Dr. Laura: Dairy and hormone based cancers

There are mixed reviews on dairy consumption in hormone based cancers.  
Fortunate for Canadians, their milk supply is protected from added hormones, where the US supply is not. If you go for organic, is it better? Organic dairy is GMO-free which should technically then be free of hormone mimickers like organophosphate and glyphosate. Is this all we have to worry about?

Insulin growth factor


There’s more to the story of dairy and hormones. Insulin growth factor (IGF-1) is in all dairy products, naturally. Even natural organic milk will have it. IGF-1 both protects aging bones and has the potential to aggravate hormone based cancers. It seems that IGF-1 prevents cells from dying when they should and thus has the potential to promote the spread of existing breast cancer cells. From this we might conclude that less IGF-1 (less dairy) in the diet may reduce the spread of an existing hormone based cancer. Research continues.

“A 3 serving increase in milk consumption per day is associated with an 18.6% (95% CI= 0.9% to 39.3%) increase in free IGF-I levels.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3978780/



For breast cancer survivors research says to reduce dairy. At 1/2 c a day of yogurt, this may be enough to have reduced, but this is a decision you will have to make for yourself, given the facts we know and the ones we may not yet know.

What about the bones?

After estrogen deprivation therapies, the bones are often weakened. For protection, protein (about 1g per kg of body weight per day), weight bearing exercise as well as your mineral matrix is important.

Calcium supplementation should not exceed 500mg. Daily recommended intake of calcium is about 1200-1500mg per day. Many dairy alternatives like almond or cashew milk are supplemented with calcium. Food sources include canned salmon with the bones in it, sesame seeds, broccoli, dark leafy greens, chia seeds and molasses. Although spinach is high in calcium it not easily available as it is also high in oxalates that bind it.

Decisions about health are personal. We make the best decisions we can with the information we know at the time.

Here are some other related links you might like to check out:

Canada protects its milk supply from added hormones: https://albertamilk.com/ask-dairy-farmer/ive-started-buying-organic-milk-based-on-the-assum/

For GMO free: http://organicmeadow.com/ENGLISH-FAQ.htm

“IGF-I is an essential factor for longitudinal bone growth. IGF-I can also exert anabolic effects on bone mass during adulthood.” https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/99/5/1256S/4577510 

Effective inhibition of IGF signal transduction should be included in combinations of targeted drugs designed to treat metastatic oestrogen receptor-positive breast cancers.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4722749/

About the author:Dr. Laura M. Brown ND is a Naturopathic Doctor with a Functional Medicine approach. She is a Certified Gluten Practitioner, A HeartMath Certified Practitioner and is a graduate of Adapt Level 1 at Kresser Institute of Functional Medicine. Essentially, Dr. Brown helps people better digest their food and the word around them. More at www.naturalaura.caand  www.forwardhealth.ca

Dr. Laura: Drugs that affect the microbiome

Drugs are one of the major factors that affect the microbiome. The impacts vary depending on the drug and duration of treatment.

The environmentfoodstress and drugs  all contribute to changes in the microbiome. This is why it is important to recognize and address any contributors that cause troubles.

Clinical intake and tests flushes out root causes and provide clarity. 

Why should I care?

Unique patterns in the microbiome link to different diseases. An unhealthy microbiome links to depression, anxiety, autistic disordersvitamin and mineral status (nutrient absorption)hormone production,  eczemadiabetes, obesity, arthritis and inflammatory bowel psoriasis and other autoimmune, conditions, heart healthcholesterolnon-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), diseases.  Research continues to expand this list.  

What is the microbiome?

The human microbiome exists in the gastrointestinal/urogenital tract and the skin. The trillions of cells that make up our microbiome actually out number the human cells that we have in our body by tenfold. Are we microbes having a human experience?

Healthy microbiome?

A healthy regular stool is not always indicative of a healthy microbiome. History of autoimmune conditions, food sensitivity, sugar cravings, gas, pain, bloating, bad breath, candidiasis, brain fog, mood changes, weight issues, skin issues, joint pain, trauma, stress, headaches, use of birth control or other hormones, frequent use of antibiotics and certain drugs can all be factors or indicators of microbiome disruption. 

What drugs affect the microbiome?

Your microbiome may be out of balance if you are currently, or have history of taking, any of the following drugs:

  • Antibiotics
  • Cancer Therapies
  • Antihistamines
  • Antidiabetic drugs
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • GI disorder drugs
  • Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Anti-psychotic drugs
  • Anti-coagulants
  • Hormones: estrogen, birth control, thyroid hormone

Find out more…tests available

One helpful test to look at the key players of the microbiome is the comprehensive stool and parasitic analysis. Knowledge of the landscape certainly helps streamline the treatment. 

Food sensitivities often rise when the microbiome is off balance. It is important to recognize the foods that are bothersome. Then remove them for a while and do the work to remove unwanted microbes and replace with healthy ones while repairing the gastrointestinal tract lining. Protocols are patient specific based on the microbiome the lining of gastrointestinal tract and the overall health of the patient. 

Dr. Laura M. Brown ND is a Naturopathic Doctor with a functional medicine approach. She is a Certified Gluten Practitioner, a HeartMath Certified Practitioner and is a graduate of Adapt Level 1 at Kresser Institute of Functional Medicine. Essentially, Dr. Brown helps people better digest their food and the word around them. More at www.naturalaura.ca and  www.forwardhealth.ca

Dr. Laura: Dangers of Proton Pump Inhibitors

Proton Pump Inhibitors, or PPI’s may help gastrointestinal reflux (GERD) in the short term, but they increase risk of many long term negative effects.

Long Term Side Effects of PPIs

When proton pump inhibitors are taken for an extended length of time, they can ™cause a shift in the gut microbiome that –increases risks for:

  • liver disease like alcoholic liver disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis
  • increased risk for cardiovascular events, kidney disease and dementia. 
  • Nutritional deficiencies, especially B12 and iron.


GERD

™Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) is caused from a faulty lower esophageal sphincter valve. ™Backs up content of stomac acid burns™ the esophageal lining. For many, a trip to the conventional doctor mean a prescription of proton pump inibitors – a drug that often ends in an -prazole. Like omeprazole, pantoprazole, for example.

Causes of GERD

  • bacterial overgrowth
  • lazy sphincter
  • food sensitivity

Interesting fact is the real cause of GERD may be from not enough stomach acid, rather than too much. If this is the case, taking a proton pump inhibitor, which lessens stomach acid can actually make the problem worse. Tests for H. pylori, a bacteria that can sometimes overgrow in the stomach may be necessary. H. pylori likes to reduce the level of stomach acid so it can thrive. Lower stomach acid means food is not properly digested and this can lead to fullness in the stomach and regurgitation or GERD.

The gastric-esophageal sphincter may be lazy and in need of tonification. Proton pump inhibitors won’t address this issue, however botanical medicine can often help.

Another reason to skip the proton pump inhibitor and look for the root cause is that GERD is often a result of food sensitivity. Food sensitivities related to GERD can be more than the typical caffeine, peppermint, spicy foods and citrus that commonly aggravate the issue.

For help with this and more digestive concerns, book online, contact drlaurambrown@forwardhealth.ca or call 519 826 7973 to book your appointment today.


Dr. Laura: Why do processed foods get such a bad wrap?

Advanced Glycated End products

AGES– Advanced Glycated End products area product of food processing. AGEs appear to stimulate chronic low-grade inflammation and promote oxidative stress and affect the pancreatic beta cell function leading to the development of insulin resistance. Stop AGE diets in animal models and diabetes stops.

Bad Fats

Fats– Not all are created equal! Processed foods use trans fats to prolong shelf life, saturated fats because they are cheap and tasty. Transfats and arachadonic acids create inflammation in the body. This increases risk for plaques in the vascular system, increases cholesterol and ultimately blood pressure. In contrast, when healthy fats like omega 3 fatty acids (aka high quality fish oil) the inflammation markers go down, the cell is better able to perform its function. Since every cell has a phospholipid bilayer. This means that every cell’s skin is made of fat. When fat is of a fluid nature, nutrients are able pass in and out more effectively and the cell’s function is optimized.

Food Dyes

Dyes–The processed food industry uses food dyes to add colour to colourless foods, to enhance colour and to avoid colour loss due to environmental elements and to preserve consistency when there are variations in the colour of food. Food dyes are know to cause inattention, hyperactivity, irritability, temper tantrums or trouble sleeping.

Sugars

Sugar & high fructose corn syrup. Most processed foods have some sugar added including soda pop, breads, cereals, yogurts, processed meats, soups and condiments. High-sugar diets may make a significant contribution to cardio-metabolic risk.  High fructose corn syrup, when digested by the body produces reactive carbonyls, which creates tissue damage. Countries using high-fructose corn syrup had rates of diabetes that were about 20% higher than countries that didn’t mix the sweetener into foods, even when total sugar and total calories remain the same.

Salt

Salt– Processed foods use salt to help preserve it and for added flavour. The amount of salt in restaurant and packaged foods are the main culprits in the Western diet, not the salt added to home-prepared whole foods.  Research shows that the average North American consumes 4000mg sodium per 2000kcal diet. This is almost twice as much as the 2300mg/day recommend by some health experts. If the amount reduces even to 2700mg/day, a 5mmHg smaller rise in systolic blood pressure would be noted in those 25-55 years of age. This results in an estimated 150,000 lives saved from death due to cardiovascular events. The kicker is, if not getting annual checkups, often the first sign of high blood pressure, is a deadly heart attack.

White Flour

White flour  – Without the fibre, white flour easily breaks down quickly into simple carbohydrates, which is essentially sugar to the body. Processed foods are full of white flour. The fast breakdown quickly elevates blood sugar, induces insulin release and quickly and causes cravings for more sugar to restore blood sugar levels. The cycle easily repeats itself as quick carbs are continually fed into the body. Over time and continued food abuse, the insulin that works diligently to get the sugar into the cells, becomes less effective, the sugar stays in the blood stream and the person is now experiencing high blood sugar levels and insulin resistance… a path well travelled to the diabetes destination.

Dr. Laura: Boost your energy

The energy powerhouses of cells are called mitochondria. These tiny organelles are derived solely from our mother’s DNA and are reposible for generating the energy our bodies need to run.

Mity Mitochondria

  • Make up about 10% of our body weight
  • 200-2000 per body cell
  • relies on the fats, carbohydrates and proteins we eat
  • loves to run on ketones
  • Needs nutrients like calcium, B vitamins, CoQ10, N-Acetyl-Cysteine, Magnesium, Alpha lipoid acid, lysine

Energy Drains

Fatigue comes from drains on the mitochondrial function. This can happen with any type of toxic burden:

  • long term nutrient deficiency
  • poor sleep habits
  • hormonal disruption
  • eating too much in general
  • eating too much sugar
  • excessive exercise
  • heavy metals
  • viruses and spirochetes (Lymes)
  • pesticides
  • plastics, PCB’s
  • drugs
  • mold

Signs of Mitochondrial Dysfunction

Unexplained fatigue, the need for more than 8 hours of sleep on an ongoing basis, poor exercise recovery, impaired sense of smell or taste, headaches, poor motivation, depression, anxiety, brain fog, forgetfulness, extra sensitive to light and noise – are all indicators of poor mitochondrial dysfunction. While other things may be at play like poor thyroid function, hypothalamus, pituitary or adrenal function, it is important to also consider the mitochondria.

Boost Your Energy

Support the mitochondria and reclaim your energy. An initial naturopathic appointment will start the process to understand the source of your energy drain. Together a same day plan could initiate the changes required to boost energy.

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND

Dr. Laura on Potassium Levels

Potassium is a mineral that dissolves in water and carries and electrical charge. Easy to see how it can act as an electrolyte.

Nerve, muscle, and heart function all depend on the appropriate level of potassium.It is absorbed in the small intestine and excreted mostly in the urine, and some in the sweat and stool.

The kidney is the main regulator of potassium levels, so if it is healthy and you are getting regular food sources of it, there likely is no reason to be concerned about the levels of potassium in the body.

Potassium’s role in the body.

  • fluid and electrolyte balance
  • maintains nerve and muscle growth
  • balances pH (acid/base balance)
  • contributes to heart function
  • assists in the use of carbohydrates and proteins
  • interacts with blood pressure
  • supports healthy metabolism and blood sugar regulation.

 

Food sources of potassium

  • acorn squash
  • artichokes
  • bananas
  • citrus
  • dried fruits
  • dark leafy greens
  • dried beans
  • legumes
  • nuts
  • potatoes (white and sweet)
  • soy
  • tomatoes
  • cod
  • salmon

Low levels of potassium

Potassium deficiency, or hypokalemia may be noted by fatigue, weakness, muscle cramps, heart palpitations, cardiac arrhythmia’s, hypertension, and postural hypotension. Trouble is, low potassium looks very much like high potassium, however it is more likely to have low levels

Low serum potassium can be caused by inadequate dietary intake, certain drugs, dialysis, plasmapheresis, increased potassium entry into the cells, decreased potassium exit from cells, and increased losses in the urine, gastrointestinal tract, or sweat.

High levels of potassium

Hyperkalemia rarely produces physical symptoms. Excessive potassium can disturb heart and skeletal muscle function, cause nausea, fatigue, muscle aches and weakness and increased respiratory rate.

Some medications can lead to higher than normal potassium levels:  ACE (angiotensin-converting enzymes), some antibiotics, anticoagulants, ARBS (angiotensin-receptor blockers), beta-blockers, COX-2 inhibitors, cyclosporine, antifungals, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs- Advil, Motrin), and potassium sparing diuretics.

Fasting, high blood sugar, metabolic acidosis, kidney insufficiency are all contributors to high levels of potassium.

Measuring potassium

Unless there is a state of severe deficiency, it can be difficult to assess proper levels of potassium. Blood serum levels may be normal, while blood cellular levels deficient. Beyond this, levels in the muscles may not reflect either the levels of blood cell or serum.

So long as the kidneys are functioning well and no drugs (as mentioned above) interfere,  there is generally no need to worry about higher intakes of potassium, as it will be sufficiently excreted.

References:

Kresser, Chris. 2018 Adapt Level One Blood Chemistry Manual. www.kresserinstitute.com

Lavalle, James. 2013 Your Blood Never Lies. Square One Publishers Garden City Park, NY.

Gaby A. 2011 Nutritional Medicine. Fritz Perl Publishing Concord, NH.

Dr. Laura: 5 ways to strengthen your immune system

Immune system need a boost? Support it with one or a combination of these top five natural ways. A strong immune system means less colds and flu, especially through this winter and early spring season.

As a start, be sure to wash your hands regularly with soap and water keep indoor humidity around 45-50%. Then, visit your naturopathic doctor to find what is the best combination of these five following things you need to strengthen your immune system.

1. Probiotics

2. Adaptogens

3. Medicinal Mushrooms

4. Vitamins

5. Minerals

 

Probiotics

We know that 70% of your immune system resides in the gastrointestinal tract, so it makes perfect sense to keep a healthy balance of your microflora. Research in probiotics is very active and there may be new strains available to help you balance yours.

Adaptogens

The adrenal glands are little hat like glands that sit atop the kidneys.  When you think of cold weather, think of hats and think of adrenal support. Resilience to stress can keep illness at bay but when we are constantly under stress at work, at home and toxins build up from pesticides, environmental factors, drugs, allergens – we need help. There are a number of adaptogenic herbs like holy basil, ashwagandha, ginsengs, liquorice, schisandra, codonopsis, astragalus and rhodiola that can be custom blended to support your needs.

Medicinal Mushrooms

Medicinal mushrooms can be an amazing support for the immune system. Helpful are hot water extracts of mushrooms like maitake (Grifola frondosa), reishi (Gandoderma lucidum), Cordyceps, shitake (Lentinus edodes), turkey tail (Coriolus versicolor), and sun mushroom (Agaricus blazei). It is possible to get these in different combinations and even in packets to make a “tea”.

Vitamins

Vitamin A, C, E top the list for immune support. Oranges, citrus and bell pepper provide Vitamin C.    The beta-carotene in orange and red vegetables will convert to Vitamin A in most people. Cod liver oil is a viable direct source of vitamin A.  Wheat germ oil and almonds pack a punch of vitamin E. There are formulas available that combine these vitamins with some minerals and they can often be a sure way of getting the support you need every day.

Minerals

Zinc, Selenium and Magnesium are truly critical for the immune system to function. A varied diet will often provide enough. Bone soup broths are a great, as are pumpkin seeds for the zinc, brazil nuts for the selenium and dark leafy greens for the magnesium.

 

This blog does not constitute medical advice. Natural products can interfere with existing medical conditions and prescription drugs. Be safe and get the knowledge and advice of a naturopathic doctor.

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

Dr. Laura on Mould and Indoor Air Quality

Mould is very important factor in indoor air quality. If you are chronically ill and can’t seem to shake it, test the places you spend time.

Mould Related Health Issues

  • nasal stuffiness
  • throat irritation
  • coughing or wheezing
  • eye irritation
  • skin irritation

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention  is firm about the removal of any visible mould. Health impacts vary from person to person. Mould, once inhaled, can grow in the lungs and upper respiratory tract. It also has the potential to spread through the rest of the body.

Where is Mould found?

Mould is found where there is moisture, on just about any surface and can be tracked from place to place. Be sure to check basements, bathrooms, laundry room, kitchen, roofs and around leaky pipes. A professional can be hired to investigate anything beyond a visual check. Or if you are up to it, there are some at home kits available. The Amazon DIY Mold kit (Americans spell it without the “u”) or try the Canadian option, which includes air tests at http://www.CanadaMoldTestKits.com‎ (they must sell to Americans!)

What’s the proper indoor humidity?

Too dry and your nasal passages can dry out and make you more susceptible to infection. Too humid and the dampness can be a breeding ground for mould and mildew.

Indoor humidity should be kept around 45-50%.

A humidity reader, also called a hygrometer, is available at any local hardware store. Review and compare some of the best hygrometers evaluated in 2018.

De-humidfiers are helpful in damp spaces. Their filters should be kept clean and collection bins rinsed with white vinegar every couple of weeks. Humidity in Ontario is generally higher spring through fall and drier once the indoor heating starts.

 Health issues persist?

Long term exposure to mould means you need some serious detoxification. If health related mould issues persist, a visit with Dr. Laura may help you clean up the damage and get clear of the problems.

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND

Dr. Laura on Detoxification

Detoxification is a continual process. This happens at a cellular level throughout the body especially in the liver, kidney, lungs, skin, gastrointestinal tract and emotions.

Cellular toxins

When a cell encounters a toxin, be it too much sugar or alcohol, pesticides, BPA, lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, nickel, chemical flame retardants, phthalates, viruses, bacteria, fungi or parasites it mounts a cell danger response (CDR).  This load triggers a series of protective reactions that slows the transport of   goods across the cellular membrane. The membrane walls thicken just like our ancestors ravaged in war, built their walled cities for protection. This response to cellular danger is a fundamental component of innate immunity and can be helpful in times of distress.

Seasonal influence on detoxification

There comes a time when things must come and go from this walled city.  Seasonal influence provide an important basis for organ focus. For example, in the height of summer, the emotions, digestive and energy movement are most active. Autumn is more a time for the lungs and large intestine.  Winter brings the kidney and bladder centre stage. Finally in spring the liver and gallbladder are most ready to clear out the build up from the cold winter months.

Long term effects of toxic exposure

Long term toxic exposure with little support leads to chronic disease. This is when the cells continually want to keep their walls of protection. This is not healthy. Garbage builds up, and the inward flow of nutrients slow down. We also get this feeling after the long, cold winter months as we have hibernated inside, put the heat on and slowed our movement in and out of the house. It is always interesting what tends to happen at human levels of behaviour are also reflected at levels of cellular behaviour.

With this in mind, it might be proactive to think about more outside activities to keep your cells and energy from becoming too stagnant. The kidneys and urinary bladder are likely more open to accept attention in the winter time.  The urinary bladder is pretty straight forward in its function; eliminating water soluble waste that has been prepared by the supporting organs in the body. The kidneys themselves are responsible for blood filtration, mineral and acid base balance. They decide what gets filtered out and what gets recycled back into the body. In Chinese Medicine, the kidneys include the adrenals, our body’s organs that help us adapt to stress.  It is important through the winter months to also ensure the adrenal glands are well supported.

Near the end of one season and the beginning of another, during equinox, the need for the organs shift. So in late winter, early spring, the stage prepares for the kidneys, adrenals and bladder to fade and the liver and gallbladder begin to take centre stage. If the flow of energy through these organs is not smooth, it generally results in a lack of creativity and feelings of irritability and nagging frustration.

Organ System Screening

Electro dermal screening (EDS) can provide insight into the health of your detoxification organs. Much like an EKG on the heart or EEG on the brain, nervous system conductance related to each organ may be captured at peripheral points of the nervous system on the hands and feet. The onsite EDS equipment at Forward Health is German engineered, precise and needle free. 

Detoxification Plan

Together with sensitive body biofeedback from the EDS equipment and understanding what’s bothering you, Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND can create a clear detoxification plan to help you relax those walls you and your cells have built, and get the river of life flowing smoothly once again.

Resources:
Teeguarden, Ron. 1984. Chinese Tonic Herbs. Japan Publications New York.
Naviaux, Robert. 2013. Metabolic Features of the Cell Danger Response. Mitochondrion Volume 16, May 2014, Pages 7-17 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mito.2013.08.006.

 

Dr. Laura: Can Fasting Heal Auto Immune Disease?

Fasting is known to initiate cellular clean-up, reduce inflammation, heal leaky gut and reset the immune system. What better formula could we ask for when it comes to autoimmune disease?

Can Fasting Really Help AutoImmune Suffering?

After a recent talk at Goodness Me! I did on the safety of fasting, I was left with more questions on how fasting could help those suffering with autoimmune conditions like multiple sclerosis, Sjogren’s, celiac, diabetes type I, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.

In the interim I have played with intermittent fasting over the past couple of months and my body says “thank you!” My digestion has not been this good for years and the persistent scalp psoriasis has all but disappeared. Even when I eat tomatoes, a common trigger for me. It seems anacdotal, however fellow colleagues in the the functional medicine industry like Mark Hyman, Amy Myers, and Courtney Sperlazza all agree.

What Kind of Fasting?

There are many kinds of fasting. We fast when we exclude a single food or types of foods from our diet. So the 30-day reset with no grains, sugar or dairy is a type of fast. This is a good start. The Ketogenic diet is a type of fast too. A Keto diet for a while may be helpful because it switches the body from a carb burning engine to a fat burning engine. But here I am talking about intermittent and more extended fasts to give complete
digestive rest
. When the body is not busy digesting and sorting out where to use or store the blood sugar, it can focus on cellular clean up and repair. Of course when you do eat, nutrient dense foods are a must because you are eating less overall and will need to pack the nutrients you need into less meals. If you are sensitive to foods, like tomatoes, dairy, wheat and sugar for me, that doesn’t mean I go back to eating them all the time. If at all. My excuse was I was in beautiful Italy and learning to make a succulent Bolognese sauce.

Can Anyone Fast?

No. Fasting isn’t for everyone. Not for children or pregnant mothers, those who are malnourished or those with anorexia or bulimia – that’s just playing with fire. Fasting also has to be monitored if you are on medications or have certain medical conditions. Medical complications include gout, cardiac arrhythmia, and postural hypotension.

How Long to Fast?

There is nothing written in stone about the perfect length of fast. And if you ever feel nauseous, dizzy or unwell you should eat. This isn’t about starvation. It’s about digestive rest. It’s about resetting insulin sensitivity and the immune system. Also, we know where the food is and have access to it if we need it. So it’s not starvation.

What Foods are Allowed?

As I mentioned above there are no real rules and there are many different  types and lengths of fasts. If you are on the thinner side and can’t stand to loose some weight, then you better consider bone broth fasts, where there are some nutrients and fat going in. If you have a little loving around that waist line, you likely can feed off that for a while and have coffee, tea and of course LOTS OF WATER.

For more information on whether fasting is right for you, and how to do it, book an appointment with Dr. Laura M. Brown ND. 519.826.7973.