Tuesday, June 4, 2013

What the heck is a Probiotic?

Probiotics are healthy bacteria that live in the intestines and maintain the balance of beneficial microflora in the body.  Balanced microflora maintains a healthy digestive tract, decreases chances of intestinal infection, it eases IBS symptoms like gas and bloating, and they promote a healthy immune system.  It is not a cure all, and I recommend discussing the underlying causes of intestinal issues with your PCP (primary care physician) to ensure you're taking the right probiotics for your personal needs.

How are probiotics preventative medicine? 
From a microbiological stand point, "good" bacteria reproduces and spreads throughout the intestine, colonizing the colon preventing bad bacteria from  being able to reproduce and grow in the intestines.  Imagine a busy city where there are people everywhere, it is crowded and very difficult to gain space to spread out; 2 people cannot occupy the same space. Bacteria is the same way.  Your intestines is the big busy city, the more there is "good" bacteria in the city, the less bad bacteria can spread out to occupy the space.  This prevents infection.

When should you include probiotics in your diet?
As often as you can is my answer.  Especially during the cold and flu season and/or when you are taking antibiotics.  Why?  Because antibiotics are designed to KILL bacteria, which  is great if you have pneumonia, but they are not selective in the bacteria that they kill.  They kill good and bad bacteria alike, so when you take Amoxicillin, or Cipro, or a Z-pack, you are not only killing the bad bacteria, you are killing the beneficial bacteria, so you need to replace the good ones.  I prefer food sources to supplements, and to encourage their propagation, you can eat PREBIOTICS, that's foods that the bacteria love to eat and includes anything in the garlic and onion family.

What food sources include probiotics?
The easy answer is anything fermented.  Pickles, sauerkraut, kombucha, yogurt, cottage cheese, cultured milk or raw milk, etc.  Anything that says "live and active cultures".  In addition, you can ferment or pickle anything, pickled eggs, pickled asparagus (recipe posted earlier in this blog), pickled peppers or any other pickled vegetables. If you make your own fermented or pickled vegetables, make sure you follow a recipe that is tried and true to ensure that you safely ferment your vegetables.  There are bad strands of bacteria that can get in food. I recommend getting a recipe so you can try many recipes safely.  Once you are familiar with how to pickle and ferment vegetables, you can have allot of fun with it.  I know I do.  You can also make your own yogurt safely and easily.  Then you can add all your own fruits or honey to your home-made yogurt for a custom made easy breakfast.  Enjoy!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Minimizing Childhood Obesity

I took this picture a few days ago when I was getting gas to go to the mountains and hike. When I saw this, all I could think of was, "REALLY AMERICA! Really! And we wonder why we have such a HUGE rise in obesity and Type 2 diabetes. The only thing that could be considered of value in this picture is the bottled water in the very back, covered by many other products, and barely noticeable.

Obesity is on the rise in America, we hear about it almost every single day. The most concerning fact about obesity is how rapidly it is rising in children. This generation marks the first generation that will have a shorter lifespan than their parents. It is very alarming. There are many things WE CAN do to help prevent this from occurring. For now, I will recommend three easy steps that you can take as a parent to prevent childhood obesity.

First, we should look at what children are eating. Not only how much "junk food," but also how much sugar children are eating and drinking. Minimizing processed foods and processed sugars (sugars added to any food that do not naturally contain it) will drastically reduce your child's chance of becoming obese. Many people consume high amounts of sugar without realizing it. This easily occurs when they drink juices, "fruit" drinks, and soda. Most of which contain high fructose corn syrup from genetically modified corn syrup. Sugar in small amounts and the right amounts is good for you. It gives your muscles and blood cells easy access to energy, but it is best to keep in mind that ALL of the food we consume gets broken down into its basic building blocks and much of it is released into the blood in the form of sugars during this chemical reaction. Because it is our body's ability to break down food into sugar, it is not required for us to eat excess sugar outside of our regular meals.

The second very valuable thing you can do is switch to making most of your meals with whole foods (switch to mostly organic when possible). What is a whole food you ask? Anything that you can buy in it's fresh form, with minimal processing, did not have to be manufactured to be created, and it is usually ONE ingredient. Chicken, beans, lettuce, apples, spinach, and steak are all whole foods. The goal is to MINIMALLY use processed foods. Minimize cheeses (especially American cheese), white sugars, high fructose corn syrup, margarine, chips, frozen entrees, and anything else with more than 5 ingredients. NO FOOD you eat should contain more than 2-3 ingredients that you do NOT understand or know. From here, you can take your WHOLE foods and turn them into your meals and snacks. For some great recipes, I recommend "Feeding the Whole Family" by Cynthia Lair. You can order her very affordable book and find many FREE and fantastic recipes on her website.

The final and most important thing you can do is to get your child moving and away from the T.V. Do you remember being a child and gaining your first bit of freedom through riding your bike? How about running around and playing Tag, Hide and Seek, Red Rover, etc? This is what our children are missing now-a-days. That's the perfect kind of movement. It's a cardiovascular workout disguised in fun. Most of what a child learns in their youth about health will help them to establish good, nourishing habits when they are older. Children are gaining weight, have less energy, and more difficulty paying attention in school because they are not running off their energy and getting oxygen to their brains and body through cardiovascular exercise. My oppinion is that this is prompting a huge over diagnosis of ADHD. How well do you pay attention at work when you have sat for many hours at work without getting up and moving around? How do you think these lessons and patterns of behavior established in youth will effect your children in their adult lives, especially when you are not around to guide them? I also feel children are also loosing their imagination and chronically complain, "I'M BORED!". This is despite having access to more entertainment than we could have ever dreamed of. Next time your child says "I'm bored," get up, turn off the T.V., and say what my mother said, "O.K. Get out of my house and go PLAY! I don't want to see you for an hour unless someone gets hurt," LOL. O.k. maybe you don't have to go quite to that extreme, but if they are old enough, you could tell them to go ride their bike or go th the neighbors and play with their friends. Not only could you get those extra chores done without your children in your way, but you could enjoy some well deserved peace and quiet. If you're uncomfortable with your child being outside alone, go ride with them or go swing with them (it's a great leg work out, I recommend it if you haven't tried it as an adult :O). When was the last time YOU got in YOUR work out? Plus, you have the added benefit of spending some MUCH NEEDED, interactive, uninterrrupted quality play-time time with your child, no T.V. or cellphones necessary.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Dirty Dozen

There are many benefits to eating organic produce. The main benefit is that the food you're eating is not polluting you body with toxins and genetically modified materials. Remember the adage, "you are what you eat." If you want to be a cross pollinated, polluted, hybridization of the animal and plant world containing many toxins that aren't even identified, then by all means. If you want clean cellular energy, a body that functions at an optimal level, good memory, a lower risk of heart disease, cancer, inflammation and a decrease in many other diseases, then I recommend switching to organic food. Food the way our grandparents and great grandparents used to grow it and eat it. Not only does organic food taste better, but it's great for the environment, great for our gut health, and contains many more nutrients than foods grown in depleted soil that use a basic non-comprehensive fertilizer to help it grow. During our elders time, there was WAY less cancer, fewer chronic diseases, very few autoimmune diseases, and a low prevalence of mental health disorders and less childhood disorders (including less autism, less childhood obesity, less Type II Diabetes, less ADHD, etc). Exercising regularly would also prevent many of these things, but that's a topic for another day.

Many people express there concern that organic food is more expensive, which is true. Anything that is higher quality is going to be more expensive than it's lower quality cousins. I mean, do you expect to pay the same for a purse you find at Nordstrom as you pay for the purse you find at Wal-mart. Probably not because the purse from Nordstrom uses higher quality materials, better craftsmanship, better detail, and is will last a lot longer than the purse from Wal-mart. The same goes for your food. Organic food uses higher quality soil in its growth because the soil is not over worked, it has better craftsmanship because it uses the full array of nutrients available in well maintained organic soil and compost to make up its cellular building blocks, which means it contains more vitamins and minerals, and organic food will help you stay healthier and fuller longer than cheap processed food allowing you to have a higher quality of life than before. Yes, it is more expensive, but you will pay for it now by buying better quality more nutritious food; or you will pay for it later with your health and medical bills; not to mention the environmental impact conventional food is having on our ecosystem. IF you're still skeptical or unwilling or unable to switch to a completely organic diet, then I recommend trying a compromise. Here is an inclusive list of the MOST TOXIC foods on the market. These foods contain the most pesticides and to me are just plain poisonous. Buy these foods organic and you will be doing yourself a favor. The "CLEAN 15" listed are the foods that have tested with the LEAST amount of pesticides in them, so they are the safest to buy conventionally. I would like to make a statement here, this is ONLY a list based on pesticide content, so even though corn is on the list as part of the "CLEAN 15," it is almost ALWAYS genetically modified and spliced with other things, so I would still skip that one and buy it organically. For more information on corn and the way it is grown, I recommend the documentary KING CORN. It is a great way to learn about how corn has come to dominate our food system and the results that have ensued from that.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Genetically Modified Organisms

Here is a must see video on insecticides, GMOs (genetically modified organisms), and your health. This is what our world is coming to. Profits are out weighing food safety. If you don't understand GMO's or genetic insecticides, watch this 1 minute video. It is so shocking that our governments are not protecting the people consuming these foods or protecting the farmers that are being conned into buying these seed products because they are convinced that they are safe. While watching this 1 minute video, please keep in mind that the foods that we eat are broken down into the building blocks that make up all the pieces of our body. If the DNA of our body cannot break apart and/or recognized the DNA of the plants and animals that we are consumming, how do you think this will affect the basic structure of our cells and our DNA. I would also like you to consider that cancer is caused by mutations in human DNA. If we are eating the mutated and modified DNA of the foods we consume that are not ORGANIC, perhaps part of the contributing factors to the DRAMATIC increases in disease and cancer is GMO's in our food... just a thought.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sugar: An American Staple

Sugar has become a staple in American diet. Not only is added sugar one of the main contributing factors to the obesity epidemic, but it is also responsible for the spike we are seeing in Type 2 Diabetes and people with Insulin Resistance. There is so much sugar included in food that you cannot pick up any prepackaged foods without seeing variations of this sweet ingredient on the label. BEWARE: it comes in many guises including: High Fructose Corn Syrup, corn syrup, sugar, fructose, dextrose, sucrose etc. Be ever diligent in reading labels if you are trying to cut down on your sugar intake. Pretty much anything ending in -ose is a sugar or sugar derivative. Sugar consumed in the form of whole fruits acts differently on the body than simple sugars and is NOT what I am referring to here. With that being said, I wanted to share with you this very interesting FREE video seminar on sugar consumption taught by our very own Cynthia Lair. Cynthia is responsible for single handedly pulling me into the world of nutrition and making me aware of everything I put into my mouth. She is part of the faculty at Bastyr University where she teaches many classes including my favorite class, Whole Foods Production. In this class, I not only learned how to cook with whole foods, but I also learned about GMO's (genetically modified food), and the many ways in which processed foods are created. FYI: processed foods are taken apart using many chemicals and high heat, which depletes their nutritional value rendering many of the foods we eat nutritionally deficient. This is why you see on the ingredients labels the word "Enriched". This is the way corporations put vitamins back into food after they have been destroyed through processing. Unfortunately, the vitamins added back into the food are TRADITIONALLY synthetic and do not include naturally occurring enzymes or phytonutrients. Synthetic vitamins do not act in the same way or have the same benefits of eating the whole food itself (ex. whole grain, whole wheat vs enriched white flour). I hope you take the time to watch this video and enjoy this seminar. I hope all of you learn allot that inspires you to minimize your simple sugar intake if you have not already done so.

Monday, March 18, 2013

What the Flip is an EAMP?

I love this cartoon. It is perfect for the world we live in. As I wrap up my education at Bastyr University, I have learned the value of rest, relaxation, and complete nutrition for every person in this world. Moving forward, I hope to start incorporating not only healthy recipes, but also information I have found in research that is beneficial to my patients and the world over. Look for future posts on health and nutrition, the value of exercise, and the benefits of alternative medicine.

For now, let's start with, WTFlip is an EAMP? This translates literally to East Asian Medical Practitioner. What does this mean to the world outside the Washington State Department of Health? This title is equivalent to a Nurse Pratitioner, except in the area of Eastern (Chinese) medicine, as opposed to Western Medicine. What does this mean to you, the future clients of my practice? It means that upon graduating with my Master's degree, completing my licensing requirements, and passing my boards, I will be able to treat you as a practitioner of "Eastern" medicine. My scope of practice will include: acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, fire cupping, Chinese/Japanese bodywork, Chinese Nutrition, and the ability to recommend supplementation and dietary changes to my patients and clients. The Washington State Department of Health has given Acupunturists a new title because our scope of practice includes so much more than just sticking needles in people and only giving acupuncture treatments. For more information about our scope of practice and the VERY uninteresting ins and outs of the new title please visit the Washington State Department of Health. The advantage of this change is, upon graduating, I get to legally use all of the education I have payed for, and I get to address my patients and clients from a holistic stand point. To me, the foundation of health is nutrition and exercise. Everything else is an accesory we use to correct the health mistakes we have made in the past and/or should be a building block to maintain overall health of the mind, body, and spirit. Without lifestyle changes at the very heart of our life, true, long term health cannot be maintained. I look forward to elaborating on this more in the future. I am excited to be able to start using all of the knowledge and information I have gained over the past many years as a holistic health practitioner.