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Three Steps to a Healthier Detox

Summer is here!  Sunshine, beach days and celebrations with friends and family.  Are you ready to get back out and about after the long days of COVID lockdown?  I am!  

With Summer celebrations often comes food, later nights and increased alcohol consumption - and all of this can take a toll on your health.  Taking simple steps to enhance your body's detoxification pathways can help to keep you in balance.  In the coming weeks I'll be outlining simple techniques to DETOX and RECHARGE this Summer - but first let's start with the basics.


TOXINS & DETOXIFICATION
We are exposed to toxins on a daily basis, both from our environment and through our lifestyle choices. Within each of us exists a natural and complex system of metabolic detoxification that works every day to identify and remove toxins from the body. Many factors can contribute to an accumulation of toxins in the body, including:

  • Exposure to pesticides, plastics and industrial chemicals
  • Heavy metal exposure
  • Bacterial overgrowth in the gut resulting in endotoxin exposure
  • Poor food choices
  • Overconsumption of alcohol
  • Dehydration
  • Lack of physical activity

Cultures around the world have long believed that the accumulation of toxins in the body is an underlying cause of a variety of health problems. For centuries, various cleansing and detoxification therapies have been used to minimize toxin exposure and aid the body’s ability to break down and excrete toxins.

DO YOU NEED TO “DETOX”?
Our bodies are actively detoxing on a daily basis, however sometimes they have trouble keeping up! When our natural system of metabolic detoxification becomes overburdened, toxins accumulate in the body. These toxins can cause tissue damage and may interfere with normal cellular processes. Common symptoms of toxic overload include:

  • Fatigue/low energy
  • Poor Sleep
  • Chronic constipation
  • Abdominal pain, gas and bloat
  • Increased allergy symptoms
  • Headaches
  • Itchy skin/rashes
  • Bad breath
  • Confusion or “brain fog”
  • Anxiety

If you are experiencing symptoms of toxic overload it may be time to consider a detoxification program. Such a program generally involves:

  • Reducing exposure to toxins.
  • Supporting and enhancing the body’s natural detoxification systems.
  • Encouraging the removal of toxins from the body.

While there are many approaches to detoxification and many programs available, I focus on three simple steps to ensure a safe and healthy detox.

THREE STEPS TO A HEALTHIER DETOX  

STEP ONE - FOCUS ON NUTRITION
I am generally not a fan of “juice cleanses”. Not only are such programs lacking in fiber and protein, they can also upset hormone balance by raising cortisol and disrupting blood sugar regulation.

For effective detoxification, I prefer to focus on nutrients that support the body‘s natural detoxification mechanisms and emphasize clean, organic whole foods. In particular I recommend adequate amounts of quality protein providing amino acids essential to the metabolic detoxification pathways in the liver, and a variety of colorful non-starchy vegetables which add supportive vitamins, minerals and fiber.

While non-starchy vegetables are alkaline, most toxins are acidic, so consuming these vegetables will help to push acidic toxins to be filtered out through your kidneys. Specialized proteins shakes and targeted nutraceuticals may also be utilized to support detoxification pathways.

STEP TWO - INCREASE HYDRATION
Adequate hydration is essential for a safe detoxification. Proper hydration can protect the cells and tissues in your body from the damaging effects of toxins. Water intake promotes removal of toxins from the body through your kidneys via urine, and through your intestines via stool.

During a detoxification program, I recommend higher than average water intake. To determine the amount that is right for you, take half of your weight in pounds and convert that to ounces of daily water (for example, a 140 pound woman should consume at least 70 ounces of water daily during detoxification).

STEP THREE - TREAT YOUR GUT FIRST
If you have digestive problems, it is essential to address these issues before beginning a detoxification program. This is especially important for those with chronic constipation.

Why is the gut so important in detoxification? Because you have to “take out the garbage”! The gut (along with the kidneys and your sweat glands) is the primary pathway by which toxins leave the body. I recommend support for bowel regularity with water, fiber and magnesium to help this process.

Bacterial overgrowth in the gut contributes to toxicity by exposing the body to bacterial endotoxins. For those with a history of chronic abdominal bloat, gas, and diarrhea or irregular bowel movements, identifying and treating underlying gut imbalances is an important first step in detoxification. For some, I recommend an herbal gut cleanse prior to beginning a detoxification program.

Are you ready for a personalized detoxification program? Let’s get started!

Call 231-638-5585 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to send me an email!



Carin Nielsen, MD Integrative Medicine I use an Integrative/Functional Medicine approach with my patients to treat a variety of chronic medical conditions.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, I continue to see both new and returning clients via our easy, secure, video-visit format. If you are interested in learning more or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact our office This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 231-638-5585.

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Food Sensitivities - Part One



WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FOOD ALLERGIES, FOOD INTOLERANCES & FOOD SENSITIVITIES?
There are a number of symptoms that my patients most often describe during our visits:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Irritable Bowel
  • Brain Fog
  • Weight Gain
  • Joint Pain
  • Rashes
Sound familiar?

In medical school I was taught to evaluate symptoms in order to form a diagnosis. That diagnosis was then used to determine which medication to prescribe - such as a pill for your headache or a cream for your rash.

20 years later my approach has changed. Rather than focusing on which medication to prescribe for your symptoms, I ask the question:
WHY are you experiencing these symptoms?

I use Functional Medicine to evaluate and treat the root causes of illness.

While there are many factors that can contribute to illness, perhaps none are more important than FOOD. I see it with patients every day - the food that you eat has an immediate and significant impact on the way that you feel.

Could food sensitivities or intolerances be causing your symptoms?

Many of the symptoms that my patients describe, including the most common ones listed above, are often the result of food sensitivities or food intolerances. Identifying these reactions and addressing their root causes can provide lasting symptom relief.

In part one of this food sensitivity series, we answer the question:
What’s the difference between food allergies, food intolerances, and food sensitivities?

FOOD ALLERGY
Food allergy reactions are immediate, within minutes of exposure to the trigger food.

They are immune-system mediated by IgE, a fast-acting immunoglobulin specific to particular foods.

Food allergy symptoms can range from mild to life-threatening and may include swollen or itchy tongue, runny nose, skin itching, hives, wheezing/shortness of breath, closing of the airway, abdominal pain or vomiting.

Common food allergy triggers include peanuts, tree nuts and shellfish.

With true food allergies, strict avoidance of trigger foods is critical, as reactions are potentially life-threatening.

While I have seen the terms food intolerance and food sensitivity used interchangeably in some media, I separate these terms into two different types of reactions when discussing with patients.

FOOD INTOLERANCE
Food intolerances are not mediated by the immune system, but rather are a result of the body lacking an enzyme or nutrient needed to properly digest or break down a particular food or a component of the food.

Symptoms of food intolerance generally occur within an hour of eating a trigger food. Common symptoms include gas, bloating, abdominal pain or cramping, nausea, and diarrhea, but may also include flushing, inflammation and flu-like symptoms.

One of the most common food intolerances is to lactose, a component of milk products. Those with lactose intolerance lack lactase, the enzyme needed to break down lactose, and will experience abdominal bloating and diarrhea after consuming milk products. Supplemental lactase may be given for better tolerance of milk products.

Less well-known trigger ingredients I commonly see with patients include histamine, preservatives/flavorings, sulfites and acidic foods.

Food intolerances are not immune system mediated. They are a result of the body lacking a substance needed to break down a food component.

FOOD SENSITIVITY
Like food allergies, food sensitivities are mediated by the immune system. Unlike food allergies (IgE mediated), food sensitivities involve reactions that are delayed and not life-threatening (IgG or IgA).

Food sensitivities essentially represent your immune system creating inflammation in response to foods you eat. Symptoms related to food sensitivities may occur several hours up to several days after eating a trigger food.

Symptoms will vary from person to person and and can include multiple symptoms outside of the digestive tract. Common symptoms of food sensitivities include:
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Irritable Bowel
  • Brain Fog
  • Weight Gain
  • Joint Pain
  • Rashes
Other symptoms can include mood changes, changes in menstrual patterns, migraine headaches, poor sleep, acne and nasal/sinus congestion.

Food sensitivities are common to gluten/wheat, dairy products, sugar, eggs, corn, nightshade vegetables and more.

Food sensitivities are most often the result of increased intestinal permeability - the breakdown of the intestinal barrier often referred to as “leaky gut”. This breakdown of the intestinal barrier, often associated with an imbalance of bacteria, yeast and other organisms in the gut, allows foods to more easily trigger the immune system, resulting in increased inflammation and symptoms.

Food sensitivities are the result of your immune system creating inflammation in response to food. Many symptoms throughout the body may be related to food sensitivities, and the root cause underlying most food sensitivities is increased intestinal permeability, or “leaky gut”.

Learn more about the root causes of food sensitivities in part two of the series, coming soon!

Are you suspicious that food sensitivities or food intolerances may be casing your symptoms? Are you ready to start your journey to feeling better? Contact our office to schedule an appointment! 231-638-5585


Carin Nielsen, MD Integrative Medicine I use an Integrative/Functional Medicine approach with my patients to treat a variety of chronic medical conditions. During the COVID-19 pandemic I continue to see both new and returning patients using our secure, easy video-visit format. If you are interested in learning more or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact our office This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 231-638-5585.

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National Weight Control Registry

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The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) is an ongoing research study established in 1994 that includes over 10,000 adults who have lost at least 30 pounds of weight and kept it off for at least one year.

Members complete annual questionnaires about their current weight, diet, exercise habits and behavioral strategies for weight loss maintenance.

The NWCR was developed to identify and investigate the characteristics of individuals who have succeeded at long-term weight loss.


HOW DID NWCR MEMBERS LOSE THE WEIGHT?
  • 98% of NWCR participants report that they modified their food intake in some way to lose weight.
  • 94% increased their physical activity, with the most frequently reported form of activity being walking.
  • Over half of participants lost weight with the help of some type of program.

HOW HAVE NWCR MEMBERS KEPT THEIR WEIGHT OFF? HERE ARE SOME LIFESTYLE HABITS THEY HAVE IN COMMON:
  • 78% eat breakfast every day.
  • 75% weigh themselves at least once a week.
  • 62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week.
  • 90% exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day.
Like I frequently discuss with clients. this is not rocket science! These people (over 10,000) lost weight simply by changing their eating patterns in some way and moving more!


WANT TO LEARN MORE?

Visit the NWCR website www.nwcr.ws




Carin Nielsen, MD Integrative Medicine I use an Integrative/Functional Medicine approach with my patients to treat a variety of chronic medical conditions, including weight gain and obesity. Treating symptoms simply by prescribing medication as a “band-aid” does not address the underlying factors that contributed your problems in the first place, and is not likely to provide lasting results. My approach involves getting "under the surface” (using assessments like estrogen metabolite testing) to find and correct underlying imbalances. If you are interested in learning more or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact our office This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 231-638-5585.
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12-week Transformation

Interested in learning more about our 12-week Weight Loss/Lifestyle Change programs?

Wondering how a program might work for you?


TODAY'S BLOG COMES FROM A PATIENT'S OWN WORDS AFTER HER RECENT
“12-WEEK TRANSFORMATION”.


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“The program was personalized to fit my needs, concerns. Once I learned how and what to eat I have been able to continue almost automatically. It works because it changes how you see food and gives you a healthy change, instead of yo-yo diets or a fad diet that you won't be able to do long-term.

It is a lifestyle change, one that my body needed. I am able to pinpoint which foods make me feel sick and which ones add weight, and eliminate them.”  EL, Age 36.

In just 12 weeks, she lost:

28 POUNDS
7 INCHES OFF HER WAIST 
4.5 INCHES OFF HER HIPS
3.75 INCHES OFF HER CHEST
3.25 INCHES OFF HER ARM

 And she even took a three-week vacation during her program!  


Are you ready to get started?


Call 231-638-5585 to book your appointment today, or feel free to email me with questions at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Carin Nielsen, MD Integrative MedicineLooking for a personalized approach to your healthcare? I use an Integrative/Functional Medicine approach with my patients to treat a variety of chronic medical conditions. Treating symptoms and chronic disease simply by prescribing medication doesn't address the underlying factors that contributed your problems in the first place, and is not likely to provide lasting results. My approach involves getting "under the surface" to find and correct underlying imbalances. If you are interested in learning more or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact our office This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 231-638-5585.
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Three ways we can help you find your balance with diet and lifestyle change this winter.

Three ways we can help you find your balance with diet and lifestyle change this winter.

#1 - DETOX JUMP-START
  • Enhance Detoxification
  • Reduce Inflammation
  • Improve Digestion
Let our staff design a detox schedule to meet your needs.

Using the Xymogen™ 6-Day Detox Kit, combined with a modified elimination diet, we can extend your detox up to 28 days, and modify your program as needed based upon your symptoms and your schedule.

A Detox Jump-Start is a great way to kick-off your weight loss program, break sugar cravings, and refresh your body and mind. Benefits may include:
  • improved energy
  • reduced bloat and body fat
  • decreased joint discomfort
  • improved focus and mental clarity
Click Here for more information about our Detox Jump-Start program, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to book your appointment!


#2 - ULTRALITE™ DIETARY KETOSIS WEIGHT LOSS PROGRAM

  • Reduce hunger and cravings
  • Increase mood and energy
  • Fast, visible results
The UltraLite™ dietary ketosis weight loss program is great for those who are motivated and ready for fast weight loss results.

The program combines an elimination diet with a balance of protein and carbohydrate to put your body into a mild state of dietary ketosis. This biochemically sets the body to burn your own fat as fuel for maximal fat loss. People will typically eat less protein than they normally do, but enough to not lose muscle mass (a key issue with weight loss is to protect your muscle mass; as muscle mass is your body's calorie burning engine).

Click Here for more information about the UltraLite™ program, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to book your appointment!


#3 - MY OPTIMAL DIET
CUSTOMIZED DIET AND LIFESTYLE CHANGE PROGRAMS


Looking for a program with more flexibility? My Optimal Diet 12-week Diet and Lifestyle Change Programs are physician-supervised, customized for your needs, and provide three months of one-on-one support to help you meet your goals.

Our unique approach to healthy diet and lifestyle change involves more than just counting calories. We explore a variety of factors that can contribute to poor health and weight gain, including:
  • hormone imbalance
  • high levels of stress
  • medication side effects
  • thyroid disorders
  • depression and anxiety
In addition, the types of food you are eating can have a strong impact on your weight gain, not to mention your energy level and mood.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” program in our office! Each 12-week program is designed to meet your needs and may include:
  • testing for hormone imbalance and vitamin deficiencies
  • customized meal schedules and food choices
  • protein-packed meal replacement products
  • prescription weight loss medication when appropriate
  • behavioral therapy to curb binge eating
  • vitamin and supplement support
  • acupuncture, massage, and more!
Click Here for more information about My Optimal Diet, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to get started!



Carin Nielsen, MD Integrative MedicineI use an Integrative/Functional Medicine approach with my patients to help them lose weight and improve their mood and vitality.  A "one size fits all" program where you simply sign up and go through the steps doesn't address the underlying factors that caused your problems in the first place, and is not likely to provide lasting results.  My approach involves getting "under the surface" to find and correct underlying imbalances.  If you are interested in learning more or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact our office This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 231-638-5585.

Yours in Health,
Carin Nielsen, MD


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Meet LEPTIN, the hormone that turns off hunger in your brain.

Are you constantly hungry? Always looking for a snack? Craving sweets? These are all signs that you may be resistant to the effects of Leptin, one of our key regulators of hunger and fat-burning.


b2ap3_thumbnail_light-switch.pngLeptin is made by your fat cells to turn off hunger in your brain.

Leptin (from the Greek word “leptose" meaning “thin”) is a hormone produced by fat cells when you eat.  After being released by the fat cells, leptin travels to your brain where it binds to receptors that turn off your hunger.  Leptin tells the brain that you have enough energy stored, and that you don’t need to eat any more.


Leptin levels increase with high fat mass and overeating.

Leptin is produced by fat cells, so the more fat cells you have, the more leptin you make. Leptin production is stimulated when you eat, so the more you eat, the more leptin you make.


Chronically high levels of leptin lead to leptin resistance.

You become leptin resistant in the same way that you become insulin resistant. (You can read more about insulin resistance here)  When the leptin receptors in the brain are continuously bombarded by high amounts of the leptin hormone, they become resistant to it's actions.  


Leptin Resistance = Hunger + Increased Fat Storage

When you develop leptin resistance the brain doesn’t "see" the leptin and thinks you are starving.  This leads to increased hunger, and your body gets a signal to “hold on” to your fat - making weight loss more difficult!


How to reverse leptin resistance:

Research is ongoing, but there are few things we know for sure can improve your sensitivity to leptin, helping to reduce hunger/cravings and promoting weight loss.

  • Reduce intake of simple carbohydrates, especially fructose - which is known to be a major culprit in leptin resistance.
  • Get a good night sleep!  Poor sleep patterns and lack of sleep increase leptin resistance.
  • Keep your stress levels in check.  Elevated stress levels worsen leptin resistance.  
  • Correct insulin resistance! High levels of insulin also block the leptin receptor in the brain, causing a “double whammy” when it comes to hunger and weight loss. (Read more about insulin resistance.)
 


Carin Nielsen, MD Integrative MedicineI use an Integrative/Functional Medicine approach with my patients looking to lose weight. Assessing for hormone imbalance is a key first step in this process. I do not believe in the “calories-in, calories-out” philosophy of weight loss. Your body is not a bank account (deposit/withdraw), your body is a chemistry lab! My approach involves getting "under the surface" to find and correct underlying imbalances. If you are interested in learning more or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact our office This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 231-638-5585.

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