Dr Dans Natural Healing Center
Health Tips

Dr. Dan's Top Ten Power Foods

Dr. Dan's Top 10 Power FoodsWhat you eat makes all the difference in the world. But some foods just stand apart as being what we call "Power Foods". Below is a list of foods that have earned the distinction of being one of Dr. Dan's Top Ten Power Foods.

We invite you to take this challenge: Incorporate one of these Power Foods into your nutrition program each week for the next ten weeks and you will be well on your way to great nutrition!

Drumroll, please . . .

  1. Coconut Oil - virgin, organic, unrefined and cold-pressed oil. Coconut oil is great for cooking all kinds of food as it adds delicious flavor and has a high burn point. Coconut oil is a healthy addition to smoothies, and also can be used on the skin as moisturizer. This oil gives immediate energy, raises body heat, protects the gut and keeps insulin levels from rising. Try Green Pasture brand.*

  2. Butter -Pastured dairy cows yield butterfat loaded with Vitamins A & D, iodine and other essential nutrients. Not only does butter taste delicious, it's a good fat for our heart, brain, hormones and cells. Try Kerry Gold, Anchor brand.**

  3. Raw Milk - is a living food rich in colloidal minerals, sugars and fats with enzymes necessary for digestion and absorption, beneficial bacteria and lactic acid. Unheated butterfat prevents arthritic stiffness, assists with eczema and allergies. Pasteurized milk is sadly deficient in these nutrients. Brookford Farm, Rollinsford, NH has a distribution point in Exeter for their products. www.brookfordfarm.com

  4. Cod Liver Oil - Supplies essential fatty acids, plus Vitamins A & D, strengthens the immune system, nervous system and hormonal reactions. Try Green Pasture brand.*

  5. Sea Salt - Unrefined, high quality sea salt yields over 80 minerals crucial for enzymatic reactions requiring trace minerals in the body and supports the adrenal glands. Enhances flavors in food. Try Celtic Sea Salt brand.*

  6. Bone Broth - Excellent nutrition for bone health supplying most of the necessary minerals. Bone broth is very warming for the body in cool to cold weather. Choose pasture raised chicken bones (necks & feet, too!), beef or veal bones and follow recipes in Nourishing Traditions.***

  7. Raw Honey - Is unpasteurized, meaning that it's full of the natural enzymes, vitamins and nutrients, straight from the extractor of the concentrated nectar flowers. Use raw honey to replace refined sugars in the diet. *

  8. Apple Cider Vinegar - Aids in digestion of proteins, maintains a healthy gut, helps with allergies and asthma as well as osteoarthritis and bone spurs. Try Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar.*

  9. Nutritional Yeast - Replaces B vitamins except B12. Needed especially if there is a dietary history of eating refined sugar and flour that depletes the body of these vitamins. Try Radiant Life Nutritional Yeast.*

  10. Lacto Fermented Foods - Yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, kefir- tremendous foods for repairing and maintaining gut health, absorbing nutrients and keeping a healthy immune system. Try Real Pickles brand fermented vegetables.*

*Available at Dr. Dan's, at your local health food store or online

**Available at Market Basket, Trader Joe's and your local health food store

*** See Dr. Dan's December Newsletter on website for recipe

Reading Labels:  Less is More

As a general rule of thumb, avoid foods that even have a label.  Generally, healthier choices are foods that don’t have a label to begin with, such as eggs, vegetables, fruits, meats, raw milk, nuts, seeds and legumes.  However, when there is a nutrition label, less is more.

Food with a nutrition label and an ingredient list goes through some processing.  Processing a food takes it further from its original state, usually meaning that we get fewer nutrients from that food.  Choose nutrient dense, whole foods whenever you can with five or less ingredients on the label.

Five ingredients or less - give it a try!


Balancing Your Thyroid

Balancing Your ThyroidThe thyroid gland, located at the base of the neck, is the body’s workhorse.  It controls basal metabolism - the rate at which the body produces energy from food - and has a primary effect on overall energy levels.  It regulates digestion, oxygen consumption, body temperature and growth rate and brain development in children.  It also has a profound effect on mood, emotion, and cognition.

Additionally, when it contains enough iodine, the thyroid assists the immune system as it acts as an antimicrobial/antiseptic in cleansing all of the body’s blood that passes through the thyroid every 17 minutes.  Virtually all cells in the body have receptors for thyroid hormones.

In the U.S., 13 million people have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism (low thyroid activity) but closer to 50 million people exhibit symptoms of thyroid disease. Common symptoms include fatigue, muscle aches, joint pains, lethargy, memory loss, loss of concentration and mental sluggishness.

People with thyroid disease also exhibit symptoms of depression, cold extremities or a deep sense of cold, weight gain, menstrual irregularities, increased colds and flu, eczema, acne, and dry skin.  Also, changes in perspiration, hoarse voice, fullness in neck (goiter), puffy eyelids, hair loss, dry coarse hair, and carbohydrate/sweet cravings.

Whew!  Are you beginning to understand why a well-functioning thyroid is of paramount importance to your health?  So, what causes hypothyroidism?

The majority of people with thyroid disease have functional hypothyroidism due to:

  • Weakened adrenal glands from prolonged stress,
  • Estrogen dominance due to an estrogen/progesterone imbalance in women or estrogen/testosterone imbalance in men, and
  • Nutritional deficiencies.

Goitrogens from raw cruciferous vegetables (kale, broccoli) as well as soy milk and soy foods can cause a sluggish thyroid.  Synthetic B complex vitamins with thiamine negatively affect the thyroid as do inorganic calcium supplements like TUMS, calcium citrate, and oyster shell calcium.

Lastly, the hypothalamus-pituitary axis is frequently disturbed or disconnected by prior use of birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, and DHEA or testosterone replacement.  Why?  Hormone replacement in high doses sends the message to the thyroid that it needs to slow down or stop working.

Conventional diagnosis of hypothyroidism relies on testing results that identify elevated serum TSH with normal to low T4 or T3.  Typically, doctors believe thyroid symptoms are only relevant if thyroid serum lab work is abnormal.  Unfortunately, this causes a lot of misdiagnosis of hidden hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.

The common treatment for hypothyroidism is thyroid replacement in the form of synthetic T4, e.g., levothyroxine, levoxyl or synthroid.  Thyroid replacement is contraindicated if adrenal insufficiency is uncorrected because replacement of thyroid hormone only can exacerbate adrenal crisis or insufficiency.  This is the reason patients frequently feel better initially, but see many symptoms return after 3-6 months because the underlying issue of weakened adrenals has not been resolved.

Nutritional deficiencies are common in thyroid imblances.  The most obvious is iodine since T4 is 4 molecules of iodine and T3 is 3 molecules of iodine.  Appropriate levels of magnesium, selenium and essential fatty acids are also necessary.

Historically, Lugol’s Solution, (one to two drops) provided 5-10mg of iodine/iodide per day and was used during the late 1800s until the 1950s.   Also, the traditional Japanese diet provided 10 to 50mg of iodine per day via seaweed and seafood. 

Iodine is needed in other tissues….breast, ovaries, prostate, and lymphoid tissue.  We cannot live without iodine, yet many people feel they are allergic to it.  The allergic reaction is actually to the protein attached to it, most commonly, sea vegetables and shellfish.  Lugol’s solution and prolamine iodine have neither protein attached to it.

Another very common misconception is that iodine supplementation greater than 200mg/day will cause suppression of the thyroid gland.  Based on faulty research on rats in 1948, the “Wolff Charkoff effect” paved the way for pharmaceutical companies to sell more expensive drugs rather than inexpensive iodine.  Suppression of the thyroid did not occur using Lugol’s Solution or the traditional Japanese diet. 

Iodine loading can cause a detox reaction, so we need to go slowly.  Part of the detox reaction from iodine is from freeing up halides like chlorine, fluoride, and bromide as well as metals like mercury and cadmium that can affect the thyroid.
At Dr. Dan’s, we use Nutrition Response Testing to identify nutritional deficiencies that impact the thyroid.  Hair analysis is useful in monitoring calcium/potassium ratios which identify T3 imblances at a cellular level.  Iodine patch testing or morning spot urine testing of iodine can also be useful in identifying iodine deficiency.

Our goal is to heal the glands with whole food nutrition and specific focused nutrition supplementation to heal the thyroid, adrenal, and hypothalamus-pituitary axis.


Reversing Coronary Artery Disease

CAD is a degenerative condition that is the leading cause of death in men and women in the US. It accounts for more deaths than all other diseases combined. 3,000 people died of CAD in 1930, however now greater than 1,000,000 people die annually. Billions of dollars have been spent to manage it, yet the prevalence of heart disease continues to rise.

Arteriosclerosis is defined as deposits of fatty, fibrous plaques which narrow the blood vessels. This results in decrease oxygen and nutrients to tissue. In coronary artery disease this tissue is heart muscle.

Angina, unstable angina, and myocardial infarction (MI) are worsening stages of arteriosclerosis. Common causes are:

  • Nutritional deficiencies affecting arterial endothelium (vessel walls) and arterial musculature.
  • Inflammation resulting in formation of protective plaques
  • High blood sugar (diabetes), causing inflammation and plaques
  • High homocysteine levels
  • Prolonged stress, resulting in imbalance of adrenal hormones
  • Oxidation of LDLs
  • Ingestion of trans fats and rancid fats (most oil supplements are rancid)
  • Mega-doses of synthetic Vitamin C, which depletes copper and weakens large blood vessels
  • Excessive intake of polyunsaturated fats leading to free radical damage of cholesterol, inflammation, and plaques
  • Hypertension
  • Smoking
  • Infection
  • Conventional hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills
  • Intake of Synthetic Vitamin E

Symptoms of CAD in men present as chest pain, chest pressure, squeezing, numbness in arms, neck, shoulder, or jaw, irregular heart rhythm, shortness of breath, nausea, fatigue, restlessness, anxiety, sense of doom, faintness, disorientation, or excessive sweating.

For women, typical symptoms include unusual fatigue, shortness of breath, sleep disturbance, nausea, indigestion, dizziness, chest, back, or neck discomfort, upper abdominal pressure, anxiety, and cold sweats.

Both men and women can have silent heart attacks, meaning there are no obvious signs or symptoms. This is more common in elderly women and in diabetic patients. Conditions that mimic heart attacks include indigestion, gas, heartburn/reflux, musculoskeletal pain, and shingles. With symptoms, it is critical to go immediately to an emergency room. Half of all deaths occur within 3 to 4 hours of the onset of symptoms.

The rise of CAD parallels the introduction and practice of dietary changes that involve refined grains and hydrogenated oils. With the loss of nutrients and the addition of toxins and trans fats in our food, degenerative disease ensues.

Degenerative disease is the breaking down and malfunctioning of the body. As a living system, the body constantly regenerates itself and replaces cells daily. Poor quality foods, junk foods, refined foods, synthetic vitamins, inorganic minerals (e.g. TUMS), and toxic additives (such as preservatives, trans fats, bleach, pesticides, and hormones) all contribute to limiting the body’s capacity to heal itself. Current conventional medicine ignores and resists any suggestion that good nutrition is a must for the body to heal itself.

Currently, CAD is “managed”. Awareness and emergency responses to treatments have improved over the past several decades, yet the patient is left on multiple medications for life.

We need to acknowledge that we are an incredible living system. Our goal should be to prevent and reverse CAD. We need to ask what is missing (e.g. deficiencies, rest, exercise), and what is interfering or stressing the system (e.g. toxicities). We need to take care of these things and simply get out of the way to allow self regeneration and self healing to take place.

The deficiency syndrome for CAD begins with refined grains. B complex vitamins are removed during the refining process, but are necessary for proper nerve conduction, muscle tone of the heart, sugar metabolism and homocysteine production. E complex vitamins are also necessary for muscle tissue repair, oxygen conservation, and antioxidant production. Trace minerals and magnesium are lacking in refined grains, both needed for energy production, heart muscle function, heart rhythm, and blood vessel wall integrity.

Additionally, refined and hydrogenated oils result in loss of more E complex vitamins and essential fatty acids.

And finally, the production of fruits and vegetables from depleted soils, long term storage, and transportation of this food across great distances results in greatly diminished Vitamin C complex. Vitamin C complex is required for regeneration and repair of blood vessel walls and to increase oxygen-carrying capacity.

We need whole live foods to regenerate our bodies. Inorganic materials and high dose synthetic vitamins added to enrich depleted foods does not help a living system to repair itself.

The conventional medical view of CAD is based on the “lipid hypothesis” formed in the 1950s that cholesterol and saturated fats in our diet cause atheromas/ plaques leading to blockage of coronary blood flow. Loss of oxygen and nutrients causes myocardial tissue death. More recently, plaque rupture with blockage downstream from plaque emboli also causes blockage.

One of the issues with cholesterol is that heart attacks occur with high, moderate, or even low cholesterol. For example when the drug Zetia was used to lower cholesterol 10% to 15% there was no change in CAD events/deaths. With statin drugs there is a small absolute change in events and deaths. This is due to the fact that statin drugs also lower vascular inflammation. Though when total cholesterol went below 160 all cause mortality increased.

The lipid hypothesis was based on Ancel Keys’ work. He chose 7 of 22 countries to prove that saturated fats are associated with CAD. His research did not hold up if he included all 22 countries or by adding Switzerland to his study. In traditional diets that included butter, cream, cheese, lard, tallow, coconut oil, and meats there was no association with CAD. In fact, the director of the Framingham Heart Study stated that those who ate the most cholesterol and traditional fats lived longer and had less CAD.

When cholesterol is elevated and vascular markers for inflammation are negative, we need to look for other reasons of why the body has adapted with elevated cholesterol. This means checking for where cholesterol is needed as a necessary building block…..stress hormones for adrenal glands, sex hormones for the gonads and adrenals, bile salts for fat digestion, Vitamin D, and cell wall structure as well as for myelin sheath and brain function.

Unfortunately, statin drugs block other chemical pathways in the body as well as cause cancer in rat studies. Significant adverse drug reactions occur with statin drugs….chronic muscle aches, fatigue, mood memory and depression changes, impaired immune function, liver damage, and increase congestive heart failure.

Finally, since the 1950s the U.S. has promoted a low-fat high-carb food pyramid. Even though the consumption of saturated fats has decreased, the incidence of heart disease climbed from 30% to 45% 50 years later.

At Dr. Dan’s, we aim to heal the body with whole food nutrition and specific nutrition supplementation for the heart, circulation, and for handling inflammation in the vessels, and lactic acidosis in myocardial tissue. We aim to decrease stress and add exercise with our Healthy Steps Program. Then, add love with family and time in the kitchen.

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The Sugar Tale . . . The Ending is Not So Sweet

SugarThe human body is comprised of approximately:

• 60% water
• 38% protein and fats
• 2% - 4% carbohydrates

Yet  Americans consume between 30 – 40% of their food intake as carbohydrates/sugar.  Seems more than a little out of balance, doesn’t it? 

Consider these facts:

  • In the year 1900, the average person consumed between 3 – 5 lbs. of sugar each year.

  • In the year 2000, the average person consumed 175 lbs. of sugar each year.

  • Refined sugar is highly processed and devoid of nutrients that are contained in sugars consumed in their natural form, like fruits and vegetables. When eaten, sugar drains the body of the vitamins, minerals and enzymes needed to process and balance it. Long term, this results in chronic degenerative illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis, diabetes and more.

  • Sugar and carbohydrates act as kindling for our internal combustion. This means that they burn quickly and require frequent replacement. Contrast this to fats, which act as logs on the fire and burn slowly keeping our energy more constant and longer lasting.

  • Mood and energy follow sugar/blood glucose levels, so there needs to be a steady flow of fuel to maintain a balance. A “sugar high” is the exact opposite of what we are going for here.

  • Sugar and other simple carbohydrates are designed to store excess energy for use during the winter. In our society, winter never comes so our carbohy-drate stores just continue to grow. When we consume more carbohydrates than our body needs for immediate use, excess carbohydrates are converted into triglycerides and stored as fat.

  • Skipping meals create stress on the adrenal glands, which, in turn, excrete cortisol and adrenaline. Both hormones are needed to maintain blood glucose levels, however too much cortisol creates insulin resistance and weight gain, suppresses the immune system and irritates the gut and too much adrenaline raises blood pressure and stresses the cardiovascular system.

  • Sugar, as in simple and complex carbohydrates, comes in many different forms.

    For example, breakfast foods such as:

    • Cold Cereals • Bagels • Pancakes • Waffles • Toast with Jam or Jelly • Fruit Juice and,

    high glycemic fruits such a bananas, watermelon, cantaloupe and mangos are high in simple carbohydrates.

    Dinner menus that typically include pasta, potatoes and rice add another load of starch/glucose for the body to deal with.

    And let’s not forget sodas and sweet drinks that are loaded with sugar as well!

If you feel you could use some help incorporating these Four Pillars into your everyday life, make an appointment at Dr. Dan’s and we will guide you along the path to good health. We are here to help!

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Staying Healthy Through the Holidays

These tips will help to keep you going strong all season long.

Healthy Family
  • Eat warming foods such as soups and stews and root vegetables. Add in more chicken broth with garlic and wild mushrooms (shitake, oyster, maitake). Garlic and wild mushrooms are antibacterial and antifungal and a great defense against colds and flu.

  • Avoid excess carbohydrates - the more sweets and carbs you eat, the more suppressed your immune system will be.

  • Take your cod liver oil to ensure adequate vitamins A & D

  • Drink raw milk, cook with organic, virgin and cold pressed coconut oil, organic extra virgin olive oil and pastured butter. Avoid processed vegetable oils. Good oils have antibacterial and antifungal properties to help to keep you safe from unwelcome invaders.

  • Add lacto-fermented foods to your diet -yogurt, sauerkraut, kombucha, and kefir, to keep your digestive system purring.

  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and flush toxins from your body.

  • Try to sleep a little more. Sleep acts as a great rejuvenator for your body. Do your best to fit in a nap whenever you can.

  • Be in touch with your body. Let your mind rest and do some yoga.

  • Of course, frequent hand washing when traveling or with co-workers and family is key.

  • This is the depth of winter. Slow Down to be in sync with the season. Relax and enjoy spending time with your family and loved ones.

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Building Healthy Bones With Nutrition

Osteoporosis is the thinning of our bones as we age leading to fragility, loss of height from vertebral compression fractures and hip fractures. Bones are not static; they rely on a process involving a delicate balance of bone formation and breakdown to maintain a healthy state.

The process is in favor of bone formation up until the age of 30 to 40.After this point, the process tips in favor of bone breakdown, usually accelerating at menopause and andropause (male menopause). This is due to the decline of estrogen, progesterone and other hormones.

Bone Health

Risk for osteoporosis increases with age, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, alcohol use and a family history of osteoporosis. Illnesses like thyroid disease, diabetes, adrenal impairment, kidney disease, and rheumatoid arthritis also contribute to the risk.Additionally, medications such as prednisone, warfarin, and anti-seizure medication add to this risk as well. Current treatment involves bone density testing (DEXA scan), which looks at density of bone but not fragility. When thinning of the bones is detected, the common treatment is to prescribe medications such as fosamax, boniva or actonel that work by inhibiting the osteoclast cells that normally gobble up old bone while leaving the osteoblast cells alone to do their job of making new bone. Treatment also includes supplementation with Calcium Citrate and Vitamin D .

What results is a gradual build up of bone density, as old bone does not break down as intended. These drugs stay in the bone for many, many years - thus the need for only once monthly or yearly dosing frequency.

What is the alternative?

Our goal at Dr. Dan's is to rebuild existing living bone while normal remodeling (osteoblast building and osteoclast breaking down) of the bone continues uninterrupted. This results in increased bone density and increased tensile strength. To achieve this, we recommend specific essential nutrients and live active enzymes necessary for stimulating healthy bone growth.

It is common practice that a bone density test is done every 1-2 years. I recommend performing a bone density test prior to treatment and also ask if patients have been taking bone medications prior to treatment. I also recommend performing a urine test at 6-month intervals to determine changes in bone density.

What Really Causes Elevated Cholesterol?

What really causes elevated cholesterol levels? Let's take a look.

The body needs cholesterol to patch blood vessel walls, for production of adrenal stress hormones, sex hormones and Vitamin D and for production of bile salts for fat digestion. Cholesterol also maintains cell structure and is a necessary part of every cell wall.

We know that the body is always trying to return to a state of balance (homeostasis). When cholesterol levels are elevated, we need to ask why? Why is the body reacting or adapting like this by increasing cholesterol levels? And what part of the body is asking for cholesterol?

Most often, it is because inflammation is present within the body - tendonitis, arthritis, gingivitis, prostatitis, anything ending in "itis". When inflammation occurs, the body reacts by springing into action in an effort to bring down the inflammation - to return to a state of homeostasis.

The liver, which makes 85% of our cholesterol, promptly sends out cholesterol in the form of LDL to handle the "itis". HDL is the cholesterol coming back to the liver saying "I did my job."

How do you know if you have inflammation within your body that is not obvious to you? Typically, if your C-Reactive Protein (a marker for inflammation which can be detected with a CRP blood test) is elevated, then you know that inflammation is in the body and blood vessels. This is very concerning in determining potential cardiovascular injury. So take care of this inflammation by treating "itis".

Get a blood test for CRP for inflammation, have your DHEA-S for adrenals, free sex hormone levels and 25-OH tested. Then, depending on the results, use nutritional supplementation to support the part of the body that required more cholesterol in the first place.

The answer to elevated cholesterol is not cholesterol lowering drugs - that doesn't solve the underlying problem. Support healthy cholesterol levels in the body and bring down inflammation. Once you do, you'll find your cholesterol levels will normalize.

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Healthy Digestion

Digestion of fresh, whole foods is the key to our health and well being.
The first moment of heartburn, reflux, bloating or burping, take notice - your body is trying to tell you something. You'll be surprised to learn that 90% of all excess acid symptoms actually result from a lack of acid in the stomach, which is very common with aging.

What feels like acid is actually undigested (or improperly digested) food sitting in the stomach

Treating these symptoms with an antacid like Zantac, Pepcid, or worse, Prilosec or Nexium adds insult to injury in a very big way. Why is that?

These products reduce stomach acid and prevent the breakdown of proteins such as beef, fish and chicken. They also prevent or limit the signal for release of digestive enzymes from the pancreas that is crucial for digestion of carbohydrates. And, as if that's not enough, they reduce the release of bile from your liver and gallbladder necessary for digestions of fats. In fact, they do the exact opposite of what you need to do to eliminate your digestive upset. If undigested food is the culprit, why in the world would you want to inhibit the digestive process?

TIP: Try an old Vermont farmer's remedy of taking 1 Tbsp. of apple cider vinegar in a small glass of warm water before dinner or any large meal. If your symptoms improve, then you need acid for better digestion. If the symptoms worsen, then the lining of your stomach needs to be healed and/or you need some gallbladder/bile support. In Chinese Medicine, this issue is called "liver invading stomach."

TIP: Put a squeeze of fresh lemon in the water you sip throughout the day. Also, get tested for Standard Process nutritional supplement products such as Gastrex, HiPep, Aloe Vera Juice, AF Betafood at Dr. Dan's Natural Healing Center. Remember my motto - Eat Well, Digest Better.

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Coconut Oil for Good Health!

Instead of using olive, canola or vegetable oil to sauté your favorite vegetables, meat or eggs, try using coconut oil. Organic, virgin, cold-pressed and unrefined coconut oil is great for cooking either at low or high heats, a much healthier cooking oil than processed canola or vegetable oil, and tastes delicious!

Coconut oil is a great source of the fat that our bodies burn rapidly for energy. It assists in vitamin and mineral absorption, and provides fuel for the brain. Pick up a jar and try it in your favorite smoothie recipe, in a cup of oatmeal - even on your skin!