Detoxification: How to Go Further Than Diet

In my last blog post, I discussed different foods that upregulate your Phase I and Phase II liver enzymes to help your body detoxify.  While I love using food as medicine, sometimes our bodies need extra help to detoxify.

One of the biggest contributors to toxicity can be the bacteria in your digestive tract.

Your intestines contain billions of bacteria that can become problematic if you don’t have the correct balance of good and bad bacteria.  If the liver becomes overwhelmed by the toxins produced by the bad bacteria in your gut, it does not as easily handle other toxins in your body.  Prebiotic foods, fermented foods, and herbal antimicrobials can be helpful for balancing the bugs in your gut.  As well, a Naturopathic Doctor can order testing to help you assess your gut bacteria and help you with a plan to balance it.

Let’s go back to the liver after we’ve balanced your gut flora.

In addition to eating foods that I mentioned in my last blog post for supporting the phase I and II liver enzymes, there are some supplements that can be helpful as well:

  • N-Acetyl-Cysteine:  Helpful for increasing glutathione production, which is involved in phase II reactions.  This is often what is given in the hospital emergency department when people have acetaminophen (Tylenol) toxicity.
  • B complex vitamins: Supports phase I enzymes.
  • Liposomal Glutathione:  A special formulation of glutathione that allows it to be absorbed into your body without being broken down first.  Supports phase II reactions.
  • Vitamin C:  Helpful for phase I reactions.
  • Dandelion root extract/tea and artichoke extract:  Helpful for moving bile and toxins out of the liver.

Now that we’ve considered your gut and your liver, we can’t forget about your kidneys, another major organ of elimination.  Support your kidneys by drinking plenty of clean, filtered water (1/2 your weight in ounces) and eating certain foods that increase blood flow to the kidneys:

  • Beet juice
  • Blueberries
  • Turmeric

In addition, removing excessive phosphates in the diet is helpful for supporting the kidneys.  These can be found in processed food but also carbonated beverages such as soda or sparkling water.

Remember:  A proper detoxification plan must address the gut, liver, and kidneys.

Stay tuned for my next post on how to support yourself after you’ve done a detox!

Foods that Support Detoxification

On a recent radio show on the Voice of Vashon, Claire Denise and I discussed detoxification.  The amount of toxicity present in our environment today is unfortunate as it is causing various health problems.

Did you know that there is a direct correlation with the increase in incidence of Type 2 Diabetes and the introduction of synthetic organic chemicals into the environment?   Or that a collection of symptoms with no diagnosis may be the result of toxicity?

While it’s best to avoid toxins in the first place, it’s not always possible.  What can you do to help your body detoxify?   There are certain foods that are especially helpful.

But first, let’s understand the process of detoxification.

Detoxification happens in the liver.  It’s the process of transforming toxic molecules into other forms so that they can be more easily removed by the body.  The two types of reactions that take place in the liver are called Phase I and Phase II reactions.  Phase I reactions can transform the toxins into more damaging molecules.  Fortunately Phase II reactions take over and neutralize the toxins produced by Phase I reactions.

The amazing thing is that we can use food to help promote Phase I and Phase II reactions as well as remove the toxins from the body.

What kinds of foods can help detoxify your body?

Eggs:  Eggs contain cysteine, useful for making glutathione, a major detoxifying molecule.  Eggs also contain choline which is helpful for Phase II reactions.

Beans and lentils:  These contain a lot of fiber to bind and remove toxins from the digestive tract.  They also contain sulfur, which is useful for making glutathione, a major detoxifying molecule.

Sunflower/sesame seeds:  Also contain cysteine, helpful for making glutathione.

Small fish such as sardines and anchovies:  Contain cysteine, methionine, taurine for Phase II reactions.

Brassicas such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, kohlrabi:  Support both Phase I and II  reactions.

Turmeric:  Supports Phase II reactions.

Apple:  Contain pectin which binds to toxins in the digestive tract.

Artichoke:  Increases removal of bile from the liver to place the toxins in the digestive tract for excretion.

Avocado and walnuts:  High in glutathione, a major detoxifying molecule.

Citrus:  Supports Phase I reactions.  But not grapefruit, as it inhibits Phase I reactions.  This is why grapefruit can be contraindicated with certain medications.  It allows those medications to build up in your body.

Certain dairy foods:  Swiss cheese, yogurt, feta cheese.  These support Phase II reactions.

Caraway and Dill seeds:  Support Phase I reactions.

I encourage you to enjoy these amazing foods to help your body detoxify.  Please note that this is not a comprehensive list.  There are certainly other healthy foods that help you detoxify!

Stay tuned for more blog posts about detoxification!

Minerals: Essential for Good Health

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As a Naturopathic Physician, I am dedicated to helping my patients achieve wellness.  The philosophy of Naturopathic Medicine acknowledges that your body has an amazing ability to heal itself if given the appropriate environment.  There are many things that can prevent your body from healing.  One of my first priorities is to determine what your body is lacking.  From this perspective, the main thing that many of us lack are minerals.

Remember the periodic table from middle school?  All those elements that you memorized make up not only the earth but your body.  You are likely familiar with common minerals such as calcium and magnesium.  These are called macro minerals because you need higher daily amounts than micro minerals, or trace minerals.   Trace minerals such as copper, manganese, and selenium are needed in much smaller amounts but are still important for your body to do its job.

Minerals have numerous functions.  Many of them are necessary for the structure of bones and teeth:  Calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, boron, zinc, strontium, and silicon.  Iron is needed to build adequate blood.  Proper amounts of minerals help your nerves function and give you healthy skin and nails.  They are also part of many chemical reactions in your body.  If you are mineral deficient, then your body and its enzymes cannot function normally.  This can result in a variety of symptoms that we call disease. 

You might wonder how you can be deficient in minerals if you eat a healthy diet.  Unfortunately, the state of our soil is much more deficient in minerals than it has been historically.  Modern farming methods, including not giving the soil time to replete between crops, is part of the problem.  This is not to say that fruits and vegetables are not nutritious anymore, but rather you may need to find other sources of minerals to nourish your body.

The symptoms of mineral deficiency are wide and varied.  Magnesium is one of the most common deficiencies and yet it is one of the most needed minerals by our body.  Magnesium is depleted during times of stress, another common condition in our society.  Symptoms of magnesium deficiency are muscle cramps, high blood pressure, insomnia, anxiety, restless legs, constipation, heart arrhythmias, and muscle tightness.  If you have any of these symptoms, make sure your doctor has tested you for magnesium deficiency.

Did you know that chromium, a trace mineral, is associated with poor blood sugar balance?  People who are deficient can present as having diabetes as well as hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar.  Have you ever known anyone, including yourself, who gets “hangry”?  This is a new word that means “bad tempered or irritable as a result of hunger”.  It can be a result of low blood sugar.  It’s interesting that the levels of chromium in our foods has decreased over the years while the incidence of diabetes has increased.  I’d encourage you to have your chromium levels checked if you have blood sugar problems.

Do you have white spots on your fingernails?  How about a loss of sense of smell?  You may be deficient in zinc.  Like magnesium, it is highly utilized by the body, as it is needed by over 300 different enzymes.  Some common symptoms of zinc deficiency are irritability, depression, skin rashes, decreased immunity, poor sense of taste and smell, poor wound healing, thinning hair, leaky gut, loss of appetite/nausea, and allergies.  That is a lot of symptoms!  A deficiency of this mineral can have a huge impact on your health, I’d encourage you to make sure that your body has adequate levels.

As far as checking the levels of the minerals in your body, there are different tests that can be run.  Red blood cell minerals are considered the most accurate but hair analysis is also a good option.  It’s best to get tested to determine if there is just one mineral that is deficient or most of your minerals are deficient.  Then have your doctor help you determine the best way to replete your minerals so that you have optimum levels.  When you give your body what it needs to function, you will be making your way to greater vitality!

 

 

 

An unfamiliar cause of symptoms

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Are familiar with the term dysbiosis?

It means “microbial imbalance on or inside the body”.  You may not know that it can be the cause of a wide array of symptoms.

All of our mucous membranes contain various types of bugs.  Bacteria are the most prevalent but fungi, parasites, and viruses can also inhabit our membranes.  The skin, lungs, sinuses, throat, nose, entire gastrointestinal tract, vagina, and urinary tract are all lined by mucous membranes.  It is important to have the right balance of bugs in these areas so our bodies can function well.  If we don’t, we can experience a wide array of unpleasant symptoms.

Some of the common symptoms of dysbiosis are:

  • Rashes, including eczema, hives, rosacea, and acne.
  • Respiratory problems such as asthma, sinusitis, allergies, chronic colds/coughs, and ear infections.
  • Gastrointestinal problems such as IBS, gas and bloating, food allergies, and gingivitis.
  • Urinary problems such as chronic urinary tract infections and interstitial cystitis.
  • Genital problems such as cervical dysplasia, vaginal infections, endometriosis, and prostatitis.

As a doctor, I often ask “why?” to symptoms that my patients experience.  When the answer of dysbiosis comes up, I still ask “why?”.  Dysbiosis doesn’t just happen by chance, there are reasons it is allowed to develop.

Stress, too many antibiotics, improper diet, and toxicity can all be reasons for dysbiosis. 

When I work with patients, I help them to address their stress, diet, and toxicity.  All three must be addressed.  I often see patients who have addressed the stress and diet but not the toxicity and are still struggling with symptoms of dysbiosis.

It is well known that candida (yeast) overgrowth often occurs with heavy metal or mercury toxicity.  We can treat the candida, but we must also treat the toxicity or the imbalance will return.  There are many ways to treat toxicity.  In my practice, I use a gentle form of medicine that includes combination homeopathic remedies which help the body release toxins.

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms and have not explored dysbiosis, I encourage you do to so!

Until next time, take care!

In Case You Missed It!

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Peak Health Radio show has been airing for 6 weeks now on the Voice of Vashon, KVSH, 101.9 FM.  These are the topics of the 6 episodes that have aired:

Secrets to Vitality, Part 1
Secrets to Vitality, Part 2
Irritable Bowel Syndrome:  The Scoop on Poop, Uncovering the Cause of Your IBS
Autoimmune Disease – The Disease I Didn’t Know I Had
Osteoporosis – Going Beyond Calcium, Part 1
Osteoporosis – Going Beyond Calcium, Part 2

While Claire Denise and I are working on more shows, these episodes will repeat.  For those of you who missed them, you can still listen!

Thursdays at 11am with the repeat on Sunday at 9am.

In addition, you can always go to our page on the Voice of Vashon and listen to the archived shows!

http://www.voiceofvashon.org/peak-health

And please, pass it along to someone you know who may want to listen!

Why You May Want to Eliminate Gluten from Your Diet

 

Gluten: Cure or Fad?

 

The gluten free diet seems to have become the fad diet of the year (or possibly decade).  I’ll admit, it’s a tough cookie to swallow.  But let’s look beyond the fad and find out why foods that contain gluten may not be the best for your body.

What is gluten anyway?  Gluten is the protein portion of some whole grains.  The main whole grain is wheat, but rye, barley, couscous, spelt, and kamut also contain gluten.  Gluten is actually composed of gliadin and glutenin protein and it’s the gliadin that seems to cause the most problems.

So what does gliadin do?  It causes a leaky gut.  The scientific term is “increased intestinal permeability”.  This is when the cells of the digestive tract separate, allowing undigested food particles, toxins, and bacteria to get through to our blood and tissues.  These items are not meant to enter our blood and tissues.

So what happens next?

Undigested food particles, toxins, and bacteria that get to the bloodstream can cause our immune system to be stimulated, as a large part of our immune system is contained in the gut.

The result can be food allergies and other symptoms of inflammation.  This includes anxiety and depression, skin rashes, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, joint pains, migraines/headaches, seasonal allergies, and autoimmune diseases. 

In fact, there is a very high correlation between a leaky gut and most autoimmune diseases.

So why has this become such a problem these days when we have been eating wheat for hundreds of years?  The answer to that question may be that wheat has been hybridized in the past 25-50 years to contain much more gluten than it’s former self.  This was done to produce better yields and higher pest resistance.  However, it seems to be causing more of a problem with our health.

Of course, some people are more susceptible to getting a leaky gut with gluten ingestion.  It’s actually dependent on your genes.  That being said, if you have a chronic health problem that isn’t resolving and you haven’t eliminated gluten, I urge you to try it out for 3 weeks.    Your health could depend on it!

What Do You Want to Hear About?

Voice of Vashon Peak Health

Claire Denise and I in the Voice of Vashon studio!

What do you want to hear about?

Is there a certain health topic that you want to know more about?  Are you confused by all the messages you get from the media regarding health?

Well, now here’s your chance to request it – the health topic you want to know more about.

My friend Claire Denise and I are doing a radio show on the Voice of Vashon.  It’s called “Peak Health” and our goal is to educate and inspire our listeners to take back control of their health, so that they can have the freedom to live the life that they desire.  Claire is a health coach on the island, her business is called Positive Aging.

Our first two shows are called “The Secrets to Vitality”. We will talk about the basics of good health, so that our listeners can increase their vitality.

We also have plans to talk about Irritable Bowel Syndrome, autoimmune disease, nutrition myths, reflux, osteoporosis, and much more.

But we want to know what you want to hear about!  Either send me a message on my website or go to my Facebook page and send me a message there!

Facebook Fern Cove Natural Medicine

I’ll keep you posted as to when it will air!

Chronic digestive problems? This may be impaired!

Is your gut-brain axis impaired?

Restoring proper digestive function involves more than just adjusting the diet, balancing the microbes, and calming inflammation.

Many doctors overlook the fact that your brain and nervous system are in direct control of your digestion.  As well, whatever is happening in the digestive tract influences your brain.  This is called the gut-brain axis.  Do you know if yours is impaired?

Symptoms of an impaired gut-brain axis can be:

  • Difficulty digesting foods
  • Constipation or irregular bowel movements
  • Increased bloating and gas
  • Distention after meals
  • Intolerance to food types such as proteins, starches, and/or fats
  • Frequent abdominal discomfort after meals

The digestive system has its own nervous system, which we call the “enteric nervous system”.  The brain sends signals to the enteric nervous system through the vagus nerve.  The vagus nerve is responsible for controlling the movement of food through your intestines, releasing digestive enzymes such as hydrochloric acid, and carrying blood to the digestive organs to promote healing and repair.

If your vagus nerve is not working properly, then your digestion will be comprimised, causing you much discomfort.  How do you know if your vagus nerve is working properly?

  • Can your doctor hear bowel sounds with his/her stethoscope?
  • Does your soft palate rise when you say “Ahhhhh”?   The soft palate is adjacent to the uvula, that little nodule of tissue that looks like a punching bag at the back of your throat.  Look in the mirror as you say “Ahhhh” and check to see if the soft palate rises.
  • Do you have a strong gag reflex?  Touch the back of your tongue or throat with a tongue depressor, spoon, or toothbrush.  You should immediately gag due to stimulating the vagus nerve.

If you answered “No” to any of these questions, your vagus nerve may not be functioning properly and it could be part of the cause of your digestive discomfort.

What can you do to tonify your vagus nerve?

  • Gargling with water:  Do this several times per day, making it a challenging exercise when you do it.
  • Sing loudly:  Although your friends or family members may not appreciate it, tell them you need to exercise your vagus nerve.
  • Gag:  Purchase a box of tongue depressors and push down on the back of your tongue to stimulate the gag reflex.  Do this at least 2-3 times per day.

You will need to do these exercises for several weeks before you see any change.

In addition, being in a parasympathetic nervous system state will tonify your vagus nerve.  This is what we call “rest and digest”, as opposed to a sympathetic nervous system state known as “fight or flight”.  Activities like meditation, breathing, yoga and just simply resting can develop the tone of your vagus nerve.

Don’t forget about the gut-brain axis!  It contributes to the health of your gut!

 

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