March 2005 Newsletter - Healthy Eating; Leaky Gut Syndrome; Strontium and bone health; Success Stories for GE Reflux and Hormonal Imbalance
Dear Friends and Patients:
On the first day of 2005 that the Center was open, one of my patient’s told me she always liked going into a new year because the mistakes she made in the previous year were “history,” and she could start anew. In a sense that is true. We can all improve the areas we may have fallen short in during the previous year and set new goals in a new unit of time. One of the areas that is critical for optimal health is eating the highest quality food possible. Of course, the quantity of food we eat is also an issue. This country is blessed with an abundant food supply and the technology to make it easy to obtain food. Most people don’t think twice about how that nicely packaged chicken or microwave dinner was processed, or how that lovely looking apple was grown before it got into the store. To be unaware that your food could be irradiated or genetically modified, or contain chemical preservatives, steroids, antibiotics, pesticides or other harmful toxins creates a health risk for you and your family.
Americans consume about 3 million pounds of antibiotics every year. But did you know chicken and cattle are fed more than 24 million pounds, and if you are not a vegetarian, you consume animal antibiotics through residuals in their meat. The antibiotics in our food supply destroy the good bacteria in our intestines, which weakens our immune systems, and increases the risk of resistant strains developing. There are roughly 900 pesticide active ingredients registered in the U.S., and more than 160 have been classified as known or suspected cancer causing by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Over 4 billion pounds of pesticides are used annually in the U.S., amounting to 8 pounds for every man, woman, and child (EPA Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances 1999). The current law allows 350 different pesticides to be used on the food we eat. Based on U.S. Department of Agriculture testing (1994-1997), conventionally grown foods with the highest toxicity sources include apples, peaches, grapes, pears, winter squash, green beans, and spinach. So that apple may be red and juicy, but it may also have carcinogens in it.
Mercury contaminated fish pose a serious threat to public health as well. Mercury is such a potent neurotoxin that even small amounts can cause irreversible brain and heart damage. EPA scientists recently reported that as many as 630,000 babies born each year may have been exposed as fetuses to unsafe levels of mercury. In March 2004 the FDA and EPA put out a joint national health advisory warning that women of childbearing age should eat no more than 6 ounces of albacore tuna a week. One of the doctors on the advisory panel resigned his position in protest, saying the food industry exerted undo influence to water down the mercury warning, and that albacore tuna mercury levels were so high it should be avoided entirely. Mercury concentrates in the umbilical cord blood and it is estimated that one in six pregnant women have mercury levels that are too high.
To start this year off right, here are a few of my recommendations for eating a healthier diet and being proactive. Every new patient who presents to the Center and undergoes a comprehensive exam gets a written report from me and in this report are these same general recommendations for healthy eating.
Suggestions for Healthy Eating
Eat fresh, and preferably organic foods, rather than canned or preserved, whenever possible. Only fresh foods have the active plant and animal enzymes needed for optimal health. When shopping, keep to the periphery of the store and away from processed or packaged foods – they contain preservative chemicals or artificial flavoring or colors and do not have as much nutritional value as fresh.
Read labels – if the ingredients contain sugar or high fructose corn syrup, or partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated fats, don’t buy it. Stay away from candy, sugar, pastries, soda, potato chips, fried foods, artificial snacks (try organic corn chips or whole nuts instead) and bread that is not whole grain. Limit servings of high glycemic foods (high natural sugar) such as white potatoes, corn, white bread, most cereals, and anything made with white flour. Excessive amounts of high glycemic foods will make you fat through a condition called insulin resistance. Even the U.S. Government has recently recognized the high amount of refined carbohydrates Americans eat as the main cause of obesity which affects one in three of us. If you need a sweetener, Stevia is a natural plant product that can be safely used if you have a sweet tooth.
Drink the highest quality purified water you can get. Either invest in a good quality water filter or buy bottled (in glass bottles, not plastic) purified spring or mineral water. The type of filter recommended will depend on your water source and problems. Drink 6-8 eight ounce glasses a day to flush out toxins and body wastes. Also, try to get a water that has a good magnesium content in it. Put a little lemon or lime juice in your water. I personally do not like distilled water as it is devoid of natural minerals and has the potential to pull minerals from your body if drunk in large amounts.
Eat breakfast. Contrary to popular opinion, eggs are a healthy food. Again, buy organic eggs. Processed cereals contain high amounts of sugar in most cases. Go to the organic food section of your store and get cereals without sugar added, or eat oatmeal several times a week. Try some of the alternative grain cereals such as amaranth or quinoa.
If you get hypoglycemic, eat high protein snacks in between meals, such as peanut or almond butter on crackers or ask Dr. Erickson about ordering Standard Process™ Food bars that are organic and have a 40/30/30 glycemic index and come in different flavors.
Try lightly steaming or stir frying your vegetables, rather than boiling to preserve more of their nutrient content. Also, eat a variety of different fresh vegetables and fruits each day as well as legumes and whole grains. Buy organic whenever possible. Eat raw vegetables.
Avoid margarine. Some healthy oils are butter in limited quantities, safflower seed oil, sunflower seed oil, flax seed oil, and cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil. These do not contain transfatty acids which increase the risk of heart and cancer problems. Don’t be mislead by the advertising “No Cholesterol”as being healthy (no vegetable oil has cholesterol). You want the unsaturated oils that promote health.
Eat lean meats if you’re not a vegetarian. Empire Brand Kosher chicken has no preservatives, hormones, or antibiotics (Publix carries this in the frozen food section). Maverick beef is hormone and antibiotic-free and has less than 6% fat (Publix has this). Lean pork or lamb is good also. There are sources of organic meats on line. Fresh fish if you are not mercury toxic is also good (stay away from large predatory fish such as swordfish, king mackerel, tile fish, shark and tuna due to the mercury content). The highest quality wild Alaskan salmon and halibut I have found is through www.vitalchoice.com. The salmon is certified to be mercury-free. They ship to your door on dry ice.
Strive to eat five to seven servings of fresh fruit and vegetables daily. If this is not possible, obtain GreensFirst from us and take 1 scoop daily in juice or water. This has the anti-oxidant power of 10 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables. It also has the advantage of tasting good and is organic!
Leaky Gut Syndrome
Leaky gut syndrome is the name given to a disorder of the intestines where the intestinal lining has large spaces between the cells that allow the entry of toxic material into the bloodstream that would normally pass through the colon in the feces. Undigested proteins, fats, toxins, fungi, bacteria, and other wastes not normally absorbed into the bloodstream in a heathy state enter the body through a “porous” intestine. If the intestine is not healthy, neither is the rest of the body.
What Are the Symptoms of Leaky Gut?
The symptoms are similar to those of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). A person may have abdominal bloating, gas, indigestion, alternating constipation and diarrhea. These may go on to include fibromyalgia, increasing food allergies, multiple chemical sensitivities, reduced resistance to infection, and in severe forms autoimmune disorders.
What Causes Leaky Gut?
Virtually anything that causes inflammation of the lining of the intestinal tract can cause this including:
• Prescription drugs such as steroids, aspirin, non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs such as Motrin or arthritis drugs, and prescription birth control pills.
• Mold or fungus stored in grains, fruit and refined carbohydrates – due to mycotoxins these molds or fungus produce.
• Antibiotics that lead to the overgrowth of abnormal bacteria, candida, fungi, and parasites.
• Chemical additives in foods such as dyes and preservatives.
• Enzyme deficiency states such as celiac disease.
• Alcohol and caffeine directly irritate the gut.
Why Is Leaky Gut Important?
When larger than normal protein molecules are absorbed through the intestine before they have had a chance to be completely broken down, the immune system may start making antibodies against them because it recognizes them as foreign invaders. Thus, allergies develop to previously innocuous foods, and organs can be targeted. If the inflammation occurs in the lungs, it is called asthma; if it is in a joint it is called arthritis; if it occurs in the blood vessels, vasculitis; if it occurs in the gut itself it may develop into inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s or may be called irritable bowel syndrome.
In addition to food allergies, the leaky gut syndrome can lead to invasion of the bloodstream by bacteria, fungi, or parasites. This can lead to stress on the detoxification pathways in the liver, resulting in symptoms of fatigue, brain fog, memory loss, or chemical sensitivities that a person did not have prior to the development of leaky gut.
Leaky gut can also lead to multiple nutritional deficiencies of minerals and vitamins. Minerals and vitamins are hooked on to and transported by carrier proteins. In leaky gut, these proteins are damaged as well, so the body can become deficient in nutrients. For instance, a deficiency in the mineral magnesium can lead to a condition such as fibromyalgia or muscle spasms, or a calcium or manganese deficiency can lead to bone problems. People with leaky gut often suffer from symptoms of chronic fatigue.
How Can I Find Out If I Have Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Short of taking small bowel biopsies and looking under the microscope for abnormalities, a special gut permeability urine test can be run.
How Can This Disorder Be Treated?
Treatment is targeted at the cause rather than at the symptoms. If a medication such as a NSAID (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug e.g. Motrin) drug is causing problems, it should be discontinued. If there is a parasitic infection, antiparasitic herbs such as black walnut or cloves might be used. Probiotics such as lactobacillus and bifidophillus as well as FOS (fructooligosaccharides) might be needed. A hypoallergenic diet with the elimination of all wheat and dairy products and processed foods may be needed. Eating smaller, more frequent meals and chewing food well, or taking digestive enzymes may be helpful. If a person has low stomach acid, betaine HCL may be used. There are also nutritional therapies that may be of benefit such as antioxidant vitamins, L-glutamine, essential fatty acids, green foods such as GreensFirst, and proanthocyanidins such as pycnogenols or bilberry extract, and aloe vera of good quality. At the Center we carry products that are powdered hypoallergenic formulas that contain most of the nutrients in one convenient package such as Ultraclear Plus or UltraInflamX.
Strontium and Bone Health
A recently published paper in the New England Journal of Medicine (1/29/2004) suggests that taking strontium supplements may be at least as good a treatment for osteoporosis as currently available therapies, including Fosamax, Evista and Actonel. 1,649 postmenopausal women with osteoporosis who had at least one fracture were divided into two groups. The first group received 2000 mg. of strontium ranelate a day for three years. The second group received a placebo. Both groups took calcium and vitamin D. The bone mineral density in the strontium group improved dramatically, over 8% for hip bone density and over 14% for lumbar spine density. The conclusion of the authors was “treatment of postmenopausal women with strontium leads to early and sustained reductions in the risk of vertebral fractures.” No adverse side effects were noted except for some mild, transient diarrhea in some patients.
What Is Strontium?
Strontium is an element in the same chemical family as calcium and magnesium. In the early 1950′s this element was studied in both animals and humans, and was shown to have strong bone building properties. Some of these studies were done at the Mayo Clinic and also at Cornell University. Strontium fell out of favor because of the association of the word “strontium” with atomic bomb testing and radioactive strontium-90. Strontium, just like calcium and magnesium, is not naturally radioactive. Strontium-90 was formed from the natural strontium in the soils from the atomic bomb testing and became widely disseminated on the planet where it was picked up by grazing cattle and ended up in the milk supply. It then went into our bones. Natural strontium is completely nontoxic, even in high amounts.
Does Strontium Work?
Strontium works differently than drugs. Unlike Fosamax and Actonel, which work by decreasing the rate at which bone is destroyed (inhibiting bone resorption), strontium actually increases bone mass by stimulating the growth of new bone. Fosamax and Actonel “thicken” the old bone. Strontium also has anti-depleting (anti-resorption) properties.
Strontium ranelate is the type of strontium used in the New England Journal of Medicine study. It was developed by a large French pharmaceutical company and it is not available in the US. It is a patented semi-synthetic compound of strontium. Earlier studies using strontium lactate and strontium carbonate showed similar results. These are naturally occurring salts of strontium and strontium ranelate is not. Of course, these naturally occurring forms of strontium cannot be patented so you probably have never heard about them.
In human studies reported prior to 2002, quantities of up to 1700mg of Strontium per day were shown to have no side effects. More recent studies show efficacy with much lower doses in the 340mg range.
How Do I Take Strontium?
• Strontium should be taken at a time different than calcium to improve it’s absorption.
• Vitamin D, vitamin K, bio-identical hormones such as progesterone, testosterone, and in some cases estrogen, magnesium, trace minerals, exercise, smoking cessation and other modalities should be continued.
• Do not use this treatment in children as it can alter the architecture of the developing bone.
• When repeating a DEXA bone scan, the radiologist will need to factor in a correction because strontium is denser than calcium.
• Strontium supplements may be obtained in some health food stores or from the Center. We are getting strontium citrate from a Canadian supplier for our patients.
A Success Story
Mr. B is a 23 year old student who presented to the Center last fall with a one and one half year history of severe heartburn (gastroesophageal reflux) and vomiting at times. This had progressively been getting worse and worse. He noticed certain foods would provoke things, such as pizza or spaghetti. Initially his symptoms would be relieved with Tums, but latter this no longer worked and he started taking Zantac. This would give only partial relief for a short period of time.
Physical examination in the office showed a healthy young man. But his kinesthetic testing showed an overcharged polarity and positive allergy, stomach, and adrenal reflexes. He was placed on supplements that were a mixture of various herbs and phosphatidylcholine to both balance the acupuncture meridians and biochemically improve his condition. His diet was also modified. At his revisit in one month he had no further reflux or digestive problems and felt well.
Another Success Story
Mrs. M is a 53 year old lady who was seen for the first time in October 2004. She was four years past menopause and was still having hot flushes and sweats, thinning of the skin, decreased libido, vaginal dryness, headaches and greatly decreased energy. She was also having problems with difficulty in losing weight, but didn’t feel motivated to exercise because of her fatigue.
After a comprehensive evaluation she was found to have both a hormonal imbalance of all of her sex hormones, and also a thyroid disorder that her previous physician did not discover. There were also multiple nutritional deficiencies found on her hair analysis. She was placed on natural bio-identical hormonal replacement therapy with a combination of estriol and estradiol in grape seed oil, and progesterone and testosterone in a trouche to be taken under her tongue at night. Mrs. M was also placed on the appropriate nutritional supplements to replace the low nutrients on her hair analysis. One of these nutrients was selenium, a very important antioxidant mineral that is critical for thyroid function (it helps convert T4 that the thyroid gland makes into “active” thyroid hormone, T3). She was also placed on a glandular thyroid support supplement called GTA, made by Biotics Research.
Six weeks after initiation of this therapy Mrs. M was seen again at the Center. Her fatigue, vaginal dryness and night sweats were gone. She was sleeping well at night for the first time in 4 years. Her headaches also had completed resolved. Mrs. M had also started to lose a few pounds in weight. “I feel wonderful.” All of her hormones were combined into an all-in-one trouche and she will be seen on a routine basis only. I have often said to my patient’s that their hormonal balance is one of the foundations of good health and functioning.