Saturday, October 4, 2008

Eat Some Olive Oil, Save Your Colon

While the silly notion that all fat is bad continues to linger in the minds of many Americans, my hope is that everyone is at least clear on one thing:

Stay away from trans fats.

There are few if any foods on the market that I consider worse for your health than those containing these nasty little buggers. Past research has confirmed their contributing role in conditions like heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and yes, even the "C" word.

In fact, new research has surfaced recently further proving the strong connection between trans fats and cancer.

In this new study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, 622 people who underwent a routine screening colonoscopy were interviewed about dietary and other factors thought to be related to colorectal cancer. Researchers used this information to estimate how much trans fat each person regularly consumed and compared these numbers to the colonoscopy results.

Compared with those who ate the least trans fats, people who ate the most had an 86% higher likelihood of having colorectal adenomas—small growths, or polyps, in the colon and rectum that, if left untreated, can develop into colorectal cancer.

Ding, ding, ding, ding! We have a winner! Trans fats take first place in the "not fit for human consumption" contest! (Followed closely by runners up corn syrup, white sugar, white flour, preservatives, food dyes, Splenda, Nutrasweet, MSG.......)

In fact, Dr. Walter Willett, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard Medical School and one of the nation’s foremost experts on food and health recently concluded that trans fats represent “the biggest food processing disaster in US history.”

What kinds of fats and oils are OK to eat? I have a simple rule to follow that will pretty much cover it. Just ask yourself one question:

If I were placed on an Earth with no machines, chemicals, or chemistry labs available anywhere, what kinds of fats could I find and eat?

Well, trans fats which require all three in order to be produced, would definitely be out. So would corn, soy, and other liquid vegetable oils. All of these products require a machine to press the oils out of them.

On the other hand, the oils from foods like olives, coconuts, and fish can be procured by simple means. Even if you just rub one of them in your hands a bit, your hands will soon be covered with oil. Try doing that with a corn kernel or dry soybean!

Admittedly, this is a simplistic way of looking at things, but I for one prefer simplicity. Of course for those of you who need more proof, just remember that there have now been countless studies done on the tremendous benefits to be had from olive and fish oil consumption. There is also emerging research now available which proves the value of the once maligned coconut.

I actually recommend the above rule to my patients in order to help them select all of their foods, not just their oils, and it works like a charm! What could you eat in a natural environment if you had nothing but your hands, feet, some primitive tools and your brains? Meats, plants, fruits, eggs, raw honey, sea salt (in certain environments), eggs, nuts and seeds, give or take a Twinkie or two (they've been around forever!!).

What has research shown to be the ultimate diet for preventing heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases? A so-called "Primitive" or "Paleo" diet. The components of this diet? The exact foods I just mentioned.

Finally, it might interest you to know some ways to help prevent colon cancer, aside from just avoiding trans fats. Here's a brief list:
  1. Get your "25, OH Vitamin D levels" tested through a blood test with your doctor. If your levels are less than 60, start taking concentrated cod liver oil and getting as much regular sunshine as possible without getting burned. If your levels are less than 30, add an additional vitamin D supplement and get your levels retested until they range between 60-80 consistently.
  2. Exercise.
  3. Eat your veggies, especially of the cruciferous variety (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, etc).
  4. Eat and drink unpasteurized, fermented or cultured foods like kombucha, raw sauerkraut, homemade yogurt or kefir made from raw milk and miso soup on a regular basis. If these foods are unacceptable or unavailable to you, get a really good acidophilus product and take that instead.
  5. Add 2 tbsp of freshly ground organic flax seeds to a smoothie at least a few times a week.
  6. Drink green tea often.
  7. Eat turmeric or take curcumin supplements.
  8. Stay away from processed meats containing nitrites.
  9. Don't overcook or char the meats that you eat. If you are going to cook them in this way, marinate them in ginger and garlic first, which will lessen the damage that happens to them from this kind of cooking.
  10. Drink gelatin rich, homemade bone broth regularly.
  11. Eat a handful of brazil nuts (an excellent source of selenium) on a regular basis.

Monday, September 15, 2008


I have recently discovered some fascinating work by a man named Konstantin Monastyrsky, author of The Fiber Menace. His book goes to great lengths to expose the untruths surrounding the universally accepted notion that fiber is good for everyone and more of it is even better.

What I was most interested in and surprised by was that even though this man was coming from a totally different perspective that I do when talking to my patients about their diets, his conclusions about the best diet were basically identical to mine.

I have to admit though that I was not aware of ALL the particular dangers behind excessive fiber consumption, especially in the supplemental form used by so many people, and that this info has really opened my eyes to how potentially harmful excess fiber consumption can be.

To get started, I would strongly recommend watching Mr. Monastyrsky's video introduction to the topic. You can find a link to it by clicking HERE.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Now Will We Take This Eating Thing Seriously?

Thus far, it hasn't seemed to matter. Someone can perform an experiment on themselves in which they eat only fast food for a month (see SuperSize Me) and nearly die in the process, then make a major motion picture about it for all the world to see.

And what do people do?

They keep driving towards that drive through window and ordering up the latest meal deal from that funny little voice coming out of the speaker.

Someone can create a hit television contest that uses money as a way to coax contestants into exercising and eating well in order to see who will be crowned "The Biggest Loser", but the average person keeps gaining weight.

Even Shaquille O'Neal can get involved, trying to save overweight kids with a TV show contest of his own, but what happens? The show gets canceled half way through because the kids aren't trying hard enough. Mind you, these kids were not even teenagers yet and already showing signs of diabetes and heart disease!

Well maybe, just maybe, the latest news from the front lines of the war on obesity will finally be enough.

In what I have decided is the scariest study I have seen yet, researchers from the federal government's Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality have determined that, if we continue on our current trend of diet and exercise (or lack thereof) EVERY ADULT AMERICAN will be overweight or obese within 40 years.

Just want to make sure you have caught my drift on this one:


What would such a statistic mean for all of us if it actually came true?

For starters, it would mean that health care expenditures on weight related issues alone would likely exceed ONE TRILLION DOLLARS.

It would also mean that every single American would have a vastly increased risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and early death.


With news like this, making positive, healthful changes in your life is no longer good enough. It's time to start talking to your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers too.

The saddest thing of all is that being overweight or obese is so.....fixable. While making positive diet and lifestyle changes is obviously quite difficult for some people, at least there are no hidden answers. There are no mysteries here. If you want to lose weight, it takes two things, education and a willingness to change.

I have found that the patients of mine who have had the most success with their weight issues DO NOT try to fit weight loss efforts into their old lifestyles. They make the decision to change their lives, and then ask me for advice on how best to do so.

Changing your life is not easy, but every single person can do it. We might not all be able to eat the perfect diet, filled with purely organic, local, perfect foods, or join a gym and lift weights for 2 hours every day of the week, but we don't need to.

We can all choose a salad with chicken, sunflower seeds, olive oil, lemon juice and a little salt on it for lunch instead of pasta, a burger or a sandwich.

We can all have some apple slices smeared with almond butter for a snack instead of chips.

And, unless we are actually physically unable to move, we can all MOVE. We just need to do it.
There's obviously a lot more to it than this, but it's not much harder than that.

We've run out of time people. There is nothing left to do but get better. Please don't wait another minute!!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Statins, statins and more statins. Anyone else want some statins?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently decided to recommend more "aggressive" drug therapy for obese children. These recommendations basically put up a green light for all pediatricians to start prescribing statins to every overweight child that comes through the door.

If you've read this blog before, you are probably already aware my feeling about statins for adults is apprehensive at best. In essence I think they are likely to be dangerous and basically unnecessary for just about everyone, as long as other means of improving your health have been implemented.

Now we have our kids getting involved. Oh boy. Here we go.

Well, I guess the drug companies have pretty much got us covered now.....wait a second, what about our pets? They need to be saved too! Didn't I read something somewhere about high cholesterol in Siamese cats being linked to heart disease AND hairballs?

What about my fish, Henry? Do they make fish food-sized, little statin pills? Do they float?

OK, OK, I'm getting a little carried away here. But seriously, let's forget for a moment all of the things we know about statins and how they are probably not very effective at all anyway, and just think about this for a moment.

Shouldn't the money being spent towards getting statins approved for kids, along with the millions that will inevitably be spent on future TV ads with Elmo talking about the dangers of high cholesterol, be put towards trying to educate children and their parents about healthy eating, exercise and stress reduction? After all, these are much more creditable, effective ways of preventing heart disease.

If a child is obese, shouldn't we be spending our money trying to get PE programs back into their school curriculum, or to support the local soccer league and encourage them to join a team?

I swear, our health care system is so incredibly backwards and corrupt I think it may drive me insane!

Please do your child a favor, the next time you see Elmo on TV holding a bottle of pills up to the screen, change the channel. Better yet, turn the TV off and take your kid to the park.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Tim Russert's Death- A big surprise? I don't think so.

A recent article in the Health section of the New York Times describes in detail how Mr. Russert's physicians were nothing short of shocked at his recent death from sudden cardiac arrest. After all, he was on an "aggressive" treatment regimen to lower his significantly elevated risk of heart disease, including high blood pressure medication and statin drugs to control his cholesterol.

What more could one ever need to prevent heart disease?

Well....Lots of things!

For starters he should never have started that statin drug, a class of drug that research shows is completely useless in all but a small minority of cases. The fact that even though he was on this drug, his triglycerides were still too high and his HDL was still too low, proves that statins do nothing to affect these more accurate predictors of heart disease.

High triglyceride and low HDL levels are caused by excessive consumption of carbohydrates, and too little exercise. This deadly combination results in excessive outputs of insulin and the storage of fat in both the mid-section (another true risk factor for heart disease) and around the internal organs.

High insulin levels also contribute to systemic inflammation in the body, which in all likelihood is the truest risk factor for heart disease of all.

It's also important to remember that statins actually reduce your body's ability to manufacture Coenzyme Q-10, a key component for proper heart function!

The strangest thing about this article is that in one section it does everything short of literally telling you that statin drugs are not nearly as helpful as improving dietary habits and exercising:

"If there is any lesson in his death, his doctors said, it is a reminder.... that people, especially those with known risk factors, should pay attention to diet, blood pressure, weight and exercise — even if they are feeling fine." If statin drugs were as effective as they are touted to be in drug ads, why the important reminder?

Because they aren't.

If you want to start truly reducing your risk factors for heart disease, at the very least consider the following:

  1. A "primitive" diet, that avoids the majority of high carb foods like sugars and flour, reduces or eliminates grain and dairy intake, and instead focuses on lots of veggies, a moderate amount of fruit, good quality proteins and fats from healthy animals raised in a natural way, and other healthy fats from nuts and seeds, fish oil, avocados and olive oil.
  2. Exercise at least 5 days a week, with at least 2 of those days involving an interval based exercise routine. (If you have known heart disease or risk factors, check with a doctor first to learn how to properly implement this style of exercise)
  3. Practice stress reduction techniques such as meditation, prayer, progressive relaxation and deep breathing exercises on a regular basis.
  4. Get your vitamin D levels checked.
  5. Drink green tea every day.
  6. Consider a vitamin K2 supplement, or one with it as a component.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Blood Sugar Levels Important for Everyone, Not Just Diabetics

A new study out of New Zealand has provided insight into just how important it is to keep your blood sugar levels much more in check than previously thought.

It used to be that most doctors didn't even bat an eye until their patients' fasting blood sugar levels rose higher than 126, the cut-off point for diagnosing diabetes. In recent years the medical profession has become more picky about things and now people with fasting blood sugars higher than 110 are considered 'pre-diabetic', which is basically just a nice way of saying, 'You better get your act together right now my friend, or trouble's coming'.

In fact, some the lab I use regularly to test my patients' blood cuts off 'normal' blood sugar at 99! Are we going overboard a bit? Are we being too picky? Is this just another ploy by the pharmaceutical industry to try and get the standard for a blood marker lowered for no good reason other than selling more drugs? (i.e. The Great Cholesterol Con)

Unfortunately, this doesn't appear to be the case. This new study out of New Zealand looked at hemoglobin A1C (Hgb A1c) levels in over 47,000 people. Hgb A1c is a marker that gives information on what a person's blood sugar levels have been averaging over the last few months. It is considered a much more valuable marker for determining true risks for high blood sugar than a single measurement of fasting blood sugar is, because it basically gives an average over time, rather than one single measurement, which can be affected by numerous things.

The typical goal for diabetics is to get under a Hgb A1c of 6, but the "normal range" is about 4-5%. Until now, most people thought that if your levels are under 6, you're doing pretty well.

Well...not so much.

The New Zealand study has found that, from an optimal level of 4, the higher your HgbA1c rises (even if you are still within the "normal range") the more likely you are to die!

I must say, that was news to me. Being a fairly healthy person thus far, I have never had my HgA1c checked, but I will be doing so soon.

This study brings up two important points for me:

1) A simple screening blood test (if looked at with a truly discerning eye) can reveal A LOT about your health. It's not just for checking to see if you can "justifiably" be put on cholesterol-lowering drugs, which seems to be how it is being used these days in the conventional medical field. This is why every one of my new patients is asked to get one done. (I will by, the way, be adding HgA1c to the typical panel I run)

2) It reinforces in my mind the notion that, if you care about your health or the health of your loved ones, it's simply not good enough to just be "normal". In other words, if you don't have a diagnosable disease, does that mean you are truly healthy?

Maybe....Maybe not.

Another way to look at this is, while they are still obviously important, don't let some once-a-year physical exam or lab test that comes back "in the normal range" fool you into thinking you are optimally healthy. If you want to thrive in life and be a happy and functional human being well into your later years, examine the various parameters of your diet and lifestyle and MAKE SURE you are as healthy as you can be!

In the case of blood sugar levels, make sure you are eating a diet filled mostly with protein rich foods like good quality meats, nuts and seeds, healthy fats, vegetables and a moderate amount of fruit. Also make sure you are exercising regularly. In particular, regularly partake in exercise routines in which you are following a pattern of short bursts of high intensity work, followed by a period of rest, repeated over and over until tired. This form of exercise seems to be particularly good for your heart and blood sugar levels.

Also, do your best to reduce stress in your life and, perhaps more importantly, learn to moderate your response to the stress that you do have, by practicing stress relieving activities such as meditation, breathing exercises, progressive relaxation, prayer, etc. High stress levels usually result in high outputs of cortisol in your body. Amongst other things, one of cortisol's jobs is to literally increase your blood sugar levels by telling your liver to release extra amounts from your storage depots.

This was an important function during ancient times when our stresses mainly came from infrequent scenarios when we needed to physically act in a vigorous manner in order to catch something, fight something or run away from something. Lots of sugar in the blood for fuel was important in such circumstances. These days, however, our stresses rarely require physical action from us. They are mostly just mental. Unfortunately, the response in our bodies hasn't changed though. We still release a lot of cortisol and, in turn, a lot of blood sugar into our systems.

According to this recent study, that is not such a good thing.

I could go on and and on about this, but I'll end this by saying if you want to be really healthy:

Eat well. Exercise. Get your Hgb A1c levels checked. And, if you're stressed out, make sure it's because you are being chased by a large animal.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Vitamin D and Cancer

Further proof of the important role Vitamin D plays in cancer protection was revealed in a recent issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. It discussed a twelve year study, involving more than 16,000 participants, which showed that people with the highest blood levels of vitamin D were 72% less likely to die of colon cancer than those who had the lowest levels. Current data states that colon cancer is killing 50,000 people in the U.S. per year.

To be completely honest, there's nothing new here. We are simply seeing further proof of what has been proven, seemingly beyond any reasonable doubt. If you have a lot of vitamin D coursing through your veins, you probably won't die of cancer.

What is important to realize, however, and what this study makes note of, is that this and many other positive studies involving vitamin D, have looked specifically at blood levels of vitamin D, not supplemental intake. Studies looking at the prevention of cancer and other chronic diseases from taking vitamin D supplements are less prevalent than those looking simply at blood levels.

In other words, while we know that the vitamin D we get "the natural way" (i.e. from our skin creating is when exposed to the sun) is helpful, we don't know for sure if supplements have exactly the same benefit.

So, what is a Portlander (or anyone else living in a less than balmy environment) to do? Well, try as hard as you can to get in the sun as often as possible for starters. Next, test your blood levels of vitamin D at least a couple times a year to see where they are at. (contact me if you have to pay more than $46 for this test) If they are low, I would start taking a concentrated, high-dose form of cod liver oil (containing at least 500 iu per 1/2 tsp).

I am absolutely convinced that food based forms of vitamins (cod liver oil is the highest natural source of vitamin D) are superior to isolated or synthetic nutrients in terms of absorption and safety. I also think that, in the case of vitamin D, when we aren't sure how well taking it compared to making it works for us, our best bet in supplementation is the most natural form possible, i.e. high dose cod liver oil.

If you get your vitamin D levels tested and they are extremely low, you may need to augment your cod liver oil supplementation with a pure vitamin D supplement for some time. Again, the proof is less solid with this form of vitamin D, but I still believe it's far better than nothing, and I've certainly seen it raise my patients blood levels. I like to give pure vitamin D supplements (and other single nutrients when necessary) along with the food or foods that naturally contain it, as doing so will provide a myriad of other nutrients and cofactors that your body is used to seeing come along with that nutrient.

For more info on the value of whole food supplements, be sure to read my article at The Truth About Whole Food Supplements.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Your friendly gallbladder...

I often sit and wonder what 'brilliant' doctor first decided that taking your gallbladder out is no big deal. A cursory review of any human anatomy or physiology textbook will quickly prove to you that there is really no organ in the body that is not there for a reason. Certainly there are many that can be removed without causing death, but are there any that can be removed without causing a reduction in your ability to achieve or maintain optimal health?

I think not.

Nonetheless, of the adult population of patients I see, I would guess that approximately 30-50% of them have had their gallbladders removed. Few of these cases involved a true emergency situation. Instead most of them were removed simply because the patient was feeling some pain and discomfort, and the doctors in charge knew not what to do about it. This is not grounds for organ removal in my book.

I also find it interesting that the very diet people suffering from gallbladder pain are told to go on (low fat, high carb) is the very same sort of diet (minus a few veggies) that probably started the problem in the first place. Think about it, most of people these days have been hypnotized into believing beyond all reasonable doubt, that low fat diets are the healthiest, so, in an effort to look good and stay healthy, most people eat that way.

What food causes the gallbladder to contract? That's right, FAT. How on earth can we encourage proper and regular gallbladder function without eating a decent amount of fat?? Of course people whose gallbladders are simply too far gone, full of stones and really hurting, do usually have to reduce fat in their diets, because any stimulation of the gallbladder for them causes pain. The point is though, that if they ate a higher fat, lower carb diet in the first place, they probably wouldn't be dealing with this problem at all!

Anyways, I could go on and on. The main point of this post was really to review a study regarding magnesium and gallbladder function, which I will get to now...

A recent study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology followed more than 42,000 men between ages 40 and 75 for 16 years. The men filled out health questionnaires every two years and diet questionnaires every four years. Those with the highest magnesium intake—more than 409 mg per day from food and supplements—were 28% less likely to develop gallstones than those whose intake was the lowest, at less than 288 mg per day.

Our best natural sources of magnesium are dark green veggies. If you combine this sort of food with good types of fat such as organic butter, extra virgin olive oil, avocados and nuts, along with some good protein sources like free range eggs (with the yolks), grass fed beef and wild caught fish, and a little bit of fruit, you have the perfect diet for preventing gallstones. In fact, my experience has been that this diet is great for treating all kinds of modern day, chronic health problems.

And, wouldn't you know it, if you examine the research out on ancient people and the healthy diets they ate (see links to the right) this sort of diet is about as close as you can come to recreating it. In other words, this is the diet that is NATURAL for us.

Happy munching....

Thursday, April 3, 2008

You can get fat if you eat fat.....Certain fats that is.

As a naturopathic doc, I counsel many people on their diet and how it relates to their health. More often than not, the discussion eventually turns to dietary influences on weight gain. I am always quick to point out that refined carbs and sugar are two of the most likely culprits in weight gain. I also commonly recommend eating more fat and less grains of any kind, always being sure to emphasize the need for these fats to be "good fats" like the kind you'd find in olive oil, avocados, organic butter, grass fed meats, seafoods, and coconut oil.

While I usually do not talk about them in weight loss discussions, I also make sure to recommend strict avoidance of trans fatty acids, or hydrogenated oils. After all, these are some of the worst "foods" on the planet, and make you sick in many ways, including increasing your risk of cancer and heart disease. What I was not aware of, however, was their tremendous effect on weight gain, until I read about a recent study in the journal Obesity.

The new study looked at the effect of a high-trans-fat diet on sugar metabolism and weight gain in male African green monkeys. Forty-two monkeys were assigned to eat either a high-trans-fat diet or a low-trans-fat diet for six years. The monkeys on the high-trans-fat diet were given partially hydrogenated soybean oil so that trans fats accounted for approximately 8% of their daily calories—an amount similar to that of people who eat the most trans fats. The other monkeys ate the same diet but their fat was from a blend of oils high in monounsaturated fatty acids.

At the end of the study, the monkeys on the high-trans-fat diet gained four times as much weight and had more body fat than their counterparts, and a greater percentage of their body fat was in the abdomen, a pattern known to be linked to increased cardiac risk. Blood tests revealed that these monkeys showed signs of insulin resistance, a condition that leads to type 2 diabetes, but the other monkeys had normal responses to sugar and insulin.

It never ceases to amaze me how many different ways crappy food is bad for you.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Wondering about gluten? Don't delay!!

A recent study published in the journal Gastroenterology provided further proof about the strong connection between Celiac disease (severe gluten sensitivity) and colon cancer. The connection between these two conditions has long been recognized, but what was still not clear was exactly how strong this connection was and how important establishing a diagnosis of Celiac disease is in preventing colon cancer.

Part of the problem in all of this is the fact that there are a number of undiagnosed people walking around out there who actually do have Celiac disease. In fact, some sources estimate that up to 1 in 10 people in the US have it! This number may even continue to rise as we get better and better at diagnosing it.

Celiac disease often has no obvious symptoms so people can have it for years, continuing to consume gluten the whole time, and not know it. In fact, I would guess that a majority of people, some of whom eventually die from colon cancer, never discover they had this condition. This study provides strong evidence that had these people been diagnosed and subsequently avoided gluten from that point forward, they might have been able to prevent their cancers.

As a naturopathic doctor, I am now constantly searching for problems with gluten in my patients. And, more often than not, I find them. If you have a particularly strong craving for breads and pastas, or are a "carb addict", if you have ANY digestive symptoms, if you have any neurological or immune system related disorders, if you are fatigued, if you have hormone problems, basically, if you have any chronic health issues at all, gluten intolerance should be ruled out.

The interesting thing about this study though is that, even if you don't have anything noticeably wrong, identifying gluten intolerance could still save your life.

For more information on this very important topic, I strongly recommend reading, Going Against the Grain, by Melissa Diane Smith. Proper testing for gluten sensitivity can be done through a naturopathic doctor, or through

Monday, March 17, 2008

Kids and Colds

As my two little ones lie in bed, half asleep, each fighting a particularly nasty little flu bug, I can't help but think about the past winter and how many kids have also had "particularly nasty little bugs" to deal with.

I've seen my fair share of boogery, goopy-eyed, miserable kids in my clinic this year and always wish their parents would bring them in at the very start of their illnesses, before those little critters have really taken hold. Even better, I wish they'd all come in for tips on how to try and prevent these illnesses in the first place.

A great study came out recently, which reminded me of how truly simple it can be to help prevent colds and flus in your kids.

The new study, published in Archives of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, included 401 children, from six to ten years old, who visited their pediatrician for a common cold or flu. About one-quarter of the children were assigned to receive standard treatment, which could include any combination of medicines aimed at reducing fever, relieving nasal congestion, breaking up mucus, and fighting infection. The rest were assigned to receive standard treatment plus saline nasal rinses, six times per day during acute illness and three times per day during the rest of the 12-week study.

Shortly after their initial doctor visit, the children who used the nasal rinses had fewer nasal and throat symptoms and were healthier than the children who did not use the rinses. By eight weeks, they had fewer and less severe symptoms such as dry cough, runny nose, and inability to breathe through the nose, and fewer of them were using medications to manage their symptoms. They were also less likely to have been sick again, and they missed less school due to illness.

The nasal rinse was a standard 0.9% saline (sodium chloride) solution with trace elements and minerals in concentrations similar to those in seawater, and was applied either with medium jet flow, as a fine mist spray, or as a spray for both eyes and nose. The three methods for the nasal rinse were equally effective.

There are a number of other ways parents can help kids who tend to get lots of colds stay healthy during the cold and flu season:

• Stay away from sugar and pasteurized dairy products: Sugar inhibits the immune system, leaving us more vulnerable to infections. Pasteurized dairy contributes to mucus formation in many people.

• Feed them high vitamin cod liver oil: The vitamin D found in cod liver oil may turn out to be even better than vitamin C at preventing colds and flus. As sunlight fades to clouds and rain, so do levels of vitamin D in our blood. Do you think it's a coincidence that many of us start getting sick soon after? I don't. My kids get a tsp a day, which comes out to about 1000iu of vitamin D. I take the same dose, plus another 2000iu of plain vitamin D per day in the winter months.

• Gargle: Gargling with plain water removes mucus and keeps bacteria and viruses from sticking around. A three-times-a-day habit has been found to reduce the occurrence of respiratory infections.

• A daily dose of Echinacea, increasing that to a dose every hour at the first sign of a cold may get your little ones through a whole winter without one illness. Don't believe those out there who say you shouldn't take echinacea for more than a few weeks at a time. The research doesn't support this idea. In fact, Kerry Bone, a world renowned herbalist and Echinacea expert takes a dose every day, all year long!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Ummm, water filters for everyone please.

As if what is known about the quality of our drinking water wasn't bad enough already, it now sounds like you're going to need to do more than just go to a naturopathic doctor to avoid exposure to pharmaceutical drugs.

A new study (more about it here:
has found there are measurable levels of many drugs - including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones - in the water supplies of most major metropolitan areas.


I recommend filtered vs. bottled water, as bottled water is often of poor quality and can be a source of exposure to some serious chemicals if they leach out of the plastic in these bottles.

It's getting harder and harder to live a healthy life these days isn't it? We need to put filters on our water and our air. We have to pay extra money to buy foods with less ingredients and less chemicals in them. Most of us, if we actually do decide to exercise regularly, join a health club or take an exercise class that, you guessed it, we have to pay for also.

What is going on here???

We are literally witnessing the destruction of our environment, as well as ours and many other species of animals on this planet. As a naturopathic doctor, I feel like I am especially aware of this process unfolding before us all, because I see first hand the toll it is taking on us. Sometimes I just want to throw my hands up in the air and quit!

I won't, but I could use your help. Start "going green". Start eating better. Start going outside and appreciating what we still have, instead of staring at your televisions, computer screens and iPhones all day long. Do more than that if you like. Do less if you have to, but please,


Friday, March 7, 2008

How's your prostate? Let's wait and see.....

A recent study has concluded that older men with early prostate cancer do not shorten their survival odds if they adopt a "wait-and-see" approach to the disease. In fact, most such patients will die of other causes or they simply won't develop any complications from the cancer, the researchers found.

"Many elderly men with lower risk cancer may do well with conservative management," concluded study author Grace Lu-Yau, a cancer epidemiologist at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, and an associate professor at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and School of Public Health. Seventy-two percent of the 9000 men in the study died of other causes or didn't have enough cancer progression to warrant surgery or radiation, the researchers found. For the remaining 2,675 men who did receive treatment, the median time between diagnosis and start of therapy was more than 10 years.

Hey, why not reduce your chances of problems even more?
  • Increase your vitamin D levels by getting safe amounts of regular sun exposure, taking high vitamin cod liver oil and getting your vitamin D blood levels checked.
  • Incorporate foods high in natural lycopene:
  1. Tomatoes
  2. Raspberries
  3. Watermelon
  • Eat a diet low in grains, flours and sugars and high in veggies, fruits, seafood and healthy fats to discourage blood sugar and insulin problems. This will also help discourage excessive levels of estrogen in your body, which can increase risk.
  • Eat foods from the cabbage family, such as broccoli, which also helps to control excess estrogens.
  • Exercise
  • Do a good quality cleansing program one or more times a year.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

You want some fish with that wine?

Anyone who spends any time at all reading news about nutrition and health has undoubtedly come across the ideas that omega 3 fats (think fish oil) and red wine are both quite good for you. Until recently that was about all the connection these two healthy foods had in common.

Recent research suggests that we might be able to take things a step further. A study from the American Heart Journal has shown that people who drink wine might have higher levels of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, even if they don’t eat many of the foods that contain them. Now that is pretty cool.

Until now, the reason why moderate consumption of red wine is good for you has not been fully understood, but this study may provide some important clues.