Gluten Free Living

How to Eat Gluten Free

 Gluten Free is the new Vegetarian – almost every grocery store now has gluten free breads and products in their freezer sections, and crackers and baking mixes in the  aisles. Websites abound on not only celiac disease resources (a disease caused by severe gluten allergy) but on gluten free recipes, resources, and restaurants in almost any geographical area.

So, what is all the hype? Why go gluten free, and why are so many people changing their diets? The bottom line is that gluten sensitivity begins with the immune system of the digestive tract becoming hypersensitive to gluten proteins. The body creates antibodies to the sequence of amino acids, which enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body. Whenever these antibodies see that same sequence (which is repeated as a small part of many tissues of the body exposed to blood i.e. thyroid, joints, brain, lungs, skin) they attack that tissue as if it was gluten. This creates “auto” or “self” antibodies, which are then produced in greater and greater numbers and cause disease.

Therefore, gluten has been linked to autoimmune diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimotos thyroid disease and multiple sclerosis. These are end stage conditions that develop years after smaller warning signals such as headaches, digestive disturbance, asthma, allergies, psoriasis, alopecia, insomnia and various “undiagnosible” ailments. Sometimes eliminating the offending foods or doing testing to assess your body’s immune response is the only way to assess if food is an underlying factor in your ill health.

Gluten is a protein that is found in the following Grains:

  • Wheat
  • Rye
  • Barley
  • Kamut
  • Spelt
  • Oats is technically gluten free but very often contaminated in manufacturing.

Therefore, people with a gluten sensitivity or allergy cannot eat any of these grains, or products that contain them such as soy sauce, gravy, doritos or other gluten based products. Oats are technically not a gluten containing grain, but should be avoided unless it states “gluten free” on the package.

Non Gluten Grains which can be eaten by people with gluten allergies include:

  • amaranth: highly nutritious, tiny seeds available whole or as a
  • rice: including brown and white rice, Arborio, basmati and rice flour
  • corn: including cornmeal, cornstarch and corn flour
  • millet: small seeds, eaten whole or combined with other gluten-free flours
  • quinoa: small seeds that can be eaten whole, as a hot cereal or ground into flour
  • buckwheat: used whole, cracked or ground into flour
  • oats: gluten free oats and oat bran
  • tapioca: made from cassava root, often combine with gluten-free flours
  • teff: very small black grain, contains symbiotic yeast
  • arrowroot: a starch used as a thickener, superior to cornstarch, blends well with gluten-free flours

Potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, and other starchy vegetables can also generally be enjoyed by those who are gluten free.

For the most thorough information on gluten allergy, see http://www.thedr.com./store.html and order Unlocking The Mysteries of Wheat and Gluten Intolerance for yourself. Dr. Tom DC offers eloquent and thorough evidence based information on why it is worth at least trying gluten free living for one month and then reassess.

Many people have a wheat sensitivity or allergy, but can tolerate other gluten grains like spelt and kamut. Some people with a wheat, but not gluten sensitivity will later develop a gluten sensitivity. Corn, potato, dairy and/or soy sensitivities are also common in addition to gluten. For this reason, it is best to start your food eliminations by eliminating all of the above products, and slowly reintroducing each gluten grain as well as corn, potatoes, and soy separately to judge your individual reactions.

AVOID FOR GLUTEN -FREE SHOPPING:

  • look for labels that say – wheat (or whole wheat) flour, wheat germ, bran, farina, graham flour, semolina, gluten, modified food starch, wheat starch, vegetable starch, vegetable gum
  • Pastas – spaghetti, vermicelli, macaroni…..
  • Soups – commercially canned
  • Desserts – most contain wheat – so read carefully
  • Cereals and breads – as with desserts – read labels carefully
  • It’s probably best to go to health food store in order to find alternatives. Most breads, bagels, wraps, pizza doughs, etc are kept in the freezer sections
  • For persons allergic to wheat, but not to gluten, you can use flour substitutes such as spelt or kamut (these are the most similar to wheat); rye, oats and barley can also be eaten.

TIPS FOR A GLUTEN-FREE DIET:

  • focus on protein, vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats like avocado 
  • Lots of delicious gluten free options abound: Tray various  pasta, breads, crackers, etc until you find what your taste buds prefer.
  • Avoid any food that contains wheat, barley, rye, oats – as well as spelt and kamut. Also, remember that gluten can be found in most processed foods, including soups, sauces, gravies, and of course in breads, cereals, and desserts.
  • 40% of people allergic to gluten are also allergic to soy and/or corn – which are often found in “gluten-free” breads, etc.
  • READ LABELS on everything the first few months to find hidden sources of gluten.

Eating Out and Travelling:

Most cream based soups and chowders are made with a gluten base. Boone’s in Portland has a gluten free chowder, bisque, crab cakes etc if you are craving those.

It is pretty easy being gluten free in restaurants once you get the hang of it. Focus on protein and vegetables, fancy salads and avoid gravies, pasta, gnocchi and sandwiches. If you are craving a burger, ordering it without the bun is pretty standard in today’s low carb world. Steak and arugula salad is always a good choice.

Sadly, fried treats are out the window like calamari, fried clams, fish and chips… once it gets battered it is almost always a wheat base. French fries are also often battered. Best to ask ahead of time instead of getting a delicious plate of inedible fries. Frontier restaurant in Brunswick has delicious GF fish and chips, and rice flour calamari.  Not cheap but delicious!

Fish options and mussels or raw oysters rarely have gluten unless they are fried or pan fried. Eating fish at home with rice and salad is a great nutritious option too.

Some places have gluten free sandwich bread but most places don’t. In a pinch on the road, subway will make a “chopped salad” which is basically a sub in lettuce/salad. Planning your food and having fruit, yogurts, nuts & seeds or trail mix, protein bars, and even leftovers or sandwiches on GF bread you make yourself before you leave become important while travelling.

What else? Gluten free breads and crackers abound.  I personally like Millet breads the best – available in Whole Foods GF freezer section. Rice breads tend to be very dense and gummy, but are the most common across the board. Mary’s Gone Crackers are the best GF crackers, followed by Nut Thins and Glutino brand. Glutino also makes a great pretzel. Rice cakes can have a bad reputation but are a quick tasty snack and great vehicle for dips, cheese, avocado and almond butter.

Sweets: Lots of gluten free cookies and treats are available! Any ice cream or candy without “cookie dough” or brownies or cones is usually GF. Many coffee places have at least one GF option. Flourless chocolate torte, chocolate mousse, crème brule or pannacotta are restaurant dessert options that are usually safe.

 

Tips for Gluten-Free Baking

FLOUR

GOOD TO KNOW

Equivalent to 1 Cup of Wheat Flour
 

Amaranth Flour

 

-best combined with other flours that  have more cohesion (arrowroot, tapioca, bean)

-add to baked goods, pancakes/waffle recipes

 

1 cup

 

Arrowroot Starch

 

-add 1tbsp to an equal parts of cold water before adding to dishes as a thickener

-combines well with gluten-free flours to give them cohesion

 

1/2 cup

 

Bean Flour

 can be gassy. Often used in Paleo cooking.  

3/4 cup

 

Buckwheat Flour

 

-makes a dark, heavy bread

-use with rice flour

 

7/8 cup (1 cup minus 2 tbsp)

 

Chestnut Flour

 

-used to sweeten baked goods

-adds lightness and creaminess

-use alone or mix w/ other flours

 

Chickpea Flour

 

-too dense and rich to use on its own

 

7/8 cup (1 cup minus 2 tbsp)

 

Cornmeal

 

-makes a light bread

-mix with equal parts of cold water before adding as a thickener

-best combined with small amounts of other flours

-stone ground is more nutritious

 

1 cup

 

Cornstarch

 

thickener

 

3/4 cup

1 cup corn flour

 

Millet Flour

 

-always combine with other flours

 

1 cup

 

     Potato Flour/Starch

 

-best combined with other flours

thickener

 

5/8 cup flour

3/4 cup starch

 

Quinoa Flour

 

-best combined w/ other flours. May have a beany taste.

 

Rice Flour

 can be grainy, does not rise.  

7/8 cup

(1 cup minus 2 tbsp)

 

Soy Flour

    -makes bread or baked goods more moist and smooth

-best if add small amounts to other flours

-u       -use only 20% soy flour in recipe, decrease temperature by 25 degrees

 

 

3/4 cup

 

Tapioca Starch

 

-thins if reheated

-combines well with gluten flours to give them cohesion, thickener

 

1 cup

 

Teff Flour

 

-do not add to yeast breads because it has its own symbiotic yeast

 

Flour Combinations: equivalent to 1 cup of white or whole wheat flour

1 cup soy flour + 1/4 cup potato starch

1/2 cup soy flour + 1/2 cup potato starch

5/8 cup rice flour + 1/3 cup potato flour

1/2 cup corn starch + 1/2 cup rice/potato flour

1/2 cup arrowroot + 1/2 cup potato flour

For 2 cups of flour good for baking cookies:

1 cup of brown rice flour + ½ cup of tapioca rice flour + ½ cup white rice flour + 1 tsp of xanthan gum.

Namaste company also makes a “Perfect Flour” gluten free mix of flours that you can buy and use with any recipe. Makes cookies really easy!! They also have a great pancake mix if you love pancakes.

Tips for substituting wheat flour:

  • do not be concerned if batter appear thinner than wheat batters, this is common
  • add 1/2 tsp baking powder per cup of substitute flour; add just before cooking because it loses its potency when mixed with liquid and allowed to sit
  • refrigerating dough 1/2 hour helps improve texture
  • do not bake anything thicker than 4 inches
  • when baking, lower the temperature a little
  • baking time is usually longer, especially if egg or milk is eliminated from the recipe
  • experiment with your options – buy small quantities from a bulk food store and make half recipes first

For thickening, the following quantities equal 1tbsp of wheat flour:

*Arrowroot 1 tbsp = 2 tbsp wheat flour

*Corn starch 1 tbsp

*Potato flour/starch 1/2 tbsp

*Rice flour 1/2 tbsp

*Tapioca flour 1/2 tbsp – my favorite

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Fertility is the New Holy Grail

Resolve to know more about the underling factors affecting conception and alternative family possibilities. * This article was originally written for the February 2015 Digital Issue of Essential Living Maine*

I had two stepmothers who were infertile for various reasons, and have an adopted baby brother. Several of my close friends and family member have used IVF to conceive, and I have my eggs cryopreserved. A few of my good friends have fostered and adopted, and others have intentionally chosen childfree lives. As lesbian and gay marriage has normalized, and divorce rates have climbed, more and more alternative families are being created using sperm banks, surrogates, egg donors, known sperm donors and more. The quest for fertility is all around us, and has been for the past 30 years in ever-increasing numbers.

The Internet has an enormous amount of information available on this topic, as the World Wide Web offers an enormous cross cultural support network for women trying to conceive (#TTC.) Infertility is usually a silent disease without any visible disability associated; however, it draws deeply on the mind/body and soul in underground ways that cannot be explained to those who do not have to undergo its trails and tribulations. Thus, the web is a great way to connect, share information, and do research while maintaining public anonymity.

220px-Sangreal-1Integrative Medicine is key to enhancing fertility. Integrative Medicine combines the best of modern medicine (reproductive technology) with time-honored complementary and alternative medicines (botanical therapies, clinical nutrition, homeopathy, acupuncture, and stress management support.) The quest to get pregnant (and stay pregnant!) has been a calling of doctors and midwives since the beginning of time and across all cultures.

After ten years of fertility specialization, here are my Top Ten Integrative Medicine Fertility Fundamentals to know about when mapping your journey:

  1. First, while on oral contraceptive pills, rings, or IUD’s and for at least 6 months coming off them, it is important to supplement with a good quality multivitamin that contains at least 10-20mg of all of the B vitamins, magnesium, vitamin C, and 800mg folic acid. These are depleted by synthetic estrogens, and a deficiency can cause long term fertility issues down the road.
  1. If you have a family hx of miscarriage, have had a miscarriage yourself, or have any anemia or high homocysteine on lab work, you may want to test for a genetic defect called MTHFR that leads to a folic acid absorption issue. http://www.apothecarybydesign.com/blog/archives/332
  1. DHEA is a fat-soluble antioxidant and hormone precursor produced by the adrenal glands. DHEA is also a key player in egg health, showing improved embryo quality and higher live birth rates than controls. Studies have used 75 mg of DHEA daily. 1 DHEA supplementation also evidenced higher rates of spontaneous pregnancies in long-term poor responders to IVF in another study using 25 mg three times per day. 2 DHEA supplementation slows the aging process by preventing lipid oxidation while improving energy and metabolism.
  1. CoQ10 is imperative to egg health. Egg division from 46 to 23 chromosomes requires effective mitochondrial function. 3. It has been suggested that mitochondrial DNA defects that effect metabolic capacity may be a cause of failure in egg maturation, fertilization, or early embryonic development. 4. Aged eggs have decreased mitochondrial energy which can result in deficient energy to divide properly resulting in Downs’s syndrome and other genetic anomalies. All women over 30 who are still considering pregnancy should be on 100mg of ubiquinol daily to maintain efficient mitochondrial activity.
  1. Test your hormones early, and keep testing every few years for an objective measurement of fertility reserves. Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) levels must be tested on day 3 of the menstrual cycle with Anti Mullerian Levels (AMH) levels before beginning fertility protocols. FSH reflects the relationship between the ovaries and pituitary and higher levels indicate perimenopause and poor ovarian function. Therefore, levels of FSH under 10 are best. AMH is also called the “egg timer” as it gives an accurate level of the follicular reserves of the ovaries. AMH levels do not fluctuate throughout a cycle and can be tested at any time. Serum AMH levels decline throughout ones reproductive life cycle, and are undetectable after menopause; therefore, higher levels are more desirable.
  1. Don’t wait too long to consider IVF. If you have been #TTC for more than 9 months and have not become pregnant with regular, timed inseminations, IUI’s or intercourse, make appointments with a fertility clinic and an Integrative fertility specialist. Having a Plan B will decrease stress, and it takes time to consider the financial and medical burdens associated with reproductive technology. However, it is worth it to have that baby in your arms! If IVF is needed, committing to the process earlier in your fertility journey can increase your chances for that #BFP (Big Fat Positive) on your first attempt.
  1. Don’t forget the men! At least 30% of infertility is male factor. Too often one half of the couple is doing everything possible (yoga, clean eating, no caffeine, no alcohol, meditation, support group, acupuncture, etc) while the other half is the root cause of the issue. Getting a sperm analysis is one of the first steps in a fertility evaluation, and can bypass months of angst from non-conception.
  1. Sperm need fertility enhancing supplements too! Omega 3 fats, 15 mg zinc, and stress busting herbs like Maca or Ashwaganda will improve sperm health, tonify libido and boost fertility.
  1. Have your thyroid hormones including TSH, Free T3 and Free T4 and your progesterone levels tested. Low thyroid function leads to low progesterone, which leads to frequent miscarriage in a classic vicious cycle. Some Endocrinologists and Family Docs may have conservative opinions on these levels and may use outdated reference ranges or be unwilling to test for Free T3. Consulting an Integrative Medicine Doc, Naturopathic Doctor or anti-aging Hormone Doctor may give you more information about optimizing your hormone levels rather than operating at a subclinical deficiency.
  1. Consider alternatives to the traditional nuclear family. There are many beautiful babies who want safe, stable, loving homes and need fostering and adoption. I know three amazing families of beautiful fostered babies! There are also women able and willing to carry babies to create families that are not their own. While a biological birth is what we are taught to dream for, this is not the answer for some. Infertility is tragic and real for people who have always assumed they would be able to birth when they are ready. Allow your self to grieve as a couple, but do not close the door on other options even if they seem inconceivable at first.

On another note, childfree living also has many blessings. Our culture is slowly shifting away from the definition of having a (nuclear) family as the ultimate success. Childfree living allows for a more relaxed and abundant lifestyle with more freedom, ability to travel, and heightened romance for a couple. We are an overpopulated planet, and I know from my life, having an auntie that is invested and involved in my life is incredibly valuable. Here are many ways to be a part of a family, and each version needs to be recognized as equally valuable and important!

I could keep typing another ten set of treatments supports, and probably another ten after that,  I am so passionate about fertility! However, as I said earlier the Internet is a rich resource. Some other articles I have written on the topic include:

I wish each of you success on your Holy Grail of Fertility. May your journey connect you to your own Divine nature as you experience one of the great, uncontrollable mysteries of life: Conception!

References

  1. Addition of Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) for poor-responder patients before and during IVF treatment improves the pregnancy rate: a randomized prospective study. Hum Reprod.  2010; 25(10): 2496-500Accessed September 13 2013
  1. Leonidas mamas, Eudoxia Mamas. Dehydroepiandrosterone supplementation in assisted reproduction: rationale and results. Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology 2009, 21:306-308.
  1. David Meldrum, MD. Aging gonads, glands, and gametes: immutable or partially reversible changes? Fertility and Sterility 2013; 99:1-4.
  1. The use of mitochondrial nutrients to improve the outcome of infertility treatment in older patients. Fertility and Sterility 2010; 93:272-5.

To book an appointment:

http://www.agemanagementcenter.com/contact-amc/  or call 207-774-1356

Clinical Practice:

www.agemanagementcenter.com

www.facebook.com/AgeManagementCenter

For more information about Infertility see:

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LGB Trans HRT ~ New Program, Fresh Vision, New You

imagesWIDJJQD2The flame of Trans* Health has been burning steadily brighter in my life over the past 3 years. I was keen on the practice while still living and working in Toronto, ON but without a scope of prescribing hormones, my work with the Trans* community was peripheral medicine – acupuncture, restoration of transman fertility, anxiety support etc. I continued to take trainings in the hormone and lab protocols to better understand the medical aspects of transition, without the vision of guiding transition myself.

Once I moved to Maine in 2011, my scope of practice as a ND changed. Naturopathic Doctors have different abilities to prescribe and order diagnostic lab work in each state and province. Most of the west coast states plus British Columbia have full prescribing rights, can do IV therapies, and can act like primary care docs for their patients. In the more conservative middle North America and east coast, Vermont and New Hampshire are the only states/provinces with a full scope of practice. However, for me, from Ontario, the ability to prescribe most hormones and antibiotics was a big change of pace!

I mentored and practice with Dr. Michael Bedecs, an Osteopathic Doctor specializing in hormone therapies for the past  3 years. Under his guidance (plus several conferences on trans health, anti-aging and hormone optimization) I have come to better understand the intricacies of the endocrine system, and how they interrelate through reproductive, thyroid, adrenal, pancreatic and pituitary pathways. All this time, my brain has been making subtle connections in Trans* health, drawing pathways to hormonal optimization the bridges the cultural and gender fluidity required with treating the LGBT community with medical advancements in metabolism, subclinical hypothyroidism, fertility, adrenal exhaustion, cortisol excess, insulin resistance and more.

Dr. Bedecs and I have created a new program called LBGT HRT that includes the dynamic possibilities of gender and hormone variation, bioidentical hormone replacement, transsexual transition and transgender health. We will be offering this through our concierge style practice at Age Management Center in Portland, Maine.

Age Management Center is a cash based practice. We do not accept any insurance plans for visits, medication or laboratory services. Some patients are able to pay for our services through Health Savings Accounts, or get third party reimbursement. Working outside of insurance allows us to provide a standard of care far above  the norm. We offer blood work here in our clinic, at physician pricing. Because we are not limited by the current scope of insurance, we are able to test for and evaluate metabolic parameters that are essential to our complete understanding of hormonal health and wellness.  We spend an average of 90 minutes for first visits, and offer a free 30 minute consult before any commitment is required. Furthermore, within our framework of concierge medicine, each visit is not priced and ticketed; rather, the ongoing support of our doctors, nurses and medical staff is included in the program, allowing you unlimited access for questions, concerns, and follow up until your program is fine tuned and ship shape.

We know this style of medicine is not accessible for all members of the LGB and Trans community. Therefore, I created a monthly sliding scale clinic at Justice in The Body the first Monday of each month from 9am – 12pm to meet the needs of the lower income members of the gender queer and Trans* community here in Portland, Maine, and beyond. This clinic is limited in that a prescribing MD, NP or DO is still required to Rx the Testosterone for FTM and Spironolactone or Cyproterone for MTF; however, I am able to order lab work through insurance in Maine and can work with your prescriber to optimize current hormone protocols and work on supporting the Integrative aspects of general health and wellness that come with transitioning. Many of my patients at the Trans* Health Clinic have been fully transitioned, and we are working on other aspects of preventative medicine and optimized health through the lens of Trans* medicine. I am currently working on expanding the scope of the JITB Trans * Health Clinic by finding a prescriber to work directly with us in house. Stay Tuned!

Follow me on Twitter for Trans* Health @LGBTHRT

Follow me on Facebook for monthly updates about the Trans Health Clinic at JITB

Note: Trans* is a new-ish term. The asterisk denotes that the term is encompassing the entire transgender, transsexual and gender fluid spectrum of individuals without having to write all of that every time.

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The Lost Art

I am sick in an invisible way that people cant really see, and I don’t really feel – much. I can take a pill and make it mostly unnoticeable. Except for the fact that my hair falls out in handfuls with a certain kind of stress…

I consider myself an expert in self-care. And yet, I can hardly find the time to do the “little” things that I know could help. Like, nettle hair rinses, getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night, taking my fish oil, and eating more protein. Instead, I keep myself too busy and dull myself with things that make me feel better for a few hours, but never in the long run. I have fallen into the mindlessness of  modern health care where I want a pill to do the work of healing for me. Dammit!

We all have levels of health maintenance we are willing to do on a regular basis. Vitamins, exercise, water, organics, therapy, whatever. We each have a certain degree of self care required to maintain the status quo of daily function. But, what happens when that balance is tipped and we need to actually recover from an illness, injury, or accident?

I offer you an invitation to step off the rat wheel of everyday living, and create a luminal space for healing. A luminal space is an anthropology term that refers to a period of time “outside of time” – a step out of everyday living. Some health crisis force this through body fluid effluvia that ties one to the bathroom, or physical disability that prevents mobility. Too often we are able to power through a cold, or anxiety attack or injury and do not engage in the art of self care to allow actual healing. This is what snowballs into chronic illness / disease or chronic pain.

I have been “sick” for at least 9 months, but I haven’t made more than a few half-hearted efforts to engage in deep self care. I have taken lots of prescriptions and had lots of blood tests, but is that truly healing medicine? I finally broke my baby toe last week, and have been suddenly forced to slow down by immobility. I am doing hydrotherapy, making castor oil packs, cooking and eating good food, meditating, saying no to social engagements I don’t deeply want to do, and getting sleep. These are some of the cornerstones of deep self care.

It is very difficult to give ones self approval to close the door on society and expectations and family, and friends, and chores, and domestic duties, and distractions, and choose to do something solely for the self instead. We are culturally programmed to take care of business, pleasure, family, kids, dogs, and our homes before we take care of the inner self. If you are sick, at any level, you will heal faster, and better if you take the time to practice deep medicine by taking the time to take care of your self.

I am here to help you do that. And, I give myself permission to offer that same wisdom and practice for my self. The pills and the maintenance are not enough. We must engage the luminal, lost art of deep self care for complete health and healing.

 

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Keeping the Pace – Part 2

Maintaining Adrenal Health


Proper adrenal supplementation is as personalized as your causes of stress. The way the body adapts to stress can take many forms, and the best treatments will reflect your individual constellation of symptoms. However, everyone has some levels of adrenal fatigue just from the life we live, and daily generic supplementation will assist your body in maintaining adrenal health.  Healthy adrenal glands are like rich ripe plums, sitting atop our kidneys, playing key notes in our endocrine orchestra. Stress and exhaustion can cause them to become dried up and shriveled like prunes, which sequentially affects all the other players of our hormone system. Nourishing your adrenals and caring for them will help keep your entire hormone system playing smooth and true.

So, what products are best for you? The endocrine system includes a diverse set of very important glands including pituitary, thyroid, pancreas, adrenals and ovaries. This system often triangulates in function, and it is very rare to have a solo organ problem. Therefore, when choosing adrenal supplementation the rest of the endocrine system is also assessed in best practice treatment. Nourishment is multifactoral and includes vitamins to restore deficiencies caused by stress and botanical medicine to restore glandular function. This assessment is best done by a licensed professional who has had training in natural medications, contraindications, pharmaceutical interactions and adverse reactions.

Generally – an adrenal supplement taken daily will include Vitamin B5 and Vitamin C, both required for adrenal function. Rhodiola is a botanical that increases endurance and mental focus. In Russian army trials it proved to improve responses to stress – the typical dose is 150-300mg. Holy Basil is a lovely botanical that helps the body to regulate cortisol’s relationship to blood sugar; therefore,  it may be helpful for emotional binge eaters.  It has just come out a tea called Tulsi Tea. Relora is also a patented neutraceutical that has evidence based studies supporting its ability to re-regulate cortisol to normal diurnal patterns. It can also help reduce abdominal adiposity related to stress. My favorite general adrenal supplement for (US) long-term use is Vitanica’s Adrenal Assist – 3 capsules daily, which contains several of the above-mentioned products and more. In Canada, I like CanPrev’s Adrenal Thyroid Pro. Please note – if you are taking medications especially cardiac or blood pressure medications there is a potential for multiple interactions with these products, please seek advice from a Naturopathic Doctor or other professional trained in pharmaceutical-herbal interactions.

Adrenal Supplementation is a multi million-dollar industry as modern culture whips us into looking 15 years younger and doing the work of 3!  There are many approaches to restoring adrenal health, and new products available on a daily basis. One can be very scientific about adrenal disease, approach it from an energetic perspective, or start from somewhere in between.  Adrenal restoration is best done with a medical practitioner whether it’s a Naturopathic, Osteopathic or Allopathic Physician. Chiropractors are often trained in prescriptions for endocrine health, as are Nutritionists, Herbalists and Nurse Practitioners. Even some Pharmacists have jumped on the bandwagon. There is no Right answer or best practice that has been established, so finding someone with good credentials, experience and an approach to wellness you resonate with is the best place to start.

Depending on your state of health, laboratory testing may or may not be recommended. Salivary Hormone Testing of the hormone cortisol is a common place to start. This can be done as a single assessment or a 4-point panel reflecting an entire day. The 4-point is a more thorough and accurate assessment of daily cortisol activity. (Cortisol is pumped out by the adrenal gland in response to stress along with epinephrine and norepinephrine.) An entire endocrine panel including pituitary, thyroid and reproductive hormones can also be done for a good quality snapshot of the whole hormone system. Salivary testing is not required, but it is helpful to tailor an accurate treatment plan. However, a good practitioner will be able to read signs and symptoms of adrenal dysfunction from the initial interview, and will be able to do a differential diagnosis of whether or not there is thyroid involvement present. Therefore, laboratory testing is not always required. Bloodwork may also be suggested to assess whether the adrenal diseases Cushings and Addisons need to be ruled out.

Treatment of adrenal fatigue and endocrine dysfunction is a long slow process. Prescribed herbs and vitamins will need to be taken for a minimum of 3 months, and often over a 6-9 month period. This is especially true for women as the female reproductive hormones change weekly over a four-week period, so rebalancing can require several cycles for a noticeable response.

 

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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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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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Optimizing Diet For Radioactive Protection

Complimentary Medicine Radio-Protective Guidelines: How to protect your body from radiation.

The Japan Nuclear Crisis brought nuclear radiation poisoning back into the forefront of our consumer minds, as much to our dismay the whole world watched the reactors teeter on the edge of implosion. Iodine was handed out to the local inhabitants like tic tacs as people did what they could to protect their lives. The imminent crisis has passed, but local foods were poisoned, and radiation leaked into the Pacific Ocean, a world food source. Everyone on the planet will be affected by this disaster.

Nuclear radiation is an ongoing concern, with effects that can takes months, years, and centuries to clear. Nutritionally protecting our genes (for our next generations) and our cells (for our well being) is even more of a priority than ever before.Using these supplements and treatment principals you can diminish the effects of all kinds of radiation – nuclear and xray – and protect your health. It is well known than radioactive iodine has an affinity for the ovaries and the thyroid. Radioactive iodine 131 (from nuclear plant emissions, x-rays, and radiotherapy) is very readily absorbed. Ensuring adequate natural iodine from food sources can and will prevent the radioactive iodine from binding to these sensitive organs and from the potentially harmful genetic effects down the road.

Iodine: There is evidence based research that Iodine has a radioprotective effect. It prevents the assimilation of radioactive iodine at a cellular level. It has also been shown to reduce the effects of renal calculi, improve thyroid function, be a factor in fetal development, and influence fibrocystic breast disease.

REQUIRED MINIMUM DOSAGE:

• Adults 150 mcg day
• Children 90-120 mcg /day
• Pregnancy 220 mcg/day
• Breastfeeding 290 mcg/day

Dietary sources of Iodine:

SEAWEEDS
Kelp 3400 mcg 1 tsp
Arame 730 mcg 1 Tbs
Wakame 80 mcg 1 Tbs
Nori 32 mcg 1 sheet

FISH
Cod 341 mcg 3 ounces
Shrimp 79 mcg 3 ounces
Halibut 56 mcg 3 ounces
Herring 56 mcg 3 ounces
Sardines 30 mcg 3 ounces
Tuna 17 mcg 3 ounces

SALT
Iodized salt 76mcg  1 tsp

DAIRY
Cow’s milk (US) 56 mcg 1 cup
Mozzarella cheese 10 mcg 1 ounce
Yogurt 87 mcg 1 cup

OTHER FOODS
Turkey breast 34 mcg 3 ounces
Strawberries 12 mcg 1 cup
Egg 23 mcg 1egg

SUPPLEMENTS
Iodoral TM 12,000 mcg 1 tab
Lugol’s TM 5% 6250 mcg Per drop
Typical multi vitamin 150 mcg Per serving

VEGETABLES

Organic iodine is found in low levels in swiss chard, turnip greens, wild garlic and onions, watercress, squash, mustard greens, watermelon, cucumber, spinach, asparagus, kale,  citrus, and pineapple.

Inorganic iodine in salt can act as local irritant causing dyspepsia, indigestion, and decreased ability to assimilate food.  Therefore, table salt as a poor food source of Iodine. There is a loss of balance between sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium with inorganic iodine use.

Sea vegetables contain all 56 minerals in addition to iodine. They are 25% protein and 2% fat, and rich sources of magnesium, iron,  and sodium. Seaweeds contain beta-carotene, B1, B5, B12, niacin, vitamin E, vitamin C, selenium and traces of vitamin D, and help to dissolve fat and mucus deposits.

  • Mild sea veggies are dulse, kombu, and arame.
  • Strong sea veggies are kelp, wakame, and hijiki

Sodium alginate is also found to be radioprotective which is also found in seaweed. This compound is used in heavy metal detoxification as it is very absorptive and aids the body in eliminating toxic compounds. Sodium Alginate:

  • Chelates Strontium 90 from bone tissue
  • Permits calcium to be available for the body
  • Brown kelp (hijiki, arame, and kombu) chelates strontium and iron
  • Red kelp (dulse) chelates plutonium
  • Green kelp chlates cesium
  • SA may cause constipation if formed into fruit gelatin

Other beneficial foods for radiation protection:

Green Tea: Camellia Sinensis may have the ability to protect cells at a microbiological level from gamma ray radiation. More research is needed.

Bee pollen: Dose: 20g or 2 tbsp three times per day. This has unclear research behind it; however, it is a traditional superfood for vitality.

  • Rejuvenates body and enhances vitality
  • It is not an allergen
  • Decreases side effects of radium and cobalt-60 radiotherapy
  • Develops a stronger immune response
  • Add to juice, soup, water, smoothies, yogurt; but do not cook

Fermented foods: miso, tempeh, tamari, shoyu, pickles, sourkraut, yogurt.

  • Stimulates the production of friendly intestinal bacteria improving immune health. It is thought that the regular consumption of Miso in Japan culture helped people recover from the Hiroshima nuclear attack although little research has been done.
  • There is some evidence that it is the soy isoflavones that are protective elements on a traditional Japanese diet. 

6. Nutritional yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisae:) take with calcium and magnesium (nutritional yeast is high in phosphate)

  • 3 tbsp daily
  • 50% protein and 18 minerals including trace minerals and Selenium.
  • Prevents oxidation of vitamin E
  • Radioprotective effects on DNA and RNA
  • Binds and absorbs uranium, lead, mercury, carbon monoxide, DDT, nitrates, nitrites.
  • Assists liver to detoxify blood
  • Side effects: gas/flatulence, start at < 1 tsp with water or juice on an empty stomach, may experience temporary itching/flushing.

Contraindications: Gout. Nutritional yeast is high in nucleic acids which are converted to purines. Do not use Brewers/Torula yeast (contain by-products)

Garlic: 1-2 cloves daily or 2 capsules of kyolic garlic

  • Cysteine – binds and deactivates radioactive isotopes, cadmium, lead, and mercury
  • Sulpher and cysteine helps liver and kidney detoxify the body

Chlorophyll:

  • Decreases radiation toxicity
  • Found in broccoli, green cabbage, alfalfa, leafy greens, celery, parsley, sprouts, edible grass, sunflower greens, spirulina and chlorella 

Botanical medicine for radioprotection:

There is a long list of botanicals suggested to treat radiation poisoning; however, other than calendula topically for radiation burns, they all only have traditional or historical use rather than evidence based studies. Keep in mind, that doing clinical studies on radiation poisoning using complementary medicine may be ethically difficult at best, and historical or traditional use may in fact be the best measure of success available.

The choice of botanical medicines to use is best under the supervision of a Master Herbalist or Naturopathic Doctor educated in the pharmacological use of herbal medicine, especially if in conjunction with multiple medications.

Nutrition Essentials for Radiation Protection:

Whole grains: 40% of daily intake, 2-3 servings.

Vegetables: 25% of daily intake, 3-4 servings per day. Choose vegetables rich in calcium and chlorophyll such as collards, parsley, kale.Beets are also highly nutritive as they assist in rebuilding hemoglobin after exposure to radiation.

Beans and Legumes: 2-7% of daily intake, 1 serving

Sea veggies: 3% – 3 ounces per day

Fruit: 5% of daily intake. Choose fruits high in antioxidants – blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, dark cherries, apricots, pomegranates, mangoes.

Concentrated protein: 30% good quality organic non-GMO protiens

Recipes for Nutritional Excellence

Green Chlorophyll Drink: See www.rawfamily.com for inspiring recipes and videos for fresh greens smoothies!

Use any combination of parsley, celery, spinach, collards, turnip greens, chard, leaf or romaine lettuce, kale, endive, watercress, peeled cucumber, green cabbage, alfalfa sprouts, sprouted sunflower seeds, sprouted clover seeds, or edible wheatgrass. Wash greens. Blend with water and equal amounts of fresh fruit. Can add a small amount of chopped carrot or beet. Makes 2 smoothies.

Health drink

in 8 oz green smoothie fresh, raw apple juice add:

1 tbsp primary grown nutritional yeast; 1 tbsp lecithin; 1.5 tbsp chlorella or spirulina; 2-3 tsp honey; 1 tbsp bee pollen; 1-2 tbsp carob powder; nutmeg, cinnamon, banana

Blend and drink hot or cold. I recommend taking 600mg calcium citrate and 300mg magnesium citrate alongside.

The Protector!

Mix: 1 tbsp primary grown nutritional yeast + 1 tbsp lecithin in organic apple juice.

Prevention Smoothie

Blend: Fruit such as banana, mango, pineapple, papaya, pear or ¼ cup fresh berrie; 1 tbsp bee pollen; ¼ cup organic goat or sheep yoghurt; ¼ cup organic sunflower seeds; 1 cup raw apple juice; 1 cup filtered water; ¼ cup carob powder; 2 tsp cinnamon; 1 oz chlorophyll juice; 1 tsp pure vanilla extract; 1 raw egg yolk; honey to taste

ADD: 1/2 tsp liquid extract of Siberian ginseng; 1 tsp powdered or liquid extract Panax ginseng; 1 tsp powdered dulse or kelp (kelp preferred for sodium alginate and iodine)

Add vitamins such as 600mg calcium citrate, 300mg magnesium citrate, 20 000 units vitamin A, 4000 units vitamin D, and/or 400 units vitamin E

References
Medical Nutrition from Marz 2nd edition. Russell Marz ND MAcOP C 1999

Omni Pennington JAT, Schoen SA, Salmon GD, Young B, Johnson RD, Marts RW. Composition of core foods of the U.S. food supply, 1982-1991. III. Copper, manganese, selenium, iodine. J Food Comp Anal. 1995;8:171-217.

Teas, J., Pino, S., Critchley, A., Braverman, L.E., 2004. Variability of iodine content in common commercially available edible seaweeds. Thyroid 14, 836–841.

http://zrtdocsblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/got-iodine-how-to-get-enough-iodine.html

AhmadIU, Forman JD, Sarkar FH, et al. Soy isoflavones in conjunction with radiationtherapy in patients with prostate cancer. NutrCancer. 2010;62(7):996-1000.

www.nationalstandard.com/database/herbssupplements

Sterilization and protection of protein in combinations of Camellia sinensis green tea extract and gamma irradiation.Detail Only Available (eng; includes abstract) By Saloua KS, Salah K, Nasreddine B, Samia A, Mouldi S, Ahmed L, International Journal Of Biological Macromolecules [Int J Biol Macromol], ISSN: 1879-0003, 2011 Apr 1; Vol. 48 (3), pp. 452-8; PMID: 21238480

www.optimox.com

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