Posts Tagged ‘heart health’

heart health

Vaping vs Smoking

Vaping vs Smoking

Someone recently asked us if vaping was safer than smoking, and this question was particularly intriguing to me. It’s a rather new human behavior and very little is known about it. I love research though, so I decided to find out as much as I could about the subject and share the information with you.

First of all, I want to assure you that we are not going to pull a new rabbit out of an old hat – both vaping and smoking are bad, and I want to be clear about that. The simple answer through research is that yes, vaping may be less harmful. It’s not that vaping is healthier, but simply less harmful than smoking cigarettes.

Vaping vs Smoking

What is Vaping?

close up of female vaping with cloud of smoke

Over 500 articles have been published on vaping in the last few years, but very few of them are direct comparisons on the health risks or benefits of vaping versus smoking cigarettes. E-cigarettes are devices that produce an aerosol by heating a liquid containing various chemicals including nicotine, flavorings, and other additives. Users inhale the aerosol and those additives into their lungs. The aerosols produced by e-cigarettes can contain harmful chemicals such as heavy metals, lead, volatile organic compounds, ultra-fine particles, potentially cancer-causing chemicals, and other agents used for cleaning the device. Over 80 compounds are inhaled every time that you use an e-cigarette. Compare that to over 7,000 chemicals that are inhaled every time you smoke a cigarette!

electronic cigarette lying next to regular cigarettes

There has been a recent epidemic of e-cigarette users going to their doctor or even the emergency room because of lung disorders. The onset of respiratory findings, which can include nonproductive cough, chest pain, and shortness of breath, can occur several days or weeks before hospitalization. Systemic findings can include fast heart rate, fever, chills, fatigue, GI distress, and diarrhea preceding the lung symptoms.

Adult smokers who are attempting to quit should use evidence-based smoking cessation treatments, including counseling, nicotine replacement, and FDA-approved medications. Those who need help quitting tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, should contact their medical provider.

Are E-Cigarettes Safer Than Tobacco Cigarettes?  

man holding electronic cigarette and tobacco cigarettes

Smoking tobacco cigarettes is the primary cause of preventable cardiovascular deaths in the United States, and stopping the use of tobacco has long been the focus of public health organizations. According to the Surgeon General Report in 2014, rates of smoking in the US have reached historic lows. Parallel to the decline in cigarette smoking is the use of electronic cigarettes, which were introduced to the US in 2007. The market has since increased, especially among young people, which is a major concern. 3.1 million high school students in 2018 used e-cigarettes or vaped, and only 600,000 of them are illegal age.

E-cigarette use may be less harmful than tobacco use, but it comes with its own risks. Usage has increased from 700,000 users in 2012 to 3.2 million users in 2018. The effects of e-cigarettes on long-term cardiovascular health are rather inconclusive but still concerning. Multiple studies have shown temporary increases in oxidative stress, inflammation, vascular dysfunction, and platelet aggregation as well. These effects are consistent with the properties of nicotine, though the other components of e-cigarette emissions may also contribute to this.

E-cigarette use is less carcinogenic than tobacco smoke, as tobacco smoke is associated with lung cancer and other cancers throughout the body. It’s the number one risk factor for cardiovascular disease in the United States and worsens virtually every health condition we’re aware of. Tobacco smoke weakens the walls of the lungs, so we got plenty of air when we breathe in, but there’s little lung tissue left which means we’re not actually delivering air to the vital cells of our bodies.

vaporiser with different flavors on tabletop

Now let’s be clear: the vapor of e-cigarettes contains less harmful substances than tobacco smoke, but e-cigarettes are not a hazard-free lifestyle product. Just like tobacco, e-cigarettes cause inflammation of the lungs. E-cigarettes are also associated with a higher rate of illicit drug use because other drugs can be used in the vaporizing units.

Vaping with e-cigarettes may be less harmful to your health than tobacco cigarettes and less associated with cancers, but they have their own acute symptoms to be aware of. There’s a recent epidemic of e-cigarettes because of market increase and adulterated agents that you can put in the vaporizers, causing more individuals to need emergency room visits.

If you smoke tobacco, you should certainly move to e-cigarettes. If you use e-cigarettes, work with your healthcare provider to come up with techniques for quitting permanently.


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!  

 

 

 

Vegan Diet Benefits and Risks

Vegan Diet Benefits and Risks

 

People around the world implement a variety of dietary and nutritional plans to achieve and maintain their health and wellness. Often, these choices can vary from one culture and set of traditions to another. Some dietary strategies focus on fats or other trending topics, and as a result, they come and go quickly. Other dietary strategies, such as the vegan diet, have more staying power.

vegan wrap with avocado and carrots

We’re going to talk about the potential benefits and risks of choosing a vegan diet. People choose to be vegan for a variety of reasons such as tradition, culture, ecological reasons, or ethical beliefs. Some people choose to be vegan simply because, based on several studies, it’s good for your overall health.

Vegan Diet Benefits and Risks

My Experience as a Vegan

man chopping vegetables on a cutting board

I personally have experienced being a vegan. 25 years ago, when I was a freshman in university, I went through a personal tragedy that made me want to be a vegan. My grandfather died of a heart attack much too early in his life. I had watched him eat a lot of fried foods and meats, and as an aspiring scientist, my first instinct was to look up dietary research. Sure enough, I found several articles that showed how being a vegetarian or vegan can reduce major risk factors for cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer.

I was only a vegan for one year because as a freshman in college, I found it difficult socially to keep up with. My friends wanted to go out to eat hamburgers and hot wings, so I often found myself on the outside looking in. I chose to gradually reintroduce meat in a responsible way and that choice has stuck to this day. I eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, healthy proteins, and healthy fats. When it comes to protein and dairy products, I make smart and ethical choices around what I choose to consume.

Being a Healthy Vegan

vegan protein sources like tofu, beans, and nuts

There is a healthy way to be a vegan as well as an unhealthy way. Some people switch to veganism and end up consuming primarily refined carbohydrates, thinking they’re making healthy choices. Unfortunately, that can lead to deficiencies in micronutrients like vitamins and minerals, and macronutrients like essential proteins.

If you’re not mindful of your food choices as a vegan, you may become deficient in calcium, iron, or zinc. It’s important to eat dark leafy greens, nuts, and seeds for calcium and iron. Amino acid deficiencies can be common if you’re not eating enough nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans, and legumes. The vegan diet also does not contain any natural vitamin B12 so it’s recommended that you use a supplement.

Beans and legumes tend to be low in an amino acid called methionine but high in lysine, both of which are essential amino acids. Grains are the opposite though, low in lysine but high in methionine. Therefore, it’s important to get both beans and grains in your diet, which will help you maintain good health on a vegan diet.


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!

 

 

 

Pill Nation Doctor Speaks Out

 

Instead of talking about a specific health condition in this article, we’re going to touch on a topic I’m quite passionate about. In fact, it’s one of the reasons I ultimately decided to become a naturopathic medical doctor. It’s something I call, ‘pill nation.’

Pill Nation Doctor Speaks Out

An important disclaimer

small glass jars of pills, supplements, and medicine

First, let’s start with a disclaimer: many medications are essential for maintaining good health and you should never discontinue a medication without speaking to the prescribing physician first. Many supplements, whether nutritional or botanical, are great for supporting health and wellness. Again, you should not discontinue these supplements without checking in with the individual who recommended or prescribed them to you.

Alarming facts around pill dependency

pile of different pills

There’s an alarming trend that’s been developing in America over the last few decades, and unfortunately, other countries around the world are following our patterns.

In the year 2000, 50% of Americans were taking at least one medication. Fast forward to 2012 and that number jumped up to 60%. During that 12-year gap, the number of people taking five or more medications doubled from 8% to 16%, and these numbers are still increasing every year.

Why are people taking more than five medications? There are many factors. We know that medications can cause side effects, so some doctors prescribe additional medications to treat the side effects of the first, second, or even third medication. Another key factor is due to the legal changes that happened in the early 1980s. Legislation was passed by Congress and Ronald Reagan, president at the time, allowing for direct to consumer marketing and advertising.

handful of different pills

This new legislation took some of the power from a physician. A physician would typically review your medical history, give you a physical exam, make a proper diagnosis, recommend a treatment, and probably prescribe medication. Thanks to the new legislation though, big pharma companies were able to bypass this practice of medicine by marketing directly to people. Suddenly there were commercials on TV, sometimes with cartoons involved but always with happy people.

Patients turned into consumers, visiting the doctor, requesting a certain medication based on an advertisement they saw, and having the doctor sign off on it. This trend is still on the rise. In 2014, 4.3 billion prescriptions were written, equaling $375 billion – and that doesn’t even include over the counter medications or supplements. In 2014, roughly a third of Americans were taking at least one nutritional or botanical supplement, equaling $5 billion. We’re becoming increasingly dependent on pills.

Why it’s dangerous to depend on pills

young woman sorting through her pills

Why is the idea of a ‘pill nation’ so alarming? Some pills certainly cause side effects and some pills can actually cause disease. A common one is proton pump inhibitors. Proton pump inhibitors are quite effective at reducing acid reflux, but they’re almost too effective. They can decrease your acid to the point where you’re not able to extract and absorb certain nutrients anymore.

If you’re not absorbing nutrients because of low stomach acid, you can face mood changes, physical pain, increased rates of asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes, and even osteoporosis.

In 2018, John Hopkins University showed that due to medical errors and excessive medications, modern medicine is now the third most common cause of death. I believe that most doctors intend to help with health, but the trend of individuals taking more and more pills is alarming.

Good health begins with you

close up of herbal pills

Instead of immediately turning to pills, remember that good health begins with you. If you follow a healthy diet, engage in physical activity, balance your hormones, and reduce stress in your life, you can make tremendous strides in your health and wellbeing.

The next step in creating your good health is adding in nutritional or botanical supplements. Look for companies that do in-house testing and third-party testing to ensure the potency and purity of the ingredients. If you do need medication for a health condition, remember to consult with a physician instead of blindly following an advertisement. You can have a dramatic impact on your health with the right lifestyle changes.


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!

 

 

 

long life

The 5 Commandments Of Eating Healthy To Live A Long Life

If you’re feeling inundated, overwhelmed, and confused about the best dietary nutritional program that you should eat to reduce your risk factors for chronic health conditions – you’re not alone. There’s tons of information online and tens of thousands of scientific research articles to examine just this topic.

Fortunately, there are a few common trends that come up over and over again, and the medical scientific community (for the most part) are behind these recommendations because they consistently show that they’re successful in reducing risk factors for chronic health conditions and promote optimal health and wellness. For the sake of this post, we’ll call them the Five Commandments of Healthy Eating.

I’ve made some other posts about foods to avoid. And if you haven’t seen them, I encourage you to check them out. And again, the scientific community is, for the most part, agreed upon these, like avoiding or limiting trans fats, avoiding or eliminating fried foods and fast foods, avoiding or eliminating refined sugars, and avoiding any kind of food allergy or food sensitivity that you may have. Some research articles show that Americans may have as many as one to three food sensitivities or food allergies in as many as 25 to 33% of Americans.

The five commandments of healthy eating

1. Increase fruit and vegetable intakes

various fresh fruits and vegetables laid out on a table

Research has shown that as few as 10 to 15% of Americans are consuming adequate recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. Fruits contain important macronutrients and micronutrients, complex carbohydrates, protein, essential fatty acids, and fiber.

Fiber is an important macronutrient that is severely under-consumed by Americans. It’s recommended that you take in roughly 40 to 50 grams of fiber a day. Fiber is only found in the vegetable/fruit kingdom where we get those insoluble fibers, which research consistently has shown may reduce risk factors for the development of certain kinds of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Plus fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants, polyphenols, and proanthocyanidins, that are important for every cellular function in the body. It is recommended to have nine servings of five colors each and every day.

2. Get sufficient essential fatty acids

different omega 3-and essential fatty-rich foods such as salmon, eggs, nuts and seeds

A report in 2010 showed that most Americans were not getting adequate amounts of essential fatty acids. The recommended intake is one gram per day (of both EPA and DHA), and even higher amounts if you have a pre-existing medical condition such as cardiovascular disease, or if you’re pregnant or lactating. Essential fatty acids can be found in seafood, nuts seeds, avocados, olives, and olive oil.

 

3. Plan meal schedules

a breakfast table with salad, fresh juice, eggs, fruits, croissants, and a cup of coffee“Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper”. Most individuals are backward to that. They have a scant breakfast or they skip breakfast altogether. They have a modest lunch, and they have a huge dinner. This can be detrimental for blood sugar control and cardiovascular disease. Make sure to get most of your calories in the morning, have a modest lunch, and fewer calories for dinner.

4. Include cruciferous vegetables

top down view of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sproutsCruciferous vegetables are high in indoles, sulforaphane, DIM, and kaempferol. Each of these components have been independently studied to reduce risk factors for the development of certain types of cancer. We also know that cruciferous vegetables are very helpful for both phase one and phase two detoxification pathways in the liver. We’re all carrying chemicals so we could do with a little help in detoxification. Include cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, and chard in your diet.

5. Eat organic

woman carrying a large wooden crate of fresh organic vegetablesIf possible, wherever possible, eat organic. They contain higher amounts of essential vitamins and minerals than non-organic produce. In addition, non-organic produce has been shown to contain a higher level of pesticide, herbicide, and fungicides. There are 12 foods that are particularly high in these chemicals: strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, and potatoes. If eating organic is too expensive, try to just eat organic for these 12 foods at least so as to avoid the consumption of these chemicals. Plus, organic foods inherently contain higher amounts of essential probiotics, the healthy bacteria for our gut, for our brain, for our immune system.

So, there you have it – the five commandments to healthy eating! Let us know what rules you abide by for a healthier life and your experiences with these five commandments.


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!

 

 

 

Cholesterol Myth Here's The Truth

Cholesterol Myth Here’s The Truth

Recently, I had a female patient in her early 50s come into my office in tears. She was upset because she applied for life insurance at a premium rate and was denied for the sole reason that her total cholesterol was elevated. I want to share some of the information I gave her so you have the facts on cholesterol and how it’s a potential risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke.

This patient is a professor at a local university, so she’s extremely intelligent and asked relevant questions. Is cholesterol a myth or a controversy? Is there valid debate surrounding the benefit of cholesterol medication or is the evidence and the scientific consensus on one side of the issue? Has data been manipulated by researchers to corroborate their theories simply so they get more grant money?

Cholesterol Myth Here’s The Truth

The Science of Cholesterol

atherosclerosis is an accumulation of cholesterol in arteries

It is clear that among adults in industrialized countries, one-fourth of all deaths result from arterial blockage caused by atherosclerotic plaques. ‘Total cholesterol’ is a phrase used to refer to all circulating cholesterol molecules and is totaled by adding LDL, HDL, and VLDL, and it is distinct from triglycerides. However, LDL and HDL are proteins which envelop and carry cholesterol.

The key thing about cholesterol is the size of the particle, the density of the particle, and whether or not the particle is oxidized. In a lipoprotein, you have proteins carrying fatty acids and cholesterol weaving in and through it. It begins as a chylomicron, which is basically a joint effort between your liver and intestines to absorb fat. Chylomicron becomes VLDL, which becomes IDL, which becomes LDL, which ultimately becomes HDL. As VLDL and LDL go around the bloodstream to distribute fatty acids and cholesterol to cells around the body, it becomes denser.

Apolipoprotein and its receptor site in the liver are key proteins that allow the liver to reabsorb fatty acids and cholesterol. Unfortunately, sugar can glycate and disrupt the apolipoprotein binding site, preventing the cholesterol and fatty acids to be reabsorbed by the liver.

LDL particles binding to LDL receptors on the cell membrane

LDL brings fatty acids and cholesterol from the liver and then circulates them to tissues. They move slowly and are susceptible to oxidation compared to HDL by free radicals. Unfortunately, sugar can oxidize LDL which then contributes to cardiovascular disease. This means that LDL is often named the bad cholesterol, but is ‘bad’ a pejorative term?

In 2016, 16 out of 19 showed an inverse relationship between total LDL and all-cause mortality. That means as total LDL went up, all-cause mortality went down, and vice-versa. Total LDL does not take into consideration the size of the particle or how much it’s oxidized. As a marker, we can use lipoprotein(a) because it only attaches to oxidized LDL particles. HDL brings circulating cholesterol and fatty acids back to the liver in order to clear them from the blood, be recycled, and hopefully removed from the body.

Cholesterol is essential for human health and plays important roles in cell membranes, and it’s a precursor to many hormones and vitamin D. The body produces about 2000 milligrams of cholesterol a day. To put that into perspective, an egg contains about 300 milligrams of cholesterol.

High cholesterol, particularly LDL, may be a compensatory physiological response to arterial injury, inflammation, and stress. Cholesterol is needed for tissue repair and is a precursor to stress hormones like cortisol. You can think of cholesterol as the body’s Band-Aid and attempt to heal the inflammation in the arteries. Cholesterol is not the culprit, but the middleman instead. Inflammation and oxidation are the culprits.

How Atherosclerotic Plaques Form

illustration of fat cells in the bloodstream

Inside every blood vessel is something called the glycocalyx, which is a fuzzy, furry lining. Unfortunately, oscillating sugars, foods high in lectins, and oxidized LDL can damage the glycocalyx. Once it’s been damaged, small LDL particles slip into the subendothelial layer of arteries. LDO and white blood cells called macrophages can slip though as well, forming a huge foam cell. Macrophages start to scavenge receptors for damaged, oxidized LDL particles, which attracts more oxidized LDL particles. This foam cell ultimately attracts calcium as well, ultimately leading to atherosclerotic plaque or hardening of the arteries. The blood flow through the artery decreases, and when it becomes destabilized, there are problems of heart attack and stroke. 

Research of cholesterol and its relationship to cardiovascular disease began in earnest in the 1950s, and then regulation of cholesterol metabolism was extensively studied by several scientists in the US in the 1960s. Cholesterol in the body can be derived from what is absorbed from diet, chylomicrons, and from what is synthesized in the body by the liver. The former type is supplemented by the latter if the required levels are not met. Once the former type of exogenous dietary cholesterol reaches its required level, the liver’s synthesis function of cholesterol is suppressed to prevent excessive production of cholesterol.

doctor holding chalkboard with LDL cholesterol written on it

The suppression of cholesterol synthesis in the liver is mediated through changes of an enzyme called HMG-CoA reductase, which catalyzes the conversion of HMG-CoA to another compound. Changes in reductase activity are closely related to changes in the overall rate of cholesterol synthesis. The liver can take up both LDL and HDL, but it cannot take up oxidized LDL.

In humans, cholesterol is produced in the liver and when it exceeds what is absorbed from the diet, the liver backs off its synthesis. This suggested to researches and drug developers that the inhibition of HMG-CoA reductase would be an effective means of lowering plasma or blood cholesterol in humans.

Studying Cholesterol

Three-dimensional molecular model of Cholesterol

The controversy between cholesterol and cardiovascular disease began early. The first studies compared the cholesterol between rabbits and dogs, but other scientists sad, “No, that’s not relevant because rabbits are vegetarian and dogs are carnivores.”

The next study was called the Honolulu Study, which compared Japanese men living in Japan compared to Japanese men who moved to Hawaii. When they moved to Hawaii, their risk factors and rate of cardiovascular disease and stroke went up. Maybe environment or maybe diet has an effect here.

A famous study began in 1948, called the Framingham Heart Study, coined the term risk factor for cardiovascular disease. It’s since become part of medical dogma for cardiovascular disease and stroke ever since.

The next studies were on particular diets, and the first one looked at individuals moving from a diet high in saturated fat to a diet high in polyunsaturated fat. Sure enough, individuals moving from polyunsaturated fat had lower risk factors and incidences of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Drug companies said, “You know what? People aren’t going to change their diet, so let’s develop a drug.” They developed medications that block cholesterol absorption, an HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor, and a drug that work through the LDL receptors on the liver.

HMG-CoA reductive inhibitors work through other mechanisms as well. They’re anti-inflammatory, reducing C-reactive protein and decreasing advanced glycation end products. They’re the second or third most commonly prescribed drug in the United States.

Lowering Cholersterol

We know that lowering cholesterol reduces the risk of cardiovascular events and mortality, but ultimately, we just want to live a long and happy life. A meta-analysis looked at 11 studies with 90,000 total participants to see what the average lifespan increase would be. The average lifespan increase of individuals taking statin with a history of cardiovascular disease was only five to six days, and just three and a half days in individuals without cardiovascular disease.

An increase in LDL receptor statins can cause an increase in LDL receptors in the liver, which is great. They take in LDL, but not oxidized LDL, which can increase the ratio of oxidized to non-oxidized by 10%. When it comes to medication, about 25% of individuals have side effects to statin medications. 1 in 10 cannot tolerate statins, means taking two different statins at the lowest dose instead. Common side effects include myalgia, muscle soreness or pain, liver damage, and an increased risk for diabetes. It also inhibits the production of an important nutrient called CoQ10, which is metabolized by HMG-CoA reductase. If you take a statin medication, please supplement with CoQ10.

Making Diet and Lifestyle Changes

image of a bicycle created with vegetables

The fact is that the benefits of statins are severely limited without diet and lifestyle changes. In fact, a recent quote from Mayo Clinic doctor said, “You can overeat your statin.” A pill will never be a replacement for lifestyle changes.

You need to avoid saturated fats, trans fats, diets high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, and unfiltered coffee. These things can exacerbate LDL and oxidized LDL. Skipping breakfast and other meals can be problematic, so eat small meals frequently.

Add more polyunsaturated fats, nuts, seeds, and fish to your diet. You should also add monosaturated fats like olives and olive oil. Specific foods that help LDL and oxidized LDL include rice, bran, oil, oat bran, soy, nuts, seeds, tomatoes, complex carbohydrates, foods high in stanols and sterols, and fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber. I recommend nine servings of five colors of produce each and every day.

Consider taking supplements like vitamin B5, niacin, calcium, chromium, garlic, copper, L-carnitine, and red yeast rice. Garlic has 17 positive studies showing it can reduce LDL and increase HDL. Red yeast rice is interesting because it works on HMG-CoA without the side effects of statins.

selection of keto diet approved foods

Keto and paleo diets are more effective than low-fat diets for LDL particles, oxidized LDL particles, increasing HDL, and decreasing triglycerides. Remember, the culprit is not cholesterol. It’s inflammation! You have to get free radicals, oxidation, and inflammation under control.

There are other important risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke, like high blood pressure, high triglycerides, high homocysteine, high c-reactive protein, high lipoprotein-a, high fibrinogen, and high platelet aggregation. Looking at that list, most of these are indicators of high inflammation and not a high total of cholesterol.

The Need for Melatonin

woman stretching in bed after waking up

The final thing I want to point out is that melatonin is one of the most powerful antioxidants our body naturally produces. Melatonin is the sleep hormone produced at night when it’s totally dark, so make sure your bedroom is completely dark with no ambient light, no technology, no alarm clock, or television. Your eyes communicate with your brain when it’s completely dark to promote the production of melatonin. Melatonin is cardioprotective because of its antioxidant properties, so consider taking it as a supplement.

If you have questions about LDL and its relationship to cardiovascular disease and stroke, please let me know. I want you to understand the true relationship between cholesterol and cardiovascular disease. I’ll help you achieve and maintain optimal 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!

 

 

 

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 Single Best Daily Habit To Prevent A Heart Attack

The Single Best Daily Habit To Prevent A Heart Attack

Did you know that every 40 seconds in the United States someone dies of a heart attack? You likely know someone who has suffered the devastating, often deadly effects of a heart attack. A heart attack is called the silent killer because we don’t know when and where it’s going to happen.

The Single Best Daily Habit To Prevent A Heart Attack

What is a heart attack?

man having a heart attack, clutching his chestA heart attack begins with inflammation, which can be caused by chemicals that your body produces, environmental toxins you’re exposed to every day, or damage from high blood pressure. Inflammation causes damage to the interior lining of blood vessels, specifically your arteries.

That inflammation begins to attract white blood cells and platelets which thicken the arteries over time. A heart attack is a silent killer because a small clot of that thickening can unknowingly break off, travel down the bloodstream, and cut off blood supply to the heart.

We have to get inflammation under control, and I want to share with you my favourite habit for preventing heart attacks.

The Best Daily Habit to Prevent a Heart Attack

woman holding a plastic red heart in her handsMy son Maxwell loves riding his bike every day, and that’s an example of my recommended habit for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks. I recommend exercise and therapeutic movement for 75 to 150 minutes every week. If you can bump that up to 200 to 300 minutes per week, you would be doing yourself an even bigger favor and greatly reducing your risk of coronary artery disease.

My favourite kind of exercise to recommend is the exercise you will enjoy each and every day. Maxwell riding his bike is the perfect example because it’s an activity he enjoys. It’s a form of play for him and he doesn’t even realize he’s decreasing his future risk factors. Maxwell is just playing, moving, having fun, smiling, and gaining the benefits of exercise.

heart-healthy diet with fruits and vegetablesThere are other contributing factors that can cause a heart attack and it’s important to get them under control.

To reduce risk factors, quit smoking, get your weight within a normal BMI, limit your alcohol intake, get plenty of sleep, reduce stress, and eat a balanced diet. Be sure to limit saturated and trans fats, and get healthy fats instead, like omega-3, 7, and 9. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, aiming for nine servings of five colors every day.

Remember though, the best strategy to reduce your risk factors for heart attack and coronary artery disease is engaging in exercise. Moderate movement like walking, biking, or cycling will reduce your risk factors for cardiovascular disease.


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!

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

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