Monthly Archives: August 2014

10 Surprising Facts About Lyme Disease

The CDC recently announced it estimates 300,000 cases of Lyme Disease are reported each year in the US. That is a ten-Lyme Disease fold increase over their estimates of just a few years back.  Advocacy work by patients and Lyme Disease support groups is one reason for the increase, as more and more people affected by Lyme Disease are insisting its devastating effects be recognized.

In my practice, I see a wide number of people with Lyme Disease. I never imagined needing to know much about Lyme Disease, but over 10% of my clients have a definitive diagnosis of Lyme Disease, and another 10% suspect they have it but remain undiagnosed. My own research through the years opened my eyes to some shocking facts about Lyme Disease. My goal is to use this post provide education about Lyme Disease that will empower others to make wise choices and seek the correct type of testing and care.

If you suspect you have Lyme Disease, please seek care from a Lyme Literate physician immediately. You can find a list of physicians with special training in Lyme Disease at the Lyme Disease Association Doctor Referral Center

Here are ten surprising facts about Lyme Disease:

  1. Lyme Disease does NOT always cause a “bull’s eye” rash:  The presence of a “bull’s eye” rash always means medical care should be sought immediately. Unfortunately, many people infected with Lyme Disease never develop the classic rash. Some have no skin reaction whatsoever, while others develop lesions or other skin issues which are often not recognized as Lyme Disease. In cases where no bull’s eye rash develops, diagnosis must be confirmed via testing (more on that below) and symptoms. If you become symptomatic, please don’t assume you do not have Lyme Disease simply because you never developed (or saw) a bull’s eye rash. Seek medical care.
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  2. Deer ticks are not the only animal/insect capable of transmitting Lyme Disease:  Multiple other species of insects and even mammals have been identified as carriers capable of transmitting Lyme Disease. Other organisms capable of transmitting Lyme Disease include other species of ticks, some varieties of fleas and flies, and even a few mammals. The belief that only one type of tick can transmit Lyme Disease is comforting, but false.
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  3. Lyme Disease is not limited to a few parts of the US, it’s everywhere:  The CDC insists that people who live in or travel to the northeast region of the US are the only ones at risk for Lyme Disease. Lyme Disease diagnoses exist in every US state, including Hawaii. Most people diagnosed with Lyme Disease who live outside of the northeast region have not traveled to the northeast when they contract Lyme Disease. Geographical location is not a limiting factor in contracting Lyme Disease, although the odds of becoming infected are higher in the northeast region of the US. Lyme Disease exists on every continent except Antarctica.
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  4. The best tests for Lyme Disease are often wrong:  Unfortunately, the best tests we have for the Lyme Disease bacterium are not always correct. Some experts estimate the tests are wrong 50% of the time. This makes it difficult to know for certain if someone should be treated. The common tests include the Western Blot and the ELISA (IgG/IgA) tests. These tests check for antibodies the body creates to fight the Lyme bacterium. Unfortunately, some people’s bodies do not produce many antibodies (due to weak immune systems), causing a negative result even if they are very ill and have high levels of Lyme bacteria in their system.
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    Other tests often used to test for Lyme Disease include the CD-57, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), Immunofluorescent Assay (IFA), and a relatively new test deveoped by Dr. Joseph Burrascano that cultures Lyme bacteria and measures their growth. A major drawback to all of these tests is that it can take 4-6 weeks before results are available. That’s a long time to wait when someone is miserably ill. (Most Lyme Literate MDs start treatment based on symptoms and wait on test results merely to confirm.) For best accuracy, Lyme Literate MDs will usually run a combination of Lyme Disease tests instead of only running a single test. The IGeneX Profile, which consists of 4-6 different tests, is considered the best option. It is an accurate and viable panel.
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  5. The average patient with untreated Lyme Disease suffers more than three years before getting a correct diagnosis:  This is because the symptoms of Lyme Disease vary greatly, testing is inaccurate and unreliable, and most doctors have not received adequate training on how to spot Lyme Disease and how to treat it. Change is occurring, but it’s a slow process. In the meantime, many Lyme patients wind up on disability because their physical symptoms are so severe. It is also very common for people infected with undiagnosed Lyme Disease to be referred for psychological treatment because the medical community believes their illness is imagined. As more doctors become aware of Lyme Disease, hopefully the time required for diagnosis will dramatically decrease. Many patient advocacy groups are working to create greater awareness in the public and the medical community.
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  6. Symptoms of Lyme Disease are incredibly varied:  The symptoms of Lyme Disease are so varied Lyme is often misdiagnosed as other illnesses, including Multiple Sclerosis, Fibromyalgia and even Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Symptoms can include, but are not limited to:  neck stiffness or pain; fatigue; skin lesions – with or without the classic bull’s eye rash; joint aches that sometimes worsen to the point of causing disability; jaw discomfort; cognitive impairment; swollen glands; vision problems; tremors – some severe; headaches; blood pressure fluctuations; digestive issues; and more. The Lyme bacteria customize their attack to the person’s weaknesses, so symptoms manifest many different ways.
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  7. If caught early, Lyme Disease is relatively easy to eliminate, but may still require long-term antibiotic treatment:  I am strongly opposed to the over-use of antibiotics, but feel very strongly that antibiotics are a necessity in the treatment of Lyme Disease. The traditional treatment of two weeks of Doxycycline is rarely enough. Physicians who are familiar with Lyme Disease will typically recommend a regimen of low-dose, long-term antibiotics which are rotated every few months to prevent the Lyme bacteria from developing resistance. Treatment may last anywhere from six months to two years. Yes, that’s a long time to be on antibiotics, but the benefits of launching an early and prolonged attack on the Lyme bacteria is worth any temporary effects from antibiotics. (Ongoing countermeasures are usually used alongside the antibiotics to prevent negative consequences.) There are also natural techniques which can be used to combat the Lyme bacteria, which can be used alongside antibiotics if desired.
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  8. If allowed to continue untreated, Lyme Disease can be very difficult to eliminate:  If Lyme Disease is allowed to proliferate without any form of restraint, the bacteria will multiply rapidly and will potentially invade every body system. They increase in number and strength, making treatment more difficult. During this time, the person with Lyme suffers increasingly worse symptoms. The Lyme bacteria have a tendency to protect themselves with a complex wall of protection called a “biofilm,” so approaches to addressing Lyme Disease also need to include a protocol used to eliminate biofilms.
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  9. Tick-borne Lyme Disease requires a tick to be attached for a minimum of 24 hours, but other forms of Lyme Disease can be transmitted in a much shorter time span:  The CDC insists a tick must be attached for 36 hours before Lyme Disease can be transmitted, but multiple studies proved this belief is false. It often takes far less time for the bacteria to be transmitted. Some of the bacteria associated with Lyme Disease are known to be transmitted in less than a minute by infected fleas or flies. This doesn’t mean we all need to be fearful of Lyme Disease, it simply means we need to remain aware and to act quickly if we suspect an infection.
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  10. Although true Lyme Disease is one bacteria, there are multiple others associated with Lyme Disease: Borrelia burgdorferi is the bacteria associated with true Lyme Disease. There are multiple others often transmitted by infected ticks (and other insects) which are also now thought to be part of Lyme Disease. When discussing Lyme Disease, you’ll often hear a reference to the “3 B’s” of Lyme. This references the three most common bacteria found in Lyme infections. The bacteria include Borrelia, Babesia and Bartonella. These bacteria frequently occur together instead of individually. Treatment for each is very similar.

If you suspect Lyme Disease may be the cause of your health concerns, please contact a Lyme Literate MD immediately. Education is key!

Have you been affected by Lyme Disease? Please share your story in the comments as an encouragement and inspiration to others!

 

References:  

CDC Press Release, August 19, 2013

Lyme Disease, Laura Torrentera

Ten Facts About Lyme Disease, LymeLight Foundation

Top Health-Related Motorcycle Articles of All Time

People often look at me as if I’m crazy when I share that riding a motorcycle has taught me a lot about wellness, and that Honda Shadow Aerowellness and motorcycle riding have many similarities. To prove that point, I’ve created a list of my favorite health-related motorcycle posts. These posts share a little bit of everything, including a nice combination of science and satire. I hope they bless, inspire and encourage you to live life more abundantly!

How Motorcycle Riding Improves Physical Health:  My compilation of why riding a motorcycle (or any two-wheeled vehicle with a motor) provides a wide variety of benefits to physical health.

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Eight Reasons Why Motorcycles are the Best Drug:  A satirical look at why motorcycles make better drugs than ones you can only buy in not-so-safe parts of town.

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Diabetes and the Art of Motorcycle Riding:  A great look at why it’s perfectly fine for people with diabetes to ride motorcycles, along with tips and tricks for ensuring blood sugars remain stable while riding.  

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Can Riding a Motorcycle Strengthen Old Bones?  A scientific perspective on how the effects of riding a motorcycle improve bone density.

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Healing Truths I Learned Riding My Motorcycle:   A look at the similarities between riding a motorcycle and the steps the body uses to reverse illness. I promise there’s more wisdom and similarities between the two than you realize!

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Riding a Motorcycle Makes You Smarter, Not Just Sexier:  Interesting look at research done in Tokyo that proved the minds of motorcycle riders function at a higher cognitive level. (We knew that, but it’s nice to see it proven scientifically.) For the record, I hate the picture they used to illustrate this post, but there’s nothing I can do about that.

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Two Weeks from a Broken Foot to Dancing in Heels:  A true story about how a motorcycle rider used natural methods to enhance her body’s ability to restore a broken bone.

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As always, ride safely, wear full protective gear and don’t push your limits!

Mathematical Workout Formulas You Need

Working out has gone from being a chore to being something I love and look forward to. Those close to me recognize Bright red and yellow calculatorwhat a water-into-wine miracle that is! Being the science geek I am, when I committed to get serious about my workouts, I did extensive research about various forms of workouts and exercise methods. From that research, I selected the niche workouts that are best for my lifestyle, body type and attitude. In the midst of that, I also came across a variety of mathematical formulas that can be used to monitor progress, create workout goals, and/or help you focus on your greatest strengths or improve areas of lesser strength.

The most important aspect of working out is that you do it. Not how you do it (as long as you’re being safe), not whether or not you use a “method,” and not how or if you’re tracking your progress. The fact you’re moving more is all that matters. Don’t let anyone talk you out of enjoying your favorite workout by saying it’s ineffective or won’t deliver the return on investment that person thinks it should. Exercise always provides benefits. Don’t get overly hung up on following someone else’s guidelines. Just do it.

Please don’t consider any of these formulas to be an absolute that must be adhered to religiously. These formulas are general guidelines, not “rules.” Use them as sideline helps, not as rigid requirements. Working out should be fun. Forcing workouts to fit within rigid guidelines based on a random formula won’t work and will quickly suck all the fun out of it. These formulas are tools to improve your workout, not laws to put you in bondage.

As always, please use common sense and listen to the signals your body is sending. Don’t start any exercise regimen without consulting your physician, and never push yourself beyond your personal limits. It is not good to be in pain after working out, nor is it beneficial to be exhausted. Fatigue after a workout should be temporary and should not last several days. The “no pain, no gain” mantra is a lie straight from the pits of Hell. Don’t believe it and don’t push yourself so hard you wind up being sore for days. Pain is a sign of distress and means your body is trying to tell you to slow down. If you experience shortness of breath, dizziness, an extreme headache or chest pain during a workout, ask someone to call 911. 

When you first start working out, commit to gently working out 10 minutes a day, three days a week. Increase the duration and intensity of your workouts and muscle-building activities very slowly and gradually from there. You are not competing, you are improving. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else and don’t try to go from being a couch potato to being an American Ninja Warrior overnight.

Here are my favorite workout formulas. I hope they help and encourage you:

Heart Rate Formulas

I’m not a fan of heart rate formulas, because the truth is that everyone has their own personal “ideal” heart rate. Each person’s ideal maximum and target heart rate is influenced by what type of workout they’re doing, their current weight, their age, their body fat percentage and muscle mass, their bone density, their pre-existing conditions, their intracellular and Heartextracellular water levels, etc., etc. As you can see from that long list of influencers, there’s really no such thing as an ideal heart rate. I’m sharing the following formula because it provides a guideline that can help you recognize whether or not your cardio routine is too intense. 

For those who use High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), your heart rate will be significantly higher than that of people doing longer, less intense cardio regimens. The key is to be able to slow your heart rate down by at least 20% within two minutes. If you cannot sufficiently slow your heart rate down during a two-minute “cool down,” it may be wise to ease up a bit during the high intensity portions of your workout.

Note:  Being dehydrated will raise your heart rate significantly. If you find your heart rate is extremely high, stop working out, drink at least 16 ounces of water and wait 20 minutes before resuming your workout. If your heart rate continues to be extremely high, please stop working out and call your doctor.

Maximum Heart Rate (MHR):  This number represents the highest your rate should get during a workout. For people doing HIIT, your heart rate during the high intensity intervals should be 80-90% of your MHR.

220 – Age = MHR

Example:  Jane is 34, so her MHR = 220-34 = 186

When Jane does HIIT workouts, her maximum heart rate during the high intensity phases should stay between 149-167.

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the number of calories your body would burn if you did absolutely nothing but lie in bed for 24 hours. It is helpful to know your BMR in order to gauge how many calories per day are necessary. As you increase your body’s muscle mass, your BMR will increase. People who are obese are at an “advantage,” as their  BMR will be higher than other people’s. That will change as they lose weight.

BMR for Males = 66.47 + (6.24 x weight in pounds) + (12.71 x height in inches) – (6.76 x age in years )

BMR for Females = 655.1 + (4.34 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.68 x age in years)

Example:  John is 50 year old male who weighs 300 pounds and is 6’2″, or 74 inches tall. He does not work out.

John’s BMR = 66.47 + (6.24 x 300) + (12,71 x 74) – (6.76 x 50) = 66.47 + 1872 + 940.54 – 338 = 2541.01

If the person works out 2-5 times per week, you can multiply their BMR times 1.5.

One Rep Max (1RM)

The One Rep Max (1RM) is the ultimate ego booster. It calculates the maximum weight you could lift/push in a single rep. 1RM is calculated using the weight you’ve been lifting/pressing and the number of reps you’ve been doing. Although it can be a huge boost to do the calculation and figure out what your muscles are potentially capable of, your 1RM is NOT an indicator of the maximum weight you can safely lift or push. For example, my current 1RM on leg presses is 475. I’m happy with that, but wouldn’t dream of trying to press that weight, as i know that would put extreme stress on my muscles and ligaments and could result in injury. In weight lifting, it’s imperative to maintain proper form to prevent injury. Lifting or pushing a weight that exceeds your comfort level could cause you to break form and injure itself. It is not safe.

In general, 75% of the 1RM is a good number to use to continue building strength. For example, if you’re doing bicep curls and know your 1RM is 50 pounds, you can multiply 50 x .75 to determine that doing reps of 37.5 pounds would be a good way of building muscle and boosting your 1RM. (If you can’t find dumbbells at that weight, use 30-35 pounders.) If you discover that weight is a bit much, switch to 50% of your 1RM (25 pounds, in this case) and do an increased number of reps to build strength. Work up very gradually and don’t extend yourself beyond what’s comfortable.

One Rep Max (!RM)

1RM = (Weight lifted x Number of Reps x 0.033) + Weight Lifted

Example:  John hit a new record yesterday by doing 12 reps of leg presses of 250 pounds. He is focused on increasing his strength quickly, so he wants to know what his 1RM is for leg presses. His 1RM would be:

(250 x 12 x 0.033) + 250 = 349

Using his 1RM, John decides to increase his current leg press weight to 260 (349 x 75%) and to build his strength slowly but surely.

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Do you use formulas when you work out? Which are your favorite?

Top Ten Signs You Have Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance is so common it now has multiple names. You may hear it called “metabolic syndrome,” “Syndrome X,” Lady with Insulin Resistance“pre-diabetes,” or “dysmetabolic syndrome.” MedicineNet.com says recent studies found 32% of the US population has insulin resistance. Sadly, this number includes many children.

Why is insulin resistance so common? Our modern lifestyle tends to combine a lack of exercise with a high carbohydrate eating style. This combination forces the body to release high amounts of insulin to counteract the blood sugar increases caused by the high intake of carbohydrates. Over time, the body’s cells become overwhelmed by the high levels of insulin in the bloodstream. They therefore stop absorbing and using the insulin. Insulin Resistance tends to be a precursor to Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and other negative health conditions. For more information on Insulin Resistance, please read Metabolic Syndrome: Modern Epidemic.

Signs of Insulin Resistance

The following signs may indicate you have insulin resistance:

  • Weight gain, especially around the stomach and waist:  Insulin signals the body to store fat, so increased levels of insulin caused by insulin resistance often creates an increase in body fat. The waist is the most common location of body fat caused by insulin resistance. People with insulin resistance often gain weight or find it impossible to lose weight even if they are eating less and exercising more. For more information on insulin, read Surprising Facts About Insulin
  • Fatigue:  Increased insulin levels and insulin resistance put a strain on the body that results in decreased energy levels. People who reverse insulin resistance often comment the increase in energy is their favorite part of restoring their health.
  • Feeling sleepy after eating a big meal:  Insulin resistance often results in slightly elevated glucose levels after a big meal loaded with carbohydrates. The body puts such a high priority on digestion it will divert energy from other body systems to help digest the meal. This, combined with the energy-draining effects of elevated blood sugars, often results in sleepiness.
  • High cholesterol and triglycerides:  The body creates triglycerides from the carbohydrates we eat, not from the fats we eat. When the body’s metabolism is negatively affected by insulin resistance, cholesterol and triglyceride levels will rise dramatically.
  • High blood pressure:  One of insulin’s lesser-known jobs is to control the pressure inside blood vessels. If the body stops absorbing insulin, an increase in blood pressure is a very common sign. I believe improving insulin resistance should be the primary course of action for most people with high blood pressure.
  • Brain fog and difficulty concentrating:  High insulin levels affect brain chemicals and neurotransmitter balance, which may negatively affect concentration.  
  • Depression:  Due partly to the physical changes caused by insulin resistance and partly by the effects insulin resistance has on brain chemistry and neurotransmitter balance.
  • Constant or increased hunger:  When insulin levels and/or blood sugars are elevated even slightly, the body stops turning food into energy. This results in a constant feeling of hunger as the body signals its need for fuel.
  • High blood insulin levels:  Did you notice I didn’t list high blood sugar? This is because people with insulin resistance often have normal fasting glucose levels, especially during the early stages of the condition. A fasting glucose level is not a realistic reflection of the body’s normal state, as most of us eat at least three times daily and very rarely fast more than 6-8 hours. The best way to detect insulin resistance is to measure the amount of insulin circulating in the blood stream. Although many labs claim insulin levels as high as 18 are “normal,” I start recommending subtle lifestyle changes as soon as insulin levels creep above 8.
  • Fatty liver disease:  If left unchecked, insulin resistance and elevated triglyceride levels cause fatty deposits to develop in the liver. These fatty deposits can result in fatty liver disease, liver damage that is unrelated to alcohol consumption.

Please note that each of these symptoms can be indicators of other health conditions. If you suspect you have insulin resistance, please consult with your health practitioner.

The good news is that insulin resistance can often be reversed using simple modifications to lifestyle and eating habits. There is hope! If you would like assistance creating healthier lifestyle habits, please feel free to contact me to schedule a consultation.

If you are ready to move forward and receive coaching to achieve your health goals, please join me for the E.N.E.R.G.Y. Life Revitalization Program! The program addresses insulin resistance and more. Click the link to learn more about this innovative 12-week program and receive a special discount.