Category Archives: cholesterol
I’m often amazed to read recipes labeled “healthy” that include ingredients that are either nutritionally void (such as egg whites) or which contain harmful toxins (such as fat-free sour cream). The reason I’m amazed to see these potentially harmful ingredients labeled “healthy” is because fat-free foods have finally been proven to be harmful to health instead of being helpful. This article explains how this myth became perpetuated and what the truth is. The bottom line is that your body requires fat for the health of every cell. The type and quantity of fat is what determines whether or not the fat you consume improves your health of harms it.
And – YES – you have my permission to eat organic, nitrate-free bacon in moderation. Here’s why: Health Benefits of Bacon.
It is an absolute myth that fat causes heart disease and weight gain. There is no scientific proof to support claims a low-fat diet is healthier. So why is this myth so prevalent? Simply because a single, flawed study was conducted whose results were twisted. The study drew conclusions which could not be supported by the study’s design. Multiple other studies conducted since then confirmed that fat is essential to the health of body, mind and spirit.
A recent study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reviewed the results of over twenty different studies. The reviewers tracked tracked the health of study participants over a span of 5-23 years. Their final conclusion was there is NO connection between consumption of saturated fat (or any fat, for that matter) and coronary disease. Other studies found people with the highest consumption of natural fat (either saturated or unsaturated) had lower death rates from any cause. We’ve obviously been lied to. Living to a ripe old age requires the fat myth to be busted and laid to rest.
I’ll save my rant about the “Cholesterol Myth” for another day, but you can learn more about cholesterol in the article: Six Surprising Facts About Cholesterol.
The truth is that the body requires fat and finds it essential for:
- Proper nerve function
- Production of hormones
- Building and maintaining healthy blood vessels
- Maintaining body temperature
- Cushioning and protecting internal organs
- Maintaining healthy skin
- Normal, efficient cognitive function
Based on that list, it is obvious that not eating enough healthy fat can create a myriad of health problems.
So what’s the difference between a healthy fat and an unhealthy fat? It’s very simple:
- Fats made by God and found in nature are safe and have health benefits.
- Fat made in a lab (such as hydrogenated oils) are unsafe and can have negative health effects.
It truly is that simple. The fat in dairy, meats, fish, eggs, avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, nuts, seeds and everything else found in nature is healthy. Hydrogenated oils made in a laboratory are not. Hydrogenation uses chemical modification to turn oils that are liquid at room temperature into oils that are solid at room temperature. Oils are hydrogenated to simplify their shipping and to simplify the emulsification process of some products. Oils are not hydrogenated for your benefit. The hydrogenation process creates foreign chemicals our bodies do not recognize or know how to metabolize. Consumption of hydrogenated oils can lead to high levels of arterial plaque that can definitely interfere with coronary function.
The one caveat to natural oils being healthy is that some vegetable oils are extremely high in Omega 6 fatty acids that are known to be highly inflammatory. Those oils include corn, soy, canola, etc. Those oils also have fatty acid bonds which are very easily broken by high heat, which means they tend to deteriorate when used for cooking. (Olive oil also deteriorates at high heat, but is not inflammatory.) For best results, use olive oil for cold foods such as salad dressings, and use extra virgin coconut oil for cooking. (If you’ve never tried popcorn cooked in organic, extra virgin coconut oil, you are missing out on quite a treat!)
There you have it. You now have my permission to eat more fat. Don’t go crazy, but feel free to enjoy one more piece of bacon!
I recently promised to share more case studies so you could gain a better grasp of what I do on a daily basis and the types of cases I handle. Please note I have permission to share this information, will never use the person’s real name and may change minor details of the case to protect the client’s identity.
This case study is about “Eleanor,” a woman in her 50’s who came to see me because she wanted to lose weight and was trying to reverse Type 2 Diabetes. She was on Metformin, a nasal inhaler, two different allergy medications, asthma medication, high blood pressure medicine, a statin drug, Levothyroxine and Nexium. During her initial consultation, she casually mentioned she had constant post nasal drip with a cough and had to clear her throat constantly. She said this had begun over 20 years ago and nothing had worked to eliminate it. She had grown so used to this she didn’t even consider it a problem. I thought it was a significant issue we needed to address. Eleanor also shared she was exhausted and was often too tired to participate in social activities she was invited to attend.
As I reviewed Eleanor’s medical history and eating habits, I noticed she ate a large amount of carbohydrates and had bread or crackers with every meal and snack. The fact she was eating so much wheat made me suspect she had developed an allergy to it. A further review of her physical symptoms and a check of her allergy point with the EDS unit confirmed this. “EDS” stands for “Electro Dermal Scan” unit. It is a unit I use to check nerve centers associated with body systems and health conditions. Eleanor’s allergy point scored extremely high, meaning there was a large probability she had one or more allergies. Using a piece of bread, I was able to identify that wheat was a likely culprit.
I made the following recommendations:
- I recommended that Eleanor eliminate wheat for three weeks. I encouraged her to keep a diary during those three weeks to record any changes she experienced physically, mentally or emotionally.
- I recommended a revised eating plan known to help reverse insulin resistance.
- I encouraged her to engage in some form of movement ten minutes each day.
- I recommended three supplements known to help insulin resistance, thyroid function and systemic inflammation
At Eleanor’s next visit, she burst into my office grinning from ear-to-ear. She was visibly more energetic, happier and her skin looked better. When I asked her to share what changes she had seen, she said her cough and need to clear her throat had completely disappeared. After 20 years, she was finally able to sit through a movie without embarrassment, sleep soundly and leave home without tissues. She went on to say her energy levels had improved and she had lost ten pounds. Not bad!
After six months, Eleanor had lost 30 pounds, was off the Metformin, the statin drug, all allergy medications, the inhaler, Nexium, the asthma medication, and her blood pressure medication. In addition, she was on a lower dose of her thyroid medication, Levothyroxine. She had gone from taking nine daily prescription medications to only taking one. She said she no longer turns down social invitations, got a raise at work because her productivity improved dramatically, and she was training to run a mini-marathon. She thanked me profusely, but she gets all the credit. She recognized she needed to make changes and she committed to making them. I am so proud of her!
Currently, I meet with Eleanor via telephone about once a year. She is truly a different woman from the one who first walked into my office. Stories of transformation and progress such as hers are why I do what I do. How can I help you? Please contact me if you would like to schedule a consultation.
“Metabolic Syndrome” refers to a group of symptoms that are increasing at an alarming rate in the U.S. and other developed countries. Metabolic Syndrome is often referred to as an “epidemic” because the number of people affected by it is increasing so rapidly. Why does this matter? Because Metabolic Syndrome is a set of conditions created by lifestyle and dietary habits. Metabolic Syndrome is known to increase the risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hormonal imbalances, depression, stroke and more.
Although experts disagree on the specific causes of Metabolic Syndrome, they all agree that obesity, a high carbohydrate diet, and a diet low in fruits and vegetables are contributing factors. Other factors which may increase your risk include heredity, hormonal imbalances, lack of exercise, smoking and possibly toxic exposure from food, air and water.
The problem with Metabolic Syndrome is that no single definition of what it is and no specified set of diagnostic criteria have been defined. Many practitioners in the mainstream medical community do not believe Metabolic Syndrome exists and do not believe early identification can help improve health outcomes. There is also controversy about whether the symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome truly represent a “syndrome” or are merely a group of related symptoms which each has its own risk factors. The concern is that we have created a “disease” which truly doesn’t exist.
The bottom line is that whether you group the symptoms together and label them or not, they each represent a very real risk to health and longevity. In my practice, I work with many people who have multiple symptoms associated with Metabolic Syndrome. Addressing the issues quickly restores health. It also often results in improved self esteem and a restored positive outlook. I find that people who address Metabolic Syndrome typically experience better overall health on a long term basis.
Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome
The most common symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome include:
- Weight gain in the stomach and abdomen, often in spite of exercise and decreased food intake
- Increased triglycerides and cholesterol
- Elevated blood pressure
- Fasting blood glucose levels greater than 100 mg/dL
- Higher than normal blood levels of insulin (Please see The Top 3 Blood Tests Everyone Should Request for more info)
- Mild to moderate kidney damage resulting in excess protein in the urine
- Increased systemic inflammation which may cause joint pain, water retention and other symptoms
- Increased liver enzymes due to insufficient detoxification and/or a condition called “fatty liver”
- Excess growth of Candida (yeast) in the body
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) in women
- Low Testosterone in men
- Abnormal development in children
- Mental and psychological issues, ranging from mild to extreme
If you have three or more of those symptoms, please schedule an appointment with your practitioner. Ask him or her to order blood work including a complete metabolic panel, complete blood count, insulin level, A1C and complete thyroid panel. (If your doctor is unsure how to interpret these tests related to Metabolic Syndrome risk factors, please feel free to contact me to schedule a half-hour blood work interpretation consultation.)
Reversing Metabolic Syndrome
The good news is that Metabolic Syndrome can often be reversed using simple lifestyle changes. Supplements may also be used in some cases. The purpose of the recommended changes is to improve insulin sensitivity and restore balance to the endocrine system. Potential changes may include:
- Improving an exercise regimen and combining it with weight training
- Decreasing the type and quantity of carbohydrates eaten on a daily basis
- Increasing the amount of healthy fat consumed on a daily basis
- Identifying and addressing mineral deficiencies
- Improving digestion to ensure foods are adequately digested and absorbed
- Other recommendations based on the person’s specific health needs
Reversing Metabolic Syndrome is very possible, but requires the direction of a qualified practitioner. If you suspect you have Metabolic Syndrome and would like to start the process of reversing it, please contact me to schedule a consultation.
Photo courtesy of Keith Ramsey
I recently heard an extremely ill woman comment she couldn’t figure out why she was so sick. She went on to say she had gotten a flu shot, and obviously believed that should have protected her. My research has led me to conclude otherwise. I need to confess this article is extremely long. I felt the importance of the information warranted a longer format.
I want to state very clearly that getting vaccinated is a very personal choice. I support everyone who chooses to get the vaccination, and encourage those who are undecided to do further research. I am not “anti-vaccine,” I am simply pro-research.
I am one of the people mainstream medicine insists “must” have a flu shot. I’m considered “high risk” because I have Type 1 Diabetes and have multiple other auto-immune conditions. I do not get flu shots and never get sick. In fact, I spent the last five years working in environments where I was exposed every day to multiple people who had active flu infections. In spite of that, I never became infected and never had so much as a sniffle. Unfortunately, mainstream media and mainstream medicine use a wide variety of scare tactics to convince people they will become sick if they are not vaccinated. Nothing could be further from the truth. Following are my top eleven reasons for not getting a flu shot:
- Infection is based on lifestyle, not exposure: The belief that everyone who gets exposed to the flu becomes ill is outdated and untrue. If it were true that exposure causes illness, none of us could enter a public place without becoming ill. The truth is that our lifestyle and our body’s environment are what determine whether or not we get sick. This is why my teenagers got sick in 2008 with a nasty case of the flu, but neither my husband nor I became ill while caring for them. Their lifestyle and high-sugar eating habits lowered their body’s ability to fight the flu, while ours provided natural immunity.
- Low probability of correct strains used in vaccine: There are close to 300 different strains of flu, yet each year the CDC chooses 3-5 strains of Influenza Type A and 1-2 of Influenza Type B to include in the flu vaccine. They use scientific methods to try and predict which strains will be the most prevalent each year, but they are often wrong. Additionally, flu strains constantly adapt and mutate. This means the likelihood of the CDC choosing the correct strains is less than 5%. The CDC admits: “In some years when vaccine and circulating strains were not well-matched, no vaccine effectiveness can be demonstrated in some studies, even in healthy adults. It is not possible in advance of the influenza season to predict how well the vaccine and circulating strains will be matched, and how that match may affect the degree of vaccine effectiveness.”
- Those who were vaccinated have higher infection rates than those who were not: More than seven studies proved flu shots do not reduce infection rates and may actually increase them. Dr. Danuta Skowronski, an influenza expert at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control in Canada , shared findings proving increased infection rates were consistently found for two years following vaccination in both humans and ferrets who received flu vaccines. These findings were true across seven different studies done on flu vaccines for 2008 and 2009. The findings agreed with statistical comparisons of over 30,000 people. The vaccines used in 2008 and 2009 are very similar to those being used today. (Ferrets are used in influenza studies because their physiology most closely mimics that of humans’ in influenza infections.)
It also needs to be pointed out that pediatric deaths due to flu were dropping prior to 2003. The decrease in deaths can be attributed to improved health conditions, better nutrition programs in schools and preschools, and other lifestyle improvements. Pediatric deaths caused by flu skyrocketed after the CDC insisted that all children older than six months of age receive a flu shot. The increase in death and infection rates following the CDC’s mandate is not coincidental and is too large to be ignored.
- Zero science to support effectiveness of flu shots: A review of 5707 articles and 31 studies found little evidence to prove that flu vaccines actually reduce infection rates. The researchers also found that although the vaccines provided “moderate” protection some years, they provided little or no protection other years. The researchers also found that flu vaccines offer zero protection for anyone over age 65 or younger than age 7. Another group, the Cochrane Acute Respiratory Infections Group, studied 41 clinical studies and concluded the data showed flu vaccines provide zero reduction in infection or death across all age groups. The Cochrane group also studied 260,000 children between the ages of 23 months and six years and found the flu vaccine to be no more effective than a placebo at preventing illness. In 2009, many providences in Canada stopped recommending flu vaccines for anyone under 65 years of age. Their infection rates have not increased.
Commenting on other studies proving the ineffectiveness of flu shots, Michael T. Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy and Director of the Center of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance said, “We have overpromoted and overhyped this vaccine … It does not protect as promoted. It’s all a sales job: it’s all public relations.”
- Most illnesses called the “flu” actually are not: Researchers found that only 6-8% of illnesses called “flu” were actually caused by a true flu virus. The other illnesses were caused by other viruses or bacteria, none of which would be included in a flu vaccine. Additionally, the CDC drastically increases their statistics by making the assumption that all deaths caused by pneumonia originated with a flu infection. This is simply not true. Although having the flu can increase the likelihood of a pneumonia infection in anyone with a compromised immune system, pneumonia is a bacterial infection and flu is a viral infection. Not all cases of pneumonia are caused by the flu, which means the CDC’s statistics are grossly inflated and are designed to create fear.
- The “Original Antigenic Sin” Argument: This term refers to the fact that a vaccine only protects you against specific illness strains, whereas catching an illness provides immunity against that illness and against multiple others with similar chemical structures. In other words, if you get a flu shot which claims to protect you against Strains A and B, that’s all you have protection against. If you catch Strain A, you wind up with immunity against Strain A and potentially against hundreds of other flu strains which contain similar proteins. This may be why flu vaccines are virtually worthless for anyone over age 65. They have already been infected with and exposed to enough flu strains that they have naturally occurring immunity against a wide array of flu strains.
- Flu vaccines suppress the immune system: The ingredients in flu vaccines stimulate the immune system to combat a few strains of flu, yet suppress it against all other viral and bacterial invaders. This is why so many people get sick with colds and other illnesses shortly after receiving the flu vaccine. Based on the other evidence shared in this post, it makes little sense to lower the body’s overall ability to fight infection by receiving a flu shot.
- Increased risk of cardiac problems and oxidized cholesterol: A 2007 study found that flu vaccines cause an inflammatory response that increases the risk of cardiac problems and which also causes oxidation of the low density lipoproteins (LDL cholesterol). The oxidation of LDL cholesterol means that the very small cholesterol molecules capable of passing through vessel walls become oxidized, or hardened, in arteries, which directly contributes to arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, and other coronary disorders. This potentially deadly effect only lasts for a maximum of fourteen days, but needs to be considered by anyone having a pre-existing cardiac condition. The inflammation can also cause a condition called “Arteritis,” in which the walls of large arteries become inflamed. Depending on the body region affected, arteritis may cause visual disturbances, headaches, jaw pain, and more. A study by the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health found that pregnant women are especially susceptible to the inflammatory effects of flu vaccines and that receiving a flu vaccine led to higher rates of pre-eclampsia, spontaneous abortion, and increased complications following birth.
- Toxic ingredients: Most flu vaccines contain one or all of the following –
– Mercury (Thimerosol): Thimerosol is a common preservative used in vaccines. Most flu vaccines contain enough mercury from Thimerosol to be deemed toxic by the EPA if they are taken by anyone weighing less than 265 pounds. Because mercury is a powerful neurotoxin, this information should be regarded with concern by anyone weighing less than 265 pounds. Note: There are a few vials of vaccines made without Thimerosol, but they are typically saved for children and pregnant women. You have the right to request them, and definitely should if you weigh less than 265 pounds, are pregnant, or are having your child vaccinated.
– Adjutants: Adjutants are ingredients added to vaccines which serve to stimulate the immune system. The most common adjutant used in flu vaccines is Aluminum, a heavy metal which is associated with many neurological illnesses. Primary among the neurological illnesses associated with aluminum toxicity is Alzheimer’s.
– Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen. When combined with aluminum (as it is in the flu vaccine and many the vaccinations), formaldehyde is known to increase the likelihood of neurological damage.
– Eggs: Although not directly a toxin, all flu vaccines are grown on cultures from chicken eggs. This means the vaccines could be deadly to anyone having a severe allergy to eggs. Please be aware of this. The incidence of severe allergic reactions to flu vaccines is rising at an alarming rate, largely because many of the people administrating vaccines are not trained in their side effects and are not in a facility equipped to deal with anaphylactic shock. If you choose to get a flu shot, please get it in your doctor’s office and not in your local grocery store.
- Negative reactions: Flu vaccines are known to cause the following reactions, some of which are deadly and some of which can cause permanent disability: injection site reaction, fever, convulsions (especially in children), narcolepsy, Guillain-Barre Syndrome (a severe paralytic auto-immune neurological condition which can result in permanent disability), allergic reactions including anaphylactic shock, increased risk of heart attack, encephalitis, neurological disorders, thrombocytopenia (a blood disorder causing low platelet counts, fatigue and potential blood loss from bruising or internal hemorrhage), and more..
- Studies found Vitamin D more effective than flu shots: There is a good reason the flu only occurs during the winter months. Even in tropical climates, flu rates increase during the rainy season. The common factor? Sun exposure. Unprotected exposure to sunlight stimulates the body to produce Vitamin D. Studies conducted by John Cannell and associates found a direct connection between Vitamin D deficiencies and increased respiratory illnesses in adults and children. The studies also found that as little as 2000 IU of Vitamin D3 on a daily basis could prevent the flu and other respiratory illnesses 500% more effectively than flu vaccines. Another study reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that Vitamin D deficiency caused higher infection rates of flu and other respiratory illnesses. Per Adit Ginde, MD, MPH, “The findings of our study support an important role for vitamin D in prevention of common respiratory infections, such as colds and the flu.” Vitamin D stimulates the body to produce over 300 different antimicrobial peptides which help the body combat viral and bacterial infection. My personal recommendation is that anyone living in a cold climate should take a minimum of 2000 IU of Vitamin D3 on a daily basis and should get their blood serum levels checked at least once each year. Ideal blood serum levels should be maintained between 50-80 nmol/L.
Efficacy and effectiveness of influenza vaccines: a systematic review and meta-analysis – Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy
The vitamin D-antimicrobial peptide pathway and its role in protection against infection – Linus Pauling Institute
Insulin is an important hormone for everyone, whether they have diabetes or not. It performs many functions in the body that most people are completely unaware of. The purpose of this article is to show you how important insulin is and why you may need to start paying more attention to it. Unfortunately, we live in a society where many people’s cells have stopped absorbing the insulin their body produces. This insulin resistance creates a domino effect of negative consequences, even though many people never have elevated blood sugars. All of us have insulin resistance to some degree. The resistance is partially caused by aging, poor eating habits, lack of exercise, etc. However, it is very simple to regulate insulin production and insulin sensitivity. (The picture you see is a cross section of the beta cells of the pancreas that create insulin.)
Let’s get started! The following facts about insulin may surprise you.
Insulin is found in almost every life form, including single-celled creatures
Any chemical that is found in every life form on earth must be vitally important. For most single-celled organisms, insulin’s role is to control and advance aging. The older the life form becomes, the more insulin it produces. Insulin is therefore vitally connected to the aging process. When people become insulin resistant, causing their body to produce excess insulin, their cells age and deteriorate much more rapidly. Controlling insulin production and resistance is vital to slowing the aging process.
Insulin allows the body’s cells to store and create energy
We’ve all been convinced that insulin’s role is to lower blood glucose levels. Truth is, that is not insulin’s job. Insulin’s primary role in the body is to create energy. Plain and simple. The insulin your body creates should allow your cells to create energy. When cells become resistant to insulin, it means those cells can no longer create energy. Fatigue and exhaustion follow. This is why many people with insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and diabetes are often so tired.
Insulin signals the body to store fat
Insulin is a fat storage hormone, especially when it is not absorbed by the body’s cells. Excess insulin in the blood stream tells the body to start storing as much fat as possible. This is why people with insulin resistance and diabetes often find it impossible to lose weight. It is also why people with those challenges often have extremely elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It’s just that simple.
High cholesterol has a stronger connection to insulin than it does to fat consumption. I recently worked with a lady who came to me with a cholesterol reading of over 300 and a triglyceride level of over 1500. What did I do? I recommended an eating plan that was very low in carbohydrates and very high in healthy fats. (Yes. You read that right. I gave her body what it needed. A low fat diet does not help weight loss, nor does it improve coronary health.) She lost forty pounds in three months and had normal cholesterol and triglyceride levels within six weeks. Focusing on insulin instead of her blood lipids made the difference.
Insulin delivers magnesium
One of the most important jobs insulin fulfills is to carry magnesium into the cells. Experts currently estimate that seventy percent of the US population is magnesium deficient. There is a large probability this deficiency is not solely due to bad eating habits, but is also linked to insulin resistance. For information on the negative effects of magnesium deficiency, please read Why You Need More Magnesium.
One of magnesium’s jobs is to relax the blood vessels. A primary result of a low magnesium level is that blood vessels constrict and blood pressure rises. Over 80% of people with diabetes or insulin resistance also have high blood pressure. The connection is purely related to insulin. Unfortunately, the cells in blood vessels never become resistant to insulin. These cells continue absorbing all the insulin that is present. The excess insulin in the walls of the blood vessels makes them hard and predisposes them to being covered with plaque. Both of these factors create elevated blood pressure. Left untreated, these factors create serious heart disease. Few people speak about regulating insulin levels as a means of preventing and reversing coronary disease, but it is one of the simplest ways to improve heart health.
Insulin triggers hormones that create a feeling of fullness
Insulin is a hormone that tells the body when it’s time to stop eating. This makes perfect sense. As we eat a meal, our body releases insulin to turn that food into energy. As those insulin levels rise, it should trigger a feeling of fullness once a sufficient amount of food has been eaten. When the body stops absorbing insulin, it prevents the signal that tells the person it’s time to stop eating and allows people to eat far more than they need without feeling full. This is another reason why people with insulin resistance and diabetes have such a hard time losing weight. The key is to improve the body’s ability to absorb insulin. It is very simple to improve insulin sensitivity using lifestyle changes and sometimes a few inexpensive supplements.
Insulin lowers blood glucose levels
Last on the list is that insulin lowers blood sugar. Insulin’s least significant role in the body is lowering glucose levels. The fact is that elevated glucose is merely a nasty side effect of poor insulin metabolism.
Do you deal with insulin resistance? Is this a new concept for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.
Please contact me at 317.489.0909 if you would like to start the process of improving your health and slowing the aging process by improving your body’s ability to absorb insulin.
I am often asked what my thoughts are about whether or not coffee is “healthy.” As with most health issues, your personal physiology determines whether or not coffee is beneficial for you. Many people are shocked that I am not opposed to coffee. To be quite honest, I recognize that coffee does have health benefits. I also recognize that some people have such poor diets that a morning cup of java provides the only antioxidants they receive during the entire day.
If you’d like to learn how to brew the healthiest coffee possible, please read my article, How to Brew a Healthy Cup of Coffee: Cold Brew.
In the points that follow, please note that a “cup” of coffee is 8 ounces. Most coffee mugs hold far more, so use caution.
Coffee may provide the following benefits. Please note that some people are extremely sensitive to caffeine. Caffeine sensitivity may counteract some of the positive effects I’ve shared below.
- Coffee is a rich source of antioxidants.
- Coffee contains certain minerals that are lacking in the Standard American Diet (SAD), including magnesium, potassium, chromium (necessary for proper blood sugar control), zinc, and others.
- A Harvard study found that women who drink two to three cups of coffee per day have a 15% lower risk of depression than women who do not drink coffee.
- Coffee is rich in Trigonelline, a chemical that helps protect your teeth from bacteria that can cause decay.
- Over 17 different studies found that people who drink one to four cups of coffee daily have lower rates of Type 2 Diabetes and some forms of cancer.
- In addition to antioxidants, coffee contains high levels of 3,5 Dicaffeoylquinic acid, a chemical that protects cells from free-radical damage.
- Coffee is rich in niacin, a B vitamin that is essential for cardiovascular health, normal brain function, normal digestion, cell health, energy production and more.
- Multiple studies found that those who drink two to four cups of coffee daily have lowered rates of Alzheimer Disease, liver disease, gallstone formation, Parkinson’s Disease, coronary rhythm disorders, heart attacks and more.
- Several studies found that coffee consumption does NOT elevate blood pressure and actually improves coronary health. Hallelujah! If you have high blood pressure, test your pressure before drinking a cup of coffee and 20 minutes after to determine if drinking decaf might be a better option due to your personal sensitivity to caffeine.
- A 13-year study conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine in 2012 found that coffee drinkers who drank two to three cups of coffee per day had a 10-15% lower rate of mortality than those who did not. The researchers said this effect cannot be directly attributed to coffee and that further research is needed, but those numbers are certainly interesting!
Coffee beans contain over 1600 different chemicals. Unfortunately, not all of them are healthy. Drinking coffee may have the following harmful effects:
- Coffee has been shown to increase levels of LDL cholesterol, although the exact reason is not known.
- Consumption of two or more cups of coffee per day has been associated with a higher risk of osteoporosis and osteopenia. Percolated or drip coffee is very, very acidic, which creates an overly acidic pH in the body. To counteract the acidity, the body will pull calcium out of the bones and teeth to alkalize the body’s pH. My personal belief is that acidic brewing methods lead to osteoporosis and not the coffee. See the section below for healthy ways to brew coffee.
- Coffee is known to interfere with sleep and may cause irritability and anxiety in some people. Drinking naturally decaffeinated coffee may lessen this effect.
- Coffee hampers the absorption of iron and has been connected to iron deficiency anemia. Women who take iron supplements should never take them within two hours of drinking coffee. (Iron supplements are best absorbed on an empty stomach, so taking them right before bed – at least two hours after eating – works best for most people. Please note that iron interferes with the absorption of some prescription medications. Check with your pharmacist to find out which medications should not be taken with iron supplements.)
- Brewed and percolated coffee can irritate the lining of the digestive tract and may worsen the symptoms of digestive disorders, heartburn (GERD), ulcers and more.
- Combining coffee with Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is known to cause liver damage.
The Healthiest Way to Make Coffee
Here are my tips for enjoying coffee in a healthy way:
- ONLY DRINK ORGANIC COFFEE. I cannot stress this enough. Coffee plants are often sprayed with gallons of chemicals. Since most coffee is grown outside of the US, those chemicals may not be regulated. Although it would be nice to think that roasting the beans removes those toxins, the opposite is actually true.
- Enjoy it in moderation. Try to drink no more than 16 – 24 ounces per day.
- Don’t substitute coffee for water. Coffee is a strong diuretic which can cause dehydration. Always drink extra water for every cup of coffee you drink.
- If you drink decaffeinated coffee because you are sensitive to caffeine, only drink coffee that was decaffeinated using the Swiss Water Process method of decaffeination. The standard method of decaffeination uses chemical solvents, some of which remain in the coffee after processing. These chemical solvents may be toxic and should be avoided.
- Coffee is known to challenge the adrenal glands. The caffeine in coffee stimulates the adrenal glands to secrete hormones. Anyone who has adrenal fatigue should avoid coffee. Decaffeinated coffee has less of an effect.
- Coffee raises blood sugar. When the adrenal glands are stimulated, the hormones they secrete stimulate the liver to release glycogen, a form of sugar the body stores for energy. Decaffeinated coffee has less of an effect.
- Don’t drink it for dessert. Many people immediately ruin coffee’s health benefits by loading it up with sugar, artificial sweeteners, chemical creamers, flavored syrups, whipped cream and more. Black coffee is the healthiest. Adding a bit of stevia or a tiny amount of natural milk or milk alternative is fine, but don’t go crazy.
Healthy Brewing Techniques
My personal belief, based on much of the information shared above, is that cold brewed coffee is the healthiest. Cold brewing is very simple and provides all the taste (and caffeine, if you choose) of drip coffee without the acidity. I will share the cold brew method I use in my next blog post. Trust me when I say my method is far simpler than the methods shared online. I can brew a pot of cold brew in less than 15 minutes.
If you prefer drip coffee, please only use a non-bleached filter. There is some evidence that a non-bleached, paper filter removes some of the chemicals in coffee that could potentially have a harmful effect.
If you’d like to learn how to brew the healthiest coffee possible, please read my article, How to Brew a Healthy Cup of Coffee: Cold Brew.
Did this article surprise you? I help many people evaluate their lifestyle habits to identify changes that may help improve their wellness or help them avoid future challenges. To schedule, please email me or call 317.489.0909.
What are your thoughts about coffee? Do you drink it? How do you ensure you get the benefits without the risks? Please share!
I guarantee you have been touched by Thyroid Hell at least once during your lifetime. If you do not personally have thyroid disease, you have definitely come in contact with someone who does. That encounter may have been quite pleasant, or may have been a nightmare. Either way, the quality of the encounter can be directly attributed to how well that person’s thyroid levels were balanced on that particular day. (Thyroid levels can fluctuate on a daily basis, which makes managing thyroid conditions that much more difficult.)
I thought I’d share an insider’s look at Thyroid Hell, mainly because I’ve spent a lot of time there. I invite those of you with thyroid imbalances to share your stories in the comments. Feel free to have fun with it and please don’t worry about offending us. Thyroid disease is no laughing matter, but the situations it creates are sometimes hilarious.
In the upcoming weeks, I will share more detailed information about thyroid disorders. I will also launch a wellness coaching program for thyroid patients that will provide detailed information about lifestyle changes, dietary changes and supplements that can be used to support the thyroid gland. This program will also contain very specific information on how to discuss thyroid issues with your doctor and on the tests you need to request. I do not want one more thyroid patient to needlessly suffer, and I recognize that education is the only way to prevent that.
The Thyroid Gland is a tiny gland that wraps around the esophagus. It sits just below the “Adam’s Apple.” In spite of its size, the thyroid gland is incredibly powerful. It secretes hormones that directly affect every body system. Every single one. An imbalance in thyroid hormone levels can affect brain chemistry, emotions, digestion, reproductive health, fluid balance in the tissues, kidney function, heart function, liver function, hair and nail growth, sexual function, emotional balance, energy levels, sleep patterns, weight, dexterity, muscle strength and stamina, cholesterol levels, anxiety, vision, internal temperature regulation, and more. As you can see, thyroid dysfunction affects body, mind and spirit in profound ways. Unfortunately, many MDs prescribe antidepressant meds to treat the symptoms instead of doing detailed blood work to find the cause of the problems.
The one item that is also affected but which was not included in the list is: RELATIONSHIPS. It is very difficult for thyroid patients to explain to family members and friends that they truly aren’t themselves. I frequently hear people with thyroid disorders express: “I hate myself and don’t know who this monster is living in my body, so I don’t know how any of my coworkers, family members or friends could stand me.” I’ve been that monster. Even though I was able to usually control my outbursts, the constant turmoil spinning through my brain and thought patterns was pure hell. Many people who are very positive, calm and chipper become Mr. Hyde when their thyroid levels become imbalanced. Those of us who have dealt with thyroid issues for many years instantly know it’s time to get blood work and check levels when the monster starts to rear her ugly head.
Unfortunately, people who have never before received a thyroid diagnosis often genuinely think they’re going crazy. It is extremely common for patients who are hospitalized due to suicide attempts to be diagnosed with a thyroid disorder. It is not uncommon for lab tests to reveal that people who successfully committed suicide had thyroid imbalances. I am very thankful that a growing number of MDs are choosing to specialize in both endocrinology and psychiatry. I personally believe the two cannot be completely separated.
In my own experience, I can say that I could easily deal with the physical afflictions of thyroid imbalance if the emotional effects were not so profound. I’ve heard other thyroid patients echo similar sentiments. Once you realize your thyroid levels are out of balance, you begin the process of changing medication dosages until the correct dosage is found. This can sometimes create a rollercoaster effect where the patient goes from being hypothyroid (having thyroid levels that are too low) to being hyperthyroid (having thyroid levels that are too high.) Unfortunately, there is a lot of overlap between the symptoms for hypo- and hyperthyroidism, which makes the entire process that much more fun.
For those of you who have friends, coworkers or family members with thyroid challenges, here’s a list of the emotional and behavioral changes you might observe when their thyroid levels become imbalanced:
- Having extreme anxiety where none existed before
- Reacting irrationally to minor issues
- Responding to almost everything with anger
- Displaying extreme levels of irritability (as in being annoyed by your breathing)
- Overtweeting or excessive use of social media (I’m not making that up)
- Suddenly having a total lack of self confidence and a complete disbelief their efforts will succeed
- Becoming completely apathetic about projects or topics for which they have a passion
- Dressing very differently because their clothes do not fit, their body image plummets, or they just don’t care
- Suddenly becoming out-and-out mean, caustically sarcastic, hypercritical, etc.
- Becoming very negative
- Suddenly becoming a hermit who has no desire to leave the house or interact with others
- A total slob may suddenly become obsessively tidy, or a neat freak may suddenly become a slob
That list could continue with many more points, but the bottom line is that thyroid imbalance changes people’s personalities, not just their physiology. The good news is that there are a wide variety of natural approaches that can support thyroid health. These approaches, used in combination with natural thyroid replacement hormones, can eliminate the hell and restore normalcy.
So what can you do to help a thyroid patient who’s in flux? Love them, obviously. In the midst of that, ask questions to ensure they are working with a professional to stabilize their hormone levels. I cannot stress this enough: Most thyroid patients are already experiencing a bit of self hate. Try not to be negative and judgmental about the changes in their life habits. They may need your assistance in maintaining the status quo, and they may need you to very gently hold them accountable, but they do not need your judgment. Threatening them with ending the relationship will not motivate them at all. Their hormonal imbalance is already affecting their self image, so losing a relationship may not matter to them (or they may expect it) when their levels are out of balance. I know that sounds extreme, but I hear it and see it on a daily basis.
The best advice I can offer is to ask the thyroid patient in your life how you can help them. Be specific. Ask if you can help with chores, if they need you to take them out to have fun, and let them know you love them and are there for them if they need to talk or need a soft shoulder to pound on. Your support will do more for them than anything else.
Ok … your turn. Have you experienced this? What else can we add to the list? I welcome in put from thyroid patients and from people who love them and who are on the receiving end of the angst.
Many people do not realize the prescription they are taking to address one health issue is depleting nutrients that may cause other health problems. Unfortunately, few patients are told about nutritional deficiencies that can be caused by prescriptions. This results in health issues developing which may be a mystery but which can typically be reversed very quickly simply by replenishing the nutrient that was depleted by the prescription medication. In a strange twist of fate, many of the prescription medications I listed below deplete the body of a nutrient that is essential for preventing or controlling the very condition the prescription is used to remedy. Unfortunately, many doctors are not aware of the nutritional deficiencies caused by the medications they prescribe. As a patient, it is imperative to look up each prescription medication you take to see if you should be supplementing to replace what it is depleting. In my office, I review each client’s prescriptions medications to ensure they are taking measures to prevent a potential deficiency.
The table that follows provides a list of just a few of the most common prescriptions that can cause a nutritional deficiency. I’ve provided information about the prescription medication, the nutrient(s) it is known to deplete in the body, and information on which supplement might be used to help counteract or prevent deficiencies. I’ve shown one possible supplement per deficiency, but many options exist. I’ve merely shown the one I like or use personally. Please note this is a very tiny list and is not complete. If you’d like to pick up a book providing excellent, detailed information on deficiencies caused by prescriptions, I highly recommend Suzy Cohen’s Drug Muggers: Which Medications are Robbing Your Body of Essential Nutrients and Natural Ways to Restore Them.
Please also note this table does not list interactions which may occur between foods or supplements taken with prescriptions. Please consult your MD, read the information that comes with your prescriptions, and research to determine which supplements and foods should never be taken with your prescription medications.
NOTE: This information is being shared for educational purposes only. If this information concerns you, please discuss it with your MD before making any changes to your care plan. Please DO NOT begin taking any supplements without checking with your MD. Additionally, never stop taking a prescription medication or alter the dosage without the express consent of your MD or other healthcare practitioner. None of these statements were reviewed by the FDA and none are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition.
Nutritional Deficiencies Caused by Prescription Medications
|Medication||Deficiency Caused||Potential Source of Replenishment|
||Co-Enzyme Q10 (CoQ10)||Co-Enzyme Q10 is essential for heart health, so it is concerning that statin and drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes cause a severe depletion in this nutrient. Some studies indicate congestive heart failure’s base cause is a deficiency in CoQ10. If you take a statin drug of any of the antidiabetics listed, I strongly encourage you to take a Ubiquinol Supplement on a daily basis. I recommend taking .5-1mg per pound of body weight. Your body must convert CoQ10 into Ubiquinol in order to absorb it, so it is much more efficient to simply take the Ubiquinol.
*Almost all antibiotics deplete Vitamin B12. A complete list would not fit in this table.
|Vitamin B12||There are many differing opinions about how much Vitamin B12 a person should take to replenish a deficiency caused by a prescription medication. Luckily, Vitamin B12 is water-soluble, so it is very difficult to develop an excess without taking ridiculously high amounts. My recommendation is to take a minimum of 2000mcg of sublingual, Methylcobalamin B12 on a daily basis. I also recommend having your B12 levels checked every three months if you are taking a medication known to deplete B12. Please see my post, Surprising Facts You Need to Know About Vitamin B12 for more information about how important Vitamin B12 is and how many health issues may result from a deficiency.
||Magnesium||Magnesium is essential for lowering blood pressure, yet almost all blood pressure medications deplete the body of this essential nutrient. Seems somehow backward, doesn’t it? Several studies found that 70-85% of the US population – children included – are magnesium deficient. (See my post Why You Need More Magnesium for more information on the importance of Magnesium and information on which types are most beneficial.)
||Melatonin||Oddly enough, Melatonin is a hormone that is essential for maintaining serotonin balance and for maintaining a positive outlook. Deficiencies can cause depression and insomnia, and may also increase the effects of aging because Melatonin is such a strong antioxidant. Dosage of Melatonin varies from person to person. I generally recommend starting with 1-3 mg each night and increasing the dosage (up to 10 mg) until restful sleep is easily attained. If you take Melatonin and it does nothing for you, that’s a good indicator that you are not deficient. However, most people taking anti-anxiety medications are deficient and find their symptoms improve very quickly once a Melatonin supplement is started.
Please read Facts About Iron-Deficiency Anemia to learn more about combating anemia.
|A word of warning about iron: Do not take an iron supplement unless you know you need it. Additionally, iron may interfere with the absorption of many prescription medications. (One example is that it should never be taken with thyroid medications such as Synthroid or Armour.) For best absorption and to prevent interactions with medications, I recommend taking iron supplements on an empty stomach, at least two hours before or after taking prescription medications.Many forms of over-the-counter iron supplements are almost impossible to absorb. This is why many of them cause constipation. I prefer to use forms of iron which are very easily absorbed and therefore do not cause digestive upset or constipation. My recommendation is to never purchase iron supplements from standard drugstores, as I have yet to find one that carries iron in a form that is easily absorbed. (Please let me know if you find one!)
Have you suffered from a nutritional deficiency you later learned was due to a prescription? How did you counteract it? If you’re taking one of the medications listed, I’m curious to know if your doctor told you in advance about the possibility that it might cause a deficiency? Were you warned and given a list of recommended supplements? I hope you were!
My passion is helping people improve their health by identifying and correcting nutritional deficiencies and other causes of illness. I have helped thousands of people improve their health, reverse symptoms and reduce their need for medication. If you are ready to improve your health using a holistic approach, please contact me to schedule a consultation.
Please note that the links in this post are Amazon affiliate links but that my use of an affiliate link in no way encouraged my listing of these supplements. They truly are my favorite supplements, most of which I use myself.
One of the most maddening health myths being perpetuated today is that cholesterol is bad and we should avoid it at all costs. This is, quite frankly, a load of rubbish. (Please be proud of me for using the word “rubbish” instead of a few other more descriptive nouns.) For more information on this topic, I highly recommend the book, Sex, Lies & Cholesterol by Dr. Ryan Bentley. Click the link to view more about this book.
The bottom line is that your body could not maintain healthy cell membranes, digest your food, maintain the myelin sheath that protects nerves, or product hormones without cholesterol. Sound important? It is! The following six facts may surprise you:
FACT: Cholesterol is Essential for Good Health
FACT: There’s No Such Thing as Good and Bad Cholesterol
In spite of what we’re told, there is only one type of cholesterol. Cholesterol is a fat which has attached itself to a protein. The terms LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) and HDL (High Density Lipoprotein) are used to differentiate between the types of proteins contained in the cholesterol. The reason LDL cholesterol is sometimes referred to as “bad” is because some LDL particles are very tiny. These tiny particles have the ability to penetrate arterial walls, where they oxidize (or turn rancid) and can begin forming plaque. The likelihood of this happening is dependent on many factors, primary of which are lifestyle and family history. The bottom line, though, is that cholesterol is neither good nor bad, it simply is.
FACT: Dietary Fats Don’t Always Raise Cholesterol Levels
Studies have shown the consumption of dietary fat has little effect on cholesterol levels in the blood. The consumption of carbohydrates and sugars raises cholesterol levels more than consuming fats does because the body converts excess glucose in the blood stream to cholesterol and triglycerides. You obviously want to eat healthy fats and avoid hydrogenated oils, but the consumption of healthy fats has been shown to help normalize cholesterol levels – not raise them. Studies found that decreasing fat consumption actually increases the body’s production of cholesterol. The body recognizes its need for cholesterol and considers it so important that it produces more if it does not receive it via the diet. Does this mean we can eat as many Twinkies as we want? No. (Sorry.) It means we can enjoy healthy fats in moderation and should avoid unhealthy fats.
FACT: Cholesterol is Made in the Liver, Not Absorbed through the Diet
One of the many functions performed by the liver is the production of cholesterol. Experts estimate that 75% of the cholesterol in the body is produced by the liver, and that only 25% is gained through dietary intake. Statin drugs work by blocking an important liver enzyme, HMG-CoA reductase, that is responsible for producing cholesterol. The fact that statins cause the liver to stop producing a vital enzyme is primary among the reasons statins often cause liver damage.
One very simple way to maintain balance in cholesterol levels is to increase one’s consumption of dietary fiber. As the body produces cholesterol, it uses dietary fiber as one means of absorbing and eliminating cholesterol that is not needed for maintenance of body structures. Increasing dietary fiber is a very simple way to help maintain balance in cholesterol levels.
FACT: Standard Blood Tests Miss the Mark
Standard blood tests for cholesterol claim to measure Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL) and High Density Lipoproteins (HDL). Lipoproteins are “containers” that carry cholesterol throughout the body via the blood stream. The standard cholesterol blood test estimates the number of LDL particles using a complex equation and then estimates the amount of cholesterol contained in each. The problem with this method is that it is an estimate which can be very inaccurate. Studies have shown that measuring the actual number, size and density of LDL particles in the blood stream provides a much more accurate predictor of potential coronary issues. It is possible to have normal LDL levels via the standard tests but have elevated LDL particle levels. In my practice, I recommend using a blood test that measures both particle size and count. I work with a local lab that provides the test at a very low rate and which does not require a doctor’s order.
Statins May Do More Harm Than Good
As the commercials state, Statin drugs have multiple side effects, including body aches, itching, headaches, diarrhea, liver damage and more. One thing the pharmaceutical companies fail to share is that statins greatly reduce the amount of CoQ10 in the body. CoQ10 is an antioxidant which is essential for heart health. It is quite a paradox that a drug said to improve coronary health actually depletes the body of a nutrient essential for coronary health. Anyone taking a statin is strongly advised to take a CoQ10 supplement.
So what should you do if your doctor insists your cholesterol levels are high and that you need a statin? Do your research, for starters. I generally don’t get overly concerned about slightly elevated cholesterol levels, but do begin to recommend changes if triglyceride levels are elevated. (Triglycerides are “sticky” and play a larger role in blocking vessels.) For best results, explain your concerns to your doctor (feel free to share this article and the book I referenced above), and let him or her know that you do not believe cholesterol is the “demon” the pharmaceutical companies claim it is. During this discussion, please also ask your doctor to order an Insulin test during your next set of blood work. Elevated cholesterol levels are sometimes an indicator of beginning insulin resistance, so make sure you know where you stand. (Please see my post, Top 3 Blood Tests Almost Everyone Should Request for information on blood tests you should ask your doctor to run.) I find that asking for a six-month “window of opportunity” is often a very effective way of expressing that you are committed to creating change.
Ultimately, the decision to take a statin drug is yours. If you choose to not take one and your doctor fires you as a patient, perhaps it’s an indicator that it was time to move on. If you are on a statin, DO NOT stop taking it without thoroughly discussing your options with your doctor.
I find it somewhat common that post-menopausal women have slightly higher cholesterol levels, due to their body’s attempt to create additional hormones. I’m often amazed when women say their cholesterol went up after they hit 50 and their doctor immediately put them on a statin drug. The slight increase in cholesterol following menopause may actually be beneficial, as this provides more cholesterol the body can use to repair damage in vessel walls. I also find it very, very common that people who were long distance runners have elevated cholesterol levels for the rest of their life. I have several theories about why this is true, but cannot prove them scientifically. My assumption is that long distance running damages blood vessels in a way that causes the body to increase cholesterol production. Why the increase occurs longterm is a mystery, but there is a definite connection between long distance running and elevated cholesterol.
There are lifestyle and dietary changes that can positively impact cholesterol balance. Please use these proactive changes before choosing other options.
If you are concerned about cholesterol or other health challenges and would like to address them using natural methods, please contact me. I will work with you to identify the causes of your health challenges, and will then work with you to create a plan to reverse them.
As always, this information is shared for educational purposes only. None of these statements were evaluated by the FDA and none are intended to diagnose, treat cure or prevent any health condition. Please check with your physician before making lifestyle changes or starting to take a supplement, and never stop taking prescription medication unless directed to do so by the prescribing physician.