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Help! My gut has sprung a leak!

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What exactly is Leaky Gut?  The name conjures up disturbing images not appropriate for polite dinner conversation, but it is a term you have probably heard.  Technically, it means that your intestines have increased permeability, or to put it bluntly…you have holes in your gut.  The lining of the gut is damaged and allows toxins to pass into the body through your bloodstream.  Your immune system is triggered to react to these toxins as if they were foreign invaders.  The result is inflammation throughout the body causing a wide variety of symptoms.  I read a great analogy online…”Think of it like party crashers who slip through security and proceed to make a mess of the venue.”  

What causes your gut to become leaky?  Many things, but most commonly chronic stress, medications like aspirin, ibuprofen, and other anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, a diet high in processed foods and refined sugar, excessive alcohol, and gluten if you are sensitive to it. 

In addition to digestive disturbances and bloating, most leaky gut sufferers develop other symptoms like multiple food allergies, environmental allergies, chronic sinus infections, aching joints, skin rashes, fatigue, and brain fog.  As the holes in the digestive tract lining become bigger, more and more particles slip through.  The villi in the small intestine become damaged and eventually lose their ability to absorb vital nutrients.  Many autoimmune disorders are being linked to Leaky Gut.  Diagnosing it is very difficult because traditional blood tests typically doesn’t show any abnormalities until the body is severely broken down.    It is more of a clinical diagnosis, but if you strongly suspect you may have this issue you may want to look into specific intestinal permeability testing.  

There is no magic pill for Leaky Gut, but there are many things you can do to begin to heal your gut lining.  The first is eating an anti-inflammatory diet that eliminates gluten, sugar, dairy, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners.  I know…NOT fun!  But, neither is feeling horrible all of the time.  Add lots of anti-inflammatory leafy green vegetables and essential fatty acids from nuts and wild caught fish to your diet.  Food is a powerful healer!  Taking an EFA supplement and a good Probiotic product will help to repair and rebuild the normal, beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract.  Glutamine, an essential amino acid, is also very helpful in fixing those leaks.  Many people will notice a difference in 1-2 months, but for some it can take longer.  As always, when you are truly FIXING a problem, not just throwing drugs at symptoms, consistency and patience are key ingredients.  

 

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Are Baked Chips Healthier?

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Most people assume that if something is baked instead of fried it is healthier.  This is usually true, especially if you are cooking at home.  A baked potato is healthier than a fried potato.  But what about processed and packaged potato chips?  Are the baked ones healthier than the regular fried chips?

The low quality oil and higher temperatures used in frying are the main problems.  The starch in the potato reacts to the high heat in frying, forming a carcinogen called acrylamide.  The ingredients on a bag of Classic Lays Potato Chips are:  potatoes, vegetable oil (sunflower, corn and/or canola oil), and salt.  No preservatives.  It doesn’t sound too bad, right?  But, if you’ve read our previous post about Cooking Oils you know that sunflower and corn are toxic, genetically-modified oils, not to mention the large dose of cancer-causing acrylamide you are ingesting.  So, being a health-conscious consumer you grab the bag of Baked Lays.  But, as my grandmother liked to say, hold your horses…

Baking a potato does produce acrylamide, but not as much as frying.  (On a side note, boiling or steaming a potato produces the least amount of acrylamide.)  Let’s look at the ingredients on the Baked Lays:  dried potatoes, corn starch, sugar, corn oil, salt, soy lecithin, and corn sugar.  Quite a long list!  The potatoes are dried before they are even baked.  They don’t say how the potatoes are dried, but most likely using very high temperatures.  That means you are getting a high dose of acrylamide, just like you do in the fried.  The corn starch, corn oil, and soy lecithin are not organic so they are using GMO products- a big no-no if you are trying to eat healthy.  The sugar and corn sugar are obvious bad additions, but necessary to make the “oil-less” chips palatable.  You are just exchanging one bad ingredient for a bunch of others.

Let’s be frank, neither potato chip, fried or baked, can be considered a good food choice.  But, if we are comparing the two, the baked chip is actually more processed and overall, worse than the fried!  Our advice…skip both options and enjoy some raw veggies instead.  🙂

Soda Ingredients = Recipe for Disaster

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Waiting in line at the grocery store, I watched a mother open her toddler’s sippy cup and fill it half full with Coca-Cola from her bottle.  I seriously considered calling Child Protective Services and reporting a case of child abuse.  As I drove home, still bothered by it, I knew the mother was not intentionally trying to harm her child, but was acting out of ignorance.

A single can of soda contains 10 teaspoons of sugar.  Consuming just one can a day can very quickly lead to deterioration of your health resulting in diabetes, obesity, metabolic disorders, high cholesterol, and the list goes on.  Soda also contains phosphoric acid, which disrupts the body’s ability to absorb calcium, leading to bone softening and osteoporosis.  It also lowers your ability to digest food and absorb nutrients.  The caffeine, artificial flavors, and food dyes contribute even further to the negative impact on your health.

If you are drinking diet soda thinking you are making a healthier, lower-calorie choice compared to the regular sugar version, think again.  Researchers at Purdue University found that diet drinks are equally as bad for you (worse in our humble opinion) and cause you to pack on the pounds.  The artificial sweeteners fool your metabolism into thinking sugar is on its way.  Your body pumps out insulin, the fat storage hormone, which lays down another layer of fat.  This confusion causes your overall metabolism to slow, leading to less calories burned and more stored.  Since the artificial sweeteners are a thousand times sweeter than regular sugar you become programmed to prefer the taste of sweetness more than any other substance.  You get hungrier and crave even more sugar and starchy carbs like pasta and bread.  Rats that were given artificial sweeteners ate more, had lower metabolic rates, and put on 14% more fat in just two weeks even though their caloric intake was lower.  But wait!  There’s more… these artificial sweeteners have been linked to hundreds of different health problems like seizures, multiple sclerosis, brain tumors, diabetes, and emotional disorders.

Whichever type of soda you may be consuming or allowing your children to consume, it would be very wise to reconsider that choice.  Soda has no nutritional value whatsoever, not a single redeeming quality.  It is a completely negative food, creating stress and eventually, disease in the body.

Calcium, not milk, does the body good.

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Is milk really necessary to keep you healthy and provide the calcium you need every day? You would think so after seeing celebrities and athletes pose with that trademark milk mustache and seeing all the “Milk- it does the body good” commercials. Kudos to the marketing agencies who, once again, have convinced us to buy into their advertisements while independent research proves otherwise. While milk does have some calcium, it is far from the best food source of the essential nutrient. And with 25% of the American population lacking the ability to digest the milk sugar lactose, it becomes even less attractive. The best sources of calcium are plants, particularly dark, leafy greens, which also contain vitamins C and K, nutrients that are necessary to move the calcium into bones.

But what about growing kids? Don’t all children need milk? Not so much. Parents and schools offer kids sugar-laden flavored milks thinking that despite the sugar, they are helping their kids to grow healthy bones and teeth. The benefit of the small amount of calcium the kids get from the milk pales drastically in comparison to the negative effects the extra sugar does to their growing tissues. The only time we would recommend kids drinking plain milk is if they have an incredibly poor diet. Kids that are living on donuts, chicken nuggets, french fries and pizza have bodies so devoid of any nutrition that milk would be an upgrade.

How about helping with osteoporosis? Once again, a resounding no. Osteoporosis and its precursor, osteopenia, are found in over 50 million Americans, even though the U.S. is one of the top dairy consumers in the world. We have one of the highest rates of bone fractures, while countries that consume the lowest amounts of milk have the lowest. Research shows that osteoporosis is about genetics and lifestyle, not drinking milk. Things that rob calcium from ours bones are very prevalent in the American diet, excess sodium, alcohol, excess animal protein, and caffeine. The best way to prevent osteoporosis is to get plenty of weight-bearing exercise and to eat a diet rich in nutrient-dense plants and vitamin D rich foods, like salmon and sardines.

Not only is milk a very poor calcium source, there is a well established link between drinking it and certain types of cancer. Cow’s milk is high in a hormone called IGF-1, which encourages cell growth and discourages cell death. Studies show adults with high levels of this IGF-1 are at increased risk of prostate, breast, and colon cancer. These high levels can accrue starting in childhood. Modern dairy practices significantly increase the unhealthy estrogen levels in milk. These estrogens are 100,000 times more potent than environmental estrogens known to cause breast and ovarian cancer. Pretty scary!

So, skip the milk and opt for these foods that are rich in calcium: dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, arugula, collard & mustard greens), broccoli, okra, chinese cabbage, green snap beans, raw almonds, rhubarb, sardines, sesame seeds, figs, salmon, and white beans. If these foods don’t make it into your daily diet often enough, consider taking a low dose calcium supplement in a lactate or citrate form.

If you are a fan of milk, and want to consume it regardless of its less than stellar calcium levels, we suggest using raw organic milk. It does not contain antibiotics, growth hormones, and pesticide residues. Clean, raw milk, properly collected from cows fed clean, organic grass is perfectly safe and contains many beneficial amino acids, fatty acids and enzymes. Pasteurization destroys enzymes, destroys beneficial bacteria, lowers vitamin content, and promotes disease-causing microbes. Calves fed pasteurized milk frequently die before reaching maturity, even though the milk originally came from their mom. Yikes! It is best to get raw milk from a farm that your are familiar with and can trust.

Gatorade- Is it in you? Let’s hope not!

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Whatever happened to drinking good old water during sports activities? Advertisements from our favorite, health-promoting companies, Coca-Cola and Pepsi (wink, wink) have convinced us that our kids will keel over from loss of vital electrolytes unless they consume bottle after bottle of Gatorade or Powerade. They promise these drinks will improve their performance levels ten fold. We see top athletes on commercials actually sweating these drinks out of their pores as they rise to yet another high level of accomplishment. Seriously ridiculous! There is NOTHING in these drinks that will make you a better athlete or make you outperform your competitors. In fact, they give your competitor an edge over you! After consuming them your blood sugar spikes and then plummets quickly causing sluggishness and decreased energy output.

When these drinks first emerged on the market they were loaded with sugar. When we became concerned about all the sugar and the extra calories we were giving our children, companies came up with the low calorie or calorie free versions using sucralose (Splenda- see our previous post on this scary substance) and other artificial sweeteners. When we realized the drinks were also full of dangerous carcinogenic dyes (also linked to ADHD), they answered with clear products like Propel and Vitamin Water, once again trying to convince us we are helping our kids to be healthier and reach their athletic potential. I’ve got to hand it to their marketing firms- Genious! They have a high percentage of the population completely fooled.

You do not need to worry about replacing electrolytes unless you are exercising vigorously for 5-6 hours straight, as in marathon running. If that is the case, there are two simple solutions. First, you can add a small amount of natural, unprocessed sea salt to your water. This provides 84 different minerals and trace minerals to rebalance your electrolytes. Another option is pure coconut water, but pay attention to the ingredient list with this beverage. We are seeing many companies adding sweeteners to make their product appealing to people who are used to the sugar laden sport drinks.

Schools across the country are swapping out soda machines for sports drink and vitamin water vending machines, thinking they are giving students a healthier option. What they are really doing is switching one sugary, or artificially sweetened, drink for another. To replace the profit they might lose from their huge vending machine income, high powered companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi are lobbying hard to make sports drinks the new “healthy” option to their sodas. Kids should not be drinking either one…EVER. We currently have a childhood obesity epidemic that is continuing to grow. Getting kids off these toxic, empty-calorie, chemical & dye laden products would go a long way toward improving that problem, as well as their overall health.

Transitioning off these drinks and can be a challenge with kids. We have several recommendations. Squeeze lemons, limes, oranges or other fruits into water to give them a little flavor. If they need an energy drink we recommend using a good Greens or Reds powder that can be easily mixed into a water bottle. You can usually find them at health food stores or we have them on our website. www.parkerhealthsolutions.com/results.asp?pgid=1&spg=25

 

 

A Dose of Apple Cider Vinegar a day…

 

Apple Cider Vinegar is one of those old home remedies that has been around since before your grandmother. It has gained popularity over the last several years as a “magical elixir,” curing everything from warts to cancer. The medical community will tell you that there are no double blind, long term research studies that prove all of these claims. Of course there aren’t. Pharmaceutical companies do research on drugs that will produce large profits. That makes vinegar (a natural, readily available product) as unappealing to them, as its funky taste is to us!

So, are the said benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar worth the pungent smell and sour taste? We think so. Proven or unproven, it does seem to produce some pretty great results. But, you can’t just use any old vinegar. We prefer Bragg’s Certified Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar. It is unfiltered, unheated, and unpasteurized. It contains the creepy looking, but very beneficial “Mother of Vinegar,” which occurs naturally as strand-like enzymes of connected protein molecules. It is this “Mother” that contains the living nutrients and friendly bacteria. All of the clear, and definitely prettier, vinegar you see on the shelves has been processed to the nth degree and has very few, if any, health benefits.

Here are some of the proclaimed benefits of ACV:

▪ Rich in potassium, a mineral that is often times lacking in adult diets. This mineral is key for growth, building muscles, transmission of nerve impulses, heart activity etc. It also helps to prevent brittle teeth, hair loss and runny noses.
▪ Rich in acetic acid. This acid is said to slow the digestion of starch which can help to lower the rise in glucose that commonly occurs after meals. Great for diabetics and pre-diabetics. This is one of the most researched and proven benefits of ACV.
▪ Rich in ash which gives ACV its alkaline property. This aids your body in maintaining proper pH levels for a healthy alkaline state. (It is particularly important if you drink a lot of coffee or wine.)
▪ It can help regulate blood pressure and reduce bad cholesterol.
▪ Rich in malic acid which gives ACV its anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
▪ May help improve bowel irregularity and helps to remove toxins from the body at a faster rate.
▪ It can help clear up skin conditions and blemishes.
▪ ACV helps with weight loss by breaking down fats so that your body can use them rather than store them.
▪ A few lab studies have found that ACV may be able to kill cancer cells or slow their growth.

The only negative that can be found about Apple Cider Vinegar is that it can damage the enamel on your teeth, IF you drink it straight and undiluted. Believe me, you will not even be tempted to do that! The most recommended daily dosage is 1-2 tablespoons in at least 4-6 ounces of water. If that is still not palatable, you can add a little apple juice or honey to cut the tang and add a little sweetness.

 

 

Got Bones?

Recent headlines have reported a correlation between drugs commonly prescribed for osteoporotic patients and certain types of fractures. A few years ago, the revelation that ostoenecrosis (dying bone) of the jaw was correlated with these same types of drugs. Does it seem like these treatments are missing something, chemically altering our bodies’ processes and influencing specific cell behavior for a “cure” to what we perceive as a disease process? Maybe that disease is a symptom of a broader and less easily defined set of malfunctions. To drive any one cellular process to achieve a singular end result could throw a tightly integrated system, like the human body, into a chain reaction with far too many subtle (and not so subtle) effects to ever hope to predict, control or react to. We assume that people lose bone mass naturally and that it is a direct effect of aging. That is probably true to an extent. However, what is often overlooked is the years of abuse our bodies take and the nutritional torture that our modern diet has inflicted on various systems of the body. It is common knowledge that a poor diet can lead to type 2 diabetes, effect heart health, and lead to various cancers, and those are only the pathological processes. The subclinical manifestations of a poor lifestyle can weaken every system in the body as well as create problems that may not be realized for decades when gross pathology arises. By then, rendering the true causes can be lost in the mud of many seemingly unrelated symptoms.

On the topic of osteoporosis, it is known that certain types of diets and particular processed food products have the effect of demineralizing bone, making it weaker. We know that bone is built in response to stress… exercise, movement, creating small stress on the bone signals the body to build more. So it seems that as we become more sedentary we will not build new bone and in fact the body will resorb bone when it isn’t being used. It’s a use it or lose it situation. So maybe as we age we naturally stop doing so many weight bearing activities and thus lose some bone mass, but it’s the excessively sedentary lifestyle that can lead to the amount of loss that seems to require immediate action. We take a chemical that changes the body’s natural process in order to build bone but at the expense of a number of other interrelated systems. This does not seem logical. Maintaining an active lifestyle with moderate weight bearing exercise along with eating a diet heavy in whole, natural, raw foods with very few processed nutrient devoid products would not only allow the natural process of bone maintenance to take place but also reap innumerable other benefits to the person. Bone health is just another attempt to micromanage our health from a reactionary, outside-in approach that simply leads to more dysfunction down the line. The solution is really to back up, look to our daily habits and lifestyle, and proactively build lasting natural health from within. This in turn, will be expressed in a healthy vital life outside.