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What supplement can I use to enhance my weight loss goal?

Title this answer: Just Give Me the Magic Pill or How do you hack your hunger and reach your ideal weight this one last time.

Weight-gain inducing chemical exposure from pesticides, flame retardants, and the substances in food packaging is a modern burden. It might be altering our hormonal processes and tweaking the way our bodies put on and maintain weight. Prescription drugs, like antidepressants are linked to weight gain as well. It truly is more difficult to take off pounds now and the magic may happen with thoughtfully chosen supplement support.

Sifting through the haystack of weight loss supplements is confusing, expensive and probably not a long term solution to an optimal health goal. Instead, a supplement can be an addition to a short term need to bridge the gap between the initial steps of your program and maintaining your ideal goal.

Before beginning a supplement always heed the advice to check with your health care provider before starting on any product or weight loss program if you have a medical condition that requires monitoring such as heart disease or diabetes.

Hacking your hunger:

While reading articles and research papers about weight loss, I find the questions of why some can maintain a steady weight despite living in the same world as the obese have many potential answers. Being successful in creating the body that is able to move without pain, feel comfortable in clothes, and carry you to longevity is about discovering what works best for you. Is it starvation, pills, powders, extreme exercise, giving up your favorite foods forever or joining weigh loss program? Mostly, it appears to be finding your solution that is right for you by surrounding yourself with a community of like-minded people.

The best and worst about blogs, articles and news on the internet is that people can comment and suddenly you have a thousand contradicting opinions about what is written about weight loss. Trolls aside, it is all about what works best for them. When did your weight gain begin?  What were your toxic exposures? Where was your mindfulness? How did you react to the weight gain? Why do you want to lose weight? How can you maintain once you have reached your goal.

It is a major frustration to merely hear the problems associated with weight loss reported at length. What are the solutions? Lab testing when it is affordable and useful, make a commitment to change what you are presently doing that is not working, and join a group or get a coach for support.

Supplements that support a healthy diet during planned weight loss can help to increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation. Many companies include green tea extract, carnitine, nicotinamide riboside and chromium in products that can be useful for improving “fat burning”, increasing energy production and sirtuin enzyme activity. Use them in addition to a moderate healthy fat, moderate safe-sourced protein, low carbohydrate from plants meal plan that eliminates processed food.

Thorne Research Green Tea Phytosome and Niacel,  Designs for Health EGCg (epigallocatechin gallate), Endotrim, and Thermo-EFx, Ortho Molecular Products L-Carnitine and Diaxinol are great examples. Digestive enzymes can improve your digestion and probiotics can convert and enhance the absorption of nutrients from that digested food. Insulin sensitivity is crucial for regulating the body’s production of energy and is component missed in some that assume it’s only about calorie restriction and exercise.

Supporting your thyroid and adrenals with adequate iodine, selenium, zinc, B vitamins and botanicals can lower cortisol and eliminate that source of fat conservation. Nutrients and balancing your hormones can help to get past those nasty plateaus that derail your progress. Detox programs can support phase II liver detoxification and the enhance removal of toxins that are being released from stored fat during weight loss.

Concentrate on the process for weight loss goals instead of the outcome. I love it when my groups hide the scale and focus on building strength and resilience with group support. Yes, getting rid of excess fat, improving muscle tone and bone strength, and setting intensions for loving yourself for doing the best you can every day will serve you well on your road to optimal health and wellness.

Ask the Pharmacist: Should I take fish oil capsules?

A couple of essential fatty acids, omega-6 linoleic acid (LA) and omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), need to be in your diet because your body cannot synthesize them. Then there is the hope that we have sufficient nutrients to convert ALA to DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentanaenoic acid). We can get ALA from flax seeds, chia seeds and other plants, but the conversion to the important DHA and EPA is dependent on adequate zinc, B6 and iron and even with these nutrients, the production is dismal.

DHA and EPA reduce inflammation and inhibit the inflammatory action of other fatty acids. They can regulate your cholesterol triglyceride levels and reduce cancer cell growth. A shortage of DHA and EPA can cause joint pain, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, heart disease, allergies, kidney stones, blood sugar dysregulation, brain fog, depression, MS, and skin issues. But good news from this confusing alphabet soup, DHA and EPA just happen to be found in fish and other grass fed animal protein.

Because of the concerns about mercury contamination and other toxins in fish and the hazards of farmed salmon, many people are trading in seafood, a perfect source of DHA and EPA, for fish oil capsules. Eating fish that contains more selenium than mercury can be safely consumed. Look here for an example of safer salt water fish:

A good sourced fresh fish, such as sardines or wild caught salmon, is more beneficial than supplements, but pregnant women and small children should not eat more than 2-3 servings of oily ocean fish per week. Since the human brain is nearly 60%fat, a deficiency in omega -3 fatty acids can impair brain function and cause devastation in the developing brains of young children. A prenatal vitamin with sufficient DHA and a children’s supplement with DHA can be extremely important in brain development for memory and behavior. They are powerful additions to a nutrient dense diet and the correct choice of supplement is essential. Choose one that has strict shipping and handling requirements.

Fish oil supplementation for the rest of us can be the wisest investment if our diet is not balanced in omega- 6 and omega -3 consumption. The omega 6 foods are oils, nuts, seeds, pastured meats and other whole foods which contain valuable nutrients like niacin, Vitamin E, B6, magnesium, phytosterols and more.  While the standard American diet (SAD) generally shifts the ratio from the preferred  4:1, staying away from prepared foods (fast/boxed foods) and industrial oil (canola/corn) can keep inflammation down and the immune system balanced.

A good fish oil source can be fermented cod liver oil (contains K2), a liquid oil or an omega- 3 combination product that is molecularly distilled and purified. You would have to consume safe fish for several meals to get an equivalent amount, but note: some studies show that downing a supplement with other fats in a meal can increase absorption and make it more cost effective. If you are using EPA and DHA to reduce inflammation, support your immune system or enhance cognitive function, supplements or combining fish oil and sustainable fish as a meal are the best option.

The doses recommended by health care providers can vary. From 500mg to 20 grams, this discrepancy can depend up the intended outcome. Ideally 1-2 grams of fish oil per day should be sufficient.

One more element comes into play when choosing your source-fish oil or krill oil. Krill oil is from phospholipid rich tiny crustaceans also known as “whale food”. Purported to provide the best absorption of DHA and EPA, it also contains astaxanthin and other antioxidants. It is more expensive and yet may be worth the extra investment considering the added benefits to sports performance, eye and cardiovascular health. Dr. Mercola recommends that the krill oil should come from Antarctic krill, be cold processed, free of heavy metals and the company should have a sustainability certificate.

It goes without saying that something as important as a nutrient for your brain should come from a reputable source and not be an oxidized poor quality product. Look for a COA (certificate of analysis) associated with your supplement manufacturer which will confirm their purity claims.

In the pursuit of optimal wellness, incorporate a source of omega-3 fatty acids, ideally from real food, as you balance your sleep, movement and mindfulness.

Ask the Pharmacist: What is inflammaging?

Are you puffy, wrinkling and sagging with a crepey neck and disappearing jawline? Is your visceral fat (belly fat) expanding while you lose lean muscle mass? Do you have pain and stiffness with a decrease in mobility and flexibility coupled with low energy reserve causing fatigue? If you answer yes, it may be time for a mitochondrial prescription to reverse the aging process and put the brakes on energy decline.

According to Dr. Sara Gottfried, “Inflammaging is accelerated aging caused by chronic, low grade inflammation throughout your body”.  From her new book, Younger, Dr. Sara goes on to explain our role in setting up the signs of not so graceful aging by the choices we make in everyday life. Stop upsetting the complex balance between pro and anti-inflammatory mechanisms in your body and set a stage for a healthier metabolism and look younger.

Sift through Dr. Sara Gottfried’s book to find a program that focuses on DNA analysis, and one that has the tools to best support your mitochondria. Who knew how important it could be to know if you are a fast metabolizer of caffeine and medication, or how certain foods can affect your gut microbiome which in turn affects the way you age? Her recommendations include no plastic for water/food storage, eating cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage), increasing quality sleep, moving your body (invest in a stand-up desk), electric toothbrush use with flossing 2-3 daily, supplementing when needed (mainly Vitamin D and Omega 3 FA), creating hormone balance, reframing thinking (identifying unhelpful thoughts) and filtering the air and water in your house.

Your genetics and your epigenetics (how the environment interacts with your genes) have an impact on aging for sure, but even more important for health, is paying attention to how your mitochondria function to give you energy.  Having nutritional deficiencies, a toxic environment or excess sugar can cause damage and inflammation on a cellular level as your powerhouse mitochondria cease to function to capacity. According to Dr. Jack Kruse, it’s all about the electron transport chain (to deep dive into the technical aspect of the mitochondria, seek out his website). In essence, the mitochondria must be able to keep up with your energy needs to keep you looking and feeling young.

Dr. Kruse’s mitochondrial prescription to decrease inflammation includes incorporating light of the correct spectrum into your day. Stand outside, preferably barefoot, in contact with the earth and look toward, not at, the sun and get full spectrum light into the mitochondria of your eyes. He also recommends walking or camping in a pine forest for the increased oxygen, drinking pure spring water, eating marine foods, meditating and keeping your blood sugar in an optimal range as ways to keep your energy fires stoked to prevent inflammation.

Dave Asprey’s new book, Head Strong has an entire program dedicated to improving your mitochondrial function to reduce inflammation to keep your brain functioning well. The easiest and least expensive recommendations are similar to Dr. Kruse’s ideas. “Expose your eyes and bare skin to natural direct sunlight for 10-20 minutes every day” is first on Dave’s list. However, decreasing your exposure to blue light from our tech world of TV, computers and cell phones, especially at night, is beneficial for better sleep quality.  He then suggests getting your muscles active in the morning, deep breathing, and meditation (or mindfulness exercises) to increase the growth of nerve tissue. The brain benefits of reducing physical, chemical and emotional stress are just as important as eating organic nutritionally dense food. Dave’s bulletproof diet principles point out that fat is necessary to boost cognition, learning, memory, and mood. Remember to include those omega 3 fatty acids        ( EPA and DHA) from wild caught Alaskan salmon and sardines into your diet as well as coconut oil, olive oil, eggs and avocados. Throw in brightly colored vegetables and fruits that have polyphenols and bioflavonoids and you will produce an abundance of chemical messengers for brain health.

Inflammaging is complex, involving not only your body’s organs and tissues but the healthy functioning of your millions of mitochondria. The choices that you make and how you treat your body can directly influence inflammation which in turn affects how rapidly you age. Make an effective plan to gracefully age with a focus on preventing or slowing the onset of inflammation by picking a protocol that matches what works for you. Now is the time to eat, sleep, think, move and supplement for vitality.

Sleep Like a Beauty

Baby it’s dark outside. That feeling of wanting to lie down for a long winter’s nap kicks in when our daylight hours dwindle and mostly dark hours or gray sky predominate. The lucky ones who can fall asleep and stay asleep with little effort love to sleep. But what if you are so tired or so wired that you miss out on your forty winks. Is it detrimental to your health to sleep less than 8 hours? As it turns out, sleep, while still not fully understood, is vital for your vitality.

If you have opened your eyes in the morning after a good night of sleep and noticed increased energy, a sparkle in your eyes and better mood, you have experienced the profound effect that sleep has on your body. Reduced inflammation, decreased production of stress hormones, lowered risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and weight loss are benefits of that wonderful night of shut eye. You can thank your production of melatonin and prolactin which act as powerful antioxidants and immune system modulators, as well as giving your adrenals a rest.

The delicate balance of those same hormones along with cortisol, leptin, insulin and neurotransmitters can be disturbed if you allow yourself to stay up past 11 PM or stare at TV, laptops, tablets or smart phones late into the night. The blue light can be blocked with special screens or glasses, but better yet, make your bedroom that sleep sanctuary. Spend the next weekend taking out clutter, removing the TV, blocking the windows or other light sources, bringing in wonderful pillows, bedcoverings and essential oils, then feel the power of what happens when you sleep in a cool, dark comfortable room. 

What if you have trouble falling asleep even after you have prepared your room. There are triggers that can hinder your ability to sleep well, and they are easily avoided.  Nix the caffeine, nicotine and alcohol as they all can cause stimulation later during the night. Restrict what you eat and drink 3 to 4 hours before bedtime by eating a smaller dinner that avoids spicy and difficult to digest foods. A small amount of fat, like MCT oil at dinner or before bed as brain fuel has been suggested to help tide you over until morning. Exercise early in the day and save yoga and stretching for the evening hours just before a warm Epsom salt bath. Establish your bedtime routine and include meditation or journaling to set your intension to clear your mind and relax.

If you have practiced and completed all of thet practices for best slumber rituals and still have problems with sleep, there are answers beyond “sleeping pills”. Most over the counter sleep aids are no more than antihistamines that will cause drowsiness and can help, but you will experience side effects. There are herbal preparations or botanicals that contain passion flower, hops, valerian root and lemon balm that are effective without the hang-over effect that some prescription medications create. A very safe and effective aid for inducing relaxation is magnesium and it is in Epsom salt.

Magnesium can also be taken orally and the form you select is very important. Choose a magnesium chelate for better absorption and less gastrointestinal side effects like loose stool; and, as a bonus, it can alleviate painful leg cramps. Magnesium L-threonate helps with racing thoughts and should be taken 30 minutes before bedtime, magnesium malate for pain of fibromyalgia and magnesium citrate for constipation. Products that combine magnesium with botanicals, GABA and L-theonine can be beneficial as well.

The quality of your sleep is most important and there are apps that track your sleep and teach you how to sleep better and wake you softly when you are at the lightest cycle of your sleep state. One such biohacking app is called Sleep Cycle, and it has many features to help you get a great night of sleep bliss.

Regenerate and repair your body during this lovely winter and improve your mental and physical health.

She Means Business

Introducing Deirdre Kohley, RPh and Ramona Wallace, DO, two souls crossing paths at the perfect moment, dreaming of bringing functional medicine to our corner of the world and drawing on their love for our community, have created Bluewater Wellness. Expect to feel joyful, alive and vibrant when you partner with these health care professionals, who use a systems-oriented approach to heal your body, mind and spirit. Using the buzz word multipassionate is an apt description of these two as they get ready to embrace all those who are ready to do whatever it takes to feel and be healthy.

While we know that health is more than the absence of disease and that symptoms are the clues that there is an underlying problem in the body’s innate ability to function as nature intended, the path to achieve wellness has been hijacked in the current traditional medicine approach. Functional medicine is about the structure and function of the body and is the main impetus around Bluewater Wellness incorporating multidisciplinary practitioners to help you create a path to optimal health. They look at lifestyle, diet, genetics, personal history, environment as well as interpersonal relationships to ferret out the root causes of problems and then coach you on your journey. By using information about the underlying process that leads to your illness and specific lab testing, your unique plan is created and co-managed by you and your health coach.

Dee is a member of A4M (the American Academy of Anti-aging Medicine) and as a pharmacist, has been focusing on Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy, health coaching, and the role  nutrition as well as other lifestyle choices plays in an individual’s overall health concerns or chronic disease state. She began as an inpatient hospital pharmacist, moved on to manage retail pharmacies in the area and is currently a consultant pharmacist at Watkins Pharmacy and Surgical Supply.

Ramona is a member of The Institute of Functional Medicine and is board certified in Family Practice Medicine.  She has been a practicing physician since 1993 and is presently the Medical Director at Muskegon Family Care. Dr. Wallace has published on childhood obesity and is supporting several local programs to increase community access to healthy food and activities. She has been instrumental in raising awareness about the importance of oral health by partnering with the U of M Dentistry outreach program. She is deeply committed to supporting the research proving the correlation between early childhood trauma and extensive future health risk.

The dream of serving the community by changing the fee-for-service model of health care to a uniquely tailored plan for each individual is merely a beginning for Bluewater Wellness. Eventually, group visits and a membership based practice will be offered to decrease costs and provide the support that many people with chronic conditions need to thrive while healing.

To perpetuate the “dream on” version of their excitement, bimonthly educational seminars based on the four most influential aspects in health care improvement are scheduled for this fall and winter.  Food based instruction about shopping, cooking and eating that has been a neglected part of the health care equation, will be offered as well.

Bluewater is excited to have two additional partners.  Werner Absenger PhD, MSc, a mind-body medicine research scientist, who uses guided imagery, meditation, a mindful eating program, yoga, and hypnosis to assist people with chronic diseases, will offer classes and private instruction.  David Wallace, L.AC., Dipl. O.M. will provide acupuncture & Chinese Medicine consultation to marry their western and eastern medicine philosophies.

Having hope for a healthy future for our community, two women shared a vision over coffee one afternoon last winter and are open to all who are willing to participate in partnering with them on their path to wellness.

You are invited to learn more about the seminar offered on Monday, September 12 at 6:30 pm by calling Bluewater Wellness at 231-730-5211. The office is located at 17212 Van Wagoner Road in Spring Lake. Visit the website for more information about this exciting new practice at

Turn This Ship Around

What if there was something you could do to change your health? What if you could wake up every morning and jump out of bed and feel fantastic? What would you be willing to do to make that happen?

It really is all about how you eat, sleep, think, move and supplement. This not so comfortable body didn’t happen overnight; instead it was a gradual thickening of your waist and weakening of your muscles. Your recovery from this slide into the next size up is but a decision away and that change in attitude is your gift to you. Get ready for smooth sailing after a few adjustments to your lifestyle.

How you eat determines your level of inflammation and inflammation causes disease.  What you eat determines how you feel and eating food that damages your cells can slowly destroy your body in subtle ways. Why wait until you are a physical mess and taking prescription drugs to manage symptoms?  What is keeping you from beginning this journey of food discovery? There are a number of books that can demystify the process.  The book, The Elimination Diet, by Tom Malterre and Alissa Segersten is the guide you will need to change the way you think about food. No gluten? No sugar? No dairy? What else is left for me to eat you exclaim! Instead, think about what it would be like to feel great by just refusing that donut, soda, and fast food meal. What if you could avoid surgical procedures, painful muscle cramping, agonizing migraine headaches, debilitating diarrhea or constipation just by finding out which foods to never let past your lips? Once you get used to cooking again, you will discover how wonderful you feel by just eating real food.

Another favorite book, The Hormone Reset Diet, by Dr. Sara Gottfried, is easy to follow and gives you the science behind why food is such an important part of living an optimal life. By removing certain foods every three days, cooling inflammation and then adding them back one at a time, you will be able to determine which foods are causing your symptoms. There may be some uncomfortable moments when you decide to eliminate foods like sugar and grains as they are addictive in nature.  Grab a partner and go on an amazing journey of discovery and support each other as you learn about the power of food.

So much healing happens when you sleep.  A healthy sleep pattern can help you lose weight, heal your adrenals, improve your mood, and strengthen your immune system.  Because proper sleep is important for brain detoxification, just using sleeping pills may not be the answer for a restful night as they can interfere with your daytime mental acuity. There are a number of ways to improve the quality and quantity your hours of rest. Make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary by keeping it cool, dark, smelling great, and free of distractions such as television, computers and cell phones. Check out the research on circadian rhythms and electro-magnetic fields at

Happiness is a choice. It is a phrase, a book, a lifestyle that is a decision away for many of us.  From the teachings of Eckhart Tolle, we learn that by becoming aware of your thoughts, especially negative ones, one can become connected to the “you” behind the voice in your head. There are ways to elevate your happiness and feel better about your life. In fact that is the description of an app called Happify. Become your own biggest fan by making a choice to seek out happiness by focusing on methods to improve your thinking. Optimal Living 101 is a fantastic course brought to life by Brian Johnson, the author of the Philosophers Notes.

Why is movement so important? Exercise is a way to produce endorphins which are neurotransmitters that generally make you feel amazing. Better yet, get grounded by putting your bare feet on the ground and moving. Walk on the beach, choose to practice yoga in your back yard, or just decide to incorporate some form of movement and feel the difference it makes when you go about your everyday routine.

Why is supplementation necessary?  Even when you have made a conscious decision to eat mostly organic locally grown food, grass fed meat, wild caught fish and avoid inflammatory foods; you still may need to add some micronutrients in supplement form. Vitamin D, which is created naturally from your skin’s exposure to sunlight, is a good example of a nutrient that is vitally important for more than just bone health. If you live in the north and especially in the winter, it is probably necessary to take oral Vitamin D to reach and maintain a healthy blood level of 40-60 ng/ml to promote optimal wellness.  Get tested and find out your 25-hydroxy vitamin D level. You can participate in a study called D*Action Project by GrassrootsHealth .

Properly prescribed prescription medications can cause nutrient depletion. An example of a notoriously overprescribed class of medications that can now, unfortunately, be purchased over the counter are proton pump inhibitors or PPI for acid reflux. Among other problems, PPI can cause magnesium deficiency which can lead to muscle pain, nausea, weakness, irritability, hypertension, constipation, abnormal heart rhythm, migraines and other symptoms. If you do not equate those symptoms with magnesium deficiency, you may be given a prescription for another medication to treat them and it may not be what you need.

Are multiple vitamins necessary? How important is fish oil, vitamin C, iodine or any other form of supplements you hear mentioned for health maintenance or better function? Discuss it with a health care practitioner who has studied the benefits of micronutrients.

What will you choose to do to create optimal wellness? Change course and decide to give yourself the best food, the best rest, the best thoughts, the best activity, and the best nutrients to live your best life.