In functional medicine we look at diet and lifestyle strategies to prevent or reverse disease, calm inflammation, and slow the aging process. However, other overlooked but extremely important aspects to your health are your general happiness, well-being, and attitude. Science shows happiness and positivity are correlated with better health. If you are not naturally happy, not to worry, simply putting forth small and regular efforts in the direction of happiness, such as writing in a gratitude journal, has been shown to improve health.
In what is thus far the most comprehensive study on what makes people happy, researchers looked at the lives of Harvard graduates, blue-collar workers, and women spanning almost a decade. From that data, they found six common themes that ran through the lives of the happiest lifelong subjects. If you would like to meet with Dr. Celaya to discuss your issue, schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION.
1. Avoid smoking and alcohol. Researchers found those with lifelong smoking and alcohol habits were unhappier than those who abstained. Among the study subjects, not smoking was the most important factor in healthy aging.
Likewise, the study showed that alcohol robbed people of happiness and sabotaged their relationships (healthy relationships are one of the six factors of happiness).
In functional medicine we know smoking and regular alcohol consumption make it hard to be healthy and happy for other reasons. Smoking robs your brain of oxygen, degenerating it more quickly. This has an effect not only on your brain function, personality and mood, but also on the health of your body. Regular alcohol consumption has also been shown to more quickly degenerate the brain and promote leaky gut and inflammation.
2. A college education. Despite income, social class, or IQ, college-educated research subjects were happier in the long run. Those with higher education tended to take better care of their health and avoid destructive habits like smoking and drinking. Exercising your intellectual curiosity is also good for the brain at any age and despite your education.
3. A happy childhood. Ok, this one is unfair for a lot of people. Feeling loved by one’s mother was a bigger predictor of lifelong happiness despite income or IQ. Coping well with adolescence was another predictor. But not to worry if your childhood has been something only from which to recover. Caring, loving friendships and relationships have been shown to compensate for damaging childhoods, and those are factors you can develop through self-work.
4. Good relationships. Mutually heathy, loving, and supportive relationships were found to be fundamental to happiness across all the study subjects’ lives. This includes continually widening your social circles so that if some friends fall away new ones to fill their place.
5. Good coping skills. No one is spared from bad stuff happening. However, happier people are more resilient and better able to cope with hardship. This can be a learned skill, even if you need a therapist’s help. Coping skills include altruism, creating good outcomes out of bad situations, staying focused on the bright side, and keeping a sense of humor.
6. Giving back. The happiest study subjects intuitively followed a path that spiritual traditions have espoused for millennia — happiness is found through service. As they matured, the study subjects who served in building community and relationships thrived best. This includes mentoring, coaching, consulting, and otherwise selflessly sharing the fruits of well-earned wisdom.
Sometimes it can be difficult to “practice happiness” when we feel terrible. One of the most rewarding aspects to a functional medicine recovery journey is a boon to your general mood, well-being, and sense of love. Schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION to find out how.
While most doctors prescribe antacids to lower stomach acid for heart burn and acid reflux, the real culprit may be that your stomach acid is already too low. This is called hypochlorhydria and it plays a role in autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
Sufficient stomach acid, or hydrochloric acid (HCl), is necessary to:
Protect the body from pathogens. When we consume food, bacteria and other microorganisms come along with it. Stomach acid helps neutralize the ones we don’t want in our bodies. HCl also acts as a barrier against bacterial and fungal overgrowth of the small intestine. This is important to preventing inflammatory compounds into the bloodstream where they can trigger Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
Activate pepsin. HCl triggers the production of pepsin, which helps break down proteins to be absorbed in the small intestine. When proteins are not adequately digested, they can escape into the bloodstream where they trigger inflammation food sensitivities.
Digest proteins. If you have ever made ceviche or marinated meat in vinegar or lemon, you can see how acid breaks it down. Our stomach acid works much more quickly and efficiently than this.
Activate intrinsic factor. Stomach acid helps activate intrinsic factor, a glycoprotein made in the stomach that is necessary for absorption of vitamin B12.
Stimulate delivery of bile and enzymes. Adequate stomach acid stimulates release of bile from the liver and gall bladder and digestive enzymes from the pancreas. This also supports digestion of carbs, fats, and vitamins A and E.
Close the esophageal sphincter. Located between the stomach and the esophagus, the esophageal sphincter protects the delicate tissue of the esophagus from the strong acids of the stomach.
Open the pyloric sphincter. Stomach acid helps open this gateway between the stomach and the small intestine.
Absorb vitamins and minerals. Absorption of folic acid, ascorbic acid, beta carotene and iron are made more bioavailable by HCl in the digestive tract. Low stomach acid can cause poor absorption of calcium, magnesium, copper, chromium, manganese, selenium, vanadium, zinc, molybdenum and cobalt.
The gut is the seat of the immune system and all of these functions are vital for healthy gut function that can help you manage your Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and prevent inflammation and flare ups. If you want to get to the root cause of your thyroid or acid refulx problems, schedule a FREE 15-minute consultation with Dr. Celaya.
Hypochlorhydria is under diagnosed
An estimated 90 percent of the population suffers from hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid), yet most of us have never heard of it.
When stomach acid is too low your body cannot digest food thoroughly. The food in the stomach begins to rot and putrefy, the small intestine attempts to reject it, and the rotten food moves back up into the esophagus. While the food is not acidic enough for the small intestine, it is far too acidic for the esophagus.
In addition, low stomach acid leads to bacterial overgrowth, gut inflammation, increased food sensitivities, and higher risk for inflammatory disorders such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
Key hypochlorhydria signs and symptoms include:
- Burping, bloating, gas after meals
- Upset stomach after eating
- Nausea when taking vitamins and supplements
- Indigestion, heartburn, acid reflux
- Desire to eat when not hungry
- Undigested food in stool
- Gut infections
- SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth)
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Deficiencies of vitamin B-12, calcium, and magnesium
Taking supplemental HCl can help support your own production and help you better digest your food. Take just enough so it doesn’t cause burning. If taking even a little bit causes burning, you may have ulcers and an H. Pylori infection, which are not uncommon with hypochlorhydria.
Schedule a FREE 15-minute consultation for more advice on improving your digestion, relieving your heartburn symptoms, and managing your Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
Osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease, is the number one cause of disability in the US, afflicting 31 million people. Until now, treatment strategies have been aimed at pain relief but not the inflammatory factors driving it.
However, new research shows that improving the gut microbiome — the community of bacteria that live in your gut — through prebiotic fiber may be the key to not only reducing the pain of osteoarthritis but also curbing the inflammation.
Inflammation drives the arthritis of obesity
Obesity is a key risk factor for developing osteoarthritis. While it has been long been thought this is due to the extra weight overloading the joints, the new findings suggest it’s more likely linked to inflammation caused by shifts in an “obesity-prone” gut microbiome profile.
In the study, obese, arthritic mice showed less beneficial Bifidobacteria and an overabundance of inflammatory bacteria. The harmful bacteria caused inflammation throughout their bodies, leading to rapid joint deterioration.
However, when researchers fed the mice a nondigestible prebiotic fiber called oligofructose (a type of inulin), it shifted their gut microbiome to reduce inflammation protect from osteoarthritis despite no change in body weight.
This research suggests a new approach to treating osteoarthritis with a focus on gut microbiome and inflammation. You can learn more by having a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with Dr. Celaya.
Prebiotics feed your gut bacteria
The effect of gut bacteria on arthritis pain is only one reason to improve your gut microbiome. It also helps your immune system, brain function, mood, and more. Systemic inflammation, regardless of obesity, is at the root of many chronic health disorders, including autoimmunity, heart disease, cancer, and more.
While probiotics — bacteria that line your digestive tract, support your body’s absorption of nutrients, and fight infection — have received a lot of notice in recent years, prebiotics are only now getting the press they deserve.
Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that serve as food for the bacteria (probiotics) in your gut. They come in the form of dietary fiber supplied by the fruits and vegetables you eat.
Prebiotics pass through the small intestine undigested. Once they reach the colon, gut bacteria consume them for fuel and create byproducts, such as vitamins and short chain fatty acids, valuable to human health.
Strong sources of prebiotics include all vegetables but especially:
- Jerusalem artichokes
- Dandelion greens
- Brussels sprouts
Prebiotics and probiotics together are important for battling inflammation and lowering overall disease risk.
Support plentiful SCFA for proper immune function
The short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) gut bacteria produce are essential to dampening the inflammation implicated in obesity and osteoarthritis.
One of the most important SCFAs is called butyrate. To increase butyrate and other SCFAs:
- Eat abundant and varied fruits and vegetables daily — 7 to 9 servings is recommended.
- Eat probiotic-rich fermented and cultured foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and coconut water kefir.
- Take SCFA-supporting supplements such as Saccharomyces boulardii, Lactobacillus sporogenes, and DDS-1 Lactobacilli acidophilus.
- Take arabinogalactan, a compound made up of protein and sugar, which is helpful for immune support and SCFA production.
Intolerance to gluten, dairy, or other foods also provokes joint pain
Joint pain can also be driven by immune reactivity to certain foods.
Two of the most common inflammatory foods are gluten and dairy — prevalent in most people’s diets. When a person with gluten sensitivity eats gluten (not just wheat, but gliadin, glutenin, and transglutaminase proteins in other grains), the immune system jumps into action, releasing pro-inflammatory signaling cells. This leads to systemic inflammation affecting the body’s organs and soft tissue, including the joints and even the brain. A similar process happens for those reactive to dairy.
Some people find vegetables in the nightshade family cause pain and inflammation in their joints. These include eggplant, potatoes (but not sweet potatoes or yams), peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos, hot pepper products (cayenne, Tabasco, etc.), and pepper-based spices. Simply removing nightshades from the diet has brought relief from joint pain for many, especially those with rheumatoid arthritis.
Gluten, dairy, and nightshades are common reactive foods, but there are more on the list. An anti-inflammatory diet is a great tool for dampening pain and inflammation while helping you determine your immune reactive foods.
Another way to find out which foods are inflammatory for you is through a food sensitivity panel.
Chronic pain can create vicious cycles both in the immune system and in the brain that perpetuate even more pain. Fortunately, through dietary measures and nutritional support, we can unwind these vicious cycles.
If you want to know more about your joint pain, schedule a FREE 15-Minute Consultation with Dr. Celaya.
‘The eyes are the windows to the soul’, they say.
Taking that one step further, one could very well say that the hair is the window to your health. Any change in your mental or physical health, your hair will reflect it. However, few of us fail to realize this. All of us want gorgeous, luscious hair, but we do not realize that expensive hair treatments and trips to the salons are not the solutions. The solution, in fact, begins by understanding the root of the problem and then shows you ways to tackle it.
A bit about hair and hair loss…
On average, there are about 150,000 hairs on the head of an adult human. Shedding up to 100 hairs daily is considered normal. The hair growth cycle consists of different phases and at the end of the cycle, the hair is shed off and a new hair replaces it. The main structural component of hair is a protein called keratin. Apart from being an indicator of something being wrong with your body, hair loss in itself can be a cause of stress. It leads to insecurities, especially in women, and can lead to anxiety and depression. Thus, it is important to treat it and do so quickly. If you want to know more about what could be causing your hair loss, schedule for a FREE 15 Minute Consultation with Dr. Celaya.
What causes hair loss?
Causes of hair loss are several and range from systemic diseases to stress. Here are some common ones:
- Autoimmune conditions
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease affecting the hair follicles. It occurs suddenly and leads to hair loss in patches.
- Poor dietary habits
Certain nutrients such as zinc, iron, biotin, essential fatty acids and proteins are essential for maintaining the health and strength of hair. Refraining from eating sufficient quantities of these nutrients will eventually lead to hair loss. Anemia due to iron deficiency is also a leading cause of hair loss. Likewise, anorexia and bulimia also affect the health of your hair. Leaky gut can also target your hair due to poor digestive health and hormonal imbalances.
- Hormonal imbalance
Pregnancy, menopause, and conditions like PCOD (Polycystic Ovarian Disease) can all lead to hair loss. Male pattern baldness also occurs due to androgens.
Thyroid hormone imbalance is another common cause of hair loss, which can occur due to either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.
- Telogen effluvium
Any kind of prolonged illness or mental/physical stress to the body such as childbirth, sudden and drastic weight loss, accident, etc. can lead to hair loss. This condition is known as telogen effluvium and occurs because the stress tends to alter the growth cycle of your hair and shock a large number of hairs into the resting phase simultaneously. This leads to noticeable shedding of hair.
Your prescription could be the reason for your hair loss. Implicated medications include antidepressants, contraceptives, steroids, etc.
Your genetic predisposition can also influence the amount of hair loss and how soon or late it begins in your lifetime.
Use of excessive chemicals and heat can weaken your hair and lead to temporary, or rarely, permanent baldness.
What can you do?
Knowing the possible cause of hair loss is winning half the battle. Treatment starts by identifying the problem and eliminating causative factors if any.
Drastic measures include hair weaves or wigs, local medications such as Minoxidil, and hair grafting. However, wigs and locally applied medicines are temporary fixes and not a cure for the problem. Hair grafting and laser treatments are expensive options and usually performed for a limited area of baldness.
Apart from these abovementioned options, a few strategies that will help you hold onto your hair, and can be easily incorporated into your lifestyle, are as follows:
Treating the primary cause
If an underlying disease such as thyroid dysfunction is diagnosed, treating it will automatically bring about an improvement in your hair. Telogen effluvium also ceases to cause hair loss once the stress is eliminated.
Focusing on a better diet
- Rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids include green tea, fish, chia seeds, and flax seeds. Salmon, chia seeds, and vegetable oils are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.
- If you are anemic, adding nuts, broccoli, spinach, and peas to your diet are recommended. If you are not getting enough veggies, click here.
- Biotin-rich foods include eggs, nuts, and milk products. You can also take vitamin B supplements to ensure that the requirements of your body are met.
- Adequate amounts of zinc can be consumed by adding oysters, beef, and chickpeas to your diet.
- Probiotic-rich foods can help repair your gut lining and heal leaky gut. Also taking probiotics can help.
Exercising brings about a release of endorphins, which helps in relieving stress. Exercising regularly also improves your blood circulation, adding to the health of your scalp.
Minimize the use of chemicals and heat on your hair. Try to avoid shampooing your hair daily as this strips the hair of moisture. By combining a base oil with a few drops of essential oil, you can massage your scalp yourself and aid in circulation to the scalp. This also can calm you and relieve stress. Coconut oil, rosemary oil, ginseng oil, etc. are some of the oils that can be used.
Sleep & Meditation
Being stress-free is the key to having good hair. Meditation can help you achieve this goal. You can use simple breathing exercises or chants for this purpose. Moreover, not sleeping enough wreaks havoc with your hormones and also increases stress and anxiety. To avoid this, try sleeping for at least seven to eight hours every day.
Acupuncture has been proven beneficial for hair loss and is often accompanied by dietary herbal supplements.
- Aloe vera conditions your scalp and maintains its pH. Twice a week, you can apply aloe vera gel on your scalp and rinse it out after two hours.
- Amla (Indian gooseberry) is a time-tested solution for all hair troubles and its juice can be applied to the hair.
- Other useful herbs include neem, sage, and lemongrass among others.
Maintaining healthy hair is not difficult. By simply adopting a healthier lifestyle and a few simple changes, you can ensure that your hair continues to be your crowning glory, adding to your inner and outer beauty!