Each day numerous people head back to work feeling tired after eating lunch. This may even sound like you and chances are you know others that have the same problem. As the process normally goes, you enjoy your lunch only to find yourself in what seems like a “food coma” 30-45 minutes after returning back to work. First your eyes get heavy and start drooping and the next think you know you are head bobbing hoping no one noticed. It’s not long before this seems like a pattern you’re stuck in. Not only do you feel fatigued, but you are less productive. This is not good and is likely a sign of bigger problems to come.
The #1 Reason That you Are Tired After Eating
There are several reasons that one can be tired after eating. These include everything from food intolerances to low blood pressure. Yet, there is one cause that trumps all others. The most likely reason that you are tired after eating is that you elevated your blood sugar. Blood sugar, also called blood glucose, or simply glucose, needs to stay at a reasonable level. The hormone insulin elevates with high blood sugar to help control it. Blood sugar goes up, insulin goes up. This is where the problem begins.
When insulin shoots up, the precursor to serotonin, tryptophan, is allowed to enter the brain easier. Normally, tryptophan has to compete for entrance into the brain. However, an increase in insulin decreases the competition thereby making it much easier for tryptophan to find its way into the brain. Once inside the brain, tryptophan becomes serotonin which becomes melatonin. Serotonin and melatonin calm the brain and are responsible for being tired after eating.
Stopping the Insulin Surge
The first step you need to take to avoid feeling tired after eating is looking at the food you eat. The food you consume is the single greatest contributor to raising your blood sugar and insulin. I can confidently tell you that if you are eating a meal higher in carbohydrates, especially simple carbohydrates that quickly elevate blood sugar, you are going to feel tired after eating. The opposite is also true. If you eat a meal that has little carbohydrates or does not significantly change your glucose, you probably stay energetic most of the time. So now that we have established food as the reason you feel tired after eating, let’s talk about what you can do in the next 30 days to change that.
What Can the Next 30 Days Do for You?
Now that we have established the importance of diet, it’s time to outline how to stop your current diet from zapping your energy. Your current diet is causing blood sugar and insulin to elevate. So you need a new approach that prevents these elevations. According to several studies, a Paleo Diet outperforms traditional healthy diet recommendations for blood sugar control, even in diabetics. This means if you adhere to the Paleo Diet, you are going to control glucose and insulin and end that feeling of being tired after eating. So let’s detail the next 30 days, one week at a time.
Week 1 – Avoid all Sweets and Desserts – This is the most critical step to ending that feeling of being tired after eating. I realize that cutting out the foods you are likely craving is not easy, mentally or practically. However, when you focus on proteins and plants in your diet, you will feel more satisfied after eating and not have the desire for sweets and desserts. People that take this one step almost always feel better before 30 days.
Week 2 – Start Your Day off with Protein – Protein first thing in the morning is irreplaceable for its ability to
start your day off regulating blood sugar and insulin. In fact, there is a high likelihood that if you start your day off with protein, you will have less desire for those sweets and desserts that are one of the biggest contributors to you feeling tired after eating.
Week 3 – Remove the Grains from Your Diet – Grains have several problems, but as it relates to how you feel after you eat, think about them like sugar. No other food category contains as many carbohydrates and contributes to blood sugar fluctuations as much as grains. Yes they may be whole grain, but when they make up a large portion of your diet, it does not matter. Take the grains out of your diet and you can expect to feel better all day long.
Week 4 – Increase the Consumption of Vegetables – No one is going to argue that we should all consume more vegetables in our diet. Yet most of use are not consuming nowhere near enough. There are many benefits to vegetables, but when it comes to avoiding feeling tired after eating, the main benefit is that this group of foods is not going to significantly contribute to insulin surges, especially if eaten in their raw form. If you are not sure how to implement this category, try simply incorporating a salad each day and expand from there.
Why You Cannot Wait Any Longer to Take Action
As noted by the American Diabetic Association, one of the early indicators of diabetes is extreme fatigue. Feeling tired after eating and wanting to take a nap during the middle of the day easily qualifies as extreme fatigue. I don’t want you to stay on a path towards diabetes. So for you to avoid developing diabetes, ask yourself what the next 30 days going to look like for you. Will you still be head bobbing or will you be wide awake and more productive when the clock reads 1:30?
If you are feeling frustrated with using medication to achieve normal thyroid levels, just know that you are not by yourself. There are others out there just like you that feel this same level of aggravation. Trying to find the right dose of medication for your thyroid can feel like being on a merry-go-round. You spin and spin in frustration as your next dose of thyroid hormone is based on information that you question is even telling the doctor how you feel. We have all heard the saying, “Listen to Your Gut.” And that is exactly what you should be doing as you take back control of your own health.
There is a better approach, and one that does not rely on old methods that rarely produce significant results. Medications, while needed for some, are not the best answer for most. There are more reliable ways to achieve normal thyroid levels, so let’s explore them.
Stop Looking at TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone)
You have likely become highly interested in what your TSH level is to manage your dose of medication. After all it is what your doctor is focusing on. Have you ever asked why? Have you ever checked your gas gauge to see how fast your car is running? Of course not. They are not directly related. Instead you look at the speedometer to know how fast you are going. The fuel level does not directly affect speed, but if you want to know the speed of your vehicle, the speedometer should have your attention. So then if you are interested in the amount of thyroid hormone that your producing, it makes more sense to look directly at thyroid hormone markers (T4, T3, Free T4, Free T3) rather than TSH. According to Dana Tretini, The Hypothyroid Mom, reliance on TSH is one of the main reasons that the thyroid gland is misdiagnosed.
TSH is not even a thyroid hormone. It is a hormone produced in the brain from the pituitary gland. It does not show the whole thyroid picture. Even more noteworthy is that the range recommended by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (0.3-3.0) does not match the range recommended by most labs (0.5-5.0). So even within professional circles there remains much debate. I can also add from my own observation that those that often feel good when using thyroid hormone have low TSH. TSH is not ideal for people using thyroid hormone, but rather for an initial diagnosis. Bottomline, stop worrying with TSH to determine if you have normal thyroid levels. It will only add to your frustration.
Non-Thyroid Hormones that Prevent Normal Thyroid Levels
How competitive is a baseball team with only one player on the field? They are not. One player cannot perform up to the level of 9 players. This is the way our hormones function. They do not act alone, but rather in concert. The response of one hormone has direct impact on others. In the case of the thyroid, three hormones well known to interfere include cortisol, estrogen and testosterone. The more changes in these hormones, the more change in thyroid. Even when you achieve normal thyroid levels on a lab test, you may still feel tired and different than you used to because of the affect of other hormones. End your frustration and look at the whole hormone picture.
You’ve Been Overlooking the Most Common Cause of Hypothyroidism
If all of this has not raised your level of frustration enough, this one is really going to send you over the edge. But don’t worry, I have a solution to help bring you back. The most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s, which is an autoimmune condition that decreases the production of thyroid hormone from the thyroid gland. In other words, your immune system is attacking your thyroid just like it attacks a virus. Until this attack stops, the hypothyroidism continues. The traditional approach is to give medications like Synthroid. This misses the mark. First, it does not address the core problem. Second, it is hard to find the right level of hormone because of the effects of the immune system that are not accounted for. So unless you want to stay frustrated with you current approach and trying to find just the right dose that will again change in the near future, you need another plan.
Autoimmune conditions are common nowadays. One thing I have learned from working with patients with autoimmune conditions is that food matters. Since one of the greatest challenges to achieving normal thyroid levels and function is your immune system attacking your thyroid, you have to eliminate the food triggers. There are 3 key groups of food you want to avoid. These are grains, soy, and sugar (refined foods). It is amazing that you can have normal thyroid levels by continually trying to tweak your dose of thyroid hormone, but by changing the foods that you are eating. This pattern of eating can be simply summed up as the Paleo Diet. The Paleo Diet is a proven strategy to help eliminate the problems with modern food that are preventing normal thyroid levels. The Paleo Diet Food List is a great place to help you get started with making the right choices to begin balancing the interaction between your thyroid and immune system.
I sympathize with your frustration. I hear it in the voices of my patients that have been through the medical cycle, still don’t have normal thyroid levels and are simply looking for some needed help. Leave your frustration at the door of the next doctor that tries to base your thyroid function on TSH. With all of the other more relevant thyroid hormones and over 300 other physical indications that can be associated with hypothyroidism, stop worrying about your TSH. Once you leap this hurdle, consider the actions of a few other hormones and make a few simple diet changes with the direction of your free Paleo Diet Food List, you will on track towards normal thyroid levels without the frustration and reliance on a medication.
After some diligent research, the most popular foods to avoid on a low thyroid diet are not cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, etc.) and antioxidant rich foods (fruit). Now I am betting that if you are like most of the patients that I see, you are perplexed as this is what many sources suggest. Nearly all health related associations like the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Association enthusiastically recommended vegetables and fruits. So does it make sense to you that these are good for several of the organs of the body, but not the thyroid? Exactly, and it didn’t make sense to me either! However, it does turn out that there are specific foods to be avoided as part of a low thyroid diet but it turns out to be something other than vegetables and fruits.
The Food You Absolutely CANNOT Eat on a Low Thyroid Diet
A low thyroid diet is best for those suffering from hypothyroidism, or insufficient thyroid hormones. The standard approach to hypothyroidism, often diagnosed by a single out of range lab test, is the medication Synthroid. While beneficial for some, in most cases this standalone therapy fails to offer a solution. Most hypothyroid cases are actually Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune condition. And when I say most, estimates range as high as 90%. The fatigue, lack of motivation, difficulty in completing your daily tasks and work, is not going to improve by trying to achieve a certain lab value with a medication. Instead, you need to be focused on the trigger of the autoimmunity (attack by your immune system) against your thyroid, or stated differently what is causing the Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
There are many triggers that can promote a reaction by the immune system. But a review of the scientific literature placed a close association between Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Celiac Disease. While most autoimmune conditions do not have a clearly defined cause, Celiac does. Gluten is the culprit in Celiac disease, and given the well established link between the two conditions, logic would have it that gluten is a trigger for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis as well. So food number one to avoid on a low thyroid diet is gluten, and better yet, all grains that may have it.
Beware of Soy if you have Low Thyroid Function
If you are reading this article, I am assuming you already have hypothyroidism, or at a minimum are concerned about it. Unfortunately that also likely means that you are feeling bound by the use of medication as the treatment option of choice. On the contrary however, you can become part of the solution for your thyroid based on the food that you choose, even beyond gluten. Another food linked to hypothyroidism and that should be avoided while following a low thyroid diet is soy. Soy has been praised for its health benefits, but you are not getting “The Whole Soy Story”. Contrary to media advertising proclaiming the health benefits of soy, this food, especially in the genetically modified form found in the United States, actually poses an increased risk to health. The low thyroid connection to soy is not new. According to Kaayla Daniel, PhD, CCN, and author of the book, The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America’s Favorite Health Food,“More than 70 years of studies link soy to thyroid disorders.”
Still not convinced soy should be avoided when eating a low thyroid diet. In that case, here is what you have to look forward to. Eating soy increases the likelihood that you will have to drag yourself out of bed in the morning when the alarm goes off, you will be lacking motivation, and that 10-20 extra pounds you keep seeing on the bathroom scale will not budge. According to one study, this increased risk is three-fold.
The Hidden Food that Is Preventing Thyroid Recovery
It is no big secret that sugar in excess is harmful to our bodies. However, what you may not realize is that there is also a strong like between hypothyroidism and insulin resistance, a pre-disease state characterized by abnormal blood sugar that can lead to diabetes. Blood sugar is made worse by the consumption of carbohydrates and sugars in excess. This is often not difficult to do as sugar is commonly hidden in many foods to enhance the flavor, especially those that may be labeled as fat free.
Healing the thyroid and having a chance of freeing yourself of the use of medication that does not address your core problem is highly unlikely with routine sugar consumption. Hypothyroidism is both promotes abnormal blood sugar and it also a cause. It can become a cruel cycle to be trapped in. So ask yourself, is eating that tasty desert worth feeling sluggish and drained of energy all day? If you don’t think so, then beware of the sugars and refined foods that like to creep their way into your low thyroid diet.
The Low Thyroid Diet Myth
I recently had another clinician ask inquisitively, “Do you find broccoli, cauliflower and similar foods to be a problem for your patients with hypothyroidism?” My answer, “No, I don’t.” I see many patients with hypothyroidism and promote a Paleo Diet for them that is balanced and free of grains. Even with the consumption of cruciferous vegetables and fruits high in antioxidants, they consistently get better. There is little evidence supporting the avoidance of cruciferous vegetables. In fact, there is growing evidence highlighting the benefits of some of the compounds found in these foods to support functions such as detoxification.
Your choice of food is your first step to improving the health of your thyroid. The notion that you should avoid foods for the thyroid that are beneficial for multiple other systems in the body seems to be missing the forest for the trees. The foods that you should avoid to help your thyroid rebound are not cruciferous vegetables, but rather gluten-containing grains, soy and sugars (refined foods). We all like more bang for the buck. If you want the most bang for your buck when it comes to choosing the right foods as part of your low thyroid diet, take advantage of the Paleo Diet food list and join others that are losing weight, feeling like they used to and getting more done each day.
The benefits of red wine have often been reported, but do they really exist. To me, the question is not so much about whether or not red wine has benefits. I think the evidence is pretty clear that it does. The question is whether or not the benefits cease to exist beyond a particular amount of alcohol consumed. After all, we are all human and as the proverbial saying goes, “We want to have our cake and eat it too.” Or in the case of wine, we want to have all the benefits of red wine without any of the negative consequences. Of course this is a bit idealistic, but there is a middle ground.
Benefits of Red Wine
The benefits of red wine are often linked to its antioxidant effects. So therefore, if we are interested in its antioxidant effects, that means that oxidation, or pro-oxidants are what we are trying to combat. Oxidation is also referred to as inflammation. Though often considered negative, not all inflammation, or oxidation is bad. For example, when you eat a meal, oxidation occurs to help you make energy from the meal. So as an antioxidant, one of the primary benefits of red wine is to keep this oxidation under control.
Cardiovascular disease has long been one of the conditions most impacted by the benefits of red wine. Red wine through its antioxidants, often called polyphenols, reduces the inflammatory onset that often puts this disease in motion. The benefits of red wine don’t end with inflammation reduction though. It also has the ability to improve the ratio between the LDL and HDL cholesterol, what some often refer to as “bad” and “good” cholesterol, respectively. Likewise, it is also worth mention that red wine supports a moderate reduction in blood pressure, which may be related to both the antioxidants and alcohol. Collectively, red wine appears to halt cardiovascular disease onset, improve cholesterol and reduce blood pressure.
The benefits of red wine are not limited to the cardiovascular system. In fact, they are noted in multiple areas of the body. The immune system is more efficient and suffers less damage when challenged if it has sufficient antioxidants. This is in part because its DNA is protected. These benefits can come from diet, but red wine also shows them. Long term this has the possibility of reducing cancer risk.
Benefits of Red Wine Summary
- Protects against cardiovascular disease and reduces blood pressure
- Reduces LDL cholesterol and raises HDL cholesterol, even if on a cholesterol lowering medication
- Increases the resistance to damage against the immune system
- Lowers blood inflammatory indicators
- Protective against cancer
- Protects the red blood cells
Benefits of Red Wine Extract
There are instances when the benefits of red wine are negated by the presence of alcohol. If I state this differently, the benefits of red wine are not coming from the alcohol, but from the antioxidants in it. However, red wine extracts, often containing the potent polyphenols resveratrol and quercetin, can show profound benefit. The benefits of red wine extract include:
- Reduces intestinal inflammation
- Shuts down the inflammatory cascade associated with some autoimmune conditions
- May prevent or delay the progression of intestinal diseases
- Possible prevention and therapy for Alzheimer’s Disease
When do you Lose the Benefits of Red Wine
If you are drinking wine, then you are also consuming alcohol. This is not without consequence. In fact, alcohol increases oxidation. This effect is more pronounced when drinking away from a meal. So I told you early on that there was a way to get the benefits of red wine and consume it without it being a problem. The obvious part is to consume a reasonable amount of 1-2 drinks. The less obvious way to get the benefits of red wine is to consume it with a meal. It appears that the oxidation created from a meal is negated when consuming red wine. More available antioxidants equal less oxidation which results in less chronic disease and slower aging.
Again, you can go too far. In fact, many of the benefits of red wine are completely lost when drinking more than 1-2 drinks per day. Actually it is worse than that. Not only do you lose the benefits, but you also begin to create problems. For example, cardiovascular disease risk increases in those that consume a higher amount of alcohol.
Get the Benefits of Red Wine without the Red Wine
Given some of the inherent risks associated with alcohol consumption, it is not generally recommended that someone who abstains from drinking start drinking to derive the health benefits. Rather the use of red wine extracts is a suitable alternative. After all, it is the antioxidants in the red wine that are responsible for the benefits of red wine, not the alcohol. Fortunately most of these antioxidants can be found in a supplemental form now. The use of a combination of these antioxidants is often best as that is how they are derived in nature, but even when studied separately, they show profound benefit. Lastly, don’t forget that while antioxidants can be found from red wine and its extracts, a diet rich in colorful plants like the Paleo Diet is the best starting point to enhance your antioxidant abilities and reduce inflammation.
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A folate deficiency is likely one of the biggest thieves when it comes to your health. Folate, also known as B9, is a significant player in how your body produces energy. Folate is sometimes called folic acid, but this is not technically accurate (more on this to come). For the purpose of our conversation, a folate deficiency robs your body of energy. We often think about energy as just how we feel on a day to day basis. If we feel good, then we say we are energetic. If we wake up tired, we say that we are fatigued. Most the patients that I see come in complaining about some levels of fatigue. It is common. Since a folate deficiency is often a cause of fatigue, this is one of the first things that are we look for. The good news is that a folate deficiency is generally pretty easy to fix.
What is a Folate Deficiency?
A folate deficiency is simply nothing more than a lack of sufficient levels of B9. That is the simplified answer. If all you are interested in is optimizing your health, then correcting a folate deficiency is nothing more than taking some folate, or B9. Folate is a vitamin that is safe to take, especially if taken with B12. However, if you want to understand a folate deficiency at a deeper level, it can have many significant effects that have the potential to cause lasting damage to the body. The most common example of this is altering your DNA. Having a folate deficiency can change your genetic makeup and cause mutations in your genes. Such mutations produced damaged tissue and you don’t heal well. This is one of the reasons that a folate deficiency can be associated with cancer. A folate deficiency is also associated with depression, anemia, heart disease, high blood pressure, poor detoxification and anxiety.
How a Folate Deficiency Robs Your Energy
As I mentioned, folate is needed for energy production. Without it, you don’t efficiently deliver oxygen to where it needs to go to be burned for energy. Think of this like the air filter on your car. If you cannot get air through the air filter because it is dirty, then you don’t have enough oxygen to burn with your gas to make the motor work efficiently. As a result your gas mileage suffers and your engine has less performance. Having a folate deficiency is like having a dirty air filter. Lack of oxygen equals an inefficient burn for your “metabolic engine”. When your metabolism is not producing enough energy, not only do you feel tired, but you also don’t think clearly, you don’t lose weight as easily and you are more prone to holding on to toxins that are going to make you fat. Clearly you do not want a folate deficiency robbing your energy.
Is a Folate Deficiency the Same as a Folic Acid Deficiency?
In short, a folate deficiency is not the same as a folic acid deficiency. In fact, there is actually no such thing as a folic acid deficiency. The reason is that the body does not have a need for folic acid. The body has a need for folate. This may seem like a small difference, but it is actually quite large. How large you might ask? Well, too much folic acid, as opposed to folate, could be the difference between developing colon cancer. That is significant. Folic acid is synthetic. Folate is natural. The bottom line is that if you are trying to correct a folate deficiency, do not use folic acid. It is best to use only folate to correct a folate deficiency.
Folate Deficiency Linked to Poor Diet
The standard American diet is a significant contributor to a folate deficiency. Folate should easily be found in the diet. In fact, folate gets its name from foliage, or plants. Plants are where we find folate. Unfortunately, plants with color have become deficient in the standard American Diet. As a result, this dietary pattern sets one up for a folate deficiency. A folate deficiency can be easily avoided by eating a Paleo Diet. The Paleo Diet is high in foliage and supplies an ample amount of folate among its many other benefits. And for those that want to correct their folate deficiency faster and start feeling more energy right away, a high quality folate supplement is the best solution.
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The MTHFR test and the significance of MTHFR had little meaning in healthcare until recently. And while many patients and clinicians are seeing the benefits of undergoing an MTHFR test, it is still not order often enough. The MTHFR test can change the course of care and the decisions that providers make for their patients. In my own experience, I have found the MTHFR test to be a valuable tool that can support the decision making process for treatment. Without it, there is not a full understanding of the influences on one of the most common nutrients, folate (B9).
What Can I Learn from an MTHFR Test?
The MTHFR test provides direct information about the genetic influence on arguably the most important enzyme related to folate. MTHFR, or methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, is the enzyme responsible for carrying out the last step in production of active folate, or 5-MTHF. (It’s not hard to see why acronyms are used most of the time as long as some of these names are.) Most dietary and supplemental folates, as well as folic acid, have to be converted to active folate. If you are unable to manufacture active folate, the crucial process of methylation is impaired.
The value of the MTHFR test is in helping you understand how your genetic influence the activity of this conversion process. When ordering the MTHFR test, the primary goal is to determine if there are mutations. A mutation alters the function of the enzyme and slows the conversion process. This is generally a concern as the number of stressors we endure increases and we have a higher demand for active folate. In today’s world, the demand for active folate is very high. This means that the results of the MTHFR test are extremely relevant. The more mutations the MTHFR test uncovers, the more difficult it is to produce active folate and the more impact the environmental stressors have.
Understanding the Results of the MTHFR Test
There are two areas that are often assessed on the MTHFR test known simply as 677 and 1298. These are referring to locations in your genome. At each location you have a pair of amino acids, one from mom and one from dad. Depending on the combination of them, you can be said to have a mutation if your profile does not meet the optimal pattern for normal function of the enzyme. If you have one wrong amino acid at 677, you have about 60% normal function of the MTHFR enzyme. If your MTHFR test shows that you have two amino acids that are wrong at the 677 location, then you are down to about 30% normal function.
When the MTHFR test shows that 1298 has the wrong amino acids in place, the outcomes are less significant than 677. However, this does not mean that they do not have profound effects. One wrong amino acid at 1298 and you are at about 80% efficiency of MTHFR. Two wrong amino acids create an enzyme of about 60% efficiency. Now here is the eye opening part. When you combine the effects of 677 and 1298, the results are amplified. The efficiency of the enzyme becomes even less depending on the outcome seen on the MTHFR test. Of course as I mentioned early, this has to be looked at in the context of the environmental influences. Just a short list of these is the amount of toxins in your environment, the foods you eat, especially the standard American diet, the balance of your hormones, and your nutritional status.
Undergoing a MTHFR Test
The MTHFR test is not a difficult test. Samples for assessment are either collected through saliva or blood, with both yielding equally good results. The thing that many of my patients like about the MTHFR test, as well as any other genetic test that we offer, is that it is a one-time test. Your genetics do not change, so once you perform the MTHFR test and work with a qualified healthcare practitioner to help you understand the results, you have a pretty good idea of how to manage it long term. The success in managing the results from the MTHFR test is in large part aided by knowing your folate levels inside of the cell. Since this is much different than a standard folate blood test, I often recommend looking at micronutrient levels. Conveniently, the lab that performs the micronutrient assessment is also the one I use for the MTHFR test. With the simplicity of the test and the ability to literally use the information for a lifetime to help offset chronic disease and feel better, why would you not undergo a MTHFR test?
The worst dog food label is often the one that can seem the most difficult to read. Even when the foods are names you recognize, you are still left wondering about some of the ingredients. I know for me, when I the worst dog food label, I was often left wondering, are dogs actually supposed to be eating this stuff. For the most part, the answer is NO!
As I have proclaimed in other articles that I have written, dogs are supposed to be just as Paleo as we as humans are. Your inside dog may eat his quarry out of bowl in the kitchen these days, but his demand for high quality real food as close to that found in nature is still there. So to that end, I visited with my friend Christine Gietzen over at Paleo Pet Goods again. I am always amazed at what she has to teach me about what can be found on the worst dog food label. Here is what I learned on my last trip to the store.
Grains are Often the First Ingredient on the Worst Dog Food Label
Grains are often the first ingredient on the worst dog food label. Now wait a minute. I am be missing something, but I don’t ever recall my dogs having a “grain tooth”. In fact, if you have seen some of my videos shot on the farm you will see my dogs walking in wheat and corn fields with zero interest in eating anything. Moreover, while hunting I have watched a close relative of the canine, the fox, walk all over soybean and corn fields and never pay any attention to the grain. Clearly dogs don’t need grains; which begs the question, why is grain the first ingredient on the worst dog food label? The most common grains are wheat, oats, rice, barley, and corn. They are included for two reasons. They are cheap and a filler. Keep in mind that this is often the first or second ingredient on the worst dog food label. That means that it is the first or second most abundant ingredient in the product.
Worst Dog Food Label Ingredient as a Cause of Allergies
Just as with humans, the further that our dogs get away from their natural diet, the more likely they are to develop health problems. The most common example of this is allergies. So often, the inclusion of the worst dog food label ingredients such as wheat and corn are the stimulus for allergies to develop. When the dog’s immune system recognizes a food as unnatural its inherent response is to develop a response. This is what we witness when a dog scratches or chews on its feet. Since these worst dog food label ingredients are the primary cause, avoidance of these allergens is the first step to helping your furry friend.
Worst Dog Food Label Reveals Artificial Ingredients
Worst dog food labels will often reveal ingredients that are manipulative to our animals. Our pets use their instincts to eat. They are not like humans. We use logic. However, God designed dogs to use their senses to guide their dietary choices. Dog food manufacturers understand the instinctual intelligence of animals and realize that without adding artificial flavor enhancers, sometimes called palatizers, dogs would not eat grains and other natural ingredients easily found on the worst dog food label. I don’t know about you, but this just torques my chain. After all, let’s just call it what it is. They are putting something in the dog food to fool the animal’s senses so that they can make higher profits on unhealthy, non-nutritive ingredients. This affect can be so strong that some dogs have trouble switching back to the diet their instincts tell them to eat.
Options to Avoiding the Worst Dog Food Label Ingredients
Many of my patients find that when transitioning to a Paleo Diet they are shopping at different locations. The same is true when trying to avoid the ingredients seen on the worse dog food label. The pet supply chains are not going to carry the food you are looking for. Many of the worst dog food label ingredients mentioned above can be found in these stores. You have to think outside of the box. This is where specialty vendors like Paleo Pet Goods with conscientious owners like Christine come in.
Start with the first ingredient. As we mentioned, the first ingredient on the worst dog food label is often grain. Rather than grain, this should be a human grade meat source. Our dogs need sufficient amounts of protein. Meat meets these criteria, not items like wheat and corn. And if you are looking for a safe palatizer to entice your dog to eat, adding meat to a quality kibble is a great stimulant. Or better yet, there is always the option of feeding wild and domesticated meats in its raw form. This is a real treat for your dog. Just ask my yellow lab collie mix who will eat just about anything when you add pheasant to it. It puts them back in touch with their primal instincts. After all, nothing says Paleo like raw.
If you are looking for additional information to stay away from the ingredients on the worst dog food label, a great resource is Dog Food Advisor.
If you are considering MTHFR testing, one of the following probably applies to you.
- You are dealing with a symptom or disease that you have learned may be correlated to MTHFR
- A family member has a MTHFR variant and you are wondering if it applies to you
- You have learned about MTHFR from others and you are now curious if MTHFR testing can reveal that you have a gene variant
MTHFR testing provides great insight into many aspects of our health, so knowing your risk can be valuable.
What Will MTHFR testing Tell Me?
Before we can understand exactly what MTHFR testing will tell us, we have to first understand what MTHFR is. MTHFR is an enzyme; therefore it carries out a metabolic, or bodily, process. The full name of MTHFR is methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. The reductase is the critical part of this name. Simply, it allows for the conversion of inactive forms of folate over to the active form of folate known as 5-MTHF (5-methyltetrahydrofolate). State another way, it reduces, hence the name reductase, inactive folates down to active folate. The inability of this enzyme to function adequately is sometimes thought of as a MTHFR deficiency, but this is not accurate. The enzyme is present, so it is not truly deficient. Rather the enzyme is not able to carry out its function at the highest capacity. It is better stated as an efficient enzyme.
MTHFR testing will provide two pieces of information. The first is your genetic profile. Your genes dictate the activity of MTHFR. With most MTHFR testing, you are concerned about two primary locations within your genes conveniently named 677 and 1298. These two gene locations appear to have the most influence over the activity of MTHFR. MTHFR testing allows you to see the makeup of these two locations and if a variant exists. Variants found on MTHFR testing are also called mutations or SNPs (pronounced “snips”). At each one of these locations you can have 3 outcomes, often referred to as negative (the ideal profile meaning that you are negative for a mutation), heterozygous (one amino acid has been misplaced in the coding), or homozygous (both amino acids have been misplaced in the coding). The location at 677 can have any of these outcomes and the 1298 location can have any of these three outcomes. MTHFR testing can suggest the cumulative impact of mutations from both of these locations.
This leads to the second point that MTHFR testing can illustrate. If you have a mutation or combination of mutations, the efficiency of your enzyme is going to change. If you have no mutations on your MTHFR testing, you have 100% efficiency of your MTHFR enzyme. However, if you have mutations at 677, the activity of the enzyme decreases. If this is compounded by adding in 1298 mutations, now the enzyme is even less efficient. The more mutations that are present, the less efficient the enzyme and likely the more critical that you know about them so you can compensate for it as needed.
Is MTHFR Testing Worth the Time?
Without question MTHFR testing is worth your time. MTHFR testing provides you with the information about the most critical part of an important process known as methylation. Methylation is important for several processes including replicating new DNA, repairing tissue, keeping some aspects of inflammation under control, detoxification and production of chemicals within the brain. Many steps are involved in methylation, however the one that appears the most critical is at MTHFR. If MTHFR testing concludes that MTHFR mutations are a part of your genes, there is a strong chance that you may not be methylating adequately. This is important because with all of the challenges that our environments present us with in this day and age, the ability to methylate has never been more essential. No methylating could mean the difference between replicating healthy DNA or dysfunctional DNA. It could also be the difference between removing toxins that can damage your health and create inflammation or accumulating them.
How Do I Undergo MTHFR Testing
The process of undergoing MTHFR testing is fairly simple. It can easily be assessed from a blood test or saliva sample. Several companies offer this type of testing now due the importance that has been placed on MTHFR. All of these companies do a good job, however my preference is SpectraCell Labs. Their report is very straightforward and provides clear points as to the effects of MTHFR mutations and while also showing an estimate of what the decline in function of the enzyme is.
What To Do with MTHFR Testing Information
MTHFR testing is best reviewed with a qualified healthcare provider. By its nature, genetic information is complex and outcomes from gene mutations are not generally “black and white”. There tends to be a lot of gray due to the effects of other genes and environmental triggers. In my practice, MTHFR testing is accompanied by nutrient testing and assessment of the environmental triggers that can have direct impact on not just MTHFR, but the whole methylation process. Looking at all of this information together allows for the greatest utilization of the information from MTHFR testing. Moreover, it also helps prevent the application of the wrong therapy that can sometimes make symptoms worse.
A folic acid deficiency seems like something you would want to pay attention to. After all, folic acid is a B vitamin, and B vitamins are among the most popular supplements. The nutrient folic acid has gotten attention in years past. Most of this attention has been generated as a result of the need to prevent a folic acid deficiency and the complications that can occur with it.
What is a Folic Acid Deficiency?
In short, a folic acid deficiency is a bit of a misnomer. A folic acid deficiency is really a folate deficiency. Folic acid deficiency and folate deficiency sound similar, and they are, but the difference is huge.
There is some history to understand here, mostly as it relates to pregnancy. Neural tube defects, or incomplete closure of the tube that contains the spinal cord, were becoming more prolific. As a result, the government felt the need to intervene and attempt to prevent this from happening. Since the cause of this was linked to folate, the government solution was to use synthetic folic acid as a replacement for the folate. This seemed like an ideal solution. In fact, it was good enough that it decreased the number of infants born with neural tube defects dramatically. And of course you know how we as humans think. If a little is good, a whole lot more must be better.
Well it turns out that more folic acid is not a good thing, especially when you are not really treating a folic acid deficiency, but a folate deficiency. You see, folic acid is not a naturally occurring substance. You do not find it in nature anywhere. There is not a true place for it in the human body. In fact, the only source of folic acid is synthetic. In contrast, folate is a bioidentical nutrient. There are several systems in the body that are dependent on folate, just not folic acid.
Correcting a Folic Acid Deficiency Should be Easy
If you actually had a folic acid deficiency, correcting it would be very easy. All you would have to do is eat the standard American diet that is loaded with refined grains, and for the points I am making here about folic acid, probably better stated fortified grains. The whole idea that the food you are deriving from nature is so incomplete that you have to add things to it to make it “better” or “sufficient for human health” should on its own raise red flags. Since 1998, the United States has been fortifying food with folic acid, to correct the supposed folic acid deficiency, which you now know is actually a folate deficiency. Not only is this taking place in the United States, it is also taking place in around 50 other countries across the world. While neural tube defects have decreased, there is a less talked about dark side to folic acid fortification, especially if you are exceeding around 400mcg per day. Ironically the amount of folic acid recommended for child-bearing women is 400-800mcg.
The Result of Correcting a Folic Acid Deficiency
Correcting the supposed folic acid deficiency by supplementing the entire population seems risky. Rarely does a “one size fits all” approach make for good health care. In fact, in the case of supplementing folic acid through mandatory fortification of foods, it is a bad idea. The reason is that universal fortification increases the risk of some cancers. According to medical literature the progression of pre-existing cancers through the stages of severity is increased by the availability of folic acid. The form of cancer that appears to be the most impacted is colon cancer. In fact, in the United States and Canada, a rise in colorectal cancer was seen the following three years after the initiation of the fortification of foods. Clearly there is an upper limit to the amount of folic acid that you should be used.
Apart from affecting cancer outcomes, folic acid has the additional concerns of masking a B12 deficiency with the possible implication of affecting the red blood cells and anemias as well as degeneration of the nervous system. There is some concern also about interactions with certain classes of medications.
How to Address Your Folic Acid Deficiency
First, understand that you don’t have a folic acid deficiency. If you have a deficiency of B9, what you have is a folate deficiency. A folate deficiency is not uncommon and is something that I observe on testing routinely. As all of the aforementioned information lays out, if you are going to supplement for a “folic acid deficiency”, then you need to avoid folic acid and use folate for repletion. Folate has not been shown to have an upper limit to use. That seems fairly logical since it is a bioidentical nutrient that we easily find in nature. If you really want to easily avoid of folic acid and only ingest folate, this can be accomplished by limiting your diet to Paleo principles and staying clear of all processed foods.
Have you been feeding your family friend the worst dog food? It is actually easy to feed “man’s best friend” the worst dog food these days and not even realize it. Our animals are members of our family and lifelong companions to us that deserve better than eating the worst dog food. But if you are not aware of what is being put in dog food these days, you may not even be aware that you are putting your dog at risk.
Worst Dog Food Revealed
Not long ago, you will remember I posted an article with a picture of one of my sweet pups talking about the similarities between the diets of humans and dogs. We don’t eat exactly like they do and for the most part dogs are designed to eat a lot more protein than humans. The unfortunate thing that I uncovered was that many of the negative changes that have happened to the human food supply have spilled over into the dog food supply. As we all know, the human food supply is far from being ideal these days. The standard American diet is the norm, but a Paleo diet is ideal. The food industry has sacrificed food quality for profits. If you think this has stopped at the end of your fork, you would be wrong. Even worse, this same mindset is being applied to innocent animals that eat instinctively. That is why I can without hesitation say that if you are not up to speed on this topic and aware of what the dog food industry is doing, you are probably feeding your dog the worst dog food.
How do I know that your dog food is the worst? Well if you are feeding your dog subpar ingredients that are not fit for human consumption, then does the name of the brand really matter? No! All that matters is that it is not up to the quality that you should be feeding them.
What is in the Worst Dog Food?
What is in the Worst dog food? This may be one of those questions that you don’t really want to know that answer to. The worst dog food is the worst dog food for a reason. When I started my journey to find my dogs the best nutrition I could, I was blown away by what some manufacturers were out there passing off as dog food. My search landed me at my good friend Christine Gietzen’s store, Paleo Pet Goods. What an appropriate name! It was not long after striking up my first conversation with Christine that I knew she got it. She understood the Paleo concept and how to apply it to my dogs. Score! This is exactly what I was looking for.
Here are a few of the highlights that Christine shared with me that prevented me from feeding my beloved dogs the worst dog food.
- Most pet foods are not Paleo and contain a lot of grains. Dogs in nature do not eat grains!
- Dogs thrive on protein. The first ingredient should be animal based, not grain based.
- Mainstream pet foods can cause allergies due to consumption of common proteins. Having a non-traditional protein is a good option and not something that you are going to find in the worst dog food.
- Mainstream pet foods can cause damage to the gastrointestinal tract. This may even include some of those recommended by veterinarians. These foods may travel through the GI tract too fast or be thrown up.
- Complaints to the veterinarian such as biting at the paws, “hot spots” and itching may be a sign of a problem with the dog’s food. This can be associated with the grains and corn found in the worst dog food.
- There are many more as well.
Needless to say now, my hounds eat Paleo like I do now.
How Can you Feed “Man’s Best Friend” the Worst Dog Food?
Do you not have a conscience? It seems like those that keeping pushing the big name brand foods to our animals don’t. With just a few of the things that Christine was able to share, it is clear that your animals are not eating Paleo if you are feeding them the worst dog food. I shake my head sometimes when I am at the veterinarian and I see dogs and cats coming in that are overweight and need to be on insulin or have thyroid disorders that are caused by immune reactions. Are you serious? These are not conditions animals should have. It is clearly a result of their food intake. You have come to this site to learn about Paleo and stay up-to-date on the latest information to maintain your health. Don’t stop with just you and your family. Apply this same information to your pets as well. After all, they are family.