Dr. Olisa Mak, ND, originally posted on www.thenatpath.com
For so many people getting a good night’s sleep is a daily challenge. If you find yourself counting sheep, night after night, you’re not alone. According to a study by Dr. Morin from the University of Laval, 40% of Canadians report having one or more symptoms of insomnia at least three times a week.1
The study showed:
Their data revealed that 40% of respondents had experienced one or more symptoms of insomnia at least three times a week in the preceding month, i.e., taking more than 30 minutes to fall asleep, being awake for periods longer than 30 minutes during the night, or waking up at least 30 minutes before they had planned. Moreover, 20% of the participants said they were unsatisfied with the quality of their sleep, and 13.4% of respondents displayed all the symptoms required to diagnose insomnia.
Getting a better night’s sleep can require correcting sleep habits, decreasing stress, or rebalancing hormones but after an initial period of improvement, patients often relapse. Most recently, I returned to the drawing board to try and find these patients a permanent solution. I started looking at the puzzle from a different perspective. What was I missing? Pineal calcification.
80% of the pineal gland consists of pinealocytes which produce melatonin.2 Melatonin has a lot more functions than just regulating our sleep. It enhances the immune system, and at higher doses, is a very strong antioxidant.2 It is a neuroprotector implicated in the aging process that is often associated with mental decline and dementia-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s.2 It also decreases secretion of sex hormones LH and FSH, playing a role in sexual development.3
This study examined the role of melatonin in neurodegenerative diseases:
One of the features of advancing age is the gradual decrease in circulating melatonin levels. A limited number of therapeutic trials have indicated that melatonin has a therapeutic value as a neuroprotective drug in the treatment of AD and minimal cognitive impairment (which may evolve to AD). Both in vitro and in vivo, melatonin prevented the neurodegeneration seen in experimental models of AD. For these effects to occur, doses of melatonin about two orders of magnitude higher than those required to affect sleep and circadian rhythmicity are needed. More recently, attention has been focused on the development of potent melatonin analogs with prolonged effects, which were employed in clinical trials in sleep-disturbed or depressed patients in doses considerably higher than those employed for melatonin. In view that the relative potencies of the analogs are higher than that of the natural compound, clinical trials employing melatonin in the range of 50–100 mg/day are urgently needed to assess its therapeutic validity in neurodegenerative disorders such as AD.
Pineal calcification was first demonstrated in 1918 by Schüller on autopsy.4 Since then, countless studies have demonstrated that pineal calcification increases with age.5 Pineal calcification occurs from the death or degeneration of pinealocytes; therefore, decreasing melatonin production.6 In light of all the functions of melatonin, it’s important to consider the implications of decreased melatonin.
Pineal calcification has been associated with a number of serious conditions including Alzheimer’s7,diabetes8, hormone related cancer8, migraines4, GERD9, gastrointestinal ulcers10, and studies are now looking at a possible link between pineal gland calcification, lumbar intervertebral disc degeneration and abnormal aorta calcification11. In 2006, a study found that patients with Alzheimer’s Disease had significantly greater amounts of calcified pineal gland tissue than patients with other types of dementia.7
The pineal gland sits outside of the blood-brain barrier, and receives direct blood flow, making it a prime location for fluoride deposition.12 Fluoride has been found to deposit in the pineal gland in the form of hydroxyapatite and to interfere with pineal gland function.12 Since the mid 1900s, fluoridating water became common practice to prevent cavities. Today, many Canadian communities have chosen to not fluoridate their water and only roughly 45% of Canadians have access to fluoridated water.13 Health Canada recommends adding fluoride at a concentration of 0.7 parts per million.13
The effects of fluoride have been largely debated. Although research shows that water fluoridation decreases tooth decay by 20%-40%14, and some studies show that fluoridation is linked to no long-term harm, newer research suggests otherwise. Studies show that chronic consumption of high levels of sodium fluoride lead to deterioration in learning, evident in lower than normal IQ scores in children as well as histopathological changes in mice, such as demyelination of cells in the brain.14 Prolonged exposure to high levels of fluoride have also been implicated in thyroid gland dysfunction and abnormal sexual development in children.14
It’s important to recognize that fluoride is not only found in water and toothpaste. Fluoride is an important component of our soil, and is incorporated in varying amounts into our food and drinks in the manufacturing process. This makes it extremely difficult to regulate. Toothpastes can contain anywhere from 1000ppm to 1500ppm of fluoride and soft drinks were found to have fluoride levels ranging from 0.02 to 1.28ppm, with an average of 0.60ppm. Although conclusive research is not available, the possible dangers of excess fluoride intake warrant additional study and avoiding the use of products that contain large amounts of fluoride. Products that may contain large amounts of fluoride include soft drinks, teas and toothpaste. A fluoride intake of 0.05-0.07 mg/kg body weight/day has been suggested as being optimal.16 A Brazilian study looking at fluoride intake from toothpaste and dietary sources found that toothpaste alone contributes to roughly 80% of the recommended fluoride intake.16 The study also found that most children were exposed to a daily fluoride intake above the suggested optimal amount.16 Furthermore, inadequate iodine intake can decrease the threshold at which fluoride becomes harmful.17 In addressing the safety of fluoride, it is insufficient to only consider the amount of fluoride in water.
Addressing an underlying melatonin deficiency could be central to a person’s treatment plan. Synthesized in the gastrointestinal system and by the pineal gland, melatonin plays a central role in our body and affects virtually every single system in our body. Without the luxury of being able to have a CT scan to see if your pineal gland is calcified, what can you do? Urine testing for the melatonin metabolite, 6-sulfatoxymelatonin, could be a sign of pineal calcification.5 If pineal calcification is suspected as the cause of a melatonin deficiency, tissue salts and auricular acupuncture may be the answer. Exogenous sources of fluoride leading to pineal calcification also needs to be considered.
Dr. Olisa Mak, ND, originally posted on www.thenatpath.com
It’s easy to know if you’re allergic to a food – you eat the food and almost immediately you’re itchy all over, your lips and tongue become swollen, your eyes water, you might even have difficulty breathing.
Signs of a food sensitivity or intolerance are not so overt and can often go unnoticed, unaddressed, silently developing into chronic illnesses such as atherosclerosis1,rheumatoid arthritis1, Lupus1, among others, that can be prevented. To complicate matters further, symptoms of food sensitivities often do not appear until days after consuming the offending food. Identifying a potential food intolerance requires an understanding of how food intolerances develop and how they lead to an unexpected myriad of different symptoms.
Various aspects of the gastrointestinal system contribute to the development of a food sensitivity. A disrupted immune system, abnormal normal flora, low levels of stomach acid and pancreatic enzyme deficiency are all key players.1 When food particles are insufficiently digested, large particles are left behind, for bacteria, yeast and parasites to take advantage of. As these foreign pathogens accumulate and thrive, they produce toxins that irritate the gastrointestinal lining. Just like your skin, your gastrointestinal lining becomes inflamed, irritated and fragile. The gastrointestinal barrier loses its structural integrity as cell junctions, immune cells and absorptive cells are destroyed. Undigested food molecules that are not supposed to cross the gastrointestinal barrier enter into the blood stream as antigens. This is by definition “leaky gut”.1
Once in the bloodstream, the body’s immune system detects these foreign antigens and produces IgG antibodies to bind to the antigens, forming antigen-antibody complexes.1 These antigen-antibody complexes circulate throughout the body via the bloodstream, eventually reaching the liver. The liver should filter blood and destroy foreign substances but when the liver is under-functioning, these complexes continue circulating around the body. Complexes eventually deposit in various tissues in the body1, causing inflammation and unpredictable constellation of symptoms. Inflammatory bowel diseases (ex. Crohn’s disease), alcohol, use of NSAIDs and abnormal flora can also contribute to the development of leaky gut.1
TOP 10 SIGNS THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE A FOOD SENSITIVITY
I SUSPECT THAT I HAVE A FOOD SENSITIVITY – WHAT SHOULD I DO?
If you have several of the symptoms mentioned above, speak to a naturopath. Upon evaluating your individual constellation of symptoms, and the extent of gastrointestinal damage, your Naturopathic Doctor will recommend an individualized action plan. Your health plan may include one or more of the following:
Simply removing foods that trigger increases in antibody levels may not resolve symptoms. Considering the individual’s whole picture, treating the underlying cause and proper interpretation of test results is vital.
The development of a food sensitivity never happens overnight and for many of us, our everyday food choices may be causing internal damage that we are unknowing to. Be proactive and improve your health today. Ask me now to find out how to eat right for your gut.
Dr. Olisa Mak, ND, originally posted on www.thenatpath.com
For years, my mom worked night shifts at Vancouver Hospital as an ER respiratory therapist. During the day she was a stay-at-home mom, taking care of my siblings and I, driving us to and from school, and our extracurricular activities. Over time, this lifestyle took a toll on her health and it became quite clear that she only had two choices – quit her job or accept that her body would fail her. Since her retirement, her health has worsened and only after 15 years of making healthier, more balanced dietary choices and exercising more, has her body started to repair itself.
In Canada, approximately 4.1 million of 14.6 million or 28% of employed people do not work a regular day shift.1 It is a well-known fact that working irregular hours causes insomnia and fatigue and burnout. Lesser known is that it also increases the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and hypertension.2In recent years, a much better understanding of the circadian rhythm has developed – explaining how a disrupted circadian rhythm increases the risk of chronic disease, and how a balanced circadian rhythm is key to maintaining a healthier, longer life.
Novel research confirms a complex system of clocks that are intimately synchronized with variations of light and sleep/feeding cycles.2 The body’s master clock, found in the brain, attunes itself to perceived changes in light and sets the time for the whole body.2 Individual organs, such as the heart, thyroid, and liver, also have their own clocks.2 The clocks communicate with each other via a system of nerves and hormones,3 much like the endocrine system, or digestive system.
As the master clock sets the pace and the other clocks follow, activity of every organ and cell is synchronized. Synchronicity ensures that the needs of the body at a particular moment are met. For example, when the body expects a meal, the master clock communicates with organs (especially the liver) and cells to synthesize glucose transporters and enzymes required to metabolize the sudden rush of glucose.4 Individual clocks must work synergistically as the body’s needs change throughout the day. The system also ensures that conflicting metabolic processes occur at different times of the day.5 As the time on the clocks change, each organ can be thought of as a completely different organ.2
Specific genes involved in the regulation of the circadian clocks have now been identified and are being studied in both humans and animal models. We are beginning to understand the function of specific genes, how the genes interact, and how expression of these genes change throughout the day. More importantly, research is striving to understand the process of circadian desynchronization and its potential clinical applications, especially on increasingly number of people who work irregular hours.
THE CIRCADIAN RHYTHM AND THE LIVERResearch shows that the circadian rhythm affects organ function by inducing temporary changes in gene expression. These changes have been most extensively researched in the liver. Genetic analysis shows that 5-20% of the liver’s DNA changes according to the circadian rhythm throughout the day.2Every aspect of liver function is regulated by the body’s circadian rhythm from the metabolism of cholesterol, detoxification, the conversion of thyroid hormones, and the synthesis of coagulation factors that control bleeding.4
The liver plays an immeasurable role on how our body responds to our surroundings. Suboptimal liver processing of potentially toxic chemicals from daily hygiene products, pesticides, pollution, and food is often the underlying cause of chronic disease. A better understanding of circadian regulation of liver detoxification pathways would strengthen our defence and resilience against various environmental insults. When specific circadian rhythm genes are knocked out, mice show premature aging syndromes as well as widespread deficits in liver detoxification.4
Alcohol undoubtedly stresses the liver’s detoxification pathways and desynchronizes the liver clock from the master clock.2 As the liver’s clock becomes disconnected from the system, liver activity and function no longer addresses the body’s needs at a particular time. Researchers suggest that there may be times during the day when the circadian clock is more vulnerable to the damaging effects of alcohol, times when it’s best to avoid alcohol.2 Unfortunately, (or fortunately), that time is yet to be determined but the its implications are monumental. Laboratory studies also show that alcohol mediates changes to the intestinal clock.2
All health products (supplements, herbs, medications) taken orally are processed by the liver before going to target organs. Since the liver functions as a completely different organ depending on the time of day2, treatments implemented at different times of day could yield better results with fewer side effects. In one study, taking antihypertensives in the evening (compared to morning) showed a greater reduction in cardiovascular events (CVEs) and cardiovascular mortality5.
THE CIRCADIAN RHYTHM AND DIABETES
Extreme levels (high or low) of glucose levels are life-threatening medical emergencies. Together, the master clock and liver clock modulate baseline levels of glucose, and its regulating hormones glucagon and insulin.4 This ensures that glucose levels are kept within a safe physiological range, regardless of fluctuations in sleep/wake and feeding cycles. This has tremendous implications on the treatment of type II Diabetes. Diet, poor lifestyle choices and irregular work times are all risk factors for developing type II diabetes.2 Understanding the degree of effect that circadian dysregulation has on insulin and glucose levels would also show the extent that lifestyle choices contribute to the disease process. This would enable naturopathic doctors to better predict the magnitude of benefit of lifestyle and dietary recommendations which are cornerstones of type II Diabetes treatment.
THE CIRCADIAN RHYTHM AND DIET
A meal rich in a particular type of nutrient, fat, protein or carbohydrate, has different effects on the body when consumed at different times of the day. People who regularly eat high fat meals at the end of the day are more likely to increase fat synthesis, have elevated cholesterol and fat), and cardiac dysfunction.2 In another study, rodents were forced to eat during times when they should have been sleeping and gene expression in all organ clocks shifted by 12 hours.2 These same mice also showed significant weight gain.2 We might finally have the answer to why that midnight or mid-morning snack might not be the best idea.
WHAT THIS ALL MEANS FOR THE FUTURE MEDICINE AND YOUR HEALTH
Furthering our understanding of the circadian system ripples into just about every area of health. It provides insight into and hope for conditions where circadian dysfunction is common that do not yet have a cure, including schizophrenia6, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntingdon disease.7 It means implementing preventative strategies earlier in conditions where circadian dysfunction is a risk factor.4 It’s providing us with more accurate and reliable prognostic factors.
Heart attacks of a certain nature (STEMI) are more likely to happen in the morning.5 Consequently, symptom onset time might be a better prognostic factor than the current prognostic factor used – duration of restricted blood flow.5 This brings to question whether current standards and interventions are to par with research is showing. Further research is necessary.
Novel treatment goals that acknowledge the circadian-induced natural fluctuations of the body could mean better outcomes. Research suggests that normalizing sugar levels before and after breakfast should be the primary treatment goal for diabetes.5 Blood glucose levels in non diabetes remain constant over night whereas diabetic patients have an elevated blood glucose in the morning before breakfast.5 Adrenal gland release of your stress hormone, cortisol, also follows a circadian rhythm.5In healthy individuals, cortisol levels peak before waking and decrease during sleep.5 Conventional glucocorticoid replacement therapy for adrenal insufficiency often leads to poor outcomes because it does not mimic this natural 24 hour pattern.5
Like a movie director, the circadian rhythm directs everything that happens behind the scenes, coordinating function of all organs and cells. Improving circadian health undoubtedly promotes whole body health.
Our most current understanding of our circadian clocks highlights the risks of working long hours, night shifts or even motherhood. All of which are associated with a higher risk for dyslipidemia, obesity, type 2 diabetes and hypertension.2 The key to living a healthier, longer life is having a regular schedule and for those who are unable to do, understanding the effects of a disrupted circadian rhythm and mitigating these effects. Addressing circadian dysregulation will not only improve your overall health but also slow aging and reduce your risk of developing various chronic disease.
Maintaining a healthy, balanced circadian system can be done by having a regular sleep, eating and activity schedule. A regular schedule allows the body to anticipate and be prepared for varying environmental demands or stresses2, for example, by producing more digestive enzymes in preparation for a meal, so that absorption can follow. Experience a healthier, longer life with a sharper & faster mind, heightened energy levels, and better heart, digestive and reproductive health.
Dr. Olisa Mak, ND, originally posted on www.thenatpath.com
Gut-bacteria have been known for a long time to have protective effects against many different conditions including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease1, ankylosis spondylitis2, and depression1. The newest research is now bringing to light the mechanistic aspects of these protective effects.
In a recent article, researchers found an increase in chemoprotective metabolites that correlated with a change in intestinal microbiome.3 The study investigated ataxia telangiectasis (AT), a genetic but progressive condition that affects children all over the world. A staggering 30-40% of individuals with AT develop lymphoid cancer.3 Suffering from compromised immune function, neurodegenerationand respiratory infections, individuals with AT have a much higher mortality rate, with most individuals succumbing to the condition in early to middle adolescence.3
The study utilized various strains of mice3, including:
Several differences were found between the various groups of mice.3 RM mice were found to have significantly more Lactobacillus johnsonii, which, in addition to several studies in the past, have been found to delay the onset of lymphoma from the normal 2-5 months of age to 7-12 months.3 L. johnsonii has also been known to increase the number of host Paneth cells responsible for producing antimicrobial compounds in the gut.3
By restricting bacterial diversity in the gut and increasing L. johnsonii, three potentially chemoprotective metabolites were significantly increased in all RM mice – 3-methybutyrolactone, methyladenine, and kyneurenic acid.3 These metabolites all help to alter cellular metabolism – suppressing tumour activity, regulating cell proliferation and minimizing oxidative stress.3 The results of this study suggest that manipulating microbial populations can be used as an effective strategy to prevent or alleviate cancer susceptibility.3
Evidence from several other studies support that beneficial gut bacteria protect against cancer. In another recent study, researchers investigated the effect of Campylobacter concisus, on the release of pro-inflammatory signalling molecules, or cytokines that are often increased in pre-cancerous or cancerous cells.4 The Campylobacter genus of bacteria includes several species, known to be pathogenic to humans, most notably causing gastroenteritis, and periodontitis.
THE BACTERIA – CANCER CONNECTION
They measured levels of IL-18, p53 and TNF-⍺ released from Barrett’s esophagitis cells exposed to C. concisus.4 Barrett’s esophagitis develops in those with chronic GERD and is a precursor to esophageal adenocarcinoma. Significant increases in all three inflammatory cytokines were found.4
IL-18 triggers the release of several downstream cytokines, including NF—kβ which has only been found in pre-cancerous and cancerous cells (Barrett’s, gastric, colon, esophageal adenocarcinoma).5
IL-18 also facilitates metastasis and tumour cell proliferation.5
Any alteration of the p53, tumour suppressor gene, in Barrett’s esophagitis is suspected of increasing the risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma by 15 times.4 By increasing p53, C. concisus is able to create genetic instability and cellular abnormalities, paving the way for the development of cancer.
TNF-⍺ acts as a tumour promoter by facilitating the assembly of cellular machinery that cancer cells rely on.4 C. concisus also promotes the conversion of nitrate to nitrite to produce nitric oxide, a known carcinogenic agent.4
The detection of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the early stages of cancer could allow for earlier diagnoses and therefore earlier treatment, ultimately improving the prognoses of many cancers. By promoting a healthy gastrointestinal environment that enables good bacteria to thrive, you are decreasing the ability of Campylobacter consicus and other pathogenic bacteria to wreak havoc on your body – decreasing your chances of developing cancer.
Health is as much about being physically healthy as it is mental and emotional health. I am a doctor, not only to improve physical health but to also help patients understand how they can live happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives. Clarity. Path. Life.
Books have always had a special place in my heart. Authors paint an unimaginable world that enables readers to see the world from a different perspective or lens. They set the stage for introspection, and personal development at a pace that meets the reader where they're at.
From time to time, there's a book that changes the way I see the world, that puts me back on track when I falter "When Breath Becomes Air" by Paul Kalanithi has been that kind of book. Paul is a neurosurgeon resident who has always been interested in death, with a desire to "pursue death: to grasp it, uncloak it, and see it eye-to-eye". Before he operates on each patient, he first understands who they are What defines these people? What makes them, them? What makes life worth living? At what point is life not worth living? In what can only be called a sudden twist of fate, Paul is diagnosed with lung cancer and is no longer just a spectator. A must read, as Paul takes us along on his journey, as he grapples with the meaning of life and earth and what separates the two.
In a recent article on SportsNet.ca, Toronto Blue Jays player José Bautista talks about his key to success. He credits it to adopting a holistic approach to managing his body, and treating the root cause. At age 35, he shows no signs of slowing down, playing 308 of 324 games in the last two seasons and missing only one of 55 games in the current season.
In 2013, Bautista suffered a hip injury that served as an opportunity to up his game and become even better. Bautista changed his mindset and everything he did became a fundamental and calculated part of a process to prepare his body for a game and to repair his body after each game.
Bautista insists the combination of his entire regimen has changed him not only physically, but mentally, too.
His process-focused approach not only improved his physical abilities, but also his confidence, focus and energy. Bautista is a role model to all of us who want to be the best that we can be, an example of what discipline, hard-work, commitment and dedication can help you achieve.
Bautista identified his body’s needs and created an individualized routine that works for him. It addresses his goals, strengths and weaknesses The cornerstone of his routine - a good diet. He talks about nourishing his cells, so that they’re available to him, and how it just won’t happen if he’s eating “normal people food”. He’s implemented a diet abundant in antioxidants that prevent damage to the body during times of stress, nutrients that prevent and reduce inflammation, and repair and detoxify the body by supporting the liver.
He also talks about breathing exercises, just five to ten minutes at a time, two to three times a day. They help calm his mind, improve focus and even muscle function. He talks about understanding what his body feels like under different situations - if his muscles are tight, if he doesn’t sleep well or if he eats certain foods. This allows Bautista to know what his body requires, to do things with ease, which diminishes wear and tear and stress on the body and allows him to be fresh for longer.
Bautista’s regimen perfectly exemplifies the six naturopathic principles (https://aanmc.org/6-principles/). He’s connecting his mind to his body through meditation and breathing. He’s eating a diet rich in nutrients, to reduce inflammation, prevent injury and repair the body after each game. The omega-3s and anti-inflammatory nutrients support his overall health. Rather than simply building muscle to recover from injury, he addressed the underlying cause of the injury, the muscle imbalance. Finally, he’s educating himself about the body and and seeing what makes him feel best.
At age 35, Bautista seems to have found the secret to longevity as an athlete. He’s improved every part of his game, creating results that have led reporters to ask if he’s found a way to defy time. As impressive as these results seem, everyone can improve their confidence, energy and focus by establishing a routine that focuses on prevention, repair and one’s innate abilities,
For the original SportsNet.ca article, go to http://www.sportsnet.ca/baseball/mlb/jose-bautista-dominates-body-maintenance-game/.