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Functional Nutrition Blog

The Health Benefits Of Vitamin D

Posted by Daniel Sanelli, M.Sc. on Mar 1, 2012 6:00:00 AM

Modern lifestyle and diet have made the "d" in the vitamin D stand more for deficient than for anything else. The 2003 National Institute for Health (NIH) conference on vitamin D reported "a growing prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency/deficiency in the U.S. population." Previous concerns over vitamin D toxicity along with a modern sun-phobic America are probable causes of this growing trend towards a lack of something good.

Growing concerns over skin cancers and aging skin have forced many of us out of the sun and into the dark about vitamin D. Dramatic increases in sun protection are suspiciously coinciding with decreases in blood vitamin D levels. But is this correlation really that mysterious? Not if one knows that sun exposure is the body's main source of vitamin D production. The Vitamin D Council website states that "the high rate of natural production of vitamin D3 cholecalciferol in the skin is the single most important fact every person should know about vitamin D..."

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Topics: smart supplementation, lifestyle

Healthy Thyroid Function, Part 5

Posted by Daniel Sanelli, M.Sc. on Oct 26, 2011 6:00:00 AM

In the United States the most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto's autoimmune thyroid. An autoimmune condition is an immunological response of the body against its own tissue and organs. Named after the scientist who first identified this condition, Hashimoto's involves a progressive attack of the thyroid gland by the immune system.

Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

The slow and gradual attack on the thyroid gland by immune cells eventually destroys enough tissue of the gland that it stops producing enough of its hormones. This causes the pituitary to release more thyroid stimulating hormone and can be seen as elevated TSH levels in the blood. This process can take many years and will often go undiagnosed until a large portion of the thyroid tissue has been destroyed.

It is common to suffer the symptoms of Hashimoto's for years before a diagnosis is made and treatment prescribed. As with other autoimmune conditions, Hashimoto's comes in waves or flareups. This is part of the reason it is difficult to pinpoint the condition. If testing takes place   flareups, blood tests may not reveal the necessary markers for a diagnosis.

The symptoms of Hashimoto's thyroiditis are most often the same as those of hypothyroidism (slow thyroid). However, as destruction of the gland progresses, it is possible to suffer the symptoms of hyperthyroidism (fast thyroid) as well. Grave's Disease is another form of autoimmune thyroid that only expresses itself as hyperthyroidism. But Hashimoto's can exhibit both.

How to Identify Hashimoto's

Most medical checkups include a thyroid test. But typically the test is only for TSH levels. TSH levels may or may not be elevated with autoimmune thyroid. It is ideal to have a more comprehensive thyroid panel that includes, Total T4, Total T3, T3 uptake and thyroid antibodies known as TPO and thyroglobulin AB. It is safe to assume if thyroid antibodies are elevated significantly that there is an autoimmune response present. If allowed to persist this will usually develop into an advanced case of Hashimoto's. Traditional physicians may not diagnose Hashimoto's simply with elevated antibodies, but a functional medicine doctor may treat it at this point as a means of preventing destruction of this important gland.

Gluten and Hashimoto's

Scientific evidence has uncovered a strong correlation between autoimmune thyroid and gluten sensitivity. The gliadin molecule found in gluten that causes the greatest reactions in the gluten sensitive is molecularly similar to the tissue of the thyroid. Thus when gluten enters the system and causes an immune response, the immune system mistakes the thyroid for the true culprit - gluten. For this reason it is highly recommended that those with autoimmune thyroid conditions be tested for gluten sensitivity. It is also highly advised to avoid gluten indefinitely.

Hashimoto's Thyroiditis is a complicated autoimmune condition that requires the assistance of a trained professional that understands autoimmunity. With the help of diet, lifestyle changes and immune modulating botanicals it is possible to better manage the frequency and severity of flareups with the hopes of preventing extensive damage to the organ and its life altering consequences.

Read the other articles in the Healthy Thyroid Function series.

Having thyroid symptoms but your doctor says "no"? You may be experiencing the onset of an autoimmune thyroid condition. For a free thyroid consultation with Primo Health Coach, sign up now!

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Topics: weight management, immune health, endocrine health, lifestyle

Healthy Thyroid Function, Part 4

Posted by Daniel Sanelli, M.Sc. on Oct 5, 2011 6:00:00 AM

If you haven't been following my latest series, I've been discussing the thyroid gland. This seemingly insignificant organ produces hormones that can affect the metabolic rate of every cell in your body. If the thyroid is not functioning properly, your body will begin to feel the negative results of this malfunction.

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Topics: immune health, endocrine health, lifestyle

Healthy Thyroid Function, Part 3

Posted by Daniel Sanelli, M.Sc. on Sep 29, 2011 6:00:00 AM

We have been examining the function and disorders of the thyroid gland, the butterfly shaped gland just below our skin and surrounding our throat. As we get older we become more susceptible to disorders of the thyroid. Unfortunately, most thyroid conditions are not diagnosed early enough to prevent deterioration of the gland and its function. A dead or dying thyroid will impact the quality of one's life. Identifying and preventing damage to this gland will ensure healthy thyroid function.

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Topics: weight management, immune health, endocrine health, lifestyle

Healthy Thyroid Function, Part 2

Posted by Daniel Sanelli, M.Sc. on Sep 19, 2011 6:00:00 AM

In part 2 of our series Healthy Thyroid Function we will learn what a healthy thyroid is supposed to do (Read Part 1). This complicated little butterfly shaped organ is quite remarkable in its function and influence on our health.

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Topics: gluten sensitivity, weight management, immune health, endocrine health, lifestyle

Healthy Thyroid Function, Part 1

Posted by Daniel Sanelli, M.Sc. on Sep 9, 2011 6:00:00 AM

The butterfly shaped organ that wraps around our throat is called the thyroid gland. This seemingly indescript organ can actually have a tremendous effect on our health. It's function is somewhat complicated, and disorders of the thyroid are very often overlooked or downplayed. This occurs in spite of the prevalence of thyroid disorders in our society.

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Topics: gluten sensitivity, weight management, immune health, endocrine health, lifestyle

Finding Your Optimal Nutritional Needs

Posted by Daniel Sanelli, M.Sc. on Aug 26, 2011 6:00:00 AM

As humans we share many commonalities, starting with our genetic code found tangled up in our DNA. It is common for us to try to prescribe practical measures towards things like health and nutrition that we try to apply to everyone. However, the concept of biochemical individuality has taught us that in spite of our many similarities, each one of use has a uniqueness that deserves a less general approach to our health and well being. We each are biochemically unique and have unique health requirements.

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Topics: genetics, cardiovascular health, whole foods, holistic health, lifestyle

The Risks Of Drinking Too Much Alcohol

Posted by Daniel Sanelli, M.Sc. on Jul 25, 2011 6:00:00 AM


Since the dawn of civilization all peoples and cultures have fermented different foods with yeast to produce various alcoholic beverages.  The varieties and characteristics of those beverages were reflective of their cultures, beliefs and religious tenets. 

Alcohol (ethanol) is produced by fermenting yeast, sugars and starches.  Ethanol is a volatile, highly flammable, colorless liquid.  It has an intoxicating effect on the body.  It acts as a depressant on the central nervous system.  Ethanol is a psychoactive drug and probably the first recreational drug known to man.  As an industrial chemical it can be used as a solvent or even as a fuel.

It is commonly believed that alcohol in moderation can have a healthful effect on the body, especially red wine.  However, because of its neurotoxic properties and the tendency to be abused by people, alcohol can have a damaging and detrimental effect on ones health.  

Alcohol is easily and quickly absorbed through the stomach into the blood stream where it travels to every organ in the body.  The liver works quickly to metabolize alcohol and expel it from the body, but it still takes an hour to remove an ounce of the substance.  The remaining alcohol must continue circulating through the body until it has all been removed.  The detrimental effects of ethanol are dependent on the amount of alcohol consumed.  Other factors affecting the individual’s reactions to alcohol include age, gender, race, physical condition, amount of food consumed before drinking, how quickly the alcohol was consumed, use of medication or drugs and family history of alcohol abuse.

Alcohol impairs the body’s normal functions, affecting one’s ability to respond to stimulus and it slows one’s reaction time.  It affects vision, balance, motor skills and speech.  It is dangerous to operate heavy machinery like cars while intoxicated.  It is illegal in the United States to drive with more alcohol than .08% of blood volume.  Nonetheless, there are millions of accidents and deaths related to driving while intoxicated.  Abuse of alcohol is believed to contribute to certain cancers, stroke, and liver diseases like cirrhosis.  Over-consuming alcohol for long periods of time will intensify these effects.  Pancreatitis is a serious condition affecting the pancreas that is common among heavy abusers of alcohol.

Pregnant women that consume alcohol risk having babies with Fetal Alcohol Ayndrome (FAS).  Alcohol can cause growth, mental and physical problems to the developing fetus.  Alcohol passes easily from the mother, through the placenta to the fetus.  Here the alcohol can cause damage to the underdeveloped organs and systems of the baby.  It appears that the greater damage will occur during the first three months of pregnancy, but there is no safe level of drinking through the entire pregnancy.  The child once born may exhibit structural development problems and may later exhibit thinking and speech impairment, or late establishment of social skills.  These problems can be averted 100% by avoiding alcohol altogether while pregnant.

Alcohol, like many of life’s good things, can be abused.  With a proper respect for the potential dangers associated with its use, it is possible to consume alcohol responsibly and safely.  Drinking alcohol is very much a part of our social interaction and important to our whole person health.  In moderation it can be used as a sedative, to control stress and encourage rest.  I can’t imagine life without a nice glass of wine on the weekends, or even a proper cocktail when out in social situations.  But each person must decide for themselves how much is too much and under what circumstances it should be consumed.  Consider our custom to celebrate with a glass of champagne.  Leading a toast with a glass of water just wouldn’t be the same!

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Topics: degenerative disease, lifestyle

Healthy Brain Healthy Body

Posted by Daniel Sanelli, M.Sc. on Jun 24, 2011 6:00:00 AM

One of the keys to living a Primo Healthy life is having a healthy brain.  

We don't often think of our brain as being important in keeping the rest of our body healthy, but by learning the brain's role in maintaining all your vital functions and movement, it becomes clear that we must tend to this organ carefully.

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Topics: macronutrients, brain health, anti-aging, lifestyle

Choosing The Best Liver Detox Program

Posted by Daniel Sanelli, M.Sc. on May 26, 2011 8:16:00 PM

I have many friends who have done the Master Cleanse as part of a routine liver cleansing program.  I know many that have had good results as well.  However, I find that this cleansing program, which is basically a fast, is often abused and not used as intended.

The Master Cleanse is a fast that uses a drink made from lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and filtered water as a replacement for food.  It is to be carried on for 3 or more days. Some have gone as long as a month or more.  The intention is to give the body a break from food so that the liver can use more energy to detoxify the body of unhealthy toxins.

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Topics: detoxification, lifestyle