In my office, we talk a lot about zinc. Mostly because I work primarily with women's health conditions, and zinc is huge in the women's health world. I like to reference some of the studies done for IFV that show the moment an egg and sperm meet and the amazing fireworks that occur. This is zinc at work.
I've had discussions with many different practitioners about nutrition. I have been told my many conventional doctors and nurses that nutritional deficiencies in the US are rare thanks to food fortification. Sadly, this is NOT the case. In fact the rate of nutritional deficiencies in the US are more rare than we have been let to believe. One of these is zinc.
Zinc deficiency is very common around the world, with 17% of the world population having a deficiency. Here in the US we are not immune to this deficiency, even with food fortification. 12% of the general US population, and up to 40% of the elderly, are deficient in this essential mineral.
So, What is Zinc?
We can start with the fact that zinc is a mineral. It is an essential mineral, meaning we have to consume it in our diet. It plays a major role in the body's biophysical processes. In fact, it is the catalyst for the majority of the enzymatic reactions that occur in the body. Without enough zinc, we can have some serious problems.
Its role in immune function has been widely known, as it is a common over the counter supplement and addition to cold and flu prevention products.
It is often found in foods containing protein, such as meats, and is necessary for protein metabolism (in addition to DHEA, but that is a completely other topic for another day).
It is so important for DNA synthesis that research shows that even MINOR deficiencies are associated with increased DNA damage and Oxidative Stress.
It is ESSENTIAL for the reproductive system, and is associated with infertility and increased frequency of miscarriage (specifically those that occur before 8 weeks).
It also controls cell division, which is especially important for growing fetuses, children, and proper wound healing. Deficiencies have been associated with an increased risk of cancer, especially Estrogen based cancers.
All that being said, the body cannot store zinc, so we need to consume foods that contain enough zinc every day.
Foods that Contain ZInc
So, what are the foods we are suppose to be eating everyday to get adequate amounts of zinc, and how much zinc do we need? Excellent questions! Knowing how awesome zinc is does nothing if you don't know how to get it.
The average person needs 10mg per day of zinc (give or take based on age, gender and health) according to the RDA. This is slightly debated, as most nutritionist believe you actually need more. So, let's just call this the minimum.
Like I mentioned above, zinc is used in protein metabolism, and thus most of the food sources of zinc are found in conjunction with proteins. Oysters are the star of the zinc show, offering a whopping 74.0mg per 3 ounces! Goo that's a lot!
For those of you who can't stomach eating oysters, I know you are out there you crazy people. There are other sources as well.
As a little side note on food preparation. Many of the non-meat sources of zinc need proper preparation and cooking before the zinc can be readily available and absorbed.
For those of you who have heard me speak, I am a HUGE proponent of proper cooking techniques. This is a part of human life that has been lost, and is vital to proper nutrition.
With Nuts, Seeds and Grains, techniques such as soaking, sprouting and fermenting/souring unlock the phytic acid bond that holds mineral and nutrition within the germ. Without this lost food preparation art, you cannot access the nutrition inside.
Green leafy vegetables also need proper preparation. Spinach needs to be cooked, drained and recooked again to remove the Oxalates that bind the minerals within. (I like to use the traditional Indian dish of Saag for my example.)
So, just be aware of these.
Costco sells these awesome raw, sprouted Pumpkin Seeds that I put on EVERYTHING. See my recipes page for ideas
Need Recipe Ideas?
Check out some of these recipes!
Banana Date Quinoa Porridge
JapChae with a Twist
Weekend Chicken Soup
The number of natural induction methods and options have grown exponentially over the last several decades. In my practice, as an Acupuncturist, I’ve seen a huge influx in women seeking Acupuncture and alternative medicine to speed up the labor process in the avoidance of a medically induced childbirth. While most of the natural induction methods are fairly harmless and offer some benefit in triggering the natural hormonal reactions of labor, there are some that would be better left on the shelf
First off, we should probably address the WHY behind the number of women seeking natural options to encourage the onset of childbirth.
The current medical model of birth is intimidating for the modern mother. The US birthing statistics are pretty dismal. Currently the US is ranked 47th in maternal care in the world, just under Iran. A 2016 report by the Center for Disease Control stated that 23.3% of births are medically induced. In fact, a survey done by Childbirth Connection found that 41% of women who delivered in US hospitals in 2011-2012 had their primary care provider attempt induction. Of those 3 out of 4 did have their labors induced. That is a frighteningly high number, and enough of a scare to cause the most medically trusting of women to consider home options for labor induction.
What is Evening Primrose
Evening Primrose, Oenothera biennis, is a plant native to North America, Europe and Asia. It produces beautiful yellow flowers that bloom in the evening, hence the name Evening Primrose. It has a long and rich history of use among Native Americans as a topical anti-inflammatory for conditions such as minor wound healing and eczema, and as an internal cure for sore throat and gastrointestinal conditions. Ayerveda prescribes the herb for the treatment of women’s conditions. Pliny the Elder, the ancient Greek philosopher, spoke highly of the herb and its use in the treatment of several ailments. In modern Herbology it has found a popularity in the treatment of women’s health disorders such as PMS, breast lumps and tenderness, menopausal conditions, and among midwives and lay women as an aid to induce childbirth labor.
So, How Does it Work?
The active ingredients of Evening Primrose oil are Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA), Linoleic Acid (LA), Oleic Acid, Palmitic Acid, and Stearic Acid, with the two most prominent compounds being GLA and LA. Both GLA and LA are polyunsaturated Omega 6 fatty acids. Linoleic Acid is considered an essential fatty acid, as it cannot be made in the body and must be consumed in the diet. Gamma Linolenic Acid is naturally produced in the body by the conversion of the LA found in the diet. Both of these Omega 6 fatty acids serve a purpose in the body, and both are part of the production of prostaglandins. As the cascade of LA conversion unfolds, LA is converted to GLA which is converted to Dihomo-Gamma Linolenic Acid (DGLA) and lastly converted into Arachidonic Acid (AA)...AA is then converted into a variety of prostaglandins and blood coagulators.
Prostaglandins and Labor
There are multiple forms of prostaglandins in the body, each with its own unique functions. When we are talking about the activation of the labor processes we are talking about the 2 series prostaglandins, or PGE2/PGF2. PGE2 prostaglandins are triggered by the naturally occurring increase in estrogens at the end of the maternal gestation period. As the estrogens increase, so does the production of PGE2 and PGF2-alpha, as well as PG receptors on the cervix. PGE2 has been shown to stimulate interleukin-8, an inflammatory cytokine that promotes the influx of neutrophils and induces remodeling of the cervical extracellular matrix, and to induce functional progesterone withdrawal. PGF2-alpha has been shown to increase the levels of oxytocin in the uterus, decrease progesterone levels and increase the production of Hyaluronic Acid in the cervix in conjunction with interleukin-8 produced by PGE2. These are all great things for the natural labor process. The importance of the cervical softening aspect of labor is, arguably, the most important part of natural labor. If the cervix is not soft, it cannot dilate. All of this cannot happen without adequate AA.
Not all Prostaglandins help with Labor
DGLA can take another prostaglandin pathway to form the 1 series prostaglandins. While PGE2 is an inflammatory prostaglandin, PGE1 is an anti-inflammatory prostaglandin. PGE1 is widely used for its ability to dilate blood vessels and increase blood flow, reduce platelet aggregation and lower blood pressure. In the normal consumption of Linoleic Acid the body naturally converts the Omega 6 oil into the necessary prostaglandin forms, either 2 series for increasing inflammatory responses, or 1 series for increased vasodilation and anti-inflammatory responses.
Evening Primrose Theory Vs. Reality
When you read this, it is hard to see the faults. In theory Evening Primrose oil would seem a miracle for the induction of labor. I contains not only the LA which comes down the cascade to produce both PGE1 and PGE2/PGF2 prostaglandins, which is a balance of anti-inflammatory and inflammatory responses. As well as the GLA, which in theory would also induce the same response, increasing the prostaglandins as needed for either inflammatory or anti-inflammatory responses. Theories are always well placed, and in theory, if evening primrose is beneficial for other women’s health conditions, such as menopause and PMS, would it not also be beneficial for the pregnancy mother. Although Evening Primrose Oil contains both dietary Linoleic Acid and Gamma Linolenic Acid, and the body can convert both into the correct inflammatory prostaglandins, there is concern over the wide use of Evening Primrose for the induction of labor, because dietary GLA works differently than converted GLA.
One of Evening Primrose Oil’s claims to fame is its ability to raise PGE1 levels WITHOUT raising PEG2 levels. (And there is the snap) Several research studies have given this claim backing. Dietary GLA seems to skip the AA conversion steps, not sure why or how. When GLA is consumed orally, it is converted to DGLA while the AA levels remain the same, thus increasing the production of PGE1. While this is great for those with cardiovascular disease, this can be dangerous for those at the end of pregnancy.
Could Evening Primrose increase the Risk of Postpartum HEMORRHAGE
Increased levels of PGE1 are associated with thinner blood, and bleeding issues. The rate of postpartum hemorrhaging has risen exponentially since 1993. So much so that the standard care policy with hospital birth is to administer pitocin postpartum for prevention for all women birthing in US hospitals. Evening Primrose Oil usage can increase this risk, especially when used in conjunction with high dosed fish oils. The combination could lead to blood that is unable to clot properly.
As much as we love our anti-inflammatories, and we should, labor and birth is an inflammatory process. Each of the hormonal cascades necessary to induce labor require inflammatory reactions to work properly. If we are decreasing inflammation by increasing the consumption of anti-inflammatories, this could lead to a delay in the initiation and onset of active labor, leading to an increased need for gestational inductions. Which is what women seeking these alternative methods are trying to avoid.
Is the Risk Worth it?
As much as we love our anti-inflammatories, and we should, labor and birth is an inflammatory process. Each of the hormonal cascades necessary to induce labor require inflammatory reactions to work properly. If we are decreasing inflammation by increasing the consumption of supplemental anti-inflammatories, this could lead to a delay in the initiation and onset of active labor, leading to an increased need for gestational inductions, or birth complications. Which is what women seeking these alternative methods are trying to avoid.
There isn’t much scientific evidence for the safe use of Evening Primrose oil orally, with more research linking its usage to an increase in birthing complications. One study found the use of Evening Primrose Oil starting at the 37th week of gestation did not shorten gestation or overall length of labor and was associated with an increased incidence of prolonged rupture of membranes, increased need for medication oxytocin use, and an increase in the need for vacuum extraction.
Although the use of Evening Primrose Oil for the initiation of natural labor is an often recommended herbal remedy to women looking to avoid the medical interventions that are ever growing in the United States, it may offer more risk than benefit.
Safe options are available, such as Acupuncture, Chiropractic, and the overall benefits of proper nutrition prior to delivery. If you truly want to decrease your overall risk for medical induction and complications, understand HOW nutrition affects your natural labor and delivery processes is essential and should be part of the modern maternity nutritional care.
In the last week alone, I have been asked by over a dozen people about food allergies in one form or another. It seems to come up in conversations quite frequently. What I've learned from these interactions is that there is a lot of misinformation, and a lot of questions about food allergies, what they are, and what it all means?
More than 170 food have been documented as causing true food allergies. Research estimates that 1 out of ever 13 children currently has food allergies.
Allergy, Sensitivity or Intolerance
I believe this is where the confusion often begins. The term food "allergy" is often misused, and/or over used.
This is how we categorize food reactions:
FOOD ALLERGY: (IgE) Immunoglobulin E response.
FOOD SENSITIVITY: (IgA, IgD, IgG, IgM) Immunoglobulin response
FOOD INTOLERANCE: Inability to Digest
True Food Allergies
True FOOD ALLERGIES are mediated by the IgE immune response. Most antibodies bind directly to the antigen and neutralize it, not IgE.
IgE structure is spider like, with branched legs. Some of these lets attached to the antigen, while others attach to Mast Cells. The IgE antibody destroys the Mast Cell, releasing histamine. The process also produces other byproducts, like inflammatory cytokines, lipid mediators, and proteolytic enzymes. These byproducts contribute to systemic inflammation and allergic reactions which may manifest as:
These reactions are immediate, typically beginning within minutes to hours after ingestion.
Food sensitivities are bit more complex, as they can involve any number of other immunoglobulin reactions. There are different Ig responses and different types of responses. These reactions are not characterized by histamine release, but can elicit some of the same symptoms through other mechanisms.
IgA: Specific to mucosal reactions in the GI tract. Their job is to fight bacterial and viral infections as they enter the mouth. Over time, as food reactions occur, IgA builds up causing intestinal/mucosal inflammation. These reactions are delayed and occur over long term exposure
IgD: Specific to the upper respiratory mucosal. Their job is to fight bacterial and viral infections as they enter the lungs. IgM antibodies can be converted to IgD, causing respiratory symptoms such as asthma. These reactions can be immediate or delayed depending on the mechanisms of action.
IgG: Specific to proteins in foods. These antibodies are associated with systemic exposure to large food proteins. Like IgE reactions, these are immune regulatory actions in response to unrecognized food particles...but without the destruction of Mast Cells. These reactions are associated with systemic symptoms and can mimic IgE symptoms
IgM: Specific to infections. These antibodies are associated with systemic exposure to bacteria, viruses or other infections. They are the first antibody produced during an infections. They make "memories" of antigens encountered for future recognition. This antibody activates complement C3d. They are immediate reactions as well as delayed reactions.
C3: This antibody is part of the complement system of the immune system. It's job is to enhance the actions of the immunoglobulins. This is a genetic variant that can increase the likelihood of food reactions, and/or the severity of reaction.
4 Types of HYPERSENSITIVITY Reactions
Sensitivities are the most complicated food reactions, as each body and each immune system is very unique and different in how it reacts to antigens. This is why the symptomology of systemic reactions is so vague.
Type 1 Reactions: This is an IgE reaction that occurs within 2 hours of consumption.
Type 2 Reactions (Cytotoxic Hypersensitivity): This is an IgG/IgM reaction that occurs 2 hours to several days after consumption. This occurs when antibodies bind to self-antigens or foreign antigens and leads to phagocytosis, killer cell activity, or C3 activation.
Type 3 Reactions (Immune Complex Mediated): This is an IgG reaction that occurs days to weeks after consumption. This occurs when your body is producing an abundance of IgG to a specific food. The IgG binds directly to the food as it enters the bloodstream forming circulating immune complexes.
Type 4 Reactions (Cell Mediated): This is not an antibody response. Individual cells, when coming into contact with an antigen, react by producing cytokines and inflammatory chemicals. This reaction occurs several days after consumption or exposure.
Immediate vs. Delayed REactions
Immediate reactions are those that happen within the first couple of hours of exposure. These are the symptoms that we associate with IgE responses, but also be associated with mucosal Ig responses as well.
Delayed reactions are those that happen up to 3 days after exposure, and can last for up to 14 days. These are the symptoms associated with IgG and IgA responses.
DIAGNOSING Food Allergies
If food allergies are suspected, proper diagnosis is key in treatment. There are multiple testing options available depending on your symptom presentation.
Skin Prick/Scratch Test: This is the most common testing done through the Allergy Specialists. This test is performed by placing a small amount of a suspected allergen extract into a shallow scratch. Within 20-30 minutes a positive hive, or welt, will appear on the scratch. The size of the hive correlates with the intensity of the reaction. This test is used to diagnose IgE reactions only.
Intradermal Test: This is a similar test to the skin prick, but is more sensitive. This test is performed by injecting small amounts of a suspected allergen extract under the skin, rather than a scratch, and observing the reactions. These test results are more correlative with the serum testing. This test is used to diagnose IgE reactions only.
Elimination Diet: This method of diagnosis is not a blood or medical test, but a diet. In this diet, suspected allergenic foods are removed from the diet for a specified period of time. Then slowly added back in, one at a time, and observing the recurrence of symptoms. This can be a good diagnostic tool for children who are too young to do accurate serum testing, but may miss less common allergens.
RAST Test: This test is used in patients that are at risk for severe reactions when exposed, such as anaphylactic peanut allergies. This test is performed by blood draw. This test is used to diagnose IgE reactions.
Serum IgG1 Testing: This test is used to measure the delayed immune response. This test is performed by blood draw to measure immunoglobulin levels. This test can contain false positives due to cross reactions. This test is used to diagnose IgG1 reactions, which are less selective.
IgG4 Antibody Testing: This test is used to measure the delayed immune response to particular foods. This test is performed by blood draw to measure specific immunoglobulin levels associated with long term exposure to particular foods. This test is 90% accurate in diagnosing food specific autoimmune reactions. This test is used to diagnose IgG4 reactions, which are more selective and accurate.
IgA Testing: This test is used to diagnose new or active immune reactions in the digestive mucosa. This is performed by salivary testing. This test is used to diagnose IgA reactions.
Antigen Leukocyte Cellular Antibody (ALCAT): This test is used to measure leukocyte cellular reactivity in whole blood to food antigens, which measures delayed immune responses. This test is not a measure of IgG responses, but the final immune pathways. This test is more accurate than basic IgG testing in diagnosing food allergies.
ELISA Delayed Food Allergy Testing: This test is used to measure delayed immune responses (Type 2 and Type 3). This is performed by blood draw, where the serum is exposed to the antigen and processes are recorded. This test combines testing for IgG4 and other immune complexes. This type of testing is more accurate than measuring IgG1 alone.
Treatment for Food Allergies
At this time, the best course of treatment for food allergies is AVOIDANCE. The trick is learning how to properly avoid food allergens.
Many common food allergens, such as corn, are used in plastics, cosmetics, detergents, etc...making full avoidance very difficult. Others, like gluten, are complex and proper education on exposure sources is key.
Many people will say that they removed foods, but symptoms persisted, and this is because the hidden sources were not removed. It is best to consult a certified practitioner that is capable of guiding you in the proper journey.
Acupuncture can help to heal the damage caused by food allergies by increasing the body's repairative functions, decrease immune response, and balancing chemical process. This will only help if the trigger is removed.
Autoimmune Disease affects over 50 million Americans. It is one of the top ten causes of death among women over 65, and is the second highest cause of chronic illness in the US. Autoimmune Disease is on the rise, not only in the US but worldwide.
There are over 100 different autoimmune diseases currently. Autoimmune diseases are chronic and are often life threatening. They can affect any system in the body, and symptoms can vary, making them difficult to diagnose.
The current medical system offers little in treatment other than medications. Often only prescribing them once damage has been not, and not offering options for prevention. Autoimmune disease has an underlying cause, a trigger, that cause the body to overreact and attack itself. The goal of TCM and Functional Medicine is to find and treat the underlying cause to reverse and prevent damage.
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When you are in a healthy state, the immune system is balanced with both inflammatory and anti-inflammatory compounds. High cortisol levels skew this natural balance increasing the cells that fight external pathogens. These cells produce very inflammatory cytokines that are associated with autoimmune disease damage.
Symptoms of Emotional and Mental Stress Overload:
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Most of us share some level of unhealthy coping patterns:
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Benefits of Acupuncture on Stress Management
In ALL autoimmune conditions we see multiple nutritional deficiencies....IN EVERY SINGLE ONE!
Common deficiencies include antioxidants such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin E, as well as minerals like Zinc, Selenium, and Magnesium.
The standard American diet is very nutritionally poor, and full of preservatives, pesticides, and other chemicals that can affect the biology of our bodies.
Food talks to our genes. Good foods that are nutrient dense signal normal and healthy processes in our body. Bad foods (like hydrogenated oils) signal genetic mutations to become active or even form cancer. This is called Nutrigenomics; the science of how food affects our genes, and it is fascinating.
Many of the commercial farming practices in the US are controversial or banned in other countries. Research is still budding into how certain processes, like GMO, Glyphosates, and other commercial practices are affecting our immune system.
Benefits of nutritional Coaching
The most common foods allergens are: Dairy, Eggs, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Soy, Strawberries, Wheat, Fish, and Shellfish.
An "intolerance" is different. This is an abnormal physiological response to a food NOT caused by an antibody or antigen reaction. These can be cause by enzyme deficiencies, or a weak digestive track.
Constant exposure to an allergenic food can cause a chronic immune response. Eventually triggering an autoimmune reaction. Some allergens create what we call Molecular Mimicry.
Molecular Mimicry is seen often with Gluten reactions. As the structure of the gluten protein is similar enough to our own body proteins that after chronic exposure the body begins to attack itself no long recognizing a difference between the gluten protein and our own body proteins.
Benefits of Gluten Free
If you have an autoimmune disease and want to try a gluten elimination diet, please call. (970) 631-8119. We offer gluten free coaching. Sarah is a certified Gluten Free Practitioner with the Gluten Free Society.
Over time all of the above stressors and mechanisms can lead to GI inflammation. 90% of all the Serotonin in the your body is produced in the GI tract. If there is dysfunction it can affect your brain and mood.
The GI tract makes up 80% of our immune system, and houses over a trillion beneficial bacteria. When this system is out of whack, this is a condition we call Dysbiosis. Dysbiosis of the bacterial ecosystem can lead to intestinal damage and inflammation, causing the immune system to overreact.
Leaky gut is another term often discusses when talking about GI inflammation. This is a condition of intestinal breakdown. The gaps between intestinal cells become too loose and allow larger particles of food, bacteria, yeast, and other toxins into the bloodstream. The immune system does not recognize these products and begins to overreact.
Symptoms of GI Inflammation:
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Benefits of Acupuncture for GI inflammation
Studies show that Acupuncture is more effective in reducing digestive upset symptoms in IBD than medication.
Over time, this chronic stress can overwork our adrenal glands, the organs that produce our stress related hormones. When our adrenals become exhausted, they no longer function properly.
With Adrenal Fatigue, or exhaustion, we have lower than functional levels of Cortisol. When this occurs, we get a relatively higher amount of Norepinephrine, Noradrenaline, and these cause high levels of inflammation when not properly balanced.
Symptoms of Elevated Stress Hormones and Adrenal Fatigue:
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Having a good way to deal with the stress of disease and a healthy outlet for emotion is key to healing. Professional counseling and Acupuncture can help.
Environmental And Internal Hormone Disruption
Chronic stress and elevated stress hormones can affect your hormones. The adrenal glands are also responsible for making our sex hormones.
Poor nutrition, the over consumption of sugars and processed foods can cause insulin resistance which can lead to insulin based hormone disruption. Insulin receptors are found on the reproduction organs and insulin plays a role in hormone regulation. When insulin is too high or too low, it affects the production and function of the reproductive hormones.
But there are also external hormone disruptors.
Birth Control, Hormone Replacement Therapy, and exposure to environmental estrogens also affect the natural functions of the body. They also play a role in nutritional deficiencies that are associated with several autoimmune diseases.
These synthetic hormones mimic natural hormones. They turn hormone signaling on and off, as well as bind to receptors and block natural hormones from working properly. When this happens we get altered and mutated hormone activity. The immune system is partially controlled by our hormones. When the hormones are disrupted, so is the immune system.
Xenoestrogen are environmental toxins found in everything from our skin care products to plastic water bottles. They are also found frequently in poor quality, commercial meats and dairy. Exposure to these toxins has been directly linked to autoimmune diseases, and cancers.
These excess synthetic estrogens cause inflammation in our body as a non-natural hormone that the immune system responds to. This pushes the immune system to overreact. This is particularly important for young women on long rounds of birth control as well as women who are perimenopausal or menopausal.
ALL hormones must be detoxed in the Liver. Synthetic estrogen metabolite 16-alpha-hydroxyestrone has been linked to autoimmune disease and breast cancer. One study found it 10x higher in patients with autoimmune RA.
Obesity & Binge Eating
Adipokines, inflammatory cytokines secreted by adipocytes (fat cells), have a very strong epigenetic effect on the entire body. Adipocytes also produce excess estrogen. They can trigger the gene expression of autoimmune diseases.
Binge eating is another cause of increased inflammation in the body. Binge eating is eating to the point of stomach pain, or discomfort. We are all guilty of this from time to time, we even have a holiday where it is expected of us. But this behavior, when indulged in frequently, can be a trigger of autoimmunity. Even if someone maintains a healthy BMI, but consumes enough food in one sitting to cause discomfort, they can produce an autoimmune reaction.
As the stomach distends past its appropriate size, it send out distress signals. This raises cortisol levels, and elevates our fight or flight responses. It also increases our insulin levels and can raise them high than the level needed, in the end leading to insulin resistance and diabetes. This mechanism also triggers the body to store more of the food consumed in the adipose tissue, the fat of the body, specifically around the middle belly region.
Benefits of Acupuncture for WEight Loss
Acupuncture works with the neuroendocrine systems of your body, and helps to regulate neurotransmitters and hormones associated with binge eating, stress eating, insulin issues, and obesity.
Common Infection Triggers:
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The key to prevention is making the environment inhospitable to the infectious pathogens. A body that is already suffering from inflammation or chronic stress, will be more likely to activate a dormant infection and trigger autoimmune disease. This is why many people who are carriers never have symptomology or repercussions, and others have triggered autoimmunity.
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- Mechanisms of Disease: The Role of Intestinal Barrier Function in the Pathogenesis of Autoimmune Disease
- Stress as a Trigger for Autoimmune Disease
- Acupuncture Blocks Stress Hormones
- Acupuncture in Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Synovial Fluid Estrogens in RA
- Obesity in Autoimmunity
- Environmental Chemicals and Autoimmune Disease: Cause and Effect
What is Sibo?
SIBO is a condition in which bacteria, that are normally found in the large intestine, are able to colonize in the small intestine. These bacteria produce toxin compounds that cause digestive inflammation and disease symptomology. Untreated, SIBO can cause long term damage and becomes more difficult to treat.
Symptoms of SIBO
- Gas and Bloating
- Diarrhea, Constipation or Alternating Diarrhea/Constipation
- Abdominal Pain and Discomfort
- Nutritional Malabsorption
- Systemic symptoms: Headache, Joint and Muscle Pain, Skin Issues
A common SIBO scenario is symptoms that WORSEN with high fiber diets, fermented foods, and probiotics.
How Does SIBO Happen?
Many cases of SIBO begin after a food poisoning episode. When the body is exposed to bacteria that cause food poisoning, there is damage to the cells that control peristalsis. When this mechanism is slowed, food stays in the small intestine longer than it is supposed to making a perfect home for bacteria to feed and colonize. If the exposure is severe and the bacterial overgrowth not treated, extensive damage can occur, leading to lingering symptoms.
Another common scenario is post cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal). Bile is an important part of our digestive system and has many functions. The gallbladder does not make bile, but it stores and concentrates it before releasing it into the small intestines. One of the functions of bile is to promote peristalsis. Thus, if the bile is no longer concentrated, and at optimal function, it can cause the maldigestion of food as well as the slower movement of the small intestines. Again, making a wonderful home for bacterial overgrowth.
How Do I know If I HAve SIBO?
The bacteria that cause SIBO produce toxic compounds, Hydrogen and Methane. These gases migrate into the lungs for expulsion. We are able to do controlled breath tests for these gases to accurately diagnose SIBO in patients.
If you suspect you may have SIBO, call today and talk to our practitioner
Grains have gotten a bad wrap in recent years, but they have their place in ours and our children's diets. The problem is that generations have not been taught the proper way to use grains. This knowledge has been lost to time, and technology. Today I want to not only talk about the different types of grains, but also the proper way to use them.
Grass Grains Vs. Seed Grains
The term grain has become synonymous with any seed that can be stored long term. Grass grains are the seeds of grass plants, white seed grains are all other seeds used as grains. (does that make sense).
Throughout history, the cultivation of grass seeds has been the dawn of civilization. Grass seeds are small, hardy, and when dried can last indefinitely. This means that people could harvest crops, store them, and have adequate high energy food for the winter.
In general these seeds contain higher amounts of starches, carbohydrates and simple sugars, with lower amounts of protein and fat. They also, generally, contain Gluten and high amounts of Phytic Acid (although there are exceptions to the rule)
These grains include:
Oats (Gluten Analogue)
Wild Rice (GF)
Throughout history, primitive cultures have collected these seeds and used them as we do grains today. Some were cultivated, and others were just left wild and collected at the end of the summer, and stored through the winter underground. These seeds are more primitive in nature, have not been hybridized and typically are more nutritious.
In general these seed grains contain lower amounts of starch and simple sugars, and higher amounts of proteins and fats. They are also, generally, free of Gluten and lower in Phytic Acid.
Seed Grains include:
Kaniwa (Not to be confused with Quinoa, which is different)
The Forgotten Art of Soaking
Unlike what the Paleo promoters would have you believe, humans have collect, eaten, and saved grains for millennia! Upwards of 100,000 years. That's a long time. It's hard to know who they used these grains, but we can look to modern primitive cultures, and the native american customs to understand what they learned and knew from thousands of years of using this food source.
The big thing they all did, was either Soak, Culture, or Cure these grains before using them. What did these processes do to the grains?
Seeds are little time capsules. Holding all they need to grow into a new plant, but laced with growth inhibitors that prevent germination until the environment is just right. These growth inhibitors are anti-nutrients. Their purpose is to protect the seed and keep the key nutrients safe until the time is right to produce life. We are not ruminant animals, in case you were unaware. We have but one lowly stomach, and no phytase digestive enzymes, therefore we cannot breakdown grains in their raw form. In order to access their nutritional stores, we need to externally begin the digestion that can be done in ruminant animals. This is where the soaking, culturing, and curing comes into play.
Soaking and sprouting as also been shown to decrease the amount of Gluten in grains. Maybe the amount of gluten intolerance in today's society is actually, in part (there are many reasons) due to the lost art of processing grains.
If you know someone who is of Asian descent, you will notice that they "wash" their rice before cooking it. My grandmother did this and I never really understood why, she probably didn't either...it's just "What you do" By washing and soaking the rice, she was unlocking the growth inhibitors, and allowing more access to the nutrition inside.
Think good quality sourdough bread! This use to be a popular way to make bread, before the addition of leavening agents that create the bubbling effect without culturing. Also, think Beer and other alcoholic beverages. Historically grains were used to make fermented and cultured beverages. This fermentation process was actually quite nutritious. Modern beer is typically processed to remove a lot of what made it so healthy...incentive to make your own.
One method, and the main method, was to treat it with lime before drying and storing it. The fresh corn was placed in water with Calcium Hydroxide (fire ash). The processed opened up the availability of nutrition in the corn, specifically Niacin (B3).
This is such an important part of processing corn, that has been forgotten. In fact, there are accounts of the devastating effects of communities that rely on corn, and skipped this important step. There is a disease called Pellagra. Pellagra is, basically, a nutritional deficiency. Take for example the introduction of cron to Africa. The africans loved it because of its prolific growth and it quickly became the main crop of the region..but they did not bring with it the knowledge of curing the corn. Because of this, severe malnourishment and disease spread through these areas. Only when the corn was properly cured, did the health improve. There are also stories of similar issues in the Southern United states.
Phytic Acid is great for Plants, Not for Nutrition
Phytic Acid is the plant storage form of Phosphorus. It is important for the plant, as it helps to pull essential minerals out of the soil and into the plant for storage for germination and growth. The bound form of Phytic Acid is called Phytate (phytic acid + mineral) If the bond is not broken through soaking, sprouting, or culturing, then the phytate is flushed from your system taking the essential minerals with it. This can cause mineral deficiencies very quickly, and minerals are already hard to get. Phytates can also inhibit the digestion of the proteins and fats in the grains, seeds and legumes as well.
Soaking and sprouting grains decrease the amount of Phytic acid and other growth inhibitors, but beginning the germination process and unlocking the nutrients needed for growth.
Fermentation and culturing produces phytase, the digestive enzyme that breaks down phytic acid (like in a cow's stomach, well one of them). It changes the composition of the phytase into a different phosphate group...one that is actually beneficial to the body (known to regulate blood sugar).
Often this begins with the grains you are choosing. In general, I like more primitive grains. As the more conventional ones, like wheat, have been over bred, hybridizes, GMO'd and are not the same as they use to be..which scares me. I like Seed Grains, as they are typically higher in fat and protein, tend to need less processing and have lower levels of phytic acid...so if you don't soak them that one time, you're okay.
When looking in the store, look for whole grains, or already sprouted grains (these are becoming much more common)
A Little Tip and Trick
So, here is what you can do. Take into account the fermentation. Make your pancake mix and leave it on the counter (room temperature) overnight...or 2...or 3. You will end up with this sourdough-ish pancake mix that is light, and bubbly, and easier to digest.
Grains for Breakfast
In reality, grains, in general, provide complex carbohydrates, protein and fat, as well as vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients.
If you pair them with good fats and proteins, you've got a great breakfast combo for your little one to not only get up and running for the day, but to have sustained energy throughout the morning.
Breakfast of Champions:
Banana Buckwheat Pancakes
In this meal we added an egg and some fruit, to really round it out.
Click Here for the Recipe
For today on want to focus on Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA). A really cool chemical found in the fat of dairy...it has to be full fat, none of this lowfat, 2%, skim nonsense. If you make one change today for the health of your children, switch them to full fat dairy! For more on Full Fat Dairy, and why it is better, read my Lunchbox Post (Click Here for Article)
What is Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
In is found, primarily, in the meat and milk of ruminant animals (cattle). The amount of CLA found in these products increases with the amount of grass and pasture the animals consume. So, this means that in the conventional vs. pasture raised meat debate (really no debate), pasture raised wins again with higher amounts of CLA.
The purpose of CLA in dairy products is the signal the growth of muscle in developing young. In regards to our children, CLA stimulates the use of the sugars, proteins and fats in dairy and meat to grow muscle, not fat, in our children.
How does CLA Work
Many people, especially athletes, have began supplementing with CLA for fat loss...the conversion of their own fat cells for energy for weight loss. The research on this is not conclusive. More likely CLA works within the food it is found it, and works on the sugars and fats present in the meal to convert energy and stimulate muscle growth.
Other EFFECTS of CLA
CLA has been shown to work as an antioxidant, especially in cases of cancer. It's ability to lower Arachidonic Acid production, Regulate Estrogen, and Modify Eicosanoid Production, are possible mechanisms to this effect. It was most effective on estrogen cancers, such as breast cancer.
Some studies have also shown a positive correlation between increased CLA and lowering of negative lipid profiles (lowering of Triglycerides, and increasing HDL).
Why Is Conjugated Linoleic Acid Important?
It is a fat, and it is found in the fat of cattle and the fat of dairy. When we remove it, ie...skim milk, the way we digest and process the food changes.
I am a big fan of natural food...meaning leave it in its natural form and stop trying overthink it. Diary has fat, and it should have fat. When you mess with it, and remove the fat, you mess with the way the food should be consumed, thus you miss important nutrition. By removing the fat from dairy, you are removing CLA. Without the CLA the body processed the sugars in the dairy differently. Instead of being told to use the sugar as fuel, it is then stored in the body as body fat. With CLA, the body is not only told to use the sugar as fuel, but also fats, and also to specifically use them to build healthy muscles...not body fat.
Remember, though, that the amount of CLA in the meat and dairy, is found in better and higher quantities in grass fed, pasture raised cattle. Again, this is the natural diet of cattle. When you feed them processed grains, and meal, you get a different nutritional composition of your meat and dairy, and not for the better.
Breakfast of Champions:
Yogurt is a super simple, quick breakfast idea. Layering some fruit, raw, unfiltered honey, and Homemade Granola is the perfect combination with good quality plain yogurt.
Most conventional yogurts are filled with so much added sugar. Making your own, is an easier way to control the amount of sugar added. By using fresh fruit and a little bit of good honey, you can naturally sweeten the yogurt with some extra nutrition.
Choose a good quality, full fat, pasture raised/grass fed yogurt. This one is Brown Cow Cream Top, Grass Fed Yogurt.
I make a homemade granola that is full of coconut, nuts, and seeds (no grains) and lightly sweetened. It is the perfect topper to yogurt and can be used as a cereal.
Click Here for my take on this popular granola recipe
Today, I want to start the talk of balancing meals. In the next couple of days, I am going to work through Macronutrients. They are all important to the mental and physical health of our children, but knowing how to balance them has become a lost art.
What are Macronutrients
In general, macronutrients are the energy source for the cells. Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats are burned as fuel by the cells to create energy (like little engines). The type of fuel, and the quantity of each will determine how your child's engine runs.
Carbohydrates and basically sugars. Now, not all sugar is bad (although as a society we eat WAY TOO MUCH, and most of it refined...whole other topic). Our body, especially children's bodies, need sugars to grow and function.
All carbohydrates are broken down into the simples sugars through the digestive processes. These simple sugars are Glucose, Fructose and Galactose (from dairy). Glucose is the foundation sugar, and the building block of all other sugars. Fructose is even converted to Glucose in the Liver. Glucose is the sugar that raises blood sugar, and it is the sugar form that is used in the cells for energy conversion.
Glucose isn't all bad, in fact our brains (children more so) need glucose to function. In fact the brain uses HALF of the glucose demands in the body. Brain functions, such as attentiveness and learning, are linked with glucose levels.
Not Enough Glucose
Too Much Glucose
Too much glucose at one time can cause a cascade of health issues. Too much sugar was shown in studies to cause brain damage, like drugs, and decrease cognitive ability. It also induced uncontrollable energy levels, with an inability to sit still, concentrate or be attentive. In addition, too much sugar is also stored in the body as fat, causing other health problems.
Complex Carbohydrates VS Simple Carbohydrates
Simple Carbohydrates are the individual sugars. Digestively, these sugars do not need to be broken down and are absorbed instantly. Metabolically, they provide an instant energy source, that is often described as a sprinter...super fast, super intense, and a quick drop and fatigue.
Complex Carbohydrates are, in scientific terms, polysaccharides. Meaning they are several different sugars bound together (typically 3 or more). Digestively, these carbohydrates take longer to breakdown. Metabolically, they provide a more steady stream of glucose energy because the bound sugars take time to breakdown...generally.
There are some "complex carbohydrates" that work more like simple carbohydrates because the protein, fiber, fats, and other components have been stripped from the food and the starch can be instantly broken down, and they are often pairs with more simple carbohydrates: White Bread, Cakes, Pastries, etc...
Glucose Middle Ground
Choosing quality over quantity and making sure that you are pairing your carbohydrates correctly with other macronutrients is important (more later).
Simple carbohydrates, like those found in fruits and raw, unfiltered, honey, are paired, naturally, with other compounds that slow the metabolism of these sugars. They are also found, in generally, smaller and more controllable quantities. These are the types of sugars our body needs. Refined sugar, has been stripped of the compounds that would naturally be found with them, such as fiber, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and other phytonutrients. Anytime you isolate a compound, it has the potential for excess, because there is no balance.
Complex carbohydrates, like those found in whole grains, and starchy vegetables, can also be either good or bad, based on the quality. Choose whole grains, and whole vegetables, and avoid processed complex carbohydrates like cereal and white flour, that has been stripped of important components.
Breakfast of Champions:
Apple cinnamon Quinoa Porridge
If you child has a high sweet tooth, start off with their regular sugary porridge, and begin cutting it back each time (you must do this with all meals). Also, make a a quality change to the sugar you are using, choose natural sources, like raw, unfiltered honey.
Over time, their taste preference will change, and they have learned to enjoy the flavor of the foods as is, without too much added sugar to mask the natural flavor.
For the recipe Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Porridge Click Here
Many of you grew up thinking that only the whites were good for you and that you should limit your yolk quantity (based on horribly performed research....long story). Please eat the yolks, that is where the nutrition is, and the egg supplies almost everything you need nutritionally, except for the minerals found in the shell.
Is it Healthy to Give my Children That Much Cholesterol?
Oh, that poor nutritional myth that dietary cholesterol increases heart disease. If you are still living this lie, change now. In fact, research, and dietary common sense, point to the opposite. In fact, having too little dietary cholesterol can cause an increase in LDL back cholesterol...okay, I am getting way off track here...children Sarah, we are talking children's diets (more on this at some other point, cause it is important for us grown ups).
So, back to children and dietary cholesterol! I want to talk specifically about this! There are so many other nutrients in eggs that are important for your child's health: 13 different vitamins and minerals, choline for brain health, protien for growing muscles, and Omega 3 Fatty Acids. But, today our focus is on the cholesterol, which many of you will be amazed to know is essential for your growing child.
Cholesterol for Learning and Memory
This is where cholesterol comes in. The brain NEEDS cholesterol to work properly. The process of developing neurons for learning and memory is called synaptogenesis. Synaptogenesis requires cholesterol. The synapses between nerve cells in the brain is how they communicate. The more you have the quicker your brain can make connects, and the more effectively you can learn. This is important for our children who are making new connections every day. In an in vitro experiment done in Europe, external cholesterol was added to neuron, in culture. With this cholesterol exposure, neuron formation multiplied, leading scientists to conclude that cholesterol was vital to the formation of healthy nerve connections.
The understanding of cholesterol is complicated and involves many different parts of the body at different times, for different reasons. LDL and HDL bound cholesterols cannot cross the blood brain barrier, but the Liver has this really cool ability to convert cholesterol in the body (diet) into a form of cholesterol that CAN cross the blood brain barrier, and affect different receptors that contribute to brain neuron health. And this is why studies show that dietary cholesterol positively influences learning tasks.
Cholesterol and Hormones
Next to the brain, the biggest user of cholesterol is the endocrine (hormone) systems. Cholesterol is the foundation of our steroid hormones (DHEA, testosterone, estrone, estradiol, pregnenolone, progesterone, cortisol, corticosterone, aldosterone, and others). Without dietary cholesterol, these hormones don't exist.
Sex hormone imbalances in adolescence (especially young women) are become all too common. These hormones do more in the body than work on reproduction. Estradiol is necessary for the process we discussed above, the conversion of body cholesterol into a form that can pass through the blood brain barrier.
Testosterone is responsible for the growth of muscles and bone. Typically there is a burst of testosterone with each growth spurt.
Proper cortisol levels help your child navigate new experiences, and regulate their fight or flight response.
Many neurotransmitters needed for brain health, learning, memory, and attentiveness (Dopamine, GABA, Serotonin, Melatonin, Acetylcholine) are regulated by steroid hormones. Children who struggle with attentiveness often have lowered levels of steroid hormones. In fact the drug Ritalin is used to stimulate the production of a specific steroid hormone found low in ADHD children, DHEA. It is hypothesised that ADHD children need more cholesterol and fat than those without ADHD, because they need more steroid hormone.
Cholesterol and Vitamin D
Do you know how Vitamin D is made?
Cholesterol, yes cholesterol, is the foundation of Vitamin D. UVB rays from the sun that enter the tissues come into contact with circulating cholesterol. With the help of zinc, UVB radiation changes cholesterol into Vitamin D.
Now, here is the kicker...why is everyone deficient. How, I have no way of researching, but I have my theories (and many scientists and research share the same view). My theory combines several different issues into one big problem.
- Diets are typically low in fats and cholesterols (because of nutritional myths that were pushed on the population decades ago, and just can't seem to die.). We have an irrational fear of cholesterol and fats, leading us to limit our intake...we need way more than we give ourselves credit for.
- Diets low in zinc. Zinc is a trace mineral that we should be able to get in adequate amounts, but with soil depletion, and poor dietary choices, deficiency is common. Many practitioners (including myself) can administer a simple zinc deficiency taste test to determine zinc levels...it is in office and immediate
- Overuse of sunscreen, which blocks all the UVB rays needed to convert cholesterol in Vitamin D.
So, based on this, my theory goes: Because we are nutritionally deficiency, and/or blocking the UVB rays needed, we are limiting our ability to process Vitamin D and thus becoming deficient.
Cholesterol and Zinc, almost, like an internal sunblock, grabbing the sun's rays and converting them into a needed hormone (yes Vitamin D is a steroid hormone).
Other Cholesterol Functions
- Cholesterol makes up the outer layer of each of our cells. Without adequate cholesterol, the cell walls are fragile and weak.
- Cholesterol makes Bile, and Bile digests fats and cholesterol.
Breakfast of Champions:
Broccoli cheese Frittata
I have my, super awesome, tiny cast iron skillet that I use to make these single egg frittatas. I highly recommend getting one!
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! It is the beginning meal that sets the foundation for the rest of the day. If the first meal of the day is nutritionally balances, the rest of the day can be a yo-yo of ups and downs that affect the overall health and performance of our children.
In the following series, I will show you some tips and ideas for healthy, balanced, easy to prepare breakfast ideas that give your children the foundation they need to excel in their physical and mental activities of the day. Each day we will discuss a nutrition topic that pertains to your child's physical and mental wellbeing.
Greens, Eggs & Ham
Breakfast of Champions 1: Kid Friendly Breakfast Ideas
Breakfast of Champions 2: The Incredible Egg & Cholesterol
Breakfast of Champions 3: Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Porridge & Glucose
Breakfast of Champions 4: Easy Yogurt Parfaits & CLA
Breakfast of Champions 5: Banana Buckwheat Pancakes & Choosing Grains
Allergies And Asthma
Follow My Diet
Group B Strep
Labor And Delivery
Nuts And Seeds
Type 2 Diabetes