Integrative functional medicine blog

Antacids and antibiotics raise allergy and autoimmune rates




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:

  • Allergies
  • 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.


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I'm Dr. Craig Mortensen
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The best shaker bottle I've used



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!


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Viral infections linked to inflammatory diseases and Autoimmunity



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:

  • Stress
  • 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!

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The downside of NSAID use. Liver disease, leaky gut and more. Oh my!


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!

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Is social pollution and workplace stress harming you?






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.


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Is Heart autoimmune disease possible?




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.

Heart autoimmunity
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!


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Gluten, Dairy and other foods are addictive




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.

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Functional vs. standard blood ranges




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.

Get Functional,
I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be Healthy, be happy!

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Autoimmunity and leaky gut




Autoimmunity, a disorder in which the immune system attacks and destroys body tissue, is one of the most prevalent diseases today, affecting predominantly women. In fact, about 75% of all autoimmune disease occur in women.

Traditionally, autoimmune disease was thought to be primarily a genetic disease, but research increasingly shows that while genetics play a role, intestinal permeability, or leaky gut, is also an important factor. This means your diet can determine whether you develop autoimmunity.

A great saying in the the “functional medicine” world is
“genetics load the gun, environment pulls the trigger.”


Examples of common autoimmune diseases include:

  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Celiac disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism
  • Psoriasis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Vitiligo

Leaky gut triggers autoimmunity

Leaky gut is a condition in which the lining of the intestines become damaged and overly porous, allowing bacteria, yeast, undigested foods, and other pathogens into the bloodstream where they trigger inflammation and an over reaction of the immune system.

Leaky gut keeps the immune system in a hyper zealous state. This eventually makes the immune system more likely to start attacking the body tissue it was designed to protect, causing an
autoimmune condition. Think of it kind of like the incredible hulk. Once he turns into that raging green beast he is not selective in who and/or what he destroys. He will attack pretty much whatever is in the way.


People can develop leaky gut for a variety of reasons, but the most common is linked to inflammatory foods in the diet. These can include too much sugar, processed foods, junk foods, and fast foods. Also, many people have undiagnosed food sensitivities, such as to gluten, dairy, egg, or other foods. These can damage the gut lining if you have an inflammatory reaction to them.


Gluten, in particular, is notorious for its ability to cause leaky gut and trigger autoimmunity. In people who have a gluten intolerance, gluten triggers inflammation in the gut and elsewhere in the body every time they eat it. In gluten sensitive individuals, gluten also acts on messenger compounds in the intestinal wall to make it more permeable. This allows more inflammatory factors into the bloodstream, including more gluten, in a self-perpetuating vicious cycle.

There are even test we can do to test if you have leaky gut.



For some people, simply going gluten-free can repair a leaky gut and dampen autoimmunity.


Other causes of leaky gut that trigger autoimmunity
Knowing why you have leaky gut is an important strategy in not only in repairing it, but also in dampening autoimmunity. Below are some known causes of leaky gut that can, in turn, trigger autoimmunity:

  • Gluten sensitivity
  • Inflammatory foods (sugars, junk foods, fast foods, etc.)
  • Alcohol
  • Medications (corticosteroids, antibiotics, antacids, some arthritis medications)
  • Infections (poor gut bacteria balance, H. pylori, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, yeast, parasites, and viruses)
  • Chronic stress
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Processed foods, artificial food additives, thickening gums
  • Environmental toxins
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Autoimmunity (although leaky gut triggers autoimmunity, autoimmunity can also cause leaky gut, especially if the immune attack is against tissues of the gut)

If you have an autoimmune disease, you have leaky gut. If you have leaky gut, you have or will get an autoimmune disease. It’s just a matter of time.

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

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Boost your SIgA instead of getting the flu shot. It will do you more good.




In the midst of flu season, many people’s attention turns to the flu vaccine. But keep in mind that the flu vaccine is by no means a guarantee you won’t get the flu. Not taking into account all the potential side effects it is reported to only be at most 10% effective.

But there is a way to improve your immunity against not only the flu, but also other viruses, bacterial infections, yeasts, environmental toxins, food sensitivities, and even autoimmunity. The secret lies in what immunologist
Aristo Vojdani, PhD calls nature’s vaccine — secretory IgA or SIgA for short.


SIgA are immune cells that are the first line of defense between you and the world. They primarily reside in mucus membranes, including the digestive tract, respiratory tract, urinary tract, prostate, and vagina. SIgA cells are found in mucus, tears, saliva, sweat, breast milk, and other secretions. When we do a stool analysis this is often one of the many markers we are looking at to see how healthy your gut is functioning and what your immune system is like. You gut houses about 70% of your immune system after all.

If your gut isn’t healthy, chances are you aren’t either.



SIgA cells are the first to encounter invaders and sequester them so they are not dangerous to the body. This helps prevent the immune system from over reacting so it is not prone to food sensitivities, chemical sensitivities, and most importantly autoimmunity.


Many people have low SIgA
Unfortunately, having low SIgA levels is pretty common these days. It’s most often seen in individuals with adrenal fatigue who show symptoms of chronic tiredness, low blood sugar, difficulty getting up in the morning, depression, anxiety, salt cravings, and chronic illnesses. That last one is just about every patient I see in my office so you can see just how important this little known marker SIgA is.

Fun fact - Taking corticosteroid medications can also lower SIgA levels.



Low SIgA levels increases cold and flu risk
Chronically low SIgA levels have a number of consequences. The most obvious is that you are more likely to get sick frequently. For instance, if your respiratory tract is low in SIgA cells, the viruses and bacteria it encounters are going to have an easier time invading your system.


Low SIgA leads to food and chemical sensitivities
What’s perhaps more frustrating is that low SIgA levels can lead to the development of food and chemical sensitivities.

Why? Your SIgA play a pivotal role in your ability to tolerate the world around you while responding appropriately to pathogens.


When there is not enough SIgA to neutralize incoming bacteria, viruses, yeast, undigested food, chemicals, and so on, the immune system must deploy its more aggressive immune cells. It basically causes an overreaction to every little immune system attack.

It’s like calling in the Navy Seals because the police force has gone missing.


The result is a hyper reactive immune system that creates a permanent loss of tolerance in the bloodstream to certain foods or chemicals.


Low SIgA raises risk for autoimmunity
One of the more unfortunate risks of SIgA is that it raises your risk of developing autoimmunity. With a diminished defense from low SIgA, your immune system is on constant red alert and your body is more vulnerable to pathogens. Between the increased exposure to pathogens and a hyper reactive immune system, it’s just a matter of time before it starts attacking your own tissue and you get an autoimmune disease. This can e anything from Lupus, scleroderma, RA, multiple sclerosis, Ankylosing spondylitis, Temporal arteritis and many other conditions.

Go get your SIgA tested, boost it, nurture it, care for it, and just be aware of it. It can make all the difference in the world.

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


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Spore probiotics for your gut microbiome




As we continue to learn how important healthy gut bacteria is for the brain and immune system, interest in cultivating a rich and diverse “gut microbiome” grows.

One important tool in this quest are
spore-based probiotic supplements. “Spore” is derived from the word “seed,” and spore-based probiotics are a hardy delivery system that germinate in the small intestine and help you colonize your gut with more healthy bacteria.


Modern humans face many challenges to developing and maintaining healthy gut bacteria. In fact, studies of primitive people who live much like our hunter gatherer ancestors did show their guts have about 50 percent more diversity in gut bacteria than the average American. Its not just how much good bacteria you have, it’s how many different types.

Researchers are finding this lack of microbiome diversity plays a role in many chronic health and brain disorders, including depression and autoimmunity.

This is often one of the reasons I recommend periodically switching probiotic brands and strains. Diversity.


Low-fiber, junk food diets, antibiotic overuse, chlorinated water, heavy environmental toxin and pollution loads, chronic stress, alcohol, and various medications all play a role in reducing the diversity and amount of beneficial gut bacteria.

As a result, opportunistic and infectious “bad” gut bacteria are able to more easily conquer the gut. This weakens the gut lining, increases inflammation, and promotes brain and mood disorders.


There are many ways we can build a healthy and diverse population of gut bacteria. The most important is to eat a whole foods diet that is predominantly vegetables and fruits.
It’s important to vary the kind of produce you eat regularly. It’s also helpful to include cultured and fermented foods and take probiotics. Also, avoid drugs such as antibiotics, NSAIDs, and heartburn medication as much as possible, which can also contribute to the development of leaky gut, among other things.


Given the challenges the modern gut faces, it’s not a bad idea to make probiotics a part of your routine. This is where
spore-based probiotics come in. What makes spore-based probiotics special?

  • The survive the acidic environment of the stomach on their way to the intestines.
  • They resist breakdown by digestive enzymes.
  • They are heat stable and don’t need to be stored in the refrigerator.
  • Some spores are antibiotic-resistant, which means you can take while taking antibiotics.

Once in the small intestine, spore-based probiotics can germinate,
if you provide the right environment with plenty of plant fiber.


Spore probiotics and healthy gut bacteria in general can help improve your health in several ways. They improve the health and integrity of the lining of the small intestine. This lining contains not only bacteria but also plenty of immune cells to defend the bloodstream from bad bacteria, yeast, toxins, undigested foods, and other pathogens that can trigger inflammation if they make their way through the gut lining into the bloodstream. This is called leaky gut.


For instance, one strain of
spore-based probiotic, bacillus coagulans, has been well studied for its beneficial effect on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Crohn’s disease.

Bacillus coagulans produces lactic acid, which has been shown to help protect the gut and boost immune resistance to viruses. It has also been shown to lower cholesterol and reduce pain and stiffness associated with arthritis.

Ask my office for more information on how to support healthy gut bacteria and help eradicate bad bacteria to improve immune health.

Now go eat something new, go eat some dirt, get exposed to some new healthy bacteria.

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

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Functional medicine loves the insant pot




The beauty of functional medicine is it puts your health journey in your hands. The curse of functional medicine is that, compared to popping a pill, eating healthy takes more time, which can feel stressful.

Enter the
Instant Pot, a relatively new kitchen appliance that is simple to use, makes it easy to stick to a whole foods diet, and takes a lot of stress out of cooking when your schedule is hectic. This can be one of the best functional medicine tools to following a good diet towards healing.

What makes the Instant Pot a good functional medicine tool?

The Instant Pot’s success is in its multiple features and that it produces consistent results. The Instant Pot sautés, foolproof pressure cooks, slow cooks, makes yogurt, functions as a rice cooker (not that you should have this a lot though), and quickly makes bone broths (one of my favorite and most often used benefit of the instant pot)

It is conducive to big batch meals that will create nutritious leftovers for a few days.

Here are some ways the Instant Pot can help you save time in the kitchen without sacrificing nutrition:
Cooks frozen meats. How many times have you forgotten to put the meat out to thaw for dinner? You can put your frozen meat in the Instant Pot and still have stew for dinner.

Cuts down on dishwashing (yeah!). The Instant Pot allows you to do multiple things in one pot, cutting down on dirty pots and pans. For instance, you can sauté the onions and brown the meat in the same pot you cook your stew in. Additionally, you can cook in Pyrex bowls inside the Instant Pot, which can then be stored in the fridge and used as a lunch container.

Don’t even try this with plastic. This should be self explanatory but I’m saying it because you would be surprised at what some people do.


Removes the stress of timing.
Once you put your meal in the Instant Pot, you press a button for how long it needs to cook and then you can walk away. Not only will it shut itself off, it will also keep food warm for up to 10 hours. It makes reliable hard boiled eggs, and some people even crack their raw eggs into a bowl before cooking for a quick and easy egg salad that doesn’t require peeling egg shells.

Takes the complexity out of pressure cooking. The Instant Pot’s most popular feature is pressure cooking, which radically shortens cooking times. Best of all, it uses a foolproof design so you don’t have to worry about blowing up your kitchen. Which has and can happen with regular pressure cookers.

It’s a great slow cooker. One of the most satisfying dinners is the one you make in the morning and it’s waiting hot for you in the evening. This is perfect for those with alternate work hours or those workaholics that don’t get home until late and heave a tendency to just pick up something on the way home. In addition to cooking quickly, the Instant Pot is a great slow cooker, and you can brown the meat in the same pot.

Makes dairy-free yogurt. Yogurt is a delicious and convenient snack that is hard to give up when you go dairy-free. Dairy-free yogurts are expensive and filled with thickening gums, which are irritating and immune reactive for many people. The Instant Pot is a great dairy-free yogurt maker, using gelatin or chia as a thickener. You will need to order a high-quality brand of coconut milk however, for a good end result.

Easy squash and root veggie cooking. Peeling and chopping squash and root veggies can be a real deterrent to including them in your diet. No worries, just toss them in the Instant Pot whole and then peel, seed, and chop them after they’re cooked. Cooking more fragile vegetables such as broccoli, however, is best left to the stove top steam basket to avoid overcooking. Make sure it’s an all stainless steel one, no plastic or silicone.

These are just a few of the ways the
Instant Pot can be a part of a functional medicine protocol to help you manage a chronic health disorder. Don't be intimidated by it — the learning curve is quick and you’ll soon be able to intuit how to use it. The internet abounds with tips, recipes, and general enthusiasm to get you up to speed.

As a little personal side note, I generally recommend gong with the bigger sizes, specially if this is for a family. If you are just an individual or a couple then consider the medium size. The small size isn’t really good for much other than a little bit of yogurt or doing something like fondu, if your into that.

There are also a number of
recipe books specifically for the instant pot. None of these are functional medicine specific though, at least not yet. My wife and I are thinking about putting one together so stay tuned.

Now go out and get your next functional medicine tool.

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


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The sugar industry framed fat for heart disease




The average American eats 20 teaspoon of sugar per day. This is the equivalent of 1/2 of a cup of sugar.

A new investigation reveals the sugar industry successfully blamed fat for heart disease using skewed science, when sugar is the main culprit.

I don’t know how “new” this study is. We’ve actually known this for a pretty long time. But, that is how many things in traditional healthcare work. They find out certain health beliefs are really antiquated.

This corporate deceit triggered more than 50 years of a nutritional “low-fat” policy that helped make Americans the
fattest and most chronically ill population on the planet, thanks to diets high in sugars and processed carbohydrates. Sadly, it’s an ideology still touted today in many doctors’ offices. Old habits die hard. Specially with doctors.


Using tactics similar to those of the tobacco industry, the sugar industry funded research that downplayed the role of sugar consumption in raising levels of fat in the blood and did not disclose findings that linked sugar with heart disease.


The industry’s own animal studies showed high-sugar diets increased triglyceride levels, thus raising the risk of heart attack and stroke, and also increased the risk of bladder cancer. They pulled the plug on the study before it could be completed.


The Washington DC-based Sugar Association said the study was stopped because it was over budget and coincided with restructuring of the Sugar Research Foundation. It also said scientific recommendations to limit sugar to no more than 10 percent of daily calories are “out of bounds.” Very convenient!


Had the study been completed, it could have led to further research and policies that put the welfare of American citizens — not the sugar and processed food industries — first. Thats a novel idea. But you know how it goes, profit before people.

This could have saved millions of Americans and their families from the heartbreak and devastation of sugar-related diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.


We can see another telling example in a 2018 European
study that shows a significant correlation between the amount of processed foods people keep in their homes and obesity and related diseases. Though Americans and Europeans have, surprisingly, eaten roughly the same number of calories over the decades, significantly more Americans than Europeans are obese and ill thanks to corrupt marketing and nutritional policy.


While the policies of the last several decades have steadily made Americans fatter and sicker, they have also been fuel for the multi-billion-dollar weight loss industry that arose in response to the collective weight gain. Sugar content simply replaced fat calories in fat-free foods dominating the shelves.


The trouble with foods high in sugar and processed carbs (which are essentially sugar once ingested) is not only do they make people fatter, but they also trigger a hormonal cascade that increases sugar cravings while turning off the satiety hormones gastrin and leptin so that one feels constantly hungry. Diets have been shown to fail most people in sustained weight loss and even trigger eating disorders.

The low-fat, high-carb diet sends you on a downward spiral that ends with a foundation for chronic disease based on high inflammation, accelerated brain degeneration, and metabolic imbalances.

In functional medicine, we see myriad chronic disorders that can be significantly ameliorated or even reversed simply by stabilizing blood sugar and saying goodbye to the Standard American Diet (SAD) in favor of a whole foods diet. Sometimes this is a simple endeavor, other times, such as in chronic issues, you will need a lot of help and more than simple “diet modification”.

Ask my office for advice on the best diet for your chronic health condition

Here is a short list of some books on the topic of sugar and how they affect health that may be of help.
Grain brain
Eat fat, get thin
Why isn’t my brain working
The end of Alzheimers - Probably one of my favorite most recent books. its a little more technical for the average reader but really good!

These books are not specific to just sugar and its dangers but a large part of them deals with sugar.

Now go eat some fat!

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

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Exercise and change your gut baceria




We’re learning what a vital role good gut bacteria play in immune health, brain health, mood, and, of course, gut health.

One of the best health quotes of all time is… “Health comes from above, down, inside, out”

We also know that the best way to beef up your good gut bacteria is through eating lots of different
kinds of vegetables and fruits every day.

But researchers have discovered yet another way to promote healthy gut bacteria:
Regular exercise.


Our digestive tract is home to trillions of gut bacteria that weigh about three to four pounds all together, and are made up of over a 1,000 different species and 5,000 strains. This is the very definition of a symbiotic relationship. Our body depends on these
gut bacteria to:

  • Metabolize nutrients
  • Protect the intestinal wall
  • Produce vitamin K and short chain fatty acids (SCFA), which are important for immune health
  • Maintain health of the digestive tract
  • Regulate immunity
  • Prevent inflammation
  • Promote good brain health and function - infant many studies are even finding that Parkinsons may actually start in the gut and work its way up the vagus nerve into the brain. But that is another post for another blog. Very interesting stuff though.


As our understanding of healthy gut bacteria evolves, so does the information on how to cultivate your own “microbiome” while inhibiting overgrowth of “bad” bacteria that are infectious and inflammatory.

This imbalance of good and bad bacteria is often what is referred as dysbiosis - Too many bad bacteria and not enough good bacteria.

Initially, fermented foods and probiotics were thought to be the main recourse for improving gut health, and they do go a long ways. But, they are not the only way.

Then we learned eating a diet comprised primarily of vegetables and fruits and continually changing up the produce you eat is a great way to develop a rich and diverse gut bacteria population.


Now, scientists have used both a mouse study and a human study to show regular exercise,
independent of diet or other factors, also promotes healthy gut bacteria. Meaning that if you do nothing other than exercise you can beneficially change your gut bacteria.


In the
first study, researchers transplanted fecal material from both exercised and sedentary mice into mice with sterile guts. The activity level of the mice receiving the transplants clearly mirrored that of their donors, showing that the kind of gut bacteria we have plays a role in how inclined we are to be sedentary or active.

The exercised mice recipients also showed more bacteria that produce butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) that promotes healthy intestinal cells, reduces inflammation, and increases energy. They also were more resistant to ulcerative colitis. N-butyrate is THE most important short chain fatty acid.

In the
second study, researchers tracked the composition of gut bacteria in 18 lean and 14 obese adults as they transitioned from a sedentary lifestyle, to an active one, and then back to a sedentary one. Their exercise routine consisted of 30 to 60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise three times a week for six weeks.

Their diets remained the same.


They found that exercise raised levels of SCFAs and then declined again as the subjects became sedentary. A rise in SCFAs means concentrations of good gut bacteria increased. The lean participants showed more dramatic increases of SCFAs than obese ones, and more diverse ratios of bacteria, suggesting obese people respond differently to exercise. Nevertheless, increases happened in both populations.

The break down and take away from all of this is as follow. The gut bacteria influences how active we are and how active we are influences our gut bacteria. As is often the case in health, the answer is YES. What came first? The chicken or the egg? Yes. It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy no matter which way you look at it and you have to make a conscious effort to change your thoughts and your biology.

As our knowledge of gut bacteria, functional medicine, and the human body continues to evolve, it nevertheless circles back to some age-old pearls of wisdom: Eat your vegetables and exercise, it can go a long way to better health. If that doesn’t do the trick, come and see me.

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

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Conola oil worsens memory and increases risk of Alzheimers




We’ve long been pitched canola’s health benefits. If something is advertised it must be true right.

After all, Whole Foods uses it in all their prepared foods and many vegetarian and vegan products proudly promote it as a feature ingredient.

But when
scientists, who had shown the brain benefits of olive oil in mice, decided to run the same studies with canola oil, they uncovered a darker truth: Canola oil worsens memory and promotes amyloid plaques, a hallmark Alzheimer’s symptom.


In the olive oil study, researchers gave mice with Alzheimer’s Disease a diet enriched with extra-virgin olive oil and found that compared to the control group, the mice experienced improvements in memory as well as a reduction in amyloid plaques and phosphorylated tau, which creates the neurofibrillary tangles that degenerate the brain in Alzheimer’s. Thats scientific talk for BAD STUFF.


They replicated the study with canola oil, one of the cheapest and most widely used oils in the world, to see what effects it might have on the brain.


The control group ate a normal diet while the study group was fed the equivalent of two tablespoons a day of canola oil.

After 12 months, researchers observed the following in the canola oil mice:

  • They weighed significantly more than the control group.


  • They suffered impairments in working memory.

  • They had greatly reduced levels of a beneficial form of amyloid beta (amyloid beta 1-40). Amyloid beta 1-40 acts as a buffer to the damaging amyloid beta 1-42. When amyloid beta 1-40 goes down, it leaves the 1-42 form unchecked to degenerate the brain. i.e. NOT GOOD.

  • They showed reduced connectivity between neurons in the brain. Synapses are areas of neurons through which they communicate with one another, playing a vital role in memory formation and retrieval. The drop in amyloid beta 1-40 caused extensive synapse injury. Basically it caused the nerves to not talk to each other as well.

The scientists plan to conduct a follow-up study to determine how soon neuron damage begins to happen after regular consumption of canola oil, whether it impacts tau phosphorylation, and whether canola oil promotes other neurodegenerative diseases in addition to Alzheimer’s. Sounds like a good idea to me.


So what should you eat instead of canola oil?

When you eat out or buy processed and packaged foods, it’s difficult to find foods that don’t contain canola oil, soybean oil, or processed vegetable oils, none of which are healthy for the brain. It’s especially important to avoid hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, which have also been linked with memory loss.

The brain is made up primarily of fat, approximately 60% fat, which means the fats you eat help determine the structure of your neurons and how well they are able to communicate with one another. For instance, hydrogenated fats have been shown to make cell membranes more rigid and less able to function properly.

Instead of industrially processed vegetable oils, use
extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, and ghee. The less processed the better and be careful about heating any oils up too much when you are cooking.

Go feed your brain with some health fats.

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

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What is carb density and why does it matter?






If you are counting carbs to stabilize your blood sugar, lower inflammation, balance hormones, or lose weight, experts say looking at
carbohydrate density is a more important strategy. Carbohydrate density measures how many carbohydrates are present per 100 grams of food. Low carb density foods don’t raise your risk of chronic disease.


Research shows eliminating dense carbohydrates from your diet improves health, prevents disease, and can even improve periodontal disease.


While many diets focus on how many calories or how many grams of carbohydrates you should eat per day, the carb density diet instead focuses on how many grams of carbohydrates are in a food once you subtract the fiber.


Ideally, you only want to eat foods under 23 percent carb density. More importantly, avoid carb dense foods.
Foods with low carb density include meats, vegetables, fruits, and whole nuts. Sounds a lot like a paleo type diet right?


High density carbs include flours, sugars, breads, chips, rice cakes, granola bars, French fries, popcorn, and other fast and processed foods.

In a nutshell, if it has been processed, it’s going to be more carb dense.


Carb density in foods
Foods with low carb density contain the carbohydrates within cell walls. In these foods, carb density won’t go much beyond 23 percent.

In foods that are carb dense, however, such as flours, sugars, and processed grains, modern processing breaks apart cell walls so that carbs are much more concentrated, abundant, and hit the bloodstream more quickly.


Why high carb dense foods make us sick and fat
The human body was not designed to eat processed foods in which carbs and sugars have been busted out of their cells, concentrated, and able to quickly raise blood sugar.

Carb dense foods overwhelm the body’s cells with too much glucose. This causes cells to become resistant to the hormones insulin and leptin, both of which play a role in blood sugar regulation.

Insulin and leptin resistance in turn promote obesity, inflammation, accelerated brain degeneration, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmunity, and hormonal imbalances — in essence, the foundation to the many chronic diseases of western civilization.



Why regular diets don’t work and the kinds of food you eat matters most

These days, plenty of research has demonstrated why diets don’t work in the long run for so many people. Calorie counting, exercising more but going hungry, extreme diets — these approaches may work in the short term but they pit the individual against primal survival mechanisms and can be metabolically and psychologically damaging.

Although opting for a diet that is made up of healthy meats, fats, vegetables, fruits, and nuts may seem severe initially, it quickly adjusts hormonal responses to food. This reduces cravings, boosts energy, and reverses inflammation — the diet makes you feel so good you no longer feel deprived. You may also find processed foods make you feel terrible, so they lose their appeal.

Ask my office for more advice on how you can manage and even reverse chronic health conditions through diet, lifestyle, and functional medicine protocols.

Don’t be so dense, or don’t eat so dense!

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

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This hypertension drug leads to 7x more skin cancers






Newsflash!

A recent study by Danish-based researchers, shows that one of the most popular drugs used worldwide in the treatment of hypertension
raises the risk of skin cancer by seven times.

7 times! Thats 700%.


The study found that patients that use Hydrochlorothiazide, also known as HCTZ, may be at a much higher risk of developing skin cancer.


The study was led by Anton Pottegård, associate professor of clinical pharmacology at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense, and the findings were published in the Journal of the American Association of Dermatology.

Fortunately. Hmmmm, fortunately?! I guess. The link was found to increase the risk of non melanoma skin cancer. Theres a silver lining in everything I suppose. Could be worse!


HCTZ is though to be the most common medication prescribed for hypertension. It works by acting as a diuretic. Basically it works by making your body get rid of water, often leading to a chronic state of dehydration.



The researchers were prompted in their endeavor by the fact that HCTZ has been linked with an increased risk of lip cancer in the past. In fact, a study led by Pottegård attributed 11 percent of lip cancer cases to the drug.


Moreover, HCTZ, the authors explain, makes the skin more sensitive to the damage of ultraviolet (UV) rays, due to its photosensitizing effects. This was a further reason for the researchers to examine the drug.


HCTZ raises skin cancer risk

Using national databases, Pottegård and colleagues examined the use of HCTZ in over 80,000 patients who had been diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer, and compared it with its use in a group of 1.5 million healthy controls.


Additionally, the researchers considered the use of other antihypertensive medications.


The research revealed that those who took HCTZ were up to seven times more likely to develop skin cancer.

More specifically, the antihypertensive drug raised the risk of both squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma – a less serious form of skin cancer.


By contrast, none of the other antihypertensive drugs examined seemed to raise skin cancer risk.


"We knew that hydrochlorothiazide made the skin more vulnerable to damage from the sun's UV rays, but what is new and also surprising is that long-term use of this blood pressure medicine leads to such a significant increase in the risk of skin cancer," comments Pottegård.


Choosing a different drug might be advisable

Dr. Armand B. Cognetta Jr., chief division of dermatology at Florida State University in Tallahassee and a co-author on the study, weighs in on the findings, saying, "We have seen and followed many patients with different skin cancers where the only risk factor apart from exposure to sunlight seems to be hydrochlorothiazide."


"The combination of living and residing in sunny Florida while taking hydrochlorothiazide seems to be very serious and even life-threatening for some patients," he adds.


"The study carried out by Pottegård and his colleagues will have [a] great impact on skin cancer prevention and public health worldwide," Dr. Cognetta explains.


However, Pottegård cautions against dismissing the use of HCTZ altogether as a result of his study, saying, "The risk of skin cancer must, of course, be weighed against the fact that hydrochlorothiazide is an effective and otherwise safe treatment for most patients."


"Nevertheless," he continues, "our results should lead to a reconsideration of the use of hydrochlorothiazide. Hopefully, with this study, we can contribute towards ensuring safer treatment of high blood pressure in the future."


"You should not interrupt your treatment without first consulting your doctor. However, if you use hydrochlorothiazide at present, it may be a good idea to talk to your doctor to see if it is possible to choose a different medicine."
Anton Pottegård

Of course, my recommendation is to always get to the root cause first and balance the body. Generally this will reduce your blood pressure and eliminate your need for hydrochlorothiazide, or any other blood pressure medication for that matter.


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


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Mom + Autoimmune = not all bad news.





Being a woman with and autoimmune disease and a mother at the same time isn’t all bad news!

Because
women make up about 75 percent of autoimmune disease diagnoses, this means many sufferers of chronic illness are also raising children.

It’s common for women to feel disappointed or inferior because they are not the kind of mom they had envisioned. But the perfect mom is an
unattainable myth, and it’s possible your illness is even cultivating good qualities in your children. Food for though.
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Get the benefits of marijuana without the marijuana




If medical marijuana has done anything, it has been to educate us about our own endocannibinoid system, which we will just call ECS for short.

This is a system of receptors on cells that play a role in inflammation, appetite, pain, mood, memory, and even cancer prevention. These receptors have come to light because they respond to compounds in cannabis, or marijuana and is the reason that cannabis can be very helpful in a medical sense.
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If you want stomach cancer, take Antacids.




A recent
study found regular use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) for acid reflux raises the risk of stomach cancer. PPI users (Prilosec, Prevacid) in the study had twice the risk for stomach cancer compared to those who used H2-receptor acid reducing drugs (Tagamet, Pepcid).

About 20 percent of Americans suffer with
acid reflux and heartburn. Most people attribute acid reflux to excess stomach acid. Most often this is not the case. Generally, the problem is too little stomach acid.
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