We are now seeing all patients in-peron or virtual from our Wayzata clinic. We’ve said goodbye to our Northeast home and have fully transitioned into our new clinic. 

We’ll see you in office for visits, blood draws, infusions, injections & more!

New Address: 1120 E Wayzata Blvd, STE 110, Wayzata, MN 55391

Screentime Hazards + Ideas to Break Away From Them

Screentime Hazards + Ideas to Break Away From Them

It’s no secret that screens are everywhere. They are a basic necessity for most of us–work, communication, safety and so forth. But the level to which we (and our KIDS!) use them has spun a bit out of control. If you’re like us, context, statistics and corresponding tips help immensely.

For context–screen time includes using phones, computers, tablets, TV, video games. Screen time went up by 1-2 hours per day in children since the pandemic, and 60-80% increase in adults. Hello. 

RELATED: Are We Stressing Ourselves to Fatigue? 4 Ways to Counteract Daily Stress

The general guideline on daily screen time includes zero hours under 2 years old, <1 hour co-viewing with a parent or sibling for ages 2-5, <2 hours for ages 5-17, except for school-work purposes. A study showed that adolescents spend an average of 7 hours and 22 minutes on screens every day, outside of school hours. It doesn’t even feel like that math can be real, but it is!

Excessive screens can have a negative impact on: 

  • Sleep: Screen time decreases our endogenous production of melatonin, our natural sleep hormone which is triggered in response to darkness. This makes it difficult to fall or stay asleep. Not getting enough sleep causes fatigue, and can weaken the immune system, making a person more susceptible to illness. Sleep is essential in order to remember what was learned during the day. Lack of sleep can decrease concentration, memory, and ability to learn.
  • Mood:  Emotional health is influenced by screen time. Studies link symptoms of depression to increased use in screen time. Research has also shown that it may lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms, as well as anxiety without their device. 
  • Brain: Excessive screen time causes physical changes to the brain, such as thinning of the cortex. Childhood and adolescence are critical for brain development. Studies show children who use screens in their rooms have impaired academic performance, as compared to their peers. Children were more likely to develop compulsivity, loss of behavioral control, both symptoms of OCD. Adults were reported to have varying psychological conditions.

RELATED: Insomnia Sleep Tips

  • Physical changes: Children and adults have a greater chance of becoming obese. Ultra-processed foods, such as chips, candy, and sweetened cereal for example, promoted in advertisements increase the desire for those foods. Mindless eating in front of electronics also promotes unhealthy habits. Other consequences include digital eye strain. And then there’s posture. Our spines and necks are certainly suffering due to screen time. 

Tips to encourage less screen time : 

  • Use an app to track your screen time. Set limits. 
  • Take the TV or device out of the room.
  • Turn off all screens 30 to 60 minutes before bed.  
  • Find activities that do not involve screens: Go outside, try a new hobby, hang out with friends. 
  • Exercise. You will boost endorphins good for your mood!
  • Keep a journal. How does being on your device make you feel? Is it a good use of your time?
  • Ask for help. If you have trouble getting off your screen, your parents, friends, a therapist, or doctor can help.

We know screens aren’t going anywhere so the importance of recognizing the potential harm of overuse and implementing tactics to break away from electronics is of the utmost importance.

GI Maps: What Are They and Why Do We Use Them?

GI Maps: What Are They and Why Do We Use Them?

As we know, our digestive system is a window into a much larger picture of our health and wellness. Gut health can now be traced back to almost every other area of the body–our immune system autoimmune factors, brain health, joint health and the list continues. Knowing that our gut houses so much important information, it’s crucial to have the best tools to assess its health. One of the ways we do this is through GI Map testing. 

What is a GI Map?

GI Map stool tests offer a unique DNA technique as a powerful, sensitive gene analysis to determine genotypes and detect pathogens which can be missed by conventional methods. This tool can detect parasites, bacteria, fungi and more, allowing practitioners to hone in on the best treatment plans. 

RELATED: How to Support Your Gut to Support Your Immune System

Once we know what pathogens exist, we can make better choices on the path forward. Pathogens have the power to:

  • Release toxins
  • Confuse the immune system to attack itself–triggering an autoimmune disease
  • Cause damage to the GI lining
  • Be pro inflammatory
  • Cause malabsorption or reduced stomach acid
  • Slow metabolism and influence weight gain and insulin resistance
  • Cause infections outside the GI tract (ie: UTIs, abscesses)

Pathogens are likely to cause disease if the host’s defense is vulnerable. Vulnerability increases with imbalanced microbiota, poor protective immune system mechanisms, toxic exposures, poor diet, antibiotics or antihistamine use, long term symptoms. 

When to Use GI Maps

Some of our main flags that warrant a deeper conversation and potential for GI maps is if a person has a history of multiple antibiotic use, food borne illness, long travel history, and symptoms listed below. Additionally it’s really important if you are masking gastrointestinal symptoms with medications or supplements. Remember, our bodies are born to do the work so when we need supplementary support for them to do some of the basic work, it’s time to dig deeper to optimize health since our microbiome is a major determinant of wellness and health outcomes.

RELATED: A Functional Doctors Approach to IBS

What Symptoms to Look For

  • Gastrointestinal issues such as bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, acid reflux, malodorous or excessive gas and SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth)
  • Conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis), IBS, GERD, asthma, diabetes, autoimmune disease like hashimotos and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Other symptoms such as joint pain, fatigue, weight gain, brain fog, skin conditions like eczema or rash, trouble sleeping, known adrenal issues and other chronic illnessness

Test Results Are In

Once we’ve conducted the GI Map testing, it’s all about breaking down the results. As stated above, we want to understand the what. Could it issues with the microbiome, parasites, fungi, bacteria and so forth. A standard GI Map offers insights on whether commensal or good, protective, bacteria are present. Whether there’s a presence of pathogenic overgrowth of bacteria, viruses, parasites, worms, fungal organisms or H Pylori. Further we can dig into autoimmune related bacteria, markers of the immune system, leaky gut, digestive enzymes, enzymes of poor estrogen elimination contributing to estrogen dominance, poor estrogen detoxification, and increased risk of cancer. Wow. That’s a mouthful, but hopefully that articulates the insights this kind of testing provides!

Treatment Plans

For our patients it’s equally as important to know what treatment might look like. Treatment is aimed at the individual’s findings. This may include antimicrobials, biofilm degrader, probiotics, supportive nutrients for gut barrier integrity, prokinetic, digestive enzymes, or dietary adjustments. Antibiotics are not always recommended because antibiotic resistance may worsen the infection. All this is to say, the KEY is the individual (you). We don’t have a one-size fits all for this, or any of our treatments–which is what makes integrative medicine so unique.

Understanding Insulin Resistance: Part Two

Understanding Insulin Resistance: Part Two

Last month we laid the framework for what insulin resistance is, signs to look for, and how to test for it. Like anything, it doesn’t stop there. We want to make sure you have a full picture of what’s next. 

I learned I have insulin resistance, now what?

Great question. If you know us, you know a diagnosis means we are just getting started and it’s time to really dig in. The best part of integrative medicine is we will never leave you with simply a diagnosis–you and your body are so much more than that.

RELATED: Understanding Insulin Resistance: Part One

As we begin to peel the onion, we recommend checking your sex hormones and adrenals as they have quite an impact on this entire spectrum. Here’s what we look for:

  • Low DHEA, estradiol, or progesterone 
  • High or low cortisol

If you’re a female, depending on the timing of your cycle, you could be more prone to insulin resistance. During the luteal phase, women are more insulin resistant, as the body sends signals to consume carbs in order to synthesize progesterone.

Additionally, we encourage you to request getting checked for yeast or gastrointestinal candida overgrowth. Dysbiosis can create self-fermentation and increase blood glucose levels. Monitoring what you’re eating–even going so far as wearing a continuous glucose monitor can be incredibly insightful. Something you’re eating may be causing your blood sugar to spike and not know it!

RELATED: Continuous Glucose Monitoring: It’s Not Just for Diabetes

Nutrition modifications

We recommend avoiding sugar, refined carbohydrates, and high glycemic foods like rice, pasta, and white flour. Gluten contains a protein called amylopectin that raises glucose levels. Even natural sweeteners like honey and agave can spike blood sugar.

Prioritizing your plate start is a fun way to feel empowered to make some great choices. We love starting with protein, vegetables, healthy fats, and then move to carbohydrates. Adding apple cider vinegar to your meal can help support glucose metabolism and aid in digestion of heavy proteins. 

Try coupling fiber WITH vitamin C which reduces leptin and therefore reduces insulin. Quick note as many folks think vitamin C and think juice. Juices have vitamin C but NO fiber. Juice will send glucose straight to the bloodstream, which triggers an insulin spike. Aim for a minimum of 25 grams of fiber daily which will slow digestion of sugars and keep you full longer.

Another great tip to curb your appetite by fueling your brain with ketone-rich foods coconut oil and MCT oil, along with omega-3 rich foods. Food and drinks like alcohol, trans fats, nitrites and nitrates (bacon, lunch meat), anything with white flour, processed cheese contain ceramides–which are waxy lipid molecules. 

Empty carbohydrates (aka sugar) can be extra problematic when it comes to insulin resistance. The average overweight American consumes over 700 calories a day in sweetened beverages. And, although diet drinks are calorie free, they also contribute to insulin resistance and diabetes. Food for thought. 

RELATED: What is a Ketogenic Diet–And What Does Your Doctor Think of It

Lifestyle modifications

Start small! If you can work to be active for about 10 minutes after eating to activate muscles, thereby moving glucose into muscle cells rather than depositing glucose into the liver or as adipose tissue. We love to see our clients do some level of movement each day. It could be focusing on NEAT (Non-exercise activity thermogenesis). 

You may consider intermittent fasting to see if that practice shifts insulin resistance symptoms.. Going a minimum of 12 hours without a meal will train your body to burn fat as fuel instead of glucose. Transition to become fat-adapted by reducing your current eating window by half an hour per week until you reach your goal.

Supplement suggestions

*Note we always recommend working with a practitioner (like us!) to guide supplements specific to you.

There is research supporting the use of berberine, chromium and NAC in promoting healthy glucose tolerance levels and influencing insulin receptor activity. Cinnamon sharpens the sensitivity of the insulin receptor. Add a dash to your coffee or tea!

Habits that can hinder blood sugar balance

Lack of sleep impacts your stress hormones, which leads to blood sugar imbalances and insulin resistance. Regulating your circadian rhythm by getting good exposure to daytime light will promote better sleep quality. 

RELATED: 5 Ways to Get Better Sleep Tonight

Stress, whether it’s psychological or physical, has a negative effect on insulin. Stress stimulates a sympathetic response, or “fight or flight” response, which physiologically increases glucose levels to prepare the body to run away or fight a bear. The brain does not always differentiate life-threatening vs non-life-threatening stressors, so an argument with your partner, multitasking, or a work presentation can stimulate the same response in the body!

Well, that was a LOT to take in. We hope this helps frame this layered topic and gives you some talking points should you need to tackle this topic.

Understanding Insulin Resistance: Part One

Understanding Insulin Resistance: Part One

The conversation around blood sugar and insulin resistance is more of a household conversation than ever before. Gone are the days when we only worried about blood sugar as it related to diabetes and other chronic health conditions. These days we not only want to optimize it–but see how balancing our blood sugar is an important preventative health measure.

This is such an important topic, we are breaking it into a miniseries. Before we go much further, let’s cover the basics. 

RELATED: Principles of a Reversing Insulin Resistance Diet

What is insulin resistance?

Insulin resistance is one of the leading contributors to chronic disease. In order to maintain a healthy hormone balance, metabolism and low inflammatory state, preventing or reversing insulin resistance is critical. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates blood sugar (glucose) levels. Normally, insulin moves glucose into cells to make energy. The majority of glucose gets moved from the bloodstream into your muscle, with lesser amounts in the liver and fat cells so it can get used for energy or stored for later use. Insulin levels increase in response to high glucose levels in the bloodstream. As long as the pancreas can keep up with insulin production to overcome the cell’s weak response, blood sugar levels will be balanced. When the cells become insulin resistant, blood glucose levels begin to increase which leads to diabetes, fatty liver disease, weight gain, heart disease, among others. Whew, a lot–we get it.

In an energy deficit where you burn more energy than you are taking in, you should be able to process glucose. In a hypercaloric state with a large consumption of processed carbs, high glucose leads to insulin surge which blunts insulin receptors, thus body stops responding to insulin, leaving those cells starving for glucose and lacking energy. The cells then send a signal to the body to create more glucose, which happens in the liver. That surplus gets stored as fat in the liver and as fatty tissue. With extra fat accumulation in the liver, it sends an inappropriate signal to overproduce sugar. Factors that place a person at higher risk of insulin resistance include lifestyle habits, genetics, ethnicity, and sex.

RELATED: Why Low-Sugar Meals are Trending & What You Should Know About Them

Signs you may have insulin resistance 

The natural next question–how do I know if I might be insulin resistant? While we always want you to consult with a practitioner, here are some high level signs to recognize. 

You’ll look for weight gain, increase in your waistline, fatigue (especially after eating), skin tags, darkened skin in your armpit, back, and sides of the neck. If you have high blood pressure, high triglycerides, low HDL, or high blood sugar those can also point to issues with insulin resistance.

How to test for it

Simple blood test of fasting insulin level in the morning. It is also good to test markers like fasting blood sugar, hemoglobin A1C for an average glucose, stress hormones, and other labs personalized to the individual. A continuous glucose monitor (CGM) may be necessary to identify more specifically what may be causing blood sugar to spike.

Next month I’ll be back to break down what to do about it, some common interventions, and habits that negatively affect it. Stay tuned!