Watch me tomorrow on the TV show “The Doctors”

Tomorrow (Thursday, October 11th) I will be on  “The Doctors” with my colleague, Dr. Myles Spar. We discuss how eating an anti-inflammatory diet can improve  health, eliminate pain and prevent disease. One of my patients, Laura, will also be on the show documenting how following  Akasha’s 3-week cleanse, along with drinking an anti-inflammatory protein smoothie every morning, healed her from the debilitating symptoms of Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease which can lead to abdominal pain, diarrhea, and fatigue in addition to more systemic symptoms of joint pain, eye inflammation and mouth ulcers.

Akasha’s 3-week cleanse includes following an anti-inflammatory, cleansing and hypoallergenic diet. In addition,  certain supplements are recommended that help to reduce inflammation and support the body’s natural ability to cleanse.  The diet includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and healthy sources of animal protein (like wild salmon, sardines, and organic, free range chicken). The diet excludes  all gluten, dairy, sugar, soy, coffee, eggs, beef and nightshade vegetables (tomato, potato, eggplant, and peppers). We provide all the resources, recipes and support you need to complete the 3-weeks -  it can  transform your life.

Tune in tomorrow!

Yes on Prop 37: The Right to Know What’s In Our Food

This November, California voters will be given the opportunity to require food manufacturers to disclose whether their food contains genetically modified ingredients.  If proposition 37 is approved, it will:

  • Require food manufacturers to label raw or processed foods that contains any genetically modified ingredients.
  • Prohibit any food manufacturer who uses genetically modified ingredients from using the word “natural”.
  • Exempt foods that have earned their “certified organic” label, alcoholic beverages, restaurant foods, and those foods unintentionally produced with genetically engineered ingredients.

James Wheaton, who filed the ballot language for the initiative, refers to it as “The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act.”

The United States is significantly lagging behind other countries on this issue. In fact, there are already 50 other countries that require labeling of genetically modified food.  Why are we denied the right to know what’s in our food? In large part, corporate opponents of Prop 37 have the financial muscle and the political connections to keep this information under wraps.

The campaign for Prop 37 has raised around $4 million and has generated a lot of grassroots support and enthusiasm. This is great, but it is significantly less than the corporate money being spent to oppose the measure. The top financial backers of the “Vote No on Prop 37″ campaign, and how much they have donated against our right to know, are:

  • Monsanto: $7.1 million
  • El Dupont De Nemours & Co: donated $4.9 million
  • Dow Agrisciences: $2 million donated
  • Bayer Cropscience $2 million
  • BASF Plant Science $2 million
  • Pepsico, Inc. $1.7 million
  • Nestle USA $1.17 million
  • Coca-Cola North America $1.64 million
  • Conagra Foods $1.08 million

Don’t be fooled – many companies that promote their “natural and organic” ingredients are actually controlled by larger corporations that are fighting Prop 37. These brands include: Naked, Horizon, Larabar, Odwalla, Kashi, and Morning Star Farms.

Companies such as Amy’s, Nature’s Path, and Nutiva, however, support the Yes on Prop 37 effort.

Genetically modified foods are relatively new and started to appear in our grocery stores back in the 1990s. Since then, a number of studies have shown that genetically modified foods have a deleterious affect on rats. But, more importantly, it is our right, as consumers, to know what is in our food. We have an obligation to ourselves, our families, and our communities to be informed, knowledgeable consumers. It is not up to the corporations that produce our food, who are motivated by profit and not the health of our children, to decide what we should and should not know about the ingredients in the food we eat.

If Vote Yes on Prop 37 resonates with you, please spread the word. Share this blog, write about it in your social media and, most importantly, if you live in California, vote yes on Prop 37 in the November elections.  If California passes Prop 37, more states are sure to follow and the United States will join the rest of the world in honoring consumers’ rights to know exactly what is in their food.

Akasha’s October Wellness Newsletter

Akasha’s October Newsletter -  physical therapist, Erin, is offering a promotional package and Akasha welcomes  Homeopathic Practitioner, Sabine.

Sophie’s week in lunches

This was another short week of lunches at Sophie’s school due to Yom Kippur. I definitely feel I did not do a lot of planning for this week and found myself in the morning staring in the fridge wondering what to make.

MONDAY

– Brown rice with lentil salad (lentils, red onions, carrots, olive oil and vinegar)

- raspberries

- sliced cucumbers

- steamed string beans

 

I don’t have an after photo for this one (I didn’t pick Sophie up from school). I was told all the raspberries and cucumbers were eaten, half the string beans and only a few bites of the rice and lentils. The lentil salad was heavy in onions and was not meant to be her lunch. I had intended to make a sunflower seed and strawberry jam sandwich. When I shared this plan with Sophie she informed she no longer liked sunflower seed butter and wanted something different.

On Thursday I told her I was making a sunflower seed and strawberry jelly sandwich and she got pretty excited. As a dear friend advised me once, “when your kid says they don’t like something, respond without any emotional attachment, ‘ok, well maybe tomorrow’”.

THURSDAY

- Sunflower seed and strawberry jelly sandwich on sprouted cinnamon raisin bread

- sliced cucumbers

- shaved brussel spouts (next to the cucumbers)

- Golden Kiwi slices

 

THURSDAY AFTER

Sophie loves her fruit.  The brussels sprouts were left untouched, cucumbers (technically a fruit) and kiwi devoured.  The sandwich looks like a busy toddler got into it.

Sophie did come home pretty hungry—I think I need to do some advanced lunch planning for next week.

Vitamin D during pregnancy enhances baby’s brain development

A new study published in this week’s Pediatrics finds that when moms have adequate vitamin D levels during pregnancy, their babies score higher on developmental tests.

1,820 mother-infant pairs were studied, with median Vitamin D levels of 29.6 ng/mL. The results showed a positive linear relationship between mom’s vitamin D levels and the mental and psychomotor scores of their babies. Infants of mothers with Vitamin D levels above 30ng/mL tested the highest.

I prefer Vitamin D levels to be between 60-80 ng/mL – pregnancy or not. In a study I posted earlier this year, women with Vitamin D levels around 70 ng/mL had children with higher verbal skills. In addition to making our babies smarter, Vitamin D has been shown to prevent against heart disease, enhance our immune system, support our mood, balance hormones, and protect against a number of different types of cancers.

I generally recommend pregnant woman take 5000IU of Vitamin D3 everyday with a meal. I also monitor levels by testing 25(OH) Vitamin D levels every 3-months. To have adequate levels, some pregnant women  need more than 5000IU/day, while others may be able to achieve optimal levels with less. Most prenatal vitamins have just 400IU of Vitamin D3. Doctors should adjust Vitamin D dosage so that women reach their optimal level. If your doctor does not check for Vitamin D- request 25(OH) Vitamin D levels and aim for a level between 60-80 ng/mL.

 

 

Early Menopause Increases Risk of Heart Disease

A number of recent studies have identified that early menopause (before age 46) increases risk of heart disease. The most recent study, scheduled for release in next month’s issue of Menopause, found that women who experience early menopause may have double the risk of heart disease and stroke. In June, the journal Menopause published another article stating that early menopause predicts future coronary heart disease and stroke.

While I hope that this gets media attention,  I want to make clear that menopause- no matter when it occurs- can increase risk of heart disease. Loosing hormones, like estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, puts women in a state of metabolic imbalance, which contributes to inflammation, weight gain, sugar craving, and insulin resistance.  Women in my practice that are going through the hormonal changes of menopause will often present with new onset high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, high cholesterol levels, while also experiencing more anxiety, insomnia and depression. The loss of sex hormones play a significant role in promoting these conditions. Conventional physicians tend to view these conditions in isolation. Patients are often referred to cardiologists and psychiatrist and given prescriptions for lowering cholesterol, anxiety and blood pressure.  If women want to get to the root cause of their symptoms, they need hormones.

Bioidentical hormones are molecularly the same as the hormones womens’ bodies produce prior to menopause.  Because of their bioidentical composition, the body cannot tell the difference between prescribed bioidentical hormones and the hormones it  produces naturally.

As a naturopathic doctor I always strive to address the root cause of a health problem. If a menopausal woman sees me with recent onset high blood pressure and anxiety, for example, I will always explore the hormonal triggers. To just prescribe a medication, or even a natural herb to reduce anxiety and lower blood pressure, ignores the hormonal involvement.

 

The Before and After Lunch Box

Here’s Sophie’s before and after lunch box this week.  Because of Rosh Hashanah we only had 2 days of school before her Friday pizza/pasta lunch.

WEDNESDAY – Before

  • Seaweed salad (from Dave’s Gourmet Korean Food – purchased at our local Farmer’s Market)
  • Roasted beets
  • Sauteed tempeh (sauteed in a small amount of grapeseed oil)
  • Kiwi

 

WEDNESDAY – After

Sophie enjoyed this meal. The seaweed is rich in minerals – especially iodine – which is important for healthy thyroid function. Beets are great for the liver and high in antioxidants. Tempeh is a fermented soy product that is less processed then tofu and soy milk. It is high in protein and contains a good amount of magnesium and B vitamin which are essential for cellular metabolism and neurotransmitter production. The kiwi was devoured—it’s always a hit in our house with Sophie and her friends. Kiwi has more Vitamin C then a large orange. Sophie even eats the kiwi skin- so I always wash well first.

 

THURSDAY – before

  • Garbanzo beans
  • Millet with peas, corn and olive oil
  • Plum and pomegranate seeds
  • Sliced cucumbers

 

 

THURSDAY – after

This was not a success.  I made a big batch of garbanzo beans earlier this week to make hummus- but never got around to it. Sophie usually likes to munch on them for a snack- not today. She liked the cucumber and fruit. Sophie asked for a bowl of granola with almond milk when we got home.

Depression and Insomnia Dance

Depression and insomnia are closely linked.  This study suggests that insomnia is a risk factor for depression and, likewise, depression a risk factor for insomnia. So, early treatment of insomnia may prevent against the subsequent development of depression.  Here are some natural suggestions to address insomnia.  There are a lot of different manifestations of insomnia- some people fall asleep easily but wake frequently at night and others take hours to fall asleep but then sleep through the night. Choosing which therapy and even the dosing should be individualized – so talk to someone trained in these modalities to help find the right treatment protocol for you.

SLEEP HYGIENE

  • Turn off the TV at least 1-hour before bed
  • Turn off the computer at least 1-hour before bed
  • Warm bath with Epson salt after electronics are turned off
  • Meditation
  • Go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time each day
  • Avoid caffeine in afternoon and evening

FAVORITE HERBS (these herbs can be found as teas or herbal supplements)

  • Chamomile
  • Hops
  • Lavender
  • Passion flower
  • Kava Kava
  • Lemon Balm
  • St. John’s Wort
  • Valerian
  • California poppy

AMINO ACIDS (amino acids are the building blocks to protein and neurotransmitters. They are essential to our mood and our ability to feel balanced feelings of excitement and calmness. When there is an imbalance, we can have difficulty relaxing our mind and body before sleep. Many prescription sleep aids and anti-anxiety medications work to enhance these neurotransmitters.)

  • GABA
  • L-Theanine
  • Glycine
  • Taurine
  • 5-HTP
  • Phosphatidylserine  (This is great if cortisol is high at bedtime which is often felt like a “second wind” at 11PM)

MINERALS (calcium, magnesium and vitamin D work together and are often found in combination.)

  • Magnesium (magnesium is a common deficiency and can be very helpful to treat anxiety and insomnia).

HORMONES

Note: hormonal imbalances can lead to insomnia. If you are low in estrogen and progesterone (perimenopuase and menopause)- bioidentical estrogen and progesterone can be helpful for insomnia

  • Melatonin – (melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain. It helps maintain our body’s circadian rhythm so we feel tired at night. Always dose low to start and get some bright sunlight in the morning to shut off melatonin’s effect and to prevent morning grogginess).

Healthy Lunches for your Kids

School is back in session and it’s time to start packing lunches again. We want our kids’ lunches to be nutrient dense, healthy and enjoyed by our little ones. I often discuss the benefits of packing healthy school lunches to my patients such as, healthy immune system, improved energy, and better school performance.

I am in a unique situation because Sophie’s school is vegetarian and nut free.  While she doesn’t eat much meat, she does like her almond butter sandwiches and walnuts. Sunflower seed butter is allowed but no sesame seeds- so, no hummus!

I think it is important to include a protein source, vegetable and seasonal fruit.

I love hearing other lunch ideas, so please pass them along if you found a healthy packed lunch your child enjoys.

Here’s Sophie’s week in lunches. Her school provides lunch on Friday- pizza and pasta (well, everything’s OK in moderation). So, I think this is a pretty good week – there was not a real protein source on Wednesday and I think I gave her 3 straight days of grapes, but here it is-

Monday

Brown rice and peas

Lentils

lightly steamed zucchini with olive oil and dulse

organic grapes, goji and mulberries

TUESDAY

Quinoa pasta with olive oil and white beans

Kale and avocado salad

Sliced cucumbers

Organic grapes and raisins

 

WEDNESDAY

Orzo with kalamata olives and sundried tomatoes

Steamed golden beats

Organic grapes and peaches

 

THURSDAY

Brown rice with black beans, zucchini and carrots

Golden beets and cucumbers

Watermellon

Infant weight gain linked to the bottle

We have known for years that breast-feeding is associated with less infant weight gain and lower risk of childhood obesity than formula feeding. This new study suggests that it may actually be the act of bottle feeding- regardless of whether the bottle is filled with formula or breast milk- that is associated with increased weight gain during the first year of life.  Compared with infants who were exclusively breast-fed (from the breast only), those who were bottled fed formula gained about 71 grams more per month while those who were given breast milk gained 89 grams more per month.

This association makes sense since breast-fed infants decide when a feeding is over, whereas bottled fed infants are often encouraged to finish a bottle. It seems that there is the most pressure to have infants finish precious breast milk. I can relate to this last theory, I remember the frustration of throwing away pumped milk that I worked so hard to make and keep an ample supply after I went back to work.  I think most of us will agree that breastfeeding, from the breast, is best. Clearly, this is not always possible. Women may not make enough milk, infants are adopted and many women go back to work. This study should not instill any more pressure or guilt than us moms already place on ourselves. What I take from this is that we be more mindful about honoring our babies natural hunger cues and stop a bottle feeding when they seem like they have had enough- even if that means throwing out valuable pumped breast milk or pricey formula.