Sunday, November 19, 2017

How to Repair and Rebuild the Gut

Take a second to think about the how hard our body works to keep us alive. It digests our food, keeps our heart beating, helps remove toxins, fights off invaders, keeps us breathingand that’s just to name a few jobs our body controls. Pretty amazing, right? When you think more about our digestive system, you can look at it quite simply as a long tube that extends from where we place our food to where we eliminate it. It has a job of utmost importance to our health and survival: to nourish and protect.

The health of your digestive system determines what nutrients are absorbed and what toxins, allergens and microbes are kept out. It is directly linked to the health of the entire body. Intestinal health is defined via the process of optimal digestion, absorption, and assimilation of the food we consume. This however relies on processes and factors within the body to all work together to allow this to take place.

It begins with the bugs that live in our guts. We are home to over 500 different species of microorganism that create their own ecosystemI like to think of it as a factoryto allow for our food to be digested, to regulate hormones, excrete toxins and produce vital nutrients. You may be thinking "Bugs? The bad ones?" Yes, we have those too, but what’s key is that the factory stays in balance and all the bugs are doing their correct jobs in the correct location. Too many bad bugs such as parasite/yeast and not enough of the good bugs such as the lactobacillus and good yeast can drastically damage your health and can cause disease such as leaky gut, arthritis, eczema and diabetes. Keeping these in balance is key to health.

Secondly, the gut houses a major filter system, filtering through all the toxins we come in contact with. It does this with a very thin filter which, if abused through consumption of processed foods and toxins, can actually separate and release toxins into the bloodstream causing systemic inflammation and intolerances.

Thirdly, the gut is the only human organ that functions without the help of your brain, and it’s got 100 million cells. In fact, the gut sends signals to the brain via the Vagus nerve, and you actually send more information from the gut to the brain, than from the brain to the gut. In other words, your brain is translating gut signals as emotions. It contributes to those very important happy feelings and interference can cause anxiety and depression. So, when someone says trust your gut, it might be worth doing.

Lastly, the digestive system’s job is to break down all the food we eat separating it into what will feed our body and what is waste. The body can only break down whole food to use as fuel, and anything refined or processed is classified as waste. If this process becomes impaired we no longer create fuel for our body, which causes us to become tired and ill and for inflammation to skyrocket.

Now we know what needs to work to keep our digestive tract healthy. What do we do if we suffer from digestive issues or any health concern for that matter? I am here to help you see the light at the end of the tunnel. The goal is to repair and rebuild.

How to repair the gut:
• Find the source - Nutrition response testing will help determine the root causes of any nutritional deficiencies your body may be suffering from and use whole food nutrition to help detox and rebuild.
• Prioritize relaxation - Finding ways to reduce your level of stress emotionally, physically and environmentally will reduce the inflammation on the body, allowing it to repair. You can use mediation, a favorite hobby or exercise.
• Reduce toxic exposure - Lower antibiotic use and other medications as these don't just destroy just the bad bugs but the whole factory, throwing the gut entirely out of balance.
• Alter your diet- Remove all highly-processed food, sugar, highly-refined carbohydrates and alcohol. This will take away a toxic load and allow the body to truly repair.

Now that we have found ways to reduce the stress and toxins in the body to create optimal digestive health there are many ways to rebuild and create an environment where the factory can start working again.

How to rebuild the gut:
• Fermented foods - Consuming ½ serving daily of fermented foods will help rebuild the good bacteria. Daily is key; similar to how you would take probiotics regularly to keep the good bugs happy, fermented foods should be consumed same way.
• The good starchy carbs - Sweet potato, plantains, and cassava are the best starchy carbs for our digestion. The good bugs love them and they won't spike your blood sugar.
Some favorites are sauerkraut (Hawthorne Valley), kimchi, kombucha, good quality kefir.
• Deep breathing - Digesting is a parasympathetic process, meaning we must be in a relaxed state for digestion to occur correctly. Taking 3 big deep breaths in and slowly releasing each time will help the body become relaxed. A prayer blessing your food can also help the body become more relaxed.
• Hydration - Staying hydrated is key to ensuring the nutrients are transported correctly throughout the body and that waste is eliminated.

Now you can look at your digestive system as your best friend. It’s easy to get caught up in how it sometimes isn’t working, causing us pain or discomfort, but understanding there is a way to help repair and rebuild this intricate friendship within will only help you see that the body truly wants to keep you happy and healthy on the outside too.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

What Kind of Grass-Fed Beef are you Eating?

The demand for grass-fed beef has been increasing yet a range of practices and labels and a lack of regulation persists. Labels can be confusing for sure and with regulations being questionable is it worth the extra price? Yes, but as the consumer we have to do our research.

Cows are indeed supposed to eat grass, not the genetically modified corn/soy/grain mixture that most farmers give them. One of the benefits of eating grass-fed beef is the significantly higher levels of omega-3s present in it. Depending on the breed of cow, grass-fed beef contains between 2 and 5 times more omega-3s than grain-fed beef. Grass-fed beef also contains significantly more of the antioxidants vitamin E, beta-carotene, glutathione, superoxide dismutase (SOD), and catalase than grain-fed beef. These antioxidants play an important role in protecting our cells from oxidation.  

Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) has potent antioxidant activity, and research indicates that it helps protect against heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Beef is one of the best dietary sources of CLA, and grass-fed beef contains an average of 2 to 3 times more CLA than grain-fed beef. This is because grain-based diets reduce the pH of the digestive system in ruminant animals, which inhibits the growth of the bacterium that produces CLA. It’s interesting to note that as a whole, Americans consume far less CLA than people from countries such as Australia, where grass-fed beef tends to be the rule rather than the exception.

So now that you know all the health benefits of eating grass-fed and are ready to spend the extra money to do so you need to know exactly what is meant by the label “grass-fed”. And is all grass-fed beef the same?

According to rancher and the author of Defending Beef, Nicolette Hahn Niman, “On average, the cattle in the U.S. that is going through feedlots is slaughtered at 14-16 months. They do grow fatter and faster if they’re being fed grain, so they’re going into feedlots at younger ages to shorten that time as much as possible." In contrast, grass-fed cows are slaughtered anywhere between 18-36 months.

“When you keep cattle on grass their whole lives, and truly have them forage for a diet that their bodies have evolved to eat, you allow them to grow at a slower pace,” says Niman. Not surprisingly, caring for the animal for so long can be expensive for ranchers and consumers.

Marilyn Noble of the American Grassfed Association argues that beef producers have little incentive to stick with those rules. “You see a lot of beef labeled as ‘grass-fed,’ but whether or not it actually meets that standard is questionable."

Noble’s skepticism is rooted in the fact that, for the most part, the USDA allows producers to determine whether or not their beef meets the grass-fed beef marketing claim standard. Noble says farms “self-certify” their own beef, and the Food Safety and Inspection Service generally goes along with their claim.

Unless also labeled organic, it’s perfectly permissible for grass-fed cows to be given antibiotics to prevent infection and synthetic hormones to promote faster growth. Also, it's important for your grass-fed meat to be labeled organic because otherwise the grass they are eating is probably being treated with herbicides and fertilizers on a pretty consistent basis.

So what are we to do? We, the consumers who want to know if our extra dollars are getting the extra healthy meat. Farmers’ markets with farmers offering organic and grass-fed beef from their own pastures may be the safest way to go. In this way we can talk directly to farmers to find out how their beef was raised.

Many of these producers have begun using the term “pasture raised,” another unregulated labeling term that is popular among ranchers raising pigs and chickens. The other week I bought pasture raised bacon from the farmer's market and when reading the ingredients was surprised to see nitrates on the label. I assumed that the farmer's goal was healthy meat. That if he was caring enough to raise pasture pigs that he would not then poison the consumer with nitrates. So ask questions and read labels! There’s nothing worse than spending extra money on fancy labels and empty promises. Most small, local farms know and understand this and are more than willing to go above and beyond to reassure their customers of the natural, ethical, and sustainable nature of their farming practices.

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Healing Power of Alignment

The purpose of chiropractic medicine is to support the alignment of the body so that nerve flow is optimal from the brain to the rest of the body. If the joints are misaligned then the nerves and even blood flow is compromised. Muscles that attach to the joints are then pulling at compromising angles and can cause tightness and pain. Without proper nerve flow impulses to muscles and organs are limited so muscle injury and organ dysfunction can happen. Signs of such organ dysfunction can be headaches, acid reflux, stomach or intestinal pain, erectile dysfunction and more.

When working with patients I use both chiropractic medicine and design clinical nutrition programs using muscle testing. Sometimes patients just need a nutrition program, sometimes they only need chiropractic, but more often than not at some point during their healing program both tools are needed to reach optimal health.

Chiropractors got into nutrition work because starting in the 1940s they weren't getting as good of results as they were in the early 1900s. They knew they weren't worse doctors but what used to take 5 office visits for a patient to get optimal relief was now taking 12 visits. Why were people not holding their adjustments? Why were they slower to heal? The answer is toxins. A toxin in the body that the nervous system saw as a noxious stimulus that would keep irritating the body so the body couldn't do what it was meant to do. The body is meant to heal.

Around World War II is when canned food and more sugar entered the grocery stores and I think ever since then food became more and more processed to the point of the majority of food on the shelves of a grocery store is no longer food but products. The body could not digest these products that well and inflammation ensued causing healing to be slower.

Inflammation is the culprit and so whether I use chiropractic medicine or nutrition the goal is to remove the inflammation so the body can heal. Without the right nutrition the body cannot produce healthy cells and without the right alignment nerve and blood flow will not bring the right impulses or nutrition to all parts of the body.
There are ways to muscle test when a symptom is more of a nutritional deficiency or a structural misalignment. So next time you are in the office let us know of your health concern and we can help differentiate which care is best for you!