September Notes from Dr. Klug

Sugar: The Clear Loser

What is worse for the microbiome, sugar or fat? A new study sought to answer this question. Mice were fed a western-style, high sugar, high fat diet for four weeks. Not surprisingly, the animals showed characteristics of metabolic syndrome, such as weight gain, insulin resistance, and glucose intolerance. Beneficial bacteria in their microbiome were replaced with unhelpful ones. The study also found a drop in Th17 immune cells which produce substances that support he health of the microbiome and the metabolism by preventing the absorption of poor quality fats, and decreasing intestinal inflammation. Th17 immune cell compromise can lead to autoimmune disease.

The study went one step further to determine the culprit. They fed mice a sugar-free, high fat diet and found the Th17 cells continued to function. The mice did not gain weight or develop pre-diabetes, despite eating the same number of calories as the high sugar, high fat diet. There was one exception. The mice who lacked the beneficial bacteria in the first place went on to develop metabolic syndrome.

So while cutting out sugar is beneficial, one must have a healthy microbiome to maintain a healthy metabolism. Please make an appointment for a personalized plan to restore your microbiome.

The Bottom Line: Just Move, Gals

Recent studies concluded that 11 minutes of exercise daily can increase lifespan, and that if you want, you can cram it all into the weekend and still benefit. A new study has shown that even if longevity is not in your genes, women can extend their lifespan with movement. “Given the aging adult population in the United States, and longer time spent engaging in lower intensity activities, the study findings support recommendations that older women should participate in physical activity of any intensity to reduce the risk of disease and premature death, wrote the authors.”

“You don’t stop exercising because you are old. You get old because you stop exercising.”

Kenneth Cooper, MD, Cooper Clinic, Dallas, Tx

What’s In My Smoothie? Spirulina

Spirulina, a blue-green algae, is a metabolic super-food. It increases my new favorite molecule, nitric oxide, which is likely the mechanism. Here are some of the benefits of spirulina.

  1. The substance that lends spirulina its blue-green color, phyocyanin, is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
  2. Spirulina has been shown to have a positive effect of cholesterol and prevent oxidation of LDL “bad” cholesterol. OxLDL is a fierce oxidizing agent that sends cardiovascular disease risk through the roof!
  3. It lowers blood pressure at a dose of 4.5 grams daily.
  4. It can improve exercise endurance and increase muscle strength.
  5. At a dose of 2 grams per day, it has been shown to reduce blood sugar and hemoglobin A1C.
  6. For those of you with allergies, a dose of 2 grams per day dramatically reduces symptoms.

Not all spirulina powder is created equal. Healthforce and Hawaiian Spirulina Pacifica all sell tasty spirulina. Remember to add spirulina powder to liquid for best results and to check the mirror before going out. I add 1 TBSP per person to my smoothie. I recommend starting with 1/2 – 1 tsp and increasing as you get used to the taste. Non-alkalized cocoa or cacao nibs mask the taste well and provide polyphenols so good for the microbiome.

See this Healthline article for references.

Dr. Bethany Klug has practiced holistic and functional medicine since 2003, after it resolved health challenges that conventional medicine could not address for her. She is known for taking time to listen and to tease out the root causes that when addressed lead to more vibrant health. The name of her practice, HealthSpan, was inspired by her wish for everyone to enjoy lifelong vibrant health, instead of a long life plagued by chronic disease. She is known as an osteopath, and for her skill in natural medicine and bioidentical hormone replacement. Her practice is located in Prairie Village, KS, a suburb of Kansas City. Learn more at

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