How to Optimize Vitamin D Levels

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Previously I discussed How to Pick a Good Multivitamin and then continued that conversation with the importance of Probiotics.

Today, I’d like to talk about Vitamin D and how to optimize your levels of Vitamin D to improve overall health and Immunity.

Vitamin D has gotten a lot of press the last few years and when you dive into the research, it’s easy to understand why.

Vitamin D3 has a huge impact on your health and because its receptor is present in most cells and tissues in the body, it helps regulate multiple organ systems including:

  • hormone system
  • skeletal system (muscles, ligaments, tendons)
  • gastrointestinal system
  • nervous system
  • skin, hair, nails
  • and more…

The absolute best source of vitamin D is the sun, and while our ancestors used to spend a majority of their time outdoors, most people now spend daylight hours at desks under artificial lights.

In this article I hope to explain the vitamin D deficiency pandemic, and more importantly how to correct it!

The Health Benefits of Vitamin D

I could write an entire book on the benefits of Vitamin D. Here I will provide just a few reasons why you should optimize your levels.

Lowers Antibodies Across the Board (Autoimmune Conditions)

Autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s, Graves’, Celiac, Chron’s, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Multiple Sclerosis (MS) are all improved when vitamin D levels are optimized.

For example, a recent study found that 83% of patients with Hashimoto’s (autoimmune thyroid) who were given 1200-4000 IU of Vitamin D3 for 4 months, experienced 20.8% drops in TPO antibodies

In addition, it is a well known fact that patients with any of the above mentioned autoimmune conditions are chronically low in vitamin D.

New Research from Autoimmunity Research Foundation shows that the vitamin D receptors get down regulated by pathogens (such as parasites, bacteria, viruses, and yeast) compromising the uptake of vitamin D.

These pathogens can be the primary causes of autoimmunity.

So increasing vitamin D levels (through sun exposure) and/or supplementation, is key in managing an autoimmune condition.

Builds Stronger Bones

Vitamin D is a precursor hormone for a powerful steroid hormone in your body called calcitriol.

Calcitriol is essential for bone strength and cell regeneration… which is central to slowing down the aging process!

You absolutely have to have optimal levels of Vitamin D in order to absorb minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium.

Vitamin D also suppresses parathyroid hormone which breaks bone down. This helps slow down the “softening of bones” in both children and adults.

Helps with Breast Cancer

The Academy of Endocrinology agrees that optimizing Vitamin D levels can prevent between 65-85% of Cancers!

In fact, checking for Vitamin D levels is one of the first things traditional oncologists check in the treatment of breast cancers, and its a baseline protocol for integrative breast cancer treatment.

This study has found that breast cancer patients had lower levels of vitamin D. But, you don’t have to (and should not be!) waiting for a diagnosis to fix your vitamin D levels if they are low.

This Stanford University School of Medicine study (and there are several others) have found that vitamin D3 inhibits the growth of breast cancer cells and stimulates apoptosis – which is self-killing of cancer cells.

Helps Gut Bacteria Produce Vitamins

We are still discovering the power of gut bacteria and what helps and what destroys them. 

This study showed that low levels of vitamin D changed the intestinal microbiome reducing vitamin B5 (pantothenic) production in the gut.

Again, I can go on and on, with study after study on Vitamin D and its impact on various conditions.

So whether its improving sleep, reversing estrogen dominance, depression, balancing blood sugar in type 2 diabetics, reversing and preventing anemia or helping with hair loss…

…it’s pretty obvious how important Vitamin D is for health.

Now let’s discuss getting tested, recommended ranges and dosages of Vitamin D.

Getting Tested for Vitamin D

Even the most conservative doctors today agree to run a vitamin D test for you.

So no problems there. However, make sure your doctor knows which test to order.

The Vitamin D Council recommends the 25(OH)D test, pronounced, “Twenty-five Hydroxy D” test.

There is another type of blood test for vitamin D, which is called a 1,25(OH)D, but the 25(OH)D is more accurate.

The role of Vitamin D testing in clinical practice stems from the Institute of Medicine (IoM) report, Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D”. 

Although IoM recommendations using 25-OH vitamin D are clear, the inappropriate ordering of 1,25(OH)D is quite common. 

The root causes for inappropriate vitamin D ordering include:

(a) clinicians not understanding the biological role of 25-OH versus 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D, or

(b) 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D showing up as the “first” orderable test on electronic medical record (EMR) systems. 

Optimal Ranges and Dosages of Vitamin D

If you were to go by traditional lab ranges, “healthy blood levels” of vitamin D would be between 30 and 100 ng/ml.

This means that anything below 30 ng/ml, you are not getting enough vitamin D production.

It’s important to note that “healthy blood levels” are not “optimal blood levels”.

Functional medicine leaders and experts in functional diagnostic nutrition recommend ranges between 60 and 90 ng/ml, especially for people with a family or personal health history of cancers and autoimmune conditions.

If your levels are below 60 ng/ml, you should be consuming 5,000 to 10,000 UI per day.

Also note that It may take 3 to 4 months to get into a healthy range. Once your levels are optimized, you can then switch to a maintenance dose of 2,000 UI per day. 

For people with Hashimoto’s Disease (and any autoimmune conditions), it’s very very important for your vitamin D levels to be in the upper ranges of 60.

Best Source of Vitamin D

Of course the best source of Vitamin D is from the Sun!

Get More Sun Light

A quick and simple comparison for you: you get 400 units of vitamin D from a glass of fortified milk (which I don’t recommend) versus 20,000 units of Vitamin D from 30 min of unprotected sun exposure (or until your skin turns slightly pink).

Vitamin D is created by your skin when exposed to the sun. So Get the Hell outside! 

It only takes 15 to 20 minutes of morning sun (between the hours of 8 am and 10 am).

It is also recommended not to shower for 20 to 30 minutes after sunbathing for the skin to produce vitamin D.

Another factor is clothes. If you’re outside wearing a shirt and shorts or pants, you’re actually blocking most of the surface area of sun exposure. So if possible… take off your shirt or put on a bathing suit!

Eat Vitamin D Rich Foods

The best foods for increasing vitamin D intake are lard, fatty fish, cod liver oil, and egg yolks. Lard has 13 IUs of Vitamin D per tablespoon, which is going to be a lot of lard!

Per 100 grams (3 ½ ounces), here’s the best bang for your buck:

Cod Liver Oil: 10,000 IU
Sockeye Salmon (canned, solids, without skin and bones): 859 IU
Smoked Ciscoes: 530 IU
Egg yolk (raw, fresh): 218 IU
Lard (Pork Fat): 102 IU

Best Vitamin D Supplements

There are two types of vitamin D supplements: D2 and D3.

Vitamin D2 is produced in mushrooms when they are exposed to sunlight.

Vitamin D3 is naturally present in animal fats. 

Studies show supplementing with D3 is better than D2 at raising your blood levels of the active form of vitamin D.

In addition, we now know that Vitamin K2 is important for the maximal absorption of D3. So if you’re supplementing, I’d highly recommend that you use a D3+K2 formula.

Vitamin K works with vitamin D to make sure calcium gets deposited in your bones and teeth rather than places it does not belong, like in your kidneys (kidney stones) and blood vessels (plaque).

Summary

Vitamin D status plays a major role in overall health, wellness and longevity.

Optimal blood levels of Vitamin D are 60 to 90 ng/ml and anything less may increase your risk of developing chronic health conditions.

Replenishing vitamin D levels is not difficult. If you are low, allow 3 to 6 months of a higher dose of 5,000 to 10,000 UI per day of vitamin D3.

I like the D3 formulation with K2 added (most women are also deficient in these) – the one I personally use and recommend is Liquid Vitamin D3+K2

Got Questions? Interested in taking ownership of your health and working with Dr. Daniel? If so, Schedule a Complimentary Consult Below:

How to Pick a High Quality Probiotic

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In my previous article I shared How to Pick a Good Multivitamin.

Today, I’d like to talk about Probiotics and which ones to take for improved health and immunity.

According to the American Nutrition Association, 70 million people experience at least one digestive issue per day.

The single most important aspect of gut health comes down to the quality and variety of bacteria that make up our microbiome.

More so, the microbiome is one of the most metabolically active systems in the human body.

The bacteria in your microbiome help to:

  • Improve digestion and absorption of nutrients
  • Protect against unwanted microorganisms
  • Regulate immune function
  • Maintain healthy blood sugar levels
  • Assist in vitamin production
  • Produce essential nutrients

All that said, it’s important to keep the microbiome in balance with a plentiful supply of probiotics that help to regulate the digestive system.

1. Make sure your probiotics have the right dosage

Probiotics are bacteria that can survive in the human GI tract and temporarily colonize the gut.

But they only survive approximately 1-2 weeks after ingestion, and should be considered transient members of the microbiome. 

This is why it’s important to make sure that your probiotic has at least 10 Billion organisms per dosage. 

Some of the bacteria in your probiotic are bound to die during transit to your intestines, so the more that you ingest, the greater the chance of an effective colonization.

And remember, because they’re transient you only get the benefit of probiotics when you take them consistently. 

 

Probiotics consist of several “GOOD BACTERIA” that help to enhance the function of other bacteria in our body as well as protect you from “BAD BACTERIA” or pathogenic organisms.

Because probiotics are transient, regular use of probiotics provides optimal digestive and wellness support for your body.

Furthermore, it’s important to know that certain species of probiotics have greater survivability than others. 

This leads me to the second point I have to make on How to Pick a Good Probiotic…

2. Make sure your probiotics can make it to your digestive tract

Because probiotics are live organisms, there are many challenges associated with manufacturing and distributing probiotic supplements.

For a probiotic to be effective, it must be shelf-stable through the expiration date and precisely delivered to the intestinal tract, where it can have maximum benefit.

This is why I have chosen to use BioShield® technology in the formulation of my Advanced Probiotic formula.

BioShield® technology is an innovative manufacturing process developed to ensure consistent and reliable results in the delivery of nutraceuticals.

The microorganisms in the Advanced Probiotic are protected, sealed and freeze dried away from moisture, heat, light and oxygen.

This allows the bacteria to remain dormant until they are exposed to moisture in the GI tract.

By utilizing advanced encapsulation technology, the probiotic organisms are preserved and released on-target for maximum benefit.

 

Our lab studies show that the capsules make a big difference in the deliverability of a probiotic. 

Shockingly, only 4% of probiotics survive when they don’t have the proper delivery vehicle or capsule. 

But let’s say your probiotics do make it into your digestive system and colonize. The next step is to make sure you have a healthy diversity of species.

 

3. Make sure your probiotic has multiple strains

There are now thousands of different probiotics on the market.

But when it comes to clinical evidence and human clinical trials, there are only 4 categories (and really only 5 species) that we should consider.

Understanding the benefits of various probiotic strains and how they affect digestive health is essential in order to properly evaluate which probiotic is the best supplement for you. 

The image below identifies the 4 categories of probiotics that you should start experimenting with. *Note – Only Category 1 to 3 is available in the US.

 

As you can see from the chart above. The Four Categories of Probiotics and their species include:

  • Lactobacillus & Bifidobacterium
  • Saccharomyces Boulardii
  • Bacillus
  • E. Coli

A good probiotic will have a combination of the species of more than 1 category.

The Advanced Probiotic contains Category 1 (Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium) and Category 2 (Saccharomyces Boulardii).

All you have to do is look at your probiotic’s label and see how many species it contains.

Summary

As you may know, there are now thousands of probiotics on the market and picking a good probiotic is tough.

But all you really have to do is look at the 

  • Dosage
  • Survivability
  • Diversity

Make sure your probiotic has at least 10 Billion organisms per capsule.

Make sure that It’s protected in a capsule or packaged in a way that can actually survive the harsh environment of our stomach.

See how many different strains and categories of bacteria your probiotic has.

Got Questions?

Interested in taking ownership of your health and working with Dr. Daniel?

If so, Schedule a Complimentary Consult Below:

How to Pick a High Quality Multivitamin

Home > Nutrition
To be honest, I got so tired of reading label after label of the vitamins that my patients were taking that I decided to manufacture my own.

Why? Because I know how they’re sourced, what exactly is inside them and how effective they are.

These days, it takes a PhD to truly determine whether a multivitamin or supplement is healthy for you.

In this article I’d like to help break down exactly how to you can identify whether your vitamins and supplements are healthy.

How to Pick a High Quality Multivitamin

As many of my patients know, my approach to healthy living is about eating the right foods that originate from the right places.

I say it over and over… the best way to get your vitamins is through food.

In fact, the vitamins and minerals you supplement with are only as good as the food that you put into your mouth.

So the first rule when it comes to picking a high quality multivitamin is to remember, FOOD FIRST!

All that said, I highly recommend a good Whole Food Multivitamin to fill the gap of vitamins and nutrients that you’re missing in your diet.

But choosing a multivitamin is tough.

If you go to the vitamin shop or any vitamin aisle, you’ve probably run into rows upon rows of various supplements.

And aside from price you likely ask yourself… How do I pick? Which one is the best?

The Most Important Thing About Your Multivitamin Is…

The most important thing to consider when choosing a multivitamin is whether or not it’s based on whole food ingredients or synthetic ingredients.

When I say synthetic ingredients, I’m talking about ingredients that were made in a lab rather than grown from the ground or the tress above.

To give you an example, let’s consider vitamin C.

1. Vitamin C – Ascorbic Acid Vs Calcium Ascorbate

Vitamin C is usually delivered as ascorbic acid.

While there are many studies demonstrating the positive clinical effects of taking vitamin C as ascorbic acid, it’s 100% synthetic and produced in a lab.

Chemically these two compounds are different only in one atom, as Calcium ascorbate is a calcium salt of ascorbic acid, but how they impact our body is completely different.

Calcium ascorbate, is an alkaline form and will alkalize the blood wheras ascorbic acid is… well an acid and will acidify the blood.

So…

Calcium ascorbate = Good

Ascorbic acid = Not so Good.

It has been shown that popular vitamin C combinations containing calcium ascorbate and small amounts of other forms of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) are better absorbed than supplements containing only ascorbic acid.

2. Activated B Vitamins Vs Synthetic B Vitamins

Another example of differentiating a good multivitamin is to look at the type of B vitamins it contains.

The easiest B vitamin to point out is Vitamin B12.

There are two forms of vitamin B12 that you’re likely to come across – methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin.

Cyanocobalamin is the most commonly supplemented form of vitamin B12 and is chemically synthesized.

Methylcobalamin is found in foods and therefore naturally occurring.

In short, when you ingest cyanocobalamin, your body has to convert it into methylcobalamin to be absorbed.

Cyanocobalamin is certainly far from optimal.

When directly compared to other active ingredients, cyanocobalamin is clearly inferior it terms of absorption and clinical impact.

3. Folic Acid Vs Folate (Methyl-tetra-hydrofolic-acid)

Once again, the difference between folate and folic acid is simple: folate is the natural form of vitamin B9 found in foods like lemons and spinach, and folic acid is a synthetic form of B9 most common in supplements and fortified foods.

As is the case with synthetic vitamins, several studies have reported the presence of unmetabolized folic acid building up in the blood potentially causing liver toxicity and other complications.

Taking in synthetic B12 (cyanocobalamin) and Folic acid have even been associated with an increased risk of certain cancers!!!!

4. Natural Vs Synthetic Vitamin E

On a supplement label, natural vitamin E is listed as d-alpha tocopherold-alpha tocopheryl acetate, or d-alpha tocopheryl succinate.

In contrast, synthetic forms of vitamin E are labeled with a dl- prefix

So if your label says that Vitamin E is in the form of dl-alpha-tocopherol, it’s synthetic and could be building up in your tissues rather than truly helping you out.

d-alpha tocopheryl = Good

dl-alpha tocopheryl = Bad

A Simple 4 Step Test in Identifying Bad Vitamins:

Simply turn the bottle around and look at the label and try to identify what form of the vitamin it contains.

Step 1 – Look at Vitamin C. Does it have ascorbic acid?

Step 2 – Look at Vitamin B12. Does it have cyanocobalamin?

Step 3 – Look at the Folic Acid. Does it have Folic acid?

Step 4 – Look for Vitamin E. Is Vitamin E in the dl- form?

If you answered YES to any of the above… you may want to reconsider the vitamin you’re taking.

Got Questions?

Interested in taking ownership of your health and working with Dr. Daniel?

If so, Schedule a Complimentary Consult Below:

Vitamin & Nutrient Deficiency Testing

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Do You Have Nutrient Deficiencies?

90% of the time, the answer is YES, you do have vitamin and nutrient deficiencies. Scientists estimate that between 90 and 92% of the US population has a nutritional deficiency.

Even more astonishing is the fact that over 200 medical conditions are caused by nutritional deficiencies.

90% of the time, the answer is YES, you do have vitamin and nutrient deficiencies. Scientists estimate that between 90 and 92% of the US population has a nutritional deficiency.

Even more astonishing is the fact that over 200 medical conditions are caused by nutritional deficiencies.

Optimal vitamins and minerals are required by the body to under thousands upon thousands of cellular functions.

This can include properly eliminating toxins, promoting the health needs of your digestive system, cardiovascular system, metabolism and total body strength.

Signs can be both external and internal and can be caused by the over consumption of one vitamin or mineral which can leave your body out of balance and deficient in another mineral.

4 Primary Causes of Nutritional Deficiencies

There a dozens of reasons why someone can have vitamin and or nutritional deficiencies. However, we can narrow the vast majority of those reasons down to four:

1. The Standard American Diet

Let’s face it, The Standard American Diet is not a diet that humans were designed to thrive on.

No, humans thrived on a diet that was selected hundreds of thousands of years ago. It consisted of plants, tubers, meat, poultry, fish and occasionally fruit.

It did not consist of fast food, packaged food, industrial seed oils and artificial ingredients.

2. Lifestyle & Environment

4% of the entire worlds population lives in the United States, yet we consume over 50% of the worlds medications.

Sadly, this is our current way of life and lifestyle.

While these medications certainly play a role in fighting disease, they tax our bodies and begin to actually contribute to the development of disease.

For example, antacids such as Pepcid, Tagamet, Prevacid and Prilosec all contribute to Vitamin B12, Folate, Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron and Zinc deficiencies.

Birth control blocks all B vitamins. Antihistamines for allergies and sinuses can impact your brain chemistry and alter the production of powerful neurotransmitters essential for overall well being.

3. Gut Health & Food Sensitivities

If you have followed me for some time then you should understand the role that our gut plays in overall health.

I know you’ve heard the saying, “You Are What You Eat.” – but it’s more like “You Are What You Absorb.” and the gut plays a major role in nutrient absorption.

This means you can be eating all the right foods but not absorbing those nutrients. So in order to optimize your health, the gut needs to be properly evaluated.

When the gut is not healthy, then your immune system is on red alert and this results in food allergies and sensitivities; which further causes nutrient absorption issues.

4. Genetics & Individuality

Finally, your nutritional needs and susceptibilities ultimately come down to your genetics, lifestyle and environment.

What you need at the age of 10 is going to be completely different in your 20’s, 50’s and beyond. 

This is why we recommend customized testing based on YOUR needs, not someone else.

In Functional Medicine We don’t guess… We TEST!

Is Nutrient Deficiency Testing Right For You? 

Schedule a Free Consult and Let’s Talk…

 

4 Crucial Tests Needed to Determine Your Health

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What’s The Best Indicator of Your Overall Health?

Your Health should not be based on how you feel.

It’s not your total cholesterol level.

It’s not whether you’re skinny or fat.

It’s not your resting heart rate, blood pressure, squat max, how many pull ups you can do or how many miles you can run every week.

The best indicator of your overall health isn’t even how many grams of protein, carbs and fat you eat every day.

So what’s the single best indicator of your overall health?

There isn’t one. There’s many. And they’re all important to really look at, at least annually, if you’re interested in living the absolute best life you can live.

When it comes to health, look at SYSTEMS not SYMPTOMS.

The Hierarchy of Analyzing Human Health

First, determining how healthy you are should never be based on how you feel.

Basing your health on how you feel is what get’s us into trouble with some of the leading causes of death. Nearly 75% of all deaths in the US are attributed to just 10 causes, with the top 3 of these accounting for over 50% of all deaths.

The leading causes of death include:

  • Heart Disease (Heart Attacks, Strokes, Heart Failure)
  • Cancer (Lung, Colon, Breast, Pancreatic, Prostate, etc.
  • Chronic Respiratory Disease (COPD, Emphysema, Asthma)

What’s worst about the 3 leading causes of death is that the first two often have no early warnings, signs or symptoms.

You can be healthy one day and drop dead from a heart attack the next.

You can be bicycling with friends and family at the park; and suffer from a massive stroke during the night.

Cancer can be lurking in your body for 20 years and you’ll never know until it gets so bad that its nasty face becomes obvious. This is exactly why I developed a Hierarchy of Analyzing Human Health for my patients.

If you want to understand your current level of health, it’s important that you look at SYSTEMS rather than SYMPTOMS! When you go to the doctor for your annual checkup, chances are they looked at

  • Height, Weight & Blood Pressure
  • Listened to your heart and lungs
  • Ordered some routine blood chemistry panels

…and called it a day

While this is the standard medical exam that can certainly find obvious problems, it also allows so many people to fall through the cracks because it’s just not enough to really determine your current level of health; especially if you’re someone who is “healthier” than most.

And lets be honest… “healthier” than most in America is not really saying much.

If you really want to a get a hold on your current level of health, then a solid first step in analyzing your health begins with a:

  • Comprehensive Blood Chemistry Panel combined with a Functional Blood Chemistry Analysis.
  • Comprehensive Digestive Health Panel
  • Comprehensive Hormone Panel (Sex and Stress Hormones and Brain Chemistry)
  • Nutritional Analysis including Dietary Intake, Blood Chemistry & Nutrient Level Monitoring

This is not to say that your fitness level, psychology and environment do not play a part. But even if you worked out 12 hours a daya and felt that you had a strong emotional base.. you can still drop dead from a heart attack or come down with cancer.

So let’s unpack all this to have a better understanding of WHY?

Comprehensive Blood Chemistry Panel

The benefits of a comprehensive blood chemistry panel really depends on WHO interprets and HOW they interpret the information.

The reality is, most doctors simply look at lab values and say you are normal or abnormal.

That’s it.

However, a good blood chemistry analysis

  • Can reveal the source of many symptoms.
  • Pinpoint underlying health imbalances way before they turn into serious health problems.
  • Identify hormonal, metabolic, and gastrointestinal issues.
  • Identify nutrient and mineral deficiencies.
  • Evaluate your bodies ability to detox and repair itself.

When interpreting blood chemistry results, there is a Functional Range and a Pathological Range.

Functional Ranges help to identify imbalances that are predisposing you to disease.

Pathological Ranges tell you when you have a disease.

This is why most doctors will miss what their patients bloodwork is telling them. It’s why you can have all the signs of heart disease or diabetes; yet your doctor will tell you your fine.

Doctors today use Pathological Ranges and do not address the sub-clinical findings that are present until they become a serious medical condition.

The goal is to identify developing helath problems and prevent them from manifesting into a serious medical condition. This is exactly what happens when I order a comprehensive blood chemistry panel.

Comprehensive Digestive Health Panel 

80% of your immune system lives in your digestive system.

If you’ve never had a comprehensive stool panel performed, there is no way you can properly assess your current level of health. There are hundreds of conditions and diseases that can be caused by gut dysfunctions.

This can include conditions such as Heart Disease, Cancer, Hormone Imbalances (Thyroid, PCOS, Estrogen, HPA-Axis, Cortisol), Autoimmune Conditions and allergies.

The Benefits of a Comprehensive Digestive Health Panel:

  • Quanitfy the amount of beneficial (good) bacteria vs pathogenic (bad) bacteria
  • Monitor your bodies ability to absorb nutrients such as protein, fats and carbohydrates
  • Identify how much Inflammation is present
  • Screen for harmful microorganisms such as fungus, parasties, viruses

Like I previously mentioned, many chronic disorders come from digestive problems and inadequate nutrient absorption.

Proper gut function is needed to eliminate toxic substances, pathogenic organisms, and undigested food particles from the body to prevent health problems.

If you’ve never had your gut health assessed, there’s no way you could consider yourself healthy.

Comprehensive Hormone & Brain Chemistry Study

The way most people have had their hormones tested and treated is downright negligent.

To be put on synthetic hormone (birth control, thyroid, estrogen and testosterone) without properly measuring where you are is criminal.

There is enough here that I could write an entire textbook about so I’m going to try and keep it simple.

In order to determine your current hormone status you need:

  • Blood (Serum) Testing – this checks inactive hormone circulating in your body
  • Saliva Testing – this checks active hormone that can stimulate cells in your body
  • Urine Testing – this tells you how your body is metabolizing “active” hormone

Understanding what your hormones are doing is highly useful information when it comes to trying to determine your overall level of health.

The challenge lies in accurately measuring your hormone levels and interpreting the test results.

The DUTCH Hormone test is one way for a doctor to capture all the information needed in ONE simple test.

Blood testing is the most common method of hormone testing, and it’s a good test for reproductive hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, as there’s no major variation in these hormones throughout the day (testosterone is an exception).

The drawback is that blood testing will not show you the metabolites of those hormones.

The blood test also falls short when testing adrenal hormones like cortisol, as it can only show you total cortisol. However, the saliva still won’t show you the metabolites of cortisol.

DUTCH, on the other hand, does both.

Taking things a step further, the DUTCH Hormone test also evaluates for 3 key neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine/epinephrine) as well as nutritional markers such as B12, B6 and Glutathione.

This helps to understand how your body is absorbing these vitamins which are commonly associated with hormone imbalances that cause fatigue, anxiety, insomnia, depression, motivation, sex drive, estrogen dominance and stress.

Assessing Nutrient Status

In my opinion, a proper nutrient status assessment would include 3 things:

  • Comprehensive Blood Chemistry Analysis
  • Food Diary or Nutrition Intake
  • Ion Profile that evaluates for over 125 key nutrient biomarkers and ratios that can help identify nutritional shortfalls.

All together this allow us to compare information between the 3 studies to get an accurate representation of your current nutritional status.

Why is this important? Specific imbalances of vitamins, nutrients, and essential co-factors can all contribute to common chronic diseases such as:

    • Mood disorders including anxiety and depression
    • Fatigue
    • Digestive Health Problems
    • Chronic Pain/Inflammatory conditions
    • Cardiovascular Disease
    • Weight Issues
    • Diabetes
    • Sleep Disturbance
    • Hormone Imbalances
    • Risk of Cancer

What Next?

There are 3 types of people who really need this type of analysis.

1) The person who has a medical condition and is being treated medically, yet they’re not getting any better.

2) The person who has a medical condition but does not want to be on medication and has no other option for treatment.

3) The person who has been told they’re healthy but has never had this kind of assessment.

If you’re one of the 3 people I just described, I would seriously consider getting properly assessed to avoid any unnecessary health problems that are sure to develop.

We just discussed 4 tests that help to properly evaluate you health status.

If you’re struggling with a health issue… heart health, diabetes, arthritis, autoimmune conditions or weight issues, you need this assessment.

If you believe you’re healthy and you’ve never had this kind of assessment, you’re missing crucial data that may prove otherwise.

Maybe you are healthy and you want a fresh perspective on how you’ve been living your life, then this assessment is for you too.

If you’re ready to get started, simply click the button below:

Need more info?

Schedule a complimentary 15 minute phone or video consult here:

When You’re Doing “All the Things” and Nothing Works

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False Wellness and the Pursuit of Health

Let me preface this article by saying I’m a big fan of Crossfit, Olympic weight lifting, weight or resistance training, interval training, running, cycling and any other form of working the body. I love all the things. But sometimes, doing “All the Things” is too much.

This is a follow up article to last week’s review of a study that dissected female athletes who wrecked their metabolism under the best conditons.

So that said… don’t hate on what I’m about to say.

Through clinical observation, functional medicine testing and functional movement assessments of now hundreds of athletes I can honestly say that many people go through health and end up on the opposite end of the spectrum; which has its own set of devastating consequences.

False Health or False Wellness is when we assume we’re healthy because we’re doing what we BELIEVE is right, but all the while it’s creating dysfunction.

 

In our attempts for achieving “wellness” or optimal health and just the right body composition, we may be doing one of the worst things we can do – especially for those of us who fumble between a full-time career, education, family, finances, etc. 

Let me explain.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I spend A LOT of time STUDYING human physiology. I love reading scientific papers on human biomechanics and movement, stress hormones, muscle protein synthesis and nutrition.

I personally love to hang on things, swing my body around, push myself hard (even when I know I shouldn’t), and listen to some loud MotherF’n music while other peeps shout and cheer each other on!

I LOVE ALL THE THINGS and will always continue to train that way, but hear me out…

I care for people who eat PLENTY (2400+ calories) for all the training they’re doing (upwards of 3hrs /day) and even though they acknowledge all the stress in their lives… many more do not or refuse to think it’s there. It’s dumb.

For some of them, there’s no day job. They peruse at home after a hectic morning of driving kids to school, preparing food, cleaning, paying bills, etc.

Then there’s others, who for most of the day, work at an office (usually at a desk) with complete disregard on the mental toll any of it takes.

Still, others go to school…

Going to school provides a unique stress response, but it’s not entirely different from those of us who are stay at home parents, self employed or part of the workforce in general – there’s the pressure to be perfect, to meet deadlines, to impress those in higher positions, etc.

Regardless of what you do… regardless of how much you try to minimize your stress – believe me it’s there.

We all have an immense amount of pressure coming from every angle – don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my job – but that’s why it’s so stressful sometimes – answering to literally +1000 people per week via email, Facebook messenger, Instagram DM’s, text messages, face to face conversation. Everyday.

And I have it easy. If you’re a mom, you have to be the positive source of energy.

If you’re a full time working mom, you have to be a positive source of energy with little to no energy for everyone else.

WE HEAR YOU MOMMA’S OF THE WORLD! You can ROAR! But it won’t change your physiology.

You have to give and give and be willing to rarely receive.

And you can love it. You can love it ALL. You can love your work or personal life and all the while assume to have little to no stress; or at least so you think.

On top of all this, for every physical stressor we have, there is easily 3X’s more emotional stress coming from relationships with both friends and parents…

And you may think – “Hey, I got this.”

My life is great. I get 7-9 hours of sleep, I’m eating good food, I’m exercising. I’m good.

Or so you think.

**Quick Pause**

Let me take a quick pause here and say that if you’re reading this and instinctively start telling yourself that this article does not apply to you… that’s EXACTLY my point.

We all need to do some self-inventory and self-assessing to bring our awareness to the fact that you can NOT do it ALL. Everyone has a stress threshold, and it’s up to you on how you reach it.

Some people are not going to give up their fast-paced job and 3 kids so that they can spend more time training and recovering. Some people will try to think that they can handle all of it and then some.

Poor souls.

With respect to health, we all need to realize what our non-negotiables are (career, education, family, finances) and understand that anything in addition to that is either going to ADD to the stress bucket, or take AWAY from it.

It is what it is. Deal?

UNPAUSE…

Treating The Symptom

How the hell have we made it this far?

The vast majority of us live on adrenaline. Coffee consumption is at an all time high. Caffeine is a drug that further spikes cortisol. The reason why Starbucks is so successful is because they fuel our ridiculous pursuits of pushing through everything despite the overwhelming fatigue we are experiencing.

Take a look at the graph below. Pay attention to the increase of “occasional” coffee drinkers vs “daily” drinkers. I believe this is a symptom of something greater at work.

 

We are basically climbing a ladder and it’s burning from the bottom up.

And when the fire catches you… so does the weight gain – the joint pains, the headaches, the heart palpitations and hormone imbalances. Your blood pressure becomes abnormal. Your hair falls out and you start noticing that you cannot handle things you used to.

It gets to the point where we even start to chalk it up to aging and we think, “Fuck it. I’ll just work harder.”

What the hell kind of nonsense is that??

You’re burning an incredible amount of energy every day – and still gaining weight. How is that possible?

Regardless of what food you eat or how much you exercise, your clothes fit a little tighter, you start retaining more and more water and you notice the scale fluctuating on the regular.

Do you get striations in your skin after you take your socks off at the end of the day? You should know that EDEMA is not a sign of optimal health.

Is it harder and harder to get up in the morning? One coffee is now 3 or 5. You start looking into pre-workout formulas and then you’re wondering why the hell you can’t you fall asleep?

HPA-Axis Dysfunction & Adrenal Fatigue

These are all signs of HPA-Axis Dysfunction commonly known as adrenal fatigue or cortisol dysregulation.

For some of you, you’ll notice that digestion has literally gone to shit – you’re bloated, gassy and leaking from your butt (diarrhea). Maybe you’ve even developed food sensitivities.

Saaay Whaat!?!

Now you can’t eat Wheat (gluten), eggs (albumin) or dairy (casein A1). These are all signs of a leaky gut that almost always co exist with adrenal problems.

Because what does science say about a gut that becomes impermeable to large proteins? You guessed it – chronically high cortisol and inflammation in the gut.

Now let’s talk about sex. What about it Dr. D? There isn’t any.

Sex drive starts to go away too! Cortisol is a stress hormone that has a direct impact on the entire hormonal system. It affects thyroid hormones, blood sugar hormones (insulin) and sex hormones (progesterone, estrogen etc.). What this means for you is low sex drive, irregular periods (if you’re a girl), acne, and possible infertility.

No sex drive also likely coincides with no personal motivation. This also leads to depression. This is when we force ourselves to go to the gym, it takes longer to warm up and despite our amazing workout… we drag ourselves through the rest of the day.

Finally… and this might seem a bit crazy and certainly doesn’t happen to all of you… but you find that your hair is falling out? I mean there’s tons of it. It’s clogging the drain. And if you’re also finding that your cold all the time, well congrats… you might have caused yourself to develop hypothyroidism!

A simple blood test can spell all this out for you, but there’s really no need – your symptoms are telling you that you’re f*cked so let’s skip the middleman and just cut to the chase – you need to fix your hormones!

If any of you have resonated with this story thus far…stick with me…I want to explain what the heck happened, why it happened, and how to keep it from happening over and over.

Why Adrenal Fatigue Happens

When we feel stress, the human body undergoes an amazing change.

The stressor – for example, a 20 min high intensity workout — stimulates the hypothalamus.

This region of the brain is responsible for maintaining the balance between stress and relaxation in your body.

When it’s alerted to perceived ‘danger’, it sends out a chemical signal to your adrenal glands, activating the sympathetic system (Fight-Flight), which sends the body into an excited state. Ever feel that shaky, hyper-focused, strung out feeling after a tough workout?

Or remember being so angry that your hands were trembling, your lips hardly able to sit still? That’s your adrenal glands.

That’s Adrenaline, baby!

These glands release adrenaline and noradrenaline, hormones that create the state of readiness that helps a human confront danger.

All of these changes in our normal physical state prepare us to face danger head-on. The issue is when cortisol is chronically elevated for months and months with complete disregard for recovery…

Stress directly affects the synchronicity of your hormones.

When cortisol levels are constantly high, they affect the production of sex hormones, slow down thyroid function and imbalance blood sugar levels. They also make it hard for your body to create those ‘feel good’ hormones like serotonin.

It’s equally important to understand that high cortisol levels combined with a nutrient deficiency or worse… calorie deficit (diet) is like an atom bomb for your hormones.

You’re literally asking for self implosion.

So, it’s no wonder so many athletes who assume they’re healthy also develop hypothyroidism, cortisol dysregulation, adrenal fatigue, stupid sex hormone imbalances, a lack of recovery/motivation/intensity and even depression.

Some people may be reading this and think “Good God, does all that really happen to people! It’s never happened to me?”

If you’re thinking that, then let me share with you the fact that the number of patients complaining of fatigue make up more than 20 percent of all patient contacts in primary care, which amounts to 18 million physician visits annually in the United States (1,2). A whopping Seventy-five to 90 percent of primary care visits have been reported to be stress related (3). Despite these statistics, conventional medicine is often at a loss as to how to care for these patients.

And on top of that we have people… hundreds of people who will read this article to minimize their stress and say, “Nah, that’s not me.”

Well, this ‘scenario’ is far more common than you think.

See, these symptoms don’t just happen in full force one day…they gradually build up over time. Your body is an incredibly adaptable machine.

You give it some stress, it adapts. Add a little more stress, and it adapts again. But we need to realize that just like we need to sleep every night to process the day’s stressors, we need to deload our lives every so often to process life’s stressors.

My patients clearly do not allow their body a chance to recover…and I see far too many who even agree that they have high levels of stress and yet continue to ignore the elephant in the room.

What to Do When Adrenal Fatigue Happens

So what are we supposed to do?

The first step to re-balancing your hormones is to minimize stress…ugh, damnit.

Is that it? Reduce stress?

Even if you are doing all the right things…eating well, exercising daily, no processed food, you’re 100% gluten free – you could still be struggling with all the aforementioned symptoms!

Why? Because – Stress!

Here’s a few things that can help to balance stress hormones and potentially help you to recover from rock bottom.

  1. Take a break from excessive and intense exercise – before you start whining and pulling out your already falling out hair… try swapping one or two of your high-intensity-met-con-gonna look like Brooke-Ence-type workouts for gentle forms of exercise (e.g. hypertrophy, accessory work, yoga, Pilates or walking). Do this for a trial period of two to four weeks to see if it lowers your stress.

Please make note, I did NOT tell you to give up CrossFit or HIIT or Interval training 😉

  1. Eat more! 9 out 10 people that come to me for nutrition coachingare under-eating for the load of stress and training in their life. Living in a calorie deficitwith minimal carbohydrate intake drives cortisol up throughout the day.

Body re-composition or fat loss should only ever occur in the off season. If your goal is to train hard and increase performance… you need fuel, you need a lot of it.

Not only will calorie deficits cause you to struggle getting through tough workouts, but it may take you 2-3 days to recover. Do you ever feel like Monday – Wednesday you are on fire in the gym, but then by Thursday and Friday you are dragging yourself through the doors?

This is NOT the way to improve your fitness, strength, and skill.

You should be feeling energized and recovered every single day, Mmmmkay?

  1. Practice saying “probably not” or “no” – You can do it – trust me!

Look, we are programmed to overcommit, overprovide and people please, often at the expense of our own health and our stress response and adrenal function. This week when someone asks you to do something that you know will stress you and your adrenals, practice saying “Probably not…(pause), but let me think about it.” No guilt allowed! Take it further by creating a list of your absolute yes’s and no’s for this week.

  1. Give Yourself a smart device curfew – Reduce blue light at night. Too much light at night actually stimulates your adrenals to produce more cortisol to keep you awake and energized. This prevents you from being able to wind down properly and actually get proper sleep. Here’s what to do: After 9pm turn off as many lights in your house as possible. Give yourself a smart phone or smart device curfew, this means no laptops or phones past 9pm or in bed.
  1. Include complex carbs and good-quality organic protein sources in EVERY meal– complex carb (think sweet potatoes, white potatoes, green vegetables and beans) and good quality proteins (pasture raised chicken, wild-caught fish, grass-finished red meats, and legumes) can work wonders in balancing your hormones by keeping your blood sugar regulated. NO more quick hits of sugar throughout the day – your hormones will thank you!
  1. Breathe – This is ridiculous, but so many people don’t breathe properly. Make a conscious effort to relax and breathe deeply for 10 minutes every evening. Pop your legs up against the wall while you do this (think I’m crazy? Top level athletes uses this technique after her training sessions to decompress and enter into para-sympathetic mode).

These lifestyle changes are boring as hell – but that’s why they work. And please, don’t for a minute think that you can simply supplement your way to health. Yes, taking adrenal support supplements (if you know what you’re doing) and popping B-complex can help, but are you really treating the root of the problem?

That is all.

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