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How to Naturally Lower Cholesterol Levels

​Have you​ been told you that your cholesterol level is too high?

​Has your doctor even recommended a prescription medication to lower it?

​Is a high cholesterol level dangerous?  Is there anything that you ​can do to help?

In this article, I will discuss how you can lower your cholesterol level naturally WITHOUT medication.

​The discussion will include which foods you should avoid, which foods you should eat, supplements that help, and other lifestyle changes that ​can help ​get your cholesterol level back into the optimal range.

Ready, set, go…

​What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a lipid molecule that is produced by all animal cells.  It is an essential structural component of all animal cell membranes.  In fact, about 30% of cell membranes are cholesterol.  The vast majority of cholesterol is made by the liver.

​Within the cell membrane, cholesterol plays a role in intracellular transport, cell signaling and nerve conduction.

Cholesterol is also a precursor to the production of hormones, bile acids, and vitamin D.

Cholesterol is transported inside lipoprotein particles throughout the body.  These lipoproteins come in 2 primary forms – LDL and HDL (there are also VLDL and IDL particles, which I will not discuss in this article).

It is believed that ​low density lipoproteins (LDL) particles (as well as IDL and VLDL) promote the development of atheromas in artery walls while high density lipoproteins (HDL) particles promote the removal of those atheromas from the artery walls.

​That is why most people call LDL the “bad” cholesterol while HDL is the “good” cholesterol.  ​More recent research has shown a much more complicated picture than that, but ​that is general description of each lipoprotein.

The belief is if you can reduce the ​amount of LDL in the body, it will reduce the incidence of atherosclerosis (the laying down of plaque in the arteries).  Therefore, less plaque = less heart disease.

But is it really that simple?

​​Is It Dangerous to Have High Cholesterol?

Keep in mind that cholesterol is essential for the body.  We must have cholesterol to have normal cell membranes.

We also must have cholesterol to make many of the hormones in the body, including estrogen, testosterone, adrenal hormones and vitamin D.

Cholesterol is vital for forming memories and other critical neurological functions.

It also is the foundation for bile acids, which are required for fat digestion and the absorption of nutrients from our food.

So, cholesterol isn’t bad.  ​But high cholesterol is bad, right?  Not necessarily.

What may be bad is when you have too much of the wrong forms of lipoproteins.  The small, dense LDL particles are believed to be the ones that increase the risk for plaque formation.

​However, this increased risk may be more theoretical than actual.

Multiple studies have attempted to show that a high cholesterol level (especially LDL) increases your risk for heart disease.

This meta-analysis from JAMA in 2016 involving 316,000 patients​ did show that lower levels of LDL​ were associated with lower rates of coronary events.

​However, a systematic review and meta-analysis from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2015 looked at 40 studies involving over 361,000 patients.  They were unable to draw any connection between cholesterol levels and an increase in ​heart disease risk.

Another systematic review from Cardiovascular Medicine Research in 2015 looked at 19 cohort studies of cholesterol levels and mortality in the elderly.  To their surprise, not only was a high LDL level NOT associated with an increased risk of ​death, the exact opposite was found.  People with the highest LDL levels lived ​longer!

​So should we worry about cholesterol levels?  My honest answer is I’m not sure.

​People who live healthy lifestyles and eat natural, healthy foods have lower cholesterol levels than people who eat the standard American diet and have unhealthy lifestyles.  The exception to this is people that have familial hyperlipidemia.

​Cholesterol levels can then be used as an indicator o​f the diet and lifestyle that a person is living.  You yourself probably know that when you are not eating well, your cholesterol levels increase, especially the LDL.  When you aren’t exercising, your HDL level drops.

​Elevated levels of small, dense LDL does appear to slightly increase cardiovascular risk.  Plus, I believe it is good to monitor our HDL and LDL levels as a way of measuring how healthy we are living.

​How to Naturally Lower Cholesterol Levels

​So if your cholesterol levels are higher than you or your doctor would prefer, what can you do about it?

Chances are, your doctor will recommend that you start a statin drug.  There is no doubt that these drugs will drop your cholesterol levels.

However, there are many side effects and even dangers that come with this class of medication (read my article here). There are also questions about how much they really prevent bad outcomes.

​Of note, there are many experts that believe statins can reduce the risk of MI because of their anti-inflammatory and anticoagulant actions, NOT because they lower cholesterol.

In my opinion, if you have familial hyperlipidemia and​/or if you are a man with established heart disease, you should probably be taking a statin drug (if you can tolerate it).

Everyone else (women, people with high cholesterol but no history of heart disease) should discuss it with ​their doctor first and really focus on diet and lifestyle as the ​primary means of reducing it.

Now let’s talk about some things that you can do to naturally lower your cholesterol levels…

Avoid These Foods (Foods that Raise Cholesterol)

​There are several things that you can do to lower your cholesterol, but like most health issues, you should always start with your diet.

Let’s list some things that should definitely be avoided if your cholesterol is too high:

​1.  Sugar

​One of the most powerful things that you can do to lower your LDL cholesterol level is to remove the majority of sugar from your diet.  The average American eats over 150 pounds of sugar every year.

We have all been told for years that too much fat in the diet raises cholesterol levels and sugar is harmless except for being empty calories.  That just isn’t true!

​Sugar calories are deadly calories. Sugar causes heart attacks, obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer and dementia, and is the leading cause of liver failure in America.

The biggest culprit for most people is sugar-sweetened drinks.  The average American gets over 1/3 of their daily sugar calories from soft drinks!  When you add sweetened tea, coffee, and energy drinks, that number ​is even higher.

Excess sugar intake leads to insulin resistance, elevated triglyceride levels, low HDL levels, increased levels of low density LDL particles, and​ an increase in inflammation​.  All of these cause an increased risk of heart disease, independent of any other risk factors.

A JAMA Internal Medicine study from 2014 showed that people eating the highest amount of sugar had a 400% higher risk of heart attack than people eating the lowest amount of sugar!  The study showed that your risk of heart attack doubles if you get 20% of your calories from sugar.

That is a scary statistic, especially when you realize that over 10% of Americans get ​more than 25% of their calories from sugar!

Several countries worldwide have battled this epidemic by ​taxing soft drinks, banning junk food television advertising, and eliminating processed foods, junk food and sugar-sweetened beverages from schools. This study even calculated the potential health benefits of taxing soft drinks in the US.

I am personally not a fan of using government intervention as a way of controlling behavior in society, but it underscores the importance of increasing education in the areas of nutrition and health and putting pressure on companies to produce healthier food options.

​2.  Refined Carbohydrates

​Refined carbohydrates, also known as simple carbs or processed carbs, are just as dangerous as sugar. The average American eats almost 150 pounds of processed flour each year.

​​Refined carbs are carbohydrates that have been processed in a way that removes the majority of nutrients and fiber from them.  When they are consumed, they are almost instantly converted into sugar in the body.

Examples of refined carbs includes bread, rolls, pizza, pasta, white rice, and most ready-to-eat cold cereals​.

In a way, refined carbs are even more dangerous than table sugar.  In fact, blood sugar levels rise higher when you eat processed flour than if you ate table sugar!

​If you are over the age of 30, most of you will remember the low-fat craze of the 1980s and 1990s.  At that time, it was felt that saturated fats were the absolute worst thing that you could eat.

​Massive advertising campaigns were launched encouraging people to eat less fat.  The unintended result was people replaced those fats in their diets primarily with refined carbs.  Obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease levels increased ​dramatically.

Finally, the medical community has realized their error and are SLOWLY changing their attitudes about refined carbs.  This study showed that while eating a diet high in saturated fat is not good for you, it is still significantly better than eating a diet high in refined carbs.

​3.  Alcohol

​Friends and family members that ​love a good wine often spout to me the benefits of alcohol consumption and how it reduces heart disease.

​So what does the research say?

​I think the research is clear that occasional alcohol is okay and may even have some mild benefits.

The key is that you should choose low carb options and drink no more than 1-2 drinks.

​Alcohol tends to increase your cravings and appetite for bad foods.

If alcohol is something that you really want to have as a part of your life, at least keep these things in mind:

Beer is made from grains (oats, barley, wheat and rye), malt (sugar) and yeast.  It was originally brewed to provide nourishment for adults (and children!), especially during times when food was scarce.  Realize that when you drink beer, you are basically drinking a liquid meal.

Cider is fermented apple juice.  Every 12 ounces of cider can have up to 30g of sugar!

Sweet liqueurs are similar to cider.  They typically are loaded with sugar.

Rum is a low carb drink.  However, most people mix it with high carb drinks such as sodas or energy drinks.

Red wine​ is generally low carb.  ​It also contains resveratrol which is a potent anti-oxidant.  ​Light to moderate consumption has been associated with a decrease in LDL, reduced atherosclerosis, and reduced oxidative stress.  The danger is it tends to be often consumed with high carb foods such as pasta, pizza, etc., and it can increase your appetite for those types of food.

White wine as a general rule often contains more sugar and carbs than red wine.  5 ounces of wine equates to about 125 calories.  Again, it may increase your cravings for foods that should be avoided.

Keep in mind that even if you drink in moderation, it will typically STOP weight loss and may even cause weight gain in my professional experience.

​4.  Trans Fats

​Trans fats, also called trans fatty acids, are a type of unsaturated fat that occur in small amounts in nature, but have become widely consumed due to industrialized food production.

Trans fat is formed through an industrial process that adds hydrogen to vegetable oil, which causes the oil to become solid at room temperature.

This partially hydrogenated oil is less likely to spoil, so foods made with it have a longer shelf life.  Many restaurants also cook with it in their deep fryers because it needs to be changed less often.

​Trans fats are commonly found in food such as margarine, ghee, snack food (such as chips) packaged baked goods, and fried fast foods.

Trans fats have been shown to lower HDL and raise LDL levels and may lead to an increase in heart disease.

This is just another example about why it is dangerous to eat out in restaurants excessively.  You really don’t know what you are eating or how they prepared your food!

5.  Caffeine

People have tried to vilify caffeine for years, blaming it for anything from high blood pressure to stroke, cardiac arrhythmias, and heart disease.

But is caffeine really that bad?

The answer is probably not if consumed in moderation.

This literature review from 2017 showed that moderate caffeine intake is not associated with increased risks of total cardiovascular disease; arrhythmia; heart failure; blood pressure changes among regular coffee drinkers; or hypertension in baseline populations.

There is no evidence that I could find that suggests that caffeine intake increases cholesterol levels. Now, if you are adding a bunch of sugar to your coffee or tea, that is a different story.

My only caution would be in people who are suffering from adrenal fatigue.  Caffeine puts added stress on the adrenals to produce cortisol levels which can be harmful when they are already strained from physical, mental, or emotional stress.  In those situations I typically recommend stopping all caffeine until the adrenals have had time to recover.

By the way, there is also a suggestion that excessive caffeine intake make cause a decrease in bone density.  According to this article, as long as you optimize your vitamin D level, eat foods with adequate calcium content, and don’t drink more than 3 cups of coffee per day, the risk should be minimal.

Eat These Foods (Foods That Lower Cholesterol)

​So we’ve talked about the bad, now let’s talk about the good.  All of the foods in this segment have shown cardiovascular benefit in studies.

​1.  Omega-3 Fats

​Omega-3 fats belong to the long chain poly-unsaturated fatty acids.  The ones that have been shown to be beneficial for the heart and cholesterol are Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

These fatty acids come from marine microorganisms that are eaten by fish.

​The fish with the highest omega-3 concentrations include fatty fish like tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel, albacore and herring.

Omega-3 fatty acids primarily reduce triglyceride levels and lower VLDL levels.  They also appear to have anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombotic effects.

If you aren’t a fish fan, if you are a vegetarian,  or if you have a sensitivity to fish, supplements are also available which I will discuss later.

​2.  High Soluble Fiber Foods

Foods high in soluble fiber have been shown in studies to lower LDL cholesterol.

Soluble fiber attracts water and turns to a gel-like substance during digestion.  This slows digestion and makes you feel full for a longer period of time.  It also binds to cholesterol and may reduce its absorption in the intestines.

Examples of foods high in soluble fiber include oats, kidney beans, brussel sprouts, apples and pears.

Soluble fiber is also available as a supplement.  These include psyllium, pectin, and guar gum.

​3.  Olive Oil

​Olive oil is full of healthy, monounsaturated fats, primarily oleic acid.

Oleic acid is believed to be a potent anti-oxidant that reduces inflammation​.

​Regular consumption of olive has been shown to reduce the risk for cardiovascular events and stroke.  It also appears to reduce the risk of oxidation of LDL particles.

There are studies that suggest that olive oil may decrease the risk for dementia, type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and even cancer.

It even has anti-bacterial properties.  One study showed that taking 30gm of extra virgin olive oil per day can eliminate a helicobacter pylori infection in 10-40% of people.

It is important to use extra virgin olive oil because it has the most anti-oxidants and bioactive compounds in it.

​4.  Garlic & Onions

​We have been told for years that consuming garlic and onions are good for our heart.

However, a study from 2007 showed no reduction in LDL or heart disease in people consuming either raw garlic or garlic supplements.

Onions appear to have more benefits on lower cholesterol, primarily because they contain flavonoids such as quercetin.  This study showed that quercetin from onions lowers LDL levels in ​overweight patients.

​5.  Herbs -​

​Consumption of several herbs have been shown to result in a mild or even moderate reduction in cholesterol levels.

​These herbs include basil, artichoke, eggplant, fenugreek, arjun, genseng, and yarrow.

A systematic review published in 2003 showed a reduction in total cholesterol from the use of these herbs of up to 39%.

Supplements That Lower Cholesterol

​If you just have a hard time eating the good foods that can lower cholesterol levels, there are some supplements available that can help:

​1.  ​Omega-3/Fish Oil

​As discussed earlier, fish oil can substantially lower triglyceride and VLDL levels.

However, many people do not​ eat much fish, so supplementation may be necessary.

Click here for my preferred brand.

If you are vegetarian, vegan, or have a sensitivity/allergy to fish, algal oil is a great source of omega-3. You can get it here.

​2.  Niacin

​Niacin is a naturally-occurring B vitamin that has been used to raise HDL cholesterol for years.

Studies have shown that taking niacin can raise HDL levels by up to 25%.  It also lowers LDL by 5-20% and triglycerides by 20-50%.

​Unfortunately, the large controlled studies AIM-HIGH and HPS2-THRIVE showed that despite the increase in HDL levels, adding niacin did not result in a reduction in cardiovascular events.

However, I still believe niacin is a good choice (after dietary changes) for people who have low HDL and high triglycerides, or those who don’t want to take a statin or who cannot tolerate statins.

Click here for my preferred brand.

​Red Yeast Rice

​Red yeast rice has shown in studies to reduce total cholesterol levels 16-31%.

​Click here for my preferred brand.

​Essential Oils – lavender, cypress, rosemary

​Several essential oils can have an effect on your heart health and may help lower cholesterol levels.

Lavendar oils help lower anxiety and cortisol levels.

Cypress oil helps promote circulation and lowers cholesterol levels.

Rosemary oil is an antioxidant that helps stabilize blood sugar and reduces blood lipid levels.

The best way to use these is to add a few drops to a diffuser which allows you to inhale them gradually while breathing normally.

Other ​Ways to Lower Cholesterol

​Exercise

​Aerobic exercises such as walking, jogging, cycling, and swimming are great for the heart, lungs, and stress level.  They also helps lower lipid levels.

Resistance training such as weight-lifting has also shown to improve lipid profiles by increasing HDL and lowering total cholesterol and LDL.

​Get Better Sleep

​Most of us have terrible sleep habits and poor sleep hygiene.

​Not only does that make us tired and grumpy, studies show that sleep deprivation results in lower HDL levels and higher triglyceride and LDL levels.

​Improving sleep is foundational to almost any health issue we could discuss.  I have yet to meet a person that is chronically sleep-deprived that is healthy and feels good.

Developing good sleep habits is critical to improving your sleep.  These include:

  • ​Develop a consistent sleep schedule – Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning.
  • ​Keep your bedroom cool and dark.
  • ​Avoid stimulants, especially in the evening.  This includes caffeine and cold medications.
  • check​Avoid electronic screens (TV, computer, tablet, or phone) for at least 2 hours before bed.
  • checkConsider trying meditation for 20 minutes before bed to help empty your mind and relax you.

​If you are doing all of this and are still having sleep issues, it may be necessary to try a supplement.

1. Melatonin – Melatonin does NOT make you sleepy.  It simply helps you relax which allows the normal sleep cycle to progress.  Take it at least 30 minutes before going to bed.

2.  Travacor – If you are having a lot of stress, anxiety, and mood issues which are affecting your sleep, this may help.  It contains a blend of taurine, L-theanine and 5-HTP which help regulate mood and promote normal sleep.  Take it an hour before bedtime.

3.  Kavinace Ultra PM – If you are still having problems getting to sleep or staying asleep, this supplement may be very helpful.  It contains the same ingredients as Travacor but with the addition of melatonin and phenylbutyric acid which makes it even more powerful.  Take it an hour before bedtime.

​Manage Your Stress

​Lack of sleep is a form of stress, so you can expect that any other stress will have similar results on the body.

Sure enough, this study showed that stress results in lower HDL, higher LDL, and higher triglyceride levels.

Stress can be caused by mental, physical, or even spiritual issues.

It is important to remove whatever stresses that you can from your life.  That may mean seeing a marriage counselor, or changing jobs, or avoiding certain people.

If you can’t avoid all stress, there are still some things that you can do:

  • ​Relaxation exercises such as yoga
  • check​Spend 20 minutes per day in prayer or meditation
  • check​Start doing something you enjoy – hobby, sports, etc.
  • checkGo outside!  Walking or hiking in nature can do wonders for your stress.
  • checkCount your blessings and write them down.
  • Do something good for someone else expecting nothing in return, especially for someone less fortunate than you.
  • Donate your time or money toward a worthy cause.
  • checkMake yourself smile everyday (even when you don’t feel like it).

​Summary

​If you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol levels and want to lower then without taking a medication such as a statin, there are several things that you can do.

The cornerstone of treatment ​should be to change your diet.  Sugar and refined carbs will need to removed as much as possible.  You probably also need to reduce your alcohol intake and fast foods.

Increasing your consumption of fish, fruit, and vegetables can also be very helpful, as well as cooking with extra virgin olive oil and adding many healthy herbs and spices to your food.

Finally, like with almost any condition we could discuss, cholesterol levels will improve with regular exercise, improving your sleep and reducing stress.

Now it’s your turn…

​Have you been diagnosed with elevated cholesterol?

What you have tried in the past that works?  What didn’t work?

Leave any questions or comments below.

The Best Natural Treatments for Weight Loss

​A visit to a health food store can be overwhelming when you are looking for something to help you lose weight.

How do you know what works and what doesn’t?  What is safe and what is potentially dangerous?

In this article, I will discuss some of the most popular weight loss supplements and show what can be effective and what probably isn’t.

I will also discuss some nutrient supplements that can be beneficial for weight loss and even some ​food options that can help you drop some weight.

​Here we go…

More…

Identify the Root Causes of Your Weight Gain First

If you have read any of my previous articles, you know that I follow a functional medicine approach when looking at medical issues.

What is functional medicine?  Dr. Mark Hyman, the president of the Institute of Functional Medicine, defines it this way:

“Functional medicine seeks to identify and address the root causes of disease, and views the body as one integrated system, not a collection of independent organs divided up by medical specialties. It treats the whole system, not just the symptoms.”

In the case of this article, it is important that you identify the root causes of your weight gain.  Do you have a hormonal imbalance, are you too sedentary, are you eating the standard American diet, are you stressed out, etc?

I discuss many of these potential root causes in this article.

Every person is different and every person will have different root causes that they need to address in order to lose weight.

If you are simply looking for a pill or supplement that will cause you to lose weight but allows you to continue to live the way you have been living, you will be terribly disappointed.  

Even if you lose weight after taking a supplement, if you don’t change the behavior or address the hormonal issues that caused you to gain weight in the first place, the weight will just return.

These supplements or foods are only a single tool in your tool shed.  You must attack each component of your root causes in order to have long term success in your weight loss journey.

Use Only High Quality Supplements

Please also keep in mind that not all supplements are created equal.  Since there is minimal regulation over the supplement market, a lot of it is garbage.

That is why I always recommend only purchasing supplements that are produced by companies that follow the same current good manufacturing practices (cGMP) that are required of the pharmaceutical companies.

You can no doubt get a supplement for a cheaper price from an unknown brand, but you just can’t guarantee its quality.  

At the very least, look for certification labels from the following companies on the bottles before purchasing them – US Pharmocopeia, NSF International, and ConsumerLab.com are the most common certification companies.

If you notice, most of the supplements that I recommend are from some of the most well known companies that I know follow strict production standards.  These include Pure Encapsulations, Ortho Molecular Products, NeuroScience, Integrative Therapeutics, and a few others.

It is not worth risking your health in order to save a little money.

The Best Natural Treatments for Weight Loss

So let’s dive into some natural supplements that may help you on your weight loss journey.  Many popular weight loss supplements are not listed here.  Instead, I have focused only on the ones that I have experience using or that I feel have a least some preliminary studies to back up their claims.

None of the supplements or foods listed will receive high scores.  None should be taken for the sole purpose of weight loss.  However, many have other benefits such as reducing insulin resistance, reducing systemic inflammation, etc.  They can therefore be an important addition to your goal of improved health. The weight loss benefits that occur from each can potentially be additive to diet, exercise, stress management, and other components of your weight loss plan.

Berberine

How does it work?  Berberine helps with weight loss by decreasing insulin resistance, increasing mitochondria in muscle cells, and increasing the brown fat (good fat) in our bodies.  Studies show that it is as effective as metformin in lowering blood glucose.

How do you take it?  1,000-2,000mg per day with food for about 3 months.  May be taken longer if weight loss continues.  Make sure you take it at least 4 hours apart from your thyroid medication if you are hypothyroid.  

Where do you get it?  Get my recommended brand here.

Potential Side Effects – Minimal.  It may cause nausea if taken on an empty stomach.

Effectiveness –  Extremely effective at lowering insulin resistance which will ultimately help with weight loss.  May lose up to 4% of body weight in 12 weeks.

Who Should Consider Taking It? – Patients with insulin resistance who also need to lose weight.

Score – 5/10 for weight loss.  Excellent for reducing insulin resistance.

CLA

How does it work?  Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a group of fats.  This supplement can help with weight loss by increasing metabolism, reducing the production of fat cells, reducing inflammation, increasing insulin sensitivity, and suppressing the appetite.

How do you take it?  4,000mg daily for at least 12 weeks.

Where do you get it?  Get my recommended brand here.

Potential Side Effects – Generally mild nausea or diarrhea that is self-limited

Effectiveness – Up to 4% of your body weight in 12 weeks.

Who Should Consider Using it?  Anyone that needs a boost in their weight loss plan.

Score – 5/10

Curcumin

How does it work?  Curcumin is the chemical compound found in the spice turmeric.  Curcumin helps with weight loss by reducing inflammation, increasing thermogenesis, reducing blood sugar, and reducing depression symptoms.

How do you take it?  Use the spice tumeric in your foods as much as tolerated.  As a supplement, take 250-500mg 3 times daily.

Where do you get it?  Get my recommended supplement brand here.

Potential Side Effects – Minimal

Effectiveness – Mildly effective for weight loss.  Used primarily as an anti-inflammatory agent.

Who Should Consider Taking it?  Those with high levels of inflammation who also want to lose some weight.

Score – 3/10 for weight loss.  Excellent for reducing inflammation.

Dietary Fiber

How does it work?  Fiber increases the sensation of fullness after a meal and reduces subsequent hunger.  

How do you take it?  Try to eat about 30gm of fiber per day (most people eat less than half that).  When making a conscious effort to increase your fiber intake, you may have to increase it slowly to avoid side effects.  

Where do you get it?  The best form of fiber is from whole foods such as green vegetables, oats, flax seeds, and some legumes.

Potential side effects – Gas, bloating, abdominal cramps

Effectiveness – Moderately effective at reducing appetite

Who should consider using it?  A good fiber intake is important with just about any weight loss program.

Score – 3/10

Probiotics

How does it work?  Probiotics may inhibit the absorption of dietary fat.

Probiotics also seem to increase the release of GLP-1, which is our satiety hormone.  They also increase the levels of ANGPLT4 which reduces fat storage.

Probiotics also reduce the level of gut inflammation, which has been associated with obesity.

One study showed a reduction in food cravings, depression symptoms, and improved self image in participants who took probiotic supplements.

Studies have also shown effectiveness in treating inflammatory bowel disease with high dose probiotics.

How do you take it?  The more bacterial species the better, and higher the CFU count the better.  Most come in either packets or capsules.

Where do you get it?  Get one of my recommended brands here. 

Potential side effects –  Nausea, bloating, loose stools.  Typically well tolerated.

Effectiveness –  Decent when combined with a whole food diet and exercise program.

Who should consider using it?  Anyone that has been on the standard American diet that wants to lose weight and improve gut health.  May be helpful if you have an inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis or Crohns disease.

Score –  3/10 for weight loss, but important for gut health.

Green Coffee Beans

How does it work?  Green coffee contains caffeine and chlorogenic acid.  Caffeine can increase metabolism by up to 3-11%.  Chlorogenic acid reduces the absorption of carbohydrates in the intestines.

How do you take it?  1 capsule 30 minutes before each meal

Where do you get it?  Get my recommended brand here.

Potential side effects – anxiety, jitteriness, palpitations, diarrhea

Effectiveness –  Mixed in studies, but average weight loss was 6-7 pounds

Who should consider using it?  Anyone that needs a slight boost in weight loss that is not sensitive to the effects of caffeine.

Score – 3/10

Alpha Lipoic Acid

How does it work?  ALA is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent.  It works by reducing inflammation, reducing insulin resistance, and increasing mitochondria.

How do you take it?  600-1200mg daily

Where do you get it?  Get my recommended brand here.

Potential Side Effects –  Minimal

Effectiveness – Average of 3 pounds in 12 weeks.

Who Should Consider Taking It? – Those with high levels of inflammation – autoimmunity, arthritis, etc. Works best when paired with berberine.

Score – 2/10 for weight loss.  Excellent for reducing inflammation.

Vitamin D

How does it work?  Vitamin D reduces the production and storage of fat cells.  It also increases the levels of serotonin and testosterone, both of which can result in weight loss.

A recent study showed that vitamin D supplementation combined with a weight loss program significantly improved insulin sensitivity.

How do you take it? Regular daily sunlight is always the best way of increasing your vitamin D level. Vitamin D3 is the preferred supplement form, especially when taken with vitamin K2.  Blood levels should be monitored with your goal of having the 25-OH-vitamin D level between 50-80 mg/dl.  Most people do well taking 5000u daily.  

Where do you get it?  Get my recommended brand here.

Potential side effects –  Minimal as long as levels are in the therapeutic range.

Effectiveness –  Up to 7 pounds.  It also seems to help prevent gaining weight.

Who should consider using it?  Everyone should monitor their vitamin D levels and supplement as needed, especially those with little sunlight exposure.

Score – 2/10 for weight loss, but important for overall health.

Garcinia Cambogia

How does it work?  Garcinia contains hydroxycitric acid, which may reduce appetite and increase fat burning.  It may also reduce blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

How do you take it? 1 capsule twice daily before meals.

Where do you get it?  The best brand can be found here.

Potential side effects – liver toxicity

Effectiveness –  3 pounds more weight loss than patients on placebo in studies.

Who should consider using it?  Someone who needs a boost in weight loss, especially if you have elevated cholesterol and insulin resistance.

Score – 2/10

Chromium Picolinate

chromium

How does it work?  Chromium is an essential mineral which helps regulate the metabolism of macromolecules in the body.  It appears to be involved in the insulin signalling pathways.

Studies show that people with type II diabetes have 20-40% less blood chromium levels than normal healthy people.

A study also showed that prolonged use of chromium picolinate could result in the production of hydroxyl radicals which could potentially damage DNA.  Therefore, supplementation should only be done for short periods.

How do you take it?  500-1000mcg per day for 3-6 months.  Do not take long term.

Where do you get it?  Get my recommended brand here.

Potential Side Effects – nausea, headache, rash, dizziness

Effectiveness – 2.2 pounds in 24 weeks in one study.  No weight loss in another study.

Who should consider using it?  Someone with insulin resistance, cholesterol issues, neuropathy, depression, or who suffers from food cravings.  Might be a reasonable add on for someone that also needs help with one of these other conditions.  Should not be used purely for weight loss in my opinion.

Score – 1/10

Summary

There are many supplements and foods that can help reduce weight in motivated people.  None are exceptionally effective, but most can be used safely and effectively as a component of a comprehensive weight loss program.

As with any condition, it is important to identify the root issues that may have caused the weight gain so that you can address them directly.

It is always important to buy a high quality supplement from a company that follows strict production standards.

Many of the supplements listed in this article also have benefits in other issues such as inflammation and insulin resistance, which should be the primary reason for using them.

Now it’s your turn…

Have you ever tried any of these supplements for weight loss?  

If so, what worked?  What didn’t work?

Leave your questions and comments below.

Selenium Deficiency and the Thyroid

​Selenium is crucial for normal thyroid function.

In fact, if you have undiagnosed selenium deficiency, it could be making your thyroid function worse.

If you have chronic digestive issues, there is a good chance that you have inadequate selenium levels.

​Selenium is especially important if you have an autoimmune thyroid disease such as Hashimoto’s or Grave’s Disease.

In this article, I will discuss selenium deficiency and the thyroid, how to know if you are selenium deficient, give you some great food sources of selenium, and discuss how and when ​you should consider using a supplement.

Let’s get started…

More…

Why is Selenium Important for Normal Thyroid Function?

​Bear with me as I quickly describe the science behind selenium and its important role in the body.

Selenium is required for the proper function of some proteins in our body called selenoproteins.

​These proteins perform many important functions in the body including:

     – Conversion of T4 to T3

     – Production of antioxidants

     – Energy productions and metabolism

​Let’s discuss some of these functions in a little more detail:

​1.  Increases T4 to T3 Conversion

Selenium is required for the ​optimal conversion of T4 into T3 in the peripheral tissues.

​​Selenium is ​needed for the ​proper function of the deiodinase enzymes​ which perform the conversion process.

As a quick reminder, the thyroid gland produces primarly T4, which is a thyroglobulin molecule with 4 iodine molecules attached to it.  This is the transport form of thyroid and is mostly inactive.

In order for the body to be able to use the thyroid hormone, an iodine molecule must be cleaved off of the T4 by the deiodinase enzyme, which converts it into T3​.  T3 is the active thyroid hormone.

2.  Decreases Autoimmunity

​Selenium has been shown in studies that it reduces autoimmune inflammation in patients with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.  It​ has been shown to reduce the TPO antibody levels.

​3.  Strengthens Your Immune System

​Having a deficiency of selenium does not in itself cause illness.

It appears instead that being deficient in selenium just makes us more susceptible to illnesses due to its role in normal immune function. 

In other words, having an optimal selenium level helps to ensure that our immune system is working at its maximal level.

​This is because ​selenium plays a huge role in increasing antioxidant levels in the body.

In fact, selenium supplementation has been shown to improve immune function in patients that were deficient.

​4.  ​Reduces Thyroid Damage from Iodine

​Iodine is a controversial issue in regards to thyroid health.

There is plenty of evidence that shows that low iodine is a huge cause of thyroid disease worldwide.

However, there is also evidence that excessive iodine can also damage the thyroid gland and may even increase the incidence of autoimmune thyroid disease such as Hashimoto’s.

One study showed that taking iodine in the presence of LOW levels of selenium may actually increase your risk for thyroid tissue damage.​

Conversely, if you supplement with selenium in the presence of low iodine levels, it can also worsen hypothyroidism.

It appears that iodine is dangerous to the thyroid ONLY when selenium levels are low or high.

Optimizing the selenium level allows the thyroid to tolerate a wide range of iodine levels.

The selenium appears to protect the thyroid from iodine at least in some part because it increases ​regulatory T cell levels.

​What if you have Hashimoto’s?  

I believe the evidence shows that it is okay to take iodine if you have ​Hashimoto’s as long as you are also supplementing with selenium.

​How Do You Know if You Have Selenium Deficiency?

​Selenium deficiency doesn’t necessarily cause any obvious symptoms, but there are some signs to look for that can indicate that you may be low. 

Let’s discuss some of the big ones below:

1.  You have a history of ​digestive problems

​Selenium deficiency is common in patients that have chronic digestive issues such as Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease, etc.

This is felt to be due to malabsorption caused by the inflammation that is occurring in the gut.

Selenium deficiency is commonly associated with vitamin B12 deficiency because ​they both are affected by poor gut absorption.

​So if you have B12 deficiency or any type of chronic gut inflammation, there is a strong chance that you are deficient in selenium.

​2.  You have a low free T3 level

​As I discussed earlier, selenium is important for the conversion of T4 to T3.

​When that conversion process is reduced, the free T4 levels will begin to rise and the free T3 levels will begin to fall.

To make matters worse, if you go see your doctor and he or she ​only checks your TSH and T4 and not your free T3 level, it will look like your thyroid levels are “normal” or even “high.”

Meanwhile, your hypothyroid symptoms continue to worsen because you are low in active thyroid hormone.

​Not a good situation at all.

That’s why it is critical that you find a doctor that will check a complete thyroid panel and will listen to you and your symptoms, and not solely depend on lab results to manage your thyroid problem.

​3.  ​You have hair loss or brittle nails

​Let me start with an obvious statement:  Not all hair loss is caused by selenium deficiency (you’ve seen my photo and my selenium level is good!).

However, selenium deficiency has been shown to cause changes in hair​.

It also can cause your nails to get brittle and crack easily.

Replacing low selenium levels has been shown to improve hair growth and nail growth.

If you suffer from unexplained hair loss or brittle nails, you should consider getting a further workup.

At a minimum, you should look at these micronutrients as possible culprits:  iron, zinc, selenium, and biotin.

You should also get a complete thyroid panel.

​4.  Your RBC Selenium level is low

​There is a lab test to measure the selenium level in the body, specifically in the red blood cells.

It is called an RBC Selenium Level.

I do not routinely check ​this on patients.  If I suspect a selenium deficiency, I start treatment.

However, if a patient continues to have signs or symptoms of selenium deficiency, it can be checked to make sure they are absorbing the selenium ​from their food or supplements.

​How to Treat Selenium Deficiency

​So if you think you have a selenium deficiency, what should you do about it?

Selenium is a micronutrient, meaning only small amounts are needed.

It can be replaced in your body either through increasing your consumption of foods that are high in selenium and/or by taking a selenium supplement.

​Food Sources of Selenium

​Without a doubt, it is always safest to use ​food to increase nutrient levels in our body.

Most Americans eat so poorly that simply improving their diet can do wonders for helping them to regain their health.

​The food with the highest amount of selenium is brazil nuts.

​Eating 2 brazil nuts per day will increase your selenium level as much as 100mcg of selenomethionine.

​Other foods with good selenium content include:

  • checkmushrooms
  • checkfish – cod, halibut, tuna, salmon
  • checkshrimp
  • checkchicken
  • checkeggs
  • checkturkey

​It’s always best to start with natural food sources such as these.

However, that is not always possible.  

For instance, I ​am personally allergic to brazil nuts and I don’t have a big fondness for fish (unfortunately). Therefore, I use a supplement periodically to ​keep my selenium level optimized.

Selenium Supplements

​When using supplements, it is always critical to use a good quality supplement from a respected company that uses​ quality control standards when making their products.

My preferred brand for supplementing selenium is below:

How to Supplement with Selenium

Why I Like It

May reduce antibodies in patients with Hashimoto’s

Also acts as an  anti-inflammatory

May help reduce anxiety symptoms

Helps boost T4 to T3 conversion (helpful in those with high reverse T3)

Who Should Use It

    • Patients with hair loss or hair thinning
    • Patients with a known thyroid disorder and hair loss
    • Patients with other nutrient deficiencies like zinc or iodine
    • Patients who frequently take acid blockers for acid reflux
    • Patients with other GI related issues (IBS, gas/bloating, IBD)
    • Patients also taking zinc

How to Use

    • Take 200-400 mcg per day (do not exceed 400 mcg daily)

My Recommended Brand and Product

Get Selenium Here

​I prefer selenomethionine because of it’s high bioavailability.

I typically recommend supplementing for only a few months (3-6) which should restore the levels in the body to the optimal range.

​Like most things, you can overdo selenium supplementation as well.

Excess selenium can cause a variety of symptoms, including GI upset, white blotchy nails, hair loss, fatigue, irritability, and mild nerve damage.

One study even showed a possible increased risk of prostate cancer in patients with excessive selenium.

Once you have repleted the tissues and changed your diet, continued supplementation should be unnecessary.

The only exceptions would be if you have poor absorption from chronic digestive tract conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, IBS, Celiac diease, etc.

​Summary

​Selenium is a vital micronutrient for normal thyroid function, immune system function, energy production, and metabolism.

Selenium deficiency is common but can be difficult to diagnose.

It is always best to treat selenium deficiency by eating food rich in selenium.

​If that isn’t possible or if you have absorption issues due to chronic GI issues, adding a good quality selenium supplement may be necessary.

You should not take a selenium supplement indefinitely.  Usually taking it for a few months is sufficient unless you have a chronic GI problem.

If you have a selenium deficiency, it is also important to look for other micronutrient deficiencies such as iron, zinc and iodine.

Now it’s your turn…

​Do you think you have a selenium deficiency?

What have you used to treat it.  Has it helped?

Leave your comments below.​

The 6 Step SIBO Natural Treatment Guide

​Do you struggle with stomach issues like ​gas, bloating, abdominal cramps, diarrhea and/or constipation, or nausea? 

Does it seem like you have a lot of sensitivities to food that you haven’t always had?

​Do you ​struggle with ​chronic skin rashes, fatigue, asthma, and other symptoms for which you have never gotten relief?

​If so, there is a good possibility that you are suffering from small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, also called SIBO.

​In this article I will discuss SIBO – what it is, what causes it, and how to diagnose it.

​I will also ​give you a 6 Step SIBO Natural Treatment Guide that will help ​you resolve the problems and improve your quality of life.

​Here we go…

More…

​What ​Is the Purpose of the Small Intestine?

​So what exactly ​does the small intestine do?  ​A lot actually.

This 20 foot long tube helps us digest our food and absorb vital nutrients.

It also helps fight off infections and regulates our immune system.

The muscles in the walls of the small intestine contract in an organized fashion which ​pushes the contents further down​.  That action helps to clear bacteria before they have a chance to multiply excessively.  This is called peristalsis.​​​

What Is SIBO?

​​​​There is bacteria ​in our entire GI tract, from our mouth to our anus.

​The amount of bacteria, however, varies in different parts of the GI tract.

Normally, the amount of bacteria in the small intestine is very low (less than 10,000 bacteria per mL of fluid).  Compare that to the large intestine (colon) where there is normally over 1 billion bacteria per mL of fluid!

​Also, the bacteria that live in the small intestine are different kinds than the ones found in the colon.

We have several natural mechanisms that prevent ​excessive bacteria from growing in the small intestine.  These include:

  • checkIleocecal Valve – the valve between the small intestine and colon that prevents the backflow of bacteria from the colon.
  • check​Stomach Acid – kills the bacteria in the stomach and small intestine.
  • checkDigestive Enzymes – these also have an antimicrobial effect.
  • checkGALT – the immune system of the small intestine that will attach and remove foreign materials including bacteria.
  • check​Gut Motility (peristalsis) – keeps the contents of the intestine moving through before the bacteria in it have a chance to multiply excessively.

​If ​one or more of these protective mechanisms fail, bacteria ​can begin growing in the small intestine. This is called small intestinal bowel overgrowth, or SIBO.

SIBO is usually not caused by the overgrowth of a single bacteria.  Rather, it is usually many different bacteria that begin growing that are normally present in the colon.

There can also be opportunistic organisms like yeast that can take over that normally are held in check by our healthy bacteria and protective mechanisms.

​This increase in bacteria or yeast damages the mucosa of the small intestine which affects its normal function.

The result is ​digestion is impaired and nutrients are not absorbed as well, such as vitamin B12, iron, vitamin D and vitamin A.  

The mucosal damage can also cause gaps to occur ​between the cells of the protective lining of the small intestine which allows proteins and bacteria to pass into our bloodstream that would not normally be allowed.  This is called “leaky gut” or intestinal permeability.

The foreign proteins trigger our immune system to react which can cause food allergies or sensitivities, generalized inflammation, and autoimmunity.

​SIBO Risk Factors

​​​​Several things increase our risk of getting SIBO.  They include:

SIBO Symptoms

SIBO symptoms seem to mirror those seen with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).  In fact, there is a strong association with IBS and SIBO.

Researchers even recommend that SIBO should be ruled out before giving any person a diagnosis of IBS.

SIBO ​and ​Thyroid

​Since such a huge p​art of this blog focuses on thyroid disorders, I ​believe it is import ​to discuss the​ connection between SIBO and thyroid disorders.

​​​Hypothyroidism is an extremely common cause of SIBO that is frequently missed by doctors.

One study found a high risk of SIBO in patients taking levothyroxine, most likely because of decreased gut motility and lack of stomach acid commonly found in hypothyroidism.

If you have hypothyroidism, please study this article closely to see if you have any symptoms that could indicate the presence of SIBO.

On the other hand, if you have been diagnoed with SIBO, it is important that you get a complete thyroid panel drawn from a doctor that is comfortable managing hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.

To learn more about hypothyroidism​, read my articles here​ and here.  To learn about Hashimoto’s, read my articles here and ​​here.

http://healthyhormones.us/2017/07/26/hashimotos-thyroiditis-natural-treatments/

​How to Diagnose SIBO

​​​​The most common tests for diagnosing SIBO measure how much hydrogen, glucose, or lactulose the bacteria in your small intestine are producing.

These tests are far from perfect and can result in a high percentage of false-negative results.

For this reason, I don’t test every patient that I think has SIBO.  If they have many of the common symptoms, in my opinion it is okay to start treating them for suspected SIBO.

If their symptoms aren’t as clear cut, then testing them before beginning treatment may be a good idea.​

Testing them after treatment to make sure the SIBO has been eradicated is often a more practical plan.

The 6 Step SIBO Natural Treatment Guide

​Before we start with the different treatment options, it’s important to remember the primary ​rule of functional medicine – find the root cause of the problem and correct it.

​​​If you just clear the bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine but you don’t address what caused it in the first place, it is likely that the bacteria will eventually return and you will be right back where you started.

For example, if your SIBO is linked to the fact that you eat a ton of sugar and processed carbs, you must address your diet while you are clearing the bacterial overgrowth.

If you have uncontrolled hypothyroidism, you must get your thyroid in balance in order to prevent the SIBO from returning.

There are several steps to successfully eradicating SIBO.  ​​The basic concept is to:

     1.  Reduce or eradicat​e the ​invading bacteria in your small intestine 

     2.  Re-populate the small intestine with beneficial bacteria

     3.  Heal the intestinal lining

     4.  Take the right supplements

     5.  Eat the right foods.

1.  Diet –

​Diet is the critical first step in healing SIBO.

​The bacteria that have overgrown in your small intestine prefer certain foods that they need to grow and multiply.

​The fermentation of these foods is what leads to the symptoms that SIBO causes.

​That’s why your goal should be to remove these foods so that you can “starve” those bacteria. ​

​Several diets have been shown to treat SIBO.  Each has its positives and negatives.  The ones that seem to work the best with SIBO include:

To ensure the best chance at success, I would suggest picking one of the diets and sticking to it and the treatment protocol very strictly for at least 2-3 months.

If you aren’t seeing symptomatic improvement, then you can switch to one of the other diets.

If the reintroduction of ​foods causes a flare in your SIBO symptoms – bloating, gas, diarrhea, etc. – you may need to continue on the treatment protocol for longer or you may ​even have an undiagnosed food sensitivity.

– Fermented Foods

Once the bacterial overgrowth has been reduced through the diet, fasting, and herbal antibiotic treatment, the next step should be the reintroduction of fermented foods.

Fermented foods contain healthy bacteria that are essential for normal gut health.  They are the ultimate natural probiotic.

​Fermented foods can help to repopulate the GI tract with healthy strains of bacteria.

Common types of fermented foods include:

​Fermented foods can be a bit of an “acquired taste.”  However, I think the benefits ​they offer make it worth the effort ​for you to learn how to enjoy them.

Remember, fermented foods should be added LATER in your treatment.  If your SIBO is active, the healthy bacteria in the food can increase the fermentation in your small intestine which can worsen your symptoms.

2.  Probiotics –

​Probiotics are an essential component in the treatment of SIBO.

​At first, it may not make sense to treat a condition ​caused by an overgrowth of bacteria with a bacterial supplement.

​It is important to realize that the herbal or prescription antibiotics kill both the good and bad bacteria.  For example, in this study, a low carb diet caused a reduction in bifidobactera, one of the good guys.

That is why it’s critical to rep​lenish the good guys in the GI tract so you can return to normal gut function.

With that in mind, there are some things you should consider when using probiotics:

  • asteriskNot all probiotics work for every person
  • asterisk​Some probiotics contain prebiotics which can make SIBO worse
  • asterisk​Some patients do better when probiotics are added AFTER the SIBO has been treated with antibiotics
  • asteriskAs a general rule, soil-based probiotics are better tolerated in SIBO than lactobacilli and bifidobacteria based probiotics
  • asteriskIt is usually best to change up the probiotics periodically instead of using the same product all of the time
  • asterisk​Probiotics are not a substitute for fermented foods and will not work as well

As a general rule, I would suggest using soil-based probiotics during the treatment phase of SIBO.  

In the repopulation phase, I add lactobacilli and bifidobacteria based probiotics if the patient can tolerate them.  This is also when ​fermented foods should be added.

– Soil-based Probiotics

Soil-based probiotics are usually much better tolerated in SIBO patients than lactobacilli or bifidobacteria based probiotics.

That is why they should be used early during the treatment of SIBO, even ​when antibiotics are being used.

The soil-based probiotics that I recommend include:

– Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria Probiotics

The probiotics may actually WORSEN symptoms in the early stages of treatment, but they are generally well tolerated once the bacterial load has been reduced.

I generally recommend adding these probiotics later in the treatment and AFTER treating with soil-based probiotics.

My favorite brands include:

– Beneficial Yeast

Some patients are extremely sensitive to probiotics and have a hard time tolerating any of them.

In those situations, treating them with saccharomyces boulardii can be helpful.

This beneficial yeast competes with the bad bacteria and can help inhibit their growth in the small intestine.

My recommended brand can be found here.

​3.  Herbal Antibiotics and Supplements

​Herbal antibiotics are essential for treating SIBO.

​At times it may be necessary to use prescription antibiotics, but it is preferable to start here.

​On this treatment you should usually start seeing a reduction in SIBO symptoms within 2 weeks.  If you aren’t seeing benefit by 2-4 weeks you need to reassess your treatment plan and ​consider going a different direction.

Phase 1 – Reduce Bacterial Burden

​There are several herbs that have been shown to have antibacterial and antifungal properties:

  • checkBerberine 500mg daily – studies
  • checkOregano Oil 600mg daily – studies​​​​
  • checkCaprylic Acid 400mg daily – studies​​​​
  • checkUndecylenic Acid 125-250mg daily – studies
  • check​Thyme Oil 100-200mg daily – studies
  • checkGrapefruit Seed Extract 100-200mg daily – studies

​These herbs are grouped into the following products that are available online:

​- Candibactin AR

​- Candibactin BR

​- AC Formula II

​The recommended dosages and treatment lengths are:

  • Candibactin AR/Candibactin BR x 30 days (maximum dose recommended on bottles, titrate up as tolerated.
  • Candibactin AR/BR + AC Formula II + Diflucan x 30 days
  • Candibactin AR/BR x 30 days + Prescript assist + AC Formula II x 30 days at maximum dosages or until symptoms decrease (you should notice a decrease within 2 weeks)
  • ​For constipation predominant SIBO or IBS – consider adding Antratil – study here​​​

Repeated doses may be necessary for complete eradication.

Phase 2 – Rebuilding and Reducing Inflammation

​After 1-2 rounds (or more) of Phase 1, you can move into Phase 2 which will rebuild the normal gut flora and heal the mucosal damage in the small intestine.​​​

– Rebuild the Intestinal Mucosa

Glutamine helps close​ the tight junctions in the intestinal mucosa which heals leaky gut.

My favorite brand is available here.  Take 1 scoop in water 2-3 x daily.

– Support the Immune System

Several supplements help to support the immune system.  These include:

     Zinc – get my preferred brand here.

     Selenium – get my preferred brand here.

     Vitamin D – get my preferred brand ​​here.

     IgG from Bovine Colostrum – get my preferred brand here.

– Promote liver detoxification

These supplements boost liver function which helps rid the body of toxins.

     Curcumin/tumeric – get my preferred brand here.

     Ginger – get my preferred brand here.

     Milk Thistle – get my preferred brand here.

     This is a great combo supplement with all of them.

– Exercise

Exercise itself can have a positive effect on the gut ​bacteria.

It is therefore important for you to exercise consistently throughout your SIBO treatment.

​4.  Prokinetics

​Prokinetics are very helpful in the treatment of SIBO by helping to propel the bowel contents through the GI tract.

​This is important because the methane gas produced by the intestinal bacteria actually slows down gut transit.

​Keeping things moving through the GI tract prevents constipation​.  That is important because each bowel movement helps dump (no pun intended) excessive bacteria from our body via the stool.

​It is important to have at least 1 large bowel movement each day.  Anything less is going to cause problems.

​Many people have NEVER had regular BMs, so that seems like an impossible goal.  It needs to happen, however.

​It will be hard to get your SIBO under control if you are constipated.

​If you are chronically constipated, you should have a workup for hypothyroidism which ​is a common cause of it.

Some natural prokinetics include:

​Triphala – this herb has the advantage of helping gut motility but it also helps balance the intestinal bacterial flora which makes it a perfect supplement for SIBO.

– In cases of severe constipation, it is helpful to use Triphala in combination with magnesium.

– In later stages of SIBO treatment, it’s better to use this supplement which has other nutrients that help to heal the gut.

At times, it may be necessary to use magnesium citrate (200-2000mg per day) in order to increase your bowel movement frequency.  Vitamin C crystals (ascorbic acid) can also be added to the magnesium citrate if needed.

There are several prescription prokinetics that can be used (erythromycin, Reglan, Propulsid), but they have significant side effects and should only be used when Triphala has failed.

​5.  Intermittent Fasting

and terms

​There are 2 main ways to kill the unwanted bacteria in the small intestine that you get with SIBO:

​- “Starve” them out by selectively avoiding the foods that they feed on, like I discussed earlier under diet.

​- Don’t eat anything at all for periods of time to really starve them out, otherwise known as intermittent fasting.

​Intermittent fasting can be an extremely effective technique for multiple conditions, including SIBO.

​Intermittent fasting not only decreases the bacterial load by reducing the amount of food we eat, it also has other benefits:

Start by going without food for 14-16 hours for 2-3 days per week.  

That means eating dinner one evening, then not eating again until lunch the next day.

Make sure you eat the same amount of calories the next day with lunch and dinner that you would have if you had eaten breakfast so you don’t damage your metabolism by eating too few of calories.

In other words, make sure your lunch and dinner have at least 1200 calories total.

This technique can go a long way toward improving your symptoms of SIBO.

​6.  Antibiotics

​I know that this article is about ​natural treatments for SIBO, but it’s important to mention that many SIBO patients may need prescription antibiotics to help eradicate the bacteria in their small intestines.

​I recommend almost always starting with the herbal therapies, but if symptoms persist despite 2 or more treatment rounds, it may be time to consider a prescription antibiotic. This could be needed in up to 15% of people.

​Also, some people just have difficulty tolerating the herbal therapies.

​If you do end up needing a prescription antibiotic therapy for your SIBO, make sure you also request a prescription antifungal medication.

​The herbal therapies treat fungal infections, but the prescription antibiotics don’t.

​My preferred SIBO antibiotic regimen is:

Rifaxim 1200mg + Neomycin 1000mg x 10-14 days plus Diflucan 100mg x 30 days

​If patients use this regimen in conjunction with all other therapies I have mentioned in this article, re-treat is usually not necessary.

http://amzn.to/2wBqWw9

​Summary

​SIBO is a serious condition that is often misdiagnosed as IBS.

​IBS should not be diagnosed until SIBO has been ruled out.

​Untreated, SIBO can lead to chronic inflammation, gut issues, and the development of autoimmune conditions.

​If you have classic symptoms, it is reasonable to consider treatment even without a diagnostic test.

​You can consider testing later to determine if the SIBO has been eradicated.  If your symptoms are not classic, testing may be warranted before starting treatment.

​The complete eradication of SIBO can be difficult, but if all steps in this treatment guide are followed, long term success is possible.

​This SIBO Natural Treatment Guide includes diet, herbal antibiotics, probiotics, prokinetics, intermittent fasting, and possibly prescription antibiotics.

​It is also critically important to identify the root cause of your SIBO and correct it, or else long term success may be difficult.

​Now it’s your turn…

​Have you been diagnosed with SIBO?

​What treatments have you tried?

​Were the treatments successful?

​Did you learn anything from this article that will help you?

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The 6 Step Leptin Resistance Treatment Guide

Are you tired of gaining weight despite eating very little and exercising?

Have you dieted off and on your entire life but just can’t keep your weight off?

Do you eat like a bird compared to friends and family yet you can’t lose weight like you once could?

Are you eating less than you ever have but are still gaining weight?

Do you feel like something is wrong with your metabolism yet your labs always come back “normal?”

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are likely dealing with leptin resistance.

In this article I will discuss leptin resistance, how to diagnose it, and give you a 6 step treatment guide that you can use to help reverse leptin resistance.

Here we go…

More…

What is Leptin Resistance?

Leptin​

It is highly likely that you have never heard of this hormone, much less know what it does in the body.

Don’t feel bad.  Most doctors have little to no knowledge of leptin either.

I myself was unaware of leptin until just a couple of years ago.

Leptin is called the “satiety hormone.”  It is produced primarily by fat cells.

Its primary function is to signal the hypothalamus in the brain that we have plenty of fat stores and we don’t need to store anymore.

This causes our appetite to reduce and our metabolism to increase so we can burn the stored fat.

There is another hormone called ghrelin which basically does the exact opposite of leptin.  It makes us hungry and slows our metabolism.

The 2 hormones together normally strike a healthy middle ground to keep us in energy ​balance.

Leptin Resistance

So what is leptin resistance? 

For reasons we don’t completely understand, the brain begins to ignore the elevated leptin levels and continues to signal to our body that we are hungry and need to store more fat.

When you brain ignores the leptin signal, it goes into starvation mode.

Think of someone stranded on a desert island without food.  What would their body do to compensate?

Their metabolism would slow down to conserve energy, and their appetite would increase to stimulate them to find food.

The same thing happens in leptin resistance even though the patient has an excess of fat stores.

This leads to more weight gain and higher leptin levels which just worsens the cycle.

Connection with Insulin Resistance

A similar thing happens with insulin resistance.

With insulin resistance, the body ignores the elevated insulin levels and it therefore requires more and more insulin to move the sugar from the blood stream into the cells to be used for energy.

The insulin causes an increase of inflammation in the body which worsens the insulin resistance.

High levels of insulin cause you to store calories that you eat in the form of belly fat.​

At some point the blood sugar levels begin rising and type II diabetes develops.

Leptin resistance and insulin resistance typically run hand-in-hand.  It is rare to find one without the other.

Both conditions cause the metabolism of the body to slow which results in weight gain and obesity.

Read more about treating insulin resistance in my article found here.

Connection with Hypothyroidism

In leptin resistance, as your leptin level increases and your metabolism slows, your reverse T3 levels will increase.

This is a normal compensatory response by the body.

Thyroid hormone is responsible for the majority of the metabolism in the body.

As your leptin levels rise in leptin resistance, your overall basal metabolic rate slows.

This decrease in metabolic rate signals the body to convert T4 to more reverse T3 and convert less to active T3.​

Here are the results from a recent patient of mine that demonstrate this:

Reverse T3 serves as a brake for your metabolism.​  As your leptin levels rise your reverse T3 levels will also rise.

Reverse T3 actually competes on your cells for binding with the free and active T3 hormone.

This results in a further lowering of your metabolism and causing damage to it.

​A prolonged elevation of reverse T3 is called thyroid resistance.

Signs and Symptoms of Leptin Resistance

The typical patient with leptin resistance has problems losing weight unless they are on an extremely strict diet.

The damage to their metabolism means they have to eat an extremely calorie-restricted diet just to maintain their weight.

Even just occasional cheating will cause them to put on pounds.

Patients with leptin resistance tend to experience at least 2 of the following symptoms:​

    • Inability to lose weight despite eating a calorie-restricted diet and exercising regularly
    • Constant weight gain accompanied by a ravenous appetite
    • Constant food cravings, even after eating a large meal
    • Constant fatigue, low energy, or feeling “sluggish”
    • Cold body temperature (less than 98.0 degrees F)
    • Low resting heart rate (defined as 50-60 first thing in the morning assuming that the patient is overweight and not aerobically conditioned)
    • Worsening symptoms of hypothyroidism (hypothyroidism frequently accompanies leptin resistance)

​Having 2 or more of these symptoms doesn’t guarantee that a person has leptin resistance, but it means there is a high chance that they do.

Diagnosing Leptin Resistance

The only way to definitely diagnose leptin resistance is by doing labwork.

You will have to ask your doctor specifically to order these tests.  Remember, there is a strong possibility that he or she will not know what leptin is or know how to interpret the results.

The gold standard for diagnosing leptin resistance is by checking the fasting serum leptin level.

Your serum leptin level should be less than 10-12.

If you are at least 20 pounds overweight and your fasting serum leptin level is > 12, the diagnosis of leptin resistance can be made.

Please note that most labs will list a reference range that is based off of your BMI.

Don’t let this fool you into thinking your leptin level is normal just because it falls within the reference range.

Of course leptin levels will go up as your BMI increases.  That is the point of this article!

That just confirms that the majority of obese people have leptin resistance.

I would also recommend ordering the following tests in addition to the serum leptin level:

    • Uric Acid
    • Complete Thyroid Panel (specifically a reverse T3)
    • Fasting Total Insulin Level
    • Hemoglobin A1c

Uric acid is an indicator of how well your body is metabolizing fructose.  This is important because fructose combined with a high fat diet can worsen leptin resistance.

If you uric acid level is > 5, that indicates that you are consuming too much fructose or your liver is having a hard time metabolizing it.

​A reverse T3 level > 15 indicates thyroid resistance that also needs to be addressed.

A fasting total insulin level and hemoglobin A1c will indicate the presence of insulin resistance.

A fasting total insulin level > 5 is indicative of a problem.  So is a hemoglobin A1c level > 5.3.​

Like I said earlier, it is very rare to find leptin resistance without insulin resistance.

Leptin Resistance Treatment Guide

So, now you have the lab tests you need.  Based on those results and the symptoms you are having, the diagnosis of leptin resistance can be made.

So what can you do about it?

This is a difficult condition to reverse, but it can be done if you are fully dedicated.

The vast majority of treatments will be up to you.  How committed you are to reversing this will determine your level of success.​

Trying just one or two steps in this guide will only give you limited success.

To ensure the best chance at success, you will need to incorporate as many steps as possible.​

Finding a​ doctor that understands leptin resistance and how to manage it will also be important if the first few steps are not enough to reverse the condition.

1.  Improve Your Diet​

Changing your diet is critical to reversing leptin resistance.​

– Get rid of all processed foods and eat only whole, natural foods.

The Standard American Diet is full of processed foods that increase inflammation in the body.

Inflammation causes the leptin levels to increase and only worsens the condition.​

Dietary changes alone will probably not drop your leptin levels to normal, but you will never be successful with reversing leptin resistance if you don’t change your diet.​

By the way, there is something very important that you need to keep in mind.  Too much protein can actually increase your leptin.​

Protein increases leptin by interacting with mTOR.​

Many of the currently popular low carb diets are also high protein, which can actually increase leptin levels!​

Carbohydrates cause an increase in insulin levels which signals the body to store fat and gain weight.

Eating protein increases mTOR levels which can also signal the body to store fat and slow metabolism.

Fat does not send such a signal to the body.​

It is therefore important to get 60% of your total calorie intake from good, healthy fats.

20% of your calories should come from high quality complex carb sources.

The remaining 20% of your calories should come from high quality, organic proteins.

Eating this way will allow all 3 levels to decrease – your leptin, insulin, and mTOR.

– No more calorie restricted diets!​

​It has erroneously been pounded into our brains that in order to lose weight, we need to reduce our calories.

Yes, we need to stop over-eating, but many times people take it too far.

​If you don’t eat enough calories, you body will go into starvation mode and lower your metabolism to conserve energy.

​If you do this long enough, you metabolism can get damaged permanently.

The best thing to do is listen to your body – if you’re hungry, eat.  When you’re full, stop eating.  However, be careful with this rule if your leptin level is high.

Quit paying attention to calories except to make sure you percentages of macros – carbs, proteins, and fats – are in the recommended levels.

– Try Intermittent Fasting

Another popular but wrong concept is eating several small meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism burning.  I have been guilty in the past of telling my patients this very thing.

In effect, eating multiple small meals increases the time our body spends processing calories.  This causes the insulin levels to surge which can ultimately lead to insulin resistance.

If you eat larger but less frequent meals, your body will spend more time without insulin which will sensitize it to the insulin and allow it to work more efficiently.​

This is called intermittent fasting – you eat the same amount of calories per day, but you eat it in fewer meals.

An example would be skipping breakfast 2 or 3 days per week. 

Remember, it’s important to still get your total calories in for that day.  That means lunch and dinner need to be larger than they would be if you ate breakfast.​

There are other types of intermittent fasting that are more effective, but I would recommend starting with this first.

2.  Start HIIT Exercise Training

Exercise is important to reduce leptin resistance, but doing the right type and amount of exercise is critical.

Going for a casual walk or bike ride are great for family time, but not so much for weight loss or leptin resistance.

Conversely, over-exercising can be just as harmful.  This is because if causes cortisol levels to rise, which affect insulin levels, which will make losing weight and lowering leptin difficult.

The best exercise for leptin resistance is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

HIIT training has been shown to lower leptin levels – but it could take months.

HIIT training is simple to do and doesn’t require extra equipment.

Instead of just walking, try walking as fast as you can for about 30 seconds then drop back to a slow pace to allow your heart rate to come back down.  Once it does (usually about a minute later) repeat the process.​  Do this at least 5 times.

The same thing can be done on a bicycle, rowing machine, treadmill, elliptical, etc.​

The heart rate variability is what increases metabolism and helps lower the leptin level.​

If you are not currently exercising, make sure you take it slow so as not to cause a cortisol increase.

Start with 1 session per week for 10-30 minutes then increase your frequency and intensity as tolerated.  Let your level of fatigue be your guide to show you when it is time to increase.

3.  Improve Your Sleep

If you aren’t sleeping well, it will be much harder to lose weight.

Lack of sleep has been found to increase leptin levels and leptin resistance.

Getting good sleep will help to accelerate weight loss, while poor sleep will slow it down.

Sometime just breaking bad habits can make a huge difference.

For example, avoid caffeine or other stimulants in the evenings.

Set a consistent sleep schedule – go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning.

Cut off all electronic stimulation (TV, phone, computer) at least 2 hours before bedtime.

Make sure you have a comfortable, supportive bed and a good, supportive pillow.

If that still isn’t enough, there are some great supplements that ​can help.

How to Supplement to Improve Your Sleep

Why I Like It

May help improve energy levels

May help to decrease levels of inflammation

May help reduce brain fog and mental slowness

Requires lifestyle change for best results

How to Tell if You Need It

    • You should be getting 8 hours of quality sleep every night.
    • If you find yourself waking up exhausted then you should consider checking for sleep apnea or a trial of the following supplements to improve sleep

How to Use

    • Take each supplement as indicated on the bottle or as recommended below
    • In addition to these supplements make sure you practice adequate sleep hygiene, that means: black out curtains for your bedroom, noise cancelling ear plugs, having a consistent sleep schedule, and avoiding all electronics 3 hours prior to your scheduled bed time

My Recommended Brand and Product

For minor sleep issues start with supplements containing 5-HTP which may promote proper melatonin production and induce sleep naturally (take 100mg 30 minutes before your scheduled bed time):

Get 5-HTP Here

For more difficult cases consider the addition of melatonin + 5-HTP, start with 1-3mg of melatonin and don’t be afraid to use melatonin if you need it.

Get 5-HTP and Melatonin Here

For more the most difficult cases consider using serotonin and GABA potentiators. These supplements help enhance GABA and serotonin neurotransmitters in the brain and help induce deep sleep.

Get GABA/Serotonin Potentiators Here

4.  Treat Insulin Resistance

As I discussed earlier, insulin resistance and leptin resistance are usually both present at the same time.

If you follow all of the steps in these leptin resistant treatment guidelines​, your insulin level will drop as your leptin level drops.

Several hormonal abnormalities have already hit by the time leptin resistance develops.

Since insulin resistance is present in about 50% of the population, chances are you may have it whether you know it or not.​

If your fasting insulin level is >5 and your hemoglobin A1c is > 5.3, you are already showing evidence of insulin resistance and are on the road to developing Type II diabetes if you don’t make the changes we have discussed.

You may want to consider using these supplements to help lower your blood sugar and insulin levels.

5.  Treat Thyroid Issues

– Is Your Thyroid Medication Correct?

As discussed earlier, elevated leptin causes an increase in conversion of T4 to reverse T3, which means less is converted to active T3.

Giving T4 thyroid medication to a patient with elevated reverse T3 only adds fuel to that fire.​

​That’s why the addition of T3 medication such as Cytomel or sustained release T3 can be very beneficial.  It allows you to completely bypass the whole conversion process.

This forces the active T3 levels higher and lowers the reverse T3 levels.

Reducing your T4 dose can also help by removing the substrate that is converted to reverse T3.  This includes T4 only medication like Synthroid but also NDT medication such as Armour Thyroid or Nature-throid.

– Improve your T4 to T3 Conversion

Many hypothyroid patients are deficient in nutrients that are essential for normal thyroid function.

By boosting these nutrient levels in the body, it can help with the conversion of T4 to active T3.

Supplementing for the 2 most common nutrients needed for T4 to T3 conversion can often be very helpful.​  Click on each to see my preferred brands.

    • Zinc – Zinc is a powerful anti-inflammatory and helps with the conversion of T4 to T3.  Use in doses of 30-60mg daily (60mg is best in leptin resistance).
    • Selenium – Selenium helps reduce inflammation, balance the immune system, and helps with T4 to T3 conversion.  Doses range from 200-400 mcg daily.

6.  Consider a GLP-1 Agonist

​Steps 1 through 5 of this Leptin Resistance Treatment Guide are critical to reduce leptin resistance.

However, they may not be enough to completely reduce the leptin levels back into the normal range.

It may require a certain medication for a short time.

GLP-1 agonists have been shown to dramatically reduce leptin levels and lead to significant weight loss.​

This class of medications includes Victoza, Byetta, Bydureon, Adlyxin, Tanzeum, and Trulicity.

These meds treat many of the issues that occur with leptin resistance:​

  1. They reduce leptin levels.
  2. They cause significant weight loss even in the absence of diabetes.
  3. They reduce the rise in leptin levels that often occurs after rapid weight loss which can help patients keep off the weight long term.​
  4. They reduce insulin resistance and blood sugar.

The medication may only be needed for a few months but will need to be monitored closely.

The trick will be finding a doctor that understands leptin resistance and how it relates to insulin and thyroid resistance and who is willing to prescribe it in this scenario.

Summary

Leptin is a largely unknown, but an extremely important hormone.

Leptin resistance is a common cause of obesity and a big reason why many people can’t lose weight and keep it off.

In order to improve leptin resistance, it typically takes a multi-faceted approach which includes diet, exercise, improving sleep, reducing insulin resistance, optimizing thyroid function, and even medication.

Only doing 1 or 2 of the steps in the Leptin Resistance Treatment Guide will most likely not be enough.

It is critical for you to find a doctor that is knowledgeable about leptin resistance who can walk through the treatment with you.

Now it’s your turn…

Do you think you may have leptin resistance?

Have you been diagnosed with leptin resistance?

What has helped you in your treatment?

Leave your comments below.

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The Best Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Natural Treatments

What are some Hashimoto’s thyroiditis natural treatments?

What can you do to get rid of many of the symptoms of Hashimoto’s or even possibly make it go away altogether?

In this article, I will walk you through the most effective natural treatments for Hashimoto’s.

This will include common nutrient deficiencies that are present in Hashimoto’s and the supplements you should consider using.

I will also discuss the most common food sensitivities and dietary recommendations for Hashimoto’s.

Finally, I will touch on infections and toxins that may trigger or worsen Hashimoto’s.

Let’s get started…

More…

ConsiderNutrient Deficiencies

Many nutrients are essential for normal thyroid and immune system function. A deficiency of them sets a person up for the development of conditions such as Hashimoto’s and other autoimmune diseases.

In our affluent society where there is generally no lack of food availability, how could anyone be deficient in nutrition? That doesn’t seem possible.

Several things play a role (taken from Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Root Cause by Izabella Wentz):

  • Modern farming techniques Non-organic farming typically involved using fertilizers and pesticides. Also, a typical field is used year after year to plant the same crop, which will deplete the soil of nutrients.
  • Standard American DietThe typical diet eaten by most Americans contains highly processed, nutrient-deficient food.
  • MedicationsMillions of people take medications on a daily basis that affect the absorption of nutrients in the gut and alter the beneficial bacteria in our digestive system that are essential for normal digestion of food. These include acid blockers (omeprazole, ranitidine, etc.), antibiotics, and even oral birth control pills.
  • Food SensitivitiesMany people are sensitive to certain foods and may not even know it. The most common are dairy and gluten. These sensitivities cause an increase in inflammation of the digestive tract which can affect it’s ability to absorb nutrients.
  • Hidden InfectionsPatients may have infections they don’t even know they have. These include H. pylori, intestinal parasites, etc. All can increase inflammation and alter the normal gut flora which can impair nutrient absorption.
  • Restrictive DietsDiets that are not nutritionally balanced can do more harm than good.
  • HypothyroidismYes, being hypothyroid can itself cause nutrient deficiency by slowing the emptying of the stomach, reducing the amount of acid in the stomach, and even causing an imbalance of gut bacteria.

Common Nutrient Deficiencies in Hashimoto’s

Selenium

Studies have shown that low levels of selenium can serve as a trigger for the development of Hashimoto’s.

You can become deficient because of gut issues (inflammation, altered gut flora) or even from gluten-free diets.

Symptoms of selenium deficiency include anxiety and hair loss.

Taking selenium will reduce thyroid antibody levels and anxiety symptoms.

Studies have shown that selenium supplementation is helpful even if the selenium levels are normal.

How to Supplement with Selenium

Why I Like It

May reduce antibodies in patients with Hashimoto’s

Also acts as an  anti-inflammatory

May help reduce anxiety symptoms

Helps boost T4 to T3 conversion (helpful in those with high reverse T3)

Who Should Use It

    • Patients with hair loss or hair thinning
    • Patients with a known thyroid disorder and hair loss
    • Patients with other nutrient deficiencies like zinc or iodine
    • Patients who frequently take acid blockers for acid reflux
    • Patients with other GI related issues (IBS, gas/bloating, IBD)
    • Patients also taking zinc

How to Use

    • Take 200-400 mcg per day (do not exceed 400 mcg daily)

My Recommended Brand and Product

Get Selenium Here

Iron/Ferritin

Ferritin is the iron storage protein. It is essential for transporting thyroid hormone into the cells.

Lack of ferritin causes hair loss, fatigue, cold intolerance, and shortness of breath.

Ferritin levels should be checked in all Hashimoto’s patients, especially those that are experiencing hair loss.

The optimal ferritin level for thyroid function is 90-110 ng/ml.

Iron levels can best be restored by eating foods high in iron such as meats, especially organ meats. Vitamin C also helps with iron absorption.

Sometimes, supplementation may be necessary at least for awhile.​

How to Supplement with Iron

Why I Like It

May boost energy levels

Up to 50% of Hypothyroid patients are deficient in iron

Helps promote thyroid conversion & function

Generally works within 1-2 months

How to Tell if You Need It

Check your iron studies and only supplement if your levels are sub optimal or low:

  • Ferritin – Optimal Levels = 40-50
  • Serum Iron – Middle of the reference range
  • TIBC (Total Iron Binding Capacity) – Middle of the reference range
  • Percent Saturation – 35-38%

How to Use

  • Liquid Iron:  start with 10 ml each day, do not exceed 20 ml per day (if you take more than 1 dose per day make sure to split it apart from one another and take at least 4 hours away from your thyroid medication)
  • Iron Capsules:  start with 1 capsule of iron and increase up to 3 per day as tolerated and based on your serum iron/ferritin levels (take at least 4 hours away from your thyroid medication)

My Recommended Brand and Product

Use liquid iron if you have intestinal issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation or if you have previously failed capsule forms of iron:

Get liquid iron here

Use this capsule form if you don’t tolerate the liquid iron version above (some patients have various symptoms on liquid iron such as teeth pain or simply can’t tolerate the taste or texture of the liquid):

Get iron capsules here

B Vitamins

B vitamins are commonly deficient in Hashimoto’s patients, especially B12.

This is due primarily to low stomach acid which is common in Hashimoto’s.

Signs and symptoms of deficiency include fatigue, grooves in your tongue, and an elevated homocysteine level (which should be less than 6 umol/L.

All Hashimoto’s patients should have their B12 level checked.  If it is <1000, they should consider supplementing.​

By the way, over 60% of the population has a gene mutation in the enzyme MTHFR, which can impair the body’s ability to metabolize B vitamins. This can cause the homocysteine level to become elevated, which is a risk factor heart disease and other conditions.

It is important for these patients to take a methylated form of B vitamins, especially folic acid. If you don’t know if you have the gene mutation, either get tested or take a methylated B vitamin. My recommended brand can be found here.

You should also consider supplementing with B12 shots.

Many Hashimoto’s patients have GI issues that can impair the absorption of nutrients.

Completely bypassing the GI tract by giving it in shot form is the best way to ensure that the B12 is absorbed as much as possible.​

How to Supplement with B12 Shots

Why I Like It

May boost energy and reduce fatigue

May help increase metabolism and fat loss

Help improve mood and increase concentration

Generally works within 1-2 weeks

How to Tell if You Need It

Patients with the following symptoms should consider using B12 shots:

    • Obesity or weight gain
    • Fatigue or low energy levels
    • Lack of sleep or insomnia
    • Depression or anxiety
    • Hair loss or lack of hair growth
    • Serum B12 levels < 1000
    • Homocysteine levels > 9
    • MCV (mean corpuscular volume) > 92
    • High levels of inflammation

How to Use

    • Take 5,000 mcg of Methylcobalamin every 7 days for at least 10 weeks
    • You will need 10 weeks worth of injections to saturate tissues and increase cellular B12 levels

My Recommended Brand and Product

Make sure you get methylcobalamin shots in a high enough dosage for best results.

Zinc

Zinc is essential for normal thyroid function. Most patients with thyroid disease are deficient.

Zinc is not stored in the body, so a consistent daily intake is required to maintain levels.

Zinc deficiency can be detected by a low alkaline phosphatase level, which is a routine lab tests run by most labs. It’s optimal range should be 70-90 U/L.

How to Supplement with Zinc

Why I Like It

Many people are deficient in zinc

May help with T4 to T3 conversion

May increase cellular sensitivity to thyroid hormone

Has anti-inflammatory effects

How to Tell if You Need It

    • If you have Hashimoto’s and hair loss
    • If alkaline phosphatase is < 70

How to Use

    • Take 30-60 mg daily (do not take more than 60 mg)

My Recommended Brand and Product

Get Zinc Here

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for normal thyroid function.

Studies show that over 40% of the population is deficient. However, that study defined deficiency as a 25-hydroxy vitamin D level of less than 20 ng/ml. Other studies show that a level of 60-80 ng/ml is needed for optimal thyroid function. When using those levels as “normal,” over 90% of the population is deficient.

Low levels of vitamin D have been shown to increase the risk for development of Hashimoto’s.

All Hashimoto’s patients should have their 25-hydroxy vitamin D level checked yearly.

Most patients need at least 5000u per day of vitamin D3 with K2 such as this one.

How to Supplement with Vitamin D3

Why I Like It

Most people are deficient in Vitamin D

May help with T4 to T3 conversion

Deficiency increases risk for Hashimoto’s

Has over 200 functions in the body

How to Tell if You Need It

    • 25-hydroxyvitamin D level < 50

How to Use

    • If < 40 take 10,000u daily for 90 days, then drop to 5000u daily.
    • If > 40, take 5000u daily
    • Check level yearly

My Recommended Brand and Product

Get Vitamin D3 Here

Iodine

Iodine can be listed under both toxins and essential nutrients for normal thyroid function.

That’s because a deficiency of iodine is the world’s leading cause of hypothyroidism.

However, excessive amounts of iodine can increase the risk of the development of Hashimoto’s.

This means iodine has a small therapeutic window – Too little is bad, but too much is also bad.

Hashimoto’s was rarely seen in the United States until the nationwide salt iodinization program began in 1924.

​Some people fear that using iodine in patients with Hashimoto’s may make the condition worse, and it can – but usually only in patients with other thyroid issues and those on medications that are known to interfere with thyroid function (lithium, amiodarone, etc.).

In the majority of cases, and if used correctly, iodine can be safe to use in patients with both hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s.

Taking the iodine with selenium can help prevent any negative effects – such as an increase in thyroid antibodies that has been shown to occur in some studies.

Supplementing with both selenium and iodine has been ​shown to reduce TSH and result in an increase in peripheral thyroid hormones and may protect against an increase in thyroid antibodies in patients.

Patients with thyroid issues like Hashimoto’s usually tolerate iodine, but it must be accompanied with normal and optimal selenium and iron levels.

If you decide to take iodine, make sure your thyroid antibodies are checked regularly by an experienced provider.

How to Supplement with Iodine

Why I Like It

May improve thyroid function

May help detox some substances

If deficient with improve other systemic problems

Generally works very quickly in deficient patients

Who Should Use It

Supplementing with iodine can be difficult.

If possible I recommend testing your urinary excretion of iodine prior to supplementation.  If you decide not to test yourself then start out at very low doses (~200-300mcg per day) and slowly increase the dose based on your symptoms.

How to Use

    • Take 200-300 mcg per day and slowly titrate dose based off of symptoms – discontinue if you experience any negative side effects and seek professional help
    • It is safest to take it with selenium 200-400 mcg daily

My Recommended Brand and Product

For low doses start with 200-300 mcg of kelp caps and titrate your dose as tolerated:

Get Iodine Here (low dose)

For higher doses I recommend liquid iodine with a combinations of both iodine and iodide:

Get Iodine Here (high dose)

Look For Food Sensitivities

So, what foods should you eat? What foods should you avoid?

Gluten

Everyone by now how has heard about this mysterious gluten molecule that seems more dangerous than a nuclear weapon. Why is it so bad?

Multiple studies such as this one have shown a strong link between Hashimoto’s and gluten intolerance.

There is a higher incidence of Celiac Disease in Hashimoto’s patients. However, even people that test negative for gluten antibodies can still react to it.

Some researchers estimate that up to 1/3 of the population has some degree of gluten sensitivity.

It is believed that gluten looks similar to parts of the thyroid gland. This causes the immune system to make antibodies against the thyroid because of molecular mimicry like I discuss​ under Consider Infections below.

Gluten also worsens intestinal permiability (leaky gut).

Gluten is a component of wheat, so it is present in pasta, breads, crackers, etc. Gluten is also frequently used as a filler in other foods and is commonly found in things such as shampoo, makeup, etc. It is even present in some medications!

The most simple and cost-effective way of determining if you are gluten sensitive is using an elimination diet. In other words, remove it completely from your diet for about 3 weeks. After the 3 weeks are over, re-introduce it into your diet. If you have any kind of reaction – nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, fatigue, etc. – you are most likely gluten sensitive.

To top it off, the immune response to gluten can last for up to 6 months after eating it!

That is why it is critical to follow a gluten-free diet 100%. Anything less may not reduce the thyroid inflammation adequately to prevent the Hashimoto’s from killing it.

There is enough data for me to feel confident in recommending a gluten-free diet in all Hashimoto’s patients.

Actually, I believe there is ample evidence to suggest that everyone should be gluten-free.

This has fortunately gained enough traction in society that becoming gluten-free is much easier than it was just a few years ago.

A quick internet search will uncover multiple websites with recipes and other information to help you in this journey. Many grocery stores also have sections featuring gluten-free products.

If you want to read more about gluten, I highly recommend the book Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis.

By the way, removing gluten from my diet was the single most effective therapy that brought me back to a life of health.

Other Food Sensitivies

About 90% of food sensitivities occur from the following foods:

  • Wheat
  • Milk
  • Soy
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts
  • Shellfish
  • Fish

Tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, corn, citrus, beef and pork can also cause problems in some people.

Your doctor can order a basic food allergy panel which will check most of these common food allergies. If you test positive, you know that you need to remove that food from your diet.

Remember, however, that you may still be sensitive to that food even if you don’t have antibodies to it.

There are also tests available to check for IgG antibody levels to various foods.

As I discussed under gluten, the most simple way for you to find out if you have any food sensitivities is to use the elimination diet.

You can either remove one food at a time for 3 weeks, then reintroduce it and see if you react. This process could take 6 months or more to get through all of the foods. Or, you can bite the bullet and remove all of the top 8 culprits together for 3 weeks, then reintroduce each one separately every few days. If you react, keep that food out of your diet. If you don’t react, you can continue to eat it then reintroduce the next one on the list.

Get On An Anti-inflammatory Diet

The goal for Hashimoto’s is to reduce the level of inflammation in the body, especially the thyroid.

One of the best ways of accomplishing that goal is to remove inflammatory foods.

The Most Inflammatory Foods

  1. Gluten
  2. Sugar
  3. Dairy
  4. Vegetable oils
  5. Artificial sweeteners and preservatives
  6. Saturated fats

Removing these things from your diet will have a HUGE impact on your health, including your thyroid health.

There are several popular diets that are excellent at removing these things and giving you instruction on what you can eat.

The best diets for Hashimoto’s are:

Any of these diets will have you eating clean, whole foods and reducing your systemic inflammation quickly.

It can take several months for the inflammation to reduce substantially, so don’t give up!​

Remember, even though you start one of these diets, you may still need to do an elimination diet to help you determine what food sensitivities you have.

Get Your Gut Healthy

1.  Betaine HCL with Pepsin

​Advertisements from pharmaceutical companies make it seem like almost everyone has too much stomach acid.

In reality, it’s exactly the opposite.

Most patients have low levels of stomach acid.  That includes almost all Hashimoto’s patients.

When stomach acid is low we can’t absorb nutrients as well.

The lack of acidity also makes it easier for bacteria and other organisms to survive their passage through the stomach and set up residence somewhere in the body, causing an infection to develop.

Adding betaine hcl with pepsin can help increase the stomach acid to optimal levels and relieve many of the reflux and other GI symptoms you may be having.​

​Betaine HCl and Pepsin should be taken after a protein-rich meal, starting with one capsule per meal, at the end of the meal. The dose should be increased by one more capsule at each meal until symptoms of too much acid are felt (burping, burning, warming in the stomach region, etc.). At that point, you will know that your dose is one capsule less than what resulted in symptoms.

​If you get burning after taking it, drinking a mixture of one teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water will reduce these temporary symptoms.

Don’t take betaine hcl is you have a history of ulcers or if you are taking an NSAID or steroid medication.​

My favorite brand of Betaine hcl with Pepsin is this one.​

​2.  Probiotics

Most hypothyroid and Hashimoto’s patients have some degree of intestinal dysbiosis (usually due to decreased kinetic movement of the bowels from lack of thyroid hormone).

​As a result many Hypothyroid patients are prone to develop a condition known as Small Intestinal Bowel Overgrowth (or SIBO).

Patients with SIBO tend to get gas and bloating with lactobacilli-based probiotics but can usually tolerate soil-based probiotics well.​

That’s why it’s usually best for most Hashimoto’s patients to use a good soil-based probiotic such as this one.​

ConsiderInfections

Various infections have been implicated in the development of autoimmune diseases, including Hashimoto’s.

There are 2 main theories of how these infections trigger the immune system to attack the thyroid gland.

  1. Molecular Mimicry – In this theory, bacterial cells or other microbes look very similar to cells within our body (such as thyroid cells). Our immune system produces antibodies to kill the microbes, but since they look like our own cells, the end result is the antibodies produced attack the cells in our body instead of just the microbes.
  2. Bystander Effect – Another theory suggests that the microbes (especially viruses) take up residence in the cells of our body. In the process of killing the microbes, our immune system also damages the cells in our body where the viruses are residing.

The most common organisms associated with Hashimoto’s are Mycoplasma, Candida, and Epstein-Barr virus.

Other organisms implicated include Helicobacter pylori, Lyme disease, Yersinia, Coxsackie virus, and Hepatitis C. Intestinal parasites may also be present.

Low stomach acid, nutrient deficiencies, altered gut bacteria, and an impaired immune system all contribute to Hashimoto’s patients having an increased risk of having any of these infections.

If you aren’t improving despite following a strict diet and restoring any nutrient deficiencies that are present, that is the time to start looking for hidden infections or toxins.

Avoid Toxins

Unfortunately, our world is full of chemicals and other substances that can be harmful to us, including our thyroid gland.

An example of these are the endocrine disruptor chemicals (EDC). They are everywhere and are impossible to completely avoid.

Some types of them are even stored in the fat calls of our body. This is bad because if we start burning fat as an energy source (which happens in the diets listed above), many of these stored chemicals are released. They can worsen thyroid function and stop weight loss.

An example of an EDC that is controversial is fluoride. It has been added to many water supplies since the 1940s because it reduces the incidence of tooth decay. However, fluoride can be toxic to thyroid cells and can cause inflammation and even thyroid cell death.

There are a few common sense things that we all can do to at least reduce the amount of exposure to endocrine disruptor chemicals:

  • Drink filtered water
  • Drink from glass or metal containers (avoid plastic bottles)
  • Install a shower head filter such as this one.
  • Use a non-fluoride toothpaste.
  • Avoid using herbicides on your lawn or plants (Google “Homemade Weed Killer” for safe alternatives).

You can also help your body get rid of toxins by doing one simple thing – Sweat!

Sweating is one of our body’s best detox mechanisms.

Regular time in a sauna and high intensity interval training (HIIT) are 2 excellent ways of activating our sweat function.

Summary

There are several natural treatments that you can do to improve your Hashimoto’s symptoms.

Considering potential nutrient deficiences and taking targeted, high-quality supplements is critical.

It is also very important to identify any food sensitivities that you may have by utilizing the elimination diet.

Increasing your stomach acid and taking a good probiotic can help to increase nutrient absorption and improve your immune system.​

Infections and toxins can also be playing a role in your autoimmune condition.

Now it’s your turn.

Are you appropriately supplementing for any deficient nutrients?

Do you have any food sensitivities?

Have you identified any infections or toxins that may be worsening your Hashimoto’s?

Leave your comments below!

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The Best Natural Treatments for Adrenal Fatigue

Are you constantly tired no matter how much you sleep?

Do you get overwhelmed by stressful situations that you could handle in the past?

Is it hard to get out of bed in the morning even after a long sleep?

Do you depend on caffeine or sugary drinks just to get through the day?

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, there is a strong chance that you are dealing with adrenal issues, particularly adrenal fatigue.

In this article I will discuss the symptoms of adrenal fatigue and how to diagnose it.

I will then walk you through the best natural treatments for adrenal fatigue and lifestyle changes that will help you regain your energy and your life.

Here we go…

More…

What is Adrenal Fatigue?

So what is adrenal fatigue? 

When the body is under stress, the adrenal glands will release hormones such as cortisol, DHEA, and epinephrine.

These hormones regulate heart rate, the immune system, energy storage, and more.

Cortisol is our “stress hormone.”  When its levels are elevated, that signals the mitochondria in our cells to increase energy production to help us get through whatever stress is occurring.

When the body is functioning correctly, the cortisol will only be elevated for a short period of time then drop back to the normal pre-stress levels.

However, under high stress situations such as chronic illness, relationship issues, death in the family, a job you hate, and others, the cortisol level remains high for an extended period of time.

Eventually, the adrenal glands will be unable to keep up with the cortisol demands and the levels will drop.

Energy production in the cells decreases, which causes symptoms of fatigue.

These people often resort to consuming large amounts of caffeine, sugar, or other stimulants just to get through the day.​

This is what we call adrenal fatigue.​

If something causes ​the adrenals to essentially stop all cortisol production (such as autoimmune disease or other damage), it can be life-threatening.  This is called adrenal insufficiency or Addison’s Disease.

These patients require oral steroid replacement in order to live.​

On the other hand, Cushing’s Disease is a syndrome that causes an incredibly high amount of cortisol in the body which leads to many serious and potentially life threatening conditions.

As a general rule, conventional medicine does not recognize any adrenal issues until it reaches one of these extreme levels.

If your cortisol levels are in the normal reference range of the labwork, you will be told you are “normal” and sent on your way.

Like other hormones in the body, small changes to concentrations of these hormones can lead to big symptoms that are felt throughout the body.

People with suboptimal levels of cortisol can have significant symptoms that affect their quality of life, so it deserves our attention.

There are 4 basic stages of Adrenal Function/Dysfunction:​

    • “Surviving” – In this scenario, the normal cortisol slope is absent because of increased cortisol production. (This is actually MY cortisol curve during a very stressful time of my life)
    • “Thriving” – Cortisol production is normal.
    • “Wired and Tired” – The cortisol levels are high during the day then drop during the evenings.  That makes you feel anxious in the morning then exhausted by evening.
    • “Crashed Stage” – The adrenal gland is no longer able to keep up with the cortisol demands so the levels drop very low.  Extreme fatigue is the predominant symptom.

Cortisol has been shown to increase insulin resistance.  It also worsens leptin resistance.

Elevated cortisol also promotes hypothyroidism.

All of this leads to weight gain and lack of energy.

Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms

Symptoms that suggest you have adrenal problems and that you may need to get your cortisol level evaluated include:​

These symptoms indicate a problem with energy production and adrenal issues.

Remember, cortisol is a “stress hormone” and is typically secreted in to response to a perceived stress.

These stressors can include:

    • Frustration or emotions related to your job, work or social life
    • Over-exercising
    • Anything that is physically stressful on the body (exercise, manual labor, etc)
    • Lack of sleep (especially if prolonged over months or years)
    • Pressure of school work/work load
    • Poor diet or food choices (especially diets lacking in fruits and vegetables)
    • Constant use of stimulants such as caffeine
    • Complete lack of exercise or sedentary lifestyle
    • Chronic medical conditions (high blood pressure, insulin resistance, chronic pain, etc)
    • Recent illness
    • Anything else that causes your annoyance, frustration or stress

Please note that many of these symptoms are non-specific and can also indicate that something else is going on in the body.

That is why it is important to get a thorough evaluation by a qualified medical professional.

How to Diagnose Adrenal Fatigue

So how do you diagnose adrenal fatigue, especially if your labs fall in the “normal range?”

There are several ways to test for cortisol available.  Some are better than others.

I’m going to discuss the ones that I think are best.

It is easiest to start with a serum cortisol level.

This test can be very frustrating because is has a very large “normal” reference range.

However, it’s cheap and usually easy to get. 

Levels that fall in the middle of the reference range will not be particularly helpful, but it can show us a lot if it falls in the low normal or high normal of the range.​

So what is low normal or high normal?

    • Low normal cortisol range – 8am serum cortisol levels ranging from 4 to 10
    • Normal cortisol range – 8am serum cortisol levels ranging from 11-18
    • High normal cortisol range – 8am serum cortisol levels greater than 20

​It is important to check your serum cortisol level at 8am because that is when it is at its ”peak” level.

This represents the highest level your cortisol will be throughout the day.  If it’s already low normal at 8am, it will only get worse from there.

In order to get a full evaluation of your cortisol levels it may be necessary to evaluate the “rhythm” of your cortisol throughout the day. ​

By checking your cortisol several times per day you can accurately see how your body is responding to various situations.

This allows for more detailed information which can then be used for treatment.

The most accurate form of testing is through urinary measurements taken several times throughout the day (compared to a 24 hour urine test).

This is even more accurate than salivary levels.

My favorite is the DUTCH test.​

With the DUTCH test, you check your urinary cortisol levels 4 times throughout the day.  This gives a much better representation of how your cortisol level is trending.

Although this test is the best, it is expensive and more difficult to perform.

So should every patient that we suspect has adrenal fatigue have their urinary cortisol level tested?  No.

I would recommend starting with an 8am serum cortisol level.  Depending on what it shows, then moving to a DUTCH test may be necessary.

It is also worth doing a trial of treatment if your levels are “normal” but you are still symptomatic with several of the symptoms I discussed earlier.​

Natural Treatments for Adrenal Fatigue

So based on your symptoms and perhaps a low normal serum cortisol test or even an abnormal DUTCH test, you have been diagnosed with adrenal fatigue.

What can you do about it?

Actually, there are a lot of things that you can do.

Many of them are common sense.  Others are more targeted treatments that will depend on which stage of adrenal dysfunction you are in.

For now, let’s divide into 2 main groups – those that have low cortisol levels and those that have elevated cortisol levels.

Supplements​

Treatment for Low Cortisol (“Wired and Tired” and “Crashed”)

Click on each supplement to see my recommended brand.

    • Adrenal glandulars:  These work best for patients with very low cortisol levels.  They also tend to provide an immediate boost to energy levels.  Using glandulars in combination with other supplements listed below may be necessary.  Should be used for 6+ months.
    • Adrenal Adaptogens:  Adaptogens can actually help to lower cortisol levels when they are high and some can even raise cortisol levels when they are low.  There are many types of adaptogens but I find that blends of multiple adaptogens tends to work best.  These can be combined with glandulars as well for more benefit.  Should be used for at least 3 months.
    • CoQ10:  This coenzyme is involved in proper mitochondrial energy production and can help increase energy levels, which can be very helpful in adrenal-related issues.  Use 2 capsules (240mg) per day for several months.
    • Alpha Lipoic Acid:  ALA helps increase mitochondrial energy production, acts as a powerful antioxidant, reduces peripheral neuropathy, and lowers inflammation.  ALA can also help with weight loss due to its effects on insulin.  Start at 600mg daily and increase up to 1800mg daily as tolerated.
    • Vitamin B6:  Vitamin B6 is used in several pathways in the creation of adrenal hormones and many patients are deficient in it.  Taking higher doses of B6 during the acute phase of treatment may be necessary for a short period of time.
    • DHEA:  DHEA is the precursor to testosterone and other estrogen metabolites.  With low cortisol and low adrenal hormone production, supplementing with hormone precursors may be of benefit.  Start with a low dose every 2-3 days and increase to daily as tolerated.  Be careful because DHEA can turn into androgens or estrogens in high doses.
    • Pregnenolone:  Pregnenolone is another hormone precursor and can be helpful if used along with DHEA.  Watch out for acne as a side effect and like DHEA, start low and go slow.  The use of these hormones may be necessary for 3+ months.

​Treatment for High Cortisol (“Crashed” stage)

    • Phosphatidylserine:  Phosphatidylserine has been shown to reduce cortisol levels if taken in doses up to 600mg per day.  Use 4-6 capsules at night (each capsule is 100mg) and recheck cortisol levels in 2-3 months.
    • Ashwagandha:  Ashwagandha is an adaptogen that can actually help to lower cortisol levels when they are high and raise them when they are low.  It also can boost libido and may help with weight loss. It can also reduce anxiety symptoms caused by chronic stress.  Doses vary from 500-2000mg per day depending on tolerance and severity of symptoms.
    • Melatonin:  Melatonin has been show to reduce cortisol levels and may actually help improve your sleep at night.  Even if you are sleeping well, melatonin can still help reduce cortisol levels and should be considered.  It can also help with depression symptoms.  Doses vary from 1-3mg, but most people tolerate 3mg well.

Other Treatments

Using supplements alone will not be enough to adequately treat your adrenal fatigue and increase your energy level.

​It will be critical for you to make the necessary lifestyle changes as well.

Why?  Because your lifestyle is what got you here to begin with!

If you don’t learn how to reduce stress, get better sleep, and eat better, your adrenal fatigue symptoms will eventually return.

On the flip side, if you make the necessary changes in these areas, it will result in long term improvement for you.

Stress Management

Boy, this one is easy to say but hard to do!​

However, there is nothing you can do that will be more important to your success than learning how to better manage your stress.

​If there are stressors in your life that you can remove, then that should be a priority.

That may mean changing jobs, avoiding certain unhealthy people, or selling your kids (just kidding).

Unfortunately, there may be several stressors that can’t be removed, such as a sick family member, issues raising children, or others.

If that is the case, then you need to learn tactics that will help you manage stress and reduce its impact on your quality of life (and your cortisol!).

These stress reduction strategies can include:

    • Relaxation exercises such as yoga
    • Spend 20 minutes per day in prayer or meditation
    • Start doing something you enjoy (hobby, sports, etc)
    • Go outside!  Walking or hiking in nature can do wonders for our stress
    • Count your blessings and write them down.  It’s easy to get caught up in the negative cycle of only focusing on the things that are wrong in our lives.
    • Do something good for someone else without expecting anything in return, especially for someone less fortunate than you.
    • Donate your time or money to a worthy cause.
    • Make yourself smile everyday (even when you don’t feel like it)

Quality Sleep

I cannot stress enough how important it is to get a good night’s sleep every single night.

Your quality of sleep directly impacts your melatonin production when then impacts your cortisol level.

Lack of sleep also increases inflammation in the body and ​causes weight gain.

If you deal with sleep issues or insomnia, then this needs to be a priority for you.

You should be getting a minimum of 8 hours of sleep per night.

When you wake up, you should feel refreshed and energetic.

If this doesn’t describe you, then you need to make some changes.

These changes include:

    • Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning
    • No electronics (TV, phone or computer) for a least 2 hours before bedtime
    • Keep your bedroom cool and dark
    • Avoid stimulants (especially in the evenings)
    • Use supplements if necessary.  I discuss them in more detail in my article The Leptin Resistance Treatment Guide.

Diet

Diet is the most basic and one of the first things you should do to improve your energy and normalize your cortisol.

Something as simple as cutting out sugar and refined carbohydrates can do wonders for you.

Basically, you should focus on eating whole, natural foods and avoid processed food.

A simple question to ask yourself is, “Is this food natural or processed?”  Obviously, choose natural food.

In some cases, more stringent dietary instruction may be needed, but for now just realize that you HAVE to eat a healthy diet to increase your energy levels.

I would recommend starting with a good, whole food diet such as the ​Whole 30 diet or the Paleo Diet.

Summary

​There are definitely things that you can do to help you feel better and give you more energy if you have adrenal fatigue.

Start by checking your serum cortisol level along with other hormones such as insulin, leptin, and a complete thyroid panel.  You may want to consider urinary cortisol levels after the initial blood tests.

Once you have a clear picture about which stage of adrenal dysfunction you are in, supplements can be used to target your specific cortisol issues as well as other hormonal imbalances.

Appropriate lifestyle interventions will also be crucial for your success.  These include diet, stress management, and improving your sleep.

It is important to remember that correcting adrenal issues is not a quick fix – It may take 6 months or even longer.

​Be consistent and patient.  You can do it!

Now it’s your turn…

Do you have adrenal fatigue?

What supplements have you used?

Has your treatment been successful?

Leave your comments below.

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