Foods, Health and Disease, Rx to Wellness, Uncategorized

Vitamin K2 Foods Benefit Cardiovascular Health

Vitamin K2 Foods Benefit

Cardiovascular Health

 

Vitamin K2 - Dr. Axe

 

Full-fat cheeses, eggs and beef liver might not be the types of foods that come to mind when you think about eating a heart-healthy diet. But, you’d probably be surprised to know that in recent years, one of the most researched nutrients in the field of cardiovascular health has been vitamin K2, found in these very foods.

What are the benefits of vitamin K2? While vitamin K1 has the important role of preventing blood clots and bleeding disorders, K2 works differently.

According to a 2019 study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, K2 benefits include helping with nutrient assimilation, growth in infants and children, fertility, brain function, and bone and dental health. Unfortunately many people don’t get enough of this type from their diets.

Something that makes vitamin K unique (both types: K1 and K2) is that it’s not usually taken in supplement form. K2 seems to be much more beneficial when obtained naturally from vitamin K foods.

Unlike vitamin K1, which is mostly found in plant foods like leafy greens, you get K2 from animal-derived foods, like grass-fed meats, raw/fermented cheeses and eggs. It’s also produced by the beneficial bacteria in your gut microbiome.

What Is Vitamin K2?

While we hear the most about vitamin K1 and K2, there are actually a bunch of different compounds that fall into the “vitamin K” category. Vitamin K1 is also known as phylloquinone, while K2 is known as menaquinone.

Compared to many other vitamins, the roles and health benefits of vitamin K2 were only recently discovered. What does vitamin K2 help with? It has many functions in the body, but the most important is helping the body to use calcium and preventing calcification of the arteries, which can lead to heart disease. Emerging studies show a lack of this vitamin is also associated with diseases including osteoporosis.

If there’s one thing that we need K2 for, it’s preventing calcium from building up in the wrong locations, specifically in soft tissues. Low intake of vitamin K2 can contribute to plaque building in the arteries, tartar forming on the teeth, and hardening of tissues that causes arthritis symptoms, bursitis, reduced flexibility, stiffness and pain.

Some evidence also suggests that K2 has anti-inflammatory properties and may offer some protection against cancer, including research published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism.

What the difference between vitamin K2 and MK7? K2 is a group of menaquinones compounds, which are abbreviated as “MK.” MK7 is one type of menaquinones that is responsible for many of the benefits attributed to vitamin K2. MK4 has been the focus of many vitamin K2 studies, but other types like MK7 and MK8 also have unique abilities.

Vitamin K2 vs. Vitamin K1

  • There’s some evidence that people tend to get about 10 times more vitamin K1 (or phylloquinone) from their diets than vitamin K2 (menaquinone). Vitamin K1 deficiency is very rare, even said to be “almost nonexistent,” while K2 deficiency is much more common.
  • A growing body of research now demonstrates that vitamins K1 and K2 are not only different forms of the same vitamin, but basically operate like different vitamins all together.
  • Vitamin K1 is more abundant in foods but less bioactive than the vitamin K2. 
  • Vitamin K2 from animal foods is more active in humans. This doesn’t mean that plant foods that provide K1 are unhealthy, just that they are not the best dietary sources of bioavailable vitamin K2.
  • When we eat foods with K1, vitamin K1 mostly makes it to the liver and then the bloodstream once converted. K2, on the other hand, gets distributed to bones and other tissues more easily.
  • Vitamin K1 is very important for supporting blood clotting, but not as good at protecting the bones and teeth as K2.

 

 

Uses

What is vitamin k2 used for? Here are some of the major benefits and uses associated with this vitamin:

1. Helps Regulate Use of Calcium

One of the most important jobs that vitamin K2 has is controlling where calcium accumulates in the body. Vitamin K2 benefits the skeleton, heart, teeth and nervous system by helping regulate use of calcium, especially in the bones, arteries and teeth.

The “calcium paradox” is a common term for the realization by medical professionals that supplementing with calcium can somewhat reduce the risk of osteoporosis but then increases the risk of heart disease. Why does this happen? Vitamin K2 deficiency!

K2 works closely with vitamin D3 to helps inhibit osteoclasts, which are cells responsible for bone resorption.

The Vitamin D and calcium relationship is important, as vitamin D helps transport calcium from the intestines as it digests into the bloodstream. Unfortunately, vitamin D’s job is done at that point. Next, vitamin K2 must activate one of its dependent proteins, osteocalcin. Research shows it then takes calcium out of the bloodstream and deposits it into bones and teeth.

For the best overall health benefits, it’s important to get enough calcium, vitamin D3 and vitamin K. Depending on your age, health and diet, you may need to take a vitamin D3 supplement, and possibly other supplements, too.

Vitamin K2 is essential for the function of several proteins in addition to osteocalcin, which is why it helps with growth and development. For example, it’s involved in the maintenance of structures of the arterial walls, osteoarticular system, teeth and the regulation of cell growth.

2. Protects the Cardiovascular System

Vitamin K2 is one of the best vitamins for men because it offers protection against heart-related problems, including atherosclerosis (stiffening of the arteries), which are the leading causes of death in many developed countries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year more than half of deaths due to heart disease are in men.

A 2015 report published in the Integrative Medicine Clinician’s Journal explains that

Vitamin K2 is associated with the inhibition of arterial calcification and arterial stiffening. An adequate intake of vitamin K2 has been shown to lower the risk of vascular damage because it activates matrix GLA protein (MGP), which inhibits the deposits of calcium on the walls.

The Rotterdam Study, a very large study done in the Netherlands that followed more than 4,800 adult men, found that the highest intake of vitamin K2 was associated with the lowest chances of suffering from aortic calcification. Men who consumed the most K2 were found to have a 52 percent lower risk of severe aortic calcification and a 41 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease.

The men in the study with the highest K2 intake also benefited from a 51 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease, and a 26 percent lower risk of dying from any cause (total mortality).

A 2017 study found that this vitamin was associated with a 12 percent increase in maximal cardiac output and that supplementation seemed to improve cardiovascular function in diseased patients. It seems to do this by restoring mitochondrial function and playing a “key role in production of mitochondrial adenosine triphosphate” (ATP).

3. Supports Bone and Dental Health

For decades, vitamin K was known to be important for blood coagulation — but only recently human studies have uncovered how it support bone health and protect against vascular diseases, too.

According to a 2017 article published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, “K2 may be a useful adjunct for the treatment of osteoporosis, along with vitamin D and calcium.”

Another 2015 meta-analysis supports the hypothesis that “vitamin K2 plays kind of a role in the maintenance and improvement of vertebral bone mineral density and the prevention of fractures in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis.”

K2 benefits the skeletal system by taking calcium and helping usher it into bones and teeth to make them solid and strong. A number of animal and human studies have investigated whether or not vitamin K2 can be useful for helping prevent or treat fractures, osteoporosis and bone loss.

Certain clinical studies have found that K2 slows the rate of bone loss in adults and even helps increase bone mass, plus it may reduce risk of hip fractures and vertebral fractures in older women.

K2 can enhance osteocalcin accumulation in the extracellular matrix of osteoblasts inside bones, meaning it promotes bone mineralization. A 2018 review reports that there is also evidence to support the effects of vitamin k2 on differentiation of other mesenchymal stem cells into osteoblasts.

Additionally, it helps maintain the structure of the teeth and jaws. Many traditional cultures included K2 foods in their diets because they believed it could help prevent cavities, tooth decay and plaque formation. This impact was observed in the 1930s by dentist Weston A. Price, who found that the primitive cultures with K2-rich diets had strong, healthy teeth although they’d never been exposed to western dental hygiene.

It turns out that getting plenty of K2 during pregnancy is also important for fetal growth and bone health. During fetal development, having limited osteocalcin proteins activated (which require vitamin K2) equates to undergrowth of the lower third of the facial bone and jaw structure. Some experts believe this is the reason so many children in modern society need braces.

4. May Protect From Cancer

Some research shows that those who have high amounts of K2 in their diet are at lower risk of developing some types of cancers. For example, vitamin K2 may help to protect specifically from leukemia, prostate, lung, and liver cancers.

5. Defends From Rheumatoid Arthritis Damage

In patients with rheumatoid arthritis, supplementing with vitamin K2 has been shown to result in a slowdown of bone mineral density loss and to decrease the amount of RANKL, an inflammatory compound, in the blood of subjects.

This suggests that K2 might be a useful supplement to a rheumatoid arthritis diet.

6. Improves Hormonal Balance

Inside our bones, K2 can be used to produce osteocalcin hormone, which has positive metabolic and hormonal effects.

Fat-soluble vitamins are important for the production of reproductive/sex hormones, including estrogen and testosterone. Because of its hormonal-balancing effects, women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and postmenopausal women can benefit from getting more K2 in their diets, according to recent studies.

K2 can also helps promote blood sugar balance and insulin sensitivity, which can reduce the risk for metabolic problems like diabetes and obesity. Some research suggests that K2 helps regulate glucose metabolism by modulating osteocalcin and/or proinflammatory pathways.

7. Helps Promote Kidney Health

K2 may benefit the kidneys by helping prevent the formation of calcium accumulation in the wrong places, the underlying cause of kidney stones. It may also do the same for other organs, too, including the gallbladder.

In addition, a lack of K2 and vitamin D has been associated in studies with a higher occurrence of kidney disease.

Foods

What foods are high in vitamin k2? Vitamin K1 is found in mostly vegetables, while K2 is found in mostly animal products or fermented foods.

K2 is a fat-soluble vitamin, so it’s present in animal foods that also contain fat, specifically saturated fat and cholesterol.

Animals help transform vitamin K1 into K2, while humans do not have the necessary enzyme to do this efficiently. This is why we benefit from getting K2 directly from animal-derived foods — and why sticking to grass-fed animal products provides the most K2.

The 20 best vitamin K2 foods include (percentages based on daily value requirement of 120 micrograms):

  1. Natto: 1 ounce: 313 micrograms (261 percent DV)
  2. Beef liver: 1 slice: 72 micrograms (60 percent DV)
  3. Chicken, especially dark meat: 3 ounces: 51 mcg (43 percent DV)
  4. Goose liver pate: 1 tablespoon: 48 micrograms (40 percent DV)
  5. Hard cheeses (such as Gouda, Pecorino Romano, Gruyere, etc.): 1 ounce: 25 micrograms (20 percent DV)
  6. Jarlsberg cheese: 1 slice: 22 micrograms (19 percent DV)
  7. Soft cheeses: 1 ounce: 17 mcg (14 percent DV)
  8. Blue cheese: 1 ounce: 10 micrograms (9 percent DV)
  9. Ground beef: 3 ounces: 8 micrograms (7 percent DV)
  10. Goose meat: 1 cup: 7 micrograms (6 percent DV)
  11. Egg yolk, specifically from grass-fed chickens: 5.8 micrograms (5 percent DV)
  12. Beef kidneys/organ meat: 3 ounces: 5 mcg (4 percent DV)
  13. Duck breast: 3 ounces: 4.7 micrograms (4 percent DV)
  14. Sharp cheddar cheese: 1 ounce: 3.7 micrograms (3 percent DV)
  15. Chicken liver (raw or pan-fried): 1 ounce: 3.6 micrograms (3 percent DV)
  16. Whole milk: 1 cup: 3.2 micrograms (3 percent DV)
  17. Canadian bacon/cured ham: 3 ounces: 3 micrograms (2 percent DV)
  18. Grass-fed butter: 1 tablespoon: 3 micrograms (2 percent DV)
  19. Sour cream: 2 tablespoons: 2.7 micrograms (2 percent DV)
  20. Cream cheese: 2 tablespoons: 2.7 micrograms (2 percent DV)

The more vitamin K1 an animal consumes from its diet, the higher the level of K2 that will be stored in the tissues. This is the reason that “grass-fed” and “pastured-raised” animal products are superior to products that come from factory farm raised animals.

Going back to the fact that vitamin K2 comes in several forms, MK7 is found in the highest concentration in animal foods, while the other types are found in mostly fermented foods. MK4 is the synthetic form of K2.

For those following a vegan diet, K2 can be hard to come by — unless you love natto! This “stinky sock” fermented soy food is an acquired taste and is also the only vegan source of K2. Fortunately, it’s also the richest source (and the food used to make the type of K2 supplement I recommend).

 

Dosage

How much vitamin k2 do you need each day?

The minimum daily requirement of K2 in adults is between 90–120 micrograms per day.

  • Some experts recommend getting about 150 to 400 micrograms daily, ideally from K2 foods as opposed to dietary supplements.
  • Overall it’s recommended to tailor your dosage depending on your current health.  People with a higher risk of heart disease or bone loss (such as older women) may benefit from getting a dose on the higher end of the spectrum (200 micrograms or more).
  • Those looking to maintain their health can get a bit less, especially from supplements, such as around 100 micrograms.

Is it beneficial to take vitamin K dietary supplements?

If you take a supplement that contains vitamin K, the chances are very likely that it’s vitamin K1 but not K2.

While some newer K2 supplements are now available, the type of supplement matters greatly.

  • MK4, the form of K2 found in many vitamin K supplements, is a synthetic K2 with a short half-life. This means that to get the full benefit of it, you have to take it multiple times throughout the day.
  • Often, an MK4 serving size is thousands of micrograms to counteract the half-life of the compound. However, MK7 derived from natto has a much longer half-life and can be taken in more reasonable doses like those listed above.

Remember that vitamin K works with other fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamins A and D, so the best way to obtain these nutrients is to eat foods that provide many different vitamins — like eggs and raw, full-fat dairy products.

Particularly for those at risk of osteoporosis, calcium should also be a nutrient you aim to eat a lot of while increasing your K2 intake.

Deficiency Symptoms

What happens if you get too little vitamin K?

Symptoms of vitamin K2 deficiency can include:

  • Blood vessel and heart-related problems, like arterial calcification and high blood pressure
  • Poor bone metabolism and possibly higher risk for bone loss and hip fractures
  • Kidney and gallstones
  • Cavities and other dental issues tied to tooth decay
  • Symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, like bloody stool, indigestion and diarrhea
  • Poor blood sugar balance and higher risk for blood sugar issues and diabetes
  • Metabolic problems
  • Higher chance of having morning sickness in pregnant women
  • Spider veins/varicose veins

Among adults living in industrialized nations, deficiency in this vitamin is considered to be rare. However, newborn babies and infants are much more susceptible to deficiency due to how their digestive systems lack the ability to produce K2.

Adults are at a greater risk of developing vitamin K2 deficiency if they suffer from any of these health conditions:

  • Diseases that affect the digestive tract, including types of inflammatory bowel disease like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or celiac disease
  • Malnutrition, due to calorie restriction or poverty
  • Excessive alcohol consumption/alcoholism
  • Use of drugs that block K2 absorption, which can include antacids, blood thinners, antibiotics, aspirin, cancer treatment drugs, seizure medication and high cholesterol drugs — cholesterol-lowering statin drugs and certain osteoporosis drugs inhibit the conversion of K2, which can greatly lower levels
  • Prolonged vomiting and/or diarrhea

Risks and Side Effects

Is too much vitamin K2 bad for you? While it’s rare to experience side effects or vitamin k2 toxicity from getting high amounts from food alone, you might develop symptoms if you take high doses of vitamin K supplements.

However, for most people even high doses of this vitamin, such as 15 milligrams three times a day, have been shown to generally be safe.

Are there potential drug interactions to worry about? If you’re someone who takes the drug Coumadin, a potential side effect associated with taking too much vitamin K is increasing your risk for heart-related problems.

Too much vitamin K can also also contribute to complications in people with blood clotting disorders.

Look for a supplement that specifically lists menaquinone if you plan to supplement. Because vitamin K supplements can interact with many medications, talk to your doctor if you plan to take a vitamin K supplement and are taking any daily medications.

Final Thoughts

  • Vitamin K2 (also called menaquinone) is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps with calcium metabolism, bone and dental health, heart health, and hormone balance.
  • Vitamin K1 is found in mostly green vegetables, while vitamin K2 (the more bioavailable form) is found in mostly animal products or fermented foods.
  • Benefits of getting more vitamin K2 from your diet include: helping to reduce your risk for calcification of the arteries, atherosclerosis, cavities, tooth decay, kidney problems, and hormonal imbalances.
  • This vitamin seems to be much more beneficial when obtained naturally from foods high in vitamin K2, rather than supplements. Consuming raw, fermented cheeses and other full-fat dairy products is the best way to get adequate amounts. Eggs, liver and dark meats are other good sources.

 

Remember we are in this together!

Health and Wellness Associates
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Health and Disease, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Crucial Lifestyle Changes for People with Rheumatoid Arthrits

rA2017

Crucial Lifestyle Changes for People with Rheumatoid Arthrits

Improving your diet using a combination of my nutritional guidelines, nutritional typing is crucial for your success. In addition, there are some general principles that seem to hold true for all nutritional types and these include:

 

Eliminating sugar, especially fructose, and most grains. For most people it would be best to limit fruit to small quantities

Eating unprocessed, high-quality foods, organic and locally grown if possible

Eating your food as close to raw as possible

Getting plenty high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fats. Krill oil seems to be particularly helpful here as it appears to be a more effective anti inflammatory preparation. It is particularly effective if taken concurrently with 4 mg of Astaxanthin, which is a potent antioxidant bioflavanoid derived from algae

Astaxanthin at 4 mg per day is particularly important for anyone placed on prednisone as Astaxanthin offers potent protection against cataracts and age related macular degeneration

 

Incorporating regular exercise into your daily schedule

 

Early Emotional Traumas Are Pervasive in Those with Rheumatoid Arthritis

With the vast majority of the patients I treated, some type of emotional trauma occurred early in their life, before the age their conscious mind was formed, which is typically around the age of 5 or 6. However, a trauma can occur at any age, and has a profoundly negative impact.

 

If that specific emotional insult is not addressed with an effective treatment modality then the underlying emotional trigger will continue to fester, allowing the destructive process to proceed, which can predispose you to severe autoimmune diseases like RA later in life.

 

In some cases, RA appears to be caused by an infection, and it is my experience that this infection is usually acquired when you have a stressful event that causes a disruption in your bioelectrical circuits, which then impairs your immune system.

 

This early emotional trauma predisposes you to developing the initial infection, and also contributes to your relative inability to effectively defeat the infection.

 

Therefore, it’s very important to have an effective tool to address these underlying emotional traumas. In my practice, the most common form of treatment used is called the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).

 

Although EFT is something that you can learn to do yourself in the comfort of your own home, it is important to consult a well-trained professional to obtain the skills necessary to promote proper healing using this amazing tool.

 

Vitamin D Deficiency Rampant in Those with Rheumatoid Arthritis

The early part of the 21st century brought enormous attention to the importance and value of vitamin D, particularly in the treatment of autoimmune diseases like RA. From my perspective, it is now virtually criminal negligent malpractice to treat a person with RA and not aggressively monitor their vitamin D levels to confirm that they are in a therapeutic range of 50-70 ng/ml.

 

This is so important that blood tests need to be done every two weeks, so the dose can be adjusted to get into that range. Most normal-weight adults should start at 10,000 units of vitamin D per day. If you are in the US, then Lab Corp is the lab of choice. For more detailed information on vitamin D, you can review my vitamin D resource page.

 

The best way to raise your blood levels is by sensible exposure to large amounts of your skin. Most can’t do this in the winter so if you take supplements make sure to take 500 mg to 1000 mg of magnesium and 150 mcg of vitamin K2, (not 1) which are important cofactors for optimizing vitamin D function.

 

Call us for your RA personalized plan.

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived

Dir P Carrothers

Director of Personalized Healthcare

Preventative and Restorative Medicine

312-972-9355 (well)

 

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Health and Disease, Uncategorized

One Patients RA Treatment. Did it Work?

RA

 

Sarah’s RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis )  Treatment

 

When I first saw Sarah, we discussed her diet, and I suggested there might be a genetic influence involved as she’s Scottish-Irish. Many of her family members also had autoimmune problems, including multiple sclerosis (MS) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Her genetic background suggested she may have an intolerance of wheat and gluten.

“You said I should eliminate that out of my diet as well as processed foods and sugar. You also did a metabolic typing. I did a very thorough questionnaire about how I metabolize food, about my energy levels, and about the stress in my life.

 

Along with my blood type, I was given a very special protocol of which foods would help me heal… I did a lot of vegetable juicing, which really helped me. I juiced probably 48 ounces a day of green juice.

 

I also ate a lot of organic grass-fed beef, ostrich, bison, free-range chicken and raw dairy. You even recommended raw eggs and raw egg yolks. Because I was in Wisconsin, I found an organic farm close to me. I got most of my meat, raw milk and my eggs from there. I bought all my fresh vegetables from local farmers markets. I got to know area farmers and learn about their farming practices.

 

I would buy a variety of vegetables and meats from them because I knew how they grew their food and raised their animals. I even used to meet the ostrich farmer in a parking lot across from the co-op where she used to sell her meats and buy it direct at a lower price. I also incorporated a lot of probiotics in my diet, and increased my vitamin D levels. Instead of suppressing my immune system with drugs to control my disease, I was using food to redesign my immune system and make it as strong as possible.

 

Apart from diet, the other important issue you advised me to address was the level of stress in my life. At that time, I was a teacher, new and passionate about the field. I worked very long hours, beyond what was healthy. Additionally, I dedicated several hours per week to triathlon training, and had some emotional stress in my life is well.

 

You, emphasized how stress and emotions impact immunity and now that I am studying Eastern medicine I have learned it is one of the primary causes of disease. I still question whether it was the amount of work and stress in my life which triggered the onset of my disease.

 

I cut back on the amount I was working and doing, and made more time for rest and enjoyment. You, also taught me Emotional Freedom Technique, a method of tapping along traditional energetic acupuncture meridians to help relieve emotional issues. I began incorporating EFT into my daily life, which was a simple and time-effective method to help me better deal with everyday stress and anxiety.

 

The Importance of Vitamin D

 

Vitamin D is a really important component. It stimulates 200 to 300 anti-microbial peptides that are even more powerful than antibiotics, which help improve and regulate your immune system and fight infections. Sarah, as many others with RA, noticed her symptoms were at their worst during the winter, and would often dissipate during the summer. This is what you call a giant clue that vitamin D is at work…

 

Invariably, unless you’re aggressively addressing your vitamin D level with sun exposure or supplementation, your blood levels of vitamin D will drop to dangerously low levels sometime in January, February, or March, when sun exposure is at its lowest. Optimizing your vitamin D is extremely important.

Essentially, if you’re using a supplement, you need to take whatever dosage is required to reach and maintain a therapeutic level, which can only be done by a healthcare worker that understands this.

Nourishing your gut microbiome is another important component. In addition to eating more fermented foods, it’s equally important to cut out sugar from your diet as it will feed pathogenic microbes and decimate your immune system, leaving you susceptible to autoimmune diseases of all kinds.

“I learned how to ferment my own vegetables and dairy products. I made my own kombucha, yogurt, cultured butters, milk kefir and coconut kefir. It took almost two years to get my system in balance, but right away, I noticed a difference.

In about two weeks my cravings for wheat, breads, and sugar diminished… My healthcare worker also told me that I had leaky gut and digestive proteins in my bloodstream.

 

I talked to my healthcare team, and after three months after being very strict with the diet. I felt better; I’d lost about 10 pounds. I had so much more energy and felt lighter. But when they did my analysis and showed me was — that I had completely changed — that’s when I really believed that food was medicine…

 

I was able to resume my regular activities… I was able to return to racing. That year, after following your protocol for about a year, I actually won an entire triathlon… So I went from being told I’d never run again to winning a race. Slowly, slowly the symptoms diminished. After two years of being very strict [with my diet], my symptoms went to complete remission, and they’ve stayed that way. It’s been over 10 years.

 

I still work out. Right now, I train Brazilian capoeira, which incorporates martial arts, dance, and acrobatics. I’m still able to do gymnastics. I can still do back flips at age 43. I still run occasionally. I still swim and bike. I do yoga and cross-country skiing when I’m in the north. So, I’m very active and very healthy. In fact, I feel that by you helping me, it really extended my life. I feel much younger than my age.”

 

I just want to wish Sarah the best, and her testimony we hope is helpful for others.

 

Sarah did go through more steps than she had wrote about, but

There IS Hope for RA Patients!

 

 

Health and Wellness Associates

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Rx to Wellness, Uncategorized, Vitamins and Supplements

How Can I Be Sure I Have Inflammation?

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“But how can I be sure that I actually have inflammation?”

 

If you suspect you might be dealing with inflammation, there are tests that can help determine the type and level of inflammation you may have. However, I’d ask you a few questions before you spend the money, time and effort getting these specialized tests ordered. Are you struggling with sugar or carb cravings? Are you having a difficult time shedding those last 10, 20 or 100 pounds? Do you ever struggle with digestive issues such as diarrhea, constipation, bloating or gas? What about low energy levels? Have you ever followed a low-fat diet? How often do you eat foods cooked in vegetable oil? Do you sometimes push yourself too hard at the gym hoping to burn some extra calories? Did you find out at some point in your life that you have a food sensitivity or allergy? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you probably have some chronic inflammation going on that needs to heal in order for your health to improve/symptoms to go away. Nearly everyone today is living in a state of chronic inflammation unless you’ve taken the measures to do something about it. Most of us have eaten low-fat, even if we didn’t want to, just based on what was available to us at the time. Intentionally or not, almost all of us have consumed processed foods, vegetables oils and trans fats more than our bodies would like.

There are two tests that can show if you have inflammation:

 

  1. C-Reactive Protein: CRP is a general blood marker of inflammation. It measures a protein that signals a response to inflammation. It doesn’t tell us the specific cause, but it does tell us that an inflammatory response exists. Make sure you don’t have any acute inflammation going on (from a recent injury, sickness or stubbed toe) when you get this test done because CRP will be elevated in response to any inflammation, acute or chronic. You want your CRP level well below 1 and preferably at 0, indicating that no inflammation exists.
  2. Fasting blood insulin: A high insulin level when fasting may indicate chronic inflammation in the body. Remember, insulin will be high as a response to elevated blood glucose because insulin acts as a vehicle for removing glucose from the blood into storage. When insulin is high, cortisol (your stress-hormone) is being released to inhibit insulin production. As mentioned in the previous blog (LINK) elevated stress is one of the many causes of inflammation. This test would be a second option, as the CRP test is our go-to for testing inflammation.

Lastly, kneel down.  How hard is it to get up.  That can tell us more than either test result.  And it saves you a lot of money.

These two markers can be helpful, but we certainly don’t consider them to be the be-all end-all. Other clues that you may have chronic inflammation are chronic fatigue, being overweight and difficulty losing weight, chronic aches and pains, indigestion, dry skin, acne, psoriasis, and allergies. We recommend following our anti-inflammatory PFC approach to nutrition and embracing a supplement regimen to take care of any chronic inflammation that may exist.

How to HEAL Inflammation

 

Now that we understand what can be contributing to inflammation, let’s talk about the healing process. Healing chronic inflammation doesn’t look the same for everyone, but if you follow the steps listed below you can be sure you are heading in the right direction. You need to REMOVE what is causing inflammation in the first place and then HEAL the damage. Yes, this will take time, so be patient as you won’t regret the improved life you can live!

Our approach to healing inflammation is a three-pronged approach:

Remove inflammation triggers by reducing your intake of inflammatory foods and participating in lifestyle habits that are causing the inflammation (i.e. avoid the bullets listed in the previous blog.

Heal existing inflammation with anti-inflammatory foods and supplements.

Be patient. Just like the chronic inflammation didn’t happen overnight, it doesn’t heal overnight. Give your body time to do its job and support it along the way.

Fight Inflammation with Healthy Fat

 

Healthy fats (yes these include saturated fats!) help heal inflammation. Translation: eat more butter, coconut oil, olives and avocado (unless you have sensitivities to any of those) which are nourishing, healing, healthy fats. Fat, including saturated fat, supports many of the body’s critical functions, including protecting against toxic overload, strengthening cell membranes (which make the skin more resilient against inflammation), stabilizing blood sugars, and providing a vehicle for your body to absorb fat soluble vitamins (leading to improved immune function). It’s important to be picky about the fats you’re using. The good ones will promote healing and the bad ones will promote more inflammation! It is also beneficial to make the switch to pastured, grass fed meats, as antibiotics in conventional meat can cause inflammation.

Inflammation Fighting Supplements

 

Along with avoiding bad habits and potentially damaging foods listed in the previous blog, many of our clients who have been dealing with chronic inflammation for years find that a healing supplement regimen is necessary. Three key supplements that combat chronic inflammation are: probiotics, L-glutamine, and fish oil. A probiotic supplement helps repopulate the healthy bacteria in the gut, which are essential for the healing process and get depleted over time from eating processed foods, sugars and trans fats (the foods that cause inflammation). You must work with someone who can determine for you which probiotic works for you.  They are all different and there are different enzymes in each bottle. L-Glutamine works on the integrity of the thin lining of the digestive tract, which can become inflamed over time. Fish oil specifically targets that inflammation and reduces it. This is why many of our clients find relief in back pain and joint pain when they start using our fish oil.

The amount of each supplement is individualized and depends on your lifestyle, your history, your goals and how much healing needs to happen. In general, we recommend starting with an intense regimen, taking all three of these, three times each day (ideally 15-20 minutes before each meal.). Our recommendations may increase or decrease based on your specific circumstances, but this is a good starting point for most people.

Be Patient

 

Changing habits, eating nourishing, real foods in balance, listening to your body, and giving it time to heal is imperative. Because chronic inflammation is the root cause of SO MANY health issues, it’s worth it to make the effort to calm and eliminate the damage that is taking place in your body that you can’t see. Once your body begins to heal, you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel. The damage didn’t occur over night, so to expect your body to be able to heal overnight can just cause frustration. You must be patient, and allow your body to do what it was meant to do, which is to use the healthy nutrients you consume to help it function at its greatest potential.

Never eliminate everything from your diet at once.  If you are working with someone and they recommend this, they are so very wrong.  Many people can develop seizures from eliminating everything at once.

As always, we suggest working with one of our health team for individualized recommendations if you feel you aren’t sure where to start, or how to go about cutting out certain foods or changing some unhealthy habits. We are here for you!

 

Health and Wellness Associates

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Foods

Health Benefits of Rosemary

rosemary2

Rosemary has had the reputation for miracles for thousands of years. It has been used as an antiseptic, antidepressant, analgesic, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, disinfectant, aphrodisiac, and expectorant. Rosemary has earned praise for alleviating nerve-related conditions, boosting the immune system, fighting off bacterial and viral infections, aiding respiratory ailments, strengthening digestion and improving circulation. Rosemary contains both caffeic acid and rosmarinic acid which act as a powerful anti-inflammatory making it ideal for those who suffer with auto-immune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia. It also contains properties and volatile oils that work similarly to anti-histamines and make it very useful to treat conditions such as asthma and chronic migraines. Rosemary’s diuretic properties have been known to help relieve gout, edema, and kidney stones. Rosemary has the ability to stimulate memory, improve concentration, and help overcome mental fatigue by increasing the blood flow to the head and brain. It is also known to alleviate depression and sadness and can decrease anxiety brought on by stress. Rosemary oil is often added to hair and skin care products due to its ability to cleanse and nourish the scalp and heal and repair the skin. Essential oil of rosemary can also be used through a steam vaporizer to disinfect the air in your home &/or office which is especially beneficial during cold and flu season. Rosemary can be taken as a tea, supplement, or simply added to fresh guacamole, salads, soups, or any of your home cooked meals. It is a potent and effective herb that can provide a myriad of health benefits.

Health and Wellness Associates

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312-972-9355