Archive for ‘healthy eating’

January 19, 2012

WSJ article on Brain-Gut connection

Here is a great article a friend shared with me from the Wall Street Journal: A Gut Check for Many Ailments… I hope you read it!

This article is a succinct and well-written summary of a branch of scientific research some call “psychoneuroimmunology.”  A study of the connection between the brain, the mind and the immune system.  In this article, the author presents a few important research studies that have helped us understand the role of another key palyer: our gut!  When addressing any disease, one system your naturopath may always ask about is the gastro-intestinal system.  Why? Because, often the GI ‘runs the show’ in the body more than any other system — some scientists even refer to gut as having its own ‘brain.’

The author discusses research revealing the importance of maintaining healthy gut flora in order to maintain proper neurotransmitter balance – which affects things like anxiety and depression; and, in this study, autism.  Just another good reason to eat lacto-fermented foods on a regular basis or include a high-quality probiotic in your diet.

The author also mentions research showing that stimulation of the vagus nerve – the largest nerve connecting the brain and the GI system – could significantly alter someone’s experiences of depression.  We often talk about food as medicine, but I love this article because it brings together a nice sampling of mainstream research to illuminate how we can see gut health as playing a central role in achieving balanced health in the mind and body.

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November 9, 2011

Welcome fall!

As the leaves are turning such brilliant golden shades, and the air is getting crisp, I am enjoying more time cozied-up inside with a blanket and warm cup of tea reading in my favorite comfy chair.

In Chinese medicine, fall is a season of beginning to rebuild, to store-up and to prepare for the winter season. Fall is a good season for you to examine new ways to be caring for yourself. Eating hearty soups with lots of root vegetables, lentils and grains will nourish your body. Taking the time to get plenty of rest and not engaging in overly stressful activities is also important in this season.

In my times of restoration I have been doing a lot of reading and have found a number of interesting articles online and I thought I would share a small sampling with you all… let me know what you think!

Be Well,
Dr. Rachelle

Natural news updates….

Naturopath and family run cross-country to promote health awareness

Vitamin D deficiency a bigger concern in obese teens

Joint pain from rheumatoid arthritis may be linked to exposure to air pollution

Dr. Mercola’s “cancer in a can” warning

October 24, 2011

hydration better than “five hour energy?!”

Living in the city means we are constantly bombarded by toxins in our environment – not to mention, all the toxins we may be consuming in our food, absorbing from products we put on our skin or that we drink from unfiltered water.

Note: In our discussion on water, I am always advocating that the source of water be from a clean reliable source – I personally prefer to drink water that has been filtered through reverse osmosis. If you do not have access to this, the next best is to invest in a charcoal filter for your water (ie. “Brita” filters). Bottled water is okay if you confirm its source, but obviously contributes to more landfill issues and is rarely cost-effective.

 

 

Why drink water?  I know its cheesy but, I truly believe it…. The Solution to Pollution is Dilution!

Environmental toxins (air pollution (VOC), pesticide in foods, etc.) can decrease immune function: Toxins can eat up all your antioxidants needed to fight infections, white blood cells (your immune cells) need them to function properly, when your toxic burden is too high, you are prone to getting sick more often. In addition to reducing toxic burden in the body, hydration will increase fluidity of the blood so your white blood cells can move to the target area with ease.

Daily, you should make a goal to drink 1/2 your weight in pounds in fluid ounces. So if you weigh 120#/2=60 so drink 60oz. Add 8oz for every 1 hour of sweating and 8 oz cup of coffee or soda (carbonated sugar drinks).

Our total body is 70-85% water. We lose water through evaporation, and urination. So it may be obvious that hydration is important but many people forget to drink water. Hydration is important for cardiovascular health, energy level and weight issues.

5% of water loss can lead to 20% of energy loss and thirst is often mistaken for hunger – so next time you are feeling that afternoon lull in energy try reaching for a glass of water (or maybe two) because it is likely dehydration kicking-in… not a deficiency in an energy supplement! I had a patient ask – “you mean drinking water is better than five-hour energy?!”  ha ha, (of course) I said “yes!!!”

Your body uses water to maintain its temperature, remove waste and lubricate joints. Water is essential for good health. You lose water each day when you go to the bathroom, sweat, and even when you breathe. You lose water even faster when the weather is extremely hot, when you exercise, or if you have a fever. Vomiting and diarrhea can also lead to rapid fluid loss. If you don’t replace the water you lose, you will become dehydrated.

What to do when you are dehydrated:

– Start drinking water – your body cannot absorb more than 8 oz in 20 minutes so do not exceed this rate.

– Avoid dehydrating beverages such as coffee, soda and alcohol.

– Help increase movement of water into the cells by adding electrolytes to your water: I like “EmergenC” packets although they do have some sugar. Coconut water is another good option and is naturally infused with electrolytes! Avoid “sports drinks” that are sweetened with artificial sweeteners or high fructose corn syrup.

What to do to maintain good hydration:

– Keep a bottle of water with you during the day. Consider carrying a reusable water bottle and filling it from a filtered tap rather than purchasing bottled water, which is expensive and creates plastic bottle waste.

– If plain water doesn’t interest you, try adding a slice of lemon or lime to your drink.

– If you’re going to be exercising, make sure you drink water before, during and after your workout.

– Start and end your day with a glass of water. If you have trouble waking in the night to urinate, do not drink water right before bed.

– When you’re feeling hungry, drink water. The sensation of thirst is often confused with hunger. True hunger will not be satisfied by drinking water. Drinking water may also contribute to a healthy weight loss plan, as some research suggests drinking water will help you feel full.

– Drink on a schedule if you have trouble remembering to drink water. For example, drink water when you wake up; at breakfast, lunch and dinner; and when you go to bed. Or drink a small glass of water at the top of each hour.

– Drink water when you go to a restaurant. Not only does it keep you hydrated, but it’s free! (Although, I do advise ensuring the water comes from a filtered source.)

…don’t you feel thirsty now?! ;o)

Be well,

Dr. Rachelle

September 21, 2011

Tasty remedies — chocolate as preventative medicine!

Mmmm, chocolate…

You may have heard people beginning to buzz about the health benefits of chocolate.  But what is it good for, what kind and how much?  Well, researchers are making a concerted effort to further our understanding of why chocolate is so good for us.  A recent meta-analysis was just published in the British Medical Journal by Dr. Adriana Buitrago-Lopez (University of Cambridge, UK) – which you can check out here – revealing compelling evidence that chocolate of any kind (the studies did not differentiate between dark, milk or white) have profoundly positive effects on one’s cardiovascular health, and in men can be preventative for diabetes!

Here are the stats: (pooled meta-analysis results) high levels of chocolate consumption compared with the lowest levels of chocolate consumption reduced the risk of any cardiovascular disease by 37% (RR 0.63; 0.44–0.90) and stroke 29% (RR 0.71; 0.52–0.98). There was no association between chocolate consumption and the risk of heart failure, and no association on the incidence of diabetes in women, but a positive reduction in the risk of incident diabetes in men.

My recommendations would be a regular consumption of organic dark chocolate sweetened with real sugar and absolutely no high-fructose corn syrup or trans-fats. Dark chocolate contains the greatest amount of bioflavonoids (the compounds important for reducing free-radical damage in the body and consequent atherosclerosis) and organic sourcing ensures you will not be exposed to environmental toxins that often reside in foods treated with pesticides.

In Dr. Buitrago-Lopez’s conclusion, she states:

“These favorable effects seem mainly mediated by the high content of polyphenols present in cocoa products and are probably accrued through the increasing bioavailability of nitric oxide, which subsequently might lead to improvements in endothelial function, reductions in platelet function, and additional beneficial effects on blood pressure, insulin resistance, and blood lipids,” conclude Buitrago-Lopez and colleagues.

This evidence is exciting and hopeful for individuals with a family history of stroke and cardiovascular disease.  Not only is it tasty medicine, it may be preventing very serious health complications in one’s future.  Dr. Buitrago-Lopez’s conclusion indicates that chocolate is helping prevent atherosclerosis and keeps blood healthy by reducing its likelihood of forming clots and it may additionally prevent the body’s inclination to develop insulin resistance which causes diabetes.

So next time you’re in the sweets aisle at the grocery store, think about investing in your health by choosing a good quality chocolate!

Happy healthy eating!

Dr. Rachelle

September 16, 2011

Our gut bacteria make us unique!

Earlier this year research from Germany, published by Dr. Peer Bork, was released revealing evidence that there are three specific gut bacteria associated with the human gastrointestinal system.  It appears that each individual’s gut is hospitable to only one of three bacterial enterospecies and this could make it easier for us to understand how different individuals respond to certain diets, prescribe probiotics specifically fashioned for the individual and may even help us understand why certain people manifest particular gastrointestinal complaints while others do not.

This is an exciting discovery because just as we can categorize individuals by blood type, in the future we may do so also by gut bacteria type!

Regarding this research, a a New York Times article states:

“Instead of trying to wipe out disease-causing bacteria that have disrupted the ecological balance of the gut, they could try to provide reinforcements for the good bacteria. “You’d try to restore the type you had before,” [Dr. Bork] said. ”

In other words, instead of utilizing anti-biotics to fight disease, why not take a proactive stance and build up our body’s natural defenses?  Well, Naturopaths have been doing this for centuries!  Too bad we had to wait for modern science to catch-up with our treatment philosophies, but better late than never… and next time someone shrugs their shoulders and asks why your Naturopath prescribes probiotics you can direct them to this research!

I hope you find this information useful and applicable – let me know your thoughts and questions…

Be Well,

Dr. Rachelle

December 28, 2010

high fructose corn syrup – friend or foe?

think twice before grabbing your sweets! image from yahoo.com

Do you have a sweet tooth? Do you know where that sweetness in your treats originates?  High fructose corn syrup is one ingredient worth scrounging your cupboards for – (and changing up your snacking habits if you find it residing there) because of its numerous deleterious effects on your health.

Not only is this highly refined sweetener a threat to good blood glucose management (this is extremely important if you have ever been told you are hypo- or hyper-glycemic), it is far from its original state by the time it makes it into your food and may be one of the top ten contributors to obesity in the US.

Read more here for a useful breakdown on HFCS!