When Food is Foe ūüėą

It certainly is a frustration and a struggle when you suspect that the food you’ve been eating is somehow contributing to the trouble you’re having with your gut, brain, muscles and joints, or skin.

A short list of common symptoms related to food-induced inflammation can range from heartburn and stomach pain to bloating and diarrhea. It could manifest as headaches or migraines, loss of focus, anxiety and/or depression. The symptoms could show in your achy points or in your skin as rashes or breakouts.

Your Personalized Diet

Everyone needs to eat according to their own needs, preferences, and lifestyle. A diet that works for a celebrity, your best friend, and even your cousin may not be what creates health for YOU.

Truly personalized nutrition doesn’t just take into account your height and weight, age, ancestry, activity level, or food preferences and lifestyle, it also means finding out which foods are causing an inflammatory response in your body.

Gut Permeability aka “Leaky Gut”

Having a “leaky gut” was a condition once unbelieved but is now well-documented in scientific literature. When there’s a compromise or breach of the cells lining the gut, there is a potential for all sorts of maladies, including poor nutrient absorption, food sensitivities, and many symptoms throughout the body.

Inflammation: the Good AND Bad

Just like stress, inflammation isn’t all bad. When you get a cut, the area of the trauma will start to swell and redden as the immune and circulatory system rush to the scene to stop the bleeding, prevent infection, and start laying new skin structures. The problem is when stress, or in this case, inflammation becomes chronic. This situation can ignite a host of disorders including arthritis, asthma, atherosclerosis, cancer, diabetes and, quite possibly, autism and mental issues.

How do you heal the painful symptoms associated with stepping on a nail? Sure, you could try covering it up, wrapping the area with pillowy gauze and taking aspirin, but you haven’t removed the root cause. So the first step to true, actual healing is to have the nail removed.

How might diet-induced inflammation show up for you? We’re all different so while soybean might cause one person a headache or migraine, for another it could cause joint pain or heartburn. Same with gluten, blueberries, or even green peppers.

Just because a food or diet is labeled as anti-inflammatory doesn’t mean it’s acting that way for you. In fact, surprisingly enough, we’ve had two clients in the past year for whom tumeric, a known anti-inflammatory, was actually INFLAMING them. One of the clients had been taking it everyday (!) in attempts to quell her joint pain.

The Multiple Problems with Elimination Diets

One of the keys in reducing diet-induced inflammation in the body is first identifying the foods that are causing the ‘fire’ in the body. Why not start with an elimination diet to try to improve migraines, autoimmune conditions or gut health? Why not try eliminating the most common allergens (e.g. wheat, gluten, soy, eggs, dairy, corn, and soy) or trying FODMAPs? While a particular food may relate to certain symptoms, it’s not necessarily the best course of action to subject clients to an elimination diet because they are difficult to sustain , are often inconclusive (do you have a mirgraine or heartburn because of the gluten or because you’ve been under stress or because of barometric pressure change in the weather?) and they don’t usually give the full relief clients need and desire.

1. They could miss a genetic component important for you to know and to share with your family. A good example of this would be a person who eliminates gluten from their diet and feels better. Unless they were tested for celiac disease, they wouldn’t know how stringently they might need to follow the gluten-free diet. Their relatives might also be unaware of how their expression of ‘silent celiac’ disease could be infertility, skin rashes, mouth sores, osteoporosis, and even lymphoma.¬†

2. Extra stress is another problem of elimination diets. They are frustrating and mentally demanding (trying to figure out a symptom’s cause might feel like a scene from A Beautiful Mind or this It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia meme), time-consuming and perhaps most importantly – they are not as successful as testing. The reason for this is that as you eliminate or add in foods, you may not do so slowly or completely enough AND since the immune system is in a heightened state of alert still responding to the foods you haven’t eliminated, you’re likely not going to feel 100% or even 80% better. Instead of spending 6 or more months removing foods from your diet – not feeling sure that you’re even getting better, or not getting a 100% resolution- you may want to consider another process. With our protocol, we guide clients through step-by-step, starting with 10 days of their ‘safe’ foods and then systematically expanding their diet in a way that allows us to determine other food reactions and intolerances.

3. Elimination diets don’t necessarily ‘put out the fire.’ Because our genetics and environment can play a role and impact our abilities to deal with inflammation, you can’t just avoid foods that cause you problems. Our body’s response to stress plays a role too. The great part of knowing your food – and food chemical – sensitivities is that they give a wider, more accurate picture …when it comes to discovering that molds, yeast,¬† FD&C Blue #2, or benzoic acid are also causing issues, perhaps in your household environment or products. Once we remove the ‘known offenders’ in your diet (including supplements and hygiene products), the immune system starts to calm down and then we can safely start food reintroduction and see more clearly what causes your problematic symptoms. Otherwise, with elimination diets, you’re mainly just guessing about the foods, supplements, and hygiene/household products you’re using and whether or not they are ‘safe’ for you.

Supplements aren’t the Answer

“Can’t I just take extra probiotics, collagen, turmeric, or fiber to help my gut?” You could play the guessing game and potentially waste time and money in trying to find the perfect supplement (or twenty). Here’s the problem: you’ll likely not see a great benefit from them if you’re still eating foods that irritate your gut’s lining and that cause inflammation in the body. As mentioned before, you could be reactive to turmeric and therefore adding that supplement could be your personal kryptonite. ¬†

Want a faster, better way to help your gut AND body heal?

Consider comprehensive food sensitivity testing. Why comprehensive? Because, for example, just looking at IgG levels doesn’t mean that the food is the problem necessarily; IgG can be elevated for a number of reasons. It’s more important to look at multiple markers of inflammation being released by a cell in response to a food – including cytokines, prostaglandins, histamine, leukotrienes, interleukins and more.

If you’re tired of feeling “gross”, being so bloated you look 5 months pregnant, and have stomach pains that distract you from fully participating in the life you want to live, or have other ‘unexplained’ symptoms that could be related to the foods you eat regularly, consider a comprehensive program that includes your test results and implementing the proper protocol with expert guidance and support.

Food sensitivity testing is one of the most powerful tools we have to help clients finally improve life-long symptoms and get back to engaging in life more fully. Interested to see if the testing is a good option for you? Schedule your complimentary, 20-minute Discovery Call and let’s get your healthy journey started!

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Halo Top Ice Cream: Health Halo?

obw halo top

We may not actually scream for ice cream (we’re all adults here), but, to be honest, there’s usually a squeal of delight involved.

While visiting the beautiful land of Italy, we neither confirm nor deny placing an equal importance on finding the very best gelateria as visiting all the historic landmarks. We have priorities though and are happy to say we found the top-source gelato in Rome.

This is really to say that we love ice cream. Love it. From putting it in coffee at breakfast to having it as a meal (yes, you read that correctly), it’s pretty much a perfect treat for whenever.

However, anyone who has indulged on a regular basis knows that nothing seems to add on some poundage faster than this creamy delight. So, when our very favorite non-dairy ice cream was discontinued from Giant Eagle Market District, there was a mix of disappointment and relief. Then, curiously, Halo Top emerged into and around the space instead. Eventually we took the mint chip version home and found it to be very light (more air incorporated into the product) and, frankly, delicious.

So what’s in it? Here’s ‘the scoop’ on the mint chip flavor ingredients:

Milk and cream, eggs, erythritol, prebiotic fiber, milk protein concentrate, chocolate chips (sugar, cocoa mass, cocoa butter, butter, fat reduced cocoa powder, soy lecithin), organic cane sugar, vegetable glycerin, sea salt, natural flavors, organic carob gum, organic guar gum, organic stevia.

How do they keep the calories low? Part of the reason why they can do this is because they use three different sweeteners: erythritol (a sugar alcohol), organic cane sugar (really just a fancy way of saying white sugar), and organic stevia. The erythritol contains less than .5 calorie per gram, sugar has 4 calories per gram, and stevia is a no-calorie sweetener which is a couple hundred of times sweeter than sugar.¬† The other reason is that the Halo Top ice cream is physically lighter (a 1/2 cup serving weighs in at 64 grams vs. about 95 grams for other ice creams). With more air incorporated, you’ll have less calories and ice cream in general.

The calories, fat, saturated fat and sugar content for Halo Top are less than traditional ice cream, while providing fiber and protein. This does not replace vegetables, fruits, healthy protein and fat sources in the diet, but, as far as ice cream goes, it’s a pretty decent choice.

That being said, this product still has dairy (so if you have issues with milk products, beware) and, for some people and in generally higher amounts, the sugar alcohol can cause digestive upset, headaches, gas, and diarrhea.

There is likely to be a bit of a health halo effect with this product – with less calories, it can be very easy to over-consume. Remember to exercise portion control and enjoy it mindfully.

“A-choo!” Seasonal Allergy Relief

allergy forecast

Source: pollen.com

Yes to the spectacular sunshine. Yes to the breathtaking flowers popping up. Yes to putting the ice scrapers away for 6 months. But a definite NO to spring allergies. Can we get an “A-men” after your next “A-choo”?

It’s estimated that between 10-20% of American adults suffer from seasonal allergies. For reasons not fully understood, the immune system gets a bit confused and starts to react to generally innocuous items.

The first key to reducing symptoms: know thy triggers.

It may be the case that pollen is to blame, but mold or even mites may also play a role in some people’s allergies.

Here are 10 tips to stave off a runny nose and sneezing during allergy season.

  1. Follow pollen and mold counts, which are typically included in weather reports.
  2. Nasal saline irrigation can help keep your nasal passages clear of irritating allergens. A staple in the Ayurvedic traditions, a neti pot is a nifty vehicle for getting the job done. Ensure you are using quality water (distilled, bottled, or previously boiled) and properly caring for the pot to prevent infection.
  3. Though it is tempting to let the fresh air in, consider keeping windows and doors shut both at home and in your car.
  4. There’s some anecdotal as well as scientific evidence that raw, local honey may help desensitize symptoms of allergies
  5. Consider showering in the evening to help wash away the pollen gathered on clothes, hair, and body before sleeping.
  6. Rethink your diet. An anti-inflammatory diet of foods rich with antioxidants and omega-3s can mitigate symptoms. Also evaluate dairy consumption and its role in mucus production.
  7. Pollen counts are typically highest late-morning and during the afternoon hours so you may want to stay indoors.
  8. Hypnotherapy has been show in studies, such as the one from Switzerland’s University Hospital Basel, to provide significant improvements in symptoms; it can work very well as adjunctive care.
  9. Wearing a particulate respirator mask while mowing the lawn can help abate allergy symptoms.
  10. ¬†Quercetin is an antioxidant that helps stop cells from releasing histamine. It can take weeks to work so it’s best to start supplementing before allergy season begins.

Other well-known options exist, including over-the-counter and prescription medications as well as allergy shots.

Pretty soon you may find you are more the giver, and less the recipient, of “bless you”, “salud” and “Gesundheit!”

 

 

#2 Problems Solved! Have the Perfect Poo

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If your bathroom visit has you feeling less-than-stellar, whether from incomplete bowel evacuation or runny rapid transit, you may wonder what’s going on with your gut. We will solve the mysteries of these #2 issues so that you can sit down and take action!

What’s your number?
If you’re looking at the stool chart feeling as through you run the gamut of each type, start to observe toilet clues and investigate reasons that may underlie issues of diarrhea and constipation. Like most changes, this starts with awareness. Track the number associated with the Bristol stool chart type that best matches your bowel movement.

Water makes all the difference. Diarrhea results when the intestine doesn’t have time to reabsorb all the water from the food waste before it exits. On the other hand, if too much water being reabsorbed, constipation occurs and results in hard, dry rabbit-poo-like stools.

When you can’t wait another second….diarrhea.¬†Common causes of diarrhea include:
Food allergies or sensitivities
Lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance/Celiac disease, or malabsorption of fructose
Hyperthyroidism
Emotional stress
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Gastrointestinal infection

Sh*t happens….hopefully. Constipation involves the passing of hard, dry stools that resemble rabbit or deer excrement. Are you eating sugar, processed carbs, packaged foods? If so, you’re at higher risk for constipation. Or perhaps it’s one of these common issues:
Low fiber intake (or too much fiber and not enough water)
Food allergies (dairy and wheat can also lead to constipation issues for some)
Hypothyroidism & hormonal imbalance
Lack of physical activity
Dehydration
Issues with the nerves or muscles in the intestinal tract

Whoa! That stinks!
If you find that your flatulence clears a room or your BMs are so stinky they cause a plane to turn back, there’s a problem that needs to be addressed.¬†For the deadly gas (silence optional), the problem has its roots in sulfur compounds. One reason why flatulence can flatten the mood: bacteria adds sulfates to trapped air bubbles in the gut, creating smelly farts. Food can lead to foul smells particularly when one is consuming foods high in sulfur (think Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, garlic, and onion).

Smelly poo can have its origins from food as well. Those who eat a lot of animal protein tend to have stinkier BMs. A weak digestive system will contribute to foods not breaking down well and putrefying in the gut. Poor diet and stress often have key roles to play as can food sensitivities and inflammatory bowel disorders.

Have the Perfect Poo
Though seemingly as mythical as unicorns, some people claim to have the perfect poos. You can too! First, you have to know what you’re aiming for. On the Bristol stool chart, a perfect poo would ideally be a 4, with 3 and 5 being strong contenders. Let your competitive side show as you try some of these tips to improve your digestive wellness.

  • Get more fiber (think¬†fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains)
  • Drink enough water! Some people like to jazz it up with some lemon and/or mint.
  • Address any underlying thyroid issues
  • Consider eliminating gluten and/or dairy from the diet (both are a common cause of diarrhea and constipation) or other foods on your sensitivity results
  • Fermented foods (i.e. kimchi, yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut) may be beneficial as they can support the colonization of healthy bacteria in the gut. Consider a probiotic supplement.
  • Exercise!
  • Incorporate stress management techniques
  • Get enough sleep

It is important to give your body the tools it needs to be healthy. Every piece of food eaten is broken down and nutrients are absorbed. If it passes too quickly in the digestive tract, important nutrients are missed. If it takes too long, damage may occur in the colon (think diverticulitis as an example). Remember that there are plenty of neurotransmitters in your gut and the brain-gut connection is real. Your thoughts, anxiety, depression, stress, and mood impact your gut.  With all of the information and ideas presented, what step will you take to  achieve gastrointestinal balance?