Archives for June 2017 | Integrative functional medicine blog

"Any fool can Know. The point is to understand" - Albert Einstein

Is coconut oil really bad for you?

OH boy! Here comes the controversy. The American Heart Association (AHA) recently announced coconut oil is bad for you. Well maybe not so much controversy.

Keep in mind that this is a statement that has come from the same advisory organization that endorses breakfast cereals loaded with sugars and artificial additives. So take what they say with a grain of salt, or maybe a grain of sugar would be better.

It’s important to look at this coconut oil advisory in context:
Saturated fats have been proven repeatedly not to be bad for your health or raise the risk of heart disease when you eat a diet that is low in sugar and carbohydrates and high in omega 3 fatty acids (such as from cold water fish and raw nuts).

The real culprit withhwart disease is not just how much fat, cholesterol or whatever lipids we are talking about, but more so how much inflammation do you have in combination with those lipid levels.

Sugars and carbs biggest heart disease culprits

In fact, studies also show it is sugars and excess carbohydrates that inflame the arteries, leading to arterial plaques, trigger production of the “bad” types of cholesterol, and promote obesity.

Likewise, polyunsaturated fats, which the AHA recommends in place of coconut oil and other saturated fats, are high in omega 6. Although we need a healthy ratio of omega 6 to omega 3, the average American eats far too much omega 6 already, thus promoting chronic disease.

Seems like they are trying to create more new patients, or maybe not. I didn’t say it, it wasn’t me!

Inflammation, not cholesterol, is a culprit

Excess omega 6, which is ample in polyunsaturated vegetable oils, is linked with chronic inflammatory disorders, such as fatty liver, arthritis, and irritable bowel disorder. Chronic systemic inflammation has also been found to increase the risk of heart disease.

Meanwhile, cholesterol has been found
not to be a factor in heart disease risk. What matters are levels of inflammation (as measured by CRP or homocysteine on a blood test) and levels of the “bad,” or dense, LDL from eating too many sugars.

Here is a great analogy that I often use in my practice to convey how fats and inflammation work in the body. Lets say you have a piece of metal sitting outside and the metal gets exposed to air and water, which causes the metal to rust. This is what is called oxidation.

Now lets take that and apply it to the body. If we think of the fats in our body as the little pieces of metal and think of inflammation as the air and water. The inflammation will cause the fats to oxidize (or rust) and cause heart disease like plaques, atherosclerosis, strokes, etc.

Heart diseas

Big difference between saturated and trans fats

Although it’s not clear which saturated fats were investigated in the study criticizing coconut oil, the majority of studies linking saturated fats to heart disease include hydrogenated, or trans, fats. Trans fats are inflammatory, artery-clogging, brain damaging fats that should be avoided at all costs. It is incorrect to group them with natural saturated fats.

Let me be a little more clear. This is not a green light, alls clear, full speed ahead to eat as much coconut oil as you want. In fact coconut oil can be really bad for your heart health. BUT! This usually happens when you start consuming large amounts of coconut oil combined with a diet and lifestyle that continues to be inflammatory.

Remember, inflammation is the big bad wolf in this story!

Health benefits of coconut oil

In a nutshell, if you manage your blood sugar levels with moderate to low consumption of complex carbohydrates, you avoid sugars and processed carbohydrates, you eat plenty of omega 3 fats, and your diet includes 7 to 10 servings a day of vegetables and low-glycemic fruit, chances are you can safely enjoy liberal amounts of coconut oil, and probably even should.

In fact, coconut oil has been shown to have
healthy heart benefits even. The heart prefers the fatty acids found in coconut oil as a source of fuel.
Coconut oil is also known to:

  • Increase metabolism
  • Curb appetite
  • Fuel the brain
  • Lower triglycerides
  • Fight bacteria, viruses, and fungal infections

The AHA diet raises risk of heart disease

Unfortunately, the AHA promotes pro-inflammatory foods that are high in sugars, processed carbs, and omega 6 oils — the very foods most associated with chronic diseases. Keep in mind that some of the recommendations made by the American Heart Association may have some sort of financial incentives.

To their credit, however, they also promote 7 to 10 servings of produce a day and ample omega 3 fatty acids, both of which are excellent anti-inflammatory approaches that support heart health. Seems to me they are kind of trying to have their cake and eat it too.

If you follow the AHA advice to replace calories from healthy natural fats with AHA-approved foods high in industrialized oils and processed carbohydrates, you may find both your blood test results and symptoms worsen.

Don’t do it. If you think you need some help with your health give my office a call. I even do online consultations.

I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen

Be Healthy, Be happy.

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Your tampons (and other feminine products) are toxic to your lady parts and body.

This ones for all the ladies out there ;-) Are Your tampons (and other feminine products) toxic to your lady part and body? Yep. Probably.

This subject is often one of the most often overlooked areas of health for many women, yet possibly one of the most important and easiest to improve. IF….. You know what to look for and why.

We are talking about feminine hygiene products. So guys, if this subject makes you a little squeamish or uncomfortable then you should at least forward this blog and the rest of this video onto your female significant other so that they can be aware of the risks.

Sadly, millions of women and girls absorb high levels of toxins every month thanks to lax manufacturing standards of tampons and sanitary pads. These products are loaded with highly absorbable industrial contaminants — the body takes in more toxins through the vaginal wall than through ingestion.

Part of the problem is that manufacturers are not required to list the ingredients used in tampons and sanitary napkins. However, the main material used in these products, cotton, is a crop notorious for genetic engineering and HEAVY use of pesticides.

Feminine hygiene products also contain synthetic fragrances, bleaches, foams, gels, anti-bacterial agents, and surfactants all in an effort to improve the marketability and profitability of their companies.

Although the FDA offers recommendations, there are no regulations manufacturers are required to follow regarding the use of toxic chemicals in these products. So buyer beware!

So Why are toxins in tampons more dangerous than other routes of exposure?

Lack of regulation and oversight means anything goes in manufacturing of feminine hygiene products, including the use of cancer-causing chemicals.

Vaginal tissue is far more permeable than other areas of the body. In fact, it’s so good at absorption that drug companies are looking at ways to deliver
drugs vaginally as a way to bypass metabolization. It’s very similar if not the same as using a suppository.

Because compounds absorbed vaginally do not pass through the liver first, which is responsible for detoxification, this also means they go into the bloodstream in much higher concentrations than if they were ingested and they don’t go through the first pass detoxification of the liver.

Additionally, the thin ridges of the vaginal wall not only provide more surface area to enhance absorption, they also can retain chemicals.

In addition, even conventional sanitary pads contain a myriad of toxic chemicals, plastics and synthetic fibers that sit against the permeable skin of the vulva for days every month. Not a good thing. This is a delicate area and should be treated as such.

Toxic chemicals in feminine products

Sadly, most feminine hygiene products are loaded with toxins. This includes not only tampons and pads, but also feminine wipes, washes, douches, sprays, and creams.

Some of the many chemicals they can include are dioxins (often considered the most toxic and abundant toxin in our environment). They also often contain other bleaching chemicals, pesticide residues, anti-bacterials, unknown fragrances, dyes, spermicides, phthalates, and surfactants (also used in detergents).

Studies show the chemicals used in feminine hygiene products have been linked to cancer, hormone imbalances, reproductive harm, allergic rashes, and asthma.

Douches in particular have been linked to numerous reproductive and health disorders and should be avoided.

Safe alternatives in feminine products

Fortunately, natural alternatives exist, although they are dwarfed in number by the brands with toxins (look online for more options). Go for chemical-free pads and tampons, or consider the menstrual cup or even cloth pads. Click on the links to view the recommendations.

For other feminine products such as wipes, washes, sprays, and douches, remember that the body is innately intelligent and functions best with the right support.

Support your vaginal health by minimizing sugars and starchy carbs to prevent the yeast and bacterial infections that drive women to these products.

Taking probiotics can also support vaginal health, and these days you can buy
brands geared specifically toward feminine health.

One special recommendation that I would like to make, or more of a recommendation from me on behalf of my wife is called the
Hesta Women's Organic Cotton Menstrual Sanitary Protective Panties Underwear. It is basically a Sanitary napkin (aka panty liner) built into a pair of reportedly super comfy pair of underwear.

My wife picked these up a few years ago and loves them. There is still probably not a month that goes by that she doesn’t ask me “Don’t you just love my new underwear”. I think she likes them, A LOT! So check them out.

Also, in addition to eating a whole foods diet, rule out a sensitivity to gluten, dairy, or other foods — many women have found food sensitivities causes vaginal itching and inflammation.

I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen

Be healthy, be happy

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How to pick good quality supplements

How to know if you are getting good quality supplements

The United States enjoys liberal access to nutritional supplements. This can be a good thing and a bad thing.

Some would say we are a little too lenient. But, As long as you are educated on how to pick good products, I say it’s a good thing. In my humble opinion, big pharma and the government often overreach when it comes to certain things. Such as when big pharma can’t make money off of supplements and try to shut them down because of competition.

As an example, do a little research on Red yeast rice or Kratom, and most recently the use of Intravenous vitamin C, which the FDA just banned. Thank you very much!

We can buy virtually any supplement from multiple sources either at the local grocery store or online. Other countries can be more stringent when it comes to access and don’t enjoy near the wide range of variety.

However, the freedom around nutritional supplements in the United States means consumers must be wary of shoddy,
fraudulent, and even unsafe supplements with misleading claims.

It’s important to learn how to be a smart supplement shopper to make the most of our supplement-shopping freedom. You may be surprised to learn the worst supplements aren’t from some shadowy corner of the internet, but rather usually from your local drug or grocery store.
I am a huge believer in the saying “you get what you pay for” and in the case of supplements it couldn’t be more true. I’ll be honest. I am a supplement snob. I generally recommend staying away from costco, the grocery store, Trader Joes, and GNC.

For another post on where I recommend buying your supplements click on the link HERE.
You can save some serious cash.

At the same time, it’s also important to protect consumer access to supplements. The FDA’s approach to the industry is often viewed as unnecessarily aggressive due, it is widely believed by myself and I would say most alternative healthcare doctors, to the influence of the pharmaceutical industry. If they can’t make money off of some sort of “pill” that possibly competes or helps prevent a condition that one of their drugs is supposed to treat, then they will try to get is banned. They don’t like competition. Again, just look at what happened with Red Yeast Rice and more specifically Kratom.

As the rates of “untreatable” or “mysterious” chronic diseases and dementia continue to skyrocket, people increasingly turn to alternative health care and nutritional supplements to address their health concerns. This has turned the supplement industry into one worth many billions of dollars. But still nowhere near the level of pharmaceutical companies.

The supplement industry has created its own standards of quality that manufacturers can choose to comply with in order to reassure their buyers only the purest ingredients are used.

Avoid cheap, mass marketed supplements comprised of synthetic or inflammatory fillers (such as wheat and corn), poor quality ingredients, inactive ingredients, and artificial colors. There is also no way of knowing how shipping and storing has affected the ingredients.

What to look for in quality supplements

For starters, avoid fillers that use wheat, corn, starches, and magnesium stearate. Also, research the origin of the ingredients. Herbal ingredients can come from heavily polluted areas in other countries and be loaded with toxins. Good companies test their ingredients for toxins. This is still no guarantee but its a start.
Research the brand. Are they formulated with a health-care professional and a scientific advisory board? Are there peer-reviewed studies to back up the ingredients? Does the company test purity?

What is their marketing like?

Do they use sleazy snake-oil selling tactics? Or do they cater to licensed practitioners and provide educational seminars to teach about the products and how best to incorporate them into a health care plan?

Also, look for supplement companies that send their products out to independent labs to test for quality and purity.

NSF International, an independent organization, certifies supplements on three levels of quality:

Certified Good manufacturing practices (CGMPs): These are guidelines that assure a product conforms with what’s listed its label.

American National Standard for dietary supplement products: Testing that ensures products contain what is on the label and not undeclared contaminants. This is an all too common issue in the supplement industry.

NSF Certified for Sport: Screens for athletic banned substances.

2 of the most common issues in the supplement industry are:
#1 - the product does not contain what it says it contains. There have been numerous tests on various products finding that the actual amount of the claimed ingredient was at less than 10% of what was claimed.

#2 - Number two is actually to opposite of number 1. This is when the quality or the purity of the supplement may contain the actual dosage of the listed supplement but is also has toxins or other often harmful ingredients in the supplement that is not listed.

So there you have some little things that you can do to help insure you are getting what you pay for.
Again, check out my previous post and the best place to buy your supplements.

Until next time, happy shopping!

I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen

Be Health, be happy.

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The easiest and most effective form of exercise for anti-aging

The Easiest (or not) & most effective form of exercise for anti-aging.

Stationary bikes
Stationary bike that may be more comfortable with lower back problems
Heart rate monitors

Anti aging is quite the buzz word. It's a great marketing term. I wish I came up with it first. The fact of the matter is anti aging doesn't exist.
If you’re not aging, your dead. So aging is definitely better than the alternative.

So that leads us to aging gracefully. Aging gracefully or what I like to call
"well-aging" or fighting the age clock tooth and nail is all about taking care of your mitochondria — the little energy factories in each cell.

These are literally the power plants of your body that gives each cell the energy it needs to function. These are what produce ATP or the gas for your cells. For you weight lifters and exercise buff out there is is partially how
Creatine helps. Creatine helps your body produce ATP resulting more energy available for working out and stronger muscle contractions helping to potentially lift more weight.

As we get older, our cells engine function can start to diminish and become less efficient, which plays a key role in aging of the body.

However, new research has shown a little-known strategy to boost the longevity and function of your mitochondria — regular bursts of high intensity exercise. Also known as HIIT training

I also often recommend this type of exercise to my clients that get brain fog or mental unclarity. I often coach my clients to do a short 2 minute routine of some sort of appropriate exercise in order to help temporarily clear their brain fog, such as first thing in the AM instead of that extra cup of coffee or around whatever time they start to feel it coming on. Do it before you get it otherwise it tends to be too late.

People are told to exercise for all sorts of reasons, but regular exercise is one of life’s magic bullets when it comes to remaining physically and mentally agile into the elder years. Any kind of regular exercise is better than none when it comes to health and longevity. Exercise is can be considered as a type of fountain of youth. Just take a look at some more mature adults that exercise regularly and some that don’t. Pretty easy to see the difference.

However, when it comes to nurturing cellular mitochondria and thus better preserving your overall health, one form of exercise outshines the rest — intervals of high intensity exercise. This means an exercise routine that boosts the heart rate to healthy upper thresholds for several minutes at a time.

How different forms of exercise affect aging

Although any regular physical activity makes for a better aging process, a recent Mayo Clinic study showed different types improve aging in different ways.

So here is what the study looked at.
The study divided healthy but sedentary men and women under the age of 30 and over the age of 64 into several groups of exercise: 4 groups to be specific. So we have:

• Vigorous weight-lifting several times a week.
• Interval training three times a week on stationary bikes (they did three sets of pedaling hard for four minutes and resting for three minutes). So a total of only 21 minutes. Thats not very long needed to get some great benefits.
• Alternated between mild weight lifting and moderate pedaling on a stationary bike throughout the week.
• No exercise.

Not surprisingly, all the groups who exercised reported better blood sugar control and fitness after three months of regular exercise. The vigorous weight lifters gained muscle mass while the interval exercises gained more endurance. No surprise there.

But the finding that did surprise researchers was cellular improvement in the interval exercisers.

The under-30 interval exercisers showed changes in 274 genes, compared to 170 genes in the young moderate mixed exercise group and 74 genes in the young weight lifters.

However, the older interval exercisers showed changes in 400 genes, compared to only 19 for the older moderate exercisers and 33 for the older weight lifters.

In other words, interval exercising is the most advantageous at any stage of life, but it’s significantly more advantageous the older you are compared to other forms of exercise. Keep in mind we are talking about epigenetic here, or how your genes are expressed.

We are also talking about mitochondrial function. There are other benefits to weight lifting and gaining muscle mass too, but this blog is about anti-aging exercise and improving mitochondrial function, not gaining muscle mass.

How interval exercise improves the aging process

Researchers theorize interval training is beneficial because it increases the number and health of cellular mitochondria. This means more energy for muscles (including the heart), better brain function, and better recovery and regeneration.

The fact that the older participants had more robust responses to high intensity interval training shows it is never too late to exercise, especially if you do the most beneficial kind. Another bonus? You can extract the most gains in the least amount of time from interval exercise, which requires less time than other forms.

Remember I said that the research was done with only 21 minutes of this type of exercise. Anyone can carve out 21 minutes of exercise in a day. And. it wasn’t even every day. The study was done with people only doing the exercises 3 times per week. Thats what I call minimal effort for maximum gain. Thats my type of exercise.

I hate doing cardio where I have to trudge along for 40-60 minutes at a time while watching the backside of someone sweating in front of me. No thanks!

How to interval train for better cellular health

To interval train, simply push yourself to your maximum effort for several minutes several times in your routine, with short periods of rest in between sets. Work within your capacity and don’t over train — over exercising causes inflammation and can damage mitochondria.
See my previous post on that subject.

One other thing I would like to point out is that the interval training in the duty was done on a stationary bike. While interval training isn’t specific to any type of exercise, I am a HUGE fan of the stationary bike.

You can get a great workout, vary your resistance, its easy on your joints and literally anyone can do it.
Even those with lower back pain.

Check out the bikes I’ve linked to for a couple of suggestions I use for my clients.

Another great tool to know how hard you’re working it by getting a heart rate monitor that can connect to your phone and track your workouts.

I have attached a link to a couple of decent ones.

So get out there and do some sprints, do a 2 minute round of burpees or jump some rope.
If you need help aging gracefully or would like to fight tooth and nail screaming and yelling all the way, give my office a call.

You can't outrun aging, but the better shape you in, the longer it takes for your age to catch up to you.

I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen

Be Healthy, Be Happy.

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How to test for low stomach acid

How to test yourself for low stomach acid

Link to Leaky gut test
Link to Purchase Betaine HCL for test

How to test for low stomach acid.

Previously we talked about how to test yourself for leaky gut, or at least get an idea of if you might have leaky gut.

In this quick post we are going to discuss how to test yourself to see if you have enough stomach acid. This is one of the many reason that you will often hear how good apple cider vinegar is for you.

Stomach acid has many different functions. Some of the primary roles are to break down protein into amino acids so that they can be absorbed and utilized.

Stomach also aids in the digestion and absorption of certain nutrients and minerals such as magnesium - think leg cramps and relaxation, sodium - think blood pressure and adrenal fatigue, and Iron - think anemia or decreased ability to carry oxygen.

HCL or hydrochloric acid also act as a disinfectant aiding your body in the fight against all those sick bugs we get exposed to on a daily basis in our foods. Low stomach acid levels have been noted to increase the risk on someone getting H. Pylori and vibrio. Infections of the digestive tract.

So if you get sick a lot you might want to check your stomach HCL levels.

As a little side note, many people that have gastric ulcers or acid reflux often get put onto PPIs
Proton pump inhibitors. I encourage you to do some research on the side effects of these drugs. They aren't all they are cracked up to be.

And often, these people often have too little HCL, not too much. But, that is a detour we aren't going to take right now. I have that scheduled for a future post. So keep tuned in.

So here is what you do. And this is my particular approach and many doctors have different ways of doing it.

First you are going to have to buy some
HCL, don't use apple cider vinegar, and don’t use betaine HCL with pepsin. First it will be too hard to figure out exactly what your dosage might be, and second you may end up drinking a whole bunch of it. Which isn't too tasty.

So now you have your
Betaine HCL (stomach acid)

Over the next few days you are going to take varying amounts of the HCl pills until you get a reaction.

You are going to test it by taking the pill/pills before your largest meal of the day, make sure this meal has a protein. Remember protein uses HCL to be broken down. So if you have a response when you eat the protein the symptoms should go away.

The type of response you should feel is a slight warming, discomfort, or upset stomach, almost like heart burn.

So on the first day of the test you take 1 pill 15-20 minutes before the meal. If you don't feel any symptoms, the next day you will take 2 pills before the meal, and continue on like that until you get to the point that you actually have symptoms.

This will tell you how well, or poorly your stomach acid levels are.

Keep tuned in. In a future vlog/blog I will be discussing what you should do about it.

If you need a little help and guidance in your quest for better health give my office a call. Id love to help you.

Until next time

Im Dr. Craig Mortensen

Be healthy, be happy.

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How to save money on vitamins and supplements

How to save money
on vitamins and supplements

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