Thursday, November 11, 2010

Testimonial - 20 Pounds in 21 Days, Then 10 More Because It Was So Easy!

Here is what Barb said last week about her experience while on the Weight Loss Purification program:

"Simply by chance I talked to Dr. Shriver at a Health Fair about nutrition. I had been feeling poorly since my cancer and chemo the year before. Because I didn’t feel well, I didn’t feel like walking. I only had enough energy to do what needed done at work and at home. So I gained 30 lbs. I had always struggled to keep my weight around 180 and when I had surgery for breast cancer I had already gained 10 lbs., then another 30 in the next year. My legs felt like lead. I was short of breath when I walked up the stairs. Dr. Shriver explained that doing the Purification Program would help not only my fatigue and weakness but I would lose weight. I must say I’m not a disciplined person when it comes to exercise and eating. He said I would have daily email support with recipes and of course he would be available any day I needed him. The day before I started the diet I went shopping for veggies and fruit. I took time to clean and prep them then planned my meals for the next two days. Dr. Shriver was right that the shake would take some getting used to. Not that it was terrible just different. Around the 4th day the shakes tasted better and I definitely could feel the difference physically. A few months earlier my joints had been aching so much I had to go to a rheumatologist to get medication. The shoulder and hip pain is no longer there. I lost 20 pounds in 21 days and and my energy is back!  I’m so pleased that I’ve continued the diet past the 21 days and have lost 10 more pounds! I no longer feel this is a diet but a lifestyle! Thank you Dr. Shriver!"  Barb M.

Even though the Holidays and all the food that goes with them are right around the corner, results like this are still possible because the program is realistic, down to earth, and it works!

- Dr. Shriver

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Eat More, Lose Weight? This is How. Seriously.

I've heard from several people in the weight loss program that they are eating more than ever and are losing weight steadily.  How can this be?  It's really pretty simple. 

First, when I show someone how to lose weight, I don't give them a fad diet or use gimmicks.  People often set themselves up for weight gain just by violating a few simple health principles.  Show someone the principles to eat by and the body goes into gear losing weight and getting healthier.  Here are just two examples:

1.  The first big mistake I see often is skipping breakfast, or eating high sugar/caffeine kinds of things in the morning as a breakfast substitute.  "Break-Fast".  You are breaking your overnight fast, so give your body a nutritious jump-start on the day.  This boosts your metabolism, which was lowered as you slept, so that your body turns "on", usually giving people more sustained energy throughout the day by providing nourishment to tackle the day ahead.  Just eating a sugary donut coffee drink pushes your metabolism and body in the exact opposite direction.  This is one of the worst things you can do.  If you want your coffee, mocha or chai tea, do it after you've given your body and chance to digest some real food. 

2. Stop eating high calorie/sugar/fat foods before bed or late at night!  This also works totally against your body's natural metabolism and against your weight loss goals.  If you eat that bowl of ice cream, or cereal, or popcorn and then go to bed, what would you expect your body to do with all of that energy (in the form of food) that you just ate while you rest?  IT WILL STORE IT AS FAT.  Very simple. 

These are the kinds of things that make a tremendous difference in the lives of people, and we havn't even talked about specific foods,which again, is much simpler than many people think.  And it works!! 

-Dr. Shriver

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Stress and Hormone Link

Bodies get sick or diseased because of 3 basic reasons: traumas, toxicities/nutritional deficiencies, and stress. Even hormonal imbalances can be worsened and affected by an innappropriate stress response! Here’s just one of the connections between stress and hormonal imbalance.

All of the sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone) are made from cholesterol in the body. These hormones are vital for healing, repairing, and many other vital functions. When things are going good, there are enough of these anabolic hormones for the body to hum right along. However, when the body shifts into a stressed state, cholesterol will instead be used to make the body’s main long term stress hormone, cortisol.

I mentioned in the last post how elevated levels of cortisol disrupt sugar cycles, change where your body deposits fat, and accelerates wear and tear and breakdown in all of your body’s tissue like joints, the digestive tract, and skin.

So too much bodily or emotional stress = sickness, disease and faster aging.

If you haven’t been able to solve a health challenge, chances are an imbalance in your body’s stress and repair hormones are holding you back. It’s exciting to watch people reclaim their well being and watch their symptoms disappear by addressing stress hormones. I like to use a variety of ways to test stress hormone levels, from seated/standing blood pressure to saliva testing, depending on what the individual’s needs are.

Call me and mention this blog for a $35 credit towards a health assessment to see if stress and imbalanced stress hormones are limiting your health and well being.

-Dr. Shriver

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Link Between Stress and Weight Gain: MAKE IT STOP!

Everyone knows on some level that too much stress is bad for your health.  But did you know there are many ways to measure how much stress is affecting your health and if your body is able to handle your stress load?  A healthy person can manage a considerable level of challenge or stress in their lives, but sometimes the balance shifts and the body starts to lose ground.  Too much stress can cause the body to begin to break down, subtly at first, more dramatically as time goes on.

Adrenaline is your short term stress hormone.  Take a shot of it and your pupils dilate to let in more light, your heart rate increases, blood pressure spikes, and blood moves toward your arms and legs anticipating either a fight for your life or fleeing the scene.  But the stress hormone that does the most damage is the long term stress hormone known as cortisol, and is a game changer when it comes to affecting how you digest food, mobilize and deposit fat, and produce hormones and it also decreases your immune system and bone formation.  Prolonged periods of elevated cortisol levels will lead to a specific type of weight gain, where fat is deposited more around the trunk (belly, waist and low back), known as "truncal obesity".

Disruptions in cortisol levels will cause a person to be wide awake at night, but have a difficult time getting out of bed.  Hormonal changes often follow and they may begin to gain weight in a specific pattern as well.  Many people endeavor to lose weight by diligently watching what they eat and exercising, only to discover that it's virtually impossible to lose the fat in the truncal area, and more sit-ups are not the answer. (More on why you can't "spot reduce", or slim down individual parts of your body)

The missing link is often direct support of the body's normal stress response.  In other words, begin to balance the stress hormones through some tweaks in diet, exercise and specific supplementation, and it becomes easier to lose weight, get more restful and deeper sleep, and increase daily energy levels naturally.

-Dr. Shriver

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Don't Cancel Your Chiropractic Appointment, Especially if You Have a Headache

Has this ever been you?

"Hi, I'm going to have to cancel my chiropractic appointment today because I have a headache."

Don't Do It!!!

People mistakenly feel that because they have a headache they are better off skipping their chiropractic appointment. Unfortunately, the opposite is often becomes true and cancelling appointments usually sets you back in 2 ways:

1. We only schedule the appointments that you need to fix your back or neck, shoulder, knee, etc. Each treatment that is skipped prolongs the treatment period and sets the stage for flair ups.

2. Many of the things that we treat directly such as tight muscles, joints, and tension in the spine and neck actually cause or contribute to headaches. So when you're feeling your worst, you absolutely should make your best effort to get in to your scheduled appointment.

Let the doctor know that you're not doing so well and he will most likely tailor that day's treatment so that you not only keep on track with your original complaint, but that you get rid of your headache that much faster.

-Dr. Darin

Friday, September 17, 2010

"Fats can Heal and Fats can Kill"

Many people are shocked to find out that eliminating fat from your diet altogether can be very bad for your health.  Advertising and media agendas often try to oversimplify the fat story by painting it as an "all or nothing" deal.  You might become convinced that all fats are bad and that low-fat and no-fat alternatives are better for you.  But what is well known in the nutritional and medical literature is how important the right balance of fats are in normal cell function and after all, our bodies are gigantic piles of cells!

The title of today's blog was taken loosely from a book title Fats that Kill, Fats that Heal by Udo Erasmus, Ph.D., ( one of the leading authorities on fat and nutrition.  A excellent title to have on the shelf especially for those in the health care field.  Another great resource that might lend itself more to the lay person is Know your Fats by Mary Enig, Ph.D. 

If you eat avacodos regularly, kudos to you!  If not, let me encourage you to give them a try.  They provide very nutritious fats, including mono-unsaturated fats and contain and many vitamins and minerals.  They are higher in protein and fiber than most fruits. They contain good amounts of manganese, phosphorous, iron, potassium, vitamin E, vitamin C, Beta-carotene, thiamin, and riboflavin.

Here is a great blurb on the healthy fats found in Avacados taken from WebMD:

High in the Good Fat

The avocado's image first took on some polish with a 1996 study by researchers at the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social in Mexico (Archives of Medical Research, Winter 1996) that looked at the health benefits of daily avocado consumption. The 45 volunteers who ate avocados every day for a week experienced an average 17% drop in total blood cholesterol. Their cholesterol ratio also changed in a healthy way: Their levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein, or "bad fat") and triglycerides, both associated with heart disease, went down. Their HDL (high-density lipoprotein, or "good fat") levels, which tend to lower the risk of heart disease, climbed.
Researchers have also discovered that avocados are rich in beta-sitosterol, a natural substance shown to significantly lower blood cholesterol levels. In a review article published in the December 1999 issue of the American Journal of Medicine, researchers pointed out that beta-sitosterol was shown to reduce cholesterol in 16 human studies.

Guacamole is a popular spread/dip that is made primarily of avacados, red onion and lemon or lime juice, simple to make, and tastes good on just about everything, especially on anything mexican!

I like to slice a ripe avacado and put it on toast or an English muffin, with a little sea salt.  It's has the smooth buttery texture that I crave sometimes and when mixed with salt is one of my favorite things to eat.

Look for avacados in the grocery store that aren't quite ripe yet.  This will ensure that they are bruised and you can allow them to ripen at home on a counter top or in the refrigerator where they won't get roughed up.

Let me know what you think about one of my favorite foods!

-Dr. Darin

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

As Close to a Gaurantee to Feel Great and Lose Weight as Legally Possible

The idea of detoxification has become more and more popular in recent years. Seems everyone is aware that our food, our air, and our world just aren't as clean as it used to be and some time should be set aside to "clean house" with a good detoxification program.

But why do YOU need purification?  Because it can help you remove natural toxins from your body and help maintain a healthy weight.  We are exposed to external toxins everyday, including pollutants, pesticides, and chemicals.  Internally, our bodies produce waste byproducts as a result of normal metabolic function.  Although your body is designed to rid itself of these toxins naturally, it can become overburdened.  Purification offers your body additional support to expel natural toxins and minimize your weight, which is important to maintaining your health and vitality.

There are approximately 80,000 synthetic chemicals registered for use in the U.S.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports hundreds of these chemicals are present in our bodies.  Research has shown that many of these chemicals can disrupt our immune, endocrine, nervous, and reproductive systems.  The following are examples of external and internal toxins:

External Toxins
  • Air and water pollutants
  • Caffeine
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Cosmetics
  • Heavy Metals
  • Household cleaning products
  • Pesticides and herbicides
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Preservatives

Internal Toxins
  • Ammonia
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Free radicals
*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Third National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals Atlanta (GA), 2005 

Toxins can contribute to a wide range of conditions:
  • Stuffy head
  • Fatigue or difficulty sleeping
  • Digestion or other gastrointestinal problems
  • Food cravings and weight gain
  • Reduced mental clarity
  • Low libido
Do you eat processed foods?

Eat non-organic fruits and vegetables?

Consume genetically altered food?

Use artificial sweeteners?

Drink soda?

Drink coffee regularly?

Eat fast foods and/or eat out regularly?

Then you DEFINITELY would benefit tremendously from a good purification program!!!

We've been putting more and more people on a purification programs and are constantly amazed at the results.  So many issues that haven't responded to other treatments in the past are eliminated when the toxic load is taken off the body and it is free to remedy the problem itself, from the inside out.  People have experienced more energy, weight loss, better complexions, deeper more restful sleep, clearer thinking, better memory, dramatic improvements in metabolic panels including lower cholesterol and LDLs with higher HDLs, more regular and less painful female cycles.  It really is incredible.  Soon we will be posting testimonials and possibly daily journal entries of individuals who are going through the program.  Stay tuned!

-Dr. Darin

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

More Energy and Less Stress for Me, How about You?

Most people would say they could use just that, more energy and less stress.  But where does energy come from?  Caffeine?  Sugar?  It can, but they only provide short term energy before leaving you to crash and end up worse off than before.

I recently got married, which can be pretty stressful on the body and mind, but I feel great, feel energized and clear headed, and here is why.  About 5 months ago I started taking some specific supplements to help my body overcome the stress from seasonal allergies which were about to start in the spring, like the usually do.  And it worked, like it always does, and I eliminated the allergies I had been dealing with for several years.  But I stuck with it even after the allergies went away and I continued to notice improvements in how I slept and felt, and how I performed at work and even on my bicycle.

Why would supplements for allergies have those effects?   

Because they are NOT specifically for allergies!   

 They were to support the organs and body systems that were struggling in the first place that eventually would lead to allergies for me!

They focused on improving liver function (the body's detoxifyer, hormone synthesizer, food metabolizer, etc) and decreasing histamine production, and since I knew I had a wedding coming up I added supplements that directly support the body's ability to handle stress.

Better stress handling = better immune function = less allergies and more energy = less stress!

Not ramp up adrenaline and energy with chemicals like caffeine and sugar, like so many people do on a daily basis, but support normal function of the body's stress response.  The results are awesome and the difference in how I feel is fantastic. 

This is how I approach health every day with patients and family.  Symptoms they are experiencing point us toward areas of the body that are not functioning properly and by specifically supporting those organs and systems with the nutrients and stimulation they are lacking, they begin to function better.  For example, it's not uncommon for someone who suffers from fatigue to experience not just an increase in their energy levels, but also experience better sleep, a clearer mind, and better digestion, all from an approach that aims at improving body function, not suppressing symptoms.  Pretty awesome.

I'm always available to see if I can help you improve your health and look forward to sharing more successful patient stories in the future!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Health Begins at the Beginning - Digestion

The ability to break food down properly and assimilate it for growth and to make energy is one of the principle characteristics of a living organism.  But it's not uncommon for people to show the signs of digestive distress for months or even years without ever fixing it.  What's at risk is not just feeling crummy after a big meal or dealing with hearburn, these are significant signs that the system isn't working properly and needs fixed!  For example, if someone has LOW stomach acid, they may get heartburn, which can be painful and annoying.  But here are just a couple thing that you won't feel until it has become a serious problem:

  • An inability to absorb B12 and Iron, which may lead to chronic fatigue and anemia
  • An inability to absorb Calcium, which may lead to muscle cramps, brittle nails and dry skin, and speed up the development of osteoporosis and degeneration.

  • Low stomach acid will also slow down or stop the breakdown of protein, which will lead to subtle signs of malnourishment and fatigue.

There are several reasons one may have a slow or inefficient upper digestive tract, and finding the reason addressing that is a much better approach than relying on ant-acids to suppress only the symptoms of poor digestion.

If this has raised any questions about your own health, get them answered!  Chronic heartburn and indigestion are NOT just an inconvenience, they are a sign that the system needs a little help and isn't working well!  But don't fret, there are answers and there are great natural solutions that put the body's systems back in normal working order.  That's real "health-care"!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Seasonal Allergies, Still a Thing of the Past

It's the time of year again when my nose would normally start to run and I would start again with the sneezing, with itchy eyes, throat, etc.  I used to put up with varying degrees of seasonal allergies from spring all the way through to fall, but not anymore.

I started thinking about the connection between nutrition and seasonal allergies several years ago, and even noticed for myself that within 36 hours I could be totally symptom free if I changed what I ate in that time.  Even more curious was that in the winter I could eat the same foods with no allergy symptoms.  The more I understood the immune system, the digestive system, and the body's stress response, the better I became at supporting the body's systems that were in distress, until my allergies were non-existent all year long.  And even better is that it's worked for every patient with the same complaint!  It's not rocket science, and I've got it whittled down to about 1-3 nutritional products, depending on the individual and other factors that may be involved.  Pretty awesome.

I can't believe that I put up with the runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes and throat for so long.  If you're having these issues, WHY?  If you want to know what's been working in our office so well, I'd love to help you get rid of your allergies too!

-Dr. Darin

Monday, August 30, 2010

Not Too Little, Not Too Much, Just Right! - Rehab

Patients often ask why we want them to do rehab exercises as part of their treatment plan.  There is often a bit of confusion because the exercises look relatively simple, and do not use much weight, if weights are used at all. So let me share with you the difference between "rehabiliation exercises", what we use in the office to improve function, versus "strength training" exercises, which are more common in a gym setting.

First and foremost, according to Stedman's Medical Dictionairy, rehabilitation is "restoration of the ability to function in a normal or near normal manner, following illness or injury". So our focus is on restoring proper function.  And here are some of the differences between functional (rehabilitation) training and strength training according to Pitt's own Dr. Michael Schneider, PhD.

Functional Training:
  • Trains movements, NOT individual muscles (like a bicep curl)
  • Goal is to create stability, NOT make muscles bigger (like a body builder)
  • Improve muscle coordination, NOT increase the amount of force from a muscle (like an athlete in training)
  • Uses posture to improve balance/control, NOT use heavy weights for strength gains (like an athlete)
At first many of our exercises seem like they don't do much and that they are too simple to help, but in reality they are very effective at restoring normal muscle and joint function, coordination, control and stability, which is often part of our goals during the rehabilitation phase of care. This leads to better recovery and significantly lessens the chance of the problem happening again.  Virtually everyone can benefit from functional training, while very few people will truly benefit from a bigger bicep.

-Dr. Darin

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Like Putting Zipps on a Magna 10 Speed from Target

Nobody would ever spend $2K on a set of Zipp wheels and then put them on a department store bike that sells for $89.99 (well, almost).  To really get the most out a machine and the experience, you have to keep the end goal in mind from the ground up, and from the inside out.  The frame material, the geometry, components, etc. must all be taken into consideration.  That is obvious when it comes to a bicycle.  What is not so obvious is the parallel I see in many of the bodies of cyclists.  Much focus is put into performance and training methods and hours upon hours of time and energy is devoted to base miles, intervals, with even more $$ put towards coaching or better gear.  But how much is all the training and gear worth, if the fundamentals of health are never addressed?  You cannot be fast or strong without first being "healthy".  And if you think you are fast now by cutting corners on the basics of healthy human physiology, just imagine the heights your fitness would reach if you put your training on top of a mountain of healthy lifestyle factors.  It's like putting a set of Zipp 404s on your mom's rail trail bike.  You just aren't going to get out of it what you put into it and will probably ruin the whole machine in the long run, which in our case is our bodies.

I covered this topic in greater detail at the Trek of Pittsburgh Winter Lecture Series earlier this year and wanted to revisit it.  There are a handful of core principles that must not be overlooked or you will limit your ability to improve, no matter how you train.  And bear with me, even though some points may sound familiar, that doesn't mean that they are weak.  Following these points will improve every area of your life, even as you age, AND will allow you to become stronger after each work out or ride.

1.  Rest
Some people can get by with less sleep, but if you're training to perform, you're goal is not to "get by".  Your goal is to maximize your training and to do that you must recover from the slight damage you do to yourself while training.  Much has been written on this but here are some basics:  During an normal and complete sleep cycle, one will go through the stages of sleep (REM being one of them) in a pattern.  The deepest stages come quick, which are followed by the longest REM stages.  Note that for a complete cycle it takes around  a 7-8 hour period of sleep.  If you are getting less than 7 or even 8 hours, and many "get by" on 6 or less, you simply are not getting rested physically (which takes place in the deep stages), or mentally (which takes place in the REM stage).  And this isn't for athletes, this is for "normal" people.  Obviously if you're riding 10-15 hours a week, you're going to require more rest.  Eight hours is not unreasonable.  Just turn off the tube and  try it for a few nights.  (If you can't fall asleep, then jumpstart going to bead earlier by forcing yourself to get up earlier, that will make you ready for bed.)

*side note: REM is when information is transferred from short to long term memory.  Ever pull an all nighter for a test, or get the obligatory 1 or 2 hours, take the test, and have no idea what you "learned" 1 or 2 days after the test?  Now you know why.
Maybe this helps:

2. Mulitvitamin/Multimineral

The next is really simple.  This is what the Journal of the American Medical Association has to say about the standard American diet (SAD):

"... suboptimal intake of some vitamins, above levels causing classic vitamin deficiency, is a risk factor for chronic diseases and common in the general population, especially the elderly."

"Most people do not consume an optimal amount of all vitamins by diet alone. Pending strong evidence of effectiveness from randomized trials, it appears prudent for all adults to take vitamin supplements."

Again, this is for "normal" people, the general population, which is everyone.  But the extra demands we put on our bodies from training and racing should have us supplementing our diets with a high quality multivitamin/multimineral with at least as much diligence as we try and work out or ride.   I've used a liquid, whole food supplement for over 7 years and love it.

3.  Omega3 Fatty Acids

This is also a no brainer and it goes something like this:

Less than perfect diet = inflammation.  
Extra exercise = inflammation 
Omega 3 Fatty Acids = best way to naturally bring down inflammation, sharpen cognitive functions, and limit your risk of developing a chronic disease.  Fish oil is usually the best source, but UDO's 3-6-9 Blend is a great vegetarian option.

So there are 3 very simple ways to dramatically improve your health and allowing you to get faster and stronger for each workout that you put in.  

-Dr. Darin 

Friday, July 9, 2010

Why Coke is PRO But Mere Mortals Should Use Caution

                                                         Paolo Bettini chugging a Coke

I've always been perplexed as to why cyclists, with the best info and drive to take care of their bodies would put something so synthetic and harsh into their bodies.  I guessed it was because of the sugar caffeine hit, but never actually came across any literature, at least not as well summarized as what plopped in my inbox the other day.  I wanted to pass this great email on from Dr. Gabe Mirkin that talks about High Fructose Corn Syrup, or HFCSs, (the sugar source for so many processed drinks, foods and candies).  It has a load of references stating how the combination of HFCS and caffeine work together to boost performance.  But be careful, the rationale doesn't justify drinking Coke (or any beverage with HFCSs) for everyone.  I can't summarize his info any better so read it in his own words below:

Sodas with HFCS and Caffeine May Be Best Drinks for Endurance

      The limiting factor in endurance racing is the time that it
takes to get enough oxygen into muscles to burn food for energy. 
Anything that reduces oxygen requirements allows you to race
faster. Sugar stored in muscles, called glycogen, requires less
oxygen than fat or protein. Anything that helps you keep sugar
in muscles longer gives you greater endurance.
      A study from Georgia State University shows that drinks that
contain both glucose and fructose burn more carbohydrates than
those containing only glucose, and allow cyclists to ride much
faster over 60 miles (International Journal of Sport Nutrition and
Exercise Metabolism, April 2010).
      Most soft drinks are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup
(HFCS). Both HFCS and conventional sugar (sucrose) contain a
mixture of two sugars, glucose and fructose, in nearly the same
concentrations: HFCS has 55 percent fructose/42 percent glucose,
while sucrose is a 50/50 mixture. So the relative concentrations
of glucose and fructose are not significant. However, the fructose
in sucrose from cane or beet sugar is bound to glucose and must 
first be separated from it, so it is absorbed more slowly into the
bloodstream. The manufacturing process for HFCS frees the
fructose from glucose to makes it into a free, unbound form that
is absorbed more rapidly into the bloodstream. This could cause
a higher rise in blood sugar ((Pharmacology, Biochemistry and
Behavior, March 18, 2010) and provide more sugar for muscles
during exercise.  We need to wait for more research to know if
HFCS drinks improve endurance more those made with cane or beet
      Caffeine increases endurance (Medicine & Science in Sports
& Exercise, July 2010) by increasing absorption of sugar by
muscles (Journal of Applied Physiology, June 2006). Those who
took sugared drinks with caffeine were able to absorb and use 26
percent more of the ingested sugar than those who took the same
drinks without caffeine.
      On long rides, we drink colas for their sugar and caffeine.
However, you should take sugared drinks only when you exercise and
for up to an hour after you finish(emphasis added)
.  Contracting muscles remove
sugar from the bloodstream rapidly without needing much insulin. 
Taking sugared drinks when you are not exercising causes higher
rises in blood sugar that increase risk for diabetes and cell
damage (emphasis added).

The take home message is this: what makes HFCS so effective to replenish glycogen stores during or immediately after a hard or long ride is exactly why it is so destructive at any other time.  The sugars in HFCSs are absorbed so much faster into the blood than even white table sugar, resulting in such an insulin and blood sugar spike that in any other circumstance (an afternoon pick me up or to wash down lunch) it damages the insulin and sugar control mechanisms.  And since the liver is what is primarily responsible for converting excess sugar into fat, it wrecks total havoc.  What kind of havoc?  Like the kind of damage alcoholics do to themselves, but without the alcohol.  In fact, it's referred to as "non-alcoholic fatty liver disease" and is showing up exponentially in children , with the rise in consumption of highly processed foods sweetened with HFCSs high on the list of culprits.

So don't make it any harder on your liver, (and pancreas, blood vessels, etc. for that matter) by consuming HFCSs than it has to be.  And if you are going to indulge yourself, at least savor it during or immediately after a long or hard ride (or run, swim, etc.)

-Dr. D

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Can't Trust Advertising Tuesday Tip!

We are bombarded from every direction with information about our health.  But one area that is perhaps the most confusing is the grocery store.  Virtually every product has a label on it extolling the "healthy" benefits it possesses, and manufacturers are always looking for new ways to promote their old products as "healthy".  Unfortunately this leads to a lot of conflicting information, and chances are you've encountered conflicting information as to what is or isn't' "good for you".  Now more than ever it's important for the "buyer to beware" and to arm one's self with sound information to make Better decision.  The point I'm trying to make is this:  Don't make the mistake of confusing advertising campaigns for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  To help illustrate my point,  I'll start with Exhibit A:

"More Doctors Smoke Camels Than Any Other Cigarette!"  - Camel ad circa 1940s

One might say that sufficient information wasn't available at the time to condemn smoking like it has been recently.  There were several years in the early 1950s when the American Medical Association accepted advertising dollars from tobacco companies while they published research articles linking cigarettes and cancer.  Interesting to say the least.

But nowhere is there more misleading information than in the grocery store.

One of the biggest misleading statements I see in the grocery store is the label "fat free".  What "fat free" really means, as far as the Nutrition Facts data and FDA are concerned, is that the item contains less than 500mg, or 0.5g of fat per serving.  But what might this mean to you and I as we are trying to fill up our shopping cart for the week?  Example:  a cookie may have 0.3 grams of fat per serving, and 1 serving is equal to one cookie.  If one were to eat 6 cookies, that would equal almost 2 grams of fat total, and the label on the box can legally read "Fat Free!".

Another misleading concept around "fat free" is the fact that many items are by nature very low in fat, but high in sugar.  Many candies fall in this category.  Twizzlers for example, contain only 2 grams of fat per serving, but a whopping 57 grams of sugar; that's 92% sugar.  Now, guess where the body stores all the excess sugar?  You got it, it stores it as fat.  Don't be tricked into feeling better about a purchase because it has a label on the front that advertises some "healthy" benefit.  Look at the servings and look at the ingredients.  Don't get me wrong, I like Twizzlers and they have gotten me home on many a bonked ride.  But if I were trying to lose weight this would be very misleading spin on what a Twizzler is and what it's impact on my weight and blood sugar cycles would be. 

A typical bottle of soda (that's "pop" for us Yinzers) might have 30+ grams of sugar per serving, but the whole bottle might be 2.5 servings.  That's about 75 grams of sugar in a bottle, which might polished off very easily at lunch or on a snack break.  So beware of labels and read them thoroughly.

-Dr. D

PS If you thought this was helpful, please post this on your Facebook page and share with your friends.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Do You Know Where 95% of Your Body's Energy Comes From and How to Protect It?

CoQ10 receives a lot of attention in the media but I find that many people are only vaguely aware of what it does in the body and if it is something they should consider for supplementation.

Once CoQ10 was discovered, it was quickly realized that it was present virtually every where the researchers looked, so you might also here it referred to as "ubiquinone", taken from the word "ubiquitous".  But what' so special about it?

Allow me to connect some dots.  We eat food and get energy from it.  We also breath oxygen.  Both of which we cannot live without.  The reason is because our bodies convert the stuff we eat into energy, and to do so require oxygen to help run the whole process.  CoQ10 is a molecule that plays a direct role in that process.  As a food molecules are broken down, each piece is handed off like much like hot potato.  At each hand off, a little bit of energy is taken from the molecule and saved in the form of ATP.  It might help to think of water turning a wheel as if flows down stream, producing energy that spins the wheel which can be used for other things like grinding grain or generating electricity.  To give you an idea how big of a deal this is, 95% of the human body's energy is produced this way and it makes sense that the organs that have the highest demands for energy, including the heart, liver and kidneys, have the highest concentration of CoQ10 found in them.

Here are some quick rules for when someone should supplement with CoQ10:
  • STATIN drug use - STATINS are known to lower CoQ10 levels and produce muscle pain and damage the liver, which makes CoQ10 and has a high demand for it
  • over 55 years old - our ability to make CoQ10 decreases with age
  • heart conditions - the heart has especially high demands for CoQ10
  • Parkinson's - the Basal Ganglia, the area damaged in Parkinson's disease has high demands for CoQ10
  • immune deficiencies - the immune system requires extra energy to function on top of the normal metabolic demands of the body
And the list goes on.

Although it has been a challenge getting CoQ10 in a form that is readily absorbable by the body, you can now find "emulsified" preparations that are more easily absorbed.  Also, recent research has pointed to use of a specific form of CoQ10, called "ubiquinol", as a potentially better form for supplementation since ubiquinol is the reduced form of ubiquinone, and carries with it the extra electrons that make it a powerful antioxidant.

Tomorrow will be the first "Can't Trust Advertising Tuesday" post where I point out the difference between what science tells us and what advertising campaigns try to sell us, you won't want to miss it!

-Dr. Darin

Friday, July 2, 2010

Apple a Day, or Aspirin a Day? Part II

So yesterday I wrote about 2 categories of hormone-like substances that play different roles in the body.  One category the body uses to repair injuries, or for infections by stimulating the process called inflammation.  The other category offsets these effects by promoting things like relaxation of blood vessel walls, decreasing sensitivity to pain, relaxing muscle spasms, etc.  If you need a refresher, check out yesterday's post.

Aspirin works by blocking the enzymes that activate the hormone-like substances we just talked about.  But it blocks BOTH groups.  So while there will be a decrease in the production of inflammatory signals, it also cuts off the body's anti-inflammatory signaling pathways.  Probably alright for short term relief, but clearly not a good long term solution.

The good news is that there are ways to increase the production of the anti-inflammatory signals, and that is by make sure the nutrients are there to do so.  EPA and DHA, two essential fatty acids that are found in cold water fish, ARE the precursors that are necessary to run the anti-inflammatory pathways in our cells.  Research has shown that the average American is terribly deficient in these nutrients, which tips the balance in favor of producing too many inflammatory signals, which is why chronic degenerative diseases, mediated by an inflammatory process gone wild, is the cause of 1 in 7 deaths in the US is the cause of 1 in 7 deaths in the US today.

EPA and DHA are two of the primary factors in fish oil, which also belong to the Omega 3 Fatty Acid family.  That's why fish oil has recieved so much attention over the years.  The typical diet is high in Omega 6 Fatty Acids, which promote production of the inflammatory category of hormone-like substances, which ends up looking like this:

You don't want that.

Live Better Through Balancing out your body's biochemistry!  Make daily supplementation of high quality essential fatty acids a part of your ongoing nutritional program.  Fruits and vegetables just happen to be very anti-inflammatory (unless you have an allergy or your digestive tract is in severe distress like in Chron's disease).   and live a longer, happier, healthier life!

For more information on this fascinating subject, check out

  • has a ton of useful information, the most visited "natural" health site on the planet
  • Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill - a book by Udo Erasmus
  • or shoot me a message with your question
It's also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the idea of an anti-inflammatory diet
and learn to work it into your lifestyle. 

I know, just in time for picnic and party food for the 4th of July weekend. 

Have a safe and happy 4th of July.
-Dr. D

Thursday, July 1, 2010

An Apple a Day? Or an Aspirin a Day? Let's See...

Many people have often used the expression, "an apple a day keeps the doctor away". That may not be too far from the truth given all the known nutrients and benefits found in apples. Just look at all of the known nutrients in apples:

And this isn't to mention all of the nutrients that haven't been discovered or those that we know about but aren't sure how they work in our bodies. Want to get all of that in a pill? You're only fooling yourself. Like many other fruits and vegetables, apples really are an incredible food.
Contrast that with the relatively recent promotion of taking an aspirin a day, not for pain or a specific problem, but for disease-prevention, specifically heart disease. While aspirin is very effective at reducing some kinds of pain and inflammation and does affect the chemistry involved in clotting and the production of plaques on arterial walls, it is very poor in the long term for chronic pain and even worse for preventing heart disease. The reason is because of all of the harmful side effects that include:
  • gastrointestinal ulcers
  • stomach bleeding
  • tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • increased sensitivity to pain when withdrawn
Claims that NSAIDS including aspirin are a wise long term health solution are misleading at best.  Remember? 

So why the confusion?

First, aspirin works by blocking the production of hormone-like substances called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins play a large role in regulating many cellular functions. For simplicity, you can think of these hormone like substances as falling into 2 categories. One category (that includes leukotrienes-4 series, thromboxane-A2, and prostaglandin E2 ) signal for the cells to behave a specific way, and act as a powerful pro-inflammatory signal, meaning, it stimulates inflammation. The inflammatory system is a very useful and very important system that is normal response to injury or an invading pathogen. When left uchecked over long periods of time, it leads to many of the chronic diseases that 7 out of 10 people in the US will die from, according to the CDC website, including heart disease, arthritis, arteriosclerosis, etc.

The other category of hormone-like substances (that includes leukotriene-5 series, prostaglandin-E3 and prostaglandin-E1) act as powerful anti-inflammatory signals that counter balance the other category's effects. These beneficial anti-inflammatory effects include:
  • relaxing blood vessels
  • increasing circulation
  • relaxes airways
  • promotes anti-inflammatory reponse
  • decreases sensitivity to pain
  • reduces clotting
  • increases protective stomach secretions
  • relaxes muscle spasms
So we have 2 groups of chemicals in the body that balance each other out, both being critically important for health in the body. Tomorrow I'll continue with how aspirin (and the rest of the NSAIDS) affect these two classes, where the confusion lies, and how you can protect yourself even better than aspirin!

-Dr. D

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Get Off the Acid Reflux Rollercoaster!

Heartburn is a common complaint among millions of people in the United States. After making the connection between stomach acid and the discomfort associated with it when it finds its way into the esophagus, or "refluxes", many reach for one of the popular medications that suppress stomach acid production. The idea is less acid, less reflux. Unfortunately this is a over simplified approach and pursuing this approach can lead to more harm than good. Let me tell you why and how you can resolve heart burn or "reflux" naturally.

First, I'll start with a "normal" scenario, and then point out where danger is in suppressing acid and how to fix the real problem.

The whole process of digestion starts even before you take a bite. The thought of food, even smelling it as it cooks in anticipation increases the digestive enzymes secreted in your saliva, (like Pavlov's dog) and also triggers the stomach to secrete more acid, to prepare for digestion. The circular muscle that separates the stomach from the esophagus is called the lower esophageal sphincter, and it is controlled partly by the levels of acid in the stomach. With low acid, the sphincter is relaxed. High acid, tight sphincter. This makes sense because if there is high levels of acid in the stomach there is probably food there, so you would want to close off the opening to prevent the food and acid from working it's way out the top and damage or "burn" the esophagus.

So what happens when an acid suppressing drug is used? The levels of acid decrease in the stomach, but you still have to eat. But how is the body supposed to digest and break down food without one of it's main tools, stomach acid? Well it can't, at least not very well. For example, many minerals like calcium and iron are only absorbed when there is enough acid levels in the stomach. If stomach acid levels are low, minerals can not be absorbed. If this make "TUMS with Calcium" sound a little ridiculous, you get the idea. I don't have to tell you the long list of problems that can result from low mineral levels: brittle bones, weakened immune system, weakened heart and cardiovascular system, poor sugar handling, etc. So this idea of inadequate stomach acid is no little matter. It is of huge importance when trying to get back to the basics of health. If you cannot digest and assimilate nutrients, you will never reach very high levels of health and vitality. Period. It's often been said that health begins in the gut.

An effective natural approach to resolving heart burn or acid reflux usually includes improving digestion, not shutting it down. To do that many people have experienced relief by taking diluted apple cider vinegar (with mother) in the morning or before meals. Instead of ranch dressing on your pre-meal salad, how about a little vinegar and olive oil?

Setting aside a legitimate amount of time to eat instead of eating on the run is vital as well. If you are never sitting down to relax and eat, even if just for meal time, then it will be very difficult for your body to muster the resources, including stomach acid and digestive enzymes, to make the most of what you are eating.

Sometimes though, more needs to be done to put the digestive system back on track. That's usually when people come into our office and for them we utilize several approaches to restoring normal digestion. These may include nutritional products, dietary recommendations or healthy lifestyle modifications. All of our approaches are both cost effective, powerful, and time tested. If you want to find out more, call the office anytime and I'd be happy to speak with you, or, you can schedule yourself a complimentary consultation with me.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Burn More Fat, While Sitting Still! Really!

What's the catch you ask?  Well, you still have to get moving and exercise, but did you know that the metabolic effects of exercise last long after you cool off?  If you've fallen behind on your New Year's resolution to lose weight and become healthier, it's not too late, even if you had planned on reaping your rewards this summer during "swimsuit season".  In fact, it's always the right time to make better decisions about being healthier.  Below are several points about the benefits of exercise that were well articulated here

Maximize your Metabolism!  After exercise you continue to burn calories at an accelerated rate for up to 24 hours.  It's called the metabolic afterburn effect.

Too bored with a treadmill or elliptical?  Then do dynamic, full body workouts that tone your entire body and core with things like kettle bells, exercise balls, squats, and movements that mimic animals like bear walks and crab walks.

I definitly have a difficult time exercising indoors, so when outside be sure to take these 2 very important points into consideration:

 - Drink plenty of water!  It's necessary for hydration, performance, and to keep fluids moving through your body.

 - Get some sun, but avoid sun burn.  I prefer this approach over sunscreen because of the total body benefits of natural Vitamin D production but the point is not to burn.  Each individual is different but what's called a "minimal erythemal dose" is what you are looking for, which is when the skin just starts to turn pink.  If you peel you have probably over done. 

To see the full text article taken from, Click Here or stop in the office for the paper copy.

-Dr. Darin

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

No More Allergies For Me! What About You?

That's not me, but I'm pretty sure this girl doesn't have to deal with allergies anymore either.  If you've ever had seasonal allergies, you know they can be practically debilitating.  The runny nose and sneezing are awful, but what always irritated me the most was the itchy, watery eyes and itchy throat (soft palate).  I used to take over the counter meds and even prescriptions for it but once I decided on being a chiropractor I thought it was time to figure out a way not just to eliminate the runny nose and sneezing, but to remove the reason my body was reacting that way in the first place.  Figuring out a treatment that works, is cost effective, and easy to follow has taken me a while but I've finally got it.  Now I am not affected by the spring or fall and can enjoy my two favorite seasons!  Better yet, I did the same thing with my dad who has been dealing with seasonal allergies for years and he hasn't been bothered with them anymore either.

The nutritional support I took is very simple and I don't have to give up anything that I normally eat.  The extra nutrition actually aims at improving liver function and digestion.  Sound crazy?  It shouldn't because allergies are due to an over active immune system response, and a large part of the immune system is in the digestive tract.  So it makes sense to start there.

I'm still amazed at how well the body responds when given what it was looking for in the first place; it's pretty neat to see.  It's worked so well with other people, including my dad, that I'm doing it in the office now.  If you'd like to free yourself of seasonal allergies without drugs get yourself into our office.

Dr. D

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I Never "Exercise"

As a chiropractor, I am always encouraging people to take control of their health, especially with food and exercise.  But I have a confession.  Rarely do I "exercise".  For me and for many people, there is a deep emotional reaction to the word "exercise" which causes some to shudder as they are flooded with thoughts of dragging themselves to the gym or locking themselves in the basement with the latest home exercise machine.  Sure, I lift weights, ride a spin bike, do yoga, usually all at a gym and often ride 150+ miles a week on my bicycle, but I never consider it "exercise", that's probably why I enjoy every minute of it.

Let me clarify: there is a big difference between dragging myself out to do something I dread ("exercise"), and riding my bike or doing the things to make me a faster bike rider.  That's all fun and games.  You see, I am extremely fortunate that early in life I found something that I love to do that will also give me all the benefits of exercise, without having to call it that.  So I tell people that I rarely "exercise" and instead look forward each bike ride or trip to the gym because it makes me better at doing one other thing that I do love: ride bikes!  That's the "trick" I play on myself, and you should too.

When I mention the "E" word, (which is usually in the same category as other words that we refer to with only their first letter, and capitalized nonetheless), most people glaze over and say "oh yes, exercise is good for me".  And then they go right on for days or months or years without ever breaking a sweat.  Of course all the reasons apply like no time, it's too hot, it's too cold, it's too boring, gyms are too expensive, etc.  Well of course exercise is boring and inconvenient!  If it wasn't we wouldn't be having this conversation.  But here is the point that I want to make: instead of forcing yourself to "exercise", find something that you enjoy and DO IT and all the things that will help you do it better.  For me, it all revolves around cycling, for you it might involve golfing, chasing grandkids, gardening, or just moving throughout your day without aches, pains, or immobility.  But in the back of my mind I know that as I age, this game I play revolving around riding bikes is paying huge dividends towards my overall health, wealth, and happiness that I will benefit from in every area of my life, for the rest of my life.

No matter what you like to do, you can look at your "exercise" activities as ways that will make you better at what you love, and they will help you continue to do it better as you age than had you done nothing at all.  A good program would consist of basic strength training with weights and aerobic exercise with stretching as great filler for days you simply can't make it to the gym or get outside.  But don't mistake the fact that you should be doing something on a regular basis.  Switching it up from day to day not only keeps you from getting bored or burned out, it also helps round out your program so that your fitness isn't just one dimensional.

In case you need a few factoids today about how critical exercise is for your health and longevity, here they are:

  • Obvious reasons include: lower blood pressure, decreased resting heart rate, lower body fat, etc.
  • According to a recent study, men can live 14 years longer if they exercise, keep their waste down, and don't smoke.
  • Those men who make those changes also lower their risk of heart disease events by 59%, risk of cardiovascular disease mortality by 77%, and risk of all-cause mortality by 69% compared to those who didn't exercise. 
Those are some pretty awesome "side effects" to just riding bicycles and the doing the other things that help me ride longer and stronger!  So the next time someone asks you about "exercise", just smile and tell them that you gave it up long ago and tell them what you do instead!

Dr. D

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Blaming Cholesterol is Like Blaming the Police

Statin drugs are often prescribed to lower cholesterol levels and we frequently see patients who are currently taking them.  What people might not know is that one of the common effects of taking statins, among other things is myopathy, or muscle injury.  The FDA recently issued a warning about Zocor stating that patients with myopathy "generally have muscle pain, tenderness of weakness, and an elevation of a muscle enzyme in the blood (creatine kinase)".  They also state that the higher the dose, the greater the risk of developing myopathy.

I don't prescribe drugs, but I often see patients who come in complaining of muscle pain, tenderness of weakness, for which chiropractic, rehab, and some basic nutrition are often very effective at correcting.  But I've learned to comb through the patient's history and through their prescription drug history so that we don't end up chasing side effects from medication when they are not responding like they should.

For those whose concern is lowering cholesterol and improving their LDL and HDL levels, there are safer ways to do so, and when the focus is improving health through food choices and exercise, benefits go far beyond lowering a number on one's lab work.  Blaming cholesterol for heart disease is a lot like showing up to a crime scene and blaming the police for committing the crime because they are always on the scene.  

Cholesterol has been demonized but consider this: your liver makes 80-90% of the cholesterol in your body, and dietary consumption only accounts for 10-20%. So while one might ask "how can we lower cholesterol levels?", a better question would be "why is the body keeping cholesterol levels so high?".  To answer that question, consider this:

  • Cholesterol is a vital component of the cell wall of every cell in your body and helps modulate cell membrane fluidity in the proper range, among other things
  • It is the precursor (gotta have it) steroid hormone production (like testosterone, estrogen, etc., which means that if levels are too low, you are never going to grow, repair, or heal anything)
  • It is converted to Vitamin D in the skin by UV light

The real culprit robbing health is not cholesterol, but inflammation.  Remember?

And although statin drugs may alter the numbers on your blood work, they do not decrease inflammation, and in fact place a tremendous burden on your body's systems, including the liver.  That's why many times doctors want to monitor liver enzymes when they prescribe them.  They want to make sure the liver isn't shutting down!  That's also why every ad for lowering cholesterol with statin drugs has a statement like "dietary modifications and exercise, along with (the drug) can decrease your risk for heart disease..."  Well the truth is, you could do the same with diet and exercise alone, it's just going to take a little more determination.  And if that's not enough, in the Lipitor insert, it says that it "has NOT been shown to prevent heart disease or heart attacks" (emphasis added).  For more reading check out:

Cholesterol does NOT cause heart disease

Understand that the debate over cholesterol is not over, but to be fair you've probably never heard the other side so thoroughly articulated:

Cholesterol Myths

And the author of the above page is far from alone.

I have some good print and video resources as well.  This issue is definitely one of the biggest misconceptions about health today.

-Dr. D

Friday, April 16, 2010

Fishy Business, Part II

Continuing on with our topic, here are the list of questions that I frequently encounter about taking fish oil:

"Why do I burp it up?"
Two points need to be made here.  First, smell inside your fish oil bottle.  Does it smell fishy?  It shouldn't.  People usually burp up their fish oil because it has already gone rancid before they've taken it.  Rancid doesn't mean that it's spoiled, but it does mean that the chemical composition of the fats have been altered (oxidized) and no longer offer a nutritional benefit.  Actually, ingesting oxidized (rancid) fats will do exactly the opposite: they will place a chemical burden on your system and accelerate inflammation.  That's one of the primary reasons to avoid commercially deep fried foods, the oil they are using is most likely days old and virtually completely oxidized and loaded with trans fats, which are completely incompatible with human life.  (California has even attempted to ban trans fats for that reason.)

The other issue that may be at hand is poor digestion of fats, so that it is not broken down and digested properly, due to a gallbladder that might not be producing enough bile to emulsify the ingested fat, allowing it to putrify in the GI tract.  If you've had your gallbladder removed, then you definitely have fat digestion issues, of which you are probably well aware.  There is a quick and easy way that we check in the office to determine if your gallbladder is a contributing factor. and there are products we use with great success to improve the digestion and assimilation of fats for those with and without gallbladders. 

"What brand is the best?"
There are many, many brands out there, but if you couldn't tell by the price tags, they are not all equal in quality.  As you might imagine, fish oil is pretty delicate and process by which the fish are caught and the oil is processed and bottled is of utmost importance.  Look for brands that have valid third party purity and quality certification.  You want to see that not only are the fats packaged to preserve freshness, but that they are also purified and relatively free of harmful toxins like dioxins, mercury, PCBs, etc.  This is not usually the time to get the cheapest product on the shelf because you will more than likely get what you pay for.  So do you homework before you buy or you can contact our office for more information.

"I already take flax seed oil, do I still need to take fish oil?"
The two fats in fish oil that we are concerned about are EPA and DHA.  EPA is the powerful anti-inflammatory component and DHA is critical for our brains and nervous system.  Flax seed provides the fat ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) which can be converted to EPA and DHA in the body.  However, this conversion is not guaranteed because not everyone possesses the enzyme for the conversion.  Even those that possess the enzymatic machinery necessary only make a 10-20% conversion rate at best.  So the best results are often seen by putting people on fish oil, which already have EPA and DHA in it.

"Aren't we over fishing our waters due to the increased demand for fish oil?"
This topic I have more to learn about, but I do know that not all fish oil comes from Norwegian waters, as so many companies would lead you to believe.  Many use fish that are caught in the deep waters off the coast of Peru and Chile, with a small amount coming from African, European, and North American waters.  If you are still concerned about over fishing, some have suggested krill oil as a viable alternative to fish for Omega 3 fatty acids.  At this time I'm sticking to what has worked so well in the past, fish. 

"What is the difference between fish oil and cod liver oil?"
Cod liver oil is specifically made from the liver of cod, and has a slightly different composition than regular fish oil.  There is some concern that one could overdose on the Vitamin A or D in large doses of cod liver oil.  I think these concerns are a bit over-extended, but to be fair, it's NOT recommended for pregnant or lactating women, or women who are pregnant or may become pregnant.  Check with your doctor first, or you can call me and we can decide what the best option is for you.

On the flip side, I might reach for cod liver oil in the winter months when it is impossible to get Vitamin D from the sun and where the extra Vitamin A can go a long way towards strengthening my immune system during the flu season.  If in doubt, go with regular fish oil.

"How much should I take?"
According to patient literature from Nordic Naturals:
  • 1 gram (EPA+DHA) to support healthy joints/muscles
  • 2-3 grams (EPA+DHA) to support the body's natural anti-inflammatory response.
The only word of caution is if you are taking a blood thinner because Omega 3 fats work to thin the blood as well.  Talk to you doctor.

One last thing, if you're going to take fish oil, you might as well go the extra mile and do it right.  Look for an EPA:DHA ratio of 2:1 for long term support.

Next post I'm going to cover an interesting research article from one of the most respected journals in the world, Spine and what it has to say about the relationship between posture and "all cause mortality rates". 

Dr. Darin

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Fish Oil? Living to 150? Might as Well Enjoy It! - Part I

Take a look at this information lifted straight from the CDC website:

Chronic Diseases and Health Promotion
Chronic diseases - such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis - are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems in the US.

 Chronic Diseases are the Leading cause of Death and Disability in the US
  • 7 out of 10 deaths among Americans each year are from chronic diseases.  Heart disease, cancer and stroke account for more than 50% of all deaths each year.
  • In 2005, 133 million Americans - almost 1 out of every 2 adults - had at least one chronic illness
  • Obesity has become a major health concern.  1 in every 3 adults is obese and almost 1 in 5 youth between the ages of 6 and 19 is obese
  • About 1/4 of people with chronic conditions have one or more daily activity limitations
  • Arthritis is the most common cause of disability, with nearly 19 million Americans reporting activity limitations
  • Diabetes continues to be the leading cause of kidney failure, non-traumatic lower extremity amputations, and blindness amount adults, aged 20-74.
 They then go on to say:

Four Common Causes of Chronic Disease
Four modifiable health risk behaviors - lack of physical activity, poor nutrition, tobacco use, and excessive alcohol consumption - are responsible for much of the illness, suffering, and early death related to chronic disease.
  • More than 1/3 of all adults do not meet recommendations for aerobic physical ativity based on the 2008 PHysical Activity Guidelines for Americans, and 23% report no leisure-time physical activity at all in the preceding month.
  • In 2007, less than 22% of high school students and only 24% of adults reported eating 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
  • More than 43 million American adults (approximately 1 in 5) smoke.
  • In 2007, 20% of high school students in the US were current cigarette smokers.
  •  About 30% of adult current drinkers report binge drinking (consuming 4 or more drinks on an occasion for women, 5 or more drinks on an occasion for men) in the past 30 days.
  • Nearly 45% of high school students report consuming alcohol in the past 30 days, and over 60% of those who drink report binge drinking (consuming 5 or more dinks on an occasion) within the past 30 days.
According to a University of Texas report on the Today Show (4/11/2006) the average lifespan in 1900 was 49 years old, and when the show aired the average was 77.6 years old and rising.  in fact, they estimate that by 2050, 800,000 Americans will be over 100 years old and many more will live to be 150!  Keep in mind that many of the chronic diseases outlined above don't manifest clinically until later in life, and they tend to accelerate the older one becomes.  For example, Alzheimer's doesn't usually set in until the 7th or 8th decade; not really an issue when the average person only lived to 49, but very relevant today and even more relevant for tomorrow.

Now go back and read the first sentence of the CDC excerpt again, and notice that THE MOST COMMON AND MOST COSTLY DISEASES WE FACE IN THE US ARE THE MOST PREVENTABLE.  If that doesn't empower you, check your pulse!  Unfortunately the CDC page doesn't get into how to prevent the laundry list of life robbing illnesses.

The common denominator to all chronic disease process is "inflammation", which even made the cover of Time a while back.

What we're talking about is subclinical, chronic inflammation that may not manifest itself as an outright medical emergency, but works steadily and slowly over the years, eroding your health, accelerating the aging process, and ultimately decreasing the quality and quantity of your life.

If that means nothing to you at this point, don't worry, I'll go into more detail in a moment.  But allow me to clarify at the outset: incorporating life style changes that limit chronic, subclinical inflammation (in addition to a little purposeful exercise) will so dramatically limit your risk for degenerative and chronic diseases that to not conciously put this information into practice is simply crazy and self destructive.  That is where Omega 3 fatty acids come into play.  They are arguably the most important nutritional supplement that one can incorporate into their daily routine to increase health in the broadest sense of the word.

You see, whether it's plaquing on arterial walls leading to hypertension or heart disease, or the plaquing in the brain cortex evident in Alzheimer's patients, an allergic reaction to pollen, or even rheumatoid or osteoarthritis, inflammation is the mechanism at hand.  The typical lifestyle (poor food choices while sedentary) push the body's biochemistry overwhelmingly towards inflammatory processes.  Translation: YOU AGE FASTER!

You get the point.  Now, Omega 3 fatty acids are commonly found in fish as well as other sources, although fish oil is usually the most effective for all but strict vegans (for moral/psychological reasons, not biochemical).  What roledto they play in our health?  They are literally the body's precursors for anti-inflammatory messengers.  What do I mean by that?  Well let's look at the relationship between Omega 6 fatty acids, like arachidonic acid, and Omega 3s like EPA.

It's been estimated that the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acids in the Paleolithic man's diet, one that our genomes have been optimized for through the ages, was roughly 1:1.  It's interesting to note that in people where a ratio of 4 or 5:1 is measured, changes can be seen on the cellular level and those people report vague symptoms like poor memory, depressed moods, etc.  The standard American diet (made primarily of processed food) clocks in at around 20:1, where people experience aches and pains, are more susceptible to allergies, asthma attacks, altered moods, and where signs of gross inflammation are visible in the tissue, but may take years to manifest as a diagnosable disease or medical emergency.  It's interesting to note that the people that are at a 50 or 70:1 ratio have already been diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc.  All of these cases typically respond well to supplementation.

Omega 6s produce their effects via COX and LOX enzymes, but the same enzymes are what activate the Omega 3 acid EPA for it's anti-inflammatory effects.  Unfortunately, NSAIDS like Aspirin block both enzymes, inhibiting the inflammatory cascade possible with Omega 6s, but also inhibit the anti-inflammotory potential of Omega 3s.  COX-2 inhibitors specifically target the inflammatory pathways but come with tremendous risks (remember Vioxx?).  On a cost/risk/benefit analysis, Omega3s are a no brainer for long term support of your body's natural anti-inflammatory, anti-aging process.

If you get one thing from all this I hope that it is this: We stand to live longer than our parents and grand parents, but if you do not take the simple, basic, day to day steps to care for your body with regards to what you eat, how you exercise, and how you manage stress, you will seriously limit your ability to enjoy the latter half of your life due to health issues.  There is loads of evidence showing us what will happen if we "let nature take its course" and turn a blind eye to lifestyle factors that rob us of our health.  Incorporating Omega3 fatty acid supplementation into your routine will give you arguably the biggest bang for your buck in preserving your health as you age. 

Next post I'll discuss some of the issues one faces when choosing a fish oil and answer some common questions I get like "Why do I burp it up?" and "Is my generic brand fish oil good enough?".

Dr. D