In the spirit of holiday giving I want to share some of my health knowledge with you and help empower you to know more about how to help yourself and your loved ones on your path to wellness. After reflecting on the many questions, frustrations and confusion I hear from patients, these are the areas I thought would be of most benefit in your quest for knowledge about health.
1. How to Have a Healthy Microbiome The gut microbiome has been decimated by our lifestyle habits and industry practices in recent decades, yet it is a critical factor in prevention of disease. In fact, each time there is a new breakthrough in the major diseases plaguing our country today (obesity, cancer, diabetes, digestive disorders, allergies, autoimmune diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, etc.), it turns out there is a tie to our microbiome. Here’s five ways to have a healthier gut microbiome:
- Avoid antibiotics. Antibiotics can be life-saving, but they also wreck your gut microbial balance. Only use them for life threatening illnesses.
- Don’t eat meat that has been given antibiotics. 70% of the antibiotics used today are given to livestock to make them get fatter, quicker. They will do the same for you … by wrecking your gut microbiome.
- Include fermented foods and beverages in your daily diet.
- Take probiotics. Choose the products that have bacterial strains with research behind them. The research is growing daily.
- Get out in the woods and breath in the air – it’s full of natural probiotics.
2. Detox Tips We have an inborn detoxification system designed to get rid of the toxins produced by our own metabolic processes. However, we are now exposed to hundreds of new man-made chemicals and we are overwhelming our body’s ability to get rid of them. Here’s my best advice on three ways to help your body detoxify.
- Reduce the amount of toxins you are exposed to. Buy organic foods and household products. Stop using plastics that come into contact with your food and water.
- Help your liver to transform and get rid of the toxins in your body. Cruciferous vegetables are some of the best friends to your liver and detoxification.
- Move and Sweat. Exercise, sweating and movement of any kind help your lymphatic system to move toxins out of your body.
3. Blood Lab Basics In functional medicine, we need objective indicators to fully evaluate health status and risk of disease. I believe it is helpful to know some basics about your blood lab results to be able to design the lifestyle habits that best suit you. Here are a few of the blood lab indicators I find illuminating and the functional (healthy) values I use and recommend you request and understand. (Remember, I am not diagnosing disease with these values.):
- Glucose and Hemoglobin A1c. Keep blood glucose between 85 and 99 and A1c between 4.8 and 5.6. High blood sugar is inflammatory to the blood vessels and leads to diabetes, heart disease and many other problems.
- Triglycerides and HDL cholesterol: Triglycerides above 100 and HDL below 55 indicates Insulin Resistance or pre-diabetes and is a precursor to many other health issues related to inflammation.
- 25-OH Vitamin D3: Between 60 and 100 is the most desirable range. Low Vitamin D has been linked to chronic inflammation and many illnesses.
- Ferritin (storage iron) is important, especially for cycling women. It needs to be around 100. If your stores of iron are low, it is difficult to heal from anything.
- C Reactive Protein is a good indicator of cellular inflammation and needs to between 0 and 3.
- Thyroglobulin Antibody and Thyroid Peroxidase Antibody. These thyroid antibodies are usually not tested, but if they are above lab ranges they indicate autoimmune thyroid disease, which has been found to be the cause of about 80% of hypothyroid disorders and can be the precursor to other autoimmune disorders.
There are quite a few other blood lab indicators that are important for sleuthing out imbalances in the body, but these will give you a good start.