What Is Your Body Doing With The Food You Eat?

What Is Your Body Doing With The Food You Eat?

     Say you’re at a party.  There is chicken, potato-mac salad, tossed greens, spam musubi, raw veggies and dip, red velvet cake, apple pie, and so on.  You help yourself to an assortment of items.  What happens after you’re finished eating?  While most of us have a basic idea of what our digestive system does, this article explains the science of it in easily understood terms. 

     I liked this article because the writer helps make sense of the sort of dietary recommendations I typically give my patients.  It’s an enjoyable read, too (though on the long side, perhaps best read in segments).  I think you will find it to be a valuable resource as well, something worth bookmarking and coming back to for reference.

Health News–Baking Soda Wash Removes Some Pesticides From Apples

Health News–Baking Soda Wash Removes Some Pesticides From Apples

     There are many health risks associated with pesticides, from handling them to applying them to consuming their residue.  One of the most controversial is the notion that they persist in such low levels that there is minimal risk when they are consumed.  Many scientists disagree because there isn’t enough information to say for sure whether long-term, low-level consumption of pesticides on produce is safe.  In fact, recent studies have linked chronic, low-level pesticide exposure to hyperactivity in children, diabetes, and low sperm counts.

     Rinsing produce with tap water removes germs and also significantly reduces pesticide residues.  But some pesticide residue persists on produce after getting washed under the faucet.  A new study has found that a baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) wash can completely remove residues of two pesticides from the surface of apples.  The study’s authors said that, “Most pesticides are not stable at an alkaline pH, which breaks down the compounds and helps to wash them away.”

     We want to emphasize that the study confirmed only two pesticides out of the FIFTY which can be used on apples, so more tests are needed.  However the results are promising and the researchers advocate adding baking soda to the commercial washes and germicides now being used. 

     While organic fruits and vegetables—especially locally grown ones—are always preferable, families also have to take price and availability into account.  So it is good news that something this simple can help with at least one type of fruit and can be done at home by consumers.  Hopefully, more testing will now take place involving other types of produce.  Click on the photo or find the article here

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Cutting Edge News: Could ADHD Be A Sleep Disorder?

Cutting Edge News:  Could ADHD Be A Sleep Disorder?

(NOTE:  Dr. Taketa-Wong successfully treats ADHD symptoms and sleep disorders using a more natural approach.  Call her office at 808-783-0361 for information.)

     Educators, parents, and scientists have referred to ADHD as a national crisis.  Billions of dollars have been spent looking into its cause, including genetics, brain development exposure to lead, the push for early academics, and more.  The latest theory which has been gaining momentum among researchers is both simpler and controversial.  Several studies have suggested strong links between ADHD and the “length, time, and quality of sleep.”

     There is growing evidence that suggests there is a subset of children with ADHD that are misdiagnosed and actually suffer from various sleep deficiencies.  But what if many kids today simply aren’t getting the sleep they need, leading to challenging behaviors that mimic ADHD?  That would fundamentally change the way ADHD is treated.

     Previous studies have demonstrated that about 75% of people with ADHD have sleep disturbances and that the symptoms become more severe when they get less sleep.  In fact, scientists have shown that a group of children with sleep disorder and ADHD actually lost their diagnosis after they had their adenoids or tonsils removed to treat the sleep problem.

     Another issue that could be making the situation worse comes from the drugs that are now being prescribed to treat ADHD.  In the 1980’s and 1990’s the medications lasted four to six hours.  Now, most children are taking ones that last 12 hours.  Children that are sensitive to the medications may not be tired till midnight.  Then, to combat that, the children are prescribed yet more drugs.

     Dr. Taketa-Wong said, “In my experience treating children with ADHD, I have found that many have other health conditions underlying their symptoms which can be treated naturally, including adrenal problems, anemia or neurotransmitter imbalances.  (Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers between brain cells.)  My treatment approach uses natural methods including personalized dietary changes and targeted nutritional supplements, limiting screen time, and correcting sleep disturbances.”

Link To The Article

Families Often Wonder: For My Child With Autism, What Does The Future Hold?

Families Often Wonder:  For My Child With Autism, What Does The Future Hold?

     Families Often Wonder:  For My Child With Autism, What Does The Future Hold?  How is a parent to help formulate a future when they don’t know how their child’s limitations will affect them as they enter adulthood?  Ethan’s passions were music, farm equipment, and collecting business cards.  His parents had a lot to learn about what was going on inside their son.  Their story is both heartwarming and instructive.  I hope you enjoy reading about Ethan and his family.

Probiotics & Fermented Foods: The Good, The Bad, The Delicious

Probiotics & Fermented Foods:  The Good, The Bad, The Delicious

PROBIOTICS ARE VITAL TO GOOD HEALTH

     Why are probiotics so important to our health?  It is easier to appreciate their significance if we understand what they are.  Basically, probiotics are health promoting bacteria in our intestines and other areas of our body.  In addition to bacteria, there are also probiotic yeasts.  We can think of them as good bacteria or good yeasts.  Good bacteria help break down food to make nutrients more accessible.  They also convert vitamins into forms that our body can utilize.  But they are essential to our health not only for the role they play in digestion.  Recent research has discovered that the good bacteria are also necessary in order to keep our immune system in balance.

     Science has discovered that the bacteria in our gut actually communicate with our immune system cells through chemical messengers that exchange information.  It’s a kind of language, the way they “talk” to each other.  When we don’t have enough good bacteria in our digestive system, primarily our intestines, it’s not only our digestion that can become compromised.  It’s our immune system as well. 

     The immune system’s function is to attack bacteria and yeasts (the bad ones) and viruses that can cause disease.  If it is not strong enough, it can’t do a good job of fighting them off.  So in addition to problems such as constipation, we might also be susceptible to frequent sickness.  That’s why when people have repeated courses of antibiotics without replacing the good bacteria, they can become more vulnerable to getting repeated infections in the future.

     Another problem with an imbalanced immune system is that it can attack things it’s not supposed to attack.  For example, with certain allergies, the immune system could be attacking food, pollen, dog or cat hair, or dust mites, which results in people getting allergy symptoms.  If the symptoms are serious, temporary relief may be called for.  But if the immune system can be better regulated, the allergy symptoms may not be as severe, which can reduce the need for medication.  The ultimate goal, of course, is to eliminate the allergic response altogether.

     The immune system is made up of particular kinds of white blood cells made mostly by our bone marrow.  They travel around the body through the blood and the lymph system.  The white blood cells attack the “bad guys” (disease-causing bacteria, viruses or yeast) and either destroy them at the site of the infection or carry them via the lymph system to the lymph nodes.  There the immune system works to destroy the “bad guys”. 

WHERE DO WE GET PROBIOTICS?

     Long before there were natural food stores with shelves full of probiotic supplements or grocery stores with probiotic beverages, our ancestors got theirs the old fashioned way, through their diet.  They ate fermented foods, and every culture had their own.  It was one way they preserved food before refrigeration.  Some examples are yogurt, sauerkraut, sour poi, kimchi (and other fermented vegetables), miso, tempeh, kefir, and kombucha.

      There are alternatives to kefir made from cow’s milk, including coconut water kefir and water kefir.  In addition, there are non-dairy yogurts:  coconut milk yogurt, almond milk yogurt, and soy yogurt.  With kombucha, which is typically made from black tea, most of the caffeine is consumed in the fermentation process.

     Vinegar can also be a fermented food, depending on how it’s produced and how long it’s fermented.  Tsukemono and pickles can be a source of probiotics, again, depending on how long they’re fermented and as long as preservatives are not added to them.  Most commercial products are not fermented long enough to produce probiotic benefits. Beer, wine, and liquor are also fermented, but the alcohol inhibits the growth of good bacteria.

WHICH PROBIOTICS ARE BEST?

     If you choose a food for its probiotic benefit, be sure to read the label carefully.  Preservatives such as sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, and others are often added because they prevent bad bacteria from growing.  However, they also keep the good bacteria from growing as well.   Commercial products typically add chemical preservatives as a safeguard to extend shelf life.  But fermented foods don’t need preservatives to do that. That’s why they were fermented in the first place.  For example, I have never found preservative-free sauerkraut in regular grocery stores, but many health food stores do carry it.

     I think it is important to use both probiotic supplements and fermented foods.  Why not just take a supplement?  Many different species of good bacteria and good yeast die as soon as they are exposed to oxygen.  That makes it next to impossible to get them into a supplement because of the manufacturing and processing.  No supplements have those types of good bacteria, but they are available in fermented foods, where they are protected from oxygen within the food or the liquid.

     For treatment purposes, specific kinds of probiotics can be better for particular conditions.  In that case, supplements are helpful because a person might need a certain dose of a particular type of probiotic.  For example, C. diff is an infection in the intestines caused by a bad bacteria and there is one kind of good yeast that has been found to be helpful in its treatment, saccharomyces boulardii.

ADVICE FOR GETTING FERMENTED FOODS INTO PICKY EATERS

        Most picky eaters will eat yogurt.  Avoid commercial yogurts with added sugar, stick to organic plain whole milk yogurt, and then add your own fruit, honey, or 100% pure maple syrup.  If you or your child cannot have dairy, try coconut milk or almond milk yogurts and add fruits ornatural sweeteners.  If your child won’t eat that, you can spoon some yogurt into a small amount of sorbet or coconut milk ice cream. 

     Try coconut water kefir (e.g. Kevita) available at Safeway and health food stores – this is naturally carbonated and can be a replacement for soda.  If your child won’t drink it, you can dilute a teaspoon of the coconut water kefir in juice or a large amount of water.  Also, some parents have had success pureeing small amounts of sauerkraut or fermented beets or carrots (available at health food stores), and mixing small amounts into spaghetti sauce, soup, or stew after it’s cooked, so the heat doesn’t destroy the good bacteria.

FINAL THOUGHTS

     Some final words of advice when it comes to probiotics:  If you have sensitivity to dairy, choose non-dairy fermented foods.  If you aren’t currently eating many fermented foods in your diet, add them to your diet gradually – suddenly consuming high amounts of fermented foods can cause temporary loose stool as your body adjusts to the good bacteria.  If you have acid reflux, be careful about spicy fermented foods like kimchi. 

     If you have high blood pressure, you should use caution with salty fermented foods like sauerkraut.  If you have yeast/Candida overgrowth, limit kombucha to 1-2 times a week, as excessive consumption can sometimes aggravate bad yeast overgrowth.  Please be sure to check with your doctor.  And do eat a variety of probiotics rather than for example, just eating yogurt every day.  Each food has certain types of good bacteria, and we need a balance. 

Do You Need To Be Gluten Free?

Do You Need To Be Gluten Free?

     I have worked with many patients who have problems with gluten.  It can be potentially a serious medical issue.  Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition that can attack the intestines and other tissues in response to eating foods with gluten.  In addition, some people have gluten sensitivity without the diagnosis of Celiac disease.

     There may be many people with celiac disease who are unaware they have it.  The condition can bring on vague and confusing symptoms including abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea or constipation, fatigue, muscle cramps, even bone fractures.  The disorder can remain unknown for many years, allowing damage to occur that can have lifelong negative health effects.

     Millions of Americans are adopting gluten free diets without knowing whether or not they have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.  While many report feeling better, there can be a serious medical downside.  If people have not been tested and do not know they actually have the condition, they tend to be less motivated to maintain a rigorous gluten-free diet.  That can put them at risk for the disease continuing to progress.  Also, if they are not under a doctor’s care they may develop other medical problems, including a heightened risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

     I also see many patients who have gluten sensitivity without Celiac disease.  Some of the most common conditions that seem to have a higher incidence of non-Celiac gluten sensitivity include autism, ADHD and autoimmune diseases (e.g. lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Sjogren’s syndrome, type 1 diabetes, etc.).  There are other tests available to screen for non-Celiac gluten sensitivity that I use on a regular basis.  Some people have issues with only non-organic genetically modified wheat, which uses high amounts of herbicides and other chemicals.  

     Also many people think that because an item is marked gluten free, that means it is a healthier choice – this is not necessarily the case!  I definitely agree with the comment in the article that a gluten-free diet is not necessarily a healthy diet. Most commercial gluten free products contain a lot of corn and white rice flours that are high in simple sugars and often genetically modified.  There are all kinds of processed gluten free foods that are not healthy.  While these can be helpful transition foods for children starting on a gluten free diet, I generally recommend that people on a gluten free diet try to avoid processed gluten free foods and instead opt mostly for foods that are naturally gluten free, including vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds, fish and meat.  You can click on the photo or here to read the article.

     If you or a family member have questions about whether you should be gluten free, please call our office at 808-783-0361.  We offer a no-charge phone consultation (an $88 value).  Mahalo!

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