Dr. Joe Alaimo is a chiropractic physician who concentrates his practice to the treatment of chronic pain, as well as all types of metabolic and neurological conditions. Dr. Joe has over 20 years experience in alternative medicine.
Entrepreneurs face countless problems with money, partners, employees, failure, and never-ending uncertainty. The physical, mental, and emotional consequences can take their toll.
According to researchers, people who own their own businesses tend to be passionate people in the best and worst ways and are more prone to:
Sense of worthlessness
Loss of motivation
Entrepreneurs’ burdens are doubled by the obligation they feel to keep their problems to themselves.
Overwork and poor self-care: a recipe for disabling exhaustion
Researchers also suggest that entrepreneurs struggle with hypomania — a milder version of mania seen in 5 to 10 percent of Americans. This makes them prone to overworking.
Business owners tend to dive into their projects and succumb to poor diet, lack of sleep, not enough social support, and minimal exercise.
These habits make them less resilient emotionally and physically and more prone to health consequences.
Self-care as the foundation for business success
Though running a business or launching a startup is full of stress, you can still support your resilience, health, and energy.
Find emotional support. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. See a mental health professional if you are experiencing symptoms of significant anxiety, PTSD, or depression.
Make time for friends and family. Research shows social connections improve physical health, psychological well-being, and longevity.
Get regular, adequate sleep. According to the CDC, adults who average fewer than seven hours sleep per night are more likely to report chronic health conditions such as heart attack, stroke, asthma, SOPD, arthritis, depression, diabetes, and dementia.
Exercise regularly. Moderate daily exercise helps reduce stress, improve mood, reduce inflammation, improve sleep, manage weight, and support good gut bacteria for better brain function.
Exercise should leave you feeling energized and refreshed. If you exercise and feel exhausted, you over-did it.
Take a digital sabbath. Unplug for an hour every day or a full day on the weekend. It does wonders for your mental and emotional health, and it makes room for real-time social connections that further support your health.
Travel less. When we are on the road — or in an airplane — we face irregular schedules, poor diet, and sleep deprivation. When possible, avoid travel during times of stress.
Schedule time off. Create regularly scheduled time where you have absolutely no commitments, not even wrangling the kids at the playground. Make a day solely for you and only do what brings you joy and rejuvenation.
Support your gut health for good mental health. Our gut microbiome — the community of bacteria present in the digestive tract — is innately tied to many aspects of our health, from energy level to mood and brain function.
An anti-inflammatory diet will help support gut health and your stress resilience.
Eating plentiful and varied produce (with a minimum of fruit to avoid spiking blood sugar) is one of the best ways to support healthy gut bacteria. Aim for five to seven servings per day.
Support your adrenal glands. The health of our adrenal glands can make the difference between being energetic and being burned out.
Adrenal adaptogens, phosphatidylserine, and plenty of sleep are ways to support your adrenals.
Avoid junk food and excess sugar. These items put the adrenal glands into overdrive, draining them of their reserves.
When you support your health your energy increases, your mental focus improves, you become more efficient, and you are better able to handle the chaos that running a business requires.
If you need support in any of these areas, contact my office for more information.
If you have an autoimmune condition, you may be familiar with restricted diets such as the autoimmune protocol (AIP), GAPs, or FODMAPs. These diets can significantly reduce inflammation, help you determine food sensitivities, and address root causes of mysterious symptoms. However, some people experience little to no improvement and may even get new food sensitivities. The culprit could be loss of oral tolerance.
The good news is you can start improving your oral tolerance now so you react to fewer foods.
There are different types of tolerance:
Chemical tolerance is the ability to appropriately tolerate chemicals in the environment without an immune reaction, such as reacting to perfumes.
Self-tolerance is your immune system’s ability to recognize and respond appropriately to your own body. Loss of self-tolerance leads to autoimmune disease.
Oral tolerance is the immune system’s ability to properly recognize and tolerate food proteins.
Any of these forms of tolerance can be lost when the immune system is out of balance. When you lose one you are more likely to lose the others since they are based on similar underlying factors.
If you experience increased food sensitivities, you may be losing oral tolerance.
Over reactive dendritic cells and oral tolerance
Dendritic cells are immune cells in the small intestine that determine whether the immune system should react to foods.
They become over reactive when food proteins aren’t thoroughly digested, which can lead to loss of oral tolerance. You can support digestion by taking hydrochloric acid (HCL) and digestive enzymes with your meals.
Another cause for over reactive dendritic cells is low levels of SIgA cells, antibodies that defend the gut.
Retinol vitamin A (not beta carotene) at 5000 IU a day can help support oral tolerance. However, the main approach to boosting SIgA cells is to address adrenal fatigue, chronic infection, steroid use, or other chronic stressors to your immune system.
Regulatory T cells and oral tolerance
Regulatory T cells (T reg cells) decide whether the immune system should accept food proteins or attack them, causing an inflammatory response. You can encourage your T reg cells to dampen inflammation through plentiful omega 3 fatty acids, supplemental forms of absorbable glutathione, and vitamin D.
Boosting endorphins, our own feel-good chemicals that we get from exercise, laughter, and other pleasurable activities, also dampens inflammation and modulates immune function.
Managing liver detox function can help improve oral tolerance. The liver has two key detox pathways that make fat-soluble compounds water-soluble for the body to eliminate:
Phase I pathway changes a compound’s structure so molecules can attach to it in the next step.
Phase II pathway involves multiple steps that help attach molecules to the compound so it can be eliminated safely.
Ask my office about nutritional and botanical compounds that support liver detoxification and bile synthesis and elimination.
When starting liver detox supplements, choose a quality brand that combines many nutrients, and start slowly to avoid unpleasant side effects.
Diversity of gut bacteria
A rich diversity of gut flora is one of the most important things for healthy oral tolerance. These bacteria produce short chain fatty acids (SCFA), which help dampen inflammation.
For some people, a limited diet can reduce the variety of gut bacteria. Eat a wide variety of produce and try to consume at least 7 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day to support oral tolerance. Be cautious of inflammatory blood sugar spikes from too much fruit.
In addition to eating varied and plentiful produce, you can supplement with SCFA.
Other factors that affect oral tolerance
Other factors that affect oral tolerance include histamine reactions, eating too much salt (excess sodium is inflammatory), hormonal imbalances, hypothyroidism, and more.
Chronic stress can also impact oral tolerance by producing high levels of adrenal hormones that suppress SIgA cells and also lead to depression, insulin resistance and diabetes, high blood pressure, and more.
Chronic stress can take many forms, such as:
Emotional conflict and worry
Exposure to environmental toxins
Blood sugar imbalances
A diet high in sugar and starches
Blood sugar imbalances are one of the most common causes of chronic stress. When your blood sugar spikes high or low, the stress response suppresses SIgA cells and promotes leaky gut and inflammation, leading to loss of oral tolerance. Blood sugar imbalances are at the root of hormonal imbalances and many other metabolic disorders.
Mediate blood sugar imbalances with anti-inflammatory diet low in sugars and carbs, plenty of exercise, and stress management techniques.
Lab testing for oral tolerance
A food sensitivity panel can determine which foods need to be avoided, and can also show how well your oral tolerance protocol is working.
However, if you have clear symptoms of oral tolerance but your panel shows few to no positive markers, you may have a depressed immune system. In this case, it’s important to first boost SIgA levels.
You can screen for low SIgA prior to your Cyrex test by ordering a total immunoglobulin (IgG, IgA, and IgM) test.
If you are experiencing symptoms of food reactivity and loss of oral tolerance, contact my office for more advice.
Vitamin D is one of the few nutrients we can’t get enough of from food. Our bodies are designed to make vitamin D from sunlight, yet modern life has made that difficult. The result is a worldwide 50 deficiency deficiency in vitamin D, even in sunny locations.
Why we can’t get enough of the sunshine vitamin
While some foods contain vitamin D, our main source is supposed to be sun exposure and we synthesize it using cholesterol.
However, certain factors stand in the way:
Reduced sun exposure. We spend far fewer hours outside than our ancestors and slather on sunscreen when we are outside. People with dark skin or who live farther north have even less ability to make vitamin D from sunlight.
Limited diet. Most people don’t eat the foods that contain more vitamin D, such as organ meats, salmon and fish liver oil, and egg yolks. Two foods fortified with vitamin D — dairy (a common immune reactive food) and breakfast cereals (gluten and grains).
Gut inflammation and fat malabsorption. Vitamin D is fat-soluble. When the gut is inflamed due to leaky gut and other inflammatory gut disorders, fat absorption is compromised and your vitamin D levels suffer.
Stress. High cortisol levels from chronic stress can deplete vitamin D levels.
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency can include:
Muscle, joint and bone pain
Brittle or soft bones
Suppressed immune system
What vitamin D does for you
Vitamin D is actually a hormone, and along with thyroid hormone, is one of the two hormones every cell in your body needs. It regulates hundreds of different pathways throughout the body.
Bone density. Vitamin D has long been known to play a role in preventing breakdown of bones and increasing the strength of the skeletal system.
Mood regulation. Low vitamin D is linked to a 14 percent increase depression and a 50 percent increase in suicide rates. Increasing vitamin D intake can help improve anxiety and depression.
Brain health. Vitamin D’s biologically active form has shown neuroprotective effects including the clearance of amyloid plaques common to Alzheimer’s Disease. Associations have also been noted between low 25-hydroxyvitamin D and dementia.
Reduced cancer risk. Optimal vitamin D levels are associated with lower rates of cancers of the breast, ovaries, prostate, and pancreas.
Sleep quality. Adequate vitamin D is associated with improved sleep.
Immune regulation. Vitamin D plays a key role in promoting regulatory T cells, which decide whether to dampen or promote inflammation in the body.
This is particularly important in dampening autoimmunity, when the immune system attacks body tissue.
Studies show more than 90 percent of those with autoimmunity have a genetic defect that promotes vitamin D deficiency.
A common thread in all chronic illnesses, inflammation is shown to be reduced by adequate vitamin D levels.
Ways to boost vitamin D
Sunshine. Get 20 to 60 minutes of sun on your skin per day, depending on your skin tone and latitude. The more skin exposed, the more D you produce.
Food sources. Include salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, and egg yolks in your diet.
Supplementation. Vitamin D exists in two forms, D2 and D3.
While vitamin D2 is commonly seen on mainstream vitamin labels, vitamin D3 is twice as effective at raising vitamin D levels in the body.
Current mainstream dosage guidelines for vitamin D are based solely on maintaining proper bone density and not preventing chronic health conditions.
Since vitamin D is fat soluble, its recommended to take it in an oil-based soft gel capsule or liquid form with a meal that includes fat.
For autoimmune management, doses of vitamin D can range from 5,000 to 10,000 IU per day. Some people take higher doses if their genetics hamper absorption. It’s best to test your levels every three to six months.
Emulsified vitamin D
Emulsified vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) enhances absorption and helps prevent toxicity at higher doses.
Support fat metabolism with digestive enzymes
If you have leaky gut, celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or have had your gall bladder removed, your ability to absorb fat may be compromised. Since vitamin D is fat-soluble, make sure your body can absorb it by adding digestive enzymes to your daily regimen.
A high-salt diet has long been connected with cardiovascular disease. Too much sodium in the bloodstream causes fluid retention, which makes the heart work harder to move the extra volume of blood. This can stiffen blood vessels and lead to high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, and kidney disease.
However, a recent study shows a high-salt diet also raises blood pressure by damaging healthy gut bacteria. This destruction increases the inflammation that contributes to high blood pressure and the development of autoimmune disease — when the immune system attacks tissue in the body. Common autoimmune diseases include Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis, and psoriasis.
Mice. The study shows that mice fed a high-salt diet killed off beneficial Lactobacillus murinus bacteria in the gut. It also raised blood pressure and activated pro-inflammatory immune cells.
The mice also showed signs of encephalomyelitis, an autoimmune condition similar to multiple sclerosis in humans.
When the mice were given supplementary Lactobacillus, their blood pressure and inflammation came down.
Humans. The humans in the study experienced similar results. Consuming a high-salt diet for two weeks killed off their Lactobacillus bacteria and increased inflammation.
However, if they took probiotics for a week before starting a high-salt diet, their Lactobacillus levels and blood pressure remained normal.
Can gut microbes protect against a high-salt diet?
While the study showed probiotics can protect against a high-salt diet, the researchers cautioned that taking probiotics cannot protect you from the damages of a high-salt, fast-food diet.
Manage your salt intake with good daily habits
While the average American consumes a whopping 3400 milligrams of sodium a day, the USDA recommends no more than 2300mg of sodium a day — about a teaspoon of table salt.
However, some people are more sensitive to the effects of salt than others, so it’s recommended that individuals with hypertension, African Americans, and middle-aged and older adults should limit intake to 1500 mg of sodium a day.
Adopt these habits to lower your salt intake:
Read food labels.
Choose foods low in sodium.
Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.
Consume foods that are rich in potassium, such as leafy green vegetables and fruits from vines.
Potassium can help blunt the effects of sodium on blood pressure. The recommended intake of potassium for adolescents and adults is 4700 mg/day.
Flavor food with pepper, herbs, and spices instead of salt.
Choose unsalted snacks with savory flavors.
Build good gut bacteria to protect your health
The digestive tract is home to roughly four pounds of bacteria — your gut microbiome. Some strains are helpful, some are harmful. Both have roles to play, but it’s important to support your “good” bacteria for healthy immune function, brain function, and mood, and to avoid leaky gut, SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth), and systemic inflammation that leads to autoimmunity and other chronic health conditions.
It’s easy to support a healthy gut with these simple habits:
Eat plentiful and varied produce; this is the best way to support a healthy gut environment.
Supplement with probiotics; they work best in a gut environment that’s already being supported with plenty of fiber from fruits and veggies.
Avoid excess sugar.
Get regular exercise.
Drink plenty of filtered water.
What if I have low blood pressure?
Adequate blood pressure is necessary to push blood carrying oxygen and nutrients into your tissues. Chronically low blood pressure can result in reduced brain function and neurodegeneration.
Low blood pressure is also often a sign of chronic stress, adrenal fatigue, autoimmunity, or chronic infection.
If you have low blood pressure you need to get it up as close as you can to 120/80.
Salt can help raise blood pressure. While a high-salt diet is not recommended for most of the population, people with chronically low blood pressure may need to consume more than the recommended daily amount of salt. It’s a matter of experimentation to see what level of salt intake is appropriate for you without raising symptoms of inflammation.
Glycyrrhiza. Extracted from licorice root, this natural compound increases the hormone aldosterone, helping to retain sodium and raise low blood pressure. You can use a liposomal cream version or an oral licorice root extract.
When you work with salt and glycyrrhiza to raise your blood pressure, you will need to purchase a good home-use blood pressure cuff. Measure your blood pressure throughout the day and experiment with dosages. A return to normal blood pressure typically results in a dramatic increase in overall energy and brain function.
For help with low blood pressure or dietary management of salt intake, contact my office.
You’re supposed to ditch regular soda for diet soda because it’s better for you, right? Wrong — research shows people who drink diet soda daily are three times more likely to develop dementia or have a stroke compared to those who drink it less frequently.
A 2017 study that tracked almost 3,000 people ages 45 and over for 10 years found those who consumed diet soda daily were almost three times more likely to suffer from ischemic stroke (from blood vessel blockage) or develop Alzheimer’s disease.
Diet sodas are basically a fizzy soup of toxic chemicals, including saccharin, acesulfame-K, aspartame, and artificial colorings.
And while the study did not find the same stroke and dementia risk with sugary sodas, plenty of evidence shows sugar sodas come with their own significant health risks, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, COPD, and other inflammation-related disorders.
This means you shouldn’t switch from diet soda to sugar soda. Instead, drink neither.
Additionally, if you drink diet soda because you’re watching your weight, you may be surprised to learn diet sodas have been shown to make people fat and prediabetic.
This is because diet sodas skew the composition of gut bacteria in a way that promotes obesity and diabetes. Mouse studies show mice given artificial sweeteners regularly developed high blood sugar compared to control mice and even compared to mice given a diet of high fat and sugar water.
A small follow-up study on human volunteers showed similar results — people who consumed artificial sweeteners developed higher blood sugar and obesity-promoting gut bacteria in just one week.
Artificial sweeteners have also been shown to be toxic to the brain. For instance, the majority of complaints to the FDA about aspartame have been neurological in nature. People report such symptoms as headaches, mood alterations, hallucinations, seizures, nausea, insomnia, anxiety attacks, vertigo, fatigue, rashes, irritability, heart palpitations, slurred speech, loss of hearing, loss of taste, and gut problems.
Aspartame is a known excitotoxin, meaning it causes brain cells to dysfunction, degenerate, and die.
Aspartame also creates toxic byproducts that are linked to lymphomas and leukemias. In one study, rats given the equivalent of four to five bottles of diet soda a day had high rates of these cancers.
If you can’t drink diet soda or sugary soda because you care about your health, what can you drink?
Thankfully, sparkling water has become increasingly popular and available. If you’re not willing to give up a cold fizzy drink, simply opt for sparkling water both at the store and when eating out.
Ditch soda and shore up your healthy gut bacteria
It appears the effect of diet soda on gut bacteria may be an important factor that makes it a health risk.
One of the most importants things you can do for your health is to improve the composition of your gut bacteria.
One of the best ways to do this is to make vegetables the primary part of your diet, including cultured vegetables. Not only are they high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, but they also feed the good bacteria in your gut and help them grow and thrive.
Additionally, avoid processed foods, sugars, and artificial sweeteners, all of which promote bad bacteria and promote health problems.
Ask my office for more advice on satisfying beverages and foods that are actually good for you.
If you have symptoms of hypothyroidism, how do you know if it’s caused by Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune thyroid disease? Although about 90 percent of hypothyroidism cases in the United States are caused by Hashimoto’s, most doctors do not test for it. Why? Because it does not change their treatment. However, it’s vitally important for you to know whether you have Hashimoto’s to stop the damage to your thyroid and prevent other autoimmune diseases.
Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid gland over time. Even if medications normalize TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) on a blood test, an unmanaged autoimmune Hashimoto’s condition continues to damage and destroy the thyroid gland and cause symptoms.
One of the most common scenarios with undiagnosed Hashimoto’s is that your hypothyroidism and symptoms continue to worsen even through you take your thyroid hormone medications. Your doctor may also continually increase your dosage.
Another common scenario is when symptoms and TSH levels fluctuate between being under active and over active. The person can feel like they are hypothyroid one week and hyperthyroid the next. In fact, some doctors may even mistakenly diagnose them with hyperthyroidism when in fact it’s the result of autoimmune Hashimoto’s waxing and waning attacks on the thyroid gland.
This means the patient could suffer from fatigue, headaches, constipation, and depression one week and then when the thyroid becomes over active they suffer from heart palpitations, anxiety, tremors, and insomnia. Blood tests will also show the TSH level going up and down during these swings, which may result in an inaccurate diagnosis.
Sometimes TSH can even be normal as it’s going through a swing resulting in a misdiagnosis all together. Instead, the patient is diagnosed with an anxiety disorder or even bipolar disorder.
What causes these swings with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism? Autoimmune diseases are not steady. Instead they flare up or go into remission depending on triggers, which can be dietary, chemical, stress related, hormonal, and so on.
When an autoimmune flare damages the thyroid, it releases hormones that are stored in the gland. These thyroid hormones flood the bloodstream in excess causing symptoms that look like hyperthyroidism.
To confirm whether you have Hashimoto’s, you need to run thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO Ab) and thyroglobulin antibodies (TGB Ab) test. It’s also helpful to rule out hyperthyroidism, or Graves’ disease.
But keep in mind that because the immune system fluctuates with autoimmune disease, it’s possible to produce a negative antibodies test result. If symptoms strongly suggest Hashimoto’s it’s important to test again.
Ask my office for more advice on identifying Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
While the eight-to-five workday may suit a man’s physiology, female researchers are finding women can capitalize on periods of heightened creativity, productivity, enhanced communication, and reflection depending on where they are in their menstrual cycle. We tend to think of female hormonal cycles as problematic or negative, but the truth is they can facilitate different aspects of productivity once you learn how to use them to your advantage.
Understanding your hormonal cycles of productivity can help you learn the best time to launch or finish a project, brainstorm a creative endeavor, meet with a boss or coworkers, or step back and reflect on operations.
Looking at a functional medicine view of female hormones — aiming for optimal functional and balance instead of just focusing on when things go wrong —can help you plot your course through each work week. Women can look at their cycles as offering four different periods of enhanced performance, with day 1 representing the first day of your period:
Days 1-5, Intuition and Reflection: During your period, your left and right brains are communicating more efficiently, allowing you to better access intuition, analytical thinking, and long-range visionary thinking. This is the time to reflect on past and future endeavors, re-evaluate whether your course aligns with your vision, and consider which relationships need attention.
Days 6-14, Creativity: During the follicular phase, which actually begins day 1, estrogen is increasing and you are at your creative peak. This is a good time to start new projects, plan, strategize, and brainstorm.
Days 15-17, Communication: During the ovulation phase your communication skills and magnetisms are at their height. This is a great time for negotiations, meetings, and pitches.
Days 18-28, Power: During the luteal phase you are primed to power through project completion, take care of all those administrative tasks, and follow up on meetings.
When your hormones are out of balance
Unfortunately, thanks to stress, unhealthy diets, environmental toxins, and other facets of modern life, it’s easy for your cycles to become unbalanced.
One of the most common causes of hormonal imbalances in women is chronic stress and poor blood sugar balance (another form of stress).
Eating a high-carb diet of pastas, breads, and other processed carbohydrates, eating too many sweets, drinking too many sweetened coffee drinks, not sleeping enough, being too stressed out, not getting enough physical exercise — all these things can drive both estrogen and progesterone out of whack and give you miserable hormonal symptoms.
PMS, irregular periods, infertility, hair loss, overly heavy periods, and other symptoms of hormonal imbalance are signs you need to bring your diet and lifestyle habits more in line with nature’s design.
Through functional medicine protocols of anti-inflammatory diets, blood sugar balancing, gut healing and repair, liver support and detoxification, and stress-reduction, our office can help you better balance your hormones so you can function at your best.