Posts Tagged ‘gut health’

gut health

Grass fed beef vs grain fed

Grass Fed Beef vs Grain Fed Benefits from a Doctor and Rancher’s Son

I just drove my boys eight hours across the country to Kansas so they could visit with their grandparents and I wanted to write this post from here for two important reasons. The first reason was to emphasize how deeply I value family. Not just my immediate family, but my extended family including grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. If you can foster healthy relationships with your family, friends, and community, science shows that you will live a happier, healthier, and longer life.

The second reason I wanted to write this post from here is because of these cows. My family has operated a small cattle ranch for a few decades and there are a couple of important difference between their cows and conventionally raised cows. Number one, my father treats his cows like they’re part of the family, checking on them several days a week to make sure they’re happy, healthy, and well.

father and son standing together and looking at cows grazing on farm

Number two, the cows are always grass-fed. Let’s talk about the benefits of grass-fed beef versus conventional beef. First of all, it’s healthier for the cows because grass is their natural habitat and natural food. They never get placed in a stockyard with hundreds or thousands of other cows and they’re not fattened up with grain. They eat grass their entire lives, staying happy and healthy.

Raising cows this way is also better for the environment. Multiple studies show that grass-few cows have far less environmental impact than conventionally raised cows or stock-raised, grain-fed cows. For us, grass-fed beef has fewer calories than conventional beef, especially if you choose 90% lean. Even if you choose 85% lean, fewer calories exist in grass-fed beef compared to conventional beef.

Grass Fed Beef vs Grain Fed Benefits

Health Benefits of Grass-Fed Beef

grass fed herd of cows at grazing on green field

Grass-fed beef is lower in saturated fats, and we know that high saturated fat levels in the diet are associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and many other chronic health conditions. These cows are never placed in a stockyard so they’re not injected with hormones or antibiotics, and they don’t develop any superbugs. When you consume grass-few beef, you’re not exposed to the antibiotics or hormones found in conventional beef.

Next, grass-fed beef contains higher levels of something called CLA (conjugated linolenic acid) which has been shown in studies to protect against certain types of cancers. Grass-fed beef is five times higher in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory and protective against free radical oxidation. Grass-fed beef is also higher in micronutrients like vitamin A, vitamin E, lutein, and beta-carotene than conventional beef. On top of all of that, protein levels are higher and saturated fat is lower.

Tips for Grass-Fed Beef

grass fed prime rib roast with mashed potatoes and asparagus

If you’re new to preparing grass-fed beef, be sure not to overcook it. Take it out of the refrigerator and let it warm up to room temperature so you can cook it slowly on lower heat. If you cook it too quickly on high heat, you may lose some of the important advantages of grass-fed beef like Omega-3 fatty acids and micronutrients.

There aren’t any disadvantages to grass-fed beef other than the cost. It is more expensive than conventionally fed beef, but I encourage you to buy it as often as you can because you will be doing your health a favor. You’re also doing the cows and the environment a favor. If you can afford it, purchase grass-fed beef over conventionally fed beef as often as you can. It’s healthier for you, the cows, and the environment.


Dr. Ryan Shelton of Zenith LabsIf you liked this video/article, do share it with your friends and loved ones. Subscribe to the Youtube channel for weekly tips on new tools and techniques to improve your health and well-being.

I believe in the original meaning of the word doctor, ‘docere’, which means teacher. I’m here to help educate you on how to take care of yourself in ways that you may not have heard of before, but that are effective. I always want to hear your ideas and feedback so be sure to leave me comments below!

 

 

 

Dairy and is it good for you Doctor's thoughts

Dairy: Is it good for you? Doctor’s Thoughts!

 

Many of our engaged and curious clients take time to write to us with questions, hoping for a deeper understanding of how to make smarter choices for their health. A common question came in recently: Is dairy really bad for you? The short answer is, ‘probably,’ but let’s get into the details.

Dairy: Is it good for you? Doctor’s Thoughts!

Why Dairy is Bad for You

spread of cheese and dairy products

A long time ago, the cows in parts of northern Europe went through a genetic mutation causing their milk to become full of a lectin-like protein known as casein A1. Once you ingest casein A1, it transforms in your body to become a new protein. This new protein is called beta-casomorphin and can cause autoimmune problems including diabetes. In fact, many people who complain of lactose intolerance and its symptoms are actually struggling from casein A1 intolerance.

In southern Europe, several cowherds never went through the genetic mutation, so they create a different protein called casein A2. Casein A2 is better for you and is not turned into the catastrophic protein, casomorphin.

Dairy is often called nature’s perfect food, but that’s only if you’re a calf. Dairy was evolutionarily created for cows and not for human consumption. If that sounds shocking to you, it’s because very few people are willing to tell the truth about dairy. Criticizing milk in America is like trying to go against classics like apple pie or baseball.

man trying to drink milk but experiencing lactose intolerance

Going against dairy is what we have to do based on the research though. Based on my experience practicing medicine, I advise most of my patients to avoid dairy products completely. I like ice cream and yogurt as much as the next person, but as a physician, I have to look honestly at what is known about dairy. From an evolutionary standpoint, milk is a very strange food for humans.

Consider this: the majority of humans naturally stop producing significant amounts of lactase, the enzyme needed to metabolize lactose, between the ages of two and five. In fact, the normal condition for most mammals is to stop producing the enzymes needed to properly digest milk from the mother after they’ve been weaned.

5 Reasons to Stop Consuming Dairy

woman refusing to drink a glass of milk

  1. Milk does not reduce fractures. That’s why we’re always told to drink it, right? For “strong, healthy bones.” Contrary to popular belief, eating dairy products has never been shown to reduce fracture risk. In fact, according to the nurses’ health study, dairy may increase the risk of fractures by 50%.
  1. Less dairy actually means better bones. Countries with the lowest rates of dairy consumption, like those living in Africa and Asia, have the lowest rates of osteoporosis.
  1. Calcium doesn’t protect our bones the way we once thought. Studies of calcium supplementation have shown no benefit in reducing fracture risk, and vitamin D appears to be much more important than calcium in preventing fractures. Focus on vitamin D instead by leaving your house or office and getting more sunlight.
  1. Calcium supplementation may increase cancer risk. Research shows that higher intakes of both calcium and dairy products may increase a man’s risk of prostate cancer between 30% to 50%. Dairy consumption also increases the body’s level of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), which a known cancer promoter.
  1. Calcium has health benefits that dairy does not, like reducing the risk of colon cancer. Not everyone can stomach dairy. About 75% of the world’s population is genetically unable to properly digest milk and other dairy products, which is lactose intolerance.

Don’t rely on dairy for healthy bones. If you want healthy bones, get plenty of exercise, sunshine, and supplement with vitamin D. Get your calcium from other food sources like leafy green vegetables, broccoli, sesame, tahini, sea vegetables, sardines, and fish. All of these are excellent sources of calcium and don’t have the bad effects that dairy does.

Test Your Dairy Tolerance with an Elimination Diet

coconut and coconut yogurt together

Try giving up all dairy by eliminating milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream for two weeks and see if you feel better. You should notice improvements in your sinuses, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, energy levels, and weight. After the two weeks is finished, start eating dairy again and see how you feel again. If you feel worse, you should give up dairy for life.

If you can tolerate dairy, use only raw, organic dairy products. Try focusing on fermented products like yogurt and kefir, but only for occasional consumption. A great substitute for dairy products is coconut products like coconut milk, yogurt, butter, and fermented options. Coconut has some tremendous positive benefits without causing the problems that dairy does.

Overall, is dairy bad for most people? Probably. There’s a small percentage of people, like 10% to 25%, who are fine with dairy, but I encourage you to try the elimination diet mentioned above. Take all dairy out of your diet for a couple of weeks, reintroduce it, and see the difference avoiding dairy makes.


Dr. Ryan Shelton of Zenith LabsIf you liked this video/article, do share it with your friends and loved ones. Subscribe to the Youtube channel for weekly tips on new tools and techniques to improve your health and well-being.

I believe in the original meaning of the word doctor, ‘docere’, which means teacher. I’m here to help educate you on how to take care of yourself in ways that you may not have heard of before, but that are effective. I always want to hear your ideas and feedback so be sure to leave me comments below!

 

 

 

Your Bottled Water Could Be Harming Your Health

WARNING! Your Bottled Water Could Be Harming Your Health

When you were a kid, you probably drank your water straight from the tap or even from the garden hose if you were playing outside. Times have changed though and huge corporations worldwide are promising better living through the chemistry of bottled water.

Now, don’t get it wrong – if bottled water is your only source of hydration, drink it. Hydration is so important! Small choices in life though, like your source of water, can have big effects. Keep reading to learn about the potential hazards of drinking bottled water.

WARNING! Your Bottled Water Could Be Harming Your Health

The truth about bottled water

a flat of bottled waterIt’s estimated that one million bottles of water are purchased every minute. That’s 20,000 per second! Approximately 25% of bottled water is sourced from, you guessed it, tap. Companies filter and process the water but it’s still originally sourced from tap.

Four potential hazards of drinking bottled water

There are four potential hazards of drinking bottled water daily, and they all relate to each other. One hazard is microplastics, another is the disruption of the endocrine system, and then two specific microplastics, bisphenol and phthalate.

1. Microplastics

close up of plastic water bottle up in a hot car93% of bottled water contains microplastics, as heat and age increase the leaching of microplastics like bisphenols and phthalates into the water. For example, we don’t think of water as having an expiration date but leaving a bottle of water in a hot car is a problem. The longer water is in contact with the plastic bottle, the more plastic that leaches out.

Bacteria can also be a problem if the bottles are reused. One study found that more germs can be grown after just one week of reusing a plastic water bottle than on a toilet seat!

Along with these potential health problems, you can’t dismiss the impact bottled water has on the environment. Less than 50% of plastic water bottles are collected for recycling and nearly 80% end up in landfills.

2. Endocrine disruptors

mother drinking water with her sonThe different microplastics in bottled water are endocrine disruptors. They can potentially increase risk factors for obesity, diabetes, prostate problems, thyroid problems, neurodevelopmental, neuroendocrine systems, and male and female reproduction.

In 2009, US fertility rates hit an all-time low of 102 children per 1000 women, and one study showed a 60% to 200% more likely chance of IVF failure in women with high BPA levels.

3. Bisphenols

BPA in a plastic water bottleYou’ve probably heard of BPA before, a specific type of bisphenol. BPA was developed in 1891 and in 2008, world production of BPA hit 5.2 million metric tons. It’s a polycarbonate in water bottles that help to harden plastic and is now detected in 40% of all streams and rivers. It’s found in 90% of all U.S. residents, and the average daily intake greatly exceeds the recommended level of 50 micrograms per kilogram per day.

There are multiple potential problems with bisphenols. BPA binds to estrogen receptors. It’s been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. It causes progesterone deficiency in females. It causes testosterone deficiency in males. It binds to thyroid receptors, hindering the thyroid’s function in the body. It blocks insulin receptor sites, increasing risk of insulin insensitivity and diabetes. It increases high blood pressure, and of course, it’s an oxidative stress on the body.

Bisphenols are used to harden the plastic of water bottles, but they’re also found unsuspecting items like the store receipts you get, and they’re absorbed through the skin. Fat intake also increases the absorption of BPA, so if you’re drinking bottled water and eating fatty fast food, you’re increasing your potential absorption of BPA.

One study showed that each tenfold increase in urinary BPA is associated with an increased BMI, increased weight circumference, and an increase in skinfold thickness. The most troubling thing in this study? The highest amounts of urinary BPA were found in children and teens.

4. Phthalates

woman giving a thumbs down to plastic water bottlePhthalates provide flexibility to plastic but it’s not chemically bound to plastic, which means it can be easily released into the environment. It is rapidly cleared by the body in about 24 hours, but can still cause problems in those 24 hours. It can decrease testosterone, increase risk of breast cancer, and increase risk of obesity and insulin resistance.

There’s an interesting book called Slow Death by Rubber Duck, which is worth a read. This book showed that in two days of avoiding all plastics and then reintroducing them to the system, levels went from 64 nanograms in urinary excretion to over 1,400 nanograms.

woman holding a glass of clean water in two handsHydration is very important, so drink up even if plastic water bottles are your only water source. Just remember there are other options! You can drink water out of glass or stainless steel. Stay dedicated to your health and never doubt that a small group of people can influence the world.


Dr. Ryan Shelton of Zenith LabsIf you liked this video/article, do share it with your friends and loved ones. Subscribe to the Youtube channel for weekly tips on new tools and techniques to improve your health and well-being.

I believe in the original meaning of the word doctor, ‘docere’, which means teacher. I’m here to help educate you on how to take care of yourself in ways that you may not have heard of before, but that are effective. I always want to hear your ideas and feedback so be sure to leave me comments below!

 

 

 

How Much Is Too Much Caffeine

How Much Is Too Much Caffeine? (Doctor’s Opinion)

Due to the boom in commercial coffee businesses and local coffee shops, there has been a significant increase in caffeine intake among adults, adolescents, and children over the past decade. This has also led to increased additive caffeine in common foods and energy drinks. All of this leads us to the question: How much caffeine is too much caffeine?

Caffeine is a drug

coffee beans coming out of a pill bottleCaffeine is the only drug that is present naturally or added to widely-consumed foods. In fact, caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive drug in the world, and one of the most comprehensively studied ingredients in our food supply. It is mildly addictive, which is one possible reason why makers of soft drinks add it to their products. Many coffee drinkers experience withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, irritability, sleeplessness, and lethargy or fatigue when they stop drinking coffee. Like any drug, the effects of caffeine on the body are not necessarily wholly good or wholly bad. Caffeine is a substance that may boost your mood, metabolism, and mental and physical performance. Recent estimates in adults suggest that about 85% of adults in the US regularly consume caffeine, with an average daily intake around 180 milligrams per day, about the amount of caffeine found in two eight-ounce cups of coffee.

topdown view of electrocardiogram line made with roasted coffee grains with a cup of coffee and a red paper heartHistorically, the addition of caffeine was limited to soda-type beverages. Over the past decade, caffeine has been added to a diverse variety of foods and non-food items to promote arousal, alertness, energy, and elevated mood. The recent increase in caffeine-containing food products and energy drinks, as well as changes in patterns of consumption of the more traditional sources of caffeine, has increased scrutiny by health authorities and regulatory bodies of the overall consumption of caffeine and its potential cumulative effects on behavior and body physiology. Of particular concern is the rate of caffeine intake among populations potentially vulnerable to its negative effects.

Health and regulatory authorities have recently highlighted the risk of consumption of caffeine among pregnant and lactating women, children and adolescents, young adults, and people with underlying heart and health conditions.

Caffeine content in food and beverages

Coffee

cup of coffee next to a burlap bag with coffee beans spilling out of it onto the wooden tableA 15 to 20-ounce serving ranges anywhere from 150 to 400 milligrams per serving. The average amount of caffeine in an eight-ounce cup of coffee is about 95 milligrams, but we do not drink coffee as our grandparents did. They had a cup or two of Joe in the morning to get the day started. We go and get a huge cup of coffee, and that influences the caffeine intake.

The amount of caffeine in coffee depends on many factors:

  1. Type of coffee beans – there are many varieties of coffee beans available, which may naturally contain different amounts of caffeine.
  2. The roasting process – lighter roasts have more caffeine than darker roasts, although the darker roasts tend to have a more rich, deeper flavor.
  3. Type of coffee – the caffeine content can vary significantly between regularly brewed coffee, espresso, instant coffee and decaf coffee. Yes — decaf coffee does contain small amounts of caffeine, typically seven to 15 milligrams per eight-ounce cup.
  4. Serving size – one cup of coffee can range anywhere from 300 to 700 millilitres or one to 24 ounces, greatly affecting the total caffeine content that you’re taking in.

Teas

different glasses of colorful floral teas on a white wooden tableEarl Grey tea contains about 110 milligrams per serving, the highest amount of caffeine amongst teas. The typical black tea ranges between 50 and 80 milligrams per serving. Iced tea ranges from 50 to 60 milligrams per serving, and green tea contains about 30 to 50 grams per serving.

 

 

Soft drinks and energy drinks

tall colorful glasses of iced drinksMost soft drinks range between 35 and 50 milligrams per serving. Energy drinks can vary wildly between 100 and 350 milligrams per serving.

 

 

 

Chocolate

bar of chocolate with bits broken off and a teaspoon with chocolate powderChocolate contains caffeine, typically between eight and 15 milligrams per serving, though the amount of caffeine in chocolate varies by the percentage of cocoa it contains.

 

 

 

Medication

small piles of white pills next to a pile of coffee beans on a wooden tableCertain medications contain caffeine, like Excedrin and Mydol, about 60 milligrams per dose. It’s included because research has shown that the addition of caffeine improves the potency of certain pain medications. Over the counter weight loss supplements typically contain caffeine as well.

Caffeine has a relatively long half-life in most individuals, ranging from three to seven hours.

 

Risks and Benefits of Consuming Caffeine

man in a suit holding a massive cup of coffeeWe do know that caffeine has some benefits for mental alertness and mental performance. Coffee and tea are also high in antioxidants and many studies show that they can be potentially good for your health.

However, getting too much caffeine is linked to adverse health effects like anxiety, insomnia, heart palpitations, and restlessness. Research has concluded that consuming four to 500 milligrams of caffeine a day is generally not associated with adverse effects in most people. This is about six milligrams per kilogram body weight or three milligrams per pound body weight, an average of four to six eight-ounce cups of coffee a day. That being said, caffeine affects different people in widely different ways. Some are very sensitive to it and others can consume large amounts without having negative side effects. This is largely due to genetic differences.

a stomach on a pile of coffee beansCaffeine and coffee may, in fact, reduce risk factors for certain conditions like gallbladder disease, Parkinson’s disease, and type two diabetes. However, it can worsen certain health conditions such as aggressive and violent behavior, anxiety, heart arrhythmias or palpitations, bipolar disorders, essential tremors, fibrous cystic breasts changes, GERD or acid reflux, high blood pressure and hypertension, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, hypoglycemia or low blood sugar, migraine headaches, and it can negatively affect bone mass density and contribute to osteoporosis. There’s a higher risk of miscarriage in pregnant women who consume large amounts of caffeine. If you have either irritable bladder syndrome or irritable bowel syndrome, it can worsen those symptoms as well.

In a recent FDA report, researchers concluded that there is insufficient evidence of safety nor a consensus of scientific opinion to conclude that the high levels of caffeine found in energy drinks are safe.

Medically speaking, caffeine overdose is defined as the following:

  • An excess of 250 milligrams of caffeine intake per day.
  • The development of five or more of the following symptoms: restlessness, nervousness, excitement, insomnia, flushed face, diarrhea, increased frequency of urination, gastrointestinal disturbance, muscle twitching, rambling flow of thought and speech, tachycardia/increased heart rate, increased heart palpitations, periods of inexhaustibility or psychomotor agitation.

coffee beans spelling out the word coffee with the shape of a heart above itCaffeine withdrawal disorder is diagnosed with an individual who experiences clinically significant impairment related to withdrawal symptoms after abrupt stopping of caffeine intake, including headache, difficulty concentration, fatigue, nausea, flu-like symptoms, and changes in mood. These symptoms of caffeine withdrawal typically begin 12 to 24 hours after stopping caffeine and may continue for three to seven days.

 

Caffeine Sensitivity

As mentioned above, genetics have something to do with your levels of caffeine sensitivity. It all comes down to an enzyme system called Cytochrome P450. It’s a detoxification pathway in the liver, specifically the Cytochrome P450 enzyme CYP1A2. The Cytochrome P450 enzyme system is the same enzyme system that metabolizes steroid hormones. Thus, steroid hormones slow caffeine metabolism.

woman holding onto a cup of coffeeIn women, this effect slows the metabolism of caffeine during pregnancy and when taking oral contraceptive pills. Oral contraceptives are estimated to double the half-life of caffeine in the system. We know that cigarette smoking doubles the rate of caffeine clearance by increasing liver enzyme activity, which may explain the higher rate of caffeine consumption among smokers. Substantial alcohol intake increases the half-life of caffeine and decreases its clearance.

If you’re looking for ways to give yourself an additional energy boost, we’ve created a yummy chocolate drink called Cacao Melody. It’s made from the beans that ultimately are made into chocolate. It contains a small amount of caffeine and additional vitamins and botanical agents to improve alertness and energy. Check it out and let us know what you think.


dr ryan sheltonIf you liked this video/article, do share it with your friends and loved ones. Subscribe to the Youtube channel for weekly tips on new tools and techniques to improve your health and well-being.

I believe in the original meaning of the word doctor, ‘docere’, which means teacher. I’m here to help educate you on how to take care of yourself in ways that you may not have heard of before, but that are effective. I always want to hear your ideas and feedback so be sure to leave me comments below!

 

 

 

Are you Gluten Free Or Is It Just More Marketing...

Are you Gluten-Free Or Is It Just More Marketing…

It’s difficult nowadays to go a week without encountering someone who claims to have a gluten allergy, but in reality, many people who have diagnosed themselves with a gluten allergy are actually suffering from a gluten sensitivity.

Are you Gluten-Free? Or Is It Just More Marketing…

Gluten-Free by the Numbers

breads, pastas, rice, and other foods with gluten

Gluten-free dieting has gained considerable popularity with the general population. Between 2004 and 2011, the market for gluten-free products reached an annual growth rate of 28%, with sales in 2012 hitting $2.6 billion. In 2012, Amazon listed about 4,800 gluten-free entries, but today lists over 18,000. A Google search at the same time for a gluten-free diet produced 4.2 million results but now has over 375 million results!

The number one reason consumers cite for buying gluten-free products is that they are perceived to be healthier than options containing gluten. Endorsements from celebrities have also contributed to the increased interest of possible health benefits from avoiding gluten, including potential weight loss. In 2014, the annual market share of gluten-free was at $5.94 billion. The global gluten-free market size was estimated at $17.59 billion in 2018 and is expected to expand at a rate of 9% from 2019 to 2025.

It’s estimated that only between 3 and 10% of the population may have a gluten sensitivity, so something is going on here. Are there more people with a gluten allergy or gluten sensitivity, or is the public simply becoming more aware of it because of marketing strategies? Are gluten issues a myth or a real problem?

Living as a Gluten-Free Family

two women preparing a gluten-free meal together in the kitchen

This topic is near and dear to me because I have some personal experience with it. A little over seven years ago, I met and started dating the woman who is now my wife. She eventually shared with me that she suffered from chronic migraines and a skin problem she simply called, ‘itchy bumps.’ These bumps were basically systemic urticaria or hives. As her boyfriend at the time, I asked if she had ever tried to manipulate her diet to see if she was sensitive to anything she was eating. She ended up removing gluten from her diet and hasn’t had a migraine or any itchy bumps ever since.

Now I live with my wife and our two boys in a gluten-free home. I’m not sensitive to gluten but we find it easier to just prepare one gluten-free meal for all of us to eat as a family. I don’t mind at all because the gluten-free options now available are delicious and you can’t tell the difference most of the time.

Sources of Gluten

burger, beer, and fries with gluten on a table

Gluten is a protein consisting of gliadins and glutenins, found in foods processed from wheat and related grains like barley bulgur, couscous, farina, graham, kamut, semolina, spelt, rye, and oats. Although oats do not contain the protein gliadin so most people who are simply gluten sensitive can eat oats. Those with celiac disease, a true wheat gluten allergy, tend not to do well with oats.

You do need to watch for hidden sources of gluten including malt, soups, broths, bouillons, cold cuts, French fries, processed cheese, mayonnaise, ketchup, soy sauce, salad dressings, sausages, hotdogs, fried veggies with tempura, gravy, canned baked beans, chocolate milk, foods that are breaded, energy bars, wine coolers, meatballs, meatloaf, veggie burgers, roasted nuts, beer, and some vitamins and supplements. You also have to watch out for some topical agents like shampoos, cosmetics, and even pet food.

It’s important to be aware that gluten does not necessarily equal wheat. Gluten is in a variety of products and if you are sensitive or allergic to gluten, you must carefully read ingredient lists.

A Range of Gluten Disorders

wheat intolerant woman holding bread showing her stomach

There is a spectrum of gluten-related disorders including wheat allergy, gluten sensitivity, and celiac disease. Wheat allergy is an adverse immunologic reaction to specific proteins just in wheat. A wheat allergy can be treated with wheat avoidance, which means a wheat-free diet can be more permissive than a strict gluten-free diet.

Gluten sensitivity, also referred to as non-celiac gluten sensitivity or intolerance, is characterized by a heightened immunological reaction to gluten in genetically susceptible people. For a clinical diagnosis, it’s generally based on responses to a gluten-free diet. Common symptoms of gluten sensitivity include fatigue, headaches, and skin problems. Symptoms usually include GI distress as well, like gas, bloating, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome. All of these symptoms frequently improve with the adoption of a gluten-free diet.

illustration of the intestines and bowels

The inherent subjectivity in the diagnosis and resolution of these symptoms likely contributes to the popularity of gluten-free diets. There is some data to suggest that following a gluten-free diet may improve GI or systemic symptoms in individuals with lupus, dermatitis, eczema, irritable bowel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes 1 and 2, thyroid problems, and psoriasis. Gluten-free diets have also been used by patients with autism spectrum disorders, however, there is no definitive data to support this and the American Academy of Pediatrics does not support the use of gluten-free diets as a primary treatment for individuals on the autism spectrum.

Despite the growing popularity and celebrity endorsements of a gluten-free diet for weight loss, there are no published reports showing that gluten-free diets produce weight loss. Is a gluten-free diet good for weight loss? Not unless you’re sensitive or allergic to gluten.

A celiac versus a non-celiac gluten sensitivity differs because celiac is a true food allergy. Food allergies are an adverse immune response to a food protein, most commonly an immunoglobulin called IgE. When the immune system detects IgE in the bloodstream, white blood cells attack and trigger an allergic response.

woman with gluten sensitivity choosing a rice cake instead of bread

Other allergies are mediated by the IgG immunoglobulin, which is characterized by symptoms which appear delayed, sometimes up to three or four days after the food is consumed. Symptoms of allergies include GI distress, skin inflammation, pain, fatigue, osteoporosis, mood disorders, liver problems, infertility, asthma, psoriasis, hair loss, premature gray hair, dental abnormalities, and even life-threatening anaphylaxis.

The real difference between celiac disease and gluten sensitivity is that celiac disease produces antibodies that attack the inner lining of the small intestine, destroying it. For individuals with gluten sensitivities, that does not happen. Either way though, the treatment is the same. Work with your doctor to come up with a great dietary plan and think about supplementing with anti-inflammatories.

Going Gluten-Free

a selection of gluten-free foods like pastas and bread

When it comes to treatment, avoidance works best. Remember that my wife cut out gluten and got much better. When mild symptoms came back later, we figured out that using the same toaster for her gluten-free bread and my regular bread was causing problems. We also switched to gluten-free dog food to avoid problems there. If your sensitive or allergic to gluten, you have to watch out for hidden sources of gluten.

The results of addressing a gluten issue are unmistakable, as most people rave about their increased energy levels, mental clarity, and an obvious decrease in symptoms. There are lab tests, skin tests, and blood tests that can help detect food allergies, but the gold standard is something called an elimination challenge diet. Eliminate all gluten products from your diet for 3-7 days, then challenge your body with gluten and see what happens. If symptoms go away and then return once you start eating gluten again, you know you’re gluten sensitive.

calendar showing the start of gluten-free living

Most individuals who are sensitive to gluten, especially celiac patients, tend to be sensitive to disaccharide sugars like lactose, sucrose, maltose, and isomaltose. Read labels carefully and if the food you’re eating contains one of these disaccharides, test your sensitivity by trying an elimination challenge of those foods as well.

Now it’s becoming easier to be on a gluten-free diet as many restaurants and conventional grocery stores offer gluten-free options. You can find gluten-free bread, pasta, bagels, waffles, pizza, and more. I can tell you from personal experience that they’re getting good at making gluten-free food delicious. Most of the time, you can’t even tell the difference between the gluten-free option and the option with gluten.

If you know or suspect that you have a gluten sensitivity or allergy, let us know. I want to understand what your experience is like and offer suggestions to make a gluten-free diet not just tolerable, but delicious. I’ve been working with patients on nutrition and dietary plans for over 16 years, so together we can come up with a plan that fits your needs.


Dr. Ryan Shelton of Zenith LabsIf you liked this video/article, do share it with your friends and loved ones. Subscribe to the Youtube channel for weekly tips on new tools and techniques to improve your health and well-being.

I believe in the original meaning of the word doctor, ‘docere’, which means teacher. I’m here to help educate you on how to take care of yourself in ways that you may not have heard of before, but that are effective. I always want to hear your ideas and feedback so be sure to leave me comments below!

 

 

 

Acid reflux remedy and what to do about it

Acid Reflux Remedy and What to Do About It

When struggling with acid reflux, also known as GERD, some individuals experience it as heartburn. Other individuals end up with chest pain, throat pain, regurgitation of food, a sour taste in their mouth, coughing, hoarseness, or wheezing. If the acid makes it too far up the esophagus, dental erosion can be a problem too.

Acid Reflux Remedy and What to Do About It

Acid reflux is more common than you think

senior man with a hand on his chest experiencing heartburn

As a doctor, I cannot tell you how many times my patients have complained about acid reflux. I call it an ‘out the door’ symptom because patients typically come in for high blood pressure, a skin rash, menopausal symptoms, or hair loss and as they’re walking out the door, they’ll add in, “By the way, I have acid reflux too.”

Acid reflux is quite common. 10% of people experience it daily, 30% experience it at least once a month, and 20% deal with it twice a week. Many people who struggle with acid reflux take medication for it, such as antacids or proton pump inhibitors. However, taking antacids daily has been shown in studies to cause a 200-600% increase in esophagitis.

Proton pump inhibitors do nothing for H. pylori, common bacteria that thrives in stomach acid, and yet these inhibitors are two of the top five over the counter medications purchased in the United States. Acid reflux is so common that it’s become a five-billion-dollar annual industry.

What causes acid reflux?

young man holding his stomach feeling acid reflux

Acid reflux is due to the lower esophageal sphincter, a ring that causes pressure on stomach contents to keep those contents down and in the stomach. There are several reasons the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES, can become relaxed and allow stomach acid to come up into the esophagus.

The stomach is lined with mucus to protect itself from the naturally occurring acids it produces to digest your food, but your esophagus is unfortunately not. When the naturally occurring acids are regurgitated up into the esophagus, acid reflux occurs.

How can you prevent acid reflux?

man refusing to eat a burger

Certain foods relax the LES and cause negative effects, such as saturated fats, alcohol, sweet and sour foods, spicy foods, tomatoes, citrus, and coffee. Other foods to avoid are canned good, fast food, fried foods, dairy, chocolate, mint, and gluten. Limit these foods in your diet and increase your intake of fresh or frozen produce instead.

Diets and acid reflux reactions are different for every individual. The best thing to try is an elimination challenge diet where you eliminate all potentially problematic foods for three or four days. After a few days, you can reintroduce each food item one by one, a few days apart, to see which foods are causing or contributing to your acid reflux.

illustration of the digestive system and DNA

Stress can also contribute to acid reflux problems. The entire gastrointestinal tract is known as the enteric nervous system, nicknamed the ‘little brain.’ There are so many nerves that interact between the gut, the digestive system, and the brain.

In fact, there are more serotonin receptors in the gut than there are in the brain. If you feel stress, anxiety, depression, then you’ll be able to feel it in the bowels, stomach, and intestines.

There were a couple of studies done in the 1920s and 1930s around factory workers who switched to office work. There was a dramatic increase in the number of acid reflux patients because they were stressed out. Since they switched from working with their hands to working with their brains, the stress caused an increase in acid reflux. Another study completed around 9/11 first responders showed that a quarter of them developed acid reflux, likely due to the stress of the event.

True Digestion supplement by Zenith LabsWe can see that both diet and stress play a role in acid reflux. At Zenith Labs, we’ve created a supplement called True Digestion. It contains zinc, since zinc deficiencies can cause mucosal damage and lower acid production. True Digestion also contains mucoligens like alginate, slippery elm, marshmallow, and DGL. One study has shown that alginate showed an 81% improvement, which is considerably better than antacids or proton pump inhibitors. Our supplement also contains barberry, which attacks the H. pylori in your gut that contributes to acid reflux. On top of all that, True Digestion also contains the other important digestive enzymes: amylase, protease, lipase, lactase, phytase, cellulase, invertase, and maltase. It’s a fantastic supplement and people are reporting tremendous benefits from taking it.

For some reason, treating acid reflux is an afterthought for most people. So many people just accept it as part of life, but you don’t have to. You need to value every warning signal your body gives you because it’s a disruption in your health.


Dr. Ryan Shelton of Zenith LabsIf you liked this video/article, do share it with your friends and loved ones. Subscribe to the Youtube channel for weekly tips on new tools and techniques to improve your health and well-being.

I believe in the original meaning of the word doctor, ‘docere’, which means teacher. I’m here to help educate you on how to take care of yourself in ways that you may not have heard of before, but that are effective. I always want to hear your ideas and feedback so be sure to leave me comments below!

 

 

 

bloating

Top Foods That Bloat You (Stay Away!)

 

Do you struggle with intestinal gas and bloating? If the answer is “yes”, then read on. Learn about some of the most common causes of gas and bloating, top foods that contribute to gas and bloating, as well as what to do about it.

A recent study of 20,000 people showed that between 30-40% of them had experienced abdominal gas and bloating at least once in the previous three months. It is a very common issue many others like you have had to deal with. Intestinal gas and bloating can be physically uncomfortable. It can also cause physical distress and be embarrassing and awkward in social situations. If you’re able to hold flatulence and gas in, it causes more abdominal distention. If you’re brave enough to release it in a public environment, it can be an embarrassing phenomenon and cause emotional stress. Overall, it’s not a very nice situation.

Causes of bloating

woman holding a question mark around her abdominal areaThere are a number of causes for intestinal gas and bloating. It can be due to:

  • Low stomach acid
  • Poor output of digestive enzymes from the pancreas and liver
  • Parasites
  • Dysbiosis
  • Overgrowth of bad bacteria or yeast
  • Constipation, irritable bowel syndrome
  • Emotional distress like anxiety.
  • Food allergies

glass of milk, kiwi, lemon, chocolate, orange, and strawberries with a yellow tape across them saying "allergy"One of the most common causes of intestinal gas and bloating is actually food allergies. About 30-40% of individuals suffer from food allergies. Food allergies can be identified and avoided, and there are a number of ways to do this. There are blood tests and digestive tests you can do. The gold standard is something called “The Food Allergy Elimination Challenge Diet”. This is where you systematically eliminate foods from your diet for a minimum of four days (though 5-10 days is recommended). Then, one-by-one you slowly reintroduce each food to “challenge” your system and see which of those foods may cause gas and bloating.

The most common food allergies include wheat, gluten, dairy, corn, soy, coffee, tea, carbonated beverages, as well as certain types of fruits and vegetables.

woman holding her bloating bellyAny simple sugars can cause gas and bloating problems too. Simple sugars get into the digestive tract and can undergo fermentation. Fermentation is a process where yeast and bacteria in the intestine produce gas, and that gas translates into intestinal gas and bloating.

Dairy is a common food that causes gas and bloating. The sugar, lactose, is responsible for this. Some individuals lack the enzyme, lactase, which digests lactose, and when you do not digest that sugar it goes on down into the intestines and causes the fermentation process. Gluten-containing foods is another very common causative factor of gas and bloating.

Many individuals find that eliminating dairy and gluten foods is an enormous first step into reducing intestinal gas and bloating.

fodmap foods laid out on a tableResearchers have shown that individuals who avoid dietary FODMAP (Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols) foods see a considerable reduction in the amount of intestinal gas and bloating. FODMAPs are actually short-chain carbohydrates that are osmotically active and fermentable. That means that when they’re in the intestines they alter the exchange of fluid within the intestines, and they cause the fermentation process which exacerbates gas and bloating. A common example of a disaccharide would be lactose, that sugar that’s found in dairy products. A common example of fructose would be honey and fruits. A common example of polyols would be sorbitol, which is found in many types of chewing gum, and also stone fruits such as apricots, plums, peaches, pears. An example of fructans, which is part of the dietary FODMAPs, include wheat, the allium family of vegetables, asparagus, and foods that are high in chicory. An example of high galactan foods would be beans and legumes and cabbage. Eliminating foods on the dietary FODMAPs list may be a clue into reducing your gas and bloating.

Probiotic T-50 by zenith labsHerbal products have been taken for centuries to help with intestinal distress, intestinal gas, and bloating. The most common ones include peppermint, fennel, caraway, chamomile, lemon balm, and ginger. Also, consider taking a high-dose probiotic to help restore healthy flora in your gut. At Zenith Labs there is a very potent probiotic called Probiotic T50, which contains 50 billion organisms of very high quality. If you’re looking for a good probiotic, that is one you should definitely check out.


dr ryan shelton of zenith labsIf you liked this video/article, do share it with your friends and loved ones. Subscribe to the Youtube channel for weekly tips on new tools and techniques to improve your health and well-being.

I believe in the original meaning of the word doctor, ‘docere’, which means teacher. I’m here to help educate you on how to take care of yourself in ways that you may not have heard of before, but that are effective. I always want to hear your ideas and feedback so be sure to leave me comments below!

 

 

 

BPA free phthalate free PFOA free Doctor's Advice

BPA Free Phthalate free PFOA free Doctor’s Advice

It’s exciting to talk about environmental health and wellness because there are some simple steps you can take to limit or avoid your exposure to certain toxic elements. I’ll teach you to identify the sources you are exposed to and show you how to limit them or avoid them to the best of your ability.

BPA Free Phthalate free PFOA free Doctor’s Advice

There are three different environmental toxins negatively affecting your health: BPAs, phthalates, and PFOAs. Let’s talk about each of them so you can avoid them in order to promote optimal health and wellness.

1. BPA

plastic water bottles containing BPA

BPA stands for bisphenol A and is a structural component of plastic found in many household products, including food storage items, water bottles, plastic dishes and cutlery, and food packaging. BPA can be found in many items with the recycling codes number seven or number three.

The problem with BPA in packaging is that the chemical can leach from packaging into the food or liquid contained within. High heat or extreme cold can accelerate this process, which means using microwaves, dishwashers, or freezers can cause BPA to leach even faster. Since so many products are packaged in BPA-containing plastics, exposure to this chemical is widespread to a majority of the population.

Why is BPA such a health concern? BPA is an endocrine disruptor, so it interferes with hormone levels and communication in the body. In particular, BPA impacts estrogen receptors in the body and is linked to increased inflammation, ovarian and breast disease, female and male infertility, early puberty, breast cancer, childhood neurological problems, and more.

colorful fruit salad in plastic cups

The good news is that even though BPA seems to be everywhere, you can reduce your exposure to it with some easy changes. One study showed that people who stopped eating foods packaged in plastic for just three days showed a 60% drop of BPA levels in their bodies.

Look for packaging made of glass, steel, or porcelain rather than plastic. When plastic cannot be avoided, choose packaging with recycling codes one, two, four, or five as they contain less toxic types of plastic. Start using the bulk bins at your grocery store to reduce the amount of food packaging you come in contact with. At restaurants, grocery stores, and retail stores, opt for emailed receipts whenever you can as printed receipts contain a considerable amount of BPA.

plastic bottle caps spelling out FREE

Be wary of plastics that are labeled BPA-free, since they often contain other bisphenols like BPS. The full health impact of other bisphenols is not yet widely understood by scientists, but they are known to leach endocrine-disrupting chemicals as well. It’s best to avoid them entirely if you can.

When it comes to your family, look for the MADE SAFE label on baby products and water bottles. Baby bottles, teething rings, pacifiers, and toys are often made with plastics that contain BPAs. In addition to being BPA-free, MADE SAFE certified products are made without other toxic chemicals linked to health and ecosystem issues.

2. Phthalates

phthalates written on multiple road signs

Phthalates are a class of common chemicals used to make plastics more flexible in consumer products like toys, vinyl flooring, call coverings, vinyl mattress covers, shower curtains, and plastic food packaging. Phthalates are also used as solvents or dissolving agents in things like detergents and lubricating oils.

You’ll even find phthalates in personal care and household items, usually listed as fragrance ingredients in nail polish, hairspray, aftershave lotion, soaps, shampoos, and perfumes. Because these chemicals are not tightly bound to other molecules in the products, they often leach from the plastic and into your body.

Phthalates have been linked to a range of health concerns including developmental and reproductive endocrine disruption. According to one study, phthalate exposure in males has been linked to lower sperm counts and altered sperm quality. In females, phthalates can alter thyroid function.

colourful plastic children's toys

A recent report from the Centers of Disease Control found that phthalate exposure is widespread in the U.S. among both women and men, but higher in women because they use higher amounts of soaps, body washes, shampoos, cosmetics, and other personal care products than men do.

The European Union has banned all phthalates from cosmetics and the U.S. banned some phthalates from children’s toys. Unfortunately, these chemicals are still widespread, and studies have shown that phthalates are present in the urine of 99% of individuals tested.

female consultant looks cosmetic products in plastic packaging

Phthalates can be difficult to avoid as most labels simply list them as fragrance or perfume. However, you can reduce your use of fragrance products overall. Opt for products that disclose all ingredients on the label and source scents only from natural ingredients. Read labels on nail polishes and avoid any that list DBP as an ingredient. Reduce your use of plastic wrap and other products made from PVC.

Try to eat less packaged food, since exposure occurs from drinking and eating foods that are contained in plastics. Remember that heat or cold can accelerate the leaching process. Write to your favourite food companies and tell them you want phthalate-free packaging.

3. PFOAs

molecular structure of Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)

PFOAs stands for perfluorooctanoic acid, which is also called C8 and has related compounds called PFASs. There are currently more than 3000 PFOA and PFAS chemicals in consumer goods in the U.S. While PFOA has largely been phased out, it’s been replaced by PFASs with similar properties.

nonstick pot cookware

You can find them in Gortex, Teflon, and in carpet or furniture that has been made flame resistant. PFOAs are very persistent, which means they stay in the environment. They’re also bio-accumulative, so they stay in the human body for a long time.

PFOAs are ubiquitous as well, as a 2007 study from the CDC found PFOAs in the blood of 99.7% of Americans. After a class-action lawsuit that revealed PFOA’s links to cancer and other diseases, the manufacturer DuPont actually began to remove PFOAs from their products.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to avoid PFOAs completely but you can switch from nonstick cookware to cast iron or stainless steel. Try to avoid stain-resistant materials like clothing, carpet, and furniture. Similar to BPAs, look for the MADE SAFE seal since PFOAs are not permitted in certified products.

Zenith Detox supplement by Zenith Labs

Remember, the first two steps for better environmental health are identifying and avoiding products with these toxins in them. Then, you can follow those steps with a healthy supplement. Zenith Labs has created a supplement called Zenith Detox, which helps your liver process toxic elements from the environment around you.


Dr. Ryan Shelton of Zenith LabsIf you liked this video/article, do share it with your friends and loved ones. Subscribe to the Youtube channel for weekly tips on new tools and techniques to improve your health and well-being.

I believe in the original meaning of the word doctor, ‘docere’, which means teacher. I’m here to help educate you on how to take care of yourself in ways that you may not have heard of before, but that are effective. I always want to hear your ideas and feedback so be sure to leave me comments below!

 

 

 

The 3 Pillars Of Perfect Gut Health

The 3 Pillars Of Perfect Gut Health

 

Maintaining perfect gut health is increasingly challenging in today’s society due to processed foods and stress, but promoting optimal gut health has so many positive benefits for your health and wellness. When I was in medical school, many of my professors advocated that all health starts in the gut and over the past couple of decades, I’ve seen that is true for many people. If you take good care of your gut, your gut will take good care of you.

The 3 Pillars Of Perfect Gut Health

Why is good gut health important?

young woman framing her flat stomach with her hands

Everything you eat has to be broken down, processed, and absorbed by your body. If your body is not able to extract and absorb the positive benefits of a healthy diet, you may not see the benefits from your diet that you should.

Without perfect gut health, you can experience physical symptoms like constipation, diarrhea, gastroesophageal reflux disease, abdominal pain, gas, bloating, belching, irritable bowel syndrome, and food sensitivities. To prevent these negative symptoms, we’re going to talk about three aspects to promote good gut health: probiotics, digestive enzymes, and fiber prebiotics.

Probiotics

healthy probiotics sauerkraut pickles yogurt

Probiotics are the healthy bacteria that live both in and on us. There are trillions of healthy bacteria living in us and on us, outnumbering human cells by a long shot. Of course, we’re not walking around looking like alien bacteria because human cells are huge compared to tiny bacteria, but they do actually outnumber us. We’re more bacteria than we are human, which is astonishing.

Probiotics provide many benefits, not just for the GI tract, but also for our immune system, weight loss, brain health, and even depression and anxiety. There are more serotonin receptors in the gut than in the brain, and healthy bacteria have unique ways of communicating with the brain to promote good physical health.

So why do probiotics, healthy flora, and healthy bacteria start to die off? A poor diet that is high in processed foods and carbohydrates can affect the good bacteria. High levels of stress and some medications can negatively affect probiotics as well.

Food is medicine, so I encourage you to get your probiotics through food sources. Some of my favorite sources of probiotics include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, miso, kombucha, pickles, and natto. Do the best you can to get probiotics through food sources, but you can always take a high-quality supplement if you need to.

Digestive Enzymes

close up of blue and red Digestive Enzymes

Digestive enzymes released by the pancreas include amylase, protease, lipase, lactase, phytase, cellulase, invertase, and maltase. These digestive enzymes break down macronutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

Again, a poor diet, stress, and certain medications can decrease your body’s ability to produce these enzymes. These enzymes are absolutely necessary for not just digesting macronutrients, but also for extracting important micronutrients like vitamins and minerals.

Fiber Prebiotics

spoonfuls of high fiber prebiotic grains

For the most part, Americans are terrible at getting enough fiber. It’s estimated that Americans take in around 10 grams per day, but studies recommended getting 40-50 grams per day. Prebiotics are basically undigested fiber that these probiotics feed upon and promote more healthy bacteria.

The best sources of prebiotics include chicory root, dandelion greens, Jerusalem artichoke, garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, bananas, oats, oatmeal, apples, cocoa, burdock root, flax seeds, chia seeds, jicama, sweet potatoes, and seaweed. Again, it’s better to get your probiotics and prebiotics from food, but there are supplements you can take if necessary.

Probiotic T-50 supplement by Zenith LabsZenith Labs has created a highly-viable, highly-potent probiotic, called Probiotic T-50. It contains 11 strains of 50 billion organisms to help promote better gut health. We’ve also created an enzyme supplement called True Digestion to help with GERD symptoms and increase digestive enzymes, helping promote better overall health for you.


Dr. Ryan Shelton of Zenith LabsIf you liked this video/article, do share it with your friends and loved ones. Subscribe to the Youtube channel for weekly tips on new tools and techniques to improve your health and well-being.

I believe in the original meaning of the word doctor, ‘docere’, which means teacher. I’m here to help educate you on how to take care of yourself in ways that you may not have heard of before, but that are effective. I always want to hear your ideas and feedback so be sure to leave me comments below!

 

 

 

mineral

Top 6 Mineral Deficiencies You Likely Have

 

If you’re struggling with a general sense of not being well, or you have poor health and it has not specifically been diagnosed as an underlying medical condition, you should read on. One of the potential contributing factors to why you may not feel at the top of your game has to do with mineral deficiencies.

Mineral deficiencies affect every system in the body and it’s important because it is actually rather common. We’ll be exploring the top six mineral deficiencies, seeing how and why those deficiencies can contribute to poor health, and the basic steps to take to correct mineral deficiencies.

What are minerals?

When we think about nutrition, there are basically two categories:

  1. Macronutrients: proteins, carbohydrates, fats, fiber
  1. Micronutrients: vitamins, minerals

fresh fruits in a transparent vitamin pill capsuleWhen we think about micronutrients, we tend to think about the importance of vitamins. Whilst vitamins are critically important for the body to work well, minerals are equally important and frankly, often overlooked and underappreciated.

Minerals are coenzymes required for your body to work. Enzymes basically control everything in every system in your body, from hormones to neurotransmitters, muscles and heart health to blood pressure. Every system in your body basically runs and churns on enzymes, and nearly all enzymes require minerals to work. If enzymes are deficient in those minerals, they do not work properly.

How to spot mineral deficiencies

scientist looking down a microscope doing micronutrient testingHow do you diagnose a mineral deficiency? The first step is just to learn about what the symptoms of deficiencies are. The second step is to get some laboratory testing to confirm those deficiencies.

Some mineral deficiencies are fairly straightforward and easy to diagnose. Examples include deficiencies in iron, iodine, calcium, and potassium. These minerals are tightly regulated in the body, and there are conventional standard lab testing that can help you find out the levels of these minerals in your body.

Other mineral deficiencies are more difficult to diagnose because they’re within the cells. They’re not freely floating around in the bloodstream so a typical phlebotomy or blood test may not pick them up as easily. There are specialty labs which take samples of your cells and grow them in a lab to help determine if you have micronutrient deficiencies of minerals, specifically minerals like magnesium and zinc. Micronutrient testing measures how micronutrients are actually functioning within your cells. These tests allow nutritional assessments for clinical conditions, general wellness, and the prevention of chronic diseases like arthritis, cancer, cardiovascular risk, diabetes, immune system health, and metabolic disorder.

The top 6 minerals

1. Ironiron-rich foods like spinach, eggs, red meat, and liver

Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the world. It affects more than 25% of the world population, which is approximately 1.6 billion people worldwide. This figure rises to about 47% in preschool children. 30% of menstruating women may be deficient as well due to monthly blood loss, and up to 42% of young pregnant women may also suffer from iron deficiency.

Iron is an essential mineral. It’s the main component of red blood cells which binds with hemoglobin and transports oxygen to every cell in your body. It’s important for the electron transport chain (which involves energy production in the body), the production of thyroid hormones, and the production of dopamine in the brain.

There are two sources of dietary iron. The first is heme iron. This is very well-absorbed and it’s only found in animal foods. Red meat, in particular, contains high amounts of heme iron. The second source is non-heme iron. This type of iron is much more prevalent and common in our food chain, however, it is not as well absorbed as heme iron. Non-heme iron is found in vegetables and fruits.

The most common consequence of iron deficiency is anemia. The quantity of red blood cells is decreased and the blood becomes less able to carry oxygen to every cell in the body. Symptoms of anemia are fairly well known. They include tiredness, weakness, a weakened immune system, impaired brain function, and blue sclera.

Contributing factors of iron deficiency

  • Hypochlorhydria: Also known as having low stomach acid. Stomach acid is required to absorb iron.
  • Medications: Certain medications can inhibit the absorption of iron.
  • Over-supplementation: Over supplementation of other minerals like zinc, copper, or manganese can also inhibit the absorption of iron.
  • Large intake of various foods: A large intake of beans, legumes or grains can inhibit iron absorption due to phytates and lignans found in these foods. Hence, vegetarians and vegans have an increased risk of iron deficiency.
  • Beeturia: If you’re an individual that consumes beets, have a look at your urine the next time you pee. If it has a red tint to it, it may be a sign of iron deficiency.

Best sources of iron

The best dietary sources of heme iron include meats, organ meats, fish, shellfish, canned tuna, and canned sardines. The best sources of non-heme iron include beans and legumes. However, note that if you over-consume beans and legumes, the phytates and lignans found in beans can inhibit the absorption of non-heme iron.

Vegetarian sources include broccoli, kale, and spinach. In fact, one ounce of kale provides about 5-6% of your recommended dietary intake. However, you should never supplement with iron unless you truly need it. Too much iron can be pro-inflammatory for the body and frankly, may increase your risk factor for cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, and other health conditions. Additionally, vitamin C can enhance the absorption of iron, so eating vitamin C rich foods like oranges and kale and bell peppers during the consumption of iron-rich foods can be beneficial.

The best way to take iron is in small doses throughout the day. The recommendation is 30 milligrams, three times a day. It may take six to nine weeks before you see improvements within your body.

2. Iodine

iodine food sourcesIodine is an essential mineral for normal thyroid function and the production of thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones are involved in many processes in the body, such as growth, brain development, metabolic rate regulation, and bone maintenance. Think of the thyroid as the accelerator in your car. If you’re pushing the accelerator too much, you reach that red line and the engine (i.e. your body) will be running too fast. If you press too little on the accelerator, you don’t go anywhere. Physically, your body will feel fatigued and possibly see weight gain.

Iodine deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in the world. It affects nearly one-third of the world’s population. The most common symptoms of iodine deficiency is an enlarged thyroid gland, also known as “goiter”. It contributes to an increased heart rate, shortness of breath, and weight gain. Severe iodine deficiency may also include serious adverse effects, especially in children.

Deficiencies can result in dry mouth, dry skin, lack of sweating, weight gain, enlarged thyroid gland, increased heart rate, shortness of breath.

Contributing factors of iodine deficiency

  • Excess intake of selenium, calcium, and vitamin A may inhibit the intestinal absorption of iodine.

Best sources of iodine

  • Dietary sources include eggs, fish, dairy, spirulina and sea vegetables such as kelp, kombucha and other seaweeds.
  • Iodized salt

Be aware of the potential serious side effects or risk factors of taking too much iodine. The recommendations for iodine intake tend to be in the range of about 75 to 150 micrograms per day. It’s a mineral that you have to supplement with caution because too much can cause problems.

3. Calcium

calcium-rich food sources such as milk, spinach, cheese, and yoghurtCalcium is essential for every cell in the body. It mineralizes bone and teeth, especially during times of rapid growth and development. It’s also helpful for the maintenance of heart health, immune health, and insulin control.

One survey in the US found that less than 15% of teenage girls and less than 10% of women over the age of 50 met the recommended daily intake of calcium. In the same survey, less than 22% of young or teenage boys and men over 50 met the recommended intake. Symptoms of severe deficiencies in calcium include osteoporosis and rickets.

Contributing factors of calcium deficiency

  • Lack of vitamin D
  • Certain medications
  • Over-intake of phosphorous can inhibit calcium intake. Phosphorous is found in canned soda, bottled soda, and cola products.

Best sources of calcium

The effectiveness and safety of calcium supplements have been somewhat debated in the last few years. Some studies have found that over-intake of calcium can lead to an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. It is still recommended to get your calcium intake from foods rather than supplements.

Dietary sources of calcium include boned fish, dairy products, dark lean, dark leafy green vegetables such as kale, spinach, bok choy, and broccoli. Vitamin D and magnesium are required for good calcium absorption so make sure you have a healthy intake of these.

If you’re over the age of 50, the recommended total intake of calcium daily is about 1,200 milligrams.

4. Magnesium

food products containing magnesiumBetween 2004-2007, it was found that 48% of the US population consumed less than the required amount of magnesium. Low intake of magnesium has been associated with several diseases including diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and osteoporosis. Low magnesium is particularly common among hospital patients and individuals over the age of 50.

Magnesium is a key mineral in the body. It’s essential for bone and teeth structure, and it’s also involved in more than 300 enzyme reactions. It is also important for muscles, nerves, and for activating ATP or adenosine triphosphate (which is basically the energy producer in the body). Furthermore, magnesium helps digest proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. It also serves as a building block for RNA and DNA synthesis, and it acts as a precursor for many neurotransmitters such as serotonin.

Because magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in your body, a deficiency can wreak havoc on your entire system. The fact that researchers have detected more than 3,750 magnesium-binding sites on human proteins should give you a sense of how important the mineral is for your body’s optimal functioning.

Contributing factors of magnesium deficiency

  • Certain prescription medications
  • Low levels of stomach acid
  • Stress
  • Processed foods
  • Fertilizers in the production of produce

Deficiencies of magnesium can cause constipation, eye twitches, muscle spasm, headaches and migraines, high blood pressure, heart arrhythmias, irregular heartbeats, coronary spasms, low energy, fatigue and loss of appetite. More subtle long-term symptoms that you may not notice include insulin resistance and high blood pressure.

Best sources of magnesium

The best source of magnesium happens to be the magnesium salt, magnesium aspartate. Other dietary sources of magnesium include avocados, nuts and seeds, brown rice, dark leafy green vegetables, oily fish, raw cocoa, and seaweed. Include these as part of your healthy diet.

Intake over the age of 40 is suspected and recommended to be above 420 milligrams for males and 320 milligrams for females. What seems to help magnesium absorption is calcium, potassium, vitamin B6, and vitamin B1, also known as thiamine.

5. Potassium

foods containing natural potassium such as bananas, broccoli, kiwi, walnuts and grapefruitPotassium is mostly inside cells. Sodium is mostly outside cells. Now the ratio of sodium to potassium has changed dramatically since the hunter-gatherer days because potassium is mostly in hunter-gatherer Paleo-type foods. Recent research shows that about a third to as much as half of individuals presently are consuming far less potassium than they need to be.

Contributing factors of potassium deficiency

  • Certain prescription medications like antibiotics and diuretics

Potassium deficiency can contribute to cardiovascular disease, fatigue, muscle cramps.

Best sources of magnesium

The best source is potassium aspartate, however food sources are always the best for these minerals. There are high levels of potassium in veggies, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, meats, and dairy. An interesting fact about potassium is that there is a difference in potassium levels between boiled and steamed foods. With boiled foods, about 10 to 50% of potassium is lost compared to steamed foods where only three to 6% of potassium is lost.

The FDA has limited the potassium of supplements to 99 milligrams per serving.

6. Zinc

foods highest in zincAt least two billion people worldwide are thought to be zinc deficient. It’s due to a number of reasons, our processes of farming and our changes in dietary habits.

Zinc is important for DNA and protein synthesis, vision, hearing, taste, sexual development, wound healing, immune function, and skin health.

Zinc is thought to be an aphrodisiac and help sperm production in men, but it will only raise testosterone levels if the user is deficient in zinc. In very high doses zinc can act as an aromatase inhibitor in females and reduce estrogen levels, so use with caution if you’re menopausal or postmenopausal.

Contributing factors of zinc deficiency

  • If you’re an alcoholic, vegetarian, pregnant, or lactating
  • If you have a digestive disorder
  • High levels of sweat (athletes should be cautious)

Best sources of zinc

Dietary sources of zinc include dairy products, nuts, red meat, eggs, and seafood. Plant sources of zinc are slightly less well absorbed than animal sources.

If you’re over the age of 20, the recommended daily intake for males is about 11 milligrams, and 8 milligrams for females. The maximum daily dose of zinc supplementation is around 40 milligrams per day and it’s actually important to take copper along with zinc because excess intake of zinc can actually cause copper deficiency.

When you’re taking a mineral, it’s important to look at what salt it is. It’s always zinc with a salt. So it may be zinc sulfate, zinc gluconate, zinc methylthionine, or elemental zinc. All of these are absorbed very differently and affects the quantities you should take. Some examples:

  • Zinc sulfate – as much as 220 milligrams
  • Zinc gluconate – as much as 380 milligrams
  • Zinc methylthionine – 230 milligrams

It’s important to note that supplementation and recommended dosages should be considered on a case-by-case basis, based on pre-existing medical conditions and other minerals you might be taking. As you’ve learned, if you take too much of any one mineral, you can disrupt the absorption of other minerals.

The team at Zenith Labs have created a supplement called Pure Greens, which is a green powder high in minerals but well-absorbed because they’re complexed with their original foods. It’s a safer way than taking mega doses of individual minerals so do check it out and let us know what you think!


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