Health Tip #77

Health Tip 77

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Health Tip#49

health-tip-49

Article to come….

Health Tip #38

health-tip-38

Contrary to popular belief, most of us with digestive issues, including heart burn and GERD, are suffering from too little stomach acid, rather than too much.  Many factors can contribute to having too little stomach acid including: eating too quickly and under stress, a diet too high in processed carbs and sugars which upsets the gut’s microbial balance and eating foods that we are sensitive to, such as gluten, which can cause an inflammatory response.  Some medications also reduce our natural stomach acid.

Besides removing the factors that cause reduced stomach acid,  one thing that we can do to improve digestion is to add in a hydrochloric acid (HCl) and digestive enzyme supplement.  We can test how much HCl supplement we need by adding one HCl capsule each meal time.  By increasing the number of capsules by one, each meal time, we can take note of any reactions we feel.  When a slight burning sensation is felt in the upper gastric area, we know our supplementation is having an effect and it’s time to cut back.  At this point, we reduce the dosage to that which we were taking prior to the burning sensation.

The HCl acid supplement we choose should also include digestive enzymes, particularly pepsin.  If the stomach acid is low, it will not be producing enough protein digesting enzymes either.

A caveat to this advice comes from  Chris Kresser, M.S., L.Ac as he warns:

Note: HCL should never be taken (and this test should not be performed) by anyone who is also using any kind of anti-inflammatory medication such as corticosteroids (e.g. predisone), aspirin, Indocin, ibuprofen (e.g. Motrin, Advil, etc.) or other NSAIDS. These drugs can damage the GI lining that supplementary HCL might aggravate, increasing the risk of gastric bleeding or ulcer.

Health Tip #33

health-tip-33

Only crazy people buy organic, right?

When I first saw a person filling their cart with overpriced, organic produce at the health food store, I thought they were crazy.  Years later, that crazy person and I became friends and I became the crazy person filling my cart with organic produce.  So what changed in my understanding between then and now that made me want to spend my hard earned money on organics?

Reasons to choose organic

Why, when studies have shown that organic and conventional foods have similar levels of of nutrients, would I be willing to dish out the extra dough?  The reasons are many.  Below is a brief look at some of the reasons to choose organic over conventionally produced foods:

  • studies have shown that organic produce contains considerably more antioxidants
  • organically grown foods better maintain the integrity of the soil and the diversity of microorganisms.  These microorganism maintain the soils healthy ecosystem and make nutrients in the soil bio-available to the plants, making healthy more diseases resistant plants.  The plants then pass the nutrients on to us when we eat them.  Conventional practices destroy this ecosystem.
  • Pesticides are used in the production of conventional fruit, vegetables, wheat, corn, grain products and livestock feed.
  • Pesticides bio-accumulate up the food chain in animal products such as dairy, eggs, meat and fish.
  • Pesticides have toxic effects on the body linked to cancer, hormone disruption, reproductive issues and damage to unborn children.
  • Pesticides are antibiotic in nature and disrupt our gut microbiome, leading to inflammation and physical and mental ailments.
  • Conventional agricultural practices can cause toxic run off from fields, contaminating  water ways and wildlife.
  • According to the Environmental Working Group, conventional produce most heavily laden with pesticides include: strawberries, apples, grapes, peaches, nectarines, celery, cherries, spinach, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers.  But it is the potato that boasts most pesticides by weight than any other produce.
  • Illegal pesticide residues are three times as likely to be found in imported produce.  Notice where your produce is coming from.

Do we always need to choose organic?

Other options are available to us other than just having to buy everything certified organic.  Some of these options include:

  • harvest wild edibles
  • grow your own garden
  • buy from a local farmers’ market where produce may not be officially organic but comes from a local “pesticide free” or “no spray” farm.
  • wash all your produce thoroughly in a sink of water and hydrogen peroxide to pull pesticides and pathogens off the surface.  (Note this is only a surface treatment.)
  • Peel produce to reduce surface contamination (although much of a fruit or vegetables nutrients and antioxidants are in the peel).
  • Vary your intake of different produce and sources.
  • When buying conventionally produced fruits an vegetables, stick to the Environmental Working Group’s Clean Fifteen including: avocados, [non-GMO] sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, [non-GMO papayas], kiwis, eggplant, honeydew melon, grapefruit, cantaloupe, and cauliflower. Of these, avocados were the cleanest.

 

 

 

Health Tip #21

health-tip-21

Further to my previous post on eliminating gluten, let’s take a further look into an elimination diet.  In previous post we have talked about the microbiome and how important a healthy gut is to our overall health and what can happen when the gut is compromised.  Certain foods tend to be more problematic when it comes to food allergies and sensitives.  Some of the more problematic foods include:  wheat and gluten containing grains, soy, corn, pasteurized dairy, lactose, peanuts, tree-nuts, eggs, fish, shellfish and citrus.  This is where your food and mood journal comes in handy.  Food preservatives and additives can also be problematic.

If you think you are sensitive to any one of these common problem foods, try eliminating it completely, in all forms, from your diet for a week.  When you add it back in, try to eat quite a bit of it.  Eat it for every meal if you can.  Watch for any signs of reaction and record them in your journal.  You can eliminate these foods singularly, one at a time or do a complete elimination diet where all of the suspect foods are eliminated at once.  These foods should be added back one at a time while watching for and recording any reactions.  Some signs and symptoms to watch for might be digestive upset, bloating, gas, cramps, diarrhea, rash, eczema, breathing problems, stuffy or runny nose, agitation, emotional upset, brain fog, headaches, loss of energy fatigue or muscle aches.

While we are discussing removing problem foods, we might also consider not only eliminating foods that we are potentially sensitive to but also foods that are not serving us in other ways.  Some of these foods include: animal products raised with growth hormones and anti-biotics that disrupt our own hormone levels, sugary foods that disrupt our insulin and leptin levels, caffeine that stimulates stress hormones, and gluten grains that may have a negative affect on the thyroid.

 

 

 

 

Health Tip #17

health-tip-17

Eat your veggies!  How many times have you heard that?

As children many of us weren’t naturally drawn to vegetables.  Instead we preferred dense calorie sources such as sugars and fats.  One of the reasons is because we were genetically programmed to go for caloric rich foods when we could, because dense calorie sources meant energy, and energy sources meant survival.  For us modern day eaters, these dense calorie sources are easily come by, too easily!

As adults however we can use our common sense to realize that an array of brightly colored vegetables are important for our health.  Vegetables are a low calorie, nutrient dense food source.  An array of brightly colored produce provides us with much needed antioxidants, minerals, micro-nutrients and phyto-nutrients.  These nutrients are broken down and used in chemical reactions in our bodies to run our bodily functions.  Without these nutrients our bodies cannot function optimally.  Because of this, nutrients from these foods help protect us from disease and slow the aging process.

Vegetables are also a great source of dietary fiber.  Fiber from a variety of produce helps to feed our microbiome and flush waste through our digestive tract.  Certain vegetables, being mostly water, are also hydrating.

We should aim to eat six to eight servings of brightly colored produce each day.  Growing our own vegetables is a great way to get high quality, inexpensive, nutrient dense vegetables.  Vegetables can be added to soups, stews and casseroles to boost their nutrient content.  Some of the most nutrient dense ways to consume produce are lacto-fermented vegetables, fresh vegetables juices and sprouts.

Health Tip#16

health-tip-16

Nothing is more important for your health than the state of your gut microbiome.  Did you know that we are made up more of living microorganisms including bacteria, than we are made of cells?

Our digestive tract is basically a tube that runs from our mouth at the top of our digestive tract to our anus at the bottom.  In our intestines or gut portion of our tube is  a world of organisms called our gut microbiome.  The gut is populated with friendly or beneficial microorganisms that are part of  our immune system, help us break down foods, and even produce needed nutrients for us. The state of our gut micobiome even affects our mental health.

We also have microorganisms in our gut that can wreak havoc on our health if they become too out of balance.  Our modern diets of processed, sugary foods laden with pesticide residues and antibiotics upset the healthy balance our gut microbiome.    Stress also destroys this balance.  Did you know that in certain cases, we can’t even lose weight no matter how much we diet and exercise if our gut microbiome is out of balance?  In short, we can not be in optimal health if our gut microbiome is out of balance.

It is therefore important to re-establish a healthy gut microbiome balance.  One way of doing this is by adding in probiotic rich foods.  Some of these foods might include: old-fashioned, lacto-fermented foods such as sauerkraut, lacto-fermented pickles and cultured dairy such as homemade (unsweetened) yoghurt and kefir.

See my article, I Found A Solution, to read more about my personal experience with finding a solution to GERD (gastro-oesophageal reflux disorder) with probiotic foods.