As a GAPS Practitioner I come across a lot of people that will say, "Yeah, I tried the GAPS diet but it was just too hard." or "I don't think I could ever do that." or even sometimes, "I tried it for a couple of months but it didn't work for me." It seems that some people will come to me for a consultation hoping that I have some other easier approach, a quick fix that doesn't involve major dietary changes. But let me tell you, if there was a quick fix for gut dysbiosis, I would be shouting it from the rooftops!
The truth is - it is really difficult to heal the digestive tract once it has been damaged to the extent that it leads to food sensitivities, allergies, auto-immune disorders, chronic digestive disturbance, and psychological issues. Gut dysbiosis is like the pebble that triggered an avalanche. The longer it goes on the worse it gets and the harder it is to recover fully. Sure you can dabble with a gluten and dairy-free diet for a while; just avoid those foods that seem to aggravate your symptoms; or save the sweets for the weekends and rare occasions - but every day you put off fully dealing with gut dysbiosis is another day of damage that leads to nutrient deficiencies that will at some point lead to something really serious, maybe life threatening.
The other day I met with a client that had just completed the minimum two-year healing protocol of GAPS for her IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). She had tried other diets which gave her some relief but since starting the GAPS diet she had zero episodes of intense cramping, pain and diarrhea. Until then she had been having 4 episodes a week. After asking her some detailed questions about her levels of energy, bowel habits, quality of sleep, etc. I gave her the green light on trying to re-incorporate some foods that are illegal on the GAPS diet. While she was relieved to be able to expand her repertoire she, like many others who have successfully completed GAPS, didn't feel the diet had been that difficult overall. The initial planning and changing of habits had been the most difficult part.
Most clients struggle with die-off reactions within the first few months but soon all cravings for sugar and carbohydrates will cease. Suddenly you can go to a potluck and not feel crazy with desire for all the sugary desserts. You can feel satiated with each meal and watch as your health and vitality begin to recover.
I've come to the conclusion that when it comes to health issues - it's good to be boring. What we are looking for with the GAPS nutritional protocol is to restore some resilience to the digestive functions. You should be able to eat some birthday cake and ice cream once in a while without suffering. You should be able to travel to a foreign country without feeling so fatigued that you sleep for several days after returning home. You should be able to eat real pizza! The GAPS nutritional protocol has the ability to restore your quality of life if you are only brave enough to do it! What is harder? Suffering for decades and slowly getting worse or a couple of years of discipline for a lifetime of health?
That being said, there are those out there that have legitimately tried the GAPS diet and not felt better right away. There are complications that can make a quick recovery unlikely such as hormonal imbalances. That's why having a GAPS Practitioner to help you navigate the ups and downs can be so valuable.
With each client I learn how complicated the effects of gut dysbiosis can be. Sometimes we have to get creative with herbal remedies and supplements, sometimes I have to throw my hands up in the air and admit I have no idea what the body is trying to do! But, I always appreciate working with the individual through the issues side by side. I am just as invested in their health as they are!
It is all worth it to have that client come back and say how good they feel - how much relief they have - and how boring their health issues are! So if you have considered the GAPS diet before or even tried it for a little while, I encourage you to take another look. It is certainly not easy but nothing worthwhile ever is and you really are strong than you think.
Plain and simple.
And until I find that magic pill that makes gut dysbiosis go away in a day I will keep recommending it.
To Your Health!
Kathryn Doran-Fisher, ND, CGP
Kathryn Doran-Fisher is a Board Certified Naturopathic Doctor and has been seeing clients for natural health consultations and therapies for more than 6 years. Most recently Kathryn has received training from world renowned author and practitioner Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride in 2012 to become a Certified GAPS Practitioner for dealing with the connection between gut health and our mental/physical ailments. Kathryn has done numerous public speaking engagements, taught several classes on natural health for the community, is an instructor for a naturopathic school, maintains a website and blog about natural health, has written several articles for local publication and is a highly respected professional in her field.
I was recently reviewing a new homeschool resource
for my kids that has all kinds of learning videos including ones on health. So I thought I would check out a few videos on the immune system and see if I could learn anything new or at least jog my memory on a few things I've covered in the past because after all, I can't remember absolutely everything I've read! :)
While there wasn't much new to learn it did give me a different perspective that I would like to share with you. Basically it boils down to this: Immune cells are designed to attack anything that doesn't belong in your body. These are called pathogens and they include viruses, bacteria, chemicals, parasites, etc. Once your immune system destroys one of these pathogens it takes a little piece of its protein and carries it around with it so all the other immune cells can learn to watch out for it too.
So imagine you have a string of colored beads. Each bead on the string is an amino acid and the whole string of beads together is a protein. While there are only a handful of amino acid variations out there what order they are put on the string and how long the string is makes up an almost infinite number of possible proteins. So you could have a pink bead followed by a green bead, another pink and then an orange and that would be one protein but take off all the beads and put them in a different arrangement and you have a completely different protein.
Now if you took some scissors and clipped off small pieces of that protein chain you would have what are called polypeptides. These polypeptides are only a fraction of the larger protein but these are what the immune cells are using to train all the other immune cells as to who the enemy is. Can you see where the problem is?
So proteins make up just about everything. There are proteins in the food you eat, in the pollen and dust in the air, and your own body is made up of proteins. If you have leaky gut, you've got all kinds of partially digested proteins and polypeptide chains leaking into your bloodstream where your immune cells have to clean them up. And these immune cells remember every little protein it has to clean up and will communicate that to your other immune cells.
Now if that little bit of polypeptide chain that your immune system is looking for happens to be similar to a part of your own body proteins - it will attack that too. It's called molecular mimicry where your immune system mistakes your own body tissue for a pathogen resulting in an auto-immune condition.
So say for example a polypeptide chain from soy protein leaks through your gut wall and your white blood cells digest it. Then it remembers that bit of polypeptide chain which happens to look a lot like your thyroid tissue. You may end up developing Hashimoto's Thyroiditis which is an autoimmune condition where your own body has developed antibodies to your thyroid tissue. And the more cells your immune system destroys the more the program is reinforced creating a vicious cycle of continuous inflammation.
And it's not just the thyroid this can happen to. Any body tissue can come under attack. Auto-immune disorders are on the rise and many people will end up with multiple auto-immune diseases. Some examples include Psoriasis, Crohn's Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and many others.
The key to bringing auto-immunity under control is to seal the leaky gut through a nutritional protocol such as the GAPS diet allowing the body and the immune system to return to normal function, although it may take quite a while depending on how much damage has been done. In some cases the body may never fully recover from auto-immunity! So the sooner you can deal with a leaky gut, the better your chance of a full recovery.
If you suspect you have a leaky gut or you already have been diagnosed with an auto-immune condition, don't wait to address it. Get to the root of the issue with the help of a qualified natural health practitioner or GAPS practitioner.
To Your Health!
Kathryn Doran-Fisher, ND, CGP
This past year I have been working hard to fine-tune some of my understanding of gut physiology and how it affects the rest of our health. First there was the Gluten-Summit
last fall where some of the country's top experts in the field of digestive health talked about non-celiac gluten sensitivity in a series of online interviews. Then this spring the Thyroid Sessions
and the Thyroid Summit
became available, again with some free online interviews from top experts on thyroid function. These interviews helped me to understand the connection between gut dysbiosis and Hashimoto's thyroiditis. A couple of weeks ago I spoke with a probiotic specialist from Natren
, one of the probiotic companies whose line we carry here at Elder & Sage
. We talked about some awesome protocols for healing specific gut issues. And finally this past weekend I attended a course from one of my former instructors and colleagues at the Naturopathic Institute of Therapies and Education
, Jackie Featherly
, on the Detoxification pathways of the liver. There are still two more classes from Dr. Featherly later this fall but I wanted to get some of this info out to my clients while the information was still fresh in my mind!
The liver has at least 500 different functions including: creating over 1,000 different enzymes, making bile for fat digestion, storing nutrients, metabolizing fats and proteins, cleaning the blood, producing heat to maintain body temperature, converting thyroid hormones to an active form,
activating and deactivating hormones and neurotransmitters, detoxifying from toxic substances, and more!
There are 3 phases that the liver uses to convert toxic substances into harmless substances. Phase 1 has 5 pathways, or five different ways to deal with toxins. Phase 2 has 6 pathways, and I haven't learned about Phase 3 yet!
So, when you eat your food is broken down into tiny little pieces. Your small intestinal lining allows some of those tiny pieces into your blood like amino acids, small peptides, simple sugars, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, etc. Some of those tiny pieces may even be chemicals, heavy metals like mercury, pharmaceutical drugs, food dyes, preservatives, bacterial waste products, etc. And if you have a leaky gut you may get larger proteins and food particles, yeast cells, bacteria, etc. All of this goes into your bloodstream and is carried straight into your liver.
The liver cells identify what the substance is and what to do with it. Imagine a recycling center. On the conveyor belt are all kinds of things that need to be sorted. Glass bottles, plastic, paper, metal, etc. Each thing needs to be sorted into the right bin. The liver pathways then would be the different ways to sort. For example Phase 1 deals with oxidation, reduction, hydrolysis, hydration, and dehalogenation. Chemicals that need to go through one of these five processes will head toward Phase 1. Once they have gone through Phase 1 some chemicals can now be safely sent out of the body while others will need more attention. Those will move on to Phase 2 for sulphate conjugation, glucoronadation, glutathione conjugation, acetylation, glycination, and methylation.
If Phase 1 is working fast but Phase 2 is a little slow you will get a bottleneck effect. Some of the partially broken down chemicals start building up in the system. This can also happen when any of the detox pathways are overwhelmed with material to detoxify. Many of these partially broken down chemicals are more toxic that what we started with. For example alcohol (ethanol) goes through Phase 1 oxidation
and you are left with a chemical called acetylaldehyde. Eventually this chemical is converted to harmless acetic acid (like vinegar) but if the detox process gets bogged down (too much alcohol) the acetylaldehyde will build up and give you a hangover.* This bottleneck effect can cause damage to the liver, brain and immune system. In fact, most liver issues, disease, and cancer begin here.
*Acetylaldehyde detoxification also occurs in Phase 1 with a second oxidation to become acetic acid rather than moving on to Phase 2 but the bottleneck effect is similar.
With gut dysbiosis and leaky gut, there is a river of chemicals and toxins flowing into the liver and so the detoxification process is working hard around the clock but many chemicals bottleneck and are released back into the circulating bloodstream. This is why people with serious digestive issues don't feel good. You may be tired, sore, achy, fatigued and have all kinds of symptoms. The key to feeling better is reducing the amount of chemicals (from food and the environment) sealing up a leaky gut (with probiotics and bone broth) and helping the liver to process better (detoxification with juices and detox baths and selective supplementation).
Healing the gut will also make it easier to absorb nutrients that the liver needs to support detoxification like the B-vitamins and magnesium.
The more the liver has to process the more congested it will become and the more toxic and dirty the blood will be - eventually putting strain on other filters such as the kidneys. Imagine how much work your liver has to do with a single meal, now imagine that same meal was full of preservatives, food additives, coloring, MSG, etc. and you took it along with a prescription drug. Every chemical put on or in your body has to be dealt with by the liver.
Many natural foods and supplements will stimulate the liver and support the Phase I detoxification pathways such as:
Cysteine and Glutathione containing foods: yogurt, cottage cheese, turkey, cheese, chicken, eggs, wild game and whole milk
Cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi
Other sulphur rich foods: red meat, poultry, fish, legumes, egg yolk, onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, chives
Foods that aid in fat metabolism due to Vitamin B12: Brewer's yeast, organ meats, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, brown rice
Essential fatty Acids: cold water fish, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, walnuts, sesame seeds, black currant seed oil, borage oil, and evening primrose oil
Some natural health substances can also be used to reduce the bottleneck effect that causes symptoms usually attributed to a die-off effect or healing crisis by slowing down Phase I detoxification. These are: Grapefruit, turmeric, capsicum, and cloves.
Other vital herbs and supplements to support liver detoxification include: bioflavonoids, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B6, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Milk thistle, Carotenes, Co-Q-10, Copper, Iron, Selenium, Magnesium, Manganese, Zinc, Trace Minerals, Folic Acid, Lecithin, N-Acetyl Cysteine, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Artichoke extract, Black Currant Oil, Evening Primrose Oil, and Borage Oil.
All of these nutrients and vitamins can be found in a well rounded diet based on whole, real, foods such as the GAPS diet. You can give an even bigger boost to the GAPS diet by making sure to include lots of foods such as: cold water fish; garlic; onions; fresh fruit; nuts and seeds; cold pressed oils such as safflower oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil, flaxseed oil, and walnut oil; and fresh vegetables particularly ones from the cabbage family.
To Your Health!
If you don't have any serious food sensitivities or digestive disorders
, here are some of my general recommendations for healthy eating and weight loss. Follow this plan closely - avoid eating out while on this plan so you know exactly what you are eating. Herbs, spices, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and unrefined sea salt can be used as seasoning to taste. FAT IS NOT BAD FOR YOU
A minimum of 3 TB of fat should be eaten daily up to unlimited amounts to encourage satiety, boost energy, and help to detoxify the liver as long as they come from the following sources: butter (pastured preferred), ghee, extra virgin olive oil, avocado, flaxseed oil (no more than ½ tsp daily), fish oil, cod liver oil, or coconut oil
. Other natural fat sources such as lard, tallow, palm oil, or chicken fat are also allowed but often more difficult to obtain good quality. Processed vegetable oils should be avoided at all costs. It is also important to vary your fat sources to give the body adequate types of fatty acids i.e. don’t rely on olive oil alone for your fat sources. It is difficult to consume too much natural fat as the body has regulatory mechanisms that discourage this (feelings of fullness, discomfort, or nausea). You may find that if you are not used to eating fat you will have to limit your intake initially and slowly increase the daily amount allowing your body to adjust. Remember that fat is not stored in the body as fat – excess calories from refined carbohydrates are. JUMPSTART DAY – LIQUID FAST
For best results do the jumpstart day once each week on the day of your choice.
Breakfast – Blended drink made with one dark leafy green and two fruits
(example: kale, pear and peach)
Lunch – Blended drink made with two vegetables and one fruit
(example: carrot, celery, apple)
Dinner – Vegetable, beef, fish, or chicken broth
1 TB of coconut oil dissolved in warm water before each meal. ALL OTHER DAYS
For each meal up to 3 per day - 1 whole grain, fruit, or starchy vegetable, 1 full-fat dairy or protein, unlimited non-starchy vegetables or leafy greens, and at least 1 TB fat
If you find that you only need to eat two meals a day, make sure at least one of these is breakfast! All sweeteners should be limited to no more than 1TB of honey or maple syrup per day. DRINK
Drink plenty of water on both the jumpstart days and all other days. At least three tall glasses. Raw milk, Coconut milk diluted with water and herbal tea are also allowed in addition to water intake. Fruit and Vegetable juices should be limited to only the jumpstart days. EXAMPLES OF FOOD TYPES Whole Grains
(all grains should be cooked whole or freshly ground and not refined) – Quinoa, Brown Rice, Millet, Amaranth, Oats*, Spelt*, Wheat*, Rye*, Barley*, Cornmeal
*Avoid if you are gluten sensitive Fruit
– Fully ripe banana, apple, grapes, pear, peach, melon, berries, etc. Limit dried fruit to 1 Tb. Starchy Vegetables
– Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Winter Squash, Corn Non-Starchy Vegetables
– Broccoli, Peppers*, Tomatoes*, Eggplant*, Carrots, Celery, Peas, Green Beans, Cabbage, Lettuce, Summer Squash, etc.
* Avoid if you are sensitive to nightshades Leafy Greens
– Kale, Collards, Romaine, Dandelion Greens, Chard, Endive, Radicchio, etc. Full-Fat Dairy
– Raw milk, Yogurt, Kefir, Cheese, Buttermilk, etc. Avoid soy or other milk substitutes. Homemade nut or seed milk may be used if you are sensitive to dairy. Protein
– Fish, Beef, Chicken, Eggs, Beans, Nuts, Nut-Butters, Lentils, Liver. Avoid soy or other protein substitutes. PORTION SIZES
1 serving of whole grain = 1/4 C. uncooked
1 serving of Fruit = 1 piece of large fruit, 2 small, or 1 C. of berries
1 serving of Starchy Vegetable = 1 C.
1 serving of Protein = 2 oz. meat, 2 eggs, ¼ C. beans, nuts, lentils
1 serving of Full-Fat Dairy = 1 C milk, yogurt or kefir; 1 oz. cheeseSupplements
- OptionalBowel Detox (Nature's Sunshine) - take as directed on bottleSuperdophilus (Natren) - Start with 1/4 tsp work slowly up to 2 tsp/day Bifidonate (Natren) - Start with 1/4 tsp work slowly up to 2 tsp/dayHerbal Trace Minerals (Nature's Sunshine) - take as directed on bottleTry it out and let me know what you think! To Your Health!Kathryn Doran-Fisher, ND, CGP
Alright, now that the rant is out of the way. Let me try and give you some practical ideas on how to cut sugar out of your family's lives.
1. Make your own sweets - This may seem counter-intuitive. If you're trying to get your kids off of sweets why would you bother making them at home. Well, transitioning away from sugar is not an easy process. Your kids will need something to look forward to. When we told our two kids we were going to have to follow a special diet (GAPS diet) for a while they weren't too excited. But my husband got them excited about having a special snack or dessert each day. Our favorite is cookies balls made from just nuts and dried fruit ground together in a food processor. Kids like variety as much as we do so make new treats often and it will be harder for them to miss their old junk food favorites. Some other favorites are banana ice cream (frozen bananas blended into a soft-serve), apple cobbler, and peanut butter balls (both sweetened with a little honey.
2. Pack a lunch or bring a snack - The biggest problem is being out of the house somewhere, getting hungry, and not having any options other than junk food. Plan ahead as much as possible to avoid getting caught with starving children who are likely to throw a tantrum if they can't have something from the snack machine. Along the same lines, make sure the kids are well stocked with healthy treats if they go to school. School is becoming one of the biggest contributors to your child's sugar intake. Just do the best you can here. Until our society makes some drastic changes, this will continue to be an uphill battle.
3. Educate your children - If your child can read, get them to help you read the ingredients on labels. Become familiar with all of the usual terms for sugar and see if they can hunt them down. Then let them help you find another version without the sugar. And make sure you talk to your children about why you are trying to avoid sugar. Even very young children are capable of understanding complex things if you have patience and repeat it often. Kids just want to have fun and in our society sugar=fun. Make a list of other fun things that don't involve sugar and keep that list handy for when you get stuck.
4. Pick 5 things to replace at each shopping trip - Making dietary changes can be overwhelming at first. I suggest just picking five items that you typically purchase at the grocery store and spending the time to find a better brand. If you keep it down to just five things you won't have to spend hours in the grocery store. On your next trip, pick five more things. Eventually you'll get the hang of it and before you know it your whole cupboard is sugar free.
5. Watch out for labels like "sugar-free" - There is not much point in replacing sugar with toxic chemicals like aspartame so never pay attention to what is on the front of the label. Completely ignore the nutrition facts on the back label and read the ingredients instead. If sugar, corn syrup, or something ending in -ose is among the top five ingredients - move on. Look for good sugar alternatives like honey, maple syrup, molasses, dates, stevia, evaporated cane juice, etc. Eventually you may even want to limit these but go easy on yourself at first.
6. Get the appetizer instead of dessert - If you do eat out, spend your money on the savory treats and avoid the dessert menu all together. Or promise the kids you will make them some banana ice cream when you get home. We all end up eating out at some point so just do the best you can and keep most meals at home. Remember, it's what you do the majority of the time that matters.
7. Keep desserts for when they are deserved - My daughter was lamenting one day about how she wished Christmas could be every day. I tried to explain to her that what makes Christmas special is that is only occurs once a year. Sugary treats should be the same way. Save them for birthdays and holidays to make them really special and then don't go overboard. There is no reason to have so much candy lasting a month after Halloween or Easter. It's just not special anymore and will result in tantrums, arguments, and poor nutrition. If you can't find a sugarless alternative to your holiday rituals then let them have their piece of cake and then get rid of the rest. Or better yet, make a smaller cake to begin with so everyone gets a little bit. Then go back to your list of other fun activities to do.
8. Don't make a really big deal out of it - This is one lesson I have learned. If a relative gives your child sugar don't make a big deal out of it in front of your child. Yes, you may have to deal with the rashes, vomiting, bedwetting, tantrums or whatever that will result from your child eating that sugar but you don't want to cause hurt feelings either. Calmly talk to that relative about what happens when your child eats sugar. Make sure your child is well-educated too so that they have the opportunity to refuse the treat. Bring lots of healthy snacks so your child isn't hungry. And again, just do the best you can. Everyone will tell you "It's just one piece." or "You had sugar when you were a kid and it didn't hurt you." Just continue to be patient and calm. Recognize they are offering because sugar=fun in our society. And encourage your relatives to find other fun things to share with your children.
9. Don't eat it yourself - I probably should have put it at the top of this list. It's definitely an important one. You can't expect your children to give up sugar if you are sneaking it constantly. And if your spouse is not on board that can be even harder. Sometimes when a child has a food allergy the doctor will recommend they go for two weeks without that food, then eat lots of the item to see if it is a trigger. This can be a good experiment for an unsympathetic spouse or relative. Especially if you make sure they are the ones who have to watch the kids under the sugar trial period. They won't understand until they have seen it for themselves. Don't keep the sweets in the house. Not even in hiding. Just don't buy them at all. You are the one in charge of the shopping. If you are going to have sugar in the house at all make sure it is in a form that has to be turned into something. Baker's chocolate is not nearly as tempting as chocolate chips or candy bars if you have to mix it with sugar or honey to make it edible!
10. Keep trying - You will have ups and downs. It is the law of the universe that everything will change. You may be doing really good one week and fail miserably the next. Just have patience with yourself, let go of the guilt and move on. Remember that we are fighting an entire social norm here. Avoid those sugar laden grocery store aisles. Keep temptation out of your reach. And just do the best that you can every single day. Good luck.
To Your Health!
In my professional (and personal) opinion there is one food substance that has contributed more to the degeneration of health than any other chemical or toxin out there. SUGAR!
Every day I work with clients who battle their sugar addictions (and/or corn syrup and/or refined carbohydrates which are converted into sugar in the small intestine) and every day I watch as those who are able to successfully reduce or eliminate sweets from their diet - experience amazing improvements in health. But it's one thing to get an adult to give up the sweets and quite another to expect it of kids, right? I'm quite used to the panicked look in a parent's eyes when I even suggest it. The idea that springs into their heads is that if the children don't get their sweets they won't eat anything at all and then they will starve! Right?
Well, you may be surprised to know that just like adults, children do have a self-preservation instinct. So, they will eat whatever you give them if there is nothing else available. Yes, they will certainly not like it and they will probably cry and fight and do all kinds of horrible things that every parent dreads but... they will get over it. Perhaps you might think it is cruel to deny sweets to kids? Far better that they should suffer from lifelong health issues?
I am noticing a distinct trend in my clients.
From my grandmother's generation most were raised on real food made at home and often straight from the farm or their own family gardens. Yes, there was certainly sugar but it was not nearly as ubiquitous as it is today. In Iridology analysis, these clients exhibit nearly perfect constitutional health. When questioned, the women claim they had no trouble with menstruation and hardly any menopausal difficulties. Children were birthed easily and good health was enjoyed well into adulthood. It is only now in their later years that they experience poor health and degeneration. Most are just looking for advice on how to reduce or eliminate the number of pills and supplements they take. They are not accustomed to these aches and pains and find them to be an annoyance. There are of course exceptions but let me continue.
In my parent's generation poor health begins to truly present itself on average now as they reach 50 and 60 years of age. This generation also enjoyed mostly real food and home-cooked meals in youth. Although pop and candy were becoming fast favorites at Ice Cream and Soda Shoppes around the country. Most were breastfed as infants although the trend was starting to change and few would breastfeed their own children in favor of a "more scientific" approach. There is more thyroid, heart disease, bone and joint degeneration, and digestive issues but again, not presenting much until after age 50. Menstruation was easy for the most part but menopause brings significant discomfort.
Then in my generation. The clients I see are experiencing poor health in their 20's and 30's. Mostly allergies, digestive disorders, and joint problems, but some auto-immune and arthritis as well. ARTHRITIS! That which was supposed to be relegated to old age. I suffered from it myself in my 20's before I started my education. We still grew up on mostly home-cooked meals but fast food was becoming more common. Every school outing involved a stop at McDonald's or Burger King. Little Debbie cakes graced our lunches and Halloween Trick-or-Treating became a contest of gluttony. Dental cavities and braces became the norm. More and more kids got glasses. More and more "fat" kids suffered from the bullying of their peers. As adults, more women experience menstrual pain and irregularities. Childbirth and breastfeeding do not come as easy as they had hoped. Maintaining an ideal weight is a struggle. Thyroid problems and heart disease are common.
And now, in my children's generation. Childhood resiliency is a thing of the past. Obesity is common, asthma, ADD and Autism are rising fast. Food allergies and eczema run rampant. Digestive troubles start even at birth. The physical health of our children is so poor that a simple trip and fall can result in a serious fracture. But then again, sugar is everywhere. Candy is used for teaching math in school. Every week a child's birthday or upcoming holiday is cause for yet another sugar-filled party. This generation is not destined to have the same longevity that their parent's will have. If this trend continues, I predict that infertility rates will skyrocket within one more generation and population rates will fall. But maybe that was the plan all along?
I certainly don't want to give you the impression that I think sugar is the only factor in this but it is certainly a significant player. I started this post thinking I was going to talk about my own experiences with converting my kids to a diet without sugar but that will have to wait for a part two. What needs to happen now is we need to wake up to what is going on around us! We need to take action to reverse this trend of degeneration. If not for us, if not for our children, then for our grandchildren's sake we need to do this. Because even though I am doing the best that I can for my own children, I know that some damage has already been done and may not be reversible. But by giving them the best that I can in their growth and development phase and teaching them how important it will be for their own children - perhaps my grandchildren and great-grandchildren will enjoy better health than I, instead of worse.
To Be Continued...
To Your Health and that of your children and grandchildren,
I just read this article
posted from NPR. Hmmm, aspirin and macular degeneration. It seems I've heard of this connection before. I read it in one of my reference books, Prescription Alternatives by Earl L. Mindell, RPh, PhD.
In it they state:"Used long term, aspirin often does more harm than good. It causes gastric bleeding and ulcers, suppresses the immune system, and promotes macular degeneration, an irreversible eye disease that is the leading cause of blindness in the United States."So my question is... if my book was published in 2003, why are they presenting this study as if the information is brand new?Many of my clients take an aspirin a day to "prevent" heart attacks and strokes. Even those that are firm believers in the power of natural health still think that taking an aspirin a day is harmless. But apparently aspirin blocks the production of hormone-like substances called prostaglandins, which regulate every cell in the body. Some prostaglandins play a role in inflammation, pain, and artery clogs while others do not. The problem is that aspirin blocks all prostaglandin formation regardless of whether it is good or bad. So while it may protect you from some types of strokes it actually increases the risk of others.
And the risk is no less even if you are only taking a baby aspirin each day.It turns out that if you have more good prostaglandins than bad ones your risk for heart disease goes down. Which makes sense if we try to think about what the body is trying to accomplish. If there is damage within the body then the body produces prostaglandins that will promote the healing of that damage despite the fact that it causes us pain, inflammation and clots. If there is no damage there is no need for the so called "bad" prostaglandins, right? In reality, prostaglandins can't be labelled as either good or bad. They just do their job.What causes "bad" prostaglandins to form? Well, the biggest factor is dietary of course. Hydrogenated oils such as margarine and a diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates promotes inflammation because they are damaging to our body. There is an astounding amount of misinformation about fats and oils and what they do in the body. If you'd like to know more I suggest my previous post: Cholesterol Rant
. Or look for the next time I will be offering my one day class called The Big FAT Lie on our events page.So, if I were you I would forget the aspirin a day. If you want to encourage the good prostaglandins over the bad then avoid those things that cause damage and inflammation to the body. If you are really worried about your risk of heart disease then I would consider taking some borage oil (1 to 2 mg daily), which contains the "good" prostaglandin promoter, GLA and/or Fish oil (50 to 100 mg daily), which contains EPA that inhibits the "bad" prostaglandin formation. To Your Health!Dr. Kathryn
Some of you may know that I have taught a one-day class in the past called the Big FAT Lie. This class is based off of the work of Dr. Mary Enig, world renowned nutritionist/biochemist and expert on all things fats and oils.
For the last 150 years or so we have been brainwashed into believing certain "facts" about cholesterol. Ah, cholesterol - the artery clogging substance found in the fattiest foods that gave name to the "heart attack on a plate". Right? Well, we couldn't be more wrong. For example, did you know that cholesterol is an antioxidant? Or that it is the precursor to Vitamin D and most of your reproductive hormones like estrogen, progesterone and testosterone? Did you know that without cholesterol you would more than likely die?
Even when I can convince my clients that eating lots of saturated fats from good sources is not only beneficial but crucial for their health - I still get the "But, what about my cholesterol?" question.
Let's look deeper at the issue. Cholesterol is a repair substance. It is required to build and maintain cell membranes. That means it exists in every single cell within your body. If there is a lot of cellular damage then cholesterol is sent from the liver to the site of the damage for repair. Now because cholesterol is not water soluble it needs to be carried through the blood by something called a lipoprotein. Low density lipoproteins (LDL) carry cholesterol from the liver to the damage site. High density lipoproteins (HDL) carry excess cholesterol back to the liver for recycling.
Imagine you have a large metal water pipe. Instead of just water sometimes chemicals get sent down the pipe that slowly weaken and compromise the metal bit by bit. After years of this happening a crack forms in the pipe and water starts leaking out. Now let's imagine the best way to fix this leak is to put on some scuba gear and fix it from the inside with a special kind of tape that will cover the crack. Maybe the only way to get into the pipe is through a really small hole so we have a little guy (we'll call him Larry) go through the hole carrying the special tape to cover over the crack. But the tape is kind of temporary so pretty soon the water starts leaking around the edges of the tape while other parts of the pipe start cracking from the neglect as well. So we send a whole bunch of little Larry look-a-likes to fix it. Pretty soon we start layering tape on top of tape and the inside of the pipe gets more and more narrow. This increases the water pressure which makes more cracks form so that eventually the whole thing bursts and we have a major mess on our hands.
Now if we were to walk in on a scene like this without having seen the whole process leading up to it we would see a broken pipe, tape clogging up the inside, and a bunch of little Larrys all over the place. We'd probably be tempted to blame the whole mess on Larry and his tape. Just like heart disease and clogged arteries are blamed on LDL and cholesterol.
So now let's pretend that instead of sending out little Larry and his tape we manage and support that pipe making sure we have good material for the long-term health of the whole system. We make sure there are no chemicals being sent down the pipe that might damage the metal or weaken it. Instead we send minerals and other substances that actually strengthen the pipe over the years. Without the chemicals, the pipe stays solid and the tape is not needed so Larry's co-worker, Harry takes the tape back to the plant to be used for something else. And we all know that the more guys named Harry (HDL) you have working for you, the less likely you are to have a pipe break.
In heart disease, what is the real issue? What causes the damage to the artery walls to begin with? Well, we already know of a lot of substances that cause damage to the arteries such as trans fatty acid found in partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Chlorinated water and bromine found in many foods can also scar the arteries. Some people think it might be a lack of vitamin D (hey, didn't I say that was made out of cholesterol?) Or many believe excess consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates (like bread and pasta) does it. We certainly know that high triglyceride levels are associated with heart disease and triglycerides rise with consumption of refined carbohydrates. Or it could be homogenized milk or exposure to pesticides or chronic inflammation or stress. The list goes on and on.
While there are plenty of ways to lower cholesterol including natural ways (polyphenols, red yeast rice, etc.) maybe we should be looking at the real issue. Let's repair the damage to the blood vessels using herbs like Gingko and Hawthorn Berries. Let's stop eating heavily processed foods that might be contributing to weakened blood vessels. Let's lower our stress and drink pure water and bask in the sunlight and yes... eat bacon and eggs fried in butter too. I do.
To Your Health,
This is part of our Body Talk series which involves simple explanations of complex body processes to make them easier to understand. Today we will focus on Hypoglycemia and Diabetes.
Your body uses glucose as energy. Glucose is a single sugar molecule that comes from a variety of foods including starches and fruit. When you eat sugar and starches the glucose is released into the bloodstream. If there is a lot of glucose in the blood it becomes thick and heavy, like syrup, which makes it difficult for the blood to circulate so your body sends a signal to your pancreas to release the hormone insulin. Insulin works like a key unlocking cells to escort glucose inside of them and out of the blood.
Refined sugar and starches are quick to digest and so release a lot of glucose all at once into the blood. The pancreas in turn releases a large amount of insulin to take care of it. Imagine I have a bunch of beads. If I were to take twenty of those beads and throw them on the floor it wouldn't take very long for one person to pick them up. If I threw a thousand beads all over the floor though it would take a long time for one person to pick those up so it would be more efficient to have twenty people helping. So the pancreas releases a lot of insulin all at once to quickly put away the high amounts of glucose.
The body requires some glucose to remain within the bloodstream because it is the only source of energy for the red blood cells. So imagine that I told those twenty people to pick up all but 10 beads. Imagine the mass confusion that would ensue! So basically when a lot of insulin is released too much glucose is removed from the blood resulting in fatigue, lack of energy, moodiness, and all sorts of effects.
In order to balance the blood sugar again the liver releases another hormone called glucagon which tells the cells to release glucose back into the blood.
In hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) often the individual is eating too many refined carbohydrates and sugars causing an excessive amount of insulin to be released. These people may also have an issue where the liver is not working properly or is so congested that it is having difficulty producing the glucagon hormone to re-balance the blood sugar. When hypoglycemia goes on for too long the cells may actually become "gummed" up and so they become resistant to allowing insulin to dock. This is what happens in Type II diabetes which used to be called Adult onset diabetes until children started getting it. This is not surprising considering the amount of refined carbohydrates and sugar the average American kid gets in their diet.
Type I diabetes involves a dysfunction of the pancreas so that it is not producing enough insulin. In my experience, diet plays a very important role in Type I diabetes as well.
In order to resolve glucose regulation issues I recommend a very low refined carbohydrate diet. I also highly recommend eating more fat and protein with each meal as either will slow down the glucose release avoiding the roller coaster of insulin and glucagon response.
Many of my clients with blood sugar issues keep a jar of coconut oil mixed with honey and a little nut butter to taste with them at all times. When they feel low in blood sugar they take a spoonful of this mixture. The honey gives a quick glucose boost while the coconut oil is used by the body for a slow release of energy to keep the red blood cells fed. Some people will also need to address their overall liver and pancreas health for long term resolution.
This is a summary of a talk I gave last weekend at the Food Not Bombs event held at Veteran's Park.
The way that we eat today, our current food system, has its roots in World War II. Before the World Wars most families raised their own food or acquired their food from small local farms within a 50-mile radius of their home. These small farms produced a variety of goods and were similar to our ideas of Old MacDonald's Farm. A cow here, a pig there and chicks everywhere. During World War II, American men were called to war resulting in a labor shortage for these small farms. German U-boats also sank many merchant ships resulting in a loss of imports. Rationing of food was the most obvious solution to food shortages. Imported foods like sugar and tea were of course rationed but also foods that were considered vital to health: butter, eggs, milk, bacon, meat, and cooking fat. In Europe meat was rationed to one pound per week while eggs were rationed to only one every two weeks. Imitation foods like dried milk, powdered eggs, vegetable oil and margarine were cheap to produce and replaced many common foods.
After the WWII, the US military put forth the "Atoms for Peace" program where technology advancements during wartime could be utilized and applied to the strained food system. Commercial agribusiness rose to "end world hunger" and small family farms sold out to larger farms as the government told them to "get big or get out". Variety gave way to large mono-crop farms, battery farming, and Confined Animal Feeding Operations. Quality was sacrificed for quantity in the race to produce as much as possible as efficiently as possible. The Green Revolution helped by promoting chemical fertilizers to increase crop yield. Rock dust containing nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium replaced slower methods of soil building. While the crops did grow faster at first, trace minerals in the soil were soon depleted leaving crops susceptible to disease and insect infestation. Pesticide use increased like DDT created from the company Monsanto, the same company that created Agent Orange that was used during the Vietnam War. Monsanto is a giant bio-tech company that promotes genetically engineered foods and the weedkiller Round-up.
As distance from farm to market increased food additives were required to increase the shelf-life of modern foods. Many of these food additives were never adequately tested for safety although the few that have are linked to many modern degenerative diseases like cancer, heart disease, ADD, and more.
Our food system is being run like a corporate war machine. It was supposed to end hunger but now people are well fed and starving of nutrients. The average American has forgotten how to grow their own food, save their own seeds, and even cook their own meals. With a booming economy and disposable incomes, we asked for convenience and got it. Now restaurants, super markets, fast food, and convenience foods have replaced the traditional methods humans used for thousands of years. And we have traded our health for that convenience. Think about that. Do all of these modern technologies make you feel any less stressed?
No our soil is depleted of nutrients so the food grown in it lacks vital nutrients as well. We eat the devitalized food and so our bodies lack nutrients as well and so they are sold back to us in the form of a pill. Meanwhile cheap subsidized food from large mono-crop farms like GE soy and corn are found in every product on grocery store shelves. Overconsumption of soy and corn leads to obesity, diabetes, food allergies, and digestive disorders. Conventional medicine and the Pharmaceutical companies benefit greatly from the rise in degenerative disease. These corporations influence government regulation and only focus on disease management instead of disease prevention.
Our food safety is compromised. Animals in Confined Animal Feeding Operations are stressed and diseased from poor nutrition so they are fed antibiotics which have the added benefit of increasing weight gain and shortening their time to go to market. These antibiotics in our food supply affect our own internal gut bacteria. Genetically engineered foods are coded with an antibiotic resistant gene in their DNA which can transfer to bacteria creating antibiotic resistant superbugs like MRSA. As our own gut bacteria population becomes out of balance we become more susceptible to food poisoning. Meat from one cow infected with e. coli can end up in thousands of different hamburgers across the country with our current food system. And yet the FDA targets small producers of natural food products like raw milk. The same type of milk that was rationed during WWII for its importance in human health and vitality. Raw milk is illegal to purchase in most states within the US and any farmer providing raw milk can be raided at gun point, thrown in jail, and subjected to costly legal battles.
Here in Michigan, a supposed wild pig problem has prompted the DNR to label heritage pigs from small family farms as invasive species. These hogs used for gourmet charcuterie can be slaughtered on site without renumeration to the farmer. One could argue that the DNR is stepping outside of its normal regulatory capacity and siding with large scale pork producers. If it isn't a hog species used for industrial hog farming, it doesn't count.
During WWII, families were encouraged to grow victory gardens and chickens, rabbits, and even pigs were raised even within city limits to ensure food security. I think we need to get back to these types of practices. Why do we have beautiful city parks that are meticulously maintained with city tax dollars and yet soup kitchens struggle for donations? Why not plant apple trees and blueberry bushes in the parks? We need community gardens on every block. We need to grow fewer ornamentals and more herbs and food. We need to allow chickens, rabbits, and maybe even goats to be raised within city limits. Why not? My neighbor's dog is noisier than a chicken. We need to take back our food system, get our hands in the dirt and take charge of our own health.