic inflammatory diseases, especially autoimmunity. Many healthcare practitioners report there is frequently a hidden infection that either precedes or seems to trigger an initial autoimmune attack, or subsequently appears when the immune system is weakened once autoimmunity is activated.

This creates a vicious cycle of infection and illness. Infections are opportunistic and often travel together — many autoimmune patients find they host multiple infections that are bacterial, viral, parasitic and/or fungal, driving the inflammation that leads to symptoms.

The relationship between viral infection and autoimmune disease is multifaceted, involving numerous complex processes in the body. Scientists believe that a variety of factors must usually be present for an infection to result in an autoimmune condition. This includes not only a genetic predisposition but also lifestyle and environmental factors such as:

  • Stress
  • Poor diet
  • Poor sleep habits
  • Leaky gut
  • Environmental toxins
  • Dietary inflammatory triggers

In a nutshell, chronic disease develops as a result of an improper immune response to a viral infection due to other predisposing factors. The virus acts as the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Chronic viruses can prevent autoimmune remission

Remission from autoimmune symptoms is possible with proper diet and lifestyle management. However, if you already have an autoimmune condition, a chronic viral infection can prevent you from alleviating your symptoms and halting progression of the autoimmunity. In fact, a chronic virus is a deal-breaker in recovery for many patients.

If you have an autoimmune condition and suffer from symptoms that don’t get better after addressing inflammatory triggers through diet and lifestyle, contact my office to ask about testing for the viruses associated with your condition.

Viral infections can occur years before developing autoimmunity

Viral infections usually occur well before any symptoms associated with autoimmunity develop (sometimes years), so it can be difficult to make a definitive link between a particular infection and a yet-to-be autoimmune disorder. However, if you have not been diagnosed with an autoimmune condition but have had any of these viruses in the past and have unexplained symptoms now, it’s worth getting tested for autoimmunity and a chronic virus.

For more information on chronic viral infections and how to test and treat them, please contact my office.

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