Essential Fatty Acids and Mental Health by Tori Hudson, N.D.

~ This article was published in the Emerson Ecologics Womens Health Email update December 2011.

When it comes to the biological basis for mental health disorders, the presumption is an abnormality of neurotransmitters- whether it be excess, deficiency, or abnormal interactions with receptors or transporters. While the focus of current pharmacological therapy is the neurotransmitter and its proteins, the impressive role of lipids, particularly long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs), cannot be overstated. The weight of the brain is roughly 80% lipid, the richest source of fatty acids in the body and 15-30% of those lipids are essential fatty acids (EFAs) and LC-PUFAs. Nerve cell function, membrane fluidity, neuron membrane dynamics and the subsequent receptor, transporter and neurotransmitter function are profoundly affected by the lipids that we take in from our diet and supplementation. Considerable research including randomised controlled trials now demonstrate the role and efficacy of EFAs in numerous psychiatric disorders.

Depression

According to the American Journal of Psychiatry, depression is one of the 10 most frequent indications for the use of complementary and alternative medicine.1 While many nutraceuticals and botanicals have published evidence to their benefits, omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are among the more commonly used.2

Epidemiologic studies in several countries suggest that decreased omega-3 fatty acid consumption correlates with increasing rates of depression. One researcher who studied the relationship of fish consumption and the incidence of depression correlated the annual incidence of major depression per 100 people in nine countries with the consumption of fish.3 He found a high incidence of depression in countries with low fish consumption. For example, New Zealanders have an annual fish consumption of about 40 pounds and they had an annual incidence rate of depression of 5.8%. Japan on the other hand, with a fish consumption of almost 150 pounds per year, had the lowest incidence of major depression, at .12%. His group also demonstrated that prevalence rates for bipolar affective disorder rise when the annual fish intake falls below 75 lbs of fish per person annually. In Taiwan for example, there is a 0.04% rate and their fish intake is 81.6 lb per person per year as compared to Germany, the rate is 6.5% at 27.6 lb of fish per person annually. In a survey of 3,204 Finnish adults, infrequent fish consumption was associated with depression in women and although not statistically significant, a trend was seen in men.4 Fish intake also appears to have an influence on suicide with a reduced risk of death from suicide in individuals with daily fish consumption.5

In a study of 20 patients with moderate to severe depression, the relationship between depression and levels and ratios of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in plasma and erythrocyte phospholipids was studied.6 Using two commonly accepted scales and methods of evaluation depression, researchers found a significant correlation between the ratio of phospholipids arachidonic acid to EPA and the severity of depression. The greater the omega-6 to omega-3 ration, the greater the severity of the depression.

In 2010, researchers found that patients with major depressive disorders, exhibited significantly lower erythrocyte DHA composition compared to healthy controls and those with bipolar disorder appeared to have an even lower DHA level.7

Other investigations have confirmed that a high concentration of blood plasma of docosahexanoic acid (DHA), an essential fatty acid found in fish, has been linked to increased serotonin turnover with lower rates of depression and even suicide. Switching to a cholesterol-lowering diet may also result in reductions in measures of depression,8 although not all studies demonstrate this. It appears as though there is a consistent positive association between depression and coronary heart disease and heart attacks.9 They may in fact carry a common cause, that of elevated cholesterol. Since there is such a strong correlation between depression and coronary artery disease, and a predictive correlation between elevated cholesterol and heart disease, elevated serum cholesterol should also predict increased depression.

Depression, secondary to alcoholism, is quite common and occurs in up to 59% of alcoholics. Alcoholism is certainly a complicated illness with social, psychological, hereditary, physiological and physical factors to consider. We know that alcohol is a pro-oxidant that leads to increased lipid peroxidation and a consequence of increased lipid peroxidation may be a decrease in the concentrations of the more highly unsaturated species of fats. Several studies have demonstrated that chronic alcohol abuse depletes long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids from neuronal membranes.10 It is hypothesized that the subsequent effect on the membranes may promote the development of depression.

Higher intakes of fish, EPA or DHA did not have a protective role against suicide in more severe situations and has not been associated with a lower risk for suicide in Japan, but women in Japan with very low intakes of fish, did have an increased risk of suicidal death.11

A search of the literature examining the therapeutic efficacy of essential fatty acids for depression was published in 2006.12 One double-blind placebo controlled RCT examined the use of omega-3 fatty acids in 30 men and women.13 The intervention group received 9.6 gm of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil in addition to their standard pharmacological treatment for 4 months. A Kaplan-Meier survival analysis found that the fish oil group had a significantly longer period of remission than the placebo group and performed better than the placebo group in other outcome measures. Three case control studies of adults with major depression and non-depressed healthy adults all showed a definite difference in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) between depressed and non-depressed adults.14, 15, 16 A review article suggests that DHA is beneficial for depression as well as several other conditions.17 Another review article discussed the effects of dietary intake patterns on fatty acid balance and potential effect on mood.18

Other intervention studies have been done since the initial literature review that concluded in 2001. The only intervention trial up until that point was the Stoll study on bipolar disorder. Since then, RCT trials have been done that assessed the role of omega-3 PUFAs in the treatment of major depression. 2/g of DHA or placebo in 36 depressed patients found no significant difference between the DHA and the placebo, although there was a better overall response rate in the DHA group.19 In another of 28 patients with major depression, 9.6 g/day showed significant improvement compared to the placebo group.20 In a study of EPA, 1gm/day demonstrated significant improvement in two different depression scales compared to placebo and no further improvement was seen in higher doses of EPA than 1gm/day.21 A combination of EPA or placebo and conventional pharmaceutical antidepressant treatment in unipolar depression demonstrated that those in the EPA group had significantly better effects by the third week. In an eight weeks, single-blind placebo trial, peri or postmenopausal women with depressive disorders and hot flashes were given 6 gm/day of EPA and DHA. The response rate was 70% and a decrease of 50% or more on the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS).22

Several probable mechanisms may explain the link between EFAs and depression. EFAs can modify 5-HT receptors, serotonin and dopamine metabolism, lower monoamine oxidase B, modulate cytokine production and enhance signal transduction. The composition of cell membranes, neurotransmission and prostaglandin metabolism are all affected by the amounts of EFAs and while clinical trials are few, there is substantial laboratory and observational evidence of the correlation between low essential fatty acid levels and depression.

Bipolar disorder

It is generally thought that bipolar disorder involves an overactivity in the signal pathways of neurons. Omega-3 fatty acids are known to dampen this overactivitiy and a previous hypothesis was confirmed in a landmark study at Harvard Medical School. The double-blind placebo controlled study of men and women with bipolar disorder were given either seven fish oil capsules twice a day or a placebo of olive oil capsules.23 Each capsule contained 440 mg of EPA and 240 mg of DHA. More than twice as many individuals in the fish oil group completed four months of the study without a major episode of mania or depression than those in the placebo group. In addition, nine individuals in the placebo group had worsening depression during the study compared to none in the fish oil group. The average decline in depression rating was almost 50% in the fish oil group compared to an increase of 25% in the control group.

Schizophrenia

Research is limited but intriguing regarding the hypothesis and evidence that symptoms of schizophrenia may result from altered neuronal membrane structure and metabolism. Several studies have shown that individuals with schizophrenia often have low levels of particular EFAs necessary for normal nerve cell membrane metabolism.24 Although the evidence is small, one initial open label study indicating efficacy which led to two small double-blind pilot studies is encouraging. In the pilot study, EPA showed a statistical superiority over DHA and placebo on the total Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS).25 In the first small study, 45 schizophrenic patients who were stable on antipsychotic medications but still symptomatic were treated with either PEA, DHA or placebo for three months.26 The EPA group’s PANSS was significantly superior to both DHA and placebo, and EPA was significantly superior to DHA for positive symptoms using the analysis of variance (ANOVA). In the second placebo-controlled study, only EPA was used, although antipsychotic medications were permitted if necessary.26 By the end of the study, 8 of the 14 patients on EPA were taking medications and all had improved PANSS scores, while all 12 on placebo were taking antipsychotic drugs.

It is surprising that EPA was the most therapeutic in the first study, given that DHA is a major constituent of neuronal membrane phospholipids. The positive results of these pilot studies and the observed abnormal PUFA and phospholipids metabolism in individuals with schizophrenia is supportive of the potential for the role of EFAs in prevention and management.

 Summary

 I look forward to more research on prevention and intervention with omega-3 fatty acids in mental health disorders. While three conditions were discussed in this article, there are other promising areas of research in the areas of aggressive behavior, personality disorders and attention deficit disorder. Psychiatric disorders, behavioral problems and neurodegenerative disorders are some of our society’s most prevalent and serious challenges. Dietary changes in decreasing saturated fats and increasing seeds and fish along with supplementation, particularly fish oil, hold great promise for improving our brain function and the diseases affected by health EFA metabolism and the brain.

Lastly, in the search for high quality fish oils, I recommend looking for products that perform and supply third party testing on peroxides, total oxidation, PCBs, heavy metals and dioxins.

Sources

1 Kessler R, Soukup J, Davis R, et al. The use of complementary and alternative therapies to treat anxiety and depression in the United States. Am J Psychiatry 2001;158:289-294.

2 Smit E, Muskiet F, Boersma E. The possible role of essential fatty acids in the pathophysiology of malnutrition: a review. Prostaglandins Leukot. Essent. Fat. Acids 2004;71(4):241-250.

3 Hibbeln J. Fish consumption and major depression. Lancet 1998;351, April 18: 1213

4 Tanskanen A, Hibbeln J, Hintikka J, et al. Fish consumption and depression and suicidality in a general population. Archives of General Psychiatry 2001;58:512-513.

5 Hirayama T. Lifes Style and Mortality. A Large Census-Based Cohort Study in Japan. Basel: Karger 1990

6 Adams P, Lawson S, Sanigorski A, Sinclair A. Arachidonic acid to eicosapentaenoic acid ratio in blood correlates positively with clinical symptoms of depression. Lipids 1996;31:157-161.

7 McNamara R, Jandacek R, Rider T, et al. Selective deficits in erythrocyte docosahexaenoic acid composition in adult patients with bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder. J Affective Disorders 2010;126:303-311.

8 Weidner G, Connor S, Hollis J, Connor W. Improvements in hostility and depression in relation to dietary change and cholesterol lowering. Ann Intern Med 1992;117:820-823.

9 Booth-Kewley, Friedman. Psychological predictors of heart disease: a quantitative review. Psychol Bull 1987; 101(3):343-62.

10 Salem N, Ward G. The effects of ethanol on polyunsaturated fatty acid composition. In: Alling C, Diamond I, Leslie S, Sun G, Wood W, eds. Alcohol, cell membranes, and signal transduction in brain. New York: Plenum Press, 1993:33-46.

11 Poudel-Tandukar K, Nanri A, Iwasaki M, et al. Long chain n-3 fatty acids intake, fish consumption and suicide in a cohort of Japanese men and women- The Japan Public Health Center-based prospective study. J Affective Disorders 2011;129:282-288.

12 Williams A, Katz D, Ali A, et al. Do essential fatty acids have a role in the treatment of depression. J Affective Disorders 2006;93:117-123.

13 Stoll A, Severus W, Freeman M, et al. Omega 3 fatty acids in bipolar disorder: a preliminary double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Archives of General Psychiatry 1999;56:407-412.

14 Maes M, Christophe A, Delanghe J, et al. Lowered omega3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in serum phospholipids and cholesteryl esters of depressed patients. Psychiatry Res 1999;85:275-291.

15 Edwards R, Peet M, Shay J, Horrobin D. Omega-3 polyunsaturated faty acid levels in the diet and in red blood cell membranes of depressed patients. J Affect Disorders 1998;48(2-3):149-1555.

16 Peete M, Murphy B, Shay J, Horrobin D. Depletion of omega-3 fatty acid levels in red blood cell membranes of depressive patients. Bio. Psychiatry 1998;43(5):315-319.

17 Horrocks L, Yeo Y. Health benefits of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Pharmacol Res 1999;22(5-6):474-480.

18 Bruinsma K, Taren D. Dieting, essential fatty acid intake, and depression. Nutr Rev 2000;58(4):98-108.

19 Marangell L, Martinez J, Zboyan H, et al. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid in the treatment of major depression. Am J Psychiatry 2003;160 (5):996-998.

20 Su K, Huang S, Chiu C, Shen W. Omega-3 fatty acids in major depressive disorder-a preliminary double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol 2003;13:267-271.

21 Peet M, Horrobin D. A dose-ranging study of the effects of ethyl-eicosapentaenoate in patients with ongoing depression despite apparently adequate treatment with standard drugs. Arch Gen Psychiatry 2002;59 (10):913-319.

22 Freeman M, Hibbeln J, Silver M, et al. Omega-3 fatty acids for major depressive disorder associated with the menopausal transition: preliminary open trial. Menopause 2011 18(3):279-284.

23 Stoll A, Severus E, Freeman M, et al. Omega-3 fatty acids in bipolar disorder; a preliminary double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Arch Gen Psychiatry 1999;56:407-412.

24 Joy C, Mumby-Croft R, J L. Polyunsaturated fatty acid (fish or evening primrose oil) for schizophrenia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2000;2:CD001257

25 Peet M, Laugharne J, Mellor J. Double-blind trial of fatty acid supplementation in the treatment of schizophrenia. International Congress on Schizophrenia Research, Colorado Springs, CO, April.

26 Peet M, Brind J, Ramchand < et al. Two double-blind placebo-controlled pilot studies of eicosapentaenoic acid in the treatment of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Research 2001;49:243-251.

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Treatment Protocol: Weaning Off Coffee

Treatment strategy adapted in part from Naturopathic Doctors News and Review article Managing Caffeine Withdrawal in the Patient Undergoing Detoxification (V. 7 Issue 12 p. 8-9) by Dr. Peirson ND and from Dr. Braverman’s Dopamine Deficiency Protocol. For more information on caffeine addiction see: http://thewrightdoctor.com/2011/12/26/coffee-addiction/

Daily Supplements and Lifestyle Changes:

  • 200-400 mg Magnesium Citrate – I like Trace Minerals Research liquid mineral formulas. It allows for a personal tailoring of dosage. Too much magnesium can have a laxative effect (which can be helpful if constipation is a side effect of caffeine withdrawal.) Take daily in juice.
  • 100mg B Complex  – I like Orti B by Seroyal, Thorne B5 Complex or Cortico B5B6 by Metagenics. 1 daily with food.
  • Buy several organic green teas, decaf coffee beans, a black tea and a decaf black tea. Start to mix the caffeinated and decaffeinated beans in your morning brews, and order “half-caf” when out.  Eventually leave the coffee behind and just have decaf or green teas.
  • Adrenal Assist by Vitanica – Vitamins, herbs and minerals for restoration of adrenal glands. Cross-check any medications with the herbs for possible interactions before starting this. 3 capsules daily, best in the morning for 3 – 6 months.
  • Coffee 6ch homeopathic remedy. 2 pellets as needed for headache associated with caffeine withdrawal.
  • High paced lifestyles need to be balanced with relaxation and restoration. Stress busting exercises such as deep breathing exercises, non-work related reading, chess, and non-aerobic exercises such as weight lifting are recommended 3 times per week.
  • Eliminating the kick of caffeine will result in cravings for sugar. Instead of sweets, turn to high protein foods rich in phenylalanine and tyrosine to restore dopamine levels depleted by chronic caffeine use. Round out high protein meals with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid found in the brain and blood that is converted to tyrosine and then to dopamine. Food sources of dopamine include:
Foods Amount Phenylalanine Tyrosine
Wild game 6-8 oz 2.6g 1.5g
Cottage cheese 1 cup 1.7g 1.7g
Chicken 6-8 oz 1.6 g 0.40
Duck 6-8 oz 1.6g 0.60
Turkey 6-8 oz 1.6g 0.70
Walnuts 6-8 oz 1.4 g 0
Wheat germ 1 cup 1.35g 1.00
Ricotta 1 cup 1.35g 1.50
Granola 1 cup 0.65 0.40
Rolled Oats 1 cup 0.50 0.35
Plain nonfat yogurt 1 cup 0.40 0.40
Whole milk 1 cup 0.40 0.40
Egg 1 0.35 0.25
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On The Other Side of a Cold

6 days later, I’m finally feeling human. Colds can be so rotten! I felt so awful on Tuesday and Wednesday – headache, runny nose, achy, tired, sinus pain, sneezing. UGH. Everyone gets colds, and after this round I want to share some ways to get through them easier, and how to help them not turn into the 6 week sickness, or bronchitis, or worse….

I grew up in a Yoga Ashram where getting sick was considered “cleansing” and an opportunity to throw off toxins and heal the body. I still think of sickness in this framework to some degree, and as such embrace having a cold in the following ways (once I am willing to accept I am, in fact, sick, which is another story.)

I like to view mini-sicknesses like colds, flues, and other bugs as opportunities for a mini-detox. As soon as I realize I am sick, all cow dairy, sugar, alcohol, corn, beef and gluten are eliminated. I also try to wean off caffeine by only having 1/2 cups of black tea as needed for caffeine headaches. This automatically gives my immune system a huge boost to fight off the offenders (see my food sensitivity blog post.) It also allows my liver, intestines and kidneys to do a little detox of their own, cleaning up old metabolites while other systems fight off the cold. This helps me heal faster, and makes me feel even better once the cold is done! I also often lose a couple of pounds while being sick.

What does this leave to eat? Lots of fruit, rice, steamed veggies, rice cakes and 100% fruit jam, gluten free toast, butter (even tho its cow I allow this), nut butters, eggs, organic chicken, goat milk kefir or yogurt if craved. I just made a butternut squash, ginger, chicken broth soup with kale, apples and lemon this sickness. I also found a coconut milk, agave sweetened vanilla ice cream when I was craving something cold for my throat. And lots and lots and lots of herbal tea. With raw honey, and lemon.

Botanical Medicine is *very* important for treating colds. Most colds start out as viruses and then develop into bacterial infections after the immune system has been worn down. Unlike drugs, herbs can be antiviral AND anti-bacterial at the same time. As soon as I start feeling sick, out comes the elderberry syrup that lives in my medicine cabinet. 2 tsp 2-3 times a day, AND once a day for my girlfriend so she doesnt get sick. Start taking lots of vitamins – everything you have. Take your C’s, B’s, multivitamin…. your immune system is weak and needs support. Olive leaf is a great anti-microbial to take at any stage of sickness. The trick with herbs is to take alot, early.  As in, 2 caps three times a day for the first week, rather than 1 cap a day for 3-6 weeks of sickness. Traditional Medicinals has some great teas with a good mix of acute care herbs. I drank Cold Care PM night and day, with lots of honey as well as lemon ginger tea and echinacea tea.

A side note on echinacea – this herb is anti strep as well as antibacterial and antiviral and antifungal. Its actually a great herb for colds and flues *when taken right away.* Echinacea seems to work better for some people than others as well. If you are going to use this botanical, start taking it as soon as you feel sick in high doses. Once you have been sick more than 5 days, it is no longer as effective *unless* you are fighting a strep infection.

If you can, go see an acupuncturist immediately. Acupuncture can do great things for helping a cold to not settle into your lungs, and move it through you faster. I’m certain it also helped this cold not become a sinus infection and just stay at the superficial level. I see Hadley Clarke of www.zenkaiacupuncture.com although http://www.jadeintegratedhealth.com also helped me when I had a serious case of bronchitis last year.Chinese herbs are also very effective when prescribed by an acupuncturist, however they are not meant for self-prescribing.

Finally, REST. Sometimes I think I get sick when my mind or body really needs down time. Call in sick, and lie in front of the TV, or in your bed all day. Pad around in track pants and socks and drink tea and moan on the couch. Facebook, nap, eat soup, but don’t do anything productive. The body *really* needs time to heal, and repair, and fight the good fight, and cant do that if you are also trying to teach or lead or answer phones or tend bar or save the world do all the other active things we all do in a day.


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Keeping the Pace – Part One

Part One – Making Choices

 Keeping pace with life’s To Do list, career, academics, and family… its tough. Its hard on the body, its hard on the mind, and it can be hard on the waistline too. It’s worth it – for evolution, advancement, and a life well lived – but how can one minimize the toll of stress?

Adapting effectively to stress requires both a short term and long-term commitment to nourishing and sustaining hormonal response. The body responds to chronic stress by first an alarm phase, then sustained effort, then exhaustion. Making appropriate nutritional choices and choosing herbal adaptogens that match the endocrine condition relieve strain and sustain long-term health.

First and Foremost – What can you actually do when you are exhausted, and hungry, and cant stop? One answer: eat something green. A fresh arugula salad would be perfect; however a greens drink is very convenient. Spirulina and other microalgae are the red blood cell equivalents of the plant kingdom. They provide an instant nutrient-rich boost of antioxidants, alkalinizing and balancing your starved system and tiding over the hunger until you can take a break. Mix greens with juice for blood sugar support, or choose green protein-enhanced shakes or bars if needed. Odwalla has a yummy green pre-made green Superfood smoothie. There are several products available in one-serving envelopes that travel well. If you are on *any* medications, including Hypertension, Birth Control, Antidepressant and Anti-Anxiety medications, please choose a formula that ONLY has the microalgae, and/or wheat grasses, without herbal components.  The energy-supporting herbs used in many “energy greens” can have multiple medication interactions.

Protein is also an integral component of a high stress diet. The immune and hormonal systems require adequate protein for sustained cellular responses. This protein must be high quality: fast food meats or veggie burgers do not “count!” Good quality protein will create a smooth and better-sustained blood sugar response decreasing headaches, crabbiness, and dizziness while improving energy and balance. Include one serving of protein in most significant meals, and look for protein snacks on busy days.

Sugar, crackers, pastries, fruit or raw vegetables alone will burn quickly and leave you depleted. Lunchtime protein can include tahini on a cooked whole grain or steamed vegetables, avocado, hard-boiled eggs, nut butters and nut butter sauces, quinoa salads, and cheese in addition to fish or meat. Prepare ahead! Protein and fiber rich snacks like applesauce and cottage cheese, hard-boiled egg, toasted nuts and seeds with raisins, celery and nut butter can be pre-made and stored in little “to go” containers. It’s best to avoid consistent intake of processed proteins including whey and soy protein isolates as bars or shakes, but occasional use is well tolerated.

Therefore, the immediate moment, when you hit a wall look to greens and to protein for a boost. This will keep you from turning to sugar or fat to maintain your energy, keeping your waistline trim and nourishing your body rather than taxing it further.

If you cant get away from the piece of chocolate that seems like its the only thing that will save your day in that moment, choose a small piece of good quality chocolate! Research shows that small amounts of high quality chocolate actually have beneficial effects on our health. It is an antioxidant, and releases GABA neurotransmitter that is one of the “off” buttons in our brain. Commercial “industrial” chocolate, mochas, lattes, cookies, and other quick fixes have low nutritional value and provide high fat calories that lead to abdominal weight gain and create sugar addictions. Cacao Nibs are Nature’s superfood candy, and are a must for any true chocolate addict. Rich in magnesium, these replenish lost minerals lost through caffeine. Add Cacao Nibs to your trail mix with home-toasted walnuts, pumpkin seeds and organic raisins.

Long-term adrenal restoration in the form of individualized and endocrine-specific supplementation is also integral. Adrenal fatigue is a buzz term in today’s medicine, and will be the topic of Keeping the Pace  – Part Two!

Cocoa and chocolate in human health and disease. Katz DL, Doughty K, Ali A, Antioxidants & Redox Signaling [Antioxid Redox Signal], ISSN: 1557-7716, 2011 Nov 15; Vol. 15 (10), pp. 2779-811; PMID: 21470061; http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.ccnm.edu/ehos/viewarticle?data=dGJyMPPp44rp2%2fdV0%2bnjisfk5Ie46bNNsa6zTrOk63nn5Kx95uXxjL6nrkewrq1KrqevOK%2bwsVC4qbE4zsOkjPDX7Ivf2fKB7eTnfLujsUm2p7NMsaakhN%2fk5VXj5KR84LPrhuac8nnls79mpNfsVbCntE6zqbdIpNztiuvX8lXk6%2bqE8tv2jAAA&hid=17

The impact of chocolate on cardiovascular health. Fernández-Murga L, Tarín JJ, García-Perez MA, Cano A, Maturitas [Maturitas], ISSN: 1873-4111, 2011 Aug; Vol. 69 (4), pp. 312-21; PMID: 21665390

 

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Nutrition to Strengthen Liver Yin

     Modern culture is Yang obsessed. We go-go-go, we seek sun, we burn the candle at both ends, we exercise vigorously, and we love stimulants. It is a rare bird that has enough quiet, meditative alone time, in a dim or dark environment. This is the Yin state – nourishing, moistening, dark, and quiet – Yin builds what Yang wears down.

Every organ of the body has a Yin and a Yang aspect. Some organs (Spleen, Liver, Heart, and Lung for example) are naturally more Yin in Nature. Other organs (Stomach, Gall Bladder, Small Intestine and Large Intestine for example) are more Yang in nature. These “natures” were determined by the functions each organ enact as well as more energetic attributes. Supporting the natural state of each organ will optimize health, and promote healthy functioning.

      Much is said about detoxifying the Liver, and reducing its Yang (brought on by alcohol, drugs and stimulants) but what happens when you actually have deficient Liver Yin that needs to be nourished?  Stripping an already deficient organ will create further disharmony that will eventually manifest as pathology.

      A diagnosis of Liver Yin deficiency means that this aspect of the Liver organ network is compromised. The Liver not only detoxifies, it has many other (building) jobs including cholesterol metabolism, vitamin storage, bile production, and blood reservoir. Blood is a Yin substance (all fluids are yin) and many B12 and iron anemias can be diagnosed early on as a Liver Yin deficiency by a trained Acupuncturist. Thin brittle nails, anemia, sallow skin, easy bruising, hair loss, blurred vision, tinnitus, dizziness, infertility  and some tremors  are all associated with a Liver Yin deficiency diagnosis.

Nutrition is one of the best ways to support and recover Liver Yin. A diet that is nutrient rich and nourishing is essential, as is sitting down to relax while you eat and chewing thoroughly to savor flavors. The diet should also include plenty of fluids, especially in the form of soups. Meals consist of 40% easily digested complex carbohydrates like whole grains and starchy root vegetables. Another 40% of the diet is cooked vegetables. Proteins comprise 10-20% of the diet, with a focus on high quality organic or grass fed sources. Healthy fats fill the other remaining 5-10%.

Below is a list of recommended foods to nourish Liver Yin. Do not limit your nutritional intake to only these foods. Instead follow the guidelines above of the optimum ratios of carbohydrates, vegetables and proteins, and add the recommended foods from the list below within your meals. Where ever possible choose organically grown foods to avoid genetically modified ingredients.

Foods to Nourish Liver Yin Deficiency

 Zucchini, squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, string beans, beets,

Mushrooms including wood ears & tremella,

Tomatoes, spinach, carrots, parsley,

Molasses

Apples, banana, mulberries, mango, coconut, peaches, lychee fruit, melons,

Grapes, raisins, cherries, plums

Olive oil, flaxseed oil, almond oil

Vegemite, kelp, spirulina, wheatgrass

 Oats, rice, millet, barley

Adzuki beans, black beans, mung beans

Organic cow, goat and sheep yogurt

Tempeh, tofu, miso

Nuts & seeds, black sesame seeds (great as a condiment!)

Eggs

Pork, chicken, Chinese black boned chicken, duck

Mackerel, sardines, oysters, mussels, clams

Cuttlefish, squid, perch, eel

Foods to Restrict or Avoid

Chilies, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, onions, shallots, leeks, basil, cloves, wasabi

Coffee, black tea

Vinegar, pickles

Lamb, shrimp, veal

Citrus fruits

Cigarettes, alcohol

Recreational stimulants

Activities that build whole-body Yin nourishment are also encouraged while working specifically on Liver Yin. Rest more. Read. Spend some quiet, alone contemplative time in a cool, dark room with a candle lit (taking a bath is a nice way to do this.) Exercises like Tai Chi and Yoga are more Yin building than Yang in nature. Drink warm water and lemon. Get extra sleep. Breathe.

References:

Clinical Handbook Of Internal Medicine, Vol. 2. MacLean & Lyttleton. University of Western Sydney: Australia. 2002.

Chinese Dietary Therapy. Liu, J. Churchill Livingston: Edinburgh. 1995.

The Healing Cuisine of China. Zhao & Ellis. Healing Arts Press: Vermont. 1998.

An interesting theoretical write up: http://www.indiadivine.org/audarya/ayurveda-health-wellbeing/997986-liver-yin-deficiency-patterns-derived-patterns.html

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Introducing……

The kitchen table has seen generations of families, friends, and lovers sit down to talk about what is really wrong. Its where we cry fresh tears, or hold them back. Its where we open mail, check email, or sit down for a long phone chat. Its a place of connection, convenience, and commiseration. The kitchen is the heart of every household, and the center of a families nourishment. Kitchen Table Naturopathics is all of this and more!

Based on the modern concept of boutique medicine and the classic model of country family physician, Kitchen Table Naturopathics offers phone sessions, skype consultations, and at home visits at your kitchen table or mine. Free initial 15 minute assessments are available in person or over the phone, to ensure we can work well together.

Please call for a Fee Schedule or email thewrightnd@gmail.com to set up an appointment. I look forward to seeing you soon!

 

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Optimizing Nutrition for Beautiful Skin

The skin is the largest organ of the human body – and the only one that the world can see. Keeping skin luminous requires not only topical maintenance, but also premium nutritional support and hydration. The skin is a secondary organ of elimination. This means that when the primary organs of elimination  -the liver, kidneys and bowels – become overworked, the skin takes on the additional job of detoxifying for the body. This results in acne, redness, discoloration, eczema, rosacea, spider veins and other cosmetic maladies. Fortunately, by providing skin with optimal essential fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and by improving detoxification at the primary sites of elimination, you can maintain the glowing, clear complexion and collagen levels you have always wanted.

NUTRITIONAL SUPPORT FOR HEALTHY SKIN

¨     Eat more liver-loving foods on a daily basis. Start your day with the juice of 1/4 a lemon in a pint glass hot or cold water on waking to get your digestion started. Eat at least 2 of the following foods daily to improve detoxification: beets, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, bok choy, arugula or broccoli.

¨     Increase your vegetarian daily essential fat intake. Nuts, seeds, avocado, and ground flax seeds are all sources of essential fatty acids. Use olive oil and/or organic coconut oil for cooking. Nuts and seeds are best raw, unsalted and unroasted. (You can dry-toast them yourself in a cast iron pan to improve taste without losing all of the nutritional benefits.)

¨     Choose local cold water fish, such as cod, sardines, sole, haddock, or herring  2-3 times per week. Avoid swordfish, shark, king mackerel, halibut, sea bass or tuna steak, which contain high levels of mercury. Remove skin from all fish to reduce PCB contamination. Tuna, sea bass and Atlantic cod are overfished. Tuna can only be eaten once every 2 weeks to avoid mercury contamination. Only eat wild caught salmon, avoid farmed if possible.

¨     Ensure adequate fibre intake daily from whole grains, lentils, beans, vegetables, and fruits. Be adventurous with your grains – try millet, quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, and buckwheat kasha as part of your meal plans. Include a minimum of two raw vegetables daily and one piece of organic fruit.

BASIC SUPPLEMENT SUPPORT FOR BEAUTIFUL SKIN

Omega 3 Fish oil – 2 caps twice / day or 1 tsp – Omega 3 oils reduce inflammation decreasing redness and dryness. They also keep hair, skin, and nails rich and lustrous with essential fatty acids to nourish from the inside out.

Jarrow CoQ10 – 1 capsule daily – CoQ10 is a potent fat antioxidant and works microscopically to maintain your cellular health. Healthy cells = healthy skin

Vitamin C -2000mg daily. C is an integral component of the collagen matrix. It is also a potent water soluble antioxidant, which works to detoxify the fluids surrounding cells. Adequate levels of vitamin C can be absorbed from a diet high in organic fruits and vegetables, otherwise supplementation is advised. Research has also proven that topical Vitamin C products improve skin quality.

Zinc/Copper by AOR. Copper pairs with Vitamin C to form collagen, and Zinc is an essential mineral for many enzymatic processes. If you are having problem skin, supplement with a Zinc / Copper mineral at least 6 months of each year.

ADVANCED SKIN CARE

With more invasive procedures such as aggressive peels and some laser treatments, more personalized treatments may be needed to optimize healing and provide long term maintenance. Its best to create a plan for before, during and after your facial rejuvenation.

Homeopathy is an integral part of advanced skin care. Several studies have been done using Arnica Montana in homeopathic preparation for post surgical care. http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=38342 These have all illustrated that this remedy decreases post-operative edema, and can reduce pain and bruising as well. Homeopathy is extremely safe, and can be used to treat bruising, pain, burns, and other side effects of advanced facial care.

Complicated or chronic dermatological conditions such as vitiligo, acne, rosacea, eczema and other pathological skin conditions generally require personalized treatment plans as these all involve internal organ dysfunctions that are manifesting as skin conditions. Nutrition, Botanical Remedies, Stress Management and Lifestyle Counseling will likely be employed to restore your skin to its natural beauty.

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Its Not You. Its Your Food!

Chances are, you are having some kind of allergic response to the foods you are eating. For some people this manifests as weight gain, puffiness, or bloating. For others its drippy nose, itchy mouth and red eyes. Someone else manifests their allergic response as constipation or diarrhea, and someone else has creaky sore knees and chronic urinary tract infections. How can one set of reactions have so many manifestations? Because we are all different types of people with different genetic and systemic vulnerabilities. Our immune systems are also unique, and respond individually  to stress.

70% of our immune system is in our guts. It is our digestive immune systems job to separate out food from bacteria and parasites and viruses and other “non-self” things that we ingest. However, with age, or over-medication, or stress, or a whole host of other complicating factors our digestive immune system can become imbalanced and start to identify foods as “enemies.” Then, every time that food is eaten, we mount an immune attack against it! Creating inflammation, swelling, mucus production – a whole mini-battle scene in your gut. When this happens daily, it starts to affect the organs involved and creates local damage, which impairs intestinal integrity. Then, little particles of inflammation leak into the bloodstream and negatively affect distant organs. Thus, the “personalized” food sensitivity effects of bladder, respiratory, joint, brain or other system dysfunction.

Most common allergenic foods:

  • Dairy, wheat, soy, corn, eggs, chocolate, oranges (citrus), seafood  (especially shellfish), additives/preservatives, tomatoes, potatoes, strawberries, peanuts, almonds.
  • Hereditary factors do set up susceptibility, as allergies appear to run in families.  For example, if both parents have an allergy/intolerance, then there is a 67% chance that the offspring will be allergic.  Therefore, be extra careful when introducing these foods to babies.

Common physical and symptomatic signs of food allergy:

  • Dark circles under the eyes, puffiness under the eyes, chronic swollen glands, runny nose/nasal drip
  • Canker sores, celiac disease, chronic diarrhea, constipation, gas, gastritis, heart burn/acid reflux, IBS, ulcerative colitis, gallstones
  • Chronic infections, frequent ear infections
  • Bed-wetting, chronic bladder infections, kidney disorders
  • Asthma, chronic bronchitis, wheezing, itchy nose or throat, sinusitis
  • Acne, eczema, hives, itching, skin rash, red (burning) ears
  • Bursitis, joint pain, low back pain, arthritis and arthritic disorders
  • Arrhythmia, edema, fatigue,
  • Headache, migraines
  • Hyperactivity, anxiety, depression, inability to concentrate, insomnia, irritability, mental confusion, seizures

Diagnosis:

Identifying the foods your system is reacting to is important. It can be so varied – wheat for one person, salmon and sesame seeds for another! By identifying the problematic foods, you can also “know your devil.” Even if you still choose to eat the food occasionally, at least you can predict the response and manage it as needed. Knowing the problem often makes the symptoms more bearable!

There are many ways to identify food sensitivities. As a Naturopathic Doctor, I use blood work for people with multiple system involvement or complicated medical histories. The test starts at $269 for 95 foods, and increases for additional foods or for candida antigen identification. The hypoallergenic dietary method is an excellent detoxification diet. It is a great method of self diagnosis for people who have one or two symptoms that may be related to food sensitivities. It is also a fantastic weight loss diet, and I often use it for that reason alone!

  • Hypoallergenic Diet: Food elimination and subsequent reintroduction
  • Bloodwork: IgG testing using bloodspot analysis
  • Applied kinesiology (AK):  Muscle testing for strength/weakness in the presence of the food being tested
  • Vega / Intero Food Test: A biofeedback-like software program based on AK that tests your bodies electrical responses to foods.

I personally am not trained in AK food testing, and have not found a practitioner in Maine who does the Vega style testing.

To minimize immune reactivity & enhance your immune system:

  • Identify and eliminate the foods that you are reacting to.
  • Increase the variety in your diet and rotate foods – do not get stuck eating the same ingredients or foods every day.
  • Eat organic foods! Especially those fruits and vegetables that can’t be peeled and animal products – milk, yoghurt, eggs and meat.
  • Minimize tuna, swordfish, farmed salmon and other large fish known to have heavy metal contamination.
  • Don’t drink tap water! Use a filter or switch to reverse osmosis-treated water to eliminate fluoride, chlorine, and other chemicals that are present.
  • Supplement with antioxidants: vitamins A, C, E, zinc and selenium.
  • Once or twice a year take a course of probiotics (especially if you have just completed a course of antibiotics) – these are the good bacteria that your intestines and your immune system need to function optimally.  You need a probiotic that provides both Lactobacillus and Bifidus bacteria.
  • Don’t suppress stomach acid production with heart burn-relief aids – instead, identify the triggers and eliminate them.  You need that acid to act as a barrier against bacteria, viruses and fungi in our environment.

Recognizing that you probably have food sensitivities, and diagnosing them appropriately is the first step towards feeling (and looking) better. Depending on your age, and how long you have had your symptoms, you may also need to do some digestive system repair. This is a four staged series of treatments that clean up your sites of inflammation, heal your gut lining, and recalibrate your immune systems reactivity. You will be amazed at how fantastic everything starts to feel once all the little chronic health problems disappear!

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Managing Stress to Create Health

“But I don’t feel stressed!”

How does stress affect your body? Stress affects multi-systems. Here is a quick run through the major players in the stress domino effect, and some at home tips to balance and harmonize your stress hormones.

PHASE 1 (ALARM) There is a threat to your being. Your adrenal glands kick in and start producing hormones – for example, adrenaline.

PHASE 2 (RESISTANCE) You are holding up a good fight. You think you’ve won.

PHASE 3 (EXHAUSTION) Lots of small stresses add up. Eventually you can’t take it anymore. Body systems get run down, especially the immune system.

Adrenal glands

The adrenals are small, paired glands that sit on top of your kidneys, and secrete the “stress hormones” cortisol and adrenaline. When you are under stress, it is the job of these glands to release these hormones in a “fight or flight” response – providing energy to your brain, diverting blood away from your digestive system to your muscles, increasing your blood pressure and heightening awareness. This instinctual response was designed to assist a quick getaway from a dangerous or life threatening situation – but is instigated chronically day after day. Mental stress can trigger this reaction, as can alcohol, sugar and caffeine. Over time, the adrenals become fatigued, and not be able to maintain the demands you are placing on them. This leads to a host of symptoms including chronic low energy, irritability, insomnia, weight gain, headaches, sugar cravings, and dizziness.

Digestive system

Your digestive system is affected by chronic stress, partly in relation to the adrenal response. Under stressful situations, your digestive system slows down in order to provide extra energy and blood to your brain and muscles. Eating on the run, eating too fast, and eating while doing other things (like working) impairs digestive function and absorption of nutrients from your intestines. This can lead to indigestion, nutrient deficiencies, and  gas and bloating. While under stress, cravings for sugar and other simple carbohydrate foods are often increased, as they offer a “quick fix” energy boost. This is inevitably followed by an energy crash, which stimulates the sugar cravings again, creating a rollercoaster of sugar highs and lows – as well as chronic upset stomach and weight gain.

Immune system

Your immune system is greatly affected by stress via cortisol released by the adrenals. Any kind of stress can increase cortisol – work, yo-yo dieting, illness, financial worries. Cortisol decreases the rate your body can make new proteins, including proteins in the immune system, and this suppresses the immune response. The result is you may find you are becoming run down and catching colds easily. Aggravation of current allergies, or even formation of new allergies, are often a result of long term stress on the immune system. High cortisol or very low cortisol lead to high levels of inflammation – manifesting as joint disease, heart disease, and many multi-systemic autoimmune conditions.

Sleep

The human body needs the nighttime sleep hours to recalibrate after the events of the day. Have you ever awakened from a full night’s sleep and felt more tired than when you went to bed? Does it take you a long time to fall asleep or do you wake often during the night?  Sleep has emotionally charged phases that increase when you have more stress. A busy head while you’re awake can be carried over into sleep and decreases your body’s ability to rest. Natural hormone balance between cortisol and melatonin is also upset by stress resulting in early waking and sleep deprivation.

Pain

Stress decreases your body’s ability to rest and heal.  When everything is functioning properly, pain symptoms are minimal. When your system is overwhelmed, it can no longer manage or adapt as well to its environment. As stress levels increase, your ability to tolerate pain decreases, resulting in increased sensitivity to pain. While in an overwhelmed state, minor symptoms like headaches and back pain can become major problems.

Emotions

Often people say “but I don’t feel stressed”, however this is usually an inability to connect to how we are really feeling. Irritability, depression, tempers, impatience, crying, feeling overwhelmed – these are all indicators that you are under stress and you are responding to it emotionally.

5 Ways You Can Start to Manage Stress:

Nutrition

Eating slowly and mindfully is very important, and allows your digestive system to work efficiently. This means chewing every bite thoroughly and eating sitting down, without being distracted by reading or TV. Sit at your table, light a candle, and eat quietly. Then,go back to the television! Caffeine, alcohol and sugar create extra stress in the body without providing any nutrition. If you are very stressed, cut back on caffeine; enjoy organic green tea and herbal teas through the day instead of coffee and pop.  Avoid chips, chocolate bars, pastries and donuts. Keep healthy snacks like seasonal fruit and raw nuts and seeds at your desk to munch on. Vitamins may be helpful to aid your body in healing from stress. Naturopathic Doctor’s are the vitamin experts, and are trained in pharmacology, nutrition and botanical medicine to ensure your supplements are not causing interactions.

Sleep

Getting enough quality sleep every night is very important for allowing your body to heal from excessive stress. Set a regular bedtime and stick to it – within one hour – even on the weekends. Do not exercise vigorously for 2 hours before bedtime. Turn off the TV an hour before bedtime, and create a relaxing bedtime ritual so that your body knows it is time for sleep. Take a bath, have a cup of Valerian or Passionflower tea, read, stretch, or write in a journal about your day. Meditation or visualization CD’s are also great nighttime rituals and can help you maximize your down time.

Exercise

Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress. This does not need to be exhausting; a 30 minute walk every day can make a huge difference. Exercising with a friend or partner is the most successful way to go. Start a lunch-time walk at the office with a group of co-workers. Enlist your kids or partner in an after dinner walk every day. Not only will you feel more relaxed and sleep better, but you will enjoy valuable social or family time also. If you can, join the local YMCA or gym and take regular exercise classes as well. Pilates is fantastic for people who need an active body-based gentle strengthening. Yoga is great for people who like stretching and deep breathing exercise.

Replacing bad habits for good

We all know that smoking, drinking too much, drinking too much caffeine, snacking in front of the TV, not exercising, and not eating breakfast are all bad habits that we should probably do something about, but it can seem insurmountable to change. Make a commitment to yourself to do something positive and healthy in order to improve your health and well being. Decide to change just one bad habit at first. Take small steps, don’t try to do it all at once, and don’t go it alone. A Naturopathic Doctor can offer effective assistance in quitting smoking, reducing caffeine intake, or improving your diet for example.

Self care and emotional care

Often when we are feeling burned out by stress in our lives we are putting out more energy than we are taking in. This may come in the form of work or family demands, or worrying about money, the future, or relationship problems. The first thing to be dropped from a busy schedule is almost always you. Most of us do not prioritize any time for ourselves in a day – when was the last time you took an hour just for you? Remind yourself that you are worth caring for and deserve to be healthy. Take 30 minutes every day that is just for you – not for your partner, your children, your friend or your boss. Do something you enjoy that brings you happiness, like as a dance class, a massage, a walk on the beach, a bath with candles, time at the gym, a meditation CD, creative writing, tea and conversation with a close friend – anything that brings you joy. What makes you joyful?

Your heart and spirit require joyfulness to be healthy; if you find your life is lacking this crucial element, it may be time to take a hard look at where you are and what you want. And. Or, it may be time to see a Naturopathic Doctor and start using acupressure, botanical medicine, homeopathy, lifestyle counseling, and nutrition to improve your mental, physical and emotional wellness and better manage the inevitable stresses of modern life.

 

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Spring Green

The world around us still looks pale and meek, dressed in the browns and yellows of winter. But inside the seemingly dead fields and forests the secret stirrings of spring have begun. It is like this for us too. Creatures of midwinter, we have been hunkered down next to fires and under blankets, eating the comfort foods of winter. And inside our bodies the cravings for the fresh flushes of chartreuse and dark greens stir as well.

This is the time of year of the Liver in Chinese medicine, which is associated with all shades of green. We are moving from the elemental season of water into the season of wood. And so, we naturally start turning our palates towards green and woody foods. Asparagus and fiddleheads are the most delicate of spring greens, but all green leafy vegetables are beneficial at this time of year.

Types of dark green leafy vegetables:  

  • kale
  • chard
  • dandelion
  • rapini
  • broccoli

 

 

  • spinach
  • arugula
  • watercress
  • collards
  • beet greens
  • bok choy

Tips to remember with leafy greens:

  • You’ll absorb more nutrients from your vegetables if they are eaten with a little fat (if using flax seed oil for omega 3 add to your greens after cooking.)
  • Steaming is the best nutritional option for cooking vegetables.
  • Sautéeing or stir-frying your vegetables is another quick and easy method. When stir-frying, start with 1 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp water or broth. Frying with just oil causes the oil to burn and oxidize quickly, increasing free radical production and potential damage to your body when you ingest it. Adding water keeps the oil at a lower temperature so oxidation is reduced.
  • Coconut oil is the best oil to sautée vegetables in as it has a very high melting point so the above oxidation can be avoided even without water. It also adds a yummy light yet rich flavor.

Do you have trouble getting enough leafy greens into your day?

Here are a few suggestions to boost your daily intake. One serving is equivalent to: 1 cup raw greens, or 1/2 cup cooked greens. Aim for 3 servings of greens daily, 5 days a week in spring.

Remember variety is the key – don’t stop at just one vegetable at dinner. Include salad or steamed greens every day, and at lunch and dinner make sure there are 2 green vegetables on your plate at once.

  • Eat a small salad with eggs and toast
  • Add chopped fresh kale or swiss chard to pasta sauce
  • Pile baby spinach leaves and watercress on sandwiches
  • Sautée red or green chard in olive/coconut oil with onions/garlic
  • Steam mixed kale, chard and dandelion and serve with pesto
  • Bake rapini with eggplant in rich tomato sauce or in lasagna
  • Stir fry leafy greens with leftover rice with a sauce of vegetable stock, white wine and mirin (Japanese sweet brown rice condiment), and a little wheat free tamari
  • Top steamed vegetables with miso tahini sauce: Combine 2 tsp miso, 1 tbsp tahini, 2 tsp tamari and thin with hot water to make a sauce
  • Mix up your salads: use arugula, watercress, radicchio, shredded cabbage…. I like the Herb Spring Mix for more flavors.
  • Use your favorite salad dressing over steamed bok choy, collards and broccoli
  • Add warm steamed veggies, dried currants and toasted walnuts over any salad
  • Mix sesame oil, 1/4 cup orange juice and tamari with with 1 tsp cornstarch, and add to any greens stir fry. Serve over short grain Ludenberg brown rice.
  • Mix dash of olive oil, garlic, lots of chopped greens (and other veggies), a small can of plum tomatoes, basil and oregano, some crumbled feta or goat cheese, and black olives
  • Add arugula, diced raw peppers, celery, and red onions to a can of chick peas, with your favorite vinaigrette for a lunch or side dish
  • Add chopped tomato, any tender dark green leafy veggie like spinach or watercress, and asparagus to your scrambled eggs or omelet at breakfast
  • Veggie pizza – top a spelt (or other) crust with tomato sauce, and add a thick layer of kale, drizzle flavored olive oil, and top with mozzarella and goat cheese before baking
  • Instead of bread, eat hummus or other dips with raw broccoli
  • consider raw green smoothies for breakfast! Fruity, green and delicious. See www.rawfamily.com

Nutritional Benefits:

Dark Leafy Greens are high in fiber, which improves bowel health. The greens are rich in chlorophyll, which detoxifies your intestines. And, the spicy and bitter greens also improve digestive function by increasing the flow of digestive juices improving heartburn, constipation, gas and bloating. Broccoli,  kale and bok choy also improve the livers detoxification abilities, which creates a better hormonal balance and can ease PMS. During these next 3 months, consciously increase your leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables to get your own juices flowing, and feel your energy levels and digestive function spring into health!

 

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