Archive for May, 2009

gluten tag!

These days many people are intolerant to gluten, not necessarily pathologically allergic, but sensitive enough to cause some profound health effects.  Until recently it was believed that 1 in 10,000 people had trouble with gluten.  Now it is believed to be closer to 1 in 100.  People with gluten intolerance should not eat foods that contain gluten, such as wheat, barley and other grains.  Those foods can trigger an autoimmune reaction in the intestines and prevent the proper absorption of nutrients.  Severe gluten intolerance, referred to as celiac disease, is an autoimmune disease, like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.  To get the disease, you must have a genetic predisposition Continue reading ‘gluten tag!’

Advertisements

Alkaline Diet

Most of today’s diets tend to emphasize foods that have an ability to form acid in our bodies.  Balancing those acidifying foods with those that alkalize or even consuming predominantly alkalizing foods can go a long way to making us healthier.  The idea behind this diet is though homeostasis will maintain the blood pH relatively tightly between 7.35 and 7.45, the amount of stress and thus raw materials within our bodies that is used to maintain that pH by our acid base balance systems can be influence by the diet we eat.  In other words, wouldn’t you rather have your organs do something other than fight the acids you eat?  The more acidity the food the more it drives the system and causes certain minerals to be used at increased rates depleting other areas in the process.  The kidney is the prime organ involved as it has most of the responsibility of regulating long term acid base balance.  People who suffer excessive fatigue, muscle soreness and stiffness, bone loss, mineral imbalances, and kidney dysfunction may especially be helped by using this therapeutic diet.  The diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, seeds and tubers while avoiding grains, meat, dairy and salt.  Really though, nothing is off limits with this diet, rather it is the emphasis on consuming many more calories from the alkaline list than the acid list.  

One footnote is that the food in raw form may be acid, but if it’s turned to an alkaline ash when broken down, then it’s ok.  Thus, citrus is actually quite alkaline forming.

Why do we see an increase in IBS, Crone’s Disease, etc?

Digestive disorders are growing rapidly throughout our population. The lower gut and, in particular, the colon seem to be under attack these days.  We all know someone with irritable bowel syndrome, crone’s disease, diverticulitis, or any one of a dozen other disorders. We spend lots of time and money to identify and cure or treat these problems.  Few people are asking why we have such a rise in the actual problem.

Some facts that we know are that we, as a society, eat more processed low quality food containing more chemicals and allergens, comprised of fewer and less available nutrients, today than ever before. When we don’t eat predominantly whole, raw, live food we lose lots of things that are needed to keep us healthy. Processed foods are just that processed, and that means to change or alter them before consumption. We may like to believe that this practice is done to help us or make the food better (enriched!) but who is really benefitting from removing the enzymes, breaking the protein structures, and altering the fats? The manufacturers do because all these things allow the product to be put in a box and put on an unrefridgerated shelf for an extended length of time without worry of spoilage. Thus the product is more profitable than a perishable real food. When food has the enzymes denatured (processed, cooked, etc) the food does not spoil as quickly and also does not digest as well.  This leaves the product to rot in the lower gut. This process is detrimental to the probiotics (good bacteria) that live in the gut and maintain the gut thus causing a population bloom of bad bacteria that serve to irritate and damage the colon. This is a major cause of bowel disorders like IBS and can lead to other systemic problems like Candida and infections.

Another less obvious reason is the fiber we do or don’t eat. Many of our foods have a lot of the fiber removed and we all know how useful fiber is to keeping our colon clean. The problem becomes how do we replace it, we use psyllium husks or some other fiber that while natural,  it is generally unnatural to our systems.  In fact it is quite harsh and can so some harm while it is doing its good. This does not make fiber our enemy rather just eat more whole foods that contain the naturally occurring fibers, both soluble and insoluble, that you need to keep your colon sparkly clean. This will feed your probiotics (they like fiber) and help with hormonal balance and general detoxification.  It’s a pretty useful substance, this fiber.

We cannot just blame the manufactures of our food but we also ourselves for choosing to eat these processed products. On top of all the nutritional reasons for gut malfunctions, we are taking more drugs for more ailments than ever before. Many of these drugs interfere with proper digestion or kill our probiotics or stress our detoxification systems.  We are finding ways to poison ourselves while believing that we are getting healthier. There are many reasons why we have an increase in bowel dysfunction and with some back to basics nutritional simplicity we can make great strides to preventing these issues. This just fits with our mantra of eating food in a state as close to nature as you can because all of the proper nutrition and components work together to safely and in the right proportion deliver good healthy nutrition to you. 

Again, nutrition is the foundation to disease prevention and good health.

Salmon – not so healthy?

Salmon is healthy and we should all eat more of it, right?  It has healthy fats and is very versatile in the kitchen, so what’s not to like?  Where the fish comes from, the methods from which it is raised and the detriment to the environment should change your thinking on ordering that slmon tonight.

If you had Atlantic salmon at the restaurant last night or picked some up at the grocery, it was almost certainly farmed salmon; even if labeled “wild caught” it has a very good chance of having come from a farm.  In a cross country sting operation, Consumer Reports found that a 56% of salmon labeled “wild” in supermarkets was actually farmed.   Even Pacific salmon varities are now commonly farmed as 142 distinct salmon populations in British Columbia alone have gone extinct.  Annual salmon returns to the rivers of the Pacific Northwest are estimated at just 6-7% of their historic levels.  In other words, these pacific fish are quickly going the way of the Atlantic salmon whihc from Maine to Norway is now considered commercially extinct.  This is why if you had Atlantic salmon it was most likely raised in a pen off the Pacific coast. 

So, if the fish was raised on a farm, it’s still healthy, right?  Wrong.  Farmed salmon are fattier than their wild brethren, but not in a good way.  They have the same problem as factory farmed beef in that their balance of omega 3 – omega 6 fatty acids is strongly shifted to the pro-inflammatory omega 6 side.  In other words, Continue reading ‘Salmon – not so healthy?’

Soy – good or bad?

We’ve all been told of the health benefits of soy and have been encouraged to eat it.  Soy, the magical little bean that would solve so many of our health issues. Lately we have been told that soy is not the health panacea that we once thought.  So, what gives, where is the truth? Soy in the forms that we eat most often is a highly processed food possessing all the inherent problems that come along with foods that have been processed. Soy contains compounds that once thought to be helpful have been shown to be harmful to health in a processed form. We have covered processed foods and why they are not beneficial, so let’s look at soy and it’s nutrients and anti-nutrients.

Soy products contain phytic acid, also called phytates. This organic acid is present in the bran or hulls of all seeds and legumes, but none have the high level of phytates that soybeans do. These acids block the body’s uptake of essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron and especially zinc.  Soybeans also contain potent enzyme inhibitors. These inhibitors block uptake of trypsin and other enzymes that the body needs for protein digestion. Normal cooking does not deactivate these harmful “anti-nutrients,” that can cause serious gastric distress, reduce protein digestion and can lead to chronic deficiencies in amino acid uptake.  Beyond these, soybeans also contain hemagglutinin, a clot promoting substance that causes red blood cells to clump together. These clustered blood cells are unable to properly absorb oxygen for distribution to the body’s tissues, and cannot help in maintaining good cardiac health. Hemagglutinin and trypsin inhibitors are both “growth depressant” substances. Although the act of fermenting soybeans does deactivate both trypsin inhibitors and hemagglutinin, precipitation and cooking do not. Even though these enzyme inhibitors are reduced in levels within precipitated soy products like tofu, they are not altogether eliminated.  Isoflavanones are the best known of chemicals in soy, and they can is some ways be useful to certain subsets of the population at later stages of life. They are however very damaging to younger people in that they alter hormonal balance and restrict brain development in infants.

It is also interesting to note that 85% of the United States soy crops are genetically modified and it is amazing that there is still no FDA required safety tests for genetically modified foods.  One study in rats who were fed soy and genetically modified soy showed that 8x the number of rats fed genetically modified soy died during the test as opposed to the control group.   Do you know where the soy you consume comes from?

In Asian cultures they tend to eat soy that is fermented (miso, tempeh,natto) and do not, amazingly enough, eat more soy than the United States.  Fermented soy is most likely it’s only saving grace because the fermenting process virtually eliminates all the bad nutritional aspects mentioned.

Bottom line… soy, like all food, is best in its natural, true form.  For most foods that would also mean raw.  However, soy has traditionally only been used in fermented form.  So eat close to nature, whole, raw and live, except soy which should only be considered in quantity after fermintation with live cultures.