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.

Are The Chronic Diseases Of Aging Avoidable? Some Tribal People Seem Immune

Are The Chronic Diseases Of Aging Avoidable?   Some Tribal People Seem Immune

     A scientific project is revealing that there are genes in some tribal people who have never lived an industrialized life that protect them against Alzheimer’s.  The genes have existed in nearly all humans for eons up until modern times and now reside in only a quarter of people living in the industrialized world.  The function of those genes had to do with helping the brain fight parasites. 

     Now we live in “clean” environments, and there are fewer parasites to fight in developed countries.  It appears that these genes have started to fight against the brain itself instead.  The concept fits with recent dementia research.  It means that what we are feeding our body (the air, water, and food) is not able to provide us with the same resources as it would have in an ancient setting.  We may unwittingly be discovering just how damaging our modern way of life is.

     For me as a naturopathic doctor, while we can never return to a prior time, we can take action to protect ourselves.  I am certain that cutting out industrialized food—the processed and packaged products—and nourishing our bodies naturally would be a great start.  Read the article here.

Health Alert—Study Shows Household Chemicals Are Linked To Diabetes

Health Alert—Study Shows Household Chemicals Are Linked To Diabetes

     A study out from researchers in the European Union indicates that a 25% reduction in exposure to certain household chemicals would reduce diabetes cases by approximately 13%, enough to save billions of dollars in annual health costs.  While it might seem like an unusual connection, commonly used chemicals might influence major factors that regulate glucose metabolism. 

     Phthalates, used to make plastic products more flexible, are found in food packaging, furniture, toys, and also in medical devices.  In addition, phthalates are found in personal care products, like cosmetics, and in pharmaceuticals.  Some plastics may contain up to 40–50% phthalate by weight.  Because phthalates are additives and not bound to the plastic, they can easily leach out into air, water, and food.   

     Exposure to chemicals is just about unavoidable in modern society.  However, I urge everyone to limit their contact as much as possible by using glass and stainless steel jars and containers for food storage, avoiding food that is packaged or wrapped in plastic, and steering clear of bottled water.  Click on the photo or read the article here.

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.

New Study Finds That Eye Movements May Be Early Indicator Of Autism

New Study Finds That Eye Movements May Be Early Indicator Of Autism

     Autism and similar neuro-developmental conditions vary widely in severity from person to person, making it challenging to diagnose and devise a course of treatment.  Researchers at the University of Rochester recently completed a study that could provide an early diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). 

     The rapid eye movements we make when we shift our attention from one object to another are known as saccades.  According to the study’s authors, these movements are “essential to navigating, understanding, and interacting with the world around us. In healthy individuals, these saccades are rapid, precise, and accurate, redirecting the line of sight from one point of interest to another.”

     The area of the brain that controls saccades is the cerebellum.  It has been traditionally understood to play a role in motor control and more recently recognized as essential to emotion and comprehension through its connections to the rest of the brain.  According to the article, there is growing evidence that the makeup of the cerebellum is altered in people with ASD. 

     I think this discovery could potentially be very helpful.  One of the current difficulties in medicine is being able to diagnose autism and other spectrum conditions early enough.  With any autism spectrum disorder, the sooner we have the diagnosis, the better the chances are for improvement.  I have treated children with autism who have actually lost their autism diagnosis altogether because we have been able to start treatment early enough, generally before the age of four.   Click here or on the photo to read the article.

New Understanding: How to Successfully Treat Autoimmune Diseases

New Understanding: How to Successfully Treat Autoimmune Diseases

      Autoimmune disease rates have been escalating dramatically over the past 30 years, some by up to 23%.  These diseases occur when the immune system, which is supposed to attack invaders like bacteria, viruses, fungi and yeast instead attacks one’s own body.  The medical and scientific community does not know exactly what causes autoimmune conditions like type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn’s disease. (More than 100 autoimmune diseases have been identified). 

     The immune system is comprised of white blood cells, lymph nodes and the whole lymph system, the spleen, tonsils, and bone marrow (which makes white blood cells).  It also makes certain types of chemical messengers, while some types of white blood cells make proteins called antibodies.

     The immune system can send out cells that act like Pac-Man, gobbling up bacteria and viruses. It also makes free radicals, which act like miniature bombs to blow up the invaders. Essentially, the whole process is designed to create inflammation in the body that is targeted at killing bacteria, viruses, yeast, and other things that can cause disease.

     For example, with rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks joint tissue, which can cause very bad pain and disfigured joints.  With lupus, the skin, joints, and internal organs are affected.  In multiple sclerosis, the immune system eats away at the protective coating around the nerves, preventing them from functioning properly.

     Fortunately, there are a few pharmaceutical medications that disrupt specific aspects of the autoimmune process, but for the most part, the conventional approach is usually either steroids or other medications that suppress the entire immune system.  These drugs aren’t specific, and because they affect the whole immune system, not just the area of the disease, the immune system as a whole is weaker than it should be.  This can result in the person being more susceptible to infections.

     While we don’t know exactly what causes autoimmune diseases, a critical part of treating them is healing the digestive system.  Every patient I’ve seen with an autoimmune disease has been helped to some extent by adopting a specific diet to heal the gut.  Some patients who undertook very restrictive diets, like the Autoimmune Protocol Diet, enjoyed dramatic improvement.  This is because new research is finding that the gut is very important in regulating the immune system.  Good bacteria in the gut actually communicate with the immune system cells there by exchanging chemical messages.  When the gut gets balanced and there is no inflammation there, the immune system benefits regardless of what part of the body is affected by an autoimmune disease.

     For example, researchers in Israel and Germany have noted that the increases in autoimmune diseases have occurred in too short a time to be caused by genetic changes.  Focusing instead on other causes, they discovered a strong correlation between the skyrocketing use of industrial food additives in processed food and the increase in autoimmune diseases.  The studies revealed that processed foods damage the intestinal lining, increasing the likelihood of developing an autoimmune disease.

     Other stressors on the immune system include pollution, exposure to toxins, and lack of sleep.  People who work night shifts long term have a higher risk of developing autoimmune diseases and cancer, as well.  When we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies are missing out on a major time when it repairs damaged cells or fixes mutations in DNA.

     While I have found that pharmaceutical medications are often still needed in managing autoimmune diseases, using diet and natural remedies to regulate the immune system  can bring major improvements and in some cases even lead to remission.  I typically focus on working with patients to develop a healing diet as a foundation.  I will also recommend certain types of probiotics and natural remedies to help heal the gut and regulate the immune system, along with regular acupuncture.  The acupuncture helps reduce pain and inflammation and strengthens the internal organs.  Over time, patients with an autoimmune condition are usually able to live healthier, happier lives with less dependence on medication.

 

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