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.
You can eat fermented foods every day and take all the probiotic supplements you want, but if you aren’t also feeding those intestinal bacteria what they want, you could be throwing your money away. That’s because to thrive and multiply, healthy gut bacteria need to eat. And what your gut bacteria like best is fiber.
Recently published research done at the University of Oveido in Spain found that obese people with low levels of a group of intestinal bacteria — Bacteroides, Prevotella, and Porphyromonas — also had a lower intake of fruit.
Fruit is a good source of pectin, which is metabolized in the colon by bacteria, such as Bacteroides, producing small chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs are known to keep the immune system in check and turn down inflammation, known to be implicated in obesity, among a long list of other issues inflammation contributes to.
The researchers concluded in the journal Nutrients, “These results could be useful for designing strategies targeted to obesity prevention.”
Why Feed Your Microbiome Prebiotics
Researchers have yet to agree on a precise definition of prebiotics, the substances that intestinal bacteria feed on, but generally the scientists agree that these are “undigested dietary carbohydrates that are fermented by colonic bacteria yielding short chain fatty acids.”
Say what?! It’s basically the bacteria digests what we aren’t able to digest and the SCFA’s are their waste product.
Different prebiotics may nourish different types of bacteria, and researchers have not yet pinned down the specifics of exactly what prebiotic nourishes which bacteria. But you can’t go wrong covering your bases by eating with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. The keyword being wide. Variety it the key here.
A high fiber diet has often been recommended for people who need to lose weight, but now we know the point of eating more fiber is not only to make you feel full, but also because of its integral role insustaining a healthy diversity of gut bacteria. Meanwhile, the opposite — an unhealthy microbiota — is being increasingly associated with inflammation and obesity.
Supporting gut bacteria with probiotics
In addition to a diet of ample and diverse produce that is rich in prebiotic fiber, you can also support your microbiota with probiotics. Probiotics work best when you are already fostering your gut environment with healthy prebiotic fiber. Another common prebiotic that can be useful is FOS (Fructo-Oligosaccharide)
Look for probiotics that will survive the acidic environment of the environment. Many different strains exist and researchers are increasingly finding different strains support different aspects of health. Research which ones may be best for you and switch them up on occasion.
Fermented foods such as kimchee, sauerkraut, kefir, and kombucha contain live microbes that can help improve the health of your gut bacteria. Make sure you get truly live products and not pasteurized. They will usually be in the refrigerated section at the store.
SIDE NOTE: IF you have dysbiosis (unbalance gut bacterial levels, SIBO, or some other digestive issue, I highly recommend you do not willy nilly take a bunch of prebiotics and/or probiotics. You can actually make things worse. See my previous post “Are probiotics doing more harm than good”
Ask my office for more advice on building good gut health.
I’m Dr. Craig Mortensen
Be healthy, be happy!
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.
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.
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.
Many people that have a hard time loosing weight may be battling with this hormone.
Many people are aware of how the thyroid hormones and even how high cortisol levels can make you gain weight and make it almost impossible to lose weight.
But not many people now about the hormone Leptin. This hormone is involved in regulating body weight by either suppressing food intake and/or increasing your metabolism, burning more calories.
Leptin is produced in fat cells and basically tells your brain if you are hungry or satisfied, and whether you should make fat for storage or use fat for energy.
If everything is working right, when we make more fat, theoretically we should make more leptin, sending the signal that we have enough energy and that we don’t need to eat and then making the body burn fat for energy.
Unfortunately a lot of people suffer from what Functional medicine doctors refers to as “leptin resistance”. This is often the result of poor and lack of exercise. The american diet is the pinnacle of bad eating. We even have our own acronym for the American diet that the rest of the world uses as well. It’s call the “SAD” diet - Standard American Diet.
The viscous cycle of Leptin resistance goes like this, the brain doesn’t pick up on or become resistant to leptin = your brain thinks your hungry = your body doesn’t burn calories = body enters starvation mode = everything you eat gets stored as fat.
What is the best range for Leptin levels?
Getting Leptin levels tested is a simple blood test. The most accepted range for Leptin is typically below 12. Some Integrative Medicine doctors like to see it around 4-6. However, Leptin levels that get too low have been associated with an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Levels above 12 and you will typically put on weight very quickly and have a hard time loosing it. In short, Depending on the situation and the person a healthy range can be anywhere from 4-12.
While Leptin isn’t the only hormone involved in weight loss, it is a main one. You should also get your thyroid levels checked, possibly adrenal glands tested for cortisol levels (the stress hormone), and sex hormones are also good to get checked.
How do we solve the problem of high Leptin levels?
1. Eat early. The old saying “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper” is very accurate. By eating a bigger meal (ex. - oatmeal and sunflower butter, or on of my shake recipes) can make you feel satisfied for most of the day. Ultimately this will lead to fewer calories consumer throughout the day and a sense of satiety (not hungry) for much of the day.
2. Fast for 12 hours every day. Don’t eat for 12 hours every night. Our bodies are designed to have periods of fasting to rest of repair. So if you have dinner at 7pm one night, don’t eat until 7am the next morning.
3. Exercise has shown to decrease levels of leptin in the body and increase metabolism. A good way of stoking the fire is to perform some sort of HIT (High intensity training). This usually involves doing some sort of alternating intense exercise followed by a short rest period and repeating the interval over and over for 15-20 minutes.
4. Get adequate sleep. Those that don’t get the minimum 7-8 hours of sleep have shown to have higher levels of leptin. Not only that, they can also have higher levels of cortisol which can increase how much belly fat you have.
5. Try some Irvingia. Some other supplements that can aid in weightless include:
Conjugated Linoleum acid
Thermogenic aids - be careful with these ones.
6. Last and probably the most important, EAT RIGHT! Stay away from sugar, refined carbohydrates, and too many fruits. Concentrate on lean meats and fish, veggies, nuts and seeds.
If you are having hard time losing some extra pounds and are looking to get healthy again,
give my office a call to schedule an appointment for better health.
Difficulty Losing Fat? This May Be the Cause
Obesity has hit epidemic proportions and the world is desperate to do anything to lose their unwanted fat.Although eating a healthy diet and exercise is paramount to losing fat, there is one little unknown fact that will prevent millions of people from ever losing fat.
According to the US government this one thing is the considered the number one pollutant in the human body and it will put a quick halt to ever reaching your desired level of fitness and fat loss.
One of the major causes of the obesity epidemic is the unprecedented level of phthalates or plasticizers.
The problem with these toxic environmental toxins is the fact that they are difficult to impossible to avoid. They are even found in every species even in the most pristine wild.
In fact, we have so damaged the chemistry of even animals in the wild that the polar bears in the Arctic have human diseases such as hypothyroidism and osteoporosis.
Phthalates are the highest pollutant in the body being over 10,000 times higher than any of the thousands of other environmental toxins. Side note - as of 2014 it was estimated that there are over 80,000 chemicals used in manufacturing, and we have no idea the types of side effects they have)
In fact they are so pervasive that now children six years of age have levels that used to take adults until the age of 40 to accumulate.
The government agencies, scientific and medical literature have clearly documented that a huge amount of these environment toxins (phthalates) come from our water, soda and infant formula bottles, food packaging, cosmetics, nail polish, mattresses, couches, carpets, clothing, medications, styrofoam cups, IVs, vinyl flooring, construction materials, home wiring, computers, industrial and auto exhausts, etc.,
The sad point is the fact that these toxins stockpile in the body and overwhelm our ability to detoxify them.
We routinely measure them with a wonderful test called Phthalates & Parabens Profile(https://www.gdx.net/product/phthalates-parabens-test-urine)
In addition to the damage these environmental toxins do to the biochemistry of losing fat they have also been known to be associated with difficult to treat chronic fatigue syndrome,fibromyalgia, ADD, syndrome X, diabetes, arteriosclerosis, allergies, and much more.
In fact the label that a disease has is now unimportant. All we care about is what caused the disease and what biochemical corrections are necessary to get rid of it and actually bring about a true solution, a word you rarely hear in drug-oriented medicine.
What is even worse is the fact a pregnant mother's phthalate levels (look at how many are continually drinking from plastic water bottles, etc., thinking that it's something healthful) hugely influence not only the development of the child's brain and glands, but even future fertility and cancers in their unborn children, not to mention, of course, obesity.
What you need to understand and something the researchers have forgot to mention is the fact that fat stores a huge amount of our chemicals, so the fatter you are the more the difficult it is to lose fat. Interesting and at the same time depressing.
The bottom line is many people will never lose weight or solve their medical problems because they have not gotten rid of the phthalates and other environmental pollutants that have damaged their chemistry and genetics.
One of the key ingredients to ridding the body of these harmful toxins is first to do what you can to avoid it (STOP DRINKING OUT OF SYROFORM CUPS and PLASTIC BOTTLES) and invest in a far infrared sauna, stainless steel or glass water bottle, get tested and do a detox.
Before starting any self treatment Dr. Mortensen recommends that you consider consulting with a doctor trained in functional medicine.
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Baillie-Hamilton PF, Chemical toxins: a hypothesis to explain the global obesity epidemic, JAIt Complement Med 8;2:185-92, 2002
Alonso-Magdalena P, et al, The estrogenic effect of bisphenol A disrupts pancreatic B-cell function in vivo and induces insulin resistance, Environ Health Perspect 114:106-12, 2006
The Hundred Year Diet in the Wall Street (May 10, 2010, A I5)
Vom Saal FS, Welshons WV, Large effects from small exposures. II. The importance of positive controls in low-dose research on bisphenol A, Environ Res, 100;1:50-76, Jan. 2006
Feige JN, et al, The endocrine disruptor monoethyl-hexyl phthalate is a selective peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma modulator that promotes adipogenesis, JBiol Chem 282:19152-66, 2007
Hatch EE, et al., Association of urinary phthalate metabolite concentrations with a body mass index and waist circumference: a cross-sectional study of NHANES data, 1999-2002, Environ Health 7:27, 2008
Clark K, et al, Observed concentrations in the environment. In: The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry. Vol 3, Part Q. Phthalate Ester (Staples CA, ed). New York: Springer, 125-177, 2003
Feige JN, et al, The pollutant diethylhexyl phthalate regulates hepatic energy metabolism via species-specific PPARa-dependent mechanisms, Environ Health Persp, 118; 2:234-41, Feb 2010
Jaakkola JJK, et al, The role of exposure to phthalates from polyvinyl chloride products in the development of asthma and allergies: A systematic review and meta-analysis, Environ Health Perspect 116:845-53, 2008
Provided by Dr. Gristanti and www.functionalmedicineuniversity.com