Are Your Neurotransmitters Ready For The Holidays?


5 Tips for Maintaining Proper Brain Chemistry During The Holidays
The holiday season is approaching.  Have you given any consideration on how the holiday season affects your neurotransmitters?  I’m guessing probably not.  Read below and be armed and ready!
Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, most of us have experienced that sleepy feeling after eating too much turkey.  Did you know that turkey is rich in tryptophan, a neurotransmitter precursor to melatonin, a neurotransmitter that helps you sleep!!  Melatonin is derived from Serotonin, a well-recognized neurotransmitter responsible for a great part of our mood.  Serotonin and Dopamine are probably the two most recognized neurotransmitters across the board.  Little did you know but the things you do over this holiday season can have major impact on your neurotransmitters.
Neurotransmitters are the brain chemicals that communicate information throughout our brain and body.  They relay signals between nerve cells, called “neurons.”  The brain uses neurotransmitters to tell your heart to beat, your lungs to breathe, and your stomach to digest.  They can also affect mood, sleep, concentration, weight, and can cause adverse symptoms when they are out of balance. Neurotransmitter levels can be depleted many ways.  As a matter of fact, 86% of Americans have suboptimal neurotransmitter levels. [Click to Tweet] Stress, poor diet, neurotoxins, genetic predisposition, drugs (prescription and recreational), alcohol and caffeine usage can cause these levels to be out of optimal range. (1)
But, there are positive lifestyle activities that can promote a healthy balance of neurotransmitters.  Just as easy as our neurotransmitters may come out of balance, the trend towards balancing them can be achieved by the following five recommendations.
  1. Regular exercise:  Exercise can have an effect on the channels that produce serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine and possibly others. (2)
  2. Healthy Diet:  Too many sweets over the holiday season disrupt the ideal fluctuations in brain chemistry and may deregulate our brain chemistry.  Make sure to eat plenty of vegetables and take it easy on the sweet stuff.
  3. Manage your Stress:  Stress raises free radicals, insulin, and blood pressure which all damage neurons. (3)  If we damage our neurons, then we damage our neurotransmitters.
  4. Just Breathe:  Sounds simple but breathing can have a major impact on our nervous system and its expression.  The vagus nerve is the nerve that comes from the brain and controls the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls your relaxation response.  (4) The more relaxed you are, then better response of neurotransmitters.
  5. Relax:  It’s so easy to get caught up in the holiday madness that we forget to relax.  Relaxation gives the brain time to rest, which in turn allows it to make the proper neurotransmitters. [Click to Tweet]  So when you don’t feel like fighting the holiday madness, kick back and forget about it!!
Neurotransmitters is an exciting or very boring topic depending on the audience.  Regardless of your interest, it is important to keep up a healthy relationship with them.  I tend to focus more on the eliminating the things that I know cause harm and focus on the things that I know cause balance in my neurotransmitter levels.  So when the holidays roll back around this year, keep in mind the above mentioned five factoids to create balance in your  own brain chemistry.
What is your biggest challenge at the holidays and how do you handle it?
Dr. Andrew Kender, D.C.
October 28, 2015
Functional Endocrinology of Ohio
Akron: 2800 S. Arlington Road, Akron, Ohio 44312 (330) 644-5488
Cleveland: 6200 Rockside Woods Blvd., Ste. 100, Independence, Ohio 44131 (216) 236-0060
Dr. Keith S. Ungar and Dr. Andrew Kender, Chiropractic Physicians
To schedule an appointment, click here.



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Thermography – The Radiation-Free Adjunct to Mammography


7 Reasons Why You Might Want to Add A Thermogram to Your Breast Health Routine

Did you know that the mammogram is not the only cool kid on the block?  October is breast cancer awareness month.  Virtually every person, entity, sport team, TV show, and advertising campaign participates.  This is a good thing.  It also seems like the perfect time to write an article about breast health and, more specifically, a screening tool of which you might not be aware.
We all know someone who has had breast cancer.  For me, it was my stepmother.  It is scary because it is so common and attacks women (and men) of every age.  It does not discriminate. In the near future, we will be posting an article about the functional medicine approach to breast health.  In this article, though, I would like to let you know the facts about thermography.
Last Tuesday, the American Cancer Society released new recommendations for breast screening via mammography.  For a good article summarizing the changes, click here. Not all medical groups and associations agree with the American Cancer Society though. In fact, the recommendations differ greatly between groups.[1]   Most medical groups do agree that screening saves lives[2] but do not agree that screening by way of radiation is the only way to go.[3]  [Click to Tweet] Without delving into the various positions about thermography, here are the facts about what it does (and does not) do:
  1. “Thermography is a means of measuring the heat (thermo) coming from a body.”[4] “Thermography ***map[s] the heat on the surface of the breast using a special heat-sensing camera.”[5]
  2. “Thermography is non-invasive, safe and painless – no radiation or compression is used.” [6]
  3. “The use of Digital Infrared Imaging is based on the principle that metabolic activity and vascular circulation in both pre-cancerous tissue and the area surrounding a developing breast cancer is almost always higher than in normal breast tissue.”[7]
  4. The FDA approved breast thermography as an adjunct diagnostic breast cancer screening procedure in 1982.[8]
  5. “Thermography does not prevent breast cancer by itself. A woman and her healthcare provider must be proactive when there is a suspicious indication.”[9]
  6. Because thermography works in a different way, it may allow for earlier detection of cancer cells.  Earlier detection = earlier treatment.  “[W]hen a tumor is in the early stages of development, it requires blood flow to grow and survive. New blood vessels form in a distinct pattern around the tumor to provide it with this blood flow (angiogenesis) and we are able to see this process occurring with thermographic imaging as early as two years into the development process.”[10] “The advantage of the thermogram is that we can measure inflammation at an early stage – perhaps even before cancer (a disease of inflammation) has a chance to develop.”[11]  “Since thermal imaging detects changes at the cellular level, studies suggest that this test can detect activity 8 to 10 years before any other test. This makes it unique in that it affords us the opportunity to view changes before the actual formation of the tumor. Studies have shown that by the time a tumor has grown to sufficient size to be detectable by physical examination or mammography, it has in fact been growing for about seven years achieving more than 25 doublings of the malignant cell colony. At 90 days there are two cells, at one year there are 16 cells, and at five years there are 1,048,576 cells–an amount that is still undetectable by a mammogram.”[12]
  7. Thermographers should be board-certified or provisionally certified clinical thermologists or technicians.
Hopefully, this article will give you the basic information you need to discuss thermography as an option with your health-care provider.
Caroline Boardman
October 25, 2015
Functional Endocrinology of Ohio
Akron: 2800 S. Arlington Road, Akron, Ohio 44312 (330) 644-5488
Cleveland: 6200 Rockside Woods Blvd., Ste. 100, Independence, Ohio 44131 (216) 236-0060
Dr. Keith S. Ungar and Dr. Andrew Kender, Chiropractic Physicians
To schedule an appointment, click here.

[2] Id.
[12], citing H. Spitalier et al., “Does Infrared Thermography Truly Have a Role in Present-Day Breast Cancer Management?” in M. Gautherie and E. Albert, eds., Biomedical Thermology: Proceedings of an International Symposium (New York: A. R. Liss, 1982), pp. 269-78; R. Amalric et al., “Does Infrared Thermography Truly Have a Role in Present-Day Breast Cancer Management?” Progress in Clinical and Biological Research, vol. 107 (1982), pp. 269-78.

Fall, Football and Gluten Free Beer?


Is There Really a Gluten Free Beer that Tastes Like Beer?  Yes!

It’s that time of year – football season!  Here some ideas about how to cheer on your team if you have a gluten allergy or sensitivity.

By now everyone who has read my blogs knows that I am a HUGE Ohio State Buckeye fan. As such, Fall, which has always been my favorite season, is even better.   In my book, the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon in the Fall is in front of the TV (preferably outside) with a cold beer and other crazy fans, watching my Buckeyes take the field.   When I was diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity a few years back, I thought my Saturdays would never be exactly the same again.  I was wrong.

There are gluten-free beers that taste like beer and many of them are found at your local sports bar.  Here are a few that I like that are readily available.

Redbridge  Redbridge.  Budweiser makes this beer and, a such, it is in almost every sports bar.  It tastes like a Budweiser – go figure!

Here are some other great options:

estrella-daura-326 glutenator-326 new-grist-beer-646 new-planet-raspberry-326

And my favorite (drum roll please) . . . Comes in 3 great brews: lager, pale ale and an IPA.  omission-lager-646

Here are some other great articles about gluten-free beer:

Check them out and Go Bucks!

Do you have a gluten-free beer that you love?

Caroline Boardman
October 14, 2015

Functional Endocrinology of Ohio
Akron: 2800 S. Arlington Road, Akron, Ohio 44312 (330) 644-5488
Cleveland: 6200 Rockside Woods Blvd., Ste. 100, Independence, Ohio 44131 (216) 236-0060
Dr. Keith S. Ungar and Dr. Andrew Kender, Chiropractic Physicians

To schedule an appointment, click here.

Fall In Love With These Four Fall Soups

Fall Soups

The Four Best Fall Soups – You Need To Try Them All!

Tis the season for healthy, hearty and warm fall soups. I will enjoy my Sundays preparing delicious soups to savor throughout the week by the ones I love.   These are a few of my favorites!

Gluten Free Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup


  • 1 1/2 lbs. organic free –range boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 5 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cups organic low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups uncooked gluten-free Schar Anellini noodles
  • 3 1/2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Gluten free Schar table crackers or parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)

Add to a slow cooker, chicken (un-cut), diced carrots, onion, celery, and garlic. Drizzle olive oil over top then add in chicken broth, water, thyme, rosemary, celery, bay leaves and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook on low heat 6 – 7 hours.

Remove cooked chicken and allow to rest 10 minutes, then dice into bite size pieces. Meanwhile, add gluten-free noodles and parsley to slow cooker. Increase temperature to high, cover and cook 10 minutes longer (or until noodles are tender). Stir in lemon juice and toss in cooked, diced chicken. Serve warm with gluten-free Schar  table crackers or top with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Roasted Acorn Squash and Sweet Potato Soup


  • 2 -3 lb. acorn squash, sliced lengthwise in half and seeds removed
  • 3 small sweet potatoes (1 lb)
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 ½ cups vegetable broth (or free-range chicken broth)
  • 2/3 cup light coconut milk
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice the acorn squash in half (lengthwise) and remove the seeds and guts–place cut side up on a large baking sheet, drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Slice the sweet potatoes in half lengthwise, drizzle and rub the cut side with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place cut side down on the baking sheet along with the acorn squash.

Roast for 45 minutes to an hour, or until both the potato and acorn squash are tender. Remove from oven and when cool enough to handle, remove the squash from the skin and set aside in a large bowl. Discard the skin.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in medium-sized soup pot. Add the onion and sauté over low heat until soft and completely translucent.

Add the ground ginger and garam masala and cook for an extra minute or two, stirring constantly. Add the vegetable broth, roasted squash, and sweet potato.

Bring to low simmer, cover, and cook for an extra for 10-15 minutes.

Puree in a blender and return to heat. Add the coconut milk and stir until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste .

Serve hot and drizzle with a spoonful of coconut milk and touch of extra virgin olive oil.

Kale, White Bean and Turkey Sausage Soup


  • 12 oz. of Turkey Sausage
  • Chicken broth
  • 1 ½ cups chopped carrots
  • 2 (14.5 oz.) Cannellini beans
  • 1 cup of celery
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 6 oz. of Kale
  • ½ tsp oregano, dried
  • 1tbsp parsley, dried
  • 1tsp rosemary, dried
  • 1 1/3 cups yellow onion
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp. of olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add sausage and cook until slightly browned, tossing occasionally, about 5 minutes. Remove sausage, while leaving oil in pan, and drain sausage on a plate lined with paper towels and set aside.

Return pot with oil to medium heat, add carrots, onion, and celery and sauté 3 minutes, add garlic and sauté 1 minute longer. Stir in chicken broth, water, parsley, rosemary, oregano and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and allow to gently boil 10 minutes. Add kale and allow to boil 10 minutes longer until kale and veggies are tender. Stir in cooked sausage and cannellini beans (you can add more broth at this point to thin if desired). Serve warm, top each serving with parmesan cheese.

White Chicken Chili


  • 1 1/2 lbs. cooked, organic free-range boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 C chopped onion
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 (8oz) cans chopped green chilies, undrained
  • 2 C chicken broth
  • 3 (15oz) cans white kidney beans, undrained

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the chicken and onions.  Cook for about 5 minutes then add garlic, cumin, coriander, oregano and cayenne pepper.  Stir to blend well.  Next add in the chilies.  Finally, add the chicken broth and beans and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Now that you have all of this scrumptious soup – here’s a great way to enjoy it all season long. Frozen soup Freeze your soup in plastic solo cups! Ladle thoroughly cooled soup into cups and freeze. Once frozen, cut three slits in the rim of the cup and peel the cup away.  Store individual servings in a gallon size freezer bag until you are ready to enjoy again. [Click to Tweet]    I love this idea!

What are your favorite fall soup recipes?

Joy Vale
October 11, 2015

Functional Endocrinology of Ohio
Akron: 2800 S. Arlington Road, Akron, Ohio 44312 (330) 644-5488
Cleveland: 6200 Rockside Woods Blvd., Ste. 100, Independence, Ohio 44131 (216) 236-0060
Dr. Keith S. Ungar and Dr. Andrew Kender, Chiropractic Physicians

To schedule an appointment, click here

“Fall-ing in Love (with Fall).” Lor Out Loud. N.p., 21 Sept. 2013. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.
“Roasted Acorn Squash and Sweet Potato Soup – Blogging Over Thyme.”Blogging Over Thyme RSS2. N.p., 29 Oct. 2013. Web. 17 Sept. 2015.
“18 Food Hacks That Will Change The Way You Cook! | How Does She.”How Does She. N.p., 25 Jan. 2015. Web. 01 Oct. 2015.

Do You Really Need to Soak Your Nuts? Yes!

Soaking Nuts

What’s The Deal With Soaking Your Nuts?  Phytic Acid – That’s What!

Unless you suffer from a nut or seed allergy most of us have enjoyed the crunchy sensation when biting into our favorite nuts or seeds.  What you might not have known until reading this blog is that you need to take an extra step before biting into those delicious snacks to optimize the nutritional potential they hold.  And you might ask what is that step!  That’s right soaking your nuts.  I must admit I do not always soak my nuts but each day strive to make healthier decisions for me and my family and you can often find soaked nuts in my refrigerator as a healthy snack.  I was first exposed to so many things in Chiropractic school and soaking my nuts and seeds was one of those memorable experiences.  I remember a long bus ride to Texas with a bunch of my rugby mates to play a match and one of the Australians passing a bag of seasoned and soaked almonds.  The consistency was so different in anything I had ever tried that it will be one of those things that I may remember forever.

If you have never tried soaking your nuts and seeds, then you should try it!!  How else are you going to stimulate new neurons in the brain if you do not try something new?  You’ll notice that soaked walnuts do not have that astringent, mouth-puckering taste to them. This is because when soaking walnuts, the tannins rinse away, leaving behind a softer, more buttery nut. The soak water from nuts and seeds should always be discarded and never used as water in a recipe.[1]

The website Whole Lifestyle Nutrition asks the question, “Is it necessary to soak your nuts?”  The answer is “absolutely” they go on to explain.[2]  Nuts have phytic acid.  Phytic acid is also found in grains and legumes.  Just as with grains and legumes, soaking nuts is essential for proper digestions.  When eating nuts that haven’t been soaked, the phytic acid binds to minerals in the gastrointestinal tract and cannot be absorbed in the intestine. [Click to Tweet]  To many, bound minerals can lead to mineral deficiencies.  By soaking, you are breaking down the phytic acid so it is absorbed properly.  Nuts also have high amounts of enzymes inhibitors.  This is another reason why un-soaked nuts are hard to digest.  Soaking nuts neutralizes the enzymes allowing for proper digestion.[3]

As a functional medicine doctor, I often discuss nuts with my patients in relation to digestive health.  I have heard many explanations of why not to eat nuts and seeds that state they are bad for the gut. None of the arguments have convinced me at this point.  I will recommend those who come into the office with gastrointestinal inflammation, that soaking their nuts is a piece in the puzzle that helps allow their digestive system to recover to optimal function.  I might even have some people avoid nuts completely for a period as I have seen gastrointestinal markers improve when people do avoid nuts temporarily.  The Paleo Mom has a great article on her investigation into the topic of nuts and why they are or are not good for your gut.  She says “the science is lacking,”[4]  which I agree and will continue to investigate further as the subject is addressed further.

Hopefully at this point, the idea of soaking your nuts not only makes you think differently about the foods you are eating but also may inspire you to try new ideas with nuts such as making your own nut milk.  I recently tried making almond milk and what a hit!!  So next time you’re munching on some crunchy nuts, save some and soak a handful if you’ve never tried it!

Dr. Andrew Kender, D.C.
October 7, 2015

Functional Endocrinology of Ohio
Akron: 2800 S. Arlington Road, Akron, Ohio 44312 (330) 644-5488
Cleveland: 6200 Rockside Woods Blvd., Ste. 100, Independence, Ohio 44131 (216) 236-0060
Dr. Keith S. Ungar and Dr. Andrew Kender, Chiropractic Physicians

To schedule an appointment, click here

[3] Id.


Are You Thinking Above the Line? 7 Easy Steps to Start.

Lemonade  Think, Believe, Do, Adapt, Overcome and Love Your Way to a Better Life

The concept of “above the line” thinking is part of almost every personal and professional growth model.  It is an accountability model.  Below the line thinkers make excuses, blame others, cause confusion and have “an attitude of helplessness.”[1]  With above-the-line thinkers, “we find a sense of reality, ownership, commitment, [problem solving] and determined action.”[2]

Our clinic, as a team, went to a few seminars to help us focus on positive thinking. Surrounding our patients with an atmosphere that is both healing and positive is one of our missions. One of the biggest takeaways was the power of positive thinking. Positive thinking is part of the above-the-line model.  Above the line thinking involves having an optimistic outlook. The opposite would be “below the line” thinking. These types of thinkers have a limited view on the world. I am going to share some tips and tricks I have learned through my experience and attendance at these seminars.

7 ways to start thinking above the line

  1. Avoid “below the line” thinking[3] such as:
  • Everything is happening to you, feeling victimized
  • Constantly blaming others for your situation
  • Allowing yourself to become overwhelmed
  • Reacting to situation in an irrational, impulsive way

2. LOVE everyone.

3.  Lemons make tasty lemonade!

  • Make the best of every situation.
  • Maintain an optimistic outlook[4] especially through the hard times.
  • Talk about it; you are not alone. Find someone who can relate to your situation and talk it out.

4.  Take Action.

5.  Listen.

  • Always follow the 80/20 rule when it comes to listening to other, no matter with whom you are conversing.

6.  Improvise, Adapt, Overcome. (I know this is the unofficial slogan for the U.S. Marines but it is great advice).

  • Go with the flow.
  • Allow life to happen, do not limit your experiences.
  • Be flexible and understanding.

7.  Have a mission and purpose in life.

  • Don’t wander aimlessly through life.
  • Set achievable and realistic goals for yourself.
  • Congratulate or reward your success.
  • Prioritize your day, week, month, and year(s).
  • Be ambitious.
  • Trust your instincts; believe in yourself without fail!

The best investment you will ever make is investing in yourself. “Successful people don’t wait – they spend money, time, and effort on their own growth because they know without a doubt it will pay off – for themselves and everyone around them.”[5]

We are human and creatures of habit. However, we have the power to turn our habits into ones that embrace positive thinking and an optimistic attitude towards life and others.  (Click to Tweet). We can think above the line!  Click here for a great blog and chart to help remind you every day of how to think above the line.

Can you identify any below the line thinking in your life? How can you apply above the line thinking techniques to help you live happier and healthier?

Missty Klinger
April 29, 2015
Functional Endocrinology of Ohio
Akron: 2800 S. Arlington Road, Akron, Ohio 44312 (330) 644-5488
Cleveland: 6200 Rockside Woods Blvd., Ste. 100, Independence, Ohio 44131 (216) 236-0060
Dr. Keith S. Ungar, Dr. David Starkey, and Dr. Andrew Kender, Chiropractic Physicians

[2] Id.
[5] Kuhn, R. DC. (2012). Return to Health: overcoming the unimaginable and beating the odds.  Visit Dr. Kuhn’s website to learn more: