Q: it seems more and more people are being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Can this be prevented or reversed? A: Folks are living longer, but not necessarily better, with drugs and machines that can prop us up, and frankly, keep the medical machine going. Some estimates put 85% of healthcare dollar capture from patients in the last few years of their life. This is not to say that we shouldn’t aim to live longer — but not at the expense of living well. Brains are mostly made of fat

Epigenetics is the study of genetic variations that are caused within an individual, by external or environmental factors that can switch genes on and off, as opposed to changes in DNA sequence which happen as genes are passed down to the next generation. One of the most potent ways epigenetics can change is through nutrition.  In fact, one of the main reasons good nutrition is so important is because healthy food choices will minimize the expression of disease-causing genes we may have inherited. Unlike behavior or stress, diet is one of the more easily studied, and therefore better understood, environmental factors in epigenetic change. The nutrients we extract from food enter metabolic pathways where they are broken down, modified, and assembled into molecules the body can use. One such pathway is responsible for making methyl groups (CH3), which interact with important epigenetic tags that silence genes. Familiar nutrients like folic acid, B vitamins, and SAM-e (S-Adenosyl methionine, a popular over-the-counter supplement) are key components of this methyl-making pathway. Diets high in these methyl-donating nutrients can rapidly alter gene expression, especially...

To have the best time possible when traveling from a low place (like Juneau) to a high place (like Denver) here are some favorite naturopathic altitude assists. There really is less oxygen at elevation. From the moment you get off the plane, start drinking a lot more liquid than you usually do. Water, water and more water (and electrolytes). Eat regularly and maintain you blood sugar. Also, be careful, alcohol has a bigger effect in high places than at sea level. Best results come with homeopathic Coca in a 6 or 30C potency. Try taking it every few hours and/or in a water bottle spiked with the remedy. Tibetan or Machu Pichu trekkers love it. Some people swear by gingko, CoQ10, dimethylglycine and an assortment of adaptogenic mushrooms like Cordyceps and Reishi. Start early — ideally 3 to 4 weeks before travel — with your altitude adjustors. If you are the least bit anemic, try to correct that before travel. Some people are prone to swell a bit with the altitude. For them I have found a combination of Apis...

What is the most fundamental nutrient? It’s oxygen. Think about it. You can go 40 days or so without food. You can go maybe 3-4 days without water. But you can’t go 3-4 minutes without oxygen. There are many ways to use oxygen to enhance health and vitality, including the most obvious: aerobic exercise. Exercise increases “oxygen utilization” which ultimately drives the myriad enzyme systems in the body to produce more energy (ATP).

Q: If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and could only take one nutritional or herbal substance with you, what would you choose? A: Without a doubt, the substance I choose is essential to immune function.  Humans don’t produce this vital substance, and our adrenal glands require massive amounts of it when under stress.  We can get enough from our diet to prevent scurvy, but we need to ingest much more to allow for optimal tissue repair, and graceful ageing.  Can you guess?  It’s Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, or for you chemistry buffs, C6-H8-O6.  I mention the chemical structure because the resemblance to glucose, which is the end product of food digestion, allows a glimpse into the significance of Vitamin C.  The process of digestion breaks down all the macronutrients (carbs, fats and proteins) to glucose, ultimately, because glucose is the micro-unit of fuel used by the mitochondria to produce the main energy driver for all living things: ATP (adenosine triphosphate) — which is for your body like the gas in your car — makes...

from a colleague: For my bulletproof turmeric, I have used coconut oil, butter, honey, and spices to optimize digest and the absorption of curcumin.  Curcumin is notoriously difficult to absorb, but fats and spices, particularly the black pepper in the garam masala, greatly increase our absorption of curcumin into the blood stream.  1 cup water  1 tsp turmeric (optionally add one capsule of curcumin 95% extract)  ¼ tsp garam masala  1 tsp maca (optional, but delicious)  1 Tbs grass fed butter  1 Tbs coconut oil or MCT oil  1 tsp honey  Simmer water with turmeric and garam masala for 10 minutes.  Strain through a fine mesh strainer.  Add remaining ingredients and whirl in blender or with immersion blender until foamy.      

We all know our “health care” system isn’t working.  That’s because it’s actually a  highly profitable disease management system.  The industry makes money when you are chronically ill.  I know that sounds cynical but observe how darned easy it is, 24/7, to buy poor quality food made of fluffed up GMO corn, soy or refined wheat.  GMO corn is everywhere in the form of corn syrup (HFCS).  Kids are targeted in sophisticated advertising campaigns to pester their parents for horribly poor quality “food” choices. 

Yet again, we learn that drugs are good for the pharmaceutical industry and not necessarily for patients. Even worse, these drugs are frequently prescribed to the most at-risk group: women in their 40s and 50s. Action Alert! You’ve heard before about the dangers of SSRIs, an incredibly popular class of antidepressants that can cause violent outbursts—both homicidal and suicidal. But now, researchers have found another alarming side effect: they may promote breast cancer.

  Expect to pee in a cup. An in-office urinalysis is a quick and inexpensive way to get a lot of information beyond urinary tract infection. For example it can rule-out overt diabetes or point to liver problems. Frothy urine can suggest congestive heart issues. Ketosis can suggest severe carbohydrate restriction. The pH should be slightly acidic — otherwise there may be something wrong with your stomach’s ability to produce stomach acid. Often when my patients have alkaline urine I ask them if they eat TUMS (or other acid blockers). Often they admit they do and we can have a conversation about how important stomach acid is for digestion. Sometimes I have the patient undress and get into a gown right away. If they are shy or new to me, we’ll talk first. I ask about their sleep and food habits. I’ll ask about exercise. If it’s a new patient I ask about their grandparents’ and parent’s health to get a sense of their genetic risk factors. I’ll ask about their current job and living situation to determine whether any...

First published in December 2012 issue of Better Nutrition Q: Hi Doctor Em!  Have you heard of earthing? A: Yes,”earthing” is a relatively new medical idea, with some impressive research from various disciplines behind it — but it’s as old as the hills.  “Earthing” means connecting with the earth — literally.  Humans have done this for thousands of years by walking barefoot on the ground.  The relatively new convention of walking with shoes, particularly rubber or plastic-soled shoes, has disconnected us from the benefits of the Earth’s electromagnetic field.  The planet herself gives out a frequency of about 10 hertz, which was discerned at the Max Planck Institute in the 1960s.