Zinc Deficiency Signs and Symptoms and What to Take

Zinc deficiency and its Role in Mental Health

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By now you are familiar with a deficiency in B12 here, Vitamin D here  or  low magnesium and how it can have an impact on mood and behavior such as its role in depression, anxiety and ADHD.  But you may not realize that over 2 people billion worldwide are deficient in zinc and this mineral deficiency also plays a role in your mental health. 

It has been shown that a zinc deficiency leads to changes in the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex of the brain.  A zinc deficiency also leads to excessive amounts of glutamate activity in the brain.  This leads to brain inflammation and excessive free radicals and oxidative stress. 

View the symptoms below to see if this sounds like you. With a zinc deficiency, you may not only exhibit anxiety or depression but there are other tell-tale signs such as lack of taste or a skin issue.  

Zinc Deficiency Symptoms

woman-with-acne

I did not go into detail on each of the symptoms but I did address some of the mental health issues associated with a zinc deficiency in more detail. 

  • Weak immune system: When you first come down with a cold, take zinc acetate lozenges to reduce the duration of the illness. I like and use Enhanced Zinc lozenges by Life Extension.
  • Acne/adult acne: Zinc has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Research has shown that those with acne have lower zinc levels. 
  • Eczema, psoriasis: Rats and mice deficient in zinc develop a skin condition that is similar to psoriasis.
  • Hypothyroidism: Zinc is a cofactor mineral needed for thyroid hormone function. With decreased zinc levels, the thyroid can become underactive.  It also plays a role in converting T4 to T3 and is needed to bind active thyroid hormone to DNA cells. 
  • Depression: While it is known that B vitamins can make an impact for those with depression, it is not as well known that a zinc deficiency can also affect one’s mental health. A study found that rats fed a zinc restricted diet had depression, poor motivation and withdrew from social behavior. Zinc is also involved in the pathway for the body’s production of neurotransmitters.  Zinc is also necessary for B6 to be converted into its active form which in turn plays a role in the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin.   
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of taste/impaired sense of taste: This along with the decrease in appetite can often be the first clue that brain inflammation related to a zinc deficiency is present.
  • ADHD: Zinc assists with the production and regulation of melatonin. Melatonin is an important factor in the pathophysiology of ADHD due to its modulation of dopamine. There have been numerous studies looking at zinc levels and the relationship to ADHD.  These studies have shown that those with ADHD have significantly lower zinc levels.  Four studies have shown positive results for zinc in the treatment of ADHD. 
  • Aggression issues
  • Brittle nails, white spots on nails
  • Body odor
  • Hair loss
  • Fatigue
  • Slow wound healing
  • Sensitive to strong smells/strong odors
  • Anxiety: too much copper and too little zinc
  • Adrenal fatigue: uses up a lot of zinc
  • Psychiatric disorders in the elderly (65 and older) such as dementia, psychotic disorders, bipolar. One study found a high prevalence of zinc deficiency in the patient group versus the Control group.

Who is at Risk

  • Vegans/vegetarians: These diets tend to be high in copper and low in zinc.
  • Elderly
  • Athletes who sweat a lot
  • Pregnant women
  • Those with chronic digestive disorders (i.e.: low HCL, Acid reflux, GERD, IBD, IBS)
  • Chronic stress
  • During trauma, surgery, burns (to aid in healing)
  • Those with cataracts, macular degeneration
  • Those with celiac disease

What Causes you to Lose Zinc

person smoking

  • Those who sweat a lot/athlete
  • Sugar/SAD
  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Too much copper in the diet
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Infection
  • Puberty
  • Nutrient deficient diet/vegetarian or vegan diet

Foods that Contain Zinc

eggs

Many of your vegetarian sources of zinc are only as nutrient rich as the soil that it is grown in.  Our soil is depleted which means your food has less nutrients.  Plants sources due to the phytic acid may also not be bioavailable as zinc sourced from non -vegetarian sources such as seafood and beef. 

  • Beef/red meats
  • Eggs
  • Seafood (crab, shrimp)
  • Legumes
  • Spinach
  • Oysters
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Cooked split peas
  • Sesame butter
  • Lima beans
  • Pecans
  • Brazil nuts
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts

*Phytates in legumes and nuts may inhibit absorption. For this reason, soaking is always a good idea!

What to look for in a Supplement

Vegetarians may want to consider zinc supplementation due to the difficulty absorbing zinc from non- meat sources such as from plants, legumes, nuts and seeds.  According to the Institute of Medicine’s report, vegetarians require 50% greater intake of zinc given that the major source in the diet is grains and legumes which contain high amounts of phytic acid. 

It is best to choose a high- quality supplement that says zinc glycinate, zinc picolinate or amino acid chelated zinc.  For general health, take 15-20 mg of zinc per day and take it with food as otherwise it will cause an upset stomach.  Therapeutic doses are higher and depending on the need, range from 30-75 mg. per day.  This range is typically safe for several months or longer but use therapeutic dosing under the guidance of a professional. 

If you are using zinc for general health, it is best to take it within your multivitamin/mineral supplement since minerals are interconnected and balance amongst them is important.  If you are taking zinc for therapeutic reasons, be sure to look at how much is in your multi (and what form it is in) and then add in a supplement to get into the therapeutic range.

Zinc must be in balance with copper due to competition for receptor sites.  The ratio should be 15:1 of zinc to copper. The foods that contain more zinc in a bioavailable form and less copper are oysters, beef, lamb, crab, shrimp, sesame seeds and macadamia nuts.  Copper is much easier to get from the diet than zinc and you can find some supplements that are copper free. 

Many Americans are too high in copper and too low in zinc.  For instance, this unbalanced ratio has been linked to schizophrenia, anxiety, learning disabilities and autism.  Copper can come from copper IUD, copper pots, copper pipes, dental amalgams, pesticides and medications such as oral contraceptives. 

Copper is also stored in the liver so it is also beneficial to provide liver support such as with dark bitter greens, beets and lemon water. 

Bottom Line: If you are struggling with a mental health issue, hypothyroidism or a skin concern, look at your diet to see how much zinc you are getting from your foods. If you have digestive issues, take into consideration that this impacts the assimilation of your nutrients, including zinc.  In the end, zinc may help you but most likely your issue is multifaceted and zinc is playing a role but is not the only component of your health issue.  For instance, if you are a vegetarian, zinc may not be the only nutrient that you are deficient in. 

Sources

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

Hoffer, A, Walker, M. (1978) Orthomolecular Nutrition. Keats Publishing. 156-7.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25290638

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25940914

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0082793

https://www.ncbi.mlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3796297

http://www.mdpi.com/2227-9067/1/3/261/htm

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/15569527.2013.808656

 

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 If Life is So Good, Then Why AM I Still Depressed? Discover the root cause for your depression and learn what to do to feel better and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

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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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. 

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 do not need iodine and 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.
  • 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.  I like the thyroid glandular by www.nutri-meds.com  
  • 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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Digestive Issues and How to Tell if it is an Issue with Casein or Lactose

Is Casein Or lactose Causing Your Digestive Problems?

milk

Many people assume that if they experience gas or bloating and pain after consuming dairy that they are lactose intolerant. This may not always be the case.  This can occur for other reasons as well. 

A lactose intolerance usually affects just the digestive system while a casein sensitivity can have an impact in other areas of health as well. 

How to Know if you are Lactose Intolerant

If you are lactose intolerant, this means that you lack the enzyme, lactase, to break down the sugar, lactose in your dairy products. 

  • Signs and symptoms typically occur about 30 minutes after ingesting the food containing dairy. (but can occur up to 2 hours later)
  • You may experience gas, bloating, loose bowels, sinus congestion, cramps and nausea.
  • Typically, those who are lactose intolerant can still eat most cheeses and not experience symptoms. This is because in the process of making cheese, lactose is converted into lactic acid which is easy to digest. 
  • Cream, butter and yogurt have little to no lactose (full fat heavy whipping cream has none) so these are still okay for those with lactose intolerance. Heavy whipping cream also does not contain casein.
  • Skim milk does contain lactose.
  • Fermented dairy such as kefir has less lactose so you may be able to tolerate it.
  • Even if you are lactose intolerant you may be able to digest small amounts in a single meal.
  • Yogurt contains less lactose than milk.
  • Raw cheese has only small amounts of lactose and casein.

Pay attention to which dairy foods give you trouble.  Is it just milk?  Is it only when you consume large amount of dairy?  This may help you to figure out if your issue is with lactose.  If it is an issue with lactose then taking a digestive enzyme that contains lactase 30 minutes prior to the meal may help, along with consuming smaller amount of dairy at your meals or eliminating it from your diet (you don’t need dairy to meet your calcium needs-see more information below). 

The brand of digestive enzyme I like is Enzymedica. 

Which Cheeses have less lactose?

cheese

If you aren’t ready to give up dairy, here are some cheeses you can still eat if you are lactose intolerant

  • The fresher the cheese the more lactose it will have; aged cheeses are a better choice.
  • You want to opt for cheeses that have less than 3% lactose range. (whole milk has 3.7-4.8%)
  • Muenster, camembert, brie, cheddar, provolone, gouda, blue, parmesan and swiss are all good choices.
  • AVOID: Feta, ricotta, Colby, American and Velveeta (why would you eat these last two processed cheeses anyway?).
  • Opt for organic, raw and grass fed cheeses if you can. (see below for more information as to why)

Signs It May Be the Casein and Not the lactose in your Dairy

Casein is the main protein in dairy and is also added to other foods used as a binding agent.  Casein is found in milk and in lactose free dairy products.  So, if you consume lactose free products and still experience symptoms it may be the casein and not lactose that is causing your issues. 

In addition to gut and digestive symptoms, a casein sensitivity has been linked to ADHD, autism, brain fog, asthma, aggression, anger and excess mucus production.  It can also cause headaches, ear infections, eczema and skin allergies. 

Ask yourself, in addition to your digestive issues are you suffering from any of the issues mentioned above?  If so, it may be the protein in the dairy.  If you are still unsure you may want to do food allergy testing.  Tests range from stool samples to blood tests.  Butter contains very little casein and heavy cream does not contain casein.  The dairy foods that have the most protein will contain more casein. 

If it is casein and not lactose that is an issue for you, removing casein from the diet is a good first step.  However, if you have been reacting to it for a long time there may be other issues that will need to be addressed such as possible intestinal permeability and systemic inflammation. 

What You Need to Know About Your Dairy

milk jug and glass

Pasteurization is a process that heats the milk to kill off bacteria, microbes and pathogens.  However, the process also kills off the good bugs.  It also destroys enzymes that are needed to break down fats, and proteins and to deliver vitamins and minerals. 

Ultra- Pasteurized milk is heated to 275 degrees and destroys everything!  It is best to avoid this type of milk. 

Pasteurized milk is heated to 160 degrees and preserves some of the good bacteria. 

Vat-Pasteurized is heated to 135 degrees and preserves the good bacteria and many of the enzymes.  This is the best commercial choice.  Organic Valley brand has a whole milk that is vat pasteurized.  Kalona Farms brand offers vat pasteurized products as well which can be found at Whole Foods. 

Opt for organic milk to avoid antibiotics, growth hormones and pesticides that are carried in the fatty portion of the milk.  While I don’t recommend skim milk, if you don’t buy organic this would be your safer bet since it does not contain the fat and thus will not be contaminated with the hormones, antibiotics and pesticides that milk with fat would contain.  But skim milk is also harder to digest and lacks beneficial fats. 

If you consume large amounts of milk, you may want to consider raw milk shares.  Go to realmilk.com to find a local farm.  If you have a casein sensitivity, even raw milk may not be for you.  There is a brand called A2 which many with a casein sensitivity can tolerate. The downside however is that it is not organic.  If you are lactose intolerant you may want to opt for milk alternatives such as nut milks, hemp milk or coconut milk. 

Keep in mind that “You are what your food eats”.  If you consume dairy products from a CAFO (confined animal factory operation), you will be consuming some of the hormones, antibiotics, GMO feed etc. that is given to these cows that may never see the light of day and never leave their confined very small indoor space. 

There are many small local farms that you can support. They may not have the organic label but do follow organic and humane practices.  Visit your local farmers market in the summer and stop and talk to those at the booths to find out how you can get their products year-round. 

Non-Dairy Calcium Sources

Nutrition

Many people still think that the only way to get their calcium is via dairy products.  This is just not true!  There are many non-dairy calcium sources.  And in fact, there are numerous cultures around the world that do not eat dairy and yet still have healthy bone density.  To absorb your calcium, you need adequate amounts of vitamin D3.  Most dairy products are fortified with vitamin D2 which is synthetic and not as easy to absorb and assimilate.  Take a vitamin D3 supplement or get some sunshine if your blood work shows that you are low. 

Non-dairy Calcium Sources

  • Dark leafy greens such as collard greens, spinach and kale
  • Dark green vegetables such as broccoli
  • Legumes
  • Sesame seeds
  • Almonds
  • Canned salmon with bones
  • Sardines
  • Rhubarb
  • Okra
  • Edamame
  • Black eyed peas

Is It Better to Consume Fermented Dairy (kefir) and Goat Dairy?

 

Kefir fermentation breaks down proteins in the dairy and thus those with a casein sensitivity may be able to tolerate kefir.   The kefir microorganisms ferment milk lactose.  Kefir contains a lot of bacteria that aid lactose digestion.  These bacteria may help to digest lactose.  The plus is that kefir also has a broad range of nutrients and due to its probiotic content is supportive for gut an immune health. 

Lifeway kefir states that their kefir is 99% lactose free and this is due to the fermentation process.  The cultures break down the lactose.  Lifeway states that not all kefirs are 99% lactose free so you may want to contact the company before you trying other brands. 

Kefir may be a good option if you cannot tolerate casein or are lactose intolerant.  Better yet, opt for goat milk kefir since goat milk is known to be easier to digest. 

 

Bottom Line: Experiment with various dairy foods to see which you can tolerate and which that you cannot. If you have any mood or skin issues in addition to the digestive issues, it may be best to work a professional to work on gut healing, addressing possible leaky gut and nutrient deficiencies.  A nutrition professional can guide you as to which foods you can safely tolerate.  While Americans love their dairy, it is not a necessary food group to maintain optimum health and in reality, may be causing some of your chronic health issues. 

 

Sources

http://bodyecology.com/articles/2-signs-of-enzyme-deficiency-that-you-can%E2%80%99t-miss

http://www.stevecarper.com/li/list_of_lactose_percentages.htm

http://milkgenomics.org/article/kefir-microorganisms-break-down-milk-proteins/

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/natural-health/how-consuming-dairy-can-impact-your-mood

www.lifewaykefir.com

www.kefir.net

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2003/03/26/pastuerized-milk-part-one.aspx

http://dontwastethecrumbs.com/2013/10/whats-the-difference-between-all-those-types-of-milk-in-the-grocery-store/

www.safeharbor.com

Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Foundations of 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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What is Really Causing your Acid Reflux/GERD and 10 Tips to Make it Stop

Myth: If I have acid reflux/GERD, it must mean I have high stomach acid levels and I need an antacid or a stronger medication to fix it.

person-holding-chest

Wrong: Just because you have acid reflux or GERD does not always mean you have high stomach acid. Yes, you may (rarer than you think) but other times you may have low stomach acid which can also contribute to an issue with your lower esophageal sphincter.

The incidence of heartburn increases with age and yet as you age your stomach acid levels decline.  Dr. Jonathan Wright, in his book, “Why Stomach Acid is good for you” states that in his 24 years of practice that he has found that GERD is more often related to low stomach acid and that elevated stomach acid levels are rare. 

Just because you have acid reflux, don’t assume that it is because you have too much acid. It would seem to make sense but it is not that you may have too much but that the acid that you do have in the esophagus is causing the problem.  The lining of the esophagus isn’t protected like the walls of the stomach is to protect it from the acidic environment. 

The medication may relive the symptom but it does not address the problem. On top of that these medications, research is finding, can cause a host of serious side effects. These include greater risk of heart attack than non-users, increase risk of chronic kidney disease, reduced absorption of vitamins and minerals, increased risk of infection such as c-diff and pneumonia, increase risk of bone fractures, and increase risk of dementia!

 

Bottom line: If you suffer with acid reflux, don’t assume that it is caused by high stomach acid.  In many instances, it can be caused by low stomach acid and this requires a different approach as opposed to medication. Work with a health professional who can guide you in diet, lifestyle, supplements and herbs to use to correct the issue.  If you are on a PPI don’t go off unless under the supervision of your doctor as rebound effects can be severe. 

But Here are some tips:

Pick one or two-no need to try all of them at once!

ginger-1714106_640

  • Take a digestive enzyme about 10 minutes before your meal
  • Take liquid digestive bitters right before a meal. Swish in your mouth before swallowing. Not Swedish bitters but digestive bitters. 
  • Mix some minced ginger root with peppermint leaves to make a tea blend and drink after your meal
  • Try one tablespoon of unfiltered apple cider vinegar (such as Bragg’s Brand) mixed with 4-6 ounces water right before a meal or after if the reflux occurs. 
  • Drink away from your meals not with them-let your digestive juices go to work instead of diluting them. 
  • If it happens every time you eat, consider a food allergy.  Start by removing gluten for 3 weeks before adding it back in.  Pay attention when you do add it back in. If it is the cause then keep it out of your diet.  If that’s not the culprit, move down the line through some common allergens such as corn, soy and dairy. 
  • Chew…eat……bite…. slow down and take your time when you eat. Chew each bite 15 plus times.  Eating too fast can cause acid reflux.
  • Sit upright at the table-I know that sounds strange like you are saying “how else would I sit?” but people eat laying down, walking, slouched on the couch, moving around doing things at work, etc.…none of this is very supportive of digestion
  • Try to relax: take a deep breath and enjoy and appreciate your food and whomever you are eating with. When we eat in a stressed state, everything tightens up and slows down digestion creating issues.
  • And lastly, maybe the hardest one for Thanksgiving: don’t over eat! Eat until you feel about 80% full not so full that you can barely breath or move. 

 

Sources

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

Montana, C. What Doctors Don’t tell you. Oct. 2016 issue, www.wddty.com

Wright, J. & Lenard, L. (2001) Why Stomach Acid is good for you.  CO: M. Evans

https://chriskresser.com/what-everybody-ought-to-know-but-doesnt-about-heartburn-gerd/

http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaeurology/article-abstract/2487379

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (candidate), author of the  book 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 believes in food first when addressing the root causes to your health conditions.  For more information, visit her website at www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Like her Facebook page here

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

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