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How Much Sugar Per Day Is Too Much?

by Dr. Thomas K. Lo, Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center

Sugar is in almost every packaged food you pick up at the grocery store, and there seems to be a sugar addiction epidemic in the U.S.

If you don’t see the word “sugar” in the ingredients list, there is likely another form of it that you simply do not recognize.

Our taste buds have adapted to the desire to have sugar, and if our food has not been sweetened with it, it doesn’t taste nearly as good to many people.

The good news is that taste buds can adapt, so you don’t crave all that sugar.

How Much Sugar Per Day?

The American Heart Association recommends most American women consume no more than six teaspoons (25 grams or 100 calories) of added sugar per day. For men, it’s no more than nine teaspoons (36 grams or 150 calories) of added sugar per day.

Children should not go beyond three teaspoons of added sugar per day, which equates to 12 grams.

Did you know that one cup of Fruit Loops contains 3.75 teaspoons of sugar? That’s over the recommended amount for kids; and who only eats one cup of Fruit Loops?

Research indicates that some forms of sugar are better than others. Subjects were evaluated after a 90-minute swim or a 24-hour period of fasting. The results showed that fructose is not the best choice for replenishing. But, by using both glucose and fructose, glycogen is more rapidly restored in the liver, which can help repair overworked muscles and help an athlete to be more prepared for the next workout.

Sugar Consumption in the U.S.

There are two types of sugars found in our diets. Those that are truly natural and come from foods like fruit and vegetables, and then there are added sugars and artificial sweeteners (such as white sugar, brown sugar, artificial sweeteners, and chemically manufactured sugars like high fructose corn syrup).

Added sugars are in foods like soft drinks, fruit drinks, candy, cakes, cookies, ice cream, sweetened yogurt, and grains like waffles, many breads, and cereals.

Some common names for added sugars or foods with added sugars are:

Agave;

Brown sugar;

Corn sweetener;

Corn syrup;

Fruit juice concentrates;

High fructose corn syrup;

Honey;

Invert sugar;

Malt sugar;

Molasses;

Raw sugar;

Sugar;

Sugar molecules ending in “ose” (dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose); and

Syrup.

What about naturally occurring sugars from fruit? That is a better choice, but some are very high in sugar, so you still want to keep that in mind if you’re diabetic or suffer from some sugar-sensitive diseases.

  It’s better to have the whole fruit, but choosing the right fruit is important. A medium-sized orange contains about 12 grams of natural sugar. A cup of strawberries contains about half of that. 

Dangers of High Sugar

While not having enough sugar can cause hypoglycemia, you can also have too much sugar. That’s called hyperglycemia, and it may cause serious complications, such as:

Cardiovascular disease.

Nerve damage, known as neuropathy.

Kidney damage.

Diabetic neuropathy.

Damage to the blood vessels of the retina, diabetic retinopathy, which could cause blindness.

Cataracts or clouding in the eyes.

Problems with the feet caused by damaged nerves or poor blood flow.

Bone and joint problems.

Skin problems, including bacterial infections, fungal infections, and non-healing wounds.

Infections in the teeth and gums.

Diabetic ketoacidosis.

Hyperglycemic hyperosmolar syndrome.

There are more dangers of high sugar, which is why it’s vital to know how many grams of sugar per day you should consume.

1. Heart Problems

The JAMA reports that, in some cases, nearly one-third of calories consumed per day come from sugar. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey gathered information that helped identify issues with too much sugar. The results indicate that most U.S. adults consume more added sugar than is recommended for a healthy diet, resulting in a higher risk of cardiovascular disease mortality.

2. Diabetes, Obesity and

Metabolic Syndrome

Diabetes is probably one of the most common problems with excessive sugar, and it is happening at a staggering rate across the U.S.—and beyond—due to dietary changes, such as more ultra-processed foods, refined sugars, and less daily activity.

When we consume too much sugar, the liver does all it can to convert the sugar into energy, but it can only do so much. Since it cannot metabolize all sugar that it receives in excess, insulin resistance develops, which can result in diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome.

3. Teeth Issues

According to the American Dietetic Association and the Surgeon General’s report on oral health in America, what you eat greatly affects your mouth—teeth and gums included.

Too much sugar can cause bacterial growth, resulting in decay and infections of surrounding tissues and bone.

4. Liver Problems

A diet high in sugar may cause problems with your liver, according to the American Diabetes Association. When you eat a moderate amount of sugar, in any form, it’s stored in the liver as glucose until the body needs it for various organs to function properly, such as the brain. But if you have too much sugar, the liver simply cannot store it all. What happens? The liver is overloaded, so it turns the sugar into fat.

While sugar from natural sources, such as fruit, is far better than the fake, processed version, the liver doesn’t know the difference.

Additionally, a condition known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease may be caused by excessive consumption of sugar, which develops insulin resistance and increased oxidative stress to the liver.

5. Potentially Cancer

According to a study published in Integrative Cancer Therapies, there is a link between insulin and its effects on colon, prostate, pancreatic, and breast cancer. It seems that sugar can even get in the way of cancer therapy, causing it to be less effective.

By consuming more nutrients and less sugar, regularly exercising, and reducing stress, it may be possible to lower the risk of cancer and developing tumors.

How to Reduce Sugar Intake

Reducing sugar intake is not as hard as you think, but if you’re addicted, it can take some practice and commitment just like any change.

1. Increase Your Fiber Intake

Fiber moves through the body undigested, helping keep you feeling full and satisfied to kick sugar cravings to the curb. Not only that, but dietary fiber also helps keep blood sugar levels steady, preventing a drop in sugar levels and side-stepping some potential negative effects of sugar withdrawal.

 A few healthy high-fiber foods include vegetables, nuts and seeds,  and legumes. Remember to drink more water if you’re upping your fiber intake to prevent unpleasant digestive side effects, such as constipation.

2. Eat More Protein

Protein is great for reducing hunger and sugar cravings. Not only does protein lower levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, but it also helps maintain normal blood sugar levels to prevent several sugar withdrawal symptoms.

Good sources of protein include grass-fed beef, lentils, wild fish, black beans, organic chicken, and eggs.

3. Stay Hydrated

How many times have you felt your stomach grumbling, only to drink a glass of water and have the hunger disappear? Thirst is often confused with hunger, and sometimes all it takes is drinking a bit of water and staying hydrated to squash cravings.

Next time you catch yourself eyeing a sugary candy bar or dessert, try drinking a glass of water, waiting half an hour, and seeing if you are hungry or just feeling thirsty. If you are hungry reach for a healthy snack like walnuts or an avocado.

4. Pack in Some Probiotics

Eating plenty of probiotic-rich foods helps increase the beneficial bacteria in your gut. Not only does this have far-reaching effects in terms of digestive health and immunity, but some research has even found that it could support healthy blood sugar levels and support a healthy appetite.

A few examples of nutritious probiotic foods include kombucha, kefir, tempeh, miso, sauerkraut, kimchi and natto. Remember to always read the label and opt for the one with the least amount of sugar.

Aim for a few servings per week to give your gut health a boost and minimize sugar cravings.

5. Up Your Intake of Heart-

Healthy Fats

Fat, much like protein and fiber, can promote satiety while warding off sugar cravings. This is because fat is digested very slowly, so it keeps you feeling fuller for longer. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should load up on the greasy burgers and fries to reduce your sugar cravings. Reach for healthy fats from foods like avocados, nuts and seeds, or coconut oil.

6. Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Without Sugar

Just because you’re giving up extra sugar doesn’t mean you have to give up all things sweet forever.

In fact, there are plenty of easy ways to satisfy your sweet tooth without piling on added sugar by the teaspoon full.

Fruit, for example, contains natural sugars, but it also contains loads of vitamins, minerals, and fiber that make it a much healthier choice. Berries are a great choice.

Additionally, stevia is a natural, no-calorie sweetener that can sweeten up foods without the negative health effects of sugar. Try it in your baked goods or drinks you want to sweeten. Look for green leaf stevia, the least processed form of stevia.

Remember…If you are diabetic or have any symptoms that suggest you may be diabetic, have a heart problem, cancer, or any disease, sugar, among other things, can make matters worse. Additionally, sugar can cause liver problems (NAFLD) and obesity.

Consuming a diet rich in nutrients and less sugar can offer amazing benefits to your health.

If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. 

Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health. The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107, Frederick.

Check out the website at www.doctorlo.com.

Let us help you make positive changes in your diet by limiting sugar and adding nutrient-rich foods.

Uric Acid

A Key Player in Cardio, Brain, and Metabolic Diseases

by Dr. Thomas K. Lo, Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center

Uric acid is a natural waste product in your blood that helps to break down purines. Purines are chemicals created in your body and are also found in certain foods and drinks. Once uric acid dissolves in your blood, it moves through your kidneys and leaves your body through urine. However, if your body cannot remove all excess uric acid, it can lead to a buildup, causing high uric acid levels called hyperuricemia.

Hyperuricemia is a condition that refers to too much uric acid remaining in the body. It may lead to crystals formation, causing gout when settling in your joints or kidney stones when settling in your kidneys.

If left untreated, high uric acid levels may cause kidney damage, bone and joint issues, tissue damage, or heart disease.

In a healthy body, most uric acid will dissolve in your blood, move through your kidneys, and get removed through the urine.

Also, foods high in uric acid and certain health issues, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and fatty liver disease may lead to too much uric acid staying in your body. Foods higher in uric acid include salmon, shrimp, sardines, lobsters, mackerel, anchovies and some other seafood, red meat, liver and other organ meats, dried beans, peas, alcohol, and food and drinks made with high fructose corn syrup.

Fructose and Uric Acid

Fructose is a monosaccharide, which is a type of sugar. Fructose mainly occurs in fruits; however, honey, sugar cane, sugar beet, and many vegetables also contain fructose.

When your body breaks down fructose, it releases purines and to break down purines, your body releases uric acid. If you consume too much fructose, it will lead to increased purine and then uric acid is released. Your body may not be able to keep up, which may cause high uric acid levels.

How to Reduce Uric Acid Levels

High uric acid levels have been linked to a long list of health issues. The good news is that you can reduce your uric acid levels with the help of some natural support strategies. The following are some natural support strategies.

Reduce Alcohol, Sugar, and Fructose Intake

Drinking too much alcohol and consuming food and drinks with too much sugar and fructose may increase the risk of high uric acid and related health issues.

Lowering your intake of sugar, fructose, and alcohol may also reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, and other health issues that are connected to high uric acid.

It is recommended to reduce your intake of refined sugar and fructose, which should only come from low-glycemic index fruits and vegetables.

Consider Lowering Purines

Eating foods high in purine may lead to high uric acid levels and recurrent gout attacks.

A 2019 review published in Nutrients has found that a low-purine diet may help to reduce uric acid levels, gout, and cardiovascular risk factors.

Foods higher in purines are salmon, shrimp, sardines, lobsters, mackerel, anchovies and some other seafood, red meat, liver and other organ meats, dried beans, peas, alcohol, and food and drinks made with high fructose corn syrup.

Switch to a low-purine whole foods diet rich in greens, vegetables, sprouts, herbs, spices, fermented foods, healthy fats, such as avocados, coconut oil, pasture-raised butter and ghee, olives, and extra virgin olive oil, and low-purine protein sources, such as grass-fed eggs and poultry, cold-water fish, such as tuna, and nuts
and seeds.

Regular Exercise

Regular movement and exercise may also help to reduce your uric acid levels.

According to a 2015 study published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, an inactive lifestyle may be linked to high uric acid levels. However, being active helped to decrease uric acid levels and mortality.

A 2021 study published in Frontiers in Endocrinology (Lausanne) has found that moderate exercise offers the optimal benefits for reducing uric acid levels compared to low-level exercise or no exercise at all.

A 2015 study published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine has found that strenuous exercise and over exercising and undereating causing ‘starvation’ can increase uric acid and trigger gout.

Aim for long-term sustainable changes with regular moderate exercise and daily movement combined with a healthy diet and other healthy lifestyle choices.

Good Hydration

Healthy kidney function is critical for removing excess uric acid from your body. Good hydration can support kidney function and may improve uric acid levels and the risk of gout.

Drink water throughout the day, about 8 oz. every hour.

Optimize Vitamin D Levels

Vitamin D is an essential vitamin for your bone, muscle, immune system, brain, and overall health. Improving your vitamin D may help to reduce uric acid levels.

A 2020 study published in Frontiers in Nutrition has found a link between vitamin D levels and hyperuricemia. Researchers found that low vitamin D levels may be associated with high uric acid, and vitamin D supplementation may help to improve uric acid levels.

Pairing vitamin D3 with vitamin K2 helps improve calcium absorption and inflammation control.

Optimize Zinc Levels

Zinc is a critical mineral for your immune system and overall health. Zinc deficiency may increase your risk of high uric acid.

A 2020 study published in the International Journal of Fertility and Sterility has found that zinc supplementation may help to restore healthy uric acid levels.

Eat plenty of foods that are rich in zinc, such as poultry, eggs, dairy, seeds, nuts, legumes, sweet potatoes, quinoa, and green leafy vegetables.

Some of these foods are higher in purines so monitor which ones are best for you.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C may also help with uric acid level.

A 2009 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine has found that higher vitamin C intake may be linked to lower uric acid levels.

Eating foods rich in vitamin C, such as lemon, lime, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts help you get your daily RDA of vitamin C.

Green Tea

Green tea is a healthy choice. It is full of antioxidants and potential health benefits, including fat burning, weight loss, improved cognition, better blood sugar balance, and longevity.

A 2015 animal study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology has found that green tea polyphenols may help to reduce uric acid levels.

Tart Cherry

Tart cherries are full of nutrients and have many health benefits, including muscle health, improved sleep, improved immune health, and less joint pain.

They may also help with reducing your uric acid levels. You may benefit from drinking tart cherry juice (no sugar added) if you have high uric acid levels or gout.

If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health. The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107, Frederick, MD. Check out the website at www.doctorlo.com.

by Dr. Thomas K. Lo, Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center

Long COVID

Understanding the Post-Pandemic Health Issues in America

Although the pandemic is officially over, there are still several post-pandemic factors affecting the health of Americans.

Long COVID is the name researchers have given the most prevalent of these factors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Long COVID can include a wide range of ongoing health problems; these conditions can last weeks, months, or even years.

At least 65 million individuals worldwide are estimated to have Long COVID, with cases increasing daily.

What is Long COVID?

Long COVID is a variety of symptoms, in any combination or individually, that linger after being exposed to the COVID virus.

Patients with Long COVID report prolonged, multisystem involvement and significant disability. By seven months, many patients have not yet recovered and have not returned to previous levels of work. They continue to experience significant symptom burden.

You can get Long COVID even though you were not sick with the virus. In some cases, a person with Long COVID may not have tested positive for the virus or even known they were exposed.

Some Long COVID sufferers only contact with the virus is from the vaccination. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that getting vaccinated only lowers your chance of getting Long COVID by 15 percent.

Spike Protein & Long COVID

The coronavirus has one very important component: a spike protein. It’s the key player responsible for how the virus enters your body’s cells.

The spike protein is like a tiny, spiky club on the surface of the virus. It attaches to receptors on your cells, like a lock and key. Once it’s in, it tricks your cells into letting the virus inside, where it starts multiplying and causing all sorts of trouble.

Researchers believe that spike protein may be a major contributing factor in Long COVID.

How Does This Work?

When your immune system fights off the virus, it can leave behind fragments of the spike protein. These lingering bits can confuse your immune system, causing it to go haywire.

Your immune system might attack not only the spike protein but also your own healthy cells. This “friendly fire” can lead to inflammation, fatigue, and a host of other symptoms that define Long COVID.

It’s like your body’s soldiers going rogue, causing chaos long after the battle is over.

In a nutshell, the spike protein is the sneaky entry ticket for the coronavirus, and its remnants might be the culprits behind Long COVID’s mysterious and long-lasting symptoms.

Long COVID Symptoms

The most troubling part of Long COVID is that there is a wide variety of possible symptoms. This makes it hard to diagnose. According to the CDC, Long COVID includes more than 200 symptoms that can impact multiple organ systems.

General Symptoms

Tiredness or fatigue that interferes with daily life.

Symptoms that get worse after physical or mental effort.

Fever.

Respiratory and Heart Symptoms

Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.

Cough.

Chest pain.

Fast-breathing or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations).

Neurological Symptoms

Difficulty thinking or concentrating (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”).

Headaches.

Sleep problems.

Dizziness when you stand up (lightheadedness).

Pins-and-needles feeling.

Change in smell or taste.

Depression or anxiety.

Digestive Symptoms

Diarrhea.

Stomach pain.

Other Symptoms

Joint or muscle pain.

Rash.

Changes in menstrual cycles.

Clues That You Might Have Long COVID

Persistence of Symptoms

One of the primary indicators of Long COVID is the persistence of symptoms for weeks or even months after the initial exposure to the COVID-19 virus.

Common symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, joint pain, and cognitive issues. These symptoms can significantly impact one’s daily life and should not be dismissed as mere post-viral fatigue.

Variety of Symptoms

Long COVID is often characterized by a wide range of symptoms that can affect different systems in the body. These may include respiratory, cardiovascular, neurological, gastrointestinal, and psychological symptoms. The combination of symptoms can vary from person to person.

Diagnosis by Exclusion

Sometimes figuring this out takes a while and requires a process of elimination. If tests show no other underlying medical condition, and you’ve had exposure to the virus in some form, Long COVID becomes a more likely answer.

Impact on Quality of Life

Long COVID can have a profound impact on your quality of life, affecting your ability to work, exercise, socialize, and perform everyday tasks.

If you notice that your life has been significantly disrupted by persistent symptoms, it’s crucial to seek effective help.

If you suspect you have Long COVID, it’s essential to consult a knowledgeable healthcare provider who is familiar with this condition and how to handle it.

They can help manage your symptoms, offer guidance on effective remedies, and provide support.

Research on Long COVID is ongoing, and healthcare professionals are continually learning more about its underlying mechanisms and potential solutions.

Natural Solutions for COVID Long-Haulers

Because Long COVID has so many different symptoms, and it can manifest differently for everyone, knowing what natural solutions to choose can be tricky.

Nutrition and Diet

Since the pandemic, scientists, doctors, and even government officials have made it clear that nutrition is key to a healthy immune system. The Food is Medicine movement is gaining support from many prestigious institutions, including the federal government.

What you eat is a core factor in addressing Long COVID. Nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables provide building blocks for the immune system. A well-balanced diet ensures that the immune system can effectively recognize and combat pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, and other invaders such as spike proteins.

On the flip side, a poor diet, high in sugar, processed foods, and unhealthy fats, can weaken the immune system’s defenses, making the body more susceptible to infections.

Therefore, a nutritious diet that has the right components for your body’s needs plays a crucial role in bolstering your natural defense mechanisms and promoting overall health and well-being.

Natural Supplements

A study published in the Journal of Molecular Sciences lists these supplements as useful for people with Long COVID:

Echinacea

Andrographis

Artemesia

Resveratrol

Turmeric with Black Pepper

Prebiotics and probiotics

Personalized Nutrition Plans

Studies have shown conclusively that every person’s body is unique and responds differently to foods, vitamins, and minerals. This is why fad diets don’t work for everyone and taking random supplements is often not successful.

The most successful approach is to work with a Nutrition Response Testing® practitioner. They can test you to find out exactly which symptoms to target first, and what nutrients your body needs to help it heal.

Once they have the roadmap of the nutrients you need, they will put together a clinically designed nutrition plan that addresses your specific situation. They also have access to specialized training and nutritional supplements to effectively address Long COVID.

Understanding the role of spike proteins in COVID-19 and their potential connection to Long COVID sheds light on the complexities of this post-pandemic syndrome. The spike protein serves as the gateway for the virus, highlighting its significance in both infection and vaccination.

If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health. The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107 in Frederick. Check out the website at www.doctorlo.com.

What Is Calcium & Why   Do We Need It?

by Dr. Thomas K. Lo, Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center

Calcium is a mineral your body needs to build and maintain strong bones and to carry out many important functions. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body.

Almost all calcium in the body is stored in bones and teeth, giving them structure and hardness.

Your body also needs calcium for muscles to move and for nerves to carry messages between your brain and every part of your body. It also helps blood vessels move blood throughout your body and helps release hormones that affect many functions in your body.

Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium.

What Foods Provide Calcium?

Calcium is found in many foods. You can get the recommended amounts of calcium by eating a variety of foods, including the following:

    Milk, yogurt, and cheese are the main food sources of calcium for most people in the United States.

    Canned sardines and salmon with bones contain calcium.

    Certain vegetables such as kale, broccoli, Bok choy, collard greens, dandelion greens, arugula, watercress, spinach, okra, scallions, leeks, zucchini, cucumber, Brussels sprouts, celery, green beans, lettuce, squash, and onions also contain calcium.

    Calcium is added to some beverages, including milk substitutes such as soy and almond beverages, as well as some brands of tofu and ready-to-eat cereals. To find out whether these foods have calcium added, check the product labels.

    Most grains (such as bread, pasta, and unfortified cereal) do not have high amounts of calcium.

Types of Calcium Dietary Supplements

The two main forms of calcium in dietary supplements are calcium carbonate and calcium citrate. Calcium carbonate is absorbed best when taken with food.

Calcium citrate is absorbed well on an empty stomach or a full stomach. People with low levels of stomach acid—a condition most common in older people—absorb calcium citrate more easily than calcium carbonate.

Other forms of calcium in supplements and fortified foods include calcium sulfate, calcium ascorbate, calcium microcrystalline hydroxyapatite, calcium gluconate, calcium lactate, and calcium phosphate.

Calcium is absorbed best when you take 500 mg or less at one time. If you take 1,000 mg/day of calcium from supplements, for example, it is better to take a smaller dose twice a day than to take it all at once.

Calcium supplements might cause gas, bloating, and constipation in some people. If you have any of these symptoms, try spreading out the calcium dose throughout the day, taking the supplement with meals, or switching the form of calcium you take.

Do You Get Enough Calcium?

Many people in the United States get less than recommended amounts of calcium from food and supplements, especially: Children and teens (ages 4 to 18 years); people who are Black or Asian; and adults aged 50 and older and living in poverty.

Certain groups of people are more likely than others to have trouble getting enough calcium, including:

Postmenopausal women. The body absorbs and retains less calcium after menopause. Over time, this can lead to fragile bones.

People who don’t eat dairy products. Dairy products are rich sources of calcium, but people with lactose intolerance, people with milk allergies, and vegans (people who don’t consume any animal products) must find other sources of calcium. Options include lactose-free or reduced-lactose dairy products; canned fish with bones; certain vegetables, and milk substitutes such as soy and almond beverages, tofu, and ready-to-eat cereals; and dietary supplements that contain calcium.

What Happens If I Don’t Get Enough Calcium?

Getting too little calcium can cause several conditions, including the following:

     Osteoporosis, which causes weak, fragile bones and increases the risk of falls and fractures (broken bones).

     Rickets, a disease in children that causes soft, weak bones.

     Fatigue due to your cells being undernourished.

     Poor oral health due to the teeth being more susceptible to decay and loosening and possibly even periodontal disease.

Muscle pain and spasms. Calcium is needed to help our muscles function properly. Specifically, it helps them to contract and relax.

     Numbness and tingling in the fingers. Calcium plays a vital role in many parts of the central nervous system. If we are deficient, we may see those nerves impacted, particularly in our extremities (hands, finger, feet and toes).

     Abnormal heart rhythm could be a sign of severe calcium deficiency.

What Are Some Effects of Calcium On Health?

Scientists are studying calcium to understand how it affects health. Here are several examples of what this research has shown.

After about age 30, bones slowly lose calcium. In middle age, bone loss speeds up and can lead to weak, fragile bones (osteoporosis) and broken bones. Although bone loss is more common in women, it can affect men too.

The health of your bones is measured with a bone mineral density test, which will tell whether your bones are healthy and strong or weak and thin. Some studies have found that calcium supplements with vitamin D may increase bone mineral density in older adults.

   Some research shows that people who have high intakes of calcium from food and supplements have a lower risk of cancers of the colon and rectum. Some studies have shown that men with high intakes of calcium from dairy foods have an increased risk of prostate cancer. For other types of cancer, calcium does not appear to affect the risk of getting cancer or dying of cancer.

Preeclampsia is a serious complication of late pregnancy. Symptoms include high blood pressure and high levels of protein in the urine. Calcium supplements might reduce the risk of preeclampsia in some pregnant women who consume too little calcium.

Metabolic syndrome is a serious medical condition that increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

You have metabolic syndrome if you have three or more of the following:

A large waistline;

High blood levels of fat (triglycerides);

Low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (good cholesterol);

     High blood pressure;

     High blood sugar levels;

Some research suggests that a higher intake of calcium might help lower the risk of metabolic syndrome in women but not men.

Does Calcium Interact With Medications or Other Dietary Supplements?

   Calcium dietary supplements can interact or interfere with certain medicines, and some medicines can lower calcium levels in your body.

Tell your healthcare provider about any dietary supplements and prescriptions or over-the-counter medicines you take. They can tell you if the dietary supplements might interact with your medicines, or if the medicines might interfere with how your body absorbs, uses, or breaks down nutrients such as calcium.

Calcium and Healthy Eating

People should get most of their nutrients from food and beverages, according to the federal government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Foods contain vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and other components that benefit health. In some cases, fortified foods and dietary supplements are useful when it is not possible to meet needs for one or more nutrients.

If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health.

The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107, Frederick. Check out the website at doctorlo.com.

Source: Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS).

What Is Osteoporosis?

by Dr. Thomas K. Lo, Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center

Osteoporosis occurs when too much bone mass is lost, and changes occur in the structure of bone tissue. Certain risk factors may lead to the development of osteoporosis or increase the likelihood that you will develop the disease.

Many people with osteoporosis have several risk factors, but others who develop osteoporosis may not have any specific risk factors. There are some risk factors that you cannot change, and others that you may be able to change.

By understanding the risk factors, you may be able to prevent osteoporosis and fractures.

Factors That May Increase Your Risk

Your chances of developing osteoporosis are greater if you are a woman. Women tend to have lower peak bone mass and smaller bones than men. However, men are still at risk, especially after the age of 70.

As you age, bone loss happens more quickly, and new bone growth is slower. Over time, your bones can weaken and your risk for osteoporosis increases.

Slender, thin-boned women and men are at greater risk to develop osteoporosis because they have less bone to lose compared to larger boned women and men.

White and Asian women are at highest risk. African American and Mexican American women have a lower risk. White men are at higher risk than African American and Mexican American men.

Changes to hormones and low levels of certain hormones can increase your chances of developing osteoporosis. For example, low estrogen levels in women after menopause. Men with conditions that cause low testosterone are at risk for osteoporosis, however, the gradual decrease of testosterone with aging is not a major reason for loss of bone.

Diet may also be a reason. Beginning in childhood and into old age, a diet low in calcium and vitamin D can increase your risk for osteoporosis and fractures. Also, excessive dieting or poor protein intake may increase your risk for bone loss and osteoporosis.

Long-term use of certain medications may make you more likely to develop bone loss and osteoporosis, such as glucocorticoids and adrenocorticotropic hormone, which treat various conditions, such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Antiepileptic medicines, which treat seizures and other neurological disorders. Cancer medications, which use hormones to treat breast and prostate cancer. Proton pump inhibitors, which lower stomach acid. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which treat depression and anxiety. Thiazolidinediones, which treats type II diabetes.

Lifestyle factors that may contribute to bone loss include low levels of physical activity and prolonged periods of inactivity can contribute to increased rate of bone loss. They also leave you in poor physical condition, which can increase your risk of falling and breaking a bone.

Chronic heavy drinking of alcohol is a significant risk factor for osteoporosis.

Natural Strategies to Help Prevent and Treat Osteoporosis

The following are safe and effective natural strategies to reduce the risk of fracture, support healthy bone mineral density, bone strength and structural integrity.

An Anti-Inflammatory Healing Diet   

Foods to avoid would be foods associated with inflammation in the bones, so it is critical to avoid highly inflammatory foods which include refined sugars and grains, and any foods that are easily metabolized into sugar (high glycemic foods). These foods upregulate inflammation and create extra acidity in the tissues.

It is best to avoid sodas. In addition to sugar, most sodas have a high phosphoric acid content which can remove calcium from the bones. Drinks and foods with high levels of caffeine can also interfere with calcium absorption.

Meat and dairy from conventionally raised animals, farmed fish, processed foods and highly processed vegetable oils, such as canola, peanut, cottonseed, soy and safflower, promote inflammation and should be eliminated.

Foods to Include

The foods you should be eating on an anti-inflammatory, healing diet are whole, unprocessed foods. Choose grass-fed, pasture-raised, wild-caught meats and fish. Eat lower carbohydrate, low glycemic, colorful vegetables and fruits for their abundant antioxidants and phytonutrients. Plentiful amounts of herbs are also helpful to use on a healing diet.

Healthy fats are also an important part of a healing diet. Healthy fats are found in coconut, olives, avocados, and their oils and in grass-fed butter and ghee. Omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) found in wild caught salmon and grass-fed beef and dairy are fats with many bone health benefits.

Foods to Boost Bone Density

Along with a healing diet, you can include foods that can boost bone density. Raw cultured dairy, such as kefir, yogurt, and raw cheese, contain calcium, magnesium, vitamins D and K, and phosphorus, all of which help build strong bones.

Sea vegetables and green leafy vegetables also contain vitamins and minerals that are critical for bone formation and bone strength. Foods rich in omega-3 fats, such as wild-caught salmon and sardines, walnuts, and certain seeds, help reduce inflammation.

Weight-Bearing Exercise

Exercise is critical for both maintaining bone health and preventing fractures.

Weight-bearing exercise has been shown to have positive effects on bone loss by increasing bone formation and decreasing bone reabsorption. Weight-bearing exercise is any exercise that requires your bones and muscles to support your body weight.

Examples are weight lifting, running, walking, dancing, and tennis. It is important to do weight-bearing exercises at least 3-4 times per week for 30-60 minutes per time.

Incorporating balance exercises, such as Tai Chi, into your exercise regimen is important for reducing the overall risk of falling and being injured.

Calcium

Calcium is a major building block of bone tissue. In fact, 99 percent of our body’s calcium stores are housed in our bones. Consuming optimal amounts of calcium from food or supplementation is critical to prevent and treat osteoporosis.

Calcium is best obtained from foods in your diet. Dairy products (preferably raw, grass-fed, organic dairy products) are the most readily available sources of calcium. Dairy products also contain protein and other micronutrients important for bone health. Other calcium-rich foods include fish with soft, edible bones (such as sardines), green vegetables (broccoli, curly kale and Bok choy), and nuts (Brazil nuts and almonds).

Zinc and Magnesium

Both zinc and magnesium are important for bone health and for supporting the immune system.

Zinc is a mineral required for bone tissue renewal and mineralization. Foods high in zinc include pasture-raised chicken and eggs, grass-fed beef and dairy, spinach, and wild-caught salmon. Nuts and seeds such as cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and watermelon seeds are also high in zinc.

Magnesium is a crucial nutrient that supports over 300 physiological processes or functions in the body. It is referred to as the “master mineral” and plays an important role in forming bone. Magnesium is critical to all aspects of vitamin D and calcium metabolism.

The top food sources of magnesium are leafy greens such as Swiss chard and spinach, sea vegetables, sprouts, and avocados. Grass-fed dairy and wild-caught fish are rich in magnesium. Pumpkin seeds, nuts, dark chocolate, and coffee are also good sources of magnesium.

Vitamins D and K2

Vitamin D3 and vitamin K2 work synergistically to promote bone health and reduce the incidences of fractures.  These nutrients work together to help guide calcium into the bone tissue and prevent it from accumulating in places such as the arteries.

There are numerous animal-based food sources of vitamin D3. Whole food sources of vitamin D are much healthier options than foods fortified with vitamin D. The best dietary sources of vitamin D are wild-caught salmon and fatty fish, cod liver oil, grass-fed butter and raw cheese, egg yolks, mushrooms, and beef liver.

Vitamin K2 is an important nutrient that plays a role in many bone metabolisms. Getting enough vitamin K in your diet is key to maintaining healthy bones and protecting against fractures.

Vitamin K2 is needed to form a bone-building protein called osteocalcin. Osteocalcin is a necessary protein for maintaining calcium homeostasis in bone tissue. It works with osteoblast cells to build healthy bone tissue. When we are deficient in vitamin K2, osteocalcin production is inhibited which reduces calcium flow into bone tissue. This can lead to osteopenia and osteoporosis.

Foods rich in vitamin K2 are meat, dairy, fermented foods, and natto. Vitamin K2 is also produced by the beneficial bacteria in your gut.

The combination of vitamins D3 and K2 enhances osteocalcin accumulation in bone cells greater than either nutrient alone. Increased osteocalcin formation significantly improves bone mineral density.

Stress Reduction

There is a relationship between stress and osteoporosis. Increased stress hormones wreak havoc on the body, including the bones.

Stress induces physiological changes leading to osteoporosis. Stress also induces behaviors that may lead to osteoporosis such as distorted eating patterns, drinking alcohol, lack of exercise, and poor sleep habits.

It is critical to take steps to reduce stress and lower elevated cortisol levels daily.

Other powerful techniques are grounding, deep breathing exercises, sunlight exposure, and Epsom salt baths. Practice these stress reduction strategies daily to reduce stress and protect your bones from the effects of stress.

Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the body that regulates circadian rhythm. As we age, our melatonin levels decrease, which may lead to imbalanced bone remodeling.

Recent studies have shown that melatonin may have a positive effect on the skeleton. Melatonin was shown to increase bone mineral density after one year of treatment in a study of postmenopausal women with osteopenia. Melatonin can be taken as a supplement; however, it is possible to promote your body’s own ability to make it as necessary. The best way to support your own production is to try and control your light exposure to match sunrise and sunset.

If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health. The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107, Frederick, MD. Check out the website at www.doctorlo.com.

Source: Natural Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases; Drjockers.com.

Heart Inflammation:

What Are the Risk Factors?

by Dr. Thomas K. Lo, Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center

You may have an increased risk for heart inflammation such as endocarditis, myocarditis, and pericarditis because of your age, sex, genetics, lifestyle, or medical conditions, autoimmune disease, certain medicines, and the environment.

 Age

Different age groups are at risk for different types of heart inflammation.

Although they can affect all ages, myocarditis and pericarditis occur more often in young adults. Pericarditis also commonly affects middle-aged adults.

Older adults are more at risk for endocarditis, caused by bacteria. In recent years, age-related heart valve infections have been on the rise.

Sex

Heart inflammation from endocarditis, myocarditis, and pericarditis is more common in men than in women, except when caused by autoimmune diseases, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, which are more common in women.

Endocarditis and pericarditis occur twice as often in men as in women.

Genetics

Genetics play a role in the risk of developing all three types of heart inflammation. Your genes may be partly responsible for how your body responds to infection and inflammation and whether you develop myocarditis or pericarditis.

People who have structural or congenital heart defects, such as problems with the heart valves, may be at higher risk for infection that can cause endocarditis.

Certain inherited conditions can affect your risk for heart inflammation. For example, you may be at higher risk for myocarditis and pericarditis if you have familial Mediterranean fever or tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated periodic syndrome (TRAPS). These rare conditions that affect how the body controls inflammation.

Lifestyle Choices

Certain lifestyle choices raise your risk for endocarditis or myocarditis. 

These include drinking too much alcohol, which may cause inflammation of the myocardium and could lead to reduced heart function and heart failure.

Drug use, such as cocaine and amphetamines and intravenous drug use, may raise your risk for endocarditis.

Poor dental health increases the risk for bacterial endocarditis.

Medical Conditions

Some medical conditions can increase your risk of endocarditis, myocarditis, or pericarditis.

Some cancers, such as advanced lung and breast cancer or lymphoma, as well as some of the medicines used to treat these cancers, may cause myocarditis or pericarditis.

Diabetes can make you more likely to develop infections.

End-stage kidney disease can be a possible cause due to the buildup of waste products in the blood.

HIV/AIDS may lead to myocarditis from a number of reasons, including viral, bacterial, or a fungal infection.

Trauma or injury to the chest or esophagus may also lead to heart inflammation, as well as indirect injury to the chest wall.

Other Reasons

Heart inflammation may also be caused by infections, particularly from viral, bacterial, or fungal infections.

Viral infections are the most common cause of myocarditis and pericarditis. They may infect the heart muscle tissue, causing acute or chronic immune responses from the body.

Bacteria are the most common cause of endocarditis, which occurs when bacteria and blood cells form clumps, typically on the heart valves. Staphylococcus aureus is the most common type of bacteria that causes endocarditis. Bacteria can enter the blood during invasive medical procedures or intravenous drug use. Pericarditis caused by bacteria is rare in the United States and other developed countries.

Fungi are rare causes of myocarditis and pericarditis. Most commonly, fungal endocarditis is caused by either Candida or Aspergillus. These infections are more common in immunosuppressed patients, including those who have HIV.

Autoimmune Diseases

Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus erythematosus may cause pericarditis or myocarditis. They can also damage the heart valves, which can lead to endocarditis.

Medicines

Medicines can cause side effects that may lead to myocarditis, pericarditis, or both. These medicines include antibiotics, antidepressants, benzodiazepines, diuretic, heart medication, psychiatric, seizure, vaccines and weight-loss medication.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors that may cause myocarditis include heavy metals and radiation.

Healthy Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes can be helpful. Some suggestions include avoiding amphetamines, cocaine, or IV drugs and maintaining good dental hygiene.

Foods you may want to avoid because they are inflammatory include fried foods, processed meat, alcohol, refined carbohydrates, artificial sweeteners, vegetable oil and high fructose corn syrup.

   Some of the best anti-inflammatory foods are fatty fish, olives, turmeric, berries, avocados, leafy greens, green tea, cruciferous vegetables, coconut oil, mushrooms and bone broth.

   Here is a breakdown of some anti-inflammatory foods you may want to include during your day.

Fruits like, peaches, pineapple, mangoes, apples, berries, pears and oranges.

Vegetables like, broccoli, kale, spinach, zucchini, squash, sweet potatoes, spinach, watercress, tomatoes and garlic,

Nuts and Seeds like pistachios, macadamia nuts, almonds, chia seeds, flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds.

Legumes like black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, navy beans and peas.

Whole Grains like quinoa, couscous, millet, buckwheat and barley.

Proteins like salmon, chicken, turkey and eggs.

Healthy Fats like coconut oil, olive oil, ghee, grass-fed butter and avocados.

Herbs and Spices like turmeric, black pepper, rosemary, basil, oregano, cayenne pepper and dill.

If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health. The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107, Frederick, MD. Check out the website at www.doctorlo.com.

by Dr. Thomas K. Lo, Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center

 A peptic ulcer is a sore on the lining of your stomach or duodenum (the first part of the small intestine immediately beyond the stomach). Peptic ulcers are also called stomach ulcers, duodenal ulcers, or peptic ulcer disease.

Researchers estimate about 1-6 percent of people in the United States have peptic ulcers.

What Causes Ulcers?

People are more likely to develop peptic ulcers if they are infected with the bacteria Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), which may spread from person to person through contact with an infected person’s vomit, stool, or saliva.

People who are taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, are also more likely to develop ulcers.

NSAIDs relieve pain, but they also make the stomach lining more prone to damage and ulcers. You have a higher chance of developing a peptic ulcer due to the NSAIDs you take, and the chance goes higher if you take them over a prolonged amount of time, take high doses of them, if you take them along with other medicines that increase the risk for ulcers, and if you are already infected with H. pylori.

Those are the two most common causes of peptic ulcers. Other reasons can be if you are an older adult or someone who smokes. 

Other possible reasons are infections caused by certain viruses; fungi or bacteria other than H. pylori; medicines that increase the risk of developing ulcers, including corticosteroids; medicines used to treat low bone mass; and some antidepressants, especially when you take these medicines with NSAIDs, and if you have surgical or medical procedures that affect the stomach or duodenum.

What Are the Complications of Peptic Ulcers?

Peptic ulcers can lead to complications such as bleeding in your stomach or duodenum, a perforation, or hole, in the wall of your stomach or duodenum, which can lead to peritonitis (an infection of the lining of the abdominal cavity); the ulcer may also penetrate through the stomach or duodenum and into another nearby organ.

Symptoms

Peptic ulcers may cause symptoms of indigestion, pain or discomfort in the upper part of your abdomen (anywhere between your belly button and breastbone), feeling full too soon while eating a meal, feeling uncomfortably full after eating a meal, nausea, vomiting, bloating, and belching.

Abdominal pain is the most common symptom of a peptic ulcer. The pain may be dull or burning and may come and go over time. For some people, the pain may occur when the stomach is empty or at night, and it may go away for a short time after they eat. For other people, eating may make the pain worse. In addition, many people who have peptic ulcers do not develop any symptoms until an ulcer leads to complications.

Some known complications could be black or tarry stool, or red/maroon blood mixed with your stool; red blood in your vomit or vomit that looks like coffee grounds; sudden, sharp, or severe abdominal pain that doesn’t go away; feeling dizzy or fainting; a rapid pulse; or other symptoms of shock.

Natural strategies for support

While stomach and duodenal ulcers can be quite a challenge to live with, the good news is that, overtime, sometimes you can help them heal naturally. The following are some nutrients and compounds to use to support the healing process. While these are not FDA approved to prevent, mitigate, treat, or cure ulcers, some people have seen results by applying these strategies.

Liquid Nutrition & Fasting

Fasting and liquid nutrition can be critical in the healing process.

Eating solid foods cause wear and tear and may hinder ulcers from healing. Liquid nutrition in the form of smoothies, broth, juices, and so forth, can provide key nutrients to support healing without the irritation.

Using liquid nutrition in the form of smoothies, protein shakes, bone broth, and juices will gently stimulate the digestive process. 

Intermittent Fasting can be a great starting point for reducing stress on the gut. Intermittent fasting is going for longer periods of time without eating, which naturally confines eating to a smaller window of time. It allows your gut to heal while reducing inflammation.

Reduce Stress

When the body is under stress, digestion is not prioritized. This results in under-production of stomach acid and enzymes. Digestive juices provide a protective role in sterilizing the food we eat, which maintains the optional balance in the microbiome.

Eating while chronically stressed slows down bowel motility, causing food to remain in the small intestines and the colon longer than necessary. This promotes bacterial growth and inflammation. The overgrowth of bacteria then produces toxins that enter the bloodstream, which causes more inflammation throughout the body.

Treat H Pylori

H pylori is an opportunistic bacterium that will infect and spread rapidly in people with a compromised immune system. Although this bacterium is natural and beneficial in small amounts, it can be very dangerous when allowed to propagate without control.

The secretion of mucus protects the stomach lining from irritation by food and microorganisms. H. pylori reduces the stomach’s ability to produce mucus and irritates the stomach lining. Inflammation is created and irritation becomes so severe that pain receptors fire off. This is how stomach ulcers are formed.

Ginger

Ginger is frequently used to improve the digestive process. Nine different substances have been found within ginger that stimulates serotonin receptors in the gut, which provides enhanced benefits to the gastrointestinal system.  

The stimulation of these serotonin receptors enhances bowel motility and helps to reduce gut-related inflammation. Additionally, ginger has powerful anti-nausea benefits, which is very helpful for individuals with stomach ulcers, as nausea is a very common complaint.

Ginger has also been found to have a gastro-protective effect because it balances digestive juices, improves digestive function, and suppresses H. pylori.

Turmeric

Turmeric appears to have immense therapeutic ability, especially in preventing damage from H. pylori infections. It may also increase mucus secretion, protecting the stomach lining against irritants. As a supplement, curcumin is considered turmeric’s active compound, and it has been shown to help protect the stomach lining and aid in the healing of ulcers.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C plays a key role in healing and protection of the gastric mucosa from injury. The lower the levels of vitamin C in the blood, the more likely you are to be infected with H. pylori.

Vitamin C deficiency has been repeatedly linked with peptic ulcer disease and gastric cancer. Vitamin C plays a key role in protecting and healing the stomach and intestinal mucosa.

If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health.

The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107, Frederick, MD. Check out the website at www.doctorlo.com.

*Source: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK); Draxe.com.

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Gut Inflammation: Causes & Support Strategies|

by Dr. Thomas K. Lo, Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center

Your gut health affects your entire body. It affects your immune, brain, mental, and skin health. Gut inflammation also affects your energy levels and overall wellness. If you have gut inflammation and your gut health is compromised, you may start experiencing both gut health and non-gut health symptoms and health issues.

With natural support strategies, you can reduce gut inflammation and related symptoms.

What Is Gut Inflammation?

There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic inflammation. Acute inflammation (a sudden onset) is a healthy and normal response from your body to any injury, allergen, infection, or illness. If you fall off your bike and scrape your knee, your body will start to generate inflammation. You will notice some redness, swelling, bruising, or pain. If you catch a respiratory infection or have seasonal allergies, your body will try to fight it with acute inflammation. You may experience some congestion, a sore throat, sneezing, irritation, red eyes, or watery eyes.

An acute response will subside and disappear as you recover. Acute inflammation will only last a day, a few days, or a few weeks, depending on the cause and severity. It will not result in ongoing, long-term problems. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is long-term, low-grade inflammation without a single specific triggering event or clear cause. Poor dietary and lifestyle choices, environmental factors, chronic stress, poor sleep, and other factors can result in chronic inflammation.

Chronic inflammation means that your body is experiencing triggers all the time and reacting with inflammation on a constant basis. Chronic inflammation can lead to chronic symptoms and chronic health issues. In fact, chronic inflammation is one of the root causes of most major chronic diseases.

In this article, we will be talking about chronic inflammation affecting your gut. It means that your intestines become inflamed and are chronically inflamed. Chronic gut inflammation is also characterized by gut microbiome imbalance and an array of chronic gut health symptoms. Since your gut is connected to your entire body, chronic gut inflammation also increases the risk of chronic symptoms and health issues in other parts of your body.

Gut Inflammation Symptoms

Symptoms of gut inflammation may include, but is not limited to, abdominal pain or cramping, bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, mucus in stool, unusual stool (unusual color, texture, or smell), mixed bowel habits, feeling of incomplete bowel movements, blood in stool, loss of appetite, unintentional weight loss, weight gain, sugar cravings, low energy, and fatigue.

Gut inflammation may also result in non-gut-related symptoms, including, but not limited to, brain fog, headaches or migraines, skin issues, mouth sores, painful joints, allergies, redness or pain in the eyes, mental health issues, night sweats, menstrual changes, kidney stones, and fever.

Gut Inflammation & Leaky Gut Syndrome

Your gut is critical for the breakdown, digestion, and absorption of nutrients from your food for repair, growth, energy, health, and well-being. It is also important for protecting you from pathogens, like bad bacteria, fungi, parasites, and toxins in your gut. If you have leaky gut syndrome, your gut health is compromised and cannot do its job.

Leaky gut syndrome develops when your intestinal barrier becomes leaky. Under normal circumstances, your intestinal barrier has tiny holes in it. They are large enough to allow water and nutrients to pass through, but they are too small for invaders to enter your bloodstream. However, when due to chronic inflammation, a poor diet, poor lifestyle choices, toxin exposure, or chronic stress, these openings can become larger.

When these holes in your intestinal wall become too big, you develop leaky gut. This means that microbes, undigested food particles, and toxins can now escape into your bloodstream. While chronic inflammation is one of the underlying causes and triggers of leaky gut syndrome, leaky gut syndrome also feeds chronic inflammation, creating a vicious cycle.

Leaky gut syndrome can trigger chronic inflammation and an autoimmune reaction. It can result in digestive troubles, fatigue, brain fog, digestive troubles, skin problems, histamine intolerance, and autoimmunity. According to a 2019 study published in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), leaky gut syndrome may cause autoimmune disease, such as autoimmune diabetes mellitus.

Natural Support Strategies for Inflammation

Some support strategies include avoiding long-term use and overuse of certain medications, especially antibiotics, PPIs, NSAIDs, and SSRIs, if possible. Work with a practitioner to reduce the risk of gut inflammation and related symptoms.

A 2021 study published in BMJ found that eating a diet high in processed foods, processed sugar, alcohol, and processed animal foods were associated with increased intestinal inflammatory markers, gut inflammation, and gut microbiome imbalance

One of the best ways to support your gut health and reduce gut inflammation is following gut-friendly nutrition strategies. You can try an elimination diet.

Going on an elimination diet is the best strategy to find out what food sensitivities you may have. To start, take out the following food groups from your diet for two weeks: gluten, dairy, refined sugar, corn, soy, eggs, all grains, vegetable oils, shellfish, tree nuts, legumes, and nightshade vegetables. Make sure that you remove these foods completely. Eating just a bit of these triggering foods can cause symptoms and compromise your efforts.

After a two-week elimination period, introduce foods to your diet one by one. Eat new food for two to three days. Notice your symptoms. If you have symptoms, remove them. Add a new food, note your symptoms, and continue.

Reducing stress and optimizing your sleep can be very helpful. Taking a few deep breaths can reduce your stress levels immediately.

Practicing meditation, gratitude, and mindfulness can help you to learn how to respond to stress better and lower your stress levels. Time spent exercising is also a great way to calm your mind and reduce stress.

You can also use ginger because it improves your digestive juices.

Adding probiotic-rich foods in your diet, including sauerkraut, kimchi, fermented vegetables, coconut kefir, pickles, and kombucha is helpful.

Remember, gut inflammation can compromise your entire health. It can affect your immune, brain, mental, and skin health, energy levels, and overall wellness. It can lead to an array of health issues.

If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health. The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107 in Frederick. Check out the website at www.doctorlo.com.

*Source: Drjockers.com

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Vitamin C and the Possible Benefits For You

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble nutrient found in many foods. In the body, it acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are compounds formed when our bodies convert the food we eat into energy. People can also be exposed to free radicals in the environment from cigarette smoke, air pollution, car exhaust, etc.

The body also needs vitamin C to make collagen, a protein required to help wounds heal. In addition, vitamin C improves the absorption of iron from plant-based foods and helps the immune system work properly to protect the body from disease.

What Foods Provide Vitamin C?

Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of vitamin C. You can get the recommended amounts of vitamin C by eating a variety of foods, including citrus fruits (such as oranges and grapefruits), as well as red and green peppers and kiwifruit, which have a lot of vitamin C.

Other fruits and vegetables, such as broccoli, strawberries, cantaloupe, baked potatoes, Brussel sprouts, and tomatoes also have vitamin C.

The vitamin C content of food can be reduced by prolonged storage and by cooking. Steaming or microwaving may lessen cooking losses. Many of the best food sources of vitamin C, such as fruits and vegetables, can be eaten raw.

What Kinds of Vitamin C Dietary Supplements Are Available?

Most multivitamins have vitamin C. Vitamin C is also available alone as a dietary supplement or in combination with other nutrients. The vitamin C in dietary supplements is usually in the form of ascorbic acid, but some supplements have other forms, such as sodium ascorbate, calcium ascorbate, other mineral ascorbates, and ascorbic acid with bioflavonoids.

Am I Getting Enough Vitamin C?

Most people in the United States get enough vitamin C from the foods they eat. However, certain groups of people are more likely to have trouble getting enough vitamin C.

   People who smoke and those who are exposed to secondhand smoke, in part because smoke increases the amount of vitamin C that the body needs to repair damage caused by free radicals.

   Infants who are fed evaporated or boiled cow’s milk, because cow’s milk has very little vitamin C and heat can destroy vitamin C. Cow’s milk is not recommended for infants under 1 year of age. Breast milk and infant formula have adequate amounts of vitamin C.

   People who eat a limited variety of foods may also need additional Vitamin C added to their diet.

   People with certain medical conditions such as severe malabsorption, some types of cancer, and kidney disease, requiring hemodialysis, also need additional Vitamin C.

What Happens If I Don’t Get Enough Vitamin C?

Vitamin C deficiency is rare in the United States. People who get little or no vitamin C for many weeks can get scurvy. Scurvy causes fatigue, inflammation of the gums, small red or purple spots on the skin, joint pain, poor wound healing, and corkscrew hairs. Additional signs of scurvy include depression, as well as swollen, bleeding gums, and loosening or loss of teeth. People with scurvy can also develop anemia. Scurvy is fatal if it is not treated.

What Are Some of the Effects of Vitamin C On Health?

Scientists are studying vitamin C to understand how it affects health. Here are examples of what research has shown.

Cancer prevention and treatment.    People with high intakes of vitamin C from fruits and vegetables might have a lower risk of getting many types of cancer, such as lung, breast, and colon cancer. However, vitamin C supplements have not been proven to protect people from cancer.

It is not clear whether taking high doses of vitamin C is helpful as a treatment for cancer. Vitamin C’s effects appear to depend on how it is administered to the patient. Oral doses of vitamin C cannot raise blood levels of vitamin C nearly as high as intravenous doses. A few studies in animals and test tubes indicate that very high blood levels of vitamin C might shrink tumors. However, more research is needed to determine whether high-dose intravenous vitamin C helps treat cancer in people.

Cardiovascular disease. People who eat lots of fruits and vegetables seem to have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Researchers believe that the antioxidant content of these foods might be partly responsible for this association because oxidative damage is a major cause of cardiovascular disease.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts. AMD and cataracts are two of the leading causes of vision loss in older people. Researchers do not believe that vitamin C and other antioxidants affect the risk of getting AMD. However, research suggests that vitamin C, combined with other nutrients, might help slow AMD progression.

In a large study among older people with AMD who were at high risk of developing advanced AMD, those who took a daily dietary supplement with 500 mg vitamin C, 80 mg zinc, 400 IU vitamin E, 15 mg beta-carotene, and 2 mg copper for about six years had a lower chance of developing advanced AMD. They also had less vision loss than those who did not take the dietary supplement.

The relationship between vitamin C and cataract formation is unclear. Some studies show that people who get more vitamin C from foods have a lower risk of getting cataracts.

The common cold. It seems that people who take vitamin C supplements regularly might have slightly shorter colds or somewhat milder symptoms when they do have a cold.

Can Vitamin C Be Harmful?

Taking too much vitamin C can cause diarrhea, nausea, and stomach cramps. In people with a condition called hemochromatosis, which causes the body to store too much iron, high doses of vitamin C could worsen iron overload and damage body tissues.

The daily upper limits for vitamin C include intakes from all sources—food and supplements—and are: Birth to 12 months—not established; Children 1-3 years—400 mg; Children 4-8 years—650 mg; Children 9-13 years—1,200 mg; Teens 14-18 years —     1,800 mg; Adults—2,000 mg.

Does Vitamin C Interact With Medications or Other Dietary Supplements?

Vitamin C dietary supplements can interact or interfere with medicines that you take. Tell your doctor, pharmacist, and other health care providers about any dietary supplements and medicines you take. They can tell you if those dietary supplements might interact or interfere with your prescription or over-the-counter medicines or if the medicines might interfere with how your body absorbs, uses, or breaks down nutrients.

Vitamin C and Healthful Eating

People should get most of their nutrients from food and healthy beverages. Foods contain vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and other components that benefit health. In some cases, fortified foods and dietary supplements are useful when it is not possible to meet needs for one or more nutrients (for example, during specific life stages such as pregnancy).

*Source: Office of Dietary Suplements (ODS).

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Benefits of Cruciferous Vegetables

by Dr. Thomas K. Lo, Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center

What Are Cruciferous Vegetables?

Cruciferous vegetables are vegetables that belong to the Brassicaceae family of plants. These plants get their name from the New Latin word “Cruciferae,” which means cross-bearing, due to the cross-like shape of their flowers.

These vegetables are native to Europe, the Mediterranean, and the temperate regions of Asia, and now cultivated around the world.

Cruciferous vegetables are low in calories and packed with nutrients. Although the individual nutrition profiles can vary, cruciferous vegetables tend to be high in vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K, as well as dietary fiber.  

Which Vegetables Are Considered Cruciferous?

Here are some common cruciferous vegetables you may want to try: arugula, bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, garden cress, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, radishes, rutabaga, turnips, mustard, and watercress. 

Reasons to Eat Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables are packed with cancer-fighting properties. Not only are they high in antioxidants that can help neutralize cancer-causing free radicals, but they also contain compounds like glucosinolates and indole-3-carbinol, which have been shown to ward off cancer.

Multiple studies have shown an association between consumption of cruciferous vegetables and cancer prevention. For example, one review comprised of 94 studies reported that a higher intake of cruciferous vegetables was linked to a lower risk of lung, stomach, colon, and rectal cancer.

Inflammation is a normal immune response, designed to protect the body against illness and infection. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is believed to contribute to conditions like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Cruciferous vegetables top the charts as one of the best foods when it comes to relieving inflammation. One study in 2014 published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics showed that a higher intake of cruciferous vegetables was associated with up to a 25 percent reduction in markers of inflammation among 1,005 women.

Reducing inflammation can also benefit inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and asthma.

Cruciferous vegetables supply a good amount of dietary fiber in each serving. A half cup of cooked brussels sprouts, for example, contains two grams of fiber, knocking out up to nearly 10 percent of your daily fiber needs with just one serving.

Fiber slows the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream, preventing spikes and crashes in blood sugar. A 2016 study out of China found that a higher intake of cruciferous vegetables was associated with a significantly decreased risk of type 2 diabetes among 306,723 participants.

Cruciferous vegetables help promote weight loss, so load up your plate with them.

Since these vegetables are low in calories but high in fiber, they move slowly through the gastrointestinal tract, promoting satiety and warding off cravings. One 2009 study conducted at the Brigham Young University College of Health and Human Performance followed 252 women over a 20-month period and found that each gram of fiber consumed reduced body weight by half a pound and dropped body fat by 0.25 percent.

Another study published in PLOS ONE found that each serving of cruciferous vegetables was associated with 0.68 pounds of weight loss over a two-year period. It takes more than just adding a serving of cruciferous vegetables to your diet each day to reach your weight-loss goals. In addition, eat plenty of varieties of fresh fruits and veggies, minimize your intake of ultra-processed foods, and get in some exercise each week.

Cruciferous vegetables have also been shown to combat heart disease. Upping your intake is an easy way to help keep your heart stay healthy and strong.

Some studies have found that increasing your consumption of vegetables, in general, could decrease your risk of heart disease and heart problems. A massive study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition followed 134,796 adults over an average period of 10 years and found that a higher intake of vegetables—and especially cruciferous vegetables—was associated with a lower risk of death from heart disease.

Cruciferous vegetables may also improve your immunity against disease. In addition, their nutritional content is associated with a lower risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, asthma, and Alzheimer’s disease. Studies show these vegetables have antimicrobial properties that give your immune defenses a boost against sickness-causing pathogens. 

Estrogen is the primary female sex hormone responsible for regulating the reproductive system. However, too much estrogen can disrupt your balance of hormones and cause symptoms like bloating, irregular menstrual periods, a decreased sex drive, and headaches.

Researchers have found that there may be an association between cruciferous vegetables and estrogen levels. This is thanks to the presence of indole-3-carbinol, a compound, found in cruciferous vegetables, that helps regulate estrogen activity and metabolism. Because of this compound, filling up on cruciferous veggies may be able to help regulate estrogen levels to prevent adverse side effects.

Another way to help balance hormones is by eating enough healthy fats and making sure you get enough sleep at night.

Be Mindful

Despite the many health benefits of cruciferous vegetables, keep in mind a few possible side effects.

One common concern is the association between cruciferous vegetables and gas. The fiber found in these vegetables undergoes fermentation in the large intestine, which can cause excess flatulence. For this reason, it is best to increase fiber intake slowly, chew food thoroughly and pair with higher fluid intake.

There is also some concern about the relationship between cruciferous vegetables and thyroid problems. When eaten raw, the digestion of cruciferous vegetables in the intestines releases goitrogens, which can increase the need for iodine and can cause damage to the thyroid gland.

However, research shows that it would take a large amount of raw cruciferous vegetables to cause thyroid damage. If you do have thyroid issues, it is best to eat your cruciferous vegetables cooked and limit your intake to about one to two servings per day.

If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health. The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107, Frederick, MD. Check out the website at www.doctorlo.com.

by Dr. Thomas K. Lo, Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center

Recalled Foods & Why It’s Important to Know

Why It’s Important to Know What Foods Have Been Recalled

Real-time notices of recalls and public health alerts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which regulates beef, poultry, and processed egg products, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are listed at FoodSafety.gov. You can also get FDA and USDA recall information via the mobile app Food Recalls. To find a specific recall, you can scroll through all the items listed on the site or by category. You can also find information on the CDC website under foodborne outbreaks.

It is important that consumers be aware of recalls because recalled foods may cause injury or illness, especially for people who are pregnant or have weakened immune systems because of age, chronic illness, or medical treatment.

Recalls are very specific, meaning all information must match for a product to be considered part of a recall. If a product does not match all the information in the recall completely (brand, product name, use- or freeze-by date, EST number, etc.), then it is not considered part of the recall and is safe to use.

If the product details in the recall notice match the details on the food product you have at home, do not open or consume the product. You can return the product to the place of purchase for a refund, or you can dispose of the product following the instructions provided in the recall notice to make sure no one will consume it.

What is a Food Recall?

   A food recall occurs when a food producer takes a product off the market because there is reason to believe that it may cause consumers to become ill. In some situations, government agencies may request or require a food recall. Food recalls may happen for many reasons, including but not limited to a discovery of organisms, including bacteria such as Salmonella or parasites such as Cyclospora. People can become infected with Cyclospora by consuming food or water contaminated with the parasite. People living or traveling in countries where cyclosporiasis is endemic may be at increased risk for infection.

Food recalls may also happen when there is a discovery of foreign objects such as broken glass or metal in a product.

There are also recalls when there is a discovery of a major allergen that does not appear on the product label.

What is a Public Health Alert or Safety Alert?

   A public health alert or a safety alert is issued to inform the public about potential health risks in food products. These are typically issued in cases where a recall cannot be recommended. For example, a Federal agency may be aware of an outbreak of foodborne illness, but the source has not yet been identified, or illnesses may occur due to improper handling of a particular product and the agency may issue an alert to remind consumers of safe food handling practices.

What to Do with a Recalled Product

A food product that has been recalled due to a possible germ contamination or illness can leave germs around your kitchen and contaminate surfaces, including the drawers and shelves in your refrigerator.

If you have already prepared a recalled food item in your kitchen or still have it in your refrigerator, it’s important to throw out the food and clean your kitchen.

Wash all cookware and utensils (including cutting boards) with hot soapy water.

Clear off counters and refrigerator drawers and shelves and wash them with hot soapy water.

Wipe contaminated surfaces, shelves, or drawers and rinse dishes and cookware with a sanitizing solution and let them air dry. You can use a diluted bleach solution (1 tbsp. unscented, liquid chlorine bleach in 1 gallon of water).

Products recalled due to an undeclared allergen put family members at risk with an allergy to that substance. If the product has not been served, then throw it away or return it for a refund. If the product has been served, wash with soap and water any surfaces—plates, pots and pans, utensils, and counters—that the product may have had contact with.

Outbreaks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also posts food safety alerts and investigation notices for multistate foodborne disease outbreaks on its website.

A foodborne outbreak occurs when two or more people get the same illness from the same contaminated food or drink. When an outbreak is detected, public health and regulatory officials work quickly to collect as much information as possible to find out what is causing it, so they can take action to prevent more people from getting sick.

This action includes warning the public when there is clear and convincing information linking illness to a contaminated food. Federal, state, and local officials may investigate an outbreak, depending on how widespread it is.

Separate government agencies are responsible for protecting different segments of the food supply. Your state or local public health agency may also list state-specific recalls and outbreak alerts on their websites.

What To Do If You Suspect You Have a Foodborne Illness?

Promptly reporting your illness helps your local or state health departments to identify foodborne outbreaks. Health departments track reports of illness and look for groups of people with similar illnesses who have eaten the same foods.

Sometimes, local or state health officials may interview you over the phone to find out what you ate and did in the week before you got sick. They may also ask for copies of receipts, your shopper card number, or leftover food for testing.

If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health. The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107, Frederick. Check out the website at www.doctorlo.com.

by Dr. Thomas K. Lo, Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center

Omega-3 Fatty Acids & Why We Need Them

Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids that are important for a number of functions in the body. This makes them vital to your health and wellbeing. Every single cell in your body—and especially the tissues of your brain—require omega-3 fatty acids to function properly.

The two most important (that are often deficient in people today) are EPA and DHA, which are derived from fish and certain types of algae.

You find omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, in seafood, such as fatty fish (e.g., salmon, tuna, and trout) and shellfish (e.g., crab, mussels, and oysters). A different kind of omega-3, called ALA, is in foods like nuts and seeds (such as flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts). 

What Are the Benefits of Consuming a Diet Rich In Omega-3?

Omega-3 fatty acids are some of the most important nutrients you can put in your body. Not only are they extremely anti-inflammatory, but they actually make up some of the most important structures of the body, like your brain and nervous system. Not getting enough in your diet increases your risk of many chronic illnesses.

EPA and DHA are found in mother’s milk, algae, fish, and grass-fed meat products. EPA and DHA can be synthesized in the body from ALA; however, it is a very inefficient process and can put excess stress on the liver. ALA is derived from plant sources of omega-3, such as green plants, flax, chia, hemp, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts.

Omega-3 is most beneficial when consumed in proper ratios. The most important balance to consider is omega-3 fats in relation to omega-6 fats. Omega-6 fats are important for inflammatory processes in the body; however, consuming too much in relation to omega-3 can become excessively inflammatory.

Our cells actually need these fats in order to function properly. Every cell in the body is made up of a combination of cholesterol, saturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats.

Saturated fats and cholesterol help to maintain the structural integrity of the cell membrane, while polyunsaturated fats allow fluidity. This fluidity is important for the transportation of materials, cellular communication, and other processes that occur across the cell membrane. The polyunsaturated fats that make up part of our cell membranes are actually the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA.

Health Issues Can Improve When Consuming Omega-3

Depression and anxiety have been associated with something called neuroinflammation. This means inflammation in the brain. Because increasing omega-3 intake can be highly anti-inflammatory, this can make it an important consideration in anxiety and depression. This is backed up by several studies demonstrating the effectiveness of EPA and DHA in mitigating depressive symptoms.

Some evidence suggests that lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids are correlated with higher levels of corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH), which is normally released in response to stress. Chronically elevated CRH due to inadequate omega-3 intake could contribute to depressive or anxious feelings.

Some preliminary evidence from a study published by Oxford in 2014 suggests that higher levels of dietary omega-3 intake are associated with lower instances of insomnia and fewer interruptions in sleep. Another factor to consider is that chronic inflammation can have a detrimental impact on sleep quality due to increased levels of circulating stress hormones. Omega-3 intakes can help to mitigate inflammation and improve sleep by lowering associated stress hormones.

DHA is particularly important for the development and maintenance of eye health. DHA is found in high amounts in the retina where it plays important roles in maintaining photoreceptor membrane integrity and ensuring optimal production of vision through light transmission. Inadequate intake has also been associated with conditions of dry eyes and poor eye structure development in children. And low intake of omega-3 is associated with increased rates of macular degeneration and retinopathy. 

Poor immune function is often a result of chronic inflammation, especially in cases of autoimmunity (overactive immune system), so targeting underlying inflammation is extremely important for improving immune function. In fact, a study performed on children up to the age of three showed that adequate DHA early in life is important for lowering instances of allergies and upper respiratory infections.

Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA, are incredibly important for the development of healthy brain tissue. It has been shown to provide many benefits such as improved cognition, lowered stroke risk, improved cerebral blood flow, improved ADD/ADHD symptoms, reduced migraines, and decreased risk of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Adequate omega-3 intake has been shown to be important for optimal bone health. Like several of the conditions listed so far, poor bone health is associated with chronic inflammatory conditions in the body. Additionally, omega-3 intake may improve bone health by helping to regulate calcium balance and osteoblast activity. It has been mostly animal-based studies pointing toward the importance of DHA for bone health.

Fish oil’s ability to mitigate inflammation has a powerful impact on the development and progression of cardiovascular diseases. One of the primary heart conditions, calcification of the arteries, is heavily influenced by inflammation and improper calcium metabolism. Adequate omega-3 intake helps to promote a healthy calcium metabolism. The anti-inflammatory benefits of omega-3 fats further promote heart health by helping to prevent the oxidation of the artery lining and cholesterol.

Omega-3 fats have been shown to also improve cholesterol, triglyceride values, and may help to lower blood pressure in some cases.

What Are the Best Food Sources of Omega-3s?

Now that you understand the many benefits of increasing your intake of omega-3 fats, the best sources are getting plenty of EPA and DHA from food-based sources such as wild-caught fish, shellfish, and algae.

Some of the top sources include sockeye salmon, sardines, mackerel, mussels, crab, and algae. There can be some conversion of ALA into DHA from foods like walnuts, flax, and chia. Conversion of ALA into DHA is typically not enough to reach optimal levels, however.

It may be beneficial for vegans and vegetarians to consume high DHA algae on a regular basis to meet their needs.

If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health. The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107 in Frederick. For more information, check out the website at www.doctorlo.com.

ASK Dr. Lo

by Dr. Thomas K. Lo

The lymph system is a network of lymph vessels, tissues, and organs that carry lymph throughout the body.

Lymph is a colorless, watery fluid that travels through the lymph vessels and carries T and B lymphocytes, which are a type of white blood cell.

A poorly functioning lymphatic system is associated with the development of chronic disease.

Lymphedema occurs when lymph is not able to flow through the body the way that it should. When the lymph system is blocked or damaged, it builds up fluid in the soft body tissues, causing swelling. This can have significant negative effects on the function and quality of life.

Lymphedema usually affects an arm or leg, but it can also affect other parts of the body. It can cause long-term physical, psychological, and social problems for patients. 

Parts of the Lymph System

There are different parts of the lymph system that play a direct part in lymphedema, to include the lymph vessels, which are a network of thin tubes that collect lymph from different parts of the body and return it to the bloodstream. The lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped structures that filter lymph and store white blood cells that help fight infection and disease, they can be found in many places including the neck, underarm,  abdomen, pelvis, and groin.

The spleen, thymus, tonsils, and bone marrow are also part of the lymph system but do not play a direct part in lymphedema.

You can compare the lymphatic system to the drains in your home. When the drains are clogged, water quickly fills the sink basin; the toilet does not flush; and particles such as food, hair, and bacteria become stagnant in the drain. Eventually, when the source of the problem is unclogged, the water and other substances move freely through the pipes again.

   Just like your pipes, the lymphatic system can become congested and lead to adverse health reactions. These can include soreness of the breast, fatigue, eczema and chronic skin problems, cold limbs, bloating, headaches, body rigidity, and weakened immunity.

The following are some detoxification strategies to improve the health of your lymphatic system.

Care for Your Limbs With Lymphedema

Taking preventive steps may keep lymphedema from developing. If lymphedema has developed, these steps may keep it from getting worse.

Keep skin and nails clean to prevent infection. Bacteria can enter the body through a cut, scratch, insect bite, or other skin injuries. Fluid that is trapped in body tissues by lymphedema makes it easy for bacteria to grow and cause infection.

Use cream or lotion to keep the skin moist, and treat small cuts or breaks in the skin with an antibacterial ointment.

Avoid needle sticks of any type into the limb with lymphedema. This includes shots or blood tests. Use a thimble for sewing.

Avoid testing bath or cooking water using the limb with lymphedema. There may be less feeling in the affected arm or leg, and skin might burn in hot water.

Wear gloves when gardening, and wear sunscreen and shoes when outdoors.

Cut toenails straight across. See a podiatrist as needed to prevent ingrown nails and infections.

Avoid blocking the flow of fluids through the body. It is important to keep body fluids moving, especially through an affected limb or in areas where lymphedema may develop. It is a good idea not to cross your legs while sitting and change your sitting position at least every 30 minutes.

Wear only loose jewelry and clothes without tight bands or elastic. Do not carry handbags on the arm with lymphedema. Do not use a blood-pressure cuff on the arm with lymphedema. Do not use elastic bandages or stockings with tight bands. Keep blood from pooling in the affected limb. Keep the limb with lymphedema raised higher than the heart when possible. Do not swing the limb quickly in circles or let the limb hang. This makes blood and fluid collect in the lower part of the arm or leg. Do not apply heat to the limb.

Studies have shown that carefully controlled exercise is safe for patients with lymphedema. Exercise does not increase the chance that lymphedema will develop in patients who are at risk for lymphedema. In the past, patients were advised to avoid exercising the affected limb. Studies have now shown that slow, carefully controlled exercise is safe and may even help keep lymphedema from developing.

Take Care of Your Lymph System

Exercising daily may be one of the easiest and most effective ways to boost the health of your lymphatic system. Whether you are lifting weights at the gym, dancing around your home with your kids, or going for a jog with the dog, you are encouraging the health of your lymphatic system and improving immune function.

Rebounding (a low-impact exercise, which involves jumping on a trampoline) promotes the flow of lymph through the body and can increase the drainage of toxins from organs and muscle tissue.

Stress reduction techniques encourage the flow of lymph through your body. Some of these techniques may involve yoga, pilates, deep-breathing exercises, massage, stretching, and maintaining good posture.

One of the key mechanisms by which our bodies remove toxins is through perspiration. Participating in vigorous activity, including intense exercise, is not the only mechanism by which you can improve lymphatic function. Infrared saunas offer a non-invasive form of light therapy, which heats internal muscles and organs thereby pushing toxins into circulation for their removal from the body. Infrared technology offers amazing benefits for promoting the detoxification of the body.

Some of the best foods to detoxify the lymphatic system are red fruits and vegetables. These include pomegranates, cranberries, beets, cherries, and raspberries. These foods boost lymphatic function and help thin bile, which is a major component to the regulation of the immune response in the gut. Consuming a diet rich in omega-3s is also critical to fighting inflammation and fighting infectious agents from weakening the immune system. Especially as you age, consuming a healthy diet rich in antioxidants and healthy fats is required for moderating immune response. Lymphatic vessels contained in the intestines are easily susceptible to dysfunction because of an unhealthy diet.

One very simple mechanism to avoid the restriction of lymphatic vessels, which may hinder the adequate flow of lymph fluid, is choosing your attire appropriately. Wearing restraining, tight-fitting undergarments, such as wired bras, can cause the inability for fluid to drain from the breast, arms, and chest into surrounding lymph nodes. It is also best not to wear tight-fitting clothes while sleeping.

The proper functioning of the lymphatic system is fundamental for the health of the immune system.

If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health. The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107 in Frederick. Check out the website at www.doctorlo.com.

Heart-Healthy Living

Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women.

Understanding a heart-healthy lifestyle is important. It involves understanding your risk, making good food choices, and taking steps to reduce your chances of getting heart disease, including coronary heart disease, the most common type. Taking preventive measures may lower your risk of developing heart disease and improve your overall health and well-being.

Understand Your Risks

Your risk for heart disease depends on many factors, some of which are changeable and others that are not. Risk factors are higher for heart disease if you: Have high blood pressure; have high blood cholesterol; are overweight or obese; have prediabetes or diabetes; smoke;        do not get regular physical activity; have a family history of early heart disease (your father or brother was diagnosed before age 55, or your mother or sister was diagnosed before age 65); have a history of preeclampsia (a sudden rise in blood pressure and too much protein in the urine during pregnancy); have unhealthy eating behaviors; are older (age 55 or older for women or age 45 or older for men).

Each risk factor increases a person’s chance of developing heart disease.

Some risk factors cannot be changed. These include your age, sex, and a family history of early heart disease. However, many others risk factors can be modified. For example, being more physically active and eating healthy are important steps for your heart health.

Women and Heart Disease

Women generally get heart disease about 10 years later than men do, but it is still the number one killer of women. After menopause, women are more likely to get heart disease, in part because estrogen hormone levels drop. Women who have gone through early menopause are twice as likely to develop heart disease as women of the same age who have not gone through menopause. Middle-age is also a time when women tend to develop other risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure.

Get Your Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Checked

Two of the major risk factors for heart disease are high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol.

Your blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps blood. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can damage your heart and your blood vessels.

Most adults should have their blood pressure checked at least once a year. If you have high blood pressure, you will likely need to be checked more often.

Your blood pressure is considered high when you have consistent systolic readings of 140 mm Hg or higher or diastolic readings of 90 mm Hg or higher. Based on research, your doctor may also consider you to have high blood pressure if you are an adult or child age 13 or older who has consistent systolic readings of 130 to 139 mm Hg or diastolic readings of 80 to 89 mm Hg and you have other risk factors for heart disease.

High blood cholesterol is a condition in which your blood has unhealthy levels of cholesterol—a waxy, fat-like substance.

Many factors affect your cholesterol levels. For example, age, sex, eating patterns, and physical activity level can affect your cholesterol levels.

A blood test can show whether your cholesterol levels are in range. Your cholesterol numbers will include total cholesterol, “bad” LDL cholesterol and “good” HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. Ask your doctor what your numbers mean for you.

The following foods are the foundation of a heart-healthy eating plan: Vegetables such as leafy greens (dandelion, collard greens, kale, cabbage), broccoli, and carrots); fruits such as apples, cherries, oranges, pears, grapes, and mangoes; whole grains such as plain oatmeal, brown rice, and quinoa; fat-free or low-fat dairy foods such as  organic milk, cheese, or yogurt; protein-rich foods (fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids; lean meats such as lean beef or pork tenderloin or chicken or turkey; eggs; nuts and seeds; legumes such as kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, and lima beans); foods high in monounsaturated fats (nuts such as walnuts, macadamia nuts, almonds, and pine nuts; nut and seed butters; salmon and trout; avocados).

Foods to limit would be processed foods high in added sugar and salt, trans fats, and alcohol. Understanding nutrition labels can help you choose healthier foods.

Limit Sodium

Adults and children over age 14 should eat less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day. If you have high blood pressure, you may need to limit sodium even more.

Read food labels and choose products that have less sodium for the same serving size.

Choose low-sodium, reduced-sodium, or no-salt-added products.

Choose fresh, frozen, or no-salt-added foods instead of pre-seasoned, sauce-marinated, brined, or processed meats, poultry, and vegetables.

Eat at home more often, so you can cook food from scratch, which will allow you to control the amount of sodium in your meals.

Flavor your foods with herbs and spices instead of salt.

When cooking, limit your use of premade sauces, mixes, and instant products such as rice, noodles, and ready-made pasta.

Limit trans fats as much as possible. This includes foods made with partially hydrogenated oils such as some desserts, microwave popcorn, frozen pizza, stick margarines, and coffee creamers.             Read nutrition labels and choose foods that do not contain trans fats. Dairy products and meats naturally contain very small amounts of trans fats. You do not need to avoid these foods because they have other important nutrients.

Limit Added Sugars

You should limit the amount of calories you get each day from added sugars. This will help you choose nutrient-rich foods.

Some foods, such as fruit, contain natural sugars. However, added sugars do not occur naturally in foods. They include brown sugar, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, raw sugar, and sucrose.

Read the labels and choose foods without added sugars. 

Limit Alcohol

Talk to your doctor about how much alcohol you drink. Your doctor may recommend that you reduce the amount of alcohol you drink or that you stop drinking alcohol.

Alcohol can: (1) Add calories to your daily diet and possibly cause you to gain weight; (2) Raise your blood pressure and levels of triglyceride fats in your blood; (3) Contribute to or worsen heart failure in some people, such as some people who have cardiomyopathy; (4) Raise your risk of other diseases such as cancer.

If you do not drink, you should not start. You should not drink if you are pregnant; are under the age of 21; taking certain medicines; or if you have certain medical conditions, including heart failure.

Manage Stress

Research suggests that an emotionally upsetting event, particularly an angry one, can serve as a trigger for a heart attack or angina in some people. Stress can contribute to high blood pressure and other heart disease risk factors. Some of the ways people cope with stress—drinking alcohol, using other substances, smoking, or overeating—are not healthy ways to manage stress.

Learning how to manage stress and cope with problems can improve your mental and physical health. Consider healthy stress-reducing activities such as: (1) Talking to a professional counselor; (2) Participating in a stress-management program; (3) Practicing meditation; (4) Being physically active; (5) Trying relaxation techniques; (6) Talking with friends, family, and community or religious support systems.

Get Regular Physical Activity

Regular physical activity can help you lose excess weight, improve physical fitness, lower many heart disease risk factors such as “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, increase “good” HDL cholesterol levels, and manage high blood pressure. Physical activity can also lower stress and improve your mental health, as well as lower your risk for other conditions such as type 2 diabetes, depression, and cancer

The more active you are, the more you will benefit. Participate in aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes at a time throughout the week. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ recommends that each week, adults get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.

Another way you can begin to increase your activity level is by reducing how long you sit at a given time. Breaking up how long you sit will benefit your overall health.

Quit Smoking

If you smoke, quit. Smoking can raise your risk of heart disease and heart attack and worsen other heart disease risk factors. Talk with your doctor about programs and products that can help you quit smoking. Also, try to avoid secondhand smoke.

If you have trouble quitting smoking on your own, consider joining a support group. Many hospitals, workplaces, and community groups offer classes to help people quit smoking.

Talk to your doctor if you vape. There is scientific evidence that nicotine and flavorings found in vaping products can damage your heart and lungs.

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout your life. During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health. Not getting enough sleep or good-quality sleep over time can raise your risk for chronic health problems. The amount of sleep you need each day will change over the course of your life.

Sleep helps heal and repair your heart and blood vessels, helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry or full, helps support healthy growth and development, and helps support a healthy immune system.

Over time, not getting enough quality sleep, called sleep deficiency, can raise your risk of heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.

You can take steps to improve your sleep habits. First, make sure that you allow yourself enough time to sleep. Some sleep strategies are to: (1) Spend time outside every day, if possible, and be physically active; (2) Avoid nicotine and caffeine; (3) Avoid heavy or large meals within a couple hours of bedtime; (4) Avoid alcoholic drinks before bed; (5) Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day; (6) One hour before you go to bed, shut off all electronic devices and avoid exercise and bright light; (7) Take a hot bath or use relaxation techniques before bed; (8) Keep your bedroom quiet, cool, and dark.

If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health. The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107, Frederick, MD. Check out the website at www.doctorlo.com.

Symptoms & Risk Factors of Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer starts when cells in the prostate begin to grow out of control. The prostate gland is a small, walnut-shaped gland in men that produces the seminal fluid. The size of the prostate can change as a man ages. In younger men, it is about the size of a walnut, but it can be much larger in older men. Sometimes prostate cancer is referred to as a silent disease because in the earlier stages—sometimes lasting for years—the tumor in the prostate gland is not big enough to cause any pain or prostate cancer symptoms.

Symptoms

When a man does develop prostate cancer the early warning signs can be:

     A man can start having difficulty with normal urination, to include the feeling of a burning or painful sensation, having trouble starting and maintaining a steady stream of urine, weak urinary stream, experiencing dribbling or leaking of urine, more frequent need/urge to urinate, excessive urination at night, or urinary retention (not being able to urinate).

     He may have erectile dysfunction, painful ejaculation or a decrease in fluid when ejaculating.

     He may have blood in the urine or semen.

     A man may develop pressure or pain in the groin and rectum.

     He may also have pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, pelvis, or thighs.

Prostate Cancer Risk Factors

Different cancers have different risk factors. Some risk factors, like smoking, can be changed; others, like a person’s age, cannot be changed.

However, having a risk factor, or even several, does not mean that a man will get the disease. Many people with one or more risk factors never get cancer, while others who get cancer may have had few or no known risk factors.

The following describes several factors that might affect a man’s risk of getting prostate cancer.

Age: Prostate cancer is rare in men younger than 40, but the chance of having prostate cancer rises rapidly after age 50. About 6 in 10 cases of prostate cancer are found in men older than 65.

Race/ethnicity: Men of African descent are an estimated 73 percent more likely to develop prostate cancer compared with white men. In addition, when it does develop in these men, they tend to be younger. Asian men who live in Asia have the lowest risk, but their risk increases if they adopt a “modern Western lifestyle.”

Family history: Prostate cancer seems to run in some families, which suggests that in some cases there may be an inherited or genetic factor. Still, most prostate cancers occur in men without a family history of it.

   Having a father or brother with prostate cancer more than doubles a man’s risk of developing this disease. (The risk is higher for men who have a brother with the disease than for those who have a father with it.) The risk is much higher for men with several affected relatives, particularly if their relatives were young when they got the cancer. 

Obesity or being overweight:    Certain studies have found that obese men have a greater risk for developing aggressive prostate cancers (but not slow-developing types). They are also more likely to have a difficult time recovering from surgery, and they have a greater risk of dying from prostate cancer.

Other dietary/lifestyle factors: A man is more likely to develop prostate cancer if he smokes or uses drugs and if he has poor dietary habits, especially eating a highly processed diet that includes refined or trans fats, lots of added sugar, and processed carbohydrates.

There also seems to be an association between a lack of vegetables in the diet (especially cruciferous veggies, like cauliflower and broccoli) and a higher risk of aggressive prostate cancer.

A lack of exercise and a sedentary lifestyle, along with low vitamin D levels, puts a man at higher risk. In addition, due to little sunlight exposure, men who live north of 40 degrees latitude (north of Philadelphia or Utah in the U.S.) have the highest risk for dying from prostate cancer of any men in the United States.

Excessive calcium intake, particularly from supplements, can put a man at higher risk, along with exposure to certain toxic chemicals.

In addition, tall height in a man, especially those who are tall and obese develop prostate cancer more commonly.

Reduce Chances of Getting Prostate Cancer

The following are ways to mitigate your chances of getting prostate cancer:

(1) Eat a Healthy Diet and Manage Your Weight. Many studies have evidence that lifestyle changes, especially diet modifications, can decrease the chances that you will develop prostate cancer, as well as reduce cancer recurrence and help slow the progression of cancer. A healthy, unprocessed food diet is also important for preventing obesity.

Avoid all trans-fatty acids (found in many fried foods, fast food, highly processed foods, and margarine).

Try to eat about 2.5 cups or more of veggies every day as part of an anti-inflammatory diet. Try to include a variety of veggies in your diet, especially leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables, which have recently been connected to cancer prevention.

Eat wild-caught fish, which provide omega-3 fatty acids.

Eat foods high in zinc and selenium, which support prostate health.

(2) Get enough exercise. Studies suggest that people who are more physically active have better protection against developing many types of cancer, as well as overall improvements in health and better protection against obesity. Getting daily exercise has numerous benefits, both for your mind and body. Exercise helps reduce inflammation, improve circulation, support the immune system, and can help you control your weight. It can also improve feelings of well-being and reduce stress, depression, or anxiety.

(3) Treat other health conditions and check your medications. Many of the same lifestyle habits that lead to conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, and depression can also increase your cancer risk. These are also associated with worsened sexual function, including contributing to erectile dysfunction. Work on overcoming health challenges through diet and lifestyle changes as much as possible. Recovery from serious diseases, including cancer, is easier if you’re metabolically healthy and not battling other health problems.

If you’re taking any medications, it’s a good idea to speak to your doctor about how they may contribute to negative side effects. For example, some medications, such as SSRIs (used to treat depression), beta-blockers (used for high blood pressure), and medications used for insomnia and anxiety, can affect your prostate. These may have a negative impact on sexual dysfunction because they can cause decreased libido, impairment in arousal, erectile dysfunction, delayed ejaculation, and delayed or absent orgasm.

(4) Do not supplement with calcium. Taking high doses of calcium may increase your risk, so talk to your doctor about whether calcium supplements are needed. It is suggested that you avoid taking more than 1,500 milligrams of calcium from supplements per day, although calcium from food sources (like leafy greens and fermented dairy) is unlikely to be a problem.

(5) Do not smoke and modify your drinking of alcohol. If you currently smoke, get help with quitting. Talk to your doctor about useful interventions, speak with a therapist, or start an online program that specializes in smoking cessation. Drink alcohol only in moderation and avoid use of recreational drugs.

(6) Get quality sleep and manage stress. Find ways to relax; connect with others and wind down. If your job is a major source of stress on a daily basis, consider what you can do to change your situation. Take up hobbies, stay active, and join groups in your community to connect with others. Studies have found that people with more social support tend to live longer, happier lives.

If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health. The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107, Frederick, MD. Check out the website at www.doctorlo.com.

*Content Source: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/about/what-is-prostate-cancer.html; https://drjockers.com/prostate-cancer/.

Ask Dr. Lo

L e t ’ s G e t Mo v i n g

P h y s i c a l A c t i v i t y a n d H e a l t h

by Dr. Thomas K. Lo, Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center

Some physical activity is better than none at all, so start slowly and build up from there.

   If you are a healthy adult, it is advised that you make aerobic and strengthening activities part of your regular routine. If you have a health problem such as heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes, ask your healthcare professional about the types and amounts of physical activity you can safely do.

Aim for at least an accumulation of 2.5 hours per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity.

Walking fast, jogging, dancing, and other types of aerobic activities make your heart beat faster and may cause you to breathe harder. Try to be active for at least 10 minutes at a time without breaks. You can count each 10-minute segment of activity toward your physical activity goal. Aerobic activities can include biking, swimming, brisk walking, jogging, pickleball, racquetball, dancing, jump-roping, rebounder, or engaging in activities that will support you such as chair aerobics.

Try to do aerobic activities at a moderate intensity. Do the “talk test” to make sure you are exercising at a pace that you can maintain. You should be able to speak a few words in a row, but you should not be able to sing.

Aim to work in at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity most days. Add a brisk walk after lunch, dinner, or when your schedule permits as a way to boost the amount of aerobic activity in your life.

Do strengthening activities twice per week.

Try adding strength-training activities to your schedule. Squats, lunges, deadlifts, lat pull-downs, pull-ups, push-ups, triceps pull-downs, bicep curls, and standing calf-raises are a few examples.   Activities that make you push or pull against something will help you improve your strength and balance.

   Strength training helps you build and maintain bone and muscle. So, to help strengthen your whole body, work all the major muscle groups, including those in your legs, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms. Doing two to three sets for each muscle group twice per week is a great start. You can try different activities to find out which ones you enjoy most. Try lifting weights or working out with resistance bands. Isometric exercises also work.

The good news is that activities that build strength in your lower body may improve your balance. Try activities that work your ankles, feet, and lower legs.

Pilates and yoga may improve balance, muscle strength, and flexibility. You can also try tai chi or practice standing on one leg.

Take breaks from being still.

Recent studies suggest that long periods of inactivity may be linked to health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Add motion to your day. Download an app to your phone, computer, or other device to remind yourself to take breaks. Routine tasks such as sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, raking leaves, mowing, and other yard/house work can also be part of your physical activity plan.

How Can I Start to be Active?

First, pick activities you enjoy. Create a list of the ones you would like to do, such as walking, aerobics, tennis, rowing, or taking a class at a fitness or community center. To increase your activity level, add an activity that sounds fun and try it out. You are more likely to stay active if you choose activities you enjoy. Start slowly and add a little at a time.

The idea of being active at least 2.5 hours per week may seem like too much at first. Start by moving for 10 minutes a day. Every few weeks, add 5 to 10 minutes until you are active at least 30 minutes most days.

Set a goal, add it to your calendar, and do it.

Setting goals and having a plan to realize them helps you stick with a physical activity routine.

Set specific short-term goals that you can track. For example, instead of saying, “I’m going to be more active this week,” set a goal of walking 30 minutes a day for 3 days this week.

Think of the days and times you could do the activity, such as first thing in the morning, during lunch breaks, after dinner, or on Saturday afternoon. Look at your calendar, phone, or computer to determine the days and times that work best and commit to those plans in writing. Also, set your phone to send reminders to help you stay on track. You can also confide in a close friend to help you stay accountable.

How Can I Overcome Physical Activity Roadblocks?

Starting a physical activity program and sticking with it is easier than you think. You can overcome these common roadblocks to physical activity and “just do it.” You will feel better in the end when you accomplish the goals you set for yourself.

If  work, family, and other demands are making it hard to be active, try the tips below for adding physical activity to your daily routine. Remember, every little bit counts.

•   Do 10 minutes of physical activity at a time. Spread bursts of activity throughout your day.

•   Add a 15-minute walk or activity that you will stick with during your lunch break or after dinner.

•   Make activity part of your daily routine. If you have time, walk a flight of stairs or, instead of driving, walk or bike with your child to school.

•   Take a break from sitting at the computer or TV. Stretch or go for a short walk. Perhaps do some jumping jacks or push-ups against the wall.

   If you are not motivated and find it hard to get moving and working out seems like a chore, then here are some ideas that might keep you moving:

•   Switch it up. Try a new activity, such as dancing, a racquet sport, or water aerobics, to find out what you enjoy most.

•   Make it social. Involve your family and friends. Physical activity is good for them, too. Plan fun physical activities that allow you to spend quality time together and stay on track.

o    Meet a friend for workouts or train together for a charity event.

o    Join a class or sports league, where people count on you to show up.

o    Find an activity you can enjoy with your children, like dancing to music, hiking, or playing sports such as basketball, tennis, or racquetball.

o    Seek support from someone who will inspire you to get moving and help you reach your goals. This could be a family member, coach or trainer.

o    Have a list of people close by that can help you out if need be. Perhaps they can watch the children, pick the children up from school, work out with you, or just continue to encourage you as you make progress.

If the weather is not ideal, you can reach your fitness goals in any weather by: (1) Wearing the right gear. A rain jacket, sun hat, and sunscreen, or winter clothes will protect you and help you stick to your plans; (2) Find a place to stay active indoors. Download an app to your phone or other device to be active at home, or take an indoor class when the weather is bad.

If cost is an issue, check out your local recreation (rec) or community center. These centers may cost less than other gyms, fitness centers, or health clubs. Find one that lets you pay only for the months or classes you want, instead of the whole year. Choose physical activities that do not require special gear or advanced skills. Check out the local Goodwill or Thrift Store to see if they have some of the equipment you may need. Racquetball racquets, baseball bats, golf clubs, etc. are usually easy to find at a secondhand store.

Prepare to break through your roadblocks. What are the top three things keeping you from being more active? Write them down and stop using them for an excuse. Find a solution. If you cannot join a gym, then start walking in your neighborhood. If you have very little time, then jump rope or do jumping jacks for five minutes a day. If you do not have anyone to watch your children, then be active with your children. You can take walks together or play games such as “catch” or basketball. Find a friend or family member you trust who is willing to watch your child while you exercise. Some people take turns watching each other’s children. Some exercise facilities have free day care.

If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health.

The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107, Frederick, MD. Check out the website at www.doctorlo.com.

*Content Source: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

by Dr. Thomas K. Lo, Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center

Zinc is a nutrient found in cells throughout the body. It helps the immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses. The body also needs zinc to make proteins and DNA, the genetic material in all cells. Zinc also helps wounds heal and is important for proper senses of taste and smell.

Vegetable-based zinc sources are not as bioavailable as animal-based sources, which means that the body does not absorb zinc from vegetarian sources as effectively. According to 2017 research, a person eating a vegetarian or vegan diet may need to consume 50 percent more zinc than people who regularly eat animal products.

How Much Zinc Do I Need?

The amount of zinc you need each day depends on your age. The recommended dose for adult men is 11 mg., and for adult women, 8 mg.

What Foods Provide Zinc?

Zinc is in a wide variety of foods. You can get the recommended amounts of zinc by eating a variety of foods, including the following: oysters (which are one of the best sources of zinc), red meat, poultry, seafood, and fortified breakfast cereals. Beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and dairy products also provide some zinc. If those foods are hard for you to add to your diet, you can also obtain zinc in supplement form.

Am I Getting Enough Zinc?

Most people in the United States get enough zinc from the foods they eat. However, certain groups of people may have trouble getting enough zinc. These groups include people who have had gastrointestinal surgery, such as weight loss surgery, or who have digestive disorders, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. These conditions can decrease the amount of zinc that the body absorbs and increase the amount lost in the urine.

Vegetarians also fall into this group because they do not eat meat, which is a good source of zinc. In addition, the beans and grains they typically eat have compounds that keep zinc from being fully absorbed by the body. For this reason, vegetarians might need to eat as much as 50 percent more zinc than the recommended amounts. Also look into consuming soaked and sprouted grains, nuts, and seeds, as this makes zinc more bioavailable.

Infants over six months of age could have trouble getting enough zinc because breast milk does not have enough zinc for infants over six months. Infants over six months who do not take formula can be given foods that have zinc such as pureed meats.

Alcoholics can have trouble getting enough zinc because alcoholic beverages decrease the amount of zinc that the body absorbs and increase the amount lost in the urine. In addition, many alcoholics eat a limited amount and variety of food, so they may not get enough zinc.

People with sickle cell disease may also need more zinc.

What Happens If I Do Not Get Enough Zinc?

Zinc deficiency is rare in North America. It causes slow growth in infants and children, delayed sexual development in adolescents, and impotence in men. Zinc deficiency also causes hair loss, diarrhea, eye and skin sores, and loss of appetite. Weight loss, problems with wound healing, decreased ability to taste food, and lower alertness levels can also occur.

Many of these symptoms can also be signs of problems other than zinc deficiency.

Some Effects Of Zinc On Health

Zinc helps activate T-cells, which control and regulate your immune response and attack and destroy infected cells. Zinc plays a role in several bodily functions; let us review:

Growth: People require zinc for physical growth and development. Zinc deficiency can result in impaired growth in children and adolescents.

Immune system function: Our bodies use zinc to build immune system cells called T lymphocytes. Older people and children in developing countries who have low levels of zinc may have a higher risk of getting pneumonia and other infections. Some studies also suggest that zinc lozenges or syrup help speed recovery from the common cold and reduce its symptoms if taken within 24 hours of coming down with a cold.

Enzyme function: Zinc plays a pivotal role in triggering chemical reactions in the body. These include helping the body use folic acid and creating new proteins and DNA.

Eye health: Zinc deficiency can contribute to the development of eye conditions, including macular degeneration. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease that gradually causes vision loss. Research suggests that zinc might help slow AMD progression. In the study, people at high risk of the disease who took dietary supplements containing zinc and dietary supplements containing only zinc had a lower risk of getting advanced AMD than those who did not take zinc dietary supplements. 

Wound healing: Zinc helps promote healthy skin and mucous membranes, which boosts wound healing.

Can Zinc Be Harmful?

Yes, zinc can be harmful if you get too much. Signs of too much zinc include nausea (nausea can also happen if you are taking zinc on an empty stomach), vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and headaches. When people take too much zinc for a long time, they sometimes have problems such as low copper levels, lower immunity, and low levels of HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol).

Are There Any Interactions With Zinc That I Should Know About?

Yes. Zinc dietary supplements can interact or interfere with medicines that you take, and in some cases, medicines can lower zinc levels in the body.

Zinc and Healthful Eating

People should get most of their nutrients from food. Foods contain vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and other substances that benefit health. In some cases, fortified foods and dietary supplements may provide nutrients that otherwise may be consumed in less-than-recommended amounts.

If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health. The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107, Frederick, MD. Check out the website at www.doctorlo.com.

by Dr. Thomas K. Lo, Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center

Is Secondhand Smoke Putting Your Health in Danger?

Secondhand smoke is composed of sidestream smoke (the smoke released from the burning end of a cigarette) and exhaled mainstream smoke (the smoke exhaled by the smoker. Most nonsmokers do not want to breathe tobacco smoke. Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemical compounds, and secondhand smoke contains many of the same chemicals that are present in the smoke inhaled by smokers. Because sidestream smoke is generated at lower temperatures and under different conditions than mainstream smoke, it contains higher concentrations of many of the toxins found in cigarette smoke. The National Toxicology Program estimates that at least 250 chemicals in secondhand smoke are known to be toxic or carcinogenic.  When nonsmokers are exposed to secondhand smoke, they inhale many of the same cancer-causing chemicals that smokers inhale. The Surgeon General has concluded that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke; even small amounts of secondhand smoke exposure can be harmful to people’s health.

Secondhand smoke contains a number of poisonous gases and chemicals, including hydrogen cyanide (used in chemical weapons), carbon monoxide (found in car exhaust), butane (used in lighter fluid), ammonia (used in household cleaners), and toluene (found in paint thinners). Some of the toxic metals contained in secondhand smoke include arsenic (used in pesticides), lead (formerly found in paint), chromium (used to make steel), and cadmium (used to make batteries).

Children Are Most Exposed in the Home

The home is the place where children are most exposed to secondhand smoke. Children who live in homes where smoking is allowed have higher levels of cotinine (a biological marker of secondhand smoke exposure) than children who live in homes where smoking is not allowed. As the number of cigarettes smoked in the home increases, children’s cotinine levels rise.

Both babies whose mothers smoke while pregnant and babies who are exposed to secondhand smoke after birth are more likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) than babies who are not exposed to cigarette smoke. Mothers who are exposed to secondhand smoke while pregnant are more likely to have lower birth weight babies, which makes babies weaker and increases the risk for many health problems. Babies whose mothers smoke while pregnant or who are exposed to secondhand smoke after birth have weaker lungs than other babies, which increases the risk for many health problems. Secondhand smoke exposure causes acute lower respiratory infections, such as bronchitis and pneumonia, in infants and young children. Secondhand smoke exposure causes children who already have asthma to experience more frequent and severe attacks. Secondhand smoke exposure causes respiratory symptoms, including cough, phlegm, wheeze, and breathlessness, among school-aged children. Children exposed to secondhand smoke are also at increased risk for ear infections. 

Protecting Yourself and

Loved Ones from Secondhand Smoke

Protecting yourself from secondhand smoke is important because breathing even a little secondhand smoke can be harmful. The Surgeon General has concluded that the only way to fully protect yourself and your loved ones from the dangers of secondhand smoke is through 100-percent smoke-free environments. Opening a window, sitting in a separate area, or using ventilation, air conditioning, or a fan cannot eliminate secondhand smoke exposure. You can protect yourself and your loved ones by making your home and car smoke-free, asking people not to smoke around you and your children, and making sure that your children’s day care center or school is smoke-free. You can also choose restaurants and other businesses that are smoke-free, thanking businesses for being smoke-free and letting owners of businesses that are not smoke-free know that secondhand smoke is harmful to your family’s health. You can also teach children to stay away from secondhand smoke. You should avoid secondhand smoke exposure especially if you or your children have respiratory conditions, if you have heart disease, or if you are pregnant.

If you are a smoker, the single best way to protect your family from secondhand smoke is to quit smoking. In the meantime, you can protect your family by making your home and vehicles smoke-free and only smoking outside. A smoke-free-home rule can also help you quit smoking

There Is No Risk-Free Level of Exposure to Secondhand Smoke

Scientific evidence indicates that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Breathing even a little secondhand smoke can be harmful to your health. It causes lung cancer. It is known that concentrations of many cancer-causing and toxic chemicals are potentially higher in secondhand smoke than in the smoke inhaled by smokers. It can cause heart disease. Breathing secondhand smoke for even a short time can have immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system, interfering with the normal functioning of the heart, blood, and vascular systems in ways that increase the risk of heart attack. Even spending a short time in a smoky room can cause your blood platelets to become stickier, damage the lining of blood vessels, decrease coronary flow velocity reserves, and reduce heart rate variability. Persons who already have heart disease are at especially high risk of suffering adverse effects from breathing secondhand smoke, and should take special precautions to avoid even brief exposure. It also causes acute respiratory effects. Secondhand smoke contains many chemicals that can quickly irritate and damage the lining of the airways. Even brief exposure can trigger respiratory symptoms, including cough, phlegm, wheezing, and breathlessness. Brief exposure to secondhand smoke can trigger an asthma attack in children with asthma. Persons who already have asthma or other respiratory conditions are at especially high risk for being affected by secondhand smoke, and should take special precautions to avoid secondhand smoke exposure.

Conclusions

Smoking is the single greatest avoidable cause of disease and death. Millions of Americans, both children and adults, are exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes. Also, in some states, it is still legal to smoke in bars.

Secondhand smoke causes premature death and disease in children and in adults who do not smoke. Nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke at home or at work increase their risk of developing heart disease by 25-30 percent and lung cancer by 20-30 percent.

The scientific evidence indicates that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.

Conventional air-cleaning systems can remove large particles, but not the smaller particles or the gases found in secondhand smoke. Routine operation of a heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning system can distribute secondhand smoke throughout a building. So only by eliminating smoking in indoor spaces can you fully protect nonsmokers from exposure to secondhand smoke.

Interested in quitting? You can access a telephone quit-line serving your area by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1¬800-784-8669) or visit www.smokefree.gov.

If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health. The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107, Frederick, MD. Check out the website at www.doctorlo.com.

Resource: https://digitalmedia.hhs.gov

What is IBS?

by Dr. Thomas K. Lo, Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a group of symptoms that occur together, including repeated pain in your abdomen and changes in your bowel movements, which may be diarrhea, constipation, or both. With IBS, you have these symptoms without any visible signs of damage or disease in your digestive tract.

IBS is a functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder. Functional GI disorders, which doctors now call disorders of gut-brain interactions, are related to problems with how your brain and your gut work together. These problems can cause your gut to be more sensitive and change how the muscles in your bowel contract. If your gut is more sensitive, you may feel more abdominal pain and bloating. Changes in how the muscles in your bowel contract lead to diarrhea, constipation, or both.

Studies suggest that about 12 percent of people in the United States have IBS.

Women are up to two times more likely than men to develop IBS. People younger than age 50 are more likely to develop IBS.

What Other Health Problems Do People With IBS Have?

People with IBS often have other health problems, including certain conditions that involve chronic pain, such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and chronic pelvic pain; certain digestive diseases, such as dyspepsia and gastroesophageal reflux disease; and certain mental disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and somatic symptom disorder.

What Are The Symptoms Of IBS?

The most common symptoms of IBS are pain in your abdomen, often related to your bowel movements, and changes in your bowel movements. These changes may be diarrhea, constipation, or both, depending on what type of IBS you have. Other symptoms of IBS may include bloating, the feeling that you haven’t finished a bowel movement, and whitish mucus in your stool. Women with IBS often have more symptoms during their periods.

IBS can be painful but does not lead to other health problems or damage your digestive tract. To diagnose IBS, your doctor will look for a certain pattern in your symptoms over time. IBS can be a chronic disorder, meaning it lasts a long time, often years. However, the symptoms may come and go.

What Causes IBS?

Doctors are not sure what causes IBS. Experts think that a combination of problems may lead to IBS. Different factors may cause IBS in different people.

Functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorders such as IBS are problems with brain-gut interaction—how your brain and gut work together. Experts think that problems with brain-gut interaction may affect how your body works and cause IBS symptoms. For example, in some people with IBS, food may move too slowly or too quickly through the digestive tract, causing changes in bowel movements. Some people with IBS may feel pain when a normal amount of gas or stool is in the gut.

Certain problems are more common in people with IBS. Experts think these problems may play a role in causing IBS. These problems include stressful or difficult early-life events, such as physical or sexual abuse, and certain mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and somatic symptom disorder. Other problems include bacterial infections in your digestive tract; small intestinal bacterial overgrowth; an increase in the number or a change in the type of bacteria in your small intestine; and food intolerances or sensitivities, where certain foods cause digestive symptoms. Research suggests that genes may make some people more likely to develop IBS.

How Do Doctors Diagnose IBS?

To diagnose IBS, doctors review your symptoms, medical and family history, and perform a physical exam. In some cases, doctors may order tests to rule out other health problems.

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and look for a certain pattern in your symptoms to diagnose IBS. Your doctor may diagnose IBS if you have pain in your abdomen along with two or more of the following symptoms:  your pain is related to your bowel movements (for example, your pain may improve or get worse after bowel movements); you notice a change in how often you have a bowel movement; you notice a change in the way your stools look.

Your doctor will ask how long you have had symptoms. Your doctor may diagnose IBS if you have had symptoms at least once a week in the last three months, and your symptoms first started at least six months ago. Your doctor may diagnose IBS even if you have had symptoms for a shorter length of time. You should talk to your doctor if your symptoms are like the symptoms of IBS.

Your doctor will look for a certain pattern in your symptoms to diagnose IBS. Your doctor will also ask about other symptoms. Certain symptoms may suggest that you have another health problem instead of IBS. These symptoms include anemia, bleeding from your rectum, bloody stools or stools that are black and tarry, and weight loss.

Your doctor will also ask you if you have a family history of digestive diseases, such as celiac disease, colon cancer, or inflammatory bowel disease. The doctor will also ask you about the medicines you take, recent infections, stressful events related to the start of your symptoms, and what you eat.

Your doctor may recommend changes in your diet to help treat symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Different changes may help different people with IBS. You may need to change what you eat for several weeks to see if your symptoms improve.

If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health.

The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107, Frederick, MD. Check out the website at www.doctorlo.com. *Content source: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK

What is Vitamin B12 & What Does It Do?

by Dr. Thomas K. Lo, Advanced Chiropractic

& Nutritional Healing Center

Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA, the genetic material in all cells. Vitamin B12 also helps prevent a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia that makes people tired and weak. It benefits your mood, energy level, memory, heart, skin, hair, digestion, and more. It is an essential vitamin for addressing adrenal fatigue, enzyme production, and hormonal balance, as well as helping maintain a healthy nervous and cardiovascular system.

Two steps are required for the body to absorb vitamin B12 from food. First, hydrochloric acid in the stomach separates vitamin B12 from the protein to which vitamin B12 is attached in food. After this, vitamin B12 combines with a protein made by the stomach, called the intrinsic factor, and is absorbed by the body. Some people have pernicious anemia, a condition in which they cannot make intrinsic factor. As a result, they have trouble absorbing vitamin B12 from all foods and dietary supplements.

What Foods Provide Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is found in a wide variety of animal foods and is added to some fortified foods. Plant foods have no vitamin B12 unless they are fortified. You can get recommended amounts of vitamin B12 by eating a variety of foods, including beef liver and clams, which also happen to be the best sources of vitamin B12. Fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and other dairy products are also good sources of vitamin B12. Some breakfast cereals, nutritional yeasts, and other food products are fortified with vitamin B12.

Certain groups of people may not get enough vitamin B12 or have trouble absorbing it.

Most people in the United States get enough vitamin B12 from the foods they eat. But some people have trouble absorbing vitamin B12 from food. As a result, vitamin B12 deficiency affects between 1.5 percent and 15 percent of the public.

Older adults, who do not have enough hydrochloric acid in their stomach to absorb the vitamin B12 naturally present in food, should think about getting their vitamin B12 from fortified foods or dietary supplements because, in most cases, it is easier for their bodies to absorb vitamin B12 from these sources.

People with pernicious anemia whose bodies do not make the intrinsic factor needed to absorb vitamin B12 need help in getting it. Doctors usually treat pernicious anemia with vitamin B12 shots, although very high oral doses of vitamin B12 may also be effective.

Certain medical conditions can decrease the amount of vitamin B12 in the body. People who have had gastrointestinal surgery or who have digestive disorders, such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease, are more prone to a B12 deficiency because these conditions can decrease the amount of vitamin B12 the body can absorb.

Some people who eat little or no animal foods, such as vegetarians and vegans, can be deficient in B12 because only animal foods naturally have vitamin B12. When pregnant women and women who breastfeed their babies are strict vegetarians or vegans, their babies might also not get enough vitamin B12.

Do I Need Supplementation?

There is a reason that vitamin B12 supplements are some of the most popular supplements on the market. Vitamin B12 benefits include increasing energy levels, improving mood, protecting memory, and more. It is possible to get vitamin B12 from the foods you eat, but certain people can benefit from taking a vitamin B12 supplement: those over the age of 50; those who have had gastrointestinal surgery, such as weight loss surgery; people with digestive disorders, such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease; and people who avoid eating animal products, which are the richest sources of B12. Others may have trouble absorbing vitamin B12 if they have pernicious anemia, have a history of alcoholism or heavy smoking, have a history of long-term antibiotic use, who regularly use stomach acid-controlling medications, who regularly take potassium supplements, who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and who have bowel or pancreatic cancer.

What Happens If I Do Not Get Enough Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 deficiency causes tiredness, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, and megaloblastic anemia. Nerve problems, such as numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, can also occur. Other vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms include problems with balance, depression, confusion, dementia, poor memory, and soreness of the mouth or tongue. Vitamin B12 deficiency can damage the nervous system, even in people who do not have anemia, so it is important to treat a deficiency as soon as possible.

In infants, signs of a vitamin B12 deficiency include failure to thrive, problems with movement, delays in reaching the typical developmental milestones, and megaloblastic anemia.

Large amounts of folic acid can hide a vitamin B12 deficiency by correcting megaloblastic anemia, a hallmark of vitamin B12 deficiency. However, folic acid does not correct the progressive damage to the nervous system that vitamin B12 deficiency also causes. For this reason, healthy adults should not get more than 1,000 mcg of folic acid a day.

What Are Some Effects of Vitamin B12 on Health?

It is important to understand how vitamin B12 affects your health. Scientists have discovered some very important reasons why you need adequate vitamin B12. Below are just a few reasons vitamin B12 is so important.

You need it to help avert heart disease. Vitamin B12 supplements (along with folic acid and vitamin B6) do not reduce the risk of getting cardiovascular disease, but they do reduce blood levels of homocysteine, a compound linked to an increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

As we age, some people develop dementia. These people often have high levels of homocysteine in the blood. Again, Vitamin B12 (with folic acid and vitamin B6) can lower homocysteine levels, but scientists do not yet know whether these vitamins actually help prevent or treat dementia.

In addition, many advertisements promote vitamin B12 supplements as a way to increase energy and endurance.

Can Vitamin B12 Be Harmful?

Vitamin B12 has not been shown to cause any harm. However, vitamin B12 can interact or interfere with medicines that you take, and, in some cases, medicines can lower vitamin B12 levels in the body. Here are some examples of medicines that can interfere with the body’s absorption or use of vitamin B12: Chloramphenicol, an antibiotic used to treat certain infections;  proton pump inhibitors used to treat acid reflux and peptic ulcer disease; histamine H2 receptor antagonists that treat peptic ulcer disease; and metformin, a drug used to treat diabetes. Tell your doctor, pharmacist, and other healthcare providers about any dietary supplements and medicines you take. They can tell you if those dietary supplements might interact or interfere with your prescription or over-the-counter medicines, or if the medicines might interfere with how your body absorbs, uses, or breaks down nutrients.

If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation.  Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing ® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health. The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107, Frederick, MD. Check out the website at www.doctorlo.com.

by Dr. Thomas K. Lo, Advanced Chiropractic

Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) happens when your stomach contents come back up into your esophagus.

Stomach acid that touches the lining of your esophagus can cause heartburn.

Doctors also refer to GER as acid indigestion, acid reflux, acid regurgitation, heartburn, and reflux.  

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a more serious and long-lasting form of GER.

GER that occurs more than twice a week for a few weeks could be GERD. GERD can lead to more serious health problems over time. A review study published in the journal, Gut, reports the following range of GERD prevalence estimates in global populations: North America—18-28 percent • Europe—9-26 percent • East Asia—3-8 percent • the Middle East—9-33 percent • Australia—12 percent • South America—23 percent.

Who Is More Likely to Have GERD?

Anyone can develop GERD; however, you are more likely to have GERD if you are overweight or obese, a pregnant woman, taking certain medicines, a smoker, or regularly exposed to secondhand smoke.

What are the Complications of GERD?

Without treatment, GERD can sometimes cause serious complications over time, such as esophagitis, an inflammation in the esophagus. Adults who have chronic esophagitis over many years are more likely to develop precancerous changes in the esophagus. Another possible problem is an esophageal stricture, which happens when your esophagus becomes too narrow. Esophageal strictures can lead to problems with swallowing. You may also develop respiratory problems. With GERD, you might breathe stomach acid into your lungs. The stomach acid can then irritate your throat and lungs, causing respiratory problems, such as asthma, chest congestion, or extra fluid in your lungs, a dry, long-lasting cough or a sore throat, hoarseness, laryngitis, pneumonia, and wheezing. GERD can sometimes cause Barrett’s esophagus. A small number of people with Barrett’s esophagus develop a rare yet often deadly type of cancer of the esophagus.

What are the Symptoms of GER and GERD?

If you have gastroesophageal reflux (GER), you may taste food or stomach acid in the back of your mouth.

The most common symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is regular heartburn, a painful, burning feeling in the middle of your chest, behind your breastbone, and in the middle of your abdomen. Not all adults with GERD have heartburn. Other common GERD symptoms include bad breath, nausea, pain in your chest or the upper part of your abdomen, problems swallowing or painful swallowing, respiratory problems, vomiting, and the wearing away of your teeth.

What Causes GER and GERD?

GER and GERD happen when your lower esophageal sphincter becomes weak or relaxes when it should not, causing stomach contents to rise up into the esophagus. The lower esophageal sphincter becomes weak or relaxes due to increased pressure on your abdomen from being overweight, obese, or pregnant. Certain medicines, including those that doctors use to treat asthma and high blood pressure, antihistamines, painkillers, sedatives, and antidepressants can also cause GERD, as can smoking, inhaling secondhand smoke, and a hiatal hernia.

How Do Doctors Diagnose GER?

In most cases, your doctor diagnoses gastroesophageal reflux (GER) by reviewing your symptoms and medical history. If your symptoms do not improve with lifestyle changes, you may need testing.

If your GER symptoms do not improve, if they come back frequently, or if you have trouble swallowing, your doctor may recommend testing you for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). To confirm a diagnosis of GERD, or check for complications, your doctor might recommend an endoscopy. Your doctor inserts a thin, flexible tube equipped with a light and camera (endoscope) down your throat to examine the inside of your esophagus and stomach. An ambulatory acid (pH) probe test may be ordered. A monitor is placed in your esophagus to identify when, and for how long, stomach acid regurgitates there. An esophageal manometry test measures the rhythmic muscle contractions in your esophagus when you swallow. Or your practitioner may order an X-ray of your upper digestive system taken after you drink a chalky liquid that coats and fills the inside lining of your digestive tract.

How Do You Control GER and GERD?

You may be able to control gastroesophageal reflux (GER) and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) by not eating or drinking items that may cause GER, such as greasy or spicy foods and alcoholic drinks, not overeating, not eating two to three hours before bedtime, losing weight if you’re overweight or obese, quitting smoking, and avoiding secondhand smoke.

Making lifestyle changes can reduce your GER and GERD symptoms. You should lose weight if needed. Wear loose-fitting clothing around your abdomen because tight clothing can squeeze your stomach area and push acid up into your esophagus. Stay upright for three hours after meals, avoid reclining and slouching when sitting, and sleep on a slight angle by raising the head of your bed six to eight inches. Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke.

Eating, Diet, and Nutrition

You can prevent or relieve your symptoms from gastroesophageal reflux (GER) or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) by changing your diet. You may need to avoid certain foods and drinks that make your symptoms worse. You may need to decrease fatty foods; eat small, frequent meals instead of three large meals; and avoid eating or drinking items that may make GER or GERD worse, like chocolate, coffee, peppermint, greasy or spicy foods, tomatoes and tomato products, and alcoholic drinks.

Instead, eat healthy and balanced amounts of different types of healthy foods to avoid symptoms of GERD. Good choices are berries; melons; bananas; and vegetables such as spinach, kale, bok choy, green beans, and cucumbers. Lean proteins like eggs, chicken, and turkey are good choices, as are healthy fats like olive oil and avocado. Fatty fish, such as salmon and trout, are good choices, as are oats, ginger, aloe vera, and avocados.

If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation.  Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing ® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health.

The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107, Frederick, MD. Check out the website at www.doctorlo.com.

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is a normal response to stress. However, when it becomes hard to control and affects your day-to-day life, it can be disabling. Anxiety disorders affect nearly 1 in 5 adults in the United States. Women are more than twice as likely as men to get an anxiety disorder in their lifetime.

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or fear about an event or situation and is a normal reaction to stress. It helps you stay alert for a challenging situation at work, study harder for an exam, or remain focused on an important speech. In general, it helps you cope.

Unfortunately, anxiety can also be disabling if it interferes with daily life. It can make you dread nonthreatening, day-to-day activities like riding the bus or talking to a coworker. Anxiety can also be a sudden attack of terror when there is no threat.

Physical symptoms may include weakness, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, nausea, upset stomach, and dizziness.

What Are Anxiety Disorders?

Anxiety disorders happen when excessive anxiety interferes with your everyday activities, such as going to work or school or spending time with friends or family. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders in the United States.

Major Types of Anxiety Disorders

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Those with GAD worry excessively about ordinary day-to-day issues like health, money, work, and family. With GAD, the mind often jumps to the worst-case scenario, even when there is little or no reason to worry. One may have muscle tension and other stress-related physical symptoms, such as trouble sleeping or upset stomach.

Panic Disorder. A panic disorder is diagnosed when someone has sudden attacks of terror when there is no actual danger. Panic attacks may cause a sense of unreality, a fear of impending doom, or a fear of losing control. A fear of one’s own unexplained physical symptoms is also a sign of a panic disorder. People having panic attacks sometimes believe they are having heart attacks, losing their minds, or dying.

Social Phobia. A social phobia, also called social anxiety disorder, is diagnosed when people become very anxious and self-conscious in everyday social situations. People with social phobia have an intense fear of being watched and judged by others. They may get embarrassed easily and often have panic attack symptoms.

Specific Phobia. A specific phobia is an intense fear of something that poses little or no actual danger. Specific phobias could be fears of closed-in spaces, heights, water, objects, animals, or specific situations. People with specific phobias often find that facing, or even thinking about facing, the feared object or situation brings on a panic attack or severe anxiety.

Each anxiety disorder has different symptoms. They all involve fear and dread about things that may happen now or in the future.

Other Conditions That Are Not Considered Anxiety Disorders But Are Similar

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). People with OCD have unwanted thoughts (obsessions) or behaviors (compulsions) that cause anxiety. They may check the oven or iron again and again or perform the same routine over and over to control the anxiety these thoughts cause. Often, the rituals end up controlling the person.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD starts after a scary event that involved physical harm or the threat of physical harm. The person who gets PTSD may have been the one who was harmed, or the harm may have happened to a loved one or even a stranger.

How Are Anxiety Disorders Diagnosed?

Your doctor or nurse will ask you questions about your symptoms and your medical history. Your doctor may also do a physical exam or other tests to rule out other health problems that could be causing your symptoms.

Anxiety disorders are diagnosed when fear and dread of non-threatening situations, events, places, or objects become excessive and are uncontrollable. Anxiety disorders are also diagnosed if the anxiety has lasted for at least six months and interferes with social, work, family, or other aspects of daily life.

How Are Anxiety Disorders Treated?

Treatment for anxiety disorders depends on the type of anxiety disorder you have and your personal history of health problems, violence, or abuse.

What If My Anxiety Disorder Comes Back?

Sometimes, symptoms of an anxiety disorder come back after you have finished treatment. This may happen during or after a stressful event. It may also occur without any warning.

You can also talk to your doctor about ways to identify and prevent anxiety from coming back. This may include writing down your feelings, or meeting with your counselor if you think your anxiety is uncontrollable.

Complementary or alternative medicine can also help manage anxiety disorders. Some alternative medicine therapies that may help anxiety are regular physical activity, which raises the level of brain chemicals that control mood and affect anxiety and depression. Studies show meditation may improve anxiety. Regular meditation may help by boosting activity in the area of your brain responsible for feelings of serenity and joy.

How Do Anxiety Disorders Affect Other Health Conditions?

Anxiety disorders may affect other health problems that are common in women, including depression. Anxiety disorders can happen at the same time as depression. When this happens, treatment for both anxiety and depression may not be as effective. IBS symptoms are common in people with anxiety disorders. Worry can make IBS symptoms worse, especially gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms such as upset stomach or gas. GI symptoms can also be stressful and lead to more anxiety. Although treatments for IBS can help treat anxiety, it is important that you treat both conditions.

Anxiety disorders are common in women with certain diseases that cause chronic pain, including rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and migraine.

Anxiety and depression increase the risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death for American women. Anxiety can also make recovery harder after a heart attack or stroke.

Stress and anxiety can trigger asthma attacks, while the shortness of breath and wheezing during asthma attacks can cause anxiety. Studies show that breathing retraining may help asthma control and ease anxiety.

If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health.

The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107, Frederick, MD. Check out the website at www.doctorlo.com.

by Dr. Thomas K. Lo

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that affects the bronchial tubes. Your bronchial tubes carry air into and out of your lungs. When you breathe, your lungs take in oxygen. The oxygen travels through your bloodstream to all parts of your body.

In people who have asthma, the lungs and walls of the bronchial tubes become inflamed and oversensitive. When people with asthma breathe in “asthma triggers,” such as smoke, air pollution, cold air, mold, or chemicals, the bronchial tubes tighten in response. This limits airflow and makes it difficult to breathe. Asthma triggers may be different for each person and may change over time.

Who Gets Asthma?

Before age 15, asthma affects more boys than girls. After age 15, asthma is more common among girls and women than among boys and men. Researchers believe the hormones estrogen and progesterone might affect women’s airways. Changing hormone levels throughout the menstrual cycle and during pregnancy and menopause may affect airways in women with asthma.

Some women are more at risk for asthma.

Asthma is more likely to affect Puerto Rican and African-American women than women of other racial and ethnic groups; also, women who live in cities, especially in low-income areas. Air pollution, indoor allergens (such as cockroaches), and tobacco smoke are more common in urban, low-income areas.

How Does Asthma Affect Women?

Women may experience more asthma symptoms than men. Women with asthma go to the hospital for asthma treatment more often and use more quick-relief or “rescue” medicines than men use.

Women with asthma report more trouble sleeping and have more anxiety than men with asthma have.

Women’s lungs are smaller than men’s lungs. This may make women more sensitive to asthma triggers and make it harder for women to breathe during an asthma attack.

What Are the Symptoms of Asthma?

Wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness are symptoms of asthma.

You may have only one or two of these symptoms, or you may have all of them. You may also get asthma symptoms only at night or in cold weather, or after exposure to allergens or other triggers when you have a cold or are exercising.

How is Asthma Diagnosed?

Asthma can be difficult to diagnose. The symptoms can be similar to those of other conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia, bronchitis, anxiety disorders, and heart disease. Your practitioner will ask what triggers your symptoms; they may also ask about your health history, do a physical exam, and ask about your daily habits. In addition, what types of allergens or irritants might be in your workplace or home.

Your practitioner may also do tests. Spirometry is a test, using a machine called a spirometer, that measures how much air you can breathe. It also measures how fast you can blow air out. Bronchoprovocation is when stress is put on your lungs while you are exercising or breathing, in increasing doses of a special chemical or cold air.

Your practitioner may want to also test for other problems that might be causing symptoms. These include sleep apnea, vocal cord problems, or stomach acid backing up into the throat.

How is Asthma Treated?

Asthma is a chronic disease. However, some people are able to manage asthma so that symptoms do not happen again or only occur rarely.

You can take steps to control asthma and prevent problems by working with your practitioner to set up and follow a personal asthma action plan and staying away from your asthma triggers.

What are Common Asthma Triggers?

What triggers one person’s asthma may not trigger another person’s asthma. Common triggers include tobacco smoke, animal urine, saliva, and dander. Dust mites, cockroaches, air pollution, mold, pollens, fragrances (including personal care products, lotions, and candles), physical activity, cold air, wood smoke, preservatives in alcohol called “sulfites,” and certain chemicals in cleaning products or other types of chemicals you might use at work or at home.

You may not want to use household products with chemical irritants and stick with “fragrance-free” products if fragrances trigger your asthma. Keep cockroaches away. Clean up food spills and clutter right away. Seal cracks that cockroaches and other pests can get through. Vacuum once a week. If you can, use a vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter. Dust with a damp cloth to trap dust mites. Stay away from pet dander. If pet dander triggers asthma, keep your pet out of your bedroom and regularly vacuum areas where they spend time. Do not smoke. Do not allow anyone to smoke inside your home or car. Wash off allergens or pollutants. Shower after going outside so that you wash off any allergens or pollution. Wash bedding in hot water regularly to kill dust mites.

If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing ® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health. The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107, Frederick, MD. Check out the website at www.doctorlo.com.

Food Safety Tips for the Holidays

by Dr. Thomas K. Lo, Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center

Holidays can be a time for family, food, and fun. While getting together for the holidays can be enjoyable, the food may be contaminated and friends and family may become ill. The U.S. food supply is among the safest in the world, but organisms that you cannot see, smell, or taste (bacteria, viruses, and tiny parasites) are everywhere in the environment. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths in the United States can be traced to foodborne pathogens every year.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates two to three percent of foodborne illnesses lead to serious, secondary long-term illnesses. Unfortunately, the nonprofit Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) has reported that zero risk of microbiological hazards is not possible and no method will eliminate all pathogens or toxins from the food chain (“Food Safety and Fresh Produce: An Update,” 2009).

Despite progress improving the quality and safety of foods, any raw agricultural product can be contaminated. Bacteria may survive, despite aggressive controls at the processing level, or the food may become contaminated somewhere along the way during transport, preparation, cooking, serving, and storage.

For these reasons, food safety and public health officials agree that along with aggressive efforts to identify, access, and control microbiological hazards associated with each segment of the food production system, teaching everyone about safe food handling is a priority. Consumers have an important role to play in reducing their risk of foodborne illness.

Here are some tips to follow to help you avoid foodborne illnesses.

Keep it clean. Wash your hands with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds before preparing, eating, or handling food. Also, wash your hands after using the bathroom and touching pets. Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item.   Wash or scrub fruits and vegetables under running water—even if you do not plan to eat the peel—so dirt and germs on the surface do not get inside when you cut into the food.

Cook it well. Cooking food to the proper temperature gets rid of harmful germs. Use a food thermometer to check for the proper temperature of the meat you are cooking. Make sure chicken wings (and any other poultry) reach a minimum internal temperature of 165°F and that ground beef items reach 160°F. Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145°F before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming. Follow frozen food package cooking directions when cooking in microwave.

Keep it safe. If preparing food in advance, divide cooked food into shallow containers and store in a refrigerator or freezer until the party begins. This encourages rapid, even cooling. Keep hot foods at 140°F or warmer. Use chafing dishes, slow cookers, and warming trays to keep food hot on the buffet table. Cold foods should be kept at 40°F or colder. Use small service trays or nest serving dishes in bowls of ice. It is okay to refreeze meat and poultry defrosted in the refrigerator before or after cooking. If thawed by other methods, cook before refreezing. If you are getting takeout or having food delivered, make sure to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Separate raw meats from ready-to-eat foods like veggies when preparing, serving, or storing foods. Make sure to use separate cutting boards, plates, and knives for produce and for raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs.          Marinate meat and poultry in a covered dish in the refrigerator.                 Place cooked food on a clean plate. Do not use a plate that had raw or uncooked food on it—especially raw meat, poultry, or seafood. Offer guests serving utensils and small plates to discourage them from eating directly from the bowls with dips and salsa.

Store and reheat leftovers the right way. Divide leftovers into smaller portions or pieces, place in shallow containers, and refrigerate or freeze. Refrigerate leftover foods at 40°F or below as soon as possible and within two hours of preparation or one hour when the temperature is above 90°F. It is okay to put hot foods directly into the refrigerator. Refrigerate leftovers for three to four days at most. Freeze leftovers if you will not be eating them soon. Check the temperature of your refrigerator and freezer with an appliance thermometer. The refrigerator should be at 40°F or below and the freezer at 0°F or below. Cook or freeze fresh poultry, fish, ground meats, and variety meats within two days; beef, veal, lamb, or pork, within three to five days.

Wrap perishable food such as meat and poultry securely to maintain quality and to prevent meat juices from getting onto other food. To maintain quality when freezing meat and poultry in its original package, wrap the package again with foil or plastic wrap.

Canned foods are safe indefinitely as long as they have not been exposed to freezing temperatures, or temperatures above 90°F. Discard cans that are dented, rusted, or swollen. High-acid canned food (tomatoes, fruits) will keep their best quality for 12 to 18 months; low acid canned food (meats, vegetables) for 2 to 5 years.

Thawing. The refrigerator allows slow, safe thawing. Make sure thawing meat and poultry juices do not drip onto other food. For faster thawing, place food in a leak-proof plastic bag. Submerge in cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes. Cook immediately after thawing. Cook meat and poultry immediately after microwave thawing.

Food poisoning. Some signs of food poisoning include upset stomach, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever.

Signs of food poisoning can start hours, days, or even weeks after eating bad food. Usually the effects only last for one or two days, but they can last up to two weeks.

The treatment for most cases of food poisoning is to drink plenty of liquids to stay hydrated. For a more serious illness, you may need treatment at a hospital. Get medical help right away, if you have a fever higher than 101.5°F. Also, seek medical attention if you have blood in your vomit or in your stool; and you are throwing up many times a day for more than two days, if you can’t drink or keep down any liquids for 24 hours, have a very dry mouth, are peeing much less than usual, are feeling very weak, dizzy, or lightheaded and if you have diarrhea that lasts more than three days.

Anyone can get sick from eating bad food. However, food poisoning is a serious health risk for some people. Higher risk categories include pregnant women, babies, young children, older adults, and people with certain health conditions (including AIDS, diabetes, liver or kidney disease, and cancer).

You cannot see, smell, or taste harmful bacteria that may cause illness. In every step of food preparation, follow these four steps of the Food Safe Families campaign to keep food safe: (1) Clean: Wash your hands and the surfaces food is prepared on often; (2) Separate: Keep meat and vegetables separate, so you do not cross-contaminate; (3) Cook: Cook food to the right temperature according to the meat thermometer; (4) Chill: Refrigerate food promptly.

Dr. Lo wishes you a happy and healthy holiday. If you are interested in a free consultation, contact the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health. The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107, Frederick, MD. Check out the website at www.doctorlo.com.

Study Shows Food Additives Alter Gut Microbes and Cause Diseases in Mice

by Dr. Thomas K. Lo

Our digestive tract is home to 100 trillion bacteria, collectively known as the gut microbiota. These bacteria help with metabolism and maintaining a healthy immune system. Changes in this microbial community can cause chronic diseases.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) reported that a study on food additives (also called emulsifiers) promoted colitis and metabolic syndrome in mice by altering gut microbes. These emulsifiers—detergent-like food additives found in a variety of processed foods—have the potential to damage the intestinal barrier, leading to inflammation and increasing our risk of chronic disease. Emulsifiers are used because oil and water will not mix until an emulsifying agent is added. Emulsifiers made from plant, animal, and synthetic sources are often added to processed foods such as mayonnaise, ice cream, and baked goods creating a smooth texture and preventing separation while extending shelf life.     

The findings of the study suggested that certain food additives might play a role in the increasing incidence of obesity and chronic inflammatory bowel disease. The research was funded in part by NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Findings appeared in Nature on March 5, 2015.

The research team lead by Dr. Andrew T. Gewirtz, professor of biology at Georgia State University, studied the thick layer of mucus that separates gut bacteria from the lining of the intestine. The team wondered whether chemicals that disrupt this mucus barrier might alter the gut microbiota and play a role in disorders associated with inflammation, including inflammatory bowel disease and metabolic syndrome.

“What we’ve been attempting to understand for the past several years is the increase in metabolic syndrome and inflammatory bowel diseases that affect digestion,” explains Gewirtz. Metabolic syndrome includes obesity, increased risk for Type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and strokes. All these conditions, Gewirtz explains, “are associated with changes in gut bacteria.”

The recent, dramatic increase in metabolic-related diseases cannot be attributed solely to genetics, says Gewirtz. Human genetics haven’t changed in recent decades. Therefore, he and his colleagues set out to investigate environmental factors that might be responsible, including “modern additions to the food supply.”

Previous research suggested that emulsifiers could be implicated. For the new study, researchers fed mice emulsifiers in either their water or food. The experiment used polysorbate 80 (found in ice cream, sherbet, mayonnaise, and salad dressing) and carboxymethylcellulose (found in ice cream, dressing, cheese, icing, toppings, gelatinous desserts, infant/baby formula, candy, cottage cheese, and cream cheese spread) and found that it altered microbiota in a way that caused chronic inflammation. They tested the emulsifiers at levels below those approved for use in food and at levels modeled to mirror “what a person would eat, if they eat a lot of processed food.”

Mice with abnormal immune systems fed emulsifiers developed chronic colitis. Those with normal immune systems developed mild intestinal inflammation and a metabolic disorder that caused them to eat more, and become obese, hyperglycemic, and insulin resistant.

The inflammatory response prompted by eating emulsifiers, explains Gewirtz, appears to interfere with “satiety” (a state of being completely full, someone who has eaten enough) and can lead to overeating. The mice experiencing this inflammation developed more fat.

Gewirtz explains that the emulsifiers appear to disturb both the bacteria normally present in the gut and the gut’s protective mucus layer. The chemistry of the emulsifiers seem to change the microbiota and how these bacteria interact with the intestine itself. The combination, Gewirtz says, sets the stage for inflammation. He is quick to say that these food additives are by no means the “only cause of the obesity epidemic or inflammatory bowel disease.” However, emulsifiers may be a factor contributing to excess eating. The results showed that changes in the gut microbiota caused by dietary emulsifiers could drive inflammation and metabolic changes.

“We do not disagree with the commonly held assumption that over-eating is a central cause of obesity and metabolic syndrome,” said Gewirtz. However, these results suggest that modern additions to the food supply can interact with gut microbiota to influence inflammation, metabolism, and weight.

Probiotics are live microorganisms (e.g., bacteria) that are either the same as, or similar to, microorganisms found naturally in the human body and may be beneficial to health. If you picture the human body as a “host” for bacteria and other microorganisms, you might have a better understanding of probiotics. The body, especially the lower gastrointestinal tract (the gut), contains a complex and diverse community of bacteria. Although we tend to think of bacteria as harmful “germs,” many bacteria actually help the body function properly.

Probiotics are available to consumers in oral products such as dietary supplements and fermented foods, such as kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, miso, and kefir. Because of how they are prepared, they contain microorganisms that boost the diversity of good bacteria, yeasts, and fungi living in our guts.

Probiotics also might lower the number of “bad” bacteria in your gut that can cause illness or inflammation. They also can replace those problem germs with good or helpful bacteria. 

Researchers are studying when and how probiotics might best help. There is some evidence that probiotics may be helpful for acute diarrhea and antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Controlled trials have shown that Lactobacillus GG can shorten the course of infectious diarrhea in infants and children.

Although studies are limited to large reviews, taken together, suggest that probiotics reduce antibiotic-associated diarrhea by 60 percent, when compared with a placebo. More common than diarrhea is the opposite problem of constipation. Researchers have found that probiotics increase the number of weekly bowel movements by 1.3, and probiotics help to soften stools, making them easier to pass.

Probiotic therapy may also help people with Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Clinical trial results are mixed, but several small studies suggest that certain probiotics may help maintain remission of ulcerative colitis and prevent relapse of Crohn’s disease.  Because these disorders are so frustrating to treat, many people are trying probiotics before all the evidence is in for the particular strains they are using.   

Harboring a flourishing gut flora has been linked to lower obesity, fewer autoimmune conditions and digestion problems, longer lifespan, good brain function, and happiness in some studies.

It is important to be aware that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any health claims for probiotics.

If you are struggling with some of the symptoms mentioned in this article or other health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health. The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107, Frederick, MD. Check out the website at www.doctorlo.com.