Do you want to avoid getting sick this cold and flue season? Here are 10 steps you can take to avoid getting sick. Natural remedies, home remedies, and tips to prevent getting sick this year.
5 preventative steps:
These are good to do over the cold and flue season to keep your immune health up and prevent getting sick.
- Increase Vitamin C intake, a daily dose of 500-2000mg.
- Keep sugar intake down, sugar compromises immune function.
- Take your vitamin D depending on your vitamin D levels 5000IU to 10,000IUs daily, ask your doctor.
- Get your 8 hours of shut eye, lack of sleep weakens your immune system.
- Enjoy ginger, garlic, onions & bone broth in soups or tea.
At first signs of getting:
When you have that tickle in your throat, feeling a bit under the weather, or that sick co-worker looks in your direction, this is the time to act! Don’t wait until your knocked on your a$$ to start these powerful natural therapies. Although, if you do miss the window, these tips help to shorten the duration of misery. And the great thing is they work for bacteria and viruses that cause the cold or flue.
- Echinacea tincture or herbal blend
- Vitamin A 100,000IU
- Vitamin D 50,000IU every other day for 7 days
- Zinc – if it’s a sore throat 15mg as lozenges, otherwise oral 30mg
- Dress warm, pile up the blankets, sweat- infrared sauna
Some good products to have on had at home include Wellness Formula by Source Naturals (found at Wholefoods and other healthfoods stores) or EHB by Integrative Therapeutics, chewable vitamin C and zinc lozenges. And for kids some Elderberry syrup.
Not all of these remedies are suitable for all people, you should always consult your Naturopathic doctor before taking them, especially if your trying to get pregnant, are pregnant or breast feeding.
Is testosterone good for our cardiovascular health? And why should I care about my cardiovascular health? Every 40 seconds an American has a heart attack! About 1 in 3 deaths in the US is caused from cardiovascular disease, it is the leading cause of death in both men and women. Over half of the deaths from heart disease are men with an average age of 65yo. This includes deaths from coronary heart disease, heart attacks, high blood pressure, heart failure, arterial diseases and strokes. (facts from CDC & American Heart Association).
Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease
- Increased age
- Decrease testosterone levels
- High blood pressure
- Smoking & drinking
- Poor diet
- Certain genetic or SNP mutations
Testosterone & Common Sense
Let’s look at the basics of testosterone and it’s effects in the body, from this you can see how having healthy levels contribute to a healthier cardiovascular system and a better quality of life.
Role of Testosterone in the body
- Body Hair– Promotes growth of hair growth on face, chest, pubic area, and umbilical line.
- Bone & Muscle– Stimulation and maintenance of muscle and bone strength.
- Healthy joints– stimulation of growth and repair of ligaments and cartilage.
- Sex Organs- stimulates the development of the testes, scrotum and causes sperm production.
- Healthy erections– helps maintain healthy erectile function. Boost sex drive.
- Energy & Fat Burning– Increases metabolism to promote energy production, fat burning and maintenance of a healthy weight.
- Improves Mood– boost mood, confidence and drive
- Improves Sleep quality.
- Cardiovascular Health– Maintains good cholesterol called HDLs, while preventing arteriosclerosis, and maintaing a healthy blood pressure. All important markers for cardiovascular health
We know as testosterone declines prostate cancers, other cancers, and cardiovascular disease all increase. As men hit andropause they get fatter, muscle mass declines, activity and mood declines. Men who have healthy testosterone levels have more muscle which helps burn sugar and fat, their mood is better and they are more motivation to get out exercise and be healthy. They have better recovery time and less joint pain which keep you mobile longer. With health erections, and a healthy libido they are likely more sexually active, which means more cardio! This alone would improve your cardiovascular health and overall well being. But lets look at the research and see what it says!
What does the Research Say
Overall the research indicates that men with low testosterone levels have higher mortality rate and higher rates of cardiovascular disease. Men who normalized their testosterone with testosterone replacement therapy had lower rates of stroke, heart attacks and overall mortality.
The Research indicates that testosterone has the following effects on our cardiovascular system :
- Improves exercise induced ST depression and myocardial ischemia
- Dilates the coronary arteries -increase blood flow to the heart muscle
- Improves body composition, insulin resistance and reduces risks for metabolic syndrome
- Improves inflammation, CRP and inflammatory cytokins
- Improves congestive heart failure
- Lowers risks for heart attacks and overall mortality
- May slow the progression of artherosclerosis
- Reduces risks of type 2 diabetes
- Mixed results on lipid profiles, however lower testosterone is related to dyslipidemia (poor lipid levels), and testosterone replacement has been shown in improve lipid ratios.
In summary having healthy levels of testosterone helps to improve your cardiovascular health in a variety of ways, improving metabolism, reducing blood sugar, improving fat burning, reducing inflammation, increasing circulation to the heart, and lowering other risks factor for cardiovascular disease. Conversely, having low levels is associated with increased mortality, strokes and heart attacks. So why not choose to have your testosterone levels tested, improve your quality of life and your longevity! If you want o learn more about low testosterone and what you can do to boost it read more here!
Dr.Escobedo has extensive experience working with men to balance, replace and restore healthy hormones including testosterone as well as improve cardiovascular health. She utilizes a wide range of testosterone replacement therapies, supplements, diet, exercise and herbs to help restore the bodies natural hormone levels and restore cardiovascular health. To find out if she can help book your free 15 minute phone consult today.
Sharma, R et al. Normalization of testosterone level is associated with reduced incidence of myocardial infarction and mortality in men. Eur Heart J. 2015 Aug 6
Shores MM, Moceri VM, Gruenewald DA, et al. Low testosterone is
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Shores MM, Matsumoto AM, Sloan KL, et al. Low serum
testosterone and mortality in male veterans. Arch Intern Med
Laughlin GA, Barrett-Connor E, Bergstrom J. Low serum
testosterone and mortality in older men. J Clin Endocrinol Metab
Basaria S et al. Effects of Testosterone Administration for 3 Years on Subclinical Atherosclerosis Progression in Older Men with Low or Low-normal Testosterone Levels. JAMA.2015; 314(6):570-581.
Cheetham TC et al. Association of Testosterone Replacement With Cardiovascular Outcomes Among Men With Androgen Deficiency. JAMA Intern Med. 2017 Apr 1;177(4):491-499
Berg G. et al. Impact on lipoprotein profile after long-term testosterone replacement in hypogonadal men. Horm Metab Res. 2002 Feb;34(2):87-92.
Find Out if You Are at Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in north america, so yeah, it’s important part of your health! You have probably been to your Primary Healthcare Provider and had your lipids tested. If you have elevated cholesterol they probably told you you need to start a statin like Lipitor. But did you know that 50% of people who have a heart attack have normal cholesterol levels? Or that taking a statin reduces your risks of having a cardiovascular event by 1% over 10 years? Did you know that statins deplete CoQ10, an essential nutrient your heart muscles need to operate? Did you know that taking CoQ10 with Selenium has been shown to cut yours risks down by 50% (read more here). It’s time to rethink the statin strategy, and get the whole picture. So what does it mean to really asses your risks for cardiovascular disease? It’s alot more involved then just looking at your cholesterol and lower it. There are four main areas to focus on in testing when assessing your cardiovascular health:
- Inflammation & Plaque stability: hs-CRP, Homocystein, Fibrinogen, MPA, LpPLA
- Genetics: Lp(a), MTHFR, Clotting factors
- Lipid profile: HDL, ApoA, LDL, sdLDLs, Cholesterol, Apo B, TG
- Metabolics: HbA1C, insulin, C-peptide, fasting glucose
External factors that play a big role at influencing the above internal factors are of course: (see info-graph here.)
- Weight- more over weight a person is the higher the risk.
- Activity level: minimum 30 minutes daily.
- Diet: can drastically change your lipid profile alone.
- Alcohol intake: 3 drinks or less per week.
- Blood pressure: ideal is 120/60
Besides eating healthy, not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly there is lots you can do maximize your cardiovascular health. Maintaining healthy hormones is a big part of that. For women estrogen play an important role, and for men testosterone does. (See my blog here for more on Testosterone role in cardiovascular health).
Estrogen is Cardio-protective in Women
Before menopause women have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease then men the same age, after menopause we have an increased risk. Estrogen replacement therapy has been shown in numerous studies to reduce cardiovascular mortality by 40-50% in post-menopausal women. Seem how women are much more likely to die of cardiovascular disease then breast cancer (read about estrogen and cancer risks here) that is something to consider. Here is how estrogen can prevent cardiovascular disease:
- Improved lipid profile (lower LDL, Lp(a) & TG, increases HDLs by 10-15%)
- Lower accumulation of lipids in the arteries
Stimulates endothelial NO production = vasodilation (less pressure in system)
- Increase mitochondrial efficiency and reduces oxidative stress
Reduces vascular oxidative stress (less inflammation = better health of vessels)
- Limits the progression of fibrofatty and atherosclerotic plaques formation
- Improves endothelial growth and repair, and reduces thickening of the intima
- Lowers blood pressure (ACE inhibiting, down regulates constriction and increase vasodilaiton)
- Transdermally it acts as an anti-inflammatory
Oral Estrogen & Clotting
The form of estrogens make a big difference in their safety, oral synthetic estrogens like birth control pills and Premarin increase clotting. In the Womens Health Initiative study they found an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, mostly relating to clot formation- strokes, embolism, and other forms of clots, in this study they used Conjugated Equine Estrogens (CEE). These are a from of oral estrogens and oral (Bio-identical or not) have a long list of side effects that are very hard on your health and cardiovascular system including:
- Increase blood pressure
- Increased 4-OH estrone production (the “bad” estrogen)
- Hard on the liver
- Increases clotting factors
- Increases inflammatory marker CRP
- Increases cravings for carbs (which usually results in eating more carbs and sugar, which creates more inflammation).
When a hormone is taken orally it is metabolized through the first pass in the liver, during this process they are broken down into metabolites that can increase clotting and inflammation resulting in many of the above concerns. This is why doctors always ask you before taking the birth control pill if you have a family history of blood clots or if you are a smoker. We know oral estrogens have this risk, so it’s no surprise in the WHI study they saw an increase in cardiovascular events like clots, strokes and embolism. When estrogen is taken topically in a cream or vaginally this first pass metabolism doesn’t happen and many of the above risks are negated. I don’t recommend women take any kind of estrogen orally! This includes the oral birth control pill. Endogenously produced, topical and vaginal estrogens are very safe and are cardio-protective. Here for more information on the cardio-protective effects of estrogen.
Naturally Reduce your Risks for Cardiovascular Disease
- Enjoy a Mediterranean style diet- avoiding saturated fats, trans fast, refined sugars, processed foods, fried foods. Inlcude more salmon, olive oil, olives, coconut, plant based fats, colorful fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds, turmeric, garlic and ginger.
- CoQ10, Selenium and Vitamin E
- Maintain healthy levels of vitamin D (50-90 in blood)
- Methylation factors to keep homocysteindown: B12, methyl-folate, B6, TMG
- Mitochondrial support: L-Carnitine, CoQ10, D-Ribose, Niacinamide (niacin, NAD).
When estrogens are produced naturally in the body, or taken as a bio-identical topical cream, or vaginal suppository they have a very beneficial and protect effect on the cardiovascular system, and your heart. It’s important to be informed about the form of estrogen your taking, the mode of delivery, and have your estrogen metabolites measured. Estrogen metabolites will let you know how you’re breaking down your estrogens, as some estrogen metabolites are not good for you (for more info on estrogen metabolism click here)
If you are wanting to have your hormones tested or want to have your cardiovascular health assessed, Dr. Escobedo can help. We work with Boston Heart and Cleveland Heart labs- two of the leading cardiovascular labs in the country, with some of the most sensitive markers for assessing cardiovascular health. Book your free 15 minute phone consult today.
What is hormone replacement therapy (HRT)?
The use of exogenous hormones to achieve physiologically active levels in the body. What the heck does that mean?! It means using hormones from an external source to top up your own hormone levels. There are two main types of hormone replacement, classic hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (bHRT). Bio-identical hormones are hormones that have the same chemical structure as the hormones our bodies make naturally. They act the same way in the body as our own hormones, easily binding to the same receptors and activating the same pathways. They can be derived from nature or they can be made in a lab. Classic hormone replacement therapy is the use of synthetic non-bioidentical hormones. Examples are Premerin, Progestins, and hormonal birth control. The traditional model mostly uses the synthetics non-bioidenticals, with a few exceptions such as Synthroid. Hormones I commonly prescribe and their ideal forms are as follows:
- Thyroid -oral Liothyronine, Levothyroxine, natural desiccated thyroid
- DHEA- sublingual, micronized, & topical
- Testosterone – injections, creams & gels
- Progesterone- creams & oral
- Estrogen- vaginal suppositories, creams, patch
- Oxytocin- nasal spray, sublingual
- Cortisol- cream, oral
- Pregnenolone – cream, oral
Today we will largely discuss estrogen and progesterone replacement therapy, their health risks and benefits.
Does taking hormones cause cancer?
This is a huge concern for patients, and for good reason, we hear it from our primary care physicians all the time, “oh your taking hormones, you know that causes cancer!”
This idea was perpetuated after the Women’s Health Initiative study came out in 2002. This study enrolled over 160,000 healthy post menopausal women to investigate the use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). They found an increase risk of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease. So yes, taking oral synthetic estrogens and progestins is linked to an increased rate of cancer. This does not mean taking bio-identical hormones or having healthy hormone levels causes cancer. Here is what you need to know about this study:
They used synthetic oral estrogens- Conjugated Equine Estrogens (CEE) similar to Premarin, and oral synthetic progestins (NOT PROGESTERONE).
Now lets keep this in mind as we review the facts.
Bio-identical hormones are not the same as synthetic hormones
Conjugated equine estrogens (CEE) like Premarin and progestins like Prempro, or other oral synthetic hormones like the birth control pill are not bio-identical. They don’t fit into the receptors the same, they are not metabolized in the body the same, and as a result they create more inflammation and other negative side effects. Synthetic hormones waste energy by giving incomplete messages to cells which then fail to produce a balanced hormonal response.
If natural hormones caused cancer then every man and women in their prime would be riddled with cancer. As you know most of us feel the best in our prime, young men in their 20s with peak testosterone levels, women in their menstruating years with healthy amounts of estrogen and progesterone cycling through our bodies the way nature intended. Unless of course you’re on hormonal birth control then you do not have natural hormonal rhythms. It’s when hormones get out of balance that we see a rise in prostate cancers (increased rate in men over 50), breast cancers (increased rate in menopausal women), and decreased quality of life, lower libido, hot flashes, night sweats, moodiness etc.
We feel the best when we have healthy hormones, and have better markers for health. Why is this? Because our natural hormones have very beneficial effects in the body. Bio-identical hormones mimic our bodies natural hormones, and there are no studies that link bHRT to any kind of cancers. But this is not to say they are not with out risk, or that more research is not warranted. The type of hormone, the mode of delivery, and your bodies way of processing all influence the risk/benefit profile. Lets dive a bit deeper to discuss this.
How you Break Your Hormones Down Matters
When looking at getting hormone replacement therapy the form of estrogen makes a difference in its safety and efficacy profile. Also how your body naturally breaks down estrogens plays a role in your risks for osteoporosis, estrogen sensitive cancers and dementia. Our body produces three different types of estrogens that have different effects in the body, both protective and carcinogenic.
- Higher amounts after menopause
- Some metabolites are carcinogenic
- Estrone metabolites include:
- 4-OH Estrone: very carcinogenic, damages DNA, Premarin/CEE increase this one! May be associated with fibroids.
- 16a-OH Estrone: is both carcinogenic & important for bone preservation, high levels associated with obesity
- 2-OH Estrone: very protective
- Most biologically active
- Primarily produced during menstruating years
- A small amount converts to estrone
- In men it’s converted from testosterone
- Has positive effect on cardiovascular system (increases HDL, lowers LDL/TG)
- Helps to maintain memory
- Increases absorption of calcium, magnesium, zinc (all good for your bones)
- Increases happy hormone serotonin
- Safest and weakest form
- Protective against breast cancer
- Produce in high levels during pregnancy, helps to maintain pregnancy
- None converts to estradiol or estrone
- Maintains vaginal lining (prevents thinning/tearing), healthy pH of vagina
- Improves menopausal symptoms
- Good for gut bacteria
Our liver metabolizes and breaks down our hormones through a mechanism called methylation. How well a person methylates can influence their risks for cancers. There is a methylation enzymes called COMP that neutralizes the carcinogenic estrones. In some people this enzyme doesn’t work very well, which means they have probably gone most of their life not metabolizing/neutralizing their hormones very well. Studies have shown an increase risk for breast cancer in women with a COMP enzyme mutation.
Ideally when a practitioner is prescribing hormones they are giving you 70-80% of the cream as estriol (the safest most protective form) and 20-30% estradiol for the bone, brain and heart protection. You will get some conversion to the estrone for the bone protection and ideally minimal to 4-OH. To further protect against carcinogenic metabolites we support COMP by including:
- Methyl-B12, B6, B2
To increase protective 2-OH Estrone include:
- Consume brussel sprouts, broccoli and cabbage which are rich in Indole-3-carbinol & DIM
- Moderate exercise
- Add flax and organic soy
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- B6, Methyl B12, and Methyl-folate
- Rosemary & Turmeric
- Lose weight
- High protein diet
What else can you do to support healthy metabolism of your estrogens and hormones:
- Avoid Xenoestrogen found in pesticides, meat products (choose hormone free, grass fed and finished, pasture raised or organic), avoid plastics- water bottles, food containers, kerig coffee cups, and cosmetic. For more info on this see EGW.org
- Consume less than 3 alcoholic drinks per week
- Antibiotic free animal products (meat, poultry, diary)
- Have your estrogen metabolite tested, even get your SNPs tested to see what your COMP & MTHFR activity is like.
If you’re a patient of mine more then likely you have done a urinary test, and know exactly how well you are breaking down your hormones. We use urinary metabolites to measure all these estrogens and their metabolites to asses potential risks for cancer and evaluate how well you methylate.
In summary, estrogens have the good, the bad, and the ugly, how well your body detoxifies your hormones plays an important role in your risks for making potential cancer causing estrogen metabolites. A good practitioner will give you the safest forms of estrogens with the lowest risk for conversion to problematic estrogens, and will measure and monitor how your breaking them down which further mitigates your risks. They will educate you on healthy eating and lifestyle modifications, and include nutrients to improve your health.
Oral Estrogens are not Safe
The second risk that came up in the WHI study was the cardiovascular risk, mostly relating to clot formation- strokes, embolism, and other forms of clots. Oral estrogens (synthetic or not) have a long list of side effects that are very hard on your health and cardiovascular system including increased clotting. For more information in this see my blog on Cardiovascular health.
Other Health Benefits of Estrogen
When women hit menopause and estrogen takes a dive they often experience:
Oh but menopause is a natural part of life you say?! Sure sure it is, but we also used to die in our 40s! Now women are spending half their lives in post-menopause, I don’t know about you but I don’t want to spend half my life with a quarter of the complaints on that list! Estrogen is involved in over 400 functions in the body including:
What about Progesterone:
First make lets make a very clear distinction between progesterone and progestins. They are not the same, progesterone is naturally produced by the body in the second half of the cycle after ovulation and can be taken as a bio-identical form made from wild yam. Progestins are a synthetic non-bioidentical compound and some of the common side effects of progestins include:
Natural progesterone either endogenously produced or as bio-identical replacement therapy have the following effects in the body:
Bio-identical progesterone is very safe, and can be taken orally or topically. Orally it’s great for helping with sleep and reducing anxiety. Topically it has many of the other beneficial effects listed above.
Estrogen and Progesterone over a Lifetime
It’s important to understand that hormones are like a symphony, they work together in synchronicity to create balance, vibrancy, and good health. In a woman’s body estrogen and progesterone fluctuate up and down over the cycle of a month. When we take birth control- oral, hormonal IUDs, patch, pellet, shot- we stop our bodies natural rhythms and can interfere with our long term health. When we take bio-identical hormone replacement we want to be sure we mimic the bodies natural rhythms the best we can. Always giving estrogen and progesterone together, and ensuring other hormones in the body are balanced will optimize health. A lifetime of hormonal imbalance also increases your risks for hormone sensitive cancers, infertility, mood disorders, cardiovascular and other diseases. If your still cycling and having menstrual symptoms I highly recommend your get a full hormone panel done. If your peri/menopausal and either taking hormones or not, I highly recommend you get your hormones tested (ideally a urinary panel with metabolites) to evaluate how your doing and where you need to go to reach and maintain optimal health long term.
Naturally Reduce Your Risks for Cancer
Women’s risks for breast cancer have tripled in the last 40 years, having a first degree relative who had breast cancer is considered an increased risk, however about 1 of 10 cases are in women who have a genetic predisposition. With more then 100,000 synthetic chemicals in use in the US currently, we know environmental factors play a big role. Along with a life time balance of hormones, our bodies ability to metabolize hormones and toxins. This means that what eat, how we treat our liver, and maintaining healthy hormones play a big role. Here is what you can do:
- Keep alcohol intake to 3 drinks or less per week
- Exercise at least 30 minutes of vigorous activity per day
- Maintain healthy levels of Vitamin D
- Drink green tea
- Maintain a health weight
- Eat healthy: organic, plenty of fruits and colorful veggies, whole food diet. Limit processed meats, processed foods, packaged foods, sugars. Overall a Mediterranean diet is a good guideline.
- Avoid smoking tobacco- cigarettes and e-cigarettes
- Get your regular screening done
- Support your liver- lemon water in the morning, annual liver cleanse
If you want to get your hormones tested, balance your hormones, inquire about hormone replacement therapy, do a liver cleanse, get some support around the right type of diet or nutrients for your health Dr. Escobedo can help. Call today for your free 15 minute phone consult 650-271-9453 or book online here.
Obesity is on the rise in the U.S with numbers at 20% on the west coast in 2012 and now over 25%. The west coast is in much better shape then some of the other states. With that diabetes has been skyrocketing since the 50s. In 1958 1.58 million people in the U.S had diabetes in 2015 23 million, and this year looking at over 100 million people who have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a reversible condition (here is more about how to reverse diabetes) caused by insulin resistance, being overweight, toxic burden, and a diet high in carbohydrates, sugar, and refined foods. There is strong link between insulin resistance and obesity, and difficulty losing weight. Today we will discuss how to identify if you have insulin resistance, if it’s interfering with your weight and what you can do about it.
What is Insulin
Insulin is a metabolic hormone released from the pancreas into the bloodstream where it binds to muscle, fat, liver, and other cells to activated a variety of functions in the body such as:
- Signals muscle to to take up sugar for energy to build protein
- Signals the liver to store sugar as glycogen for use later
- Signals adipose cells (fat cells) to take up sugar and make fat
- Signals adipose cell to keep fat as storage
- Once glycogen stores in the liver are full, it signals the liver to make fat to be stored in adipose cells
Essentially when you eat carbohydrates & sugar your body releases insulin which tells your body to store fat and keep fat. Resulting in your body being primed to increase your weight and becomes a barrier to losing weight. Once insulin resistance sets in, it will be very hard to lose weight until you address this underlying cause.
What is insulin resistance?
Well as I often say we are adaptable creatures, and when our body is exposed to a stimulus over and over and over it adapts by turning down the volume. The example I often use with my patients is; imaging you have a neighbor who comes over, knocks on your door and says “hey can you watch my kid for an hour?” It’s the first time this has happened so sure why no?! Then the next day he comes over knocking, and again a few hours later, then again the next day. Eventually you might find yourself closing the blinds and ignoring the knock on the door, so he knocks even harder.
This is what happens with insulin and high carb/sugar diets. This is you:
- AM: you have your coffee with sugar > insulin is released moves sugar from the blood into the cells.
- Breakfast: you have OJ and a bagel > insulin is released and moves sugar from the blood into the cells
- Lunch: you have pasta > insulin is released and moves sugar into the cells
- Afternoon crash: pick-me-up time comes and you’re drinking your double mocha frappinccino, and a whole lot more sugar is dumped into the blood and more insulin is released to move sugar into cells
- Dinner, dessert.…you get the idea.
This goes on day after day and your cells are getting really tired of insulin, so the cells start to ignore insulin, and sugar starts to rise in the blood, so your poor pancreas pumps out more insulin to do the same job. Eventually the cells are so tired of insulin, it barely works. Insulin is rising, the cells are not responding, as a result sugar is stuck in the blood. And insulin resistance has arrived!
How to tell if you have insulin resistance?
- Do you have belly fat? Not sure? If you walk up to a wall does your belly touch before your nose?
- Do you feel tired or sleepy after meals?
- Does your energy drop after lunch?
- Are you a snacker?
- Do you get hangry between meals? Not sure ? ask your partner, friends or colleges 😉
- Do you consume high fructose corn syrup? are you sure? go read the label of your ketchup bottle!
- Are you experiencing increased thirst and urination?
- Darkening of the skin around the neck, groin or armpits
- Skin tags
- Weight gain, difficulty losing weight (approx 70% of people with a BMI >30 have insulin resistance and 10% of people with normal BMI)
What to do
Lab Tests: (Optimal levels):
- Fasting lipid panel – elevated Triglycerides (<100) and low HDLs (>55)
- Fasting insulin (5-10) and C-peptide
- HbA1C (<5.6)
- Fasting glucose (80-95)
- TSH (1.50-2.00), Free T3 (3.0-3.4), Free T4 (1.1-1.4)
- Blood pressure (120/60)
- Body temperature (98.0F-98.6F)
Foods to Avoid
- Fruit juice and dried fruit
- High fructose corn syrup
- Refined foods – pasta, bread, cereal, baked goods, pastries, packaged food
- White foods – white rice, white bread, white potatoes, white sugar
Foods to Enjoy:
- All vegetables (except white potatoes)
- Free range chicken, fish- salmon, grass fed lean meats 1-3x week, eggs.
- Fresh or frozen Berries, bananas, apples in moderation 1 serving 3-6xwk
- Good fats: olives, olive oil, avocados, coconut, nuts and seeds, nut butters like almond butter.
- Fermented foods- like Kimchi
- Make breakfast and lunch your largest meal
- Keep dinner light
- Intermittent fasting: 12-16hrs of fasting in 5 days per week, this can be done by not eating after dinner, and keeping dinner 12hrs before breakfast. Or fast 12hrs once per week skip breakfast & lunch, fast from dinner to dinner.
- Avoid snacking
- Eat protein and good fat with every meal
- Avoid carbs and sugar for breakfast, trade in the cereal, bagels and oatmeal for eggs, Chia seed pudding, protein shake, bulletproof latte.
- Under qualified practitioner starting a Ketogenic diet
- Try herbs like:
- Berberine – studies have shown it to be as effective as Meformin at lowering blood sugar, improving lipid profiles, and helping with weight loss. Berberine has low toxicity and other benefits to your health.
- N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is an anti-oxidant that helps to protect the insulin receptors
- Optimize your microbiome with probiotics especially: Lactobacillus reuteri, Lactobacillus gasseri, and Lactobacillus casei
- Optimize thyroid function, it controls your metabolism, if your thyroid is functioning optimally (not just “normal”) you burn sugar and fat more efficiently. (Go here to learn more about thyroid & weight).
- Cut out toxins: Phthalate, BPA, Perflurooctane-s/f (flame retardant found in cloths, baby carriages, non stick pans- teflon), PCP, arsenic (high in rice and shrimp), Mercury (high in large fish). To learn about how to clean toxins from your life see the EWG website here.
If you suspect you have insulin resistance, are struggling with your weight or maintaining a healthy shape, Dr. Escobedo can help. She has a wonderful Shape Up program that will identify what’s holding you back, address those barriers and help you get the weight off all in 8 weeks! For more information see her GeOMetric Shape Program or book your free 15 minute phone consult here to learn more.
- Hydrate first! Most of the time when we experience cravings it’s our bodies way of telling us we are thirsty. Reach for water first, if that doesn’t work then go for option 2.
- Protein! Protein gives our bodies essential amino acids that our brain uses to make serotonin. Serotonin is our happy hormone, and when it’s low we crave carbs! Protein also help to activate our satiety hormones, telling our brain we are full. So, if your feeling low, and craving some sugar, go for protein first! Try a handful of salted nuts or a piece of chicken.
- Choose wisely! When you’re standing in line at your favorite coffee shop, staring through the glass case at all the sweets, and the signs are advertising the newest seasonal hot beverage. Take a breath, step back from the glass case! Ask yourself, what’s going to feel good in my body? Instead choose the apple and cheese plate or bag of nuts or even a pre-made salad option or the small dark chocolates. Then when you step up the cashier rather than opting for the vente pumpkin spice late with whip cream- choose espresso, americano, matcha late, chai or hibiscus berry tea instead, add your own honey, cream or dairy alternative. Always ask how much sweeter they add to your drink, and say no thanks!
- Chose a better alternative:
- Stevia is all natural and does not influence your blood sugar at all!
- Xylitol is a natural alternative that tastes great and is an easy 1:1 substitute for sugar, use it for baking, sweetening your favorite hot beverage.
- Cinnamon can helps to lower blood sugar, taste great, and can be used to trick your brain into thinking your having something sweet.
- Tea- there are so many delicious teas out there (Tazo Wild Sweet Orange, Chai, Earl Grey) that can help to provide that little bit of comfort and sooth that sweet tooth.
- Avoid sugar! Sugar begets sugar. Did you know the more you eat the more your brain craves it?! Take a break & reset, go 100% sugar free for 3 weeks, be a real stickler, read ingredient labels, avoid any added ingredient such as sugar, glucose, fructose, dextrose, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup and many more (a more complete list here). Keep carbohydrates low, no processed foods, wheat, flour, starches ect. Taking a break can really help your body and brain reset.
If your still struggling there may be something deeper going on, some condition like depression, anxiety, adrenal fatigue, candida, stress, inadequate protein intake, and others can work against you. If your interested in digging deeper and learning more about your carb craving and what to do about it. BOOK your FREE 15 minute phone consult today.
There are numerous reasons why we have difficulties sleeping, which we will discuss today. I can tell you one thing for sure though, it’s not a deficiency of Ambien/Zolpidem or Lunesta or Trazadon or Tylenol PM or what every other sleep medication you grabbed off the shelf in a sleepy haze from your local CVS! Some of these medications can be hard to get off, and can cause rebound insomnia making your sleep worse. Some help knock you out leaving you groggy the next day, and some deplete your body of the hormone melatonin that you need to sleep! If you’re tired of relying on a drug to help you sleep, and your ready to find out WHY you can’t sleep, and fix that, then read on my friend!
Start by identifying your most likely sleep type.
Type 1 Low Melatonin-no-Sleepers:
Normally when the sun goes down, darkness signals our brains to start making melatonin which tells us it’s time to sleep and we start to feel tired. Melatonin is a strong anti-oxidant protecting our mitochondria from oxidative stress aka ageing. Melatonin turns off our stress system at night which helps us to unwind. If your a Type 1 more than likely your sleep troubles are related to your brain not making enough melatonin.
Here are some reasons why:
- Screens: Screens (phones, ipads, computers, TVs) blasting our brains with blue light suppresses melatonin production. Avoid all screens at least 1hr before bed, even on the lowest light setting on your phone it’s to bright! And if you wake up at night don’t look at your phone!
External light: Thanks to Mr. Edison we can now defy natures dark-light rhythms, lighting up rooms in the house, street lights, car lights, blazing through bedroom windows, all interfering with melatonin production. Black out your bedroom, turn lights down closer to bedtime.
- Medications that deplete melatonin:
- The SSRI Fluoxitine.
- Corticosteroids such as asthma inhalers, Prednisone, Hydrocortisone.
- Heart medications specifically beta-blockers such as Atenolol, Metoprolol, Timolol.
- NSAID such as Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Diclofenac.
- Shift work & time travel: Our bodies love a consistent rhythm, our brains understand waking up when the sun comes up and going to bed when the sun goes down, in the same time zone. Traveling to different time zones, and working shift work gets our poor brains confused! In these cases you may not be low in melatonin, but taking some can help your brain understand when it’s time to sleep.
Tips for Type 1 Low Melatonin-no-Sleepers: try low dose melatonin 30 minutes before bedtime. After you take the melatonin start to wind down, avoid all screens, and dim the lights. If you are waking up about 4hrs after you go to bed then choose a sleep supplement with Melatonin & 5-HTP (don’t mixing with SSRIs).
Type 2 Stress-no-Sleeper:
Our stress system helps us to adapt to stress and it helps to regulated our sleep wake cycles with melatonin. In the morning cortisol rises which allows us to bounce out of bed rested and ready to take on the day. At night, melatonin turns on signalling cortisol to turn off allowing us to unwind and fall asleep. However, if our stress system is burn out, over worked, over tired, then our sleep gets messed up.
The following are sign cortisol dysregulation is your sleep challenge:
- You feel wired and tired at night, staying up to late.
- You lay in bed with your mind on overdrive struggling to fall asleep.
- You wake up in the middle night, your mind turns on and it’s hard to go back to sleep.
- You wake up after your alarm has gone off 10 times, drag yourself out of bed, and don’t want to see or speak to anyone until you have your morning coffee.
- You dislike those bright-eyed-happy-to-be-alive morning people.
Tips for Type 2 Stress-no-Sleeper you will probably have the most success with the following tools:
- Eliminate all caffeine from your diet! What? I can’t do that! At the very least NO caffeine after noon, drop the coffee and switch to green tea. But no green tea or decaf or other lightly caffeinated beverages or stimulants of any kind, after noon.
- Try a blend of cortisol lowering support such as phosphatidylserine, glycine, inositol, Ashwaghanda, Magnolia and melatonin.
- Avoid working out and working to close to bed, allow a good 2hrs to wind down in between.
- Try stress reduction techniques in the evening enjoy a hot magnesium bath with lavender oil, meditation, listening to a super boring sleep story on the Calm App or a sleep meditation on the Insight Timer App.
- Have your adrenals tested with a four-point cortisol salivary test, and get your stress system back on track. Ask your Naturopath.
- Lower stress in your life or improve the way you cope with stress.
- Increase daily exercise – keep it to mornings or mid-day.
- Get out into nature.
- Talk to a qualified friend or therapist.
- Get a hobby and make time for it.
- Try yoga and/or meditation.
- Move work closer to home.
- Say no, do less.
Type 3 Magnesium-Deficient-sleepers:
If you’re falling asleep and staying asleep more or less through the night, but feel restless, you are low in magnesium. If you suffer from restless leg syndrome, or clench your teeth, then you will benefit from some magnesium. Magnesium is an essential mineral involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the human body including muscle relaxation, bone building, and energy production and approximately 30% the population is deficient (1).
Signs you might be deficient in magnesium:
- Anxiety & irritability
- Muscle cramping & weakness
- Ringing in the ears
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Restless leg syndrome
- High blood pressure
- Tension headaches or migraines
- Craving chocolate 😉 It’s true!
Tips for they Type 3 Magnesium-Deficient-Sleepers:
Increasing magnesium rich foods such as pumpkin seeds, almonds, Brazil nuts, tofu, chocolate (careful it can be stimulating and keep you up), cashews, and avocados.
Have magnesium glycinate or citrate at night before bed, note some forms of magnesium can cause loose stools. Magnesium glycinate is well absorbed and easy on the digestion. One of my favorite supplements is Natural Calm by Natural Vitality.
Type 4 REM-Deprived-Sleepers:
If you are going to bed fine, sleeping through the night more or less, and waking up feeling unrefreshed you are not getting enough restorative REM sleep. REM is when we do most of our dreaming, it benefits memory, learning and mood. You don’t want to miss out on that. There are a few possibilities as to why this might be happening for you:
- Sleep Apnea: get checked, honestly if you have sleep apnea nothing is going to help unless you address it. Best way to find out is to do a sleep study. Ask your partner if you snore, or if you stop breathing momentarily in your sleep, or choke or cough. This is common with people who are overweight, on testosterone replacement therapy, or have sinus conditions. Sleep apnea is hard on your heart, ask your general practitioner for a referral.
- HPA Dysregulation aka adrenal fatigue causes low am cortisol, which results in you just not feeling overly refreshed in the am even after good nights sleep.
- Drugs & alcohol: A joint and 1/2 a bottle of wine will conk you out, but it won’t help you wake up refreshed. Alcohol reduces the amount of restful REM sleep, and I think THC does to as many of my patients who use THC report less dreaming and less restful sleep. Other medications like anti-depressants, stimulants like Ritalin and caffeine, decongestants, and over the counter sleep aids can also reduce REM sleep.
- Lack of sleep: we are suppose to cycle through REM sleep every 90 minutes with each cycle lasting longer as the hours go on, thus our most restful sleep happens in the 7th & 8th hours of sleep, if your getting less then 7hrs per night, you are sleep deprived!
- Discomfort: Maybe your mattress is uncomfortable, or your body is in pain and you’re just not able to get comfortable enough to get into a restful sleep.
- Trauma: are you waking up with nightmares? Afraid to sleep in the dark? Have you experienced some trauma and think it might be interfering with your sleep? You’re not alone and there is hope. I have a wonderful support network I am happy to refer out to for anyone suffering from trauma. Please don’t hesitate to ask me.
Tips for Type 4 REM-Deprived-Sleepers:
- Get checked for sleep apnea. Try using Sleep Cycle App to monitor how restless you are during the night.
- Establish healthy sleep routines, go to bed around the same time every night +/- 30 minutes, aim for 7-8hrs of sleep each night. Catching up on the weekends does’t work.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs, re-asses your medications with your doctor. Ask your Naturopath about healthier alternatives.
- Asses the comfort of your bed, maybe it’s time to replace your mattress.
- Get your adrenals checked by your Naturopathic doctor.
- Try R.E.M Maintenance by Metabolic Maintenance at night before bed along with the above recommendations.
Type 5 Sweaty-Sleeper:
Besides the obvious….your room is to warm! Why are you sweating at night? Are you hitting menopause? Is your thyroid running high? Are you catching a cold or flue? Or maybe the beers you had after dinner have turned into sugar, and are now fueling your internal thermostat! If you’re a women 45 or older and your cycles are getting irregular, your sweating at night, call me! I can help you breeze through menopause, sleep through the night, your whole family will thank me 🙂 If you notice you only sweat part of your cycle you bet your hormones are to blame. I can help with that too!
If your having troubles sleeping, don’t suffer, book an appointment with me. I have helped hundreds of my patients improve their sleep. Book online here.
Happy ZZZZZZs Dr. E!
DiNicolantonio, J.J., O’Keefe J.H., Wilson W. Subclinical magnesium deficiency: a principal driver of cardiovascular disease and a public health crisis. Open Heart BMJ. 2018; 5(1): e000668.
Last month, we went into detail about the basics of adrenal fatigue. This month, we want to dive into treatment options. Not everything can be fixed with allopathic medicine- we like to take a more natural approach here at GeOMetric Health. If you believe you’re suffering from adrenal fatigue, read more below on the next steps that you can take.
What are Common Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue?
Here are some- but not all- symptoms of adrenal fatigue:
- Low mood or mood swings
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Dizziness upon standing
- Lack of mental alertness
- Tired in AM, Wired in PM
- Salt cravings
- Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
- Feeling of being mentally and emotionally overstressed
- Need for caffeine to get started or through the day
- A tendency to startle easily
- Easily overwhelmed by stress
- Eyes sensitive to bright light
- Low libido/sex drive
For an informational FAQ on adrenal fatigue, click here.
There are many treatment options that you can explore if you’re suffering from adrenal fatigue. From hormone-replacement therapy to nutritional supplements, it all depends on the individual’s degree of adrenal fatigue. Here, are some strategies to help you recover.
Mild Adrenal Fatigue:
Vitamin C – Your adrenal glands hold the highest concentration of vitamin C in your body. So when your glands are acting up due to high amounts of stress, taking vitamin C has been proven helpful to some individuals by leveling out their levels. 500-1000mg daily.
Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5) – In some individuals, supplementation of pantothenic acid helped to maintain fluid balance- suggesting that it may enhance secretion and the action of adrenal hormones. Because the majority of pantothenic acid is lost in the processing of our foods, it may be beneficial to take a supplement to boost your pantothenic acid levels.
Magnesium – Magnesium has several health benefits, and aiding in curing hypoadrenalism is on the list as well. It’s known for helping to relieve anxiety and headaches & migraines, both symptoms of adrenal fatigue. A magnesium supplement would be suggested (400-600 mg/day).
Adaptogenic Herbs: increase resilience to stress, rebalance body, don’t interfere with body normal functioning anymore then to restore balance. They guard against disease caused by stressors on the body. They are really amazing medicines!
- Eleutherococcus senticosis: stimulates resistance to stress improving stamina and is a great tonic to be used during times of high stress. Also protects the immune system, good to help prevent illness and recover from chronic illness.
- Rhodiola roscea: Some studies indicated it can improve mental performance during stress, it can increase energy, reduce fatigue, and help with anxiety from stress, as it can balance high cortisol levels.
- Withania Somnifera (Ashwagandha) a wonderful Ayurvedic can help to restore vitality from overwork or nervous exhaustion, encourages rest and relaxation.
Moderate Adrenal Fatigue: (include the above nutrients and the following)
Licorice Root: acts like anti-inflammatory in the body similarly to how cortisol works, it also slows the breakdown of cortisol. This is good if the body is not producing enough cortisol, stimulates the adrenals to make more. This herb is not recommended if you have high blood pressure.
Adrenal Glandulars: these come from animal source, and provide the body with the building blocks your adrenals use to rebuild. Glandulars can be stimulating, so I don’t advise taking them if you are feeling amped up.
Severe Adrenal Fatigue (include the above and the following)
Hydrocortisone is bio-identical cortisol, and in low doses can be used to help the adrenals catch up, when cortisol production is to low. These must be used under the supervision of a qualified medical/naturopathic doctor. Hydrocortisone can make a big difference in how you feel when you are burned out.
Taking supplements and nutrients are an important part of helping your adrenal glands and stress system recover. However, continued stress poses a challenge for your long term health and learning to managing how you respond to daily stressors is essential. Taking adaptogenic herbs can improve resilience and I encourage you to go deeper as well. Here are some suggestions:
- Mindfulness– mindfulness based meditation and techniques help you come into the present moment, and can be very helpful when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Among many other benefits. Check out The Power of Now by Eckart Tolle, the Calm App.
- Connecting to your breath, deep belly breathing massages the vagus nerve and can flick your nervous system out of the Flight or Fight response into Rest and Digest state. This is easy, accessible to anyone anytime. See my video on Belly Breath for instruction.
- Spending time in nature– When we spend so much time in the concrete jungle surrounded by constant buzz of traffic, sirens and cell phones, construction, and noise, it’s overstimulated for the nervous system. Getting out into the trees, walking by the river or ocean, breathing in the fresh air, getting your bare feet on the ground, is undeniable therapeutic. It brings your nervous system back down to a calm relaxed state
- Grounding- walking barefoot on the earth, grass, along the beach, has been shown to reduce inflammation, improve wound healing, improve the immune system and is just good for you well being. Don’t believe me? Give a try! I walk barefoot every chance I get and love every moment of it. Start somewhere soft!
- Meditation practice- meditation lower blood pressure, improves cognition, slows heart rate, and creates a feeling of inner calm, peace and well being. Ideally 20-60 minutes daily, but even just taking a time out for 5 minutes to close your eyes, connect to your breath, and connect to your body is great! It’s a powerful tool that has been used for over three centuries and across many cultures. Some great Apps: HeartMind by BeHereNow foundation, InsightTimer, Calm. Other tools: Oprah & Deepak 21 Day Meditation Challenges are great for beginners and people with limited schedules.
If you want to be tested for hypoadrenalism or suspect it’s contributing to your health concerns, I can help. Please feel free to book your free 15 minute phone consultation to learn more. I am a great resource to utilize and can point you in the right direction of how to take back control of how you feel. For more great resources, links, and good reads join my Newsletter and like GeOMetric Health Facebook page. Looking to set up a consultation? Visit our website or give us a call at 1-650-271-9543.
Stress is a common factor that most people share without even realizing it. The obvious stressors are the busy schedules, paying bills, caring for family, maintaining our relationships, and balancing our lives. Less obvious stressors include: physical stress such as that intense spin class or 6 mile run, physical illness, too little sleep, not enough down time, or working in a toxic environment. Many of my patients tell me “I don’t feel stressed” but it’s important to remember we are adaptable creatures. It’s amazing the level of stress and go-go-go that becomes normal after a while. Remember just because we have adapted to a hectic life doesn’t mean it’s not affecting our health. Let’s talk about how stress affects our bodies, our health and what symptoms to watch out for.
What are Adrenal Glands Anyway?
Your adrenal glands are two small but potent glands that rest on top of our kidneys. They communicate with every cell, organ and gland in the body during times of stress to help maintain balance and ensure survival. They do this by secreting the hormone cortisol to help us adapt in stressful situations. These little glands influence many processes in the body from the immune system, hormone production, weight, and blood sugar. Cortisol turns off processes we don’t need in stressful situations and turn on processes we do. For example, if we are faced with a snarling bear we need to run, we need blood going to our legs, and heart, we don’t need to be digesting food or fighting off that cold you caught last week.
What is Adrenal Fatigue?
Adrenal Fatigue, also known as hypoadrenalism or adrenocortical insufficiency, happens when your body is not secreting sufficient amounts of cortisol and other adrenal hormones to meet your physiological needs. In other words, you’re overexerting and stressing yourself out so much that your body cannot keep up with your lifestyle demands.
We are not meant to be in a constant stress state, our adrenals are meant to help us adapt to stress in acute situations. Not to be pushing out cortisol day in and day out as we fight traffic, rush to pick up the kids, work late, then down coffee because we are sleep deprived. This push-push-push fast tracks us into adrenal fatigue, and stimulants like coffee and energy drinks not only mask our bodies signals telling us to slow down but push the adrenals further into fatigue. Essentially our little adrenals can only keep up for so long, before they can’t, and then we begin to feel it.
What are the Symptoms?
Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Waking up at night worrying
- Difficulty losing weight
- Waking up feeling unrefreshed even after sufficient sleep
- Feeling wired & tired at night
- Craving salt
- Low blood pressure
- Hyperpigmentation of the skin/malasma
- Feeling exhausted after workouts or work days
- Poor tolerance to stress
While mild adrenal fatigue is more common than severe cases, you may recognize the name Addison’s Disease, which is an example of severe hypoadrenalism. If you are experiencing five or more of these symptoms, you’re are most likely experiencing adrenal fatigue.
What are Typical Stressors?
Each person reacts differently to stress, and different situations in life stress people out in different ways. These are considered to be the top 10 most stressful events:
- Death of a spouse/child
- Marital separation
- Jail time
- Death of close family member
- Personal injury or illness
- Fired at work
- Marital reconciliation
Other major stressors:
- Change in health of a family member
- Sex difficulties
- Business adjustment
- Change in financial state
- Death of close friends
- Changing jobs
- Son or daughter leaving home
- Addition of new family member
- Change in living conditions
- Kids starting school/changing schools
- Change in sleeping and eating habits
The stressors above are sometimes situations that you cannot control, but you can help yourself to adapt better to them. There is a risk that the stress in your life is causing more harm than you realize, and it is pertinent that you develop a self-care routine. To learn more about what you can do read my next blog.
If you’re interested in learning more about adrenal fatigue, or being tested to find out how your adrenals are doing give us a call at 1-650-271-9543 or book your free 15 minute phone consult online.