Friday, August 30, 2013

What Pain do you Choose?

by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath

I know, most of you may be thinking "I do not choose any pain?"

Look at this very simply though. The human race is very often motivated by pain. I know, sad but true. Personally, if it was not for the pain this would cause me in regard to my health, I would live on pizza and Coca Cola. These both taste "oh so good" to me, but I have to choose my pain. Do I choose the pain I would feel if I consumed these with regularity or choose the pain of abstaining from these foods. For me this is an easy choice. The pain of eliminating these from my diet is much less intense than the pain I would feel from consuming these. 

This may seem like and easy choice to come of you and some will even say that this is simple common sense.

For many, this is simply not the case.

Very often people know what is creating challenges for them, yet they continue to consume these foods. Some may think, if you know what is hurting you, why would you continue to do this? Simple, right? For many though the pain of giving this up is actually greater than pain felt by consuming the food. Very often you will find those choosing this type of pain share the saying "everything in moderation."

In my opinion the thought of "moderation" in foods that damage you is not a viable option. I have seen it more than once, when clients understand what their food intolerance is, yet they continue to consume these foods. Again, it is simply a choice of the lessor pain.

From the nutritional perspective, I do not want to come across as saying everyone has to give up their food choices that create pain. Heck, many people that have food intolerance are actually asymptomatic so the thought of giving up a potential future pain for a pain right now, this does not make sense. I do not agree with this thought, but I "get" it.

I simply want to make the point that people are motivated by pain and typically choose what is perceived as the lessor pain.

Let's look at some other examples now.

Health overall is a holistic view. Your health is not just physical, it is also mental, emotional, chemical, vibrational and spiritual. Going future your health is also tied into other areas such as your financial and relationship health.

We'll look at relationship health for our next example. 

First off, relationship health can be with a spouse, sibling or even friends and acquaintances. Image that you were hurt emotionally by a spouse. From this point you will see some choices that are motivated by pain again. Many times we make the choice to hold onto emotional pain as a defense mechanism. I would guess that most reading this article have had a time in their life where they did not want to let something go and forgive because we feel that if we do, we are just opening ourselves to future pain. This is another example of choosing a pain. Understand that holding onto (suppressing) your emotion is a form of pain but there may be potential pain if you forgive and let this go.

I know, what's a person to do?

First off, acknowledge times that you are allowing pain to motivate you. When this occurs and you are aware, the next step is to accept this.

I know, ACCEPT this?!?! 

Before you get too excited about this, let me define something here. When I say accept, I do not mean that you have to like or appreciate this. The acceptance is simply the beginning of change. 

Once you accept that you are motivated by pain, simply take responsibility for this. Don't play the victim role or play the blame game. I am not saying that nobody else is playing a role in your pain, but understand that you are the only person you are in control of, so taking full responsibility is a key. This puts you in control of your life and presents an empowering state.

Once you have accepted and taken responsibility, it is now time to ask yourself a simple question. Is what I am doing empowering for me or dysempowering for me? If you answered dysempowering, the next step is to simply do something different and focus on a choice that would be empowering for you and for those around you.

Understand that when you make choices from personal empowerment that actually lift you and those around you, life simply becomes much easier all the time. What does much easier mean to you? 

Less pain!

So in the end, recognize the most of us simply choose the pain we live with. While this is generally motivated by what creates the least pain, the result is still pain.

You can choose something empowering for yourself and find a life that is much easier to move through.

You get to choose!

To enjoy an eye opening interview with one of our worlds leaders in relationship health, Todd Creager, visit this link to register for a complimentary interview coming up on Tuesday September 10, 2013. Again, you get to choose!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath

In last week's article "Is Your Brain Functioning?" we discussed many of the basic challenges that lead to poor brain function. If you remember, we entered into a discussion on neurotransmitters and I promised a follow up article to dive deeper into this subject. Well, here you go!

When talking about neurotransmitters, I refer to this as 1A and 1B as well as my 2A and 2B. The 1A and 1B are serotonin and dopamine. Most experts will agree that if you can balance these two neurotransmitters, everything else will balance itself. I do also look at the 2A and 2B, which I consider to be GABA and Acetylcholine. Assessing your reactions to a lack of any of these four is of utmost importance.

To understand where your neurotransmitter function may be let's look at the challenges that may be occurring in your life based on deficiencies in these areas.

Symptoms of impaired serotonin activity would look like:
  • Loss of pleasure in hobbies and interests
  • Feeling of inner rage and anger
  • Feelings of depression
  • Difficulty finding joy from life pleasures
  • Depression when it is cloudy or an overall lack of sunshine
  • Loss of enthusiasm for favorite activities
  • Not enjoying your favorite foods
  • Not enjoying friendships and relationships
  • Unable to fall into a deep and restful sleep
Nutritional choices to assist with serotonin production:
  • Shrimp
  • Mushrooms
  • Red snapper
  • Halibut
  • Chicken
  • Scallops
  • Spinach
  • Turkey
  • Lamb
  • Beef
  • Liver
  • Salmon
*Deficiencies in these foods is not likely unless you are a vegan or vegetarian. More often the challenge here is a lack of proper digestion that is causing the issue. Often this is caused by gut infections, intolerant foods or stress.
Symptoms of poor dopamine activity would look like:
  • Inability to motivate
  • Inability to start of finish tasks
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Lose your temper for minor reasons
  • Inability to handle stress
  • Anger and aggression while under stress
  • Desire to isolate oneself while under stress
  • Unexplained lack of concern for family and friends
Dietary precursors and dopamine:
  • Foods that contain a high amount of phenylalanine
  • Meats
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Oats
  • Chocolate
*Dopamine deficiencies due to diet is not a likely challenge for most, but can be an issue for vegans or vegetarians
Symptoms of impaired acetylcholine activity would look like:
  • Loss of visual and photographic memory
  • Loss of verbal memory
  • Memory lapses
  • Impaired creativity
  • Diminished comprehension
  • Difficulty calculating numbers
  • Difficulty recognizing objects and faces
  • Slowness of mental responsiveness
  • Difficulty with directions and spatial orientation
Foods rich in choline as an acetylcholine precursor:
  • Liver and organ meats
  • Egg yolk
  • Beef
  • Tofu
  • Nuts
  • Cream
  • Milk with fat (not non-fat or skim)
  • Fatty cheeses
Symptoms of impaired GABA activity would look like:
  • Feelings of anxiousness or panic for no reason
  • Feelings of dread
  • Feelings of inner tension and/or inner excitability
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed for no reason
  • Restless mind
  • Hark to turn your mind off when you want to relax
  • Disorganized attention
  • Worry about things you never had thought of before
GABA deficiencies are not as much about what is missing in your diet but more often what you have in your diet that is damaging for you. Gluten intolerance, Celiac disease and autoimmune disease can trigger a response against the enzyme responsible for making GABA.These issues are most often due to a gluten intolerance or other cross reactive intolerance. For more information in the area refer to this article.

As you review these symptoms for yourself understand that if you have just a few in any particular area, this does not mean you have neurotransmitter issue. If you do have more than half or more challenged in any one area, this could show you something very important in regard to your health and happiness. If you have significant challenges with neurotransmitters, it is likely that dietary changes alone will create the impact needed to reach a balanced state. At this point supplementation is most often necessary. 

Due to the fact that neurotransmitter supplementation is so individualized, I cannot make blanket recommendations. There are also other factors that need to be addressed, such as blood flow to the brain and the potential of brain inflammation, just to name a couple.

I can share the personally I have assessed my own neurotransmitter function and found a slight deficiency in acetylcholine. With this knowledge and the understanding of some brain trauma when I was younger, I am currently supplementing to improve acetylcholine and address any potential brain inflammation. The results of this to date have been improved mental function, improved gut function and it has done wonders for my tennis game. Better focus, vision and awareness. 

Now I cannot complain about that!

*After reviewing this article, if you find that you would like a deeper understanding of your neurotransmitter function feel free to email me directly at and I can email you a complimentary neurotransmitter assessment form to provide a deeper understanding for you.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Is Your Brain Functioning?

by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath

If you are reading this article, of course your brain is functioning. I guess the better question to ask is, is your brain functioning optimally? If you are living with a health issue, that answer is more than likely a big fat no.

For those that do not understand our focus here at Depke Wellness let me first review some core understandings. First of all, your brain and your gut is truly one system and not two different systems. 90% of your brain function goes straight down the Vagus nerve through the spinal column and into the nervous system tissue in the gut. This will then make its way back up through the spinal column, again via the Vagus nerve and back to the brain. With this said, if you have a brain issue you have a gut issue and often when you have a symptom in one the problem may actually be based in the other.

It is very common for clients at Depke Wellness to be living with some type of gut challenge that is leading to symptoms of poor health and happiness. But with what is mentioned above, does this mean that the problem is truly in the gut? That answer is of course no.

It is often very important to address challenges in your gut such as food intolerance, pathogens and leaky gut as examples but often this is not the only issue. This is especially true if you have been working on gut issues for long durations of time, yet still suffering with similar or sometimes that exact symptoms. 

With that said, what is the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing while expecting different results of course. Unfortunately I see this all the time with individuals working on long term chronic gut issues. At some point though it is important to look at the brain because this would likely be the issue.

There are many areas that could play a role when you are talking about a poor functioning brain. One area to always look is with overall brain support. This would most significantly be tied into increasing peripheral circulation to enhance of course brain circulation. Once circulation is increased you want to be sure to have the ability to provide optimal nutrients and oxygen to the brain. This would be assisted by omega 3 fatty acids as well as the DHA component of your omega 3 fatty acid. Eating more wild caught cold water seafood, grass fed meat, ground flax, avocados and olives are simple examples of good fat for your brain. Increasing oxygenation by regular use of deep breathing will also make a positive impact for you.

Another area to look at is stress levels. Stress has an accumulative affect on the brain and is a must to address. While stress is very real for all of us, the key is how we perceive this stress as well as how we respond to stressors in our lives. Deep breathing on a regular basis in and by itself will have a significant affect on reducing your stress levels. While there are other areas to assist on this level, this is a subject for another article another time.

Another area that is significantly affecting your brain health is your blood sugar regulation and insulin levels. Basic levels to address this is to consume foods with low glycemic levels, address your adrenal function, get some exercise and reduce your stress levels as mentioned above. Most people understand the food and exercise component of blood sugar and insulin but do not "get" the adrenal and stress impact of this. Understand that when you are stressed, this creates and adrenal reaction and puts your body into a fight or flee situation. The crisis whether a true life and death or a perceived life or death, has the same result on your blood sugar. It skyrockets! This is due to the fact that when your body is in a fight or flee, the body is flooded with sugar to assist with the situation. Since most of us are not fighting or fleeing, we are left with this unhealthy high levels of blood sugar and increased insulin attempting to deal with this situation.

Another area to look at is neurotransmitters. Interestingly enough, when I first learned about neurotransmitters years ago, I was told to use this only in extreme cases. Even more interesting than this is it was my understanding to not move into this basically because it works to well and almost too easy. When improvement comes quick and easy, often people will not address the underlying foundational issues and lifestyle changes that are necessary to continue to maintain optimal health for long durations. Taking supplements to simply address neurotransmitter imbalances is not the only issue, but as mentioned above, this can be a huge benefit for individuals with these issues.

When talking about neurotransmitters, I have what I refer to my 1A and 1B as well as my 2A and 2B. The 1A&B are serotonin and dopamine. Most experts will agree that if you can balance these two neurotransmitters, everything else will balance itself. I do also look at my 2A & B though which I consider to be GABA and Acetylcholine. Looking at how your body is reacting to the lack of balance of any of these four is of utmost importance. Understand though that it is not as easy as simply taking these in supplement forms. If your are taking supplements to assist with neurotransmitters without an understood deficiency, you could actually be creating deeper issues for yourself. 

Another area to consider is the fact that neurotransmitter balance is not what we could consider cut and dry. There is often some level of experimentation with supplementation and may take some time to find that balance correct for each individual. Due to the fact that both taking too little or too much can be an issue, I never recommend this without guidance of a natural health practitioner that understands neurotransmitter function. What I will share though is that wow, when you get this right, you would be very happy that you did.

Remember though, that you have to look at everything that is addressed in this article. Put this all together and you will now only find yourself with a functioning brain but more importantly, an optimal functioning brain. It is more than worth it!

More on neurotransmitters in upcoming articles...

Thursday, August 8, 2013

How Heavy is YOUR Stress?

by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath

I have to thank Dr Dan Yachter from for this awesome analogy on stress.

A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they'd be asked the "half empty or half full" question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: "How heavy is this glass of water?"

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn't change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes." She continued, "The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed - incapable of doing anything."

It's important to remember to let go of your stresses. As early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don't carry them through the evening and into the night. Remember to put the glass down!  

This analogy is a perfect representation of what most people do in our culture, and I am not talking about putting down the glass. We are a culture of holding this glass until we experience pain and discomfort. Unfortunately, most of us even continue to hold onto this long after we begin experiencing these challenges.

So what does this do to the body?

As you likely already know by reading this newsletter, holding onto the glass is a major contributing factor to adrenal issues. To learn more about the affect stress has on adrenal glands click here.

Understand that this is so much more than just your adrenals. This affects your brain function, inflammation, blood pressure, thyroid function, female hormones, digestion, detoxification, immune function, cellular energy, blood sugar balance, quality of sleep and of course your moods. This isn't even a comprehensive list as I am touching on the more significant issues at this time.

Let's look at some of these areas specifically. Starting with the brain it is important to know that stress actually has an accumulative affect on the brain. Often clients will say that they have not had significant stress during their lives. They are thinking of major traumas though, such as death, life threatening disease, divorce, you get the picture. But based on the fact that all of life's little stresses tend to accumulate over time, many of these little stresses can create the same affect as major traumas.

Another big area to look at is with inflammation. I often see clients in my practice that are living with chronic inflammatory states. While it is noted that common causes of chronic inflammation tie into adrenal fatigue, infection, poor diet, gluten or other cross reactive foods and chemotherapy treatment, stress is also a trigger for inflammation. So yes, your perception and reaction to life's stresses impact inflammation in your body. How many people actually feel bodily pain and discomfort after a stressful event? That answer is many or most and that is directly tied into the inflammation created via this response.

How about digestion? Did you know that your body uses a huge amount of blood within your digestive system? Did you also know that when you are stressed out, this blood is actually directed away from your digestive system and pushed to your muscular/skeletal system. This is a perfect flight or flee response, because it is obviously more important to your body to save your life rather than digest your food properly. The big challenge here is that most of us are not in true life and death situations and the stress is simply holding onto the glass for too long.

Are you getting this now?

Blood sugar is another big issue as tied into stress. I had an client back in Illinois, prior to my move to California that was a type II diabetic. This was such a chronic issue for so long that the person had already lost their eye site and one limb. When I first started working with them, blood sugar was regularly between 250 and 350. But the kicker though was the fact that when this client's stress levels were up, the blood sugar would rocket up to 450 to 500 and often higher. Yikes! 

So why does stress raise blood sugar? This is due to fact that your body is tapping into stored glycogen to release huge amounts of sugar into your blood, to do what? To provide the necessary response for your fight or flee situation. But as discussed earlier, this fight or flee is typically not a true life or death situation and you are not fighting or fleeing anything. Due to this, the high blood sugar levels long term simply lead to insulin resistance and insulin surges. So really, do you want to continue to hold onto your glass?

How about quality of sleep? So many of my clients have issues with sleep. This may be challenges falling asleep, waking often through the evening, waking too early or even if they sleep through the night, that are still not waking up rocked and ready to go. You know if this is you, the snooze alarm is your best friend. Holding onto your glass affects sleep in so many ways. Often this is increasing night time cortisol, which in turn is lowering night time melatonin, thus poor sleep. Almost as likely is the stress factor with neurotransmitters. Poor neurotransmitter function will trash your sleep patterns as well as creating many other chronic health challenges. More to come on this with future newsletters.

So how do you put down the glass?

One way to do this is to practice deep breathing techniques. To do this follow the directions below.
  • Take at least 3 to 5 deep belly breaths every waking hour
  • Always take 3 to 5 of these during times of stress
  • Inhale through your nose for about a count of 7 while protruding your stomach while allowing your breath to flow down into the area of your belly button
  • Hold that breath for a count of 4
  • Exhale forcefully through your mouth while contracting your stomach muscles for about a count of 8
Try this right now and you will recognize that it will be much easier to put down your glass with this technique.

There are many other tools that can be used to assist you in putting down your glass such as ERT, EFT, TFT, EMDR, spinal correction, soft tissue work such as rolfing and massage, prayer and exercise. I feel that it is important to find what resonates with you and most important, what works for you.

After all, doesn't it sound much easier to simply put the glass down?!?!