Does Eating Fish Reduce Cancer Risk?

Most of us are aware by now of the cardiovascular benefits of having fish in the diet.  Eating omega-3-rich fish, like salmon, reduces blood pressure and fat accumulation in the arteries.  The recommendation from Heart associations is to consume at least two portions of oily fish per week.  Is there anything else that is healthy about eating fish?  Apparently there is.

Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City conducted a review in 2014 of

red fish isolated on white background

Italian studies that strongly suggests that eating oily fish twice-per-week can also help to prevent the development of cancers of the breast, colon, intestine and esophagus.  The authors also emphasized the importance of how you prepare the fish for eating.  The low risk of developing the afore-mentioned cancers was only apparent when prepared using olive oil and wasn’t fried or preserved with salt.

This makes you wonder, of course, whether there were other factors involved besides the omega 3 in the fish itself creating the lower cancer risk.  This being said, the benefits of consuming fish are undeniable on the heart and circulation, and lowering the risk of cancer would certainly be a welcome perk.

Until next time…

Dr. Gatis

Marriage Does Have Its Advantages

Marriage can be a tax break – and most of us have made a joke about marriage “breaking” us.  Research shows, however, that healthy, unmarried people who rated their health as “excellent” were, on average, 75 percent more likely to die during the 20 year period studied than married people.  The benefits declined, however, as people’s health or marriage declined.  Unmarried people in “fair” health were only 40 percent more likely to Dollarphotoclub_70805976die than married people.

The American Psychological Association found that couples who later divorced had 34 percent higher levels of norepinephrine in their blood.  Norepinephrine is a stress hormone – and the implication is, of course, that being married is less stressful, or not being married is more stressful.  Professor Janet Kiecolt-Glaser, from the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at Ohio State University states that “marital quality is a good predictor of subsequent health” and how personal relationships, especially marriage, can translate into positive health outcomes.  When a new Star Trek movie comes out, Mr. Spock will have to change his greeting to ….”Get married, live long and prosper”!

Until next time…

Dr. Gatis

Is Your Glass Half-Empty or Half-Full?

Does a positive outlook improve your health?  How you perceive your life does matter to your body.  A University of Wisconsin study found that of 30,000 individuals with perceived high stress had a 43 percent increased risk of an early demise – but only if they viewed their stress as negative.

Dr. Jeremy Jamieson, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Rochester,

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New York, divided subjects into two groups.  One group was instructed to “reinterpret bodily signals as beneficial” while the other group was not given this information.  Group One, the group prepped beforehand with the instruction, performed better and had less social anxiety.  According to Dr. Jamieson, rethinking how we perceive stress dramatically alters how effectively we cope with “stressful situations and major life transitions”.  Positive thinking skills means that you are better able to handle the everyday stresses of life in a more constructive way.

What are the physical benefits of a positive outlook on life?  Experts at the Mayo Clinic have found that the benefits of maintaining this “life-positive” view translates into lower rates of depression, greater resistance to the common cold and a reduced risk of death from heart disease.

Until next time…

Dr. Gatis

Diagnosing Parkinson’s With The Voice

When doctors ask you to say “ahhhh”, it is usually to look at the condition of your throat. Doctor examining throat Dr. Max Little, Chairman of the Parkinson’s Voice Initiative, has developed Speech Recognition software which compares a patient’s voice to a database of vocal recordings of Parkinson’s patients and those who do not have the disease.  Early testing of the technology have demonstrated it to be 99% accurate, and the project is currently amassing 10,000 further recordings to further assess the software’s ability to detect Parkinson’s.  Apparently, those individuals with Parkinson’s show specific vocal patterns e.g., tremors.

Parkinson’s is the second most common neurodegenerative disease behind Alzheimer’s disease and affects one million people in the USA.  There is no lab test specific for the disease.   Parkinson’s has the best outcomes when identified early – as the disease has no cure – but the progression of the disease can be slowed by pharmaceutical therapy. The diagnosis, up until now, has relied on clinical assessments of stress, muscle reflexes, gait, brain scans and so on.  The use of this voice recognition technology is showing great promise.  Calling your doctor may soon take on a whole new meaning.

Until next time…

Dr. Gatis

The Key to Health Is in the Mind

Psychoneuroimmunology is the study of the relationship between the mind or psyche, the nervous system and the immune system.  Another way to state this is the relationship between stress the immune system and our health.   When we are “stressed” the body produces “stress-induced” chemicals like cortisol and epinephrine – which are part of our survival mechanism and absolutely necessary.  These chemicals rise in the blood in order to protect us from immediate harm.  The problem arises when these chemicals are chronically elevated due to ongoing stress triggers i.e., modern life.

How can we turn down this stress response, you say?  By increasing its opposite, the

Business People Yoga Relaxation Wellbeing Concept

relaxation response.  It is no mistake that women, in particular, are flocking to the yoga studio.  A review of the literature studying the benefits of yoga found that, compared to no exercise, yoga was linked to a lower rate of obesity, reduced high blood pressure and even tended to reduce high cholesterol.  The Cochrane Collaboration found that yoga can reduce diastolic blood pressure and triglycerides in the blood and increase the HDL (good) cholesterol.

Another easy way to induce the relaxation response is to practice “deep breathing” techniques – which have long been part of meditation.  The researchers at Harvard Medical School found that practicing deep breathing 20 minutes a day for eight weeks increased the expression of genes involved in energy release and increased the protein NF-B – which is part of the body’s response to inflammation, stress and trauma.  The end result is that deep breathing helps to reduce the symptoms of anxiety, lowers heart rate and blood pressure, and improves oxygenation of tissues.

The practice of meditation continues to attract the attention of scientists for its potential stress-relieving effects on the mind and body.  Thailand researchers studied the effects of transcendental meditation (which creates a state of profound relaxation while remaining awake).  Over the course of 18 weeks, study participants felt less anxiety, felt better in social situations at work as well as with their private relationships with family and friends.

Break your stress pattern and take the time to breathe deeply and “smell the roses” – preferably daily.

Take the time to still your mind and body.  Your health depends on it.

Until next time….

Dr. Gatis

Walking Is Better For Your Heart Than Running

Good news for all sedentary middle-aged people!  A recent study from the Mayo Medical School in Minnesota analyzed the effect of a three month interval-walking program on peak aerobic capacity (the amount of oxygen consumed per unit of work).  Compared to the non-training group, the training group – over three months – increased their peak aerobic capacity by an average of 28 percent.  The regimen involved five or more sets of three-minute, low-intensity walking alternated with three minutes of high-intensity walking cobblestone street walkfor an average of four days per week.

Running can also be good for you, but, as the scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California found out, although running reduced the risk of heart disease by 4.5 percent in individuals between 18 and 80 over a six-year period, walking reduced the risk of heart disease by 9.8 percent (almost double).  So it is safe to say that you “should walk, not run, when you cross the street”.  A walking interval-training program is apparently the way to go…so get going!

Until next time…

Dr. Gatis

Why Should You Work Out In The Morning?

Testosterone burns fat, builds muscle and increases sex drive in men and women.  Testosterone, like most steroid hormones, has a daily rhythm – highest in the morning and decreasing over the day.  It has been suggested that our ability to perform follows the same trend i.e., testosterone levels can predict our physical performance over the day.  A team at Swansea University, lead by Professor Kilduff,  evaluated the effect of training in the morning on testosterone response throughout the day.

Using testosterone levels derived from saliva sampling, 18 semi-professional rugby Morning  exercise and black clockplayers were divided into three groups:  the control or resting group; the sprint group (5 x 40 meters) and weight-training (bench press and squat) group.  A follow-up saliva sample was taken before the players completed a performance test (back squat and bench press, 40m sprint and jump test).

The results showed the circadian decline in testosterone levels was negated by morning training.  In other words, working out (especially with weight training) in the morning  keeps the testosterone levels from dropping during the day and increases performance in power sports at least six hours after the initial workout.

If you recall in a previous blogs (2 and 3), I mentioned the reasons why maintaining testosterone levels is extremely important for men and women.  Here is a short list:  Increases bone density, decreases cholesterol, helps to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, prevents and treats depression, protects against cardiovascular disease, hypertension, excess body fat and arthritis, enhances memory and cognition, and protects against Diabetes, Insulin Resistance and Metabolic Syndrome.   Perhaps changing how and when we exercise may reduce our tendency to certain health conditions by maintaining optimal steroid hormone levels.

Until next time……

Dr. Gatis

Jealousy Can Increase Your Risk of Alzheimer’s

Negative emotions can and do have an effect on our physiology.  The Chinese have known for centuries  that anger can affect the liver, grief can affect the lungs, the kidneys can be affected by fear and so on.  Now mainstream medical science has confirming data – at least when it comes to emotions like jealousy, fear and anger.  Having jealous or insecure thoughts has weird effects on the brain – in particular, the amygdala – the part of the brain that is involved in our perception of fear, anger and disgust.  The amygdala releases the hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline as part of your stress response.  The stress response is useful and necessary when it is short-lived but chronic stress andHuman Emotion the long-term release of these hormones affects the immune system and the cardiovascular system in deleterious ways.

Having chronic or obsessive thoughts of your partner being unfaithful or with another lover, or competition (real or imagined) with another in the workplace, for example, activates the amygdala and the release of stress hormones that can raise blood pressure – and blood pressure spikes when under stress have been linked to some forms of dementia.  A study out of Kyoto University in Japan, of 800 women over 38 years-of-age who felt most stressed or anxious, were at increased risk of Alzheimer’s and long-term distress.  The bottom line is that if you are feeling “out or your mind” with jealousy or insecurity, the result,  on a physical level, may just be literally “losing your mind”. Could it be that a high self-esteem and self-concept can protect us in some way from these mind-related diseases? Food for thought.

Until next time,

Dr. Gatis

The Great Outdoors: The Natural Anti-Depressant

Exercise, as we all know, has many benefits – and it is recognized to have a positive effect on our mind and our moods.  It is now a recognized way to improve the symptoms Multi-Generation Family Enjoying Walk In Beautiful Countrysideof depression.  The best evidence comes from a review by a team of UK researchers, published in the “Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews” that looked at 37 studies that compared exercise with a placebo, medication or psychological counselling.

Across this research, more than 2,000 people with depression found exercise to be as effective as antidepressants and psychological therapies for reducing the symptoms of depression.  Researchers noted, however, that there needs to be more detailed research looking at what types of exercise are most helpful for depression, as well as the number and duration of sessions that would help the most.

No matter which way you look at it, exercise is beneficial for the mind as well as the body – as it boosts hormones like endorphins and serotonin….so take a break and take a walk.  Your body and your brain will thank you.  It may turn out that exercise in the fresh air will be better than taking tablets!

Until next time…

Dr. Gatis

The Fifth and Last Force of Illness: Oxidative Stress (or “Rusting”)

We are all rusting.  In this sense, we are all like apples – going brown with age (think “age Oxidative Stressspots”).   The process of oxidizing is a necessary component of burning fuel to make energy, but the by-products of this process are highly reactive oxygen molecules known as “free radicals” – which can damage the tissues unless there is enough “anti-oxidation” happening to counteract free radical production.   This state of imbalance is called Oxidative Stress, or the unchecked effects of oxygen on the body.

Research has shown that virtually all illnesses have an increased level of oxidative stress in common.

Heart disease, cancer, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and neurological problems like alzheimers’s, parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis are some common diseases that appear to be triggered by oxidative stress.  The related symptoms include fatigue, weakness, muscle and joint pain, headaches, itchiness, digestion problems, anxiety and depression – to mention only a few.

VitaminsThe source of oxidative stress can be both internal and external.  Internally, we may have nutritional deficiencies of the “antioxidants” – like Zinc, C, Selenium, and E.  How we live our lives also contributes to this imbalance as smoking, alcohol, excessive exercise, pharmacologic drugs and overeating contribute to oxidative stress.  Blood sugar imbalance leads to oxidative stress, and so does being overweight.  External sources include exposure to pollution, pesticides, petrochemicals and heavy metals.

Tests for Oxidative Stress include measuring lipid peroxides, superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, catalase and/or glutathione in the blood.  Certain free radical markers like catechol and 2,3 – dihydroxybenzoate can be measured in the urine.  Blood levels of the antioxidant nutrients A, D, E, CoEnzyme Q10 and beta-carotene can be measured in the blood as well.

We are all at risk for Oxidative Stress – since the majority of us do not get enough antioxidant-containing through our food.  I believe that supplementation of these nutrients is often a necessary first step – if the individual already has signs of oxidative stress.  This being said, there are no supplements that can take the place of optimizing your diet.  Choose to eat high nutrient-to-calorie ratio foods rather than eating meals or snacks which are high in calories but low in antioxidants.  Eliminate anything “white” or processed from your diet i.e. white sugar, white flour, white bread, white rice and white pasta.  Dramatically increase the colourful vegetables and fruits in your diet which contain antioxidants like lycopene, lutein and proanthocyandins.  “You are what you eat” is an appropriate phrase.  As Mr. Spock might say….”Eat Right, Live Long and Prosper”!

Until next time…..

Force Of Illness #4: Impaired Detoxification

Detoxification is a normal function of the body.  It is the first step in the process of removing foreign, potentially toxic compounds from the body regardless of whether they are environmental or the natural products of cellular metabolism.  All cells have detoxification mechanisms and all cells detoxify all the time.  Detoxification, or the process of making a toxic substance “non-toxic” or “water-soluble”, must occur first before the harmful substance can be eliminated from the body – through the urine, feces, sweat, breath or bile.  The process of Detoxification utilizes the P450 enzymes and has two phases.   Both of these phases have unique nutritional requirements.  Some of the common problems that have been related to poor detoxification are Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, pain, chronic hormonal problems, fibroids, heavy menstrual bleeding,  Breast Concept of Detox Diets  The New Diet FadCancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Many people mistakenly believe that they are “detoxing” when they are doing a “cleanse” – a “liver cleanse”, for example.  In actuality, they are supporting elimination rather than detoxification.  The liver, kidneys, colon, lungs, skin and lymphatics are all organs of elimination.  They remove detoxified substances i.e., substances converted to water-soluble, from the body.  This can be useful, of course, and often necessary – but when you are talking about detoxification, you are talking about the cellular or micro processes rather than the macro system processes.  A “cleanse” or elimination support is most effective when any nutritional deficiencies relating to the P450 enzymes and other enzymes relating to detoxification have been corrected first.  The nutrients needed for optimum detoxification include vitamin A, B6, B12 and Folic Acid; the sulfur-containing amino acids found in kale, bok choy, garlic, onions, kale, cauliflower, cabbage broccoli and Brussels sprouts, and minerals such as zinc, magnesium, selenium, manganese and copper.

In addition, reactions to certain drugs are far more common than most people realize – and are the result of compromised or inefficient detoxification mechanisms.  Reye’s Syndrome (a potentially-lethal disorder), for example, occurs in someone with impaired aspirin detoxification if they take the drug when they have a virus.  In the future, it is my prediction that a “detoxification test” will have to be taken before certain classes of drugs are prescribed.  There is a special test that exists now – where patients are given small amount of aspirin, acetaminophen and coffee.  After 12 hours, the urine, blood and saliva are checked to see if the drugs were normally detoxified.   In the future, it is my prediction that a “detoxification test” will have to be completed before certain drugs are administered.

Until next time…..

Force of Illness #3: Inflammation & Disease

The “Third Force of Illness” is Inflammation.  The inflammatory process is a natural body reaction to injury, infections, allergens, toxins, pollution, pesticides, food additives, drugs, cosmetics, chemicals, free radicals and oxidative stress.  The five associated signs that the process of inflammation is occurring are redness, swelling, heat, pain and loss of function.  The first three signs are the ones most often associated with inflammation – and we have all experienced it.  It is usually local and self-limited.  The body runs into trouble, however, when inflammation is excessive, chronic or systemic.

As strange as it sounds, the most common externally-generated cause of inflammation isBlue cold gel pack to kill the pain what happens in the digestive tract.  Even though we consider the “gut” is inside, it is actually “outside” us.  If we turned ourselves inside-out, the gut would be on the outside (like the skin).  The gastrointestinal tract is one of our primary defenses against invaders.   In many ways, it is an extension of the skin and similarly protective.  When the gut is inflamed, the inflammation process occurs in other areas of the body – like the covering of the bones and the walls of the arteries.  Any arthritis or arteriosclerosis has at its roots this inflammatory process.  As an interesting side-note, researchers are finding  that certain micro-organisms exist in the wall of diseased arteries.  We may find that cardiovascular disease may be linked to the presence of one or more of these organisms triggering the inflammatory response – just like Helicobacter pylori has been linked to the development of stomach ulcers.

In other words, gut function – especially an “inflamed” gut – affects other systems directly.  The digestive tract is a major regulator of the immune system.  Even though the source of the inflammation may be different, the end result is the same i.e., inflammation activates the immune system systemically.  Whether it starts in your pinky finger or your molar, inflammation puts your immune system on alert.  Reducing inflammation in the gut can, and does, have a modulating effect on the majority of disease processes that have an immune system component.

By far, the most common internally-triggered factors for chronic inflammation are free High resolution 3D human for anatomy,medicine and healthradicals and oxidative stress – which can be caused by anything that depletes the body of “antioxidants” e.g., overeating, obesity, chronic infections, toxins, and so on.  Please understand that free radicals are one of the naturally-occurring by-products of cellular metabolism.  Free radicals are kept from damaging tissue by “antioxidants” which neutralize them.   The problem results from an imbalance between free radical production and free radical neutralization.  Unadulterated colourful vegetables and fruits are perhaps the best way to get your daily dose of antioxidants e.g., vitamins A,D,E, K, C.  There are also certain supplements, like N.A.C., that increase other important antioxidants like glutathione.

Virtually all of us are antioxidant deficient, with inflamed digestive tracts and low-grade chronic inflammation.   This not only puts a heavy burden on the body, but it is my contention that it takes its toll on the Brain/Mind as well.  Much of the anxiety and depression experienced by our young people (which I consider epidemic) is directly related to poor diet and digestion.  An inflamed gut, most definitely can lead to an inflamed mind – and drugs are not the solution.  Mind what you eat, and eat for your mind.  Say “no” to your latte and say “hello” to you morning antioxidant smoothie!

Until next time……

Dr. Gatis

Testing For Malnutrition and Impaired Metabolism (“Sludge” and “Burnout”)

There are many ways to test for the first and second force of Illness (called malnutrition, orMale thyroid anatomy what we have called the “sludge” factor and impaired metabolism or “burnout”).  When we take in food, and digest and assimilate it, only the waste or unusable portion should be eliminated in the stool.   If meat fibers or fats are showing up in the feces, then you are not fully breaking down and absorbing the protein and fats in your food. Your Naturopathic or Medical Doctor may order a comprehensive digestive stool analysis to determine if this is the case.  Levels of the essential fatty acids and amino acids can also be measured in the blood also.  Individual vitamins like B12 and vitamin D can be individually measured as can homocysteine – a major methylation and cardiovascular health marker.

Mitochondrial function can be indirectly tested by a urine organic acid profile – a relatively new and non-invasive way to indirectly measure certain factors related to metabolic function i.e.,  fatty acid and carbohydrate metabolism markers (B1, B2, B3, Carnitine, Lipoic Acid, CoQ10), Energy production markers (B complex, Amino Acids, Mg), B-complex vitamin markers (B1, B2,B3, B5, B6, Biotin), Methylation Cofactor markers (B12, Folate), Neurotransmitter Metabolism markers (Tyrosine, Tryptophan, B6, antioxidants) and Detoxification markers (Arg, NAC, Met, Mg, antioxidants).

Mitochondrial function can also be affected by pollutants, heavy metals, and so on.  Many of the environmental contaminants can now be tested for in blood or urine.

One of the most important factors to test for is insulin resistance (IR).  As I mnaturopathy 3entioned in the previous blog, IR is linked to obesity, arteriosclerosis, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes Make sure that your M.D. or N.D. orders HbA1c and serum insulin in addition to fasting serum glucose.  Optimum levels of HbA1c and Insulin are below 5.5% and less than 40 (fasting) respectively in addition to a fasting blood sugar less than 6.0.  In routine blood work, a lipid panel is done (total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, triglycerides).  If the triglyceride-to-HDL ratio is greater than 4.3, this suggests a high probability of insulin resistance.  The waist-to-hip ratio is an easy way to determine you tendency to IR.  Divide your waist measurement at the belly button level by the hip measurement.  For women, any value over 0.8 is associated with IR and, in men, any value over 0.9.

Thyroid dysfunction is becoming somewhat of an epidemic.  In my opinion, everyone should have a full thyroid panel done early in their life to provide an individual’s “normal” levels.  Optimal levels of TSH, or thyroid stimulating hormone, should be between 1 and 2.  Please be aware that the “normal” range is up to 4 – but the normal and “optimum” functional ranges are different.  Free T3 should be measured as well as free T4 – because T3 is the more active thyroid hormone form.  T3 is formed from T4.  There are many factors that affect this conversion – including stress and female/male hormones.

In the next blog, we will consider the Third Force of Illness called “Inflammation” or “Heat”.

Until then…..

Dr. Gatis

The Second Force of Illness: Impaired Metabolism or Burnout

The First Force of Illness is inadequate digestion and absorption of foods (or “sludging” – as we mentioned in the previous blog) and endothelial dysfunction.  The Second Force of Illness is “burnout” due to impaired metabolic/cellular processes creating an overall lack of energy.  How many of you suffer from being “tired”.    Metabolism is the term used to describe the creation of usable energy from food – and fatigue is an indicator that you may have an impaired metabolic ability to generate this “food energy”. The main factors in impaired metabolism are:  insulin resistance, mitochondrial dysfunction and thyroid dysfunction.

A major player in “burnout” is glucose regulation and control.  There is a saying that you chargercan have “too much of a good thing” – and this applies to carbohydrates – especially glucose and sugars.  Insulin, secreted by the pancreas in response to carbohydrates in the blood, regulates the uptake of glucose into the cells.  In the current North American diet, insulin secretion is virtually constant due to the almost continual intake of sugar and carbohydrates.  The only thing the body can do is to continue to secrete insulin in the attempt to lower the blood sugar level.  The cells can only take in a certain amount of glucose at a time, so the cells, under the stress of too much insulin, will do the logical thing – change the receptors for insulin making them inactive.  The scientific term for this is Insulin Resistance.

When a cell is unresponsive to insulin, our cells become unable to get energy from the food we eat – despite the fact that we have eaten enough – and our insulin blood levels become chronically elevated.   We become tired and hungry.   The cells are crying out for energy and we crave the quickest energy source (sugar) – which only compounds the problem when we eat them.   For our ancestors, food availability was always in question, so the body adapted by being able to store away the energy that we didn’t immediately need in the moment for use later – as fat tissue.  In today’s society, however, food (especially carbohydrates) is plentiful for most of us, so the “rainy day” never comes – but we still eat as if it could.  This is the crux of our obesity epidemic.  .  High insulin levels in the blood and Insulin Resistance have not only been linked to obesity, but also to arteriosclerosis and heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Mitochondrial Dysfunction is the second major part of burnout. Mitochondria are the energy producers of the cell.  They do this by taking sugar, fatty acids or amino acids from your food and, in the presence of oxygen, burn them to create energy.  Mitochondrial dysfunction is caused by a number of factors.  Overproduction of free radicals (also known as “reactive oxygen species” or RburnoutOS) can cause mitochondrial damage.  This is why you take antioxidants like vitamin A and E.  Poisoning from heavy metals, petroleum products, pesticides and trans fats also contribute.  At the cellular level, we find mitochondrial damage or dysfunction occurring in almost every type of major illness e.g., heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.

The third major factor in impaired metabolism is thyroid dysfunction.  The thyroid is like the gas pedal in your car and determines your rate of speed.  Too little thyroid hormone and your metabolism slows.  Too much and your metabolism “red-lines”.  A low-functioning thyroid – especially in women – is becoming the norm.  Symptoms of hypothyroid include:  being cold all the time, weight gain, constipation, oily skin, coarse hair, increased cholesterol and depression.  There are many possible causes which include allergic reactions (wheat allergy/celiac disease has a well-known association with autoimmune thyroid disease), toxins, infections, hormonal disturbances and low selenium or iodine levels.

In the next blog, we will explore the ways you can test for “sludge” and “burnout”.  Until then……

Dr. Gatis