Are Food Sensitivities Behind Your Symptoms?

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The other day I had another reminder about the significant effect food has on our health. A patient who had been medicated for years for daily acid reflux and nasal congestion, tried an elimination diet for only 3 weeks. Essentially all her symptoms of reflux and sinus inflammation resolved! Inadvertently, even her rosacea improved! Her hsCRP blood test had for years been showing whole-body inflammation  (associated with high risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease). But after 3 weeks of the protocol, she went from a high risk level to a very low risk level!

So what’s an elimination diet?

The elimination diet is a protocol used to identify foods in our diet that may be causing or aggravating headaches, sinus inflammation, abdominal pain, gas and bloating, fatigue, mood changes, skin rashes and hives, eczema, acid reflux, constipation or diarrhea, joint pain, brain fog, wheezing, palpitations and many other symptoms.

Sometimes the adverse reactions to foods are obvious to us (such as when it changes our breathing or causes a skin rash). However, food reactions can occur up to 3 days after eating the food triggers so often symptoms are hard to track and difficult to correlate to foods. Generally the protocol involves eliminating common food allergens for a short period of time and watching to see if any symptoms improve. This is followed by systematically reintroducing the foods and observing responses to each food group to identify which foods are associated with which symptom(s). As you can imagine, this program involves careful planning, guidance and monitoring so make sure to do this under the supervision of a physician. Also, this protocol is NOT for suspected anaphylactic reactions (closing up of the throat and difficulty breathing) caused by foods.

I have heard some people say “I would rather not know if certain foods are bothering me because that means I can’t eat it!” That’s not necessarily the case. Often times, once we identify foods that exacerbate symptoms, we avoid them for a period of time to allow the gut lining to heal. After this break period, sometimes those foods we were previously sensitive to are well tolerated. Either way, knowing our body’s responses, we can choose to manage our food sensitivities to our comfort level.

What a great reminder: before jumping to therapies to suppress symptoms, in non-urgent cases, let’s always investigate our basic daily practices, such as diet, to improve symptoms from the inside out.

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Preventing Diabetes and Improving Its Management

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What a huge event! The Diabetes Expo held at the Trade and Convention Center in downtown Seattle brought thousands who were motivated to improve their health and curious to learn more! Thanks to everyone who visited us!

Naturopathic medicine’s emphasis on healthful diet and physical activity was definitely well-received! I loved hearing story after story of people who had significantly changed their eating habits and had really seen their own or their loved ones’ blood glucose improve. How inspiring!

We performed hundreds of HbA1c screening tests. For many with diabetes, this was a routine check of their long term blood glucose levels, but for many others, the test was their first indication that they were heading towards diabetes. What a perfect time to incorporate healthful proteins at breakfast, more (non-starchy) vegetables at each meal and incorporate fun, physical activity! Thanks for letting me be a part of your health journey!

The Power of Food

This is an incredible story: a physician who was struggling with MS, revamped her diet based on nutrient research to nourish and support nerve function and mitochondria (the energy-producing organelles of our body). She had astounding results! I also loved that she studied about all these nutrients (like B vitamins, CoQ10, etc.) and concluded that the best way to get them was from food!

Food truly is medicine.

Thanks for sharing this, Cherry!

Don’t blame the mosquitoes

A quote from my classmate’s presentation today:

Regarding the role of organisms (such as bacteria) in disease,

“Mosquitoes go to stagnant water. They don’t stagnate the water.”

This is a good reminder that viruses and bacteria are always in and around us. Instead of focusing on eradicating the ‘bugs’, let’s focus on improving the flow and balance of our bodies so we create an environment less appealing to ‘the mosquitoes.’

Thanks for the great presentation, Faith!

Do I Need a Detox?

Who can benefit from a cleanse? People who have had exposures to chemicals (recently or in the past); patients preparing for pregnancy or menopause; patients with or wanting to prevent autoimmune disease, cardiovascular disease, chronic disease, neurodegenerative disease, hyper-inflammatory disease, chemical sensitivities, frequent infections, migraines, allergies, hives, eczema, foggy-thinking, fatigue, IBS, constipation… so, basically, anyone could benefit from a cleanse.

The body has built-in systems for eliminating naturally produced waste products as well as chemicals and heavy metals from exposure. Unfortunately these cleansing systems are often under-utilized due to lack of fiber in the diet, nutrient poor diets, dehydration, shallow breathing, lack of regular sweating and lack of rest. This leads to the reabsorption of many of the toxins that would normally be eliminated from the body if the systems were in ideal working condition. For example constipation can lead to the build up of chemicals leading to a headache.

Solvents, fossil fuel products, insecticides, herbicides, plastic residues, flame retardants, wood preservatives, toxic metals, and more can be eliminated via sweating and via our liver and kidneys. Even breathing helps to eliminate volatile compounds from solvents, cleaners, dry cleaning fluids and fuel compounds.

The toxins in our bodies are often stored in fat, nerve cells and the brain decreasing the overall tissue functioning.

The basics: quality sleep, clean air, nourishing diet, adequate hydration, love, healthy thought processes, etc. all support organs in the elimination process.

Keep in mind: The more inflammation the body is already experiencing, the more antioxidant support needed during the cleansing process (a diet rich in antioxidants may be sufficient support for many while others may require supplemental support and greater time). Also, when we “stir things up” in the body, there is re-exposure (as the toxins are circulating to leave the body) and often strong emotions may surface. So it’s important to stay connected with your physician and other support networks during a cleansing process.

Photo courtesy of A. Graber

How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture refers to one of many modalities that a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner uses.

Acupuncture can regulate the flow of qi, moving qi towards or away from areas to create overall balance. Acupuncture points are found along meridians (described in the last post). Research has shown these points have less resistance to electrical flow (than neighboring areas of the skin) and therefore are areas where energy in meridians can enter or exit the body. A metal needle (also low resistance) inserted in these points conducts electrical flow in or out of the meridians. Effectively, acupuncture points allow practitioners to access and influence the energy in the meridians. In this way, deficiencies, excesses and stagnations can be modulated to allow smooth flow of qi through meridians and the proper functioning of the body as a whole.

Acupuncture is considered relatively painless, however the stimulation of qi movement can cause a sensation of heaviness, tingling or electric at the acupuncture point and/or along the meridian. This ‘qi sensation’ signals to the acupuncturist that the patient’s qi is moving towards balance. Because the objective of acupuncture is to achieve overall balance, acupuncture is used for many conditions including: anxiety, insomnia, joint pain, menstrual disorders, fertility, immune support, constipation, diarrhea, acid reflux, nausea, paralysis from stroke or Bells Palsy and neuropathy.

Only pre-packaged, sterile needles are used. Disposable needles are used one-time only and disposed of as indicated by law.

Probiotics for Autoimmune Disease?!

Rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, Crohn’s and lupus are only a few of many autoimmune diseases we commonly see today. Although autoimmune conditions are complex and involve many body systems, a growing body of evidence suggests the microbial imbalance  (dysbiosis) can play a huge role in chronic inflammation and autoimmunity.

Many mechanisms are involved (such as molecular mimicry, haptenization, and immune complex formation). Basically, dysbiosis can damage the intestinal lining causing absorption of “debris” from the gut which activates the immune system chronically and inappropriately. Deposition of immune complexes can appear in joints, kidneys, skin and vessels leading to tissue damage and further inflammation. Also certain microorganisms destroy protective antibodies in our gut lining decreasing our defenses to other microbes. This may explain the results of a study where women with chronic vaginal candidiasis (yeast infection) were found to have nearly double the incidence of allergic rhinitis (ie. hay fever) (Moraes, 1998).

As with other conditions, the body’s microbial balance seems to play a huge role in making sure our basic body functions (like the defense system) respond appropriately.