Detoxification to Jumpstart and Get Lean

Detoxification to Jumpstart and Get Lean

detoxificationNo doubt you’ve heard all kinds of information about detoxification, and you may have wondered if it’s a good choice for you. If you’re a competitive athlete, there’s no doubt that a good detox can do wonders for your health and prepare you for a competition. What’s the right way to incorporate this strategy into your routine?

What Is Detoxification?

Sometimes referred to as a cleanse, detoxification is used to clean out the system. And by system, that usually refers to the excretory system, which plays the biggest role in detoxification. That includes the skin, liver, lungs, large intestine, and kidneys. Of course, that means we’re also referring to the digestive system.

A cleanse enables you to essentially restart your body so you can once again be at peak performance.

The truth, of course, is that our bodies naturally cleanse themselves. So there’s an argument that detoxification isn’t necessary. If you were to eat all of the right foods, that would likely be a valid argument. But we’re human; we’re not perfect. That bad bad stuff can pile up and not let the system clear itself like it should. Enter, then, the lure of detoxification.

Bad Out, Good In

Most cleanses focus on two aspects: ridding your body of the bad things you’ve put in it and loading it up with vitamin-rich, healthy foods. When you strip your diet down to the bare essentials, you allow your liver and kidneys to really do the work they’re designed to do.

Depending on the type of cleanse you choose, it could be a few days up to a month. Typically, there are phases to the detoxification process. Those may include starting on an all-liquid diet (with supplements), followed by reintroducing foods, with the more neutral ones coming first. All detoxifications eliminate alcohol and smoking, and many also remove gluten, sugar, and dairy from the diet.

Benefits of Detoxification

If you were to do a Google search on detoxification, you’d find there are millions of hits on the topic. That’s why, if you choose to take on a cleanse, it’s important to do your research and consult an expert. When taken on responsibly, your body can really experience a jumpstart from a detox.

Some of the positives associated with extricating the sludge include:

    • Ridding your body of excess toxins
    • Purifying cells and tissues
    • Improved digestion and metabolism
    • Increased mental clarity
    • Reduced inflammation
    • Resetting your digestive system
    • Improved performance
    • Losing weight

Detoxification for Athletes

As an elite athlete, you’ll not only want to take on a cleanse from time to time, you’ll want to do it responsibly. Detoxification for athletes requires a different approach from those who don’t compete. For instance, going on an all-liquid diet can be challenging for an endurance athlete. After all, where are you getting your energy?

Athletes should definitely consider elimination as part of a smart detox. Cutting out gluten, refined sugars, dairy, processed foods, and alcohol will go a long way to ridding your body of toxins. Smoothies and juices are a good way to get energy and the appropriate mix of macronutrients in an easily digestible format. Of course, water is essential during a cleanse, and even more so for an active athlete. You may also choose to do a short-term cleanse, as opposed to something that’s a full month.

Exercising on a detox that’s specifically formatted for an athlete is possible, but you wouldn’t want to compete at that point. However, once your cleanse is complete, you’ll find that you’re ready to really up your performance. Plus, the change in diet helps you to lose weight and get over stalls you may be experiencing.

Research and Be Smart

While detoxification is a great way to clean out your digestive system and enjoy gains in your training, you should be smart about how you take it on. Do your research. Consult with a specialist. Listen to your body. Only then will you be able to reap the full benefits of a detoxification.

Questions about how you can incorporate detoxification into your goals as an elite athlete? Schedule your initial consultation! I specialize in supporting athletes and preparing them for competition.

How Gut Health Affects Hormones

How Gut Health Affects Hormones

We’ve long heard of the hormonal issues that women face as they enter into midlife. But it’s only been recently that we’ve begun to hear more about how men are affected as well. We all have hormones, and as we age, their levels can change. This results in fluctuations in energy and libido, as well as affecting our ability to build and retain muscle. You could choose to replenish hormone levels with supplements, but a more natural approach may stem from your gut. That’s right, along with everything else associated with our digestive system, gut health affects hormones as well.

The Role of Hormones

Hormones are messengers in the body, and they dictate many of its activities. Originating in the endocrine glands, hormones are secreted directly into the bloodstream. They travel through the body in search of receptor, sharing their intended message. Hormones are powerful messengers; they control the function of many organs and affect the process of growth, development, sex, and reproduction. Most hormones are derived from proteins, although some are steroids and derived from cholesterol.

Changes in Hormones and Their Effects

Hormones fluctuate naturally during a lifetime, specifically during puberty and again as we enter into our 50s. This midlife change is when men and women experience andropause and menopause. In addition to aging, many other aspects can affect our hormonal balance. These include diet, exercise, toxins in the body, and stress.

During midlife, hormone production moves from the endocrine glands by the adrenal glands, which are seriously affected by diet and stress. When adrenals get run down, we experience a number of negative effects, including loss of bone, muscle mass, and libido. A hormonal imbalance also puts us at risk for chronic illness and autoimmune disease as our immune systems are compromised.

How Gut Health Affects Hormones

The gut is home to a host of bacteria—some good and some bad. Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria that help regulate mood, optimize blood sugar, support the immune system, and boost metabolism. Interestingly, probiotics also influence hormones. Nourishing those friendly flora in the gut microbiome helps hormones stay in check, even through the midlife changes we all experience.

Beneficial Hormones

There are number of hormones in the body to take note of, many of which can be measured with a simple blood test. Some of the key areas to look at include the following:

Cortisol is released during times of stress and is related to inflammation. Probiotics help keep cortisol in check.

Estrogen levels are affected by digestion, so it’s no surprise that good belly bacteria can have a direct effect.

Insulin regulates blood sugar, and studies show that probiotics promote optimal insulin levels.

Testosterone, like estrogen, is found in both men and women. It affects libido and energy levels, and research shows that essential bacteria can increase testosterone levels.

Control Your Hormones with Improved Gut Health

If you feel that your hormone levels are out of balance, you have many options to take control. Functional medicine subscribes to the idea of dealing with the cause first and then moving to the symptoms. In this case, you should take note of two things: adding a high-quality probiotic and changing your diet.

Keep in mind that probiotics and prebiotics work in harmony together to maintain a smooth working intestinal system. The majority of people cannot achieve their body’s needs with diet alone. The combination of diet and supplements will reap improved results that help your hormones stay in balance through all of life’s changes.

Questions about Gut Health and Hormones?

If you are curious about how gut health affects hormones, we can help. Contact us to schedule your initial consultation and learn more about this important relationship and its influence on your overall health and wellbeing.

20 Minutes of Daily Exercise Can Change Your Life

20 Minutes of Daily Exercise Can Change Your Life

daily exerciseIt should come as no surprise that daily exercise can make a huge impact in our lives. But is it necessary to spend hours at the gym or on the trail to achieve optimal health? While being a gym rat will help you achieve results faster, it’s actually not a requirement. Plus, hours of gym time often don’t work into a busy professional’s schedule. What, then, is the answer?

Daily Exercise Has Many Benefits

There’s no doubt at all that daily exercise is awesome for the mind, body, and soul. It can help you stay within your weight window, be strong, and feel energized for your busy lifestyle. There are also some other benefits you may not have considered.

Feel Amazing
Exercise has been proven to improve mood while decreasing feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress. That’s because exercise gives your endorphins a boost, and those little guys help you feel happier. They also reduce stress and pain.

Get Stronger Bones
Resistance training, or weight lifting, is hugely beneficial for strengthening muscles. That part’s kind of obvious. But did you now it’s equally as important for bone strength? We naturally lose bone mass as we age, and weight training helps increase bone density. That means a smaller chance of developing osteoporosis.

Improve Your Health
Regular exercise has been proven to prevent or improve a variety of health problems, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even cancer. Plus, that daily boost to your routine will increase your immune response, minimizing your risk of getting a cold while bouncing back faster if you do get sick.

How to Get 20 Minutes of Daily Exercise

Even for the busiest people, there are plenty of ways to sneak in a little bit of exercise during the day.

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Park farther from your destination and walk.
  • Keep dumbbells in your office to do some weight training when it’s slow.
  • Go for a walk outside or around your office building at lunch.
  • Walk the dog, or kids, at least two times a day.

If you can carve out 20 minutes at the gym, here’s a simple routine that will help you reap all of the benefits of daily exercise:

  • Three days a week (such as Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), do a full-body workout consisting of 2–3 sets of 10–12 reps for all major body parts: shoulders, biceps, triceps, chest, back, abs, legs, and calves. (Here’s a good guide to get you started.)
  • Three days a week (maybe Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday), do 20 minutes on the treadmill, stair-stepper, or elliptical. Make it more challenging by throwing in hills or intervals; you can also increase the resistance.
  • On Sundays, wake up and do 20 minutes of yoga and full-body stretching to get you ready for the new week.

If Exercise Seems Like Too Much

If even thinking about incorporating a 20-minute daily exercise routine in your life sounds like too much for you, there might be other factors at play. Chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, and other autoimmune issues can make it next to impossible to work out on a regular basis. But there is hope.

Contact Rich Jacobs at My Health Detective to schedule your initial consultation, during which time we’ll determine what’s keeping you from getting all of the benefits of daily exercise and holding you back from your full potential.

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain, so get going!

5 Ways Poor Digestion Is Affecting Your Life

5 Ways Poor Digestion Is Affecting Your Life

There’s some misalignment in our lives. It’s 2017, and we know so much about our health and diets—more than ever before—yet we still have ready access to fast foods and processed meals. While we may know more, we don’t always act on that knowledge. And that’s unfortunate, because our lack of focus in doing what’s best for our bodies may be affecting us through poor digestion and other gut issues.

Common Medical Conditions Can Be Tied to Poor Digestion

It may surprise you to learn that some of the most common medical conditions hospitals and clinics treat today deal with poor digestion. Whether bloating, heartburn, constipation, or gas, these are all tied to your digestive system.

Short of having pains in your gut and/or bathroom issues, how could you possibly know that you have poor digestion? There are definitely some key indicators.

1. Bad Breath

Bad breath can be caused by many things, but since your mouth is linked to digestion, that might be the culprit. Even if you brush, mouthwash, and chew gum—and still stink—look to a root cause. Halitosis can be the result of bacteria in your throat being thrown off balance. It becomes even worse after eating something sweet, as the bacteria feeds off of the sugar.

2. Body Odor

Poor digestion causes imbalances with the bacteria in your digestive tract. In addition to the chemicals made from the digestion process causing bad breath, the odor is also absorbed into the body and then emitted through your skin when you sweat. That can turn you into “that stinky guy” at the office, even after using deodorant, cologne, or perfume.

3. Tiredness Following Meals

Does every meal make you feel like you’ve just eaten a hearty Thanksgiving feast and need a nap? It might be due to a sluggish digestive tract. After eating, your body has to use energy to digest all of that food. When your chemicals and bacteria are out of whack, your body has to divert even more energy to your gut. And that can leave you feeling completely drained after eating.

4. Acne and Skin Conditions

Many skin conditions, such as acne, eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, and rosacea, actually begin in your digestive system. While these conditions seem completely unrelated to your gut, it truly is where they start. If you are having trouble digesting fat, you probably have itchy and flaky skin. A lack of certain vitamins in your diet can lead to acne and leave your skin with an unnatural, unhealthy look.

5. Difficulty Maintaining Weight

When weight fluctuates—either up or down—it could be a by-product of poor digestion. Your body may not be processing the nutrients in your food as effectively as it should be. And that shows up on the scale.

Poor Digestion Problems Can Be Easily Fixed

Most people experiencing some of these problems might not think anything is wrong at all because they seem so normal. People tend to write off acne, body odor, or feeling tired after meals to just getting older or generally being out of shape.

It’s important to pay attention to the signs your body is telling you. That’s the joy of functional medicine: While traditional medical professionals may not think anything of the above symptoms, functional medicine practitioners know better. The way you process food—and how your body reacts—is a sign that your diet needs to change.

Schedule your initial consultation with us to get insight into your poor digestion. We get to the root cause so you can live life to the fullest.

Gut Issues: What Your Gut Is Trying to Tell You

Gut Issues: What Your Gut Is Trying to Tell You

gut issuesWe’ve all been there: We have a glorious gastronomic feast on our plates—that represents a huge indulgence—and we devour it. Even when our stomach is full, we continue to eat. After all, it’s just so delicious! But there’s a reason your stomach is grumbly afterward; it has to do with your gut issues and the signals you should be heeding.

New Research on Gut Issues

When it comes to the gut, there are all kinds of challenges you could be facing. Most seem to get lumped together into irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. According to new research out of Australia, IBS is the correct term to encompass a number of gut-related issues, including people who are genetically predisposed to gut issues, patients who develop conditions after a gut infection, and people who have a chronic gut infection that causes the symptoms.

In the same research study, a particular gene was identified with IBS, making some people more predisposed to it than others. They also found a potential link between IBS and mental illnesses due to the inflammation that starts in the gut and can also occur in the brain.

How to Know You Have Issues

While every person reacts to gut issues differently, there are a few telltale signs that you might have a problem.

  1. Abdominal pain that is recurring or happens after eating certain foods or at certain times of the day.
  2. Feeling bloated or gassy after eating or other activities.
  3. Diarrhea and/or constipation, often occurring shortly after eating trigger foods.

Of course, all of the above symptoms could just be something in passing, but it’s when you have challenges over a period of time that you should be paying attention. For most people living with gut issues and IBS, the condition is chronic.

Treatment Options for IBS and Gut Issues

Since the causes of IBS and many gut issues are unclear, most physicians focus on treating and alleviating the symptoms first. And that could lead those who are suffering through months—or even years—of trying different drugs to find relief.

Alternatively, you could look at the source of your gut issues.

In the field of functional medicine, we shift from disease focused to patient focused. Each person is different; therefore, each approach is different. With functional medicine, we’ll look at all components of lifestyle, in addition to symptoms.

Since diet is often at the core of any kinds of gut issues, functional medicine often starts there. What really differentiates this way of thinking from the traditional allopathic mindset is in getting to the core of the matter rather than putting a Band-Aid on the symptoms.

Are You Suffering with Gut Issues?

If you have chronic gut issues and IBS, there’s no reason to suffer any longer. Your gut really is trying to tell you something; you just have to take a moment and listen.

You can find relief—and preferably without having to take a number of pills every day. Contact us at My Health Detective. We’ll work with you to determine what the true cause of your gut issues is and how we can turn them around. You don’t need to suffer any longer.

Is the Beyond Meat Burger Good for You?

Is the Beyond Meat Burger Good for You?

What is the Beyond Meat Burger?

Vegan eating seems to be more and more prevalent these days.  Most people go vegan for health reasons whether it is to lose weight or decrease inflammation and then the few who just don’t want to eat meat.  What’s funny is that even though vegans and vegetarians want to avoid meat, they still want burgers.  Go figure.  Before you judge, I am not against vegan or vegetarian eating.  In fact I think it could be helpful in reducing inflammation and healing people who are chronically sick.  None of us eat enough vegetables, so this style of eating would force more vegetables into the diet.  However, does that mean that processed food, even though it is vegan, is good for you?  Let’s continue…

A brand called “Beyond Meat” has developed a burger that is being touted as tasting just like a real burger!  Although they are not claiming any health benefits by eating their burger, according to Harvard Health Publications, vegetarians believe that they are healthier by avoiding meat.1 Is that necessarily true?  Can you eat this meatless burger without any health consequences?  Let’s breakdown these ingredients and see!

Beyond Meat: The Beyond Burger ingredients: Pea Protein Isolate, Expeller Pressed Canola Oil, Refined Coconut Oil, Water, Yeast Extract, Maltodextrin, Natural Flavors, Gum Arabic, Sunflower Oil, Salt, Succinic Acid, Acetic Acid, Non-GMO Modified Food Starch, Cellulose From Bamboo, Methylcellulose, Potato Starch, Beet Juice Extract (for color), Ascorbic Acid (to maintain color), Annatto Extract (for color), Citrus Fruit Extract (to maintain quality), Vegetable Glycerin.

OK!  Seems like a lot of effort and ingredients to get a burger versus beef, and I’m a believer that less is more.  Now, let’s see what the purpose and function is of each ingredient in regards to food.

The Ingredients: Broken Down

Pea protein isolate: an almost complete protein that is the main source of protein in the product.1

Expeller pressed canola oil: Canola oil is extracted from rapeseed, a plant in the cabbage family.  Adds fat and texture.2

Refined coconut oil: extracted from coconuts then bleached and deodorized to eliminate flavor and smell.  Used for fat and texture.3

Water: colorless and odorless substance.  Used for moisture.

Yeast extract: Hydrolyzed yeast containing free glutamates. Also known as monosodium glutamate (MSG).  Flavor enhancer.4

Maltodextrin: white powder derived from corn, rice, potato starch or wheat.  Used as a thickener or filler.5

Natural flavors: The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.6

Gum Arabic: This is a complex polysaccharide (carbohydrate).  Used for fiber and texture.7

Sunflower oil: An omega-6 oil derived from sunflower seeds.  Used for texture and preservative.8

Salt: flavor enhancer and preservative.

Succinic Acid: A colorless crystal with an acid taste.  Used in perfume esters. Used in food as a buffer and neutralizing agent.9

Acetic Acid: A product of ethanol.  Used as an antibacterial and counterirritant.10 Gives products a vinegar type flavor.

Non-GMO Modified Food Starch: Usually developed from corn.  Used as a stabilizer in food providing desirable texture, consistency and storage ability.11

Cellulose from Bamboo: Obtained by bleaching and chemically treating bamboo.  Used as a stabilizer, fiber and for texture.12

Methylcellulose: Derived from a plant origin.  Used to add bulk to the product and is not digested.13

Potato Starch: Derived from potatoes.  Used as a binder.14

Beet juice extract (for color): Derived from beets. Used as food coloring and sweetener.15

Ascorbic Acid (to maintain color): Commonly used as a preservative.  In this case to maintain color.16

Annatto Extract (for color): Extracted from annatto seed.  Used for color.17

Citrus fruit extract (to maintain quality): Extract from citrus.  Used as a preservative.18

Vegetable Glycerin: Made from vegetable oils during production of soap or biodiesel.  May be used as a thickener or wetting agent.19

How Good are They for You to Consume?

I’ve laid out the unbiased research of what the ingredients are, so now let’s take a look and see how healthy these ingredients are to consume.

Pea protein isolate: This is an allergen-free protein that is lactose, egg and meat-free.  Often consumed by vegetarians and those with allergies.  Pea protein has a mostly complete amino acid profile and has been shown to be just as effective when compared to whey protein for increasing muscle mass.1, 20

Expeller pressed canola oil: This is an oil that is highly advertised as being heart healthy, and may be acceptable if non-GMO and organic. However, you should know this oil is highly processed and higher in erucic acid than most other oils.  More recent and older studies show that canola oil can cause heart issues, inflammation and lower vitamin E which is an effective antioxidant.  Despite the positive health claims, studies show that consuming this oil can be harmful to your health.21

Refined coconut oil: Coconut oil has recently taken some heat by the press and American Heart Association as a possible risk factor to heart disease.  Despite the minimal research and empty claims, coconut oil has been shown to reduce inflammation and decrease body fat.22,23 All that said, refined coconut oil comes in many forms and this product does not specify how it is made.  Also, burgers are usually grilled at temperatures above 450 degrees, the point at which refined coconut oil burns and could become toxic.24

Yeast extract: Despite what most online bloggers say, and even I am against the use of MSG because of how I feel and have seen others feel, there is no scientific evidence of MSG causing symptoms.  While some people do have symptoms follow consumption of MSG, at this time the literature does not support it.

Maltodextrin: Is relatively safe depending on where it is derived.  It does however, spike blood sugar as it is a polysaccharide and has a glycemic load higher than table sugar.26 Therefore, I would not deem it safe especially for those who have blood sugar management issues.

Natural flavors: We really don’t know what is being used as a “natural flavor”.  Some flavors can induce food cravings and others can be hiding another flavor.  While there are no direct links to health issues, consumers really don’t know what is being used so they are best to be avoided.27

Gum Arabic: This carbohydrate is a mixture of polysaccharides, oligosaccharides and glycoproteins.  Gum Arabic has been shown to decrease body fat.7  However, those with gut issues specifically SIBO, could find that this ingredient will irritate the gut because of the different saccharides.

Sunflower oil: Like canola oil, this oil is high in omega-6’s which have been shown to be inflammatory2,8 and consumers don’t always know the source of the seed used which could be a health concern.

Salt: This could be a health concern depending on your current state of cardiovascular health.

Succinic Acid: This additive is regarded as safe as long as the amount used in food in in accordance to the FDA.9 Like some other additives, this is a chemically derived substance for consumption.

Acetic Acid: Regarded as generally safe.

Non-GMO Modified Food Starch: Regarded as safe.  However, the process in which this starch is made involves chemicals and bleaching.  So, this is a highly processed starch.

Cellulose from Bamboo: This is primarily a fiber and therefore generally safe to eat.

Methylcellulose: Although regarded as safe for consumption, it does act as a laxative and could cause digestive distress.28

Potato Starch: Generally safe.  Potato starch is a resistant starch and could be good for improving gut health through feed good bacteria.29

Beet juice extract (for color): While beet juice extract has potential health benefits,30 beet juice extract for color is basically harmless and has no impact on health in this product.

Ascorbic Acid: is a form of vitamin C and is generally safe.  Having too much of this ingredient could cause digestive distress.31

Annatto Extract: Although just a food coloring, there are some reports of this product causing irritable bowel syndrome symptoms and rare cases of anaphylaxis.32,33 In general, I would avoid unnatural food coloring.

Citrus fruit extract: As a preservative, this is nothing more than an antioxidant to prevent rancidity.34 It is regarded as safe.

Vegetable Glycerin: Generally safe although because it is a sugar alcohol could elicit gastric issues such as diarrhea, bloating or nausea.19

Final Thoughts

Beyond Meat has developed a vegan option for those who want to avoid meat in their diet.  They have released what’s called the Beyond Burger as a viable option.  While this product is vegan friendly, I have some reservations about the ingredients.  Most of the ingredients are highly processed and chemically treated.

Although the FDA regards most of these ingredients as generally safe, I have reservations when it comes to any product containing so many processed ingredients.  While they are generally safe individually, we need to think about the combined load of the products.  What are the health effects when all of these processed ingredients are consumed at one time?  Can the body handle the processing of so many chemically produced ingredients?  Other than the pea protein, the top 5 ingredients are highly refined and processed and have been shown to cause a negative reaction in the body according to the studies I’ve referenced.

That said, I would not recommend this product as a viable alternative to beef burgers.  There are no issues with being a vegan or vegetarian.  As a practitioner, I think it can be very helpful in reducing inflammation and living a healthier lifestyle.  Therefore, I recommend adhering to that lifestyle and eating real food within the guidelines of the vegetarian diet.  If one day you want a burger, I recommend eating the real thing as it will be healthier for you than this chemically made food.


Picture Source:

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