Stress Can Weaken Your Immune System

Did  you know that about 80% of our immune system is in our intestinal lining?  I said after the last post that I would follow up on the importance of insulin yet at this time we need to focus on our immune systems.

Stress can come in the form of excessive worry and things such as eating processed food. Both of these have a profound effect on our immune system through our gut/intestinal lining.

Gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT)[is a component of the mucosa-associated (gut lining) lymphoid tissue (MALT) which works in the immune system to protect the body from invasion in the gut. 

So it really does matter what we eat because there are foods that heal the gut through the proliferation of good bacteria – and foods that can hurt the gut by feeding bad or pathogenic bacteria. Good bacteria feeds on good fibrous food (mainly vegetables and fruit aka prebiotics) and bad bacteria feeds on things such as sugar and processed carbohydrates to name two of many.  

To clarify some lingo: Probiotics are good bacteria you take in pill form. Fermented food and drinks are probiotics in food form. Prebiotics are the fiber we eat through a healthy diet.

“A huge proportion of your immune system is actually in your GI tract,” says Dan Peterson, assistant professor of pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.   ( ) 

This is a very general overview, yet worth researching further or stay tuned for future posts on this topic.

Here are a few resources to help you understand more fully the gut-immune system and the stress-gut connection: (article)  (podcast)


In future posts I will explore good gut food and bad gut food. Stay tuned.

The Importance of Understanding Insulin

The average healthy person doesn’t think about insulin. In my experience most people who think about insulin are diabetic. Yet I cannot stress enough the importance of understanding insulin for everyone who wants to live a long and healthy life without chronic illness.

Insulin is the hormone that makes glucose available to our cells for energy – to make it very simple. High blood sugar is an insulin issue for example. The more carbohydrates (grains, sugar) we eat the harder insulin has to work and if we are continually eating carbs then the insulin becomes resistant or overworked and stops doing its job properly.

There are many undesirable effects from insulin resistance. It would be very good for your health to understand this system better so that you can make food choices that support blood sugar balance and insulin function.

My functional medicine mentor, Chris Kresser – has many articles on optimal health on his website so I will share one with you now….

Check back next week for more information on how to reverse or prevent insulin resistance.

The Case Against Sugar*

*title borrowed from the book of the same name by Gary Taubes
Around 1 in 3 people in the United States have pre-diabetes, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The most important reason to care about the effects of sugar on our body is INSULIN.

It’s not the lack of nutrients, amount of empty calories or the hyperactivity it causes in our kids or grands, or how it interferes with vitamin absorption or the cavities it cuts in our teeth, or how much weight we gain when we eat too much (although those are all good reasons)…it’s INSULIN.

Insulin helps our body turn blood sugar/glucose into energy. It also helps our body store it in our muscles, fat cells, and liver to use later, when our body needs it.

After we eat carbohydrates/sugar, our blood sugar (glucose) rises. This rise in glucose triggers our pancreas to release the hormone insulin into the bloodstream. Insulin travels through the blood to our body’s cells. It tells the cells to open up and let the glucose in. Once inside, the cells convert glucose into energy or store it to use later. Cells obtain energy from glucose or convert it to fat for long-term storage.

Carbohydrates are the quickest source of energy for the body. And carbohydrates also cause the greatest insulin reaction. 

When we eat carbs/sugar  a l l  d a y  l o n g …breakfast, lunch and dinner…we are creating an insulin response  a l l  d a y  l o n g.  Insulin will then become resistant…overworked…slow down and stop doing the job it is meant to do. 

Insulin resistance means that glucose/sugar remains in the blood too long and this can lead to pre-diabetes then type 2 diabetes, if something doesn’t change.

That something is our diet! The fewer carbs/sugar we eat the less insulin we need.

Diabetes is not the only negative health outcome of high blood sugar. Other common effects are: obesity, risk of heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, vision problems, nerve problems and high triglycerides to name a few.

One last note about Insulin: It is called the fat stimulating hormone because when insulin is active escorting glucose to our cells it also prevents fat from being broken down for energy. Insulin – like a traffic cop – is saying “go go go” to glucose and “stop” to the fat cells so they do not get broken down and burned as fuel. They stay stored in our body as fat until there is no more glucose left to burn. Unfortunately, too often there is always glucose to burn due to our carbohydrate filled diets. 

As I said above, cells obtain energy from glucose or convert it to fat for long-term storage. Eat less carbs/sugar throughout the day and stay active to burn up the carbs eaten to keep insulin from overworking and to keep fat from accumulating. It’s pretty simple.

I hope I made my case!!




The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes


Do I have Leaky Gut?

Hippocrates, the father of medicine, once said, “All disease begins in the gut.”

Thousands of years later, research has proven him correct, and one of the diseases we are most concerned about is Leaky Gut Syndrome. Leaky gut syndrome (LGS) is a condition that happens as a consequence of intestinal hyperpermeability. In other words, the tight junctions between the cell walls of the gut malfunction and become weak, allowing things like toxins, microbes and undigested food particles to pass into the bloodstream.

This compromises the liver, the lymphatic system, and the immune system creating an auto-immune response in the body.

Research has shown that leaky gut is now the underlying cause to a number of “seemingly unrelated” health concerns and chronic diseases. So what’s causing the leaking gut to lead to these chronic diseases? Primarily, it’s the overprescribing of antibiotics. Secondly, it’s the overuse of NSAIDS, such as Advil. Both of these cause inflammation in the intestinal wall, creating the spaces between the cells. What also contributes to LGS is our current lifestyle of excessive alcohol intake, chronic stress, toxic overload, bacterial imbalances, daily/gluten allergies and poor diet choices.

Curious about what LGS might look like? Here are seven signs you might have it:

  1. Food sensitivities
  2. IBS
  3. Autoimmune Disease including Crohn’s
  4. Thyroid Problems
  5. Malabsorption
  6. Inflammatory Skin Conditions
  7. Anxiety, Mood Imbalance and Autism

Other chronic diseases that results from LGS are: asthma, allergies, sinusitis, migraines, fibromyalgia, inflammatory joint disorders, PMS, uterine and breast fibroids. LGS is also often the foundation of chronic fatigue syndrome and pediatric immune deficiencies.

There is one other important factor to consider if you think you have LGS. Not only do toxins get into the bloodstream, due to the weakness between the cell walls, but the absorptive surface area of the intestines gets damaged, so even the beneficial nutrients aren’t absorbed resulting in nutritional deficiencies.

LGS can sound daunting, but there’s hope. We can work towards repairing the gut lining. If you are experiencing any of the above signs and symptoms, acupuncture and diet therapy can help. Feel free to contact me for a consultation.


The Benefits of Collagen

Collagen is the most substantial protein in our body. It iscollagen found in bones, muscles, tendons, skin, blood vessels, and even the digestive system. It gives our skin strength and elasticity and replaces dead skin cells, and helps with wound healing. Both tendons and ligaments are made of it, so you can consider collagen the “glue” that helps hold the body together.

There are 16 types of collagen in our body. These include types 1, 2, 3, 5, and 10. Here is a quick overview of what they all consist of:

  • Type 1 – is most abundant and strongest, it helps form tendons, ligaments, organs, skin, bone and found in the GI tract
  • Type 2 – helps build cartilage, key to joint health
  • Type 3 – major component of the extracellular matrix that makes up our organs and skin, key to heart health
  • Type 4 – forms basal lamina, which is found in endothelial cells that help form the tissues that surround organs, muscles and fat
  • Type 5 – makes the surface of cells, hair strands and tissue found in women’s placentas
  • Type 10 – helps with new bone formation and forming articular cartilage

So how can collagen boost your health?

  • It improves the health of your hair and skin (increases elasticity and reduces cellulite and stretch marks)
  • Reduces joint pain and degeneration
  • Helps heal GI disorders such as leaky gut, IBS, acid reflux, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis
  • Boosts metabolism, muscle mass and energy output
  • Strengthens hair, teeth and nails
  • Improves liver health
  • Protects cardiovascular health

You can take a collagen supplement on its own, mainly found in capsules or powder form, which is great to put in smoothies. When looking for a collagen supplement, try to include all the types discussed above. Also, make sure to take it with vitamin C, so your body can convert the collagen into a usable protein. Another way to get more collagen in your diet is through a daily dose of bone broth, which is nutrient dense, easy to digest, and rich in flavor. If you prefer bone broth over a collagen supplement, just make sure it’s from grass fed, organic source.

Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have or if you would like some guidance on choosing a good brand.


Meditate your Way to Health

meditationMeditation is relaxation. It’s calming to the mind.

Most of us walk through our days with thousands of thoughts going through our heads, driving us crazy. Some are beneficial and help us feel good. Some are unpleasant, put us in a bad mood, and don’t serve us in being the best version of ourselves.

This is where meditation comes in. Meditation releases dopamine, a major neurotransmitter that’s a key factor in motivation, productivity, and focus. It provides the zest for life and is in charge of our pleasure-reward system. With optimal levels of dopamine, we experience feelings of satisfaction, bliss, and even euphoria.

Meditation has also been shown to increase melatonin, serotonin, GABA, DHEA, Endorphins, Growth Hormone, and more. Additionally, the analysis of MRI scans have found increased gray-matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory, as well as in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection.

Two ways to meditate:

1. Follow a guided meditation. Apps like Insight Timer and Headspace are great for this. Oprah & Deepak also have online 21 day guided meditations that are very well done.

2. Simply follow your breath. Feel your inhale, then your exhale. Breath deeply & slowly. You can listen to calming music in the background such as rain drops or the sea shore, or sit in silence wherever you are comfortable and won’t be disturbed.

There is no need to sit cross-legged on the floor. Pick your favorite chair and make yourself comfortable. Eliminate distractions. Then just sit.  

The key to meditation is consistency. It’s like a multi-vitamin for your brain. It’s good to take everyday. Thoughts will come. Allow them to pass like the clouds in the sky. Be gentle with yourself when it comes to this. It can take weeks, months or even years to calm our usual monkey minds.  Allow yourself whatever time you need. No judgment. 

Other great benefits of meditation include: 

  • A calm mind
  • Good concentration
  • Better clarity
  • Optimal blood pressure
  • Lower levels of blood lactate, reducing anxiety attacks
  • Decreases any tension-related pain, such as, tension headaches, ulcers, insomnia, muscle and joint problems
  • Increases energy levels, while gaining an inner source of energy
  • Emotional stability improves
  • Increased Creativity

The Importance of Core Strength for (most) Back and Neck problems

In my personal experience, and that of many of my patients, when we get strong – especially core strength – we have less daily discomfort and less aggravating neck and back pain and stiffness.

Be Smart Train Smart

Yes, regardless of whether you have herniations, bulges etc. If you have had images taken of your spine and you have visible “damage” you CAN still lead a healthy and pain-free life IF you take great care of yourself and monitor yourself well.  Always consult your doctor first.

Most importantly, listen to your body. Don’t let any back pain go on for too long (more than a day) without addressing it by any means you know works for you. Resting, stretching, taking a warm bath….there are many ways to find relief. Yet, getting strong is a good way to prevent back pain from recurring.

Core strength is key. Safely strengthening is also key. If strength training is done improperly and without good quality supervision – especially at the start –  then more harm than good will be done.

Many people resist strength training – for various reasons – yet I know for sure that when done well it can relieve much back and neck pain. So if you REALLY want to feel better it is worth the time, effort and money. WELL worth it.

Strength training with a qualified trainer has given me years of comfort after 20 years of pain. Many of my patients and friends have also felt dramatic relief from sciatica to broken back pain through core strength training.

I recommend a trainer who uses MedX machines (or any very stabilizing method) and the training is one on one. This will ensure proper and safe progression.

Call me at 561-350-8406 for specific recommendations of safe trainers.

How to Choose a Probiotic, Gut Health Part 5

If you are eating plenty of prebiotics (raw specialized plant fibers that help your good bacteria grow and flourish) then you may not need to take a probiotic (friendly bacteria). Yet, most people are not eating enough pre or probiotic foods. In that case, taking a probiotic can be helpful to your gut health.bacteria

Some simple guidelines to follow when purchasing a probiotic :

Lactobacilli and Bifidobacterium, are the most common genus. An effective probiotic should contain both.

There are various strains of each of these Genus’. (E.g., Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus johnsonii, Lactobacillus acidopholus). The different strains work better for different digestive imbalances. Do your research if you have a specific illness you are looking to heal.

Probiotics do not all need to be refrigerated. If you travel a lot, get one that does not need refrigeration.

It is recommended that you take your probiotic capsules with food and liquid. This helps buffer the pill against acid in the stomach.

If you are having digestive issues, or have recently taken a round of antibiotics it is helpful to take over 10 billion CPU a day. If you are perfectly healthy with no digestive issues then 5-8 billion is a good amount.

I hope these very simple tips are helpful to you and your gut! Please call or message me for more detailed instruction.



Your Gut Health, Part 4: Probiotics, Prebiotics & Synbiotics

Before moving on to Part 4 of Your Gut Health, please refer to my recent posts for a refresher…

Your Gut Health, Part 1: How the Bacteria in your Gut could be Used to Treat Mental Illness

Picture3Your Gut Health, Part 2: Healing & Optimizing Digestion

Your Gut Health, Part 3: Optimizing your Gut Flora

Talk about PREbiotics is on the rise but not many of us really understand what they are. Well, prebiotics beneficially nourish the probiotics that are already in your gut. They are specialized plant fibers that help your good bacteria grow and flourish.

Prebiotics include: (in order of prebiotic fiber content by weight)

Raw, Chicory Root 64.6%, Raw, Jerusalem Artichoke 31.5%, Raw, Dandelion Greens 24.3%, Raw, Garlic 17.5%, Raw, Leek 11.7%, Raw, Onion 8.6%, Raw Asparagus 5%, Raw Wheat bran 5%

Another good article about prebiotics:

Many of us are familiar with PRObiotics (also called live cultures) and their importance. For those of you who could use a refresher, probiotics introduce good bacteria into the gut. They are essential for a functional digestive system, functional brain chemistry and good health in general.  Probiotics can be taken in capsule form or consumed in any or all of the foods mentioned in this article.

Note: probiotics in capsule form should have various genus’, species and strains of bacteria (Lactobacillus (genus) reuteri (species) ATCC55730 (strain) ) and at least 5-8 billion microorganisms.

A good article on how to choose a probiotic:

Synbiotics are a combination of prebiotics and probiotics. They are found in fermented foods such as pickles and pickled foods, sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt and kefir. Eating a variety of these foods gives you a great variety of probiotics species and strains.

Studies have shown that prebiotics and good gut bacteria, together, play a significant role in mental health, digestive health and overall health. Many individuals who consume prebiotics, probiotics and synbiotics on a daily basis have fewer issues with anxiety, depression, stress, digestive disorders and have a stronger immune system.

*See part 5 – next week – to learn more about the genus, species and strains of probiotics helpful for optimal health.

*Feel free to contact me for any guidance or recommendations when choosing a probiotic or prebiotic.


Your Gut Health, Part 3: Optimizing your Gut Flora

Last post we talked about some general things to remember in aiding optimal digestion. Some of these things included chewing well, eating smaller portions, choosing local & organic, and exercising to reduce stress. This week I’d like to touch on how to optimize your gut flora or gut microbiome:Unknown

1. Cut back on refined foods and especially sugar. Fruits are ok in small quantities.

2. Eat fermented foods, e.g. kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles (salt-cured only), coconut yogurt, miso, kimchi. The process of fermentation
creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotics.

3. Reduce inflammation by avoiding excess Omega-6 and getting plenty of Omega-3s.

4. Take acid resistant probiotics – at least 10 billion per day if you have a healthy digestive system. And it is recommended that one switches brands regularly – or alternates between brands to get a good variety.

5. Get plenty of rest. Studies have shown that sleep disturbances such as sleep deprivation have been shown to increase inflammatory cytokines (proteins secreted by certain cells of the immune system & affect the behavior of other cells).

6. Adjust your fiber intake to a level that works for you. Some people do better with more, some people do better with less.

7. Eating plenty of gut-healing bone broth. Bone broth is rich in minerals that support the immune system and contains healing compounds like collagen (heals gut lining), glutamine, glycine and proline.

8. Are you gluten sensitive? Try excluding gluten from your diet for 30 days and then slowly reintroduce it to see if you have a reaction.

Next week, we’ll we’ll go into more detail about probiotics and fermented foods…Keep tuned in!

Here are some good sources of additional information: