Allergies vs. Sensitivity

Allergy vs. Sensitivity                                             

 

The term ‘allergy’ is often used as a catchall phrase to describe the body’s altered and excessive responses to otherwise harmless substances. However, a true allergic reaction is a function of the specific immune system while the broader category of intolerance is generally associated with nonspecific immunity.

Food intolerance is much more common than true food allergy. However, many people are unaware that they suffer from food intolerance because their symptoms may vary widely and often appear hours, or even days, after the causative agent is confirmed.

Some of the most healthy foods may be a cause for a food intolerance. Chicken, lettuce, watermelon, legumes, spinach , foods that we have heard are good for us, may be your trigger. Every person is unique and has an immune system that addresses individual habits and lifestyles.  Have you every had a nagging rash, or brain fog that doesn’t seem cause to run to the doctor but you just can’t seem to understand what is going on?  It could be eating too much of the same thing, or molds, over the counter ‘aids’ or even ‘functional’ foods/supplements like goji berry, aloe vera or others. Unfortunately, for some of us exposure to these elements may trigger chronic activation of the immune system.

 

Here is a list of some of the underlying symptoms of food intolerances:

Obesity

diabetes,

gastrointestinal disorders,

migraine headaches,

inflammation ,

ADD,

Infertility

Fatigue

Acne

Stuffy nose

Depression

Eczema

Asthma

And many others…..

If you are concerned that you may be one of the millions who suffer from a food intolerance, you may want to consider the ALCAT test. Contact me to set up an appointment or answer any questions.

In great health,

Mary

PS. Soon I will share with you my results from the ALCAT test and how it has made a difference in my well being.

 

Your Heart and Dental Health

February is heart health month. Many of us are aware that heart disease  is the number 1 killer of both men and women in the U.S claiming around 610,000 lives each year (Center for Disease Control).  Did you know that research has found a link between this deadly disease and the health of your gums?  Periodontitis , the swelling, bleeding, receding gums caused by some species of bacteria in our mouths, may raise the risk of a number or serious health conditions. That list includes stroke, respiratory illness, and cardiovascular disease.  Infection and inflammation in the mouth may also worsen adult onset (type 2) diabetes or cause premature birth.

For the first time in my life, I recently needed the expert advise from a periodontist.  I had an unfortunate situation with an implant and crown.  It caused me undue inflammation and pain.  I was referred to a periodontist who educated me about implants and how the gums and teeth react to this type of procedure.  Implants don’t work like regular teeth and therefore you need to do a bit more manual cleaning around the gums since they can hold more bacteria.  I learned more about different types of floss, picks and mouth washes that I ever knew existed.  I realized this was bigger than just alleviating the pain.  It was about keeping bacteria at bay.  I am now more than religious about flossing with a specific type of floss or pick  and to avoid certain foods that can get trapped.

A recent Scientific America Custom Media **journal discussed how inflammation around the gums triggers our immune system that fights bacterial invaders in the gum tissue.  The problem is that these bacterial microbes can slip into the bloodstream, settling into the arteries around the heart or may be inhaled into the lungs, causing pneumonia.  There is research that continues to explore the association between periodontal disease, inflammation and various medical conditions.

An awareness around the epidemic of poor dental health is now being sparked. The notion that the  mouth is not separate from the body and oral health is vital to general health and welfare is on the forefront of dental and nursing schools. Dental disease is not just limited to adults, but worldwide to babies and children.  How can you become proactive with your own healthcare and that or your family?

Start with prevention:

  • Brush teeth a minimum of 2 times a day for 2 minutes
  • floss at least once a day ( use a floss with a bit of texture)
  •  annual checkups are very important
  • decrease sugars, candy and  soda,
  • drink water to rinse out the mouth
  • don’t smoke
  •  eat real foods and chew chew chew- apples, celery, carrots

Not only will you have healthy gums and clean teeth  you will also have a beautiful smile and a healthier heart.

 

Happy Health Month,

Be Well,

   Mary

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holistic Nutrition: Digestion and Aging part 2

This blog is a continuation of  the discussion to develop optimal digestion, especially as we age.  Part 1 is available via my website. In this article  I will suggest a few other options that are easy to do and many have found great relief and results.

DGL, stands for deglycyrrhizinated licorice.  DGL is produced by removing glycyrrhetinic acid from a concentrated licorice extract. It is removed because it can raise blood pressure in some individuals. DGL is excellent in treating peptic ulcers.  It can also be used as an anti- ulcer remedy. DGL does not inhibit the release of acid, rather it stimulates the body to release normal defense mechanisms. It improves both the quality and the quantity of the protective substances that line the intestinal tract, increases the lifespan of the intestinal cells and improves blood supply to the intestinal lining. There are even some studies that it inhibits h.pylori bacteria.  Some studies have shown DGL to be more effective than Tagamet, Zantac or antacids in both short and long term maintenance therapy of peptic ulcers.

Take as directed.  For the best results take 20 minutes before meals. It takes aprox. a month for significant results.  My experience has been to use DGL when traveling when my gut is not happy with various foods, or at times when I experience some acid reflux. I try to remember to take prior to meals, but have taken even between meals and have found some relief.  Since this is derived from the licorice root it not a chemical, but an herb.  Licorice tea can also be a great remedy for digestive concerns.

Digestive Enzymes decrease as we get older.  They come from the pancreas.  If you have heartburn, abdominal bloating and discomfort and gas with in the first 15-30 minutes after eating, it is usually due to lack of HCL recreation., BUT if it happens more than 45min after eating, its is usually a sign that you are lacking pancreatic enzymes. Digestive enzymes products are the most effective treatment of pancreatic insufficiency. Some of the products you may see include enzymes from free hog pancreas (porcine), or vegetarian sources such as bromelain and papain from pineapple and papaya, as well as fungal enzymes (mushrooms).   Many times a mixture from  the vegetarian and fungal can offer excellent results.  They appear to be more resistant to digestive secretions and offer a broader range of activity in the gut. It is most effective taken 15-20 minutes before a meal. You may notice results immediately or it may take a week or more for you to experience a change, depending on how severe the symptoms.

Probiotics are also a supplement I often suggest my clients to take, regardless of age, but it is even more important as we age.  There are major changes in the type of probiotics that inhabit the intestinal tract.  These changes are brought about as a result of many influences on the digestive tract including: diet, prescription drugs (mainly the use of antibiotic or antacid use) and the decline of digestive secretions. Some recent studies suggest that as we age we may want to increase the levels of the Bifidobacteria species of bacteria. Some of the improvements in supplementing with bifidobaceria include improved bowel function, ( reduced constipation, and or diarrhea), improved immunity and reduced inflammation.  Keep in mind the greatest amount of immune enhancing cells are in the digestional tract. One of the main reasons we need to keep our gut happy and healthy. You want to use a formula that has at least 3 billion bifodobacteria  per dosage.

Fish oils for a healthy gut.  Fish oils from Omega-3 fatty acids such as those that came from fish oil can help alleviate symptoms of IBS.  The average American diet has a ratio of 20:1 – omega -6 to omega -3 fatty acids.  The optimal ratio is 1:1.  Increase your omega -6 fatty acids y increasing  foods such as nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains.  Or simply take a high quality supplement to improve your ratio.

The key to a healthy gut is first to be aware of what is going on.  Keep a simple food diary for a week or two and notice when you have distress.  If you think you suspect the offending agent – eliminate it for at least 4 days.  Foods can stay in your system for 3-4 days.  Currently, I am tracking a digestive upset from something I ate 2 days ago. Don’t get in the trap of  feeling that being uneasy, queazy or subpar is the norm, it isn’t.  Of course, we should expect change as we age, but understand why and find some natural alternatives to address the problems.  Many prescribed drugs are masking the issue and can cause other side effects.

If you want to address it further, contact me to go over your eating style and habits.  It could be a simple solution or even a food sensitivity. It  may take a bit of mindfulness and exploration to address the underlining cause.

Some suggestions for products which can be purchased via my website through Emerson Ecologics or Metagenics Nutraceuticals are:

DGL

  • Licorice Root-V  by Douglas Laboratories
  • DGL Ultra by Enzymatic Therapy

Digestive Enzymes

  • SpectraZyme Metagest by Metagenics (vegetarian)
  • SpectraZyme Pan9x  by Metagenics(with porcine)

Probiotics

  • UltraFlora Balance – Metagenics
  • Ultra Flora IB – Metagenics
  • UltraFlora Acute- Metagenics

 

Hope this helps and your digestive health thrives!

Be Well,

   Mary

 

 

 

 

Holistic Nutriton: Aging and Digestion- part 1

Many people don’t realize that digestion slows down as we age, causing discomforts  that you may not have had at an earlier age.  I often hear common complaints about burping, heartburn, indigestion, bloating and gas.  Many times, the eating patterns haven’t changed , however, the digestive juices have.  Take for example, GERD,acid reflux or heartburn, basically all the same, the little purple pill is meant to take care of it, right? Not necessarily.  That little purple pill is to reduce gastric acid.  What is most likely happening is that you have too little stomach acid. A lack of gastric acid excretion is actually a more common cause of indigestion and heartburn.  If that is the case for you, you could be making the situation worse.  You need gastric acid to break down your foods to get the nutrients from the food  and assimilate them into your system.  If you are not breaking down your foods the results will be burping, heartburn, indigestion, bloating and gas etc. Foods will sit in your gut and ferment, and cause irritation and inflammation.  Beyond the above mentioned,  impaired gastric acid secretion may include, food allergies, diarrhea, constipation, cracked or peeling fingernails and iron deficiency. There are other diseases that have been linked with insufficient gastric acid output including asthma, celiac disease, diabetes, chronic autoimmune disorder, lupus, osteoporosis and more- but don’t jump to conclusion.

One way to discern if you have decreased gastric acid is with a detailed gastric acid analysis, provided by your doctor. Many insurances don’t cover this service.  A more cost effective and simple way is to determine your need for acid is to use  hydrochloric acid (HCL) supplements.  This may take a few days to figure out what the correct dose may be, but you would find relief in a relatively short period of time IF you have insufficient gastric acid.

Process: start by purchasing HCL at a reputable store or via my website ( Metgest from Metagenics)take one tabletop capsule containing 500-600 mg of HCL with a large meal. If it doesn’t aggravate your symptoms, try upping the dosage- one tablet with your first meal, two with the meal after that and three with the next meal and so on.

Continure to increase the dose until you reach seven tablets or until you feel warmth in your stomach, whichever occurs first.  A feeling of warmth in the stomach means that you have taken too many tablets with that meal and you need to take one less for a meal of that size.  You may want to repeat the same dose a couple of times in order to feel the ‘warmth’. After you have determined the dose, stick with that for the larger meals and then reduce the dose for smaller meals.

As your stomach start to producing enough HCL on its own, you will notice that warm sensation again, when this happens reduce your dosage accordingly.

This may seem a bit tedious, but it works and will help you to get on a healthier path of digestion.

Do NOT stop taking any medication without the approval of your medical practitioner.  If you want off the little purple pill (it is only meant to be used for a short time- not forever, get to the root cause of the issue!) discuss it with your doctor and possible more natural solutions.

My next blog will be other ways to address ways digestive complaints. If you have any questions, please contact me.

Be Well, Mary

Nutrition News: Hearts and Chocolate

When we think of February and Valentines day- what comes to mind? For many it is hearts, chocolate and flowers and that is a good thing. More and more studies are showing that moderate amounts of chocolate are actually good for your heart. You may have already heard this and recent studies are supporting it to greater lengths.

From the Harvard Health Publications, recent results from a study out of England were published in the medical journal of Heart. Some of the findings are showing a link between eating chocolate and a lower risk of heart disease. Chocolate which comes from cacao beans, is abundant in flavonoids, which is an antioxidant produced by plants. Flavonoids are also found in other foods you may enjoy such as tea, red wine, blueberries, apples pears, cherries and nuts. Flavonoids in cocoa have been shown to help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the brain and heart, prevent blood clots and fight cell damage. Studies are also showing that they also help with thinking skills.

Beware; there can be a few drawbacks with any good thing. Most of the studies are indicating choosing dark chocolate (70%), and avoiding the extra saturated fats and calories from additives: marshmallow, caramel or candy bits. The more processed the chocolate is through fermentation, alkalizing ,roasting etc., the more flavonoids are lost. Most commercial chocolates are highly processed. The good news is that major chocolate manufactures are looking for ways to keep the flavanols in their processed chocolates.

What about the fat? The fat in chocolate is from cocoa butter and is made up of equal amounts of oleic acid (heart healthy monounsaturated fat also found in olive oil), steric and palmitic acids. Stearic and palmitic acids are forms of saturated fats. Yet, research shows that stearic acid appears to have a neutral effect on cholesterol, neither raising it nor lowering it. Although, palmitic acid does affect cholesterol levels, the good news is that it makes up only a third of the calories found in chocolate. This should make you realize that you cannot consume all the chocolate your heart desires.

Some thoughts to consider while optimizing your healthy chocolate indulgence:

  • Limit yourself to 1-2 oz. of chocolate a few times a week
  • Go for dark, minimally processed 70% cacao
  • Avoid cocoa powder that has not undergone Dutch processing which changes the natural acidity
  • Avoid milk chocolate that has added fats and sugars
  • Indulge in a variety of foods that contain flavonoid antioxidants such as apples, pears, red wine, tea, onions, peanuts, cherries and cranberries.

It might be a great choice to have a piece of dark chocolate with cranberry and peanuts, along with a bouquet of your favorite flowers.

Enjoy with your heart and soul.

Happy Healthy heart Month!

Be Well,

Mary

 

Visit my updated Metagenics store, www.yourchoice4wellness.com,  and get 20% off you first order at the new store with FREE shipping.  Recurring orders always receive 10% discount. Great deal! Check it out! For questions, contact me, wellbychoice@comcast.net

Nutrition News: Try a Natural Way to Reduce Inflammation

Looking for a natural way to reduce inflammation?

Tumeric/Curcumin is a member of the ginger family. It is a staple in Ayurvedic medicine and Indian cooking. It has a pungent smell and it is that distinctive deep earthy yellow hue. Tumeric’s active ingredient is curcumin, and preliminary research suggests that it may help reduce inflammation and cell damage, manage joint and muscle pain, improve digestive disorders (like dyspepsia and ulcerative colitis) decrease symptoms of depression and lower blood sugar and systolic blood pressure. That is a lot of good, from such a humble plant.

For anyone looking to take this ‘herb’, you can buy tumeric in it’s original form. It looks very much like fresh ginger, but a bit smaller in size. Many people do not indulge in Indian cooking and some people are not accustomed to the taste of tumeric. To get optimal amounts to help with the symptoms mentioned above, you would need to ingest a fair amount on a consistent basis. The alternative is to take a good quality supplement. One of my favorites is TheracurminHP by Integrative Therapeutics. (This can be purchased via Emerson Ecologics on my home page store www.yourchoice4wellness.com , follow prompts to register). There are other very good supplements and they are worth a try, if you would like further information, contact me.   Like all natural supplements, it may take a couple of weeks to start to notice the results, the rewards are subtle but sustaining. Taking natural supplements greatly reduces the side effects of over the counter medicines and prescriptions, which sometimes can cause more harm than good.

In the meantime, evaluate your food intake.  Too many  processed foods along with a sluggish lifestyle can also encourage inflammation.  If you have concerns, set up a complimentary phone consult.

In Good Health,

Mary

Nutrition News: Juicing or Smoothies??

Often I am asked about ‘which is better, to juice or to have a smoothie ?’ Both have their place and their benefits. The best part about both is that they enhance your intake of fruits and veggies, something most Americans need to do. The trend often comes down to what machine you would buy- juicer or blender.

 

Juicing leaves behind the pulp of the fruit or vegetable. What that means is that you are throwing away the fiber of the plant and many nutrients, therefore, you lose most of the benefits of the whole fruit and vegetable. We as Americans eat around 10 grams of fiber a day, the RDA is around 25 grams a day. Unless you use the pulp in soups or stews, it is wasted. The other consideration is the amount of sugar you may be consuming. If you were juicing vegetables the sugar content is relatively low. If you are juicing fruits, then the concentration of sugars can be high, which if not balanced properly, could spike blood sugars. Juicing allows for quick hydration, easy digestion and many nutrients. Once a day with low glycemic (low sugar) fruit or vegetables is fine.

 

Smoothies incorporate most of the plant. You would not want the seeds of many fruits or the peels of oranges, bananas etc., but you would get the whole food from the vegetable or the fruit. This allows you to ingest the fiber, pith, vitamins, phytochemicals and antioxidants. If you add a protein such as plain yogurt, nut butter, protein powder or a product like UltraMeal– you have a complete and nutrient dense meal. You will experience regulated blood sugar with no highs or lows in energy. Beware, adding sweetened yogurts, frozen yogurts, sorbets or sugared frozen fruits can add on unnecessary calories. Unfortunately, many bottled smoothies or store made smoothies are high in sugars that can decrease the overall nutritional value.

 

One of my favorite morning smoothie in my Vitamix*.

 

Water

Slice of fresh ginger

Celery stalk

Cucumber

Handful of greens ( kale, spinach, collards, romaine lettuce, parsley)

Berries or fruit (berries, cherries, kiwi, apple, pear- all lower in sugar)

Avacado (sometimes- ¼)

UltraMeal** Whey vanilla

YUM!!

 

*I use a Vitamix because it really breaks down foods into a nice smooth liquid. It is powerful, and works well with ice, too. I burned out two high end blenders because it takes a lot of power to break down greens and vegetables.

 

There are so many ways to make a smoothie- the trick is to use low glycemic (low sugar) plants. One a day is enough. Chew the rest of your food- enjoy the flavors and the goodness.

 

** There are many UltraMeal Medical foods. If you have a medical condition such as elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure, inflammation, digestive issues or trying to decrease fat mass, contact me so that I may guide you to the product that would best suit your needs. You may order the product via my website www.yourchoice4wellness.com.

 

Be Well,

Mary

 

 

 

Holistic Nutrition: Address Anxiety Naturally

If any of you are from the Northeast, you can attest to the fact that Mother Nature has packed us a wallop! It has been hard in so many ways.  The cold, the snow, the physical demands of shoveling, the ice and fear of injury, isolation, disruptive routines, loss of work, loss of money – need I say more?  There have been some times that I just didn’t know what day it was or where I was supposed to be IF I could get there.  Needless to say, this causes a lot of worry and fear, enticing us to call our doctor for some prescribed drug to help us cope.  Before you do that, try going natural first. It is easier on your system with no side effects and is not addictive.

Here are a few ‘chill pill’  plants that can be taken as teas or supplements to help you deal with your anxiety.  A growing number of studies are showing the following to be promising options.

L-theanine – This is an amino acid that is found in black, green and white tea, which helps promote alpha brain waves linked with relaxation, boosts levels of brain calming dopamine and may help lower blood pressure.  100-250 mg is the typical dosage range recommended for anxiety. (Journal of Nutrition 2012)

Lemon Balm – This plant has long been known for its calming properties.  There is now a supplement of lemon balm extract sold under the name Cyracos. Lemon balm boosts the levels of the brain chemical GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) which promotes relaxation.  Taken in the morning and at night, a 300mg dose of Cyracos  reduced the signs of anxiety,18%, and insomnia,42% in adults with mild to moderate anxiety disorders.(Mediterranean Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism 2011)

Kava– This plant is the most researched herbal remedy for anxiety.  Supplements of standardized kava extracts (50-400mg daily) significantly alleviated anxiety compared to a placebo. In rare cases, kava can harm the liver.  This is likely due to poor quality have or other risk factors such as high alcohol use. (Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology 2013)

In all cases , you should consult your doctor before using these products especially if you are pregnant, breast feeding or have other health conditions or taking medications. 

Lifestyle can always assist in regulating anxiety.  Regular exercise, whole foods and stress management or meditation support calming the nerves.

Alcohol, caffeine, nicotine actually promotes anxiety.  At first these may seem to appear to help with the anxiety, but over time and withdrawal, actually increases anxiety levels.

So take a moment, sit back, take a deep breath,look out a window and find the beauty in all that white stuff outside, and sip your tea, it all works wonders.

 

Be Well,

Mary

 

To get in touch with incorporating a healthy lifestyle to improve your health and wellbeing, call for a complimentary introduction session. 

 

Wellness Coaching: How the word ‘No’ affects us.

Remember a time when someone said ‘no’ to you.  Stop, think, what are you feeling?  If you are like most people, you dig your heels in and resist a little- or a lot.  It is a restriction and a change from your intentions or ways.  What if you self inflicted that restriction or ‘no’? Does it make it any easier?

I have chosen to go on a 10 day cleanse** after a very jubilant, excessive, lovely holiday season.  I enjoyed two weeks of extra bites and drinks that were out of my norm of moderation.  It was a change from my lifestyle and truthfully my body and foggy head were talking to me.  I’ve done this cleanse many times before ( no more than once a year, if that). Each time I surprise myself and how I approach, deal and experience it.  Usually there is a lot of anticipation, a lot of prep(mentally and physically) and planning.  I really don’t want to blow it once I commit and sometimes being over prepared is best.  This is ONLY a ten day program , where you are never hungry because you eat real food, but it is restrictive. The program says ‘no’ to caffeine, dairy, gluten, sugar, alcohol and animal products- not all at once but gradually. Talking about ending the holiday regime- whew!.  Yet, it is ONLY ten days. The results are worth it.  I definitely feel more energized, rested and alive; not to mention the four pound bloat loss and the inch off my waist as a bonus.

I have realized the most difficult part of this program is that it says No, you cannot have….. Will I die? no.  I don’t have to do it their way and maybe I could just do a little cheat and get away with it.  I could sneak in my coffee, string cheese or a sip of wine.  But, who is watching or who cares?  Who is not following through on a well thought out intent with a goal in mind?  ME!

Changing ones’ behavior is so very difficult because it  usually involves some type of restriction or saying no to something that pleases you, or you think it will please you.  One of the very reasons dieting doesn’t work is because it is restrictive as well as many joys, and tastes that we love are taken away.  Most people do best by making small changes over an extended period of time so that it becomes a habit, not restrictive where choices are either good or bad.  Creating  a routine and a plan is the easiest, but also the hardest.  The power of self talk and finding the positivity and happiness in an action is what can carry you through.  I needed to talk myself through my habit of a small sweet after lunch, changing it for a pear or apple.  Of course it was not the same, but I was able to swap out for a choice that was full of nutrition and took care of my sweet craving and I was satisfied, and quite pleased with myself for following through.

The resistance to making a change to a healthier lifestyle becomes doable.  You can become in charge of your actions. You can start with self talk; No , I CHOOSE to walk the stairs instead of the elevator, No, I Choose to have berries instead of ice cream, No, I choose to stop at a yellow light ,take 3 breaths and slow down.  That ‘no’ becomes a choice, the struggle and intent become clearer.  Right now, I am looking forward to knowing this cleanse is a day away.  I’ll get back into most of my habits but have a kick start on being mindful around some of my challenges.  In reflection, it was a great choice, my clothes fit as they should, my drive for fats and sweets has diminished and my head is clear.  I was very aware of the ‘no’ and restriction and wanted to defy something at least once a day, especially when I lost track of why I was doing this in the first place.  I had a goal, I made the choice. Now, I am glad I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and focus on my next choices.  Mostly I’m feeling in charge of my choices, and thats a happy place to be.

BeWell,

  Mary

 

** The program I used was the Metagenics 10 Day  Clear Change  program.  If you would like further information, please contact me, or click on the link.

 

 

“Live Healthier on the Mediterranean Diet” at Savour

Dear Friends-  There is a very special program being offered this winter/spring at Savour Wines and Cheese in Gloucester, Mass.  This is a time for you to enjoy and learn cooking techniques, insights to healthier food choices, fitness and mindfulness.  You will also be receiving some healthy and delicious prepared foods for your busy week that include salads, soups and entrees.  Along with a 10% discount from items in the store.  If you have any questions  contact Kathleen, owner and presenter.  I will assist with some of the classes as well as offer some special discounts for those who want to take their health/lifestyle to the next step. Take a peek and come to a complimentary class on Tues January 20th. Hope to see you then. This may be exactly what you are looking for!  Please read the attached form.

Be Well, Let 2015 begin with Health First!

Mary

Live Healthier on the Mediterranean Diet