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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.
Vulnerable populations with long term unmanaged blood sugar levels are subject to accelerated brain changes including memory loss and cognitive decline.
Who’s most at risk?
Most at risk are those with Diabetes type I and II monitor sugar regularly and those with metabolic syndrome or cardiovascular disease.
But that’s not all.
Anyone with long term fluctuating blood sugar levels could be at risk for cognitive decline. So those with chronic stress are also at risk. Stress elevates cortisol, which subsequently activates sugar into the blood stream. This is really helpful when we need the energy to physically run from the tiger. However, in our day in age, the tiger is more likely to be the boss, the lack of sleep, the poor diet, or the overscheduled. Stress, namely long-term cortisol release, affects the microbiome. Certain drugs like antibiotics and oral birth control pills can also change the microbiome. Shifts in populations of gut bacteria can evidently impact blood glucose regulation. Overgrowth of candida can make us crave sugars and leave us in a state of flux or what we have now termed “hangry”.
If you are the hangry type, you likely have issues with blood sugar.
A state of blood sugar surges and crashes overtime will lead to unfortunate hippocampus affects, namely sugar induced shrinkage and memory challenges.
Those at risk:
- long term fluctuating blood sugar levels
- history of oral birth control use
- history of antibiotic use
- diabetic patients on metformin
- elevated cortisol
- chronic stress
- poor diet
- lack of moderate regular exercise
- disrupted sleep patterns
What’s a healthy blood sugar level?
Guidelines for healthy levels are subject to some interpretation, however from a functional medicine point of view, HbA1c should be between 4.6 and 5.3% and fasting blood sugar levels are healthiest around 4-6mmol/L. 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.
Protect your brain
Protect memory and cognition with adequate blood supply, high levels ofanthocyanins, 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 include in the diet:
- high levels of anthocyanins
- plant powers found in dark blue and purple fruits and vegetables
- consistent intake of B-vitamins
- egg yolks, red meat, liver, clams, mussels, avocados and dark leafy greens
- daily dose of omega-3 essential fatty acids
- cold water fatty fish like salmon and sardines
- flax, hemp and walnut
Is diet alone enough?
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 on a daily basis for any length of time. First and fore most get what you can from the diet, yes, this is critical as the body knows best how to get nutrients from food. Insulin sensitivity is an important factor in blood glucose regulation and a short-term keto diet and or fasting is proven to be effective method to reset it.
Reduce the risk factors as indicated above and get help to re-set the microbiome. That means create a sleep routine where you go to bed and wake up at the same time every night. Move your body every day for about 30 minutes. It means to have space in the day that is not filled with tasks and demands. Take appropriate supplements where diet falls short or medications deplete.
Memory and cognition decline over time. It doesn’t happen overnight. So too should your changes and lifestyle reflect a long-term plan. If you feel you need help, Naturopathic Doctors are trained in lifestyle and 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.
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
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 .
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.
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.
Call 519.822.8900 to reserve your spot for September 25th at 5:30pm.
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.
Perfect for a summer bbq!
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/3 Cup Soy Sauce
1/3 Cup Honey
1/4 Tsp Ground Black Pepper
2 Cloves of Garlic Minced
1-2 lbs Chicken Breasts Cut into Bite-sized Chunks
2-3 Bell Peppers Seeded and Cut into Bite-sized Chunks
1 Red Onion Cut into Bite-sized Chunks
Any Other Kabob Vegetables You Enjoy (eg. Tomato, Mushrooms)
- In a large mixing bowl whisk together marinade ingredients.
- Add chicken and vegetables to the marinade ensuring that they are thoroughly coated. Place in refrigerator for 2 hours.
- Pre-heat grill to medium (about 350-400 degrees).
- Drain chicken and vegetables from the marinade and place on skewers.
- Grill for 12-15 minutes. Some vegetables will cook faster than others so keep an eye on them.
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.
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.
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.
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
- Cleanse body of toxins
- Stimulate effects
- Relaxing effects
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.
Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS can come in a variety of patterns. A whirlwind of emotions, cravings and weight gain often come in tote with the monthly menstrual cycle. Better understand the impacts of the monthly swing in hormones and get the help you need to live a more balanced life.
Anxiety or irritability can come from estrogen excess or progesterone drops. This imbalance in the two major female hormones can make some feel like they want to crawl out of their own skin. Increased levels of estrogen in the second half of the period can allow adrenaline to build up and alter the serotonin balance. Natural treatment includes supportive measures for estrogen clearance, progesterone building herbs, regular moderate exercise, a healthy diet and stress management.
PMS-C: Carbohydrate Craving
Cravings for sweets and refined carbohydrates, feeling hangry, tired or having a headache all fall under the category of PMS-C. Abnormal variations in blood sugar may be a factor of magnesium levels – and this gives into the common cravings for chocolate as dark chocolate is high in magnesium. Noteworthy: a change in serotonin levels can also increase sugar cravings. Therefore, factors in insulin regulation are key and are a focus of treatment. Finally, herbal formulas are also available to reduce the satisfaction of sweets and crush the cravings.
In addition to anxiety, mood changes throughout the cycle can also lean towards depressive states. Symptoms that suggest the need to modify the stress response include crying, fatigue, headaches, feeling overwhelmed or out of control, and difficulty sleeping. Adaptogenic herbs may be helpful to support the stress response. Chinese formulas and botanical medicine formulas that include nerviness, anxiolytics and antidepressants can be very effective in PMS-D treatment. Certainly, nutraceuticals may also be helpful to modulate levels of serotonin, GABA, and dopamine and thyroid hormone levels should also be monitored, especially if the periods are heavy. Neurotransmitter hormones can be evaluated with take home urine tests called Organic Acid Tests (OATs).
Fluid retention is a common PMS complaint. Breast tenderness and distension, bloating, weight gain, swollen hands and feet can all be classified under PMS-H. An increase in circulating aldosterone levels is linked to decreased progesterone and magnesium with increased estrogen. Reduce salt and sodium intake (bread and cheese) and increase sources of potassium (bananas, baked potato with the skin, dandelion leaf tea). Treatment of Liver Qi stagnation with acupuncture and Chinese formulas are often very good at reducing PMS-H.
Naturally Navigate PMS
Naturopathic doctors can provide individualized treatment to manage hormones. The whole body is considered, the physical, emotional, cognitive and spiritual. When it comes to hormone balance, the naturopathic tool box is rich. Bring balance to your hormones and bring balance back into your life.
Start your evaluation on your own!
Start your evaluation on your own! Use Clue, the period and ovulation tracker, which is a free Ap for iPhone and Androids. Take note of your diet with the use of aps that help you track dietary, lifestyle and nutritional habits. Bring all this to your first appointment. You may also be a good candidate for a take home urine test. Stress and reproductive hormone can be assessed with an at home urine test, (DUTCH), available and interpreted with your naturopathic doctor.
Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND is a Naturopathic Doctor, a Certified Gluten Practitioner, a HeartMathCertified Practitioner and is a graduate of Adapt Level 1 at KresserInstitute of Functional Medicine. Essentially, Dr. Brown helps people better digest their food and the word around them.
You may already suspect your metabolism slows as you age. According to research published in the Public Health Nutrition journal, you’re right. In a review of data on energy expenditure, researchers found simply getting older is associated with progressive declines in basal metabolic rate. On top of that, there are many daily habits that can drain your metabolism even further.
But you don’t have to go down without a fight. Cut out the below habits and watch your metabolism and energy levels improve.
Eating a nutritious breakfast is always a good way to start your morning. Because your metabolism slows down during sleep, eating can fire it up and help you burn more calories throughout the day. According to Rush University Medical Center, “When you eat breakfast, you’re telling your body that there are plenty of calories to be had for the day. When you skip breakfast, the message your body gets is that it needs to conserve rather than burn any incoming calories.”
OK, so it’s about more than just eating something in the morning. If you grab a sugary donut or eat a muffin in the car, you’re setting yourself up to crash later. Instead, choose something with filling protein and fiber like eggs, yogurt and berries or whole-wheat toast topped with peanut butter.
Going from your office chair to your car to your couch can lead to a very sedentary routine. And sitting for extended periods puts your body into energy-conservation mode, which means your metabolism can suffer. According to the UK’s National Health Service, “Sitting for long periods is thought to slow metabolism, which affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and break down body fat.”
Cardio is great, and it can quickly burn calories, but once you’re done running or cycling, your calorie burn quickly returns to normal. When you do HIIT and resistance-based workouts, however, your calorie burn stays elevated for longer as your muscles repair themselves. Per the American Council on Exercise (ACE): “Strength training is a key component of metabolism because it is directly linked to muscle mass. The more active muscle tissue you have, the higher your metabolic rate.” And, according to ACE, a pound of muscle burns an additional 4–6 calories each day compared to a pound of fat.
Protein feeds your muscles, promotes satiety and is an important component to sustaining a healthy weight. Eat too little, and you may have trouble building or maintaining muscle mass — and per the above, we know muscle’s importance to metabolism. Also, protein requires more energy to break down than carbs or fat, so you’ll actually burn more calories during digestion.
One bad night’s sleep is enough to leave you feeling sluggish and impair your cognitive processing. String together several nights in a row — or a lifetime of inadequate sleep — and science shows decreased metabolism and hormonal imbalances may follow.
In a study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, researchers found drinking 500 milliliters of water (about 2 cups) increases metabolic rate by 30%, and that spike lasts for more than an hour. So, drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated, and you’ll get the added benefit of a boosted metabolism.
When stress levels increase, your body produces a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol leads to increased appetite, makes us crave comfort foods, decreases our desire to exercise and reduces sleep quality — all things that negatively impact metabolism. So, while you can’t always control your stress levels, managing stress can go a long way toward protecting your body’s internal fire.
by Kevin Gray
Sometimes we take our body’s for granted, so I found the illustrations and captions below, put it all into perspective.
Thanks to My Mother for sharing this with me.