Functional Health Services for Your Well Being

Take that with a grain of salt

July 14th, 2012

Is Salt Really as Bad as THEY Say it is?

by Alex Boersma

We all know that salt is bad for you.  We’ve heard it since we were kids.  Most of us can probably remember our mothers taking the salt shaker away from our pot-bellied fathers, chastising them for risking their lives by putting SALT on their food.  Today, the venerable salt shaker has gone missing from the every-day dinner table.  Sure, it still makes the occasional guest appearance at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner, but even then, we try to put our hands on it only when nobody else is looking.

Most people accept as a given that salt consumption causes high blood pressure and heart disease.  As somewhat of a health skeptic, I have for some time had concerns about the certainty with which this salt – blood pressure – heart disease link is proclaimed.  But because of the strength of the consensus on salt and the lack of solid evidence refuting said link, I have kept my reservations to myself.  In the past year, however, the controversy over salt has reached a crescendo in the medical journals and has even spilled over into the more mainstream media.  It is time to come out of the salt closet and take a stand.  It is time to give the salt – blood pressure – heart disease hypothesis the licking it deserves. Read the rest of this entry »

Childhood Obesity

March 16th, 2012


by Alex Boersma

Make no mistake.  This is a rant.  If the heading above offends you, I suggest you stop reading now.  It ain’t gonna get any better!  But if you are genuinely concerned about your child’s weight, I suggest you tough it out.  You can and should be the one to save your child from the lifelong affects of battling with weight.  If you’re not going to do it, who will? Read the rest of this entry »

diabetes 3

January 22nd, 2012

Measuring Insulin Resistance

by Alex Boersma

In Part I of this series I described type II diabetes as the most pernicious and calamitous disease of the 21st century.  Indeed, it seems that despite modern advances in the  treatment of heart disease and cancer, the capability of our medical system to deal with blood sugar dysregulation remains pathetically inadequate.  In fact, just this week  Medscape reported on the 47th annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes which described the diabetes epidemic as  ”on a relentlessly upward trajectory, with no signs of abating“.  From the meeting:

“Data from international studies demonstrate that the number of people withdiabetes in 2011 has reached 366 million. This year, 4.6 million deaths will be attributed to diabetes, with 1 person dying from diabetes every 7 seconds. Healthcare spending on diabetes has reached $465 billion.”

And it’s not just in Europe.  Below is a chart from a  recent analysis of diabetes prevalence in Ontario

ontario diabetes statistics

 Follow the blue or red lines into the future and perhaps you’ll reconsider that venti frappucino if you plan on becoming a sexagenarian!

In Part II of the series, I examined the role of insulin resistance as a determining factor in the progression to type II diabetes.  Primary factors in the development of insulin resistance were discussed, including cellular accumulation of excess free fatty acids (FFA), stress, inflammation and fatty liver.  It was established that these four factors were  associated with each other in a cyclic fashion, meaning an increase in one factor frequently causes increases in other factors.  All four factors factors are clearly related to excess weight, particularly when that weight is carried predominantly in the abdominal area.

If insulin resistance is such a dominant risk factor in the progression to type II diabetes, it might be useful to have an effective tool for diagnosing it.  In this section I will discuss the various options available for measuring insulin resistance and their efficacy in predicting progression to type II diabetes. Read the rest of this entry »

conflicts of interest

November 8th, 2011

by Alex Boersma


I have spoken before about the ethical abyss which distinguishes the production and implementation of medical guidelines.  Along comes a new piece of research published in the British Medical Journal which should become required reading for anybody who takes advice from a doctor.  I am not going to add much commentary here, because I believe the paper speaks for itself.  I also believe you owe it to yourself to follow the link above and read the whole thing. Read the rest of this entry »

Butter or Margarine?

November 3rd, 2011


by Alex Boersma

When I was a kid, my mother achieved epic nutritional and gastronomical failure by trying to replace butter with margarine.  I’m not sure whether she did it because she was listening to Ancel Keys and his posse of saturated fat haters or because it was simply cheaper.  She is Dutch! 

 Even then, I remember wondering what they did to the butter to make it taste so bad.  Little did I or my mother know that they poisoned it with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.  It wasn’t until the early nineties that I began to realize just how epic the nutritional failure called trans fat actually was.  It wasn’t until 10 years later that the nutritional establishment finally but unapologetically withdrew its support for these chemically engineered fats.  Another half a decade had to pass before the food processors were forced at least to tell us when they were poisoning our food.  Of course, food processors have enough political clout to make sure they don’t really have to provide full disclosure. Read the rest of this entry »

A Tale of Three Lipid Panels

October 29th, 2011

by Alex Boersma

I get questions all the time about blood work. Invariably these questions arise after a friend or client has been advised by their doctor that their LDL cholesterol is too high and that perhaps they should entertain the idea of going on a statin.  Invariably I ask what their HDL and triglyceride levels are.  Invariably they don’t know.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not against statins.  Ok, well, maybe just a little bit.  No, really, I do believe that statins have a role to play for people with established heart disease.  You know, people who have actually had a heart attack!  What I am against is the indiscriminate prescription of statins in situations where their efficacy has not been established or where their benefit is so minimal that, in my opinion, it fails to outweigh the possible down side.  Here’s what one reviewof the evidence for people in this category concluded: Read the rest of this entry »

Diabetes Part II

October 5th, 2011

by Alex Boersma

In part I of this series, I identified Type II diabetes as the most pernicious and calamitous disease of the 21st Century, responsible for destroying the health of millions of Canadians and bankrupting our health care system.  I established that this destructive epidemic is characterized primarily by the inability to regulate blood sugar and is precipitated by a metabolic dysfunction called insulin resistance. 
It is clear that if we expect to mitigate the consequences – both personal and social – of this 21st century epidemic called DIABETES, we must begin with a thorough understanding of all that is known about insulin resistance.  Despite a profusion of misconceptions, the research on insulin resistance is fairly consistent in it’s conclusions.
Sorry, high blood sugar and/or insulin are not up there!  Read the rest of this entry »

China Study Revisited

September 2nd, 2011

About 10 months ago I wrote an article entitled The China Study – How Not to do Science.  I wrote it with the express intention of  having a resource to which I could direct people who questioned me about the value of Colin Campbell’s ode to veganism.  Unfortunately, my design to make things easier on myself hasn’t worked out quite the way I had expected.  Instead of having to explain myself less, I find myself continually entangled in lengthy disourses supporting my position.  It seems I have decidedly underestimated the emotional and intellectual investment most people have already made in Campbell’s hyperbole by the time they ask me about the book.  Either that or I’m just wrong about all this! Read the rest of this entry »

More Justifaction of Statins

May 21st, 2011

by Alex Boersma

JUPITER: Best CVD event reduction in patients with very low LDL-cholesterol levels

Heartwire – April 15, 2011

The JUPITER study:  Justification for the Use of Statins in Primary Prevention.  The name says it all.  This study was designed to justify the use of statins for people who do not have heart disease.  In other words:

We think lots of people should take statins, regardless of whether or not they have heart disease.  Let’s design a study which will justify millions of new clients for our expensive new drug!



Purveyors of pharmaceutical grade justification  Read the rest of this entry »

Diabetes – Part I

April 10th, 2011

by Alex Boersma

From the Canadian Diabetes Association:

Today, more than 9 million Canadians live with diabetes or prediabetes – a condition that, if left unchecked, puts you at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  This means that nearly 1 in 4 Canadians either has diabetes or prediabetes.  More than 20 people are diagnosed with the disease every hour of every day.

The serious complications
Diabetes can lead to serious complications and premature death:

  • 80% of Canadians with diabetes die from a heart attack or a stroke;
  • 42% of new kidney dialysis patients in 2004 had diabetes.
  • Diabetes is the single leading cause of blindness in Canada;
  • 7 of 10 non-traumatic limb amputations are the result of diabetes complications;
  • 25% of people with diabetes suffer from depression;
  • The life expectancy for people with type 1 diabetes may be shortened by as much as 15 years; and
  • The life expectancy for people with type 2 diabetes may be shortened by 5 to 10 years.

The cost of diabetes in Canada
Not only is diabetes a personal crisis for people with the disease, it is also a tremendous financial burden for the Canadian healthcare system and society as a whole.  The cost of diabetes for 2010 is approximately $12.2 billion, which is nearly double its level in 2000.  The cost of the disease is expected to rise to $16.9 billion by 2020.


Type II Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) is unquestionably the most pernicious and calamitous disease of the 21st century.  The underlying dysregulation of blood sugar is devastating to both our health and our health care system.  If we are unable to control blood sugar, we will remain impotent in the battle against obesity, heart disease, or probably even cancer.  Oh, and don’t forget blindness, kidney disease, fatty liver disease and depression!  The cost to our vitality as we age will be monumental.  To our health care system, it will be disastrous.

How best to control this emerging epidemic is the subject of considerable debate.  On the one hand, national health institutions such as the Canadian Diabetes Association contend that this is a disease governed by abnormal fat regulation.  These institutions declare that a change in dietary fat consumption is the key to regulating blood sugar, and that carbohydrate consumption is only a minor part of the problem.  On the other hand, there are numerous established clinicians like Drs.  Mary Vernon and Richard Bernstein, who have had great success in controlling and even reversing diabetes by rigorously curtailing carbohydrate consumption and enthusiastically endorsing a high fat diet. Read the rest of this entry »

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