Fructose and obesity

There is no question that we have an obesity epidemic in our country. When wondering what could be the cause, it’s easy to conclude that people are just eating too much. While there is no question that portion size has something to do with this crisis, there must be other and more subtle factors at play that prevent people from knowing when they’ve had too much to eat.

According to recent research, one such factor could be fructose, increasingly used as a sweetener for drinks.

In this study researchers used MRI scans to track blood flow to different parts of the brain.

What they found is that, when people had a drink sweetened with fructose or high-fructose corn syrup containing 55% fructose, areas of the brain that have to do with feeling like we’ve had enough to eat were not getting stimulated like they were when regular sugar was used.

I am not saying this to promote the use of sugar which

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, I believe, is a metabolic poison in all its forms except if consumed only occasionally and in tiny amounts. However, when looking at studies like this one – and others like it – it becomes very clear that fructose presents problems for health and weight regulation that go beyond those of regular sugar or glucose. Read about this research here:

Four interesting new supplements

These are supplements that have either been recently released or are new to me and are now available from my office.

Cereboost 6-hour: this supplement contains extracts from the herbs American ginseng, which improves focus and overall brain function, and Rhodiola rosea, which normalizes stress hormones, and therefore has a positive effect on irritability

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, impulsivity, and other related symptoms. This combination is fast-acting and seems to be very effective. Early reports have been that children are more organized and pay more attention, and adults are more able to multitask when taking it. Though my sample is small, so far no side effects were reported and only one child appeared not to tolerate it.

Though fast-acting the effects of this supplement wear off within approximately six hours of taking it, hence the name. While not a complete or long-term solution, it can be helpful as a brain booster when a little extra help is needed, or for children having trouble focusing in school.

XanthiTrim: this newly formulated supplement from Pure Encapsulations may turn out to be a major help for people trying to lose weight. With ingredients like decaffeinated green tea extract, pomegranate juice and seaweed it contains nothing that comes even close to being a stimulant or an appetite suppressant that could be harmful. What these ingredients all have in common is the ability to stimulate the body to burn fat. Therefore it is no surprise that in studies it was shown to enhance the weight loss effects of diet and exercise. Read More »

UltraLite: at last a healthy weight loss program that really works (and one that I like)

Over the years a small but consistent number of people have always come to see me wanting to lose weight as their primary goal or one of multiple goals. I always tried to help these people and gave them diets I felt were healthy and could help them achieve their weight loss goals.

Even though we all know how difficult it is to lose weight and keep it off

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, I felt that my results in this area were often unsatisfactory. In time it became evident that, to be successful, people need more than just a diet outline. They need specific guidelines, resources to help them select and prepare their meals, and a structure to monitor their progress and support them if something goes wrong. This is more than a single practitioner like me with a busy practice can put together.

Last fall I was approached by an Australian company that offers a weight-loss program called Ultra Lite exclusively through doctors.  You can read about this company and their program here: This company has been in operation for more than ten years and has an impressive track record of success.
Read More »

Essential minerals: supercharge your (or your child’s) diet with homemade beef bone stock

When it comes to maintaining or regaining health, nothing plays as important a role as proper mineral balance in the body. Although we no longer hear much about it

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, leading experts in the field of nutritional medicine sounded the alarm as early as the 1930’s and 40’s: modern agricultural practices were depleting the soil, generating widespread mineral deficiencies and imbalances. This in turn left us vulnerable to weakened immunity, digestive and nervous system disorders, and more. When combined with the dramatic spread of environmental chemicals and other toxins over the past half century, the recipe for disaster is complete.

Those sounding the alarm were the likes of Henry Bieler, MD, and Max Gerson, MD. Dr. Bieler wrote the book “Food is Your Best Medicine.” He believed in drug-free medicine and was well-known at the time for being the personal physician to Greta Garbo and other stars. He was also known because his patients had a habit of living well into their nineties. Dr. Gerson authored “A Cancer Therapy.” He used food, vegetable juices, and little else to successfully treat diseases ranging from migraines to diabetes and even cancer.

Mineral supplements can help correct deficiency in some instances; however, many essential minerals are poorly absorbed from supplements. In addition, manmade supplements that are not properly balanced can aggravate any existing imbalance. The bottom line is that only natural unprocessed foods contain minerals in optimal ratios and, in fact, the body is ideally suited to absorb minerals from food rather than supplements.
Read More »

Do you have high cholesterol? High blood sugar? Gout? Weight gain around the waist? Inflammation? Try cherries!

Though this may seem hard to believe, if research now spanning several decades is accurate, natural cherries or cherry extract have all these benefits and more.

Gout sufferers who are tuned in to natural remedies have known for decades that drinking a bottle (or two) of cherry juice can put a stop even to a severe gout attack. The earliest published study on this that I was able to find is dated 1950 (Cherry diet control for gout and arthritis, Tex Rep Biol Med).

Recent studies show that compounds in cherries lower both uric acid (the direct cause of gout) and inflammatory markers in blood. In particular cherry consumption was shown to lower C-reactive protein (CRP), an indicator of inflammation in blood that is now considered a better predictor of cardiovascular disease than cholesterol levels (Kelley, J Nutr 2006).
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Your liver: the key to good health

About a year ago I attended a conference on autism at which a key speaker opened his remarks by asking what did breast cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, obesity and autism all have in common. Most of the audience, made up entirely of doctors and nutritionists, looked puzzled and there were quite a few blank stares as people struggled to find an answer. When the answer was finally given it came as quite a surprise to many: a faulty liver!

How can this possibly be? It is because the liver is the most metabolically active organ in the body. It is where fat and calories are burned. It is also where toxins from the environment and those the body itself produces are processed so that they can be excreted from the body. If the liver doesn’t do this job well toxins will be retained and, over time, cause damage to the brain, heart, breasts or any other organ or part of the body.
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Nutrition and the mind: amino acid therapy for depression and much more

As my nutrition practice turns ten years old, it is a good time for me to reflect on lessons I have learned about the effects of nutritional therapy on the mind. Though nutrition is a second career for me, and one to which I came relatively late in life, it is the realization of my lifelong interest in psychology and the mind in general.

While at an earlier point in my life I might have chosen to study psychology or psychotherapy, by the time I was finally able to embrace this field I had learned enough about the interaction between the mind and chemistry or nutrition to know that nutritional medicine held far more powerful answers than any type of talk therapy.

This interest led me to chiropractic school in a roundabout way, basically because I felt I needed some medical training and a license that would enable me to practice. In any case, while in school and in my first years of practice I took every seminar and advanced training I could find on clinical nutrition. However, seminars on nutrition for the mind are rare, when available at all, and consequently the field is replete with preconceived ideas and unsubstantiated theories.
Read More »

Obesity, chemicals and detoxification

You may have thought you had this whole story figured out, and so did I at one time: people eat too much, they gain weight, and some even become obese. However, to me this explanation never adequately matched what we see happening today.

How is it, for example, that obesity only became an epidemic around twenty years ago, and even more so in the past ten years? While Americans are not known for their stellar
eating habits, these have not changed that much in the past few decades and, according to some estimates, they have actually improved.

And why does obesity increasingly affect children, even babies and toddlers? Is it plausible that an obese toddler got that way because of poor eating habits? Finally, what about the many people who suddenly gained weight or even became obese without changing their diets or exercise regimens? Some gained weight because they developed a thyroid condition, but in my experience this only encompasses a minority of cases.

The first in-depth review I found of possible causes of obesity other than overeating is contained in an interesting article published in 2002 in the Journal of Alternative and
Complementary medicine (J Alt and Comp Med. 2002 Apr;8:185-192).

The article, entitled “Chemical Toxins: a hypothesis to explain the global obesity epidemic,” reviews decades of related research leading the authors to formulate the theory that environmental chemicals – not overeating – is the real cause.

Thousands of chemicals in our environment have simply never been evaluated for safety. For some, studies were performed to assess the risk of major toxic effects, like cancer, and it was assumed that if common exposure levels did not cause cancer these chemicals were otherwise safe.

However, a number of animal studies have shown that chemicals can cause cancer only at extremely high exposure levels but can have all sorts of other harmful effects – including obesity – at much lower, and sometimes even minuscule, levels.

Implicated chemicals include heavy metals, solvents, polychlorinated bisphenols, phthalates, organophosphates and bisphenol-A. These are everywhere in our environment today and we are all exposed to them to some extent. Not only can they cause obesity, they are also known or strongly suspected of disrupting hormones, affecting brain development and function, and causing other harmful health effects – including lower sperm counts, impotence, infertility, and so on.

More recent research has focused mainly on bisphenol-A, a chemical that is ubiquitous in today’s environment as it is used to make “safe” plastic (polycarbonate) bottles, even baby bottles, and many other food containers.

Frederick vom Saal, professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia, is the author of much of this research. In his view, studies to assess safety of this chemical have been industry-sponsored and largely inadequate, completely missing low-dose hormone- disrupting and other harmful effects.

According to Dr. vom Saal, if exposure to bisphenol-A occurs early enough in life it can actually modify expression of a person’s genetic makeup, thus programming the body for
obesity. In his words, an individual exposed to this compound “could eat the same thing and exercise the same amount as someone else but become obese while the other person
remained thin.”

The reason why we do not all become obese at the same rate when exposed to bisphenol-A has to do with genetic and other individual differences, but in no case can genetics be blamed for today’s obesity crisis. Read about Dr. vom Saal’s research here:

Bisphenol-A and all other implicated chemicals share one common feature: they are fat-soluble, meaning they are stored in fatty tissues of the body. The body has no mechanism to get rid of them once stored – as long as they are present in the body they exert a metabolic effect and can continue to trigger weight gain or interfere with attempts at weight loss.

Studies have shown that body fat is saturated with chemicals, and weight loss leads these chemicals to be released into bloodstream, from where they can end up lodging themselves in the brain, heart or other organs of the body (see Obesity Reviews 2003; 4: 17-24). Could it be that weight loss programs fail so often because people simply feel unwell when chemicals are released at such high rates?

Whatever the reason, if chemicals cause weight gain, then ridding the body of chemicals could be the only way to enable metabolism to normalize and reverse the problem. The only means found to effectively detoxify body fat is through far-infrared saunas, which produce a penetrating heat that draws toxins out of fat stores and into sweat. Find information on the detoxification effects of this type of sauna here: and on the Newsletters page of

But is there any evidence that far-infrared saunas promote weight loss? Interestingly, two of the studies performed on far-infrared saunas focused on cardiovascular risk factors (J Am Coll Cardiol 2001;38(4):1083-8, J Am Coll Cardiol 2002;39(5):754-9). Both studies found improvements in a broad spectrum of risk factors, even for people suffering from chronic heart failure (but this is a separate topic that deserves more in-depth coverage in a future newsletter).

Of interest here is that both of these studies found that people who did regular sauna therapy lost weight, though not specifically dieting. Although there are many theories on how sauna therapy can trigger weight loss, one likely possibility in my view is that once chemicals like bisphenol-A are gone, metabolism can return to normal and weight tends to
normalize naturally.

High Performance Weight Loss: A Solution for America’s Weight Problems (Part 1)

The weight crisis in this country has reached unprecedented levels in both adults and children. To understand the extent of the problem, consider that 80% of Americans over age 25 and 33% of children are overweight or obese according to official U.S. government figures. This translates to 145 million adults and 18 million children! Overall, 60% of Americans of all ages tip the scales well above their ideal weight.

Although insurance carriers do not consider excess weight to be a disease, there is substantial evidence that overweight people have an increased incidence of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, asthma and mortality from all causes. Life expectancy has been increasing for more than a century. However, this trend will come to a halt – or even reverse itself – if obesity rates continue to rise.

Body mass index (BMI) is a calculated number that can give you an idea of where you fit in. It is based on population averages and may not be accurate in all cases, but it is a good place to start. To calculate your BMI follow these steps (example refers to an individual 5’10 inches tall weighing 225 pounds):

1. Multiply your weight by 703 (225 x 703 = 158,175)
2. Square your height in inches (70 x 70 = 4,900)
3. Divide the Step 1 total by the Step 2 total (158,175 divided by 4,900 = 32.28)

If your BMI is above 25 (22 for children) you are considered overweight, and if it is greater than 30 (25 for children) you are considered obese.

The bottom line is that there is something wrong with how we eat, how much we eat, and how we feed our children. Foods that many Americans consider appropriate for children actually contribute to this crisis.

Type 2 or non-insulin-dependent diabetes used to be called “adult onset” because it occurred mostly in aging, overweight adults. It is now being diagnosed in children and teens at a rate of 123,000 new diagnoses per year, a six-fold (600%) increase over the past ten years. Overall, 10% of Americans age 20 and up have this deadly disease, up 50% from ten years ago. Complications of diabetes include heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, kidney failure, blindness, amputations, dental disease, and many others.

Since 1992 the U.S. government has recommended that Americans use a food pyramid originally designed by the Department of Agriculture as a guide to a healthy diet. Yet, over the last ten years, the country’s weight crisis exploded. Reasonable people might assume that, before recommending this diet for all Americans, the government carried out studies on its effects. In reality, not a single study was conducted. The diet was endorsed due to lobbying from the food industry and vague notions that it would encourage low-fat and heart-healthy eating.

This food pyramid recommends that Americans consume 6 to 11 servings of breads, pasta and cereal every day. These are the very foods that are now known to have high glycemic loads, causing significant imbalances in blood sugar and ultimately triggering uncontrolled cravings. The pyramid also recommends that only 2 to 3 servings of protein be consumed every day and that all fats and oils be used sparingly.

Using the food pyramid as a guide for healthy eating is a recipe for disaster because satiety, the feeling that one has eaten enough, is triggered by a hormone called cholecystokinin (CCK). CCK is produced only when enough protein and fat are eaten. Carbohydrates do not trigger this hormone, so when people eat mostly carbohydrates, they have trouble knowing when they’ve had enough to eat. This explains why it is so hard for many people to put down an open bag of chips, but it is rare that anyone would binge on a food like hard-boiled eggs.

Part 2 of High Performance Weight Loss will appear in a future issue.

Very low carbohydrate diet promotes weight loss and lower cholesterol levels

A recent Duke University study looked at the effects of a very low carbohydrate diet on weight and metabolic parameters. 51 overweight or obese individuals were put on a diet consisting of unlimited meat and eggs plus two cups of salad and one cup of a low-carbohydrate vegetable, such as broccoli, every day.

It should not come as a surprise that these people lost weight. After all, Dr. Atkins has been promoting this very diet for more than two decades. If anything, the extent of their weight loss is disappointing, as it only averaged 10% of body weight. For example, an individual weighing 300 lbs., with a target body weight of 150 lbs., would have weighed 270 lbs. after six months and, considering that weight loss tends to taper off over time, would probably never have reached his or her goal without also restricting the intake of calories.

The real surprise of this study is what happened to cholesterol levels of the study participants. Total cholesterol decreased an average of 26 points. LDL cholesterol (the kind generally considered “bad”) decreased 25 points, while HDL cholesterol (considered “good”) increased 8 points. And yes, you read correctly: these people were actually consuming unlimited amounts of eggs and red meat!

Previous studies had already shown that the consumption of eggs does not raise cholesterol, but do eggs actually lower it? Or – more likely – is it that the excess sugar and carbohydrates in the average American’s everyday diet affect metabolism, causing the body to produce unhealthy levels of cholesterol?

The journal reference for this study is Am J Med, 2002;113(1)30-36.