Zinc and Your Health

Zinc and Your Health

Next to iron, zinc is the most common mineral in the body and is found in every cell. It has an important role in the workings of the muscular system, reproductive systems in both men and women, and proper insulin and thyroid function. Zinc is a catalyst for the vitality of the skin and wound healing. However, zinc is probably best known for supporting the healthy functioning of the immune system.

Several studies have shown that zinc lozenges or syrup reduced the length of a cold by one day, especially when taken within 24 hours of the first signs and symptoms. Studies also show that taking zinc regularly might reduce the number of colds each year, the number of missed school days, and the amount of antibiotics required in otherwise healthy children. New studies are also looking at how the body uses zinc and whether or not taking zinc can improve the treatment of celiac disease, diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease.

There are several forms of zinc, but not all are easily absorbed or appropriate for every person. The two best forms are zinc gluconate, and zinc citrate. According to the National Academy of Health Sciences, the need for a zinc supplement varies based on age, gender, pregnancy status, and other health factors. Zinc can interfere with the actions of some medications and can even affect the utilization of other minerals, such as copper. It’s best to first consult with your wellness practitioner before taking zinc. Men always require more zinc than women, mostly because zinc participates in production of testosterone and sperm.

Some of the symptoms of zinc deficiency could be frequent colds, decrease testosterone level or low mobility of sperm. One of the most peculiar symptoms is lack of smell and taste. In my office I offer a “taste test for zinc deficiency”. It involves taking a sip of concentrated zinc water and holding it in the mouth for 10-15 seconds. If it tastes like water to you, then you are deficient. If you identify somewhat tart taste, you probably barely making it. The reaction of person with sufficient amount of zinc in the body would be detecting a clear metal taste. Trust me, only few of people passed this test, majority of are deficient in zinc for many reasons. One of them, is that zinc, like no other element, participate in toxic metal detoxification. As you know, we all have exposure and demands on zinc are high.

In my practice I always try to use “food as medicine”. Here are the foods that are high in zinc and if you eat them regularly, you need for supplementation could be reduced. The top 5 are: oysters, beef and lamb meat, wheat germ, spinach and pumpkin seeds.

Eat away and be healthy! Don’t hesitate to our practice if you need advice or looking for guidance to address chronic medical conditions or optimize your health.

Sleep: Essential for Mind-Body Health

Sleep: Essential for Mind-Body Health

Adults and children alike are spending more time awake late at night to study, work, or have fun. All those late nights may be negatively effecting us. More than 20 years of research shows us that sleep is vitally important to physical and mental health.

Most of what we know about sleep and health comes from studies of what happens to the mind and body when we don’t sleep enough, or at all. In animal and human studies, living without sleep for even a few months resulted in death. Sleeping fewer than 8 hours a night on a regular basis is associated with increased risk for diabetes, heart disease and stroke, depression, colds and flu, and obesity.

While We Are Sleeping…

Sleep affects brain chemistry and has an important role in the functioning of the nervous, immune and endocrine systems. During sleep we develop and reinforce neural pathways involved in memory, learning, and emotion. New research suggests sleep helps flush toxins from the brain.

While we are sleeping, the body manufactures hormones that repair damage caused by stress and the environment in which we work and play. Growth hormone cleanses the liver, builds muscle, breaks down fat, and helps normalize blood sugar. We also produce hormones that help fight infections. If we aren’t getting sufficient sleep, we get sick more often and take longer to recover. Lack of sleep increases inflammation, which is has been linked to heart disease and stroke.

Skimping on shut-eye is linked with obesity in adults and children. Lack of sleep interferes with the levels of ghrelin and leptin, metabolic hormones that signal when you’re hungry and when you’re full.

The amount of sleep you need varies based on age, activity level, quality of sleep, and genetics (e.g., some of us really are night owls). Infants typically require 14-15 hours of sleep per 24-hour period; young children about 12 hours; teens about 9 hours, and most adults 7-9 hours. A general rule of thumb for determining your sleep requirement: If you do not wake feeling refreshed, you may not be getting enough sleep.

Tips For A Good Night’s Sleep

Your bed is for sleep and sex only. Regular sex can improve sleep quality so don’t use your time between the sheets to deal with daily hassles–take that outside of the bedroom (or record in a journal). If you don’t feel sleepy, leave the room and do something relaxing until you feel drowsy, then, go back to bed.

Set a sleep schedule. This includes a soothing pre-sleep routine, such as a warm bath, reading or gentle yoga. Go to bed and wake at the same time each day. This entrains your body rhythms, making it easier to fall asleep. If you need a nap, get it in before 5:00 PM; limit to 20 minutes.

Surround yourself with cave-like ambiance. A sleeping space should be quiet, dark, and cool (between 60-72°). If you do shift-work, use blackout shades or an eye mask. Remove electronic devices, computers and TVs from your room. Research shows that use of digital devices within an hour of bedtime has a negative effect on sleep quality due to suppression of melatonin production.

Let the light in early and exercise regularly. Natural light helps regulates hormones that promote ideal sleep-wake patterns. Open the curtains as early as possible and get outdoors during the day. Also, exercise during the day or early evening makes it easier to fall asleep and increases the amount of deep sleep obtained.

Eat a Light, Last Meal of the Day. A light dinner eaten 2-3 hours before sleep is ideal. A full stomach interferes with sleep as the body works at digestion. Steer clear of spicy or fatty foods that can cause heartburn. If you need a bedtime snack, combine a carbohydrate and protein, such as almond butter on toast, Greek yogurt with sugar-free granola, or cheese and crackers. My favorite is almond butter and crispy apple. Avoid products containing caffeine, sugar or nicotine as their effects can last several hours.

Are You Sleep Deprived? Here are some symptoms of sleep deprivation:

Daytime drowsiness; fatigue

Poor memory; difficulty concentrating

Changes in appetite

Difficulty dealing with stress

Irritability

Muscle tension; impaired vision

Increase in accidents or clumsiness

You don’t have to pull “all-nighters” to become sleep deprived. A sleep debt of just 1-2 hours a few nights a week can affect your health and performance. To become fully well-rested and regain energy after a sleep debt, get an extra hour of sleep each night for one week.

If you experience any of the following the signs of sleep deprivation, talk to your healthcare provider about natural approaches to getting your sleep back on track.

References
  • Harvard Health. Sleep: What’s in it for You? http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/need-sleep/whats-in-it-for-you/health
  • Strickgold, R. “Sleep on It!” Scientific American. October 2015. 313(4): pp. 52-57.
  • Brondel, L., Romer, M., Nougues, P., Touyarou, P., and Davenne, D. 2010. Acute partial sleep deprivation increases food intake in healthy men. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 91 (6): 1550-1559.
  • National Sleep Foundation. 2009. How much sleep do we really need? http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need.
  • Chang, A., et al., Evening use of light-emitting eReaders negatively affects sleep, circadian timing, and next-morning alertness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Dec 2014). 112:4, 1232-1237. http://www.pnas.org/content/112/4/1232.full.pdf
  • Harvard Health. Consequences of Insufficient Sleep. http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/consequences
  • Van Cauter, E. & Knutson, KL. “Sleep and the Epidemic of Obesity in Children and Adults.” European Jl of Endocrinology. 59(1) pp. S59-S66. http://www.eje-online.org/content/159/suppl_1/S59.short
  • Rechtschaffen, A. & Bergmann, BM. “Sleep Deprivation in the Rat: Update of the 1989 Paper.” Sleep. 2002. 25(1): pp. 18-24. http://www.journalsleep.org/Articles/250104.pdf
  • Knutson KL, et al. Role of Sleep Duration and Quality in the Risk and Severity of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, Archives of Internal Medicine. 2006 Sep 18; 166(16):1768.
  • Gottlieb DJ, et al. Association of Sleep Time with Diabetes Mellitus and Impaired Glucose Tolerance, Archives of Internal Medicine. 2005 Apr 25; 165(8): 863.
  • King, CR et al. Short Sleep Duration and Incident Coronary Artery Calcification, JAMA, 2008: 300(24): 2859-2866. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19109114
  • Opp, MR, et al. Neural-Immune Interactions in the Regulation of Sleep, Front Biosci. 2003 May 1;8:d768-79.
  • Cohen S, et al. Sleep Habits and Susceptibility to the Common Cold, Arch of Intern Med. 2009 Jan 12; 169 (1):62-67.
  • Colten, HR & Altevogt, BM, eds. Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem. Institute of Medicine Committee on Sleep Medicine and Research. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press 2006: 3. “Extent and Health Consequences of Chronic Sleep Loss and Sleep Disorders.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK19961/
  • Spiegel K, et al. Impact of Sleep Debt on Metabolic and Endocrine Function, Lancet. 1999 Oct 23: 354(9188): 1435-9.
  • Zeng, Yawen et al. “Strategies of Functional Foods Promote Sleep in Human Being.” Current Signal Transduction Therapy 9.3 (2014): 148–155. PMC. Web. 16 Oct. 2015. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4440346/
  • Figueiro M, Bierman A, Plitnick B, Rea M. “Preliminary evidence that both blue and red light can induce alertness at night.” BMC Neuroscience. 2009;10(1):105.
  • National Sleep Foundation: Sleep Depression & Anxiety https://sleepfoundation.org/excessivesleepiness/content/the-complex-relationship-between-sleep-depression-anxiety
  • National Institutes of Health: Signs and Symptoms of Problem Sleepiness http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/signs
Rheumatoid Arthritis Linked to Microbiome Changes

Rheumatoid Arthritis Linked to Microbiome Changes

Here is evidence that our health depends on who we host and what we grow in our guts! It is more them then us, so it is better keep “good guys” and get rid of the “bad guys”. The article below explains that gut bacteria Prevotella copri is directly connected to new onset of rheumatoid arthritis in patients.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Linked to Microbiome Changes

By Kristen Schepker

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), one of the most common autoimmune diseases, may be triggered by changes in the microbial composition of the gut, according to a recent study by investigators at New York University.

There is a solid body of research indicating that intestinal bacteria affect the development and the severity of autoimmune disorders localized to the gut, such as inflammatory bowel disease (Mathis, D. eLife. 2013. doi:10.7554/eLife.01608).

What’s somewhat more surprising is that gut flora can also contribute to the progression of autoimmune conditions outside the intestinal tract. In one animal study researchers found that autoimmune arthritis could be rapidly induced in previously healthy, germ-free mice by introducing certain pathogenic bacteria into their intestines (Wu, et al. Immun. 2010; 32(6): 815-827).

Following this line of thinking, researchers at the Hospital for Joint Diseases, NYU School of Medicine explored the impact of intestinal bacteria on the “systemic immune response required for joint inflammation.” Specifically, they examined the relationship between specific bacterial clades and rheumatoid arthritis development (Scher, et al. eLife. 2013. doi:10.7554/eLife.01202).

The researchers collected 114 stool samples from RA patients, as well as non-RA control subjects at New York University’s rheumatology clinics. Forty-four of the samples came from patients with newly diagnosed, previously untreated rheumatoid arthritis; 26 samples were from patients with chronic but treated rheumatoid arthritis, and 16 came from patients with psoriatic arthritis, another poorly understood autoimmune condition.

The remaining 28 samples were from healthy people without any form of arthritis.

Unusual Suspect

In performing DNA analysis, the researchers discovered that one specific intestinal bacterium, Prevotella copri, occurred in significantly higher quantities in the fecal samples collected from the new-onset rheumatoid arthritis (NORA) patients than in all other patient groups.

P. copri was present in a striking 75% of newly diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis patients, and in these individuals, Prevotella tended to be highly predominant compared with other bacterial species.

In contrast, only 21.4% of the healthy controls carried this organism in their intestinal microbiota. The bug was found in just 11.5% and 37.5% of samples from chronic rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis patient samples, respectively.

The NYU researchers further noted that in NORA subjects, an increase in Prevotella species was correlated with a reduction in beneficial microbes, especially Bacteroides, a key genus of bacteria that normally thrive in the human gut, especially in the Western world.

Further exploring the potential connection between Prevotellaand increased inflammatory responses, Scher’s team then colonized a group of mice with a lab-grown P. copri strain.

They found that P. copri colonization in mice induced inflammation in the form of colitis, but not joint disease. They attributed the development of inflammatory bowel disease rather than RA to the fact that the mice were colonized with a different strain of P. copri than the one found in the human subjects.

Cause or Co-factor?

It is not clear whether overgrowth of Prevotella is a triggering event for the inflammatory cascade that ultimately leads to RA, or whether the organism simply thrives in the context of systemic inflammation but is not in and of itself a causal agent.

What does seem clear is that a Prevotella-defined microbiome appears to promote inflammation in the context of a genetically susceptible host.

The connection between Prevotella and joint inflammation seems to be a T-cell mediated process.

The authors note that, “In RA, there is increased production of both self-reactive antibodies and pro-inflammatory T-lymphocytes. Although mechanisms for targeting of synovium by inflammatory cells have not been fully elucidated, studies in animal models suggest that both T-cell and antibody responses are involved in arthritogenesis. Moreover, an imbalance in the composition of the gut microbiota can alter local T-cell responses and modulate systemic inflammation.”

It is interesting that mice with genetic mutations that increase the risk of RA-like changes remain healthy if they are kept under sterile conditions. However, if these mice are exposed to certain species of bacteria sometimes found in the gut, they begin to show signs of joint inflammation (Ivanov et al., 2009Sczesnak et al., 2011).

While the new study’s results cannot conclusively implicate P. copri as the cause of rheumatoid arthritis, they do support a compelling argument that P. copri may predispose both mice and men to chronic inflammatory conditions.

A predominance of segmented filamentous bacteria like Prevotella in an individual’s intestinal microbial ecology predisposes to a reduction in the number and the function if of anti-inflammatory regulatory T cells, thus predisposing the individual towards autoimmunity, the authors explain.

Though not conclusive, this line of research open the door to a new realm of possible treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis.

Conventionally, the disease is treated with pharmaceuticals with often severe and noxious side effects. Should further research confirm the connection between P. copri and rheumatoid arthritis, antibiotic treatments or the use of probiotics rich in beneficial bacteria could become viable alternatives.

At the very least, this new line of work points to the microbiome as a previously unrecognized etiologic factor in the onset of a common but poorly understood disorder.

LGS Leaky Gut Syndrome

Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS)

Leaky Gut Syndrome or LGS, also referred to as intestinal permeability, is a condition where the lining of the intestine walls becomes thinner, allowing toxins, undigested proteins and other substances penetrate through the intestinal wall into the blood, which normally should not occur. As a result, inflammation may occur and symptoms such as bloating, gas, stomach aches, food sensitivity/allergy and other bodily pains may arise.

Though the gut is the largest immune system organ in the human body, conventionally trained doctors not always recognize this condition as a cause of many chronic medical conditions and symptoms.

Dr. Elena Klimenko, a functional medicine physician in New York City, helps patients to identify traditionally unrecognized illnesses, like Leaky Gut Syndrome (LGS). She helps her clients to identify and eliminate the causes of variety of chronic medical conditions.

Learn more about her health now through personal evaluation with Dr.Klimenko. Call at 212-696-4325 to make an appointment or address any questions you might have.

Autoimmune Diseases - A Functional Medicine Approach

Autoimmune Diseases – An Integrative Medicine Approach

As one of the most prevalent and chronic illnesses in the country, autoimmune diseases affect 23.5 million Americans with severe pain, disability, and even death. Recent studies from the National Institutes of Health over the last decade now report that more people suffer from this collection of chronic illnesses than from cancer or heart disease. Although these alarming rates continue to rise, there is a lack of awareness that inhibits necessary treatment. Many people affected by autoimmune conditions suffer without realizing their condition is treatable through functional medicine.

Autoimmune disease arises from an abnormal immune response against the tissues and organs of the body. This can be restricted to certain organs, such as the thyroid gland or kidneys, or can involve tissues in different organ systems, such as the basement membrane in the lungs. These harmful diseases arise from consistent exposure to toxins in the environment, a diet void of nutritional value, and the chronic use of harmful medication.

Among the wide variety of treatment options, prevention is the first step to reversing the chronic diseases that arise from autoimmune conditions. Many of the first symptoms, such as chronic fatigue, muscle and joint paint, or simple bodily discomfort can be warning signs of a larger and more complex problem. With simple blood tests, autoimmune disease can be diagnosed at an early stage, giving doctors the ability to naturally balance your immune system before any irreversible damage is done to the brain, joints, thyroid, blood vessels, or other vital organ systems.

As an experienced functional medicine expert, I can assess the numerous factors that can affect your immune system – potential environmental toxins, lifestyle, stress, diet, medication, allergies, and sleep habits – to uncover the root cause of your autoimmune diseases. If you would like to get more information or schedule a consultation, call our office at 212-696-4325.

 

Elena Klimenko, MD is New York City’s leading integrative medicine physician, providing treatment for autoimmune disease with an effective approach through functional medicine.