Extended fasting during the night fast may lower your risk of breast cancer or improve your prognosis. Fasting has also been shown to provide decrease the risk for other types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
In the first study of its kind, researchers analyzed 11 years of data from non-diabetic breast cancer patients, with surprising results.
The women who fasted less than 13 hours per night showed a 36 percent increase in breast cancer recurrence compared to those who fasted for 13 or more hours per night.
In other words, going at least 13 hours between between dinner and breakfast is associated with a lower risk of cancer.
The study looked at daily sleep and dietary habits, serum blood sugar and inflammation markers (hemoglobin A1c and C-reactive protein), and the recurrence of cancer and breast tumors.
Longer fasting for better sleep and less disease risk
The study showed that each two-hour increase in fasting time made for longer nights of sleep. This is important not only because it helps people feel better, but also because it points to a healthier sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm. An imbalanced circadian rhythm increases cancer risk, including breast cancer, along with numerous other chronic diseases.
Each two-hour increase in fasting time also reduced blood sugar and systemic inflammation, hence lowering the risk of diabetes and other diseases.
The longer nighttime fasters showed significantly lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a protein made in the liver that increases with inflammation. Chronic inflammation leads to serious diseases, including heart disease, some forms of cancer, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease.
Got low blood sugar or adrenal fatigue? Then a bedtime snack may be appropriate
While the new research makes a strong case for extended nighttime fasting, long fasts may be detrimental to those with low blood sugar or adrenal fatigue.
In these cases, allowing blood sugar to drop too low through fasting can cause a series of negative hormonal consequences that result in insomnia, mood issues, fatigue, and poor brain function.
If you wake up anxious at 3 or 4 a.m., you may be a victim of low blood sugar and need to eat a little protein to fall back asleep. Eating a little bit before bed can also help prevent those all-too-early wakeup calls. You also need to follow a diet during the day that stabilizes blood sugar.
Eating a healthy blood sugar diet over time may help you stabilize your blood sugar to the point that you can comfortably adopt the extended nighttime fast.
A simple, non-medical strategy for reducing cancer and disease risk
These findings suggest that simply extending the time between dinner and breakfast to at least 13 hours may be a simple, non-medical strategy to reduce the risk of breast cancer and chronic disease.
If you have questions or concerns about nighttime fasting, sleep habits, blood sugar balancing, or disease prevention, please contact my office.
If you take birth control pills, it’s important to understand how oral contraceptives can affect your hormone balancing, your liver, your thyroid, and your brain. This functional medicine viewpoint can help you make an informed decision about contraception, or give you insight into buffering potential consequences.
Birth control pills flood the body with an unnatural amount of hormones that are also synthetic. This can imbalance the body in a number of ways.
Your body’s hormone balance depends on finely nuanced communication between the brain and the hormone glands. The brain determines how much hormone the glands should produce based on hormone activity in the body.
When you introduce hormones into the body, this tells the brain the body has plenty of hormone. As a result, the “feedback loop” of communication between the brain and the hormone glands slows down or becomes dormant, lowering the body’s natural production. This may create symptoms or problems when the time comes to go off the pill.
Functional medicine view of birth control and the liver
Excess hormones can stress the liver as it must break down those hormones for elimination. Chronically overburdening the liver causes it to become sluggish and congested, increasing the risk for inflammation, high cholesterol, and poor immune function.
Also, when the liver cannot properly detoxify estrogen, the hormone goes back into the bloodstream in a more toxic form, raising the risk for breast cancer, endometriosis, premenstrual syndrome, fibrocystic breasts, ovarian cysts, cervical dysplasia, endometrial cancer, prostate carcinoma and hyperplasia, and menopause.
Functional medicine support of liver detoxification may include the use of compounds such as dandelion extract and milk thistle extract to help mitigate these effects.
Oral contraception and methylation
Taking birth control pills can also result in depletion of methyl donors. Methylation is a liver detoxification pathway that attaches a single carbon group to a chemical compound in order to help the body eliminate it.
About 20 percent of the population are already slow methylators. Taking birth control pills can compound this problem, making it more difficult to detoxify an environmental compound. Methylation defects have also been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.
Functional medicine view of birth control and the brain
Depleting methyl donors can also lead to lower serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is the “well being” neurotransmitter that prevents depression, and healthy methylation activity is necessary for sufficient serotonin.
Compounds that can support methylation include methyl B12, P-5-P, MSM, and trimethylglycine. Compounds that support serotonin activity include 5-HTP, St. John’s Wort, and SAMe.
Birth control pills and the thyroid
Elevated estrogen from birth control pills also can cause symptoms of low thyroid function by hindering conversion in the liver of inactive thyroid hormone (T4) to the usable form (T3).
Elevated estrogen can also create too many thyroid-binding proteins, which prevent thyroid hormones from getting into cells. Both these mechanisms can cause symptoms of low thyroid activity, or hypothyroidism.
Functional medicine risks of birth control pills
The more publicized risks of oral contraceptives include heart attack, stroke, and venous thromboembolism, however these risks are recognized as being minimal.
The purpose of this article isn’t to scare you, but simply to educate you in the ways birth control pills can affect your health so you can make an informed decision or understand how you may be able to mitigate their effects.
Although certain nutritional compounds may be helpful, it’s also important to use an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle approach to optimize the function of your body and reduce risks.
Ask my office for more advice on healthy hormone function.
Do you crash when you go too long without eating, losing energy and becoming “hangry?” Hanger—hunger plus anger—is that explosive combination of low blood sugar and irrepressible irritability that turns a normally nice person into a multi-headed hydra.
People joke about being hangry, but when it happens regularly, it means your body and brain are in a perpetual state of alarm. This constant stress raises inflammation and accelerates degeneration of the brain.
In other words, being chronically hangry ages you too fast.
How being hangry ages your body too fast
The low blood sugar that triggers “hanger” sends your body into an emergency “fight-or-flight” mode, causing you to snap at loved ones or fly into a rage because you can’t untangle your earphone cords. This constant stress ages the body and brain.
Low blood sugar also raises an immune messenger called IL-6, which triggers inflammation that destroys tissue.
If you have a chronic or autoimmune condition such as Hashimoto’s or rheumatoid arthritis, the inflammation from low blood sugar can trigger flare ups that destroy tissue, worsen symptoms, and advance your condition.
Autoimmunity means an over zealous and imbalanced immune system is attacking and destroying tissue in the body. Many people have autoimmunity but have not been diagnosed. Low blood sugar can worsen autoimmunity and speed destruction of tissues or glands in the body.
In a nutshell, the stress and inflammation from chronically low blood sugar ages your body too quickly.
How being hangry ages your brain too fast
The low blood sugar from being hangry deprives the brain of fuel and impairs brain function. This speeds degeneration because energy-deprived brain cells die.
Brain-related symptoms of low blood sugar include:
- Irritable and easily upset
- Feeling shaky, jittery, or tremulous
- Agitated and nervous
- Eating gives you energy
- Poor memory, forgetfulness
- Blurred vision
- Lack of appetite or nausea
- Energy crash around 3 or 4 p.m.
- Wake up anxious around 3 or 4 a.m.
Being hangry can worsen brain autoimmunity
Chronically low blood sugar also ages the brain by triggering autoimmune flares in the brain.
A number of people have autoimmunity to brain and nerve tissue but don’t know it—it’s more common than realized.
When blood sugar drops too low, it can trigger the autoimmune process in the brain just as it does in the body, speeding the brain degeneration process.
A few common symptoms of brain autoimmunity include fatigue, “crashing” after too much stimulation or exertion, brain fog, memory loss, anxiety or depression disorders, autism or ADHD symptoms, and poor balance.
If you suffer from any brain-related symptoms, preventing low blood sugar is crucial.
Tips on avoiding low blood sugar to slow aging
If you want to function optimally and slow the aging process, make sure to avoid getting “hangry.”
Tips include never skipping breakfast or other meals, avoiding sugars and processed starches, eating plenty of vegetable fiber and healthy fats, minimizing caffeine, eating small meals every two to three until blood sugar stabilizes, and avoiding foods to which you are sensitive (such as gluten and dairy for many people).
A number of herbal and nutritional compounds can also help bring blood sugar to normal levels and balance immune and brain health. Ask my office for more advice
Research has confirmed what many people have long known: Gluten sensitivity is a real thing.
A Columbia University Medical Center study found gluten sensitivity is not an imagined condition, as many seem to think these days, and that celiac disease or a wheat allergy are not required to react to gluten.
Although people with gluten sensitivity may not demonstrate classic symptoms or lab markers of celiac disease, gluten nevertheless causes an acute immune response in gluten sensitive people.
Symptoms of gluten sensitivity vary widely and often include fatigue, brain fog, memory problems, mood imbalances, joint pain, skin eruptions, respiratory issues, and worsening of existing health conditions.
Gluten sensitivity different than celiac disease
In celiac disease, the immune response to gluten happens primarily in the small intestine.
With gluten sensitivity, however, the immune response is systemic, meaning the inflammatory cells travel in the bloodstream throughout the body. This explains why symptoms vary so widely.
Researchers found that six months on a gluten-free diet normalized the immune response and significantly improved patient symptoms.
Gluten sensitivity awareness crucial for patients
Studies like this are important to help educate doctors that gluten sensitivity can cause chronic health problems.
Many doctors still believe that only celiac disease is to blame for a reaction to gluten. Because gluten sensitivity is largely dismissed and conventional testing for it is so inadequate, many patients unnecessarily suffer from undiagnosed gluten sensitivity.
Gluten linked to autoimmunity and brain disorders
What’s worse, gluten is linked to many autoimmune diseases. An autoimmune disease is a condition in which the immune system attacks and destroys tissue in the body. Common autoimmune diseases include Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and type 1 diabetes.
However, the tissue most commonly attacked in response to gluten sensitivity is neurological tissue.
In other words, your undiagnosed gluten sensitivity could be destroying your brain. This is why gluten causes brain-based disorders in many people.
Gluten sensitivity more common than celiac
Celiac disease was long thought to affect about 1 percent of the population, but newer research shows rates have gone up 700 percent in the last 50 years.
Also, numbers are likely even higher because testing for celiac disease is extremely stringent and outdated. (Diagnostic criteria were developed in Europe, where a celiac diagnosis qualifies one for disability payments.)
Estimates for the rate of gluten sensitivity range from 6 percent of the population to considerably higher—a randomized population sample of 500 people conducted by immunologist Aristo Vojdani, PhD found one in three people had gluten sensitivity.
Proper testing and strict gluten-free diet are vital
Most testing for gluten sensitivity is inaccurate as people can react to at least 12 different compounds in gluten. Standard tests only screen for one, alpha gliadin.
Also, many people have cross reactions to gluten, meaning they respond to other foods they eat as if it were gluten. Dairy is one of the most common of these. It’s important to test for cross-reactive foods and remove them from the diet along with gluten.
It’s also vital to strictly adhere to a gluten-free diet as the occasional cheat can keep inflammation high and chances at symptom recovery low.
Ask my office for advice on the latest in testing for gluten sensitivity.
Have you noticed how shockingly bright streetlights are these days? Although they’re great for night time visibility, the newer LED streetlights tamper with the body’s internal clock, skewing metabolic function and raising disease risk.
The effect of blue-rich white light at night on human health is so significant that the American Medical Association (AMA) issued a policy statement about street lighting.
It warns they are five times more disruptive to the human sleep cycle than traditional street lighting and that recent large surveys link brighter residential lighting with reduced sleep, poor functioning, and more obesity. The lighting also increases the risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
These bright blue-white lights also strain the eyes and can cause problems walking or driving safely at night. Enough blue light can even damage the retina.
How night time lighting can be safer for health
LED lights were introduced because they consume less energy. The AMA suggests ways to make the lighting friendlier to human biology (and that of area wildlife):
- Lowering the color temperature of the lights away from the blue end of the spectrum (which signals the brain it is daytime) and towards the orange end of the spectrum. Current lights have a color temperature of 4000K to 5000K. Compare this with the use of fire and candles human have used for most of history, at 1800K. The AMA recommends lights be no bluer than 3000K.
- Better shielding the light to reduce eye-straining glare.
- Using adaptive controls to dim or extinguish the lights.
Residents complaining about bright lights
You don’t have to understand the science to feel the effects of these lights. Already residents in areas where
they are installed around the country are complaining, saying the lights feel like a car lot or strip mall parking lot. The LED street lamps also light up the insides of homes, especially in hilly areas such as Seattle.
The majority of Davis, California residents found them so objectionable the city agreed to replace all existing LED streetlights with more biologically friendly lighting.
Do you need sunglasses at night?
Of course, it’s dangerous to wear dark glasses at night. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have recourse if LED streetlights are a part of your life.
You can switch the light coming into your eyes to a friendlier hue by wearing orange or rose tinted glasses that aren’t sunglasses. Examples include affordable Uvex safety glasses from Amazon, orange glasses from Low Blue Lights (these glasses are more expensive because they are scratch resistant), or rose tinted migraine glasses.
Also, cities are taking note of complaints, so be sure to add your voice.
Avoid night time blue lights indoors too
LED streetlights aren’t the only culprits when it comes to confusing your sleep-wake cycle. LED televisions, smart phones, tablets, computers, and LED bulbs also bombard you with too much blue light at night, hindering the output of sleep hormones.
Purchasing orange bulbs for lamps, orange filters to put over your screens, or wearing orange glasses a couple of hours before bed are ways to encourage the production of sleep hormones and maintain the delicate but important sleep-wake cycle.
While many women automatically assume that carrying a child and severe pain in the lower back go hand in hand, they are often surprised when they learn that this is not necessarily the case. In fact, chiropractic care can often help alleviate back pain for pregnant women by as much as 85%.
We've worked with many pregnant women suffering from back pain in our Portland office.
One piece of research published in Chiropractic & Manual Therapies involved 115 women who were pregnant (most of which were in their third trimester) and reported pain in their lower back region, pelvic area, or both. Data was gathered prior to the study, as well as one week, one month, three months, and one year after treatment commenced. At each follow-up, the participants were asked to rate their level of pain based on a 7-point scale to determine whether it was better, worse, or stayed the same. The results?
52% reported that their pain was better after one week of chiropractic treatment. After one month, that amount jumped up to 70 percent, climbing even more to 85 percent showing improvement at the three month mark. Positive effects were still reported at six months post-treatment, which was generally after childbirth, and continued to the final data collection one year after treatment commenced.
There are also many additional benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy. Not only does it efficiently relieve back pain, but it does it in a completely natural and non-invasive way. This means that you don't have to worry about taking any drugs or undergoing any type of treatment that could potentially harm your unborn child.
Furthermore, it makes your time spent carrying your baby more pleasant. When you're not distracted with pain, you can enjoy the experience even more as you prepare your home and your life for all of the fun and exciting changes that lie ahead.
You don't have to suffer from back pain during pregnancy. We're here in Portland to help with natural chiropractic care. Give us a call today at (503) 771-1974 to make an appointment.
Peterson CK, Muhlemann D, & Humphreys BK. Outcomes of pregnant patients with low back pain undergoing chiropractic treatment: a prospective cohort study with short term, medium term and 1 year follow-up. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies 2014;22(15):doi:10.1186/2045-709X-22-15.
Star Trek’s Zoe Saldano recently revealed she has Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, a thyroid disease affecting millions of women that causes weight gain, fatigue, depression, cold hands and feet, brain fog, constipation, and many other symptoms.
Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune thyroid disease. Autoimmunity is a condition in which the immune system attacks and destroys body tissue, in this case the thyroid gland. It is one of the most common autoimmune diseases, affecting an estimated more than 23 million people.
The thyroid gland governs metabolism in the body and produces thyroid hormones, which are needed by every cell in the body, including brain cells.
This is why a thyroid disease such as Hashimoto’s causes a person to gradually lose function, feel run down, lose brain function, and find it impossible to lose weight (although not in Saldano’s case.)
Saldano’s unusual explanation for Hashimoto’s
When asked about her Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism diagnosis, Saldano said, “Your body doesn’t have the energy it needs to filter toxins, causing it to believe that it has an infection, so it’s always inflamed.”
This is an unusual and narrow explanation for autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s.
Research shows multiple factors play into the development of an autoimmune disease, including:
Genetic susceptibility (Saldano’s family members have Hashimoto’s)
⦁ Imbalanced immunity
⦁ Food sensitivities
⦁ Environmental toxins
⦁ Leaky gut
⦁ Chronic stress
⦁ Gender (autoimmunity mainly affects women)
⦁ Hormone imbalances
⦁ Blood sugar imbalances
⦁ Chronic inflammation
⦁ Viral or bacterial infection
In a nutshell, rarely can we point to one defining trigger of autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. Typically, a person experiences a number of chronic health issues that go undiagnosed until the overburdened immune system tips into an over zealous attack on the body.
What Saldano is doing right for Hashimoto’s
Although her explanation for Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism may be a bit off base, Saldano otherwise puts forth some good lifestyle examples.
For starters, she follows a gluten-free and dairy-free diet. Studies link these foods with autoimmunity, including Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
She also talks about the stress reducing techniques of not being too hard on herself and surrounding herself with the support of loved ones.
How to find out if you have Hashimoto’s
Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism often goes undiagnosed in the conventional health care model. This is because doctors often only test for TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) to prescribe medication.
About 95 percent of hypothyroid cases are due to Hashimoto’s. It’s important to check for TPO and TGB antibodies, which tell you if you have autoimmunity. Managing Hashimoto’s goes far beyond using thyroid medication as you must work to balance and regulate the immune system so it stops attacking the body.
For more information on identifying and managing Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, contact my office.
Most cases of chronic disease can be linked to stress, even if that stress is more physical than psychological. About two-thirds of doctor’s visits are for stress-related complaints.[SB1]
How does stress causes disease? The body responds to stress by making adrenal hormones (such as epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol) that cause the “fight or flight” response. This response raises blood pressure, increases the heart rate, and sends blood to the limbs in preparation for action. The sweaty palms, quickened breathing, and jitters before a job interview, first date, or big test? That’s from stress hormones.
A healthy body quickly returns to normal after a stressful situation. The problem with life today is stress is ongoing and many people never return to “normal.” Chronic financial worries, a stressful job, or a bad relationship keep us locked in fight-or-flight.
Stress doesn’t have to be only related to lifestyle. In fact, stressors to the body are more insidious and can be more damaging. These include a diet high in sugar and starchy foods, not eating enough or eating too much, gut problems, food intolerances, high or low blood sugar, diabetes, anemia, autoimmune disease, chronic pain, and environmental toxins.
How stress damages your body
Unrelenting stress causes continual production of cortisol. Cortisol is known as the aging hormone because it breaks us down more quickly. Chronic high cortisol is linked to:
- increased belly fat
- insulin resistance
- high blood pressure
- low energy
- suppressed immunity
- reduced libido
- bone loss
- heart problems
Symptoms of chronic stress
You might think this is a no-brainer — a symptom of chronic stress is feeling stressed out.
This is true in many, but not all cases. Other lesser-known symptoms that indicate stress is robbing you of health include: constant fatigue, energy crashes, difficulty recovering from stressful events, headaches, trouble falling and staying asleep, trouble waking up, emotional mood swings, sugar and caffeine cravings, irritability, lightheadedness between meals, eating to relieve fatigue, dizziness upon standing, and gastric ulcers.
How to buffer damages of stress
The most important first step in addressing stress to better manage chronic disease is obvious: remove the stressors. This can mean a diet and lifestyle overhaul.
It also means adding in activities that lower stress and release chemicals and hormones that lower inflammation and improve overall health of the body and brain.
These include plenty of sleep, meditation, daily physical activity, hobbies, socializing, laughter, a healthy whole foods diet, avoiding junk foods, and more.
Daily stress is a way of life for the average American. Just the toxic chemicals we encounter in our environment are considerably stressful. Urban life, traffic, raising children, and existing illnesses are examples of potent stressors you can’t simply jettison.
PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, is the most common female hormonal imbalance today. PCOS has far reaching consequences, including an increased risk of autism in offspring. The good news it may be reversible through diet and lifestyle changes.
PCOS is a condition in which an imbalance in estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone causes cysts to grow on the ovaries. While this can be painful, the consequences of PCOS can be severe, including a 60 percent increased risk in giving birth to a baby who will develop an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
The symptoms of PCOS
Consider the symptoms of PCOS, below, which reflect how pervasive this disorder is on the body as a whole.
Here are some symptoms:
⦁ Irregular menstrual periods
⦁ Ovarian cysts
⦁ Acne, oily skin, or dandruff
⦁ Obesity and excess weight, usually concentrated around the abdomen
⦁ Male pattern baldness
⦁ Dark, thick patches of skin on the neck, arms, breasts, or thighs
⦁ Skin tags
⦁ Anxiety or depression
⦁ Sleep apnea
PCOS causes male attributes
The hormonal imbalances associated with PCOS cause higher levels of the male hormone testosterone. This in turn leads to the development of such male attributes as male pattern balding, facial hair growth, deepening voice, and perhaps a more aggressive or indifferent personality.
What causes PCOS?
It’s no accident that symptoms of PCOS are similar to those of high blood sugar and diabetes. Although genetic predisposition plays a role in PCOS, the diet and lifestyle factors that cause insulin resistance (high blood sugar) and type 2 diabetes also cause PCOS: a diet high in sugars and processed carbohydrates, lack of plant fiber, overeating, and lack of exercise.
The upside to this is that switching to a whole foods diet that is free of sugar, lower in processed carbs, and high in vegetables and adding in daily physical activity can help reverse not only high blood sugar but also PCOS. For younger women this paves the path to a smoother transition through perimenopause and menopause, a period in life that can be made miserable by blood sugar imbalances.
The vicious cycle between PCOS and blood sugar
Standard lab markers that can identify PCOS include a fasting blood sugar of over 100 and elevated triglycerides and cholesterol, especially if triglycerides are higher than cholesterol. Not surprisingly, these are also markers found with insulin resistance, or pre-diabetes.
Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body’s cells become less sensitive to insulin due to a high-sugar, high-carbohydrate diet, over eating, and sedentary lifestyle.
This leads to high testosterone and PCOS in women (and elevated estrogen in men).
Unfortunately, elevated testosterone causes cells to become more resistant to insulin, thus creating more testosterone in a vicious cycle.
If you would like advice on managing PCOS naturally, ask my office for advice on functional medicine strategies to balance your blood sugar and hormones.
Although some people are still hesitant about chiropractic, even the American Medical Association (AMA) suggests that adjustments should be tried prior to surgical treatment--the one option that should be a last resort.
Chiropractic Healing Hands For You has seen many back pain patients in our Portland office who have been hurting for years and who are afraid that they might need an operation for their back pain. Chiropractic Healing Hands For You has had great success in helping patients recover and avoid risky surgery, and the science backs up our experience.
For example, in one study carried out on almost 2,000 Washington State workers who suffered from a back injury while at work, more than 40% who saw a surgeon first following their injury found themselves having back surgery within three years. That compares to just 1.5% of the patients who first sought treatment with chiropractic care, proving that this natural approach is very effective at keeping you out of the operating room.
There are alternatives to risky medical procedures. Chiropractic is a proven effective and safe way to improve the function of your spine, which is the root cause of back pain. Chiropractic Healing Hands For You has helped many patients in Portland recover. Give our office a call today at (503) 771-1974 for an appointment.
Goodman DM, Burke AE, Livingston. Low Back Pain. The Journal of the American Medical Association 2013;309(16);1738.
Keeney BJ, Fulton-Kehoe D, Turner JA, et al. Early predictors of lumbar spine surgery after occupational back injury: results from a prospective study of workers in Washington State. Spine 2013;38(11):953-964.