How to test yourself for leaky gut.
The "gaba challenge"
I challenge you to a duel!!
Not really, but this is a challenge that would be great for you to try.
We are talking about the “gaba challenge”.
Gaba is a neurotransmitter. Low levels are linked with anxiety, mood disorders, epilepsy and chronic pain. Gaba supplements are often used to help with anxiety, improving sleep, PMS (premenstrual syndrome), and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)
While there is a good amount of controversy and debate on this subject and gaba in general, this is how I use gaba in my practice as both a therapeutic nutracueutical and sometimes as a diagnostic aid.
First, In order to understand a little more about how and why this test works we have to understand what gaba is. So Im going to switch over to my little white board on my Ipad to give you a little narrated drawing to explain things more.
This is a written summary of the video:
A nerve functions in the following way. Your nerve has a point at which the nerve rests, this is call the resting potential. The nerve also has a point at which the nerve fires call the threshold. If a nerve is stimulated but does not reach the threshold it will not fire. What can happen with anxiety is the the resting potential moves much closer to the threshold at which the nerve fires and now it takes a much smaller amount of stimulation to make the nerve fire. This often results in overstimulation which is common with anxiety. Since gaba is an inhibitory neurotransmitter it can lower the resting potential back down to where is it supposed to be and now you can tolerate more input without becoming over stimulated.
You really should watch the video for an explantation that makes sense. Without something to look at its hard to make sense of it all.
Moving on. So now that you have a general idea of what gaba is lets talk about the test specifically.
First, how do we do the test?
A gaba challenge is typically done using pure gaba at a dosage of 600 - 1500 mg. I tend to start on the low side and see how someone does and then possibly retest if I think they need to.
The type of response that would indicate a positive results (not a good one) is a nice calm relaxed type feeling, generally not tired but just kind of chilled out.
Usually clients will feel the effects within the first hour but sometimes up to 3 hours later. I generally recommend doing this test around 3-4pm.
Don’t do it at a time when you are normally getting tired anyway because it will be hard to determine why you are relaxed or tired - such as just having eaten a large meal. Also don’t do the test and then go out for a night on the town or go to work, or whatever else you might want to do. Just stay in for he day in case it hits you later than the 3 hours.
If you think you might have had a response but aren’t really sure just repeat the test at a slightly higher dose in the next day or two. Don’t use too much gaba or do this too often as you can take in too much.
Click here for a good quality gaba that I often use.
So what do the results mean?
This is where things can get a little tricky.
I often use gaba for anxiety in clients but also as a semi “diagnostic” test. This is why, and I understand that nothing is in absolutes and there is some controversy here, but this is what I have found in practice.
Normaly gaba is too big to cross the blood brain barrier.
Meaning if you ingest it, it is too big to be absorbed by the body and it should just pass through you and have no effect. Now keep in mind there are certain new forms of gaba that are being developed that reportedly are better absorbed. Don’t use those one for this test.
If you have a nice calm relaxed feeling after taking gaba it means that it has crossed the blood brain barrier, and thus there is a good chance that you have some degree of leaky gut. Leaky gut equals leaky brain.
SO…if gaba works for you thats great because you can use it to help you sleep, relax better or help with anxiety. BUT… it also means that now you probably have a digestive issue that you maybe were not aware of. Or maybe you were.
Now here are a couple of other little tidbits that you need to be aware of.
It has been reported and I have noted that in some of my clients gaba can, in a way, backward convert to glutamic acid, which is an excitatory neurotransmitter and cause an increase in irritability, anxiety, or the feeling of being overstimulated. We don’t really know in who this will occur, but just know that this is a possible outcome as well.
In my experience it happens in approximately 5-10 of people that do the test. Or I should say that do the test and have a positive result (meaning it crossed the BBB - blood brain barrier)
Keep in mind that this reaction is also a positive result as it means that the gaba still crossed the blood brain barrier. Although now you can’t use it for relaxation or anxiety.
One other tidbit. This test is not 100% sensitive or specific. It can give us a general idea of how things are functioning. This crude home test can often rule in the possibility of leaky gut if it is positive, but it cannot rule out the possibility of leaky gut if it is negative.
So there you have it. How and why you would use “the gaba challenge”.
If you do this test and aren’t really sure how to go about fixing your issues and/or leaky gut, give my office a call and I would be happy to help you out. Its one of the most common things we see. P.S. - I also now offer virtual visits for those that are not in the area.
I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be healthy, Be happy.
Diet foods are making you fat and
preventing you from losing weight
The weight loss industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. For decades the diet industry has conned consumers into thinking good diet products are low in fat.
This led to a boon in creation of low-fat, high-carbohydrate, and often high-sugar “diet” products that promote fat storage, prevent fat burning, increase cravings, and raise inflammation. Not only can diet foods make you fatter, they can also make you sicker. These products often have nothing or very little natural products in them, causing many other health issues.
Yet another new study shows low-fat diet foods lead to obesity.
This study was published by Science Daily and was performed by
The university of Georgia
Rats given high-sugar, low-fat foods that mimic many diet products not only got fatter than the control rats, they also experienced liver damage and brain inflammation. Which if you have read or watched any of my proviso posts, you know that this can lead to brain degeneration issues/diseases such as Alzheimers, dementia, parkinson’s, and other neurodegenerative diseases.
The sad thing about this study is that the low-fat rats didn’t eat more calories.
They consumed the same amount of calories as their counterparts that were fed a balanced diet
yet they still ended the study fatter and sicker.
Liver and brain damage from low-fat, high-sugar
The excess fat accumulated around the rats’ livers was similar to the liver damage caused by heavy alcohol use. This study and others similar to it show that brain-inflammation from the high-sugar, low-fat diet also impaired function of the vagus nerve. This is a nerve that runs between the brain and the gut and is vital to both healthy brain and gut function. Another interesting study to be discussed in one of my future blogs is yet another recent study that links gut health and the development of Parkinson’s.
Diet foods skew hunger and satiety hormones
The impacts on the vagus nerve and the brain also alter hormone signaling around hunger and satiety. This explains why people on high-carbohydrate, high-sugar diets often feel hungry all the time despite how much they eat. They often do this by affecting the hormones leptin, which influences how “full” or satisfied we feel after a meal.
For a little help with taming weight and the leptin hormone you can give this supplement a try:
Some other supplements that can aid in weightless include:
Conjugated Linoleum acid
Thermogenic aids - be careful with these ones.
Dieting signals the body to store fat
The hormones that control hunger and satiety also play a role in fat burning and fat storage. When this system is dysregulated due to a high-sugar diet, this prompts the body to favor fat storing over fat burning.
The best way to reverse this process is to fuel the body with a lower carbohydrate diet that is adequate in proteins and fat, and abundant in vegetables. How many carbohydrates a person needs to consume depends on many factors and varies from person to person. Ask my office for advice.
Dieting makes the body efficient at fat storage
Add a low-calorie diet to the poor performance of mainstream diet products and you have a recipe for lifelong super-powered fat storing abilities (maybe this should be a new superhero, or maybe villain). This means a person has to consume fewer and fewer calories simply to avoid gaining weight.
It becomes a vicious cycle. You eat or drink diet products, this actually makes you more hungry and you develop super fat storing villain capabilities, you gain weight, eat less calories, eat and drink more diet products trying to lose weight, and the wonderfull cylcle.
Until you decide to get off the hampster wheel.
This was best evidenced among former contestants of the popular TV show The Biggest Loser. Although contestants lost weight through a stringent regime of low-calorie dieting and intensive exercise, most contestants piled the weight back on after the show ended.
They also had to consume 500–800 fewer calories below maintenance calories simply to avoid gaining weight. This is because the extreme dieting and exercise, though effective, had lowered their resting metabolic rate so that they were burning fewer calories each day compared to before participating in the show.
How to lose weight and stay healthy?
Often people lose weight simply by following a diet that lowers inflammation and removes foods to which they are intolerant, and by stabilizing blood sugar, repairing leaky gut, and addressing chronic inflammation. By focusing on a vegetable-dominant diet you also increase the proportion of gut bacteria that promote fat burning over fat storage.
The key is to gradually switch yourself over to a life-long way of eating you enjoy because it makes you feel better.
For more information on healthy weight loss, contact my office.
I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be health, be happy! and stop using “diet” products.
What’s really causing your fatty liver?
If you struggle with excess weight or high blood sugar, your blood tests may also show fatty liver (high liver enzymes). A fatty liver is most commonly associated with excessive drinking of alcohol. But that is actually not the most common cause.
Although fatty liver has no overt symptoms, a liver filled with fat hinders detoxification, promotes inflammation, may increase gallstones, and increases heart attack risk.
So a fatty liver means eat less fat, right?
Wrong, the culprit in fatty liver isn’t too much fat but rather too many sugars and carbohydrates.
Too many carbs are the main culprits behind the excess belly fat that is a sure sign of fatty liver. This is because sugar signals the liver to produce more fat.
This process is heightened when the liver must process fructose, particularly high-fructose corn syrup found in soft drinks and other junk foods.
From fatty liver to fatty liver disease
While some fat in the liver is normal, if it exceeds 5 to 10 percent of total weight of the organ, it is considered fatty liver and the first stage of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). If fatty liver progresses unchecked, it can lead all the way to cirrhosis. Something that you definitely don’t want and is many time irreversible.
(Alcohol abuse can also cause fatty liver disease and the majority of alcoholics have a fatty liver.)
NAFLD (NON - alcohol fatty liver disease) is the most common liver disorder in the west, affecting as many as one third of Americans.
JUST IN CASE YOU MISSED THAT, 1/3, ONE THIRD, 33.33% OF AMERICANS!!!
It primarily afflicts those who overweight and middle-aged, but NAFLD is increasingly affecting children and teens due to their over consumption of sodas, sweets, and high-carb foods. High cholesterol and diabetes are typically found with NAFLD too.
How to reverse fatty liver and regain liver health
The good news is you can reverse fatty liver before it’s too late. Even though the liver may not initially complain with symptoms, it’s important to take liver health seriously to prevent serious long-term complications. Steps to reverse fatty liver include:
Adopt a lower-carb, sugar-free diet. (And that doesn’t mean just using all types of terrible chemical sugar substitutes)
High blood sugar leads to fatty liver. To start reversing it you need to bring blood sugar down to healthy levels with a whole foods diet abundant in fibrous vegetables, healthy fats, and proteins while low in foods that spike blood sugar. Most people will begin to lose excess fat on this way of eating as well, further unburdening the liver.
Exercise daily. Exercise helps lower high blood sugar, detoxify the body, and shed excess fat, all of which will help reverse fatty liver.
Avoid alcohol and unnecessary medications. Alcohol is very hard on the liver, as are many medications. Avoid both as much as possible while working to reverse fatty liver.
Lower inflammation. The liver actually plays an important role in inflammation and lowering overall inflammation will likewise ease its burdens. The most important ways to do this are by removing foods from your diet that promote inflammation (gluten and dairy are the most common) and minimizing exposure to toxins and chemicals.
Take anti-inflammatory compounds. Certain nutritional compounds really shine when it comes to lowering inflammation. These include high doses of emulsified turmeric and resveratrol, absorbable forms of glutathione, vitamin D, and many other compounds. Ask my office for more advice.
Support liver detoxification pathways. If your liver cells are clogged with fat it may have trouble with everyday detoxification duties. The liver responds wonderfully to herbs and compounds that support detoxification, such as milk thistle or n-acetyl-cysteine.
I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be Healthy, be happy.
Are you exercising too hard? Extreme exercise and overtraining.
Extreme exercise is good for you, right? Not exactly
If you want to get fit and lose weight, you should exercise as hard as you can,
for as long as you can,
Research shows extreme exercise can cause chronic health problems and make you feel worse. (What constitutes over exercise depends on the individual and their fitness level.)
Recovery time is as important as the exercise itself.
Over exercising can cause the following health issues:
Fatigued adrenals, the stress-handling glands
More bad gut bacteria
Increased risk of injury
Too much exercise raises inflammation
Many of the issues caused by over exercising stem from inflammation. Although appropriate exercise can be anti-inflammatory and very good for the brain, too much has the opposite effect.
The cellular damage from over exercising triggers a systemic inflammatory response that sets the stage for a host of other health problems.
The damage and inflammation from over exercising is very stressful to the body. Excess stress underlies the burnout, depletion, and increasing weakness often seen with over exercising.
Results can be fatigue, poor thyroid function, depressed immunity, and more.
Over exercising damages gut health
The gut and the bacteria it houses are increasingly being recognized as the seat of the immune system and foundational to our health.
Overdoing exercise has been found to damage the gut wall, causing “leaky gut.” This allows undigested foods, bacteria, yeast, and other pathogens into the bloodstream, where they then trigger inflammation throughout the body.
Overtraining also changes the composition of gut bacteria so there is too much bad bacteria.
How to know if you’re over training
How do you know if your exercise routine is making you unhealthy?
One of the most common symptoms is constant fatigue.
Your workout routine should give you more energy, not less. Appropriate exercise boosts chemicals in the body that improve brain function, increase well being, and raise energy. If the opposite is happening to you, you’re overdoing it.
Other symptoms of over exercising include getting sick frequently, loss of muscle mass, gaining body fat, and difficulty recovering from injuries.
What to do if you’re over exercising
If you’re making yourself sick with exercise, the answer isn’t to stop exercising, but to go about your workouts differently.
First of all, give yourself time to recover. This typically means exercising less frequently.
Also, it’s very important to get enough sleep. This is a critical time when your muscles repair and your metabolic system and brain recharge. Sufficient sleep is crucial if you want to stay active and healthy for the long haul.
Some products that can help you increase your recovery time and that may be helpful for short intense workouts include some of the following supplements.
And these are in no particular order.
#1 - magnesium and other electrolytes. Working out makes you sweat and and loose essential electrolytes, or at least it should. If your not sweating you probably aren't doing it right.
#2 BCAA - Brach chain amino acids - Amino acids are the building blocks for all proteins. By supplementing with BCAA immediately after your workout you can speed your recovery time by giving your body the essentials it needs.
#3 L-glutamine - Yep another amino acid. And for those familiar with gut health know that L-glutamine is great for helping to rebuild and repair the gut lining. Well, it does the same thing for the body and muscles. Take 2-5 grams per day.
#4 Creatine - Yep, the tried and true body building supplement is one of the most researched supplements out there. It helps by boosting performance, increasing ATP of the cells, and helps speed protein synthesis. Among other things.
#5 - a good quality multivitamin - this will help to ensure that you body is getting most of what it needs. Most people and just about all of my patients I see in my practice need specialized nutritional support, but a good multivitamin is a decent start and can go a long way towards helping to speed recovery time after a workout and reduce soreness after an intense routine in the gym.
Now go get your swell on!
I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be Happy, Be healthy.
Nitric oxide for autoimmune and chronic disorders
When it comes to autoimmune disease and other chronic health conditions, taming inflammation is the name of the game. This can be difficult because the body creates vicious cycles where inflammation keeps feeding more inflammation. This makes halting the progression of autoimmune disease and chronic health issues difficult…but not impossible.
However, we now know about nutritional ingredients that can boost anti-inflammatory efforts. These ingredients act on two inflammatory immune messengers called “nitrous oxide” and Interluekin 17 or “IL-17.”
IL-17 is a pro-inflammatory immune cell that damages body tissue, such as the thyroid gland in autoimmune Hashimoto’s, the joints in rheumatoid arthritis, or the nerve sheaths in multiple sclerosis.
IL-17 isn’t completely bad—it’s necessary to fight infection. But when the immune system becomes hyper zealous, IL-17 goes out of control and attacks the body it’s designed to protect.
IL-17 destroys tissue by activating a “inducible nitric oxide,” one of three forms of nitric oxide, a gas, involved in various processes in the body. Two other two forms of nitric oxide are beneficial and actually fight inflammation: endothelial nitric oxide and neuronal nitric oxide.
However, inducible nitric oxide is pro-inflammatory and damages body tissue under the orders of IL-17.
Therefore, one way we can stop the vicious cycle of inflammation is to dampen IL-17 and inducible nitric oxide. Luckily, there are nutritional compounds that help the body do this.
But first — perhaps you’ve heard of arginine to boost nitric oxide. Although arginine boosts the anti-inflammatory endothelial and neuronal nitric oxides, it also boosts inducible nitric oxide. So if you are fighting chronic inflammation, taking arginine may work against you.
Arginine is also touted as being good for boosting growth hormone. But, this can have down sides. Check out my previous post on Arginine and cold sores.
It’s safer instead to take nutritional compounds that studies show support endothelial nitric oxide (one of the anti-inflammatory nitric oxides). These include:
Xanthinol niacinate - a form of niacin
These compounds work synergistically taken together in an emulsified liquid form (very hard to find and generally only found in functional medicine offices). But not everybody can or should take a liquid form.
Not only does boosting endothelial nitric oxide tame inflammation, it also helps repair and regenerate body tissue, promote blood flow, dissolve plaques, and dilate blood vessels. Start with small doses to gauge effects and tolerance.
These compounds also support neuronal nitric oxide (the other anti-inflammatory nitric oxide) and thus the health of your brain and nervous system.
Exercise is another excellent way to boost beneficial nitric oxides. In fact, take these endothelial nitric oxide boosting compounds before getting your heart rate to maximum capacity for a few minutes first thing in the morning. This will optimize anti-inflammatory effects and support brain health. Nitric oxide is helpful for those of use that like to lift weights and enjoy that “pumped feeling during and after the workout.
Also, nitric oxide is what is stimulated with certain medications such viagra and heart medications for angina. Taking these supplements can also help men with issues in the bedroom. “Make you strong like oak”
You don’t have to exercise long — just a few minutes of raising your heart rate as high as you can has profound anti-inflammatory and brain supporting effects. Just be sure not to over train as that produces more inflammation. Also, how you get your heart rate up depends on your fitness level and abilities, so keep it safe and doable.
Other tools to tame inflammation include therapeutic doses of vitamin D3, omega 3 fatty acids, absorbable forms of glutathione, and therapeutic doses of emulsified resveratrol and curcumin. These compounds have been shown to dampen the the inflammatory vicious cycles associated with autoimmune and chronic disorders.
Of course, lifestyle and diet changes are vital too. This includes eliminating pro-inflammatory foods with the autoimmune diet and designing an inflammation-quenching lifestyle.
For help taming your chronic inflammation and autoimmune disorder, ask my office for advice.
Until Next time,
I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be healthy, Be happy.
Intermittent fasting for weight loss and longevity
As long as human have been on earth we have always fasted. Whether due to lack of food, season variations, religious or spiritual reasons. Its even in the bible. If God says fasting is a good thing, its has to be true.
And we are finding out more and more that intermittent fasting can be really good for us, and its becoming very popular for a variety of reasons. Among those are for weight loss and the anti-aging benefits one can experience
Intermittent fasting, or IF, makes fasting an everyday part of life versus something you do once or twice a year. Although longer fasting a few times a year has some other benefits as well.
Many people use it successfully for weight loss and inflammation as well as to improve brain function and insulin sensitivity. See my previous blog on Alzheimers and type 3 diabetes.
The promise of increased longevity is another reason people choose to fast regularly. Its can slow down the shortening of your telomeres - those shoelace like structures at the end of your genes that determine how long we can potentially live.
So what are the different types of intermittent fasting? There is not a one size fits all solution. I recommend doing a little experimentation to find which of these types of fasting you can do and which agrees most with your body.
Keep watching and I will tell you which form I like best and which one I use for most patients.
Different forms of intermittent fasting.
So here is a breakdown of the different types of intermittent fasting
#1 This is what is called the 5:2 diet — In this plan you eat normally five days per week, and either fast completely, or severely restrict calories (500-600 calories) the other two days, typically on the weekend or whatever days you have off. Many times with this type of fasting it can be done every week but this is one of the more difficult ways to fast so many times people do it 1-2 times per month.
#2 - Alternate day fasting — This type of fasting plan includes normal eating for 24 hours and zero, or very low calories (500-600) for the next 24-hour period, alternating every other day. These 24-hour periods typically begin at dinnertime so that in any one day you may miss one or two meals, but not all three.
#3 This type of fasting is either a 16:8 or 14:10 — Also known as the “eating window plan,” this plan has you eat during an 8- or 10-hour window and fast the remaining 16 or 14 hours of each 24-hour period. For example, you stop eating at 7 p.m and do not eat again until 14 hours later at 9 a.m. the next morning. That would be the minimum time. Many people often will fast until noon of the next day.
Intermittent fasting for weight loss
Restricting caloric intake can lead to weight loss, but intermittent fasting seems to help with weight loss in more ways than that. For one thing, studies show intermittent fasters have better insulin sensitivity and glucose regulation. Among other things, this makes a person crave less sugar and use glucose more efficiently for energy production instead of being stored as fat. Intermittent fasting also causes your body to burn more fat. Because it depletes glycogen, the storage form of glucose, your body switches over to burning stored fat for energy.
Intermittent fasting for brain function
Studies show intermittent fasting can benefit brain function and potentially even stave off Alzheimer's disease, Take a look at my previous post on Alzheimers and type 3 diabetes. It helps by regulating insulin control as well as in the production of ketone bodies for fuel. Ketones provide a ready source of clean-burning fuel for the brain that leave behind fewer free radicals than glucose does. Free radicals are the reason we take antioxidants. High-fat ketogenic diets have also long been used to help prevent seizures.
Intermittent fasting has been shown in trials to reduce blood pressure, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and insulin-like growth factor, a hormone that is linked to cancer and diabetes.
There is still a lot we have to learn about intermittent fasting and new studies are being done all the time.
Who is intermittent fasting NOT for?
Children, teens, pregnant women, people with eating disorders, as well as those with hypoglycemia should not fast. That seems pretty self explanatory don't you think? Also, diabetics taking insulin should ONLY attempt this diet under supervision of a doctor.
Women often find less stringent forms of intermittent fasting are more suitable for them. For example, a woman might start by trying a 12:12 eating window plan and potentially lengthen her fasting time gradually, or not, as it suits her.
Intermittent fasting can be difficult often due to the hunger pangs we often get. Some herbs and supplements that can sometimes help reduce your appetite and satisfy your leptin hormone (another issue) are listed below.
Check out the links for the products that can be helpful.
5 - HTP
Organic Fennel Tea
Green Tea Extract
Until next time, Im Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be healthy, Be happy.
Why is Alzheimer’s being called type 3 diabetes
There is a TON of research being done on the link between how you eat, primarily in regards to the sugar and carbohydrates that you eat, and your risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Because of this link many researchers are now calling Alzheimer’s type 3 diabetes.
In fact, 80 of those with Alzheimers has insulin resistance or type 2 diabetesKind of scary and kind of cool at the same time. It looks as though this disease is turning out to be largely preventable. Not curable, but preventable.
Once there is brain damage associated with Alzheimer’s some of that damage can often be irreversible, depending on how much damage has been done.
Researches have found that the pancreas is not the only organ of the body that produces insulin. In fact, they found that the brain also produces its own insulin. Which when/if you think about it makes perfect sense. The brains main form of fuel is glucose. Not sugar but glucose. By the brain secreting its own insulin it can more likely ensure that it gets the energy it needs to function properly.
Mind blown right?!
They discovered that without the insulin your brain cells will die. duh - no gas, things stop running.
Insulin in the brain, and all cells for that matter enable the uptake of glucose into your cells. Think of glucose (not talking sugar or carbs) as the gas or fuel for your cells.
Studies are also finding that not only is insulting responsible for getting glucose into the cells of your brain, but it also helps with the regulation of certain neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is the main transmitter responsible for memory and learning.
So here is the technical breakdown
If insulin levels are low or dysfunctional = poor brain energy = decreased acetylcholine = ???? What was I talking about?
So stop eating so many sugar foods and drinks, cut back on your grain and carbohydrate baed foods. These foods are triggering chronically high levels of glucose which is leading to the desensitization and blunting of the effects insulin should be having in your body and your brain. This is leading to what is now being called type 3 diabetes or Alzheimer’s.
There are many possible causes of glucose and insulin dysregulation. If you eat a fairly clean diet and are still having issues with controlling your glucose, or you are worried about developing Alzheimer’s.
Give my office a call to schedule an appointment. Id be happy to …..
What was I saying?
Im Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be health, be Happy.