Functional Medicine Austin TX

Diabetes and how nutrition and botanicals can help you

181293605 lowAn April 14th, 2014 article in the Townsend Letter for Doctors discussed the role of nutritional and botanical agents in the management of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.  Among some of the most beneficial supplements included in the article, the author, Dr. Morstein, N.D.,  mentioned both Alpha-lipoic acid and Resveratrol.

“R-ALA: Alpha-lipoic acid has numerous benefits to the diabetic patient. It is both a water- and fat-soluble antioxidant and has been shown to protect patients with fatty liver from liver disease progression. It can help insulin resistance and has been shown to protect diabetics from developing complications in their nerves, eyes, and kidneys. It is very safe. The R isomer is the only active isomer in the body and, since it can now be stabilized, should be the form recommended to patients, instead of regular lipoic acid wherein half the isomers are the nonhelpful S isomer.”

“Resveratrol: This is a bioflavonoid that has been shown in diabetic studies to protect pancreatic cells, reduce inflammatory cytokines, and increase antioxidants. It may also help improve insulin’s actions and lower levels of glucose, A1C, and insulin. It was also shown to help decrease body weight, systolic BP, cholesterol, and triglycerides.”

Alpha-lipoic acid, among other crucial nutrients for health, is contained in our Enriching Gifts supplement line.  Resveratrol is also contained in liquid Biocell Collagen, which has had excellent anti-aging results with many of our patients.  By employing blood testing and nutritional diagnosis, often many diabetic patients reverse their diabetic condition, lose weight, have better range of motion and flexibility, and have improved energy.   Call us for more information on alternative ways to combat diabetes and remain drug free.

Townsend Letter for Doctors, The Role of Nutritional and Botanical Agents in the  Management of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, Morstein, Mona, ND. April 2014

Aging and brain deterioration

186470430While brain degeneration can impact anyone, it is commonly thought of as a part of “getting older.” “Neurodegeneration” is a broad term describing the progressive loss of nerve cells in our brain and peripheral nervous system. Neurodegeneration occurs in everyone, but at different rates for different people. Noticeable symptoms of neurodegeneration includes memory loss, a decreased sense of smell and taste, and various stages of dementia that can range from mild to serious. This can include Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease.

While more noticeable as we age, people of all ages can exhibit neurodegeneration symptoms:

  • A person’s speech become sluggish, and their speaking abilities deteriorate.
  • It is more difficult to recall people, places and events;
  • The absence of, or lowered inabilities to show outward facial emotions and expression.
  • Increasingly poor body posture. This occurs when the body lacks the ability to maintain proper muscle tone in our postural muscles. The result is a tendency to slouch and have a “stooped over posture.”
  • Gait and mobility issues that can indicate indicate brain degeneration and brain neuron loss:
  • A person who used to walk in a full stride is now reduced to some form of a shuffle;
  • The normal opposing arm swing becomes diminished or disappears;
  • Feelings of vertigo or a loss of balance are both indicators of a rapidly deteriorating brain;

When these signs occur as a person ages, there is often the belief that there is little or nothing that can either stop the effects of aging on the brain, much less reverse the issues. Here are non-drug options that can help this brain degeneration, and can help you to have a better quality of life.

The chemical effects that occur when the brain degenerates
Free radicals are stray electrons that damage our cells and tissues, and are a key contributor to “oxidative stress,” inflammation, and lack of sufficient oxygen to the brain. A major contributor to brain degeneration is caused by “free radicals” that result in a lack of sufficient oxygen to the brain. This can lead to a buildup of plaque in our brain, and the rapid deposit of “Tau Proteins.” Together, these conditions have been considered to be center to many neurodegenerative diseases and conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and memory loss.

Brain and Neuro Degeneration can be minimized and reversed
Surprisingly, some of the fixes are obvious and simple. For starters, our brain is the master control center for our nervous system, and if we don’t exercise it, then we start to lose it more rapidly. So, “use it our lose it” applies here! It’s important to do memory exercises every day. Playing the card game “concentration” we played as kids is a great way to have fun, and maintain healthy brain neurons. Crossword puzzles provide another great way to challenge a person’s recall of events, places, words and details.

Physical exercise and exertion activates areas of our brain because our muscles are directly wired to specific areas of our brain and provide stimulation to these areas when we move! More importantly, exercise temporarily increases blood oxygen levels which gives our neurons an essential fuel needed to function.

Whenever we see a diminishing ability, such as poor speech quality, balance, or movement, we need to challenge this system by engaging in therapeutic activities involving this activity. More details on brain based exercises and activities will be covered in a future blog; the focus of this blog will be to highlight the important nutrition required to help our brain stay sharp as we age.

Nutrients to protect our brain
There are brain essential nutrients that can protect our brain from free radicals, inflammation and oxidative stress:

  • Co-Q10 is a co-enzyme that increases the efficiency of energy production, and serves as a potent brain and heart antioxidant.
  • Alpha-Lipoic Acid regenerates other important brain antioxidants such as Vitamins C, E, and Glutathione, thus extending the life of other antioxidants while providing powerful antioxidant properties.
  • N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) dramatically increases the body’s production of glutathione, another very important brain antioxidant. It also helps detoxify our brain.
  • Acetyl-L_Carnitine, like Co-Q-10, enhances our nerve cell energy production. This benefits damaged brain neurons, which have low energy production. Studies show that this nutrient profoundly slows the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. It enhances our nerve cell energy production by transporting fuel into the mitochondria (energy plants) of our cells.
  • Vitamin E has been shown to limit free radical damage in the brain and has been noted to outperform an Alzheimer’s drug in clinical trials, per the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. Diets rich in Vitamin E, when supplemented with Vitamin C, have been shown to reduce the risk of Parkinsons by 61%.
  • Gingko Biloba improves brain metabolism, increases brain blood flow and provides additional antioxidant protection according to double blind placebo trials published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Gingko Biloba was also shown to stabilize Alzheimer’s progression, and was cited in contributing to actual improvement results in standardized psychological tests.
  • Vitamin D has been shown in studies to have many free radical scavenging abilities that help the brain.
  • Vitamin B12 is essential for maintaining the “myelin sheath” around your neurons, which is the equivalent to the protective coatings on electrical wires. The myelin sheath not only helps to conduct electrical nerve signals throughout your body, but helps to prevent “mixed messages” when neurons cross. When neurons messages become “crossed” we see problems such as neurological tremors.
  • Phosphatidyl Serine produces the important neurotransmitter Acetylcholine, which is responsible for healthy muscle contraction, organ function and most of all memory.
  • Flavonoids are found in citrus fruits and many types of berries. These nutrients function like antioxidants and help build the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB) which keeps toxins out of our brain.

Other nutrients that are also essential to a healthy brain include Magnesium, Calcium, all of the B-Vitamins, Sodium, Potassium, EPA, DHA, and many amino acids. Many of these nutrients and more are already included in the highly bio-available daily multivitamin our patients take.

Hormone Rejuvenation Therapy

170080969Hormones are chemical messengers that bind to our cells which create changes in our metabolism that affect our mood, memory, libido, fat metabolism, energy levels, temperature regulation, appetite, and much more. Because hormones affect so much of our quality of life, including weight gain issues and a feeling of sluggishness and our mental and emotional outlook in life, having the proper amount and types of hormones is important if we are going to enjoy our life.  Reduced hormone functioning is an indicator of poor health, and is not necessarily a requirement of the aging process.

Hormone Rejuvenation Therapy is an alternative to HRT or Hormone Replacement Therapy.  With Hormone Rejuvenation Therapy, your body works with receiving the foundational ingredients that help stimulate your glands so they can make normal amounts of your body’s hormones, without drug interference. Hormone rejuvenation therapy also removes the obstacles that prohibit your body from clearing hormonal excess.

Hormone Rejuvenation Therapy can also work even if you have a gland or organ missing as a result of previous surgery or radiation treatment, according to clinical results using lab tests.  The common misconception is that the full gland must be intact to produce hormones.  Even when a gland is considered to be “entirely removed”, there are still low levels of hormones being produced.  Hormones are made in many areas of your body.  For example, people who have their thyroid gland missing from a thyroidectomy, will still produce levels of thyroid hormone. Women who have had a hysterectomy still produce levels progesterone and estrogen. This is possible largely because of the compensatory effects of the adrenal glands, and other areas of the body, which are capable of producing many of our hormones as a backup. In our approach, we stimulate these other areas of your body to help produce healthy amounts of deficient hormones.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is the commonly used, conventional method of addressing hormonal imbalance.  It is important for you to have your hormones in balance because having hormone imbalances are an indication of poor health.  However, hormone imbalance is not an inevitable and natural consequence of old age, but relates to the inability of an organ or gland to produce optimal amounts of a hormone.  Research shows that we are capable of producing normal amounts of hormones well into our later years of life;  in order to do so, it is crucial to correct the underlying unhealthy conditions causing the imbalance.

With Hormone Replacement Therapy, a deficient hormone, or hormones, is introduced into our body.  A problem with Hormone Replacement Therapy is that the gland or glands involved then “go to sleep.”  This reduces the amount of hormone that the body is able to naturally produce, because your body will sense higher amounts of a hormone and adjust production accordingly.  Another problem with HRT is that our body no longer undergoes the natural hormonal bio-rhythms that normally occur throughout the day.  Because HRT doses are largely static, it does not allow our hormones to fluctuate naturally throughout the day as we are designed, even when the dose is adjusted and monitored closely by a health professional.

Once considered to be a safe process, Hormone Replacement Therapy has now been linked with many significant health risks including increased rate of heart attack, stroke, blood clots, and breast cancer.  The National Institute of Health in conjunction with the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI, 2004), concluded that many of the risks outweighed the benefits even when compounded and bio-identical hormones are used.

Bioidentical hormones, are they really safer?
According to The Harvard Newsletter on Hormone Replacement, the fact that hormones are bioidentical does not guarantee that they are safer than regular hormone replacement. Bioidentical hormones carry the same “black box” warning (the strongest warning in prescription labeling) that non-bioidentical hormones carry.  Although bioidentical hormones can contain naturally occurring hormones in their composition, they also carry unnatural modifications required to qualify as a drug:  prescription drugs must be modified chemically because naturally occurring substance cannot be patented.  Celebrity Suzanne Somers, who popularized the use of biodentical hormones, stated that despite daily applications of bio-identical progesterone cream, she required a hysterectomy due to endometrial hyperplasia (a precancerous transformation).

Common physical complaints related to hormonal imbalance

Feeling hot and sweaty?
When the body’s thermoregulation, or the healthy maintenance of body temperature, is “off” then generally the issue is in either of two areas:  the Thyroid Gland and Estrogen levels. Estrogen is considered to be the “thermogenic”, or heat producing hormone in the body. An overactive Thyroid Gland can also cause a person to feel “overheated.”   An often overlooked factor is that if your blood sugar, which plays an important role in estrogen fluctuations, can be the primary cause of your discomfort.  This is due to an enzyme called Aromatase, which is an enzyme has a large effect on the biosynthesis of estrogens.  In this case, looking at your blood sugar must be a focal point.

Low Libido, in both men and women
For women, a common complaint is vaginal dryness, and for men, we typically see low libido.  In these cases, we address nutritional and other issues that help the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, adrenal gland and ovary (testes in men)  to work properly again, and “in concert” with each other.

Drugs Affect Hormone Levels
Very often people take medications without knowing that a common side effect is that the medication suppresses your body’s hormone production.  When there are multiple medications involved, the problem is further exacerbated.  The ability of your organs and glands to produce and regulate hormone levels becomes impaired as multiple medications interfere with your body’s natural process to regulate hormone production.  Not only does the presence of multiple medications interfere with hormone production, but they also interfere with hormonal transport and utilization. Other artificial chemicals such as artificial food additives and preservatives can contribute to hormone imbalance much like medications.

Problems that can occur with improper levels of hormones
When your hormone producing glands and regulating glands are not functioning properly, you will not have the proper levels of hormones. This can affect your levels of thyroid hormone as well as reproductive hormones.  Often people suffer with adrenal issues when the adrenal glands over (and under) produce cortisol.  High cortisol levels throw other hormones out of balance and can suppress overall hormone production.  Many abnormal cortisol levels are due to poor diet, improper exercise, chemical exposure, pollution, radiation, harmful drug side effects and electro-magnetic pollution.

The major detoxifying organs in the body, the liver, kidneys and colon, play a key role in hormone clearance in the body. When there is a build up of toxins in the body, our glands cannot easily process and eliminate hormonal excess.  Also, toxic excess can stress an organ to the point where it can suppress gland activity, resulting in lower than normal amounts of a hormone. Toxins in the body can contribute to both unnaturally high and low amounts of hormones. Scientific research has already shown a relationship between low estrogen levels and weak, brittle bones, so we need to consider the many roles hormones have in our body.

Assessing hormone problems
Hormone testing is easily done from the comfort of your home and provides a more accurate depiction of the hormone levels in your body than blood testing.  We use a salivary hormone home testing kit by Diagnos-Techs.  Salivary hormone testing measures the “free fraction” of hormones floating around our body. Many of our hormones also circulate in a protein bound form, typically measured in the blood, which is not usable by the body therefore not as sensitive a test as salivary testing. Salivary testing measures the amounts of hormones that are in a form that the body can readily use, or an unbound form, which makes it a better test in determining hormones that our body can use.  Another important consideration is that hormone samples measured in the blood are taken at once, versus salivary samples, which are taken on multiple days, and then an average is determined by the lab.


Look younger than your age

121198176As we get older, most of us would like to look younger than our biological age.  Many anti-aging techniques focus on cosmetic solutions, but ignore what is going on inside your body. While cosmetic solutions can mask some of the signs of aging, without addressing nutritional issues, it is difficult to not appear haggard when the body needs key nutrients.  One reason that we focus on nutritional deficiencies is because they can contribute to visible signs of aging, as well our feeling a loss of vitality! This can happen for a number of reasons. The high stressed, fast paced lifestyle that most people experience increases poor dietary choices, which hastens nutrient depletion even if you are eating well.

Common outward signs of aging include an increase in fine lines and deep creases, our skin wrinkles, our faces begin to appear more hollow and less plump the way we looked when we were teenagers, and receding gums. We address these issues by looking at what builds health in the body by focusing on the foundational areas that contribute to looking older. In addition to helping our skin and joints look and feel better, a key to turning around the aging challenge also addresses digestive issues. As a result, the visible signs of aging slow, and even reverse, for people who have followed our schedule of care.

Skin, Joints, and Gum Health
After the age of 40, our collagen levels begin to decline. Collagen, the most abundant body protein, is responsible for giving skin a youthful, resilient, wrinkle free appearance. It is also an important protein that helps to hold our joints together as well as to cushion them. With collagen, we can have a bounce to our step. When collagen levels are lower than they should be, the bounce is replaced by a feeling of stiffness and discomfort. Less collagen also means our skin begins to lose the fullness we had in the past.  That “bounce to your step” is also impacted by the presence of Chondroitin Sulfate, due to the shock absorbing features that it provides. Low levels of it can make you “feel” your joints with every step you take. If your levels of Chondroitin Sulfate are sub-optimal, then maintaining a lively gait can be much of a challenge.

Hyaluronic Acid, or H.A. also is a key factor needed to maintain a youthful appearance, because it is responsible for giving our skin a more full, wrinkle free look. It also lubricates our joints! Maintaining the right levels of H.A. means that we look and feel more youthful. As our H.A. levels decline after birth, we often experience more physical effects of aging, including joint stiffness, discomfort and decreased range of motion. Low levels of H.A. are also associated with skin wrinkles, creases, deep folds, and fine lines. Patients have also reported improved gum health as well as reduced, and even corrected dry eye problems. With regular use of highly absorbable form of H.A., the body is able to produce the natural lubrication that the eyes need for good ocular health.

How well be absorb our food impacts our muscle mass
Eating the right foods which contain quality protein, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients,  does not mean you will necessarily absorb them.  If there is an under production of Hydrochloric (stomach) acid, and stomach acid suppressive therapies, along with low levels of enzymes can lead to mal-absorption of nutrients. One way this is evident is with a decline of muscle mass. Without addressing this, a person can become frail, which means they have inadequate muscle mass for their age. As we lose muscle mass, we begin to more easily accumulate fat since muscle is required to burn fat. Once the stomach’s acid production is returned to normal levels, and sufficient levels of enzymes are present, we can absorb our nutrients.

Weight gain and loss
Enzymes, exercise, and good colon health help our bodies regulate proper weight by absorbing and eliminating our food quickly, thereby speeding up our metabolism. Enzymes help us detoxify our tissues more quickly, and at a deeper level, which helps our body have a proper metabolism needed to maintain a healthy weight. Eating foods that are appropriate for our blood type can determine how efficiently we “burn” calories, and how we look and feel. Weight gain can often occur when we eat foods that are not compatible with our blood type.

At Fundamental Health Solutions, our anti-visible aging supplementation program includes the use of a clinically tested, bio-available liquid supplement that contains highly absorbable collagen, chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronic acid, known for helping to hydrate your skin, as well as the ability to contribute to joint lubrication