Every cell needs vitamin D yet most people deficient

807 vitamin D

Vitamin D is one of the few nutrients we can’t get enough of from food. Our bodies are designed to make vitamin D from sunlight, yet modern life has made that difficult. The result is a worldwide 50 percent deficiency in vitamin D, even in sunny locations.

Why we can’t get enough of the sunshine vitamin

While some foods contain vitamin D, our main source is supposed to be sun exposure and we synthesize it using cholesterol.

However, certain factors stand in the way:

Reduced sun exposure. We spend far fewer hours outside than our ancestors and slather on sunscreen when we are outside. People with dark skin or who live farther north have even less ability to make vitamin D from sunlight.

Limited diet. Most people don’t eat the foods that contain more vitamin D, such as organ meats, salmon and fish liver oil, and egg yolks. Two foods fortified with vitamin D — dairy (a common immune reactive food) and breakfast cereals (gluten and grains).

Gut inflammation and fat malabsorption. Vitamin D is fat-soluble. When the gut is inflamed due to leaky gut and other inflammatory gut disorders, fat absorption is compromised and your vitamin D levels suffer.

Stress. High cortisol levels from chronic stress can deplete vitamin D levels.

Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Depression
  • Muscle, joint and bone pain
  • Gum disease
  • Brittle or soft bones
  • Digestive issues
  • Asthma
  • Suppressed immune system

What vitamin D does for you

Vitamin D is actually a hormone, and along with thyroid hormone, is one of the two hormones every cell in your body needs. It regulates hundreds of different pathways throughout the body.

Bone density. Vitamin D has long been known to play a role in preventing breakdown of bones and increasing the strength of the skeletal system.

Mood regulation. Low vitamin D is linked to a 14 percent increase depression and a 50 percent increase in suicide rates. Increasing vitamin D intake can help improve anxiety and depression.

Brain health. Vitamin D’s biologically active form has shown neuroprotective effects including the clearance of amyloid plaques common to Alzheimer’s Disease. Associations have also been noted between low 25-hydroxyvitamin D and dementia.

Reduced cancer risk. Optimal vitamin D levels are associated with lower rates of cancers of the breast, ovaries, prostate, and pancreas.

Sleep quality. Adequate vitamin D is associated with improved sleep.

Immune regulation. Vitamin D plays a key role in promoting regulatory T cells, which decide whether to dampen or promote inflammation in the body.

This is particularly important in dampening autoimmunity, when the immune system attacks body tissue.

Studies show more than 90 percent of those with autoimmunity have a genetic defect that promotes vitamin D deficiency.

Low vitamin D levels are associated with autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, and even Parkinson’s disease.

A common thread in all chronic illnesses, inflammation is shown to be reduced by adequate vitamin D levels.

Ways to boost vitamin D

Sunshine. Get 20 to 60 minutes of sun on your skin per day, depending on your skin tone and latitude. The more skin exposed, the more D you produce.

Food sources. Include salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, and egg yolks in your diet.

Supplementation. Vitamin D exists in two forms, D2 and D3.

While vitamin D2 is commonly seen on mainstream vitamin labels, vitamin D3 is twice as effective at raising vitamin D levels in the body.

Current mainstream dosage guidelines for vitamin D are based solely on maintaining proper bone density and not preventing chronic health conditions.

Since vitamin D is fat soluble, its recommended to take it in an oil-based soft gel capsule or liquid form with a meal that includes fat.

For autoimmune management, doses of vitamin D can range from 5,000 to 10,000 IU per day. Some people take higher doses if their genetics hamper absorption. It’s best to test your levels every three to six months.

Emulsified vitamin D

Emulsified vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) enhances absorption and helps prevent toxicity at higher doses.

Support fat metabolism with digestive enzymes

If you have leaky gut, celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or have had your gall bladder removed, your ability to absorb fat may be compromised. Since vitamin D is fat-soluble, make sure your body can absorb it by adding digestive enzymes to your daily regimen.

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Too much salt nukes your gut bacteria and inflames you

805 salt kills gut bacteria

A high-salt diet has long been connected with cardiovascular disease. Too much sodium in the bloodstream causes fluid retention, which makes the heart work harder to move the extra volume of blood. This can stiffen blood vessels and lead to high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, and kidney disease.

However, a recent study shows a high-salt diet also raises blood pressure by damaging healthy gut bacteria. This destruction increases the inflammation that contributes to high blood pressure and the development of autoimmune disease — when the immune system attacks tissue in the body. Common autoimmune diseases include Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis, and psoriasis.

Mice. The study shows that mice fed a high-salt diet killed off beneficial Lactobacillus murinus bacteria in the gut. It also raised blood pressure and activated pro-inflammatory immune cells.

The mice also showed signs of encephalomyelitis, an autoimmune condition similar to multiple sclerosis in humans.

When the mice were given supplementary Lactobacillus, their blood pressure and inflammation came down.

Humans. The humans in the study experienced similar results. Consuming a high-salt diet for two weeks killed off their Lactobacillus bacteria and increased inflammation.

However, if they took probiotics for a week before starting a high-salt diet, their Lactobacillus levels and blood pressure remained normal.

Can gut microbes protect against a high-salt diet?

While the study showed probiotics can protect against a high-salt diet, the researchers cautioned that taking probiotics cannot protect you from the damages of a high-salt, fast-food diet.

Manage your salt intake with good daily habits

While the average American consumes a whopping 3400 milligrams of sodium a day, the USDA recommends no more than 2300mg of sodium a day — about a teaspoon of table salt.

However, some people are more sensitive to the effects of salt than others, so it’s recommended that individuals with hypertension, African Americans, and middle-aged and older adults should limit intake to 1500 mg of sodium a day.

Adopt these habits to lower your salt intake:

  • Read food labels.
  • Choose foods low in sodium.
  • Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Consume foods that are rich in potassium, such as leafy green vegetables and fruits from vines.
  • Potassium can help blunt the effects of sodium on blood pressure. The recommended intake of potassium for adolescents and adults is 4700 mg/day.
  • Flavor food with pepper, herbs, and spices instead of salt.
  • Choose unsalted snacks with savory flavors.

Build good gut bacteria to protect your health

The digestive tract is home to roughly four pounds of bacteria — your gut microbiome. Some strains are helpful, some are harmful. Both have roles to play, but it’s important to support your “good” bacteria for healthy immune function, brain function, and mood, and to avoid leaky gut, SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth), and systemic inflammation that leads to autoimmunity and other chronic health conditions.

It’s easy to support a healthy gut with these simple habits:

  • Eat plentiful and varied produce; this is the best way to support a healthy gut environment.
  • Supplement with probiotics; they work best in a gut environment that’s already being supported with plenty of fiber from fruits and veggies.
  • Avoid excess sugar.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Drink plenty of filtered water.

What if I have low blood pressure?

Adequate blood pressure is necessary to push blood carrying oxygen and nutrients into your tissues. Chronically low blood pressure can result in reduced brain function and neurodegeneration.

Low blood pressure is also often a sign of chronic stress, adrenal fatigue, autoimmunity, or chronic infection.

If you have low blood pressure you need to get it up as close as you can to 120/80.

Salt can help raise blood pressure. While a high-salt diet is not recommended for most of the population, people with chronically low blood pressure may need to consume more than the recommended daily amount of salt. It’s a matter of experimentation to see what level of salt intake is appropriate for you without raising symptoms of inflammation.

Glycyrrhiza. Extracted from licorice root, this natural compound increases the hormone aldosterone, helping to retain sodium and raise low blood pressure. You can use a liposomal cream version or an oral licorice root extract.

When you work with salt and glycyrrhiza to raise your blood pressure, you will need to purchase a good home-use blood pressure cuff. Measure your blood pressure throughout the day and experiment with dosages. A return to normal blood pressure typically results in a dramatic increase in overall energy and brain function.

For help with low blood pressure or dietary management of salt intake, contact my office.

Is Hashimoto’s causing your hypothyroidism?

804 diagnosing hashimoto s

If you have symptoms of hypothyroidism, how do you know if it’s caused by Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune thyroid disease? Although about 90 percent of hypothyroidism cases in the United States are caused by Hashimoto’s, most doctors do not test for it. Why? Because it does not change their treatment. However, it’s vitally important for you to know whether you have Hashimoto’s to stop the damage to your thyroid and prevent other autoimmune diseases.

Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid gland over time. Even if medications normalize TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) on a blood test, an unmanaged autoimmune Hashimoto’s condition continues to damage and destroy the thyroid gland and cause symptoms.

One of the most common scenarios with undiagnosed Hashimoto’s is that your hypothyroidism and symptoms continue to worsen even through you take your thyroid hormone medications. Your doctor may also continually increase your dosage.

Another common scenario is when symptoms and TSH levels fluctuate between being under active and over active. The person can feel like they are hypothyroid one week and hyperthyroid the next. In fact, some doctors may even mistakenly diagnose them with hyperthyroidism when in fact it’s the result of autoimmune Hashimoto’s waxing and waning attacks on the thyroid gland.

This means the patient could suffer from fatigue, headaches, constipation, and depression one week and then when the thyroid becomes over active they suffer from heart palpitations, anxiety, tremors, and insomnia. Blood tests will also show the TSH level going up and down during these swings, which may result in an inaccurate diagnosis.

Sometimes TSH can even be normal as it’s going through a swing resulting in a misdiagnosis all together. Instead, the patient is diagnosed with an anxiety disorder or even bipolar disorder.

What causes these swings with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism? Autoimmune diseases are not steady. Instead they flare up or go into remission depending on triggers, which can be dietary, chemical, stress related, hormonal, and so on.

When an autoimmune flare damages the thyroid, it releases hormones that are stored in the gland. These thyroid hormones flood the bloodstream in excess causing symptoms that look like hyperthyroidism.

To confirm whether you have Hashimoto’s, you need to run thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO Ab) and thyroglobulin antibodies (TGB Ab) test. It’s also helpful to rule out hyperthyroidism, or Graves’ disease.

But keep in mind that because the immune system fluctuates with autoimmune disease, it’s possible to produce a negative antibodies test result. If symptoms strongly suggest Hashimoto’s it’s important to test again.

Ask my office for more advice on identifying Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.

Is social pollution and workplace stress harming you?

802 social pollution workplace stress

Thanks to science and public awareness, we know environmental pollution from industry harms our health. Same goes with tobacco. But did you know “social pollution” is just as harmful? Social pollution refers to the long hours, lack of economic security, high cost of health care, exhaustion, surviving in a gig economy, lack of parental support, and high stress that has come to characterize work life in the United States and other industrialized countries. It is now recognized as they fifth leading cause of death.

In the new book Dying for a Paycheck, author and Stanford University professor Jeffrey Pfeffer uncovers the disastrous toll of modern work life on human health.

Sixty-one percent of American workers say workplace stress has made them sick, and 7 percent have been hospitalized by it.

Workplace stress leads to the chronic diseases that make up three quarters of the health problems crushing our health care system, including diabetes, metabolic syndrome (pre-diabetes) cardiovascular disease, and circulatory diseases. Disorders such as alcoholism, drug addiction, and overeating are also linked to high stress and the erosion of family and social structures from work-related stress.

In fact, one of the worst aspects of modern work life is the effect it is having on our social support structures. Long, stressful hours at work breaks up marriages, children, and families, leaves too little time for healthy socializing with friends and family, and makes it difficult for single people to date or establish new relationships.

Research clearly shows regular healthy socialization is vital to good health and that isolation and lack of positive social time can be as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

When work place stress and social pollution keeps you stuck in fight-or-flight mode

One of the many downsides to workplace stress and social pollution is that it can keep your nervous systems stuck in fight-or-flight mode. A normal stress response is to flee, fight, or freeze. When work stress and the havoc it causes on your home life is constant, you never get a chance to unwind from being in a constant fight-or-flight state.

The chronic stress from this is devastating to brain and body health. It accelerates brain aging, causes leaky gut, raises inflammation, imbalances the hormones, and increases the risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and addictive habits.

What can you do to protect yourself from social pollution and workplace stress

Unfortunately, most of us cannot single-handedly change this unhealthy situation in which we find ourselves. However, you can be aware of and not psychologically buy into the subtle or not-so-subtle shaming and unhealthy expectations around productivity.

Companies expect longer hours at lower pay yet provide little to no job security, sick days, maternity or paternity leaves, and so on. Be aware of this and don’t internalize the messaging that working long days with no days off makes you a better person. It doesn’t, it makes you a sicker person.

If you can downsize your housing, car payments, or other expenses, consider the positive impact living more modestly can have on your health. It could be the ticket to a dramatic health turn around.

However, not everyone can afford to downsize as many are working non-stop to barely get by. Although there is no easy answer to this, recognize your situation and don’t ask too much from yourself.

The more people who are aware of the problem, the better chance we have at changing public perception and workplace policies.

In the meantime, support your health the best you can with an anti-inflammatory diet, seek out support, and make sure to include healthy, restful, and relaxing time in your life as much as possible.

If you have a desk job and are too tired to make it to the gym, take regular breaks to move your body and go for short walks as frequently as possible. Regular physical activity is vital to the heath of your brain and body and will help protect you from the harm of workplace stress.

Ask my office for more ways we can help you buffer your body from the negative effects of too much stress.

Optimizing your body’s best defense against toxins

801 optimizing glutathione

You’ve heard antioxidant foods and supplements can help fight inflammation and protect you from toxins, but the most important antioxidant is one we make in our own bodies: glutathione.

Unlike common antioxidant sources — vitamins C and E, beta carotene, turmeric, resveratrol, and foods such as blueberries, tomatoes, and red wine — you can’t take plain glutathione as it’s too hard to absorb. However, you can take glutathione precursors or special forms of glutathione that can be absorbed by the body.

Glutathione: the “master antioxidant”

Antioxidants are molecules that inhibit other molecules from going through oxidation, a chemical reaction that produces toxins called free radicals.

Free radicals are unstable molecules created as a result of natural biochemical processes. We can also ingest them via toxins in food, air, water, and even medication. Left unchecked, free radicals damage cells and contribute to the development of serious health problems.

While we need plenty of dietary antioxidants from varied and plentiful fresh fruits and vegetables, our most powerful antioxidant source is the glutathione our bodies produce.

In fact, glutathione is so powerful it’s referred to as the “master antioxidant.”

Two vital duties of glutathione

Two of glutathione’s most important duties are promoting liver detoxification and dampening inflammation.

Liver detox. In the liver, glutathione binds with toxins to help move them out of the body. This process is so effective people who overdose on Tylenol receive an IV infusion of NAC (N-acetyl cysteine), a precursor, or building block, for the body to produce more glutathione.

Inflammation and immune function. When you have enough glutathione in your cells, it “takes the bullet” by offering itself up to free radicals so they don’t attach to and damage cells.

However, when your glutathione reserves are too low, free radical damage can spiral out of control, leading to cell damage and the foundations for inflammatory health condition such as:

  • Intestinal permeability (leaky gut)
  • Chemical sensitivities
  • Heavy metal sensitivities
  • Autoimmune diseases and flares
  • Inflammatory and immune disorders

Glutathione depletion is also linked to a number of other disease states and groups:

  • Aging
  • Athletic overtraining
  • Major injuries and trauma
  • Patients with wasting diseases such as HIV and AIDS
  • Lung cancer
  • Gut-based diseases such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Alcoholism and fatty liver disease
  • Diabetes and low glucose tolerance
  • Cancer

In many of these cases, raising glutathione levels has shown therapeutic benefits.

Support glutathione’s antioxidant status

In these overly-stressed times of inescapable toxic burdens, it’s nearly impossible to maintain proper glutathione levels strictly through diet. You can find plain glutathione over-the-counter, but it’s not worth taking because your gut breaks it down before you can use it.

However, it is possible to support your glutathione status in the following ways:

S-acetyl glutathione is one of the newest and most accessible forms of glutathione that the intestinal tract can efficiently absorb. It can be helpful in managing autoimmunity.

Oral liquid liposomal glutathione covers two bases by providing both bioactive glutathione and glutathione precursors that help your body make glutathione inside the cells.

Liposomal cream is used in localized areas of pain or inflammation, such as an inflamed knee or on the thyroid for autoimmunity.

IV drip is highly effective but is expensive and difficult to access for some patients.

Other glutathione delivery methods include glutathione suppositories, glutathione nebulizers, and sublingual glutathione.

Support glutathione recycling for optimum immune function

It’s important for the body to be able to make glutathione inside the cells to protect mitochondria, the energy-producing factories that lie at the foundation of our health and longevity. To do this, the body must be able to recycle glutathione.

For glutathione to be recycled, it must be reduced:

There are two main forms of glutathione in the body:

  • Reduced glutathione
  • Oxidized glutathione

When there is plenty of reduced glutathione in the cells, they sacrifice themselves to free radicals — “taking the bullet” as previously mentioned — to protect the precious mitochondria. An enzyme called glutathione peroxidase triggers the conversion of reduced glutathione to oxidized glutathione, a free radical itself.

However, when there is sufficient glutathione in the cell, the newly unstable oxidized glutathione pairs with available glutathione with the help of an enzyme called glutathione reductase. This sends it back to reduced glutathione status and ready for duty.

To support glutathione recycling, it is important to first reduce stress on the body:

  • Balance blood sugar
  • Restore gut health
  • Address food intolerances: An elimination diet or a lab test can help you determine which foods are responsible
  • Manage your autoimmune disease
  • Manage hormonal imbalances
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Cut down on an over-committed schedule
  • Get adequate exercise
  • Make time for play and enjoyment
  • Minimize exposure to toxins in and out of the home

If these factors don’t bring the needed relief, then the following botanicals and nutritional compounds can help support glutathione recycling:

  • N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) is rapidly metabolized into intracellular glutathione.
  • L-glutamine is important for glutathione generation.
  • Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) directly recycles and extends the metabolic life spans of vitamin C, glutathione, and coenzyme Q10, necessary for glutathione recycling.
  • Selenium is a trace element that serves as the essential cofactor for the enzyme glutathione peroxidase, which converts reduced glutathione to oxidized glutathione so glutathione can “take the bullet” to protect cells.
  • Milk thistle significantly increases glutathione and positively influences the ratios of reduced and oxidized glutathione.
  • Gotu kola increases the activity and amount of glutathione peroxidase and the quantity of glutathione.
  • Cordyceps activates glutathione synthesis and protects cells by engaging the glutathione enzyme cycle.

Taken together these botanicals and compounds activate the glutathione peroxidase and reductase enzymes to promote a healthy glutathione recycling system.

To optimize your glutathione levels and recycling, contact my office for guidance.

Cholesterol, good fats, bad fats, and heart health

752 good vs bad fats

Conventional medicine is slowly admitting that instead of fat, sugar and refined carbohydrates are the biggest sources of high cholesterol. Excess sugars and carbs drive good cholesterol down and triglycerides up, leading to the small, dangerous particles that encourage plaque buildup in the arteries. This contributes to heart disease and insulin resistance, or pre-diabetes.

High blood sugar and insulin levels also drive chronic systemic inflammation, playing a large role in heart disease and most other chronic illnesses. Systemic inflammation arises not only from poor diet, but also from an inactive lifestyle, chronic stress, food sensitivities, chronic viral and bacterial infections, and more.

Recently busted cholesterol myths include:

  • Statins: Recent research shows that statin benefits are likely due to their ability to lower inflammation, not cholesterol.
  • Heart attack: 75 percent of those who have heart attacks have normal cholesterol levels.
  • Age: In older patients, those with higher cholesterol have a lower risk of death than those with lower levels of cholesterol.
  • Harvard research has shown that a high level of systemic inflammation ranks higher than high cholesterol for putting subjects at risk for heart disease.

Consume plenty of fats from healthy sources

Conventional medicine has touted a low-fat diet for years, but researchers and doctors are coming to realize we need more fat in our diet than previously thought. However, not all dietary sources of cholesterol are created equal. The type of fat you consume matters more than the quantity.

For the health of your entire body, it’s important to consume plenty of healthy, unprocessed fats and avoid processed vegetable oils. Avoid all trans fats as they raise your risk of cardiovascular disease and can damage your brain.

Omega 3 and monounsaturated fats improve the type of cholesterol in our bodies.

The dietary reference intake (DRI) for fat in adults is 20 percent to 35 percent of total calories from fat. That equals about 44 to 77 grams of fat per day for a 2,000 calorie diet.

*Below are the recommended consumption ratios:

  • Monounsaturated fat: 15 percent to 20 percent
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 5 percent to 10 percent
  • Saturated fat: less than 10 percent (unless keto)
  • Trans fat: 0 percent
  • Cholesterol: less than 300 mg per day

Unsaturated fats. Typically liquid at room temperature, sources include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. When used in place of saturated fat, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can lower cholesterol levels.

Monounsaturated fats. Healthy versions come from plant-based sources such as nuts, olives, and avocado. Avoid canola oil.

Polyunsaturated fats. Healthy plant-based sources include nuts. Avoid processed seed and grain (corn) oils due to frequent rancidity.

Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that help lower inflammation. Good sources include cold water fish (salmon, tuna, herring, and anchovies), flax and chia seed, and walnuts.

*Saturated fats. Typically solid or waxy at room temperature, these come from animal products and tropical oils. Taking in too much saturated fat is linked with raising levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood and increasing internal inflammation. Healthy foods high in saturated fat include:

  • Beef, pork, lamb, veal, and skin of poultry
  • High fat dairy products
  • Butter, lard, and bacon fat
  • Palm, palm kernel, and coconut oil

*Low-carb and ketogenic diets: The rules on fat ratios change on diets that are very carb-restricted due to how carb levels affect saturated fat in the bloodstream. People on these diets are able to consume higher ratios of saturated fats safely.

Trans fats form when a liquid fat is changed into a solid fat through a process called hydrogenation. This extends shelf life, however trans fats raise levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and decrease levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. 

Avoid trans fats completely! Sources of trans fat include solid margarine, shortening, powdered and liquid creamers, and most convenience and prepackaged foods.

Ask my office for more advice on how much and what types of fats to eat in your diet.

NSAIDs — the dangers and the alternatives for pain

750 NSAID dangers and alternatives

According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 50 million American adults have chronic pain or severe pain. The conventional medical model teaches us to reach first for medication to relieve pain, with ibuprofen and other NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) at the top of the list. However, with research mounting to show NSAIDs have a notable list of dangers, it makes sense instead to look for the root causes of pain.

Many people turn to NSAIDs for relief from pain and inflammation. Common NSAIDs are ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Aleve). Celecoxib (Celebrex), diclofenac (Cataflam, Voltaren) are prescription NSAIDs. Aspirin is an NSAID, but it does not pose the same risks for stroke and heart attack.

Ibuprofen is metabolized by the liver, and can cause lesions, liver failure, or jaundice over time. The FDA has even warned against NSAIDs because they increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.

NSAIDs promote leaky gut

Another reason to avoid NSAIDs is their tendency to promote leaky gut.

In leaky gut, the lining of the small intestine becomes damaged and overly porous, allowing undigested food, bacteria, yeast, and other pathogens into the bloodstream. This triggers inflammation and pain throughout the body — the same thing people use NSAIDs to relieve.

So, if the typical go-to medications for pain aren’t an option any more, where do we turn? Functional medicine offers solutions.

Address inflammation to root out pain

When pain is treated with NSAIDs, it typically comes back when the medication runs out. However, in functional medicine the goal is to identify and address the cause of the inflammation and pain instead of simply putting a temporary Band-Aid on it.

It’s understandable to want relief so you can feel and function better. The good news is many people find their chronic pain diminishes substantially or disappears completely when they adopt functional medicine strategies.

Following are a few ways functional medicine can relieve pain and inflammation:

Anti-inflammatory diet. Remove foods that trigger inflammation, such as gluten, dairy, grains, legumes, eggs, sugar, and nightshades. This is typically done as an elimination and reintroduction protocol where you follow the diet strictly for a period of time and then customize it depending on your food sensitivities.

Avoid nightshades. Vegetables in the nightshade family can cause pain and inflammation in the joints. These include eggplant, potatoes (but not sweet potatoes or yams), peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos, hot pepper products and pepper-based spices. Simply removing nightshades from the diet has brought relief from joint pain for many, especially those with rheumatoid arthritis.

Turmeric and resveratrol. Each is a powerful anti-inflammatory alone, but research shows that taking them together is much more effective, making them potent tools for quenching the inflammation and damage associated chronic inflammatory disorders.

Improve your posture. Chronic pain can develop due to spinal misalignment. Rarely do patients with chronic pain have even pressure on both feet or eyes that move in synchrony. Many patients experience significant or total relief of chronic pain by addressing these imbalances.

Nutrients that fight inflammation and pain. These include vitamin D, vitamins A, E, and K, and plenty of omega 3 fatty acids.

White willow bark is an herb traditionally used for pain relief.

Moderate to high intensity exercise can help reduce inflammation. It also improves insulin sensitivity, a bonus for diabetes prevention. Just make sure to choose exercises that do not exacerbate joint pain; there are lots of options.

Balance your blood sugar. Many people have blood sugar dysregulation issues that contribute to systemic inflammation and pain. In addition, imbalanced blood sugar is one of the risk factors for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Support production of SCFA. Short chain fatty acids (SCFA) produced by your “good” gut bacteria are helpful in dampening inflammation. Eat abundant and varied fresh vegetables daily, eat probiotic-rich fermented foods, and take SCFA-supporting supplements such as butyrate, Saccharomyces boulardii, Lactobacillus sporogenes, and DDS-1 Lactobacilli acidophilus.

Support glutathione. The most important antioxidant in your body, glutathione aids in detoxification, helps maximize immune system function, and shields cells from damage caused by oxidation and inflammation.

A healthy body makes enough glutathione, but faced with chronic stressors such as toxins, poor diet, sleep deprivation, smoking, and excess sugar, glutathione become depleted.

Glutathione supplements are not effective taken orally. Instead, boost glutathione levels through a liposomal cream, suppository, nebulizer, or IV drip.

One must also support glutathione recycling to balance the immune system, protect body tissue from damage caused by inflammation, and help repair damage.

To enhance glutathione recycling, remove stressors depleting glutathione levels such as lack of sleep, smoking, food intolerances, diets high in sugars and processed foods, and excess alcohol intake.

The following nutritional and botanical compounds have been shown to support glutathione recycling:

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

These are just a few ways to use functional medicine to address the root causes of inflammation and pain so that you can stop taking NSAIDs. Ask my office for more advice.