Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Bacteria, The Good Guys!

Barbara Goshorn RN MSACN
“The Nurse Nutritionist”

Most of us grew up believing bacteria were bad for us. Isn’t it bacteria that lead to infection and make us sick? In reality though, only a minute percentage of bacteria make us sick and most are beneficial and even necessary for good health. Its true, antibiotics have saved countless lives, but over the past decade researchers have discovered that the human body is the host to 100 trillion mostly beneficial bacteria which help digest food, program the immune system, and prevent infection, and even influence mood and behavior. Scientists now believe the bacteria living on and in us make up our own unique “microbiome”, an ecosystem in which bacteria play a role in many conditions that genes and environmental factors alone can’t explain, including obesity, autism, depression, and asthma. The discovery of the microbiome is “very much like finding an organ we didn’t know we had”, according to Michael Fischbach, a bioengineer at the University of California, San Francisco. 
Bacteria thrive throughout the body. They are in our mouths, lungs, skin, teeth, and especially in our gut. The human gut contributes over four pounds of bacteria. The Human Microbiome Project, a government supported effort to map our bacterial ecosystems, has discovered that people harbor 10 bacterial cells for every human cell and at least 10,000 different species of bacteria! It is postulated that understanding each person’s unique bacterial profile, will help give clues to disease and design better medications and treatments in the future. This in turn has led to researchers trying to figure out what makes a healthy microbiome.
Microbiome research is in its infancy, but there is already mounting evidence that an imbalance of gut flora may be responsible for many of the gastrointestinal problems such as irritable bowel and Crohn’s Disease. Research has shown that when mice are fed a high fat, “junk food” diet, the microbes in their guts changed much as they do in humans on a fast-food diet. Bacteria have also been implicated in the obesity epidemic. Additional studies show that when obese individuals undergo gastric bypass surgery to lose weight, their gut bacteria becomes more like the bacteria harbored by thin people, contributing to weight loss. Microbes may even influence mental states. Studies in mice have shown that changes in gut flora can relieve or exacerbate depression and anxiety. Researchers believe that the microbes may encourage neurons in the intestines to signal the brain to alter hormone levels. It has been shown that autistic children, who frequently suffer from gastrointestinal problems, often carry a type of gut bacteria non autistic children don’t.
You can have your own unique microbiome analyzed by a company called BioFrontiers Institute at the University of Colorado, Boulder. For most of us though, there are less expensive steps we can do to improve our bacteria health. Diet plays a significant role in our microbial health. A typical American diet is very low in fiber (fiber is a prebiotic food for bacteria).  Consumption of, mass-produced, highly processed and caloric dense foods are devoid of any positive prebiotic or probiotics. Eat real food that has been minimally processed.  Use soap and water instead of antimicrobial gels. Our hands and bodies need to be cleaned, not sterilized. Try and use antibiotics carefully. Most illnesses are viral in nature and don’t require antibiotics. Research is demonstrating that although not perfect, taking a probiotic, especially after a round of antibiotics appears to be a prudent choice. For more information,

Friday, May 10, 2013

Could Wheat be a Contributing Factor to Diabetes, Obesity, and Other Illnesses?

Barb Goshorn RN MSACN“The Nurse Nutritionist”

Yes it could, according to Dr. William Davis, author of the New York Times bestseller Wheat Belly. According to Dr. Davis, the wheat we eat today is not the same wheat our grandmothers used for baking in the 1960’s. In the 1970’s, Minnesota geneticist Norman Borlaug (nicknamed the “Father of the Green Revolution”), hybridized wheat. This hybridized form of wheat is dwarf, high-yielding, and reaches maturity quicker. The yield is ten times greater per acre than traditional wheat! Is it any wonder farmers preferred this high-yield dwarf hybrid? By 1985, 99% of the wheat grown in the United States was this genetically modified hybrid.
The USDA and food pyramid recommends 6-11 servings of grain per day with no distinction between complex and simple carbohydrates. (In 2010, the food pyramid was changed to “my plate” but continues to encourage large amounts of grain consumption). The glycemic index of a slice of this new hybridized wheat is 72, higher than sucrose, which is 59. Therefore, eating cereal or a bagel for breakfast, two slices of bread or a wrap at lunch, pretzels for a snack, and pasta for dinner leads to continual spikes in blood sugar. When blood sugar rises, the hormone insulin is released and this continual spike contributes to insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes. In addition, insulin triggers the storage of fat, predominately visceral (or belly) fat. Belly fat and insulin resistance are precursors to weight gain, diabetes, and all the inflammatory diseases including heart disease, arthritis, allergies, osteoporosis, and cancer.
Dr. Davis maintains eliminating or reducing wheat consumption can improve many of the “life style” diseases people in America suffer from today. In addition, it isn’t as difficult as it would first appear. There are many grains that can be substituted for wheat. These include millet. Quinoa, amaranth, and rice. Remember though, gluten free doesn’t mean calorie free. Although the USDA, American Diabetes Association, and American Heart Association all endorse a high grain diet, Dr. Davis (a cardiologist), does not believe a healthy diet needs to include grains. He advocates a diet of “real food” including vegetables, fruit, lean beef, eggs, wild caught fish, olives, and nuts. Regardless if one includes grains in their diet or not, Dr. Davis believes going wheat free is important in decreasing many of the diseases Americans are experiencing today. I couldn’t agree more!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

If You Want to Feel Better, Have More Energy, and Lose Weight…read on

In America today we are exposed to an abundance of environmental toxins through the air, food, and water. These include heavy metals, pesticides, industrial compounds, endocrine disruptors (such as bisphenol A), and pharmaceutical drugs. In fact there is growing research that indicates a correlation between toxic exposure and the development of many of the chronic diseases we are seeing today. 
Why wouldn’t our body just eliminate the toxins it’s exposed too? The body IS designed to eliminate toxins but not at the rate we are exposed.  Studies show that over 1 billion pounds of pesticides are used annually in the United States!  This chemical barrage is so great that a study done on the cord blood of new born babies showed over 200 industrial chemicals.  These were babies that hadn’t even taken their first breath!  Although the human body was designed to naturally detoxify, it was never meant to deal with the onslaught of toxins and chemicals it has to deal with today.   
Could you benefit from a detoxification program?  Absolutely, especially if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms of chemical and toxin exposure:  fatigue, headaches, brain fog, balance problems, tremors, pain, and muscle weakness.  A number of diseases and conditions that may be associated with an excessive toxic burden include: allergies, asthma, diabetes, chemical sensitivities, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, chronic infections, and autoimmune disorders such as Lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis, and Hashimotos thyroid.  
A healthy detoxification program is not a starvation diet where you are ill with diarrhea for two weeks.   This will only weaken and stress the body more. Since the body detoxifies using four different pathways (the liver, intestines, kidneys, and through the skin) it is important to eat foods and beverages that contain the vitamins and nutrients that allow the body to eliminate toxins using these pathways in a healthy way. 
A healthy detoxification program should be high in fresh hypoallergenic foods and dark green vegetables while eliminating all processed foods, alcohol, sugar, and caffeine.  Avoid foods with pesticide residues, synthetic dyes, and antibiotics.  This can be done by consuming organic, whole food sources.  Drinking large amounts of fresh pure water is also important to flush out toxins that have become mobilized.  A detoxification program should last between 3 and 28 days.
Unfortunately, we can’t eliminate toxins from our lives. But doing a detoxification program can make you feel happier, healthier, and energetic.  It can help you lose weight, look better, and feel stronger than you have in years.  You’ll be thrilled you did! 
Liska, D,J. The Role of Detoxification in the Prevention of Chronic Degenerative Diseases. Applied Nutritional Science Reports. 2002.
Rakel, David. Integrative Medicine 2nd ed.2007.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Chronic inflammation: An American Epidemic

Did you know that chronic inflammation is the main contributing factor in all of the chronic degenerative diseases facing Americans today?  Consider the following statistics:
·       One in three adult suffers from arthritis, nearly twice as many only two decades ago.
·       More than 20 million Americans have asthma.
·       More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies. This number has doubled in the past twenty years.
·       There are 25.8 million people with diabetes, 79 million are pre-diabetic, and 1.9 million new cases were diagnosed in 2010. By the year 2030 it is predicted that 1 in 3 people will have diabetes.
·       Over one million Americans have inflammatory bowel disease.
·       By the year 2105, the CDC predicts 75% of Americans will be overweight or obese.

Unfortunately many people immediately reach for medication when they have inflammatory symptoms.  This band-aid approach of dealing with the symptoms of disease has become pervasive in how chronic conditions are treated in America. The most common inflammatory reducing medications include the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), Cox-2 inhibitors, and corticosteroids.  Unfortunately ALL these medications have side effects. The NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen. NSAIDs irritate the stomach lining, which may cause digestive upset such as heartburn, indigestion, nausea, bloating, diarrhea, stomach pain, peptic ulcer, GI bleeds, fluid retention, kidney disorders, and increased risk for stroke, heart attack, and blood clots. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has implicated acetaminophen as a problem in liver injury.
The Cox-2 inhibitors include Celebrex and Vioxx.  These side effects include heart attack, blood clots, stroke, Stevens - Johnson syndrome (SJS), and severe inflammation of the skin and internal mucous membranes. Many of the beneficial effects reported on these drugs turned out to be falsified results conducted by Scott Reuben, MD, who was on the payroll for both Pfizer (Bextra) and Merck (Vioxx). The corticosteroids (prednisone) have numerous adverse effects which include increased appetite and weight, water retention, swelling, high blood pressure, slow wound healing, osteoporosis, diabetes, and adrenal suppression.

Instead of the Band-Aid approach to reducing inflammation wouldn’t a healthier solution be to learn what causes chronic inflammation in the first place. The answer is less complex than we may think. The key is at the end of our fork. It is true, “you are what you eat”.  Therefore it is important to learn which foods are inflammatory and which are anti-inflammatory.

Inflammatory foods include:
·       Sugar and corn syrup
·       Processed foods and refined carbohydrates made with wheat flour, such as pasta, bread, bagels, pretzels, and cereals. This includes most desserts and packaged snacks.
·       Partially hydrogenated oils and trans fats found in margarine, deep fried foods, and most packaged foods.
·       Corn oil
·       Meat, dairy, and eggs from grain fed animals. Animals (including fish) that are fed a corn based diet become problematic because the ratio of omega 3 fatty acids (anti-inflammatory) to omega 6 fatty acids (inflammatory) changes with an increase in the proinflammatory omega 6 fatty acids.

Anti-inflammatory foods include:
·       Fruits
·       Vegetables
·       Nuts
·       Wild caught fish
·       Organic free range meat, chicken, bison, elk, lamb, and dairy
·       Increasing omega 3 fats (the good/anti-inflammatory fats)

Other beneficial guidelines include:
·       Minimize large fish such as tuna, shark, and swordfish because of high levels of mercury and other contaminants
·       For cooking use olive or coconut oil
·       Use sources of omega 3 fats which include flax seeds and oil, walnuts, sardines, and wild caught salmon. Take a daily supplement of 1-4 grams of high EPA/DHA fish oil daily. 
·       Use dry roasted or raw nuts and seeds
·       Eliminate foods with artificial colorings and “diet” sugars especially aspartame
·       Avoid foods with MSG, nitrites, and nitrates
·       Eat organic (if possible) cruciferous vegetables daily (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and brussel sprouts) to help detoxify.
·       Eat a variety of colorful organic (if possible) fruits and vegetables. 
·       Include the anti-inflammatory spices: ginger, turmeric, basil, cinnamon, cloves, and rosemary
·       When thirsty drink water or organic green or white tea

Eating anti-inflammatory need not be complicated or confusing.  Most meals can be prepared the same way as always.  Keep in mind a few key points: Keep sugar, wheat products, and refined carbohydrates to a minimum, have more fruits and vegetables, increase foods high in omega 3 fatty acids, decrease foods  high in saturated and trans fat,  and eat high quality proteins (preferably organic free range).
Although lifestyle and stress are absolutely factors in chronic inflammation, research has implicated an inflammatory diet as the number one culprit in inflammatory pain and its consequent complications.  Try making these dietary changes for one month and you will quickly notice pain and inflammation decrease while your energy increases.       

  Additional References:
Pelton, R. & Lavalle, J. (2004). The Nutritional Cost of Drugs (2nd ed.). Englewood, CO: Morton  
     Publishing Company.