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Archive for November, 2011

Question

Is it my imagination or are broken bones more common than ever today?

Answer

Boys are 32 percent and girls 56 percent more likely to break a bone than children 40 years ago. Fractures are also common in older adults.

Soda has replaced milk

Dairy provides 70 percent of calcium in the American diet. However 40 years ago children drank four times more milk than soda; in 2001 they drank two and a half more times soda than milk. Today males ages 12-29 average half a gallon a day of soda. Not only is soda replacing more healthful, bone-building options, but it also contributes to obesity, blood sugar imbalances, inflammation, and other metabolic disorders that lead to poor bone quality.

Chronic inflammation weakens bones

For instance, just the chronic, low-grade inflammation caused by regular soda consumption can lead to weaker bones; inflammation accelerates the breakdown of bone so that it outpaces bone building. Soda consumption is also linked to a rise in obesity, another barrier to good bone health. Studies show obese people have weaker bones as their bone marrow produces more fat cells than bone cells.

When dairy is a poor option

Many people today find dairy is not a viable option for them due to an intolerance to lactose, the sugar in milk, or casein, the milk protein. Consuming dairy when you are dairy intolerant will actually trigger inflammation and work against your bone-strengthening efforts. Many other foods are good sources of calcium, including canned salmon and sardines with the bones, ample homemade bone broth, greens, certain nuts and seeds, nettle and raspberry leaves, and more.

Not all calcium supplements are the same

Calcium supplements are another option, however not all calcium supplements are the same. Some forms are easier to absorb than others. Also, it’s important to take a calcium supplement with the necessary cofactors for appropriate assimilation. These include other minerals, vitamins D3 and K2, and omega-3 fatty acids. Talk with your practitioner to learn the best way to get enough calcium and ensure good bone quality.

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Question

What is all the fuss about hydrogenated oils, or trans fats? Aren’t they OK to eat in moderation?

Answer

The hydrogenated fat you eat becomes part of your brain and nervous tissue. Because of its unnatural structure, cells and neurons composed partly of hydrogenated fat do not function properly.

The brain is made up of the fat you eat

If someone calls you a fat head they are not off the mark. The brain is made up mostly of fat, including the fat you eat. While hydrogenated fats are best known for contributing to cardiovascular disease, lesser known is their impact on brain health. Hydrogenated oils have been molecularly restructured for a long shelf life and are found in many processed foods. Heating oils too high while cooking also causes trans fats.

Cell membranes communicate with other cells and determine what is allowed to enter and exit the cell. These membranes incorporate hydrogenated oils into their structure, making them more rigid and less able to function properly. The nerve sheaths that insulate and protect neurons also incorporate trans fats.

Trans fats disrupt brain function

When trans fats become part of the cells and the nerve sheaths they replace vital brain fats, such as DHA, an essential omega-3 fatty acid. As a result cellular communication suffers, the cells degenerate, and the person can experience a wide range of consequences, including diminished mental performance, mood disorders, memory loss, or health problems.

Trans fats slow brain circulation

Trans fats are best known for their contribution to cardiovascular disease by thickening the blood, slowing circulation, and clogging arteries. The brain, too, has a vascular system that delivers nutrients and oxygen and removes toxins throughout the brain. When this vascular system becomes clogged with trans fats, this also impacts brain health and function.

One food that is not ok in moderation

Although conventional wisdom says all things are OK in moderation, hydrogenated fats are a man-made substance closer to plastic than food. When eaten they become a part of your cells and your brain for some time. Therefore it is best to avoid them completely.

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Question

I practically fall asleep in my plate after every meal. Why does eating make me so sleepy?

Answer

Feeling sleepy after meals is a common symptom of insulin resistance, a risk factor for diabetes.

Starchy foods and too much insulin

Insulin resistance is common today and is a stepping-stone to diabetes. Overeating and eating a diet high in sugar and starchy foods causes insulin resistance. These foods include breads, rice, pasta, pastries, chips, potatoes, soda, sweet coffee drinks, and more.

Converting glucose to fat demands energy

Insulin escorts glucose into the cells to make energy. Starchy foods bombard the bloodstream with too much glucose, forcing the release of insulin to lower it. When a person eats a starchy diet on a regular basis, the body overproduces insulin to lower chronically high blood sugar.

Eventually these constant surges of insulin exhaust the body’s cells and they refuse entry to the insulin, which is called insulin resistance. As a result insulin can’t escort glucose into the cells to make energy and the person feels sleepy.

Also, because glucose can’t get into cells, blood sugar climbs too high. The body lowers it to safer levels by converting excess glucose into fat for storage. This is a demanding process that robs one of energy.

Insulin surges overproduce calming brain chemical

A fluctuation in brain chemistry is another factor that causes tiredness. Carbohydrates provide precursors for serotonin, the “joy and well-being” brain chemical that can ward off depression and also be calming.

However, the insulin surge that follows a high-carb meal overproduces serotonin in the brain, contributing to that need for a post-meal nap. After serotonin levels drop, people then may feel depressed, which spurs cravings for more high-carb foods and sweets to get that pleasurable “high” and start the cycle over again.

Restoring insulin sensitivity

If you feel sleepy even after a very low-carb meal, it could be because you overate or because your glucose metabolism has become too disordered to function properly. While adapting a lower-carb diet is vital, you may need the guidance of a practitioner in using nutritional and botanical compounds that can help restore insulin sensitivity.

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Several years ago, a patient startled me by saying, “I never thought that I’d think of asthma as a friend. Now it really is. I was on heavy medication and frequently had to go the emergency room. It was out of control. Now I do carry an inhaler, but ‘if seems to bother me, I know it is because I’m getting out of control-overdoing it, not eating right or resting, not clearing an argument with family or co-workers. It truly reminds me.”
Symptoms are often much more complicated and do not always become friendly, but this incident highlights two important aspects of acupuncture treatment. The first is that symptoms are generally ways in which your body tries to stop you from creating greater levels of stress and illness. They can be signs from, or protection for, vital organs. Painful joints may prevent an elderly person from straining the circulatory system, for instance. Secondly, acupuncture increases awareness and heightens your ability to have symptoms function more effectively as friends and protectors. It helps you to understand your body’s messages more clearly, and, when possible, to act to stop things from getting worse. And thirdly, there will always be pain and suffering. However, by understanding the role of symptoms, we can learn how to make them more useful in our lives and relieve the pain when the symptom has led to the root.
Ecology in the sense that we are using the concept here in Chinese medicine involves the use of symptoms to lead us to the deepest etiological roots as already described and to nature’s strategies for resolving the pathological consequences.
We must also consider the consequences of ignoring ecology and focus on eliminating rather than learning from symptoms. If we examine the examples described below we find that if we ignore the symptom’s message regarding aetiology and intervention, we will be treating the wrong condition.

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Question

I learned I have intolerances and allergies to certain foods, and that I need to avoid those foods if I want to lose weight. Isn’t it just a matter of eating fewer calories?

Answer

Some people find they can’t lose weight through calorie restriction alone. When that happens several issues need to be investigated. One of the most important is food intolerances. Eating foods to which you are allergic or intolerant will prevent weight loss.

Food intolerances cause inflammation

Food intolerances and allergies create inflammation, and inflammation prevents weight loss. Every time you eat gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, or some other food that may be a problem for you, you create inflammation in your body.

Leaky gut is a primary culprit

For many people today, a variety of foods trigger inflammation. This is due largely to intestinal permeability, or “leaky gut,” which allows undigested food particles to slip into the bloodstream through damaged and inflamed intestinal walls. Leaky gut is very common today due to poor diets, excessive sweets, chronic stress, and other maladies of modern life. Gluten intolerance and celiac disease are also common and cause leaky gut.

As these food particles circulate throughout the body the immune system responds by attacking and destroying them for removal, just as it would respond to a viral or bacterial infection. Unfortunately, if the food is eaten regularly, this keeps the immune system constantly at work, hence creating chronic inflammation. Symptoms can be obvious in the way of joint pain, skin issues, abdominal pain, or even brain fog, memory loss, or moodiness. Sometimes the inflammation is not obvious, yet a person finds she or he can’t lose weight.

Inflammation halts weight loss

Studies show the immune compounds that cause inflammation also make insulin receptors less sensitive, creating insulin resistance. As a result glucose can’t get into cells and blood sugar becomes too high. The body lowers blood sugar by converting it to fat for storage. Insulin resistance also hinders fat burning.

Inflammation also has been shown to cause leptin resistance, which stimulates hunger and promotes fat storage. Furthermore, excess body fat secretes immune messenger cells that trigger inflammation, promoting a vicious cycle that prevents weight loss.

Although moderating caloric intake and exercising are recommended for weight loss, effective and lasting weight loss depends in part on tackling chronic inflammation and food sensitivities.

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Two upcoming lectures coming up at the Pond House (in the back of Ledding Library)
1. November 21st from 6.30-7.30pm -Fertility the Natural Way
2. December 8th from 6.30-7.30pm – Acupuncture and Pain Relief

Please come and learn more!

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Question

It seems girls go through puberty much earlier these days. Why?

Answer

It’s true many girls reach puberty earlier today. Although the exact cause is not known, researchers suspect estrogen-promoting chemicals in the environment, obesity, and dietary factors to be the culprits.

Earlier than ever

Today it’s common for girls to begin developing breasts at age eight—once considered abnormally young—and to begin menstruation at age 12. Earlier puberty not only may cause emotional pressures, but also may raise the risk of breast and ovarian cancer due to longer exposure to estrogen.

Estrogen-promoting chemicals

Common chemicals in our environment today boost estrogen activity, which can trigger puberty early. These include pesticides, flame retardants, BPA (in tin cans, baby bottles, toys, and other food packaging), phthalates (in cosmetic products, PVC, plastics, food packaging, and numerous products), and parabens (in shampoos and cosmetic products). Phthalates have also been linked with abnormal hormone development in boys, and prenatal exposure to these chemicals has also been identified as a risk factor.

Obesity

Studies also link obesity with early puberty. An ample diet signals to the brain that conditions are safe for reproduction, and body fat produces estrogen. Overweight and obese children often have higher insulin levels—insulin stimulates the production of sex hormones. For this reason, a diet high in starchy carbohydrates (breads, pasta, sweets, sodas, etc.) could raise the risk of early puberty through chronic insulin surges. Researchers also believe that high levels of leptin, a satiety hormone produced by body fat and promoted by a high-carbohydrate diet and excess insulin, may contribute to early breast development.

Soy

One study found that infants fed soy formula had estrogen levels 13,000 to 22,000 times higher than normal, suggesting that it may play a role in early puberty.

Beef and dairy

The conventional beef industry administers sex hormones to cattle to promote production, greatly raising the levels of hormones in the meat. Milk naturally contains ample estrogen, particularly if the cow is pregnant, and some conventional farms treat dairy cows with hormones to stimulate production. Although the link between meat, milk, and early puberty is controversial and not established, going with products from organic, grass-fed animals is ideal.

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