Natural Means Nuthin’

Every Sunday, I go to the Mueller’s Farmers Market for my weekly food run. There, among the Sunday sounds from a local band, the food demonstrations and the beautiful Mueller lake, I get to talk directly to the farmers who raise my meat and grow my produce. It’s an amazing luxury I have to be five minutes away from this vast local food extravaganza. I still go to the grocery store and last week we had to get some staples.  When I walked in I saw a rotisserie chicken with the words NATURAL stamped across the top. I thought back to the early development of my obsession with food and how I thought I was doing well when purchasing ‘natural’ foods.

Naturally (pun intended), I began to do my research about this particular label among the others like organic, free-range, grass-fed, etc. What did natural mean?  What I found was concerning.  I always though if it said natural, it had to be healthy and clean. Only meat and poultry have rules from the FDA and the USDA regarding the definition of natural, but they’re not very strict. This means if you buy natural chicken the only regulation is that it is free of artificial or synthetic products. Unfortunately, it does not tell you about how the meat was cared for, raised, or what it was fed. Then once you leave the meat and poultry category, it’s a total free for all. Your big sellers, corporate food companies can put natural on their sodas or their potatoes and it means absolutely nothing. A certain pop company has a natural soda product, which has natural high fructose corn syrup and natural sugar cane extract, and natural flavoring, which could be strychnine, for all we know, but they’re all natural.

So because the companies who run this labeling business is so big, there really isn’t much in fighting, but rather educating yourself with labels, as well as any other part of the food that you’re putting into your precious body, like ingredients, how food is raised, growing techniques, how it’s handled, genetically modified . We’re constantly inundated with information and news about what to eat and what not to eat, but in the end I always encourage you to find what is right and best for you and your particular biology, physiology, mind and spirit. The more you know, the more informed decisions you can make. This is just another way of being mindful and empowering yourself to take control of your health through reading, researching and asking questions. It’s your body, you get to choose, choose wisely!

What Is This Local Eating Craze All About?

About six years ago, I went to my first farmers market in downtown Austin. It was replete with locally-raised veggies and fruit, grass-fed meats and poultry along with homemade pastas and jams. I had never really given much thought to food and where it came from, so I asked lots of questions. What can you tell me about these eggs? Are the chickens well treated? Why is this carrot so small compared to the ones in the grocery store? Why is it important I buy these beets from you instead of the grocery store? I spent a lot of time getting answers I didn’t fully comprehend, but over the years and definitely now with my food as medicine passion, the answers make much more sense now. The reasons for eating local are multi-factorial, but what it comes down to is that it tastes better, its better for you, its better for your community and its better for the planet.

An article from Health Central discussed the reasons for people with diabetes to eat locally sourced food. The foods that we get from locally farmers have a higher nutrient content and are therefore more beneficial for people with weaker immune systems.

Here are 5 reasons eating locally makes sense for your health and your community from Clemson University:

1. Freshness. Local fruits and vegetables are usually harvested and sold more quickly so they do not contain the
preservatives that are added to products shipped long distances and placed in storage.
2. Taste. Produce that is ripened on the vine has better texture and flavor than produce harvested unripe, then treated
with chemicals and ripened during shipping.
3. Nutrition. Nutritional value declines — often drastically — as time passes after harvesting.
4. Improving the local economy. When you buy homegrown food, you circulate your food dollars inside the local
area.
5. Strengthening producer/consumer relations. When purchasing food locally, consumers can ask how the product
was grown and processed, what chemicals (if any) were used, and any other questions they may have. People tend
to trust individuals they know, and they become repeat buyers.

http://www.clemson.edu/extension/county/horry/documents/local_fact_sheet.pdf

http://www.healthcentral.com/diabetes/c/17/1635/eating-locally/

WTW? (What The Wheat?)

If you know me well or have seen me in the clinic, you know that I never suggest or subscribe to a one size fits all mentality for myself or my patients. I actually can’t stand when media highlights the latest ‘magic bullet’ or ‘miracle diet’ that will fix all ailments related to your heart, brain, and belly. This doesn’t exist. If you go on a 10-day detox and eliminate all possible allergens but still think negative thoughts and stay up late watching brain draining reality shows or stress-inducing news, your hard work is futile.

So naturally when gluten-free became a fad, I was skeptical. My friend cut gluten from her diet after taking a food allergy test and her results were significant. She lost weight, had less brain fog, more energy, looked younger, better labs and was just overall healthier. That was about five years ago. She sticks to her guns and feels better than she has in years.

Since then, so much has come out about gluten-free, grain-free, paleo, ideal protein, etc. Here’s what I know: Archeologists found teeth prior to introduction of grains that did not have tooth decay. That the number of chromosomes that make up wheat have increased over the centuries. That anecdotally if you remove carbohydrates in form of grains from people with diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease and cancer, they feel better, have more energy, get improved lab results and often reverse a few of those diseases. Grains do breakdown into seemingly indigestible sugars and sugars, we know, are the devil. Like I’ve said before, sugars light up the same part of the brain that heroin and cocaine do.  We also know that cancer cells have 10 times the number of insulin receptors (insulin is produced in response to sugar in our body) in comparison to healthy cells.

There is so much out there it’s really hard to keep up. But here is the thing, I don’t want you to keep up. If you want to be healthy, you have to listen to your body and stop depending on me or a pill to fix how you feel. If you have joint pain but don’t have osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis or any other lab/x-ray diagnosable disease, try cutting grains from your diet. Maybe apply some Panaway essential oil or take a long 45-minute walk in nature.

What are some symptoms/disease that may be caused by grains?

GI issues: constipation (yes though you’ve been taught the opposite), diarrhea, bloating, gas

Brain issues: mood changes, depression, anxiety, brain fog, ADD, ADHD, schizophrenia hallucinations, numbness and tingling in extremities

Skin issues: eczema, acne, abscesses or recurrent skin infections

Musculoskeletal: joint pain, muscle pain, back pain

So if you want to figure out if grains are the culprit for some of your symptoms or part of your disease, try a grain-free challenge. Check out these blogs for some step-by-step instructions or go online and create your own. Let me know what you find!

http://deliciouslyorganic.net/category/index-categories/30-day-grain-free-challenge/

http://realfoodforager.com/5-reasons-for-my-28-day-grain-free-challenge/

 

¿Qué hay con el trigo?

Si me conocen bien, o si me han visto en la clínica, entonces saben que yo no doy sugerencias  ni me adhiero a la mentalidad que cualquier cosa que surge es buena para mí o para mis pacientes. Yo personalmente detesto cuando algo se promueve como un “elixir mágico” o una dieta milagros que va a aliviar un sinnúmero de enfermedades relacionadas al corazón, al cerebro, o a la barriga.  Eso no existe.  Si ustedes se embarcan en un régimen de 10 días para desintoxicarse y eliminan todas las posibles sustancias que causan alergias pero continúan albergando pensamientos negativos y se desvelan mirando programas basados en la vida real o mirando las noticias que les causan estrés, entonces su trabajo será en vano.

Consecuentemente, cuando surge la moda de comidas sin gluten, yo me sentí escéptica, pero al ver a una amiga que eliminó el gluten de su dieta después de haberse hecho unos exámenes para descubrir sus alergias, vi que los resultados eran significativos; ella perdió peso, sintió mayor claridad cerebral, más energía, lucía más joven, sus exámenes de laboratorio eran mejores y se sintió más saludable en general. De eso hace como cinco  años y ella continúa con su dieta sintiéndose mejor que nunca.

Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Essential Oils and Health

Thank you to Amanda Queen, PA-C for this guest post. It couldn’t have come at a better time. More and more I find myself googling essential oils for sore throat, pain management, pimples or colds and keep learning that the benefits are endless! Here is her explanation of these wondrous natural drops of magnificence!

Essential Oils

What are essential oils?

Essential oils are highly concentrated aromatic compounds from plants. A wide variety of different essential oils are available, and may be produced from seeds, bark, leaves, flowers, roots or peels of some fruits. Essential oils are more than just scents though – they can provide many therapeutic benefits.

What kinds of things can you use essential oils for?

Anything really! Oils can be beneficial to anyone, for a variety of physical and mental health complaints as well as for general wellness. Some of the most common uses for oils include skin conditions such as acne and eczema, pain complaints, cold/flu symptoms, anxiety or depressed mood, promoting relaxing and relieving stress.

How are essential oils used?

Oils can be used topically, diffused into the air, and some oils can be ingested. Oils can also be used for making personal care and cleaning products. In general when used topically oils should be diluted with a carrier oil such as coconut oil, almond oil, olive oil or jojoba. Use the same quality of oils that you can cook with and consume, as the oils are absorbed through your skin. If diffused it is best to use an ultrasonic diffuser that does not use any heat as this can destroy many of the therapeutic properties of the oil. Take particular care with ingestion of essential oils. If you are not well versed in aromatherapy suggest consulting with someone that is prior to ingestion of oils. In particular be very careful about the brand you choose to ingest as oils are not regulated and many are contaminated with chemicals, pesticides or synthetics.

Are there any safety precautions for oils?

In general oils should be diluted. There are some exceptions to this rule. Oils should generally not be used for babies less than 6 months of age, with the exception of a diffuser in the general area of an infant which is considered acceptable.

Certain oils should be avoid for those with seizure disorders: Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus), Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis), Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), Sage (Salvia officinalis), Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), Thuja (Thuya occidentalis), Wormwood (Artemesia absinthium)

The following should be avoided or used with expert consultation during pregnancy or breastfeeding: aniseed, basil, birch, calamus, camphor, cassia, cinnamon bark, hyssop, Idaho tansy, jasmine, lavandin, mugwort, parsley, pennyroyal, rosemary, sage, tansy, tarragon, thuja, thyme, wintergreen, wormwood. Use the following oils with caution: angelica, cedarwood, chamomile (German/blue), cistus, citronella, clary sage, clove bud, cumin (Black), cypress, davana, fennel, bay laurel, marjoram, mountain savory, myrrh, nutmeg, peppermint, rose, spearmint, vetiver, yarrow. Peppermint on the abdomen should be avoided during pregnancy.

Great! Where can I get oils?

Please be careful, do your research, and find a company that you can trust. Oils are not created equally! There is a wide range of prices for essential oils. Quality and purity vary greatly. Unfortunately “100%
pure” on a label does not necessarily mean the oil is really pure. Consider how the oils are distilled – steam distillation or cold-pressed are preferred. Many of the cheaper brands obtain oils by solvent extraction, using chemicals to obtain the compounds. These types of oils should never be ingested and I wouldn’t recommend using them topically either. My personal favorite and what I choose to use for my family is Young Living Essential Oils.

If you dig this stuff as much as I do, follow Amanda on her blog: http://amandasapothecary.blogspot.com/

 

Le doy las gracias a Amanda Queen, PA-C por esta contribución, que ha llegado en un tiempo muy oportuno ya que con mayor frecuencia busco los aceites esenciales para tratar el dolor de garganta, el manejo del dolor, el acné, o los catarros.  Sigo descubriendo que sus muchos usos y beneficios no tienen fin.  En seguida les detallo los beneficios de esas magnificas gotas de la naturaleza.

Aceites esenciales

¿Qué son los aceites esenciales?

Los aceites esenciales son un alto concentrado aromático que proviene de las plantas.  Existe una amplia variedad de aceites esenciales que pueden extraerse de las cortezas, hojas, flores, raíces, o membranas  de las plantas o algunas frutas.  Los aceites esenciales son mucho más que aromas –  puesto que estos proveen muchos beneficios terapéuticos

¿Qué clase de condiciones de salud pueden tratarse con los aceites esenciales?

En realidad, ¡cualquier condición! Los aceites pueden ser benéficos para cualquier persona y para padecimientos físicos o mentales al igual que para alcanzar un bienestar general.  Algunos de los usos más comunes de los aceites incluye padecimientos de la piel tal como el acné y el eczema, dolores, síntomas del catarro o la influenza, malestares como la depresión y la ansiedad o para aliviar el estrés y promover un estado de relajamiento.

¿Cómo se usan los aceites esenciales?

Los aceites se pueden aplicar tópicamente, atomizados por el aire usando un difusor de aromas, o en algunos casos ingiriéndolos.  También se pueden usar para crear  productos de cuidado personal o de limpieza.  En general cuando se usan tópicamente, se deben diluir en  algún medio tal como el aceite de coco, almendra, oliva o jojoba.  Se usan  solamente los aceites de calidad con los que se cocina o se consumen ya que se absorben a través de la piel.  Cuando se van a esparcir  en el aire es mejor usar un difusor ultrasónico que no use calor porque se pueden destruir  las propiedades terapéuticas de los aceites. Hay que tener especial cuidado cuando se trata de ingerir los aceites esenciales y se debe hacer solamente si se tiene suficiente conocimiento de las propiedades del aceite en cuestión. Si no se sabe mucho sobre la aromaterapia, sugerimos  consulten a personas versadas en el tema antes de ingerir cualquier aceite, y se debe tener mayor cuidado sobre la marca que se use y asegurarse que no ha sido contaminada con sustancias químicas, pesticidas o sustancias sintéticas.

¿Se deben tomar medidas de precaución antes de usar los aceites?

Como regla general, los aceites se deben de diluir, pero existen  excepciones a la regla.  Los aceites no se deben usar o aplicar a bebés menores de seis meses a menos que se usen en un difusor de aromas en el área general que se considere aceptable para un infante.

Ciertos aceites deben ser evitados por las personas que padecen de ataques: el aceite de Eucalipto  (Eucalyptus globulus), el aceite de hinojo (Foeniculum vulgare), el aceite de hisopo (Hyssopus officinalis), el aceite de menta (Mentha pulegium), el aceite de romero (Rosmarinus officinalis), aceite de salvia (Salvia officinalis), aceite de tanaceto (Tanacetum vulgare), aceite de tuya (Thuya occidentalis), y aceite de artmisa (Artemesia absinthium)

Los siguientes aceites de deben de evitar durante el embarazo o la lactancia, o usarles si son recomendados por una persona experta en su uso:  anís, albahaca, abedul, cálamo, alcanfor, casia, canela en rama, hisopo, tanaceto de Idaho tanaceto, jazmín,  lavanda, artemisa, perejil, menta, romero,  salvia,  estragón, tuya,  tomillo, ajenjo. Los aceites que siguen se deben usar con precaución : angélica, cedro, manzanilla (German/blue),  cidra, salvia, clavo, comino (Negro), ciprés, hinojo, hoja de laurel, mejorana, mirra, nuez moscada, yerbabuena, rosa, menta, geranio, milenrama. Se debe evitar frotarse con aceite de menta durante el embarazo.

¡Estupendo! Donde puedo conseguir los aceites?

Se debe tener mucho cuidado e investigar cuidadosamente y solamente comprarlos de las compañías en que se pueda confiar.  No todos los aceites son producidos con la misma calidad.  Hay una gran diferencias en los precios de los aceites esenciales y su calidad y pureza varían grandemente. Desafortunadamente,  el que se liste en la etiqueta que son  “100% puros” no significa que los aceites sean puros.  Se debe considerar como se han destilado los aceites y se prefiere que sean extraídos con vapor o presados en frio.  Muchas de las marcas más baratas obtienen los aceites usando solventes o sustancias químicas para extraerlos.  Estos tipos de aceite nunca deben ser ingeridos y no se recomienda que se usen aplicándolos tópicamente.   Los favoritos que la autora del articulo usa para ella y su familia son de la marca Young Living Esencial Oils.

Si a ustedes les gusta usar los aceites esenciales, pueden seguir a Amanda en su blog:  http://amandasapothecary.blogspot.com/

Tumeric Tea

For about a decade now, I have read about the numerous benefits of Tumeric. My momma gave it to my pops early in his Alzheimer’s disease process and I believe it slowed the progression of his disease.  Another study, showed cervical cancer cells lyse after exposing them to Tumeric in a petrie dish. Multiple studies have shown that curcumin can reduce the growth of cancerous cells in the laboratory and inhibit the growth of tumours in test animals (1).

Now, just like everything else, this is not a magic bullet, but a supplement to help with certain diseases, discomforts, signs and symptoms. Some of the benefits of Tumeric include:

anti-inflammatory

antioxidant

boost of brain function

lowers risk of brain disease

helps with heart disease

prevent certain cancers

help in treatment of cancer

helps in depression

joint pain like arthritis

anti-aging

I received this tea recipe from a wise Kundalini dude. I’ve had clients try the tea and feel joint relief instantly. Thank you to CSK and 101 cookbooks!

Turmeric tends to stain anything it comes into contact with, so be careful.

1/3 cup / 80 ml good, raw honey
2 1/2 teaspoons dried turmeric
lemon
lots of freshly ground black pepper

Work the turmeric into the honey until it forms a paste. You can keep this on hand, in a jar, for whenever you’d like a cup.

For each cup of tea, place a heaping teaspoon of the turmeric paste in the bottom of a mug. Pour hot (but not boiling water) into the mug, and stir well to dissolve the turmeric paste. Add a big squeeze of juice from a lemon, and a good amount of black pepper. Enjoy! Stir now and then as you drink so all the good stuff doesn’t settle to the bottom, or top off with more hot water as you drink it.

101 Cookbooks http://www.101cookbooks.com/

1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18462866

Image courtesy of artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Fed UP!

My beautiful patients are always telling me that they don’t understand why their blood sugars are so high when they don’t eat sugar. This is usually because sugar is a hidden devil. It’s found in most anything that we buy pre-packaged, canned, bagged, and bottled.

Here are the top sources of sugar:

– Canned fruit

– Ice cream and coffee drinks

– Ketchup, chocolate sauce, salad dressing

– Cereals, oatmeal, cereal bars

– Spreads, jams, preserves, dried fruit

– Cookies, cakes, bread

– Drink powders, rehydrating drinks, sodas

There is a new documentary called Fed Up that discusses our serious addiction to sugar. It’s not our fault. It’s the food industry that has used this highly addictive substance to sell their food.

Here is the trailer:

http://fedupmovie.com/#/page/home

Fed UP!

Mis hermosos pacientes siempre me dicen que no entienden porque se azúcar en la sangre esta tan elevada puesto que ellos no consumen azúcar.  Eso se debe a que el azúcar en un demonio escondido ya que se encuentra en casi todo lo que compramos pre-empacado, enlatado, embotellado, o puesto en bolsas.

Este listado expone las fuentes principales de azúcar:

– Fruta enlatada o embotellada

– Helado y bebidas de café

– Catsup, jarabe de chocolate, alinos para la ensalada

– Cereales, avena instantánea, barras de cereal

– Conservas, jaleas, mermeladas, frutas secas

– Galletas, pasteles, pan

– Bebidas en polvo, bebidas rehidratantes, sodas

Hay un nuevo documental llamado Fed Up que detalla nuestra adicción al azúcar, no es nuestra culpa ya que la industria de la comida ha usado esta sustancia altamente adictiva para vender sus productos.

Aquí se encuentra el corto: http://fedupmovie.com/#/page/home

Olive Oil Spill

The NY Times posted a very easy to understand explanation of olive oil. This goes back to what I preach about always questioning everything you put in your body and place on your skin. Life may seem difficult enough already without having to focus on these seemingly small details, but just being a conscious consumer can be the first step to a truly happier, healthier life.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/01/24/opinion/food-chains-extra-virgin-suicide.html?_r=0

Image courtesy of Suat Eman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net