The Long Hard Ride

I was cleaning out my house for the last time (it took me three trips from Ohio to Colorado to get completely moved) when I found a gift from my wife from years ago. It was a wedding gift: a leather-covered flask and on the front was the quote “For the long hard ride.” When she gave me this, we were riding horses in Kentucky every weekend, sometimes 25 miles a day. And when in Kentucky, do as the Kentuckians do and drink your Vitamin B (Bourbon). Life took us away from riding, 4 kids tend to do that, but this memento from my wife reminds me of some lessons from those days of horseback riding.


Lesson 1: No fear. 

The worst thing you could be on a horse is fearful. Because they know it, as they are very intuitive animals, and take their cues from the rider. This is counterproductive, as you lose control, and then bad things happen. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The same goes for now. When we are full of fear, we do not see the opportunities available to us, and we miss that which can improve our lives. Living in fear creates the sense of “not enough,” and there goes happiness. Meditation, yoga, and prayer are wonderful ways to center ourselves and live in abundance, where we are right now, at this moment. Give it up, let it go, and let in all the amazing great things that want to come into your life. The ride will go much smoother.


Lesson 2: A little goes a long way. 

I had occasionally overindulged with the aforementioned Vitamin “B” while riding. I went from enjoying myself to a miserable time, pretty damn quick. As we are at home the question “why not?” is often asked when it comes to things that are mood-altering. Harmless enough, right? Well, here and there, sure, it can be enjoyable and relaxing in small doses. The problem is large doses disrupt your sleep, you may become depressed, and you create a cycle involving said substances. To get out of the weirdness we are living in, the cycle may leave you constantly trying to crawl out of your self-induced mood changes. I encourage you to enjoy the long ride by not overdoing it early on, as it can make a long trip much longer.


Lesson 3: Be prepared. 

Early on, I bought saddlebags for all the things that can go wrong on the trail. I packed them with about everything I might need when I was going to be 10-15 miles from camp. Well, folks, we are a long way from camp right now. We need to be prepared. Whether it’s getting enough sleep, supplements to support immune responses, or eating right, these things will get us through like nothing else in our “saddlebags.” You can see my blog here on these things, but it’s important to realize that this has to be a lifestyle choice for the long term.    


Lesson 4: Get in a rhythm. 

This will be a long hard ride indeed if you don’t get into a rhythm. We rode gaited horses, if we were not in sync with the gait, man, it hurt the next day. Well, daily life is the same way. I decided after 2 weeks of flopping around like a fish and seeing how long it took till my body funk drove me to the shower, that I had to create normalcy in my life again. Now, it’s get up, meditate, drink my coffee, get a shower, answer emails, do things like writing my e-book that is halfway finished, or other projects I never got around to, like straightening the garage, go for a walk help make supper and have a family dinner. This has done wonders for my mood and outlook. A schedule helps. Going to sleep at night is much easier when you feel like you didn’t Netflix your way through the day.


Lesson 5: Maintenance for your horse. 

A lame horse is not good for a long ride, of course. They require maintenance. If you just thought you could pull it out of the stall and go, it’s probably not going to go well. When we get hit with this virus, we need to be prepared and all the things mentioned in Lesson 3 apply here. We can’t take Zinc and Vitamin D for a month or two and expect it to do the trick. The same goes for diet, sleep, and stress reduction. It is a long-term commitment, just like I made to my animal so that he could do what I asked of him. Your body is the same way.


I wish it wasn’t going to be a long hard ride, but until we get enough testing and tracking of people who are infected, this virus may be around longer than we like. This is not to discourage you, but to encourage you to not be a sprinter in this race, but to create abundance so that you find joy and contentment, no matter the circumstances. It helps on the “long hard ride.”

Two More Easy and Natural Ways to Combat COVID-19

Two More Easy and Natural Ways to Combat COVID-19

Going Nuts with COVID-19

One of the major concerns with Coronavirus is that it will lead to Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) which seems to be caused by the body’s own immune system attacking the lungs.   Interestingly, there is data showing that selenium, 200 mg a day, can help prevent ARDS, as well as increase our ability to avoid catching viruses in the first place. If you are a smoker, selenium is protective of your lungs and helps with lung inflammation. Food is medicine, and 2-3 Brazil Nuts a day provide you exactly the amount a body needs. There may be a run on Brazil nuts…this would be understandable, unlike people hoarding all the damn potatoes. Love me some taters.

* More is not better with selenium as it can reach toxic ranges with 800 mg a day. 200 mg is the “Goldilocks” dose.


Sweat It Out

I grew up with lots of anecdotal remedies, which were quite wise in retrospect, and one of those was to “sweat it out” when I got sick. In theory, you were to crawl under a blanket and sweat like a sinner at church until the fever broke. Come to find out, this was right on par. Taking fever reducers like Tylenol and Advil prolongs the illness, and allows shedding of the virus for longer, although it gives blessed temporary relief. Fever is nature’s way of fighting infection. We are putting one hand behind our back to fight illness when we take these items, although when in the throes of the flu, I have been known to knock back 400 mg of Ibuprofen just for some pain relief and sleep, so no judgment here. The body is wise. We may not always be comfortable with its wisdom, but we would do best to let the body/immune system fight the fight as nature intended.

*Babies, pregnant women, and those with cardiovascular disease should avoid temps of 103-104 and above, as this could be harmful.

Time for a Parasympathetic Response to COVID-19

Time for a Parasympathetic Response to COVID-19

There are so many things right now that can upset us about the new pandemic that is sweeping the world. Who to believe, how to protect ourselves and our family, how much toilet paper is enough? With all these questions and more, it really is hard to avoid having a major sympathetic response, which is our flight or fight mode. This response, when in a sustained state, is counterproductive to staying healthy, because what we need now, more than ever, is to have a parasympathetic response. Which state we are in determines how our immune system interacts with and reacts to our environment, and of particular relevance right now, to COVID-19.

We now know that the importance of slowing COVID-19 is that we can flatten the curve of spread and not overwhelm our health care system so that when people really need it, it will be there. The attached diagram explains it well. We will not “stop it cold” with school closings and canceling events, but we will flatten the curve which I think is extremely important.

COVID-19 Healthcare System Capacity

This is a bigger picture approach to coronavirus, but what can we do personally to get ready? (And no, it does not involve stockpiling toiletries.) There are things that have been covered ad nauseam on a personal level to control the pandemic, if you have not been living in a cave, such as

  • Washing your hands. I won’t get too deep into the importance of washing your hands, but I will say wash them like you’ve been cutting up jalapeño peppers and have to put in contacts or have to pee. Being from Louisiana and loving all things hot, I know what this entails and I imagine you do too. Whoa, Nelly!
  • Don’t touch your face. Ok, this is hard. Touch it with tissues as much as possible, or I guess we’re all going to be walking around with a bunch of crusty noses.

There are other tips that the CDC is sharing via their website. Be sure to read it. None of these things, however, address how to create a dynamic immune system that can take on the challenges of viruses. How do we make a dynamic immune system? Well, one answer is to get into a parasympathetic mode and support it with some very familiar interventions.

The parasympathetic mode of our autonomic nervous system, which is the opposite of fight or flight, sympathetic mode, is the relaxation mode. It’s when we are in this mode that our immune system is better able to identify pathogens, think COVID-19, cancer, and other threats. This is the reason stress, anger, and anxiety are so counterproductive, and when we see people who live in these states, they respond poorly to curveballs like cancer and infection. So how do we shift our autonomic nervous system to this pathogen-killing vigilance of parasympathetic mode? Well, you have heard most of it before, but I want to remind us of the simple things that will help us during this time of uncertainty.

Sleep. This is the most powerful tool we have and most Americans are only getting 6 hours a night or less. They have shown this deprivation to increase our risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and yes, increases our risk of infection. Let me urge you to make this a priority now and in the future. Here are some small steps that may help:

  • Blue light avoidance 1-2 hours before bed (cell phones and computers) or use blue light glasses that filter this cue to wake up.
  • No exercise 3-4 hours before bed.
  • Tape your lips. (See blog on this cheap fix–I love it.)
  • Be careful of caffeine intake. (See blog on how this affects sleep, even what you consume in the AM.)

Food. What you eat matters in the way your immune system responds. If we eat processed, high-sugar foods, then our immune system gets revved up, and not in a good way. It moves toward attacking self, and not toward attacking non-self, or things like coronavirus. That’s why this lifestyle choice of healthy eating is associated with health and not disease. Our immune system likes things it recognizes, such as foods that are in the form nature intended. This helps with the parasympathetic state, which allows the immune system to monitor our environment, and if we get coronavirus, not overreact to it, but to efficiently remove it. COVID-19 gets nasty with overreaction, as it causes our immune system to attack our own systems. Keep it simple. Eat whole foods and avoid inflammatory foods which are processed, high in sugar, and contain preservatives.

Meditation. The simple process of focused breathing qualifies. It’s not necessarily 2-hour deep dives into the Universe I am talking about here, but focused breathing that takes us from a sympathetic state to that most important parasympathetic, virus-killing, state. For some of us, this is a big step, clearing our mind and focusing on breathing, but there are apps for that like 10% Happier. Try it. It could start with just 5 focused breaths and trying to not think about where you are going to get enough toilet paper because the leaves are not yet on the trees for backup.

Exercise. The good news here, as well. No need to be a Tri-athlete, as prolonged intense exercise may be counterproductive, but moderate exercise is key, and here is some support for that:

Exercise has a profound effect on the normal functioning of the immune system. It is generally accepted that prolonged periods of intensive exercise training can depress immunity, while regular moderate intensity exercise is beneficial.”[1]

Even that staple of just walking 30 minutes a day showed the following:

“A study of over 1,000 men and women found that those who walked at least 20 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less. And if they did get sick, it was for a shorter duration, and their symptoms were milder.”[2]

Another well-researched exercise that improves parasympathetic response is yoga. If you have the flexibility of an oak branch like me and have done yoga, then you understand it is exercise. The great thing about yoga is that it can meet you where you are physically and help you get as intense as you want it to be, or not be in my case. This is the exercise you can do at home and still be in a virtual class.  This is one of my favorite options for exercise right now.

It may seem counterintuitive to say exercise improves our parasympathetic response, and improves our immune system, but data supports that although you stimulate your fight or flight sympathetic nervous system initially, you have increased parasympathetic nervous system response over time with regular mild or moderate exercise, which will keep you fighting and overcoming viruses.

Supplements. Disclaimer: I love science-backed supplements, and have used them with all the above interventions for years, to significant effect. I will not go in-depth here in supplement analysis but wanted to give some staples with another disclaimer, which is, make sure the supplements you get are FDA inspected, third party tested supplements as they do you no good if they don’t have what they say they have in them. This list is good for anyone who is immunocompromised as well, if tolerable. If needed, there are liquid forms available.

  • Magnesium– Here’s one that you might not be thinking of. This is big for the ability to have a parasympathetic response and it also helps immune function. Most Americans are deficient, so adding some to your regimen can only help (read more in this magnesium post). I would use chelated magnesium like Mag Glycinate or Sucrosomial magnesium like Ultra Mag and take 300 mg or more a day.
  • Vitamin D3– This one helps with immune function and improving responses to things like flu. I recommend at least 2000 IU’s a day. You can use more than 5000 IU’s per day, but be sure to get your levels checked every 2-3 months until you know this is a stable dose for you.
  • Zinc– I like 30-50 mg a day of zinc picolinate or zinc citrate, as most Americans are also low on this mineral. They have shown it to decrease the symptoms of the common cold by 2-3 days in some studies and is essential for a healthy immune response.
  • Vitamin A- because of genetic issues, many people have trouble converting beta carotene from things like carrots and sweet potatoes to retinol (Vitamin A). Vitamin A is a super potent virus fighter so adding in 2500 to 5000 units a day is not a bad idea. You need to make sure you are taking this with Vitamin D, and more is not necessarily better as there can be toxicity with higher doses.
  • Vitamin C- This is a no-brainer for me. My Mama gave this to us every day during cold and flu season and for good reason. It has extensive literature that supports its use to both prevent and treat viral infections. To prevent, I would look at 500 mg a day, and if you get an infection increase this to 2000 mg a day. Here is a paper with an overview of Vitamin C and its benefits.

Though not all the above supplements are directly parasympathetic oriented, they’ll help you get through this time in which a highly efficient immune system is so important.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, we are in unprecedented times. It’s time to empower ourselves and control what we can control. We cannot control the hoarding of bizarre things that will have no bearing on outcomes, but we can calm our autonomic nervous system and get our bodies in tiptop virus-fighting shape. We will all know someone with COVID-19 before this is done, I’m afraid. Yet, we have to go on living and hopefully, thriving, knowing we are doing all we can by taking care of ourselves.

[1] “Exercise and Regulation of Immune Functions” Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci, 135, 355-80 2015



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

Why “Juice Detoxes” are Misguided

Why “Juice Detoxes” are Misguided

This is one my medical pet peeves: juice detoxes.  People who do them feel like crap by the end and, quite frankly, look like crap. Feeling like crap is not a prerequisite to being healthy or doing something good for yourself. The reason for the “crap” association is because it’s just the wrong way to go about detoxing. It was started by someone who does not understand the phases of detoxification. It was started by someone who thought, “Vegetables and fruits are good, so a ton of them is better and especially if we just drank them without all the other pesky things like fiber because chewing is such a bother.” 


First, a juice detox is full of fructose in an unadulterated form, if you are using fruit as a portion of the detox.  Ironically, this creates a huge burden on the organ you are supposed to be helping, the liver. Fructose can only be processed in the liver and fructose is converted to fat so the body can use it for energy. This is stressful on the liver. 

Juice detox also up-regulates Phase 1 of our detox process, which is when we take a toxin already in the body, make it worse (make it even more inflammatory via Phase 1), before finally giving it to Phase 2 of the process, which then makes it a soluble molecule that can then be excreted through urination or defecation.  Phase 2 is not supported very well with juice detoxes.  The most important reason juice detoxes are not helpful,  is that you need amino acids for Phase 2 and without these, you are basically creating Hell’s Angels (Phase 1) from delinquents (initial toxins), and have no way to kick them out of the body (Phase 2).  Juice detoxes have very little essential amino acids, so Phase 2 is rate limited, and you have made a bad situation worse.

Good liver reboots have both whole fruit/vegetables and protein eaten as a meal. Lean, pasture-raised, animal protein actually works the best, but specific formulations of plant-based protein that are cognizant of the detox amino acid needs, work well too like Pure Lean Detox, Mediclear SGS, and CytoQuel. These are a 2-3 week boost to the detox system, and don’t need to be used long term.  I would start with 1 serving a day for the 1st 3 days, then increase to 2 servings a day for days 4-7, and increase to 3 servings a day for week 2, then back to 2 servings a day for the third week.  These “boosts” to your detox pathway should always be accompanied with the meal described above.

Detox is nothing more than creating balance. Healthy meals detox you all the time by giving you lean meats or a complete plant-based protein source, and include vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts (they up-regulate both Phase 1 and Phase 2) and a serving of fiber-rich fruit (like apples, blueberries etc.), but not juice. Think of the Mediterranean Diet and you are thinking of a detox diet. If you want a more specific plan, look at doing 2-3 weeks of a detox powder to support your “detox” diet, like those mentioned above.

Connection Between Appetite and Addiction and Why Sugar Can Be a Drug

Connection Between Appetite and Addiction and Why Sugar Can Be a Drug

It seems that there’s a genetic connection with the FTO enzyme and its abnormal variation and a dopamine receptor variation. This connection shows that when you have both, you are more likely to not only be overweight but also be predisposed to addictive behaviors. I have always said that when people give up a drug of dependence they pick up others like sex, nicotine, and especially sugar. Dopamine is the connection here and people with certain genetics need more. Sugar is a very quick fix and, like other drugs of addiction, needs constant replenishment. Try taking sugar out of your diet and you’ll have many signs and symptoms of sugar “withdrawal.” It’s not imaginary, but a very real thing.  

I highly recommend limiting sugar intake, as it leads to fatty liver, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and many more diseases of chronic inflammation. But you ask how to do this for such an addictive substance? I recommend dopamine support with things like L-Tyrosine, Rhodiola Rosea, and DopaPlus. These have been a godsend when it comes to my own sugar cravings and inability to focus at times (dopamine is the key in ADD/ADHD). These supplements will help with other addictions too (does golf count?).

Meet Dr Nathan Morris

Headshot of Dr. Nathan Morris

Meet Dr Nathan Morris

Headshot of Dr. Nathan Morris

I am a family practice trained, Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner working to find the underlying cause of diseases and what the body is trying to tell us. I started my practice to create an environment of healing, and one that involves hearing patients who need help understanding how all of their symptoms connect. After obtaining my medical degree from LSU Shreveport, I moved to Dayton, Ohio to complete my family practice residency at Miami Valley Hospital where I served as Chief Resident. Upon completion, I opened a traditional family practice in Oxford, Ohio. After 8 years, I transitioned to functional medicine and discovered the true power of healing.  This journey has led me to Monument, Colorado, where I will be practicing with 3 other providers in a new functional medicine practice starting August 2020.

I am the Chief Medical Adviser for Pure Encapsulations which gives me an opportunity to educate other providers on genetics and business development. I also have the privilege of lecturing regularly on the implementation of genetics in practice through the program I designed, PureGenomics.   My passion for educating other physicians in training has been fulfilled with MBN Systems, which is working with medical schools and residencies in teaching the interconnectedness of the body through functional medicine principles.  I am also a co-host of the podcast, Good Medicine on the Go, where I, along with Kara Ware, instruct on practice implementation, and how genetics can empower both a practice, and its patients.

I love traveling, cycling, fly fishing, rock climbing,  kayaking, and ballroom dancing with my wife, especially tango! I really enjoy seeing the empowerment of patients when they take charge of their health and understand how to stay healthy by making good choices!

Shout Out to the Castaways!

Shout Out to the Castaways!

What keeps me going? Why have I not finished the “Longmire” series on Netflix? Well, it’s because of the “castaway” patients. Those patients who have not conformed to what we expect to find using “standard” medicine.

It’s for those patients that defy traditional diagnosis, and typical response to treatment, and are ultimately marked as mentally ill and given anti-depressants. You know who you are. You are talked down too or being patronized because there is no way standard medicine doesn’t have it all figured out.

It’s for the patients that have seen more specialists than they have fingers and toes. I just talked to another patient that I had referred to a specialist for an issue that was definitely outside my wheelhouse, and I wanted an answer to an abnormal lab. The patient never got the question answered and were referred in the process to 4 other specialists who have ordered over 10 additional procedures ordered (most of which had been done in the recent past). They actually became angry with her when she refused! I guess that they didn’t know the adage she did, “to keep repeating the same tests and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.”  I am so sorry that the experience is not unique, but is the norm anymore.

It’s for the patient who thinks that there will never be a solution to their problem despite knowing there is a bigger picture that is just not being seen by all the specialists who have compartmentalized every problem and cannot see the forest for the trees. The bigger picture, that is quite discernible with just listening, escapes the medical profession which is rewarded for volume and testing.

It’s for the patients who have stuck with me for years in hopes that I gain enough new knowledge to address their unique issues. Those who wait on me to connect the dots. I truly thank you, the patients who have believed in me and our therapeutic relationship when I felt like a failure. Your tenacity was infectious and often that patience has paid off with me having that “ah hah” moment. Your faith in me and my burning desire to heal and not lose to ignorance is a huge motivator to become more than I am as a healer.

Thank you to all of you for making me a better doctor. It’s not our successes as a doctor that defines us, but our “failures,” how we respond, and what we do to overcome our limitations in understanding. I am batting better than ever because of you. I will never bat a thousand which is unrealistic I realize, but I am batting a hell of a lot better than average because of each of my patient’s uniqueness and trust that I give a damn and I am always going to be working to understand you as an individual with your own story. “Longmire” can wait. I am learning too much with the “castaways”!

Dr. 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