Happy March! This episode is our monthly wellness review, where we cover four different topics.
In this episode, we discuss:
➡️Wellness Journey: What is “healthy”
➡️ Supplement Discussion: Copper
Lifestyle Medicine with Dr. Harris
[00:00:00] Join me, Dr. Richard Harris, as we strive to unlock the secret to the human body. Strive for wellness strive for great health. Follow the show on iTunes, Spotify, Google, and Android.
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We focus on lifestyle medicine, and you may be asking, well, what’s lifestyle medicine. We like to describe it as everything we do throughout the day is either making deposits or withdrawals from our wellness account, and lifestyle medicine is making sure we’re making many more deposits than withdrawals.
So we have a nice wellness account that helps prevent disease and reverse disease if we have it. And we do this through our online courses, where we go through everything you need to know about lifestyle medicine, nutrition, exercise, meditation, fasting, breathwork, and more. But we also combine that with mindset.
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And now to this week’s episode. Hello and welcome to this episode of The Strive for Great Health Podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Richard Harris, and this is our March wellness review. And so, you know the story, if you’ve been following the podcast for a while, this is the episode where we talk about a wellness journey, an article, actually, two articles, and then we end on a supplement. So let’s kick things right off. We have no news to discuss. So we’re going to jump right into this week’s episode. And the wellness journey topic is what is healthy? And this is something that I hear all the time, especially of late with COVID.
You hear Oh, so-and-so was young; they were healthy. Well, what does healthy actually mean? Like what is healthy? And I know that what people think of in conventional medicine is healthy; oftentimes, we in integrative or functional medicine do not think of healthy. A lot of times in society now or in the media, or even in conversation, people will think that obesity is healthy.
You saw the Cosmo article; you hear you can be fat and fit. I don’t like to use that term fat. It has a negative connotation. I like to say that you have excess adipose tissue, and that places you at risk for certain diseases, but lack of medical conditions does not make you healthy. It does not. It’s not the opposite.
Like lack of medical conditions is not equal to healthy because there can be things brewing underneath the surface. Well, how do you know if you don’t check? And then if you check, you have to check the right things. And that’s why part of our wellness [00:04:00] courses, I outlined, here are the things that I check on everyone once a year.
And the things that I check for myself because you’re looking for cracks in the armor. You’re looking for change. You’re looking for things that you need to correct before they become a problem. And you can do that with the right lab assessment. But the problem is also that a lot of providers, unfortunately, don’t know how to interpret labs, and they’d just look at the reference range and say, Oh, you’re in the reference range, and you’re normal.
And we know that’s not the case; just because you’re in the reference range doesn’t mean that things are optimal. And just because you’re in the reference range doesn’t mean that there can’t be a dysfunction that could be exacerbating disease, or if you have the wrong genetics or in the wrong environment that could be causing a disease.
So there’s an optimal range inside that reference range. And those are the ranges that we’ll use in integrative medicine. The other thing is that sometimes the lab test is not ideal for what you’re measuring. For instance, like magnesium, most of our magnesium is our bone. And so the blood magnesium test is a surrogate for where the magnesium is actually stored, and it’s poorly correlated to overall magnesium stores, but there is some evidence like if your magnesium is less than two, that that’s a deficiency and you want it ideally between two and 2.5.
So lack of medical conditions does not mean you’re healthy. If you don’t test, if you don’t test the right things, and if you don’t know how to read the reference ranges correctly, that doesn’t mean you’re healthy. Another example I like to use is blood sugars. We know that if you have a fasting blood sugar above 95 in that range of 95 to a hundred, that actually is when your increased risk of diabetes develops.
And that’s also where some diseases are associated with that because that’s when you start becoming insulin resistant. And it’s the same thing with the A1C. If your A1C is 5.5 or 5.6, most docs are gonna say, Oh, you’re normal, but we know that the increased risk actually starts at 5.5, that you’re starting to show signs of insulin resistance, and that can exacerbate or lead to disease in the future.
So we need to know how to interpret these labs correctly. The next thing I want to talk about is young does not equate to healthy. Unfortunately, we still think in this day and age that just because you’re young, you’re healthy. 20% of kids are obese; last time I looked at that number could be even higher.
Now I don’t really follow pediatric literature because I’m an adult doctor. The last time I looked at this about a year ago, 20% of kids were obese. 12% of kids have fatty liver disease. We’re going to see kids in their thirties in liver failure and cirrhosis because they got diagnosed with fatty liver disease when they were eight.
I see this all the time. And it’s something we’ve talked about on this podcast. I’ll see in the hospital; people in their thirties, early thirties on dialysis, have heart attacks, have strokes because they got diagnosed with high blood pressure or obesity or diabetes when they were not even in their teens.
Some of these people got diagnosed with these things, and they weren’t even of double-digit age. And so just because you’re young doesn’t mean you’re healthy. Blue Cross Blue Shield survey from a couple of years ago showed that this generation, my generation, the millennial generation is actually the unhealthiest generation ever, ever recorded.
So we can not think just because you’re young, you’re healthy. We can not think that way anymore. And so the other thing, the last thing I want to talk about what is being healthy is your behaviors. So if you’re not getting adequate sleep, you’re not healthy. If you’re not eating a whole foods nutrition plan, you’re not healthy.
If you don’t have an active stress mitigation technique in your wellness plan, you’re not healthy. So you can’t be team, no sleep and be healthy. You can’t [00:08:00] be, Oh, I’m stressed out. You know, I’m smoking weed every day to calm my nerves, or I’m drinking every night to go to bed to calm my nerves, but I’m healthy.
No, that’s not it. So unless we’re doing all the behaviors, all the lifestyle medicine things to be healthy, we’re not actually healthy because those things can lead to or exacerbate disease again, in the right environment or if you have, unfortunately, the wrong genetics. And just like we mentioned before, I said that that was the last thing, but I want to bring this back because this is such a hot topic.
Obesity rates are supposed to triple by 2030; that’s nine years. Sorry, obesity rates are not supposed to triple by 23, that’s, Alzheimer’s. Obesity rates are supposed to hit 50%, 50% by 2030; that’s nine years, and obesity is a pro-inflammatory state; it changes hormone concentrations. What we do with excess body fat is we store toxins there.
So actually, if you are in the presence of toxins, one of the things that happens is you activate a system called PPAR, and it tells your body to make more body fat to store those toxins. Obesity also causes physical and mechanical changes. Sleep apnea is caused by obesity; excess body fat in the neck causes a compressive effect on the muscles in the neck.
So the airway can’t stay open. It changes chest ventilation. It changes your ability to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide. That’s why obesity is a major risk factor for severe COVID. We’re going to talk about that next. And then it causes a compressive effect on the joints.
Every extra pound you have is about three pounds of pressure on your knees. So if you have extra 10 pounds, that’s about 30 pounds of extra pressure on your knees; that adds up very quickly. So we need to change the notion of what we think of as healthy in this country based upon these things. And that’s one of the reasons why I pressed the lifestyle medicine courses because that is the ideal way to be healthy.
Is what are we doing every day in our daily life that’s adding to our wellness account, and what are we doing that’s subtracting from it? And then how close are we going to going bankrupt? And that’s the purpose of the testing? It’s how close are you to going bankrupt. How close are you to developing a chronic disease, or God forbid, have you already developed chronic disease?
So let’s move into article one; the title of this article and the articles you can get a couple of ways you can join our Facebook group Strive for Great Health Podcast Facebook group. I will also have a link to my Google Drive on the website. So I have a blog post now that has the links to how you can find the episodes on your preferred podcast platform.
It’ll also have links to the articles and supplements and all of that on the website as well. And then, the group, the Strive for Health Podcast Facebook group, has the Google Drive links as well. So article one is called coronavirus disease, 2019 hospitalizations attributable to cardio-metabolic conditions in the United States, a comparative risk assessment.
And now, so background, and I think this is the most thought-provoking portion of this. The US has 5% of the world’s population but 25% of the world’s death. So if all things were equal, you would expect to see the death rate mirror the population rate, but we have five X the amount of deaths that we should based upon our population.
So you have to say, why is that? And the answer is metabolic health. And we know that metabolic health is a major risk factor for hospitalizations and [00:12:00] mortality in COVID. In a previous meta-analysis, hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, each of these had a two to three-fold increase in severe cases of COVID in the New York study.
One of the first studies that came out when COVID hit the US, diabetes, hypertension had a higher risk. In fact, a 35-year-old with diabetes, hypertension, or cardiovascular disease, or other co-morbid conditions had the same risk of hospitalization as a 75-year-old with no medical conditions. I’m going to say that again, a 35-year-old with diabetes, hypertension, or cardiovascular disease, or other co-morbid conditions had the same risk of hospitalization from COVID as a 75-year-old with no conditions.
So it was like these cardio-metabolic diseases aged you physiologically 40 years to where you now have the same risk profile as someone four decades older than you. And you have the same risk of death as a 65-year-old with no medical conditions. This is astonishing, and that just shows you how important cardio-metabolic health is.
So let’s continue. Half of American adults are diabetic or pre-diabetic; nearly half have hypertension and 75% are either overweight or obese. And as we talked about earlier, that number is only increasing. So if you look at this as a whole, we are a very sick country. Then you throw in the fact that 60% of adults have a chronic disease, 40% have two, and you can really start to surmise that really the COVID pandemic here in the US is a cardio-metabolic thing.
If we had better cardio-metabolic health, things would be alive different. And so this is what the study looked at. It was a nationally represented study. They looked at demographics, you know, cardio-metabolic conditions, age, sex, race, and they were looking at the independent relationship of cardio-metabolic conditions with hospitalizations.
And so these conditions included diabetes, obesity, hypertension, heart failure. And they also looked at things like age, sex, race, tobacco use, lipids, COPD, and they calculated something called an odds ratio. So an odds ratio is a ratio of odds, you know, adequate naming there, odds ratio, a ratio of odds, of something happening in one group versus another group.
And the way the statistics were done is they looked at the estimate of risk for diabetes that would be attributed to diabetes alone above and beyond the risk of other existing diseases. So we know that these co-morbid diseases often happen together. Some people say diabesity right, diabetes, obesity.
They happen together. A lot of us we’ve been seeing the COVID triad, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and these people do far worse. So they are looking at okay If you have someone that has these conditions, what is the risk attributed to just the diabetes? And so because confirmed cases only represent a fraction of the cases, the fraction of the hospitalizations, this data may actually underestimate the total COVID-19 hospitalizations.
But because of that, the odds ratio approximates something that we call the risk ratio. And this is the measure of probability of something in one group versus the probability in another group. So this is some statistics. I’m going to post an article on the blog page that outlines the difference between these two, because it’s not in the scope of this podcast to go into that.
But I think it’s important that you know the difference between the odds and then the probability. So what are the results? This is why you’re here. This is why you’re still listening. Okay. What did this study show? [00:16:00] Obesity had the largest effect on hospitalizations; 30.2% of the hospitalizations of COVID were the result of obesity, followed by 25.5% for hypertension, 20.5% for diabetes, and heart failure was 11.7% CKD, 12%.
If you looked at diabetes and hypertension combined, that was 40.7%. Diabetes and obesity combined was 44.5%. And then, if you look at diabetes, hypertension, obesity, it was 58.7%. And then if you added heart failure, 63.5. So the takeaway there is 63.5% of the hospitalizations in this country for COVID would likely have been prevented if we didn’t have these cardio-metabolic conditions that were so rampant, and you don’t have to remember these numbers; they will be in the transcripts. I do transcribe all the audio on the podcast. It takes forever to go through them, but I want you guys to have those up there. So by raw numbers, obesity accounted for about 274,000 hospitalizations hypertension, 247,000 diabetes, 185,000, in all four jointly rounding out to a near 600,000 hospitalizations.
Diabetes accounted for 7.8% of the hospitalizations for those 18 to 49 versus 28.9% for those 65 plus. Heart failure was 2.4% in the young, 20.9% in the older cohort hypertension; it was 10.2% versus 34.8%. Obesity was actually the same. It was 20% for the young, 21.4% for the old, but severe obesity BMI above 40 was actually highest in the younger portion.
13.5% versus 9.3%. So all four conditions accounted for about 44.2% of hospitalizations among those 18 to 49. And then 64.5% of those 50 to 64 and then 73.9% of those 65 and above. So what are these numbers showing basically that a lot of the hospitalizations were due to co-morbid conditions, specifically obesity, hypertension, diabetes.
A 10% reduction in diabetes would prevent about 2.7% of the hospitalizations. 10% reduction in hypertension, about 3.5%. 10% reduction obesity, 3.9%, 10%, heart failure, 1.4%. So you combine all four of these. A 10% reduction would prevent 11.7% of the hospitalizations. So if we had a 50% reduction, it would decrease 55% of the hospitalizations. Things would have looked dramatically different in this country, dramatically different.
If cardio-metabolic disease wasn’t our number one problem. And this is what we talked about on the forgotten pandemic episode, just how sick this country really is and how it’s just a powder keg waiting for an explosion. We are going to collapse under the health of this country. Militaries is number one problem; they can’t find healthy recruits
Companies problem; they’re paying so much for insurance. And then there’s the indirect cost; people missing work because of these things, the disability, because of them is just staggering, and it’s getting worse. So let’s move into the discussion by race. Black adults generally have the highest proportion of COVID-19 hospitalizations for the cardiometabolic conditions mentioned except for diabetes, which was higher with Hispanics.
This goes along with other data from March 1st of 2020 to March 30th of 2020; 89% of the hospitalizations had one underlying medical condition. And so what is it about [00:20:00] cardio-metabolic diseases that puts us at higher risk for COVID hospitalizations and worse COVID outcomes? Well, it’s associated with poor innate and adaptive immune response.
We talked about those two arms of the immune system on our balancing the immune system podcast. Definitely go listen to that. If you haven’t listened to it, it outlines the entire function of our immune system and how you can balance it and why you don’t want underactive immune system, but why you don’t want an overactive immune system.
Why else does cardiometabolic conditions have adverse outcomes in COVID? Obesity, like we talked about earlier, reduces pulmonary function. It reduces ventilatory reserve. It reduces the capacity for your lungs to adjust if there’s a problem. Also, these cardio-metabolic conditions are associated with endothelial dysfunction.
This means that the blood vessels themselves have issues delivering blood, taking blood away from tissues. There’s chronic inflammation, which can lead the clots. It can lead to inflammation around the blood vessels. It can lead to disrupted blood flow and the capillaries, you know, our smallest blood vessels that are right next to the tissue.
And then individuals with cardio-metabolic disease often have poor quality nutrition plans, and they’re low in essential nutrients like zinc, like selenium, iron, quercetin, EGCG, the green tea wonder chemical, Vitamin A, C, D, E, and then B vitamins and folate. So all of these are essential to normal mitochondrial function, normal antioxidant function, and normal immune function, which all of those things are essential to helping your body not overreact to an infection and helping your body heal from an infection.
Physical inactivity increases inflammation, reduces immune system function. People don’t move enough. People don’t get exercise. And that directly impacts your immune system directly impacts inflammation. And one of the things that really grinds my gears is that for so long, so many of these experts that are reaching millions of people did not do anything to talk about cardio-metabolic health. We’ve been in this for over a year now, and sometimes people will say to me, well, it takes a long time for those benefits to kick in. It actually doesn’t; there is data that shows that rapid improvements in cardio-metabolic markers can happen with changes in nutrition, independent of weight loss.
I’m going to say this again. Trials indicate that rapid improvements in cardio-metabolic markers happen with changes in nutrition alone, even without weight loss. So there are studies where in six to eight weeks, people reduce their blood pressure by 12 to 16, their LDL by 12 to 14, their actual counts, and we talked about this in the cholesterol, the truth about cholesterol episode actually reducing their particle counts by six to 10%. And then, markers of insulin resistance can also rapidly improve. So one study had patients lose about 12 pounds and four centimeters in waist circumference at 12 months without calorie restriction; all they did was switch them to nutrient-dense foods.
And we’ve talked about that on the podcast before, that if you’re eating single ingredient, nutrient-dense foods, you can have improvement in these markers in body composition and markers of insulin resistance and markers of blood function independent of weight loss and independent of calorie restriction.
So that’s what grinds my gears is that if people have been pushing this message from the very beginning, the whole dynamic of this pandemic would have been [00:24:00] very different, very different. So what are the limitations of this study? Causation/correlation. You know, we’ve talked about that before. The confounders, there could be residual confounders that aren’t accounted for in this model.
And then actually, continuous variables may have been a better measure than the static variables. And then missed cases may cause an underestimation of the total cases, which we talked about earlier could throw off some of the data. What’s your key takeaway here? What’s your conclusion? Get yourself metabolically healthy.
That’s the whole point. You know, I think that metabolic health is probably the most important thing, and this pandemic has really shown that. Well, how do you do that? If you want to know, our wellness courses, that’s what they’re designed for. They’re designed to optimize wellness; they’re designed to prevent disease.
And if you have a chronic disease, to begin to heal yourself, get your body in the right state to heal.
Article two effectiveness of mindfulness meditation versus headache education for adults with migraine, a randomized clinical trial. Background migraines are actually the second leading cause of disability worldwide; very common. And I used to suffer from migraines. I know how disabling they could be. Actually had migraines with aura. So I would see halos around the lights. I would start to tingle on the left side of my face, down my arm, and then I’ll get nauseous. Sometimes I would throw up, and then the headache would come, always left, sided, pounding headache, like someone was just driving an ice pick into my brain.
So now I don’t have migraines. We’ll talk about that a little bit. So two-thirds of migraine patients discontinue medications due to inefficacy or adverse effects. That’s a huge number of people that are not getting relief from their medications because they weren’t working or they’re having side effects; mindfulness-based stress reduction teaches momentary awareness, decreased sensory precept of judgment.
So it improves the way that we perceive and think about pain. And it’s also been shown to improve chronic pain. It helps diminish the stress associated with chronic pain, and stress is actually the number one trigger of migraines. Actually, migraines are usually triggered by lifestyle things.
They can be triggered by nutrition if you’re eating a lot of processed foods, that can trigger migraines. If you’re eating a high carbohydrate intake, that can trigger migraines. If you’re not getting enough nutrients, especially some of the B vitamins and magnesium, that can trigger migraines. If you’re stressed, if you’re not sleeping, that can trigger migraines.
If you’re sedentary, that can trigger migraines. My migraines are actually triggered by high carbohydrate intake. I used to have about 10 migraine headaches a month, and I had it for decades. You know, from the time I was 13 to the time I was about 32, I had migraines. Mom has migraines; sister has migraines. So I have a genetic trigger. Once I really started to take my health seriously, I was able to holistically heal myself of my migraines. My migraines came back briefly when I introduced a new product in my routine that had artificial sugar in it. I found that took away the artificial sugar migraines went away again. So I’m migraine-free after having migraines 9 to 10 a month for years.
And it wasn’t medication; it was all lifestyle. So let’s get back into the study. We’re still in the background. Mindfulness has also been shown to help decrease affective, which is pain, unpleasantness, and sensory, which is pain intensity by activating brain [00:28:00] regions involved in cognition and pain modulation.
So the study, they recruited adults who had between 4 to 20 migraines per month with a one-year history of migraines. And they randomized people one-to-one to either receive the mindfulness or the headache education, and then people could continue with their current migraine regimens, but they needed to be stable on their regimens.
The mindfulness-based stress reduction was a two-hour group class for eight weeks, once a week. And in this class, they teach mindfulness meditation, some yoga techniques, and then the headache instruction class received instruction on headaches, the pathophysiology of headaches, triggers, information about stress treatment approaches.
And then, the mindfulness people were told to practice at home 30 minutes a day; the participants met with the investigators at week 12, 24, and 36. And the primary outcome was a change in monthly migraine frequency at 12 weeks. And the secondary outcomes were headache day frequency, intensity, unpleasantness, duration.
They also measured something called QST or quantitative sensory testing. And this was done to see how people rate pain, intensity, and unpleasantness using a temperature probe. So they were trying to see where these markers improved by the mindfulness regimen. So the results, the baseline demographics were balanced between the study.
It was mainly women, mainly white women, age around 43, and 94% were college graduates. The only real difference between the two were participants in the headache-only group use more acute medications, about 70% versus 40%. And then, on average, participants had 7.3 migraine days per month and then 9.6 headaches per month.
So this group was pretty similar to the group that I was in, and the class is 84%, and 82% attended five out of eight classes with a median attendance of seven classes. So it’s actually pretty well tolerated for the people in the group. And the mindfulness group practiced the techniques on average for about four days a week for about 32 minutes a day.
And then, post-treatment, they monitor them post-treatment and see how they were doing. They still did it for about 2.5 days a week for about 27 minutes, and program satisfaction was measured, and it was high in both groups, but it was actually higher in the mindfulness group. So people love mindfulness when they actually start engaging in it because you viscerally feel different.
I feel different on the days I do not meditate. So the primary outcome, both groups had a reduction in migraine days per month. At 12 weeks, the mindfulness-based group was about 1.6 days, the headache education group about two days. Secondary outcomes, headache, frequency, how many days per month decreased by two in the mindfulness group, 2.4 and the headache education group, and migraine frequency decreased by about 2.2 days in the mindfulness group, 2.7 days in the headache group.
The mindfulness-based group also has statistically significant improvements in headache-related disability, quality of life, self-efficacy pain, catastrophizing, meaning that they weren’t feeling a sense of impending doom or like their life was over, the pain would never end, you know, going down that rabbit hole that we sometimes get in.
Also depression. And each one was a medium to large effect. And there’s also improvements in anxiety. And their overall rating of mindfulness but not statistically significant. And then, the QST that quantitative sensory testing revealed that the mindfulness had a decrease in a perception of experimental pain and unpleasantness, and the headache education group did not.
And get this it was a 36.3% decrease in intensity and a 30.4% reduction in unpleasantness. While the headache education group actually had an increase by 13.5% and intensity and 11.2% in unpleasantness. So what does this [00:32:00] mean? The mindfulness actually decreased their headache days and actually decreased the way that they felt the pain and how they felt about pain.
That’s monumental. So we’re diving into the discussion now, and this is cooperating. Previous evidence shows that behavior, weight, loss, and headache education can decrease migraine frequency by about three to four headaches per month. The authors are actually surprised that the study showed headache education, decreased frequency as well.
I’m not really surprised by that because the more you know about your body, the more you can intervene on things that are happening, the more you can abort these headaches before they come on, you realize your triggers, you realize your stress. And this is interesting because it’s not like a control group or a placebo-controlled study because the headache education is a comparative group.
And so what the authors theorized is that the migraine knowledge provided empowerment and led to behavioral changes associated with improved overall wellbeing, which is important. You know, ideally, I think that you should have headache education and mindfulness training. You should learn about the pathophysiology.
You should learn about the triggers, and then you should also have the mindfulness, the meditation, yoga, Tai Chi to help and round out that treatment plan. So another meta-analysis recently showed that therapeutic patient education programs had strong to moderate evidence for improvement in headache frequency.
And so the authors also theorized that mindfulness-based stress reduction improved pain, unpleasantness, and pain intensity through regulation of what we call nociceptive signals. These are pain signals and training individuals to reassess sensory inputs in a nonjudgmental way, which is really important.
So it’s basically turning into the pain. So instead of turning away from the pain and shunning it and saying, go away, I don’t want you, you turn into it, accept the pain. And then begin to reassess how you judge and how you think about the pain, and these effects persisted out to 36 weeks, indicating that the mindfulness group, I learned a new way of processing their pain.
And the study is consistent with other studies showing a positive impact on mindfulness on migraine frequency. In fact, previous studies have showed that mindfulness reduces headache, frequency as much as pharmacological intervention. And actually, this study showed that there was 5.9 fewer days of disability per month, which actually surpasses pharmacologic intervention.
I always tell people if you’re depending on medications to heal you, they’re not going to. You have to heal yourself, and you have to look at your lifestyle, and you have to come up with a comprehensive treatment plan. And that’s one of the reasons I’m so passionate about lifestyle medicine, because it is the core of every treatment plan, prevention, and treatment for chronic disease.
So one of the key limitations of this study is it lacked diversity of patients in general. They were only Caucasian, and they were highly educated. And as the study mentioned, it was a comparator group, not a control group. So that changes some of the study dynamics. But what’s the key takeaway here. If you have migraines or some other type of chronic headache, please do some mindfulness, do some stress reduction.
Aim for about 30 minutes doesn’t have to be consecutively; aim for about 30 minutes a day, four times a week. And you will see an improvement in your headaches and your perception of pain. I know because I did. It’s one of the things I did that I got rid of my migraines, and it’s one of the things that dramatically helped my sciatica as well.
And we talk about this more and our functional approach to chronic pain episode. So let’s end this, we’re going to talk about our Rootine supplement copper. So we’re still in our Rootine series where we’re going over the supplements, the individual [00:36:00] vitamins and minerals that are in a Rootine, one of our favorite wellness tools.
So copper, what does it do? It’s actually heavy metal, and we’ve talked about heavy metals on the podcast before, usually, in a bad light, you know, cadmium, lead, mercury. We know that these are things that have adverse effects on our health. Copper is actually necessary for normal functioning. You can’t have too little copper.
That’s bad. You can’t have too much copper; that’s bad. So what does copper do? Copper is involved in the absorption of iron. So it’s involved with making red blood cells, involved with the regulation of blood pressure. It’s necessary for the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase. We’ve talked about SOD before, helps our body deal with oxygen-free radicals.
Copper itself has some antioxidant functions; it’s necessary for college in production. That’s important for our bones, our connective tissue, our skin; it’s important for the immune system for the balance of our lipids. We talked about lipid balance and the cholesterol episode. Not really sure how it does that, but we know it’s important for it.
It helps with the census of certain molecules; we call catecholamines, norepinephrine, epinephrine, dopamine is actually important for dopamine synthesis. So abnormal copper levels can affect our mood. It’s important for energy generation. It’s involved in the enzymes and the oxygen transport chain. We’re going to talk about that in our mitochondrial or our metabolism podcast; I need to sit down and diagram that one out cause that one’s going to be beast.
Metabolism’s a pretty tricky subject. So we might have to split that into two episodes, but I think that’s going to be the next solo episode I do is metabolism. Spoiler alert. Myelin synthesis, myelin is the part of our nerve cells. It’s on the ends of them. The axons myelin is important for signal transduction.
And melanin copper is stored in the liver. So deficiencies occur slowly over time. Deficiencies are caused by nutrition. So they’re pretty rare, honestly, due to nutrition because we don’t need that much copper, but it does happen. Malabsorptive diseases, so problems with the GI tract, celiac, Crohn’s disease, bariatric surgery.
If you overload on zinc or vitamin C for a prolonged time, you can get copper deficiencies because it competes with absorption. So this is why we don’t like mega-dosing vitamins for a prolonged period of time. Acutely when you’re sick, okay. But not for long periods of time; too much of a good thing is not a good thing.
And then genetics, there’s something called Menke’s syndrome. It’s usually diagnosed in children. It’s very rare. And that’s a problem where you have issues freeing copper up from the liver to go into the bloodstream. Copper excess is caused by Wilson’s disease. It’s a disease where copper can’t bind to the binding protein.
And so there’s excess copper in the tissues, copper contaminated, drinking water, using copper cooking pots. We actually talk about that in our wellness course, what you should be cooking with because some of the things that we cook with, especially all the non-stick stuff, there’s some toxins there. You don’t want to use those.
So we talk about our wellness courses, what you should be using to cook with, and then inflammation can cause copper excess because you can redistribute copper to tissues from the liver. And it’s not supposed to be a lot in the tissue. It’s supposed to be mainly stored in the liver. So symptoms of a copper deficiency, tremors, neuropathy, nerve-tingling, nerve inflammation, unsteady gait, unsteady balance, numbness, fatigue, anemia, visual disturbances, increased infections. Copper levels that are low have been [00:40:00] associated with osteoporosis, arthritis, and inflammation. Copper, excess, some symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pains, metallic taste in the mouth.
You’d get yellowing of the skin because of liver injury, injury to the liver, heart, kidneys, and then inflammation. So, what are the food sources of copper? Oysters, shellfish are a great source, potatoes, peas, beans, green veggies, whole grains, almonds, dark chocolate. So whole foods didn’t see any processed foods listed you.
Genes that we’ll look at. So that ATPB7 gene is associated with Wilson’s, the ATPB8 gene is associated with Menke’s. These are copper transport genes, and what they do is they help copper get excreted into the bile, where it incorporates the protein called ceruloplasmin, which is a copper transport protein.
You can also look at SCLC31A1 gene, which is a copper transport from the digestive tract. And then, you can look at complementary genes like the collagen 1A1, COL1A1 that’s important for collagen synthesis. The APO gene since it’s important for lipid balance and, of course, SOD.
So how do we test for this? You can check RBC copper levels. You can check the ceruloplasmin, and you can check urine copper levels. The RDA is about 900 micrograms per day. Dosing, you usually will see two milligrams and most supplements up to four milligrams for people who are really deficient the upper tolerable limit is about 10 milligrams daily; usually, copper is not something you just want to go and take off the shelf.
It’s usually something that you want to check your levels first and check the supporting genes and things like that, just to make sure. So it’s not something, do not go reach for copper without testing. Side effects, it’s usually well-tolerated in those doses that I mentioned. If you’re starting to get too much copper, you’ll know because of GI effects; you’ll also have a metallic taste.
And then some of those symptoms of copper overload that I talked about will start to kick in the vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pains. And that’s when, if you are taking it back off, go see your physician, get the levels tested. But again, don’t go start taking copper without testing. All right, well, this has been our March wellness review.
Hope you found it informative. So, you know, I really hope that more people join the Facebook group. And the reason is just to talk about the podcast, just to create that podcast community. So sometimes it feels, and I’m just being vulnerable. It feels pretty lonely. I’m sitting in my office here talking into a mic for 30 minutes at a time, and you don’t get to interact with people all the time.
You know, sometimes you hear people say, aw, man, I love your episode. Or my friends listened to your episode; they’re addicted. Well, wellness is a community thing. It takes a village, and I really want to create a wellness community where people are talking about their wellness journey. So if you feel comfortable doing that, come into the Strive for Great Health Podcast Facebook group, and share your wellness story with us.
You never know who your story might help. You know, we say that all the time here in the podcast; sometimes your story isn’t for you, sometimes it’s for somebody else. All right, guys. Well, this has been the Strive for Great Health Podcast with your host, Dr. Richard Harris. Y’all have a blessed day.
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