Dr. Wesley G Bradford - Health Blog






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After Gallbladder Removal

The gallbladder is an essential digestive organ that stores bile from the liver, and releases it into the intestine just below the stomach when the presence of fat is sensed. The bile is needed to dissolve the fat in the watery digestive solution (like detergent!), so that digestive enzymes can break the fat down for absorption. If the gallbladder is absent, the bile just leaks into the intestine 24 hours a day and irritates it when food is not present, yet when food is present there is too little bile flow to dissolve dietary fat. This poorly digested food feeds toxic intestinal micro-organisms (that compete against beneficial bacteria there) and contributes to Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Acid Reflux, as does bile itself when it enters without food present.

Among other problems is poor absorption of essential oils such as Omega-3s (which are anti-inflammatory and can reduce heart disease and other inflammatory chronic conditions). Fat-soluble Vitamins (A, D, E and K) also cannot be absorbed adequately without enough bile. Contrary to what we were told years ago about the gallbladder not being important, there are significant nutritional deficiencies and intestinal problems without it. Intestinal problems also cause poor functioning in the immune system, most of which is associated with the intestinal wall but affects the entire body (allergies, auto-immune diseases, infections, and fighting cancer). If your gallbladder has been removed, you need special nutritional compensation to maintain optimum health. (Optimal nutrition before you get gallstones can help to avoid the need to remove the gallbladder, another example of diseases of civilization.)


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Anti-Acid Drugs
Anti-acid drugs are often used to stop the symptoms of acid reflux from the stomach, typically for long-term “treatment”. However, they don’t stop digestive fluids coming up from the stomach; they only neutralize the acid to prevent heartburn (the symptom, not the cause). Left unsaid is why acid is needed in the stomach as nature intended. Stomach acid is needed for:

  • Dissolving minerals so they can be absorbed (vital for healthful nutrition and strong bones);
  • Digesting protein for good nutrition (the first stage must occur in the stomach under acid conditions);
  • Absorbing Vitamin B12, which comes from animal protein but must bind to the “Intrinsic Factor” before leaving the stomach, or it is lost;
  • Helping prevent harmful micro-organisms from growing in the intestine (at the expense of the beneficial bacteria that you need there). Some harmful micro-organisms are killed by acid as they pass through the stomach. Many of them grow faster in the intestine if they are fed by undigested protein passing through the stomach. These harmful micro-organisms in turn can inflame and irritate the intestine, aggravating acid reflux and Irritable Bowel Syndrome! (Treating the reflux symptoms aggravates the cause and makes it more difficult to get off the drugs, so people assume they just need the drugs permanently.)
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Ant
ioxidants for Radiation Protection
A mixture of antioxidants has been shown to help protect against radiation damage in studies from contamination by the Chernobyl disaster: Vitamins A, C, E, L-selenomethionine, N-acetylcysteine, alpha-lipoic acid, and coenzyme Q10, along with nutritional support from B-complex vitamins and trace minerals (but no iron, copper or manganese, which are pro-inflammatory).  Adequate dietary magnesium (the green-vegetables mineral) is needed.  An adequate amount of good quality protein is also important for cellular repair and producing antioxidant enzymes.  (Although potassium iodide has been used against gamma-radiation from radioactive iodine, it has a short duration of protection, an unpredictable effect on the thyroid gland, and does not protect against other radioactive isotopes or other types of radiation.)  (British Journal of Radiology, 2005)


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Astaxanthin – Nature’s Sunscreen

Astaxanthin is now thought to be the most powerful antioxidant found in nature and is also unusually potent for sun protection of skin and eyes. There are only 2 main sources of astaxanthin — the ocean microalgae that produce it (to protect them from sun) and the sea creatures that eat them, giving them their characteristic red or pink color (wild salmon, shellfish, and krill, but not farmed salmon which are artificially colored). Astaxanthin is a kind of carotinoid, one of a group of vitamin A precursors, but unlike Vitamin A it does not accumulate in the body, so toxicity is not a concern. About 8-10 mg daily may be an optimum amount.

Astaxanthin is far more effective than other antioxidants (although you still need a variety of others for good nutrition). Astaxanthin readily crosses the blood-retinal barrier and the blood-brain barrier to bring antioxidant and anti-inflammatory protection to your eyes and central nervous system, and reduce your risk for cataracts, macular degeneration and dementia. Astaxanthin is soluble in lipids, so it incorporates into cell membranes which are especially susceptible to oxidative damage. It’s a potent UVB absorber (sunscreen) and it decreases DNA damage (a factor in cancer and aging). It’s a very potent natural anti-inflammatory agent - most chronic degenerative diseases are liked to inflammation, including coronary disease, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and many kinds of arthritis, cancer, and allergies.


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Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome


Although these complex conditions can benefit from more focused testing and management, the following supplements have been reported to help improve energy levels (in total daily dosages, best if divided among meals):

  • Co Q10, 300-360mg
  • L–Carnitine, 2000-3000mg (Acetyl L-Carnitine form works best if brain issues)
  • D-Ribose, 15gm
  • Magnesium, 400- 800mg (chelated for best absorption)
 
Frail Elderly

When elderly people become frail, it’s not just from aging or lack of exercise. It is aggravated by prolonged deficient nutrition and can be (at least partially) reversed. The bones, digestive system and nervous system (coordination as well as memory and reasoning) also deteriorate from loss of protein (essential amino acids) as well as other nutrients. The reason is that the chronic diseases associated with “aging” are inflammatory conditions regulated by the body’s “cytokine” chemicals in “acute” response to conditions that have gone on too long (referred to as “inflammaging”). The body is well adapted for emergency responses but not for chronic conditions experienced in “civilization”. These cytokines have rapid turnover for rapid response to changing conditions, and require a large amount of protein that is “borrowed” from other tissues, especially the intestinal lining and then the skeletal muscles. This gradual loss is not noticed unless it is prolonged.

The end result is atrophy (volume loss) of muscle, intestinal tissue and even brain neurotransmitter chemicals vital for coordination and other mental processes. Frail people tend to have weak muscles that cannot be strengthened by exercise because they lack the protein material for rebuilding. They also have weak intestinal muscle walls (constipation), deficient digestive enzymes (poor digestion and poor appetite, further aggravating poor nutrition), weaker heart muscle, poor endurance, faster mental deterioration, and poor immune function (the immune system’s antibodies are also built of amino acids).

The most critical nutrient needed by frail elderly people is good quality protein. One of the best sources for this is whey protein, designed by nature to be rich in the most important amino acid building blocks needed by babies, and popular with muscle builders as a supplement for the same reason. Frail elderly people should have one serving (a scoop of whey powder mixed with water) twice a day for at least several months, along with other supplements as needed. It’s amazing how much function they can recover in time with the right nutritional approach. No drug can do this.


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Gout

Gout can be reduced by minimizing inflammatory processes in the body.  Effective steps include having an anti-inflammatory diet (especially olive oil, fish and nuts, avoiding trans fats, and eating fresh vegetables and fruit for antioxidants).  Other steps include not smoking, minimizing alcohol, reducing stress (which promotes inflammation), getting 8 hours of sleep, increasing physical activity, and shrinking your waist size (to less than 35 inches for women or 40 inches for men).

Minimizing sugar intake, especially the high fructose contained in sodas and fruit juice drinks, is very important.  Unlike glucose which comes from complex carbohydrates and is used by the entire body, fructose is metabolized only in the liver, where it is turned into triglycerides and fat, and produces excessive uric acid.  Uric acid is normally lost in the urine, but this excess accumulates in the joints, connective tissues and kidneys, causing the symptoms of gout.  (The fructose in fresh fruit, when mixed with a meal, does not cause this problem, and the anthocyanins and bioflavonoids in cherries, grapes and citrus are anti-inflammatory.)

Obesity in children, which has tripled in the last 3 decades, is correlated with the introduction of fructose sweeteners into the American diet.  Fructose interferes with the chemical process of appetite control and promotes overeating (unlike glucose).  It also accelerates the chemical changes associated with aging.  The excess of fat accumulating in the liver causes fatty liver disease (correlated with diabetes and overweight).  It also accumulates in the muscles (where it causes insulin resistance because the muscles cannot use that much, making the pancreas work harder to make more insulin, and pushing diabetes out of control).

These are reasons why gout is associated with diabetes, overweight, high blood pressure and heart disease.  Maintaining proper diet habits is important for preventing these “diseases of civilization”.

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Musculoskeletal Injury Healing

All NSAID anti-inflammatory drugs (such as Ibuprofen) aggravate GI function by increasing intestinal permeability which inflames the immune system. (This new concept has become a hot topic of GI research but is still not considered much in conventional medicine.) NSAIDs may also impair collagen healing, which would impact all healing musculoskeletal injuries. It is better from the Functional Medicine perspective to avoid that class of drugs as much as possible.


Nutritionally, BioSil twice a day is an important supplement for collagen-healing enzymes in ligaments, tendons and bones (get the capsules, not the liquid). It is at Lindberg Nutrition and some other stores. (It is promoted more for skin, hair, and anti-aging purposes, but ignore the marketing hype.) You should also be on bone-healing supplements like Vitamin D3 (you could safely take 5000 units daily), and calcium & magnesium (ideally in a 2:1 ratio), plus trace minerals zinc, copper, boron, manganese, and even strontium, which are important cofactors for bone-and-collagen-healing enzymes. (Lindberg has a supplement called Bone Support, taken 4 capsules daily, which has this combination except it has too little Vitamin D and no strontium.) These supplements are good for preventing and treating osteoporosis (they work better than post-menopausal estrogens and Fosamax, without the side effects), but the same principles are important for efficient musculoskeletal healing, and should be continued for at least 4 months after an injury.

Don't expect immediate pain relief, because healing takes time and patience, and avoiding exacerbation from pushing activities too far too fast. Be sure to maintain passive range of motion (a physical therapist or I could show you how), so the injured area doesn't get tight and stiff.

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Kidney Stones

Most kidney stones contain crystals of multiple types, but usually one type predominates.

  • Calcium oxalate stones are the most common (80%).  Oxalate is found in some fruits and vegetables, especially dark green vegetables, nuts and chocolate, but the liver produces most of it.  High dietary calcium actually reduces the risk of stones because it binds with oxalates from food in the intestine, preventing them from being absorbed.
  • Struvite stones are usually the result of urinary tract infections, most often in women.
  • Uric acid stones are an abnormal byproduct of protein metabolism, and also fructose sweeteners so common in the American diet, and are associated with gout as well as increased risk for heart disease and metabolic problems.
  • Cystine stones are caused by an uncommon hereditary disorder that causes the kidneys to excrete excessive amounts of this kind of amino acid.

Drinking enough water reduces the risk of kidney stones, although sodas increase the risk.  Other risk factors for stones include physical inactivity, high blood pressure, digestive problems, high sugar intake, salt and processed foods, soy, caffeine and tea (which contains oxalates).  Adequate dietary magnesium and vitamin B6 may help prevent stones.

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Nutrition Effects on Depression

Vitamin D (the “sunshine vitamin”) is important for depression (its deficiency contributes to “winter depression”). It can be assessed by a “25-hydroxy-Vitamin D” blood test, which is often tested in osteoporosis but rarely in depression. (Vitamin D is also vital in immune system regulation, which is important with any auto-immune disease, infection, allergy problem or cancer.)

Folate, or folic acid, one of the B Vitamins, is also vital for the brain chemistry that regulates mood (and is needed for many other body functions). It is found primarily in raw dark green leafy vegetables. In people who inherit a defective form of the folate-processing enzyme “MTHFR” from both sides of the family, 70% are depressed; the ones who are not have more nutritious diets that help make up for the defective enzyme! (The standard blood test for folate is not a reliable measurement for folate tissue levels.) Anti-depressant drugs often do not work (or they stop working) in people who have these types of nutritional deficiencies. (A new drug, called “Deplin”, bypasses the defective folate-processing step and helps this kind of depression, but the lesson here is to have good nutrition. No drug can make up for poor nutrition or other lifestyle problems!)

Other nutrients found to be important for depression include zinc, magnesium, selenium, chromium, antioxidants, omega-3 oils, biotin, B2, B6, B12, carnitine, and inositol.  Poor diets are deficient in these.


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Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is often thought to be an inevitable effect of aging, but there are numerous nutritional contributions that can be modified. Most people know about the importance of Vitamin D and Calcium, but there are several other vitamins and minerals essential for bone health.

The "sunshine vitamin", Vitamin D3 (not the D2 form as in some supplements), is essential for strong bones (as well as for healthy regulation of mood and the immune system). With proper sun exposure (avoiding burn from over-exposure), the body can regulate its Vitamin D3 to a healthy level, but this is affected by lack of outdoor exposure (with indoor occupations and in northern latitudes with longer colder winters) and by skin color (darker skin needs more exposure). Dietary and supplement Vitamin D3 can make up for deficiency, but as an oil-soluble vitamin it is poorly absorbed if the gallbladder has been removed (as with the other oil-soluble vitamins A, E and K, and the essential oils like Omega-3s). (Note: Each of these vitamins has several forms, which are not interchangeable.)

Vitamin K2 works together with D3 to strengthen the bones and improve heart health. With Vitamin D3, the body creates more Vitamin K2-dependent proteins, which help move the calcium around in the body so that it goes to the bones rather than into the artery walls and connective tissues; Vitamin D3 cannot do this without enough K2. (Note: Vitamin K1 is used by the liver to activate clotting factors, while K2 works on the rest of the body.) Patients with osteoporosis, coronary heart disease or diabetes are likely to be deficient in Vitamin K2. 200 µg of Vitamin K2 daily should be enough. Brie and Gouda cheese and certain vegetables are high in K2.

Calcium dietary deficiency can be made up by taking Calcium supplements, but these (and other minerals) are poorly absorbed if stomach acid is deficient, which happens from taking anti-acid drugs for acid reflux or "indigestion" symptoms. This is why chronic use of these drugs increases the likelihood and severity of osteoporosis and hip fractures. Another important consideration is that Calcium tablets need to be chewed before swallowing so they can be completely dissolved before leaving the acid in the stomach.

Other minerals necessary for healthy bone growth include Magnesium, found in raw dark green vegetables. (It is also important for controlling blood pressure, nervous tension, sleep and migraines, among many other roles, and should be in proper proportion with Calcium for nutritional balance.) Important trace minerals for bone health also include Boron, Manganese, Zinc and Copper, in proper proportions. (All of these  minerals need stomach acid to dissolve, for reliable absorption; this is basic high school chemistry.) Strontium has also been found to be a helpful mineral for bone health (N Engl J Med 2004), and is available as a prescription drug in Europe.

Another component found to be helpful recently is "Orthosilicic Acid", the scarce bio-available form of Silicon which is otherwise abundant in the earth's crust but not usable by the body; it's found in certain vegetables and herbs. This is an important cofactor for the enzymes that produce collagen, the fibrous compound that bone needs as its growth and repair platform, as well as for repairing ligaments and tendons after injury, and for maintaining healthy skin during aging. It is now available on the Internet as "BioSil", Choline-Stabilized Orthosilicic Acid 5 mg, taken once or twice a day. It has been shown to be more effective than menopausal hormones in preventing bone loss, and in some cases can even increase bone density (BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2008).

Low potassium and too much sodium (salt), as in most processed foods, affect the kidneys' ability to maintain proper pH (the body's balance of acidity).  The enzymes that do the body's chemistry activities including bone metabolism all require the correct pH level for proper function.  Unfortunately, all chronic disease processes tend to promote excess acidity ("metabolic acidosis"), which reduces bone health and other aspects of body chemistry by impairing enzyme function. Good quality vegetables and fruits and minimal salt should be eaten instead of processed foods in order to maintain potassium-sodium balance.

The bisphosphonate drugs (such as "Fosamax") that are used to help prevent bone loss work differently, by preventing the natural remodeling process of bone maintenance. While this does result in less decrease of bone density and some reduced short-term fracture risk, it also makes bones gradually less tough and resilient because it impairs bone collagen production (think of the difference in shatter-resistance between steel and glass). Long-term use of bisphophonates can endanger bone health - dentists have found cases in these patients of jawbones shattering in the dental chair when drilling teeth! Eventually, hip fractures also become more common in those who have taken bisphosphonate drugs. Bone density is not the only factor in bone strength and health, but it's the only factor measured in conventional osteoporosis testing.

Weight-bearing exercise is also important for bone strength, but it only works in the presence of good nutrition. Otherwise, it can break down bone structure without new growth to replace it. (This is sometimes seen in women athletes, in whom prolonged high-exertional stress can put their hormones into a menopause-equivalent state.)


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Probiotics for Intestinal Infections, and After Antibiotics

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that compete against and reduce populations of toxic harmful intestinal bacteria, aid and train the immune system (70% of which is around the intestinal wall). Some kinds fight infections on the skin and in the mouth and vagina. These beneficial bacteria are vital partners of a healthy immune system. They are present in fermented foods such as yogurt, buttermilk, sauerkraut, miso, and kimche. Breast milk contains Bifidobacteria that are beneficial for populating infants’ digestive systems and helping train their immune systems. (Breast-fed babies are healthier and have fewer allergies, respiratory infections and adulthood obesity than bottle-fed babies.) Most antibiotics kill these beneficial bacteria, potentially enabling colonization by resistant toxic bacteria that are difficult to diagnose and eradicate. Repopulating the intestine with these “good guys” after taking antibiotics is a good way to maintain good digestive health, nutrition and immune function, and is a vital nutritional component to successfully managing Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Obese people have been found to have different proportions of certain kinds of intestinal bacteria than non-obese people, and these bacteria influence appetite and energy storage! “Junk foods” influence the growth of these bacteria (if you feed them, they will multiply!).

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