January 20, 2017

The Heavy Metal You Can’t Live Without!

Making Lots of Energy Naturally

by Christopher Allison

Today we’ll be talking about a nutrient that is the pillar and strength of virtually every chemical and metabolic process in our bodies. It’s often low and its importance is frequently overlooked. This nutrient will dictate whether your body works efficiently and you have enough energy. If it is lower than optimal, literally nothing in your body will work well.

I’m talking about a precious metal that is often the cause of:

iron energy-2This nutrient is actually a metal. It is iron. Many have heard the saying, “You need iron to feel well.” And yet, in my practice many people come to me with low iron levels and they still don’t supplement. Low iron is a major stumbling block to health as it is necessary for life, energy and well-being.

What many don’t realize is “WHY” this metal is so vitally important to our overall well-being.

What Does Iron Do?

Iron is responsible for carrying oxygen around your body. It supports the energy cycle of every living cell including your brain, muscles, endocrine system and immune system.

Oxygen is core to your cellular energy. If we have less iron, we carry less oxygen. If we have less oxygen, we make less energy. And without the energy you need nothing will work optimally and your body’s ability to regulate and rebuild itself is compromised.

But getting enough iron may be a bit more complicated than eating your veggies or taking an iron supplement. Of course eating your veggies and taking an iron supplement will help, but it is also a good idea to ask the very important question, “Why is my body not getting enough iron?”

Being Able to Absorb Iron

In order to fully digest your food, you need to make sure you’ve got adequate stomach acid. Stomach acid micronizes the food into small enough particles to liberate the minerals from inside the cellulose of the veggies or protein from the animals.

If you are on medications that block stomach acid, this will severely limit the ability of your body to extract iron and many other vital nutrients as well. After passing through the stomach, the pancreas is then triggered to release those important enzymes that further the digestive process.

Digestion, or effectively taking food and making it into energy and tissue, takes a lot of your body’s resources.

If you are under stress, your body’s resources will be funneled away from digestion and toward the fight or flight response.

This is another reason to live life in peace, particularly while eating. Take a moment, breathe, slow your mind and bring your awareness to the moment. Then your digestive tract will be more responsive to digestion and you’ll get the nutrients you need.

Losing Too Much Iron Each Month

If you are a woman and your menstrual cycle is heavy, you may be losing more iron every month than you are able to reabsorb through your diet. For many women, a heavy menstrual cycle is related to hormone imbalance. Therefore, it would be important to make sure everything that influences hormones is in balance.

That would include the stress hormones epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol along with insulin. Once these stressors are stabilized, the menstrual cycle regains its hormone balance.

Of course, all women lose a certain amount of iron every month while menstruating. The key is maintaining a healthy hormone balance and a normal menstrual flow to not lose too much iron.

What if you eat in peace, chew your food thoroughly, take no stomach-acid-lowering medications and have healthy cycles, yet your iron is still low?

In that case, we want to take a look at any potential inflammatory issues in your digestive tract.

Inflammation and Iron Absorption

As it turns out, over the last 30 to 40 years, commercial agriculture has considerably altered our food. There are chemicals sprayed on our food and genetically modified into our food.

This means modern agriculture has not only introduced new and unhealthy chemicals that challenge our intestinal flora, but many of these compounds are bound to the structure of the food itself.

The job of your immune system is to protect you from dangerous things. It detects the chemicals bound to your food and decides to attack them as foreign invaders.

This attack can lead to cortisol and blood sugar swings, as well as inflammation.

This inflammation can lead to something called leaky gut. A leaky gut allows toxic chemicals to enter the bloodstream from the digestive tract. At the same time, the inflammation reduces the absorption of nutrients like iron you desperately need from your food.

The Good News

Fortunately, your body is designed to find a healthy equilibrium. It is up to you to provide the opportunity for your body to do that.

In the case of dietary iron, it takes good digestion, absorption, controlling stress and hormonal balance, low inflammation and eating enough of the foods that have iron in them.

When that isn’t enough or if you would like to supplement until these other issues are taken care of, it’s a good idea to supplement with easy-to-digest and bioavailable iron.

Of course, you can also get iron from the foods you eat. Some of the foods that are classically the highest in iron are:

  • Foods Highest in IronRed meat
  • Liver
  • Pork
  • Poultry
  • Seafood
  • Beans
  • Dark green leafy vegetables, such as:
    • Spinach
    • Beet greens
    • Dandelion greens
    • Collards
    • Kale
    • Chard
  • Dried fruit, such as raisins, apricots and prunes
  • Molasses

In supplemental form, iron bisglycinate is the easiest on the stomach and is therefore nicknamed “Gentle iron.” You can increase absorption by taking it with vitamin C. Supplemental iron dosage starts from 10 mg and up to 50 mg per day (if you are really low).

Too Much of a Good Thing?

With everything iron can do for you it may seem that everyone should take it. But with all its goodness, some people may accumulate too much iron.

There is a condition called, “hemochromatosis.” In these cases, as iron stores to extreme, it causes toxicity and free radical damage.

It is easy to check your iron with your doctor. A simple blood test will do.

How Much Iron Should We Have?

As we learn more about nutritional optimization, there are doctors who consider some ranges in the blood to be too wide. They may consider the low side of normal to be not quite good enough. These doctors would suggest that you maintain levels that are close to the center of your blood test.

The goal is to have enough iron to efficiently carry the oxygen to your tissue, but not so much that you create too many free radicals and tissue damage.

To keep your immune system and muscles strong, your blood healthy, enjoy eating iron-rich foods. If you’re experiencing some of the symptoms listed above, it’s a good idea to have your iron level checked. And try to determine the cause of your low iron. Finally, to be on the safe side, ask for a blood test before supplementing.

 

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 Christopher AllisonChris Allison DOM is formally trained as a Doctor of Oriental Medicine and is licensed as an Acupuncturist. His love of helping people took him into Functional Medicine, Hormone Balancing, Neurochemistry and Endocrinology. As a young adult he learned the interaction between our mind, body and spirit and teaches how they are all interconnected and influence the experiences we have in life. With the diverse training Chris has, he can take complex symptom patterns and explain in easy to understand terms just what is going on and how to rebalance in a way that takes care of the core reasons we feel the way we do. Many people who have been to numerous MD’s and holistic practitioners are able to finally get the answers they need to become balanced and fit again.

 

 

Food Sensitivities: A Hidden Epidemic

by Amanda Box, N.D.

Your body is trying to tell you something. It is screaming out in pain or discomfort, but you continue to misinterpret its cries for help. You blame your body as being dysfunctional and run-down. Perhaps you sought help and your doctor diagnosed you with one of these ailments:

  • Heartburn
  • Arthritis
  • Colitis
  • IBS
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • ADD/ADHD

Unfortunately, you and your doctor may be blind to the association between what you’re eating and what you are feeling. You may have the manifestations of your doctor’s diagnosis, but underneath these manifestations lies the real culprit: a food sensitivity that is wreaking havoc on your body and your health.

Food sensitivities are nothing short of a silent epidemic. Both their elusiveness in manifestations and the fact that mainstream medicine rarely acknowledges their existence, leave many people without a remedy. Food sensitivities differ from food allergies and, unfortunately, there is no foolproof diagnostic tool available.

Identifying a food sensitivity is based primarily on symptoms, with a bit of trial and error. The plus side is that unlike food allergies, treatment is much more effective and far less harmful than pharmaceutical drugs that are designed to suppress symptoms. Food sensitivities can be CURED! Yes, that is right! If you’re suffering from manifestations caused by hidden food sensitivity, you can get your life back!

Food Sensitivities vs. Food Allergies

Often the terms food sensitivity and food allergy get interchanged. It is important to know that these are two separate conditions and although they may share some similarities, they are not interchangeable. Distinguishing between a food sensitivity (also referred to as a food intolerance) and a food allergy is important in determining both the cause and treatment.

Food allergies are far less common than food sensitivities, but are typically much more serious. A food allergy can often be diagnosed via blood tests or a skin prick test.  Diagnosis is important as many food allergies can be life threatening. If anaphylactic shock is triggered, then it can cause death in a matter of minutes without medical intervention.

In the case of food allergies, it often only takes a miniscule amount of the offending food in order to trigger the immune system. Symptoms are often immediate, although some less severe food allergies can have a delayed response. Severe diarrhea, vomiting, hives, swelling, and tingling inside the mouth are typical signs of a food allergy.

Food allergies are caused by a direct response by the immune system. Food sensitivities, on the other hand, can be either immune mediated or triggered by other means. For example, lactose intolerance is not a food allergy. It is an intolerance, or sensitivity, caused by a lack of the enzyme lactase in the body.

Food sensitivities are often not as volatile as food allergies. Sometimes a small amount of the offending food can be eaten without any manifestation of symptoms. However, most foods that cause food sensitivities are common foods that we eat daily, if not several times a day. Symptoms of food sensitivities are far more ambiguous than food allergies. This is because you cannot truly determine what part of your body is going to fall victim to a food sensitivity reaction.

Food Sensitivity Symptoms

The reason I call food sensitivities a hidden epidemic is because their manifestations can often look like other disorders. Food sensitivities, like food allergies, can cause severe digestive issues like bloating and diarrhea. However, food sensitivities have many other manifestations that you wouldn’t typically attribute to food consumption.

Some of the most common symptoms of food sensitivities include:

  • food sensitivities symptoms_5Tachycardia and other heart irregularities
  • Skin issues (such as eczema, psoriasis, acne, or rashes)
  • Sinusitis
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Depression
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Candida
  • Arthritis
  • Constipation
  • Post nasal drip or excess mucus
  • Chronic headaches

This list goes on and it would literally take several pages if I listed all the possible symptoms of food sensitivities. This being said, you should never rule out a food sensitivity as the underlying root cause of an ailment. Before enduring invasive treatments, tests, and pharmaceutical drugs, take a good long look at what you eat. The remedy to your ailment could be as simple as eliminating a food from your diet!

So, how does a food sensitivity cause symptoms outside the confines of the gut?  The majority of people with food sensitivities have something called “Leaky Gut Syndrome.” Leaky gut syndrome can result from overuse of antibiotics, consumption of GMO foods, chronic stress, or inflammation.

When someone has leaky gut syndrome their intestinal wall has been damaged and become permeable, allowing food particles to pass through into the bloodstream.  Therefore, with food sensitivities, the reaction you have isn’t necessarily manifested in the gut as it is in intestinal diseases like Celiac, Crohn’s, and ulcerative colitis. Leaky gut allows tiny food particles to float around in your body until they reach your brain or are detected by the immune system. Once your immune system is alerted, it causes an inflammatory response in your joints or elsewhere. Gliadin peptides from gluten are an example of how food outside the confines of the intestinal tract can affect our body. If gliadin peptides pass through the mucosal wall, then they can cause a variety of reactions throughout the body including:

  • Thyroiditis
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Depression and/or anxiety
  • Arthritis

Gliadin peptides can also stimulate opiate receptors in the brain stimulating an actual craving for more. Does this sound familiar? Most people with food sensitivities actually crave the food they are sensitive to and this is one of the reasons why!

At-Home Sensitivity Tests

Although there are companies that offer saliva or blood work for food sensitivity testing, these tests aren’t always very accurate. They can often show a negative result when a food sensitivity is in fact present. However, there is another method for testing sensitivity at home that is quite simple and will cost you absolutely nothing.[am4show guest_error=’noaccess’]

The Elimination Diet

Virtually any food can cause a sensitivity; however, there are several foods that are much more common food intolerances. It is best to begin by eliminating these foods all at once and introduce them back one at a time when testing for sensitivity.

Elimination Diet Foods_2Eliminate these foods for a minimum of 7-15 days:

  1. All grains (exception is rice)
  2. Dairy
  3. Corn products
  4. Legumes (soy, peanuts, all beans and lentils)
  5. Eggs
  6. Citrus fruits
  7. Fats (exception is olive oil)
  8. Sweeteners and sugars (exception is stevia)
  9. Nuts
  10. Caffeine
  11. All processed foods (including processed meats like deli meat and bacon)

Your diet will primarily consist of vegetables, lean meats and fruit (no citrus). Planning ahead will be very important. However, following this diet is absolutely crucial in identifying possible food intolerances.

Testing:

  • After 7-15 days on the elimination diet, eat a moderate amount of 1 of the foods on an empty stomach.
  • Take your pulse before eating the food and begin monitoring your pulse a couple minutes after consuming the food. Monitor your pulse over the next hour noting any increases that are more than just a couple beats per minute.

A noticeable rise in pulse is a sign of either a food sensitivity or allergy to this food! If you get a reaction, then wait 2 full days before testing another food. If no reaction occurs, then you can proceed with another food the following day.

Also, take note of any:

  • Digestive disturbances (gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, indigestion)
  • Pain (joints, muscles, back, neck, etc.)
  • Declines in energy or alertness
  • Changes in sleep patterns

These can be manifestations from a food sensitivity, too.

Reversing Food Sensitivities

Once you have identified any food intolerances, eliminate them completely from your diet. Although it may be difficult, the change in well-being will make it a rewarding sacrifice!

There are special diets designed to help heal the gut and eliminate food sensitivities. Following these diets allows healing and a sort of resetting of your body so that you can eat these foods again in the future! The most popular and I believe most effective diet is the GAPS protocol.

The GAPS diet consists of 3 principles, which are designed to heal a leaky gut lining preventing health issues from food sensitivities. This sealing of the gut allows food to stay in the intestinal tract where it belongs, not circulating out in the blood causing inflammation, pain, and discomfort.

The GAPS diet principles include:

  1. Avoiding high sensitivity foods that can cause further damage to the gut and increase inflammatory responses throughout the body.
  2. Repopulating the gut with friendly beneficial bacteria, including probiotics and cultured foods that aid digestion and provide the proper balance for health and healing.
  3. Consuming gut healing foods and supplements like bone broth, gelatin, healthy fats, and probiotics which help put out the fires of inflammation and promote proper digestion.

People who adhere to the GAPS protocol can often resume eating foods that once caused problems within 6-18 months. This may seem like a long time to follow a restricted diet. However, it is important to remind yourself that you have much more life to live; living it free of pain and discomfort will be worth the months of hard work and diligence.

With a bit of internet searching, you will find a plethora of websites and blogs that are brimming with GAPS-friendly recipes and tips. I recommend beginning your GAPS journey by purchasing Dr. Natasha McBride’s book so that you have an understanding of the science behind what you are embarking on. Knowing the “why” behind the “what” always helps when beginning something new. It can help to give you the courage and willpower it takes to achieve true healing.

Supplements for Food Sensitivities

Although diet is the only way to heal the intestinal tract and eliminate food sensitivities, there are supplements that can encourage healing and aid in digestion. These supplements are encouraged during the GAPS diet, but can also be taken outside a special diet plan to help with digestion and minimize discomfort.

Digestive Enzymes

Those with food sensitivities often lack the enzymes needed to break down food in the gut. Supplementing with enzymes during meals helps to replace these essential components to digestion. Taking an enzyme that contains HCl (Hydrochloric Acid) can be beneficial for those who are suffer from low stomach acid.

Inadequate stomach acid also contributes to poor digestion. Twinlab Super Enzymes contain both digestive enzymes and HCl and are available here. Ox bile combined with digestive enzymes is very helpful for people who either have impaired liver function or gallbladder function. People who have had their gallbladder removed, in particular, can see great improvements in digestion with the addition of Ox bile. NOW’s Super Enzymes contain both digestive enzymes and Ox bile and can be purchased here.

L-Glutamine

The amino acid L-glutamine is important for soothing inflammation in the intestinal tract. It is also essential for rebuilding the mucosal lining that it typically damaged during leaky gut syndrome and other digestive disorders like Celiac disease.

The dosage of L-Glutamine is around 3 grams per day. It is most economical to buy glutamine powder and mix with water. Take on an empty stomach.

Probiotics

Probiotics, otherwise known as friendly bacteria, are necessary for digestion and combatting the overgrowth of damaging bacteria in the gut. Many times food sensitivities arise out of a lack of friendly bacteria. Antibiotics tend to be the cause behind imbalances of bacteria. This is because they kill off friendly bacteria in the gut, allowing the overgrowth of toxic microbes. Eating a cup of yogurt a day is far from adequate when treating food sensitivities and leaky gut.  Only a powerful probiotic will be able to combat toxic bacteria and repopulate the digestive tract. I personally recommend the Essential Formula’s probiotic or Renew Life’s 50 billion probiotic.

You may have been misunderstanding your body’s signs and cry for help; but it is definitely not too late. By following a healing diet and supporting supplements, you can watch your symptoms dissolve before your eyes. The return is worth the effort. You’ll feel years younger with better digestion, concentration, reduction of pain, increased energy, and a more positive mood. Don’t let food intolerance hide any longer behind your health issues!  Take the time to identify any potential food sensitivities, eliminate them from your diet and watch your entire life transform.

 

Amanda Box, N.D.Amanda Box is a Traditional  Naturopath and a graduate of Clayton College of Natural Health. She’s been in the health and wellness industry for over 12 years and currently practices naturopathic consulting in the Kansas City, Missouri area.  Her passion is helping others achieve wellness of the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. If you don’t have a good local naturopathic practitioner to turn to for your personal needs, Amanda does phone consultations! She can help you with weight loss, detox/cleansing, acute and chronic illnesses, skin and body care, grocery shopping, pantry overhauls, and more! Visit her blog “My Life in a Healthnut Shell” at http://amandabox.blogspot.com/ for contact info.

 

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Your Acid Reflux Is Not Really A Drug Deficiency

Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) affects 20% of people in the United States. Despite this prevalence, its diagnosis is challenging because of the difficulty doctors have even defining the disease.

When exposure to caustic digestive juices erodes your Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES), a variety of symptoms inevitably appear, such as chronic heartburn and regurgitation. If the symptoms increase, diagnostic testing may verify gastroesophageal reflux “disease” (GERD), leading to surgical therapy.

NOT a pretty picture.

Did you know if you experience acid reflux just twice a week, you might already have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)? At least, that’s what your pharmacist may tell you.

Based on 1985 statistics, between 3-7% of the population in the USA suffer from “GERD and related esophageal disorders.” Digestive diseases in the United States: Epidemiology and Impact – NIH Publication No. 94-1447, NIDDK, 1994

Millions of people who suffer from acid reflux or GERD symptoms use over-the-counter (OTC) acid-reducing agents called antacids, or anti-secretory drugs such as H3 blockers and proton pump inhibitors, assuming they need them.

  • Common antacids include: Alka-Seltzer, Maalox, Mylanta, Pepto-Bismol, Riopan andRolaids.
  • Common H2 blockers are: cimetidine (Tagamet HB),famotidine (Pepcid AC), nizatidine (Axid AR)and ranitidine (Zantac 75).
  • Common proton pump inhibitors are: esomeprazole (Nexium),lansoprazole (Prevacid), omeprazole (Prilosec, Zegerid), pantoprazole (Protonix)andrabeprazole (Aciphex).

It’s very important that if you do have GERD symptoms you should consult with a qualified health practitioner. However, it doesn’t mean you have to accept a life sentence of taking harmful OTC and prescriptive drugs that will never cure your acid reflux or GERD and sometimes even make it worse.

Fact is if GERD is left uncured over time, it can lead to complications such as a bleeding ulcer and scars from tissue damage, which can lead to a narrowed esophagus (stricture) making swallowing more difficult. GERD may also cause hoarseness, chronic cough, and conditions such as bad breath or even asthma.

Just remember your acid reflux or GERD is NOT a drug deficiency. There are effective, safe and affordable alternatives readily available to you.

Read on to learn more.

The Shocking Truth About Acid Indigestion Revealed

Contrary to the common excuse given for acid reflex, gastroesophageal reflux and GERD are RARELY caused from producing too much stomach acid (HCL). Rather, the “root cause” more often than not, is from

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