Five Ways to Take Control of High Blood Sugar

Five Ways to Take Control of High Blood Sugar

Did you know diabetes and cancer are diseases of ‘too much energy’? Yes, we need to make energy to live. But when that energy production yields excess waste products and we cannot remove them, it causes trouble. Every engine, (in this case, cell mitochondria) produces waste. But, if we are eating lots of antioxidants, like berries, fish, and vegetables, exercising, and getting enough sleep then this should not be an issue. When waste products accumulate, they cause inflammation, and the body reacts by leaving the blood sugar high. So, elevated blood sugar is a sign the body is not running efficiently.

Elevated blood sugar is a symptom, and not a cause of disease. Research does not support the notion these diseases are inherent, so when you make good lifestyle choices, you take control of your health destiny.

Here are five basic things you can do to cool down the inflammation and improve your cellular health:

  1. Avoid simple sugars. Men should eat only 35 grams a day and women only 25 grams. The average American consumes 3-5 times this amount.
  2. Exercise- even 15 mins a day of walking helps improve antioxidant status and lowers blood sugars. A little goes a long way.
  3. Eat high antioxidant foods- A higher intake of fruit, especially berries, and green leafy vegetables, yellow vegetables, cruciferous vegetables or their fiber is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.”
  4. Lower your blood sugar with supplements like magnesium and berberine. There is a new Berberine with In-Sea2 that slows the absorption of sugars, lowers blood sugar, and helps with weight loss.
  5. Support your mitochondria. Taking antioxidants like resveratrol, Co-Q 10, and Liposomal Glutathione, are helpful. Add a good multi like PureGenomics Multivitamin to be sure you have enough Bs on board.

Follow these tips to jack up your antioxidant status, lower your inflammatory responses, and get great sleep to keep the garbage going out to the curb. Your mitochondria will thank you!

My COVID Miscalculation

My COVID Miscalculation

I’m the guy balancing the mattress on his head in the wind, going,” I got it, I got it!”

I have ALL things medical figured out, especially my own body… and oh, how often I am humbled.

My recent COVID-19 infection was no different. I should have listened to my wife.

What is it my wife advised? Well, after I finally felt like the Mack truck had finished rolling over me and then backing up so all 18 wheels could hit me again for 10 days with my infection, I thought I knew best and went right back to my previous activities and my beloved Crossfit routine.

My wife asked, “Do you think you are giving yourself enough time to recover?” because telling me I wasn’t is a sure-fire way to make me stubborn. I scoffed at her and kept on truckin’.

Well, I screwed up.

I am genetically inclined to have a pretty severe inflammation reaction from COVID-19, as proven with my PureGenomics report. My genetics did not disappoint here. Thank goodness I took all the right supplements to support this inflammation, like liposomal glutathione, zinc, Vitamin D3, Vitamin A, NAC, and selenium, to name just some of the cocktail I concocted. I did not have any long-term effects except that I still don’t need a  shower but once a week, according to my nose. My family may feel differently.

It turns out COVID-19 literally messes with your head. I did not rest appropriately, so my cortisol (the brain’s energy steroid) started going haywire. It was dropping during the day (super tired) and spiking at night (awake at 2:30 every night). Well, being Mr. Smartypants, I thought I would just supplement my way through this setback and keep my schedule of working out 4-5 times per week. I took Phyto-ADR, Sereniten Plus, and Relora to fix this “adrenal fatigue” or “HPA axis dysfunction” and did not slow down. I was served another piece of humble pie.  Without proper rest and giving my body a break, I did not improve.

It has been 2 weeks since the “ha-ha” moment that my wife was right, dammit, and have significantly curtailed my activity. Three months after having my brain invaded by COVID, I am finally getting things right in my recovery.

Listen to your body (and your spouse), do not work out unless you have no daytime fatigue and your sleep (quality and length) is back to normal. Take it slow.

Things are turning around for me now. My body is recovering. I am still supporting my brain and cortisol production with Phyto ADR during the day, Sereniten Plus, and Relora at night, but these were not the critical piece of my recovery. REST was.

Cooling the Passion for Sleep’s Sake

Cooling the Passion for Sleep’s Sake

I have an admission to make… I have been in a torrid affair for years and I have to come clean. Yes, my wife knows and has been ambiguous regarding this affair, as I was having it before she met me. It gets me up in the morning. It keeps me up at night. Coffee, why are you such a tough mistress!


I love my coffee, and if I could, I would drink it night and day. I started when my grandfather would put it in a saucer to cool it off and let me drink it that way at the age of 3 or 4. If it wasn’t coffee, then it was iced tea in the South, and we drink that more than water. Then, for a treat, we would drink a Coca-Cola every 2-3 days. Caffeine was just a part of life for me, and I loved it. What I discovered is that it didn’t love me back.

My first suspicions of this non-reciprocating love were when I got my genetics analyzed. I had both variants of one particular genetic variation that helps me get rid of caffeine (CYP1A2). This means that if I drink more than 1 cup of coffee a day, I have a 38% increased risk of a heart attack. If I have more than 2 cups that risk goes up to 64%!  Others (hate them) have a decreased risk of heart issues with coffee/caffeine, which is all based on their genetics and very good fortune. What I thought was good for me according to some studies (these studies often contradict other studies saying it’s bad for us, as genetics was not a variable they considered), was going to increase my odds of a heart attack once I knew my genetics. There are also genetics where you increase anxiety with caffeine, which I will explore further below in the section on how to look up your caffeine genetics, but thank goodness I missed the genetic lottery for that one, ADORA2A, although the CYP1A2 was enough I think. This detox genetic variation, CYP1A2, in and of itself,  definitely makes me rethink my relationship, and that was before I figured out what it was doing to my sleep.

Yes, it is official: caffeine disrupts sleep. I know, I know, this is a news flash and why haven’t you heard of this prior to now. Well, now you know (wink, wink).

In all seriousness, we know caffeine wakes us up so why am I stating the obvious? Well for one, I don’t think the common layperson or medical professional understands how caffeine disrupts our sleep by not only delaying sleep, but actually waking us up in the middle of the night and affecting sleep cycles, and this may be from caffeine intake in the middle of the day, not at bedtime.   

I have friends who pound coffee all day and then fall right to sleep an hour or two after. The problem is they don’t understand why they can’t sleep for more than 4-5 hours. Well, I can tell you caffeine is known to be the most common cause of “waking after sleep onset” or WASO (just in case you needed another acronym in your life). Let us now take me as an example. If I have more than 2 coffees a day, especially after 10 AM, then I can guarantee you that I will be awake after 5-6 hours of sleep. I finally put it together by noticing patterns that my Oura ring provides. This handy ring tells me REM, NREM, light sleep, and awakenings. It has given me great insight into my sleep and coffee is a definite detriment.  

Why is something that is so good, it seems, so bad for us at the same time? Well, to understand this relationship, we need to understand the physiology of caffeine’s effects.

Coffee’s primary mechanism of action is its effects to block Adenosine from binding to receptors in the brain that make us sleepy (it has some secondary effects on histamine release in the brain but for simplicity let’s focus here).  Adenosine is an amino acid that accumulates during the day and allows us to fall asleep at night. Caffeine does not get rid of adenosine, but rather blocks the receptors, which is an important fact. When the caffeine wears off, then we still have that adenosine accumulating and it will either bind with a vengeance and we are more tired than when we drank caffeine, or we fight the fatigue with more caffeine and put off the inevitable. The problem with caffeine is its relatively long half-life of 4-6 hours depending on your genetics. This means it can take a full 24 hours to rid your body of the caffeine you took in at 8 AM. If you are dosing throughout the day, then you may have the same amount of caffeine in your system you did after that first cup of coffee, at your bedtime! You may still fall asleep, as the adenosine overwhelms the receptors, but when you have broken down enough adenosine as you sleep, caffeine is still there binding those receptors and boom! Awake you are, and not at a convenient time.  

The above calculations do not take into account if you are a poor metabolizer like me. If you have genetic issues, which there are two main ones, then you may have trouble sleeping with just one cup of coffee or God forbid, an energy drink which in some cases can have over 3 times the caffeine as coffee. There is a lot to consider here as we grab that cup of Joe or energy drink and here are some tools to help you understand the effects of that 24 oz. of coffee from Starbucks and ways to cool down that torrid relationship with caffeine.

  1. Caffeine Apps – Yep, they’ve made an app for that. The simplest, for $3.99, is “Caffeine App.” You plug in all your caffeine intake, from whatever source, and it’ll give you charts of where your caffeine will be at bedtime. What’s scary, is that as I write this and have consumed 2 cups of coffee, 1 at 6:30 AM and 1 at 8 AM, I will still have 50 mg of caffeine in my system at 9:30 PM! This is with an arbitrary 50 mg limit I put in the app. This is like drinking half a cup of coffee and going to bed! Craziness! This is without my genetics, so guess who is only going to be drinking 1 cup a day from now on?

  2. Genetics – I use PureGenomics to understand my 23andme data. Fortunately, it is free, but you need a healthcare provider to sign you up. If you don’t have PureGenomics, I will include a short tutorial at the end to look up your genetics on your 23andme account. This is important, not only for sleep but your overall health as I pointed out before, especially with blood pressure and heart disease.
  3. Decaffeinated beverages – I love coffee and don’t care if it is decaffeinated. I would recommend, 1 cup of regular coffee or other drink, then switch over to the decaffeinated version. You are still going to get some caffeine but about 85% less. This makes me extremely happy and doesn’t disrupt my sleep. If you’re going with decaffeinated coffee, make sure it’s not chemically treated but rather, Swiss water extracted (organic), just to have the best possible experience.
  4. Wean off the caffeine. I know this is unthinkable, but in my journey of health, I have to admit, I’m thinking this is the next step for me. It’s giving me artificial feedback on my health. It allows me to ignore my adrenal health and mask its feedback of stress, not enough sleep, etc. so that I’m unable to connect the dots and make better life choices. I’m thinking I will start with only one cup of caffeine a day. I will add herbal hot beverages to give me the “hot drink” fix. Then, I’m going to start mixing my coffee beans half caffeinated and half decaffeinated for a while. Next, it’s on to just decaffeinated beans, which have about 10-15 mg of caffeine, but allows me to have the taste I love.   It’s a plan, and one I am going to do my best to stick to.
  5. Support your body during the withdrawal. Often, we are using our caffeine as compensation for years of burning the candle at both ends. We can use things that support our adrenals, which are responsible for giving us energy that is independent of caffeine, through cortisol. Two of my favorites are 1. Adrenal for very overworked adrenals and a less aggressive option 2. PhytoADR.  These will help as you look for energy that is not caffeine-dependent. Another option is Energy Xtra when you need that extra pick me up that would normally involve caffeine.

This is basically a cathartic article for me, or my “Dear John” letter, as I had to not only write this for you, but for myself. When I see it in black and white, I can no longer avoid the inevitable breakup that has to happen. I have to do it for my heart, my sleep–and ultimately–my overall wellbeing.

How to find out your genetics in relation to caffeine:

  1. Go to 23andme and login
  2. Click on initials (Step 1 on screenshot)
  3. Click on Browse Raw Data (Step 2 on screenshot) 
  4. Look at 2 specific genes for Caffeine
    • ADORA2A rs5751876 (See image-you will have to put it in as rs5751876 exactly” STEP 3”)- if you get TT “STEP 4” you are more likely to be anxious with caffeine.
    • Next check your CYP1A2 rs762551 just like you did above- CC and CA are the ones that mean you are slow metabolizer. CC is the slowest metabolizer of the two and means even less caffeine is needed to cause hypertension and heart disease.


Zip It and Sleep Better

Or I should say, tape it and sleep better. I am about to tell you about one of the most amazing sleep secrets that costs pennies a day (Infomercial sounding? Yep, but not selling anything but good ole tape) and may save your adrenal glands. The secret is lip taping at bedtime.  

The science here is amazing and is based on the work of Dr. Butekyo. He was a doctor working in the ICU who noted that patients that slept with their mouths closed, lived much longer than those who slept with their mouth open. 

There is some complex physiologic process going on here that justify this increased longevity, but suffice it to say, breathing through your nose, creates more nitric oxide, which improves lung and heart function. It also prevents a tremendous amount of sleep apnea and oxygen deprivation. I have been utilizing this technique since the conference I attended by the guru of Butekyo Breathing, and my sleep has never been better. I actually proved this when I monitored my sleep with my Oura ring with and without tape and my sleep scores without tape were much worse. Especially my NREM and REM sleep scores, so I did not get as much restorative, deep sleep as I need.

What is involved with taping?  Well, you can go the cheapest route and use 3M Transpore tape and tape the lips shut which may involve trial periods while awake. This is an issue if you’ve been a long-term mouth breather. Once you’re used to wearing it (most people tolerate it without having to do the longer and longer trial periods) you then wear this before you fall asleep and take it off when you awake. Too good to be true? I thought so too, but let me tell you, this is a life changer for improved sleep. If you like your tape fancy, and I do (I am so Zsa Zsa), you can also use to order amazing tape in the shape of lips that I reuse 2-3 times before throwing away.  

Are there other applications for nose breathing even when not asleep? Yes, and I would highly recommend learning more about nasal breathing for asthma, stress, anxiety, and much improved athletic performance. is a great place to start if you want to dig further. If you want more information and techniques for lip taping for sleep, here is a good article I found. Also, check out this YouTube video called “Mindfulness Buteyko” which helps calm the mind and teaches soft breathing techniques. 


To your much-improved sleep,

Nathan Morris MD

Fasting – Not.

My daughter is 12.  She’s had some gut issues, eczema and weight gain due to satiety hormone imbalance. She is FTO positive, which means her genetics don’t seem to allow her to feel as if she’s had enough to eat.

Recently, my husband and I did a 5-day mimicking fast called Prolon. It was not as rough as a real fast (water only), but I got to see first-hand what it is like for an emotional stress eater (my husband) to eat only what was absolutely necessary for 5 days. It was tough. After he survived that, he went right back to eating right away as he had before. That was fine because according to the data, the fast had already kicked off the good effects for the body.

I, personally, could not go back to normal eating for more than a week. I listened to my body, my hunger, and it took me longer to recover from the fast. My energy did not return very quickly. Normally, I am energetic and overly active, and I didn’t feel any of my energy or drive for exercise return until today. We did that fast from Dec. 11-Dec. 16, and it is now January 2.

I wanted a reset for my child’s body without the fatigue and effects I suffered. So, I decided to teach my girl how to eat well without fasting.

For 5 days, we ate only at meal times, no snacks in between, and avoided gluten, Dairy, corn, and soy. I made a big pot of veggie soup we could eat through the week for something fast to warm up and a cookie sheet with nutbars we could grab for breakfast. We ate olives and pickles for snacks if we needed them, and after the first 2 days, I don’t think we ate any snacks. We weren’t hungry. We cooked real dinners together out of my favorite cookbook, which was just as nourishing an experience as eating the food.

After just 3 days, my child’s inflamed tummy became soft and she lost noticeable inches every day which she would gladly show me. Her stretch marks faded (many were a result of the Lyme coinfections) and her mood elevated. She spent a night with her friends, and they supported her in her endeavor to stick to eating the food we agreed on, which she carted with her to the sleepover.

She has begun to care about her body enough to start exercising (planking) in her room when she feels like practicing and she even went to the gym with her dad, brother and I to see what working out is about. She was enthusiastic about the feeling of using her muscles and she made us show her how to use each implement. Her energy level has taken a tremendous jump up the scale.

I am hopeful that she will remember many things from this experience. Mostly the feeling of all we have gone through together, and that I would do anything to help her to know in the future how to live a healthy, happy life. I highly recommend this bonding experience to parents with teenagers.

Don’t just live. Live great!

Annie Morris, LMT and Mama Bear

All That I Have Lost

“How can you stand it?”

That’s what they say when the bread is delivered to the restaurant table. I don’t have the slightest bit of sadness at abstaining from the loaf or the butter that comes alongside it. It does remind me of all I’ve lost by giving up foods that irritate my body.

Here’s a short list:

  • Arthritis
  • Life-long fight with overwhelming depression
  • Fluctuations in body weight
  • Brain fog
  • The inability to breathe during exercise
  • Lack of circulation in my extremities
  • Headaches
  • Problems with my teeth and gums
  • Regular yeast and fungal infections

Yes, I think that is a pretty good list. These things affected my life everyday, not to mention my pocketbook. (Root canals are very expensive!)

You know how a good bed salesman gets you to spend your money by telling you that you spend one third of your life in bed? I wish I could sell a good lifestyle that way, since it affects 100% of your time here on Earth. Self-love, self- respect and self-value is a gift we can only give ourselves. So when the bread comes, I inhale deeply and give thanks that at least I can smell it without consequence, and I remember (and celebrate) all I’ve lost.

Annie Morris, LMT

Thyroid and Why TSH is Misleading

Thyroid and Why TSH is Misleading

Thyroid medication is often presented as the “magic hammer,” making everything a nail. The longer I have been in practice, the more suspicious I have become of the idea that one medical remedy fixes everything. I especially felt this way about the thyroid, as people are often coming into the office thinking that they have low thyroid with very “normal” labs. Now, many years later, and after much research, I think those previous people were probably right. Thyroid is a really important piece of the puzzle that is not being treated correctly, especially by the people who are supposed to understand it, doctors and the endocrine specialists. I would like to shine some light on this essential gland and the important role it plays and why we are misguided when it comes to monitoring its function through our current methods.

The thyroid gland rests at the base of our necks and is not really noticeable unless it is palpated or a person has a goiter (low iodine and thyroid antibodies are two reasons for a goiter). The thyroid gland takes iodine from the bloodstream, of which we need about 1 mg a week, and concentrates it. This iodine, along with Tyrosine (an amino acid), makes Thyroxine /T4 (which is 4 iodines and 2 tyrosines) or it makes triiodothyronine/T3 (3 iodines and 2 tyrosines). 93% of what is released by the thyroid gland is T4, and 7% is T3. Most T4 has to be converted to T3 which is 4x more bioactive and this is what the cell needs to function correctly. Once released from the thyroid the thyroid hormone (Free T3 or Free T4) is in the bloodstream, however, it has to be moved into the cell to accomplish its many tasks (see Fig 1) and this requires energy (in the form of ATP made by cell mitochondria) or active transport. Now what’s interesting is that the gland that tells our body whether we need more thyroid, does not require energy to move thyroid into its monitoring cells. This creates quite the conundrum as we shall see.

The thyroid hormone is released from the thyroid gland by signaling from the pituitary in the brain, which is accomplished by Thyroid Stimulating Hormone orTSH. This TSH will increase or decrease production of thyroid hormone depending on the amount of thyroid hormone in the blood. The transport of the T3 and T4 into the pituitary is not dependent on energy, or in other words it uses passive transport. So if we have a condition like Chronic Fatigue, Bipolar, Chronic Depression etc., that has known mitochondrial depletion/low cellular energy status, our brain will be getting a different message than what our cells are getting. The brain will think everything is going OK, because it has plenty of thyroid, while are cells are completely deficient. The processes shown in figure 1 cannot be completed, which ironically, includes improving mitochondrial function, and so, we feel like crap.

Diagram of Thyroid TSH process

Thyroid hormone activation of target cells. Thyroxine (T 4 ) and triiodothyronine (T 3 ) enter the cell membrane by a carrier-mediated adenosine triphosphate–dependent transport process. Much of the T 4 is deiodinated to form T 3 , which interacts with the thyroid hormone receptor, bound as a heterodimer with a retinoid X receptor, of the thyroid hormone response element of the gene. This action causes either increases or decreases in transcription of genes that lead to the formation of proteins, thus producing the thyroid hormone response of the cell. The actions of thyroid hormone on cells of several different systems are shown. BMR, basal metabolic rate; CNS, central nervous system; mRNA, messenger ribonucleic acid; Na + -K + -ATPase, sodium–potassium–adenosine triphosphatase.-Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology. 2016

So we basically get into a paradox. The cells need thyroid, but because of the cell’s low energy it cannot move into the cell. Now, the brain is getting the false message that everything is fine, because it does not require energy to get thyroid to the pituitary and hypothalamus. The cells themselves are thirsty for thyroid but the brain thinks since they are sitting in the ocean and they should be fine. As the saying goes, “water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.” What is to be done?

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Unfortunately, there is no testing that allows us to see into the cell for thyroid levels, so once again, a conundrum. Basically, we treat by trial and error. This is an area that definitely needs more exploration, but in a recent study they found that patients with Bipolar and Major Depression responded to 4x the dose of T3 and T4 that the body requires. They did not develop symptoms of high thyroid and felt much better. Normal patients, when titrating up on thyroid meds, developed palpitations, anxiety and other symptoms of high thyroid when doing this dosing. Patients on high dose thyroid, and who needed it, did not develop these symptoms short term or osteoporosis and other long term side effects. This would make sense, because on a cellular level, they needed high doses to just to get to “normal” inside of the cell.

There are times to step out of the box when it comes to patient care. I think this is one of those cases, as the data and physiology definitely support, a trial of thyroid meds when everything looks fine in the blood tests. These are the things that need to be kept in mind when it comes to diagnosing and prescribing for patients with low energy levels and signs of mitochondrial dysfunction.

Dr. Nathan Morris, MD

Stages of Change

Happy New Year! January came and went quickly!
Does the New Year have you feeling inspired more than ever to make change? We all know we want to exercise more, eat more whole foods, and feel better! But HOW do we make the required lifestyle changes?
Let’s first review The Stages of Change. If you know where you currently are, it will help you move more easily toward where you want to go.


  1. Precontemplation: Everybody thinks you have a problem but you. The best example is the wife dragging her husband to the doctors because of her concerns for his health
  2. Contemplation: You are aware you have a problem, but feel it’s really hard to change. Depression is at an all-time high because you know you should change but feel like you can’t. It’s not the right time with Valentine’s Day & Birthday’s this month plus fear of change are common barriers. You feel stuck.
  3. Preparation: You haven’t made changes yet but have made some of the initial steps. You have been thinking more about what you want and why. You have been looking at different foods in the grocery store. You’ve been reading and preparing.
  4. Action: You have started making the change you have desired to make. You are no longer afraid to give up old patterns and you move right into the action.
  5. Maintenance: You have achieved your goal. Your feel stable with this change in your life and it is now a part of you. It’s time to circle back to precontemplation and start the process over to layer in the next piece of your care plan.



Stages of change


Change happens in community, not in isolation. If our friends and families are eating toxic food then we are 50% more likely to repeat those same patterns. Families work together to identify what do they want and what are some small changes they can make together. Our homes are the headquarters for our healing. Everyone in the home gets on board with the nutrition and lifestyle required to heal the one with the diagnosis. This creates a United Team; which makes social situations much easier to navigate. When we feel good and confident about our choices and when we practice being Matter of Fact that we are choosing rather than acting as though we are being deprived our friends interests may be peaked. Chances are they too are living with a chronic condition. Read HERE for some more social strategies.


Change: to cause to be different. Doing something different can be uncomfortable, even frightening. Fear of change is a big issue. This makes us stay with what we know even if we are unhappy. But note: staying the same and not making any decision to change are still decisions. A good tool is to use the Change Assessment Tool. What are the pros to remaining the same; what are the cons? What are the pros to changing, what are the cons?


Your brain actually wires itself and forms neuronal connections based on what you do over and over in your life. Vegging out in front of the TV. Having a sugar fix. Sipping soda. Fixing a cocktail to unwind after work. Smoking cigarettes. Biting your fingernails. These activities literally become wired into your brain.  Your brain is a self-reinforcing feedback loop. We are creatures of habit. Over time, patterns evolve which determine your brain’s form and function. What you do, experience, think, hope, and imagine physically changes your brain.You may have the desire to change but you first have to dissolve the old tracking so the pattern is no longer automatic and unconscious. How? Read more here.


When we start this road to heal the root cause of our symptom sets; it’s something we will start and only getter better at living the solution. It’s not something we try for a few months and then give up because we don’t see the results we are seeking. You must identify small steps, which are reasonable, and which interest you. Overtime, these small steps will accumulate into big change. Overhauling our lives and then growing exhausted and more stressed from the drastic change is counter intuitive to healing. Look for our next post on care plans.


There is no one thing that you can do to improve any one symptom. These foundation pieces to a Functional Medicine Care Plan must be priority. This foundation is how we make the medical interventions provide results. There is no silver bullet. Results come from establishing a strong foundation. Next you continue layering pieces to work in combination to maximize the medical piece. Once you place something into your plan you maintain it just like pouring the footers of a home’s foundation. What small things can you do to improve the following foundation pieces?

  • Sleep and Relaxation
  • Exercise & Movement
  • Nutrition & Hydration
  • Stress and Resilience (identify stressors and areas where they have been successful in the past so to tap into strengths)
  • Relationships and Networks

Kara Ware is Good Medicine’s Clinical Coordinator and Functional Medicine Health Coach. She also provides online courses and coaching for families living with Autism. You can read more here.

Things You Must Know About Gluten Sensitivity

Things You Must Know About Gluten Sensitivity

More and more “gluten free” is showing up in our food markets, advertising and in daily conversation. This could easily be written off as another food fad much like low fat, low carb, and numerous other recycled food crazes. We may have someone we know that is trying to convince us that “gluten free” is the lifestyle “you just have to try.” Our doctors often tell us that if you do not have celiac disease there is no need to subscribe to this trend and that it is too radical to remove gluten from the diet. So why is this “fad” gaining momentum?

  1. This is not a fad.
    Gluten free is a lifestyle change and the reason for the momentum is because it works for numerous medical conditions and not just gut-based symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain and heartburn. In my practice, I recommend that most patients eliminate gluten immediately. Why?
    Simply because 80-90% of my patient population responds to this therapy. Patients with seizures, migraines, anxiety, depression, attention deficit disorder, multiple types of arthritis, fatigue and many other non- gastrointestinal related conditions are feeling better than they ever have before. First, let’s define gluten. Gluten is the protein portion of the wheat kernel. It is also the hardest protein to digest and process.Gluten now makes up about 26% of the kernel compared to 3% just 30 years ago, due to the hybridization of wheat. So, when you eat two slices of bread today, it yields about the same gluten equivalent as 17 slices did back in 1980. Gluten is also found in barley, rye, spelt and often in oats due to cross contamination from wheat in harvesting and processing. It is also found in numerous other processed foods.
  2. Gluten sensitivity is not celiac disease.
    The gluten sensitivity disease classification is brand new, although it has been a term utilized by functional medicine practitioners for years. Gluten sensitivity as a “medical diagnosis” has just appeared in the medical literature as of March 2011 and that article strongly advocates that gluten sensitivity is a separate disease from celiac.Celiac disease is mainly oriented to small intestine destruction/dysfunction. This is present in about 1% of the population and increasing. Celiac disease is the only autoimmune disease of the small intestine completely initiated by a food protein – gluten. Celiac disease destroys the villi (the absorption “fingers” of the small intestine) resulting in poor absorption of food and nutrients. Gluten sensitivity, unlike celiac disease, is not an autoimmune disease, but rather it is a
    generalized immune reaction. This is much like the flu virus, where symptoms present because of the bodies response to the irritant.
    In the case of gluten sensitivity, it is gluten, and not the flu virus you are reacting to, but with a lot of similar symptoms such as joint pain, headache, fatigue, brain fog etc which all starts in the small intestine where 60-70% of your immune tissue resides.
  3. Gluten sensitivity is not diagnosed with blood tests but rather a trial of elimination of gluten from your diet for at least 4-6 weeks.
    Celiac disease can be diagnosed with blood tests or the gold standard, intestinal biopsy, but even negative test results do not rule it out. Celiac disease, however, is still easier to diagnose and confirm than gluten sensitivity. The test for gluten sensitivity is this: if your symptoms get better when you avoid gluten, then you are sensitive.It takes about a 4-6 week trial of being off gluten and then reintroducing it to see if you are sensitive. If symptoms go away with removing it and then reappear with reintroducing gluten after 4-6 weeks, viola you are gluten sensitive. There are stool tests and saliva test for this from specialty labs but they are still
    considered experimental. Gluten sensitivity affects about 10% of the population, but I would say from clinical experience, the more subtle presentations of this disease make this percentage much higher. Under this conservative percentage, it means 30 million Americans are gluten sensitive.
  4. Gluten sensitivity is not an allergy to wheat.
    Wheat allergy is different than gluten sensitivity. Wheat allergy causes immediate symptoms, as it is a histamine driven reaction, much like other food allergies or bee stings, which cause quick onset of swelling, airway problems, rashes and redness. This reaction is much like a peanut allergy.
    In gluten sensitivity it is a more delayed response driven by a different immune pathway in the small intestine. When the small intestine is inflamed by gluten then the whole immune system is inflamed (Note: 99% of our immune response is due to our interaction with food in the small intestine.). When the immune system feels it is under attack, it sends out the signal to the body to defend itself. This defense to certain foods causes an overreaction of the immune system to normal stimuli such as dust, pollen, pet hair, etc. In my experience, this is where we get a lot allergy symptoms-runny nose, sinusitis, sneezing etc., although this is not “wheat allergy” technically.The same thing happens with imperfect areas of the body such as joints to name another. Our immune system then attacks that which is not “perfect” due to this up regulation of the immune system and a lot of arthritis sufferers joints are being assaulted because of what they eat. The same thing occurs with the brain as it is exquisitely sensitive to ramping up of immune function through cytokines (chemicals released by the immune system which can cause inflammation and regulation of other pathways) which are why you feel like crap when you have the flu.Depression and anxiety are severe in a lot of patients with gluten sensitivity due to the cytokines which block production of serotonin and other neurotransmitters which are essential in upregulation of mood. With the elimination of gluten and often dairy, many patients (myself included) have been freed from allergies, arthritis, and numerous other medical conditions due to overactive immune function.
  5. Gluten free is a lifestyle.
    When going gluten free you are choosing to eat a majority of whole foods. This is the same diet that prevents diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, just to name a few. Whole foods are best described as foods that are not processed. Processed foods are those that are manually changed from their original structure. This is done by grinding, adding sugar, preservatives and dyes.

BONUS: Gluten free grocery tips:

Shop on the outside of the grocery store and avoid the middle.

When shopping in the middle, read every label and choose products with 5 ingredients or less in them (most of these should be spices or things that you can pronounce). “If you can’t read it, don’t eat it!”

You should try not to spend hard earned money on gluten free items such as bread, cookies, and pasta. These foods as a whole have little to 0 nutritional value. They are still processed and/or refined gluten free grain products.

Google the Internet for ingredient and product lists to help you avoid gluten. and are good places to start.

Dr. Nathan Morris, MD

Sleeping on ADD and ADHD

The diagnosis’ of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is skyrocketing among primary care physicians.
Although I am not the first one to get on my soapbox and holler about dietary modifications, supplementing for deficiencies, and lifestyle changes, I have discovered, through more research and even self experimentation, yet another common thread among these wonderful, complex children: Sleep disorders.
According to the data, 25-50% of Attention Deficit Disorder is sleep related. When I ask a parent, “How does he/she sleep?” I will usually get an immediate response because they have been dealing with these issues for years.

  • The child sleeps 12 hours per night, yet they are fatigued all day.
  • The child wakes up constantly.
  • The child has problems falling asleep.
  • The child wets the bed.
  • The child does not dream regularly, and if he does, he has night terrors.

These are the typical things I hear in the office, and as I’ve learned, they are many times a result of sleep and airway problems. These kids cannot get enough oxygen because many of them have mouths/airways that are not allowing them to breathe properly, therefore, both the quantity and the quality of their sleep suffers.
It is easy to see things like dark circles and drowsiness in these kids, but there are multiple things that can produce those symptoms, so I’ve had some training recently from dentists and orthodontists who are concentrating on airway problems and sleep apnea to identify some physical factors that will allow for proper diagnosis.

These physical characteristics include:

  • The child has poor posture with rounded shoulders.
  • When looking at the child in profile, their head will jut forward so that the ears are in front of the shoulder instead of being lined up on top of of the shoulder.
  • The child may have crowded teeth, indicating narrowed facial structure, which does not allow the tongue to fit correctly in the mouth.

Problems with concentration, inability to settle down and relax, feeling the need for stressful physical activities in order to keep a higher heart rate, and snoring are all considered for objective diagnosis.

Sleep studies are helpful and seeing a dental sleep specialist is a good place to start.

I can say that almost all of the kids I see, whether they are on the autistic spectrum, have depression, or diagnoses such as oppositional defiant disorder, have a sleep issue plaguing them as well.

From what I’ve seen in my office, and judging from all of the research I’ve done, ADD and ADHD have never been caused by a Ritalin deficiency. If you are concerned on any level about your child’s sleep and/or sleep patterns, consider having them evaluated properly. You too can rest easier with more knowledge on your side. With that in mind I have included a link to look at another major cause of attention issues. Best 5 minute presentation I have seen on this subject
Another Hidden Cause of Attention issues