Is taking Vitamin D enough? Or do you need to be taking other things to get the most from it?
Well…Vitamin D is not actually a vitamin. It's a hormone.
It is involved with promoting bone growth, its involved with immune system regulation (i.e. autoimmunity) breast cancer, heart disease, depression, weight gain, and lung function to just name a few. Vitamin/Hormone D is one of those things that is involved with just about everything in the body. So making sure you have enough is pretty critical.
Sufficient vitamin D levels requires more than a healthy diet and taking supplements—good vitamin D levels need the right cofactors too. Cofactors are things that help you absorb or utilize vitamin D in a better or more efficient way.
A shocking three-quarters (thats 75%) of the US population has too little vitamin D, even in sunny locales such as where my practice is in Southern California. Vitamin D is necessary to dampen inflammation and tame autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto's, Multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, etc.
Some people with autoimmunity may even need extra vitamin D due to a genetic variation that affects the ability of their cells to absorb adequate vitamin D.
I've talked about this before in a previous post but a good goal for most people is 70-90 on a blood test. And remember vit D fat soluble. This means that you can get too much and it can become toxic. So before you go take a bunch thinking you are being healthy, it's probably a good idea to get your levels measured first.
And to put a little perspective on this goal of 70-90. In all my years of testing vit D. I have only ever had 2 patients (yes 2!) have optimal vitamin D levels and not be supplementing with vitamin D.
In addition to supplementing with fat-soluble vitamin D (cholecalciferol), make sure you are getting the right cofactors, or "helper molecules" that assist in the biochemical transformations required by vitamin D.
These include fat-soluble vitamin A, magnesium, and K2, which make vitamin D more bioavailable and help prevent D overload. And, not everyone needs all of these, but its a good idea to at least be aware that taking "Vitamin" D may not be enough. Specially if you have other co-morbidities, ie health issues.
Vitamin A and vitamin D work together to make sure your genetic code functions appropriately. There are two main types of vitamin A:
- Beta-carotene - primarily found in brightly colored fruits and vegetables such as apricots, mango, red peppers, sweet potatoes, carrots and leafy green veggies. So eat lots of these.
- Retinol, found in organ meats and dairy products.
You can take vitamin A in supplement form as both beta-carotene and retinol, however retinol is the more active form. Remember, it’s also possible to take too much retinol. Your body can’t get rid of it easily so it can build up over time and cause toxicity just like all the other fat soluble vitamins - A, E, D, and K.
Magnesium. You can obtain sufficient magnesium through food, but its pretty hard with the diet most Americans have. And, high doses of vitamin D3 can deplete magnesium levels.
If you are already low in magnesium and supplement with vitamin D, supplementing with magnesium may avoid headaches, cramping, nausea, numbness and other symptoms that may accompany high doses of D3.
The Vitamin D Council recommends 500–700mg of magnesium per day. Supplement sources include magnesium glycinate, magnesium citrate, and magnesium malate. Each has unique effects, so consult with my office to learn which is right for your needs.
Or, in the mean time.
My favorite Magnesium is a powdered form of magnesium. Of course it's my own brand and I'm biased but I really do find its the best. Sorry other guys. It's called Mag Neuro 3 and is great for sleep, muscle cramps, and nervous system health. See the link in the description. It has a pretty darn good flavor and it is actually all 3 forms of magnesium so that you get the benefits of all 3 and dont get the side effects that you can get with taking high doses of just one form of magnesium. It is also in a chelated form which means you absorb and utilize more of it.
I will discuss the different forms of magnesium in another blog. So dont forget to click the little button and subscribe to our channel.
Magnesium-rich foods include dark leafy greens, potato, beans, lentils, avocado, bananas, figs, strawberries, blackberries, nuts, seeds, brown rice, and dark chocolate. Yum yum!
Vitamin K2. Vitamin D toxicity can cause soft tissue to accumulate calcium and calcify like bone. In contrast, having optimal vitamin D may protect against calcium deposits in arteries.
Vitamin K2 is an important cofactor for vitamin D to help the body deposit calcium in appropriate locations such as the bones and teeth. It also helps in preventing calcium from depositing where it doesn't belong, such as the soft tissues, arterial walls, joints and organs. This can contribute to the development of heart disease, atherosclerosis, and painful osteophytes.
This also bring up the topic of supplementing with calcium. Not everyone should and it may even contribute to developing certain issues or making them worse. This will be discussed in another blog though. Stay tuned!
Healthy gut bacteria are necessary in converting vitamin K1 to the more active form K2.
However, we can supply our K1 needs through eating cabbage, kale, spinach, chard, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels’ sprouts, and sauerkraut.
These foods will also promote healthy gut bacteria. But then again, if we are having gut issues and not getting enough vitamin K1 and we start eating foods that have vitamin K1. Do you think that maybe even though we are eating those foods maybe we aren't really digesting and absorbing all the nutrients out of it?
Yeah, you're right, we aren't. Supplementing can, help but you probably need to fix your gut issues.
The National Academy of Sciences recommends 90mcg of K2 for women and 120mcg for men.
However, Osteoporosis International recommends 180 mcg a day of K2 as MK-7.
WARNING! If you take blood thinning medicines such as Warfarin or Coumadin, vitamin K supplements can affect how well your blood clots, so please talk to your doctor / Functional doctor. This can also apply to Turmeric, ginger, vitamin E, ginkgo and even fish oil.
Checking your vitamin D level periodically can help you improve your health if you suffer from chronic illness.
In functional medicine we measure vitamin D levels with a serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D test. Standard "Normal" levels are considered to be between 20 - 100. Which is pretty dismal. I shoot for high standards. See my blog on standard vs. functional blood testing. Anyway, optimal levels are ideally between 70 and 90 ng/mL.
If you suffer from leaky gut or autoimmunity, you may be more prone to a genetic vitamin D deficiency, so make sure to pay attention to this vital vitamin.
If this is all seeming a little overwhelming, don't worry. We are here to help. Just give us a call and set up an appointment. I do in person visits in my office and also online appointments via Skype or Zoom.
Until Next time.
I'm Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be healthy, be happy!
If your doctor says you have hypothyroidism, this can explain why you might be feeling like crap, experiencing crazy weight gain, and your hair might be falling out in clumps, or your scared to brush your hair for fear of pulling more out.
But how do you know if Hashimoto’s (the auto immune form of hypothyroid) is causing your hypothyroidism?
So glad you asked!
Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease, meaning the immune system is attacking and destroying the thyroid gland.
Hashimoto’s is responsible for more than 90 percent of hypothyroid cases. Chances are strong it’s the cause of your low thyroid function too.
Stay tuned to find out if your low thyroid is due to Hashimoto's or some other reason, such as toxins, adrenal fatigue, or possibly some other unlucky reason. Unfortunately, sometimes it does just happen. You know the saying, $#iT happens!
But if your doctor does not want to screen for Hashimoto’s or if you would like to be sure, here are some tips to help you figure out if you have Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
You may ask, "why doesn't my doctor want to know if I have hashimotos?"
The answer is simple my friend. Because they don't care!
No really, they dont. And it's not necessarily that they don't really care or care about you. It's that from a treatment point of view they don't care because it is not going to change the treatment that they give you. It won't change how they dose your medications if you get any. Nor will it change (most likely) what medication they give you. So from that perspective, it makes sense.
I sometimes tell my own patients the same thing, but in a much nicer way. They may ask about a certain test and I tell them that for right now, I don't care about that test because it wont change treatment at this point.
From a Hashimoto's perspective you should absolutely care because there are a ton of things you can do to help. But thats another topic. Well, maybe not another topic but a different subject of this topic. Back on track!
You feel worse despite taking your thyroid medication
One of the most common signs of Hashimoto’s is you still have symptoms despite taking your thyroid meds. Or maybe your meds dont make any difference at all in how you feel.
In fact, your doctor prescribes ever increasing doses as your thyroid function deteriorates. You may even notice no difference if you forget to take your meds. Why don’t thyroid meds help in many cases of Hashimoto’s? Because the immune system continues to attack and destroy the thyroid gland even though the meds may make your TSH levels look normal.
You swing back and forth between low thyroid and high thyroid symptoms
Swinging back and forth between under active and over active thyroid function is another common sign of Hashimoto’s.
One week you suffer from fatigue, headaches, constipation, depression, and low libido. The next week you have insomnia, a racing heart, anxiety, and tremors. This is because a flare up that damages thyroid tissue causes excess thyroid hormone to spill into the bloodstream. You may be misdiagnosed with anxiety or even bipolar disorder. Or God knows what other condition. Or even worse, maybe they tell you it's all in your head.
If you run blood tests during these surges and crashes you will see TSH also peaks and drops. TSH may even test as normal for short periods as its moves between these swings. This can lead to a misdiagnosis if you drew your blood during that time.
You have pernicious anemia, celiac disease, or other autoimmune diseases
Autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s are the result of an imbalanced immune system. It’s very common for people with one autoimmune disease to develop more. This is because the imbalanced system becomes overly sensitive and loses tolerance to new tissues in the body. I tell this to all my patients, an autoimmune disease is not a disease of that system or organ (ie - thyroid, skin, nerves, etc.) it is a disease of the immune system that happens to attack that organ or tissues. And it can and most likely will spread!
If you have hypothyroidism and other autoimmune diseases, chances are you also have Hashimoto’s. Pernicious anemia (an autoimmune disease that causes B12 deficiency), celiac disease, or a gluten intolerance are all commonly linked to Hashimoto’s.
If you think you might have Hashimoto’s, see if any of these symptoms apply to you.
Under active thyroid symptoms
- Feeling tired or sluggish
- Feeling cold — hands, feet, all over
- Require excessive amounts of sleep to function well
- Weight gain despite adhering to a low-calorie diet
- Gaining weight easily
- Difficult, infrequent bowel movements
- Depression and lack of motivation
- Morning headaches that wear off as the day progresses
- Outer third of eyebrow thins
- Thinning of hair on scalp, face, or genitals, or excessive hair loss
- Dryness of skin and/or scalp
- Mental sluggishness
- Heart palpitations
- Inward trembling
- Increased pulse rate, even at rest
- Feeling nervous and emotional
- Night sweats
- Difficulty gaining weight
Symptoms are important but a blood test provides the proof you may need to convince doctors or family members. Look for these markers: These are the tell-tale blood markers for Thyroid autoimmunity.
Thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO Ab). In most cases of Hashimoto’s the immune system attacks TPO, an enzyme that triggers thyroid hormone production.
Thyroglobulin antibodies (TGB Ab). You should also test for antibodies to TGB, which the thyroid uses to produce thyroid hormones.
Thyroid stimulating hormone antibodies (TSH Ab). This test can identify Graves’ disease (hyperthyroidism), although sometimes TSH antibodies can be elevated in Hashimoto’s. On lab tests, this marker is often labeled thyroid stimulating immunoglobulin (TSI). If your autoimmune thyroid condition is advanced, you have multiple autoimmune diseases, and/or you react to bioidentical thyroid meds but not synthetic, you may also have antibodies to T4 and T3.
When your test comes back negative despite massive symptoms
Don’t despair if your test comes back negative even though you have all the classic symptoms. Because the immune system and inflammation wax and wane, you may have had your blood draw during a time the immune system is not attacking the thyroid gland. However, if your test is positive this confirms Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and that the immune system should be a target for therapy.
Knowledge is power, and you're just a little more powerful now. Dont forget that a thyroid test is not just TSH, there are generally 10 thyroid number I run and sometimes 11.
Managing Hashimoto's is about managing an autoimmune disease. A properly trained and certified Functional Medicine practitioner should be able to help. Psst ! FYI - we also do online consultations.
I'm Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be healthy, be happy!
Have you ever wondered if there is alternative to the mammogram? Most of my patients have. So toady we are taking my wife in to OC breast wellness in fountain valley to get a test done that for some people they may choose to use it as an alternative to a mammogram.
There are a couple of things Id like to point out that most patient are curious about.
Does a mammogram hurt?
Well… I don’t know for sure since Im not a woman but I can imagine so. I've seen it and had many patients tell me it can be very painful.
Are they accurate?
That is a loaded question. According to some statistics they are 78% accurate in detecting “abnormalities”. What those abnormalities are isn’t very clear. In addition, they are also reported to have a false positive rate of about 50%. Meaning that in 1/2 of all the “positive" breast cancer mammograms that are run, 50% of those turn out to be wrong.
Talk about scarring the be-jesus out of you.
Do they cause cancer.
This is another loaded question. According to some unmentionable government agencies and mammogram official sites they do not cause cancer. Or I should say, they say the amount is insignificant”
Here are a couple of facts to consider. In order to take an x-ray image of the breast tissue, which is soft. The setting of the X-ray machine, specifically the mAs and KVP have to be adjusted so that more of the radiation is absorbed by the soft tissue in order to get an image.
The breasts are a more sensitive area than most other areas.
Now Im not going to say mammograms cause breast cancer because that might get me into trouble. But I will say that we do know x-rays cause cancer.
According to some statistics I have read by other doctors and laypeople, they estimate that mammograms may increase your risk of cancer 1% each year. So over 15 years thats 15%.
One last thing to consider. Mammograms have been the standard of care for screenings since 1960 and were last updated in 1980. Thats about 40 years ago. Now I will say, with digital X-rays you are most likely getting exposed to slightly lower levels of radiation.
So I will not say there is an alternative to a mammogram because it is the standard of care. But, if you ask my wife she might say something else.
So what is some other test you might choose to do?
That is precisely what OC breast wellness is providing.
They have 2 different procedures that they offer as a Brest exam.
The first is thermography. They use a FLIR camera which is basically a fancy heat seating camera that can look at body temperature and thus circulation and any inflammatory processes going on in the body. This can be used as a great screening tool to assess any potential current or preceding problems that may develop. A lot of alternative doctors will also use this to look at the entire body to see if and where you have inflammation.
The second process that they use is a very high tech form of a palpation (touching) breast exam. They use what is called the Sure touch palpation breast exam. It is reported to be 1000 times more sensitive than your fingers in finding a breast abnormality. You can see the wave form that comes up on the screen. What you want to see is nice gradual waves. Any sharp spikes indicates an abnormality that might need to be investigated.
My personal recommendation is that if you are going to get these done, do both. They do have the option of doing one or the other. But I always say more is better. Ok, not always. But many times.
Our nurse that did the exam for us, I mean my wife, I just filmed. She explained the screening tests to use like this. And this includes home breast self exams, mammograms, thermograms and the sure touch. The screening tests are just to find out if you have a needle in your hay stack and where it is. Like using a metal detector to see if there is something there. It doesnt tell us what it is.
That is where the diagnostic Ultrasounds come in. If any abnormality is found on any of those exams the next step is pretty much always going to be an Ultrasound and/or possibly an MRI.
That usually begs the question. “Why not just start with an Ultrasound?” Because that is like looking for the needle in the haystack. Without the metal detector.
So there you have it. Another tool in your tool box in the fight against breast cancer.
Now go exam your breasts, and do it regularly, the same time every month.
I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be healthy, be happy.
Sorry to bust your bubble! But your implants (and not just breast) may be causing or contributing to certain autoimmune diseases and cancer. So what are your "girls" to do? Not all is lost. Stay tuned to learn more about why this is happening and some things you can do to protect yourself.
After assurance from breast implant makers that concerns about silicone leaks were a thing of the past, more than 10 million women worldwide have received silicone breast implants in the past decade alone. In the last 20-30 years the number is even more staggering.
Despite the repeated assurances by the manufactures there is a growing body of research — supported by increased symptom reporting by women —linking silicone breast implants to autoimmune disorders and a rare form of immune cancer.
Silicone breast implants linked to autoimmune disease
Doctors commonly advise potential breast implant candidates that the risks are minimal, yet multiple recent studies indicate otherwise. However, there are things you can do to reduce your risks. Stay tuned!
A recent study at the University of Alberta comparing nearly 25,000 women with breast implants to nearly 100,000 without them confirmed that nearly one in four implant recipients is at risk of developing an autoimmune disorder. The most commonly associated autoimmune diseases included Sjogrens syndrome, Systemic Sclerosis and Sarcoidosis. Not fun ones to have. Not that any of them are.
The risk for women with breast implants developing an autoimmune disease is 45 percent higher than for those without implants.
While former studies on the topic have been criticized because they were based on self-reporting by subjects, this study used doctor-based diagnoses to confirm results.
That is a pretty significant difference. Not that patient symptoms don't mean anything. It's more of a difference between subjective and objective findings.
Previous research has also found surgical mesh implants used for gynecological or hernia repair may be linked to autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
Additionally, patients with allergies prior to the procedure were significantly worse afterward. This may give us some clue as to why this may be happening as well. For example if someone has a food allergy they are unaware of, yet continue to eat that food allergy (let's say wheat/gluten for example) then it makes it more likely that they may develop a leaky gut situation. Predisposing them to autoimmunity.
These last 2 findings indicate that there is a little more going on than just breast implants. It could be the trauma of the surgery, the fact that there is a foreign body IN your body, the anesthesia, etc. Or, most likely it a combination of everything topped of by the fact that they are silicon.
In the Alberta study, the strongest links were shown between silicone implants and these autoimmune conditions:
- Sjögren's syndrome, an autoimmune disorder of the salivary and tear glands.
- Sarcoidosis, an autoimmune disorder of the lung, skin and lymph nodes.
- Systemic sclerosis, an autoimmune disorder of the connective tissue affecting the skin, arteries, and visceral organs such as lungs and kidneys.
The theory behind these findings is that foreign material of the mesh and silicone implants causes an activation of the immune system. The body continues to fight the "invader" and over time autoimmunity develops. Again this is more likely if you already have other health conditions.
That begs the question, what about other types of surgical implants?
Here is food for thought. I have seen multiple patients with autoimmunity after all types of surgeries. From knee, hip, and shoulder replacements. I have also seen patients develop allergies and/or toxicity to the metals used in the implants (not just breast).
In the largest-ever long-term safety study of breast implants, a similar study this year at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center linked silicone implants with higher rates of Sjögren's syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, dermatomyositis, and melanoma compared to the general population.
Emerging form of breast implant-related cancer on the rise
Individuals with breast implants are also at risk of developing breast implant large cell lymphoma, or BIA-ALCL. BIA-ALCL is not breast cancer but a form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system. There are a lot of lymph nodes in and around the breast tissue and in the armpit. So this really kind of makes sense.
In most cases BIA-ALCL is found in fluid and scar tissue near the implant, however there are cases where it spreads throughout the body.
The FDA states, "At this time, most data suggest that BIA-ALCL occurs more frequently following implantation of breast implants with textured surfaces rather than those with smooth surfaces." Im not sure why this would be the case. Mostly because I haven't read or actually tried to work out the mechanism of why this might be.
Plastic surgeons have identified 615 cases of BIA-ALCL worldwide with the disease occurring at higher rates among women with textured implants. French authorities have recommended against the use of textured implants due to the cancer risk.
At present, however, the risks are difficult to determine due to significant limitations in world-wide reporting and lack of data.
Lax reporting rules at fault for lack of patient awareness
Prior to 2017 the FDA allowed breast implant companies to report breast implant injuries as routine events that did not require public disclosure. This is similar to other health related issues that I wont talk about. I don't want to get into trouble.
This effectively kept the information from the public and may have skewed opinions on the safety of using them.
In 2017 reporting rules were changed and reports of injuries soared. At the current rate, they are slated to increase more than 20-fold in the last two years from the previous two-year period.
According to an ICIJ analysis of FDA data, after the rule change the number of suspected breast implant injuries skyrocketed from 200 a year to more than 4,500 in 2017 alone.
In just the first half of 2018, that number almost doubled to more than 8,000 filed reports.
The increase in reports doesn't mean implants are suddenly going bad but that they may never have been as safe as patients were told in the first place. Which I'm sure is the case. Most things that invasive aren't as safe as "they" say they are.
The FDA has acknowledged a "transparency issue" regarding the undisclosed injury reports and that the increase in numbers reflected the change in reporting rules.
Changing the system to better protect breast implant recipients
The FDA warns that as many as one in five women who receive breast implants will get them removed within a decade due to complications such as rupture, deflation, and painful contraction of scar tissue around the implant, but currently there is no warning about autoimmunity, and there should be. Maybe one day there will be. But I wouldn't hold my breath.
The good news is that in response to the new information, the FDA and agencies around the world acknowledge that more research needs to be done to determine the autoimmune and cancer risks of implants.
While current studies do not prove breast implants cause these diseases, they do show that women with the implants suffer them at significantly higher rates than women without implants. Which I alluded to some of the possible causes before.
It’s proposed that bacterial infection of a biofilm that surrounds the implants is the likely cause of implant-related illness, including BIA-ALCL. Which is something that may be helped with a natural functional doctor.
Patient advocates have proposed rules that require breast implants to be sold with “black box” label warnings, which are reserved for life-threatening and other serious risks.
Undoubtedly, it will take much larger and longer studies to root out the details and bring about protective actions, and in the meantime doctors and patients need to have deeper conversations about the benefits and risks of silicone breast implants.
Functional medicine is about making your body function better. There are a multitude of different things you can do to prevent and in some cases maybe even reverse autoimmunity. If you need some help give my office a call.
In the mean time some things to consider to help prevent these issues if you have implants or are considering them:
1. Get a full workup by a functional doctor to make sure your body is functioning at 100%
2. Make sure you don't have toxins already built up and support your bodies ability to detox
3. Consider food allergy/food sensitivity testing.
4. Look at healing any gut problems you might have so you don't develop leaky gut and autoimmunity.
Keep this in mind. Which I have said before.
Correlation does not equal causation. BUT! If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck….
You know the rest.
I'm Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be healthy, be happy!
Here are some product links.
Blood pressure cuff link - https://amzn.to/2AR1NRQ
Get an arm one, not a wrist one. They are too inconsistent
Glycyrrhiza (licorice root) - https://amzn.to/2DnOMlf
Spore based probiotics - https://amzn.to/2qw026z
Other Probiotics - https://amzn.to/2AQDaEF
Enter Promo Code “DFH28841” for 10% this one.
A high-salt diet has long been connected with cardiovascular disease. I should say a high salt, processed food diet has been linked with cardiovascular disease.
Too much sodium in the bloodstream causes fluid retention, which makes the heart work harder to move the extra volume of blood. This can stiffen blood vessels and lead to high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, and kidney disease.
However, a recent study shows a high-salt diet also raises blood pressure by damaging healthy gut bacteria. This destruction increases the inflammation that contributes to high blood pressure and the development of autoimmune disease — when the immune system attacks tissue in the body. Common autoimmune diseases include Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, and many many others.
You may be asking, why does salt do this? Here is a very simple visualization.
Did you ever pour salt on a snail or slug when you were a kid? Yeah, not very nice, but you remember what happened to the snail right?
Mice. The study shows that mice fed a high-salt diet killed off beneficial Lactobacillus murinus bacteria in the gut. It also raised blood pressure and activated pro-inflammatory immune cells.
The mice also showed signs of encephalomyelitis, an autoimmune condition similar to multiple sclerosis in humans.
When the mice were given supplementary Lactobacillus, their blood pressure and inflammation came down.
Humans. The humans in the study experienced similar results. Consuming a high-salt diet for two weeks killed off their Lactobacillus bacteria and increased inflammation.
However, if they took probiotics for a week before starting a high-salt diet, their Lactobacillus levels and blood pressure remained normal. That is some pretty cool stuff!
Can gut microbes protect against a high-salt diet?
While the study showed probiotics can protect against a high-salt diet, the researchers cautioned that taking probiotics cannot protect you from the damages of a high-salt, fast-food diet.
Manage your salt intake with good daily habits
While the average American consumes a whopping 3400 milligrams of sodium a day, the USDA recommends no more than 2300mg of sodium a day — about a teaspoon of table salt. That is still a lot of salt.
However, some people are more sensitive to the effects of salt than others, so it's recommended that middle-aged and older adults should limit intake to 1500 mg of sodium a day.
Adopt these habits to lower your salt intake:
- Read food labels.
- Choose foods low in sodium.
- Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Consume foods that are rich in potassium, such as leafy green vegetables and fruits from vines. Potassium can help blunt the effects of sodium on blood pressure. The recommended intake of potassium for adolescents and adults is 4700 mg/day. And most of us get nowhere near that amount. And if you are on certain medications then you may need even more.
- Flavor food with pepper, herbs, and spices instead of salt.
- Choose unsalted snacks with savory flavors.
Build good gut bacteria to protect your health
The digestive tract is home to roughly four pounds of bacteria — your gut microbiome. Some strains are helpful, some are harmful. Both have roles to play, but it's important to support your "good" bacteria for healthy immune function, brain function, and mood, and to avoid leaky gut, SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth), and systemic inflammation that leads to autoimmunity and other chronic health conditions.
And Remember, when taking probiotics that is not just how many probiotics you have that is important. It's also how many different types you have that is equally important. I recommend patients switch every 2-3 months to get more biodiversity.
It's easy to support a healthy gut with these simple habits:
- Eat plentiful and varied produce; this is the best way to support a healthy gut environment.
- Supplement with probiotics; There are lot of different ones, including spore based. Check out my links. They work best in a gut environment that’s already being supported with plenty of fiber from fruits and veggies.
- Avoid excess sugar.
- Get regular exercise.
- Drink plenty of filtered water.
- What if I have low blood pressure?
- Adequate blood pressure is necessary to push blood carrying oxygen and nutrients into your tissues. Chronically low blood pressure can result in reduced brain function and neurodegeneration as Alzheimers, dementia, Parkinsons, and tremors.
- Low blood pressure is also often a sign of chronic stress, adrenal fatigue, autoimmunity, or chronic infection. Check out my conditions page in the link below.
- If you have low blood pressure you need to get it up as close as you can to 120/80.
- Salt can help raise blood pressure. While a high-salt diet is not recommended for most of the population, people with chronically low blood pressure may need to consume more than the recommended daily amount of salt. It's a matter of experimentation to see what level of salt intake is appropriate for you without raising symptoms of inflammation.
- Glycyrrhiza. Extracted from licorice root, this natural compound increases the hormone aldosterone, helping to retain sodium and raise low blood pressure. You can use a liposomal cream version or an oral licorice root extract.
- When you work with salt and glycyrrhiza to raise your blood pressure, you will need to purchase a good home-use blood pressure cuff. Measure your blood pressure throughout the day and experiment with
If you salt your foods, take your probiotics.
I'm Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be healthy, be happy!
Welcome back to our exciting series on EMF’s. What are they? Are they safe? How much do we get exposed to? And what can we do about it.
So far we have looked at some measurements on a hike in to the hills to see how strong those cell phone towers are and those power lines. We have also looked at the EMF meter that we have been using (see the link below), we looked at what many parts of the world do to limit EMFs and today we are going to be looking at how strong are those EMF/cell signals coming from your phone and your router.
In one of my previous posts I briefly mentioned that the “experts” recommend that our EMF exposure be no higher that 50 mv. As you may have seen, that can be a difficult thing to achieve in todays modern and infinitely connected world. But, it is possible.
So here is what I did today. I took my router and measured the EMF signal at various lengths with a tape measure. Lets take a look at what that graph looks like. When the meter was touching the antenna I got a reading of 20V/M. Compared to the reading I got standing next to a cell phone tower its even stronger than the cell tower, which gave a reading anywhere from 10-12 V/M. The difference is how strong the signal remains as the distance increases. As the distance increased the strength of the signal quickly dropped. Quite exponentially in fact. But once I got to a certain distance and took into account all the wall that the signal was going through, I was not able to get a reading below 500mv/m anywhere in my house with the wifi on.
So….What I will be doing now it hard wiring everything in my house. I’m just not comfortable with me or my family being exposed to those levels.
On to the next test.
First I compared the signal from an iPhone 6 and an iPhone plus. The difference was staggering. Go technology! I guess?
With both phone in sleep/standby mode one the iPhone 6 I got a reading of 900mv/m. With the iPhone 8 plus I was getting a reading of 6V/m. And keep in mind that these readings are with the wifi off so they don’t interfere. An interesting thing that I noticed was that whenever I “woke up” the phone or opened a new app or new page, etc. there was a giant spike in the EMF levels. On average they would spike to 14-15V/m.
So here are the results of the EMF distance test with the iPhone 8 plus:
While I was doing this I had a youtube video streaming in order to maintain a signal coming to the phone.
Take a look at our baseline, which was 6V/M with the meter right next to the phone.
As I took measurements the strength drastically decreased dropping to 800mv at 1 foot, 250 at 2 feet down to 50mv at 5 feet.
The moral of the story is that routers and cell phones are basically the same as a cell phone tower, except we are attached to them. The good news is that if we move away from them (easier said than done) the possible damaging effects is drastically reduced.
I hope you have enjoyed this edition of Dr. Craigs soap box rantings.
Hopefully you’re at least a little bit scared.
Stay tuned for more and subscribe to my channel. Follow the link in the description to download a free pdf of the graphs and readings described in this video.
Next up in the series is product reviews and simple things you can do to decrease your exposure.
P.S. - Bonus footage!
Ok, not really footage, but info. For those of us that don’t like microwaves, yes I tested that too. Here is another reason to use It as little as possible. With our newer microwave running and holding the meter about 6 inches away (I was too scared to get closer) I got a reading of 25V/M. As I ran away, at about 6-7 feet away I was still getting 3V/M.
As a comparison, at the same distance the router was at 1400mv.
Ok. Now Im done. For real. Thats it. At least until next time.
How do you like my hat?
This video is about Gobble food service. Gobble food delivery service offers packaged and pre portioned ingredients to do all of your own cooking from the comfort of your home. Kristen (Dr. Craig's wife) discusses Gobble and compares it to other food prep services or food delivery services. subscribe to our channel to stay up to date and get notified when new ones are available.
Have you ever wondered how the magic of cell phones work? or how about how your router, radio, or all your blue tooth products work. Is it magic or is it something else?
Or how about a more important question. How does all of this affect my health? Or does it? How much is healthy? How much as I getting exposed to? Do I need to do something about it? Is it hurting my kids?
Stay tuned, we are going to discuss this and more in this hotly and often undiscussed topic.
So what exactly are EMFs? Are they harmful to you? We are going to discuss that is just a minute. But first let impart to you some of the ways that EMFs may be harmful, There are lots of studies that demonstrate some benefits and negative side effects of EMFs.
The bad/negative side effects of EMFs have been reported to be:
High blood pressure
And many others.
Some of the more serious effects include contributing or even causing cancer, altering the calcium channels in for body damaging DNA, altering the BBB (blood brain barrier) can you say leaky gut? Sleep issues, skin issues, fertility problems, and weight gain. Yep your wifi might be making you fat. Other than the fact that it makes you sit on your but surfing the net all day long instead of getting out and DOING SOMETHING.
And last but not least there is evidence that EMFs can damage your gut bacteria. Which considering the fact that every living organism is affected in some way or another by EMFs isn’t really all that surprising. You can see a great example of this if you google “ants and emf's” and see what pops up.
Seems to me that just about every condition I see in my office can at least be influenced by EMFs.
Don't even get me started on EMFs and kids. Kids are more sensitive and susceptible to everything. Why would EMFs be any different. Yet many parents use electronic devices as a babysitter, entertainer, educator or best friend for their child.
KNOCK IT OFF!
EMF stand for electromagnetic fields. Here is a diagram of where different types of wavelengths fall.
Now let me be clear. Im not here to convince you that EMFs are bad. In fact, many different types of emf’s are often touted as being healing, such as PEMFs that are supposed to work WITH your bodies natural emf frequencies and speed healing. These are even FDA approved for certain conditions such as increasing bone healing after fractures, depression, and migraines to name a few.
But we are not talking about P-EMFs. We are talking about EMFs and if they are harmful or not.
Again, Im not going to try to convince you that they are bad, or not, to be honest Im not an expert so I cant say for sure. But, what I can say for sure is that Im not convinced of their safety. And neither is most everyone else when it really comes down to it.
They just wont say it. Out loud anyway.
But take a look at this!
Here are some screen shots from some really big companies ( the biggest in the world in fact) that are basically covering their asses just in case.
World health organization
In fact, there are many countries in the world that have put very strict restriction on when, where and whom can be exposed to EMFs and how much they consider safe.
Here are some things to consider. Other countries have come the conclusion that EMFs “MAY” not be safe and they should prob take some precautions. Yet the US keeps pushing ahead and the latest and greatest (and more powerful) 5-G wireless network is coming. So let's take a look.
In 2002, Israel includes warning labels on cell phones
2013 - Belgium follow suit and warns citizens when purchasing a cell phone to reduce their exposure
2015 - France requires the SAR value of all cell phone to be labelled on the phone. We will talk about the SAR value in another video - check it out, It pretty eye opening.
2015 - Canada almost passes a bill stating cell phones may be carcinogenic. Good try Canada, maybe next time. I think its a good idea.
2016 the City of Berkeley in ca requires labels on phones that state “might cause cancer, keep away from children and pregnant women, everyone else we don't care about” Ok. That last part wasn’t included, but now I kind of feel uncared about. Whats up Berkeley? Am I too manly to get hurt by little old EMFs?
Here are some other countries way ahead of us. In Vancouver Canada cell phone towers cant be installed within 1,000 feet of schools or childcare.
In India cell phone towers were removed around schools, playgrounds, colleges, and hospitals.
In Greece and New Zealand cell phone antennas cant be installed around schools or nurseries.
Yet in the US we have no though about were we put up these cell towers. Often the places that shouldn’t have them, ie school, park and playgrounds get them the most because they can hide them in the trees and there is lots of space to work around.
And last but not least had you heard of the Telecommunications act of 1996? This is much like the legislature that prohibits pharmaceutical companies being held liable for injuries due to vaccines.
It basically says that they are not held liable for health injuries as a result of EMFs and that no health or environmental concern can interfere with the placement of telecom equipment of cell towers and antenna.
That seems a little scary to me, but….hey, what do I know?
So there you have it. Some of the not super specific reasons why it may be time to rethink the whole EMF/cell phone issue. It’s not as benign as you think. In fact, Im convinced that this is prob one of the major things that contributes to many ailments I see in my office. It may not be the sole cause, rarely is that the case with anything. But it most certainly seems to be part of the puzzle.
Stay tune. So far in my series on EMF. We have taken some measurements to see how high some levels of EMFs get, what is a SAR and why you should care about it and we will also be discussing some different techniques and products you can use to start reducing your exposure to these (Im going to say mostly harmful) electromagnetic frequencies.
Go get grounded and turn off that router.
I’m dr. Craig Mortensen
Be Healthy, be happy.
Dr. Craig Mortensen and his wife go on a hike up into the hills to go explore and measure what different electromagnetic levels are reached when measuring cell phone antennas and power lines. You will be surprised at what they find and just how much EMFs you are exposed to all the time.
You can view the EMF meter that Dr. Mortensen used in his testing here.
Shop EMF Meters at LessEMF.com
In addition check out my other blog on the initial unboxing of the EMF meter.
Most of us have grown up knowing a few certain truths.
A couple of those are, smoking is bad for you, and being clean is good.
In fact, many have taken the entire clean thing to an entirely new level. Seems that just about everything is anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, anti —viral, anti - something or another. And its killing out guts, and other things!
Anyway, moving on. Did you know that cleaning might be just as bad for you as smoking.
In fact, recent studies suggest that if you use certain cleaning products you might as well smoke. Don't, just in case that wasn't obvious.
A new study shows the lung decline over 20 years caused by using conventional cleaning products (which have NO federal regulations for health or safety) equals that of smoking 20 cigarettes a day. For those of you that dont know, In Canada 1 pack generally has 25 cigarettes, in other countries they often have 20. So lets just make it easy and say 1 pack a day.
The only reason I know is that I looked it up. I generally hear patients and people say they have a "pack a day" habit so I was curious how it compared. Now you know!
So there you have it. It's about 1 pack per day.
The toxic chemicals used in cleaning products damage the lungs little by little, adding up to a significant impact that rivals a pack-a-day smoking habit. That is not an insubstantial amount.
The Norwegian study tracked 6,000 women over two decades. That's a long time to track someone. Can you say "stalker"?
There were 3 different groups.
1. Women responsible for keeping the home clean (the stay at home mom)
2. Women who cleaned as a job (Maids, housekeepers, hotel cleaners, etc.)
3. Women NOT regularly engaged in cleaning(those that have a cleaning person or those who work).
Compared to the women who didn’t clean house, the regular home cleaners (group 1/aka house mom) and occupational cleaners (group 2 / the business mom) who used cleaning sprays and other products showed an accelerated decline in lung function.
Think of all those fumes and chemicals getting sprayed into a fine mist all over the place. The finer and wider the spray of mist the more area it covers, but also the smaller the particles it creates and generally the more we inhale and the deeper into our lungs it gets. This may be part of the reason why vaping may not be as good as some people think.
This study was the first of its kind to look at the long-term effects of cleaning products on the respiratory tract and the results are not really all the surprising. We don't use these cleaning products in our house or in my practice. But on the rare occasion that we do use it, it always the hold your breath, spray and run type "cleaning".
There have already been studies demonstrating the short term effects. The studies have already established a link between the cleaning products — bleach, glass cleaner, detergents, and air fresheners — and an increase in asthma.
In fact, the women who cleaned regularly in the Norwegian study also showed an increased rate of asthma. Which is not a surprise. If the cleaning products created short term asthma why wouldn't it create long term asthma. DUH! Sometimes things are so obvious yet no really puts it together or thinks about it if there hasn't been some sort of study to confirm something.
Breaking news! Getting punched in the face twice hurts as just as much
or more than a single punch.
Household cleaners are toxic and damaging to multiple systems
in the body, not just the lungs.
The lungs aren’t the only part of the body conventional cleaning products damage. They also impact the brain, immune system, hormonal system, and liver. Which are pretty important areas.
For instance, phthalates are used in the perfumed scents many cleaning products have. Phthalates lower sperm counts, cause early puberty in girls, and raise the risk of cancer and lung problems.
Perchloroethylene (PERC), a solvent used in spot removers, carpet and upholstery cleaners, and dry cleaning, raises the risk of Parkinson’s disease and cancer. And I've seen many clients develop MCS (multiple chemical sensitivity) after living above a dry cleaners for a period of time.
Here's a couple little hints.
1 - Don't live above or next to a dry cleaners
2 - Look at the types of businesses that are around you house and work
3 - If you start to notice you can't smell or taste things, that is not a good sign!!
Although hundreds, if not thousands, of studies have repeatedly demonstrated the toxicity of chemicals in common household ingredients, their use in manufacturing is largely unregulated. Big money!
People see that certain products work well for what they are supposed to but they don't think of the possible side effects. Ignorance is bliss I suppose. It's also not an excuse!
Our over exposure to toxic chemicals has been linked to skyrocketing rates of autoimmunity and even autism (check out our page on Autism) which is a neurological presentation of autoimmunity in many people.
In the past few decades we have seen autism increase tenfold (10 times), leukemia go up more than 60 percent, male birth defects double, and childhood brain cancer go up 40 percent (which may partially be due to all those EMF waves that kids get exposed to at such an early age). Check out my upcoming series on EMF's and subscribe to my youtube channel. Those are some Sobering statistics.
Helping protect your body from toxins
Unfortunately, it is not possible to be toxin-free in today’s world. Toxins have gotten into our air, water, food (even organic), and our bodies. Everyone carries hundreds of toxins in their bodies, even newborn babies. I should say specially newborn babies. I often tell my clients that it's not about living a perfect life and avoiding all toxins. It's about limiting the toxins that we can so that when we do get exposed to toxins we can't avoid they have less of an effect on our bodies.
When a person has a highly reactive immune system, various toxins and heavy metals can trigger inflammation in the same way a gluten sensitivity can, causing a flare up of autoimmune and inflammatory symptoms. By using functional medicine principles to keep inflammation as low as possible, we can help prevent toxins from becoming immune reactive.
Much like my previous post on chronic viral infections causing or triggering autoimmunity, chronic toxin exposure can do the same thing.
To accomplish this, first avoid toxins as much as possible and use non-toxic products in your home and on your body. The Norwegian researchers suggested cleaning with a microfiber cloth and water. I have some other recommendations too.
Also, eat an anti-inflammatory whole foods diet consisting primarily of produce, nurture healthy gut bacteria, exercise regularly, spend time in nature - grounding, have healthy social interactions, and supplement with compounds such as vitamin D and glutathione precursors (the body’s master antioxidant). These are a few ways to support the body and make it more resilient to the many toxins it must battle.
I have included a few links to some of the products we use in our house and practice. But also consider some simple natural products as well such as:
1. Baking soda - Great for grease and grime
2. Castile Soap - This is a type of soap that is 100% Plant oils
3. Vinegar - This has so many uses, almost too many. There are entire books on how to use vinegar
4. Lemon Juice - Great for mold and mildew. Works for grease and can put a nice shine on some hard surfaces.
5. Olive oil - Can work as a polisher
6. Borax - This is often an ingredient in many natural cleaning products and recipes. We use it in our homemade laundry detergent.
Natural cleaning products:
Honest Cleaning products
Method Natural Cleaners
We will also be adding some blog posts on some recipes for natural cleaning agents that work great. Including toothpaste, laundry detergent, a great all around cleaner. And last but certainly not least is my all natural weed killer.
If you have any questions, comments or recipes of your own you would like to share post it in the comments and consider subscribing to our youtube channel.
Keep it clean, but a little dirt never hurt anyone either.
I'm Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be Healthy, be happy!
Being a parent is hard work. And being a parent of a child in pain can be a very scary thing. I get it, we have all been there. But before you go run out and get that prescription filled there are some things to consider.
A large study shows antacid and antibiotic use in early childhood significantly raises the risk of developing allergies.
Researchers looked at the records of almost 800,000 children born during a 13-year period to families in the military.
Surprisingly, almost 10 percent of the babies were treated with antacids such as Zantac or Pepcid for acid reflux; spitting up is common in infants and does not typically need to be medicated. But it can be scary when you are not aware. After all, adults don't spit up.
Also surprising was that more than half of the children in the study went on to develop allergies, rashes, asthma, or hay fever.
However, the children who received antacids in infancy were twice as likely to develop allergic diseases compared to the rest.
What’s worse is that their risk of developing anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that can be deadly, was 50 percent higher compared to the non-medicated children.
Children who received antibiotics as babies were twice as likely to have asthma and had a 50 percent higher likelihood of hay fever and anaphylactic allergies. Those are some pretty significant increases in incidence rates.
Why you must take care of the gut to avoid allergies and immune-based diseases
The researchers suggested the negative impact antacids and antibiotics have on gut bacteria, also called the gut microbiome, play a role in the development of allergies and other immune disorders.
Additionally, by neutralizing the acidity of the stomach, which is necessary to break down foods, antacids may be allowing undigested foods into the small intestine. This negatively impacts the gut microbiome and inflames the digestive tract., ultimately leading to a leaky gut type condition. Which if its "like" leaky gut, it's going to become leaky gut. Ever heard the term fake it till you make it?
The health of the digestive tract and gut microbiome profoundly influences immune health. When the gut is inflamed and damaged and gut bacteria is unhealthy and full of bad bacteria, this predisposes a person to bunch of immune-based disorders, including but not limited to:
- Food sensitivities
- Chemical sensitivities
- Eczema and other skin-based disorders
- Asthma and other respiratory disorders
- Autoimmune diseases
- Brain-based disorders
Look for the root cause of childhood illness
Although spitting IS up normal for babies, if a baby is spitting up excessively you have to ask why.
Also, if a child has reoccurring infections that require antibiotics over and over, again you have to ask why.
With any health issue or condition asking why is one of the most important questions you can ask, and one of the things we try to answer in my practice.
These are signs that the health of the digestive tract, the gut microbiome, and the immune system are already in distress.
For instance, the child could be eating a food to which they are intolerant, such as gluten or dairy — two primary triggers of immune disorders.
The child may have been born with food intolerances or autoimmunity (when the immune system attacks the body) passed on from the mother.
A child born via c-section and fed formula is likely to have a less healthy gut microbiome than a child born vaginally and breastfed. This may predispose a child to excess acid reflux or reoccurring infections. Look up Vaginal swab or sweeping for those moms that need to do C-sections. It may significantly help the health of your baby.
However, medicating a child with antacids and antibiotics only further destroys the gut microbiome and dysregulates the immune system. This makes the child significantly more prone to immune disorders, such as allergies, anaphylaxis, autoimmunity, asthma, eczema, obesity, and other chronic issues.
The key is to address the underlying causes of an inflamed gut, an unhealthy gut microbiome, and inflammation. Some things you should look at are regular blood testing for nutrient deficiencies and excesses, stool analysis, allergy and food sensitivity testing just to name a few.
Thanks for watching. Make a comment and subscribe to my youtube channel.
I'm Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be healthy, be happy!
The best Protein Shaker Bottle?
Shaker bottle link. CLICK HERE
Here is a new little product that my wife recently purchase after our old shaker bottles got too worn out and leaking all over the place.
Ive Got to say, I really like this bottle.
At first I wansn't too sold on the idea of having a glass shaker bottle. It just kind of seems a little dangerous. Shattered glass and everything.
My first reaction was why didn’t you get stainless steel. Its more durable. You can drop it, pick it up and keep on trucking.
So why glass?
Apparently its all my fault. And its true, it is.
Her reasoning was that Ive been known to do my morning workout routine at 5 every morning, come home, chug down a mix of greens, protein, flax and a little coconut oil, throw the shaker in the sink, and accidentally forget about it.
Then…Out of sight, out of mind type thing and 1-2 days later I have a petri dish, or petri cup in the sink I need to clean out.
So her reasoning is that with the glass she can see whats in the bottle. And more importantly can show me whats in the bottle so I can clean it.
Cant really argue with her there!
So lets talk about what I do like about this shaker bottle.
It's very sturdy. This glass feels like its about 1/8 of an inch thick (or more), it has some serious heft to it. Almost as though I could drop it and it would be ok.
I have to admit, I do like that I can see whats in the bottle.
I like the rubber sleeve that goes over it, its pretty thick as well and you can remove it if you want to completely clean everything.
The seal is good on the top and it hasn’t leaky yet.
And last but not least I like that this little handle think that holds the cap flips down and stays there, and I can even nicely put my finger over it and it holds it in place pretty good.
Over all great design.
So what don't I like about this shaker bottle?
Well, it is glass. But after much deliberation and thought. It does seem to be the better alternative, unless you are doing lots of travel or throwing this thing in a gym bag or something.
It does have a plastic lid, but even with a stainless steal shaker bottle it will have a plastic lid. Its the only reliable way to really get a good enough seal so that when you shake these things they wont leak.
That's it. Im super happy with this shaker, Its a great design, good build quality and for 23 bucks not too bad on the price too.
Ive included the link below. Share this video, like it,
and consider subscribing to our channel.
I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be healthy, be happy!
Viral infections linked to inflammatory diseases and Autoimmunity
The EBV (Epstein-Barr virus) infects more than 90 percent of people in the United States by the age of 20. At least one in four of those infected will develop the commonly-known disease mononucleosis, or "mono," experiencing a rash, enlarged liver or spleen, head- and body aches, and extreme fatigue.
Did you know?! Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is not only related to mono. It is in the same family of virus’s as Herpes, Chicken pox and Shingles.
Recent studies indicate it may be a catalyst for at least six more diseases, most of which are autoimmune in nature. These include multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, Type 1 diabetes, and juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
EBV isn't the only virus associated with autoimmunity. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) has been linked to Sjögren's syndrome, upper respiratory viral infections and human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) have been linked to multiple sclerosis (MS), and EBV has previously been linked to lupus.
Chronic viral infections can contribute to chronic inflammatory diseases
It has long been thought that viruses play a part in the development of chronic inflammatory diseases, especially autoimmunity. Check out our page on Autoimmunity.
Many healthcare practitioners report there is frequently a hidden infection that either precedes or seems to trigger an initial autoimmune attack, or subsequently appears when the immune system is weakened once autoimmunity is activated.
This creates a vicious cycle of infection and illness. Infections are opportunistic and often travel together — many autoimmune patients find they host multiple infections that are bacterial, viral, parasitic and/or fungal, driving the inflammation that leads to symptoms.
Thus the need for testing to find out which ones you may be dealing with. Check out our functional medicine testing page.
The relationship between viral infection and autoimmune disease is multifaceted, involving numerous complex processes in the body. Scientists believe that a variety of factors must usually be present for an infection to result in an autoimmune condition. This includes not only a genetic predisposition but also lifestyle and environmental factors such as:
- Poor diet
- Poor sleep habits
- Leaky gut
- Environmental toxins
- Dietary inflammatory triggers
It is often said in the functional medicine world - And I realize this may be a terrible saying, but I didn’t make it up.
“Genetics loads the gun, environment pulls the trigger”.
In a nutshell, chronic disease develops as a result of an improper immune response to a viral infection due to other predisposing factors. The virus acts as the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Chronic viruses can prevent autoimmune remission
Remission from autoimmune symptoms is possible with proper diet and lifestyle management. Notice I said remission, not sure. However, if you already have an autoimmune condition, a chronic viral infection can prevent you from alleviating your symptoms and halting progression of the autoimmunity. In fact, a chronic virus is a deal-breaker in recovery for many patients.
Viral infections can occur years before developing autoimmunity
Viral infections usually occur well before any symptoms associated with autoimmunity develop (sometimes years), so it can be difficult to make a definitive link between a particular infection and a yet-to-be autoimmune disorder. However, if you have not been diagnosed with an autoimmune condition but have had any of these viruses in the past and have unexplained symptoms now, it's worth getting tested for autoimmunity and a chronic virus. You probable also want to check out my previous blog on Autoimmunity and leaky gut.
I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be healthy, be happy!
The downside(s) of NSAID use.
According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 50 million American adults have chronic pain or severe pain.
The conventional medical model teaches us to reach first for medication to relieve pain, with ibuprofen and other NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) at the top of the list. It is after all a pretty realistic expectation.
Have Pain. Get rid of Pain. Done.
However, with research mounting to show NSAIDs have a notable list of dangers, it makes sense instead to look for the root causes of pain and not just cover up the end result of whatever imbalance is causing your pain.
Many people turn to NSAIDs for relief from pain and inflammation. Common NSAIDs are ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Aleve). Celecoxib (Celebrex), diclofenac (Cataflam, Voltaren) are prescription NSAIDs.
Aspirin is an NSAID, but it does not pose the same risks for stroke and heart attack.
Ibuprofen is metabolized by the liver, and can cause lesions, liver failure, or jaundice over time. The FDA has even warned against NSAIDs because they increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
NSAIDs promote leaky gut
Another reason to avoid NSAIDs is their tendency to promote leaky gut, as I’ve mentioned before in some of my other blogs.
In leaky gut, the lining of the small intestine becomes damaged and overly porous, allowing undigested food, bacteria, yeast, and other pathogens into the bloodstream. This triggers inflammation and pain throughout the body — the same thing people use NSAIDs to relieve, creating a vicious cycle that can be very difficult to get off.
So, if the typical go-to medications for pain aren't an option any more, where do we turn?
Functional medicine offers solutions.
Address inflammation to root out pain
When pain is treated with NSAIDs, it typically comes back when the medication runs out. However, in functional medicine the goal is to identify and address the cause of the inflammation and pain instead of simply putting a temporary Band-Aid on it.
It’s understandable to want relief so you can feel and function better. The good news is many people find their chronic pain diminishes substantially or disappears completely when they adopt functional medicine strategies.
So let me be clear on this. I’m NOT saying that functional medicine will fix all your pain problems. BUT, what I am saying is that the entire body is connected. If you have some sort of chronic pain it often becomes a vicious cycle of pain = inflammation = pain = and on and on. By addressing where that additional or extra inflammation is coming from we can often relieve or at least significantly reduce the amount of chronic pain you are in. It eve applies to acute injuries as well. If you body is balanced and has little inflammation prior to an injury, when you do get injured you will heal much faster.
Following are a few ways functional medicine can relieve pain and inflammation:
Anti-inflammatory diet. Remove foods that trigger inflammation, such as gluten, dairy, grains, legumes, eggs, sugar, and nightshades. This is typically done as an elimination and reintroduction protocol where you follow the diet strictly for a period of time and then customize it depending on your food sensitivities. This customization is generally done with Food allergy (IGE antibodies) and food sensitivity/intolerance (IGG antibodies) testing.
Note: not all tests are created equally. Don’t just pick the cheapest or quickest test. Otherwise your results may not mean too much. Check out the Cyrex Array 10 on our Functional Medicine testing page. I will also put some links in the description below. Check em out!
Avoid nightshades. Vegetables in the nightshade family can cause pain and inflammation in the joints. These include eggplant, potatoes (but not sweet potatoes or yams), peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos, hot pepper products and pepper-based spices. Simply removing nightshades from the diet has brought relief from joint pain for many, especially those with rheumatoid arthritis. But keep in mind this doesn’t mean everyone will benefit from this. It’s on a case by case basis. Results may vary. Yada, yada yada.
Turmeric and resveratrol (Pricey but worth it) Each is a powerful anti-inflammatory alone, but research shows that taking them together is much more effective, making them potent tools for quenching the inflammation and damage associated chronic inflammatory disorders. Side note, there is some controversy on the whole with black pepper or without. I say…It depends.
Improve your posture. Chronic pain can develop due to spinal misalignment. Rarely do patients with chronic pain have even pressure on both feet or eyes that move in synchrony. Many patients experience significant or total relief of chronic pain by addressing these imbalances. Go see your Chiropractor.
Nutrients that fight inflammation and pain. These include vitamin D, vitamins A, E, and K, and plenty of omega 3 fatty acids.
White willow bark is an herb traditionally used for pain relief. The same active ingredient in Aspirin, but at much lower and safer doses.
Moderate to high intensity exercise can help reduce inflammation. It also improves insulin sensitivity, a bonus for diabetes prevention. Just make sure to choose exercises that do not exacerbate joint pain; there are lots of options.
Balance your blood sugar. Many people have blood sugar dysregulation issues that contribute to systemic inflammation and pain. In addition, imbalanced blood sugar is one of the risk factors for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. A good starting point on regulating blood sugar balance is a book by one of my instructors Dr. Mark Hyman. It is call “The blood sugar Solution” and will give you a tone of great information on why glucose regulation is so important and some things you can start dong to help yourself.
Support production of SCFA. Short chain fatty acids (SCFA) produced by your "good" gut bacteria are helpful in dampening inflammation. Eat abundant and varied fresh vegetables daily, eat probiotic-rich fermented foods, and take SCFA-supporting supplements such as butyrate (as in N-butyrate), Saccharomyces boulardii, Lactobacillus sporogenes, and DDS-1 Lactobacilli acidophilus.
Support glutathione. The most important antioxidant in your body, glutathione aids in detoxification, helps maximize immune system function, and shields cells from damage caused by oxidation and inflammation.
A healthy body makes enough glutathione, but faced with chronic stressors such as toxins, poor diet, sleep deprivation, smoking, and excess sugar, glutathione becomes depleted and your body and mind starts to suffer.
Some Glutathione supplements are not effective taken orally. Instead, boost glutathione levels through a liposomal cream, suppository, nebulizer, or IV drip. And make sure it the “S” glutathione and not the “L”.
One must also support glutathione recycling to balance the immune system, protect body tissue from damage caused by inflammation, and help repair damage.
To enhance glutathione recycling, remove stressors depleting glutathione levels such as lack of sleep, smoking, food intolerances, diets high in sugars and processed foods, and excess alcohol intake.
The following nutritional and botanical compounds have been shown to support glutathione recycling. Any I often recommend certain combinations or combined supplements to reduce your vitamin supplement load. Otherwise you may eventually suffer from “pill fatigue”.
These are just a few ways to use functional medicine to address the root causes of inflammation and pain so that you can stop taking NSAIDs.
As always, I recommend checking out my guide on how to order the best quality vitamins. Check out the link.
I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be healthy, be happy!
Is social pollution and workplace stress harming you?
I’m just going to go ahead and say yes. In fact, it may just be killing you slowly. Thats a song right? “Killing me Softly” - Thats it!
Wouldn’t it be great if we could just all not work. NO. In fact studies show that those who work, without over doing it and in a job they enjoy (key word), live longer and happier lives. The key is balance. And we are talking about the not so balanced aspect of work here.
Thanks to science and public awareness, we know environmental pollution from industry harms our health.
Same goes with tobacco. But did you know “social pollution” is just as harmful? Yep. Thats a term, or if its not I’m claiming it!
And we aren’t even talking about the ramifications of EMF’s (electromagnetic fields) produced by all these electronic devices that we essentially have attached to our bodies all day long. Some people even attach then at night with these special “sleep monitors”. Might want to rethink doing that on a regular basis. Seriously.
Check out “The Non-tinfoil Guide to EMFs: How to fix our stupid use of technology”. Its not as benign as you may think.
Social pollution refers to the long hours, lack of economic security, high cost of health care, exhaustion, surviving in a gig economy, lack of parental support, and high stress that has come to characterize work life in the United States and other industrialized countries. It is now recognized as they fifth leading cause of death.
In the new book Dying for a Paycheck, author and Stanford University professor Jeffrey Pfeffer uncovers the disastrous toll of modern work life on human health.
Sixty-one percent of American workers say workplace stress has made them sick,
and 7 percent have been hospitalized by it.
Workplace stress leads to the chronic diseases that make up three quarters of the health problems crushing our health care system, including diabetes, metabolic syndrome (pre-diabetes) cardiovascular disease, and circulatory diseases.
Disorders such as alcoholism, drug addiction, and overeating are also linked to high stress and the erosion of family and social structures from work-related stress.
In fact, one of the worst aspects of modern work life is the effect it is having on our social support structures. It can many times destroy families.
Long, stressful hours at work breaks up marriages, children, and families, leaves too little time for healthy socializing with friends and family, and makes it difficult for single people to date or establish new relationships.
Research clearly shows regular healthy socialization is vital to good health and that isolation and lack of positive social time can be as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
One of the many downsides to workplace stress and social pollution is that it can keep your nervous system stuck in fight-or-flight mode. A normal stress response is to flee, fight, or freeze.
When work stress and the havoc it causes on your home life is constant, you never get a chance to unwind from being in a constant fight-or-flight state. This is what often causes or contributes to what is known as adrenal fatigue.
If you don’t know what adrenal fatigue is, I’ve talked about it many many times on my various blogs and webpages. It probably one of the most common issues we see in my office.
The chronic stress from this is devastating to brain and body health. It accelerates brain aging, causes leaky gut, raises inflammation, imbalances the hormones, and increases the risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and addictive habits. Sounds great doesn’t it?
What can you do to protect yourself from social pollution and workplace stress?
Unfortunately, most of us cannot single-handedly change this unhealthy situation in which we find ourselves. However, you can be aware of and not psychologically buy into the subtle or not-so-subtle shaming and unhealthy expectations around productivity.
Companies expect longer hours at lower pay yet provide little to no job security, sick days, maternity or paternity leaves, and so on.
Be aware of this and don’t internalize the messaging that working long days with no days off makes you a better person. It doesn’t, it makes you a sicker person.
This is where my wife points her finger at me and shakes her head. I know, I know, do as I say not as I do. Its something I struggle with, I admit it, but I do a pretty good job or playing hard too and making sure I take my vacation and family time serious.
If you can downsize your housing, car payments, or other expenses, consider the positive impact living more modestly can have on your health. It could be the ticket to a dramatic health turn around. Not having to constantly make enough money to pay for this or that can make a HUGE difference.
However, not everyone can afford to downsize as many are working non-stop to barely get by. Although there is no easy answer to this, recognize your situation and don’t ask too much from yourself. It is what it is and do what you can. It doesn’t do any good to worry about that which you can’t change.
The more people that are aware of the problem, the better chance we have at changing public perception and workplace policies.
In the meantime, support your health the best you can with an anti-inflammatory diet, seek out support, and make sure to include healthy, restful, and relaxing time in your life as much as possible.
If you have a desk job and are too tired to make it to the gym, take regular breaks to move your body and go for short walks as frequently as possible. Regular physical activity is vital to the heath of your brain and body and will help protect you from the harm of workplace stress.
So go hang out with some friends and try not to worry too much. Don’t worry, be happy!
I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be Healthy, be happy.
Any autoimmune disease is NOT a disease of the tissues that are being attacked. For example hashimotos is NOT a disease of the thyroid. It is an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid. They same goes with any other tissue of the body.
Sometimes autoimmunity, a disorder in which the immune system attacks and destroys body tissues, can attack the heart and cause heart disease. People with autoimmune heart disease may not have typical markers of cardiovascular risk, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure.
Autoimmunity is one of the most common diseases today and a leading cause of disability and death. It can affect any tissue or compound in the body, including the heart. The more commonly known autoimmune diseases are Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis (nervous system), type 1 diabetes(pancreas), celiac disease(gut), rheumatoid arthritis (joints), and psoriasis(skin).
In all these diseases, the disorder doesn’t lie in the tissue being attacked, but instead in an imbalanced and hyper zealous or over active immune system attacking the tissue it was meant to protect. It has gone haywire.
Autoimmunity in the heart
You can screen for an autoimmune reaction in the heart with a blood serum antibody panel that checks for antibodies to myocardial peptide or alpha-myosin. If they come back positive, it’s an indication the immune system is attacking heart tissue. If the condition is more advanced, you may be given a diagnosis of myocarditis (heart inflammation) or cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart).
If the autoimmunity is in its early stages, there may be no signs or symptoms. Which can be a little difficult to know if there is a possible problem unless you test.
Symptoms to watch out for include shortness of breath, chest pain, decreased ability to exercise, fluid retention, tiring easily, and an irregular heartbeat.
Other autoimmune diseases that affect the heart
An unmanaged autoimmune disease raises the risk of heart disease significantly. People with lupus are up to eight times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in patients with lupus and the disease most commonly inflames the pericardium, the sac that surrounds the heart.
Additionally, Sjögren’s syndrome and psoriasis have been shown to more than double heart attack risk.
Other cardiovascular risk factors of unmanaged autoimmunity include chronic inflammation and steroid use (which are commonly used to treat the symptoms of autoimmune diseases). Talk about stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Failing to manage an autoimmune reaction to the heart can cause inflammation, scarring, and, in rare cases, sudden death. It may also affect the lungs, liver, and other organs in the body.
Typically, doctors in the standard health care model do not screen for autoimmunity until the end stages of disease when symptoms are severe. However, you can identify an autoimmune reaction before it’s too late with a blood serum antibody panel.
This panel screens for autoimmunity against heart tissue by checking for myocardial (a protein the heart releases in response to stress) or alpha-myosin (cardiac tissue) antibodies. If these come back positive it’s an indication the immune system is attacking heart tissue. If the condition is more advanced, you may be given a diagnosis of cardiomyopathy, or disease of the heart muscle.
If you have an autoimmune condition, you can use functional medicine to potentially slow or halt its progression through proven diet, lifestyle, and nutritional therapy strategies. You should also regularly monitor your heart health.
Gluten also linked with heart autoimmunity
Sometimes a gluten intolerance and celiac disease are associated with cardiomyopathy(which we have talked about repeatedly on my blogs) Many people have seen a gluten-free diet improve the condition, sometimes profoundly. People with heart symptoms should screen for gluten sensitivity with advanced testing.
Ask about my office about functional medicine strategies to manage heart autoimmunity.
I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be healthy, be happy!
Scientists have proven what many of us have learned the hard way: Gluten, dairy, and processed foods trigger addictive responses in the same way commonly abused drugs do. The more processed (i.e., high carb) and fatty a food is, the more likely it is to cause addiction, and the most addictive foods contain cheese, with pizza taking top honors.
This is due in part to the high-glycemic load of these foods — processed carbs, like pizza crust or a donut, are rapidly absorbed by the body and quickly spike blood sugar before causing it to crash. This triggers areas of the brain as well as hormonal responses that stimulate cravings.
In fact, in a 2013 study, scientists used brain scans to observe brain function after subjects ate foods high in processed carbohydrates as well as foods low on the glycemic index, such as vegetables.
They observed that the subjects who ate the processed foods were hungrier and experienced surges and crashes in blood sugar in contrast to the low-glycemic eaters. They were also more prone to overeating and to choosing more high-glycemic foods compared to the low-glycemic eaters, whose blood sugar remained stable. Creating a vicious cycle.
Brain scans showed the subjects eating the starchy foods also exhibited more blood flow to the right side of the brain in areas associated with reward, pleasure, and cravings in the high-glycemic eaters. This can drive people to overeat and indulge in yet more starchy foods, perpetuating a vicious cycle even further
We also know high-carb foods cause imbalances in the hormones insulin and leptin, which increase hunger and promote fat storage over fat burning.
Gluten and dairy cause opioid responses
Gluten and dairy can be addictive for additional reasons — they trigger an opioid response in the brains of some people. In fact, these people may go through very uncomfortable withdrawls when they go cold turkey off these foods. I have had patients that have had a really hard time with this. I mean really hard!
The opioid created by the digestion of milk protein is called casopmorphin while the gluten opioid is called gluteomorphin. The key root being morphin, as in Morphine.
These food-derived opioids activate the same opioid receptors in the brain that respond to prescription pain pills and heroin.
The effect is compounded in processed cheese and processed gluten products. And what cheese or gluten product is not processed? All of them.
The worst part of a food-based opioid sensitivity is that going gluten-free or dairy-free can cause severe withdrawal symptoms. These can include depression, mood swings, or worsened gut problems. All things that are supposed to get better when you stop eating those things. FYI - it takes time to make a difference and get through the tough part.
It is similar to heroin or pain pill withdrawals, only not as severe.
Because gluten and dairy are among the most common causes of food sensitivities, many people have to eliminate them from their diet. Although this is difficult for most everyone, for the person who also experiences opioid responses to them, going gluten-free and dairy-free can mean a couple of weeks (or more) of misery.
If this occurs, plan ahead and know you have to weather the withdrawal symptoms until you’ve kicked the addiction.
It’s important to further support yourself by avoiding high-glycemic processed foods so you don’t trigger your brain’s craving mechanisms. You also need to make sure the rest of your body if functioning correctly and you have optimal nutritional levels.
Kick the addiction!
I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be healthy, be happy.
Have you ever had obvious health symptoms but your lab tests come back normal? Many such patients, the majority of them women (but not exclusively women), are told it’s simply stress, aging, depression, or worse, its all in your head, go see a psychologist).
The problem is most doctors use lab ranges on blood tests when functional ranges
provide more clues that explain the symptoms.
The lab ranges on a blood test look for diseases while functional medicine ranges look for patterns and markers that spot trends toward disease that can still be reversed or halted.
For instance, the lab ranges for diabetes are quite high, but a functional range can let you know your blood sugar is in the danger zone well before you need pharmaceutical treatment and have caused considerable inflammatory damage to your body.
In another example, many people with clear and obvious symptoms of low thyroid function are told they are fine for years while autoimmune destruction of the thyroid gland continues unchecked and untreated, worsening symptoms all the while. Traditional doctors may only test TSH and tell you its fine all the while not even knowing that your TPO or TGB markers are leading you down the path of Hashimotos.
Functional blood ranges can help you stop the progression toward disease
Functional medicine addresses the underlying physiological mechanisms causing symptoms. In conventional medicine, a condition must have progressed far enough to diagnose and treat with drugs or surgery.
In other words, functional ranges define the parameters of good health while lab ranges define the parameters of disease.
Additionally, lab ranges are determined by a bell-curve analysis of patients who had their blood drawn at that center, many of whom are likely quite sick. As the health of Americans continues to decline, so do the ranges for what qualifies as healthy. For some markers, we don’t know what qualifies as healthy, just average.
Functional ranges look for patterns in the markers
Functional medicine doesn’t just look at individual markers, but also for patterns among various different blood markers. All systems in the body are inter-related and a problem in one area of the body can show up as an out-of-range marker in another area. It can become a little complicated, but at the same time explain a lot of symptoms for some patients.
This can help identify different types of anemia, whether your high blood sugar is raising your risk of heart disease, or whether a hormone imbalance might be affecting your thyroid.
Another example involves looking at markers to determine whether activated or depressed immunity is related to a virus, bacterial infection, allergies, or even parasites.
A functional blood test includes many more markers
Another difference between functional and conventional blood tests isn’t just the ranges used, but also the markers ordered. A conventional blood test will typically include far fewer markers than a functional one.
We can especially see this in testing for hypothyroidism. Standard tests only look at thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) even though about 90 percent of cases of hypothyroidism are caused by an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s. This is because knowing whether a person has Hashimoto’s does not change the standard of care in conventional medicine.
However, a functional test will include markers to identify autoimmune Hashimoto’s and other causes of low thyroid function. Knowing what is causing the thyroid to under function determines the best way to manage it and improve thyroid health.
A blood panel is an important tool in the functional medicine evaluation. Ask my office for more information.
I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be Healthy, be happy!