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We bring our digital devices everywhere, and I mean, everywhere.
But is our constant scrolling really that harmful?
In moderation, blue light can be extra beneficial to our energy, alertness, mood and overall health. However, according to Harvard Health Letter, research shows that overstimulation from blue light impacts sleep and may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Breaking down blue light:
1. What is blue light?
Blue light is one of the shortest, highest-energy wavelengths.
2. Where is blue light?
Blue light can be found in natural sunlight. However, because of its low cost and high efficiency, blue light can also be found in nearly all digital devices like smartphones, tablets, laptops, smartwatches, clocks, tv’s and more.
3. What’s the problem with blue light?
In natural sunlight, blue and red light are always present together however, when blue light is emitted without red light, like in digital devices, it wreaks havoc on our health, especially our sleep. Why? Because our bodies weren’t made for round-the-clock blue light.
How does blue light impact sleep?
1. Circadian Rhythm
Overstimulation due to blue light, significantly impacts sleep and alters our circadian rhythm, or sleep cycle, because it tricks the body into believing it’s daytime when it’s not. This causes a delay in the body’s internal clock and decreases our highest quality sleep, REM.
2. Hormone Production
High amounts of exposure to blue light also impacts the production of essential hormones, like melatonin and leptin, that signal our body to wind down. Disrupting these hormones causes an increase in cortisol which can lead to insomnia. This increase also triggers the appetite, resulting in late night snacking, which can ultimately lead to significant weight gain and even heart disease.
3. Eye Health
Blue light can kill photoreceptor cells inside the eye which are responsible for converting light into signals that stimulate biological processes. Damage to these cells causes macular degeneration, which occurs when photoreceptor cells in the retina die. Our risk of this type of damage increases as we age and expose ourselves to more blue light.
What are some ways to limit exposure?
- No digital devices two hours before bedtime.
- Take digital devices out of the bedroom and purchase an alarm clock with gradual glowing light.
- Opt for light dimmers or replace bulbs with blue-light free alternatives like these.
- Protect your eyes with a pair of blue-light blocking glasses.
- Use blue light screen protectors on your tablet, laptop and phone.
- Incorporate melatonin into your nightly routine.
- Get outside for natural light.
- Reset your circadian rhythm with a (device-free) weekend camping trip.
Digital detox doesn’t have to be brutal. One of my favorite ways to recharge is connecting with nature and camping is a great way to do this. Waking with the sun and winding down with the moon, naturally resets the body.
So enjoy the outdoors this summer, reset your sleep cycle and recharge for what’s ahead—your mind and body will thank you!
When was the last time you were without your phone for more than an hour? If you can’t remember, you’re not alone.
In a study commissioned by Nokia, it was estimated that on average, Americans check their phones 80 times a day, and millennials, 150 times per day! These numbers are alarming. Nevertheless,it’s no surprise that we are digitally dependent. We have come to rely on our devices for essentially everything, but the negative effects are more extensive than you might think. In this post, I want to talk about the impact this dependency can have on our health and why incorporating a digital detox is crucial to our overall wellbeing.
Impact of digital dependency:
Some consider smartphones the new cigarettes. Research has found that smartphone use triggers dopamine production, the same pleasure-related neurotransmitter that is released when an addicted smoker takes a drag of a cigarette. Many of my patients talk with me about their struggle with social media—constant comparison and the need for approval from likes and follows—this behavior can cause anxiety, body dysmorphia, stress, depression, and isolation.
2. EMF or electromagnetic frequencies
Electromagnetic frequencies are emitted through cell phones, WiFi and Bluetooth devices such as portable headphones, fitness watches, and sleep trackers. Studies have shown that this exposure impacts our health at a cellular level causing damage to the nervous system. My patients who suffer from chronic illness and weakened immune systems like Lyme disease, report an increase in inflammation due to EMF exposure. EMF sensitivity can present itself in a range of symptoms, including headaches, nausea, warm and burning sensations, and fatigue.
3. Eye Health
It’s no secret that staring at screens all day is bad for our health, but just how bad? Our eyes are not accustomed to this kind of continuous strain. Research has found that blue light emitted from digital devices can cause our retina to change. Essentially, blue light can kill what are called photoreceptor cells that live inside the eye and are responsible for converting light into signals that stimulate biological processes. Damage to these cells causes macular degeneration, which occurs when photoreceptor cells in the retina die. Our risk of this type of damage significantly increases as we age.
So, what are realistic ways to detox when we depend on digital devices daily?
For most of us, digital devices are an absolute necessity, so how can you combat the negative effects its constant stimulation? A digital detox is not easy, but making these daily adjustments can make a big impact on your overall health:
1. Limit Screen Time
In my home, we have a no phone rule at meal times and after 8pm. Embrace the time you have with the ones you love, give them your undivided attention and buy a good, old fashioned alarm clock instead of using your smartphone.
2. Embrace Boredom
Remember when staring out the window was just about the only thing you could do on a road trip? Since smartphones, boredom is a distant memory. Try putting your phone on airplane mode when you’re commuting and tune into some self-reflection. Watch what this time can do to your mood. It’s amazing what 10-15 minutes of silence can do to start or reset your day.
3. Digital Fasting
A digital detox may sound impossible at first, but the best way to truly detox is to do a digital fast—no phone or tablet for an extended period of time. Start small, turn on airplane mode during meals and evenings, remove devices from the bedroom, stop using devices two hours before bed. Work your way up to making two days per month device-free and if possible, every 3-4 months go four days and ultimately once a year go one entire week device-free.
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As I’ve mentioned in the previous blog posts of this series, heavy metal toxicity has a negative impact on each and every system of the body. That includes hormones and all the systems of your body that under normal circumstances would produce healthy hormones and detoxify dangerous hormones.
The presence of heavy metals in the body disrupts the liver, a key organ when it comes to detoxification. When heavy metals accumulate, the methylation pathway and glutathione pathway become impaired and your body is unable to metabolize your sex hormones. Additionally, it is unable to release toxic estrogens, causing estrogen dominance.
Estrogen dominance can cause the following symptoms:
- Weight gain
- Water retention
- Breast tenderness
- Heavy and painful periods
Estrogen is not the only hormone that is affected by heavy metal toxicity, however. The accumulation of heavy metals in the body also adversely affects testosterone production.
It’s a common misconception that women do not need testosterone, and can function well with just estrogen and progesterone. That is not the case, however. Women need testosterone for optimal brain function as well as to maintain muscle mass and libido.
Without testosterone being produced at optimal levels due to heavy metal toxicity, you may experience:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Lack of motivation
- Difficulty increasing or maintaining muscle mass
- Inability to lose weight
- Low libido
In the second blog of this series, I spoke about the chelation process and how this process can deplete the body of vital minerals, but depletion is not limited to chelation. It also happens prior to chelation as heavy metals can displace vital minerals in your body, namely calcium, zinc, and selenium.
Zinc and selenium are the building blocks of testosterone production, so when these levels are less than optimal, so is our production of testosterone.
In addition to your sex hormones, estrogen and testosterone, heavy metal toxicity also negatively impacts your pancreas and production of the hormone insulin. This can increase the risk of developing blood sugar dysregulation – hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, and diabetes.
I see this often in my clinic with children who have had a significant number of mercury-containing vaccines. Their pancreas’ can be severely impaired, putting them at risk of developing juvenile, or type 1, diabetes.
Other organs affected by heavy metal toxicity are the thyroid and the adrenals.
When heavy metals accumulate in the body, they are stored in fat cells and block receptors that are typically reserved for hormones. When this happens in the thyroid, your body becomes unable to properly produce and use thyroid hormones.
As you now know, heavy metal toxicity negatively affects liver function. In addition to detoxification, your liver is also responsible for producing the active form of thyroid hormone called T3. If the liver is unable to produce this hormone, the thyroid cannot function properly, leading to thyroid conditions like Hashimoto’s and symptoms like fatigue, weight gain, hair loss, and dry skin.
Finally, heavy metal toxicity can negatively impact the production of cortisol, a stress hormone.
Initially, the production of cortisol will increase due to an overproduction of this hormone by the adrenal glands. Once the adrenal glands become burnt out, the production of cortisol will decrease, resulting in adrenal fatigue, or the inability to cope with and manage stress. This can lead to feelings of fatigue, low energy, and decreased immune function.
Everything in the body is connected, so impairment and imbalance of one part of your body inevitably affects another part.
If you suspect that your hormone imbalance is due to heavy metal toxicity, it’s important to get tested and treated by a doctor. Treating heavy metals through chelation, diet, and lifestyle, will make it possible to reverse hormone imbalances and help you to restore balance to your body and ultimately, your health.
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You tested positive for heavy metals and have gone through a doctor-led detoxification process called chelation. The chelation process can take 6 months to 2 years, depending on exposure, and will generally remove at least 90% of heavy metals from your body.
However, because we are constantly exposed to heavy metals, even if you were to remove all of them from your body, you would still be exposed to them again through the air, water, soil, and products that you use in your home and on your body.
That said, it’s a good idea to remain aware of your heavy metal levels, even after chelation.
Personally, I do this every two months by way of a spot urine test, or “pre-challenge test.” This helps me to keep track of the heavy metals in my body, so they don’t accumulate and cause harm to my health.
So how do you continue the detoxification process beyond chelation and ensure that you remain healthy and well?
Increase Fiber Intake
Fiber is a natural binder. It has the ability to bind to metals like cadmium, mercury, arsenic, lead, and copper, making it easier for your body to release them.
For optimal detoxification, consume 30-50g of fiber per day from plant-based sources — avocados, berries, black beans, artichokes, lentils, quinoa, nuts, and seeds.
You can also get fiber from grains and cruciferous vegetables, like cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, broccoli, and brussel sprouts. It’s best, however, to avoid brown rice as it contains high levels of arsenic and avoid cruciferous vegetables that are grown in fracking areas as they contain high levels of thallium and cesium.
Incorporate Herbs into your Diet
Herbs, like parsley, cilantro, basil, and mint, are some of the best detoxifying agents and can help reduce the accumulation of heavy metals in the body, especially mercury and lead.
The easiest way to incorporate herbs into your diet is by juicing. It’s something that I do on a daily basis since I had to go through the chelation process myself for high levels of thallium. My favorite recipes to use are here and here.
You can boost the detoxifying benefits of your juice by adding spirulina and chlorella. Both of these algae have been scientifically proven to support the detoxification of heavy metals from the body.
Be sure you source these products from reputable and toxin-free sources.
Eat Liver Supporting Foods
Your liver is one of the largest organs in your body. It is responsible for removing waste and processing nutrients. With the help of your liver, your body detoxes on a daily basis, so it’s important to support this organ, especially when heavy metals are present in the body.
You can do this by regularly consuming:
- Dandelion tea
- Milk thistle tea
- Ginger and Lemon, in tea or as a seasoning on food
- Turmeric in the form of a high potency supplement, like DeFlam Support
Hydrate Well and Support Mineral Repletion
Hydration is essential for overall health and well-being. It’s even more important when you are detoxing as it helps to flush toxins out of the body.
Additionally, when you go through the process of chelation, your body loses some of its stores of essential minerals, so restoring these minerals is essential.
I recommend getting your mineral levels tested regularly during chelation and after, as my patients tend to be low in essential minerals like molybdenum. Once I know what minerals my patients are deficient in, I can treat each one uniquely or suggest a complete mineral support supplement.
Remove Inflammatory Foods From Your Diet
I say this all the time, but it bears repeating here — your body will heal more quickly if inflammation is low. So it’s best to significantly limit or avoid inflammatory foods like:
- Refined Sugar
When possible, it’s also best to consume fruits and vegetables that are organic, and locally sourced from clean soil.
I could go on and on about the topic. It is so near and dear to my heart since I’ve had my own struggles with heavy metal toxicity after consuming vegetables from a location that allowed fracking, but I don’t want to overwhelm you with information.
Instead, remember to consult your doctor to get tested and treated for heavy metals.
Also, think of the chelation process as a deep cleaning and the dietary and lifestyle recommendations mentioned here as tools you can use when you need a tune-up or a little extra support.
I hope you’re finding this series to be helpful!
I’ll be back next week to talk about how hormones are affected by heavy metals. Be sure to come back and give it a read.
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Heavy metals can wreak havoc on every system of the body, so if you have been exposed to heavy metals, you’ll want to safely detox them from your body.
How do you know if you’ve been exposed to heavy metals?
A urine test from ordered by your doctor can help you determine whether or not you are currently being exposed to heavy metals or have been exposed to them in the past.
It can also help you to determine whether or not the metals have been successfully released from the body after detoxification.
Once your doctor has ordered the test, you’ll be asked to collect a urine sample. Your current heavy metal levels will be assessed and if needed, your doctor will support you through the detoxification process.
Detoxification of heavy metals is called chelation.
It is a process that involves ingesting or being injected with a chelation agent, like Dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA).
Chelating agents are FDA-approved treatments used for the removal of lead and other heavy metals from the body. They combine with heavy metals in the bloodstream, then both the metals and the drug are removed from the body by the kidneys and excreted
You will also be asked to collect a urine sample after the chelation process is complete. The results of this urine test will determine if chelation has removed the bulk of the heavy metals from your bloodstream.
Before we dive further into the detoxification process, it’s a good idea to read the first blog post in this series on heavy metals. In it, you’ll learn about the most common heavy metals and how they enter into the body as well as the effects they can have on your health.
This foundational knowledge will be really helpful as you move through the process of detoxification and also help you to reduce your exposure once you’ve completed the detoxification process.
Ok, now that you know where to look for more information, let’s get back to detoxification!
Chelation can be a very effective way to detox heavy metals, but in order to successfully complete the chelation process, your body needs to be as strong as possible, especially your liver, kidneys, and gastrointestinal system.
Since these organs and systems are responsible for helping your body to excrete the heavy metals, if they are not strong, you run the risk of causing significant damage to your body as the toxins can become even more concentrated in your bloodstream if they are not safely released.
Prior to chelation, I examine the following functions on my patients:
- Bowel movements, frequency, and type
- Liver function
- Glutathione levels
- Kidney function
- Integrity of the gut lining
During the chelation process, I recommend natural binders – supplements besides chelating agents that bind to heavy metals and support their excretion. These may include activated charcoal, bentonite clay, and chlorella.
It is also helpful to have regular colon hydrotherapy appointments during this time to help your body successfully detox.
Depending on your body and the amount of heavy metals you’ve been exposed to, the detoxification process can take as little as 6 months and as long as 2 years.
During this time, you may need 10-20 rounds of oral or intravenous chelation.
As you can see, it is not a quick process!
The length of the process makes it imperative to hydrate and remineralize the body, or restore any essential minerals that may have been lost during the chelation process. Essential minerals, like calcium, magnesium, and zinc, can also be excreted during the chelation process, so it’s important to test these throughout the process and replenish as needed.
You can not do the process of detoxification on your own, unfortunately. There are different chelation agents depending on which metals are present in your body, and they all have to be prescribed by a physician. It’s also a process that needs to be monitored closely to ensure that you are safely detoxing the metals, instead of simply releasing them into your bloodstream without excrement.
If you think you have been exposed to heavy metals, please get proper support and guidance from your own doctor or medical practitioner prior to beginning any detoxification regiments.
In the next blog posts of this series, I will share some lifestyle practices and foods that can support your body throughout the detox process.
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Heavy metals have become the center of many wellness conversations recently because they can have a big impact on our health. As medical practitioners, we’re finding that many people that are struggling with illness and disease have high levels of heavy metals in their body.
So let’s dive in — what exactly are heavy metals?
Metals are substances that have high electrical conductivity and they are naturally found in the earth’s crust.
As with most things, these can be both good and bad.
Good metals function as essential minerals, like magnesium, calcium, and zinc. Bad metals, however, can be toxic and these we refer to as heavy metals — lead, mercury, arsenic, thallium, aluminum, nickel, copper, and gadolinium, to name a few.
Many of these metals are used in manufacturing and the production of vaccines, amalgams, paint, and gasoline. They have become a permanent part of our lives as they are contaminants that are present in the soil, the air, the food we eat, and many of the products we use.
Unfortunately, this contamination is not a new occurrence. They have been contributing to disease and negatively impacting the health of humans for more than 2000 years.
In fact, it is believed that the demise of the Roman empire was due in part to lead poisoning. The lead pipes contaminated the water, causing learning disabilities, chronic disease, and cancer.
When high levels of these metals enter and accumulate in our bodies, they pollute our bodies, cause changes to our physiology, and compete with essential minerals for absorption. For example, if lead is being absorbed in high levels, your body will not be able to absorb optimal amounts of calcium. This is often seen in patients with osteoporosis — they have high levels of lead in their bodies blocking the absorption of calcium, which causes their bones to become porous and fragile.
Heavy metals have the potential to disrupt every system in the body, including your endocrine system, immune system, digestive system, your brain, and your bones.
The top 5 most common heavy metals in our bodies:
Lead is the second most common heavy metals that I see in patients of my Tempe, Arizona practice, especially among my older patients. This is due in large part to lead paint and lead pipes that were used in the plumbing of homes and schools prior to 1978.
Since heavy metals are passed from mother to child in utero, lead can often be found in the offspring of individuals who lived in homes with lead pipes. In fact, in a study conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in collaboration with Commonweal, researchers at two major laboratories found an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in umbilical cord blood, including heavy metals, from babies born in August and September of 2004 in U.S. hospitals.
Lead is commonly associated with cognitive impairment and in high levels has been shown to contribute to conditions like Alzheimer’s and Dementia, as well as ADHD.
Mercury is often found at high levels in individuals who have mercury amalgam fillings and those who consume seafood often, especially larger varieties of fish.
Industrial pollution has contaminated the water we drink and the air we breathe. The fish that live in these contaminated waters often contain high levels of mercury. Unsurprisingly, the bigger the fish, the higher the mercury levels.
The third most common heavy metal that I see in the lab work of my patients is arsenic. This is due to contaminated soil which contaminates the food that we eat. For example, brown rice contains high levels of arsenic.
Additionally, many patients have high levels of thallium caused by the increase of fracking over the past 10 years. Many green, leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables are contaminated with thallium which can cause delirium and convulsions. It can also cause alopecia or hair loss.
Aluminum is also quite common, especially in individuals who frequently consume canned food or prepare foods in aluminum cookware. Similar to lead, high levels of aluminum can impair cognitive function and cause a more rapid decline in patients with Alzheimer’s.
With these dangerous heavy metals lurking in everything from the air we breathe to the water we drink, how can we reduce our exposure, and prevent the diseases associated with them?
You can reduce your exposure by:
- Choosing mercury or thimerosal-free vaccines when you or your children need to be vaccinated.
- Be mindful of seafood consumption, especially consumption of larger fish, like tuna and salmon.
- Avoid mercury amalgam fillings when you have cavities filled at the dentist. Instead, request direct composite fillings. These are white, tend to match your teeth better than mercury fillings, and are free of the toxic heavy metal mercury.
- Avoid vegetables grown in fracking areas, especially kale as it tends to contain the highest levels of thallium.
- Choose aluminum free cookware and consume fresh or frozen foods, instead of canned foods, when possible.
It can be challenging to avoid heavy metals completely, but I encourage you to do the best you can. Avoiding high levels of these toxic metals will have a positive impact on your health and prevent issues like infertility, cognitive decline, hormone imbalances, and even cancer.
If you think that you may have high levels of heavy metals in your system, you definitely want to come back to read my next blog article on heavy metals. In it, I will discuss how to safely detox from heavy metals, a resource that will be especially helpful in your journey to optimal health and wellness.
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