Health Effects of the Myers’ Cocktail

Created by Dr. John Myers in the 1960s, the Myers’ Cocktail is a uniquely formulated nutrient drip. This intravenous (IV) vitamin blend was created to treat a wide range of issues. Even though Dr. Myers passed away in the early 1980s without revealing the recipe, Dr. Alan Gaby was able to reproduce the concoction. The IV blend consists of a special combination of magnesium chloride, calcium gluconate, thiamine, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, calcium pantothenate, vitamin B complex, vitamin C and diluted hydrochloric acid. Though the results tend to remain relatively constant, doctors around the world can differ significantly in their own preparation of the infusion.

Myers’ Cocktail is a rapid way of providing your body all the critical nutrition and hydration it needs. This is why it has become a favorite among those that are volume depleted from infection, inflammation, poor dietary choices, intense workouts, post-procedure, and even veisalgia (hangover) among many others. Its administration through an IV makes it fast and easy for it to get directly into our bloodstream for its myriad of beneficial effects. This is particularly helpful for those that are nauseous or otherwise unable to drink massive amounts of fluid rapidly.

What are Nutrients?

We need some very basic nutrients to drive almost every reaction that occurs in our body, from moving your pinky finger to choosing the right career to be able to have fun with your friends. These nutrients include elemental metals (calcium, phosphate, magnesium, selenium), antioxidants (glutathione, oxygen), vitamins (B12, C, D), and buffers (sodium bicarbonate, lactate).  There are countless others and the field of biochemistry is the study of the way these nutrients interact with each other to powers our body.

Why Does Almost Everyone Need the Myers’ Cocktail?

The American diet stinks. There has been a marked increase in digestive issues over the last few decades. This has been in tandem with a national increase in the consumption of fast food and sugar. In fact, even our healthy foods have gotten less nutritious from some of manufacturing and processing methods (Nutritional Inflation, Who’d a Thunk it?).

These and other more sinister factors have led to a marked rise in the incidence of Leaky Gut Syndrome which ultimately leads to a reduction in the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. This, in turn, causes a weakening of the immune system which makes it harder for the body to fight infections and abnormal cellular mutations, like those of cancer. The lack of ample nutrients in the body also has a direct effect on one’s mood and ability to function. Not being able to absorb nutrients from food, or not consuming the right diet, can also lead to obesity as most of these individuals are actually malnourished from eating foods that have low nutritional value.  All of these facts make it easy to understand the root cause of most of our serious chronic diseases and highlights the importance of having a good balance of nutrients available to your body.

How Does it Work?

Because of the aforementioned factors, it is essentially impossible to attain the concentrations of nutrients required by the body for optimal function through our typical American diets. Moreover, because of the leaky gut syndrome, simply increasing the oral intake of nutrients can not directly lead to an increase in that particular nutrient in the bloodstream. This not-to-mention that most people can not tolerate high doses of oral nutrients that are commonly associated with side effects. The Myers cocktail, however, is intravenously administered using a small IV catheter. The patient can relax comfortably in a chair during an infusion which can roughly about 30-minutes. Especially when you are deficient in these vitamins and minerals, infusing them in this manner is a great way for managing problematic digestive issues or for providing an immediate boost in existing nutrient levels.

So in summary, the Myers’ Cocktail helps restore the body’s nutritional balance by delivering essential nutrients directly into the bloodstream. The combination of vitamins and minerals are absorbed at a cellular level and show an immediate effect on the patient. Because almost none of us eat the recommended 12 servings of vegetables a day, this therapy is useful for almost anybody. Not only for people suffering from ailments such as asthma, migraines, and chronic pain, but also for those battling many common chronic diseases.

Frequency of Administering a Myers’ Cocktail

For people that have normal kidney and liver function, it is almost impossible to overdose on a Myers Cocktail.  However, administering this infusion depends on the patient’s overall condition and the specific ailment being treated. For conditions like sinusitis, muscle spasm, or upper respiratory infections, about two treatments would provide results. For those preparing for athletic events or in anticipation of high-stress events like surgery, even one administration can provide fast results but this cocktail should generally be taken weekly for three to five weeks. Your specific frequency of administration is best decided by your physician prior to your first treatment. Chronic conditions need ongoing treatment with regular assessment according to the disease.

Side Effects of the Myers’ Cocktail

While there are no adverse effects of the Myers’ cocktail there may be mild side effects for some people. The patient may feel a warming or a flushed feeling because of the magnesium in the infusion. Magnesium can also lower the blood pressure and some susceptible patients may experience fainting. When coupled with high-dose vitamin C, GI symptoms like dyspepsia and nausea can occur. Unlike most pharmaceutical therapies, these cases are rare and hardly ever occur when your care emanates from experienced professionals.

Ailments Treated by the Myers’ Cocktail

From the common cold to more serious ailments, the Myers’ Cocktail has been used for a large variety of purposes. Here are a few:

Boosting Immunity

The high dosage of vitamins in your bloodstream is a great way to keep yourself safe from common ailments.

Asthma

Myers’ Cocktail has been found to be wonderful in reducing symptoms of asthma and allergies. As an additional “side-effect”, it also helps reduce anxiety during attacks as well as controlling blood pressure.

Pain Relief

Back pain, post-op pain, injury and muscle aches can be rapidly relieved by the Myers’ Cocktail. It can also ease the widespread pain and muscle aches of fibromyalgia and common inflammatory conditions like arthritis.

Mental Issues

Lack of essential vitamins and minerals contribute greatly to mental ailments like anxiety and depression. When taken regularly, the Myers’ Cocktail modulates nutrient levels over time so that its beneficial mood and emotional effects help you deal with normal everyday stress as well as more serious mood disorders.

Almost anything and everything

The Myers’ Cocktail has also been found to be useful in treating Lyme disease, narcotic withdrawal, migraines, Parkinson’s disease, and many others. It is also used commonly as an antiaging treatment around the world because of the way it promotes collagen production and boosts energy. This unique treatment has often made patients report an immediate effect on their skin and energy levels.

Conclusion

The Myers’ Cocktail is a highly efficacious and versatile treatment that can also be customized to the needs of almost any patient.  A number of other IV infusions that have been modeled after it. No matter what your ailment, the Myers’ Cocktail will help balance your body’s nutritional status until you adjust your diet accordingly. Anyone that has ever received this treatment will want to thank Dr. Myer’s for introducing the modern world to this timeless treatment.

13 health benefits of a plant-based diet

A plant-based diet is primarily one that is based on plant products, which includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seeds, legumes, nuts, with minimal or no inclusions of animal products. There are many different types of plant-based diets but they all feature foods with great health benefits.

Those who follow this type of diet also avoid plant fragments such as refined flour, sugar, oil or junk food and focus on consuming the whole plant or only minimally processed versions thereof.

Major health benefits

Lowers blood pressure

People following a plant-based diet have better control on their blood pressure as their diet consists of mostly potassium-rich foods. Potassium is an excellent nutrient for good blood pressure health.  Almost all whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and all fruits and vegetables contain high amounts of potassium and Vitamin B6, which help lower blood pressure. On the contrary, meat and most animal foods contain little to no potassium and actually raise blood pressure and cholesterol levels when consumed regularly.

Euglycemia- control of blood sugar levels

A plant-based diet incorporates ingredients that are rich in fiber content, and the best and easiest way to fight high blood sugar is to consume more fiber. Fiber in your diet slows down the absorption of sugars in the bloodstream, which in turn helps to control blood sugar. Many dieticians are correct when they counsel patients not to drink fruit juices. However people that make their own fruit juices that include the fibrous portion of the fruit with no added sugar should be encouraged to continue doing so.

Lowers Cholesterol

Since “bad” cholesterol is primarily due to animal proteins, embracing plant-based foods is the simplest way to control cholesterol levels. Plants contain no cholesterol; not even the saturated sources such as coconut and cacao. If you don’t put it in, you don’t have to control it.

Weight management

Conventional approaches to weight loss like formal exercise programs and calorie counting are flawed in many ways- they don’t address the root causes of the weight problem. For people that can follow a plant-based diet, losing and managing weight is a cinch. Weight loss occurs naturally when you consume most of your calories more from fiber, vitamins, and minerals than animal fats and proteins. People that follow a plant-based diet can easily lose weight without depriving or starving themselves and don’t have to worry about taking on formal exercising programs if their existing activity level is vigorous enough. As the number of meat-substitutes increase and get tastier, our nation of meat-loving sick people will naturally become plant-loving healthy people!!

Improves heart health

Several studies and emerging research has shown that higher intake of plant-based foods lowers the chances of cardiovascular diseases. For those who are already suffering from heart diseases, switching to a plant-based diet can help reverse or get rid of heart disease completely. Atherosclerotic diseases are most common and there is no more effective treatment than a plant-based diet. Don’t want to take expensive pills anymore? Use the money you’ll save on prescriptions to buy good, clean, organic whole foods (fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts) and watch your coronary artery disease melt away.

Good for your gut

If you follow a fiber-rich plant-based diet, and choose foods high in resistant-starches, which come mostly from whole foods like grains, seeds, and legumes, it facilitates the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut, thus helping you reap the benefits of a harmonious microbiome. If you’re not making nice fluffy, voluminous stool, your gut health is in serious trouble.

Healthy vision

It is a well-known fact that the vitamin A in carrots aids vision. Your eyes will definitely thank you for a plant-based diet rich in spinach, kale, corn, squash, kiwi and grapes. The lutein and zeaxanthin pigments present in these foods help to prevent cataract and macular degeneration. In fact, even colorful fruits and vegetables as well as leafy greens are packed with antioxidants that are vital for good eye health.

Excellent skin health

95% of common acne is due to your diet. When you cut back on chemical-rich foods and animal products, you stop clogging the pores that lead to acne. The vitamins, pigments, and phytochemicals present in fruits and vegetables in a plant-based diet leave you no choice but to have healthy skin. For example, the lycopene in tomatoes protects your skin from sun damage and the vitamin C in sweet potatoes helps smoothen wrinkles by stimulating collagen production. Your favorite skin-care companies cannot patent naturally occuring elements that are contained in whole fruits and vegetables.

Helps in cancer treatment

There is strong evidence that whole food and plant-based eating is the best protection and one of the best dietary choices complementing conventional cancer treatment. Your doctors should be strongly recommending plant-based diets as part of your cancer treatment.  Eating a whole-food, plant-based diet will give you the best chance to recover from even the rarest cancers.

Improves brain health

Emerging evidence is overwhelmingly showing that diets based on legumes, grains, and healthy oils are associated with better brain health in older adults.  Those who favored fruits and vegetables had less brain shrinkage, linked with a reduced risk of cognitive decline. We don’t commonly come across vibrant people in their geriatric years, but the next time you do, ask them what type of food they’ve been eating throughout their life.

Lowers risks of hypothyroidism

Plant-based diets can help lower the risks of hypothyroidism. Depending on the root cause of your condition, a plant-based diet can help control and even CURE this condition while also offering all of the other benefits listed here.

Improves hormone health

A plant-based diet helps improve hormone health and relieves symptoms of the premenstrual syndrome (PMS). This diet is also known to treat infertility naturally and help heal polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Trying to have a baby? Make sure your doctors are giving you proper nutritional counseling.

Protects the environment

What is the most common source of dangerous greenhouse gases that deplete our ozone layer? It’s NOT trains, planes, and automobiles… It’s cattle!!! Furthermore, it takes an incredible 660 gallons of water to produce one hamburger!! We are currently on an unsustainable path to permanently damage our ozone layer and water supply. If you love Earth as much as we do, please reconsider your fast food choices and give veggie burgers and black-bean burgers a try- they’re delicious!!

Conclusion

A plant-based diet presents a host of health and environmental benefits.  It also comes packed with nutrients. It can be the most powerful asset in your overall wellbeing and can even help reverse any chronic health issues that may have been troubling you for long. So, reduce your meat intake and choose a delicious plant-based food at your next meal for a healthier you!

We salute Dr. Michael Greger for his tireless work in promoting the medical benefits of a plant-based diet. His non-profit website, nutritionfacts.org, is easily the most plentiful resource on the topic and we encourage you to check out his tremendous entertaining and informative videos on the latest evidence for great nutrition.

Why IV Nutrient Therapy is Effective

Intravenous nutrient therapy (IVNT) has found a lot of takers over the last few years and rightly so. IVNT is the process of infusing vitamins, essential amino acids, supplements, and minerals directly into the bloodstream. This treatment has been used to treat a range of diseases including migraines, fibromyalgia, acute asthma, viral infections, chronic fatigue syndrome, acute alcohol intoxication, and many, many others. Of late, it has gained favor to support the recovery of high-performance athletes and although retail clinics are opening up everywhere, there is significant variation in the quality and quantity of the services provided. There are many reasons for the variation including poor regulation, lack of adoption by major pharmaceutical companies, and level of training of IVNT providers.

What is IV Therapy?

The first attempts at IV therapy date back to the 17th century and it became a broadly viable practice with the advent of plastic bags for storage and transport of IV fluid. In a nutshell it is an effective method of supplying the body with the nutrients that are urgently required. IV therapy can be used for pain management, blood transfusion, medication administration, or to replete important essential amino acids and minerals the body may be lacking.

Vitamins and minerals function as the gatekeepers of the body, allowing for body reactions to slow down or speed up based on their relative concentration. Most Americans are severely deficient in vital nutrients such as vitamin D, B12, folate, or iron. Furthermore, the liver has trouble producing the highly oxidative substances (chiefly glutathione) which function as the “bouncer” of the body, clearing it of unwanted chemicals and toxins.

Myths about IV Nutrient Therapy

Myth: It is not commonly given by doctors, therefore it is unsafe

Fact: IV nutrient therapy is FAR from an experimental practice! With hardly any adverse reactions, it is the best way to provide the body the nutrients it needs safely in rapid fashion. Most common treatments are known as the “banana bag” and “Total Parenteral Nutrition” (aka TPN), this age-old treatment is done countless times in hospitals all around the globe.

Myth: Doesn’t help people with chronic illnesses

Fact: There is emerging evidence that supports the benefits of high-dose IV vitamin C therapy in patients with breast cancer. IV vitamin C therapy can be used with conventional treatment that can help improve the quality of life of the patient. It has also been shown to have benefit in a common hospital condition called sepsis. Previously with little hope, fibromyalgia patients have reported reduced symptoms after IV therapy. There are many more examples and the literature continues to evolve in this area.

Myth: It is only needed once

Fact: How many people eat once a day? Although some IV nutrients may only need a one-time infusion for a long-lasting effect, most others need to be taken regularly over a few weeks until levels have reached a steady state. Even still, if your diet and lifestyle are not modified to correct the deficiency, you’ll end up requiring additional treatments in due time. Regular use of IVNT should be guided by an experienced physician or medical provider whenever possible.

There’s no evidence, it’s a money-making scheme

Any experienced medical practitioner will confirm that less than 50% of the treatment commonly prescribed in any healthcare setting is actually confirmed to be grounded in evidence-based literature. Still, open any biochemistry book and you’ll find vitamins and minerals as catalysts in virtually every vital reaction in the body, from the detoxification of noxious substances to the production of energy in the cell’s mitochondria. Just like most things in clinical medicine, there is literature for and against the use of IVNT for specific conditions. However, the multi-billion dollar neutraceutical industry is only getting larger. Unfortunately, there also some bad actors. Products like energy drinks advertise their B vitamin content but contain stimulants like caffeine and significant amounts of sugar as well which virtually eliminates their clinical utility. Most importantly, IVNT has very low risk to cause harm when taken under the guidance of trained professionals.

Benefits of IVNT

Boosts Immunity

A concentrated blend of vitamins and minerals can boost the body’s immune system. The effects of it are immediate, unlike orally administered supplements or intramuscular injections. Nutrients like vitamin C are a natural immune booster and can be protective against the flu and cold. The IV blend should be tailored to the specific requirement of the patient to ensure best outcomes.

100% Absorption

Absorption of nutrients is difficult for some patients when they take nutrients orally. Digestive problems are extremely common for people eating an American diet and is often the root cause of this issue. With IVNT, however, the process of absorption is bypassed and 100% of the infused nutrients get into the bloodstream. This makes cellular absorption a function of the dose administered rather than the health of the gut. Simply stated, this puts YOU in control of how much nutrient your body gets.

Detoxification

Over time the blood in our body can accumulate a number of harmful toxins. The process of infusing your blood with electrolytes, nutrients, and fluids allows the cleansing to begin. It aids the detoxification process of your blood and makes you feel healthy again. Balanced nutritional status is crucial when weaning people off of narcotics and can make all the difference in people who are struggling with chemical addictions.

Fights Fatigue

Chronic fatigue is generally due to lifestyle choices or disease. Poor nutrition commonly causes vitamin deficiencies, hormonal imbalance, or mineral deficiencies among other things. Unfortunately, these diagnoses are under-recognized by conventional practitioners who are generally more focused on diseases that have pharmaceutical interventions. IVNT is a nutrient-rich recharge for the body and can provide immediate improvement of fatigue no matter what the root cause.

Aids Recovery

Hydration is the key to recovering from cold, flu, and other infectious and inflammatory illnesses. IVNT replaces the lost nutrients in your body it also hydrates you which is a tremendous part of its overall benefit. Even people that feel well get regular IVNT infusions because they quickly realize how much better they feel from proper hydration and nutrient balance. They modify their diet and lifestyle accordingly with the ultimate objective to feel good without having to supplement their health with IVNT, a very laudable goal.

Energy Boost

Many patients have reported an immediate increase in their energy levels after receiving an IV nutrient infusion. This is because of the absorption of essential nutrients directly into the bloodstream. Unlike food or medication, it does not require the digestive process for absorption and works much faster. B vitamins are commonly used as “energy boosters” in the supplement industry.

Summary

Intravenous nutrient therapy is a time-tested treatment that repletes vital minerals, essential amino acids, and vitamins in the body. When individualized to your specific requirements it can provide a tremendous number of benefits and is much faster than taking oral supplements which are not easily-absorbed from the gut. The science of IVNT is rock-solid and emerging literature is supplementing the list of clinical indications to include serious conditions like cancer, sepsis, and fibromyalgia. There are few things in modern medicine that are as cost-effective and have the tremendous benefit of IVNT. There are virtually none that have the amazingly sparse profile of side-effects from treatment. Unlike most of the products you’d find in a retail pharmacy, IVNT is a natural treatment option that can not be patented.

Because of its low cost and high clinical efficacy, IVNT is the type of treatment that great medical practitioners crave for use in their patients when indicated.

9 Evidence-based Reasons Why Transcendental Meditation Is Great for You

Stress is something that nearly everyone is struggling with. Too many people complain of being stressed out, be it at work, in relationships, or with their own health issues. Transcendental meditation (TM) has been found to be one of the most effective ways to relieve stress and calm the mind. It has a myriad of benefits, including enhanced clarity of mind, better concentration and improved communication skills. With regular practice, it is believed that the physiology of our body changes and each cell is filled with more energy.  Here are some key benefits of doing TM regularly:

Boosts immunity

Our immune system is directly related to our brain. This means that the brain transmits our thoughts and moods to the immune system. So, the more positive your brain is, the stronger your immunity. This is helpful for patients dealing with major illnesses like cancer, who are struggling with compromised immunity. Regular TM enhances the body’s ability to fight against disease before it can make you sick.

Lowers blood pressure levels

The two most common stress-related diseases gripping our current generations are high blood pressure and diabetes. TM reduces blood pressure and blood sugar levels among many other beneficial effects not-to-mention it also increases the threshold for anxiety attacks. If not treated properly, high BP and sugar levels can lead to major health issues. It is therefore best to make TM a daily habit to help keep your body in its best state of balance through regular practice. The American Heart Association recommends TM as first-line therapy in controlling pre-hypertension and Stage 1 hypertension (pharmaceuticals should be considered for Stage 2). Very few primary care practitioners and cardiologists are aware of these recommendations, (Hypertension, Beyond Medications and Diet: Alternative Approaches to Lowering Blood Pressure, volume 61, number 6).

Increases fertility

Increased stress is known to decrease sperm count and motility. Women who are under intermittent duress are said to produce hormones like cortisol and prolactin, both of which interfere with regular ovulation. Since TM helps alleviate stress, it is beneficial for couples who are looking to conceive.

Fights depression

The incidence of depression is rising higher than ever before American society. Many studies show that TM increases the serotonin levels in the body, which in turn helps to improve mood and behavior. Modern mental health practitioners are using a mindful meditation as treatment for their depressed patients with outstanding results. With the complicated side-effect profiles of conventional pharmaceutical therapy, TM is being recognized as increasingly effective in treating mental illnesses without any side effects. How often can your doctor prescribe a pharmaceutical drug without side effects?

Relieves tension-related aches

TM also helps patients deal with stress-related pain including migraine headaches, ulcers, muscles and joint problems. These conditions can even be cured in many cases by using TM. Emerging research shows that TM improves pain by modulating the parts of the brain that are responsible for pain processing.

Improves sleep patterns

Insomnia has gripped half the population and so many people out there struggle to sleep peacefully. Regular TM helps subside thought waves, which are responsible for sleeplessness. In addition to this, it also helps to relax the body and release tension, thus ensuring a peaceful state of mind in which sleep comes effortlessly.

Helps with inflammation

Stress leads the way to inflammation, a condition associated with heart disease, arthritis, asthma and skin disorders such as psoriasis. Evidence shows that TM can prevent and treat these symptoms by reducing stress. As crazy as it may sound, TM has been shown to reduce inflammation!

Relieves Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

If patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome start to practice TM, their symptoms of diarrhea, bloating, and constipation can improve considerably. Studies show that relaxing the body with the help of meditation is an easy, inexpensive way to improve the clinical outcomes and general well-being of patients suffering from IBS.

Enhances focus and concentration

TM sharpens the mind by improving focus and attention. It is particularly beneficial for school and college-going students. Improvement in concentration and focus helps in reducing age-related memory loss, thereby making it important for the older ones of the population too.

Start today!

To experience the benefits of transcendental meditation, training and regular practice is a must. Remember, even a few minutes of deep relaxation daily can work wonders for your overall well-being.  It’s time to ditch the excuses and get meditating for a healthier and happier you!  Visit http://tm.org for more information and to learn about certified training centers near you.

Eat POOP and Live!! The Human Microbiome

Microbial Minions

When you think of the most important organ in your body, what comes to your mind? Probably the brain, or maybe the heart and lungs. If damaged, these are, after all, the ultra-sensitive organs that allow us to survive not even a few moments without. But what if there was an organ that affected our body in an even more systemic capacity, from the moment you’re born, throughout your life. This organ can change the course of your future health, affect the way you develop acute or chronic diseases, and help or hinder the digestion of every morsel of food you ever eat. And perhaps the most amazing thing about this organ is that it isn’t even human. It is the human microbiome, and it’s made up of the more than 30 trillion bacterial cells living in and on every surface of your body. Your excrement is a by-product of your microbiome and pretty much every time we take a breath or put anything else into our body, we are inserting more bacteria into it. An American’s greatest challenge is to eat healthy bacteria that can strengthen the microbiome.

Functions of the Microbiome

Germaphobic readers might be squirming in their seats right now, but the truth is, your microbiome or natural flora, is incredibly vital to the way your body works. Not only do they synthesize vitamins and break down complex carbohydrates in your gut, they also help train your immune system to recognize pathogens. They take up prime real estate in mucous membranes like your mouth, airways, and even your eyes to help prevent pathogenic bacteria from gaining a foothold and causing infection. A lot of research is now being done to look at the effects that the microbiome can have on our genetics. Increasing evidence is demonstrating that different populations of bacteria can toggle the genes and metabolic pathways that can raise or lower your risk for different diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and even more mundane conditions like allergies and heartburn.

One of the things that makes the study of the microbiome very difficult is how individual each person’s microbiome is. The variances in populations and amount of the different species of bacteria from person to person are immense, and beyond the individual variances, the diversity in species varies greatly based on anatomy. This would be expected if you were looking at, say skin vs gut microbes, but studies have shown that even the difference between the microbes colonizing the forearm and elbow is significant. All of this complexity can make setting up experiments and studies extremely difficult. Fortunately, the recent advent of big data processing is helping scientists keep things straight and even the most nascent results of this work are revolutionizing our approach to managing health.

So What is Poop Anyway?

Poop, also known as stool, feces, defecate, manure, muck, poo, kaka and many more colorful names, has a vital role in your body’s function. It is produced primarily from the microbiome of the lower intestinal tract. When normal and healthy it is about 90%+ bacteria with the remainder being partially digested food suspended by water and soluble fibers.* It is an excellent marker of overall health and there are entire professions dedicated to the study of it. Understanding the Bristol Stool Scale can help you keep an eye on your stool health. Problems with defecation can lead to significant discomfort, pain, and even death. Simply stated, the flow of your poop is directly proportional to your very ability to stay alive and healthy, so don’t be too shy to take a look at it every time you go.

Microbiome from Birth

Research is being done, and although we’re only scratching the surface, what has been discovered so far about the effect that the microbiome has on our health and the health of our children, is nothing short of incredible. Starting with our mother’s microbiome this non-human organ has a huge impact on our health. Studies have shown that mothers with a healthier, more robust gut microbiome will pass some of this diversity on to their baby in utero. These children tend to have activation of metabolic pathways in the gut that lead to a healthier life with a lower risk of diabetes, obesity, and other metabolic diseases – this is of course ignoring any future lifestyle choices. Even the method of delivery of a child (C-section vs vaginal) can also have a tremendous impact on this.

A study conducted in Venezuela looked at the microbial populations of newborn babies who were born vaginally vs those born via C-section. The naturally born babies had larger proportions of microbes commonly found in the gut, which they had acquired while moving through their mother’s vaginal tract. The C-section babies were found to have mostly skin associated bacteria on them, since they were removed directly from the uterus and did not get to pass through their mothers’ microbial population. A later study followed children to adulthood and found that the babies born via C-section were more likely to suffer from childhood obesity, Celiac disease (gluten sensitivity), asthma, and allergies. While there are certainly many factors that contribute to this, the study was controlled enough that researchers believe the initial colonization of microbes is a significant part. A great TED talk by Robert Knight elaborates further on this and can be found here.

The Microbiome and Immunity

Not only does the microbiome play a role in chronic illnesses, it’s also essential during acute periods of infection as well. Clostridium difficile (C. diff) has become one of news television’s superstars in recent years. It is a particularly nasty bacteria that are resistant to most antibiotics and take up residence in the gut. When the normal microbiome has been disrupted enough (by antibiotics), they have a huge party in the gut overtaking a chunk of of it and eventually growing out of control. These infections are particularly difficult to eradicate, causing severe diarrhea, fever, nausea, and in severe cases kidney failure and even death. Even after the infection has been treated, it has a high recurrence rate (1 out of every 5 infected patients). For decades, standard treatment for C. diff infection has been antibiotics, however, fecal transplant is becoming increasingly common in the treatment of particularly stubborn infections. Yes, this is pretty much what it sounds like: fecal material is collected from a healthy patient (often a relative of the patient since microbiomes of those who live together tend to share more similarities) and transplanted to the affected patients GI tract by one of several methods (don’t ask). These treatments have had much more dramatic results than standard antibiotic treatment in many patients, relieving months of almost constant diarrhea in days or even hours. This relief is due to the reestablishment of a healthier microbiome, which can bring the out of control C. diff back in check. You should never underestimate the value of poop.

Steps for Good Poop Health

There are tons of articles on the web supporting this topic, but here is our “quick list” of recommendations:

  1. Water- stay hydrated
  2. Fiber- eat whole foods, stay away from processed foods
  3. Activity- ideally exercise, but even simply walking 40 minutes a day and moving around during your routine activities is better than being dormant
  4. Probiotics- are actually good bacteria: yogurt, kefir, fermented vegetables
  5. Prebiotics- support the growth of bacteria: kimchee, raw garlic, raw onions, green tea
  6. Organic – eat organic food sources as much as possible and avoid all GMO (genetically modified organisms) products, hormones, and antibiotic-laden food
  7. Magnesium- promotes muscle activity
  8. Take your time- don’t be hasty when defecating, give your body a chance to do it’s business
  9. Position- squatting turns out to be the best position for defecation. Check out the Squatty Potty.
  10. Anxiety and other emotional stress can reduce the nervous function of your gastrointestinal tract
  11. When necessary, use natural laxatives and not chemicals- flaxseeds, whole foods, prunes, psyllium husk, aloe vera, and many, many, many others. Most of which are significantly cheaper than the over-the-counter aisle in the grocery store.
  12. AVOID ANTIBIOTICS!!! Both from your doctor and in the food that you eat (see #6)
How to Help Your Microbes

So since it is apparent that having a healthy microbiome is so incredibly important, what are some of the things we can do to help support it? Good nutrition certainly seems to be a large piece of the puzzle. You’ve probably seen products in the store such as yogurts labeled “probiotic”. These foods contain either cultures of gut microbes, or compounds that help those microbes to grow and flourish in the gut, and are commonly found in fermented foods, like sauerkraut, kimchee, or increasingly popular komboucha and other fermented drinks. The biggest enemy of the microbiome is antibiotics. This is NOT to say that if you have a bacterial infection you should not take antibiotics that are prescribed to you. However, inappropriate use of antibiotics is impacting our microbiomes as a whole. Even in a non-medical sense, livestock are often fed antibiotics, not only to treat illnesses that crop up in populations, but also at very low levels to help fatten them up. Since the antibiotics keep the populations of microbes in the animals guts low, they are competing with less organisms for the nutrients they eat and are able to grow fatter more quickly. Despite guidelines from the FDA about the amount of antibiotics allowed in our food by the time it gets to us, the meat and dairy products we buy in the supermarket often have more than the allowable amounts, exposing us to more antibiotics without our even realizing. Yes antibiotics have been linked to increased obesity in humans too!!

Being cognizant of the effects that the foods we eat have on our microbiome is essential to preserving its function. The bacteria of the microbiome are far more than just a group of hitchhikers, they are an essential component of our body, without which we literally could not survive. We are already beginning to see the effects of the stresses being put on the microbiome in the form of rapidly elevating numbers of people with diabetes, obesity, allergies, asthma, and autoimmune diseases. As physicians, we often focus on the human factors that contribute to disease, but we have to make sure we don’t ignore the 50 trillion non-human factors as well. Help your doctor remember the importance of the microbiome in your care.

Only 1% of all the DNA in your body is actually yours. So the next time you’re standing at the mirror, take a really close look realize that you may not be who you always thought you were…

* Incidentally, insoluble fibers are not easily digested and often show up whole in your stool.

References

  1. Avril, Tom. “Hospitals Struggling against ‘C. Diff’ Bacteria.” Philly.com. N.p., 07 Oct. 2016. Web.
  2. Blaser, Martin J. Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues. New York City: Henry Holt & LLC, 2014. Print.
  3. Burling, Stacey. “Treatment of Last Resort for C. Difficile Infection.” Philly-archives. N.p., 07 Apr. 2014. Web.
  4. Enriquez, Juan, and Steve Gullans. Evolving Ourselves: How Unnatural Selection and Nonrandom Mutation Are Changing Life on Earth. London: Oneworld Publications, 2016. Print.
  5. Turnbaugh, Peter J., Ruth E. Ley, Michael A. Mahowald, Vincent Magrini, Elaine R. Mardis, and Jeffrey I. Gordon. “An Obesity-associated Gut Microbiome with Increased Capacity for Energy Harvest.” Nature.com. Nature Publishing Group, 21 Dec. 2006. Web.

Don’t End Up as NASHty as I Was…

by
Baber Ghauri, MD

Don’t Tread on Me

American FlagI am an American.  I believe in democracy and freedom of speech and choice.  Like any American, I vote with my dollar and take advantage of all the liberties that having some dollars affords me.  I started medical school in 1997 giving me almost 20 years in the noble field of health care- at least 12+ as a board-certified attending physician.  I also feel privileged to have had the opportunity to be recognized for many other honors and appointments both clinically and otherwise.  My strong Punjabi heritage makes me a Foodie- like Americans, Punjabi’s can eat!  With the strong exception of pork, the Pakistani diet is pretty much meat, meat, and meat- sound familiar?  If you’d rather just stop reading right here, my Pakistani-American heritage is the double whammy that forms the basis of what I’m about to tell you.

I write this blog post today because I know I have friends, patients, and family members that are in the same boat.  Those of you that know me know that, like so many other physicians, my wife (also a board-certified physician) and I recently underwent a bit of a transformation, I’m talking in excess of the clinical transformation that everyone in health care is going through.  The additional growth we’ve experienced is the underlying reason for the inefficiency and poor performance we are trying to correct in health care.  It is undermining our entire health system and it’s my obligation and professional duty to share my experience.  Going through this has made me a better physician, a better father, a better friend, and a better member of our great society.  Maybe it’s a reverse mid-life crisis, either way, it started about 7 years ago with the result of a routine blood test.

I Was Fine!

I had a very mild transaminitis which means my liver chemistry was a little off- barely a smidgen above the upper limit of normal.  I felt fine.  I played basketball and tennis regularly and arguably in the best form of my athletic career.  I was 6′ 1″ and weighed about 170ish lbs.  This translates into a body mass index (BMI) of about 23, which is well within a normal, healthy range.  Throughout my life, I’ve always been the skinny, lanky guy that could use a few extra pounds.  Having never been one that likes to nap during the day, I noticed here and there that I would feel drained and would often fall asleep right before dinner time.  Thinking back I recalled that my father also often fell asleep when he came home from work, so I just thought this was “normal”.  I saw my outstanding primary care doctor- he was mildly concerned about my findings and appropriately wanted me to get a liver ultrasound to see what was going on.  But I never did.  I was fine!!  I decided I would just recheck in 3 months- though not exactly supported by the evidence, this was not entirely unreasonable for a patient that wanted to take a conservative approach, or at least that’s what I convinced myself.
ABIMThe diagnosis was already clear to me- lab error.  After all, I had nothing!  I was fine!!  No complaints!  I was wayyyyy too busy to worry about it.  Guess what else…  I never even got tested again- I was soooo sure.  Hey I am certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and licensed by the State of Pennsylvania to know what’s up!!  Who knows better than me- no one!!  Time went on, I changed nothing and a couple of years later the drained feeling became more frequent (by this time my weight jumped up to near 190 lbs), but I was still performing at a high level and doing the things that I needed to do- I continued to sweep it under the rug.

Wake Up Call

It was my Integrative Medicine training that caused me to really reflect on this experience and after I sustained a moderate injury to my knee (in part due to the additional weight), I finally realized that I was in denial.  The results were suggestive of either NASH (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis) or NAFL (non-alcoholic fatty liver)*- both fancy words for liver inflammation.  It was mild, but I was truly astonished- it was very difficult for me to accept and maybe that’s why I never followed through with the definitive ultrasound that would have confirmed it in the first place.  The liver has a very high tolerance for insult, but once it’s mad, can cause serious misery.  Mine was JUST beginning to get annoyed with the drained feelings I was having.
Even after I finally came to grips with the diagnosis, it took me another 1-2 years to get to my current station- as of mid-2016, I’ve:
  1. Basically given up soda and sugary drinks, especially those with high-fructose corn syrup.
  2. Reduced my meat consumption to very little red meat
  3. Pretty much eliminated processed meat (the World Health Organization has classified all processed meats as class 1 carcinogens- yes this means they can cause cancer)

    Processed meat is a Class 1 carcinogen
  4. All but eliminated oxidized cholesterol consumption (fast food or foods cooked at high temperatures)
  5. Memorized the Bristol stool scale and try to keep track (the disgusting link, what do you want me to do?  I’ma doctor!  The funny thing is that my 8-year old knows it better than I do!)
  6. Increased fish and seafood intake (wild caught, not farm-raised)
  7. Essentially cut out dairy, but was never really a big dairy person in the first place
  8. Tremendously increased my fruit, nut, legume, and vegetable consumption (which I always loved anyway)
  9. Basically stopped using my microwave (microwaves can wreak havoc on the nutritional value of good food)
  10. Focused heavily on staying hydrated
  11. Perhaps most importantly, I tremendously reduced my intake of sugary foods (I actually read labels now)
Having just returned 12 lbs heavier from a 2-week long family road trip, I need to reiterate that I am FAR from perfect!!  This was an incredibly fun time eating primarily at restaurants but also making many trips to the markets to maintain that fruit and fiber intake.  If not for this, that 12 lbs could easily have been 18 or 20!  Even still, just one day afterward I dropped 2 lbs and anticipate to shed at least another pound of water weight from all that salty restaurant food.  And I have no doubt that the remaining weight will also come off now that I’m back to my usual routine that is mostly based on whole foods and home cooking.  Even still, given the decreasing nutritional value of food, it is becoming even harder to consume the right amount of dietary nutrients, but I digress…
The best part of all this is that I really do like the way I eat now as compared with prior, therefore I insist that I am NOT on a diet.  I still eat “bad” things like cookies, cakes, iced tea, hot dogs, and many, many others- BUT at least now I KNOW what these things are doing to me.  There’s a difference.  The brain is extremely powerful and I believe that knowing allows the body to better combat the effects of these harmful foods.  For example, I recently noticed that I tend to crave more green leafy vegetables when I eat, let’s say a cheesesteak (see- I’m far from perfect).  This is probably because my BRAIN knows the fiber causes less absorption of the oxidized cholesterol and carbohydrates.  In other words, this was something I feel I did subconsciously and wasn’t “on purpose” per se- it was something I realized after the fact.  But now it is more purposeful.

Exercise? Not so much…

Now for the controversial topic- EXERCISE.  I don’t do it…  well, let me clarify, I exercise like crazy, but it’s not “going running” and “going to the gym” exercise, but more like playing with my kids, playing basketball, other cardiovascular activities, and doing my own home improvement projects type of exercise.  In other words, I don’t say I exercise, I say I’ve increased my activity- tomato/tomahto to some, but important for me- because I have never liked to “exercise”.  For those who DO like to exercise, they should exercise!!  They should just know there is increasing evidence that intense exercise more than 3-4 days a week (especially with no recovery days) increases MORTALITY!!  Yes, this means they die sooner than those who don’t!!  But I digress, again…  It’s my opinion that exercise itself only has a mild effect on body fat and weight loss- I believe that when you’re spending 1-2 hours a day exercising, that Big Mac just doesn’t taste the same and you think twice about the next one.  It’s my opinion that every pound of fat lost or transitioned to muscle growth is 80% due to diet and only 20% due to exercise.  Here’s some evidence on diet vs exercise in weight loss.

Fast forward to 2016 (before my vacation), I was back to my 172 lbs and although my weight has redistributed a bit, there is no question I have a bit more truncal obesity than I would like- I’m developing Metabolic Syndrome X which is a precursor to type 2 diabetes mellitus.  My Dad has been on years and years of drug therapy for type 2 DM and until recently, I was taught that it’s primarily genetic and there was little to no chance that I would be able to avoid it- I thought it was inevitable for me…  But no longer!  Not only can type 2 DM be prevented, but type 2 DM can even be reversed if you do get it!!!  But why didn’t I know this before?  Why are we NOT teaching this to our medical students?  Ok, maybe I’m just out of touch- but why do almost none of my colleagues know what it is?  Why??  Could it be because frosted Lucky Charms are really NOT “a part of a nutritious breakfast”?  They do magically create a delicious 40%+ profit margin- but I digress again again.

Knowledge is Power

I DON’T HAVE TO BE DIABETIC- I have a choice!!  What a great country!  It is this hope that has driven me to do better for myself.  I share my story with you today because I thought everything was fine- it wasn’t.  I thought grocery stores were there to provide food, not make as much profit as they possibly could.  I thought the nutritional powers that be were keeping an eye on the American diet and magically working behind the scenes so that I could not possibly buy food that was bad for me!  I was wrong.
If I hadn’t come to these realizations, I would probably be diabetic by now or worse.  I would be at high risk for cryptogenic cirrhosis (liver failure) if I really had NASH*.  Those that know me well know that this experience has been profound for me- I think it has saved my life.  I know now that it is NOT EXPECTED to develop high blood pressure, coronary artery disease does not need to be a normal thing that happens to everyone, dementia is not a “normal part of aging”- all of these things have reasons- some we know already, but many we do not.  Most significantly, it is NOT NORMAL to be on prescription drugs to counteract the effects of these diseases for the rest of your life.  Like any of my colleagues, for at least one decade I have prescribed an innumerable number of these drugs and told countless patients and family members that they will need to be on them for the remainder of their life.  With the help of our growing medical community of integrative practitioners, we need to now work on safely getting people OFF their chronic medications and shifting them to a treatment plan that is rooted in non-prescription interventions- we just can’t afford them!  IT IS POSSIBLE!!!  I didn’t know it was before, but I feel blessed to have learned many of these strategies.

Food is Medicine

Pharmaceuticals will always be necessary for patients that are the sickest of the sick as well as for infections, symptom control, and secondary disease prevention.  But do we really need them to poop?  Do we really want to believe that we should eat whatever we want and have to rely on pills to eliminate it from our body?  Who do you think benefits from this idea?

Drugs will have a place for people that just can’t or otherwise don’t want to recognize that FOOD IS MEDICINE and that you can’t exercise off the detrimental effects of Kentucky Fried Chicken, you just have to not eat it in the first place…  These poor patients are doomed to a lifetime of prescription medications and doctor visits- just like many of my now deceased patients and family members- even though I continue to have bad eating habits, I feel fortunate and even empowered that I now have the choice to remove this from my personal destiny.  But I also feel concerned that it took me almost 10 years to get to this point.  As a physician, shouldn’t it have been much faster?  In many ways, I feel my original training actually made it HARDER for me to accept these realizations.  Had it not been for my integrative medicine training, there’s a near 100% chance that you would not be reading this right now.

I’ve learned that my Pakistani-American approach to eating IS the root cause of my health issues.  There’s a reason that immigrants from China, Africa, and Sweden die from the same coronary artery disease that kills every other American in our country- my friends, I’m extremely sorry to tell you it is our food choices that are making us sick.  I really wish it wasn’t, but it is…  I’m not talking about the hamburgers and hot dogs, I’m talking about everything!!  Even the dairy, the GMO vegetables, the concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) meat, and the “healthy” fast food!  Please prove me wrong if you think otherwise!!  I beseech you to convince me, I love KFC!!  But until then, I need to do my best to set an example for my children, family members, patients, and all others around me- it has not been easy, but it has at times been kinda fun.  I’m on a mission and the good news is that I’m not alone…

It is reassuring that some of the smartest people I know are choosing not to look the other way and are independently coming to the same realizations.  The challenge is bringing this knowledge into today’s practice which is becoming increasingly standardized.  This means we doctors need to understand the data and stop following the status quo if it doesn’t make sense- even if it’s a protocol.  With the current fiduciary position of our health system, reform and adoption of the BEST possible means to increase the quality and reduce the cost of healthcare is inevitable.  Can the care of our sickest patients be protocolized?  I happen to believe some of it can, but we need to THINK creatively about each patient’s care BEFORE we institute protocols.  It turns out the sickest patients often require an individualized care plan.  This is the basic philosophy of Integrative Medicine- consider all evidence-based interventions, not just the ones that are traded during business hours on Wall Street.  The stakes are so high for pharmaceuticals now that increasingly we see trusted authorities looking the other way when it comes to sound process and logical reasoning just to get a desired outcome, aka fraud.  Forget the human element, just thinking as an economist might, our health system has declared that we simply can’t afford to make these mistakes anymore- we just don’t have the money to pay for them.  But I digress again again again.

Summary

I have been extremely naive about the food that I’ve been consuming throughout my life.  There is increasing evidence that food that is processed or high in animal fat can be deadly to the human body- duh?!?!  Even being in relatively great shape, I probably started to develop a potentially very serious condition of my liver that can eventually lead to diabetes and serious health issues.  It’s my opinion that not only my patients but also a large percentage of my friends and family are also at extremely high risk to have NAFLD.  I share this personal message with you today because I’m concerned.  I’m concerned about how this happened to me so insidiously.  I also feel it is my duty and responsibility as a physician and a member of our society to share knowledge that can benefit others.  If you have a family history of diabetes, have transaminitis, or are starting to have truncal obesity- go see your doctor NOW.  Most of us doctors are not well-trained to discuss how your nutrition can very often reverse your illness- that’s OK, MAKE THEM learn or seek assistance!!  Finally, we all need to rethink our food choices- vote with your dollar, stop buying foods that have ingredients that you cannot pronounce, and buy organic whole foods that are locally sourced.

More to come, this is important stuff- thank you for reading my story, your comments (yay or nay) are welcome…

*NAFLD stands for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease which is subdivided into NASH and NAFL.  As much as I would LOVE to talk about the pathophysiology of all the diseases mentioned in this post, others have already done a much better job than I could and I encourage you to reference your favorite medical knowledgebase for more information.