We had a saying in Naturopathic Medical School that stated, "if you want to heal a person, heal the gut." It's fitting that I have written about digestive issues like intestinal permeability or "leaky gut syndrome" and all of its complications various times in the past decade and the time has come again.
Intestinal permeability describes a cascade of symptoms and disorders that stem from small intestine's semi-permeable membrane becoming excessively permeable for a variety of reasons, allowing infiltration of microbial and metabolic toxins (as well as undigested food) into the bloodstream. These symptoms include fatigue, immune deficiency, food allergies, asthma and eczema.
Intestinal permeability may also be a contributor to other modern illnesses such as insulin resistance, obesity, neurotransmitter disorders, autoimmune disorders and cancer. In fact, it may account for 50 percent of chronic illness.
One symptom that I have not linked to intestinal permeability in the past, which has been getting my attention lately, is the vasomotor symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats, an overlooked aspect of inflammation.
I was going to wait until "Eating Disorder Awareness Month" came around to write this blog, but the truth is we should be "aware" of eating disorders every single day.
If you've never been affected by an eating disorder, or you have never known anyone with an eating disorder, you may be thinking, "So what? What do I care? There's a whole month devoted to people who want to be skinny???" For those of us who DO suffer, most of us would probably answer: we honestly hope you don't care.
Contrary to some beliefs, eating disorders – and the physical symptoms that often follow – are NOT always a way to garner attention. In fact, many people suffering from an eating disorder would rather you just leave them and their eating habits (or in some cases, non-eating habits) alone.
My family and some of my friends (the ones I trust) have come to accept this about me. They know I will not be partaking in family or holiday dinners. I will gladly invite people out to eat, but I will not eat with them. My mom has learned to simply not set a plate for me. I'm not offended; I actually love this about her. My husband knows I will never join him in ordering at dinner. He "eats for two," as I often explain it. And I love him for it as well. The servers at our favorite restaurant know that I may take something to-go, but I will never eat in the confines of the establishment.
I have a radio show that airs every Wednesday at noon Pacific Time on RadioMD.com called "Mindful Medicine". It is simply another format for me to hopefully "knock 'em alive" with empowering information that can help people be their own PCPs "primary care providers" and have their homes be their own HMOs "Health Maintenance Organization" Get it?
I am fortunate to have a fascinating and amazing regular contributor, Dr. Jacob Tietlbaum MD, join me every week to talk about easy, effective, natural ways to help people take back control and manage their health. Jacob and I were talking very passionately about the newest recommendations, handed down from a government agency, which suggested (based on a faulty calculation) that many more people would be candidates for taking statin medications.
We both were fairly incensed about this notion, knowing that statin medications come with serious risks and side effects and research has shown that there are many common lifestyle choices that are far more likely to be associated with a lower risk of heart attack and heart attack death than taking statins medications. Some of these include eating chocolate, participating in regular exercise, getting adequate nutrition and having cats. YES, having cats.
While the fluctuation and decline of reproductive hormones is a normal and expected event in mid-life women, the associated symptoms are nonetheless disruptive. Until very recently, millions of women alleviated their hot flashes and night sweats with conjugated equine estrogens and medroxyprogesterone acetate (synthetic hormone replacement therapy or HRT).
However, mounting evidence from several clinical trials has shown that women using synthetic HRT are at significant increased risk of developing breast cancer, coronary heart disease, pulmonary embolism, and stroke.
With little room for HRT in current practice and little else in the traditional medicine chest to consider, physicians are increasingly turning to natural non-hormonal therapies for women who need relief from menopausal symptoms.
As a naturopathic physician, I have used botanical medicines and other natural alternatives for many years with great success to help women create and maintain hormonal health. I've found the most effective approach combines stress management, diet, exercise and nutritional supplements to support and work with a woman's body, not against it. While each patient's treatment plan is unique, it has been my experience that most symptoms caused by menopause and/or hormone fluctuations and imbalances will respond to natural therapies.
Would 51-year-old James (Tony Soprano) Gandolfini or Tim ("If it's Sunday, it's Meet The Press") Russert be alive today if their docs had followed the new cardiovascular disease prevention guidelines just issued by the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association?
This week, we asked that question to many of the docs with whom we work at the Wellness Institute. We just do not know enough about Gandolfini or Russert; however, you know enough about YOU—that's the key. And the likelihood is Gandofini and Russert both would have been taking statins if their docs had followed the new guidelines...and aspirin and exercising, losing weight and changing their diets (and Russert and Galdofini weren't doing food –perhaps the most important choice—right if observations and news reports are correct.) You might too—and we want you to stay alive.
With today's stressors being multiple, constant and prolonged it is quite easy to loose one's cool, which unfortunately, just makes any situation worse.
I call it having a "short fuse syndrome".
So how can you keep your cool and "lengthen your fuse" during times of strife such as your commute in terrible traffic, with angry clients or terrible customer service agents, with aggressive co-workers or with fussy family member? Believe it or not, the answer is in your brain. Yes, your brain!
Our brain is equipped with two sides of a nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is that which control our response to these multiple, constant and prolonged stressors, our fight or flight is carried out here. On the other side, the parasympathetic rules our ability to rest, relax and repair.
In cooking, onions are one of the components of mirepoix (pronounced meer-pwah) - a French culinary term for a finely chopped mix of onion, celery, and carrots. It's used as a flavor base for a wide variety of dishes.
I know this, not because I cook, but because I love watching the Food Channel. I don't know why, but watching other people cook simply fascinates me.
I digress ... back to onions.
Anyway, new research shows that onions are good for mice brains and probably ours as well. Eating them or supplementing with an onion extract may help to lower MDA or malondialdehyde, a marker of oxidative stress and a brain cell killer.
Why is it that more places are offering gluten-free foods, but are recommending that people with Celiac Disease shouldn't eat there?
Doesn't that defeat the purpose?
It's been two years since my diagnoses of Celiac Disease. At first, I would overdramatize how much my life was ruined and that food would no longer mean the same. I recently became excited to hear of all the great options that were open to me. Little did I know, what restaurants really meant was their gluten free option is only for those who are going through yet another diet fad, not those who truly need it.
I've always had digestive problems, but thought it was just stress, or IBS. It seemed normal to me (and I as I type this I realize how this sounds) to throw up, have diarrhea, and get horrible abdominal pains, and constantly feel bloated immediately after eating.
I had just transferred to DePaul University in the fall of 2011, and was just getting used to living back on a college campus again. This was when I began noticing more and more issues with my gut. However, I ignored these symptoms and just thought I was stressed from school, as I tend to be during the quick ten-week quarter system DePaul has.
A few nights a week I would be up all night, death gripping the sides of my toilet while everything poured out of my mouth. My roommates would joke with me and say, "You're sick all the time. Maybe you have the gluten thing." Laughing, thinking that was not even possible, I ignored them and continued doing absolutely nothing about addressing the problem.
As time progressed, it started to become a hassle to eat. After every meal I would feel exhausted from throwing up, from the horrible pains I felt and all I wanted to do was lay down. Date nights I had with my boyfriend turned embarrassing, for I would need to quickly excuse myself to spend what seemed an eternity in the ladies room.
When there is an excess of any hormone in relation to the whole intricate system we call the"endocrine system", an overall imbalance develops, and health problems can arise. When there is too much estrogen and not enough progesterone to counteract its effects, the situation is called estrogen dominance.
Estrogen dominance is a multi-factorial situation and is caused by such things as exposure to excess environmental xenoestrogens, use of synthetic estrogens such as the birth control pill and hormone replacement therapy (HRT), anovulation (lack of ovulation during menstrual cycle, which is not uncommon among women older than 35), digestion issues (which tax the estrogen-detoxification process in the liver), unrelenting stress (which strains the adrenals and the thyroid), unresolved emotional issues, poor diet and negative lifestyle factors such as smoking and alcohol use.
How does estrogen dominance specifically alter women's health?
Do you remember the old sign: NO SHIRT, NO SHOES, NO SERVICE? It was hung on gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants to convey a threat that you would not have access to that establishment's service if you hadn't shoes on, nor a shirt.
What I wouldn't give to have that sign hanging almost everywhere these days!
Well, ok...the shirt thing is questionable.
But having no shoes on, feeling the great earth and warm grass underneath my feet and having no service by not having access to the electronic blizzard and bings and dings and rings of our modern day?!
I would heed to that sign each time I saw it!
Without me going on a vandalizing spree and hanging new signs everywhere, I have come up with some helpful tips to help me unplug from and enjoy having "no service".
Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) is vegetable oil with bromine added to it. Brominated vegetable oil is used as an emulsifier in citrus-flavored soft drinks to help the flavors stay suspended in the drink and to produce a cloudy appearance.
Just look at Mountain Dew, for example. The hazy appearance within its very unnatural fluorescent color comes from BVO.
Patented by chemical companies as a flame retardant, and banned in food throughout Europe and Japan, BVO has been added to soft drinks for decades in North America. Now, some scientists have a renewed interest in this little-known ingredient.