Age-related cognitive decline and disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease are becoming increasingly prevalent with our aging population. Cognitive decline has a significant impact not only on an individual’s quality of life, but also on their loved ones and caretakers, as well as immense healthcare costs.
So far single drugs to treat cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s have been largely ineffective. This is because these conditions are complex and involve multiple mechanisms, therefore requiring multiple treatment interventions.
In an excellent study published in the journal Aging titled ‘Reversal of cognitive decline: A novel therapeutic program’, the authors use a personalized, multifaceted approach to successfully reverse cognitive decline.
The study involved 10 people with varying degrees of cognitive decline, many of whom had to discontinue working due to the severity of their condition.
The treatment program, which they called metabolic enhancement for neurodegeneration (MEND), was based on our current understanding on the underlying causes of age-related cognitive decline.
The program consisted of a combination of diet and lifestyle recommendations, as well as targeted herbal and nutrient supplementation.
Here is an example of a few of the recommendations:
After only 3-6 months on this program, 9 of the 10 patients experienced significant improvements in memory and cognition (the only one who didn’t improve suffered from late stage severe Alzheimer’s disease at the onset of treatment).
The subjects were able to return to work or continue working with improved performance. The improvements has been marked and sustained, with the longest follow up at the moment being 2.5 years.
This study gives hope for those who are already suffering from Alzheimer’s or age-related cognitive decline, but the real key to success is prevention.
This multidimensional approach is very similar to what we employ in Naturopathic Medicine. By understanding the underlying mechanisms, it provides treatment targets to address the whole person, rather than simply attempting to cover up symptoms.
Do you suffer from asthma, and find that your symptoms are worse in the Spring and Summer?
Check out my latest article for Lifetime Daily on Natural Remedies For Seasonal Allergies and Asthma!
Click HERE to read the article.
Are Your Sperm In Trouble?
The New York Times recently ran an article entitled Are Your Sperm In Trouble? and they concluded that yes, indeed, our sperm are in trouble. The article notes that in the past 75 years “there’s been a decrease not only in sperm numbers, but also in their quality and swimming capacity, their ability to deliver the goods.”
The article goes on to posit that much of the blame for our sperm woes is due to a class of chemicals known as endocrine disruptors found in plastics, cosmetics, pesticides and many other products.
Aside from avoiding these endocrine-disrupting chemicals, what else can be done to improve sperm quality?
That’s right, walnuts. The shelled nuts, which coincidentally are roughly the same size and shape as the prostate gland, are a rich source of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). Research conducted on mice has shown that walnuts help reduce lipid peroxidation, one of the main causes of sperm defects.
There is also promising human research. In a study from 2012, authors hypothesized that adding walnuts to a standard Western diet would improve sperm quality. Healthy men aged 21-35 years old were randomized into two groups, a control group who consumed their standard diet, and the test group who added 75 grams of walnuts per day.
After 12 weeks, the researchers found that the men who consumed walnuts experienced improvement in sperm vitality, motility, and morphology, compared to the control group who saw no change.
Walnuts For Sperm Quality
Although more research is warranted, it appears that adding a few handfuls of raw walnuts to your daily diet can help improve sperm quality.
The calendar may say it's Spring, but I know many of you are still suffering from Winter coughs and colds.
If you are still feeling the lingering effects of coughs, colds and flus, here are some tips to get you over the hump and ready to bounce into Spring!
Upper respiratory tract infections can be difficult to get at, but one of the best ways to have a direct anti-microbial effect on the lungs and respiratory passage is with a steam inhalation.
Most herbal essential oils have anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, but some great options include Eucalyptus, Thyme, Tea Tree, and Lemon Balm.
How To Do A Steam Inhalation
Hopefully the sunshine will return soon, and at an angle sufficient for us to produce Vitamin D. But until then, it is still a good idea to be supplementing with Vitamin D to ensure optimal levels for immune health. A recent meta-analysis concluded that Vitamin D supplementation is helpful for preventing upper respiratory tract infections.
For most people, taking 1000-2000 IU per day of Vitamin D3 is sufficient, and best taken with meals as Vit D is fat soluble. Higher doses than this may be helpful for a short duration when fighting a cold or flu.
Vitamin D is generally safe, but is it possible to take too much. If you are taking more than 5000IU/day for an extended period of time, it may be a good idea to have your Vitamin D levels checked.
When we think about supplements for coughs and colds, what comes to mind? Vitamin C, zinc, Vitamin D..? While those are all helpful, probiotics are often overlooked as an immune supporting remedy.
Probiotics have been shown to prevent the occurrence of upper respiratory infections, reduce the duration of colds, and decrease the need for antibiotics.
When choosing a probiotic it is important to focus on quality. Many retail brands have been found to not meet their label claims for number of live organisms, or the proper strains. Our physicians can help you choose from the variety of different professional line probiotic formulas that we carry in our dispensary.
One of the best ways to support your immune system and get over the hump is a direct infusion of nutrients into the blood stream. IV therapy bypasses the digestive tract, so you get 100% absorption of the nutrients.
Vitamin C at a high doses has been shown to be anti-viral, and can be combined with other immune-supportive nutrients such as zinc, magnesium, and B-vitamins.
Herbal medicine utilizes the power of nature to help heal our bodies. One of the benefits of herbal medicine is that it can be individualized based on your symptoms and constitution. They can also be taken in various forms, such as teas, tinctures, or capsules.
For dry coughs, soothing demulcent herbs such as marshmallow root and licorice root are great options.
For irritating, non-productive coughs, consider mullein, tussilago, and plantain.
Lastly, for coughs that need help clearing out mucous, stimulating expectorants such as inula and licorice are indicated.
While herbal remedies are often safe, it is best to consult with a knowledgable physician to determine what is the best combination for your specific needs.
Most people are not aware that the prescription medications they take may be depleting essential nutrients. The chart below lists which nutrients may be depleted by certain medications.
If you are taking any of these medications, be mindful to ensure adequate intake of the depleted nutrients in your diet, and you may consider having these nutrient levels tested.
Yours in health,
This article is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any illness, or replace the care of a qualified healthcare professional.
Ask Dr. Tomah: Should I Take Probiotics With Or Without Food?
Probiotics are extremely popular as a health supplement, and have been shown to be beneficial for a wide variety of conditions. Not only are they helpful for digestive issues, such as preventing antibiotic-associated diarrhea, and reducing severity of irritable bowel syndrome, they have also been shown to improve depression and anxiety and reduce risk of upper respiratory infections.
The question that is commonly asked when someone is taking probiotics for the first time is, "should I take them with food or on an empty stomach?"
A quick google search shows conflicting recommendations, so which approach is correct?
Did our ancestors get their probiotics from little capules that were stored in the fridge? Of course not! They would have fermented foods as a means to extend the "shelf-life" - and what happens when you ferment foods? You get bacteria!
So considering this evolutionary perspective, it would make sense to consume our probiotics with meals.
What Does The Research Say?
Although there is minimal research on when is the best time to take probiotics, there is one study that looks at this exact question.
In the study they used a model that simulates the digestive tract to test the survival of different probiotic strains given with or without food.
The results found that survival was best when probiotics were given 30 minutes before a meal.
Based on the limited research and evolutionary perspective, it seems best to take probiotics about 30 minutes before a meal.
However, even more important than timing is compliance (i.e. actually taking the probiotic). So if you forget or are unable to take it before a meal, take it after, or on an empty stomach - it's still better than not taking it at all!
Ask Dr. Tomah!
Do you have a question for Dr. Tomah? You can submit it HERE.
*The information in this article is not intended to diagnose or treatment any illness, nor take the place of your medical doctor*
While many of us look forward to the sweet treats of Halloween and the big meals of thanksgiving, we don't look forward to the increase in waist size.
Other than avoiding these holidays altogether, what can we do to reduce the ill effects of over-eating? One answer may be adding a little mindfulness when we eat.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness can be described as "the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something." In other words, focusing our awareness fully on the present moment. Research has shown that practicing mindfulness reduces stress and cortisol levels, and has positive effects on our brain, such as improved memory and attention.
Mindfulness meditation is one way to employ this powerful method, however it is not the only way. Mindfulness can be utilized in all aspects of life, from eating and drinking, to walking in nature and brushing one's teeth.
Being fulling present when eating has several benefits.
By slowing down and anticipating a meal, it helps release stomach acid and digestive enzymes to prime our digestive system.
Thoroughly chewing and savouring each bite helps break down foods and mix them with saliva and digestive enzymes in our mouth, easing the job of the rest of the digestive tract.
Being present with your meal (and enjoying the company) helps reduce stress levels, and activates the parasympathetic "rest and digest" arm of our nervous system, as opposed to the sympathetic "fight or flight" response.
Mind Over Milkshake
There is also research showing that our response to the foods we eat is not solely determined by the composition and caloric content of a food, but also our mindset when we eat it.
In this study, participants consumed a 380-calorie milkshake under the pretense that it was either a 620-calorie "indulgent" shake or a 140-calorie "sensible" shake. The researchers then measured Ghrelin, which helps determine our feeling of satiety.
The results found that "The mindset of indulgence produced a dramatically steeper decline in ghrelin after consuming the shake, whereas the mindset of sensibility produced a relatively flat ghrelin response. Participants' satiety was consistent with what they believed they were consuming rather than the actual nutritional value of what they consumed."
How To Practice Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is simple, really. All you need to do is be fully present during your meal - that means not eating on the run, not watching a video or texting during meals, and taking a break from work.
Here are some additional tips:
There are countless diets to choose from and they all claim to be the best. However, we know that the same dietary regime doesn’t work for everyone – why is that?
The answer may lie in your genes.
Individual genetic variations can affect how people respond to the foods, beverages and supplements they consume. Until very recently, it was too costly to sequence an individual’s genome. However emerging technologies have brought the cost down and allowed us to develop a new field of research known as nutrigenomics.
Nutrigenomics is the study of how individual genetic variation affects a person’s response to nutrients and impacts the risk of nutrition-related chronic diseases.
We all have what are called single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs (pronounced “snips”), and these small variations help explain why some people can’t tolerate even a sip of coffee, while others could have a double espresso before bed and still fall asleep with no problem.
We are pleased to announce that Kinetic Patterns now offers the Nutrigenomix 45-gene personalized nutrient panel that answers these questions and many more:
The test is simple and non-invasive, only requiring a saliva sample. The report includes a full analysis of 45 genes related to weight management, nutrient metabolism, heart health, food intolerances, eating habits and physical activity.
Note: Have you done the 23andMe genetic test in the past? Dr. Tomah is able to analyze your genetic data to determine a personalized diet and nutrition protocol.
Small intestine bacterial overgrowth, also known as SIBO (see-bo), may be one of the most common causes of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
SIBO results when there is an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, where there normally should not be much bacteria present. The bacteria can then 'feed' on the foods you eat, mainly carbohydrates, and produce gases as a by-product. These gases cause many of the symptoms common in IBS, including:
What Causes SIBO?
There are a number of things the can lead to the development of SIBO. The most common include previous food poisoning (gastroenteritis), medications (proton pump inhibitors, opiates, antibiotics), abdominal surgery, and certain medical conditions (hypothyroidism, celiac disease).
The following are clues that may indicate that you have SIBO:
How Do You Test For SIBO?
There are a few different tests for SIBO, but the most common is the lactulose hydrogen breath test.
This test measures the production of hydrogen and methane gases after consuming a lactulose (not lactose) solution that your body can not absorb
For more information on the SIBO breath test, click HERE.
How Is SIBO Treated?
After SIBO has been detected based on symptoms and breath testing, typically the first stage of treatment consists of eradicating the bacterial overgrowth. This can be done using specific antibiotics, or herbal antimicrobials.
Following this, a diet is used to starve the bacteria and prevent overgrowth.
Additional treatments may include a prokinetic agent to prevent SIBO recurrence.
Each treatment is specifically tailored to the individual, so it is important to work with an experience health care practitioner.
Dr. Tomah Phillips, ND