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A Reminder About Artificial Sweeteners

By Mila McManus, MD

All artificial sweeteners, including aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, neotame, advantame, and acesulfame potassium-k, interfere with the normal and healthy activity of gut bacteria[1].  They also cause DNA damage.

These popular sweeteners are often identified with the pink, blue, and yellow packets found in every store and restaurant nationwide, as well as found in “no sugar” and “sugar-free” foods, candy, and beverages. They are also used in medications, toothpastes, and mouthwashes. Consuming as few as 7 little packets may be enough to have a detrimental effect on your gut biome[2].

In addition to disturbing the gut biome, all of the artificial sweeteners are linked to increased risk for obesity, insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Several are known carcinogens.

While the most well-known brand is Splenda, the actual chemical sweetener’s name is SUCRALOSE, the most common name you will find in ingredient labels. Watch for it and make every effort to banish it from your diet.  Also, be sure never to cook with artificial sweeteners because they increase in toxicity with the addition of heat.

Protecting your gut biome is one of the most important aspects of protecting your health! Antibiotics, artificial sweeteners, and NSAIDS, when ingested routinely, will destroy the biome and result in weakened immunity, weakened brain function, and digestive issues.  This, in turn, will create inflammation and disease.  Take your probiotics and avoid destroyers of the gut biome.

To ensure you maintain a healthy gut, talk to our staff nutritionist or your medical provider at The Woodlands Institute for Health and Wellness.

[1] Harpaz, D.; Yeo, L.P.; Cecchini, F.; Koon, T.H.P.; Kushmaro, A.; Tok, A.I.Y.; Marks, R.S.; Eltzov, E. Measuring Artificial Sweeteners Toxicity Using a Bioluminescent Bacterial Panel. Molecules 201823, 2454. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules23102454

[2] Abou-Donia MB, El-Masry EM, Abdel-Rahman AA, McLendon RE, Schiffman SS. Splenda alters gut microflora and increases intestinal p-glycoprotein and cytochrome p-450 in male rats. J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2008;71(21):1415-29. doi: 10.1080/15287390802328630. PMID: 18800291.


By |2022-05-18T07:21:40-05:00May 19th, 2022|Articles, General|

EWG Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce

by Mila McManus, MD

The 2022 Shopper’s Guide for Produce from the Environmental Working Group is out.  This is a wonderful guideline to help you determine which produce you should always buy organic versus those that don’t necessarily need to be purchased organic.  It sure is helpful to know how to avoid the most pesticide-laden produce.

                Many popular produce items remain on the Dirty Dozen list, including strawberries, grapes, apples, and tomatoes. [ https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php] These popular foods are often given to children on a daily basis so, if not purchased organically, you could introduce considerable pesticide toxicity to children’s developing bodies and brains. We recommend that EVERYONE choose organic whenever possible, and especially if any of the items on the dirty list are foods consumed frequently or daily.

                It’s interesting to note that broccoli and eggplant have both fallen off of the Clean 15 list this past year, suggesting that there may have been an increase in pesticide use with these two foods. Although, it could also be a result of less pesticide used on new foods added to the Clean 15, namely sweet potatoes. It’s worth considering purchasing broccoli and eggplant as organic where possible.  For more details regarding the evaluation process, visit EWG.org.

                You should also consider other benefits of organic produce. Organic farming is much more likely to ensure that soil is nutrient rich and ensures that seeds are not genetically modified. As a result, organic offers greater nutritional values such as greater amounts of Vitamin C, Magnesium, Calcium, Potassium, and other essential vitamins and minerals without man’s manipulation of seed genetics, than traditionally raised produce.

                We recommend using EWG.org as a resource as well as encourage supporting this consumer oriented resource for promoting quality food and water for good health. You will find many valuable resources on their webpage including information for clean sources of food, water, baby food, personal care products, and more.

By |2022-05-03T16:27:58-05:00May 4th, 2022|Articles, General|

Plant Based Meat is an Oxymoron

By Mila McManus, MD

The Plant Based non-meat “meat” industry is taking off as many proponents of a greener planet argue that eliminating the beef industry will save the planet.  According to an article published in Wise Traditions Winter 2021 issue, called Reading Between the Lines: Fake Meat and Other Fake Foods: Synthetic Biology Wolves in “Sustainable” Sheep’s Clothing, the author Merinda Teller says there is a “lab-grown meat stampede… a full scale agenda to remove the meat industry entirely led by Future Meat Technologies, the FDA and USDA, as well as NASA, various universities, Bill Gates, Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, Eat Just, Upside Foods, Tyson Foods, Amazon, and the World Economic Forum among others” (p.49-50). Alternatively, The Westin A. Price Foundation and the Environmental Working Group would argue that we can, and do, produce foods of all kinds, and meat specifically, in clean, green, sustainable ways.

It’s interesting how these fake meat producers are trying to make it look, cook, smell, and taste like meat, and they are using the word “meat” in some context on the label. It’s NOT meat.  Nothing about wheat, soy, or the lab grown mold called mycoprotein is meat. It seems an oxymoronic to call plant-based food “meat”.  It is a fake food in the sense that there is nothing about the end product that occurs organically in nature, the way food is grown or produced traditionally. The product is a result of man concocting a combination of foods, combining man-made chemicals and processed proteins into something mysteriously edible.

Read ingredient labels very carefully and know what you are eating. For example, Gardein’s Plant-based Chick’n Filets contain wheat and wheat gluten, soy protein isolate, textured wheat protein, yeast extract, canola oil, and fructose, to name a few, on the otherwise long list of ingredients. Needless to say, if you are gluten sensitive or celiac, or have allergies or sensitivities to soy, yeast, or MSG, this would raise concerns. In general, we recommend avoiding omega-6 rich inflammatory oils (such as canola, soybean, corn, and cottonseed oils) and added sugars (fructose, dextrose, maltodextrin, high fructose corn sugar, tapioca syrup).  Quorn makes their “meatless pieces” with 93% mycoprotein, a mold grown in laboratories. Added to that are yeast extract, egg whites and sugar. IncogMeato is made from water, soy protein concentration, canola oil, dextrose, and yeast extract. Impossible Foods touts their plant-based heme (iron) made from fermentation of genetically engineered yeast, soy, and potato protein. And JUST EGG uses Mung Bean Protein Isolate, expeller-pressed canola oil, sugar, and tapioca syrup, tetrasodium pyrophosphate (what?), transglutaminase (huh?), and nisin (say that again?). All of the Impossible Foods meat replacement products contain soy protein which is a common food allergen. Moreover, unless specified certified organic, there’s an extremely high chance it’s genetically modified.  

One of the cleanest and simplest ingredient lists we found was Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods Perfect Plant Based Ground for meatballs, tacos, and burgers. While we might not go as far as “perfect”, it is comparably a much better, whole food ingredient list. It is gluten free and vegan with 20 grams of protein. The ingredient list contains only 12 ingredients which are hydrated pea protein blend (water, pea protein), high oleic sunflower oil, beets, natural flavors, sweet potato puree, butternut squash puree, carrot puree, methyl cellulose, fruit, and vegetable juice (for color), oat fiber, sea salt, and onion powder.  Another somewhat “better” ingredient list are the Beyond Meat products, though again, natural flavors, dried yeast, canola oil, and pea protein can each pose problems for some people.

It may be helpful to know that the top 9 food allergens in the United States that must be identified on all foods containing them include corn, soy, wheat, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, fish, dairy, and sesame. The first four are often the most altered by man by the way they are genetically modified, laden with pesticides, or in the case of eggs, fed hormones and antibiotics.

All this to say, we are still strong proponents of eating real whole food the way it occurs in nature. We encourage sustainable sources wherever possible.  100% grass fed, grass finished meats, organic farming, minimizing the use of plastics, recycling, avoiding food waste, and supporting local farmers and ranchers – all can support a cleaner, greener, world.


By |2022-04-27T16:23:44-05:00April 28th, 2022|Articles, General|

An Aspirin a Day- Yay? or Nay?  

By Mila McManus, MD

Mainstream medicine and media continue to express uncertainty regarding the use of aspirin to protect against cardiovascular disease. A large primary-prevention trial[1] recently concluded that there is no straightforward evidence that taking low dose aspirin is either beneficial or harmful for healthy older adults. Over the five year study, the rate of heart disease was not significantly lower in those taking 100 mg of aspirin daily compared with peers taking a placebo tablet. The study did find that those taking the aspirin had much higher odds for a major bleeding episode.

What should you do? First, whatever choice you make should be done in collaboration and partnership with your medical provider. Each of us is different on many levels, a core belief in our practice as functional medicine providers. What is good for one person may not be ideal or wise for another. Secondly, there are many nutritional and supplemental approaches  to protect against cardiovascular disease and blood clotting without resorting to aspirin.

Our food choices always have an enormous impact on our overall health. Cleaning up the diet, moving away from packaged, processed, and fast foods toward more organic vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fruits will always provide increased protection against any disease. There are common food sources believed to be natural blood thinners[2]. The most well-known include turmeric, ginger, garlic, cayenne peppers, cinnamon, and food sources for Vitamin E such as almonds and sunflower seeds. Two Chinese herbs that may reduce blood clotting are Dong Quai (a.k.a. female ginseng) and ginkgo. These are both found in teas, supplements, and energy drinks. Bromelain, an enzyme extracted from pineapple is also believed to thin the blood, break down blood clots and reduce clot formation. More is not always better, so it is wise to discuss supplemental intake of these herbs and spices with your medical provider. Several of them should not be taken prior to surgical procedures due to their potential blood thinning effect.

Our practice has also found turmeric, krill/fish oil, vitamin C, and proteases among others, to be beneficial in a multitude of ways, including blood clot prevention. With informed medical advice, it is highly likely that you can identify supplemental and lifestyle changes which will help to maximize your overall health profile while also preventing blood clots. It can be easy to succumb to the power of good advertising and end up taking far too many supplements which can be expensive, falsely advertised, and unnecessary.  Allow us to help you make intelligent choices.

[1] https://www.mdlinx.com/news/jury-out-on-benefit-harm-of-stopping-aspirin-in-healthy-older-adults/2Oy7I1a0VVFBoDjm0xLaE8?show_order=1&article_type=selected&utm_campaign=malert_031622_presend_2_split_c&tag=Morning&utm_source=iPost&utm_medium=email&ipost_environment=m3usainc&iqs=9z2z2g0poqotbvts8roqmg2rg8f1rmbjr27rh2tlneg

[2] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322384


By |2022-04-19T07:43:30-05:00April 20th, 2022|General|

Protein Banana Bread

Adapted by Nancy Weyrauch Mehlert, MS

This protein banana bread is a deliciously moist breakfast or snack bread.



4 eggs

3 medium bananas, mashed

¼ cup Swerve confectioners sugar or Monk Fruit

½ cup full-fat, canned coconut milk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 ¼ cups almond flour (hazelnut flour if preferred)

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 scoops vanilla protein powder (A Bone Broth option is perfect)



  • Preheat oven to 350°
  • In a bowl, combine eggs, banana, Swerve, coconut milk and vanilla. Mix well.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and protein powder.
  • Combine both mixtures, stirring until well incorporated.
  • Place the mixture in a well-greased loaf pan (silicone works wonders) and bake for 45-50 minutes until a toothpick comes out dry from the center.

Retrieved from Ancient Nutrition, Dr. Josh Axe, and sweetener modified.

By |2022-04-07T13:54:29-05:00April 13th, 2022|General, Recipes|

Why Food Sensitivity Testing is Useful

by Mila McManus, MD

Food allergies and food sensitivities are not the same thing. Traditional allergists generally rely on food allergy testing only, which is also what is taught in medical school as the standard protocol. This limited practice leaves a great deal of diagnostic information off the table. For that reason,  we have found food sensitivity testing to be highly useful toward helping our patients feel great again.  Here are specific reasons why food sensitivity testing is useful:

  • When food sensitivity testing results indicate a patient is reactive to a large number of foods, this is confirmation of a leaky gut and poor digestive health, something an upper and lower GI scope cannot tell us.
    • This information can be incredibly helpful with resolving bloating, abdominal pain, IBS, constipation, heartburn, inability to lose weight, diarrhea, skin rashes, and with alleviating autoimmune diseases, mood disorders, etc.
    • This allows us to focus on repair of the gut rather than simply focusing on food elimination.
  • Test results can reflect excessive populations of mold, yeast, and fungus in the body which can be specifically targeted and addressed.
    • Yeast, especially, causes a plethora of common digestive issues, as well as other chronic symptoms outside the GI tract, making it difficult to distinguish from other common ailments such as IBS, Depression, Eczema, and Asthma. Did you know that yeast produces and secretes over 100 toxins?!
    • Mold and fungus can contribute to environmental allergies, headaches, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections, and vaginal and urinary tract infections.
  • Food sensitivities often exacerbate autoimmune disease, and removal of one or more foods can bring autoimmunity into full remission or control.
    • Asthma, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Eczema, and other respiratory and skin concerns can often be addressed by cleaning up the gut and small edits to the diet.
  • Food sensitivity testing can also shed light on possible connections to environmental and seasonal allergies. Read about concomitant food/environmental allergies.

Below, Example A is clear food sensitivity test and Example B sheds light on many of the possibilities listed above.  The IgA white bars reflect immune responses especially in the mucosal membranes of the ears, nose, and throat, digestive tract, skin, and lungs.  The IgG gray bars are reflective of immune responses impacting other aspects of health such as migraine headaches, achy joints, and other symptoms of inflammation and congestion.

Consult with your medical provider to determine if food sensitivity testing would be useful for you or someone you love.

Example A: Normal, Here’s what we hope  yours looks like: Good

Example B: High Sensivities: Bad


By |2022-04-06T12:07:42-05:00April 7th, 2022|General|


By Mila McManus MD

  • Poor gut health
    • Antibiotics
    • Dysbiosis
    • Steroids
    • High sugar diet
    • Leaky gut
      • NSAIDs (e.g., Advil, Aleve)
      • Glyphosate pesticides on wheat products
      • Lectins
  • Poor nutrition/diet
    • vitamin deficiencies
      • from poor intake
      • from poor absorption
      • side effect of medications (e.g. birth control pills, anti-acids, and blood pressure medications)
    • inflammatory diet
      • fried foods, grains, standard meat products, sugar, chemicals
  • Food allergies and sensitivities
    o IgE vs IgG vs IgA reactions, as well as intolerance and non-Ig-mediated reactions to foods
  • Hormone imbalance and decline
    o Adrenal dysfunction
    o Estrogen dominance
    o Hypothyroidism and Functional hypothyroidism
    o Low testosterone from toxins, stress, insulin resistance
  • Toxins
    o PCBs, phthalates, food dyes, preservatives, pesticides, artificial sweeteners and flavors, to
    name a few
  • Sleep disorders
  • Microbes
    • e.g., viruses, parasites, tick borne illness (lyme, babesia, bartonella, etc)
  • Inactivity
  • Stress
  • Medication side effects
    • including everything on the list the pharmacist gives you
    • many cause deficiencies of important nutrients which will manifest in myriad ways
  • Genetic predispositions, minor and major mutations
  • EMF Exposures-wi-fi, cell phones, laptops, appliances, etc
    o Causes a lot of oxidative stress and damages mitochondria (children more than adults)
    o Linked to many chronic diseases and cancer
By |2022-03-29T10:00:47-05:00March 30th, 2022|General|

Are Collagen Supplements Good For Everyone?

By Mila McManus MD

Global markets for collagen supplements have grown by double digits for the last three years.  Collagen supplementation is all the rage for bones and joints, skin, hair, nails, and gut health. But are there any drawbacks to collagen supplementation?

Multiple studies[1] are suggesting that those who experience symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, low self-esteem, poor sleep, and depression may want to avoid  or limit collagen supplementation. Why? Collagen is an incomplete protein and requires another amino acid called tryptophan, in order to be properly utilized in the body. When the supplement is taken, the body has to give tryptophan to the absorption process of collagen, thus robbing the body of tryptophan stores. Thus, taking a collagen supplement can induce tryptophan depletion[2]. This is problematic because tryptophan is a precursor to a neurotransmitter called serotonin. Many who struggle with anxiety or depression, for example, already lack adequate levels of serotonin. If there is not adequate tryptophan available in the body to make serotonin, moods will likely suffer. Serotonin is important and helps us to be calm, contend with stress, sleep well, feel optimistic and hopeful. Low levels of serotonin are associated with anxiety, irritability, eating disorders, OCD, PTSD, poor sleep quality, and insomnia. If you have any of these symptoms and are taking a collagen supplement, consider stopping it for a couple of months to see if your symptoms improve.  If collagen supplementation is important to you, consider adding a supplement called 5-htp (5-hydroxy-tryptophan) which provides the body with more of the building block to make serotonin.  (5-htp is over-the-counter and should be taken under medical supervision)

[1] Leibowitz SF. The role of serotonin in eating disorders. Drugs. 1990;39 Suppl 3:33-48. doi: 10.2165/00003495-199000393-00005. PMID: 2197074.

[2] Biskup CS, Sánchez CL, Arrant A, Van Swearingen AE, Kuhn C, Zepf FD. Effects of acute tryptophan depletion on brain serotonin function and concentrations of dopamine and norepinephrine in C57BL/6J and BALB/cJ mice. PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e35916. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0035916. Epub 2012 May 21. PMID: 22629305; PMCID: PMC3357407.


By |2022-03-15T09:31:18-05:00March 23rd, 2022|General|

White Chicken Chili


This white chicken chili is a healthy one-pot recipe that won’t disappoint!

Serves 4

  • 1 TBS butter or coconut oil
  • 1 lb. chicken, light or dark*
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 1/2 cups of chicken broth*
  • 3 (15 ounce) cans cannellini (aka white kidney) beans, rinsed and drained**
  • 2 (4 ounce) cans chopped green chilies
  • 1 TBS dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 tsp sea salt, or to taste
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 handful of baby spinach, arugula or kale leaves
  • 1 medium Avocado, peeled and chopped into chunks

Purchase “all natural “ or organic, skinless, boneless white and/or dark meat chicken. Using a sharp knife, slice pieces into 1-inch bite sized pieces.   In a large, deep pot, or Dutch oven, sauté the chicken in butter (or coconut oil) with the chopped onion and minced garlic until just done.

Add the chicken broth, cannellini beans, green chilies, oregano, cumin, cayenne pepper, and salt. Simmer for 30-45 minutes to allow flavors to blend and develop. If desired, add in the last 5 minutes of simmering, a small handful of fresh baby spinach, kale, or arugula leaves for added nutrition.

Divide the chopped cilantro and avocado between four bowls. Ladle the chili over the top and serve.

*We recommend that you cook a whole chicken in a pot with water, celery, lemongrass, and peppercorns to render your own yummy stock for this soup and the cooked chicken meat as well. Keep extra stock in the freezer for the next recipe.

** For those able to do so, we recommend purchasing dried beans, soaking them and preparing them in advance to avoid the BPA in cans. Additionally, you may want to look for a BPA-free lined can like Eden Organic. Trader Joes claims their canned beans are in a BPA free lined can.

By |2022-03-15T09:16:20-05:00March 16th, 2022|General, Recipes|

Mistletoe Therapy for Cancer

By Mila McManus MD

Mistletoe (aka Viscum Album) is the most studied plant used for alternative and complementary cancer therapies.  It’s been used in Germany for over 100 years. In fact, 85% of cancer patients in Germany are also on mistletoe therapy. Mistletoe’s effects are quite impressive!  There are various types of mistletoe that grow on various tree types. Johns Hopkins is wrapping up a clinical trial on mistletoe therapy, and MD Anderson will soon be starting a clinical trial using mistletoe for osteosarcoma.

Here are some other important facts:

  • There are NO contraindications for using mistletoe with any conventional cancer treatment.
  • There are no known drug interactions.
  • Various components of mistletoe fight cancer by directly killing cancer cells, as well as stimulating the immune system to fight the cancer.
  • Mistletoe diminishes many of the side effects related to chemo and radiation. This includes a reduction in fatigue and nausea. It also improves appetite, mood, and sleep.
  • Mistletoe contains endorphins that act as natural pain killers and can reduce or eliminate the need for pain medications.
  • Some components of mistletoe repair DNA in damaged cells and protect DNA of healthy cells.
  • Different types of mistletoe are used for different types of cancers.
  • If you have a known allergy to latex, kiwi, banana, avocado, or chestnuts, an initial test dose will be given to make sure there is not a cross-reactivity with mistletoe since it contains similar lectins.
  • Mistletoe is complementary to conventional therapies and can also be used as a monotherapy if someone refuses, or is not a candidate for, conventional cancer treatments.
  • It can be used after cancer treatment to help prevent recurrence. (I recommend a book called Cancer-Free! Are you Sure? By Jenny Hrbacek, RN)
  • Mistletoe is typically used for 5 years or longer, at varying doses/schedules.
  • Mistletoe for cancer therapy is administered by subcutaneous injection, IV, and is sometimes injected directly into tumors. In the US, it’s only FDA-approved for oral intake (which isn’t useful for cancer treatment), so injections and IV are considered ‘off-label’ uses and are perfectly legal.
  • Mistletoe can be started at any point in a patient’s journey, meaning that it’s never too late to start using it. Of course, the sooner a person starts, the better!
  • Mistletoe therapy requires special training. Always use mistletoe under the guidance of a trained professional.

Learn more about mistletoe therapy and costs.

Call (281) 298-6742 for questions or to schedule an appointment with one of our healthcare providers to discuss whether a mistletoe protocol is right for you!





Mistletoe and the Emerging Future of Integrative Oncology by Steven Johnson, DO and Nasha Winters, ND (copyright 2021)

Compendium of Mistletoe Therapy with Helixor in Integrative Oncology

By |2022-03-07T07:47:55-06:00March 9th, 2022|General|
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