Welcome to the Tampa Blog of Dr. Matt Lewis

I’m glad you’re here. I have more than six years of postdoctoral education in functional medicine and over a decade of experience in clinical nutrition. Through my Tampa-based practice, I help patients by identifying the underlying causes of low thyroid, fatigue, weight gain, and other chronic health issues and provide holistic treatment through nutrition, lifestyle, and other natural approaches.

By: Dr. Matt Lewis D.C., DACBN, CFMP®

I recently had a patient whom spent twenty years with chronic GI complaints, visiting greater than five gastrointestinal specialists. In that span of time, not one of the GI specialists ordered a stool test. I found that surprising and too common. The patient found it frustrating!

Can you imagine having a gut issue for over twenty years and no one thought to perform a stool test?

This particular patient had already been through a series of tests including endoscopy, colonoscopy and abdominal sonogram, due to abdominal pain, reflux symptoms and inconsistent bowels ranging from hard or dry stools to watery diarrhea. To be fair, the tests she  had were able to screen for a variety of conditions including celiac, h-pylori infection, gastritis, polyps, colon cancer, and esophagitis to name a few.

However, the patient was told there was no pathology (this basically means your not dying and we can’t find what’s wrong, so you must be ok). The patient was happy to hear she had no pathologies and unhappy with the proposed solution. She was offered  prescription Bentyl and after trying it for several months was unsatisfied with the results.

In my Tampa clinic I use a few different labs to test for GI problems. One such test is the  Continue reading…

By: Dr. Matt Lewis D.C., DACBN, CFMP®

I often ask patients the following question. Have you notice a decline in your memory or cognition over the last three to five years? Too often, regardless of age, the answer is flat out “yes” or a more unsure “I think so.” The next question is how are you sleeping?, which is inevitably followed by a resounding not well!

The Center for Disease Control (CDC), data indicates that 35 percent of Americans over the age of 18 are not receiving enough sleep. Twenty percent of senior citizens over the age of 65 are experiencing Mild Cognitive Impairment. As you will see in this article, Mild Cognitive Impairment is associated with sleep and cortisol function. Poor sleep at any age is a limiting factor for performance in all areas of life.   

Hippocampus, Sleep and Your Memory

If one area of the brain (mesial temporal lobe) starts to shrink, early cognitive decline may result. Each area of the brain provides a window into various disease states, some are more widely known to impact dementia. The mesial temporal lobe contains a number of important structures, one of those being the hippocampus. The hippocampus is responsible for short term memory, converting short term memory to long term memory. The hippocampus can degenerate in response to excessive cortisol secretion, head trauma, hypoxia (lack of oxygen), chronic infections, and long standing chronic stress.

The circadian rhythm or what is referred to as your biological clock helps you fall asleep, stay asleep and feel alert and energetic throughout the day.

Your sleep/wake cycle is regulated by the hormones cortisol and melatonin. A lifetime of stress, poor relationships, work related problems, financial troubles, poor eating, and exposure to toxins all cause disruptions in cortisol secretion. Years of working night shift or poor sleeping patterns are great ways to cause changes in melatonin and cortisol balance.

For years I have indicated to patients that one of the first signs that we are losing health is the loss of good sleep.

If you wake up at 3AM wondering what you are doing up, this is one warning sign that your cortisol balance is compromised and could be your first sign of hippocampal or brain degeneration.

A day does not go by that I see patients who are having trouble sleeping. Here are some of the common sleep related complaints:  Continue reading…

By: Dr. Matt Lewis D.C., DACBN, CFMP®

It’s been a few months since I have updated my blog. So, where was I?

It’s been a challenge to write while balancing my Tampa Functional Medicine practice, family life, and studying. I figured all that out, sort of! I am happy to be back to writing!

The purpose of my blog is to educate health care consumers on a range of health care topics, and most importantly help you to find the root cause of your health concerns. Since starting my blog, I am happy to say there are many patients who have reached out for more information in a one on one setting.

Besides that, what has really left me busy in the last few months….I have been in the “hole” reading through a borage of papers and books concerning CIRS-Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome. Over the last four years I have been engaged in testing patients for CIRS- mostly due to mold (more accurately, exposures to biotoxins in water damaged buildings) and Lyme biotoxin. I decided to take the plunge to learn the Shoemaker Protocol for CIRS- biotoxin illness through Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker and I am currently in the certification process.

In January 2019, I attended the  Continue reading…

By: Dr. Matt Lewis D.C., DACBN, CFMP®

Persistent fatigue is a tough mystery to solve. Causes include anemia, anxiety, depression, infection, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), poor diet, too little or too much exercise, poor sleep, liver or kidney disease, and the list goes on. One of the most overlooked conditions that can cause fatigue is autoimmune gastritis— a chronic inflammatory disease in which the immune system mistakenly destroys parietal cells— cells that produce the stomach acid and intrinsic factor (IF), which the body needs to be able to absorb vitamin B12.

As a result, people with autoimmune gastritis often suffer from pernicious anemia — a condition in which the body is unable to absorb the vitamin B12 needed to manufacture healthy red blood cells. Without sufficient numbers of healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body, it is no surprise that people with pernicious anemia suffer persistent fatigue.

When we think about autoimmunity, a few specific conditions come to mind including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), multiple sclerosis (MS), juvenile diabetes, hyperthyroid, and Lupus. Of course, there are others.

What we don’t often consider are the less discussed or less aggressive autoimmune conditions that can have a large impact of how we feel day to day, lead to more progressive illness, and are often associated with the development of additional autoimmune conditions.

Unfortunately, conventional medical doctors often overlook autoimmune gastritis in patients who report chronic fatigue. They may test for anemia and treat it with iron supplements or test for B12 deficiency, see that your B12 level is fine, and never consider whether your body is actually able to absorb and use that B12. Even worse, some people who report fatigue are simply diagnosed as having Continue reading…

By: Dr. Matt Lewis D.C., DACBN, CFMP®

The Plant Paradox Book CoverQuick-fix diets often single out one component of food and blame it for all of our health woes. Shortly thereafter, products begin popping up on shelves that are fat-free, gluten-free, wheat-free, sugar-free, and so on. That brings me to a recent diet that is beginning to gain traction — the lectin-free diet promoted by Dr. Steven Gundry in his book The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in “Healthy” Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain.

In his book, Gundry asserts certain plant proteins called lectins are primarily responsible for a wide range of chronic illnesses, including obesity, autoimmune disorders, and cardiovascular disease. Critics argue that Gundry fails to back up his claim with scientific research, using only his own and his patients’ results on the diet as clinical evidence of its effectiveness.

Others question whether his dietary recommendations are sound. For example, the lectin-free diet calls for replacing whole grains with white bread and white rice, even though these refined grains have been linked to spikes in blood sugar levels.

Where do I stand on The Plant Paradox? Somewhere in between Gundry and his critics. Placing a limit on the amount of lectins consumed in some populations — people with arthritis and autoimmunity, for example — certainly makes sense. However, I believe the book Continue reading…

By: Dr. Matt Lewis D.C., DACBN, CFMP®

As a Tampa doctor trained in functional medicine and integrative healthcare, I take a patient-focused, integrative approach to doctoring. That is, instead of merely diagnosing and treating illness, I focus on restoring health by addressing the root causes of illness, which are unique to each patient. These causes of illness include everything from genetic susceptibilities to environmental toxins and pathogens to diet and exercise and even psychological and emotional states.

This approach to doctoring is standard practice in functional medicine. However, each functional medicine doctor has his or her own approach to doctoring and to managing his or her practice. In this post, I describe my personal approach to doctoring and practice management, so you can:

  • Compare my approach to that of other doctors.
  • More effectively team up with me to restore your health, if you choose to become one of my patients.

Earning Patients

I do very little marketing to build my practice. Instead, I earn my patients through referrals from several sources:

  • Other patients — typically a friend, relative, or colleague I helped with a similar health issue or concern.
  • Conventional doctors who are “stuck” with a patient’s health issues and realize a different approach is needed (especially those who have had experience with my methods and witnessed the profound improvement in these most difficult cases).
  • Other natural healthcare providers who do not practice functional medicine but understand its value and prefer an approach that helps their clients avoid the automatic application of pharmaceuticals or invasive medical tests and treatments.
  • Personal trainers or nutritional or health coaches whose client are frustrated because they have plateaued.

I am not the only provider in functional medicine who can attest to how well patients perform when they have a different option and more time and attention during office visits. Unfortunately, in the current healthcare system, too much is Continue reading…

By: Dr. Matt Lewis D.C., DACBN, CFMP®

Year after year, parents, mostly moms, bring their children into my office seeking treatment for chronic ear, sinus, or respiratory infections. Their stories are remarkably similar — they have been bringing their child to their pediatrician or family doctor who has prescribed round after round of antibiotics, rarely, if ever, mentioning a cause for the recurrent infection or suggesting an alternative treatment plan.

In conventional medicine, the traditional thinking is deeply entrenched — the go-to treatment for any suspected infection is an antibiotic.

However, this approach is deeply flawed for several reasons, including the following:

  • Antibiotics are effective only for treating bacterial infections. Ear, sinus, and respiratory infections are often viral or fungal infections that antibiotics cannot clear up. Rarely do doctors test to determine the nature of the infection before prescribing an antibiotic.
  • Antibiotics kill both harmful and beneficial bacteria. Beneficial bacteria are essential for healthy digestive and immune systems. The antibiotics your child is prescribed may do more harm than good in the long run.
  • Infections often occur in places that antibiotics cannot effectively reach or penetrate, such as the Continue reading…

By: Dr. Matt Lewis D.C., DACBN, CFMP®

While there’s probably only a handful of Philadelphia Eagles fans living here in Tampa, Fla., the team’s 2018 Super Bowl-winning quarterback Nick Foles has certainly been highlighted in the news lately.

That’s because Foles and his wife, Tori, have brought public attention to a private issue within their family. Tori Foles was recently diagnosed with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome — better known as POTS — which is an often undetected and underdiagnosed chronic syndrome that causes an increased heartbeat, fatigue, dizziness, and fainting.

POTS patients like Tori Foles frequently find themselves at battle with gravity, which is why this disorder is often referred to as “the fainting disease.” The human heart normally beats 70 to 80 times per minute when we are at rest. That rate climbs another 10 to 15 beats per minute when standing up, then settles back down. But for people with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, the heart rate often increases 30 to 50 beats per minute — or more — leading to the lightheadedness, dizziness and fainting that Tori Foles experienced.

(Image © Maria Hagsten Michelsen)

While the plight of those suffering POTS became more visible last month when Tori Foles took her case to news outlets and a CNN audience, many of us in healthcare — especially those of us who practice functional and integrative healthcare — are committed to raising awareness about the disorder, and the misconceptions and frequent poor diagnoses surrounding POTS.

Women and the Misdiagnosis of POTS

Between one and three million Americans suffer from postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, and 80 percent of them are young women — particularly those in their early teens — with the condition getting worse through the growing years. Because these women are younger and otherwise appear healthy when the disorder strikes, doctors often dismiss the physical prognosis, choosing instead to explore the Continue reading…

By: Dr. Matt Lewis D.C., DACBN, CFMP®

One of the more recent studies to highlight the negative health impact of sugar and artificial sweeteners is “The Influence of Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners on Vascular Health during the Onset and Progression of Diabetes,” by Brian Hoffman, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the Marquette University and Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

In his study, Hoffman points out that high amounts of dietary sugar have been known for some time to contribute to a wide range of systemic health problems, including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. He also points out that “it was not until recently that the negative impact of consuming non-caloric artificial sweeteners in the place of sugar had been increasingly recognized as a potential contributor to the dramatic increase in diabetes and obesity, along with the associated complications.”

The fact that artificial sweeteners had been on the market for so many years before being proven to cause serious health problems is, unfortunately, no surprise. Companies are allowed to profit (and withhold information from the public) until their products are proven dangerous. The burden of proof for the safety of their products is rarely placed on the Frankenfood manufactures. Instead, consumers, doctors, and researches carry the burden of proof that a product is unsafe, and then it takes years to decades before the Food and Drug Administration issues a warning or orders the products off the shelves, assuming it ever does.

When I was a kid I, I ate  Continue reading…

By: Dr. Matt Lewis D.C., DACBN, CFMP®

To the uninformed, the term allostatic load probably sounds more like a setting on your washing machine than a symptom of stress, but if your doctor suspects allostasis, he or she is telling you that your body may be picking up the tab for your stress-filled life.

Allostatic load is a culmination of all the overtaxed pressures in your life, whether that be work related, the result of relationships, health fears, and even past traumatic events that keep cropping up despite our best efforts.

These issues are bad enough by themselves, but then you toss in a diet that features too much sugar or salt, a caffeine habit that keeps you jittery all day, 24-hour news reports that feature no good news, and what you end up with is allostatic load.

Allostasis is a process that includes the release of stress hormones and neurotransmitters within the body. Each of these stress responses take a toll on your physical condition, which in turn only adds to your allostatic load. The end result of this stress buildup? You become sick.

In recent years, many doctors and health practitioners have suggested diet and exercise as a holistic means of relieving stress. And on the surface, a strict diet can make perfect sense. Where it goes wrong — especially when your allostatic load is at a high level — is the accompanying increase in Continue reading…