When in Doubt, Treat the Gut: Elimination Diet, Probiotics, and Stool Testing

“Death begins in the colon” –Hippocrates

Modern processed food may be common, but to our bodies, the modern diet is an extraterrestrial encounter.

In humanity’s 200,000 year history, farming is an suprisingly new development. About11,000 years ago, agriculture started popping up around the globe in a few disconnected areas: Asia, South America, Europe and the Middle East (“The Fertile Crescent” in modern day Iraq and Syria). What this means is that for more than 90% of our development as a species, humans were not eating grains or or any modern farmed foods. Processed foods with refined sugars, refined grains, preservatives, artificial flavors, etc. are only 50-75 years old. This means that, at most, 99.3% of humanity’s evolution was apart from any processed food.

origins_and_spread_of_agriculture

Historically speaking, the hominids from which humanity evolved ~5 million years old. This makes the development of processed food 99.999% foreign to us. Fast forward to the present. We all are living in a society where processed food has become the bizarre but pervasive normal. Continue reading “When in Doubt, Treat the Gut: Elimination Diet, Probiotics, and Stool Testing”

Starbucks Coffee in California Must Have Cancer Warning

giphy

I read this in a Medscape article while I was, literally, drinking my morning coffee. California law is awomely aggressive about how any carcinogen in a consumer product must be labled. The unsettling fact is that consuming coffee does pose some increased cancer risk due to the acrylamide that is made in small but significant amounts when coffee beans are roasted.

Separately, drinking coffee upregulates phase I liver enzymes (primarily CYP1A2) which activates other cancer-causing agents we modern folks are exposed ot every day including: aromatic heterocyclic amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and aflatoxin.

Acrylamide and the CYP1A2 issues are even more problematic when the body’s slower and more metabolically costly Phase II detox systems can’t handle the increased load of our modern toxin-loaded lives.

Phase I and II immage

Honestly, I am more concerned about the chemicals used to line the inside of paper cups: PFCs or polyethylene plastics. Plastic lids from disposable cups are highly suspect too. They have Polystyrene: a known carcinogen and a neurotoxin, especially when HEATED. (Zoiks!!)

I finished my coffee while researching this post, and I’m going to continue drinking it–at home, in ceramic or stainless steel mugs. That’s because I take care of my liver with a high-vegetable diet with ample fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. I also hydrate well and take extra liver and phase II support: NAC, selenium, milk thistle, Vitamin C ,Vitamin E, methylation support (methyl-folate, methyl-B12, B6-P5P) and whey protien. I also take probiotics to help ensure that my body is more effective at eliminating the toxic chemicals I inevitably encounter in today’s world.

        

                                           

                                        

The take-home point is that is you are a coffee drinker, DO NOT USE DISPOSABLE CUPS–for all kinds of environmental and health reasons and also be sure to take care of your vital liver and gut function.  These simple steps will help reduce your risk of serious chrionic illnesses including diabetes, cancer, thyroid problems and autoimmune conditions. Also, buy a couple stainless steel travel mugs to prevent adding to… this.

Coffee Cup Trash

Contigo Travel Mugs, 16 oz., Stainless Steel 2-Pack

 

I consult with patients in the Seattle area and worldwide through remote consultations. If you are interested in maintaining your optimal health, or if you are suffering from a chronic illness that that conventional medicine alone could not fix,  I invite you to check out my services and reach out for a consultation.

May we all be well!

 

A Functional Approach to Thyroid Health

Optimal thyroid hormone production is one of the most important factors to whole body health. In response to TSH signals from the pituitary gland, the thyroid gland produces the vital T4 and T3 hormones that set the basic metabolic rate for every cell in the body. This includes brain, heart, lung, bone, muscles, your immune system, digestion, liver and kidney function and everything else.

Sub-optimal thyroid function can cause a wide range of chronic or debilitating symptoms including: fatigue, depression, weight gain, brain fog, cold intolerance, hair loss, constipation, low bone density, and poor immune function.

With a system this important, you might think that conventional medicine would be completely up to date on how to keep track of this vital hormone. However, if you thought that conventional medicine had this well in hand, you’d be completely wrong.

Continue reading “A Functional Approach to Thyroid Health”

How to Grow And Protect Your Brain Function

It was long believed that neurons in the human brain were incapable of growth and repair after maturity. We now know this to be false and that the human brain retains the potential for self-renewal throughout our lives. Even more exciting is that self directed neuroplasticity is a real possibility.

Neuroplasticity: The ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or experience or following injury. Even more exciting is that self directed neuroplasticity is a real possibility.
Neurogenesis: is the process by which neurons are generated from neural stem cells and progenitor cells.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF): A growth factor encoded by the BDNF gene that promotes both neuroplasticity and neurogenesis.

Brain Threats & Protectors

Much to the chagrin of the pharmaceutica industry, there is no “silver bullet” for preventing and reversing cognitive decline and diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Instead, what we do have is “silver buckshot” in the form of numerous dietary and lifestyle interventions that can increase the body’s production of BDNF.

Things you can take to increase neuroplasticity, and neurogenesis and BDNF levels include:

Shake Off the Weight with the Power Smoothie: While Improving Your Energy & Focus

Vitamix 5200 Blender, Professional-Grade $399

As a Naturopathic Doctor, I am always encountering people who want better health. The most common themes include: more consistent energy, improved mental focus, more stable moods, a stronger immune system, better athletic performance, faster healing and recovery times, and a more ideal body composition while also avoiding and reversing disease.

One of the best ways to accomplish ALL these goals at the same time is to make informed food choices which lean towards dietary ideas outlined in The Zone. I have improved upon and clarified the core principles below. Continue reading “Shake Off the Weight with the Power Smoothie: While Improving Your Energy & Focus”

The Onco-Metabolic State: How to Make Your Body Less Hospitable to Cancer

We are often told in medicine that cancer cells are a single cell that “went bad” and started making copies of itself without all the normal mechanisms that limit reproduction and promote adhesion. We know now that this is not entirely right. Cancer cells are primarily ones that have lost the ability to repair breaks and mutations in their DNA. In this way, they begin a kind of accelerated evolution and become a diverse set of rapidly changing (i.e. evolving) cells with different properties, and adapted to environments that promote cancer growth and inhibit the immune cells that would normally kill cancer cells. The conditions under which cancer cells generally thrive in can be called “The Onco-Metabolic State”. Continue reading “The Onco-Metabolic State: How to Make Your Body Less Hospitable to Cancer”

Retort: To the Atlantic Magazine’s Smear of Supplements: “The Vitamin Myth”

vitaminmyth

I was appalled by the article that appeared in the Atlantic Jul 19 2013: The Vitamin Myth: Why We Think We Need Supplements. Not surprisingly, Atlantic did not publish my toothy critique–which I’ll now copy below:

Atlantic did not print an even-handed article. The Author, Paul Offit, spends most of it building up then vigorously tearing down Linus Pauling–as if that alone would make his bizarre case against vitamins. Then he hand-picked studies that supported his conclusions and completely failed to mention anything to the contrary. To suggest that the benefits of vitamins are a complete myth and to unabashedly suggest that no-one should take vitamins goes *way* too far. This guy and his wobbly conclusion are both puntable. Shame on you Atlantic! How about some balance?

I’d have to look into it, but if the half dozen headline worthy anti-vitamin studies I have investigated in the last 10 years are any clue, I’d expect to see that many of the studies that supposedly “invalidated” the benefits of vitamins were using synthetic forms (ineffective or toxic). In these cases, all we really learn is that the cheap synthetic forms don’t work. Continue reading “Retort: To the Atlantic Magazine’s Smear of Supplements: “The Vitamin Myth””

A Sane Response to Anxiety & Depression

One in ten Americans are now taking antidepressants. Is this at all shocking? Hardly. I think increasing levels of depression and anxiety are a natural response to the increasingly bizarre and unhealthy environment modern humanity is living in.

zoloft-prozac-paxil-roads

Check it out. We have: a global population bursting at the seams, increasingly stressful & sedentary jobs, personal debt at an all time high, piles of nutrient-poor processed food, skyrocketing synthetic chemical exposures, relentless electronic stimulation, rampant corruption in political and religious leadership, and we are all basically being born into a society of psychological and economic slavery that is difficult to perceive, let alone escape. In this environment, feeling anxious and/or depressed may be the sign of a normal and healthy reaction to the situation at hand.

Like all animals, human behavior is largely based on responding to immediate needs to reduce perceived discomfort. So it is not at all surprising that people suffering from anxiety and depression are turning to drugs (prescribed and otherwise), and indulging in foods, alcohol, and other distractions that provide easy distraction and relief. Continue reading “A Sane Response to Anxiety & Depression”

Medical Refugees & Navigating Conventional & Alternative Health Care

Complementary and alternative medical (CAM) clinics are serving as the de facto refugee camps for people with health conditions that are not addressed by “conventional” medicine. CAM clinics are staffed by licensed Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) and Integrative Medical providers who blend conventional healthcare with  alternative diagnostic and therapeutic techniques. The 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), found that 38 percent of US adults use CAM. The boundaries between CAM and conventional medicine are not absolute, and over time specific CAM practices may become widely accepted.

When medical refugees turn to alternative medicine, there are advantages and disadvantages. In this article, I’ll present my perspective on the strengths and limitations of both conventional and alternative medical approaches, and offer my navigational advice. First, lets cover some important definitions. Continue reading “Medical Refugees & Navigating Conventional & Alternative Health Care”

The Human Evolution Project

Health Challenges Today

Whether you are already well or dealing with a chronic illness or injury, finding and maintaining our optimal health today is a personal journey. It is also often one of  personal evolution as we learn how to better align our strengths and weaknesses with our modern lives. For these reasons, I call my practice the “Human Evolution Project.”I became a naturopathic doctor and took additional training from the Institute for Functional Medicine to help guide people into greater alignment with themselves, their communities, and our amazing biosphere.  My practice blends the best of a conventional medical approach with time honored traditional medicine and the very latest in nutritional, genetic and lifestyle medicine. In practice, I seek to partner with motivated patients who are ready to examine their habits and take charge of their own health as we aim to avoid and reverse illness—and promote optimal health. You can read learn more my philosophy and experience here.

For patients outside the Seattle area (and for those seeking greater convenience) I also offer Phone/Skype/Email consultations.

I look forward to serving you, and may we all be well!

trmorrisnd headshotDr. T.R. Morris is a licensed naturopathic medical doctor (ND). He is currently serving as faculty and consultant to the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM). The IFM mission is to revolutionize medicine by teaching the latest genetic, nutritional, hormonal and other biochemically-based integrative medicine techniques to MDs and other practitioners looking for new tools to prevent and treat chronic disease. In the past, T.R. served as the medical director of a large integrative clinic and taught (genetics, physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, cellular & molecular biology) for 10 years for various medical programs in the Puget Sound. He sees patients in person (or long-distance via Skype consultations) from his home office in Seattle.
Contact Dr. Morris