Healthy Living Blog

By Healthy Living Liberty Lake 18 Jul, 2017
We've all heard the advice to drink more water. 8 glasses a day, to be precise. Whether you're thirsty or not, it's good for you. I've always doubted this advice since it had no sound reasoning behind it, other than "detoxification". But now, a new study done by the University of Melbourne casts doubt on this advise.

Many who advocate drinking eight glasses or more of water daily are not aware of the potentially fatal side effect of water intoxication.  We are fortunate in that we have a mechanism to regulate fluid intake to keep us from over-drinking. The study showed for the first time that the brain activates a "swallowing inhibition" when excess liquid is consumed.
Participants in the study had to rate the amount of effort that was required to swallow water following exercise when they were thirsty, and then later when they were persuaded to drink an excessive amount of water. There was a 3-fold increase in the swallowing effort after over-drinking, which validated that the swallowing reflex is inhibited when enough water has been consumed.

MRI was used to record the activity in different areas of the brain involved with swallowing. The prefrontal areas made more active when the participants attempted to swallow with a great effort, meaning that the frontal cortex steps in to override the swallowing inhibition, in order to avoid water intoxication.  

Intoxication occurs when levels of sodium in the blood become abnormally low, which can cause symptoms of lethargy, confusion, nausea, convulsions and coma. In my 25 years of practice, I've had 2 patients die from excessively drinking water, causing sodium to be very low, which caused brain swelling. There have even been incidences where athletes in marathons were advised to fill up with water and then died, because they followed those incorrect recommendations and drank far in access of their actual need.

The researchers advocated doing what our bodies demand, stating that we should just drink according to our thirst, not a deliberate schedule.  We should trust in our "swallowing inhibition" that the brain activates if excess liquid is consumed.  The  brain helps maintain tightly calibrated volumes of water in our bodies. Do drink when you're thirsty. And remember on hot summer days, like we have now, you'll need to drink more to stay hydrated. Even more so with exercise.  

But don't drink water just b/c someone told you should drink at least 8 glasses a day .   Drink when you're thirsty, and you'll be fine.
By Healthy Living Liberty Lake 07 Jul, 2017
Everyone's ideas of happiness is different, but there is one thing we all have in common.  Serotonin- the critical neurotransmitter needed to boost mood.  People with low serotonin levels are often depressed, pessimistic, and generally not pleasant to be around.  Serotonin is called the "happy hormone", but also has other health benefits which make us healthy at the same time.

10 Ways to Naturally Boost Your Serotonin Levels:

1. Eat animal protein.  An amino acid called tryptophan helps produce serotonin, and animal protein is the best source. Tryptophan is especially high in chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, beef and dairy. Whey and egg protein are scientifically proven to increase this amino acid in the brain.
2. Sunshine - natural light has a positive effect on mood, and triggers serotonin synthesis.  The brighter the sunlight, the more serotonin the body produces.  This could explain feeling down in the winter or on rainy dark days.
3. Vitamin D - helps convert tryptophan into serotonin.   Here, we need to supplement as we rarely get enough UV rays  to make enough.  You'll typically need between 2000 IU - 10,000 IU daily.
4. Omega 3's - help boost serotonin production in the brain.   Need 2000-4000mg daily.
5. Eat Curry - curry has turmeric, which is considered a potent anti-depressant.   Helps to increase serotonin in the brain, while reducing inflammation.
6.Caffeine - this has a positive effect on levels of serotonin in the brain, which is good news for most of us.   Don't overdo, however.
7. Exercise - has been shown to increase serotonin levels because motor neurons activated during physical activity boost the release of serotonin.  Regular exercise will spike tryptophan levels in the brain.
8. Massage - proven to reduce cortisol and increase happy hormones by as much as 28%.  Plus it feels great.
9. Nuts - contain tryptophan, so the more you eat, the happier you'll be.  They also have numerous other health benefits, such as decreasing inflammation, helping to prevent heart disease, cancer and respiratory ailments.
10. Green tea - contains L-theanine, an amino acid that boosts serotonin levels.   It also has a powerful antioxidant that prevents brain damage.

There you go, this is a good place to start, especially if you've been feeling down lately.   B vitamins may also help, but if none of this is enough, then see your doctor.
By Healthy Living Liberty Lake 14 Jun, 2017
Have you ever heard of Hashimoto's?  It's a common cause of low thyroid, or hypothyroidism. It's an auto-immune disease, which means the body is making antibodies against the thyroid and destroying it.

To diagnose, a blood test for thyroid antibodies must be done. Like all auto-immune diseases, it is much more common in women than men.
With Hashimoto's, blood levels often show an elevated TSH, and a low T3.  T3 is the active form of thyroid, and when the Free T3 is less than 3, expect fatigue as a common complaint.  

The conventional treatment of Hashimoto's is to prescribe a synthetic T4 , such as synthroid or levothyroxine.  This is not optimal, however, as often the T3 remains low.  And, in a review of patients on levothyroxine, long-term use was related to cardiac dysfunction, left ventricular hypertrophy (or heart failure) and rapid bone loss. Therefore, I typically will prescribe a T3/T4 combination, such as Armour or Nature Thyroid.
However, the goal is to reduce the antibody levels. To do this I recommend a supplement such as Thyrotrophin PMG made by Standard Process.   It must be taken three times a day and can act as a decoy, allowing the antibodies to attack it rather than the thyroid itself.
Now there is another option which has great promise.

Researchers looked at 40 men and women with Hashimoto's.  Half got placebo, and half got black cumin seed for 8 weeks.  Levels of T3, TSH and thyroid antibodies were measured before and after, and also the person's body composition.
What did they find?  "treatment with black cumin seed significantly reduced body weight and BMI. TSH and thyroid antibodies decreased, while T3 levels increased in those taking black cumin.  Those on placebo had no difference in their levels."

Every single measurement of Hashimotot's disease improved with this herb!  TSH improved 50%.  T3 levels improved 15%.  And antibodies decreased 50%.  All without side effects.

You can buy black cumin at any health food store or online - if you have Hashimoto's, give this a try.  
By Healthy Living Liberty Lake 08 Jun, 2017
Most of us have heard of vitamin C and vitamin D, in fact, A,B, C, D, and E are all familiar.  It's like an alphabet.   But many of us have never heard of vitamin K, a crucial vitamin as we age.

Not only does it protect the heart, it also is critical for bone density, stronger bone formation.  That's why patients on coumadin, or warfarin, have a much higher risk of osteoporosis, because they are told not to take vitamin K or eat foods such as green leafy vegetables.
Now a new study in the Journals of Gerontology, researchers examined 1089 seniors.   They measured their levels of vitamin K.   Then they looked at a number of physical attributes related to their leg strength and function.   This included measuring leg strength, gait speed, and a physical performance battery.  

Those with higher vitamin K levels tended to have higher leg strength and gait speed results.  
Those with low levels of K were then given vitamin K supplements for several years.  The same measurements were then made, and sure enough, the strength and gait scores improved.  Balance also improved, and as any of us that are over age 60 knows, our sense of balance is not as strong as when we were younger, leading to more falls.  

A simple test of balance you can do right now is this:   stand on one leg for 20 seconds without falling, then stand on the other for 20 more seconds.  You should be able to do this easily, and if you cannot, you're balance systems are impaired and you are at risk of falling.
Vitamin K is also crucial for the immune system and helps to prevent infectious disease such as pneumonia.  It helps prevent tooth decay.    There is much research using vitamin K in oncology, as it has been shown to provide substantial protection against cancer of the prostate, colon, stomach, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, nasopharynx and oral cancers.

It also helps to improve insulin sensitivity, and those with higher K levels have a 20% less risk of developing diabetes.
There are three forms of K, K1, K2, and K3.   The best form for supplementation is vitamin K2, also called menaquinone.  K2 is made by the bacteria that line the gastrointestinal tract, and goes straight to the blood vessel walls, bones and tissues other than the liver.
K2 is natural, non-toxic - even at 500 times the RDA.  It is a fat soluble vitamin, and therefore requires fat to be absorbed properly - take it with a meal that contains some fat.

Foods that have K2 include:
    Fermented foods - the food highest in natural K2 is natto, which is a form of fermented soybeans consumed in Asia;  
    Dark green vegetables, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cucumbers and asparagus;  
    Whole egg mayonnaise;  
    Dark turkey meat;  
    Lamb or duck;  
    Dried basil.  

So either take vitamin K2, or eat many of the foods listed above, and your body will thank you!
By Healthy Living Liberty Lake 22 May, 2017
Most people know about melatonin, and think of it only as the sleep med. But melatonin is so much more than that!
Melatonin is a hormone that is produced in the pineal gland, a gland that sits deep within the brain. It's production increases at night and allows us to relax and sleep more soundly.  Any light, including blue light, disrupts melatonin and the production immediately shuts off.  Which is why it is so important to keep the bedroom completely dark, no night lights whatsoever, no red or blue lights from the phone or clock.

The hormone has so many other health benefits that most of us don't know about. This includes: Prevention of breast, ovarian, prostate and testicular cancers. Cells throughout the body, including cancer cells, have receptors for melatonin and at night when melatonin is high it connects with these receptors, slowing cell growth. It does the same thing with cancer cells and can help them to self-destruct.  It also has a calming effect on several reproductive hormones, which may explain it's protective effect against these types of cancers.

The research on breast cancer is particularly impressive. Women who work night shifts are 60% more likely to have breast cancer! Women born blind and therefore see no light have a much lower risk of breast cancer.  And some studies are showing high doses of melatonin given to women with breast cancer makes the tumor less aggressive and less likely to spread.

Melatonin may boost the effectiveness of cancer chemotherapy and decrease the side effects of chemo. It has also been shown to improve the one year survival rate of  all cancers , with no side effects!  This includes lung, pancreatic, colorectal and even brain cancer. Melatonin strengthens your immune system. It is a powerful antioxidant and mops up free radicals while we sleep. 

The hormone also helps protect the brain from dementia, and slows the rate of aging of the brain. Improves heartburn, or reflux, commonly known as GERD. There are melatonin receptors on the esophagus, and a study done on those with GERD showed healing of the esophagus and resolution of symptoms taking 6 mg per night for 40 nights. 
Should you supplement with melatonin? For anyone over 50, most likely yes.  As we age, our brain produces less melatonin, like many other hormones. The dose can range from 0.25mg to 6 mg per night. Most of my patients take between 1-5mg;  I take 3 mg nightly.  Even if it does not help you to sleep, it has so many other health benefits that you should consider taking each evening.  
By Healthy Living Liberty Lake 16 May, 2017

There's a lot of excitement lately in the Anti-Aging medicine world about stem cells. Why? Because stem cells literally have the potential to reverse aging, repair damaged organs, reverse disease, rebuild cartilage in arthritic joints, and many other applications. It is such an exciting field of medicine that I predict that within the next ten years they will change the way we practice medicine.

What is a stem cell? Basically, a stem cell is a cell that has the potential to become any cell. We derive them from either bone marrow, fat cells, or umbilical cords. The stem cells from the umbilical cord are easily obtained and are very potent in their potential to differentiate into other cells, whereas adult stem cells from fat or bone marrow are more limited in their potential.

There is no limit to the types of diseases that could be treated with stem cells. Uses of stem cells now include:

·         Joint injections - probably the most commonly used is injecting the stem cells directly into the joint where there is severe arthritis and reduction of the cartilage. This can allow cartilage to regrow, thereby avoiding the need for a joint replacement.  

·         Heart disease - by replacing old, decaying cells with new heart cells, heart conditions such as CHF, or congestive heart failure, may resolve. Also helps to repair blood vessels and may reduce high blood pressure.

·         COPD or other lung diseases - stem cells can be nebulized and breathed into the lungs allowing repair of damaged tissues; this may be effective even after years of smoking. Often, this treatment is done every six months for several years.

·         Diabetes - has the potential to reverse diabetes, even type 1.

·         Alzheimer's - there is exciting research being done showing the possibility of reversing this devastating disease. Other neurological diseases that may be helped include Parkinson's, previous strokes and multiple sclerosis.

·         And many other conditions, such as vision loss, impaired wound healing, autism, hair loss, chronic pain, neuropathy, kidney disease and general anti-aging purposes.

What's next on the horizon? Actually, growing an entire organ. Let's say you need a heart transplant, which is needed by 4000 people a year. But there's only 2500 available. And if you're one of the lucky 2500, you then must take anti-rejection drugs the rest of your life, which increases your risk of cancer. But if you could grow your own heart, imagine! It would be like a brand-new heart, no one has to die to get one, and you would never have to take anti-rejection drugs. Sounds like science fiction, but it is not.

Already, as reported in the journal Circulation Research , the researchers used adult stem cells to regenerate new hearts. They looked like immature hearts, and when given an electric shock, started beating. It will be no time at all when organ transplantation from donors will be a thing of the past, and your own stem cells with your own DNA will be used. Have type one diabetes?  No problem, islet of Langerhan cells can be grown and injected into your pancreas. Need a new kidney? A new one can be made in two weeks. Areas of the brain destroyed by a stroke, leaving neurological defects? New brain cells can be made and brain functioning restored. It's the wild west, and the future is unlimited and exciting!

As with anything new for the first ten years at least, it's considered "experimental medicine" and therefore not covered by insurance. But that doesn't mean it isn't helpful and can't have profound effects. Even penicillin was at one time considered experimental. We are at the forefront of medical technology, and starting to use stem cell injections for joints, and IV for all the medical issues listed above. Call Healthy Living Liberty Lake at 509-924-6199 if you would like to learn more.

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