What You Need To Know About Digestive Enzymes

Have you ever wondered how the macronutrients in food – fats, carbohydrates and proteins – get where they need to be in your body? This is where digestive enzymes come into play: they move macronutrients, vitamins and minerals out of the digestive tract and into the bloodstream where they participate in functions such as growth and repair. If the body is deficient in these enzymes (due to genetics, illness, or food allergy), food cannot be properly digested.

What you need to know about your digestive Enzymes:

  • Proteases break down protein into amino acids and peptides.
  • Lipases break down fat into three types of fatty acids.
  • Amylases break down carbohydrates into simple sugars.

Other enzymes target specific sugars:

  • Lactase breaks down the sugar in milk.
  • Maltase moves maltose, which is produced from starch, and converts it into glucose that the body uses for quick energy.
  • Sucrase works on sucrose and converts it into other sugar molecules.

Deficiencies in digestive enzymes often result in gastrointestinal distress, belly discomfort, and food intolerances after eating food that contains a starch, fat, or protein the body cannot break down. For example, if you’re deficient in lactase, you’ll feel ill (bloating, cramps, gas) after eating dairy products. These can seem like hard to diagnose stomach problems. Deficiency of these enzyme leading to gastrointestinal distress may also lead to anxiety and other mental and emotional issues.

Digestive enzymes are naturally present in many foods. Pineapple and papaya are rich in proteases and can help ease symptoms of IBS. Mango and banana contain enzymes that break down starches. Other excellent sources of digestive enzymes include kefir, sauerkraut, honey and ginger and other cultured foods for health. To reap the benefits, eat these foods at their peak freshness and chew mindfully as saliva activates many enzymes. Eat fruits raw as heating destroys the enzymes.

When treating digestive dysfunction, food allergy or sensitivity, a naturopathic doctor may recommend dietary changes and probiotics along with enzymes in pill form. Many factors influence how you should take these enzymes (before, during, or after a meal). Your alternative doctor can help determine how these digestive problem solutions can best support your journey of health.

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Journey of Health Medical Clinic


Three Steps for Lowering Blood Sugar

In this blood sugar diet blog, we have three strong evidence based recommendations for controlling your blood sugar.  These steps are essential for any blood sugar diet plan and part of any Naturopathic Doctor’s treatment plan.  We will take talk about what foods to avoid with diabetes and foods that can help lower blood sugar.  These tips are helpful if you are pre-diabetic to avoid becoming diabetic.  Once you become diabetic, you must become very aware of your blood sugar.  Adjusting to a healthy diabetic diet will protect your from having consequences from diabetes such as heart disease, kidney dysfunction, vision loss, stroke, amputations and so many more.  It will take time for the damage to lead to these and it is sad to watch a family member or friend deal with the effects of diabetes when they are not willing to take an integrative or holistic and nutritional approach to their diabetes. 

One ~ Eliminate Sugar
  • Don’t eat foods or beverages containing sugar. Avoid both artificial and natural sugars.
  • Read labels: Corn syrup, corn sweetener, sugar dextrose, glucose, fructose, brown sugar, cane sugar, beet sugar, turbinado sugar, date sugar, raisin syrup, maple syrup are all sugar and should be avoided in even the smallest amounts.
  • Avoid the use of artificial sweeteners as a substitution for sugar. Research has shown that artificial sweeteners can cause aggravated hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), loss of diabetes control and precipitation of clinical diabetes in persons who were free from disease.  In diabetics, it has caused an aggravation of complications related to diabetes.
  • Naturally sweet foods must also be avoided. These include honey, fruit juice, grapes, raisins, dried fruits, fresh fruits, jams and jellies.
  • Avoid all the following: ice cream, cake, candy, soda (all carbonated beverages), pies, pastries, canned jellies, preserves, jell-o, most cold breakfast cereals, fruit juice, punch, breakfast syrups, and most processed food items.

What fruits can diabetics eat?

There is an allowable exception of one 4-oz. selection daily from the list below.  Make sure the fruits are fresh and organic whenever possible.  Research is also showing that a pint of berries are does not raise blood sugar levels dramatically in most diabetics and is protective of small vessels.

  • Apple
  • Papaya
  • Orange
  • Home canned fruit with
    no added sweetener
  • Melon
  • Blueberries
  • Pineapple
  • Banana
  • Grapefruit
  • Pear

Sometimes a food intolerance panel can also be helpful to identify the foods that cause the blood sugar to rise.

Two~Eat Protein Rich and/or complex carbohydrate rich foods

Eat complex carbohydrates and protein rich foods in small to moderate amounts (in 1 to 4 ounce servings) at most meals or snacks.  This does not mean you should avoid other types of healthy foods that you enjoy, such as vegetables.  Protein is a very important part of allowing your blood sugar to be carried stable throughout the day.

Three ~ Eat small, frequent meals

Eat small to moderate amounts of food every few hours, particularly if your energy is low.  For example, eat 3 moderate meals daily.  You can have one, two or three between meal snacks as desired, or as needed to keep your energy and concentration up.

These are some basic suggestions but everyone is an individual so we encourage you to follow up with your naturopathic doctor or integrative doctor if they provide holistic medicine.  We specialize in this kind of thing so neither diet or diabetes are not a new idea for us. Getting the right care tailored for you or your child’s specific body and situation is key to success in your health.  At Journey of Health Naturopathic Clinic we are dedicated to finding the right integrative solutions for each patient. We proudly serve the San Diego area, providing some of the best service in Naturopathic medicine. If you wish to further your own journey of health with Naturopathic solutions and Alternative medicine, give us a call at (619) 772-1164.  We offer free 10 minute consults so you can see if we are the right fit for you and you family.  Reach out and learn more about your holistic medicine options today!

Surprise Your Taste Buds with Sunchokes

On your next foray down the produce aisle, don’t overlook the wonderful sunchoke, aka Jerusalem Artichoke. These tubers look nothing like an artichoke and are easily mistaken for a strange potato! A native North American plant, sunchokes are a member of the sunflower family.

Low in calories and nutrient dense, sunchokes provide iron, potassium, thiamin (one of the B vitamins) and a good amount of fiber in a one-cup serving. The carbohydrate contained in sunchokes is inulin, which doesn’t cause spikes in blood sugar, so it’s a great option for anyone concerned about diabetes or weight management. Sunchokes also contain vitamins, A, C, and E. The most unique nutrient found in sunchokes is known as prebiotics, a type of non-digestible carbohydrate found in many root vegetables. Food-based prebiotics enhance nutrient absorption and help maintain a healthy intestinal tract by promoting growth of “good” gut bacteria, which supports immunity.

Sunchokes have a nutty, mildly sweet flavor and are delightful to eat raw – shredded or sliced into a salad or sliced and served with raw carrots and other veggies. They can be cooked in a variety of ways and added to stir-fry dishes in lieu of water chestnuts. Their flavor is enhanced when lightly seasoned for sauteing or roasting. You can also puree sunchokes for soups.

Available year-round in the U.S., prime harvest time is October through early spring. Buy tubers that are firm, free of sprouts or bruises, with a smooth, clean surface making them easier to prepare.


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Journey of Health Medical Clinic


What Should I Eat If I Am Constipated?

Constipation pain in kids is hard to watch.  Even as an adult, it is miserable and search for constipation relief.  Chronic constipation cause us to ask some of these common questions.  Most common is, “what should I eat if I am constipated?”  Knowing what food causes constipation can be helpful and most integrative doctors will encourage you to focus on simple diet changes such as avoid dairy and processed foods while increasing your fiber in fruits, veggies, beans and grain intake.  Definitely making sure you get your water in daily is important.  Probiotics, prunes, magnesium, massage can also be great tools.  There are holistic medicine options you can do from for chronic constipation.  This still doesn’t answer the another common question of “why do I get constipation so easily?”

Food intolerances can be something that triggers constipation.  these mysterious, sometimes even perfectly healthy foods can take days to cause the constipation.  Fortunately nowadays, Naturopathic doctors can run a food intolerance test or a panel of 184 foods based on your IgG memory of your food reaction.  This is different from the IgE food allergy test that your integrative doctor would may offer you.  If may still be helpful but IgE allergy tests don’t provide the answers to what foods may be causing you or you kids chronic constipation.  Natural medicine is focused on finding those holistic health options that work.  It is an alternative medicine way of thinking about constipation trouble.

Another common question, “Is Miralax Safe for kid?” Even the manufacturer says that Miralax is for occasional constipation.  Unfortunately, it is often the only option given to parents as a help for their kids and doctors encourage parents to administer to kids because they really don’t know of other options.  Alternative medicine has many natural remedies for constipation relief but they usually only work temporarily.  Only a Naturopathic approach of getting to the cause will help you solve the constipation once and for all.  Identifying food intolerance may be the cause for some, identifying gastrointestinal infections or inflammation may be another’s cause.  Each person is an individual and Naturopathic medicine takes this into account using tools such as unique labs as well as herbs, nutrition, diet, hydrotherapy, homeopathy and so much more.  The right combo for you or your kid can help pooping naturally become a regular thing.

What can you do for chronic constipation? We specialize in this kind of thing so constipation is not a new idea for us. Getting the right care tailored for you or your child’s specific body and situation is key to success in your health.  At Journey of Health Naturopathic Clinic we are dedicated to finding the right integrative solutions for each patient. We proudly serve the San Diego area, providing some of the best service in Naturopathic medicine. If you wish to further your own journey of health with Naturopathic solutions and Alternative medicine, give us a call at (619) 772-1164.  We offer free 10 minute consults so you can see if we are the right fit for you and you family.  Reach out and learn more about your holistic medicine options today!

Natural Solutions to End Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Imagine not having to worry about where the next bathroom is!  Irritable bowel syndrome is disruptive daily life and the ability to live or be creative in life!

There are many typical natural medicine or alternative medicine tricks that you may have already tried such as regular meals, exercising and avoiding food problems.  How do you know what your food problems are though?  Fortunately we have food intolerance testing that can take the guess work out.  It is often thought of as allergy testing.  We test up to 184 food markers in 2-3 parts of your activated immune system.  These are simple finger sticks available in our office so you no longer need to guess what foods may or may not be bothering you.  It can take 2-4 days to get a reaction to a food since it is a delayed reaction so it is no wonder you can figure out what is bothering you or your child’s belly!  Food intolerance tests will identify the foods that cause the IBS symptoms so you can start getting some relief.

You may also experience bloating and gas with your irritable bowel syndrome.  Bloating almost always has to do with two things- digestion or bugs.  Digestion can mean a lack of pancreatic enzyme active for a variety of reasons, food intolerances which can be hard to get nutrients from and sometimes just food combinations.  Bugs can mean a variety of microbial imbalance of infections, whether parasitic, worms, protozoa or bacterial.  Flares can be from the imbalances of the flora fluctuating- increasing in numbers.

Fortunately we have a number of stool panels that can be an incredibly helpful and holistic tool for a patient with irritable bowel syndrome.  It allows the Naturopathic doctor to assess not just O&P and yeast but the inflammation in the large intestine and small intestine, whether you have enzymes to digest your food, the balance of good bacteria in your belly, whether bad bacteria is thriving as well are ruling out more common infections.  This functional medicine approach allow the integrative doctor to put the piece together about the whole digestive system and why you are having irritable bowel syndrome.

Many IBS sufferers are looking for a holistic doctor to learn how to heal irritable bowel syndrome naturally.  Our naturopathic doctors are well versed in helping patients solve their IBS and preventing reoccurrence.  We got this!

We specialize in this kind of thing so it’s not a new idea for us. Getting the right care tailored for you or your child’s specific body and situation is key to success in your health.  At Journey of Health Naturopathic Clinic we are dedicated to finding the right integrative solutions for each patient. We proudly serve the San Diego area, providing some of the best service in Naturopathic medicine. If you wish to further your own journey of health with Naturopathic solutions and Alternative medicine, give us a call at (619) 772-1164.  We offer free 10 minute consults so you can see if we are the right fit for you and you family.  Reach out and learn more about your holistic medicine options today!


Bacterial Infections and the Microbiome, The Holistic Look from a Naturopathic Doctor

The microbiome is an important part of you.  It helps with detoxification, stimulating your immune system to protect you from bacteria, virus and even cancer.  The bacteria in your gut is key to making Vitamin K to protect your bones and to make sure dopamine gets made thus influencing your mood.  As long as your immune system is primed and your bacteria is in balance, you are less likely to suffer from mood disorders, arthritis, obesity and cancer.

Once our bacteria is out of balance, it can lead to opportunistic infections.  Things that can affect the healthy bacteria in the belly include antibiotics, food intolerances and stress.  Antibiotics will take the diversity of health bacteria down to 1-3 strains and newer studies are showing that it can take 9 months or more to return to a normal diversity of 9 or more species in the gut flora which is why we often look for alternatives in naturopathy.  Probiotics are incredibly important to protect the gut flora during antibiotics.  Food intolerances can also impact the normal bacteria by causing an inflammatory response within the gut lining and can be tested for properly with a naturopathic doctor.  Stress may be the worst attacker on the gut lining function.  It dries out the lining so the immune system can not be produced thus bad bacteria can’t be identified and removed. Digestive enzymes also can not be properly made which protect the belly by digesting foreign invaders or materials.

When bad bacteria has an opportunity, it will take over and dominate causing a multitude of functional problems such as limiting nutrient absorption and immune development in the gut.  Then it can spread to other parts of the body and create symptoms.  Bacteria such as streptococcus (includes multiple strains) are commonly known for strep throat but when it is hiding in the gut, it can cause reoccurrence and many families wonder why they have a constant struggle with strep throat.  Treating a surface infection doesn’t also manage the infection that is seeded from the belly.   Streptococcus infections in the belly can cause anxiety and belly pain as well.  Unfortunately, there is not a lot of research to connect these functional medicine ideas of gastrointestinal infections except by naturopathic doctors who are in tune with infectious disease and take time to observe the commonalities between patients.  The true test is when you treat the infection seeded in the belly and symptoms resolve or improve. This is holistic medicine.

Other problematic gastrointestinal bacterial and parasitic infections we commonly see in our naturopathic clinic are klebsiella, yersinia, enterococcus, pseudomonas, giardia, entamoeba hystolytica, blastocystitis hominis, citrobacter, clostridium difficile and toxoplasmosis. You need an integrative treatment plan to address most infections since there is almost always more than one.  Many bacterial infections are also antibiotic resistant so you really do need a naturopathic doctor who can use integrative medicine to use the tools that will work once and for all.  Natural medicine has a way or building up the body at the same time as addressing the infection.  Klebsiella is known for causing urinary tract infections but it doesn’t often show up in the urinary tests.  After treating klebsiella  in the gut, we can eliminate the chronic urinary tract infections.

The key to health and protection of our microbiome is diversity.   When our normal flora is not flourishing and we have symptoms which can range from headaches to belly pain, diarrhea, chronic infections or loss of energy, we may need to rule our bacterial infections so we can get our normal flora working for us again.  Consider our San Diego bacteria cleanse program.

We specialize in this kind of thing and see it frequently in our office so it’s not a new idea for us. Getting the right care for your body is important and tailored for your specific body in mind. At Journey of Health we are dedicated to finding the right naturopathic solutions for each patient. We proudly serve the San Diego area, providing some of the best service in naturopathic medicine. If you wish to further your own journey of health with naturopathic solutions and alternative medicines, give us a call at (619) 772-1164.

Fight Joint Inflammation with Turmeric

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is the golden-orange spice that gives curried foods pizzazz. In Traditional Chinese and Indian Medicine, turmeric is used to treat allergies, digestive ailments, and pain. The active chemical component of turmeric is curcumin, known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Today, research is focused on the role curcumin plays in diseases where the underlying factor is inflammation, such as in heart disease and arthritis.

Studies show that curcumin blocks inflammation at the cellular level. Some studies indicate that curcumin’s role in preventing joint inflammation surpasses its ability to reduce active joint inflammation. In clinical trials, standardized curcumin supplements helped improve pain and swelling in patients with RA. These promising results are being further investigated in long-term studies.

Including turmeric in your diet is easy to do and, oh, so flavorful. Add turmeric to soups and dressings; sprinkle over meats, veggies, and scrambled eggs; add it to plain yogurt or a smoothie.

While adding turmeric spice to your meals is a great first step, the amounts used in cooking do not provide the therapeutic levels needed to achieve its robust health effects. When considering the addition of turmeric to your health plan, work with your La Mesa Naturopathic Doctor to determine if this is a good choice and which curcumin supplement is best for you. He or she can recommend the right form (capsule or powder) that will have the best bioavailability – meaning it’s easy for your body to process through the digestive tract – for your specific health needs. It is very important to use a high quality tumeric supplement to ensure its effectiveness.

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Journey of Health Medical Clinic


Celiac Disease & Gluten Sensitivity

How did gluten, a naturally-occurring protein found in wheat, barley and rye – sources of nutrition for people over thousands of years, become so unhealthy?

Many scientists attribute the increase in Celiac Disease (CD) and non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (GS) to alternations in wheat’s biological structure, the result of modern farming and bread-making practices and the chemicals used today. The result: wheat crops that are biochemically different from the virgin wheat of agrarian society. Because our bodies have not adapted to these chemically treated crops, we’re unable to digest them properly.

Modern bread-making has gone from being a simple four-ingredient wholesome loaf of sustenance to being a less-nutrient dense squishy loaf of preservatives. Old-fashioned baking involved giving flour time to absorb as much water as possible, and waiting for yeast and bacteria to activate the dough (fermentation). Today, industrialized baking replaces natural hydration, fermentation and kneading with artificial additives and massive mixers to accelerate dough formation. To endure commercial processing and increase shelf life, additional concentrated vital wheat gluten and preservatives are stuffed into bread products.

Celiac Disease

One in 133 adults and children have CD, a genetic, autoimmune disorder that occurs in response to ingesting gluten, triggering the immune system to attack the delicate lining of the small intestine. This creates inflammation and can lead to nutrient malabsorption and secondary health problems. There are over 200 symptoms for CD, including:

  • extreme abdominal pain
  • nausea, vomiting
  • gas, constipation, diarrhea
  • joint pain, anemia, fatigue
  • stunted growth, skin rashes
  • behavior disorders, mood disturbances

Symptoms can begin immediately and last from a few hours to several days. The primary treatment for CD is a life-long gluten-free diet.

Non-celiac Gluten Sensitivity (Gluten Intolerance)

Non-celiac Gluten Sensitivity (GS) affects 6-7% of the U.S. population. It’s an adverse food-induced reaction that seems to have an immune component. Gluten activates an inflammatory response that can affect tissues anywhere in the body. Symptoms vary based upon individual and environmental factors. Determining if you have GS requires testing to rule out CD. Blood/genetic tests are not available for directly assessing GS. Currently, holistic doctors use a Food Sensitivity Panel to identify reactions to wheat. Also, an elimination diet with symptom monitoring can assess GS.

Testing for CD

genetic test (Celiac HLA) indicates your risk for developing CD. If a first-degree family member has CD, a negative gene test excludes you from the possibility of developing it.

Blood tests require that you continue eating gluten products in order to get an accurate result. (Abstaining from gluten will skew the results.) A naturopathic doctor can inform you on the appropriate amount of time required to eat gluten prior to testing. The tTg-IgA (Tissue Transglutaminase Antibodies) test looks for antibodies toward gluten. Your La Mesa Naturopathic Doctor may order a panel of antibody tests to assess if you are deficient in antibodies the body needs, or if the body is creating antibodies against its own tissues.

Your naturopathic doctor may decide to order an endoscopic biopsy to obtain a definitive diagnosis of CD. In this procedure, performed by an M.D. who specializes in digestive disorders, a part of the small intestine is removed and examined for damage.

Based on your symptoms and test results, your La Mesa Naturopathic Doctor can determine the type of testing you need and design an appropriate, personalized treatment plan.

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Journey of Health Medical Clinic


Healing The Gut with Marshmallow Root

There’s much more to that sweet, fluffy treat we enjoy melted in a s’more or sprinkled atop hot cocoa. Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) is an ancient herb whose Greek name, Althainean, means “to heal.” Ancient Greek and Egyptian healers used Marshmallow flowers and leaves in salads to support healthy digestion. A secretion, known as mucilage, from its roots and stems, was used to soften the skin, treat sore throats, and ease congestion. Naturopathic doctors use Marshmallow Root (aka “mallow”) for these purposes and in treatment preparations for:

  • inflammation of the lining of the stomach
  • digestive issues including diarrhea stomach ulcers, constipation
  • inflammatory bowel disease, leaky gut syndrome and autoimmune disorders
  • skin conditions such as eczema
  • bloating and water retention
  • dry coughs and colds
  • bacterial infections and respiratory infections

A key healing property of Marshmallow Root is the ability to soothe inflammation of the mucous membranes throughout the body. When food sensitivity/allergies, illness, or other factors interfere with healthy digestion, a person can experience upset stomach, heartburn, constipation or diarrhea. Mallow forms a thick protective coating in the digestive tract, which helps reduce the burning and tame other symptoms of digestive distress.

With tall stalks topped by a lovely five-petal white blossom with purple center, Marshmallow Root makes a striking addition to a garden – especially if you enjoy harvesting for herbal tea. Supplements come in different forms including powder, tea, extract, ointments, and capsule. While considered safe for most adults and children, do ask your La Mesa naturopathic doctor which preparations of are best for you.

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Journey of Health Medical Clinic


How Can I Protect My Gut?

When you have a digestive illness, it essentially means that your delicate intestinal lining (the mucosa) is damaged, making it impossible to extract nutrients and other substances crucial for your body’s biological processes. Patients often ask ‘how can I protect my gut while taking antibiotics’?  Antibiotics or any chronic digestive complaint are other ways the gut lining can get damaged.  It is important to have an adequate microbiome set up and the healthy lining to hold onto the good bacteria while going through antibiotics, stress or a digestive illness.  There are many nutrients that can help.

The amino acid L-Glutamine is one of these substances. A protein building block, L-Glutamine is stored in muscle where it’s vital to tissue growth and repair. It’s involved in the formation of other amino acids and glucose (sugar), as well as the body’s adaptive response to stress and the optimal functioning of the immune and digestive systems.  It also plays a role in helping irritable bowel syndrome or IBS.  Probiotics and avoiding food sensitivities can also help.

The mucosa requires maintenance to protect and repair itself from the effects of stress, toxins, and a poor diet. When the mucosa breaks down, inflammation results and this is associated with a variety of chronic health conditions. Further, when illness, chronic or severe stress, inflammation, or food sensitivity/allergies cause the gut to fail at effectively breaking down food to acquire nutrients, deficiency results. A lack of sufficient glutamine in the gut creates a cycle of wear and tear on the mucosa.

Clinical research shows that L-Glutamine supplements can break that cycle by helping repair damage and potentially help the lining regrow. This connection between glutamine and intestinal maintenance has led researchers to examine its role in Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivity.

L-Glutamine supplements are available in both pill and powder form. Proper dose is crucial to its effectiveness. It’s not recommended for children under age 10 or for people with certain health conditions, including kidney or liver disease. Consult with your La Mesa naturopathic doctor to find out if L-Glutamine is right for you.  Come learn how to heal your gut!

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Journey of Health Medical Clinic


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