For years we’ve been warned the cholesterol in eggs raises the risk of cardiovascular disease, however new research shows that in people with pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes, eggs do not raise cardiovascular risk if they are part of a healthy diet. What’s more, they pose no additional challenges to weight loss. These findings, along with previous research, indicate we need to jettison the outdated stance on cholesterol dangers.
The study emphasized a healthy diet that replaced saturated fats such as butter with monounsaturated fats such as olive and avocado oil. In tracking cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure, no significant differences were found between groups.
Researchers tracked two groups for one year: a high-egg group that ate 12 eggs per week and a low-egg group that ate fewer than two eggs per week. They found the following:
- In the firsts three months of the study, neither group experienced an increase in cardiovascular risk markers.
- During the second three months, both groups participated in a weight-loss diet while continuing their egg consumption protocols and achieved equivalent weight loss.
- In the final six months, both groups achieved equivalent weight loss and showed no adverse changes to cardiovascular risk markers.
Eggs are commonly immune reactive
While the heat is off regarding egg consumption in relation to cholesterol levels, it’s important to know that for many people eggs are immune reactive and need to be avoided. Cyrex Labs offers a variety of panels that test for reactivity to eggs.
“Despite being vilified for decades, dietary cholesterol is understood to be far less detrimental to health than scientists originally thought. The effect of cholesterol in our food on the level of cholesterol in our blood is actually quite small.”
— Dr. Nick Fuller, lead author in the research
Why we need cholesterol
Conventional medicine would have us believe dietary cholesterol is bad, but we need to consume plenty of it in the form of healthy, natural fats.
Cholesterol is found in every cell of our bodies, and without it we wouldn’t survive. We use cholesterol to make vitamin D, cell membranes, and bile acids to digest fats.
Sufficient cholesterol is necessary to digest key antioxidant vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Cholesterol is also a necessary building block for our adrenal hormones and our reproductive hormones such as progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone.
The brain is largely made up of fat, and the fats we eat directly affect its structure and function, providing insulation around nerve cells, supporting neurotransmitter production, and helping maintain healthy communication between neurons.
Unraveling “good” vs. “bad” cholesterol
We hear a lot about “good” HDL and “bad” LDL cholesterol. They are actually lipoproteins, small fat and protein packages that transport cholesterol in the body.
HDL: High-density lipoprotein. Called “good” cholesterol, HDL helps keep cholesterol away from your arteries and removes excess arterial plaque.
LDL: Low-density lipoprotein. Called “bad” cholesterol, LDL can build up in the arteries, forming plaque that makes them narrow and less flexible, a condition called atherosclerosis.
Triglycerides. Elevated levels of this fat are dangerous and are linked to heart disease and diabetes. Levels can rise from smoking, physical inactivity, excessive drinking, and being overweight. A diet high in sugars and grains also puts you at risk.
Lipoprotein (a) or Lp(a). Made of an LDL part plus a protein (apoprotein a), elevated Lp(a) levels are a very strong risk for heart disease.
When considering test results, your doctor will pay attention to:
- HDL levels vs. LDL levels
- Triglyceride levels
- The ratio between triglycerides to HDL
- The ratio between total cholesterol and HDL
- The size of the particles
There are small and large particles of HDL, LDL, and triglycerides. Large particles are practically harmless, while the small, dense particles are more dangerous because they can lodge in the arterial walls, causing inflammation, plaque buildup, and damage leading to heart disease.
More important than knowing your total cholesterol is knowing the ratio between your HDL and your LDL, and especially the size of the particles.
However, according to the Mayo Clinic, many doctors now believe that for predicting your heart disease risk, your total non-HDL cholesterol level may be more useful than calculating your cholesterol ratio. Non-HDL cholesterol contains all the “bad” types of cholesterol; it is figured by subtracting your HDL cholesterol number from your total cholesterol number.
However, either option appears to be a better risk predictor than your total cholesterol level or simply your LDL level.
In some cases, people have a genetic tendency toward extremely high cholesterol. In those situations, it may take more than diet to manage cholesterol levels.
Contact my office to learn more about diet and lifestyle to support healthy cholesterol levels, find out about your cholesterol levels and heart disease risk, and to test for egg reactivity.
Do you know those irritable people that always seem angry or depressed, sensitive to emotion, live in constant chaos, or seem perpetually stuck in unfavorable situations? Sometimes, this is just a byproduct of poor brain function. Of course, naturally optimistic people can suffer from poor brain function too—symptoms may consist of memory loss, brain fog, fatigue, anxiety, and depression.
All of these feelings—and others—can trigger symptoms in the gut. This gut-brain connection operates as a bi-directional system; therefore, a person’s gut inflammation or distress can be the cause or byproduct of stress, anxiety, or depression.
This is particularly true in circumstances when a person experiences gastrointestinal (GI) upset without a physical cause. For such functional GI disorders, it is a challenge to heal the gut without first looking at the connection between the gut and brain and considering the effects of stress and emotion.
One of the most significant things to understand is the intimate link between the gut and the brain. We have several receptors that fire into the brain, such as for sensation, sound, temperature, balance, etc. These signals stimulate the brain to relay information into the brainstem of the central nervous system (CNS), which is the area of the brain that keeps the heart beating, lungs functioning, and gut moving.
The wall of the digestive system is innervated by the CNS and the enteric nervous system (ENS)—it has millions of neurons that control blood flow and secretions to help you digest food. Inflammatory issues, such as in intestinal permeability (leaky gut) or an imbalance in the gut microbiome (dysbiosis) can impact the messages from the gut to the brain.
The vagus nerve, a cranial nerve that is a part of the ENS, is a key pathway to the activation of the digestive system. Degeneration of vagal function, or less activation of the vagus nerve, compromises the digestive function by decreasing blood flow to the gut (which leads to leaky gut, neuroinflammation, and a cycle of other inflammatory responses).
The multitude of neurons in the ENS not only influence our GI function but also how we “feel”—this is why the ENS is called our second brain. Though the second brain is not capable of in-depth thought, it does “talk” to the brain.
Stress, for example, is closely tied to the gut. The body responds to external and internal stressors with the “fight or flight” system. During a stressful situation, a redirection of energy takes place; your digestion is put on hold, your heart and respiratory rate escalate, and your palms may get sweaty. This protective mechanism is intimately related to cortisol levels, which are ruled by the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis.
Typically, diffusion of the stressful situation resets your body back to normal. But if you are always stressed, anxious, or stuck ruminating on negative thoughts, your body gets caught in a fight or flight response.
The byproduct of this chronic response is chronic inflammation—the root of many diseases. Inflammation leads to serious health consequences, such as high blood pressure, intestinal permeability, autoimmune disorders, and neurodegeneration.
The trillions of gut microbes—collectively known as the microbiome—also play a role in the regulation of our immune response. Communication between the gut microbiome and nervous system may influence disorders like anxiety and depression, autism, and dementia.
GUT-BRAIN OR BRAIN-GUT IMPAIRMENT
How do you recognize if you need to improve your gut-to-brain or brain-to-gut axis?
If your brain is impaired (brain fog, memory loss), if you suffer from intestinal motility issues (constipation, nausea), and if you have not had a positive response to conventional digestive protocols, you may have a brain-to-gut impairment.
Furthermore, if you have digestive issues, these can impact your brain chemistry and impair your gut-to-brain communication.
It is not uncommon to be in a vicious cycle of both a gut-to-brain and brain-to-gut impairment; most people need to support both simultaneously.
A characteristic symptom of this cycle is a decrease in the motility of the gut and consequently constipation, straining during bowel movements, and incomplete elimination. Poor elimination means that waste sits in the intestines, promoting an environment for yeast and bacterial overgrowths and the development of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
Poor vagal function also encourages gallbladder stones and attacks and reduces the effectiveness of digestive secretions; therefore, digesting food becomes difficult.
Many patients with chronic gut dysfunction never improve because they do not move past treating it at the gut level—this will create the vicious cycle. Poor gut health will impact your brain function thus causing depression, anxiety, poor cognition, and other brain-based symptoms.
GUT-BRAIN HEALING STRATEGIES
While there’s still much to discover about the mystery of the digestive system and all that it affects, we are sure of several things that can help improve the connection between your gut and brain.
Support for Your Gut-Brain Axis
- Follow the autoimmune paleo (AIP) diet.
- Avoid processed foods.
- Avoid gluten and other immune sensitive foods.
- Remove food sensitivities.
- Eliminate sweets.
- Eat a lot of vegetables.
- Have healthy fats.
- Consume different types of fiber.
- Eat probiotics and prebiotics.
- Remove pathogenic and reduce opportunistic bacteria and microorganisms.
- Supplemental support may include digestive enzymes, L-Glutamine, N-acetyl glucosamine, and antifungals (such as oregano oil).
Support for Your Brain-Gut Axis
- Every neuron needs oxygen, glucose, and stimulation.
- Oxygen – A reduction in blood flow to the brain, such as from a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, anemia, low blood pressure, and hypothyroidism, reduces the amount of oxygen the brain receives.
- Glucose – Glucose fuels the brain. If you become hypoglycemic (low blood glucose) from going too long without eating, you may feel dizzy or lightheaded. On the other hand, in insulin resistance (high blood glucose), glucose can’t get into the cells of your body or brain leaving you feeling sleepy or slow.
- Stimulation – Stimulation such as physical activity and mental challenges “exercise” your neurons and are essential to keep them active and healthy. Exercise also increases brain-derived neurotrophic factor and supports mitochondrial function.
- Support the brain with nutrition.
- Reduce inflammation with resveratrol, turmeric, and fish oils.
- Optimize with vitamins and supplements.
- Provide neurotransmitter support.
OPTIMIZE YOUR BRAIN WITH GUT REPAIR AND DETOXIFICATION
Healthy brain function is not just about boosting your score on a brain game, remembering where you put your keys, or preventing dementia.
A Healthy brain equals a better quality of life. When you have optimal brain function, you are happier, and you are naturally drawn to nourish your body and mind. Ask my office for more information about a detoxification and gut-repair program using the AIP diet. You can schedule to become a new patient or a free consultation.
The benefits of modern life are undeniable. Who would not accept cold air coming from an air conditioner on a hot day? Could you completely stop using your cell phone for two or three consecutive days? Could you travel from one country to another without using modern transportation such as airplanes or bus services? The logical answer is NO. Most of us are totally dependant on the luxuries of life made available because of advances in modern technology. Yet, there is another side of the coin, and simply, nothing comes without a price.
Very often, advances that speed up the pace of our life can also disturb the normal balance between nature and our human bodies. Unfortunately, this can negatively impact our health, and this is usually seen in the form of an overload of toxic substances inside the human body. According to the Merriam-Webster (America’s most-trusted online dictionary):
“A toxin is a poisonous substance that is a specific product of the metabolic activities of a living organism and is usually very unstable, notably toxic when introduced into the tissues and typically capable of inducing antibody formation.”
I can simply say that toxins are deleterious substances, which have undesirable short-term or long-term effects on our health. Overexposure to toxic substances with concurrent failure to correctly metabolize them can produce various symptoms such as nausea, migraine headaches, malaise, joint pain, and allergies or flu-like symptoms. This toxic accumulation can also contribute to inflammatory and neurological diseases. While it is nearly impossible to preclude accumulation of toxic substances that come with modern life, you may have the power to restore balance to a healthy lifestyle!
Detoxification, or body cleansing, aims to clear the body of toxins or harmful substances. Detox diets, considered to be the base of detoxification, are dietary plans that facilitate toxin elimination and weight loss, thereby promoting health and well-being. The liver is the most important organ in the body involved in the detoxification process. The liver can convert the toxic substances into less harmful components, facilitating their removal from the body. Hence, it is believed that the best way to boost your liver function is to depend on detox diets ranging from fasting (total or juice/water) to food modification. Usually, detox diets are rich in fiber. Proponents claim that detox diets stimulate the body to release stored fats including fat-stored toxins into the blood, facilitating their excretion through urine, breath, and feces. Many detox diets contain a combination of laxatives, diuretics, multi-vitamins, minerals, herbs, celery, and other juicy low-calorie vegetables. In the rest of the article, I will try to summarize the most important components of detox diets.
Many vitamins especially vitamin A, vitamin B-6, and vitamin B-12 play a leading role in boosting the detoxification function of the liver. Patra et al., (2006) showed that there is a strong ability of the essential amino acid L-methionine to cleanse the body from the harmful effect of lead, a heavy metal. Taurine, which is an amino acid, is also suggested as having an antioxidant effect against lead-induced oxidative stress. Obinata et al., (1996) showed that taurine was effective in treating fatty liver in children with simple obesity regardless of the success/failure of weight control. Taurine administration is also considered to be helpful as an adjuvant therapy for fatty liver. Inositol, which is a type of sugar related to glucose, is currently considered as a liver supplement. Silymarin, which is the active constituent of milk thistle, is considered one of the best liver supports and liver detoxification. Bile is a major way to excrete harmful substances. Bile also emulsifies dietary fats and facilitates their digestion and absorption. Ox bile is currently reported to promote bile production. The Romans used Chelidonium majus or greater celandine as a blood cleanser. The extracts of greater celandine have shown toxic effects in harmful organisms, as well as liver protecting activities. The artichoke is a plant with antioxidant activities. Mehmetçik et al., (2008) indicated that in vivo artichoke extract administration may be useful for the prevention of oxidative stress-induced hepatotoxicity. Beet, which is a high-antioxidant vegetable, is used as food coloring and as a medicinal plant. Do you know that by eating beets you can help your body cleanse your liver? Váli et al., (2007) showed that the table beet has excellent liver-protecting effects during ischemia-reperfusion.
In conclusion, I would recommend that you incorporate a mixture of all the previous detox diets if you wish to detox your body, cleanse your liver, and stay healthy.
If medical marijuana has done anything, it has been to educate us about our own endocannibinoid system (ECS) — a system of receptors on cells that play a role in inflammation, appetite, pain, mood, memory, and even cancer prevention. These receptors have come to light because they respond to compounds in cannabis, or marijuana.
A functioning ECS, which is vital to good health, produces its own cannibinoids and doesn’t need them from cannabis. For instance, the cannabinoid anandamide is so powerful researchers call it the “bliss molecule” because of its role in happiness and higher thought processes.
However, researchers have discovered some people have a endocannibinoid deficiency in compounds such as anandamide. This can lead to chronic pain disorders, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, and more serious disorders. Some suggest this deficiency may be genetic.
It’s believed an ECS deficiency explains why cannabis is medicinal for some people. Cannabis contains more than 100 different cannabinoids, including THC, which produces the psychoactive effect cannabis is most known for. Cannabis also contains cannibidiol (CBD) and terpenes. These compounds are not psychoactive.
CBD has come to be recognized as the compound responsible for many of the medicinal effects of cannabis. Terpenes are the compounds that give cannabis its distinctive aroma are also medicinal.
Controversy exists around whether CBD and terpenes are therapeutic individually, or whether these compounds work better synergistically in a whole plant form. There is also controversy over whether CBD from industrial hemp, a non-psychoactive form of cannabis, is as effective as CBD from marijuana, which has higher THC levels. If you would like to talk to Dr. Celaya about your health and CBD, you can schedule for a free 15 minute consultation.
Boosting your endocannibinoid system naturally
Psychoactive cannabis and its constituents, such as CBD, is legal in only about half of the states in the US. CBD from industrial help is more widely available. Outside of the US it is legal in a few countries, decriminalized in a number, and strictly illegal in others.
Because the ECS produces its own cannibinoids, it is possible to boost the activity of this system without using cannabis. Following are some suggestions on how to do this:
- Avoid alcohol. The stress and inflammation caused by regularly drinking alcohol can exhaust the ECS. Preserve its integrity by avoiding this health-sapping spirit.
- Get bodywork. Research shows that bodywork such as a chiropractic adjustment, massage, or acupuncture can more than double anandamide, the “bliss” cannabinoid.
- Eat lots of leafy greens. Leafy greens contain a terpene that activate cannabinoid receptors and can help combat inflammation and autoimmunity.
- Eat more omega-3 essential fatty acids. Some researchers say an omega-3 deficiency will cause the ECS to not function properly. Make sure you get plenty of omega 3 in your diet (and not too much omega 6), or supplement with fish, algae, emu, or hemp oils.
- Exercise. Some researchers believe the “high” from exercise is caused by increased ECS activity. Just be careful not to overdo it or make it stressful, which can deplete the ECS.
If you would like to get to the root cause of your health problems, you can schedule for a free consultation with Dr. Celaya.
A recent study found regular use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) for acid reflux raises the risk of stomach cancer. PPI users (Prilosec, Prevacid) in the study had twice the risk for stomach cancer compared to those who used H2-receptor acid reducing drugs (Tagamet, Pepcid).
About 20 percent of Americans suffer with acid reflux and heartburn. Most people attribute acid reflux to excess stomach acid. However, the problem is too little stomach acid. How does low stomach acid cause acid reflux? Want to know more? Schedule a FREE 15 minute consultation with Dr. Celaya.
The stomach is highly acidic by design so that it can quickly break down foods and kill bacteria, fungi, and other pathogens. Good stomach acidity also helps absorb minerals and signal the rest of the digestive tract to release the right hormones, enzymes, and emulsifiers. Sufficient stomach acid is an important first step in ensuring overall digestion runs smoothly and that you are less susceptible to heartburn, indigestion, belching, gas, food allergies, bacterial infection, and abdominal pain.
What causes low stomach acid?
Common factors that cause low stomach acid include stress, bacterial infection, poor diet, and nutritional deficiencies. However, an H. pylori infection, which is linked to stomach ulcers, is the most common cause of low stomach acid.
Other factors that play a role in low stomach acid include hypothyroidism, pernicious anemia, and deficiencies in zinc B12, magnesium, or chloride. People who have been vegetarians or vegans for a long time may be deficient in zinc and B12, which are abundant in meats.
How low stomach acid causes acid reflux
In order for the small intestine to receive food from the stomach, the contents must be acidic enough to trigger that passage. When this fails to happen, the food shoots back up into the esophagus.
Although the food is not acidic enough for the small intestine, it is too acidic for esophageal tissue. This is what causes the burning of acid reflux, or heartburn.
Why antacids worsen acid reflux in the long run
Antacids or acid blockers bring temporary relief but can cause bigger problems in the long run. Without stomach acid to trigger the release of enzymes, digestive hormones, and emulsifiers, nutrient absorption suffers and the digestive tract is more prone to infection, inflammation, and damage.
How to improve low stomach acid
The first thing to do with low stomach acid is address the root cause. As we age, stomach acid naturally decreases. You can boost stomach acid by taking a supplement that contains betaine hydrochloric acid (HCl). However, if you have stomach ulcers or stomach autoimmunity (when the immune system attacks and destroys tissue), supplementing with HCl could make you worse. In these situations you need to address the existing condition first.
If you would like to get to the root cause of your heartburn, you can schedule for a free consultation with Dr. Celaya.