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lazy and unmotivated copy

Are you lazy and unmotivated? Do you have plenty to do, yet spend all your time watching TV or goofing around online, and then beat yourself up for it? Your lack of motivation could signal chronic health issues more so than regrettable character flaws. Although we all need some degree of discipline, life’s daily duties shouldn’t feel like insurmountable chores. Good health means you have the energy, motivation, and desire to not only manage daily life, but also make in time for hobbies, sports, socializing, and special projects.

In functional medicine, laziness and lack of motivation are seen as symptoms of larger health issues that, when addressed and corrected, can make the couch feel like a prison and life outside a playground of adventures waiting to be experienced.

Health issues that can make you lazy and unmotivated

Below are issues that may be sapping your energy, motivation, and desire to more fully live your life.

Blood sugar blues. If you skip breakfast and other meals, subsist on coffee and energy drinks, or if the majority of your meals are based around rice, noodles, pastries, cereal, sugar, and other processed carbohydrates, you are probably riding a roller coaster of blood sugar highs and lows.  Eventually this causes fatigue, brain chemistry imbalances, depression, poor stress-handling, and other fallouts that will send you to the sofa.

Hypothyroidism. Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid gland. It is the leading cause of hypothyroidism and causes symptoms that include depression, fatigue, weight gain, lethargy, and low motivation. If you have lost your get-up-and-go, have your thyroid screened using functional medicine lab ranges.

Brain chemistry imbalance. Brain chemicals called neurotransmitters relay messages between neurons and play a large role in how we feel and function. When the neurotransmitter dopamine is low it can cause poor motivation and low self-esteem. Serotonin, GABA, and acetylcholine are other neurotransmitters that affect mood, energy, and motivation. Hormonal imbalances, hypothyroidism, high or low blood sugar, and chronic stress are factors that can skew neurotransmitters.

Brain fog. Brain fog is a symptom of brain inflammation. It simply means your brain is firing slowly, causing that heavy, thick, tired feeling in your brain. Things that can cause brain fog include chronic inflammation, an autoimmune reaction in the brain (when the immune system attacks the brain), food sensitivities, hypothyroidism, leaky gut, and hormonal imbalances.

Gluten intolerance. Gluten intolerance has become more common and really drains the energy out of some people. It also causes inflammation, depression, fatigue, and other symptoms that make the couch awfully inviting. Other foods that may cause these reactions include dairy, eggs, soy, corn, and other grains.

Leaky gut. Leaky gut means the lining of the small intestine has become inflamed and overly porous, allowing undigested food particles, bacteria, fungus, and other pathogens into the bloodstream, where they don’t belong. This triggers inflammation in the body and brain. The result can be fatigue, lethargy, lack of motivation, and other couch potato characteristics.

These are just a few examples of how a subtle but chronic health issue can drain you of your drive. Of course, it’s hard to make drastic lifestyle changes when you have no energy or motivation, but start with something small and gradually add in new changes. Ask my office for help on restoring the energy and vitality you were meant to enjoy in life.

blood sugar imbalancesOften chronic health problems can be traced back to one thing: unstable blood sugar that comes from eating too many desserts, sweet coffee drinks, processed grains (bread, pasta, etc.), and other starchy foods. Our cultural complacency with high-carbohydrate diets has made us the most obese and chronically sick population in the world.

How blood sugar becomes imbalanced

We only needs about a teaspoon’s worth of sugar in the bloodstream at any one time, a level we can meet just by eating vegetables. Consistently indulging in high-carb foods — dessert, pasta, potatoes, rice, sweet coffee drinks – requires the pancreas to secrete increasingly larger amounts of insulin to lower overly high blood sugar. These insulin surges cause blood sugar to drop too low and create symptoms. As a result, you crave sugar or high-carb foods to reboot your blood sugar, which starts the whole cycle all over again. Although these blood sugar highs and lows constitute a normal day for many Americans, they underpin many chronic health issues, including hormonal issues, autoimmune flare ups, fatigue, depression, anxiety, insomnia, poor brain function, chronic pain, and more.

Eventually, these extremes exhaust the body’s cells. In a move of self-protection they turn off their receptors for insulin so that neither insulin nor glucose can get into the cells. This is called becoming insulin resistant and is a stepping-stone to diabetes. Blood sugar levels remain too high in the bloodstream, damaging the arteries and the brain, while glucose can’t get into the cells to make energy, causing fatigue. The excess glucose in the bloodstream is eventually converted to fat for storage.

What is normal blood sugar

You can test your fasting blood sugar with a store-bought glucometer  Fasting means you have gone at least 12 hours without eating or drinking anything other than water; it’s best to test first thing in the morning.

The lab range for fasting blood glucose levels is usually 70 to 105 mg/dL. In functional medicine we like to see your fasting blood glucose level between 85 and 99 and consider anything over 100 to signify insulin resistance. The American Diabetic Association designates a fasting blood sugar level of 106 to 126 to be insulin-resistant or prediabetes, while anything above 127 is diabetes.

Symptoms of low blood sugar

If your blood sugar is below 85, it is important that you eat every two to three hours to keep blood sugar stable. You don’t have to eat a whole meal, just a few bites of a low-carb, sugar-free snack between meals and a light snack before bed.

  • Craving for sweets
  • Irritability if meals are missed
  • Dependency on coffee for energy
  • Becoming lightheaded if meals are missed
  • Eating to relieve fatigue
  • Feeling shaky, jittery, or tremulous
  • Feeling agitated or nervous
  • Become upset easily
  • Poor memory, forgetfulness
  • Blurred vision
  • Insulin Resistance

Symptoms of high blood sugar

If your blood sugar is over 99 you may have insulin resistance. You need to moderate your carb intake so you don’t feel sleepy after meals and avoid overeating. It’s also important to exercise regularly to help the cells become more sensitive to insulin. If your blood sugar is over 126 you should be screened for diabetes.

  • Fatigue after meals
  • General fatigue
  • Constant hunger
  • Craving for sweets that is not relieved by eating them
  • Must have sweets after meals
  • Waist girth equal to or larger than hip girth
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased appetite and thirst
  • Difficulty losing weight
  • Migrating aches and pains

Ask my office for more advice on balancing your blood sugar for better health.

 libido and health

Do you vaguely remember a time when you had a libido? Sexual desire is a sign of good health and if yours is absent, it may be your body needs a tune up. Of course major stressors can squash your libido, but you should otherwise consider it a normal part of life. If yours has gone missing it’s your body’s way of raising a red flag to gain your attention.

People who use functional medicine to improve their health commonly report a return of their libido, even though that may not be what drove them to seek help in the first place. Instead they may have come for hypothyroidism, depression, fatigue, pain, or some other chronic condition.

When a chronic health issue has you in its grips, it’s no wonder libido disappears — coping with constant illness and discomfort leaves room for little else. On the other hand, some people’s chronic issues are subtle enough they don’t know their health is flagging, just that their libido is.

Factors that can cause low libido

Below are some factors that can contribute to your loss of libido:

Adrenal fatigue. Your adrenal glands sit atop each kidney and secrete hormones to help you cope with stress. Most people deal with so much stress that the adrenal glands and the adrenal pathways in the brain start to falter. This is one of the primary causes of hormonal imbalances, especially in women, and can lead to loss of libido.

Leaky gut. Leaky gut means the small intestine has become overly porous from damage and inflammation. When the gut is leaky, undigested foods, bacteria, and other compounds slip into the bloodstream where they don’t belong. This has been shown to trigger inflammation, pain, depression, fatigue, autoimmune flare ups, inflammatory bowel disorders, and other chronic problems that leave one feeling decidedly unsexy.

Gluten intolerance. Gluten? Really? Yes, gluten wreaks such havoc that sometimes it is the main cause of myriad health disorders, including autoimmune disease, skin rashes, joint pain, irritable bowel disorders, fatigue, depression, brain fog, and so on. Just removing this one food can restore enough vigor and vitality so that libido robustly returns. You may also need to avoid other foods, such as dairy, other grains, eggs, or soy. Getting the right food sensitivity test can help you determine which foods might be mooching your mojo.

Low blood sugar or high blood sugar. If your blood sugar is out of whack it’s going to bring the rest of your body down, particularly your hormone function. Skipping breakfast, skipping meals, and subsisting on coffee and pastries, pasta dishes, smoothies, or other high-carb meals is a recipe for hypoglycemia. This causes irritability, spaciness, fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, and other libido-sapping symptoms. On the other hand, overeating and eating too many sweets and high-carb foods can cause blood sugar to be too high, which brings its own set of symptoms, particularly feeling sleepy after meals. Many people swing between the two, which is very stressful on the body and robs you of a healthy libido.

These are just some basic underlying causes of the many health disorders that often result in loss of libido. Of course it can be more complicated, but one must always start with the foundations of good health. From good health springs a healthy libido, which can in turn provide for a more satisfying relationship with your loved one.

Ask my office for support in helping restore your libido.

412 what is leaky gut

Leaky gut conjures unpleasant imagery of intestinal contents spilling into the body. Unfortunately, that is pretty much what happens, and the results are a wide array of chronic health issues. When compounds from the intestines pass through a damaged gut wall into the sterile environment of the bloodstream, they can trigger various health conditions: skin problems, joint pain, chronic pain, autoimmune disease, mysterious symptoms, puffiness, fatigue, brain fog, depression, anxiety disorders, poor memory, asthma, food allergies and sensitivities, seasonal allergies, fungal infections, migraines, arthritis, PMS, and more.

Leaky gut is also referred to as intestinal permeability, and means the lining of the small intestine has become inflamed, damaged, and overly porous. This allows undigested foods, bacteria, molds, and other compounds to enter into the bloodstream. Because these compounds don’t belong there, the immune system views them as toxic and attacks them. This in turn causes inflammation, which is at the heart of so many chronic health problems today.

Leaky gut now medically recognized

Leaky gut was once maligned by conventional medicine as naturopathic folklore, but researchers have now validated it and linked it with many chronic disorders. It’s fortunate this condition is gaining a foothold because the gut is our largest immune system organ. Studies have now linked it with inflammatory bowel disorders, gluten sensitivity and celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, type 1 diabetes, depression, psoriasis, and more. Given the influence of gut health on immunity, repairing leaky gut is vital to managing any chronic health disorder.

How to repair leaky gut

It’s important to know what contributed to your leaky gut when you work to repair it as this will better your chances of recovery. However, diet is foundational regardless the cause.

This is because the most common cause of leaky gut is a poor diet of processed foods and excess sugars. Food intolerances also play a major role, especially a gluten intolerance. A leaky gut diet, also known as an autoimmune diet, has a strong track record of helping people repair leaky gut. Keeping blood sugar stable is also important as blood sugar that gets too low or too high contributes to leaky gut. This requires eating regularly enough so you don’t “bonk” and avoiding too many carbohydrates that can send blood sugar soaring and crashing.

Other common causes of leaky gut include antibiotic use, overuse of NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, drinking too much alcohol, an imbalance of gut bacteria, hypothyroidism, and autoimmunity. Many nutrients can help repair a leaky gut, but it’s important to also address what caused it. If you have an autoimmune condition, managing leaky gut can be a lifelong process requiring food restrictions and careful attention to lifestyle to prevent provoking inflammation and flare ups.

A leaky gut protocol is foundational to improving health. Not only can it relieve symptoms but it can also improve energy, enhance well being, make you happier, and clear your head. Ask my office for advice on implementing a leaky gut diet and protocol.

411 heartburn and hypochlorhydria copy

Are you one of the 20 percent of Americans with acid reflux and heartburn? You’re probably chalking the problem up to too much stomach acid, but in many cases it’s the opposite causing the problems – too little stomach acid is the culprit behind those fiery episodes that feel like they’re burning a hole in your chest.

How can that be possible?

The environment of the stomach is highly acidic so that it can quickly break down meats and other foods, protect you from poisoning and infection from bacteria, fungi, and other toxins, and help you better absorb minerals. Good stomach acidity also helps ensure smooth function of the rest of the digestive tract and can help relieve not only heartburn but also indigestion, belching, gas, constipation, bloating, yeast overgrowth, food allergies, and other symptoms related to compromised digestion.

Why is stomach acid low?

Various factors can cause insufficient stomach acid. Stress, bacterial infection, poor diet, and nutritional deficiencies can hinder the stomach’s production of hydrochloric acid (HCl), or stomach acid. The most common cause of low stomach acid is infection from H. pylori, a bacteria also linked with stomach ulcers.

Pernicious anemia, hypothyroidism, a deficiency of zinc, B12, magnesium, or chloride can also contribute to the problem. Long-time vegetarians or vegans may be deficient in zinc and B12, as these are found in meats, and may need the support of HCl supplementation when adding meat back into their diet.

How low stomach acid causes heartburn

The stomach contents must be very acidic to trigger the release of food from the stomach into the small intestine. When stomach acid is too low it fails to trigger this release because the contents are not the right acidity to safely enter the small intestine.

As a result, the trapped food shoots back up into the esophagus. Although stomach acid is too low, it is still too acidic for the delicate tissue of the esophagus. This causes that fiery burning and pain of heartburn and acid reflux.

Why antacids and acid blockers can make the problem worse

Antacids or acid blockers bring temporary relief but may cause long-term problems with your overall digestive function. Proper acidity of the stomach triggers the pancreas to secrete digestive enzymes and the gallbladder to secrete bile. Enzymes and bile help ensure proper nutrient absorption, fat emulsification, protection against infections and parasites, and proper functioning of the large intestine.

Chronically low stomach acid hinders the function of these organs, often leading to larger problems throughout the digestive tract.

Correcting low stomach acid

If stomach acid is too low the most important thing to do is address the root cause, whether it is nutritional deficiency, hypothyroidism, or an H. pylori infection. You can also boost stomach acid by taking an HCl supplement. Just be aware that if you have gastric lesions or an autoimmune reaction to the tissue in your stomach, an HCl supplement could make you feel worse.

Ask my office for advice on whether you need supplemental HCl and how to use it safely and for the best results if you have heartburn or acid reflux. We can also help you get to the root cause of your digestive issues.

nutritional support for sobriety

Headed for the donut tray at the AA meeting? It’s not uncommon for people recovering from alcoholism or other addictions to report a ravenous sweet tooth. Alcohol is essentially fermented sugar and is frequently mixed with something sweet, so the alcoholic goes into recovery with a raging sugar addiction already established. Also, addiction in general spikes blood sugar; going cold turkey can cause drops in blood sugar and symptoms of hypoglycemia. This in turn causes sugar cravings that, in the brain of an alcoholic, feels like a craving for alcohol.

Stable blood sugar vital for sobriety

Fortunately, you can manipulate your brain chemistry to outsmart these cravings and help ease the transition. The key is to keep your blood sugar stable.

When blood sugar drops too low symptoms may include:

  • loss of appetite or nausea
  • irritability
  • feeling spacy and lightheaded
  • shaky, jittery, tremulous
  • agitated and nervous
  • depressed
  • easily upset
  • poor memory, forgetfulness
  • poor decision making
  • blurred vision
  • feeling like you’re going to black out when you stand up
  • sugar cravings

These symptoms happen because the brain is deprived of energy. It’s important to eat before these symptoms occur because low blood sugar triggers a cascade of consequences that can feed your addiction.

To keep your blood sugar stable do the following:

Eat small amounts of food frequently. Make sure these small meals are based around protein, fat, and plant fiber – not high-carb foods that will cause blood sugar to spike and plummet. Some people may need to nibble on something every hour, others can go every two to three hours. Protein for breakfast is paramount, and you may need to eat a little before bed to avoid waking at 3 or 4 a.m. Monitor your moods and energy and see what works best for you.

Avoid sugars, sodas, and high-carb foods. Sugars, desserts, sodas, coffee drinks, fruit juice, white rice, pasta, bread, pastries, etc. will crater your blood sugar, feed the addiction, and make your journey harder than it needs to be. It’s true that high-carb foods provide comfort, but only while sticking a knife in your back. Also, as far as the brain is concerned, they are just another drug.

Avoid food intolerances. Many people today are sensitive to gluten, dairy, eggs, certain grains, soy, or other foods. Eating foods to which you are sensitive creates surges of inflammation and blood sugar that feed cravings. A comprehensive food sensitivity panel or the elimination diet can help you figure out which foods may be sabotaging your chances at success.

Repair leaky gut. Alcohol damages the lining of the small intestine creating leaky gut – large particles of undigested foods, bacteria, and other pathogens escape through the damaged gut wall into the bloodstream. However, essential nutrients, which are smaller, cannot pass through mucous built up around inflamed gut tissue. Kicking alcohol and stabilizing blood sugar will go a long way to repairing leaky gut, but you can speed the journey with certain nutritional compounds. Repairing leaky gut will lower inflammation, enhance nutrient absorption, and boost your overall energy and well being.

Don’t become a coffee junkie. Coffee spikes blood sugar and will keep you on the roller coaster of emotional and energetic highs and lows. Restrict your consumption.

Support brain chemistry while getting sober

Addictions of any kind skew the balance of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. While the right diet will help balance brain chemistry, you may need specific support to foster sobriety. You can do this by taking supplements called amino acids. Certain herbs, vitamins, and minerals also help. B vitamins are especially important.

When working with neurotransmitter support, it’s important to get qualified guidance so you don’t accidentally make yourself feel worse.

Neurotransmitters to be aware of when dealing with addiction include:

Dopamine. Dopamine is the “pleasure” neurotransmitter associated with addiction. Supporting dopamine may help curb the cravings. Nutrients that boost dopamine include mucuna pruriens, D, L-phenylalanine, N-acetyl L-tyrosine, and blueberry extract.

Serotonin. Serotonin helps prevent depressive moods and is supported by St. John’s Wort, SAMe, 5-HTP, and L-tryptophan.

GABA. GABA is a calming neurotransmitter that soothes anxiety and nervousness. Ingredients that promote GABA include L-taurine, valerian root, passion flower extract, L-theanine, and glycine.

A well-rounded approach to sobriety

These are just a few ideas to support addiction recovery. Of course, family history, childhood experiences, subconscious belief systems, and other factors are important, too. However, by understanding how addiction works on the body and the brain, you can boost your chances of success with the right support. The sooner you feel great the sooner you can make peace with lifelong sobriety. Ask my office for advice.

409 antioxidants and glutathione

You’ve probably seen antioxidant labels on foods and supplements, but what does it mean exactly and what is the best antioxidant to choose? Antioxidant means it prevents oxidation, a process that happens to all cells in nature, including those in the human body. Oxidation happens when oxygen interacts with cells and it’s what makes an apple turn brown, metal rust, or food go rotten. In the body oxidation is a normal part of cell turnover. However, a small minority of oxidized cells become problematic “free radicals” that set off a chain reaction of damage, causing cells to mutate and behave abnormally. Free radicals reach us through pesticides, air pollution, cigarette smoke, excess alcohol, sunburn, junk foods, etc.

The defense? Antioxidants. And our most powerful antioxidant is one the body makes called glutathione. To stay a step ahead of modern civilization we need to avoid free radicals as much as possible, eat an antioxidant-rich diet, and make sure our body is sufficient in glutathione.

The best source of antioxidants in the diet are colorful fresh fruits and vegetables. Since different plants contain different types of antioxidants, it’s important to eat a wide variety. Many supplements are also geared toward shoring up your body’s antioxidant supply.

Glutathione: The master antioxidant

Glutathione is such a powerful antioxidant it is called the master antioxidant. Glutathione protects cells from free radicals, is important for detoxification, and supports immune health. Many people with autoimmune conditions find plenty of glutathione is necessary to prevent or dampen autoimmune flares.

  • Low glutathione raises your risk for:
  • Autoimmune disease and autoimmune flares
  • Chemical sensitivities
  • Heavy metal sensitivities
  • Inflammatory disorders
  • Intestinal permeability (leaky gut)
  • Other immune issues

Stress lowers glutathione levels

When we are healthy, when life is mellow, and when we eat a whole foods organic diet and avoid the use of toxic products, our bodies make sufficient glutathione. However, chronic stress depletes glutathione levels. This stress can come from toxins, poor diet, lack of sleep, smoking, excess sugar, and other stressors. Glutathione levels also decrease naturally as a result of aging.

Straight glutathione is not effective taken orally. Good deliveries of glutathione include a liposomal cream, nebulizer, suppository, or IV drip. However, S-acetyl glutathione is a newer form of glutathione that can be quite effective in helping to manage autoimmune disease when taken orally.

Glutathione recycling raises glutathione inside the cells

You can also raise glutathione levels inside the cells by taking certain precursor nutrients. This will help protect the cells’ mitochondria, which produce energy. Recycling glutathione means taking glutathione that has already been used and rebuilding it so it’s ready for action again. Good glutathione recycling will help you better manage an autoimmune disease and leaky gut.

The compounds that have been shown to support glutathione recycling include:

  • N-acetyl-cysteine
  • Alpha-lipoic acid
  • L-glutamine
  • Selenium
  • Cordyceps
  • Gotu kola
  • Milk thistle

Boosting your antioxidant status and glutathione levels can play a profound role in managing autoimmune disease, inflammation, chemical sensitivities, food sensitivities, etc.

To learn more about how to increase your antioxidant and glutathione support, contact my office for advice.

pain relief for grief and heartbreak

When someone breaks your heart, a loved one dies, or tragedy of another nature hits you, people often report the grief feels like a physical pain. That’s because your brain reacts to heartbreak or grief the way it would to an injury. Knowing this can help us put some natural pain-relieving strategies to work when grief is threatening to pull us under. I can’t promise a way out — it seems the most enduring medicine for emotional pain is still the passage of time and the support of others, but some functional medicine approaches might make each day a smidgeon more bearable.

Broken heart syndrome can damage the heart

Some cases of heartbreak and grief are so extreme they actually damage the heart. This is called broken heart syndrome (the more technical term is stress cardiomyopathy) and can also be caused by extreme fear, anxiety, or surprise.

Broken heart syndrome causes the adrenal glands to send a surge of stress hormones to the heart, which essentially paralyzes it and shuts it down. This is different than a heart attack, which is caused by a blockage. Most people recover with no damage, however, in severe cases it can cause heart failure. (Broken heart syndrome most often occurs in women over 55 and researchers suspect low estrogen, on which the heart is dependent for good function, is a factor.)

Natural pain relief strategies for emotional pain and heartbreak

Because physical and emotional pain are processed by the same area of the brain, pain relief remedies might offer relief. In one study, subjects who experienced social rejection and who received acetaminophen every day for three weeks reported fewer hurt feelings than the group who received the placebo. Brain scans also showed less activation in the parts of the brain that processed pain. Of course, taking pain relievers long term, whether over-the-counter or pharmaceutical, is not a safe or healthy option. It also won’t address important emotional issues that need to be acknowledged and expressed.

However, there are a few natural options you can explore to soften the blow of emotional pain on the physical body:

Reduce inflammation: Grief, heartbreak, loss, etc. all raise stress hormones and can trigger inflammation. Try and avoid the tendency to fall back on comfort foods that are also inflammatory –- sugars, processed foods, sodas, desserts, and junk food. Not only are they inflammatory but they also will cause your blood sugar to plummet, which will only intensify your grief or heartache. Even if you don’t feel like eating, keep blood sugar stable and inflammation low with plenty of vegetables and enough high quality protein and fat to prevent those plunges into despair.

Natural pain and stress relief: Natural compounds that can act on pain and inflammation are therapeutic doses of emulsified resveratrol and curcumin, plenty of vitamin D, and a good quality fish oil and other essential fatty acids. White willow bark is an herb that has long been used for pain relief. Herbal adrenal adaptogens can also help buffer your body from the effects of stress.

Be extra gentle on your body: Remember, as far as your body is concerned, you are wounded. This means you need to heal and recover. Now is not a good time to work extra hours, drink too much, over exercise, or engage in other forms of avoidance activities that will only prolong your suffering while abusing your body. As the ancient poet Rumi said, “The only cure for pain is the pain.” In other words, you must work your way through your grief while taking care of yourself in order to emerge intact.

In functional medicine we don’t just work with physical problems. If grief or heartache has you suffering, contact my office for guidance on how we can support your body and mind through your grieving process.

407 endorphins and immunity

We all like things that make us high on life — that feel-good rush after exercising, a good belly laugh, playful activities with friends, meditation, a good massage, or a loved one’s touch. These are examples of things that release endorphins, the body’s chemicals that give us a natural high. But endorphins do more that make us feel good; endorphins are necessary for proper immune function. In fact, some studies suggest people with chronic illness suffer from low endorphins. If you have an autoimmune disease, chronic pain, or chronic illness, boosting your endorphins could help you better manage your health.

We are an endorphin-deprived society, what with our emphasis on being busy. Not only does this result in less happiness, but it also predisposes the immune system to malfunction so that one is more apt to develop chronic pain or illness.

Most immune cells have receptors for endorphins and need endorphins to function properly. Studies suggest low endorphins play a role in autoimmunity, when the immune system erroneously attacks and destroys tissue in the body, such as the thyroid gland (Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism), the pancreas (Type 1 diabetes), or the nervous system (multiple sclerosis).

Although many factors are linked with autoimmunity, including environmental toxins and poor diet, endorphins are not to be overlooked. Some research shows people with chronic illness have low endorphins. Low endorphin production is caused by alcohol fetal exposure, alcoholism, drug abuse, anxiety, depression, and chronic psychological stress, factors that can tip the immune system out of balance.

One way to help manage your autoimmune condition, chronic illness, or chronic pain is to work to boost the production of endorphins. Here are some endorphin-boosting tips:

  • Strenuous exercise (the intensity varies from person to person; be careful not to over exercise as that will cause inflammation)
  • Acupuncture or massage therapy
  • Sex
  • Meditation
  • Laughter
  • Healthy socialization
  • Play
  • Low-dose naltrexone therapy (this is a therapy using low doses of the opiate-blocking drug naltrexone to stimulate the body’s own production of endorphins)

Managing autoimmunity and chronic illness is a multi-faceted approach

Endorphins are but one factor to consider when managing autoimmune disease or another chronic condition. Other things to consider include gluten sensitivity, food intolerances, chemical intolerances, quality of diet, leaky gut, inflammation, nutritional status, brain health, and more.

For more information about managing your autoimmune or chronic condition, contact my office.

good adrenal habits

Do you always feel tired in the afternoon, wake up groggy, or feel flattened by exercise? You might suffer from a common condition called adrenal fatigue, in which the body can’t respond properly to life’s stresses. Some other signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:

  • Overwhelming fatigue
  • Insomnia, especially between 2 and 4 a.m.
  • The afternoon ‘blahs’
  • Cravings for salt, sugar or stimulants, especially in the afternoon
  • Lightheadedness upon standing
  • Chronic low blood pressure
  • Irritability and jitters when hungry

Thankfully, certain lifestyle habits are highly effective in helping restore your energy and healthy adrenal function.

8 lifestyle habits to manage adrenal fatigue

Below are eight lifestyle habits that can go a long way in supporting adrenal health.

1. Sleep. Regular, plentiful sleep is one of the best supporters of adrenal health. Even if you experience midnight insomnia or trouble falling asleep, it’s possible to create better sleep by sticking to these good habits:

  • Go to bed at the same time every night, no later than 10 p.m.
  • Try to get 9–11 hours of sleep every night; do it on weekends if it’s not possible on weekdays.
  • Avoid computer, TV, and phone screens for the hour before bed; this allows the brain waves to shift gears in preparation for sleep. (If that’s impossible wear orange glasses that block the blue lights these screens emits. Blue light suppresses sleep hormones and can cause insomnia and a disrupted sleep cycle.)
  • Eat a small snack just before bed that is strong in protein and healthy fat and low in carbs.
  • Avoid sugar, stimulants, and high-carb foods before bed.

2. Relaxation Exercises. Think relaxation exercises are ineffective? Think again! Create at least ten minutes of quiet, stress-relieving activity for yourself every day, such as lying with your feet up, meditating, or breathing slowly. In addition, when you feel tired, respect the message your body is trying to send, and lay down for a few minutes.

3. Avoid junk food and excess sugar. Whether donuts or fruit, junk foods and excess sugar put the adrenal glands in overdrive, effectively sending them into energetic bankruptcy.

4. Avoid caffeine and other stimulants. Yes, that means coffee. Stimulants are one of your adrenals’ worst enemies! Like sugars, they drive the adrenals to work too hard, driving you into deeper exhaustion.

5. Gentle exercise only. With adrenal fatigue, prolonged, rigorous exercise will only drive you deeper into exhaustion. Try gentle exercise such as walking, yoga, or swimming. No matter what, avoid prolonged aerobic exercise. Caution: If you are exhausted after your workout, you overdid it.

6. Eat a breakfast strong in protein and fat, with no sugar or stimulants. Adrenal function, blood sugar, and energy levels are closely related. Eating a breakfast strong in protein and fat while avoiding sugars and stimulants allows the adrenals to get a strong start and remain steadier throughout the day. This can help you avoid the afternoon blahs and sleep better, too!

7. Take the stress out. Take a close look at what causes you stress, whether complaining friends, nagging bosses, or a crazy schedule. What stressors can you eliminate or minimize? Reducing stress is a huge factor in adrenal healing.

8. Avoid sugars and stimulants when you’re tired. When you hit the afternoon blahs, the first thing you might think of is a frothy cappuccino. However, that only serves to further bankrupt your adrenals. Instead, nourish your body with protein, healthy fats, and minimal carbs to support healthy blood sugar and brain function, which is what you really need to kick the blahs. Be prepared by having a healthy snack ready to go for the afternoon.

The bigger picture

Adrenal fatigue typically happens secondary to another issue, such as anemia, poor diet, hormone imbalance, autoimmune disease, inflammation, or micronutrient deficiencies. It’s important to determine the cause of your adrenal fatigue and include these lifestyle habits as part of your adrenal treatment plan –- with them, you will move much faster toward optimum health and energy.