Four Suggestions for Better Sleep From Your Top Functional Medicine Doctor in Fort Collins

Functional Medicine Doctor Fort Collins

We all know just how important a good night’s sleep is. Without proper rest, our bodies just can’t function the way they’re supposed to. And if you’ve ever had a poor night of rest, you know exactly what we’re talking about. From moodiness to fatigue, irritability, forgetfulness, weight gain, and even depression, symptoms of ongoing sleep loss are not pleasant, nor are they sustainable. As your Functional Medicine doctor in Fort Collins, we want to make sure that you’re getting the rest your body needs to truly thrive. 

The amount and quality of sleep we get on a regular basis plays a crucial role in our overall health. According to one recent study outlined by The Chalkboard, one partial night’s sleep deprivation can be linked to insulin resistance in otherwise healthy people, which can pave the way for Type 2 diabetes and obesity. Another study by Harvard Medical School links lack of sleep to heart disease and hypertension. “Studies have found that a single night of inadequate sleep in people who have existing hypertension can cause elevated blood pressure throughout the following day. This effect may begin to explain the correlation between poor sleep and cardiovascular disease and stroke. For example, one study found that sleeping too little (less than six hours) or too much (more than nine hours) increased the risk of coronary heart disease in women.”

And what’s worse is that an estimated 40 percent of Americans aren’t getting enough sleep. So what should we do to make sure we’re getting enough quality sleep? We’re glad you asked. Here are five suggestions for better sleep, from your Northern Colorado Functional Medicine doctors of choice at Restore Health Center. 

  1. Stick to a set sleep schedule – Consistency is important when it comes to establishing healthy sleeping habits. Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day creates a rhythm for your body and helps to regulate your body’s clock, so that you can fall asleep and stay asleep for the night.  

  2. Make your room a peaceful haven –  When it comes to getting optimal sleep, it’s important to set up your sleeping quarters carefully and intentionally, with restfulness in mind. Make the room a comfortable temperature for sleep, keep your bedroom dark or use eyeshades, keep it as quiet as possible, and make sure that your bedroom is only used for sleep or romance. It’s also advised to not keep a television in your room, as the bright, artificial light can disrupt brain activity and alter sleep hormones like melatonin.

  3. Get enough sunlight during the day – As Dr. Mark Hyman suggests in his blog, aim for at least 20 minutes of sunshine every day. This triggers your brain to release chemicals that regulate sleep cycles and is often why children who play outside during the day are more apt to fall asleep at night.  Morning sunlight is also preferred.

  4. Decrease your blue light exposure – the light emitted from your electronic devices — at least 3 hours prior to bedtime. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, exposure to any light in the evening and night time can suppress melatonin production — the hormone that helps you sleep. However, blue light suppresses melatonin production almost twice as long as other light wavelengths. To reduce blue light exposure, make sure your phone, computer or tablet are in night mode or download free software to reduce blue light, such as f.lux.

  5. Create a relaxing bedtime ritual – To make sure that your body is primed for bed, it’s important to create a relaxing bedtime ritual. This may consist of a bath, reading a book, journaling, meditating, stretching, or deep breathing. It’s also best to avoid activities such as watching TV, using the internet, or answering emails for two hours before bed.

  6. Other sleep tricks that we commonly use at Restore Health include the following: Optimizing progesterone and melatonin levels, lowering evening cortisol, optimizing levels of calming amino-acids such as taurine and glycine, balancing neuro-transmitters like serotonin and gaba, retraining circadian rhythms and more.

If you’ve tried everything and are still having trouble sleeping, don’t hesitate to contact your top Functional Medicine doctors in Fort Collins at Restore Health Center. We will investigate the root causes of your sleep issues and will develop an individualized approach based on your biochemistry. Our team is dedicated to helping you develop an unparalleled and rejuvenating sleep experience. Contact us today to schedule your consultation and learn more about how we can improve your quality of life. 

Traditional Medicine vs. Functional Medicine Colorado

Functional Medicine Colorado

At Restore Health Center, we are dedicated to a new model of health care that is focused on achieving optimal health rather than just treating disease. This is the crux of our Functional Medicine Colorado practice. We choose to approach health challenges in a systematic manner, addressing the underlying issues and looking at the body’s systems, rather than merely chasing symptoms with medications. And we are proactive – not just reactive – as we also focus on disease prevention. 

What is Functional Medicine?

Functional Medicine is a relatively new area of medicine that relies on the traditional tenets of science-based medicine( including lab-based analysis, tests, and studies), but instead of just treating the presenting issue, Functional medical practitioners work to address the underlying causes of problems with a wide range of treatments at their disposal. These treatments include everything that traditional medicine offers, as well as non-traditional remedies such as diet, meditation, stress reduction, exercise, and oftentimes nutritional supplements and herbal treatments, all based on the studies doctors have come to rely on. We work intimately with you to find what works best for your body and needs. Health and wellness is your top priority, and as your Functional Medicine Colorado providers, we’re here to help provide you with natural solutions for your complete wellness.

Functional Medicine vs. Traditional Medicine

Functional Medicine differs from more traditional medicine in that traditional medicine often has a focus on the symptoms and “turning those symptoms off.” As explained by the Morrison Center, the conventional medicine model is exceptional at addressing acute and urgent medical conditions like heart attacks and broken bones. However, the philosophy that guides the Functional Medicine approach to health shines particularly in its approach to chronic symptoms. “When a patient has experienced long-lasting or recurring symptoms, conventional medicine does not tend to address the underlying cause. The focus is instead on the symptoms, and treatment is often geared toward turning those symptoms off.” 

As Functional Medicine doctors at Restore Health Loveland, we avail ourselves to the best that medicine has to offer, ranging from traditional medical interventions to innovative modalities such as bioidentical hormone restoration (including sex hormones, thyroid and more), targeted nutritional supplementation (including intravenous nutrients), detoxification, oxidative therapies, and so much more. Despite the fact that to many people, being healthy is defined as not being diagnosed with an ailment or other condition that compromises your ability to live your life, we believe in approaching your life and health in a more elevated sense. 

Your loftiest health goals and your loftiest life are there for the taking. Let us help you achieve it. Your Functional Medicine Colorado doctors, Dr. James Howton and Dr. Rachel Fischer, are highly proficient in numerous forms of Functional Medicine and are dedicated to helping you live your best life, happily. We encourage you to schedule a consultation at Restore Health Center today by calling us at 970-278-0900 or by visiting us online at www.Restorehealthcenter.net

Functional Medicine Fort Collins Physicians Answer Your Questions About the Elimination Diet

Functional Medicine Fort Collins Elimination Diet

Have you been advised to start on an elimination diet? If so, this is most likely because you’ve noticed that your body does not properly tolerate some foods. Elimination diets can help identify food intolerances, sensitivities, and allergies. But before you jump headfirst into an elimination diet, your Functional Medicine Fort Collins physicians at Restore Health Center want to make sure that you’re approaching your elimination in a healthful way.

You may be dealing with a food intolerance if you’ve ever dealt with nausea, bloating, headache, or diarrhea after eating certain foods. This is a digestive problem that occurs after a certain food is eaten. More severe cases of food intolerance are food allergies. This is an unpleasant or even dangerous immune system reaction after a certain food is eaten. Symptoms of food allergies can include digestive problems, hives, or swollen airways. Severe reactions can even be life-threatening. 

According to healthline.com, food intolerances and sensitivities are extremely common. In fact, it’s estimated that anywhere from 2% to 20% of people worldwide may suffer from food intolerance. 

An elimination diet is a short-term diet that helps identify foods that your body can’t tolerate very well so that you can eliminate them from your diet. This involves removing certain foods if they’re known to cause uncomfortable symptoms and then reintroducing them at a later time while testing for symptoms. There is an array of types of elimination diets, but they all revolve around eating and removing specific types of foods. However, it’s important to note that if you have a known or suspected food allergy, then it’s important to try an elimination diet only under the supervision of a medical professional. 

If you’ve been looking for relief from uncomfortable symptoms that you believe to be food-related, an elimination diet might be exactly what you’re looking for. As stated by the Cleveland Clinic, it’s important to identify whether you have a food intolerance and not just diagnose yourself. If you’re dealing with symptoms that can’t be explained, especially GI issues, that’s when it’s time to get evaluated.  Whether it’s an allergy test or elimination diet, it’s important to get to the bottom of the issue. 

“You have to be very specific,” Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD, emphasizes in the Cleveland Clinic’s Health Essentials blog. “If you do have a food sensitivity, it’s about looking at which foods you have to limit, but it doesn’t mean you have to give them up completely.”

You may also be able to try digestive aids or alternatives to help with certain GI symptoms — such as lactose-free dairy products, milk alternatives like soy milk, or lactase supplements. It may take some time to figure out, but you’ll be so much happier and feel so much better when you know what foods your body can and cannot tolerate. 

There are a number of very common foods that cause food intolerance and food allergies, including:

  • Lactose
  • Gluten (wheat, rye, and barley)
  • Casein (protein in milk products)
  • Eggs
  • Soy products
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Peanuts or tree nuts (pecans, almonds, walnuts)
  • Sulfites (compounds in red wine and beer)
  • Food additives like MSG

If you’re curious about potential food intolerances or food allergies that you may be suffering from, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with the Fort Collins Functional Medicine physicians at Restore Health Center today by calling us at 970-278-0900 or by visiting us online at www.Restorehealthcenter.net. Not only can we help establish an elimination diet that would be best for your particular symptoms, but we also have a wide variety of tests that might help pinpoint your exact allergies and intolerances. Contact us today. 

Why Are Probiotic and Prebiotic Foods Important? Your Questions Answered by Our Colorado Functional Medicine Specialists

Colorado Functional Medicine

At Restore Health Center Loveland, your Colorado Functional Medicine specialists, we are dedicated to a new model of health care that is focused on achieving optimal health, rather than treating disease. We look at the body’s systems rather than just symptoms. This largely includes what foods we’re putting into our body’s systems and the effects that those foods have on our health. 

When it comes to eating foods that are instrumental in creating health and wellness, one of the most important considerations is the inclusion of probiotic and prebiotic foods in your diet. According to Medical News Today, “Prebiotics and probiotics both support the body in building and maintaining a healthy colony of bacteria and other microorganisms, which supports the gut and aids in digestion. These food components help promote beneficial bacteria by providing food and creating an environment where microorganisms can flourish.” 

This environment where microorganisms can flourish is also called our microbiome. As the Mayo Clinic describes it, “the lining of your gut, like every surface of your body, is covered in microscopic creatures, mostly bacteria. These organisms create a micro-ecosystem called the microbiome. And though we don’t really notice it’s there, it plays an oversized role in your health and can even affect your mood and behavior.”

Check out our previous blog post talking to your Fort Collins GI Doctor about eating for your microbiome for tips on what foods to eat. But one of the most important ways to eat for your microbiome is by including prebiotic and probiotic foods in your diet. The key to a healthy microbiome is creating a balance between all the different species of beneficial bacteria found in the gut. To maintain this balance, we must help the microbes already living thereby giving them the food they need (prebiotics) and adding living microbes directly to your system (probiotics).  As a matter of fact, the better the ratio of beneficial bacteria present, the less likely the “non-beneficial” bacteria, fungi and yeast are to overgrow–potentially creating or contributing to poor health.

Prebiotics are mostly present in fiber-rich foods like fruits and vegetables, and especially those that contain complex carbohydrates. As the Mayo Clinic explains, “These carbs aren’t digestible by your body, so they pass through the digestive system to become food for bacteria and other microbes.” 

Probiotics, on the other hand, contain live organisms that add directly to the population of healthy microbes already living in your microbiome. You can make sure you’re getting enough probiotics with foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, or kombucha, or with supplements. Keep in mind, that every food or spice creates its own unique probiotic when fermented, so variety is key. If you’re not sure what type of supplements to take or foods to eat to ensure you’re getting enough quality probiotics, you can ask the Functional Medicine specialists at Restore Health. 

All in all, the ecosystem in your gut must be healthy for you to be healthy. Normalizing gut function and flora through improved diet, increased fiber intake, daily probiotic supplementation, enzyme therapy, the use of nutrients that repair the gut lining, and the direct treatment of bad bugs in the gut with herbs or medications can be remarkable. Our patients find relief from allergies, acne, arthritis, headaches, autoimmune disease, depression, ADD/ADHD, and more – simply by restoring their delicate gut system.

Please call your Colorado Functional Medicine specialists at Restore Health at 970-278-0900 or visit us online at www.restorehealthcenter.net, so that we can help restore the symbiotic relationship between you and your gut. 

Factors That Affect Thyroid Function: An Overview With the Top Functional Medicine Specialist Fort Collins Has to Offer

Thyroid Specialist Fort Collins

Have you ever noticed that you’re frequently tired, have cold hands, or have excess body fat? If so, you may be suffering from a thyroid disorder. If this is the case, then you’ll want to visit the top functional medicine specialist Fort Collins has to offer.  We suggest that you consider getting a functional medicine approach to a thyroid evaluation. And while these are only a few of the symptoms associated with thyroid disorder, they are some of the more common symptoms.

According to the American Thyroid Association, more than 12 percent of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime. An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, and one woman in eight will develop a thyroid disorder during her lifetime. Those statistics are fairly staggering.

Not even sure what or where your thyroid is? That’s okay. It’s our job to keep you informed on such things. The thyroid gland is located in the middle of the lower neck and is relatively small but crucial to a healthy and thriving body.

The thyroid is a hormone-producing gland that regulates the body’s metabolism. Thyroid hormones convert oxygen and calories into energy. This process is known as metabolism. Every cell in the body depends upon thyroid hormones for their metabolism. Essentially, hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. Hyperthyroidism, another type of thyroid disease, is a condition causing the gland to produce too much thyroid hormone. So basically, when dysfunction occurs, people either produce too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroid) or too little (hypothyroid). Additional symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue, weight gain, constipation, fuzzy thinking, low blood pressure, fluid retention, depression, body pain, slow reflexes, and much more. Additional symptoms of hyperthyroidism tend to reflect the rapid metabolism that results from an oversupply of thyroid hormone. Common symptoms include anxiety, insomnia, rapid weight loss, diarrhea, high heart rate, high blood pressure, eye sensitivity/bulging and vision disturbances, and many other concerns.

Oftentimes, people who experience these symptoms will go to the doctor only to be told that their thyroid is normal, but then continue feeling lousy and completely at a loss for what to do next. This is why you may need further investigation than what is typically performed. Restore Health Center, your Functional Medicine Colorado provider, offers additional testing that can help you pinpoint exactly what thyroid complications you may be suffering from.

What sets us apart from other doctors or thyroid specialists in the area is our thyroid panels? The classic thyroid panel ordered by most physicians consists of only two tests: Total T4 and TSH. At Restore Health Center, we believe that these two tests alone do not give adequate insight into your current level of thyroid function. We prefer a more comprehensive panel, which includes: TSH, Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3, anti-Thyrioglobulin and anti-TPO. Many practitioners are simply not familiar with those parameters and will not test for them. Here are the labs that we offer:

  • Free Thyroxine (T4) – Evaluates the amount of unbound T4 available to the cells and tissues for use; this is distinct from total T4 which includes both bound (unavailable) and unbound hormone.
  • Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH) – This is secreted by the pituitary gland and stimulates the thyroid to make primarily T4.
  • Free Tri-iodothyronine (T3) – Measures the amount of T3 (the active form of the hormone) available to the cells and tissues.
  • Anti-thyroperoxidase (Anti-TPO) Measures the levels of antibodies against this thyroid enzyme
  • Anti-Thyroglobulin (Anti-TG) Measures the levels of antibodies against this thyroid protein
  • Reverse T3 – Reverse T3 is an inactive form of thyroid that locks energy out of the cells. If there is too much Reverse T3, it doesn’t matter if the rest of the thyroid panel appears to be normal: the patient will be suffering from a form of hypothyroid. In cases of chronic stress (acute illness, trauma, infection, physical stress) and starvation (yo-yo dieting) too much T4 is converted to Reverse T3.

Additionally, check out this graphic below via the Institute for Functional Medicine. It explains the different factors that affect thyroid function including which vitamins and nutrients contribute to the proper production of thyroid hormones, increase the conversion of T4 to T3, and improve cellular sensitivity to thyroid hormones.

If you or anyone you know may be suffering from thyroid disorder, contact us today at 970-278-0900 or visit us at our website at www.restorehealthcenter.net. Your health and wellness, including your thyroid health, are our top priority. Ready to get started? Please click here to learn more about our services and contact us to set up a consultation.  

Why You Should Use a Northern Colorado Functional Medical Doctor

Northern Colorado Functional Medicine Doctor

If you’re on the lookout for a Northern Colorado Functional Medicine doctor, then taking a close look at Restore Health Center is definitely worth your time. The future of conventional medicine, Functional Medicine focuses on treating the root causes of disease, rather than simply chasing symptoms with medications. According to Dr. Mark Hyman, Chair of the Institute for Functional Medicine, “Functional medicine seeks to identify and address the root causes of disease, and views the body as one integrated system, not a collection of independent organs divided up by medical specialties. It treats the whole system, not just the symptoms.”

When it comes to the standard model of healthcare, the traditional roadmap to health includes diagnosing a disease and matching the disease with a corresponding drug. “The standard model of care works well for acute diseases, trauma, infection, and emergencies. Sadly, it fails miserably in the care of the chronic diseases that affect over 125 million Americans” (MBG).

Rather than masking symptoms, at Restore Health Center Loveland, we are dedicated to a new model of healthcare that is focused on achieving optimal health rather than treating disease. We approach health challenges in a systematic manner. By addressing underlying issues rather than chasing symptoms with medications, we are able to achieve your ultimate health goals. We look at the body’s systems and proactively focus on disease prevention.

As Functional Medicine doctors, we avail ourselves to the best that medicine has to offer, ranging from traditional medical interventions to innovative modalities such as bioidentical hormone restoration (including sex hormones, thyroid, adrenals, and more), targeted nutritional supplementation (including intravenous nutrients), detoxification, oxidative therapies, and so much more. Despite the fact that to many people, being healthy is defined as not being diagnosed with an ailment or other condition that compromises your ability to live your life, we believe in approaching your life and health in a more elevated sense. Your loftiest health goals and your loftiest life are there for the taking. Let us help you achieve it. Your Northern Colorado Functional Medicine doctors, Dr. James Howton and Dr. Rachel Fischer, are highly proficient in numerous forms of Functional Medicine and are dedicated to helping you live your best life, happily.

Restore Health Center Loveland is your premier destination for advanced wellness services to improve your quality of life. Our team is dedicated to providing you with an unparalleled and rejuvenating experience in a caring and comfortable environment. Contact us today to schedule your consultation and learn more about how we can improve your quality of life.

Functional Nutrition Fundamentals with Your Fort Collins Optimal Health Practice

Fort Collins Optimal Health

If Functional Medicine is the wave of the future, then Functional Nutrition is the current that drives it. Functional Health, which combines Functional Medicine and Functional Nutrition, is an innovative medical practice that is all about identifying and removing the things that push you toward disease – leaving only things that create and foster wellness. In accordance with this way of thinking, we at Restore Health Center, your Fort Collins optimal health practice, believe in the fundamentals of Functional Nutrition and Functional Medicine as well. By making uniquely targeted diet and lifestyle modifications, and educating our patients in regards to what’s going on in their bodies, we are better able to help you get healthy and stay healthy.

This is what we do at Restore Health Center, your Fort Collins optimal health practice. In accordance with this way of thinking, Functional Nutrition is, according to Functional Nutrition Lab, “A modality that works to not just support, but to educate the patient in what’s going on in their body and how making uniquely targeted diet and lifestyle modifications will shift the terrain and help them meet their goals.”

We like this definition because it addresses the fact that the body’s systems create a terrain. Signs and symptoms that you encounter are all a part of this terrain. We, as your Functional Health and Fort Collins Optimal Health Clinic, look at the array of issues and underlying root causes of those issues to ensure that you start feeling better from the inside out, rather than just masking symptoms with medications. While standard health care may simply suppress your symptoms with medication, Functional Nutrition sees them as “clues for understanding the underlying issues within your body.” (Via AFPA.com.)

The physicians at Restore Health take every aspect of your health into consideration and create an overall plan that keeps your particular biochemistry in mind. In most cases, a Functional Nutrition approach to health involves a review of everything from a patient’s medical history, organ systems, lifestyle habits, etc. and creating a customizable program. While these functional nutrition plans vary with each particular patient, most of them follow five main principles outlined by the AFPA:

  1. Filling up on essential nutrients
  2. Avoiding toxic growing conditions
  3. Sticking with quality foods
  4. Prioritizing gut health
  5. Tending to your microbiome

Nothing is more beneficial to one’s health journey than ensuring that each of these five principles have been addressed within the nutrition plan and dialogue between the Functional Nutrition specialist and patient is open. As the AFPA states, “Success comes from having a conversation with your body that keeps you aware of how it responds to different factors so that you can continuously set it up for better success.”

If you would like to learn more about Functional Nutrition fundamentals or set up a consultation with the Functional Health experts at Restore Health, your Fort Collins optimal health practice, contact us at 970-278-0900.

Restore Health Center: Functional Medicine Near Me

Functional Medicine Near Me

If you’ve been considering Functional Medicine as a way to achieve the level of health that you truly desire, we couldn’t agree more. Functional or Integrative Medicine involves healing the body as a whole, not just individual areas, to help you attain optimal wellness.  If you search “Functional Medicine Near Me,” you’ll come across our Northern Colorado Functional Medicine Clinic, Restore Health Center in Loveland, CO.

Restore Health Center Loveland is an innovative medical practice that is all about identifying and removing the things that push you toward disease, while filling your life with the things that create wellness so that you can get healthy and stay healthy. This revolutionary and  innovative way of approaching health care is gaining traction, and for good reason. Rather than simply relying on medications to treat symptoms, Functional Health professionals, including Dr. Rachel Fischer at Restore Health Center, work with you to help get your body’s functions working properly to remove the things that are causing your symptoms.

Functional Medicine is a relatively new area of medicine that relies on the traditional tenets of science-based medicine, including lab-based analysis, tests, and studies. But instead of just treating the presenting issue, Functional Medicine practitioners work to address the root causes of problems with a wide range of treatments at their disposal. These treatments include everything that traditional medicine offers, as well as non-traditional remedies such as diet, meditation, stress reduction, exercise, and oftentimes nutritional supplements and herbal treatments, all based on the labs and studies doctors have come to rely on. We work intimately with you to find what works best for your body and needs.

Dr. Rachel Fischer is a preventative medicine specialist at Restore Health Center Loveland. A preventive medicine specialist is a physician who, through additional training, has become an expert in methods for maintaining good health and preventing disease. These specialists are the doctors people see when they are generally well and want to learn how to either maintain their current health or acquire better health. Dr. Fischer maintains a healthy and active lifestyle and has witnessed firsthand the amazing health benefits of preventive medicine in her own life. She is passionate about helping others achieve the healthy life they desire and deserve, and experience the positive effects that come from such lifestyle changes and maintenance.

Based on their particular needs, Dr. Fischer advises her patients on specific diets, exercise regimens, and lifestyle habits. She takes into account a patient’s nutrition deficiencies, physical and cardiovascular capabilities, and lifestyle in order to advise about specific supplements or medications, how much physical activity to undertake, and which habits should be broken and replaced with more positive behavior. Through this Functional Medicine approach, we like to emphasize a therapeutic relationship between our providers and patients. We enjoy working together to helping you achieve a happier, healthier life.

Health and wellness is your top priority, and as your Northern Colorado Functional Medicine Clinic, we’re here to help provide you with natural solutions for your complete wellness. Ready to get started? Please click here to learn more about our services and contact us to set up a consultation.  

Preventive Health Care Northern Colorado: Cardiometabolic Food Plan Explained

Preventive Health Care Northern Colorado

When it comes to preventive health care in Northern Colorado, the health and wellness experts at Restore Health Center have your best interest in mind. We believe in the power of consistent measures taken to achieve disease prevention, rather than just focusing on disease treatment. Disease and sickness are dynamic processes that often begin as a result of lifestyle choices, genetic predisposition and environmental factors. With anticipatory treating of these factors, or preventive health care, overall health and wellness can be achieved.

One of the most efficient ways we’ve found to prevent and treat a number of conditions is the Caridiometabolic Food Plan. This food plan, created by the Institute for Functional Medicine, was formulated specially for those with risk factors for cardiovascular disease or dysfunctional metabolic conditions such as metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, elevated blood fats, high blood sugar and increased belly fat.

When it comes to these types of conditions, fortunately, diet and lifestyle interventions are quite effective. The Cardiometabolic Food Plan allows people to use food medicinally to treat the underlying causes of both cardiovascular and metabolic dysfunctions. The components of the Cardiometabolic Food Plan are as follows:

A modified Mediterranean approach – While 16 different countries comprise the Mediterranean region, people in these countries tend to eat a similar diet: whole, unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, dairy, extra virgin olive oil, and spices; modest amounts of poultry, fish and red meat; and red wine. It is not one of these foods that is responsible for the cardiovascular and metabolic benefits of this way of eating, but the combination of all these foods.

Low glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) – The food plan presented in the Cardiometabolic Food Plan provides a list of allowable foods that are low or moderate in GI or GL. Eating foods low in GI or portions low in GL helps to stabilize blood sugar throughout the day. When blood sugar is stabilized, people experience less hunger and cravings and have better health results overall, whether there are cardiovascular concerns, metabolic dysfunction or blood sugar imbalance.

Targeted calories –  A targeted calorie plan that specifies individual food groups and servings can help people lose weight and achieve cardiometabolic balance. However, Drs. Fischer and Howton generally discourage calorie counting and instead instruct patients to eat “proportionally.” For example, eating 5-7 servings daily of vegetables versus 1-2 servings of non-vegetable carbohydrates.

Regular eating times – The average meal should provide at least four hours of energy before the person feels the need to eat again. A balanced meal will result in a feeling of satisfaction, clear-headedness, the ability to focus, and sufficient energy. If the person experiences hunger within an hour or so of eating or reports feeling “brain fog,” shaky, or fatigued, it may be that the meal was missing something, most likely quality protein, fat, or enough fiber to keep the blood sugar levels balanced.

High in fiber – Along with the low GI and GL features of this plan, eating whole, relatively unprocessed foods also helps the patient take in more dietary fiber and less added sugar. Fiber is found in plant-based foods like whole grains, nuts, legumes, vegetables, and fruits. It is a form of carbohydrate that the body is unable to digest, giving the sensation of fullness without many calories.

Low in simple sugars –  Another feature of the Cardiometabolic Food Plan is the reduction or absence of added sugars. Added sugars contribute a significant portion of calories to the American diet.

Balanced quality fats – Anti-inflammatory fats are typically high in omega-3 fats compared with omega-6 fats, and are found in foods like fish, leafy greens, nuts, certain oils, and seeds. Organizations like the American Heart Association have recognized the health benefit of these anti-inflammatory oils and encourage individuals to include more omega-3 sources in the diet.

Condition-specific phytonutrients – Plant foods contain thousands of compounds called phytonutrients that affect body function. Certain phytonutrients can intervene to help with blood sugar regulation, lower LDL-cholesterol, and even help to get blood pressure back into a healthier range.

The Cardiometabolic Food Plan also offers a snapshot of the foods that people should choose from every day based on the suggestions of their health practitioner. These food categories include: fats and oils, nuts and seeds, protein, non-starchy vegetables, legumes, low-fat dairy and alternatives, starchy vegetables, fruits and some grains.

For more ideas and suggestions on preventive care in Northern Colorado, call Dr. Rachel Fischer at Restore Health Center. She would love to talk with you more about the Cardiometabolic Food Plan and other forms of preventive care that will keep you healthy and strong for years to come.

Talking to Your Fort Collins GI Doctor About Eating for Your Microbiome

Fort Collins GI Doctor

If you haven’t heard of the term “microbiome,” you likely will sooner rather than later. The health of your microbiome is something that your Fort Collins GI Doctor may be monitoring as part of your overall wellness. If they’re not, maybe they should. So what exactly is a microbiome? According to the University of Washington’s Center for Ecogenetics and Environmental Health, a microbiome is the genetic material of all of the microbes that live on and inside the human body, including bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses:

“The bacteria in the microbiome help digest our food, regulate our immune system, protect against other bacteria that cause disease, and produce vitamins including  vitamin B12, thiamine, riboflavin, and Vitamin K, which is needed for blood coagulation.”

This microbiome is an essential aspect of our overall health. In fact, having a healthy microbiome is essential for human development, immunity and nutrition. Autoimmune diseases like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and many others are associated with dysfunction in the microbiome. This is due to the fact that if disease-causing microbes accumulate, they can change gene activity and metabolic processes in your microbiome, which results in abnormal immune response. Researchers have also discovered that a person’s microbiome may influence their susceptibility to infectious diseases and contribute to chronic illness.

“Maintaining a homeostatic balance between microbial activity and host immune response toward it is what allows the immune system to function appropriately to defend against infection yet demonstrate appropriate tolerance,” according to the Institute for Functional Medicine, or IFM.

So how do we maintain this balance in our microbiome? Well, there are a number of things that we can do to ensure that our microbiomes remain healthy and balanced. One of the most important things you can do is eat for your microbiome. If your GI doctor isn’t talking about your microbiome, consider seeing a functional medicine physician about the best way for you to specifically eat for your microbiome, but here are a few guidelines:

Eat a plant-based diet with lots of fiber

Plants are rich sources of many nutrients that are important for good gut health, including unsaturated fats, vitamins (like folate), minerals (like potassium), fiber and protein. Plant-based foods also consist of prebiotics, these indigestible fibers are the preferred fuel source for your gut’s good bacteria. Try foods like onions, garlic, artichokes, oatmeal, rice and potatoes.

Consume Fermented Foods

Fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, or tempeh all contain beneficial bacteria that can help fight bad bacteria, leading to a healthier balance of bacteria in your gut.

Eat your Polyphenols

These are the dark-colored micronutrients found in red wine, green tea, blueberries, pomegranates, cherries and dark chocolate. They’re antioxidants and decrease inflammation while stimulating beneficial bacteria growth.

If you would like more information on eating for your microbiome, contact one of the top functional medicine doctors in the Fort Collins area, Dr. Rachel Fischer at Restore Health Center. She would love to talk with you about what foods to eat and other ways to ensure that your microbiome is healthy, balanced and functioning at peak levels.

Dr. Fischer is a graduate of the University of Utah School of Medicine and trained in both internal medicine and preventive medicine. She received her fellowship training at the University of Washington in Seattle and is board-certified in Occupational and Environmental Medicine. She completed her functional medicine training through the Institute of Functional Medicine. Prior to joining Restore Health, she practiced in Portland Oregon, where she was named one of Portland’s Top Docs by Portland Monthly Magazine. While she addresses a wide range of chronic health challenges, she has a particular interest in gastrointestinal and cardiovascular diseases, as well as optimizing athlete health.