Controlling Cholesterol

Controlling Cholesterol

Heart Disease is the number one cause of death in the US. It is estimated that 600,000 die from it every year. Because of this, cholesterol has become a primary focus of the modern medical world.   It is generally assumed that elevated cholesterol levels are associated with an increased risk of heart disease, and that it is very difficult to bring cholesterol levels into a normal zone without taking statin drugs.   There are however a number of factors that should be considered when it comes to balancing your cholesterol level.   The original study of cholesterol done in the 1960s, on approximately 240,000 people, found that cholesterol levels above 300 were directly associated with increased risk of heart disease. Also reported in that study was that cholesterol levels under 130 were associated with an increased risk of cancer.     Cholesterol and Our Liver   At first, modern medicine thought that cholesterol came from the consumption of animal foods and fats. It was later discovered that although we do get a certain amount of cholesterol from these foods, the vast majority of cholesterol found in our bodies, roughly two thirds, is made by our liver.   Today we have a new understanding of healthy fats and the impact carbohydrates (starch) has on them. When you eat high glycemic foods (foods that cause your body to release a lot of insulin like bread, pasta, and soda), it causes an increase in triglycerides (fats) in the blood stream. When you have high triglycerides, your body automatically converts them into cholesterol.   While common American lab values for cholesterol are said to be normal if under 200, or 150 depending on the lab, the truth is that any triglyceride level above 90 will result in an elevation in cholesterol. When my patients go on a low glycemic diet like the Page Diet or Dukan diet, I have seen these levels drop in as little as 10 days.     Food Allergies   If your triglycerides are under 90 and you still have high cholesterol, this may indicate the possibility of food allergies congesting and slowing the digestive process, resulting in elevated resorption of cholesterol in the gut (This means your body expels the cholesterol out of the liver and then takes it back in through the intestinal wall in a continuous loop).     The most common allergy that causes this problem is eggs. It is estimated that 30% of the population is allergic to eggs. By eliminating eggs from our diet and eating a low glycemic diet we will see triglyceride levels fall and subsequently cholesterol levels normalize.     High Density Lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol is another consideration. HDL’s...

Read More

Allergy Season

Allergy Season

Spring is here and it is allergy season again. I know a lot of you are suffering out there, so I wanted to help you make this allergy season a little more bearable. So, let’s talk about allergies and inflammation. If you have allergies, your body has a hard time managing the hormones (prostaglandins and cytokines) that cause inflammation and immune hyperactivity.   Inflammatory Reaction There seems to be more and more things we are exposed to that cause an inflammatory reaction in our bodies. Usually, by the time we hit forty, we begin to have chronic, elevated levels of inflammation that cause muscle and joint pain. This chronic inflammation puts stress on your adrenal glands causing them to release hormones like cortisol (the hormone that makes you fat), to try and keep your inflammation in balance. This added stress on your adrenal glands can cause anxiety and panic syndromes and finally lead to adrenal exhaustion, which leads to , well…..exhaustion! One strategy for reducing inflammation is to unburden the body of its chronic immune burdens, especially allergies.   Secondary Allergies Many of the environmental allergies we suffer from are actually secondary allergies being driven by primary allergic responses, principally to foods. It has always been obvious in clinical practice that when basic food allergies are corrected, environmental allergies vanish. For example, by simply taking a person off of a basic food allergy like milk or wheat oftentimes they will no longer be allergic to cats or dogs.   Hypo-Antigenic Diet Usually within three days of starting the hypo-antigenic diet, chronic inflammation starts reducing and elevated adrenal hormones (remember cortisol the hormone that makes you fat) begin to decrease. Although change will continue for several months, you may feel increased energy, clarity of mind, digestive wellness, and decreased pain in just a few short days. In practice, the hypo-antigenic diet has been so successful that I no longer believe environmental allergies are real until these basic food allergies have been eliminated. Once the inflammatory levels of the body have had a chance to normalize, you can now determine what allergies are actually real, and what allergies were just secondary to elevated levels of inflammatory hormones. Reducing inflammation will lengthen our lives, reduce discomfort, especially muscle and joint pain, and allow the immune system to protect us from more important issues than chronic inflammation.     4 Basic Food Allergies The four basic food allergies are wheat, soy, corn, and milk (followed by beef, tomato, peanuts, and chocolate). The hypo-antigenic diet consists of eliminating these eight foods.   Products to Alleviate Symptoms Antronex is a natural antihistamine, excellent for people with histamine toxicity, as in asthma and allergies. People with...

Read More

Adrenal Fatigue and Stress

Adrenal Fatigue and Stress

We live in incredibly stressful times. The economy is horrible. Jobs are hard to come by. The middle class hasn’t had a raise in 30 years. The cost of food, water, gas, and electricity all continue to rise. We are eating an unprecedented level of processed foods. To deal with this stress, your adrenal glands release specific hormones that allow us to survive stressful situations. The problem is that our adrenal glands are designed to sprint, but we expect them to run a marathon. Because we are increasingly under prolonged stress, our adrenal glands become fatigued and worn out. This has unfortunate side effects, which include exhaustion, weight gain, and loss of sex drive. The greatest stress our ancestors would have undergone was famine. We don’t think about this today because we live with such abundance, but to this day, the greatest stressor on our bodies is arguably hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). You have to understand that we have amazing genes that have allowed us to survive ice ages. Stress is not something new to the human species. So, when your boss is yelling at you and you’re paying the bills late, your body interprets this as starvation. That’s right, when your body is under stress, it thinks it is going to starve to death because that is what happened to our ancestors. This is important because certain hormones, especially cortisol (I am sure everyone has heard about the cortisol belly), are triggered while under stress that keep your blood glucose levels up, make your body store for winter (put on fat), and retain critical minerals. When you think about stress this way, it makes perfect sense that stress may cause you to gain weight and make it hard to shed it. Stress lowers your sex drive. This happens because it would be foolish to reproduce when there is a shortage of food. When under stress a hormone called androstenidione displaces testosterone on cell receptor sites. Displaced testosterone means low sex drive! There is a great logic to the way the body operates. So what can we do about this? Personally, I have found meditation and yoga to be helpful in dealing with psychological stress. There are several places here in North County that teach yoga. I personally use a DVD at home produced by “The Biggest Loser” called Weight Loss Yoga. It is nice because it is set up to take you through 3 levels of increasing difficulty at your pace. If you want to learn to meditate you can get a free lesson at http://zmm.mro.org/teachings/meditation-instructions/. Obviously, this is Zen-based, but the lesson is secular. If you want to get personal training in meditation, I got my training...

Read More

Back and Neck Pain

Back and Neck Pain

I am going to tell you a secret; I have back pain too. That’s right, I get neck and back pain just like everyone else. I have no ‘get out of jail free’ card and I’m fresh out of red capes. Instead, I have to see my chiropractor…yes, I have a chiropractor. I have found that the only thing I do that consistently lowers my pain level and reduces the numbness in my heel is chiropractic treatment. I have tried traction, massage, yoga, etc., and these all have their place, but they never address what I think is the main contributor to neck and back pain. The discs in your back are made up of concentric rings of a tough fibrous material called the annulus fibrosis. The center of your disc is jelly-like and is called nucleus pulposus. As we age these fibers weaken and tear. The jelly pushes into the weakened/torn area causing it to bulge/deflate, and balloon outward. This bulging disc material, if bad enough, will push on a nerve root, shooting pain down your legs or arms. You would think that traction would be great for a bulging disc, it does make sense, but we have found that as a disc bulges and deflates, it almost always slips backward and kind of gets cocked on the back edge of the vertebra below it. This is extremely irritating on the facet joints and stops the joint from working. It literally gets stuck. The only way to address this is to have a chiropractor adjust this vertebra up and forward, resetting it back on top of the vertebra below it. When done properly, the joint works again, the swelling goes down, and the disc starts to stabilize again. This process of realigning the disc can take several months, but the pain can be reduced greatly in just a short period of time. No machine can do this. It has to be done by a skilled chiropractor. We have found that once the disc is realigned, core stabilization exercises like yoga and Pilates start to pay off. A strong core helps to keep your vertebra aligned. It seems like our discs and other joints go into a degenerative death spiral. To understand this you have to know that your joints are poorly vascularized, meaning that they don’t have a rich blood supply like our muscles do. Most joints have a capsule that surrounds it in a nutrient rich lubricating fluid. The outer edge of the joint capsule gets the blood supply, not the joint. So, how does the joint get the nutrients it need to heal and the toxic stuff like inflammation out of the joint? It is the...

Read More