Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid

I have a really twisted commercial in my head. There are a bunch of kids studying intently, when one of them looks up and says, “Man, I am super focused…” Cue the big red Kool-Aid man. He busts through the wall (awesome commercial back in the day) and starts doling out big glasses of red dye and sugar.


Next scene: The kids throwing airplanes, yelling over each other, and running around the room like they are on fire. Ludicrous right? We won’t be seeing that commercial, but basically, that is what’s happening with our kids when they eat and drink foods containing red dye and other artificial food colors (AFC’s).  

I hate to be such a Debbie Downer! “Let kids be kids!” you might say. “Are you saying the Muscle Glow 2000 my kid is drinking after soccer is affecting his behavior?” Yes. It is. The studies are there to back me up. This quote is from an article in 2014: “Artificial food colors (AFCs) are widely used to color foods and beverages. The amount of AFCs the Food and Drug Administration has certified over the years has increased more than 5-fold since 1950 (12 mg/capita/day) to 2012 (68 mg/capita/day). In the past 38 years, there have been studies of adverse behavioral reactions such as hyperactivity in children to double-blind challenges with AFCs. Studies that used 50 mg or more of AFCs as the challenge showed a greater negative effect on more children than those which used less.”

“Greater negative effect” is the way the scientific community has to say it. The way it presents in the home, the classroom, and in my office has shown more far-reaching effects than this study will ever be able to convey. Dyes equal Chaos, whether they cause your kid’s brain to turn off so that they can’t respond to their own name (my daughter), or it ramps them up so much, they are shaky and irrationally angry (my son).

The good news is that AFCs and preservatives are some of the easier things to eliminate from our diet. Simply start by reading food labels. I had my kids read them to me in the store and in the end, made the “Don’t ask for anything that you see if it has colors because the answer will be ‘no’” rule. When they shout out for Fruit Loops and Swedish fish, you can just say, “What’s our rule?” They may pout, but that’s what kids do, then they get over it. 

Many of the alternatives offered to parents with children who present with symptoms of ADD and ADHD are detrimental to the child. Often, meds turn him/her into a zombie while they are active, then when it wears off for the day, it’s like a switch flipped and they are suddenly acting out seemingly with more frustration than before. 

Parental guidance in this can be the difference between a 200 dollar plus amphetamine a month versus having to say “no” to Nuke’m Neon Red Fizzy soda. The side effects with amphetamines often include loss of appetite with stomach irritation, disturbed sleep patterns, as well as loss of creativity. Suffice it to say, it’s much better if you can avoid these drugs.    

Some kids have to have medication and it can be a life-changer, but the majority of kids in my practice were treated without these stimulant medications and did just fine. I treated the patients with things that helped with dopamine production, like Rhodiola Rosea and DopaPlus. As well as things to help calm the brain like CogniMag and Lithium Orotate and L-Theanine

Keep in mind, supplements alone do not carry the impact that lifestyle change, like getting rid of AFCs does. I could be the poster child for ADD, (Bless my Mama’s heart. She refused to give me medication.) and I have survived to the ripe old age of 49 with a medical degree behind my name and many accomplishments to show for it.  

Was it easy? Not always. As an adult, I’ve had to remove things that inflame the brain, like AFC’s, gluten, dairy, and ultra-processed food. This has definitely changed my focus, my temper, my gut, and my ability to organize my thoughts in order to accomplish all of the things I want to do. I’ve had to work on my sleep and exercise routines. These changes have affected my entire family in all the best ways. The hard choices are not so hard to make once we experience feeling well, with or without medications. I will take life “without,” thank you.

Nathan Morris, MD

Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2014 Feb;53(2):133-40

2 Children under treatment with MPH showed a lower global Creative Index and lower scores on Fluency, Originality and Creative Strengths, compared to when not under treatment”  Psicothema. 2016;28(1):20-5

Two Simple Interventions that Improve Sleep

Two Simple Interventions that Improve Sleep

I was keeping up on my reading through scientific blogs, and found a wonderful author who is actually a dear friend, also–Dr. Kate Placzek with ZRT Laboratory. Not only is she brilliant, but holy cow, can she write so that the lay person and the doctor both learn a lot. This is hard to do!


After reading two of her articles, I wanted to share them as I think they have great information about simple supplements that have huge return on sleep improvement. I hope you find them as beneficial as I did. I am happy to give you a quick rundown of these articles, and how to dose these simple supplements.


Vitamin D

In this article, Dr. Kate talks about the role of Vitamin D3 in sleep. I did not know the effect it had on sleep, specifically in regard to serotonin and melatonin, but I did observe that Vitamin D deficiency was detrimental in my patient population for their sleep quality. Now I know why.  

I would recommend taking Vitamin D3 in the morning, although the literature is not clear on timing. I would use between 2000-5000 IU’s a day, especially in winter, or anytime if you live in “Little England,” or as most people know it, “Ohio.” Be sure to get your levels checked by your provider every 6-8 weeks until you know your dosing is stable and don’t take your Vitamin D supplement 24 hours before getting your labs done, as it can artificially elevate the level in the blood tests. 



I have been using glycine for years in my patients to promote sleep, but I have never written an article that explains it so well, so now I don’t have to!  Here, Dr. Kate, explains what this simple amino acid can do. Not only is it great for sleep, but I also used it for tic disorders (involuntary movement disorders like Tourette’s) and have noticed a big difference in my patients due to its ability to decrease firing in the neurons responsible for those abnormal movements. A truly amazing amino acid, and with traveling, I have found it indispensable for correcting my sleep cycles.

I recommend using GlyMag-Z packs. They are tasty and I like to take it before bedtime on an empty stomach; although, it is not a problem with other supplements. Amino acids need to be taken away from other amino acids, like the ones in food, because they will compete for absorption, and decrease the efficacy of the desired amino acid–in this case, glycine.


To your improved sleep,

Nathan Morris MD

Alzheimer’s, One Or Two Lumps of Sugar With That?

Alzheimer’s, One Or Two Lumps of Sugar With That?

I am often amazed at the number of patients who feel that due to family history they are doomed to a particular disease. One of the most frightening of these “inevitable” diseases is Alzheimer’s disease.

I have some skepticism with “cures” as they suggest we are powerless until the medical industrial complex saves us. I do sincerely hope that we find a “cure” for Alzheimer’s, but in the meantime let’s go with what we have, and boy do we have a lot to go on, especially in the area of prevention. That this disease is preventable and even treatable, yes it is treatable, is welcome news and I’m glad to give it.

As so often occurs in life, you don’t get something for nothing, so let’s explore what you should be doing now to not only prevent Alzheimer’s but other diseases such as diabetes and what kind of changes it will require.

They are now calling Alzheimer’s, Type 3 Diabetes, because of its intimate connection with the brain cells inability to move sugar into the brain cells secondary to insulin resistance. Studies are now showing the Alzheimer’s and insulin resistance go hand in hand. This is relatively new science as it was long thought that the brain did not need insulin for uptake of sugar but that is not true, especially in the area of the brain needed for memory. With insulin resistance your brain basically starves, as it can no longer move sugar into the brain to create energy to stay alive.

So the solution seems easy right? Pass you another Ho-Ho you say? Yeah, if only that were the case…but that just makes it worse, unfortunately for you and your Ho-Ho addiction, despite what Marie Antoinette would have to say about your brain and what it should eat. It’s like dying of thirst in the middle of the ocean. To understand this we need to understand that sugar is a two edged sword.

Sugar is our preferred energy source but too much of a good thing, is well, too much. Our cells start protecting us from it because it causes damage to cells when there is too much of it. In this way sugar actually prevents energy production, and stunts the body’s ability to clean up toxins as it should.

Much like Lucy and Ethel in the famous candy factory episode, there is so much excess sugar and nowhere else to store it, that it ends up back in the blood stream (stays on the conveyor belt) continuing to circulate, raising blood sugar and ultimately causing insulin resistance in the cells.

Insulin resistance causes cells to “starve,” brain cells need sugar, so insulin resistance/diabetes causes brain cells to “starve” to death. As studies have shown it’s hard to have Alzheimer’s without insulin resistance.

We consumed 4 lbs of sugar a year 100 years ago and since then some estimates have us consuming over 140 lbs per year! “Holy Crap” is what you should be thinking right now and rightly so, that is a lot! Where does all this sugar come from? Most patients I talk to invariably tell me that they don’t eat much sugar, but as I pull apart their diet I start pointing out the numerous sources we don’t think of as being loaded with sugar and without realizing it, their diet is loaded with sugar.
Every thing that comes in a package should be considered refined (broken down from a whole food and made into a processed food) which in and of itself is creating simple sugars that enter the bloodstream very quickly and cause sugar overload. Then there is the hidden sugar in such “great” nutritious foods like yogurt. Most of it is full of sugar. Soda, diet or not, is too blame for a great deal of our sugar pounds (diet soda increases appetite and in some studies causes more weight gain than regular soda).

Avoiding this is simple. Eat food without modification, i.e. whole foods. Here is a great place to start… . I find it to be quite helpful in understanding healthy foods.

Every time we smoke, eat char-grilled foods, get exposed to mercury, eat chemically modified foods, or get exposed to pesticides, to name a few examples, the body cleaning system has to be diverted to clear these toxins and cellular clean up is slowed and insulin resistance is brought on as cells shut down energy production until “wastes” can be removed. We are on are way to Alzheimer’s, cancer, or diabetes by choosing increased toxic exposure through non- organic foods or inflammatory foods such as “fast food” and other environmental pollutants such as BPAs from plastic bottles etc.

What are we to do? Even if we have already started on the path of Alzheimer’s we can help delay these processes with changing lifestyle , and with well chosen foods and supplements we can even reverse the damage or least stop the decline.

Coconut Oil
One of the most fascinating food substances that helps with Alzheimer’s is coconut oil. This food remedy is starting to show up more and more in mainstream media and Alzheimer’s groups due to in large part from the efforts of Dr. Mary Newport, who wrote a fascinating book, “Alzheimer’s Disease: What if There Was a Cure” about how her husband was brought back from the brink of dementia with the use of medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil.

This is an unfairly disparaged food source, which is very healthy and bypasses the brain’s dependence on sugar. Our brain loves the energy provided by coconut oil and will use this instead of sugar when it can no longer utilize sugar effectively. Not everyone responds to this but a majority of Alzheimer’s patients have noticeable improvement with 1-2 tablespoons twice a day in shakes, used like butter, or used for cooking. It does not cause heart disease and may actually help, so give it a try and read up on it in books such as the “The Coconut Oil Miracle.” What a wonderful energy source it is for the brain that bypasses the brain’s need for sugar.


  • The use of Co Enzyme Q10 is a great place to start at 100-200 mg a day and is very potent anti-inflammatory.
  • Magnesium is another essential element at 600-900 mg a day and would use Magnesium Taurate for the calming effect of Taurine on excitable neurons. Magnesium is also important for insulin resistance.
  • Green Tea Extract, from high quality supplement manufacturer such as Thorne, is extremely potent anti-inflammatory and helps with insulin resistance.
  • Vitamin D3 at 2000-4000 IU per day with a high quality Curcumin supplement at 1000 mg a day has actually in studies been shown to remove plaques of Alzheimer’s from the brain and is also a very good combination for diabetics (noticing a pattern yet?).
  • Omega 3 is a potent anti-inflammatory as well, and in studies has been shown to be beneficial in diabetes and Alzheimer’s. Invest in high quality products to avoid an increase of inflammation. Poor quality fish oils are oxidized (exposed to oxygen) during processing, and therefore cause more damage to cells.
  • A good multivitamin oriented toward diabetics such as Pure Lean Nutrients from Pure Encapsulation (one of my favorite multivitamins) that contains some of the previously mentioned nutrients plus diabetic nutrients such as chromium, zinc, and cinnamon all in one bottle.

So are we cursed to follow our family history? Not at all, and most importantly we are in charge of our destiny as we combat so called inevitable diseases such as Alzheimer’s/Type 3 Diabetes. As Mark Hyman MD** puts it so succinctly- the greatest tool for treating these diseases is our fork.

** Great book by Dr. Hyman which explores the sugar problem in America is Blood Sugar Solution- a must read if you want to understand this better