Archives for August 2017 | Integrative functional medicine blog

The vicious cycle of Insulin Resistance syndrome




The road to chronic disease — from arthritis to heart disease — is paved with sugar and refined carbohydrates. It’s a freeway that leads straight to
insulin resistance syndrome, given the right conditions, most notably being overweight and inactive.

The devastating chain of events that leads to chronic disease goes like this:

  • Carbs and sugar break down in the digestive tract to glucose that the body uses for energy.
  • Beta cells in the pancreas make and secrete insulin into the blood to ferry any glucose you don’t use to muscle, fat, and liver cells for storage.
  • Given the right conditions and more glucose than your cells can manage at the moment, the call goes out for even more insulin.
  • Beta cells keep the insulin flowing but eventually the body’s cells can’t absorb it or the glucose building up in your blood stream. That’s called insulin resistance.
  • Eventually the beta cells can’t keep up and insulin levels plummet. Now your bloodstream is flooded with glucose, which damages nerves and blood vessels, causes inflammation, and leads to a host of chronic diseases.

Chronic Diseases Linked to Insulin Resistance Syndrome


Here’s a short list of what may lay ahead for you if you fail to reverse insulin resistance as soon as possible:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Prediabetes and diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (POS)
  • Obesity
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Pancreatitis

Take the First Exit

The sooner you give those beta cells a rest, the better your chances of avoiding insulin resistance and diabetes. The intervention is simple but not easy if you’ve spent a lifetime eating processed foods and drinking sweet sodas, like most of the U.S.

Here’s what you’ve got to do:
  • Clear your cupboards and fridge of processed foods and those that contain sugar, even if they seem to be “healthy,” like packaged granola, energy bars, and even yogurts with fruit. If it comes in a bag or a box you should probably just get rid of it.
  • Eat whole, “real” foods — that is, foods made with ingredients you recognize as foods and without pesticides, additives, or any ingredient you can’t pronounce. If its over 3 syllables get rid of it.
  • Count your veggies and fruits. Seven to 10 servings a day is currently recommended. A serving is a half cup or, for lettuce and leafy greens, a cup . And this doesn’t mean 7-9 servings of fruit and 1 serving of veggies. Actually its the opposite. But for starting with, half and half is ok.
  • Avoid simple carbs like sugar and white flours and eat complex ones found in high-fiber foods. These digest more slowly and don’t cause a surge in glucose. I’m not even touching on the subject of wheat/gluten here. That is a subject too big for this little post. Just know that for most people I’m not a fan.
  • Regular exercise, particularly high intensity interval training (see my previous post on how to do HIT training for the most effective results), makes muscles more sensitive to insulin.
  • Sleep well, night after night. Sleep deprivation has been shown to promote inflammation, obesity, adrenal fatigue, hormone issues and lot of other issues. Sleep is when your body heals itself so get lots of quality sleep.

Of course it’s not always as easy as do this or that and things will be all hunky dory, there are a lot of health issues that can get in the way of doing some of the simple things outlined above. If you need some help give my office a call. I also do online consultations as well.

I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be healthy, be happy!

P.S. - If you have any boring health question that you think would make a good blog of video blog please e-mail me. It’s not that I don’t have enough topics to talk about. My list is already too long, but I’m always up for new ideas.

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Your gut bacteria could be making you fat




You can eat fermented foods every day and take all the probiotic supplements you want, but if you aren’t also feeding those intestinal bacteria what they want, you could be throwing your money away. That’s because to thrive and multiply, healthy gut bacteria need to eat. And what your gut bacteria like best is fiber.

Recently published
research done at the University of Oveido in Spain found that obese people with low levels of a group of intestinal bacteria — Bacteroides, Prevotella, and Porphyromonas — also had a lower intake of fruit.

Fruit is a good source of pectin, which is metabolized in the colon by bacteria, such as Bacteroides, producing small chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs are known to keep the immune system in check and turn down inflammation, known to be implicated in obesity, among a long list of other issues inflammation contributes to.

The researchers concluded in the journal Nutrients, “These results could be useful for designing strategies targeted to obesity prevention.”

Why Feed Your Microbiome Prebiotics

Researchers have yet to agree on a precise definition of prebiotics, the substances that intestinal bacteria feed on, but generally the scientists agree that these are “undigested dietary carbohydrates that are fermented by colonic bacteria yielding short chain fatty acids.”

Say what?! It’s basically the bacteria digests what we aren’t able to digest and the SCFA’s are their waste product.

D
ifferent prebiotics may nourish different types of bacteria, and researchers have not yet pinned down the specifics of exactly what prebiotic nourishes which bacteria. But you can’t go wrong covering your bases by eating with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. The keyword being wide. Variety it the key here.

A high fiber diet has often been recommended for people who need to lose weight, but now we know the point of eating more fiber is not only to make you feel full, but also because of its integral role insustaining a healthy diversity of gut bacteria. Meanwhile, the opposite — an unhealthy microbiota — is being increasingly associated with inflammation and obesity.

Supporting gut bacteria with probiotics

In addition to a diet of ample and diverse produce that is rich in prebiotic fiber, you can also support your microbiota with probiotics. Probiotics work best when you are already fostering your gut environment with healthy prebiotic fiber. Another common prebiotic that can be useful is FOS (Fructo-Oligosaccharide)

Look for probiotics that will survive the acidic environment of the environment. Many different strains exist and researchers are increasingly finding different strains support different aspects of health. Research which ones may be best for you and switch them up on occasion.

Fermented foods such as
kimchee, sauerkraut, kefir, and kombucha contain live microbes that can help improve the health of your gut bacteria. Make sure you get truly live products and not pasteurized. They will usually be in the refrigerated section at the store.

SIDE NOTE: IF you have dysbiosis (unbalance gut bacterial levels, SIBO, or some other digestive issue, I highly recommend you do not willy nilly take a bunch of prebiotics and/or probiotics. You can actually make things worse. See my previous post “Are probiotics doing more harm than good”
Ask my office for more advice on building good gut health.

I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be healthy, be happy!

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A new "treatment" for Hashimoto's thyroiditis?




This is a special edition extra content vlog post. Specially directed at those “subclinical” hypothyroid hashimotos sufferers.

Today we are talking about some really cool research that has come out from the “European review for medical and pharmacological sciences. 2017; 21 (2 supplements);51-59.

So here is the big news……

They found that myo-inositol and selenium supplementation can help restore thyroid function.

Did you get that? Should I repeat it?

They found that myo-inositol and selenium supplementation can help restore thyroid function.

Inositol is used for a variety of different uses. Among them it is often used for diabetic nerve painpanic disorder, anxiety, high cholesterol, insomnia, cancer, depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or ADD. Some people also use it for autism, promoting hair growth, psoriasis, and treating side effects of medical treatment with lithium.

That seems like some pretty good reasons to consider taking
inositol. Now you make ask, but Dr. Craig, the study was done with “myo-inositol”.

Your right. While there are different types of inositol available (or what they call isomers), myo-inositol is the most common one. So if you buy a
quality inositol supplement you are pretty safe in assuming that you are getting them myo-inositol version. This also happens to be the most researched version of inositol as well.

And for anyone struggling with thyroid issues or has done any research on the issue they already know that selenium is a very important supplement for thyroid function.

So here are the results of the study.

There was 168 patients in the study aged from 22 to 62 years old. The patients TSH numbers ranged from 3-6 mlU/L. They also demonstrated elevated TPO and/or thyroglobulin antibodies but they had normal FT4 and T3 levels. So they were considered subclinical.

These patients were separated into 2 groups. Group one got 83 mag of
selenium, and group 2 got 600mg of inositol and 83 mag of selenium for 6 months.

Both groups noted a significant reduction in TSH levels and an increase in thyroid hormones such as FT4 and T3 (a good thing) . In addition, both groups also showed a decrease in TPO antibodies but only the group that was taking the inositol showed a decrease in thyroglobulin antibodies. Thyroglobulin antibodies are antibodies against your storage form of thyroid.

Increasing thyroid hormones and improving function can have a wide effect on your body. Some of the indirect positive effects this can have on your body include improving cardiovascular function, whether its a lower blood pressure, heart rate or more elastic blood vessels. It can also help improve digestion and increase your metabolism helping with weight loss and energy levels.

There are a lot of other factors that should be looked at when dealing with autoimmune issues. Functional medicine practitioners (or at least some) are specially trained to help you improve health by improving function.

So there you have it, a pretty exciting yet simple study that was done using supplementation to improve health without the use of drugs or medications.

I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be healthy, be happy.


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Sooo, I'm a little late. Autoimmune travel tips



Although managing an autoimmune condition requires extra care with diet, stress levels, sleep, and exertion, that doesn’t mean making travel off limits.

Many people with autoimmunity have learned how to travel “flare-free”, even though it may take some extra prep time before hand. Be mindful to go into a travel experience with the mentality for a slow and steady marathon and not an all-out sprint.

Although travel can be busy and distracting, self-care must always be a priority. Taking command of some travel basics will allow you to relax and better enjoy your trip so you can come home rejuvenated instead of needing a vacation to recover from your vacation.

Here are some tips to manage your autoimmune condition while traveling.


Know what to expect food-wise and plan ahead

The autoimmune diet, or some version of it that works for you, will prevent you from flaring and crashing. Do some research and planning to make sure you can stick to it on your journey.

For instance, is there food you can safely eat where you’re going? Find out if there are health food stores in your area, or gluten-free friendly restaurants that serve other safe foods.

If you’re staying in a hotel room, make sure it will include a mini fridge or ask them to have one in your room. Some people even bring their own mini crockpot or hot plate to heat up frozen meals — stews, curries, stir fries — they cooked ahead of time.

Bring safe snack foods for when you’re stuck on a plane or on the road so hunger doesn’t tempt you to stray into dietary danger zones. Ideas include coconut chips, beef jerky, celery, sardines, olives, nuts and nut butter packets (if you’re ok with nuts), and other filling snacks.

Bring glutathione support. Travel includes many stressors, such as lack of sleep, jet lag, different time zones, long days, unfamiliar environments, crowds, and so on. Stress is hard on the body, but glutathione is a great defense system that works well for many people.

Glutathione is the body’s main antioxidant and
it helps keep inflammation and flare-ups under control.


It basically protects cells from damage caused by stress and toxins.Glutathione is not absorbable orally on its own but
glutathione precursors are N-acetyl-cysteine, alpha-lipoic acid, cordyceps, and milk thistle. You can also take s-acetyl-glutathione, or liquid liposomal glutathione. A topical glutathione cream may help too.

Is your hotel room overly toxic? Call your hotel and ask whether scents are used in the rooms. Some hotels offer room options for extra sensitive people, such as allergy-free bedding, air purifiers, and windows that open.

Carry a mask. Sometimes you just can’t avoid toxic exposure, whether it’s from pollution, exhaust, perfumes, or the person next to you on the plane sneezing and coughing. It’s becoming more common to see people wearing a face mask when flying or in polluted cities, and it’s a good idea to always have one with you.

A good face mask is comfortable and is easy to breathe through reducing the load of toxins and other pathogens in the air. This can help prevent flare-ups and glutathione depletion. Some companies even make 
face masks  for children and babies.

Better late than never!

I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be healthy, be happy!

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You too can have an autoimmune disease




Just think, you too could be developing an autoimmune disease all on your own. And for a lot of people you probably don’t even have to try. You probably aren’t even aware of it. This is because autoimmune diseases sometimes start off as
“silent” autoimmunity, or what some like to call “smoldering” autoimmunity. This means your immune system is attacking tissue in your body but the damage isn’t bad enough to cause symptoms yet.

Think of it like a fire that is just smoldering waiting for a chance to flame up.


And this is often how traditional medical treatment approaches autoimmunity. You may have some indications or symptoms of autoimmunity but if its not a “full blown” case you are told to just wait.
Wait for what?

Basically you will be told to wait until your symptoms are bad enough to do something about it.


Autoimmune disease is more common than cancer and heart disease combined, and that’s just the diagnosed cases. Many, if not most, cases of autoimmunity are happening without a diagnosis.

This is because medicine does not screen for autoimmunity until symptoms are advanced and severe enough for a diagnosis and treatment with steroids, chemotherapy drugs, or surgery.

Autoimmunity: The disease for the modern era (everybody is doing it)

Autoimmunity can affect any tissue in the body or brain. It occurs when the immune system attacks and damages tissue as if it were a foreign invader.

Common autoimmune diseases include Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, Graves’ disease, multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, and psoriasis. More than 80 different autoimmune diseases have been identified so far. And there is always room for more.

Autoimmune disease affects 
1 in 5 people, the majority of them women. It is believed women are more commonly affected because of their hormonal complexity (see my blog post on “why women are flocking to Functional Medicine Doctors”). Although autoimmune disease is very common, the statistics do not tell the whole story.

Autoimmunity can happen long before diagnosis

Autoimmunity can begin long before damage is bad enough for a disease to be diagnosed. Many people can go years, decades, or even an entire lifetime with symptoms but never have damage bad enough to be labeled disease. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have symptoms or affect your health.

As an example, autoimmunity against the pancreas can cause blood sugar issues long before the development of type 1 diabetes. Additionally, about 10 percent of people with type 2 diabetes, which is caused by diet and lifestyle, also have
pancreatic autoimmunity. This is called type 1.5 diabetes, which we will cover in another vlog post. And don’t forget to check out my post on type 3 Diabetes (also known as Alzheimers)

One of the most common autoimmune diseases is Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. Patients may need to gradually increase their thyroid hormone because although they were diagnosed with low thyroid, the
autoimmunity was overlooked and left unmanaged leaving it to get worse and worse.

Or a patient may have an autoimmune reaction that has not been recognized as a disease. For instance, autoimmunity to nerve cells may produce symptoms similar to multiple sclerosis (MS), which is an autoimmune reaction to nerve sheathes. However, because the autoimmunity is not attacking nerve sheathes specifically, the patient cannot be diagnosed despite MS-like symptoms.

Autoimmunity can attack anything in the body, it will often attack the weakest links first and then spread to other areas.

People can also have symptoms that suggest many types of autoimmunity. Although symptoms vary depending on which tissue is being attacked, many autoimmune sufferers experience chronic fatigue, chronic pain, declining brain function, gastrointestinal issues, hair loss, weight gain or weight loss, brain fog, and more.

Fortunately, functional medicine offers 
lab testing that can screen for autoimmunity against a number of different tissues. We also use strategies such as an anti-inflammatory diet, blood sugar stabilizing, gut healing, addressing toxins, and habits that minimize stress and inflammation.
Ask my office if autoimmunity may be causing your strange and chronic symptoms.

I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be healthy, be happy!

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