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Archive for August, 2012

acid-reflux-heartburn-antacids

No one can be blamed for wanting relief, especially when acid reflux makes it feel like molten lava is shooting up through your esophagus. Antacids can bring quick relief, but their long-term use can also bring lasting problems. It’s better to identify and address the underlying causes of acid reflux than simply to squelch the symptoms.

Acid reflux occurs when the contents of the stomach backwash into the esophagus. These contents can include stomach acid, bile, food, or sour liquid. Although the lining of the stomach is designed to handle such an acidic environment, the more delicate tissue of the esophagus is not. As a result, symptoms include indigestion, a burning sensation in the chest (heartburn), and tasting regurgitated food or liquid in the back of your mouth.

Many factors can cause acid reflux, including overeating, obesity, or the types of foods you eat. Spicy foods, fried foods, coffee, chocolate, and citrus are frequently cited as triggering acid reflux. When the reflux becomes constant, it’s worth exploring some of the common underlying conditions.

Possible underlying causes of acid reflux

H. pylori overgrowth: An H. pylori infection occurs in the stomach and is the most common chronic bacterial infection, affecting more than 50 percent of the world’s population. An H. pylori infection may promote acid reflux by decreasing stomach acid. Although acid reflux is associated with too much acidity, the truth is in many cases too little stomach acid causes acid reflux, which I’ll explain in the next paragraph.

Too little stomach acid: Sufficient stomach acid is necessary to break down dietary proteins, ensure absorption of vital nutrients and minerals, and protect the digestive tract from harmful bacteria. It’s believed that low stomach acid, or hypochlorhydria, results in improperly digested food lingering too long in the stomach. Eventually it backwashes into the esophagus, and although the contents are not acidic enough for the stomach, they are too acidic for the delicate esophageal tissue. Factors that cause too little stomach acid include an H. pylori infection, a nutrient-poor diet, stress, and antacid medications.

Gluten: If you eat gluten, it could be a culprit in your acid reflux. One study found chronic acid reflux affected 30 percent of patients with celiac disease compared to less than 5 percent of those not diagnosed with the disease. Another study found almost 40 percent of children with celiac disease suffer from esophagitis, inflammation of the esophagus that causes heartburn.

Acid reflux usually just one of many digestive symptoms

Acid reflux is often just one of many digestive symptoms that can result from poor digestion, food intolerances, chronic stress, gut infections, and other factors. In fact, one study showed that participants with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) were nearly twice as likely as non IBS participants to suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a chronic, advanced form of acid reflux. Conversely, another study found a majority of participants with GERD also suffered from IBS.

Although antacids can bring temporarily relief, they may also worsen your acid reflux problem in the long run. Ultimately, antacids reduce stomach acid, hinder digestion, and inhibit nutrient absorption. In addition, antacids are shown to weaken bones and increase the risk of food poisoning.

For natural ways to relieve your acid reflux, please contact my office.

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spouse-not-support-gluten-free-diet

You swore to support each other in sickness and in health, yet when it comes to a gluten-free diet, you may have found your spouse to be your biggest barrier to success.

Spouses complain that eating gluten free is too expensive and too restrictive, they tell you that you’re making a big deal about nothing, or perhaps they simply cannot imagine life without those staples of Western civilization, bread and pasta. Whatever the reason, spouses are often one’s greatest saboteur when it comes to maintaining a gluten-free diet.

Gluten-eating spouse sabotaging your gluten-free diet?

Their transgressions can be maddening. They order pasta with garlic bread in front of your newly gluten-free children, who proceed to cry through the rest of the meal. They dip their knife into your gluten-free mayonnaise after having used it on their whole wheat bread. They don’t read labels, feed the kids something with gluten in it, and then go off to work while you’re left at home to deal with your children’s stomach aches or behavioral outbursts.

Does going gluten free unearth marital issues?

Sometimes a spouse’s stubbornness unearths dormant marital discord that may require attention. Or the new gluten-free dieter becomes assertive and demanding for the first time in the relationship, which can rattle spousal dynamics. But given that gluten is linked to 55 known diseases and many neurological issues, going gluten free is worth the fight.

How to win over your reluctant spouse to a gluten-free lifestyle

The first spouse to go gluten free is often the wife. This is because moms usually spend more time caring for and feeding the children, and are more apt to notice health issues and take dietary action.

Also, the hormonal upheavals of pregnancy and childbirth can be a health tipping point for many women, who must buckle down to manage an autoimmune disease, adrenal dysfunction, hypothyroidism, inflammation or other issue after the baby is born.

So how does one win over a reluctant spouse to support a gluten-free diet?

How others have gained support from their spouse for a gluten-free diet

Patience, persistence, education, and even the willingness to nag are the ticket, say those who’ve done it.

  • “My husband had to see a lab test with positive transglutaminase antibodies [regarded as a celiac marker] and stool IgA antibodies to gluten [a marker for gluten intolerance] to be convinced our child needed to be gluten-free.”
  • “I would nag and nag and nag. I would send video via cellphone of one of the kids losing it after eating gluten.”
  • “Experiencing the severe sleep deprivation of a breastfeeding baby who was colicky and having that go away when I went gluten free.”
  • “He saw how differently I acted and felt on a gluten-free diet, and saw positive changes in our son.”
  • “He saw how sick I got when insensitive visitors who insisted on eating gluten contaminated my kitchen and my food.”
  • “He saw I was literally unable to move, stand, use my hands, or do anything unassisted for six weeks.”
  • “We called a mediator to write up a divorce agreement at the start of a GAPS diet [a stricter, grain-free diet many moms have discovered helps their children who have autism symptoms]. He told me he would leave if I didn’t go back to the way things were. I told him I could not and would not ever go back. Many rough times later, he is eating with us and on his own healing journey. We went from numb, angry, ramen-eating zombies to people who fell in love on a deeper level.”

Many spouses eventually embrace gluten-free diet

Given enough time on a gluten-free diet—even if it’s initially against their will—even the most stubborn of spouses may see the light. For instance, when the wife and kids are eating gluten free at home, the husband can get his gluten fixes only when eating out. During such a gradual weaning, some are amazed to find they also suffer from a gluten intolerance. One husband discovered gluten to be a trigger for his canker sores and migraines. The chronic back pain and depression of a spouse magically lifted on a gluten-free diet. Others find they are more energetic and clear-headed.

You, too, may find that your resistant spouse not only becomes more supportive but also embraces the diet as his or her own.

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gas-bloating-constipation-diarrhea-sibo

Do you meet the criteria for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and can’t find relief? Do you look pregnant thanks to a bloated belly? Are chronic diarrhea or constipation your constant companions? If so, you may be a victim of stubborn gut bacteria, also known as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).

While a long list of symptoms accompany SIBO, its trademark symptoms are a chronically bloated, distended belly; gas, which can cause flatulence, belching, or both; and a tendency toward chronic diarrhea, constipation, or both.

SIBO symptoms

  • Excess gas, flatulence, belching
  • Abdominal bloating from gas
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Constipation, diarrhea, or both
  • Nausea or heartburn
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Multiple food sensitivities
  • Leaky gut
  • Fatigue
  • Malabsorption symptoms (anemia or fatty stools)
  • Rosacea
  • Neurologic and muscular diseases

How SIBO causes bloating, gas, constipation, and diarrhea

The entire gastrointestinal (GI) tract contains bacteria, both good and bad. The small intestine contains bacteria different from that of the large intestine. In the case of SIBO, the small intestine contains too much bacteria, and these bacteria more closely resemble the bacteria of the colon. These bacteria consume sugars and carbohydrates, producing large amounts of gas. Not only does this gas cause bloating, belching, and flatulence, it is also behind chronic cases of constipation and diarrhea (depending on the type of gas produced).

SIBO causes leaky gut

In addition to producing gas, the bacteria create byproducts that irritate and damage the lining of the GI tract. This damage causes intestinal permeability, or “leaky gut,” a condition in which the lining of the intestine becomes damaged and overly porous, allowing undigested foods, infectious bacteria, and other pathogens into the bloodstream. This creates inflammation in the GI tract and throughout the body. And because the bacteria digest foods normally meant for the intestine to absorb, nutrient deficiencies and malabsorption are common side effects with SIBO.

SIBO linked with restless leg syndrome and other neurological conditions

In addition to causing gastric complaints, SIBO is linked with neurological and cognitive symptoms. One of the best known is a condition called restless leg syndrome.

How to manage SIBO

Diagnosing SIBO involves a hydrogen breath test, which has the patient ingesting sugar solutions and giving breath samples over a period of several hours. Although experts debate its validity, clinicians report hydrogen breath test results often correspond with symptoms. Standard medical treatment of SIBO, which includes expensive antibiotics, has a good success rate, but patients can relapse if they do not take preventive measures after treatment. Anecdotal reports show success using herbal antibiotics, although there are no published studies. A medical fast using a nutrition drink for two to three weeks shows a good success rate, as it starves the bacteria. But because no eating is allowed during the fast, many find it too challenging a remedy.

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet and Gut and Psychology Diet, which are widely touted online, also aim to starve the bacteria by eliminating foods the bacteria need to survive: all grains, most legumes, all sugars and sweeteners excluding honey, and starchy vegetables. Both diets require strict adherence for a full year after the resolution of symptoms. In real terms, this could mean being on the diet for up to four years.

The good thing about these two diets is that they are virtually identical to diets used to manage autoimmune disease and chronic inflammation, and can thus address far more than SIBO.

For more information, visit www.siboinfo.com.

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positive-thinking-chronic-illness

When a chronic health issue has you feeling like crud, few things are more insulting than someone telling you to “keep your chin up” or “think positive.” Such advice sounds like a brush-off from someone who has no idea what it is to struggle with pain, fatigue, depression, and other frightening, life-altering symptoms.

Today, one in two people suffer from a chronic health condition in the United States. Although researchers point to the more well-known illnesses of diabetes, arthritis, cancer, and heart disease, many others suffer from conditions doctors treat with little more than a psych consult or antidepressants: fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, Lyme disease, persistent hypothyroidism, and irritable bowel syndrome are among these.

Positive thinking can help you cope with chronic illness

The research regarding positive thinking during illness is mixed. But it does suggest while positive thinking can’t guarantee a cure, it can help you better cope with your illness and comply with your treatment plan.

A study published in early 2012 showed subjects with chronic disease who thought of something that made them feel good each morning and who used self-affirmation techniques when encountering obstacles exercised more and were better about complying with their treatment plan. Older studies show patients with a positive spiritual belief system suffer from less depression and are better able to handle their medical situation.

Don’t pressure yourself to be positive

Conversely, some studies show no correlation between positive thinking and health outcomes, such as in the case of cancer survival rates. If anything, the pressure to “be positive,” which has become trendy in some circles, can be stressful or make one feel like a failure if the illness progresses.

Taking action to lower stress can increase positivity

The truth is, a chronic illness is difficult and involves emotional lows. And while stifling emotions to appear positive is unlikely to be helpful, plenty of evidence shows lowering stress with a positive outlook improves overall health and well-being. The same techniques that lower stress can also foster a more positive attitude, hence improving your resilience in the face of chronic illness.

If anything, coping better is more about positive doing than positive thinking. Adopting a few small and seemingly meaningless strategies can add up to significant gains in well-being.

For instance, in the study mentioned earlier, researchers asked participants to think of something that made them feel better—a sunny beach or a proud moment—upon waking each morning and when experiencing a setback. Participating in a spiritual, religious, or philosophical practice has been shown to help many, and social connections improve the odds of survival by 50 percent. Although Crossfit or Zumba may not be in the cards for someone struggling with a chronic illness, research nevertheless shows exercise relieves anxiety. Exercise can be as gentle as a half-hour walk several times a week or some time in the pool.

Look at brain chemical or thyroid imbalances to boost positivity

Also, when you have been struggling with a chronic health condition, other health factors, such as poor brain neurotransmitter activity or low thyroid function, may also play a role in depression, anxiety, and a generally negative outlook. In these cases, natural remedies for symptom relief may be appropriate. Ask my office for suggestions.

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ImageAll athletes and coaches are involved in an ongoing search for ways to improve performance and gain a competitive edge over their rivals. Many are finding that acupuncture can often provide that edge.

By following the principles of Oriental medicine, an acupuncture treatment can strengthen body function and restore internal harmony and balance. Professional sports teams and top athletes regularly have an acupuncturist on staff to treat injuries and keep them performing at their peak.

Some of the best Olympic athletes are incorporating acupuncture into their wellness programs. China’s most popular sportsman, the 7 foot 6 inch China basketball center, Yao Ming, used acupuncture and Oriental medicine to help him recover after undergoing surgery on his ankle in April, 2007.

Chinese swimmer, Wang Qun, was photographed doing some last minute training in Beijing with round marks on her back from a traditional Chinese medicine treatment. The marks on the swimmer’s back were caused by cupping. Cupping is a technique in which a glass cup or bamboo jar is suctioned onto the body. It is used to relieve muscle pain, especially back pain from stiffness or injury; and to clear congestion in the chest, which can occur with common colds and influenza.

Studies on Acupuncture to Enhance Athletic Performance

Studies have shown that acupuncture has measurable effects on the flow of blood to certain areas of the body, which could in turn boost athletic performance. One such study conducted at the Beijing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine involved athletes running 5,000 meters, and then sitting for acupuncture treatments before they had a chance to catch their breath. The heart rates of the athletes who received the treatments recovered more quickly than those in the control group.

Another study published in the American Journal of Acupuncture measured the effects of acupuncture on anaerobic threshold and work capacity during exercise in healthy young males. Researchers found that individuals in the acupuncture treatment group had higher maximal exercise capacity and were able to perform higher workloads at the onset of blood lactate accumulation (OBLA) than individuals in the placebo group. The individuals that received acupuncture also had lower heart rates.

A recent study published in the January, 2008 issue of the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine examined the effects of acupuncture on cyclists. Twenty young (between 18 and 30 years of age) male cyclists underwent three tests per week, riding a stationary bike for 20 kilometers as fast as possible. The volunteers were divided into three groups that either received acupuncture, sham acupuncture or no acupuncture. Acupuncture points were chosen on the basis of Traditional Chinese Medicine and administered immediately before cycling. Sham acupuncture was shallow needling of known acupoints. Not only did the study show that the group that received acupuncture had a higher RPE scores compared to the other tests. The men receiving the real acupuncture treatments completed their cycling tests at a higher acceleration than the others.

Acupuncture is well known for its effectiveness in reducing most types of pain, including sports-related injuries.

Acupuncture can be used to help decrease swelling, spasms and inflammation. Additionally, it can be used to control pain, increase range of motion and help promote healing. Because of its broad range of applications, acupuncture can be used during any of the phases of injury. The focus is not only to treat the injury but also to treat any underlying conditions that may predispose an individual to injuries. This is especially important when treating chronic or recurrent injuries that interfere with life activities or athletic performance.

Injuries occurring from sports are mostly due to trauma or overuse syndromes involving the musculoskeletal system and its soft tissues. Trauma to these soft tissues, including ligaments, tendons and muscles are generally the result from falls, blows, sprains/strains, collisions, compressions crushing and disruptions of the healing processes due to inflammation.

Some Commonly Treated Sports Injuries:

  • Muscle Pull
  • Neck Pain
  • Shoulder Impingement
  • Tennis Elbow
  • Lower Back Strain
  • Groin Pull
  • Hamstring Strain
  • Runner’s Knee
  • Shin Splints
  • Ankle Sprain
  • Achilles Tendonitis
  • Arch Pain

If you have suffered an injury, want to avoid surgery, or would like to speed your post surgical recovery, acupuncture can help. Please call for more information or to schedule an appointment today.

This article is by: Diane Joswick, L.Ac., MSOM

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insulin-resistance-dementia-alzheimers-risk

Do you feel sleepy or have intense cravings for sugar after meals? Are you a woman whose hair is thinning, yet you’re growing facial hair? Are you a man who cries at movies and has “moobs” (male breasts)? If so, you probably suffer from insulin resistance. Not only does insulin resistance gender bend your hormones, research shows it also raises your risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s.

What is insulin resistance?

A high-carb, high-sugar diet consistently raises blood sugar levels, which in turn requires the body to secrete high levels of insulin to lower blood sugar. Eventually these insulin surges exhaust the body’s cells, which then refuse entry to the insulin, causing insulin resistance. Insulin resistance brought on by high blood sugar arises from eating a diet that is high in sweets, soda, and starchy foods such as breads, pasta, rice, corn, potatoes, etc.; a habit of overeating; and living a sedentary lifestyle.

The link between insulin resistance and Alzheimer’s

Insulin resistance has long been linked with many common health conditions, including obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and hormonal imbalances. More recently, researchers have discovered that it also increases the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s. In fact, the link is so well established that some researchers refer to Alzheimer’s as “type 3 diabetes.” This is because a high-carbohydrate diet has the ability to accelerate brain degeneration and cause dementia.

Insulin necessary for brain function

Insulin does more than regulate blood sugar in the body. Appropriate levels of insulin in the brain manage glucose levels for sustained mental energy. In turn, this regulates inflammation and helps produce brain chemicals that regulate mood.

The insulin surges and insulin resistance that result from a sugary, high-carbohydrate diet raises inflammation in the brain and disrupts the brain’s ability to perform even simple operations.

For many people, insulin resistance eventually becomes type 2 diabetes—the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar has broken down. Moreover, studies have demonstrated a clear link between diabetes and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Don’t wait until it’s too late

Both insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes often can be reversed by changing your diet and lifestyle. So, it’s best not to wait until you have developed dementia or Alzheimer’s to take action. While a low-carb, ketogenic diet has been shown to be beneficial to those with dementia and Alzheimer’s, it is also key to prevention.

Reversing insulin resistance to prevent Alzheimer’s

Some of the most powerful tools to prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s are, unsurprisingly, the same tools that can reverse insulin resistance. These include:

  • Ditching all sweets, sugars, desserts, and sodas. Beware natural sweeteners, such as honey, maple syrup, and agave, as they still raise blood sugar and insulin. Also, avoid over-indulging in sugary fruits.
  • Adopt a lower-carb diet. Some people will need a low amount of carbohydrates—coming primarily from leafy green vegetables—for optimal function, some will need more. Ask our office for guidelines to get started.
  • Exercise regularly. Studies show a combination of both aerobic and weight lifting exercises offers the best brain protection. High-intensity interval training and weight lifting have been shown especially effective to reverse insulin resistance (but do not derail your progress by overtraining). Even just a half-hour walk daily can be extremely beneficial.
  • Eat healthy, natural fats instead of processed vegetable oils. Coconut oil has been shown to be especially beneficial for brain health.

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