What Do Diabetes and Your Cell Phone Have in Common?

Coffee Time

If a good night’s sleep doesn’t even begin to touch your exhaustion, you might be quick to blame normal stressors such as your demanding job, your boss, your family – in short, your life.

But it’s a mistake to think that life’s stressors are supposed to zap our energy. In nearly all cases of chronic tiredness, there’s something much deeper going on.

The right questions and diagnostic tests can reveal surprising things that may be working against you and your energy levels – everything from a hidden medical issue to your exercise habits could be the culprit.

Here are the top ten most common sources of energy depletion that I’ve seen:

  • Statins
  • Antacids
  • Lack of Iodine
  • Low Ferritin
  • Cell Phone
  • Dehydration
  • Birth Control Pills
  • Caffeine
  • Diabetes and Prediabetes
  • Too Much Exercise

This information originally appeared over at Entheos. Click here to read the full article I wrote about how these things are working against you and your ability to wake up each day feeling revitalized and ready to tackle challenges. You’ll also be able to watch a preview of a video I made on the topic.

I know you can be as vital and as energized as you want to be! I want you to believe that, too, and start taking the steps you need to in order to be  healthier, happier, and more energetic today.

Got Vitamin D?

vitamins_supplements

You may be reading this from a beach chair, sun deck, or other summer locale—and yet my advice to you is the same as it would be in the dead of winter: Go get your vitamin D levels checked.

You may have already heard that low vitamin D levels contribute to osteoporosis, cognitive impairment, and a host of other health problems. But two new studies in particular have caught my eye, because they link vitamin D deficiency to an increased risk of dying from heart disease and cancer, as well as developing a number of other illnesses.

While you may think that your vitamin D levels will correct themselves during the summer months when you spend more time in the sun, the fact is a whopping two-thirds of Americans are not just low on the vitamin – they’re in full-blown deficiency. And a few months of sunshine every 365 days just won’t cut it.

One of the studies, published in the BMJ, found that people with low levels of circulating vitamin D were 35 percent more likely to die from heart disease and 14 percent more likely to die from cancer. They also had a greater overall mortality risk. The study found that adults who took oral vitamin D3 – the type found in fatty wild fish and dairy products, as well as the kind produced by our bodies when we’re exposed to sunlight – reduced their risk of death by 11 percent.

The second study, led by researchers at Stanford and several universities in Europe, found a positive correlation between high vitamin D levels and lower incidences of diabetes, stroke, hypertension and several other illnesses.

The evidence is clear: Being low in vitamin D is hazardous to your health. Vitamin D supports your immunity, which may be why a lack of it is associated with cancer. Think of your immune system as the watchdog of your cells; when it’s working properly, it attacks foreign invaders and abnormal genes, thus protecting you from disease. When the immune system is weakened, it can fail to recognize the growth of cancer cells in the body.

In my practice, I’ve tested tons of women and men who didn’t know they had a deficiency until they visited my office and uncovered the truth.  So how do you get the right amount? Here are my top vitamin D solutions, as well as guidelines you can follow to get some natural vitamin D during the summer.

1. Get tested. This is the best first step for everyone. The only surefire way to know your level is to request the 25-OH vitamin D test at your next doctor’s visit. The standard normal range is between 30 and 90 nanograms/milliliter (ng/mL). I like to see my patients above 50 ng/ml, because some studies show that is the level at which vitamin D is going to work to help prevent disease.

2. If you’re deficient, take a D3 supplement. While the authors of these recent studies haven’t said anything conclusive about vitamin D supplementation, it’s well documented that you need to boost your intake of vitamin D in some way if you’re deficient. And don’t assume that if you live in a warm climate, you have adequate levels. I live and practice medicine in Florida, the sunshine state, and I routinely get patient blood work back that reveals low or deficient D levels. I take a vitamin D supplement myself and recommend it to most of my patients, after I’ve reviewed their blood work.

If you’re deficient, you’ll want to start out with 2,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D3 (not D2) per day for three months and have your levels re-checked. At that point, if you’re still low, you can work up to 4,000 IU under the care of a doctor. Because vitamin D is fat soluble, it’s best taken with a fat, so down it with 1,000 milligrams of omega-3 fish oil (capsules or liquid).

3. Catch some rays for a few minutes each day – and hold the sunscreen. Summer is the perfect opportunity to naturally boost your vitamin D levels – and sunlight is also the best way to get it. While I certainly don’t advise that you ditch sunscreen altogether, it’s safe to get a few minutes of exposure without sunscreen.  If you’re darker skinned, you may be able to get away with 15 to 20 minutes. But for those with a personal or family history of skin cancer, it’s best to consult your dermatologist first.

 Want more? This post originally appeared over at Fox News, as a part of my Wellness Watch series.

Is Sprite Better for You Than Coke?

young man hanging out with a glass of liquor

I travel for work. A lot. And while I’m out and about, I see and hear things all the time that drive me crazy. I just feel like I should reach out and help.

My husband, Adam, has to almost restrain me sometimes from giving unsolicited health advice to random strangers. It just kills me that people are trying to do the right thing, but don’t have the right information!

Recently, I was at the airport and I sat at the bar to get a salad before my flight – it was the only place to sit in the busy restaurant. While I sat there and ate, the guy next to me polished off 4 mixed drinks in quick succession.

I couldn’t keep my mouth shut!

So I asked him about his unusual beverage choice – whiskey and Sprite. He told me that his friend had been drinking whiskey and Coke, and the friend’s doctor told him that the caffeine in the Coke was causing his high blood pressure.

So his friend had switched to Sprite as his mixer, and he had decided to as well, on the advice of his friend.

Well, they got it partly right…

Truth: Overdoing caffeine can definitely cause higher blood pressure, but so can too much sugar, which those drinks were loaded with. And heavy drinking – 4 drinks or more for men, and even less for women – can also increase blood pressure, according to scientific studies.

I wanted to tell him that he would do well to cut down on both the soda and the alcohol if he really wants to lower his blood pressure, but who wants random health advice from strangers?

I can’t help every stranger I meet, but I’m so glad I can pass the right information on to you!

 

 

3 Easy Steps to Disease Prevention

We all know that high blood pressure and health problems go hand in hand. But did you know that when you have ANY inflammation in your body, it increases your risk for disease?

In case you breezed past that last sentence, I want to repeat it again: ANY inflammation in your body increases your risk for disease - even diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cancer.

Foods rich in magnesiumInflammation and Heart Disease

High-Sensitivity C-reactive Protein (hs-CRP) is a marker for inflammation around the heart. This marker has been shown to be an independent risk factor for heart disease – just like cholesterol is.

 

Many doctors don’t check this number as part of their regular wellness exam. But it’s such an important number to know when evaluating your risk for heart disease. Ask your doctor to check it next time you go in.

Ideally, you want your hs-CRP levels to be low. Less than 1 mg/L is considered optimal, and 1-3 mg/L is considered average. But you should know by now that I always want you to go for your optimal best.

Three Ways to Lower Inflammation:

1. Fish Oil: Fish oil, with its omega-3 fatty acids – especially EPA – is an effective, natural anti-inflammatory. You can get omega-3s by eating foods like salmon, walnuts, and avocados. But to get levels of EPA high enough to lower inflammation, consider taking fish oil supplements.

When taking fish oil supplements, choose pharmaceutical grade fish oil supplements over lower quality fish oil supplements that may be contaminated with toxins, mercury, and PCBs.

2. Clean Up Your Diet: Another way to lower your inflammation is by exercising and eating a clean diet. Eating clean means eating foods that come from nature (in their natural forms as much as possible) and staying away from processed foods.

3. Ask Your Doctor: When it comes to inflammation, knowing your numbers means asking your doctor to check your hs-CRP. If it’s elevated, work with your doctor to take the steps listed above that will decrease your inflammation. Fish oil, exercise, and a clean diet are an important part of any healthy lifestyle, but these steps are especially crucial when dealing with an elevated hs-CRP.

It’s up to each of us to become educated in disease prevention – and practice it on ourselves and our families. Be your own advocate and start living a healthier, happier life today.

Here’s to your health, happiness, and drive!

4 Food Myths Zapping Your Energy

We all want enough energy to live our lives to the fullest, but the reality for many Americans is that they have just enough to get through the day. Rather than powering through your daily grind, the day grinds you to a pulp and you have little left over to tend to your children, enjoy your relationship, or engage in your hobbies.

Women who visit my office frequently tell me they feel like they’re living at 30 percent capacity and have lost their gusto for life, even though they seem to be doing all the right things – eating a diet of whole foods, staying hydrated, and logging enough sleep. When I investigate a bit further, I usually find that they’re making some, or all, of these lesser-talked about food mistakes that sap energy.

If you feel like you’re running on empty despite your best efforts to eat right, you may be committing one of these cardinal energy sins, all of which have to do with not just what you’re eating, but also when and how you’re eating. Here are some of the biggest mistakes you could be making, based on misguided advice and misinformation about what your body needs to get fired up.

You’re obsessing over carbs – and missing the boat on protein

The carb phobia that has had us in its grip for far too long is finally beginning to recede. But while you were swearing off bread, potatoes and other starchy carbs, you might have missed out on what you should be including. Fruits and veggies are great, don’t get me wrong – but fruit for breakfast and a salad for lunch won’t cut it.

Your body needs protein for sustained energy and to prevent blood sugar crashes from carbohydrate consumption (yes, fruits are carbs). I have long taught people that a healthy protein shake in the morning is important for controlling blood sugar levels all day, which keep your energy intact.

Learn more about how I can help you regain your energy.

A gluten-, soy- and dairy-free protein shake, blended with a high-quality protein powder (preferably made from chia, rice, or pea protein) is a solid way to start your day. If you don’t like protein shakes, have some turkey sausage, two egg whites, or another high-protein food (at least 20 grams) before heading out the door.

Most American breakfast foods, such as bagels, muffins and croissants do you more harm than good, sending you into a downward energy spiral – leading you to reach for more short-term snacks that only do more of the same.

You’re eating too infrequently

Skipping meals, and going too many hours without eating in general, can create stress in the body. In the midst of your busy days, remembering to eat breakfast or make time for a healthy lunch isn’t an option; it’s vital.

But when you don’t eat every three to four hours, your blood sugar can drop—and your body sees that as a crisis and will slow you down. To deal with that blood sugar crisis, it will ask your adrenals to produce more cortisol to raise your blood sugar (since you have none in your body from food). When you wipe through your cortisol reserves to deal with low blood sugar, you feel burned out, edgy and exhausted. So don’t rough it: Aim for three meals and two snacks per day.

You think if you don’t have allergies, foods don’t pose a problem

You don’t need to have been diagnosed with celiac disease to have a negative response to certain foods (like gluten, for example). That’s because food sensitivities are totally different than food allergies. A lot of my patients think that because their lips don’t blow up from eating a strawberry or they haven’t been diagnosed with an official disease or allergy, they’re safe to eat whatever they want. It’s just not true.

When you eat something you’re sensitive to, you might have an immediate reaction like bloating or gas – but you may have no reaction in your belly at all. You could have reactions like acne, joint pain, trouble losing weight, or low energy, and all of these might happen slowly over time, never leading you to make the connection (and thus maintaining a downward spiral in energy).

The two most common food sensitivities are to dairy and gluten. You’ve probably heard a lot about gluten sensitivity already; it’s well known that gluten can trigger symptoms such as bloating, migraine headaches, fatigue, and brain fog, and it may even contribute to the onset of autoimmune diseases for some people. Dairy can cause many of the same gastrointestinal and energy problems. Yet even if you stop drinking milk and eating yogurt, there are dairy-based additives such as casein and whey snuck into foods like chip dip, thickened sauces and soups, and even canned chicken broth. Try eliminating gluten and dairy, each for one week, to see how you feel without them in your diet.

Find out how I can help you safely eliminate gluten and dairy.

You think sugar is just bad for your waistline

You already know that sugar is stored as fat in the body, which is why if you’re looking to lose weight, you cut out the sweet stuff. But that’s not the only reason to go easy on the sugar. The average American is consuming about 25 teaspoons of sugar each day without even knowing it. Sugar is hiding everywhere, in every packaged food you can imagine: ketchup, salad dressing, hamburger buns and even granola bars (contrary to popular opinion, granola is not a health food). Even many organic packaged foods are loaded with sugar in the form of honey, molasses or dates.

Besides dramatically boosting your chances of becoming diabetic (or insulin resistant, a pre-diabetic state), sugar in any form causes your blood sugar to spike and crash, which leads to a major drop in energy. Make a habit of checking food labels on everything you buy and ditch foods with more than 6 grams of sugar per serving. And when you get a hankering for something sweet, it’s usually a sign of low blood sugar – so have an apple with almond butter or a handful of almonds.

Feeding your body the right foods at the right times can dramatically change how you feel, as well as how quickly and capably you can respond to the many demands of your day. If you can make the decision to shift some old habits, you have the ability to feel more focused and alert than you have in a long time.

PKG0450-030811HEALTHTALKTIREDANDWIRED-1FLHJPTA_FNC_031111_12-48 This post originally appeared on Fox News, where I’m a regular contributor.