My pre-60th birthday journey to improve my previous test results from Seasons of Farragut continues! This month I decided to focus on the first tenet in our Seasons wellness regimen – nutrition!
About two years ago I took the ALCAT test and was astonished at my lengthy list of reactive foods! The ALCAT is a fascinating food sensitivity test in which white blood cells are introduced to a variety of foods, chemicals, and herbs. The severity of the reaction determines if a substance is mild, moderate, severe, or normal within my body. Since knowledge is power, I decided to receive the news that gluten and dairy were on my “severe list” as a positive indicator rather than “buyers’ remorse” for having performed the test!
Lyn-Genet Recitas has written a book, The Plan, which explains how inflammation from food intolerance can cause symptoms such as joint pain, skin disorders, fatigue, weight issues, headaches, and digestive disorders. Whereas a food allergy can have almost an immediate effect, a food sensitivity may not show up for several hours to 3 days later. For weight gain, it’s not as much about the calories as the chemistry of the body. One person may benefit from last night’s salmon and broccoli but someone else may actually gain 2 pounds. Inflammation from food intolerance causes damage to the lining of the gut. As the lining becomes “leaky” with gaps present, foods begin to slip through not completely digested. This causes the body to attack undigested foods.
As we age, inflammation can increase which causes our systems to slow down. Many of us have much less stomach acid and digestive enzymes to break down food. This can ultimately alter our weight and our health. Reactive foods cause our bodies to produce more histamine which causes water retention via dilated capillaries. The brain responds by increasing the production of Cortisol. As more Cortisol is produced, fewer sex hormones are produced since both sets of hormones depend on the same building blocks. Increased Cortisol causes an increase in glucose which causes an increase in blood sugar! This domino effect alters the good bacteria in the gut and can increase yeast production. The altered gut flora leads to a weakened immune response since about 70% of our immune system is in the gut.
The thyroid gland can also be affected by food intolerances. White blood cells that attack undigested foods may migrate to the thyroid gland and begin to attack it. Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disorder of the thyroid gland. This is determined by a blood test that measures the number of specific antibodies against the thyroid gland. As I began to avoid gluten, my own antibody level began to decrease. I was able to decrease my thyroid replacement dosage. This month, I repeated my ALCAT test and found that many of my food intolerances had improved. Not only had I attempted to avoid specific foods, but I also worked intentionally on healing my GI tract. I take a powerful probiotic daily as well as a digestive enzyme with my dinner. For one month of each season, I take a protein shake that is loaded with L-Glutamine. This amazing amino acid helps to heal the leaky gut. It is packed with anti-inflammatories and herbs to help my liver and GI tract detox.
Two years ago, I had about a dozen foods on my severe list. This year, I only have one – apples! So, I’m going to give them up for the next 6 months. My moderate reactive list contains 18 foods which I will have to have great discipline to avoid. These are healthy foods but for me, can cause hidden inflammation. Gluten now causes moderate reactions in my body. I have noticed that when I indulge in gluten, the next morning, my joints ache and my stomach hurts. I doubt if I will ever reintroduce gluten. Dairy is moderate also. Fortunately there are lots of great choices for me and I look forward to continual healing of my GI tract. Our Nutritional Consultant, Carolyn will keep me focused on this life-long journey of wellness. Be sure to check out her amazing recipes on our website!
Long term benefits with this specialized nutritional therapy will keep inflammation down and hopefully help me avoid chronic disease as well as weight gain. If you would like more information regarding the ALCAT test, call Seasons today. Let’s age intentionally with nutrition being our number one “medicine!”
Top 5 Reasons for NOT Buying Supplements at Discount Stores: Pharmaceutical-Grade Supplements Explained
Over 75 percent of the world’s population takes some kind of supplement daily. I am a huge advocate of supplements. Everybody should be taking, at the very least, a multi-vitamin. We just don’t get the same nutritional value from our foods that our parents and their parents did.
But will any source do? The quality of most over-the-counter (OTC) supplements just won’t cut it. The old adage “You get what you pay for” still rings true. If it costs $5 for a month’s supply of a particular vitamin, you are getting the quality of that $5, which is not much. So why pay $40 for that same vitamin because it is labeled “pharmaceutical grade?” Let me explain.
As stated by Health*Edge Sciences, there are three grades of raw materials in the U.S.:
- Pharmaceutical Grade
- Food Grade
- Feed Grade
Pharmaceutical grade is defined as greater than 99% purity without binders, fillers, dyes, or other substances. Food grade means it safe for human consumption. And feed grade implies it is safe for animal consumption (which usually ends up as human consumptions…but that is an article for another day). And can the FDA monitor all these supplements in the Unites States? Of course not. It is beyond their scope and ability.
Let’s make break down pharmaceutical grade into a more applicable definition.
Many supplements will only contain 10% of the raw material and 90% of other fillers.
Lack of purity or contamination has been a long-standing problem. From news reports, you might already know that Mercury-contaminated fish had been used in many Omega-3 supplements. That’s not the case with pharmaceutical grade supplements as they commonly exceed the definition of “pharmaceutical grade.” For example, Nordic Naturals exceeds both the Norwegian Medicinal and European Pharmacopoeia standards.
How about globally? According to ConsumerLab in 2002, 5-10% of all supplements were contaminated with lead. Lead in any level is toxic to the body. To have any contamination of such toxic substances as Lead and Mercury is simply unacceptable. Lead and Mercury are listed #2 and #3 respectively, in the 2007 Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry‘s toxicity rankings.
All supplements and prescriptions have fillers in them. These fillers are needed, but they can cause many problems with the supplement. First, they can actually inhibit the absorption of the product, leaving the products completely useless. Second, the filler can be toxic to the body. Third, the filler can be a common allergen.
4. Active Form
The key to a good vitamin is not just if the vitamin/supplement is absorbable, but is it absorbable in the active form. Why is this important? One example is the energy required to convert from an inactive to active form. Many of the clients that we see at Seasons struggle with energy production, ATP. The conversion of inactive to active requires enzymes, which requires energy. We conserve energy by giving the supplements in the active form when at all possible.
The most common prescribed vitamin B12 on the market is cyanocobalamine. The body makes cyanide as a by-product of the break down of cyanocobalamine. Obviously, we want to avoid the introduction of any potentially toxic substance to the body. At Seasons, we choose to give the active form of Vitamin B12, methyl-cobalamine, to avoid this toxic by-product. There is no reason to give the inactive form of Vitamin B12.
5. Third Party Testing
A good test of any product, is not what you say about it, but what third parties say. This is one of the big benefits of pharmaceutical grade supplements. They will be tested by third party companies to assure quality, potency, and absence of contamination. Of course, there are some “pharmaceutical grade” companies that don’t follow these standards, and this is the reason to work with your Integrative Medicine physician to ensure that your supplements are of the highest quality.
You’ve no doubt heard the old saying “You are what you eat.” Well, recent medical research has highlighted links between diet and improved mental functioning, raising the distinct possibility that, in fact, “You think what you eat.”
That could be encouraging news for youngsters diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), seniors struggling with the onset of dementia and anyone who desires to think more clearly and focus for longer periods of time.
Lots of foods are rich in the vitamins and other nutrients that can boost cognitive functioning, some which are well-known and others that are less-familiar. Among them:
Blueberries: Regular blueberry consumption has been shown to improve memory function. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants, which aid in preventing damage caused by free radicals. And the good news doesn’t stop there. Research has also found that these little blue jewels can reverse age-related diminishment in coordination, balance and motor function.
Broccoli: According to the authors of “365 Ways to Boost Your Brain Power,” broccoli – or, more specifically, broccoli sprouts – is a super food that has been linked to staving off the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Flax seeds: Flax seeds are packed with alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a fatty acid considered beneficial in combatting a range of health conditions, including heart disease, cancer and high cholesterol. Some evidence also suggests benefits for the brain’s cerebral cortex, where sensory information is processed.
Salmon: Rich in omega-3 fatty acid, salmon promotes the growth of brain tissue, helping counter the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related cognitive disorders.
Chocolate: For those with a sweet-tooth, perhaps the most exciting news to come out of medical research in some time is that eating chocolate can sharpen cognitive ability. Yes, chocolate! And both dark and milk chocolate have benefits. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and can improve mental focus and concentration; milk chocolate is believed to improve memory and reaction time. (So, have your doctor write you a prescription for a 30-day supply of Hershey’s bars immediately!)
Foods to Avoid
If, after adding some of these super foods to your diet, you haven’t experienced the benefits you were hoping for then it’s time to consider taking certain foods out of your diet. Many people are unaware that they have food intolerances that can have a negative effect on cognitive functioning.
For example, some people may experience a turnaround after removing wheat and gluten from their diets. For others, yeast, dairy products, soy or corn may be the culprit. If you think you may have an intolerance to any of these foods, cut it out of your diet for a few weeks and see whether your ability to focus improves. (Food Sensitivity Testing is also available for a more in depth screening of reactions to over 300 foods, chemicals and other substances associated with inflammation that are linked to chronic health problems.)
Your brain is full of potential, but in order to reach that potential you need to treat your brain to a healthful buffet. Start by adding some of these super foods to your diet and getting rid of any foods that may be causing you more harm than good.
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail,” said Benjamin Franklin. This statement holds true in many areas of life, including meal planning. The modern American lifestyle is always on the go, and meal planning doesn’t always top the list. Easily accessible healthy recipes will help you plan ahead for nutrition success.
You don’t have to file hardcopy recipes in a box or binder anymore, you can let your computer categorize and store them for you! Here are three recipe organization websites that you may want to try:
Saymmm.com and kitchenmonki.com are very similar. Features include:
- Store your own recipes with just a few clicks
- Share your recipes with others that have an account
- Search recipes in the database
- Create weekly menus
- Create shopping lists that you can send to your phone.
Onetsp.com is a little less complicated and more for the beginner who only wants to store their recipes:
- No other community involvement
- Creates shopping lists
- Stores your own recipes
Start storing your recipes “smartly” and make planning ahead for meals easier. This recipe comes from Kitchenmonki.com:
- 1 tablespoon minced Garlic
- 1 teaspoon Olive Oil
- 1⁄2 teaspoon Black Pepper
- 1⁄4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1 Orange
- 1⁄2 cup Grape Tomatoes, halved
- 1⁄4 cup Red Onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup Avocado, sliced
- Combine garlic, olive oil, black pepper, and kosher salt in a medium bowl.
- Peel and section orange; squeeze membranes to extract juice into bowl.
- Stir garlic mixture with a whisk.
- Add orange sections, grape tomatoes, onion, and avocado to garlic mixture; toss gently.
As we move into the fall season with its beautiful colors, we are reminded also of the vibrant colors in our fall fruits and vegetables that are packed with vital nutrients, preparing us for the colder weather ahead. From September to November, the autumn harvest brings a variety of healthful and delicious produce, from broccoli, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes to apples, grapes, and pomegranates.
According to a recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans do not eat enough fruits and vegetables. Three of every four Americans are failing to eat vegetables at least three times daily, and two out of every three are failing to eat two fruits daily. According to the government health guidelines, the majority of people should be eating at least 2.5 to 3 cups of vegetables daily and 2 cups of fruit a day. What a wonderful time of year to challenge yourself to increase these nutrient dense rich foods!
To get the best of what fall has to offer, be aware of what is in season around you. Also, do not
be afraid to try something new such as leeks, brussel sprouts or figs. Also, fruits such as
cranberries, apples, and kiwis are not only tasty but are also rich in essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants such as vitamin C, potassium, quercetin and flavanoids. Antioxidants boost
immunity, slow aging, and may help fight cancer.
For the fall veggies, the cruciferous family which includes cabbage, rutabaga, and cauliflower, offer a compound known as glucosinolates, which also may have cancer- fighting abilities. And what about the pumpkin with its typically vibrant orange color. Pumpkins are extremely rich in vital anti-oxidants and vitamins. This simple low cost backyard vegetable has minimal calories yet packed with vitamin A and flavonoid poly-phenolic antioxidants like leutin, xanthins and carotenes. Health benefits would include promoting good eyesight, increased dietary fiber, and an improved immune function to name a few. Don’t forget to eat the pumpkin seeds which are a good source of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that may help those with inflammation, heart disease, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.
Fall is a bountiful time of year. So let’s get on board to healthy eating and enjoy a variety of fall fruits and vegetables. Here is a fun fall recipe using pumpkin and apples!
Pumpkin Apple Pancakes with Apple Cinnamon Syrup
Yield: 10 pancakes
For the pancakes:
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 apple, peeled and cut in very small pieces
- 1 1/3 cup organic flour (can use wheat, but also oat, millet, or rice for gluten allergies)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2-1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spices
- pinch salt
- 1 cup organic milk (can use a non dairy choice such as almond, coconut, or rice)
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup, honey, or agave syrup (can use stevia or xylitol equivalent)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
For the syrup:
- 1 cup apple cider or apple juice preferably organic
- 1 tablespoon organic sugar (or agave, honey or stevia/xylitol equivalent)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- 2-3 sticks cinnamon bark
- In a large bowl, place the flour, baking powder, spices and salt. In a second bowl, place the pureed pumpkin, the sweetener, vanilla, and milk.
- Peel the apple and cut it in small pieces directly into the pumpkin milk mixture.
- Meanwhile, place the ingredients for the syrup in a small sauce pan and cook down until it has the consistency of syrup.
- When ready to make the pancakes, pour the pumpkin-apple mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix well with a spoon. Heat a frying pan or griddle and spray with a bit of oil. When the pan is hot pour a spoonful of batter for each pancake. When bubbles appear on the top, it is ready to flip. Serve with the cinnamon apple syrup, maple syrup, honey or sprinkled stevia or xylitol.
With all the attention it’s been getting, I think it’s safe to proclaim Vitamin D the vitamin of the year! That attention is certainly deserved. I have been promoting the wellness effects of Vitamin D for several years. And here’s why.
Vitamin D Therapy Is Great For Bone Health.
Vitamin D has long been known for increasing bone health. It increases calcium and phosphorus absorption in the gut and makes bones stronger. It induces osteoclast maturation—that means it helps with bone restructuring and makes bones heal. It increases calcium deposition in bone and makes bones more dense. And it reduces the parathyroid hormone helping to maintain bone strength. But Vitamin D and bone health are just the beginning.
The Rest Of The Story.
Vitamin D’s benefits are not limited to bone health. Vitamin D receptors are located all over the body: in your bones, instestines, brain, breast, prostate, and lymphocytes. Additionally, many cells have active intracellular receptors such as the pancreas, immune cells, nerve cells, prostate, ovaries, and pituitary gland. Vitamin D benefits your whole body. It is very important for your overall wellness.
As Vitamin D is absorbed by the intracellular sites, additional benefits are implicated. Vitamin D provides benefits for all of these conditions:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
- Musculoskeletal pain
- Autoimmune diseases
- Inflammatory Conditions
Now that you are more aware of how Vitamin D helps your body, let’s talk about how you can get adequate amounts of Vitamin D.
Good Sources of Vitamin D.
Twenty minutes of unblocked sun exposure daily is a natural source of Vitamin D. But pay close attention to your skin during sun exposure. If you have any sign of sunburn, it’s time to get out of the sun. Vitamin D is also readily available as a supplement in the form of drops, capsules and even injections. Injections are occasionally necessary in patients with extremely low levels of Vitamin D.
Is fortified milk a good source of Vitamin D? Unfortunately, no. Fortified milk does not adequately supply your body with the Vitamin D it needs.
In my next post, I’ll discuss Vitamin D insufficiency and its affects on the body.
More articles about Vitamin D:
So you wake up one day and you have symptoms. You select a doctor, make an appointment, recite your symptom list, receive a diagnosis, get a prescription, take the prescription and hope that the prescription gets rid of the symptoms.
But the question is this: Are you well?
Symptom relief medicine is great, but it is reactive medicine. I call this band-aid medicine. Just throw a band-aid on it in 5-10 minutes and ignore the real underlying cause. You can relieve symptoms with band-aids, but if the cause is left unchecked (usually an imbalance of some sort), then disease will be the result.
I like to use symptoms as clues to finding the cause. I call it proactive medicine. Symptoms are the result of imbalance. Disease is the result of ignoring the symptoms. It is a progressive cycle: imbalance, symptoms, disease.
Balance is the key. As I said above, symptoms are the result of imbalance. Medicine today has lost site of this. In the fast pace of the typical doctor’s office (even mine many years ago), all we have time for is symptom focus and treatment. There is no time for focus on cause.
You don’t have to look to far to see the importance of balance. Look at our bodies. They are all about balance: two eyes, two ears, two legs…you get the picture. This balance is by design. We should not lose sight of the fact that symptoms are the body crying out for help.
Symptoms reveal imbalances, and the imbalances can be quite diverse. They can include hormones: Estrogen/Progesterone, Thyroid/Cortisol, Growth Hormone/Cortisol, just to name a few. But imbalances can involve more than just our hormones. Neurotransmitters can be imbalanced. Have you ever heard of anxiety or depression? Neurotransmitters involve serotinin, glutamic acid, and nor-epinephrine just to name a few. And no, anxiety and/or depression are not the result of a SSRI deficiency.
Even Fats can be imbalanced. Everybody has heard of Omega 3. Omega 3’s are anti-inflammatory, they lower cholesterol and are good for the skin. But have you heard of Omega 6 fats. Omega 6’s are pro-inflammatory. Americans have excessive Omega 6’s in our high processed diets. The typical American diet is 24 to 1 ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3. A healthy ratio should be 3 to 1.
Symptoms are the body’s way of asking for help. Let’s start listening.