Why Should You Work Out In The Morning?

Testosterone burns fat, builds muscle and increases sex drive in men and women.  Testosterone, like most steroid hormones, has a daily rhythm – highest in the morning and decreasing over the day.  It has been suggested that our ability to perform follows the same trend i.e., testosterone levels can predict our physical performance over the day.  A team at Swansea University, lead by Professor Kilduff,  evaluated the effect of training in the morning on testosterone response throughout the day.

Using testosterone levels derived from saliva sampling, 18 semi-professional rugby Morning  exercise and black clockplayers were divided into three groups:  the control or resting group; the sprint group (5 x 40 meters) and weight-training (bench press and squat) group.  A follow-up saliva sample was taken before the players completed a performance test (back squat and bench press, 40m sprint and jump test).

The results showed the circadian decline in testosterone levels was negated by morning training.  In other words, working out (especially with weight training) in the morning  keeps the testosterone levels from dropping during the day and increases performance in power sports at least six hours after the initial workout.

If you recall in a previous blogs (2 and 3), I mentioned the reasons why maintaining testosterone levels is extremely important for men and women.  Here is a short list:  Increases bone density, decreases cholesterol, helps to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, prevents and treats depression, protects against cardiovascular disease, hypertension, excess body fat and arthritis, enhances memory and cognition, and protects against Diabetes, Insulin Resistance and Metabolic Syndrome.   Perhaps changing how and when we exercise may reduce our tendency to certain health conditions by maintaining optimal steroid hormone levels.

Until next time……

Dr. Gatis

Testing For Malnutrition and Impaired Metabolism (“Sludge” and “Burnout”)

There are many ways to test for the first and second force of Illness (called malnutrition, orMale thyroid anatomy what we have called the “sludge” factor and impaired metabolism or “burnout”).  When we take in food, and digest and assimilate it, only the waste or unusable portion should be eliminated in the stool.   If meat fibers or fats are showing up in the feces, then you are not fully breaking down and absorbing the protein and fats in your food. Your Naturopathic or Medical Doctor may order a comprehensive digestive stool analysis to determine if this is the case.  Levels of the essential fatty acids and amino acids can also be measured in the blood also.  Individual vitamins like B12 and vitamin D can be individually measured as can homocysteine – a major methylation and cardiovascular health marker.

Mitochondrial function can be indirectly tested by a urine organic acid profile – a relatively new and non-invasive way to indirectly measure certain factors related to metabolic function i.e.,  fatty acid and carbohydrate metabolism markers (B1, B2, B3, Carnitine, Lipoic Acid, CoQ10), Energy production markers (B complex, Amino Acids, Mg), B-complex vitamin markers (B1, B2,B3, B5, B6, Biotin), Methylation Cofactor markers (B12, Folate), Neurotransmitter Metabolism markers (Tyrosine, Tryptophan, B6, antioxidants) and Detoxification markers (Arg, NAC, Met, Mg, antioxidants).

Mitochondrial function can also be affected by pollutants, heavy metals, and so on.  Many of the environmental contaminants can now be tested for in blood or urine.

One of the most important factors to test for is insulin resistance (IR).  As I mnaturopathy 3entioned in the previous blog, IR is linked to obesity, arteriosclerosis, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes Make sure that your M.D. or N.D. orders HbA1c and serum insulin in addition to fasting serum glucose.  Optimum levels of HbA1c and Insulin are below 5.5% and less than 40 (fasting) respectively in addition to a fasting blood sugar less than 6.0.  In routine blood work, a lipid panel is done (total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, triglycerides).  If the triglyceride-to-HDL ratio is greater than 4.3, this suggests a high probability of insulin resistance.  The waist-to-hip ratio is an easy way to determine you tendency to IR.  Divide your waist measurement at the belly button level by the hip measurement.  For women, any value over 0.8 is associated with IR and, in men, any value over 0.9.

Thyroid dysfunction is becoming somewhat of an epidemic.  In my opinion, everyone should have a full thyroid panel done early in their life to provide an individual’s “normal” levels.  Optimal levels of TSH, or thyroid stimulating hormone, should be between 1 and 2.  Please be aware that the “normal” range is up to 4 – but the normal and “optimum” functional ranges are different.  Free T3 should be measured as well as free T4 – because T3 is the more active thyroid hormone form.  T3 is formed from T4.  There are many factors that affect this conversion – including stress and female/male hormones.

In the next blog, we will consider the Third Force of Illness called “Inflammation” or “Heat”.

Until then…..

Dr. Gatis

The Second Force of Illness: Impaired Metabolism or Burnout

The First Force of Illness is inadequate digestion and absorption of foods (or “sludging” – as we mentioned in the previous blog) and endothelial dysfunction.  The Second Force of Illness is “burnout” due to impaired metabolic/cellular processes creating an overall lack of energy.  How many of you suffer from being “tired”.    Metabolism is the term used to describe the creation of usable energy from food – and fatigue is an indicator that you may have an impaired metabolic ability to generate this “food energy”. The main factors in impaired metabolism are:  insulin resistance, mitochondrial dysfunction and thyroid dysfunction.

A major player in “burnout” is glucose regulation and control.  There is a saying that you chargercan have “too much of a good thing” – and this applies to carbohydrates – especially glucose and sugars.  Insulin, secreted by the pancreas in response to carbohydrates in the blood, regulates the uptake of glucose into the cells.  In the current North American diet, insulin secretion is virtually constant due to the almost continual intake of sugar and carbohydrates.  The only thing the body can do is to continue to secrete insulin in the attempt to lower the blood sugar level.  The cells can only take in a certain amount of glucose at a time, so the cells, under the stress of too much insulin, will do the logical thing – change the receptors for insulin making them inactive.  The scientific term for this is Insulin Resistance.

When a cell is unresponsive to insulin, our cells become unable to get energy from the food we eat – despite the fact that we have eaten enough – and our insulin blood levels become chronically elevated.   We become tired and hungry.   The cells are crying out for energy and we crave the quickest energy source (sugar) – which only compounds the problem when we eat them.   For our ancestors, food availability was always in question, so the body adapted by being able to store away the energy that we didn’t immediately need in the moment for use later – as fat tissue.  In today’s society, however, food (especially carbohydrates) is plentiful for most of us, so the “rainy day” never comes – but we still eat as if it could.  This is the crux of our obesity epidemic.  .  High insulin levels in the blood and Insulin Resistance have not only been linked to obesity, but also to arteriosclerosis and heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Mitochondrial Dysfunction is the second major part of burnout. Mitochondria are the energy producers of the cell.  They do this by taking sugar, fatty acids or amino acids from your food and, in the presence of oxygen, burn them to create energy.  Mitochondrial dysfunction is caused by a number of factors.  Overproduction of free radicals (also known as “reactive oxygen species” or RburnoutOS) can cause mitochondrial damage.  This is why you take antioxidants like vitamin A and E.  Poisoning from heavy metals, petroleum products, pesticides and trans fats also contribute.  At the cellular level, we find mitochondrial damage or dysfunction occurring in almost every type of major illness e.g., heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.

The third major factor in impaired metabolism is thyroid dysfunction.  The thyroid is like the gas pedal in your car and determines your rate of speed.  Too little thyroid hormone and your metabolism slows.  Too much and your metabolism “red-lines”.  A low-functioning thyroid – especially in women – is becoming the norm.  Symptoms of hypothyroid include:  being cold all the time, weight gain, constipation, oily skin, coarse hair, increased cholesterol and depression.  There are many possible causes which include allergic reactions (wheat allergy/celiac disease has a well-known association with autoimmune thyroid disease), toxins, infections, hormonal disturbances and low selenium or iodine levels.

In the next blog, we will explore the ways you can test for “sludge” and “burnout”.  Until then……

Dr. Gatis

Testosterone Is Important To Heart Health: How to Raise It Naturally

In the last blog, I mentioned that my “patient” (myself) was experiencing uncharacteristic fatigue and lack of motivation.  The regular blood tests showed a normally-functioning thyroid, no anemia and blood sugar regulation within normal parameters.  The cholesterol level was slightly high but not significantly changed over the last few years.  The total testosterone was within the “normal” range, but the free or “active” testosterone was in the very low part of the range. Remember what I said about testosterone and heart disease?  The free or “active” form of Testosterone helps to protect a man’s heart and arteries.  Dr. Edward Lichten, M.D. in his “Textbook of Bio-Identical Hormones” states that “scientifically, vitamin D, human growth hormone, thyroxine (T4), and triiodothyronine (T3), DHEA, and testosterone in men and estradiol in women have strong cardio-protective or therapeutic applications”.

Man running in a gym on a treadmill concept for exercising, fitnWhat can a 58-year-old male do to increase his testosterone? Exercise – especially resistance training – tends to increase the testosterone level and the HDL.  Reducing fat mass increasing lean muscle mass also reduces the tendency of the body to convert testosterone to estrogen and decreases insulin resistance.  It is important for a man’s reproductive health that his body have the correct levels of Zinc, Vitamin E, and certain amino acids (like L-Citrulline and L-Arginine) vitamin C, B vitamins, and magnesium.  Certain herbs are reputed to raise the free testosterone level – in particular, Tribulus terrestris and Eurycoma longifolia.  Taking the natural precursors to testosterone production may increase levels e.g., DHEA, if it is available.  Reducing stress is very important because high levels of cortisol (produced when stressed) suppresses DHEA.   In general, I prefer patients to raise their testosterone levels through natural stimulation – rather than immediate testosterone replacement – if at all possible.  Read on as I make testosterone stimulation very personal….

In my case, Blood Spot testing (done by finger prick and is a combination of arterial and venous blood) had previously been done in 2012 and was repeated on the same day as the regular blood tests last month.  In 2012, the only parameter that was slightly below normal was the Testosterone level.  The current test showed a further 30% drop in testosterone and a 56.5% reduction in DHEAS values.  The current results show that there are four cardiovascular parameters that are now abnormal:  the triglycerides are elevated (20% more than 2012); the HDL or good cholesterol has decreased by 40%; the VLDL (the very bad LDL cholesterol) is elevated as is the insulin level.  In addition, the Vitamin D level is also severely low – which is surprising because I routinely take 2000 IU per day.

In a nutshell, it is my contention that most, if not all, of these cardiovascular-related changes are due to a less-than-optimal testosterone and vitamin D level .  Unless I take appropriate action, I will become insulin-resistant (Type 2 diabetic) and the mechanisms of arteriosclerosis will continue to increase.  Rather than immediately going for Bio-identical testosterone replacement, I will attempt to raise the testosterone level through exercise, stress reduction, weight reduction, nutrient supplementation and so on over the next few months and will report back to you when the tests are repeated in January 2015.

Until next time…..

Dr. Gatis