Day in and day out, many of us pay little attention to our bodies. All the while they withstand (often extreme) stress and enable us to complete tasks that we often take for granted. It’s not until our current way of living is threatened, or things simply don’t feel the same that we decide to take action. By shunting whatever nutrients we get from our diet to vital functions, the body may not manifest symptoms until much later. But with long term stress, nutrient requirements increase, while availability remains unchanged or even decreases (we tend to make poorer dietary choices when stressed). Eventually nutrients become depleted, deficiencies develop, and the body can no longer cope. Symptoms and imbalances arise.
Without an omniscient machine to show us everything that’s happening in your body - how can we determine which deficiencies & imbalances to correct, to yield a permanent solution to your health concerns?
Naturopathic Doctors focus on treating the underlying cause to attain permanent results. Symptoms are carefully interpreted, physical examinations are performed and testing is done, all to better understand the underlying cause of your ailments.
Test results yield objective information to reflect how individual parts of your body are interacting with each other to create your individual symptom picture. It can confirm suspicions - which hormones are in excess? Deficient? Test results, whether breath, blood, salivary, urine, stool and/or hair, provide your healthcare team with a starting point, whilst guiding and streamlining treatment.
Menstrual symptoms such as breast tenderness, (often debilitating) heavy bleeding and cramping can be due to an absolute or relative excess of estrogen.1 In an absolute excess of estrogen, levels of estrogen are higher than normal, whereas in a relative estrogen excess, estrogen levels are actually normal but progesterone levels are low.1 It’s important to consider the estrogen-progesterone ratio. This information guides treatment, is the treatment goal to decrease estrogen, or to boost progesterone? Testing will tell you exactly what you need to know.
Testing informs both yourself and your healthcare provider about how your body is responding to your treatment. It tells us that that the treatment plan is either working wonderfully or needs to be adjusted. This is the case when thyroid medications are prescribed. Every 6-8 weeks after thyroid hormones are prescribed, or a new dosage is recommended, thyroid levels are tested.
Testing also addresses your individuality by informing your healthcare provider about your body’s current conditions. This ensures that the best starting and subsequent dosages are chosen. How you respond to treatment might be completely different from how someone else responds to the same treatment and is often unpredictable without testing.
Using the best testing methods and testing the right hormones or markers ensures that imbalances are being addressed and that your time and money are getting you the results that you want. It can help shine a light on stubborn cases, where nothing seems to work.
Testing betters both your own and your healthcare provider’s understanding of what’s happening within YOUR body. And when considered all together - test results, symptoms, and physical examination findings can make all the difference in your recovery, helping you to feel your best.
What Testing is Available?
Spectracell Micronutrient Test
This test can be extremely informative for those who are healthy and those with health concerns. This specific test measures the levels & function of 35 different micronutrients - vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and amino acids, crucial to your well-being.2
For those who are healthy, this test can reveal overt or borderline deficiencies to inform you on which supplements to take, to optimize your health and to help you to be proactive in preventing future illnesses.
For those with health concerns, it can confirm nutrient deficiencies and help you decide which supplements are crucial for you to take, when there can often seem like a million things to take. Of course, eating a nutrient-rich, balanced diet can contribute to health and wellness.
Adrenal & Hormone Testing
Adrenal testing is a must for those who have had to deal with extremely stressful events or just high stress for prolonged periods of time. Adrenal testing measures cortisol levels at 4 different points during the day to track how levels of this stress hormone change. In a healthy person, cortisol levels are highest in the morning, one hour after waking and then gradually decrease throughout the day to become lowest around bedtime when the mind should be calm and ready for a night of repair and regeneration.1 Variations in this natural cortisol curve can reflect different stages of adrenal fatigue with symptoms of fatigue, burn-out, exhaustion and restlessness leading to insomnia.1
Hormone testing is best done via saliva or urine and extremely useful for tracking how hormones are converted from one into another, a reflection of what’s happening in your body. It can help predict cancer risk by looking at ratios and percentages of the different forms of estrogen. It can be used to track hormonal changes over the course of a woman’s menstrual cycle - extremely important information for those with menstrual irregularities3:
All our hormones (adrenals, female/male sex hormones) are interrelated and therefore often tested all together.
Food Sensitivity Testing
One of the most frequently run tests in my practice. A simple finger prick or blood draw can be used to identify foods that you might be eating everyday and causing you harm. Food sensitivities can take hours to days to manifest in your body, making them extremely difficult to identify.1
Your immune system responds to certain foods by initiating an inflammatory response.1 The inflammation can either be localized to the gut or throughout the whole body. Long-term, this process damages the gut and is no longer a barrier to the outside world - toxins now enter the body and even the bloodstream and travel throughout the body to wreak havoc - brain fog, weight gain, digestive symptoms (bloating, flatulence, abdominal pain, constipation), skin issues, and autoimmune conditions among others.1
By identifying food sensitivities, foods can be removed, giving the body time to rest, repair and regenerate. Eventually, foods can be reintroduced to the diet, without harm.1
Low energy, weight fluctuations and dry skin are common symptoms of thyroid dysfunction.4 To accurately test thyroid function, four hormones should be tested for - , TSH, T3, T4, and reverse T3.
TSH is released from the pituitary gland which then signals to the thyroid to make T3, and T4.4 T3 is the only active thyroid hormone in the body but is only produced in small amounts (7%), whereas T4 is inactive but produced abundantly (93%).4 T4 is converted into both T3 (in the liver), and reverse T3, another inactive form.4
The thyroid is extremely complicated and simply measuring TSH is not enough to accurately access thyroid function - the reason why thyroid conditions are often undiagnosed.
To learn more about testing and to discuss which tests are right for you - book in for a 20 minute complimentary Meet & Greet. Find out how to start feeling your best again.
Book online or call Inspirit Health Group, at 604-559-8816 to book your complimentary Meet & Greet.
I love B12 injections. For myself and my patients, B12 injections offer that shot of energy that I crave after a long week and so much more! They're inexpensive, effective and that's why it's easy to love them! Read on to find out more about vitamin B12 injections.
There are four different forms of vitamin B12 - cyanocobalamin, methylcobalamin, hydroxocobalamin and adenosylcobalamin.1 The latter two are converted into methylcobalamin which is a biologically active form, ready for your cells to use once absorbed by the small intestines.1
Cyanocobalamin is a synthetic form of vitamin B12 commonly found in supplements and vitamin B12 fortified foods due to its stability.1 The drawback? It relies on healthy large intestinal cells to be converted into methylcobalamin.1
Are you deficient?
Vitamin B12 is key to your health and deficiencies can exhibit in several ways.
Certain populations are also at a higher risk for being vitamin B12 deficient - pregnant women2, women on oral contraceptives3, the elderly4, vegetarians1, individuals with gastrointestinal disorders1.
Signs You’re Vitamin B12 Deficient
A number of signs and symptoms suggest a vitamin B12 deficiency. Routine blood work from your Naturopathic Physician or Primary physician can confirm a vitamin B12 deficiency.
Fatigue, frequent infections, anemia and nerve pain (shooting pain, numbness, tingling sensations) all suggest a potential vitamin B12 deficiency.1 Vitamin B12 also affects your overall health by playing a key role in fat & cholesterol metabolism, antioxidant activity, and DNA synthesis.1
Why Vitamin B12 Supplementation Might Not be Enough?
Relying on B12 supplements or dietary sources of B12 may not be enough to alleviate symptoms of B12 deficiency. Maximal vitamin B12 absorption relies heavily on a healthy gut.1
Symptoms like bloating, constipation and eczema reflect damage to the gut that decreases the absorption of nutrients, including vitamin B12.
Signs Your Gut Health can be Improved
Bloating & Gas
Constipation or diarrhea
Skin issues such as eczema
Joint Pain or Stiffness
Improving gut health, resolving these common concerns, is key to improving B12 absorption and status. And here’s why.
Vitamin B12 is absorbed in the ileum or final portion of the small intestines and relies on several ‘taxis’ or proteins to bring it there. Proper chewing to secrete saliva, adequate levels of stomach acid & digestive enzymes and proper small intestinal pH all play a role in the functioning of these ‘taxis’ or proteins.4
Regardless of how much B12 you’re supplementing or getting from your diet, you can be vitamin B12 deficient if you’re lacking ‘taxis’ or proteins to transport it to its final destination.4
To maximize vitamin B12 absorption, healing the gut and to address digestion is key. We want to 1) promote proper chewing, 2) resolve any heartburn where stomach acid is often low and 3) ensure proper liver and pancreatic release of digestive enzymes.
B12 Injections are Safe for Just About Everyone
In my own practice, vitamin B12 is injected on its own or with other vitamins & minerals. By combining vitamins & minerals, they work synergistically to relieve complex health conditions commonly linked to multiple deficiencies.
Different Strengths of Vitamin B12
Mini Dose - for healthy individuals who want a boost of energy
Mega Dose - for those with more serious or specific B12 deficiency symptoms such as nerve pain.
Illnesses that May Benefit from Vitamin & Mineral Cocktails
Anxiety and Depression5
Newer research also shows vitamin B12 could prevent protein misfolding and aggregation, which has been implicated as the cause of more than 20 disease, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.6
Can my body handle all the Vitamin B12 in an injection? Will it go to waste?
Vitamin B12 can be stored in the liver for long periods of time, even years.4 Whatever your body doesn’t immediately use goes into this reserve of B12. Building up this reserve protects the body, prevents disease and ensures that the body can function at its best, even during times of stress.
Vitamin B12 injections can be a great way to build up vitamin B12 stores, along with dietary adjustments.
Will I feel a benefit from just one vitamin B12 injection?
Most people feel an energy boost from just one injection but it all depends on how deficient you are, and what symptoms you’re experiencing, if any.
I’m scared of needles. Does it hurt?
Most patients are surprised to see how small the needle is and just how fast & painless it is to get an injection.
The needle is quickly injected into your deltoids (shoulder muscle) or gluts (butt muscle). These muscles are large enough for the needles to enter pain-free and for the vitamins and minerals to travel to the rest of the body where the nutrients are needed.
There’s also always the option of looking away during the injection so you never even see it!
How a Naturopathic Doctor Can Help
A Naturopathic Doctor assesses your nutrient status with blood work, physical examination and proper investigation of your signs & symptoms. Your treatment program is guided by this assessment as well as your goals & priorities.
The goal is to establish the internal and external conditions necessary for health, future and present.
Ask about our other injections or to book in for a complimentary Meet and Greet with Dr. Olisa Mak.
Call 604-559-8816 or go to inspirit.janeapp.com to book today.
I hope that it’s your best year yet. This time of the year is always full of excitement, hope, motivation, and optimism. We’re excited to see how the new year will unfold, to see what surprises might come our way. We’re excited about new beginnings and opportunities. We’re motivated to make changes, to better ourselves. We’re hopeful that the New Year will be a turning point. We’re optimistic that 2017 will be our best year yet.
New Years resolutions are our attempt to achieve all that, a reflection of all that we desire and want for the New Year. With so much hanging in the balance with our New Years Resolutions, what’s the best way to approach your New Years resolutions? Be the best that you can be this year and achieve all your New Years resolutions with these five easy tips.
1) BE SPECIFIC ABOUT WHAT IT IS THAT YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE
Increase your chances of success by creating a more specific New Years resolution. Know exactly what it is that you want to achieve. Your New Years resolution should reflect that. For example,
Simply saying that “I want to be healthier”, “I want to exercise more”, or “I want to stress less” is vague and not the most useful.
If you want to be healthier, what does that look like? What does being healthier really mean? Does it mean exercising more? Does it mean eating better? Does it mean showing yourself more compassion?
2) CREATE A PLAN TO HELP YOU ENVISION THE CHANGE THAT YOU WANT TO SEE
If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. Once you have a specific New Years resolution in mind, the next step is to create a plan and timeline to implement and achieve your resolution.
Take time to create your plan and timeline. Having a well thought-out plan and timeline could make all the difference. There is no rule to say that you have to start your New Years resolution on January 1st. If it means success rather than failure, take a few days to create a thoughtful plan and timeline.
Some key questions to ask yourself:
Create a list and an action plan for each challenge that you might encounter. Brainstorm how you will adjust your plan to overcome each challenge! This will help you stick to your New Years resolution!
3) MAKE IT INDIVIDUALIZED FOR YOU
A quick Google search of “New Years Resolutions” reveals website after website of New Years Resolutions. While they provide great sources of inspiration, don’t stop there! Take these examples and make them your own. What works for others may not work for you.
A million people in this world are going to want to lose weight after the holidays and make it a New Years resolution but how is your New Years resolution going to be different? Are you going to start walking to work? How much weight are you trying to lose? What part of your body do you want to lose the weight from? If you’re trying to eat healthier, what foods do YOU need to eat more? Your friend might be trying to eat healthier by eating more fruits. What about you?
4) TELL OTHERS! GET OTHERS INVOLVED
Hold yourself accountable by telling others about what it is that you want to do. Do you want to eat less sugar? Tell your friends and family so that they can do it with you too or help you. Recruit your existing support network to help you succeed. Let your partner know to buy fewer candies, pastries and other sugary foods! Get your support network on board to help remove cravings or reminders of where you might feel like you’re missing out.
5) ACHIEVING NEW YEARS RESOLUTION SUCCESS REQUIRES CONSTANT RE-EVALUATION AND ADJUSTMENTS TO YOUR PLAN
Every year I hear people making New Year’s resolutions like “I want to be fitter”, “I’m going to get that six pack” (speaking about abs!), only to hear about people falling off the bandwagon by February. The final key to New Year’s resolution success is to have just enough flexibility and structure to your plan.
Show yourself compassion when you’re finding it difficult to stick to your New Years resolutions. Don’t abandon your whole plan. Simply re-evaluate it, and adjust it.
“It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble forward” ~ Old Chinese Proverb
Always keep sight of what it is that you want to achieve as you adjust your plan. It might be too much to say that you MUST go to the gym every Tuesday and Thursday morning. Perhaps simply agreeing that you’ll go to the gym twice a week is enough of a plan. Life is always full of unpredictable surprises – new commitments, situations, obligations, emergencies. Make your New Years resolution plan flexible enough to change as your life does and be honest about what you can do.
Good luck and Happy New Year!
Dr. Olisa Mak, ND, originally posted on www.thenatpath.com
Back to school is inadvertently a stressful time for parents. You’re rushing from place to place, getting your kids ready and hoping that it will be another happy and safe year for them. That despite all the changes and challenges they might go through, they’ll remain strong and happy. As parents, you do everything you can to keep your kids safe. But how do you protect them from what is hidden from you, like harmful chemicals?
Chemicals are everywhere and awareness and understanding of their adverse effects is significantly lacking. Collectively called Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs), parabens, Bisphenol A (BPA), triclosan, phthalates and 4NP alter the body’s own natural balance of hormones, especially estrogen, by 1) mimicking hormones, 2) blocking hormone receptor sites or 3) triggering inappropriate hormone activity.1 EDCs have been associated with allergies, cancers, reproductive difficulties and behavioural and learning disorders.2 Of particular concern is their ability to affect key developmental periods such as puberty.1
In a 2015 study, urine samples were obtained from 50 children and analyzed for 10 different chemical metabolites, including BPA, phthalates, and parabens.3 14% of children had all 10 chemicals present, 28% had measurable levels of 4NP and all 50 children had detectible levels of at least five chemicals in their urine and at least one chemical in each class.3 BPA has been found in 90% of the US population age six and over, with the highest concentrations in children ages 6-11.1 Although awareness regarding chemicals like BPA has increased, these chemicals stay in your body for prolonged periods of time due to long half-lives. It’s not whether your child has chemicals, but the amount that they have accumulated in their bodies. Chemicals are everywhere.
TYPES & SOURCES OF CHEMICALS
THE EVIDENCE FOR CHEMICALS CAUSING BEHAVIOURAL AND LEARNING DIFFICULTIES
Harmful chemicals have been shown to have numerous effects on the brain, suggesting a potential mechanism for behavioural and learning difficulties. Both BPA and phthalates are known neurotoxic agents4, with evidence that BPA affects brain development and gene expression. Animal studies show that BPA induces the loss of functional brain tissue in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus.5 This loss of functional brain tissue has also been detected in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.6 BPA also affects development of the forebrain, where behavioural impulses and emotions are regulated.5 Children with prenatal exposure to BPA are at risk for poorer behavioural and cognitive outcomes later on.5
More recently, studies have focused on a potential association between EDCs and ASD. A case-control study of 48 cases of ASD and 41 controls found higher serum BPA concentrations in those with ASD.7Another study looked at phthalates and BPA levels along with oxidant/ antioxidant status in autistic children. Individuals with higher concentrations of phthalates and BPA had higher concentrations of antioxidants (selenium, superoxide dismutase, glutathione), indicating an increased oxidative load.4An increased oxidative load has been associated with several chronic health issues including cancer, diabetes and heart disease.4 Although evidence clearly shows that chemicals like phthalates and BPA are neurotoxic, the mechanism is unknown. Future research will explore increased oxidative demands as a potential mechanism for neurotoxicity.4BPA and phthalates also affect fetal and child development by altering thyroid hormone activity. Increased levels of thyroxine (T4) in the blood are suspected of stimulating receptors, leading to attention deficit disorder (ADD/ADHD) symptoms.4
THE EVIDENCE FOR CHEMICALS INTERFERING WITH HORMONES, CAUSING PRECOCIOUS PUBERTY
The appearance of secondary sexual characteristics in females before the age of 6 and in males, age 9, is considered precocious puberty.1 In the last few decades, the age of onset of puberty has decreased. Studies show that on average, the age of menarche (first menstrual cycle) has decreased by 0.3-0.6 years and females are developing glandular breast tissue 1-2 years earlier.1 Males, too, are reaching various genital stages much earlier. These changes have happened over a short period of time, suggesting an environmental cause, most likely chemicals.1
Two studies have linked phthalate exposure to precocious puberty in girls3 and another found a statistically significant association between urinary concentrations of high-molecular weight phthalate metabolites and later pubic hair development.3 Girls with higher concentrations of EDCs were also found to develop breast and start their menstrual cycles earlier.1 For boys, studies show an inverse relationship between urinary BPA levels and blood testosterone levels in boys ages 12-19 but a positive correlation in girls.2 In animal studies, rodents exposed to BPA before and after puberty showed decreased testosterone levels.2
Puberty marks a time of transition for your child – physically, emotional and mentally. Their bodies undergo changes according to a timeline and the timing of this timeline doesn’t only play a role in their current health but their future health as well. Premature or delayed puberty can be associated with health risks such as obesity and cancers in adulthood.
In the USA, cancer is the leading cause of disease-related deaths among children and adolescents.3Testicular and ovarian germ-cell cancers are on the rise3 and carcinogenic4 and endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as BPA, phthalates, parabens, 4NP and triclosan should be of great concern.4
THE EVIDENCE FOR CHEMICALS CAUSING IMMUNE ISSUES – ALLERGIES, INFECTIONS
Even before your child is born, your child’s immune and respiratory system are susceptible to the effects of toxic chemicals. It has been suggested that these chemicals have long-lasting effects on your child’s ability to fight infections and are associated with an increased risk of allergies. DEHP, a phthalate, is known to be associated with eczema-like lesions in mice.8
Higher urine concentrations of monobenzyl phthalate in mothers during pregnancy increased the risk of food allergy in children during the first 2 years of life.9 In a Spanish study, urine BPA and phthalate levels measured during pregnancy were found to be associated with an increased risk of respiratory issues such as wheezing and chest infections/bronchitis and allergies in children.10 Information was collected at 6, 14 months and 4 and 7 years of age.10
By mimicking estrogen, BPA and to a lesser extent phthalates affect the immune system although the exact mechanism is not yet known. It has been suggested that phthalates influence antibody production and that BPA affects the innate immune response rather than adaptive immunity. DEHP has also been described to alter airway cell differentiation and surfactant protein production which helps our lungs expand and shrink as we breathe.
MEP, another phthalate, has also been associated with lower lung capacities.8 In an Austrian school study, they found a strong inverse correlation between benzylbutyl phthalate and lung function in school children.8 High levels of urine MEP have also been significantly associated with headache, repeated coughing, diarrhea and hormonal problems.18
SUPPORTING YOUR CHILD’S ABILITY TO RID THEMSELVES OF CHEMICALS
On a daily basis, avoid plastic containers and canned food. Never put plastic containers into the microwave. Avoid eating burnt foods. Eat organic whenever possible, especially for the dirty dozen produce.
A large majority of chemicals within the body are absorbed through the skin. Avoid chemical- filled cleaning agents. Make your own home cleaning agents whenever possible. Even for the dirtiest places in your home, agents such as vinegar and baking soda can do the job, leaving you at ease, knowing that your home is clean and chemical-free. There are easy, do-it-yourself recipes for cleaning agents, toothpaste, shampoo, face cleansers, and even sunscreen.
Your kids touch and play with you and are exposed to whatever chemicals you might be putting on yourself. Use natural makeup and check your personal hygiene products such as hand lotions to make sure that they are chemical-free.
When you move into a new home, or renovate your home, use air filters to clear the air. Open the windows whenever possible to allow for the chemicals to exit the brand new carpets, the paints etc.
Last but not least, eating a well-balanced diet, with a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, is key to providing your body with the nutrients it needs to cope with chemicals and stay healthy. Chemicals in the environment become a problem when they accumulate, or deplete the body of the nutrients it needs for other functions.
A child’s body is still developing and therefore, more susceptible to the adverse effects of chemicals. Unless something is 100% homemade, it’s impossible to know with absolute certainty if it has harmful chemicals. As a general rule, it’s simply best for both parents and children, to minimize chemical exposure as possible.
Dr. Olisa Mak, ND, originally posted on www.thenatpath.com
It’s one of those days when your brain just won’t work, you find yourself wishing for a pill or magical drink to alleviate the feeling, to get things back on track. We all know that feeling, when you just can’t get any work done, can’t focus, can’t remember anything that your boss has said to you, or anything that you’ve read, and your upcoming deadline does nothing to motivate you. For many of us, this is a daily occurrence. The good news is that there is something you can take – phosphatidylserine.
Naturally found in the cell membrane of every cell, phosphatidylserine is most concentrated in metabolically active organs like your brain, heart, and muscle.(1)
Originally animal-derived, phosphatidylserine supplements are now exclusively soy-derived due to the risk of Mad Cow Disease.(2) Although soy phosphatidylserine has been less researched and has shown some conflicting results, recent research is promising.
PHOSPHATIDYLSERINE FOR CHILDREN
For children, phosphatidylserine is especially useful for symptoms of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.(3) In a recent randomized, double-blind study of thirty-six children, aged 4-14 years of age, results show that 200mg of phosphatidylserine for two months significantly improved all categories of ADHD symptoms, including inattention, impulsivity and short-term auditory memory.(1)
PHOSPHATIDYLSERINE FOR ADULTS
Phosphatidylserine has been found to increase mental performance in college students writing exams.(1) Supplementation helps increase glucose metabolism in the brain,(4) providing the brain with the necessary fuel it needs to function properly.
Phosphatidylserine helps increase resistance to stress by significantly counteracting stress induced activation of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, blunting increases in your stress hormone, cortisol.(1,3,4,5) Individuals treated for 42 days with 200mg of soy-based phosphatidylserine showed a more relaxed state before and after exposure to mental stress.(5)
PHOSPHATIDYLSERINE FOR OLDER ADULTS
Phosphatidylserine has been most recognized for its ability to improve cognitive function in the elderly. A 12-week pilot study with 30 elderly volunteers found that soy-lecithin derived phosphatidylserine helped improve memory.(4) Although the exact mechanism of action is unknown, we know that phosphatidylserine acts on a part of the brain called the Prefrontal Cortex (PFC).1 The PFC functions at a suboptimal level when it is exposed to even minor stressors.(1) To ensure optimal PFC function, phosphatidylserine alters the release and reuptake of neurotransmitters such as dopamine,(1,3) serotonin,(1) and acetylcholine.(1) Optimal PFC functioning is required for attention to tasks1, focus1 and proper motor responses1, important in individuals with ADHD and the aging population. In another double-blind, placebo controlled clinical trial, a large group of elderly subjects with memory complaints were treated with 300mg of PS along with DHA.(5) Research showed improved immediate recall.(5)
Phosphatidylserine also has the ability to delay the aging process by reducing the production of reactive oxygen species, and therefore oxidative stress.(4) This also protects the brain from chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s. In a study, chronic phosphatidylserine administration recovered dendritic cell loss in the hippocampus of aged rats.(3) As a result, phosphatidylserine might have clinical applications in depression where dendritic spines are lost.(3) The dendritic spine is a part of the dendritic cell that helps transmit electrical signals throughout the brain cell.
PHOSPHATIDYLSERINE FOR ATHLETES
For athletes, phosphatidylserine just might be the dream supplement. Phosphatidylserine improves recovery, and decreases the potential negative effects of overtraining, such as decreased performance, injury, depressed immunity as well as depression.(5) In one particular study, 10 healthy males participated in three exercise sessions over 21 days, one exercise session before supplementation or placebo and two exercise sessions after.(5) Blood samples were analyzed for testosterone, cortisol and growth hormone.(5) Results show that soy-derived phosphatidylserine significantly reduced plasma cortisol levels, but did not change testosterone or growth hormone levels.(5) By acting on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, phosphatidylserine promotes a hormonal balance that prevents the physiological deterioration associated with overtraining.(5)
Earlier studies that did not show a phosphatidylserine-induced decrease in cortisol used different doses as well as less intense levels of exercise. A review of multiple studies show that higher dosages are needed for an effect on cortisol, at least 800mg whereas lower doses such as 600mg and 300mg can help decrease muscle damage, lowering creatine kinase levels 24 hours after a 90 minute run.(5) Phosphatidylserine has the greatest effect when athletes perform at an exhaustive level.(5) By promoting cognitive abilities and promoting recovery from exhaustive exercise, phosphatidylserine is especially beneficial for athletes participating in endurance and strategic based sports such as cycling, endurance running and weight training.(5)
INCREASING PHOSPHATIDYLSERINE LEVELS
A diet abundant in omega-3 rich foods is crucial for phosphatidylserine synthesis:
In mice studies, alcohol has been found to has been found to disrupt the interaction between DHA and phosphatidylserine and can influence brain signaling.(6)
The research on phosphatidylserine thus far is extremely promising and it is without a doubt that it has positive effects on cognition. Phosphatidylserine is an extremely valuable supplement that can benefit everyone – children, athletes, young adults, and the elderly. Future research needs to focus on furthering our understand of how it acts as well as optimal dosages when supplementing since the necessary dosage is depending on the intensity level of the activity at hand. It seems higher doses are required for an effect on cortisol (>800mg) whereas smaller doses, as low was 300mg can improve memory and recall.
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.