Knowing What Fish is Safe to Eat

Choosing Healthy Fish to Eat

fish counter

 

With Summer here, we tend to eat more fish. Here is some information to help you make the best choices. 

Shrimp

Shrimp that you purchase in the grocery store often comes from Asian farms that over use antibiotics. Shrimp is bathed in a sodium solution to make its meat juicier.  Sulfites are used to prevent discoloration in the shrimp and some people react to the sulfites such as triggering a migraine.

Ask where you shrimp has come from and opt for domestic shrimp. The USA has stricter regulations regarding shrimp fishing and farming practices. 

Choose North American wild caught shrimp, north shrimp, pink shrimp, spot pawns and white shrimp.  

Salmon

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Farming practices have improved but antibiotics are still a concern.  Choose salmon that is wild caught from Alaska as there is no overfishing or contaminant risk.  Wild caught Alaskan salmon will have a great omega 3 ratio.  While vacuum sealed packs means more plastic waste, the benefit is that this flash freezing and packing process results in loss of very little nutrients. 

If you eat canned salmon, look for wild sockeye.  

If your salmon is being sold “fresh” in the winter months, it is probably a fraud.

Canned Tuna

tuna fish

 

Albacore canned tuna is high in mercury.  For this reason, limit the amount you consume to no more than 3 cans per month.  Smaller seafood such as scallops, sardines, oyster, shrimp and anchovies contain less mercury. 

Larger fish will contain more mercury such as swordfish, grouper, marlin, orange roughly, and shark.

Choose skip hack tuna or light tuna in water. Avoid tuna that is in vegetable oil. 

Beware: Some products may be mislabeled as tuna.  Nearly 60% of the fish labeled tuna in the US is not tuna.  84% of white tuna sold at sushi places was a fish called escolar, which is associated with acute and serious digestive effects if you consume just a couple of ounces.

Tilapia

tilapia

 

This fish does not contain any omega 3 essential fatty acids. Tilapia are fed a grain based diet when it has been farmed.  Much of the tilapia comes from Asia where they may still use banned chemicals.

Choose tilapia that has come from the US, Canada, Ecuador or Peru.

Pollock

This fish you have most likely eaten if you eat breaded fish sticks and breaded fish in restaurants. It can also be found in imitation crab meat. 

Choose Alaskan Pollock, also called Walleye Pollock or whitefish.

Buyer Beware!

Fish is often mislabeled and often when purchasing there is no information as to where the fish has come from.  Ask at the fish counter or in the restaurant what country the fish is from, if it was wild caught or farmed.  Sadly, many times the person will tell you he or she doesn’t know this information.  I went to an expensive restaurant one time and asked where their salmon came from and he said jokingly “the water”.  I never did get an answer.  Just because you are paying a high price in an expensive restaurant, does not mean the quality of your fish is better. 

Seafood from other countries is often factory farmed and the conditions are unhealthy. Often the fish are exposed to antibiotics and chemicals and are stored in bacteria-laden ice and may even be fed pig feces tainted with salmonella.  The US only inspects about 2% of all the seafood that comes from abroad. 

If you are pregnant, limit the amount of fish and seafood you consume and eat seafood that is the lowest in mercury such as wild salmon, sardines, mussels, rainbow trout and Atlantic mackerel. These fish are also rich in omega 3 essential fatty acids. 

Other Fish

We tend to consume the same type of fish over and over such as salmon and canned tuna.  There are other sustainable fish to choose from such as mullet and scup.

Bottom Line

Limit the amount of fish that you consume and do your homework prior to eating fish and seafood. 

Some helpful sites to use include

www.eatthesefish.com This site shows a wide variety of fish that is safe to eat.

www.vitalchoice.com This is a good source to buy your salmon, canned salmon and other fish as well.

For my local CO readers: check out http://www.northeastseafood.com You can place an order and pick up at their Denver location.  They send email announcements as to when in season seafood has arrived.  Their wild salmon is from Alaska.  Note that some companies may say that their salmon is wild but it is from the Pacific not Alaska. 

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

Sources

http://seafood.edf.org/buying-fish-what-you-need-to-know#bmb=1

https://www.nrdc.org/stories/smart-seafood-buying-guide

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/06/01/best-seafood.aspx

https://experiencelife.com/article/how-to-choose-seafood-thats-nutritious-sustainable-and-safe/

https://experiencelife.com/article/fish-smarts-for-pregnant-women/

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How to Know if You Have Hypothyroidism

Your Thyroid: Did your Test Results Come Back Normal?

(But you still feel like crap)stressed person

 

 

An underactive thyroid is not always the easiest thing to pinpoint when you have so many symptoms that seem random to you.  And only more recently are doctors starting to recognize that an unbalanced thyroid can have an impact not only on your physical health but your mental health as well.  The symptoms of hypothyroidism can also look like symptoms of other health issues, thus getting the proper diagnosis can take a long time.  If you see your doctor and share your symptoms of stress, fatigue, anxiety or depression, she may place you on antidepressants.

This may occur even after the blood work with the TSH test done. 

Stress, depression, anxiety, tiredness, and other emotional and mental states can mask a thyroid imbalance.  Depression is now the number one mental illness (it used to be anxiety) but are we not looking deep enough to find out what may be causing the high rate of these mental health issues?  Not to say that hypothyroidism is at the root of all mental health issues but it should be looked at thoroughly and from a functional range standpoint before  it can be ruled out.

 If you had your thyroid tested you ideally want your TSH levels to be in the range from 1.8-2.8 mIU/L.  (others state that most feel better when their TSH is in the range of .8-2.5) 

Normal TSH lab results are considered in the range of .50-5.00. Some labs have updated this and set the upper limit to 3.0 mIU/L.  What if your levels fall into this range yet you have many of the low thyroid symptoms?  Hopefully your doctor did a complete panel to look also at your T4 and T3 ranges.  It is possible to have signs of hypothyroidism when your TSH  levels are within what is considered the “normal range”. 

The issue most often arises when your doctor only tests TSH and this is in the “normal” range. The worst part is when you hear the doctor say “Your blood work is great.  You are fine”.  Yet, you don’t feel fine.  Instead they tell you it is in your head and prescribe an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication.

Reference ranges on lab work may differ from one lab to the next and from one geographic location to the next. Experts recommend testing 120-200 patient samples for establishment of a statistically significant reference interval.  What I don’t like about these ranges provided on standard blood work is that it is there to diagnose disease for the most part, not to prevent disease. The other issue I have is that these ranges are based on the patient samples. Look at the average American nowadays. Does the image of health come to your mind or one of an unhealthy overweight person?

Functional ranges look at a smaller range so that health issues can be addressed before it turns into a full -blown disease.  

Make sure all parts of the thyroid get tested. You can have normal TSH and still have low thyroid.  Your T4 converts into T3 which is the active form of thyroid hormone and this conversion happens in the liver and needs an enzyme group  and selenium to make this conversion. Some doctors test TSH and T4 and still all looks good. You want to see the T3 test results too!  Essentially you want all the pieces to the puzzle not just a few. 

 

Functions of the Thyroid

  • Supports hair and skin health
  • Supports bone density
  • Controls respiration rate
  • Supports conversion of beta-carotene to vitamin A
  • Maintains body temperature and tolerance to extreme heat or cold
  • Helps maintain muscle tautness
  • Controls metabolism-it controls the speed of every chemical reaction in all cells
  • Controls the rate at which cells burn fuel for energy
  • Supports mental acuity and memory
  • Supports serotonin synthesis
  • Sets heart rate tempo
  • Regulates cholesterol

 

  What Causes Hypothyroidism?

millet stalks

  • Most common cause is auto-antibodies such as in Hashimoto’s disease (an autoimmune condition)

o   Hashimoto’s is 7x more common in women, age of onset is usually 40-60 but 1-2% of school age children can be affected.

  • Genetics can play a role in autoimmune hypothyroid
  • Those with Hashimoto’s also have a prevalence for celiac disease
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Medications such as lithium, excess estrogen (i.e.: birth control pills), estrogen dominance
  • Cofactor deficiencies such as iodine, zinc, c, selenium, iron, vitamins A and B complex (can be caused from excessive dieting, anorexia)
  • Stress/elevated cortisol
  • Excess halogens (i.e.: chlorine/chloride, bromide, fluoride)
  • Leaky gut syndrome
  • Food sensitivity
  • Candida

The Difference Between Hypothyroidism and Hashimotos

Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease that effects the thyroid gland. The antibodies react against the proteins in your thyroid gland causing gradual destruction of the gland itself.  This makes it unable to produce the thyroid hormones your body needs.  It is essentially attacking self and seeing self wrongly as an invader. If your thyroid issue turns out to be Hashimotos than you have an autoimmune disease (AI).  All AI diseases need immune and gut support from a holistic perspective. 

With Hashimotos disease, you can have periods where your thyroid is functioning properly or even over active and you may have temporary hyperthyroid symptoms and then you return to hypothyroidism symptoms.  This cycling back and forth is common with Hashimotos. For instance, you may feel for a period, anxious, can’t sleep, have diarrhea, and weight loss and then followed by a period of depression, fatigue, constipation and weight gain.  Eventually, as the attack continues, the gland will over time have less ability to function.

Hypothyroidism is not a disease but is a condition.  It is a state of a sluggish thyroid.  With hypothyroidism, you have a problem with your gland. With Hashimotos you have a problem with your immune function. 

How Do I Know if I Have Low Thyroid/Hypothyroidism?

person sleeping

Symptoms Include:

  • Loss out outer 1/3 of eyebrow
  • Yellow bumps on eyelid
  • Chronic constipation
  • Depression, moodiness
  • Fatigue/chronic
  • Excess hair loss/thinning hair
  • Weight gain/slow metabolism
  • Cold hands and feet
  • PMS
  • Cry easily
  • Dry flaky skin
  • Nervousness
  • Slow heart rate and/or heart palpitations
  • Muscle weakness
  • Feel better post exercise
  • Can’t breathe deeply enough
  • Poor memory/brain fog
  • Low body temperature
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Trouble getting up in the morning
  • Increased number of infections
  • Dizziness/vertigo
  • Lack of sweating when exercising
  • High cholesterol
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Digestive issues (GERD, acid reflux, upset stomach, bloat, gas )

If you suspect low thyroid, see you doctor and ask for a hormone panel that looks at not just your thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) but your T4 and Free T3 and an antibody test as well to look for autoimmune hypothyroid. If your doctor does not want to do a complete thyroid panel you can get the test done yourself from  www.directlabs.com. Here you can order the free T’s, TSH and antibody panel for $159.  Most holistic nutritionists and ND’s can interpret and explain the results to you.  (note: testing is available in most states but not all)

                                             

Thyroid Dysfunction Causes

glass of water

Insulin imbalance: This can happen when you are eating a diet filled with processed, refined carbs and sugar along with weight gain.  This poor blood sugar control can also contribute to dysbiosis which is when the gut microbiome is out of balance.  This impaired gut health can lead to poor immune function, can stress the adrenals, slows your body’s natural detox process and can lead to hormonal imbalances.  These health issues can also contribute to poor thyroid function.

Stress: Not just one stressful event, but the daily chronic stress can place a burden on the adrenal glands and can alter the brains communication with the thyroid.  Stress can slow the conversion of T4 to the active form, T3, can slow the detox process of the liver, and can contribute to leaky gut syndrome.  This can lead to immune dysfunction which contributes to an increased risk of Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune thyroid condition. 

If you have adrenal fatigue, your thyroid gland can eventually wear out and lead to sluggish thyroid function. 

Gut infection: It is possible that correcting a gut infection such as H pylori can have a positive impact on the thyroid, especially for those with Hashimotos.  There is not a lot of research in this area but a study of ten patients did show this to be effective.  In order to heal a gut infection one must support gut health first with diet and nutrition and then address the gut infection.  If you address the infection first without supporting your body it is possible that it will be difficult to rid the body of the infection. 

Toxins: Research is showing that toxins may be responsible for changes in thyroid function.  This research focused on flame retardant chemicals.  Living in a home with a high amount of flame retardant chemicals has been shown to be linked to an increased rate of thyroid cancer.

Fluoride: A British study found a strong correlation between the areas where fluoride content was highest with a higher risk of developing hypothyroidism.  It was found that areas that had fluoride levels above .3 milligrams per liter (mg/L), the risk rose by 30%.  In the US the minimum standards for drinking water fluoridation are set at .7 mg/L. This means that if you live in the US your risk of hypothyroidism may be even greater.  If you want to know if fluoride has been added to your water, get a water report at http://www.ofmpub.epa.gov

Support Your Thyroid with Nutrition

balanced meal

  • Go gluten free: based on surveys many have found that a gluten free diet is one of most helpful interventions when dealing with hypothyroidism. Check your thyroid medications to make sure they are gluten free as most are but some are not! Visit glutenfreedrugs.com to check your medications.
  • Go Casein Free: Some people also find they do better without dairy in the diet as well. Dairy sensitivity testing is an option or remove dairy for several weeks and note how you feel.  Check packaging for hidden dairy.  Go to enterolab.com for stool testing 
  • Check your gut health: gut disorders such as celiac and h-pylori can interfere with the absorption of thyroid medications. If you want to know more about the gut and thyroid connection read “Hashimoto’s- the root cause” by Dr. Wentz.
  • Balance your blood sugar: Include protein and fat with every meal, eat every two to three hours at first and then as blood sugar balances you can go longer without eating; avoid fruit juice and processed foods; eat within one hour of wakening; don’t fast and if you eat carbs add some protein and fat to them.
  • Get your adrenals checked for adrenal fatigue: Questionnaires are available online, read Adrenal Fatigue by Dr. Wilson or take an adrenal salivary index test from direct labs. (Most doctors will mention this saliva at home test) Support your adrenals by reducing caffeine, add in relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation, include Adaptogenic herbs, get plenty of rest and balance blood sugar!
  • Include iodine rich foods for thyroid support such as sea vegetables and sea food, shellfish, iodized salt (switch out table salt for Himalayan or Celtic sea salt). Iodine’s main function is the synthesis of thyroid hormones. (note: test first, if you have Hashimoto’s you may not need iodine and may want to avoid iodine supplementation)
  • Water Filtration System: Fluoride in the water can block the uptake of iodine. Purchase one that also removes chlorine. The one that I use is the Berkey (www.berkeyfilters.com)
  • Tyrosine which can be found in cottage cheese, beef top sirloin, turkey and eggs
  • B complex: to get more of your B’s in the diet include nutritional yeast, organ meats, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts seeds, mushrooms and avocado and leafy greens (animal products are the only natural source of B12)
  • Selenium: low selenium correlates with low thyroid. Add in brazil nuts, crimini mushrooms, garlic, beef, fish, seafood, turkey and chicken (celiac malabsorption can cause selenium deficiency)
  • Zinc: pumpkin seeds, seafood, meat, eggs, lamb, peas,
  • Essential Fatty Acids: salmon, sardines, mackerel, canned white tuna, chia seeds, walnuts, pastured eggs, flax oil,
  • Ashwagandha: This Adaptogenic herb is known to help you adapt to stress and can help to balance hormones, including the thyroid. It can be useful to balance cortisol, promote insulin sensitivity, and stabilize your mood.
  • Guggul: This herb may enhance the conversion of T4 to T3.  
  • Vitamin A: butter, egg yolk, whole milk, shrimp
  • Vitamin D3: cod liver oil, seafood, eggs, liver, shiitake mushrooms, oysters, salmon, sardines, herring,
  • Vitamin C: yellow bell peppers, strawberries, oranges, limes, broccoli, kale, snow peas, watermelon, cabbage and white potato
  • Iron: iron supplementation is not recommended for postmenopausal women or adult males as too much iron can be toxic. Iron is a competitive nutrient competing with 10 other vitamins and minerals and thus iron should be taken away from your multivitamin/mineral.  Iron rich foods include liver, oysters, mussels, beef, fish, poultry, kidney beans, lentils, potato with the skin on, cashew nuts and tofu.
  • Thyroid Supplementation: use natural whole thyroid products as you need all parts of the thyroid, not just T4 and/or T3. If you have Hashimoto’s then start with a T3/T4 medication and then while supporting the body,  switch to a natural whole thyroid supplement-the reason being that for some the whole thyroid product may initially cause more antibody production. 
  • Eat balanced meals throughout the day, add color, variety to your plate, eat whole living foods!
  • AVOID: Bromine. This is found in pesticides, plastics, commercial baked goods, soft drinks and fire retardants. Bromine may play a role in poor iodine uptake and may lead to iodine insufficiency.
  • AVOID: processed soy products. Avoid sulfa drugs or antihistamines unless necessary. 

A Word of Caution: Please note that a holistic nutritionist will address hypothyroidism and Hashimotos differently. For instance, you may need to reduce goitrogenic foods in the raw state for hypothyroidism but not for Hashimoto’s. For AI, you will need to support the immune system.  Work with a professional who can help you feel better.  If your test results do determine low thyroid, it is still very important to rule out an AI thyroid condition! 

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

Sources:

Arem, R. (1999) The Thyroid Solution. NY: Ballantine Books

Balch, P.  (2012) Prescription for Herbal Healing. NY: Penguin Group

Bauman, E., & Friedlander, J. Therapeutic Nutrition. Part 1.  Pengrove, CA: Bauman    

   College. 

Gaby, A. (2006) The Natural Pharmacy. NY: Three Rivers Press

Hoffman, D. (2003) Medical Herbalism. The Science and Practie of Herbal Medicine. VT: Healing Arts Press

Mars, B. (2007) The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine. CA: Basic Health Publications

Marz, F. (1999) Medical Nutrition. OR: Omni Press

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/05/31/screening-thryoid-drugs-often-fail-to-relieve-symptoms.aspx?

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23378454

http://fluoridealalert.org/issues/health/thyroid/

https://news.kent.ac.uk/app/uploads/2015/02/Flouride-research.pdf

https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/basics.htm

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H2 Histamine Blockers Concerns and Deficiencies

Ranitidine: An H2 Histamine Blocker

(common name Zantac, Pepcid)

What You Need to Know First

pills

 

Ranitidine is a member of the H-2 histamine blocker family of drugs. This medicine prevents the release of acid into the stomach.  It is used to treat stomach ulcers, GERD, erosive esophagitis, and Zollinger-Ellsion syndrome. 

This is available OTC and as a prescription medication. 

While proton pump inhibitor drugs (PPI’s) have been in the news more lately due to new side effect findings, it does not mean that Histamine blockers are free of concerns. They are both used to suppress gastric secretions but they differ in how they do this. 

While these drugs are used to suppress stomach acid, be aware that we need stomach acid.  An easy to read and informative book that I suggest you get to understand why stomach acid is vital to our overall health is “Why we need stomach acid” by Wright and Lenard. 

What H-2 Histamine Blockers May Deplete

  • Folate: Folate is needed by the body to utilize vitamin B12. Zantac and similar medications inhibit folate absorption.  Thus, taking this medication may cause a deficiency in folate and B12
  • Iron: Stomach acid may facilitate iron absorption. Beta blockers reduce stomach acid and are associated with decreased dietary absorption of iron.  People with ulcers may be deficient due to blood loss.  It is best to check iron levels on your blood work. 
  • B12: Stomach acid is needed to release B12 from food so that it can be absorbed by the body. Since beta blockers reduce stomach acid, your B12 levels will also be low.  B12 supplementation does not need stomach acid.
  • Magnesium: These drugs can block the active transport of magnesium in the intestines causing low magnesium and resulting in depression.
  • Other possible nutrient deficiencies include: vitamin A, vitamin D, calcium and zinc

What you Should ask Yourself Before Taking an H-2 Histamine Blocker (or a PPI)

  • These drugs reduce stomach acid. Do you know that elevated stomach acid is your issue?  For some it could be something else and low stomach acid can cause the same symptoms as high stomach acid. 
  • These drugs are meant to be taken only short term, 4-8 weeks, but most people take these meds long term, sometimes for years. Would you rather get to the root of your problem and address it?
  • Would life style and dietary changes be better (and safer with no side effects) be better than taking a drug?

What May Be Causing Your Stomach Issues

  • Hiatal Hernia
  • Hormones (yours and those from your food)
  • Eating too much, too quickly and too late
  • Relaxation of the esophageal sphincter
  • High or low stomach acid
  • Coffee, caffeine, carbonated drink, spicy foods
  • Gall bladder issues (which can also mean liver issues since bile is made in the liver and is stored in the gallbladder)

Natural Options

ginger-1714106_640

It is always best to work with a professional to address your root causes and find out what would be the best method of body balance and digestive relief but here are a few things you can try on your own in the meantime. 

  • Try drinking 1 tablespoon of Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar in 8 ounces of water before a meal. If this helps, you may have low stomach acid. If it makes it worse, try ½ teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water. If this resolves your issue, you may have high stomach acid.

o   If you have high stomach acid limit the amount of spicy foods you eat during gut healing (which includes coffee). 

o   As we age our stomach acid levels go down, thus older people tend to have low not high stomach acid. 

  • Add in digestive bitters before a meal. Bitter foods and herbs stimulate our bile and digestive juices to aid with meal digestion. 
  • Add in a digestive enzyme, a full spectrum one is best, so that is has the needed enzymes to break down your fats, sugar (carbs/starches), and proteins in the meal.
  • Chew DGL (licorice) before a meal
  • CHEW! Don’t inhale your food. Chew each bite 15-20 times.  This aids the digestive process.  It may seem simple but just this step alone can be very effective for some. 
  • Work with someone to determine if you have food intolerances. Or start by removing a food group for 2 to 4 weeks and see if the issue resolves. The main culprits include gluten, dairy, soy and corn.  

Bottom Line

Ask yourself if you want to address the cause or use symptom management. The choice is yours. 

Sources

  1. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/suzy-cohen-rph/acid-reflux-medication-_b_2522466.html
  2. Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Foundations in Nutrition. CA: Bauman College
  3. Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Therapeutics in Nutrition. CA: Bauman College
  4. Gaby, A. (2006) A-Z Guide to Drug-Herb-Vitamin Interactions. NY: Three Rivers Press
  5. Wright, J. & Lenard, L. (2001) Why Stomach Acid is Good For You. NY: M. Evanns

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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What is Leaky Gut Syndrome and Your Mental Health

What is Leaky Gut Syndrome and Why You Should Know About it

gut

This is a buzz word lately along with gut health and the microbiome. Why is this such as big deal?  Should you even be concerned, especially if you do not have any stomach digestive issues? 

The answer is yes, you should know how your gut health impacts many aspects of your health, not just physical but your mental health as well. It is a very common health issue today yet many people are unaware of it and traditional medical professionals do not address it typically, most likely because they have never been taught about it in medical school

What is Leaky Gut Syndrome? (LGS)

Leaky gut syndrome (LGS) and intestinal permeability mean the same thing.  When you have LGS, food particles that should normally be broken down into their parts (usually these are proteins) are instead passed through the gut lining in their unbroken down state.  They then travel through the blood stream and can wreak havoc in your body. While there they trigger an over stimulation of the immune system and allergic reactions. 

In a healthy gut, you would have tight junctions along the gut wall so that food gets digested and absorbed via the normal digestion process.  This gut lining can become inflamed (for many reasons-see list below) and these tight junctions can separate creating holes in this protective barrier.  The toxins are now passing through these tears in the intestinal wall.  Once they enter the blood stream they can trigger an immune response which is protective rather than a healing response. 

Think of LGS as intruders invading your home.  If the door stays open (LGS) the intruders will constantly enter with nothing to stop them. Thus, if your root causes for LGS are not addressed, that door will continue to stay open and more damage will be done to your home.  Over time then the issue become chronic. 

Once the issue becomes chronic, it places stress upon the liver. The liver attempts to clean up this toxic overload but the liver may now be overburdened and cannot keep up.  This burden will lead to even more consequences over time. 

Over time this leads to low grade infections within the body and can affect your gut health but can also affect your brain and your liver.  It can contribute to autoimmune disease, autism and allergies. It has been linked to MS, chronic fatigue syndrome, acne, eczema, psoriasis, and IBS to name a few. 

LGS Symptoms

  • Gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation
  • ADHD
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Autism
  • Bipolar
  • GERD
  • Poor immune functioning (get every cold that comes around or take a long time to recover form illness)
  • Brain fog, memory loss
  • Headaches
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Nutritional deficiencies (not absorbing your nutrients)
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Skin issues (eczema, psoriasis, acne)
  • IBS
  • IBD
  • Other autoimmune conditions such as Hashimotos, celiac disease, fibromyalgia
  • Arthritis, inflamed joints, chronic pain
  • Changes in mood, weight, and appetite

What to Do if Have a Leaky Gut

The first thing to do if you know you have leaky gut is to identify what is causing it.

 Some causes of leaky gut include (not an exhaustible list):

GMO

  • NSAIDS
  • Anorexia
  • Candida
  • Old age
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Chemo and radiation
  • Parasitic infection
  • GMO’s, pesticides, herbicides, glyphosate
  • Antibiotic use
  • Food allergies/food sensitivities
  • Standard American Diet
  • Diet high in refined sugar and processed, refined carbs
  • Gluten (today’s gluten is sprayed)
  • Pasteurized dairy
  • Meats from CAFO (confined animal factory operations)
  • Chronic elevated cortisol levels

 

 

When you Have Identified your Causes (often there is more than one) Then Follow a Step by Step Protocol:

  1. Remove the identifying causes from your diet (if you need to, work with a nutritional professional who can help you identify your root causes and possibly order testing such as IgG food allergy testing, Stool testing, Organic Acid tests, zonulin or lactulose tests ).
  2. Add in supportive foods for your body, such as leafy greens, fruits, vegetables, quality fats and proteins. Eat whole foods as much as possible. Hydrate with filtered water and organic herbal teas. 
  3. Add in herbs and supportive supplements to promote gut healing and liver detox (it is best to work under the guidance of a professional at this point as some herbs and supplements can interact with meds or may not be suitable for some health conditions)
  4. Add in prebiotic and probiotic rich foods such as kefir, kimchi, fermented vegetables, miso and tempeh, raw onions and garlic, asparagus and Jerusalem artichoke.

How to Avoid LGS

The best way to avoid LGS is to avoid the list of roots causes above. In addition to that, supporting your gut health and your immune health is key with prebiotic and probiotic rich foods daily and stick to a whole foods diet as much as you can (I like an 80/20 plan).

Uses herbs and supplements as needed on an individualized basis.  I don’t recommend specifics here because everyone has different needs and a different constitution and thus each plan should be targeted for your health needs instead of generalized. 

Sources

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25734566
  2. https://chriskresser.com/how-stress-wreaks-havoc-on-your-gut/
  3. Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Therapeutics in Nutrition. CA: Bauman College
  4. Nichols, T. & Faas, N. (2005) Optimal Digestive Health. VT: Healing Arts Press.
  5. http://www.functionalmedicineuniversity.com/public/leaky-gut.cfm

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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Food Coloring and Dye Sensitivity in Your Child and the Association with Behavioral and Mental Health Issues

Food Coloring Sensitivity Symptoms: Could This Be Your Child?

cupcake

Could your child’s physical, mental, behavioral and emotional symptoms be connected to food colorings and dyes added to processed foods that are a part of your diet.  Typically, these children start showing symptoms around age 1 when foods are being introduced into the diet. 

Years later and many medications later parents are struggling to figure out what is causing all these issues.

Food dyes and colorings has been a controversial subject since pediatrician, Dr. Benjamin Feingold published his findings in the 19070’s and noted the link between hyperactive behavior and dyes.  But scientists and the government are not in consensus. Some studies do not state that these dyes cause behavioral issues but do state that dyes may contribute to making ADHD symptoms worse.

In 2004, the results from 15 studies concluded there was a modest worsening of behavior when children with ADHD consumed foods with synthetic dyes.  Since then the European Union commissioned 2 studies to clarify the situation.  The results were convincing enough that the European Union passed a law requiring a warning on foods that contain one or more of the suspicious dyes. 

What did the U.S. do? They decided it is up to our government to decide when these dyes cause harmful effects.  Thus, our products carry no warning label for parents.  For some children, they may be extra sensitive to even very small amounts of dyes and colorings. 

As a parent, you know your child best. If 8 or more symptoms below sound like your child, try a 2- week elimination of all dyes and colorings from your child’s diet.  The worst thing that can happen is that your child will eat a healthy nutritious diet for 2 whole weeks minus many of the processed junk food on today’s shelves. 

Food Dyes

cereal fruit loop type

  • Red 40 (this has been associated with aggressiveness and impulsive behavior in children, hitting, biting, kicking, tantrums)
  • Yellow 5 (most often associated with insomnia, hyperactivity and learning disabilities)
  • Yellow 6
  • Red 3
  • Blue 1
  • Blue 2
  • Green 3
  • Annatto (a natural food coloring)
  • Carmine (a natural food coloring)

Signs Your Child’s Behavior Could Be Related to Dyes/Colorings

child holding ears

  • Hyperactivity (the H in ADHD)
  • ADD symptoms (inability to focus, inattention)
  • Sleep issues
  • Mood swings (can be in a span of one day, several hours…)
  • Violence, aggression (i.e.: in kids; spitting, biting, kicking, growling, tantrums that can last an hour or longer)
  • Lack of impulse control (disruptive, interrupts when someone is speaking, excessive talking, difficulty in transitioning from one task, one activity to another)
  • Headaches, stomachaches, vomiting
  • Bed wetting, well past toilet trained age
  • Skin ailments such as eczema, hives, unexplained rashes
  • Breathing issues such as asthma
  • Compulsive: picks at his or her skin, repeats certain actions, pulls out his or her own hair, or eyebrows.
  • Not consistent: for instance, you think it could be due to sugar, but one day he eats sugar and he is fine and another day he eats a sugary food and he is off the wall with his behavior. In this case, it may not be the sugar!
  • Headbanging as a toddler, typically started when foods were introduced into the diet when an infant or toddler. Headbanging typically stops around age 3 once the child is larger with more weight on his body to “handle” the amounts of dyes in foods.
  • Has a diagnosis of Sensory Processing Disorder
  • Sensitive to bright lights, loud noises.
  • Frequent bouts of crying
  • Sensitivity can continue into adulthood and can be a cause for anger, depression and aggression

If you identify with one to three or four items on this list, it may not be a dye/coloring root cause.  Still it cannot hurt to remove dyes and colorings from the diet for 2 weeks to note any changes.  Most children that have a dye/coloring reaction identify with 8 or more on this list. 

The Good News

Manufacturers are listening to parents. Many have removed or are in the planning stages of removing dyes from their products.  Kraft has removed dyes from some, not all, of their products.  General Mills has removed dyes from Trix and Yoplait go-gurts.  Chick-fil-A removed yellow #5 from its chicken soup, Frito lay has removed dyes from Lay’s seasoned and kettle cooked chips, Sun Chips and Tostitos, and Pepperidge Farm removed dyes from Goldfish Crackers.  Please note that Goldfish contain annatto which is a natural food coloring and some children are sensitive to this. 

What to Do If You Suspect a Food Dye/Coloring Reaction in Your Child?

The first thing to do is to start clearing out your home of all foods that contain dyes and colors. This is a big task as it will require you to read labels on everything. Dyes and coloring are added to foods you would not think of such as your jar of pickles.  Some more obvious foods include cereals, processed American cheese and colored beverages. It is not just in that rainbow-colored cupcake icing, m and m’s, skittles or starbursts but it can be hidden in salad dressings, crackers, chips, soups and much more.

Once you have cleaned out your pantry, then it is time to shop.  Go when you know you have the time to read labels and plan for more than an hour in the store. Once you get the hang of products that are safe and your child likes, the process will become easier. 

Your child can also react to food dyes in toothpaste, vitamins and medications!  Don’t forget to check these products too.

What ends up happening is that these children exceed the safety limit due to overconsumption of foods with dyes and colorings.

If you do not see any significant positive changes within the 2 weeks, this may not be the root cause.  If this symptom list still sounds like your child, you may want to then explore a preservative free diet and look for labels that contain sodium benzoate (to start) which has been linked to hyperactivity in children. 

Is It Impacting Your Child’s Gut Health?

Unfortunately, I cannot find any direct links or studies showing that a sensitivity to artificial dyes and colorings could impact gut health.  However, just because the information is not out there, does not mean it does not exist.  If food sensitivities, such as one to dairy or gluten can cause leaky gut syndrome then at this point I must believe that a dye sensitivity can do the same. 

What this means is that once you remove these suspected foods and have a routine with your new diet, the next step is to address gut healing.  I like to do this with a product called Restore along with fermented foods and other targeted supplements if necessary. 

What to Do Next

If removing artificial and natural colorings did not help, don’t give up. Slowly remove other additives, removing only one at a time such as:

  1. Benzoates (in juices, soft drinks, syrups, meds)
  2. Sorbates (in margarine, dips, cakes, fruit products)
  3. Sulphites (in dried fruits, fruit drinks, sausages and more)
  4. Nitrates (processed meat products)
  5. Propionates
  6. Flavor enhancers (MSG 621 and others in the 600 range)

For a more complete list of possible additives that your child may be reacting to, go to fedup.com.au and use that as a good resource to guide you. 

Bottom Line: Your child does not have to suffer. Work with a holistic nutrition professional to help you figure out the root cause for your child’s behavioral, mental and emotional issues. 

Did removing dyes from your child’s diet make a difference? If so I would love to hear from you!

 

Sources

  1. https://www.scientificamerican.com/articles/does-artificial-food-coloring-contribute-to-adhd-in-children/
  2. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/05/22/artificial-food-dyes.aspx
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3441937/
  4. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laurie-david/post_1891_b_843577.html
  5. http://www.fedup.com.au/factsheets/symptom-factsheets/head-banging
  6. http://www.happymothering.com/02/health-2/nutrition-health-2/beyond-allergies-why-food-dyes-may-cause-child-behavioral-problems/
  7. https://cspinet.org/eating-healthy/ingredients-concern/food-dyes/testimonies
  8. Dorfman, K. (2013) Cure Your Child with Food. NY: Workman Publishing Group

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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Consuming Soy and it’s Dangers

Vegetarian and Vegan Diets:

What you need to know about Soy in your diet

soy-beans

If you avoid foods with a face, you may end up consuming a lot of soy to meet your protein needs. While not all soy is bad, the type that most Americans eat is not the healthy type of soy and it may be doing more harm than good for your body. 

What Type of Soy to Avoid/Minimize in your Diet

  • Processed soy products such as soy burgers and hot dogs
  • Soy protein powder
  • Soy infant formula (if you can)
  • Soybean oil (use avocado, EVOO, coconut)
  • Soy cheese (use grass fed, raw cheese , goat cheese or avoid)
  • Soy nuts (eat tree nuts if you can tolerate)
  • Soy milk (drink nut milks, coconut milk)
  • Tofu (most of it is GMO and many lack the enzyme to digest this unfermented soy food) (6 )
  • Soy nut butter (try nut butters or sunflower butter)
  • soy sauce (use coconut aminos instead)

Much of the soy that is consumed in the U.S. comes from packaged and processed soy products. You may be even consuming more soy than you realize since soy is cheap and has been added to many processed packaged foods.  (3)

Soy is used as an oil, as a thickener, flavor enhancer, stabilizer, preservative and a filler. (4)  If you are eating processed foods, the odds are you are eating processed soy.

School lunch programs even add soy to their hamburger patties. Studies show that soy may not be good for a growing and developing child. (5). Have your child bring a lunch from home instead.

What You Need to Know About Soy

soy-no

The forms I mentioned above are unhealthy for various reasons, such as;

  • Soy is high in oxalates. (2) While there are other foods that are high in oxalates as well, many vegans/vegetarians consume soy daily and multiple times per day. A buildup of oxalates can interfere with the body’s metabolic processes and can contribute to autism, ADD, COPD, asthma, cystic Fibrosis, vulvodynia, AI disease and low thyroid. (1)
  • Soy is a GMO crop. This means that the crop has been engineered to withstand spraying of roundup on the crop. When you consume processed soy products you are consuming GMO’s. (Roundup-also called glyphosate-can lead to leaky gut syndrome, and can disrupt the endocrine system.) (1)
  • Aluminum and arsenic have also been found in GMO soy. (1)
  • Soybean oil is high in omega 6’s. While we need omega 6 fatty acids, we consume too many which leads to inflammation in the body. (7)
  • Soy contains isoflavones that function as endocrine disruptors. These isoflavones which are plant compounds can activate estrogen receptors in the body. (7)
  • Soy isoflavones can also cause breast cancer. Studies are conflicting on the pros and cons for breast health. (3)
  • Soy can impair thyroid function. The isoflavones found in soy can function as goitrogens which are substances that can interfere with thyroid function. (3).
  • Soy formula for babies is low in fat and babies need fat. Soy formula is also too high in manganese and this can lead to ADHD symptoms.  It is also high in aluminum.  (1) Think about it, you are also giving your baby a high amount of genistein (an isoflavone) which can impact your child’s hormones down the road.  (5)
  • The phytoestrogens can also contribute to andropause in men (7)
  • Because of the excess estrogen from a diet filled with processed soy, it can contribute to estrogen dominance in women and PMS symptoms along with breast cancer, PCOS, cervical cancer and other hormone imbalance disorders such as girls reaching their menstruation as an early age. (4) . These hormone properties are from genistein which is the main isoflavone found in soy.  (5)
  • Introducing compounds that mimic estrogen could upset the body balance and may lead to long term impact on behavior and brain chemistry. (5)
  • Soy products can cause vitamin B12 deficiency. Soy contains B12 analogs.  These analogs block the uptake of true B12 so your needs actually increase.    But these B12 analogs cannot be used by your body the way it would use real B12. (6) 

What Type of Soy Can You Eat?

tempeh food bowl

Types of Soy to add to your diet

  • Fermented soy is a great choice. But even so, this should not be the bulk of your diet.  Even fermented soy will contain isoflavones: add in tempeh, miso and natto. Even fermented soy can be GMO so be sure to check the label and purchase organic (4). Fermented foods contain probiotics which a healthy gut needs.
  • Soybeans in whole form are rich in micronutrients and can be a good source of plant protein but don’t go overboard and make this your main protein source since soybeans are high in omega 6 essential fatty acids which can lead to inflammation if over consumed.

Bottom Line

You can still enjoy your soy-You don’t need to completely remove your favorite foods with soy in them (unless you have an allergy or food sensitivity to soy) but you should reduce the amount in your diet based on the reasons above and replace them with other healthy vegetarian food options. 

Opt for fermented non-GMO soy but still don’t go overboard and make it a small portion of your diet.  If you want to add in fermented foods, rotate your fermented soy with other options such as fermented vegetables, kimchi and fermented goat milk kefir or coconut kefir.  In the end, fermented soy has its benefits and processed soy does not.  Choose wisely.

If you are a vegetarian or vegan who eats a lot of soy and are confused about what to eat if you take soy out of your diet, give me a call and I can help you find the right options for you!

 

Resources

  1. https://people.csail.mit.edu/seneff/glyphosate/Seneff/Yale2015.pptx
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15998131
  3. https://authoritynutrition.com/is-soy-bad-for-you-or-good/
  4. http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/5-ways-to-soy-upsets-hormone-balance/
  5. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/soybean-fertility-hormone-isoflavones-genestein/
  6. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/02/15/how-to-avoid-the-most-dangerous-side-effect-of-veganism.aspx
  7. Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Foundations in Nutrition. CA: Bauman College

 

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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Spring Cabbage Slaw Salad

Spring Slaw

I love cabbage so I am always tweaking some dressings for a coleslaw blend. 

spring slaw 2

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of cabbage (I buy a bag of shredded cabbage or coleslaw mix)
  • 2 cups of shredded carrots (I buy organic shredded carrots)
  • 1 bunch org. cilantro chopped
  • 1 bunch org. parsley chopped
  • ½ cup slivered almonds
  • ¼ a red onion diced

Dressing

  • 6 T. EVOO
  • 4 T. Apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T. raw local honey
  • 1 t. Dijon mustard
  • Dash s/p

Directions

  1. Place all salad ingredients into a large bowl.
  2. Whisk together all the dressing ingredients and pour over the cabbage blend. Mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve. 
  3. Adjust dressing to suit your taste-double amount if desired.

Note: can also add avocado slices at end. Add in protein to make it a meal

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

 

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Blood Sugar and your Mental Health

Blood Sugar Imbalance and its Impact on your Mental Health

roller coaster

Riding the blood sugar roller coaster day after day can impact your mental health.  The highs followed by crashes may accentuate the symptoms of a mood disorder.  Research has tied processed, refined sugar consumption to an increased risk of depression and can worsen the outcomes of schizophrenia. 

Blood sugar in the form of glucose is the basic fuel for all brain operation and activity.  If it is inadequate, mental health systems can start to shut down.  Glandular imbalances will result as the glands struggle to regulate the sugar level. This can cause symptoms such as high adrenaline which can look like anxiety, panic attacks or violence. 

Just by making tweaks to your diet you can improve your blood sugar regulation and your mental health.

The Impact of Blood Sugar Dysregulation on our Mental Health

By now, most of know that sugar and processed foods are bad for our heart, cholesterol and waistline.  But not as much attention is giving to what it does to our brain. 

Here is what Happens

bread pasta rice

  1. You eat a meal or have a drink with excess sugar. Say you start your day with a bagel, muffin or donut, or have cereal with milk, banana and some OJ.
  2. The pancreas releases insulin to bring glucose to the cells but because of the high amount of sugar, the insulin response is excessive
  3. About 2 hours later so much sugar has been put into storage that you now have low blood sugar and are feeling weak, shaky, brain fog, fatigue, change in mood (depression) and cravings
  4. The body responds to this as an emergency so it dumps adrenaline into the system. This causes anxiety, racing heart, irritability, anxiousness, panic, outbursts and more
  5. You reach for a processed carb or sugar product to get your sugar levels back up. Thus, the cycle begins again.

This cycle contributes to chronic inflammation in the body.  Chronic inflammation is not only associated with physical health conditions such as heart disease but also with brain function such as depression and brain fog. 

A surge of adrenaline is not always a bad thing. In prehistoric times if you were being chased by a wild animal you got a surge of adrenaline to run away.  Adrenaline prepares you for vigorous muscular activity.  It raises your heart rate and turns off digestion so now you are prepared for fight or flight.  In modern society it is not the wild animal that raises our adrenaline but instead the constant demands we put on our body such as stress from our processed, nutrient deficient, highly processed diet.

   Symptoms of Imbalanced Blood Sugar (highs and lows)

  • Fatigue, weakness
  • Abnormal weight (too high or too low)
  • waking after 2-3 hours of sleep at night and cannot fall right back to sleep
  • Dizziness
  • headaches
  • irritability if meals are missed
  • nervous habits
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • phobias
  • violent outbursts
  • Unable to concentrate (ADD)
  • Anti-social behavior
  • Crying spells
  • Nightmares
  • confusion
  • tightness in chest
  • constant hunger
  • tremors
  • obsessive compulsive behavior
  • poor word finding ability
  • brain fog
  • blurred vision
  • insomnia
  • cravings for sugar, sweets, soda, coffee, alcohol, refined carbs
  • fainting
  • cannot tolerate bright lights or loud sounds
  • joint pain
  • no appetite at breakfast, may wakeup feeling nauseous, skip breakfast
  • highs and lows/mood swings within a one day period

 

What Causes Blood Sugar Dysregulation (in addition to diet)

fast food burger

  • Standard American diet
  • Inadequate physical activity
  • Irregular eating patterns
  • Skipping meals
  • Eating imbalanced meals (meals with mostly refined carbs and little in the way of quality protein/fats)
  • Refined carbs (bagels, pasta, muffins, cookies, pastries, donuts, bread, rolls, etc.)
  • Gluten intolerance and other food allergies/insensitivities
  • Excess caffeine intake
  • Alcoholism
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Thyroid disorder
  • Stress
  • Excess blood sugar lowering medication
  • Insulin resistance
  • Birth control pills
  • Fructose

Physical Symptoms of Blood Sugar Imbalance

  • Darkened skin along jawline or neck (this occurs due to elevated insulin levels present with elevated blood sugar)
  • Extra abdominal fat-this can include fat on back, chest, sides of waist and shoulder blade area
  • Base of neck fat pad-this fat tends to be very inflammatory
  • Enlarged breasts in men (elevated blood sugar in men stimulates activity of enzymes that shifts testosterone to estrogen which promotes growth of breast tissue)
  • Note: you may not always see these physical signs

How to Balance Blood Sugar

balanced meal

Some foods that will help to balance blood sugar include almonds (very filling), quinoa (great substitute for rice), millet (it has a combination of fiber and phytonutrients), hummus (protein packed), avocado (filled with healthy fat), lentils (good source of protein) and walnuts (make a great snack with omega 3’s).

Consume foods that release energy slowly into the blood stream such as vegetables, berries, and nuts and seeds.

 

Treatment of blood sugar imbalances involves a combination of dietary and lifestyle measures that minimize the shock to the pancreas and the adrenal glands and stabilize carbohydrate metabolism.  It is better to address it now because highs and lows in blood sugar will eventually lead to highs only (meaning diabetes and insulin resistance)

  • Decrease the consumption of simple carbs and sugars, caffeine, alcohol,
  • Eat three meals per day and at least 2 additional snacks. DO NOT SKIP MEALS (once you have balance blood sugar then you can try intermittent fasting)
  • Provide a balance at each meal/snack of protein, complex carbs, healthy fats and fiber.
  • Eat foods closer to the form they are found in nature.
  • This can look like:

o   a protein smoothie with avocado and greens included for breakfast (skip the fruit or add in berries or ½ a banana)

o   snack on handful of almonds mid-morning

o   for lunch have chicken salad on a bed of lettuce (if you must have bread, opt for one slice only) with a Bubbies pickle and a side salad

o   mid-day snack on raw vegetables and hummus

o   for dinner have salmon, roasted sweet potato and a vegetable such as asparagus, broccoli or cauliflower. 

o   AVOID packages foods, sugary foods, artificially sweetened foods and drinks, refined carbs such as pasta and bread, white rice, dried fruits such as banana or apple chips and processed corn products

 

 

  Beneficial Nutrients

  • Protein: it is used to mitigate the symptoms of hypoglycemia because it can keep sugar stable while keeping metabolism high. Protein takes longer to be digested than simple carbs and this will prevent sudden drops and spikes in blood sugar levels.  The glucose from digested protein (and from complex carbs is released into the bloodstream gradually which helps to regulate blood glucose levels.)  Consume 2-4 ounces of animal protein or 4-6 ounces of plant protein at each meal. For snacks reduce the amount to half.  Protein amounts at breakfast can be slightly increased.  High quality sources of protein include grass fed meats, wild caught fish, bean/legumes and raw dairy. 
  • Cobalamin (B12): along with other B vitamins helps to convert consumed foods into glucose that can be utilized by the body.  Thus, a B12 deficiency can result in low blood sugar levels. Eating foods rich in B12 will help to increase energy levels by converting food into glucose.  In supplement form take 300 mcg. 3 times daily on an empty stomach.  Best forms include methylcobalamin, adenosycobalamin and hydroxocobalamin.  Most B complexes do not contain enough B12 so it is best to take an additional B12 supplement. Food sources include grass fed beef, lamb, chicken, wild game, organ meats, grass fed milk, cottage cheese and fish/shellfish.
  • Niacin (B3): It is needed to produce insulin.  It helps to promote proper digestion by helping with the production of stomach acid used in the metabolism of carbs.  It can also be useful for treating depression and anxiety associated with hypoglycemia.  Niacin will cause a “flush” within minutes of ingesting.  Food sources include fish, meats, peanuts, whole grains mushrooms, seeds, eggs and almonds. Supplement form take 100 mg. 2 timers per day with meals.  Check with your doctor. before taking, as it can interact with some medications.

 

Bottom Line:

just because you do not have diabetes does not mean you are safe from blood sugar ups and downs.  Balance your blood sugar by eating protein and fat along with your complex carbs.  Don’t skip meals and opt for a diet of 80% whole foods and 20% of your processed, junk food.  If you are suffering from any mental health disorder, this is a simple step to take. 

 

References

  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/where-science-meets-the-steps/201309/4-ways-sugar-could-be-harming-your-mental-health
  2. http://www.alternativementalhealth.com/conquering-anxiety-depression-and-fatigue-without-drugs-the-role-of-hypoglycemia-2/
  3. http://diabeteslibrary.org
  4. http://www.askdrmaxwell.com/hypoglycemia-causes-and-natural-treatments/
  5. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/12/22/how-eating-sugar-can-cause-mental-illness.aspx
  6. Golan, R. (1995) Optimal Wellness. New York: Ballantine Books.

 

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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Use These Herbs for Perimenopause and Menopausal Symptoms

11 Herbs for Menopause and Perimenopause

lemon-balm

Around the age of 40 women begin perimenopause and the transition to menopause.  During this time levels of estrogen, progesterone and the androgens fluctuate.  Your body will spend years gradually and naturally going through this process. This transition can last 5 to 10 years and for some up to 13 years.   Menopause typically occurs between the ages of 45-55.  During this time your periods may stop and then start again or may occur more frequently and may increase or decrease in intensity and flow. You are officially in menopause when your period has stopped for one full year.

Herbs to Ease Perimenopause/Menopause Symptoms

black-cohosh

Note: Always check first with your health professional when adding in herbs to your regimen. Some herbs interact with meds and some are not safe to take with certain health conditions. 

Motherwort: This herb can be your ally in reducing irritability and anxiety that may occur during the transition time.  It can calm the heart during perimenopause heart palpitations.  If you have heavy bleeding during perimenopause, then don’t overdo the use of this herb.  It can aid in menopausal insomnia. Avoid this herb if you have low blood pressure.  Take in tea or in tincture.  50-80 drops 2-4 times per day in tincture form.  As a tea use 1 tsp. of dried herb.  Drink 4 oz. three times per day. 

Shatavari: This herb is a wonderful one to use during these times of transition. It is useful for hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, anxiety and memory loss.  It also is known to increase libido.  Use 30-60 drops 1-2 times per day depending on the severity of your symptoms.  As a tincture, use 40-80 drops 3x per day.  As a tea use of dried root and consume up to 2 cups per day.  Avoid if you have diarrhea and bloating or add ginger and consume as a tea only. 

Passion Flower: This herb has many uses and it is useful for menopausal mood swings.  It can aid in reducing panic attacks, calms irritability and helps with stress relief.  If you can’t turn your mind off at night, use passion flower.  Use in tea blend or take 60-80 drops of tincture 3 times per day.  Avoid with bipolar, schizophrenia and manic phases.  Do not use with MAOI’s.

Sage: This is beneficial for stimulating memory and is useful for the brain fog that is sometimes associated with perimenopause.   It is also good for excessive sweating which means it can be supportive for those with night sweats during perimenopause. It is also used for anxiety, hot flashes and fatigue associated with menopausal symptoms. Take in tincture 30-60 drops 2-3 times per day or use 1 tsp. in a tea blend 3 times per day. 

Fennel: While many of you may be familiar with fennel for digestive issues, fennel is used to offer hormonal support as well.  One of its main components appears to have natural hormone like actions.  It can be useful for bloating, menstrual pain and hot flashes.  As a tea use 1-2 tsp in one cup hot water. 

Skullcap: This herb is considered a brain tonic and is useful for ADD, poor memory and mental fatigue. It is also useful for PMS, menstrual pain/cramps, menopausal depression and mood swings, hot flashes and irritation.  Use in a tea blend or take ½ t. of tincture as needed.  Avoid with bipolar, schizophrenia and manic phases. 

Kudzu root: This herb is beneficial for PMS and peri menopausal symptoms such as acne, hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings.  Take in tincture form of 60 drops 2-3 times per day. 

Lemon Balm: Use this herb for menstrual cramping and depression associated with perimenopause.  This is considered a very safe herb and safe for children as well. However, if you have low thyroid uses it is best to minimize the amount of lemon balm you consume as it can lower thyroid function. 

Hops: This herb is used for menstrual cramping. This is best used in tea or tincture. It also has a sedative effect.  As a tincture, take 30-60 drops 2-3 times per day.  Avoid with usage of sedative medication.  Do not use if you have depression. 

Black Cohosh: This herb has been popularized for use for hot flashes yet it also has many other beneficial uses. This herb can also be useful for those with depression.  Avoid use of this herb if you have liver disease.  Take 20-40 drops of tincture per day. 

Chaste Tree Berry: Some of you may be familiar with Chaste Tree (Vitex) for hormonal support, however a word of caution-it is very easy to overdo it with this herb. Taking too much may increase progesterone levels and thus increase your symptoms.  If using this herb, take only one capsule per day in the morning or 15 drops of tincture in the morning.  Avoid usage if you are taking antipsychotic medications. 

Pycnogenol:  (actually it is 12 with the addition of this one but Pycnogenol supplement is not an herb per se rather an extract) This is a branded, registered trade form of  French maritime pine bark extract and has a number of uses.  It can be useful for endometriosis, painful periods, menopausal symptoms and can reduce fine lines and wrinkles (at 100 mg. per day).  A recent study builds upon evidence from previous studies showing that it can reduce elevated cardiovascular risk factors that are often related to perimenopause such as increased triglycerides, elevated blood pressure and blood sugar.  Those participating in the study also had reduced hot flashes, reduction of night sweats and mood improvement. 

Going Beyond Herbs to Reduce Symptoms

basket of veggies

For some of you with mild symptoms, an herb or two may do the trick.  For those of you that continue to struggle with symptoms your body may need more support than just a few herbs.  Addressing and identifying imbalances in the body will be key for you, such as addressing blood sugar, adrenals, thyroid, digestion and/or other areas to restore balance.  Dietary changes along with targeted supplementation may be needed depending on your current diet and symptoms.

For instance, some of you may enter perimenopause sooner than others due to poor health or due to your diet. 

Estrogen dominance becomes an issue along with its side effects during perimenopause for some due to low progesterone levels.  The key is to find out what is the issue for you and then address it. 

The bottom line is yes, there is something you can do instead of having to put up with these symptoms for years!

 

 

Sources

Blankenship, V. (2016) Sage Herbal Foundations Program. Colorado Springs, CO. (notes from)

Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Therapeutic Nutrition.  CA: Bauman College

Cech, R. (2016) Making Plant Medicine.  Oregon: Herbal Reads

Crow, D. (2016) Medicinal Plants & Spiritual Evolution Intensive.  Online Program (notes from)

Mars, B. (2007) The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine.  CA: Basic Health Publications, Inc.

Skenderi, G. (2003) Herbal Vade Mecum.  NJ: Herbacy Press

Winston, D. & Maimes, S. (2007) Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina and Stress Relief.  VT: Healing

   Arts Press.

http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/product-innovations/pycnogenol-R-Normalizes-Cardio-Risks-During-Perimenopause?

 

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

 

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Increase of Arsenic in a Gluten Free Diet

Going Gluten Free

The Increase of Arsenic in a Gluten Free Diet

By Karen Brennan, MSW, NC, BCHN, Herbalist

brown rice

 

You may opt to go gluten free for various health reasons.  Avoiding gluten means avoiding gluten containing grains which are wheat, rye, barley, and spelt (and oats if it does not say gluten free). 

Many people who avoid these grains substitute with gluten free products. While I don’t recommend this substitution due to the still high processed carb and sugar content, there are also other reasons to be concerned.

Are you Getting too Much Arsenic in your Diet by going Gluten Free?

wheat-with x thru it

 

Many gluten free products contain brown rice and or white rice.   It is not so bad if you consume brown/white rice from time to time but if you eat gluten free products daily, chances are, you are consuming a lot rice.

  Some of these products contain 90 times more arsenic than what is allowed in drinking water.  Even low levels of arsenic can contribute to headaches, fatigue, brain fog, digestive issues respiratory illness and more.  Arsenic is found in brown rice at higher concentrations than what is found in white rice. Organic rice will contain arsenic too. 

Rice is grown in flooded fields and it absorbs more arsenic from the environment than any other crop.  Arsenic is a chemical element found naturally in our environment.  It is present in our soil, water and air.  Organic arsenic is used in pesticides and fertilizers.  When used this way, the arsenic can stay in the soil for years after crops are harvested.  For example, much of the rice harvested in the US is grown on former cotton fields where farmers used arsenic based pesticides to control weevils. 

Who Should Watch Their Arsenic Intake

Arsenic can accumulate in your hair, skin, nails and even in your internal organs. 

  • Pregnant women
  • Children and infants
  • People who eat a lot of rice
  • People who are on a gluten free diet

Symptoms of Arsenic Toxicity

(from low level, long term exposure (i.e.: gluten free diet))

This is not an exhaustive list but some of the more common/frequent symptoms

  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Numbness of hands and feet
  • Higher rates of skin, bladder and lung cancer
  • Increase in heart disease
  • Skin and nail changes
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • headaches

How to Know if You Have High Arsenic Levels

Just because you are on a gluten free diet doesn’t mean you require testing.  This should be determined on an individual basis and is between you and your health care provider. 

On average, there is 10-20 milligrams of arsenic in the average human body.  Exceeding these levels can contribute to health problems.

  • Arsenic 24- hour urine test: this is the preferred test
  • Raid Urine Spot Test: this test is not as accurate
  • Blood Test: this can be used in conjunction with the 24-hour test and do monitor levels
  • Hair Mineral Analysis: You can request this test on your own and have your holistic nutritionist or ND go over the results with you.

How to Reduce Arsenic in Your Diet

 

  • Rice, wine and fruit juices can contain higher arsenic amounts than other foods
  • Organic foods do not necessarily contain less since arsenic is found in the soil
  • Talk to your doctor about giving rice cereal to your infant: consider other foods as your baby’s first food. Babies should have no more than one serving of rice cereal per day.
  • Limit the amount of gluten free products you consume such as gf pizza, bread, pasta and so forth.
  • Alternate your grains: Learn how to cook and bake using other grains such as millet, teff and quinoa
  • Brown rice contains 30-80% more arsenic than white rice. This is because it still contains the bran and germ portion of the kernel which is where most of the arsenic concentrates. 
  • If you do use brown rice opt for basmati as it will contain less arsenic. For white rice, opt for basmati as well, to reduce exposure.
  • Rinse your rice before use. This can reduce 25-30% of the arsenic content.

Bottom Line

Eat a well-balanced diet. You don’t have to eliminate rice products entirely from your diet but instead mix it up with other grains and fruits and vegetables. For instance, if you always eat your burger and sandwich on a gluten free bun, try a lettuce wrap or paleo coconut wraps.  Instead of having rice as a side dish, have quinoa, cauliflower rice, teff or millet.  Instead of brown rice pasta try lentil or quinoa pasta.  There are many options!

Research shows that while chelation may be good to remove heavy metals it may not be as effective to remove arsenic.  Instead a dietary protocol including  mineral supplementation can help to remove arsenic.  Depending on your level of toxicity, it may take up to 2 years to reduce toxic levels. 

 

Recipes

Here are some a couple gluten free recipes that do not contain brown rice/Visit my blog page for many more recipes

 

 

Sources

http://theceliacmd.com/2015/03/arsenic-in-rice-the-gluten-free-diet-facts-and-tips/

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2012/11/arsenic-in-your-food/index.htm

http://drlwislon.com/articles/ARSENIC.htm

Haas, E.& Levin, B. (2006) Staying Healthy with Nutrition.  CA: Celestial Arts

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

 

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