Feeling “Beat”?  Eat Beets!

Beet root has an unusually high level of nitrates – which has been shown to boost both blood flow and stamina.  A research team from Queen Mary’s University in London (2010) and at the Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute in Melbourne Australia (2012) both found that a glass of beet juice lowered blood pressure “significantly” for several hours.

Sport scientists at the University of Exeter in the UK found that two 2.5 oz shots of beet

Fresh beet on wooden background

juice taken two-and-a-half hours before exercising decreased the body’s oxygen consumption by as much as 3 %, thereby increasing the athlete’s stamina.

Wake Forest Translations Science Center in North Carolina found that consuming beet juice improved blood flow to the brain – and the frontal lobe in particular.  Since this is the region of the brain most affected in dementia patients, the consuming beets for their nitrate content and concomitant increase in brain blood flow may be of benefit.

In summary, if you are in need of a boost in energy, either physically or mentally, add beets to your smoothies in the morning!

Until next time…

Dr. Gatis

The Great Outdoors: The Natural Anti-Depressant

Exercise, as we all know, has many benefits – and it is recognized to have a positive effect on our mind and our moods.  It is now a recognized way to improve the symptoms Multi-Generation Family Enjoying Walk In Beautiful Countrysideof depression.  The best evidence comes from a review by a team of UK researchers, published in the “Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews” that looked at 37 studies that compared exercise with a placebo, medication or psychological counselling.

Across this research, more than 2,000 people with depression found exercise to be as effective as antidepressants and psychological therapies for reducing the symptoms of depression.  Researchers noted, however, that there needs to be more detailed research looking at what types of exercise are most helpful for depression, as well as the number and duration of sessions that would help the most.

No matter which way you look at it, exercise is beneficial for the mind as well as the body – as it boosts hormones like endorphins and serotonin….so take a break and take a walk.  Your body and your brain will thank you.  It may turn out that exercise in the fresh air will be better than taking tablets!

Until next time…

Dr. Gatis

Force Of Illness #4: Impaired Detoxification

Detoxification is a normal function of the body.  It is the first step in the process of removing foreign, potentially toxic compounds from the body regardless of whether they are environmental or the natural products of cellular metabolism.  All cells have detoxification mechanisms and all cells detoxify all the time.  Detoxification, or the process of making a toxic substance “non-toxic” or “water-soluble”, must occur first before the harmful substance can be eliminated from the body – through the urine, feces, sweat, breath or bile.  The process of Detoxification utilizes the P450 enzymes and has two phases.   Both of these phases have unique nutritional requirements.  Some of the common problems that have been related to poor detoxification are Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, pain, chronic hormonal problems, fibroids, heavy menstrual bleeding,  Breast Concept of Detox Diets  The New Diet FadCancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Many people mistakenly believe that they are “detoxing” when they are doing a “cleanse” – a “liver cleanse”, for example.  In actuality, they are supporting elimination rather than detoxification.  The liver, kidneys, colon, lungs, skin and lymphatics are all organs of elimination.  They remove detoxified substances i.e., substances converted to water-soluble, from the body.  This can be useful, of course, and often necessary – but when you are talking about detoxification, you are talking about the cellular or micro processes rather than the macro system processes.  A “cleanse” or elimination support is most effective when any nutritional deficiencies relating to the P450 enzymes and other enzymes relating to detoxification have been corrected first.  The nutrients needed for optimum detoxification include vitamin A, B6, B12 and Folic Acid; the sulfur-containing amino acids found in kale, bok choy, garlic, onions, kale, cauliflower, cabbage broccoli and Brussels sprouts, and minerals such as zinc, magnesium, selenium, manganese and copper.

In addition, reactions to certain drugs are far more common than most people realize – and are the result of compromised or inefficient detoxification mechanisms.  Reye’s Syndrome (a potentially-lethal disorder), for example, occurs in someone with impaired aspirin detoxification if they take the drug when they have a virus.  In the future, it is my prediction that a “detoxification test” will have to be taken before certain classes of drugs are prescribed.  There is a special test that exists now – where patients are given small amount of aspirin, acetaminophen and coffee.  After 12 hours, the urine, blood and saliva are checked to see if the drugs were normally detoxified.   In the future, it is my prediction that a “detoxification test” will have to be completed before certain drugs are administered.

Until next time…..

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