Dr. Laura: Sugar Ages the Brain

Vulnerable populations with long term unmanaged blood sugar levels are subject to brain atrophy (shrinkage) and accelerated brain changes including memory loss and cognitive decline.

Those with Diabetes type I and II monitor sugar regularly and those with metabolic syndrome or cardiovascular disease plus those at risk over 40 and after age 50 are regularly checked by their doctor.

Memory lapses?

What’s a healthy blood sugar level?

Guidelines for healthy levels are subject to some interpretation, however from a functional medicine font of view, HbA1c should be between 4.6 and 5.3% and fasting blood sugar levels are healthiest at less than 6. Note that those with red blood cell disease like sickle cell anemia, which change the shape of the blood cell, HbA1c is not a reliable marker and other markers like triglycerides, and fasting blood sugar levels must be taken into account.

Who’s most at risk?

Anyone with long term fluctuating blood sugar levels could be at risk for cognitive decline. Most studies are with diabetic patients as this population has routine checks on levels of sugar in their body. Also, chronic stress elevates cortisol, which subsequently activates sugar into the blood stream. This leads to unfortunate hippocampus affects, namely sugar induced shrinkage and memory challenges. It is possible to evaluate cortisol levels with a 24 hour urine and salivary collection kit such as the DUTCH test offered by Precision Analytical.

  • long term fluctuating blood sugar levels
  • diabetic patients on metformin
  • elevated cortisol
  • chronic stress
  • poor diet

Protect your brain

Protect memory and cognition with adequate blood supply, high levels of anthocyanin, appropriate levels of B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and a diet low in sugar and high in fibre, protein and healthy fats. Caution with drugs like metformin, which help regulate blood sugar in diabetics and is associated with cognitive decline. Apparently, this could be due to a number of factors, and not just the drug directly; it is therefore important to monitor B2 (riboflavin), B6, B12 when on metformin.

It is important to maintain:

  • high levels of anthocyanin
  • consistent intake of B-vitamins
  • daily dose of omega-3 essential fatty acids
  • controlled blood sugar levels

Is diet alone enough?

Anthocyanins are in blueberries, B-vitamins in whole grains and meats, omega-3’s in our fatty cold water fish and flax, walnut and hemp hearts. Is diet enough to keep up with the demands of cognitive decline? It is difficult to know as diets of many individuals need to be followed for years and it is difficult to control what people eat daily over years. First and foremost get it from the diet, yes, this is critical as the body knows best how to get nutrients from food.

Naturopathic Doctors are trained in laboratory analysis, diet, nutrition and nutraceuticals.

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND is a registered naturopathic doctor with a functional medicine approach.  She has advanced training in pharmaceuticals, is a certified HeartMath Practitioner and a Certified Gluten Free Practitioner  and holds the designation of ADAPT Trained Practitioner from Kresser Institute, the only functional medicine and ancestral health training company.

References:

https://chriskresser.com/when-your-“normal”-blood-sugar-isn’t-normal-part-2/

Cui X, Abduljalil A, Manor BD, Peng CK, Novak V. Multi-scale glycemic variability: a link to gray matter atrophy and cognitive decline in type 2 diabetes. PLoS One. 2014;9(1):e86284. Published 2014 Jan 24. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0086284

Zhao X, Han Q, Lv Y, Sun L, Gang X, Wang G. Biomarkers for cognitive decline in patients with diabetes mellitus: evidence from clinical studies. Oncotarget. 2017;9(7):7710–7726. Published 2017 Dec 14. doi:10.18632/oncotarget.23284

Dr. Kaitlyn: How to increase lean muscle mass

There are several health benefits associated with increasing lean mass:

Greater basal metabolic rate (amount of energy you use at rest): This means that you use more calories each day which will likely result in decreased fat mass.

Protein reservoir for your immune system: When you get sick your immune system needs significant amounts of protein to help you fight infection. Getting enough from your diet is tough, so your body can pull protein from your muscle in order to create the immune cells that you need.

Bone Health: Adequate muscle mass can help to improve bone density and strength as we age, preventing osteoporosis and decreasing the risk of debilitating bone breaks.

Improves insulin resistance: a study at UCLA school of medicine even found that increasing lean muscle mass by 10% led to an 11% decrease in insulin resistance. (PMID: 21778224)

What is the best way to increase your lean muscle mass?

Start with Resistance/Strength training:
We have all heard the saying “Use it or Lose it”, and it is no different for our muscles. Strength training at least twice a week is important to build and maintain muscle mass. It is important to focus on all the different muscle groups, and remember that the larger the muscle is, the more fuel it will use at rest. Always remember to give your muscles a break between sessions. This is why many people will rotate leg days and arm day. The rest period is very important as it allows your muscles to repair and grow between sessions.

Don’t forget cardio!
Moderate aerobic exercise can help to decrease fat mass, but by ensuring that our hearts are pumping we also improve the delivery of essential nutrients to our muscles. This can help with healing after heavy lifting. Overdoing it with cardio can have detrimental effects on lean mass as well. If we aren’t fueling our bodies adequately, muscle is broken down to fuel our cardiovascular exercise. It is always important to ensure proper nutrition .

PROTEIN!
There are multiple studies that have shown that when combined with resistance training, increasing protein intake leads to a significant improvement in body composition by increasing lean muscle mass. Athletes and active individuals have a higher protein demand than sedentary individuals, so it is important to ensure you are getting enough. Most of the recent studies have also shown that consuming significantly higher amounts of protein than the recommended intake will not have the detrimental effects on weight gain or kidney function as was originally believed. Of course, it is still important that you consult a healthcare provider before consuming very large amounts of protein to ensure that it is something that will work for you, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition.

Address underlying causes of Inflammation:
One of the most important things that we can do for our bodies (and our figures) is to remove any obstacles that may be preventing us from reaching optimal health. These could be things like correcting hormonal imbalances or promoting a healthy digestive system. It is very important to understand and address why we may be having trouble losing weight or gaining muscle, so that we can look and feel our best.

If you are interested in learning more about increasing muscle mass, losing fat or simply just feeling better every day, now is the time to start! To book an appointment with Dr. Kaitlyn Richardson, ND call 519.826.7973 or book online.

Dr. Laura: Strengthen Super Powers of the Immune

NS_HealthSeminar_LauraBrown_Sep2019_FacebookTile.jpg

What you’ll learn

Build your immune super powers to stay strong and healthy. Once you get a cold or flu virus, most remedies only lessen the severity of symptoms. The real trick is to build an army of defense and prevent the invading virus or bacteria from taking hold. This is important year-round, but especially as the cold and flu season emerges.  In this one-hour educational seminar meet your 38 trillion partners in health and learn the most important nutrients, medicinal plants and personal habits that will increase your stamina all winter long

Register today!

Call 519.822.8900 to reserve your spot for September 25th at 5:30pm.

About

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND is a registered naturopathic doctor with a functional medicine approach.  She has advanced training in pharmaceuticals, is a certified HeartMath Practitioner and a Certified Gluten Practitioner  and holds the designation of ADAPT Trained Practitioner from Kresser Institute, the only Functional Medicine and ancestral health training company.

Dr. Laura: New tests in mental health

Are imbalances in your brain chemicals and hormones affecting your sleep, work and pleasure in life?

Check each of the following that apply to you:

  • I wake feeling unrested
  • Sleep is difficult for me
  • I am always tired, fatigued or lack lustre for life
  • Concentration and focus are a challenge
  • My motivation is low
  • I am always forgetting things
  • I am often irritable and grumpy
  • My sex drive is low
  • Weight control is difficult and my love handles or muffin top are embarrassing
  • Hormones drive me crazy (PMS, menopause)

There are possible safe, painless and natural non-prescriptive drug solutions to help!

Break free!

Did you know?

  • Increased cortisol may cause insomnia, hyperactivity and decreased thyroid function and poor memory
  • Low dopamine may result in poor focus, low libido, and depression with exhaustion
  • High glutamate may contribute to anxiety, sleeplessness and irritability
  • Lower serotonin levels may lead to depression, anxiety and insomnia
  • Epinephrine and norepinephrine may increase anxiety, hyperactivity, insomnia and insulin resistance
  • Low GABA may lead to increased anxiety, insomnia and irritability.

How does imbalance occur?

Many factors contribute to disruption in our delicate system balance. Poor diet, stress, environmental factors, lack of or too much exercise and sleep, stimulants, genetics, even medications can deplete and offset the harmony.

How do you fix this?

Take home lab kits from Sanesco and Precision Analytical are now available for neurotransmitter and hormone analysis. The tests collect the urine breakdown products of serotonin, dopamine, GABA, epinephrine, norepinephrine, glutamate, melatonin, cortisol, estrogens, progesterone, androgens and more. The kit is shipped and the lab company runs the tests and provides the results back to the doctor. Nutritional analysis through lab drawn blood work is also available to evaluate vitamin and mineral status. Laboratory results will guide clinical decisions with clarity and focus.

Results above are an example from Sanesco’s urine test.
Results above are an example of the DUTCH hormone test

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND can help evaluate where to start, access the tests kits and provide blood requisitions for you and subsequently interpret the results. Individualized protocols are the heart of naturopathic medicine. Diet and lifestyle adjustments are first and foremost, then where needed, vitamins, minerals, and nutraceuticals may be added to help balance the body and get you back to feeling yourself.

Dr. Kyle: High Intensity Interval Training!

I’m sure you’ve heard the hype about high intensity interval training (HIIT) – bursts of exertion separated by short periods of recovery – sound tough, right? That’s because it is. The attention around HIIT has provoked researchers to further investigate it’s physiological benefits, which have been promising.

The problem with most workout programs is lack of intensity. People putt around the gym for about an hour, jump from one machine to the next without breaking a sweat. What’s the problem? Nothing, if your goal is to build strength. But from a physical fitness and weight loss perspective, you are overlooking HIIT’s cardiovascular and fat-incinerating benefits.

HIIT is a time-efficient strategy to increase muscle and accelerate fat loss. Intervals of activity and rest can vary between 30 seconds to a few minutes. The duration and intervals can be modified depending on the individual and goal in mind. The objective is to create a fast-paced and physically demanding workout that challenges our threshold of exercise intensity.

So why HIIT vs. cardio?

HIIT is most commonly compared to moderate intensity continuous training (MICT). MICT, also known as steady state cardio, consists of long periods of activity at constant intensity. For example, 45 minutes of jogging at 5km/h is considered MICT. Although it provides significant cardiovascular improvements and may be a favourite for endurance training, HIIT can offer more!! Remember, you can’t go wrong with increasing the intensity of exercise. Let’s compare!

With regards to that pesky body fat, HIIT significantly reduces abdominal and visceral fat in both men and women (1). High intensity training, above 90% peak heart rate, was more effective at reducing whole-body adipose tissue. Many studies show HIIT is superior to MICT in improving aerobic fitness (2). Cardiovascular measures (VO2 max, contractile function, ejection fraction, respiratory fitness and endothelial function) significantly improved with 7-12-week HIIT programs. This holds true for people who have previously suffered from a cardiac incident. Implementing HIIT under supervision during cardiac rehabilitation can improve quality of life by enhancing their cardiorespiratory fitness. No deaths or cardiac events occurred during HIIT programs across all recent studies. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

Additionally, studies have demonstrated greater improvements in insulin sensitivity, glucose regulation, HDL cholesterol, and blood pressure with HIIT compared to MICT (2,3). Improved insulin sensitivity allows the body to utilize glucose more efficiently as energy, instead of being stored as fat! By implementing HIIT with intermittent fasting, the body utilizes fat stores for energy, increasing fat oxidation and mobilization (4). HIIT is also more effective than MICT at reducing oxidative stress and inflammation (5). These benefits are observed in subjects across all age categories. HIIT doesn’t discriminate; all can experience the health advantages of HIIT.

HIIT is extremely efficient because we experience what’s known as “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption,” or EPOC – meaning we reap the calorie-burning effects hours after our workout.

During intensive exercise, energy stores are quickly depleted. Our carbohydrate stores, oxygen and other essential compounds are exhausted, resulting in an energy deficit. After HIIT, we eventually reach our normal resting level of metabolic function. Carb stores are replaced (with an appropriate diet), oxygen levels will increase, and body temperature will return to normal (6). These processes require energy, explaining why we continue to burn calories after exercise. Even though HIIT and MICT both induce EPOC, HITT increases lipid metabolism to a greater extent AND is extremely time efficient (6).

So whether you want to call it HIIT, interval training, circuit training, etc., say hello to the most time efficient and beneficial exercise available. Combining HIIT with intermittent fasting and a wholesome diet, expect accelerated fat loss and physical fitness improvements. So what are you waiting for? Let’s turn up the intensity to 11!

References:

1. Maillard F, Pereira B, Boisseau N. Effect of high-intensity interval training on total, abdominal and visceral fat mass: a meta-analysis. Sports Medicine. 2018 Feb 1;48(2):269-88.

2. Hannan AL, Hing W, Simas V, Climstein M, Coombes JS, Jayasinghe R, Byrnes J, Furness J. High-intensity interval training versus moderate-intensity continuous training within cardiac rehabilitation: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Open access journal of sports medicine. 2018;9:1.

3. Costa EC, Hay JL, Kehler DS, Boreskie KF, Arora RC, Umpierre D, Szwajcer A, Duhamel TA. Effects of high-intensity interval training versus moderate-intensity continuous training on blood pressure in adults with pre-to established hypertension: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials. Sports Medicine. 2018 Sep 1;48(9):2127-42.

4. Wilson RA, Deasy W, Stathis C, Hayes A, Cooke M. Combining intermittent fasting with high intensity interval training reduces fat mass by increasing fat oxidation and mobilization. InAustralia and New Zealand Obesity Society and Breakthrough Discoveries 2018 Joint Conference, Melbourne, Australia, 16-18 October 2018. 2018

5. Ramos, Joyce S., et al. “The impact of high-intensity interval training versus moderate-intensity continuous training on vascular function: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Sports medicine 45.5 (2015): 679-692.

6. Ahlert M, Matzenbacher F, Albarello JC, Halmenschlager GH. Comparison of epoc and recovery energy expenditure between hiit and continuous aerobic exercise training. Revista Brasileira de Medicina do Esporte. 2019 Feb;25(1):20-3.

Dr. Phil Shares: Does Your Water Need A Boost?

Does Your Water Need a Boost?

Since the body is 60% water, drinking H20 is “crucial for so many of the most basic biologic functions. Cells need to be hydrated with water or they literally shrivel up and can’t do their job as efficiently,” says Robin Foroutan, MS, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. That includes an impaired ability to expel environmental waste and detox; if you’re dehydrated you may feel cloudy-headed, have headaches or feel constipated, among other ills.

Plain water should always reign as your drink of choice. “It has a better capacity to usher out metabolic toxins from the body compared to liquid that already has something dissolved in it, like coffee or tea,” says Foroutan. However, there are certain additions that can make the once-plain sip seem more interesting and deliver health benefits, too.

Here, alternative hydration boosters to try (and which ones to skip):

Not only does a slice of lemon provide a refreshing taste, but “it’s alkaline-forming, meaning it helps balance out things that are naturally acidic in the body,” says Foroutan. This can have an added post-workout benefit “it can reduce lactic acid, an end product of exercising muscles,” she says.

This amino acid supplement is in a powder form, so it dissolves nicely in water and has a lemon-like taste, says Foroutan. “Acetyl L-Carnitine is a mitochondrial booster. Your mitochondria, the powerhouses of the cells that make cellular energy, help the body use fat for fuel more efficiently,” she says.

Vitamin B12 is crucial for overall health and plays a key role in keeping the brain and nervous system working. “It’s mainly found in animal products, meaning many vegetarians and vegans need to supplement with it, but even some meat eaters have trouble absorbing it,” says Foroutan. “You can have the best kind of diet and even feel OK but have a B12 level that’s less than optimal. When we bring those levels up, people tend to feel more energetic and their mood is better,” she says. Try adding a dropper-full of B12 to your glass of water once a day, suggests Foroutan.

Many grocery stores now stock bottled hydrogen water, but a less expensive solution is purchasing molecular hydrogen tablets to add to your drink. “These can be used to help balance inflammation in the body,” says Foroutan. While inflammation is a normal body process — it happens during exercise, too — low-grade chronic inflammation is damaging. One review in the International Journal of Sports Medicine concluded hydrogen may also boost exercise performance, though researchers are still examining potential mechanisms.

If you have trouble getting enough water because you don’t like the taste, then a bubbly drink (one that contains zero artificial or real sweeteners) can be a healthy way to motivate yourself to drink more. Research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found sparkling water was just as hydrating as regular water. Still, there’s some concern these drinks may wear away at tooth enamel, (although the American Dental Association says they’re far better than soda), so consume carbonated water in moderation.

If you’re active, you lose electrolytes in sweat and it’s important to replace them, but in a smart way, says Foroutan. Many bottled electrolyte waters contain just a trace amount and are often loaded with added sugars, notes Foroutan, so it’s important to read the labels carefully. You can also skip the sugary drinks altogether by buying electrolyte tablets and dissolving them in water. What’s more, “you can get electrolytes from leafy greens (Think: a handful of spinach in your smoothie or a chicken-topped salad),” says Foroutan.

Alkaline water has a higher pH than regular water, but alkalized bottled water is expensive, and there just isn’t enough research to support making the investment, according to the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic. Foroutan agrees there’s no reason to buy it bottled, but if you really want to try it “you can add a pinch of baking soda to water to create alkaline water.”

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Dr. Laura: Opioids have lasting affect on the microbiome

Pain medications that include opioids have a lasting negative affect on the gut microbiome. Have you ever taken a Tylenol #3 with codeine? Had an operation and needed pain killers like meperidine (Demerol) or morphine? Or a prescription for oxycodone (OxyContin®) or hydrocodone (Vicodin®) to help relieve intense pain? Opioids are a class of drugs that also include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.

Consequences of opioid use are well known. If overdosed, it suppresses breathing function. Also commonly experienced at prescribed levels are: constipation, nausea, vomiting, bloating and “leaky gut” (gut barrier dysfunction). There is an evident change in bacterial colonies and bile acid production is also affected. Bile acids are used to break down fats and digest food. Gut barrier dysfunction can lead to multiple food sensitivities and chronic inflammatory patterns like headaches, joint pain and brain fog. All of this disruption can increase risk of infectious disease.

Support of the microbiome with probiotics is key to health maintenance. Research continues on which would be most beneficial during opioid therapy. Critical is the restoration of a healthy microbiome post surgery, opioid pain medications or even addiction.

Naturopathic doctors excel in identifying food sensitvities, removing unwanted microbes, repairing and restoring gut function.

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND is a registered naturopathic doctor with a Functional Medicine approach.  She has advanced training in pharmaceuticals, is a certified HeartMath Practitioner and a Certified Gluten Practitioner  and holds the designation of ADAPT Trained Practitioner from Kresser Institute, the only Functional Medicine and ancestral health training company.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5827657/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26906406

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27895265

Dr. Kyle: Posture Perfect

You can prevent slips and falls. You can reduce your risk of a motor vehicle accident. You can limit contact sports. One thing that you cannot avoid however, is gravity. If your body and spine are not aligned, the force of gravity will start to wreak havoc on your musculoskeletal system. Making sure we maintain proper posture throughout our work day is critical for longevity in our career. So how do we protect ourselves?

The secret to good posture is maintaining the spines natural curves. When standing, your head, shoulders, hips and ankles should all line up. When sitting, your ears, shoulders and hips should be in line and your buttocks should be at the back of the chair. Sit tall with your chest and head up.

Some tips for creating an ideal posture include:

• Stand tall with shoulders back
• Tuck your chin
• Brace the abdomen
• Squeeze your glutes
• Keep your knees slightly bent

Due to modern day technology, one of the most common signs of poor posture is anterior head carriage. This mean that the head is resting too far forward away from the body. We are not always cognisant of our head posture as we check our smart phones and work on our laptops. The farther our head protrudes forward, the greater the force on our neck. This can lead to chronic neck and upper back pain and lasting postural alterations.

One exercise I recommend to patients to reduce anterior head carriage are chin tucks. These can be done up against a wall or lying flat on your back. You simply bring your chin directly in towards the spine and hold. You can press gently into the wall or pillow to enhance the muscle contraction of your deep neck extensors. Now your spine will naturally carry the weight of your head and allow your neck and upper back muscles to relax. So keep your chin up and your pain levels down!

For more tips and tricks to enhance your posture, visit my Instagram page @drkylearam of email me at drkyle@forwardhealth.ca.

Dr. Laura: The Science of Eating a Rainbow

The colours that our foods employ are very functional and serve a purpose. Phytonutrients are vast and the last time I counted, there were over 5,000 known.

Allow me to introduce Dr. Deana Minich, MD. She has dedicated her career to express why, in scientific means, we should “eat” a rainbow. In the chart below she simplifies how different coloured foods serve our body.

image

What makes this even more interesting is that this chart also closely reflects the colours that relate to the energy centres of the body called chakras. This makes eating polyphenol rich foods easy to prescribe!

Eating a variety of vegetables and fruits is critical to good nutrition. Try 6 cups of vegetables a day and 1-3 cups of fruit per day. Choose foods for their vital nutrient function in ways that serve the needs of your body.

Plant Power!

Turns out, mother nature has packed a punch of power in the plant kingdom. Many plants contain one or more of these 5,000 nutritional perks that helps us:

  • Defend against pathogens, parasites, and predators.
  • Protect against chronic disease, including cardiovascular disease, neurodegeneration, and cancer.
  • Purify and renew the blood
  • Nourish
  • Cleanse body of toxins
  • Stimulate effects
  • Relaxing effects
  • Anti-inflammatory

So next time you are in the grocery store, hit the fresh produce aisle and think “Eat a Rainbow”! You just might find the gold that exists at the end of it…your good health.

From the heart and research of Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND.

Dr. Laura: Is Your Thyroid Tired ?

Perhaps your thyroid needs a check-up? It does if you feel sluggish, tired, constipated, have difficult concentration, and are a wee bit depressed.

Subclinical hypothyroidism is when a patient with sluggish digestion, cognition, fatigue and weight issues has a high TSH but normal T4. It is important to look at the reasons for the symptoms, which could have multiple causes, before reaching for the thyroid hormone replacement drug.

Don’t let the sunset on your thyroid…

What nutrients help the thyroid?

Nutrition is a factor. Consider levels of zinc, iodine, selenium and iron as they all play a role in thyroid function. B12 is also an important one to look at and easy to run the labs to determine its status.  Also the health of the gut microbiome and liver needs to be healthy as a large amount of the inactive T4 converts to the active T3 thyroid hormone in the liver and the gut. So many people have issues with the balance in their microbiome.  

Does stress play a role?

Another area of thyroid health to consider is the stress axis. This involves the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal, or HPA. Chronic long term stress can make it difficult for optimal thyroid function. In addition to mineral level attention, it is highly important to support the adrenals and provide opportunities for stress management.  

Are there natural thyroid medications?

Finally, there are other options to synthetic thyroid. Natural desiccated thyroid (NDT) may be something to consider if diet and lifestyle changes don’t break through the fog. NDT provides both T4 and T3, which is good if there is an issue with conversion.

How can a naturopathic doctor help?

Naturopathic doctors are medical trained and naturally focussed. They can run labs for the nutrient levels, thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), T4, T3, and any antibodies to help rule out autoimmune thyroid disease. This helps determine what nutrients might be missing and what foods or nutraceutical dose to suggest and for how long. Naturopathic doctors with education in pharmaceuticals are able to prescribe natural desiccated thyroid. They are also very good at stress management and adrenal (HPA-axis) support with both nutrition, lifestyle and stress management programs.

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND is a board certified naturopathic doctor with advanced training in pharmaceuticals, functional medicine and stress management. She is a Heart Math Certified Practitioner, a graduate of the Kresser Institute’s Adapt Level 1 functional medicine training and is a Certified Gluten Practitioner.