Calcium Does a Body Good

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body and you might think that’s because of the essential role it plays in building strong bones; calcium’s importance, however, goes beyond preventing fractures and osteoporosis. It also supports healthy functioning of the cardiovascular, endocrine, and nervous systems. Numerous studies have established a relationship between calcium intake, absorption and assimilation and a person’s risk for heart disease, colorectal cancer, kidney stones, PMS, insomnia, and difficulty maintaining a healthy weight.

Eating a wide variety of whole foods is the best way to get the calcium your body needs for growth, maintenance, and repair. Even though dairy products contain and are fortified with calcium, foods derived from cow’s milk may not be the best choice for many people because of allergies, intolerance and other digestive concerns. Other valuable sources of calcium include almonds, dark leafy greens, legumes, and and nuts such as almonds. Be aware that just because you’re consuming the recommended amount of calcium daily does not mean your body is absorbing and utilizing it properly.

Recommendations for a calcium supplement vary by age, gender, and development (e.g., puberty, pre or post-menopause), and are influenced by health issues, lifestyle habits and taking certain prescription medicines. Different forms of calcium (e.g., carbonate, citrate) are absorbed differently by the body. Check with your San Diego Naturopathic Doctor to determine if you need a calcium supplement, and which form and amount is best for you.

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Think IRON for SuperPower

Wouldn’t we all like a little (or a lot) of superhero power now and then to help us scale life’s various mountains? If you’re nodding “yes” right about now, think Iron, a mineral critical to the circulatory system and life-sustaining functions. Iron is a component of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen through the blood and is essential to powering the energy levels required for all physiological processes in the body.

Most people acquire sufficient iron from their diet, but a supplement may be needed by those who have strenuous physical regimens or who experience frequent blood loss (e.g. from heavy periods or inflammatory bowel disease). Foods containing the highest sources of iron are liver, organ meats, red meat, dark turkey meat, and shellfish. Legumes, certain seeds, and dark leafy greens, such as spinach and kale, do provide iron but you’d have to eat quite a bit, nearly every day, to obtain sufficient amounts.

If you’re experiencing extreme fatigue, weakness, cold hands and feet, headache, rapid heart rate, or unusual non-food cravings, you may be anemic and require an iron supplement. It’s important to have your iron levels tested by your Naturopathic Doctor before starting a supplement because iron can build up in the body (a condition called hemochromatosis). This can lead to life-threatening health problems involving the liver, heart or pancreas. A simple nutrient analysis done by blood test indicates if you are deficient; other tests can determine if you have difficulty absorbing iron provided by a healthy diet.

Because there are many ways to increase iron levels, consult with your La Mesa Naturopathic Doctor who can recommend the right method, and if a supplement is needed, the correct form and dose for your needs.

 

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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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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!

 

Got Sprouts? Health Benefits of Alfalfa

What makes a sprout so good for you?

Sprouting is the moment of greatest vitality in a plant’s life cycle, the phase in which the seed activates and makes its way through the topsoil and sprouts into the fresh air above. At this high point of metabolic and enzymatic changes, the sprout contains high levels of nutrients. And that’s what makes sprouts good for you, particularly Alfalfa.

Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) is a legume that is also considered to be an herb. The leaves and seeds can be used fresh, or dried for supplements, and the sprouts are enjoyed with meals. It’s high in Vitamins A, C, and K and contains several B vitamins. A good source of dietary fiber, copper, magnesium, and iron, Alfalfa contains active plant compounds currently being evaluated for benefits in women’s health, managing high cholesterol, and effects on the nervous and cardiovascular systems.

When selecting sprouts, look for those that have been kept chilled in the produce section and choose organic when possible. The International Sprout Growers Association (ISGA) seal on a product indicates the sprouts have been carefully grown and handled. Look for clean roots with a creamy white color. Buds should be attached to the stem. Sprouts should be odorless. Keep sprouts refrigerated and use within 2 days of the sell-by date on the package. Enjoy sprouts atop salads, sandwiches, or as a garnish for prepared entrees.

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Why is Nutrient Assessment Important?

How are your cells doing today? Don’t know? Then a Nutrient Assessment might be in order.

Here’s the truth of it: If your body is missing – or even short on – key vitamins and minerals, your cells will not perform at optimal level. This can affect your daily energy, quality of sleep, mental and physical performance at work, school, or sports and can lead to complex health problems.

Nutrient deficiency can occur for reasons other than the presence of an active illness, including:

  • Inadequate intake in the diet
  • Poor absorption in your digestive tract
  • Problems at the cellular level, preventing proper use of the nutrient
  • Loss of nutrients through intense exercise or long-term stress
  • Insufficient cofactors or enzymes needed to properly utilize the nutrient

And that’s why a Nutrient Assessment is important. In naturopathic medicine, specialized tests are available to assess nutrient status. These tests are also known as Functional Nutrient Assessment, Nutrient Status Testing, or Micronutrient Testing. Using samples of blood, stool, urine, or hair, these tests evaluate how well your body absorbs and utilizes each nutrient assessed, along with the amount and functional availability of vitamins, mineral, and antioxidants in your cells. They help identify the nutritional supplements needed to achieve and maintain good health and lower your risk for serious illness.

Even if you feel your best, a baseline nutrient analysis is good to for two important reasons:

  • A healthy baseline provides a point of comparison for times when you become ill and need to assess what’s going on with your body and what it needs to recover.
  • Some nutrient deficiencies or insufficiencies don’t manifest in disease for a long time, even years. Having a baseline and periodic testing can help detect problems early.

Ask your La Mesa Naturopathic Doctor about the type of nutrient testing that is most appropriate for you.

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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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The Red Bell of the Ball!

Crisp, sweet red bell peppers are versatile and packed with nutrients. They’re loaded with the antioxidants Vitamin C and A, which support immunity and help the body fight free radicals – molecules implicated in inflammation and many disease processes. That beautiful red color is attributed to the nutrient lycopene, another antioxidant. Vitamin B6 and folate – nutrients that support red blood cells – are also found in these crimson beauties. Making red bells a regular part of your diet can help protect against chronic illnesses such as heart disease, joint disease, and cancer.

Red bells are actually the fully ripe version of green bell peppers. With the exception of very cold winters, they’re available year-round in most places. Choose peppers with deep color, taut skin, and fresh-looking stems. Peppers should be firm and heavy for their size (indicating they are well hydrated). They add flavor to sandwiches, stir-fry, salads, soups, stews, sauces, and are also delicious raw.

You may have heard that peppers are a part of the nightshade family of vegetables and aren’t a good food choice for some people. Nightshades (including potatoes, eggplant and tomatoes), are so named because they grow best in shady areas and some bloom at night. For most people, nightshades are a healthy choice, but for others, they can trigger a reaction similar to that seen with soy or dairy. If you’re concerned about this, consult your La Mesa Naturopathic Doctor for dietary testing and guidance.

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The Power of Pecans

Whether you call ’em PEE-can or PEH-kahn, they are one of the most sought after nuts around the globe. A cousin of the walnut, pecans are the only major tree nut native to North America. People love pecans for their versatility: They add a sweet, nutty goodness to breads and cereals, stuffing and spreads, salads and side dishes, entrees and desserts. At the same time, they bring a lot of nutrition to the table.

Pecans contain healthy, monounsaturated fats like oleic acid, as well as antioxidants that support heart health by lowering LDL cholesterol and increasing the good cholesterol, HDL. Packed with fiber, pecans support healthy digestion and colon health. Some research shows that diets consisting of pecans (and other healthy nuts) can support a healthy body weight and even help people lose weight. Pecans are a good source of vitamins and minerals that support overall health, including B-vitamins, magnesium, manganese, vitamins E and A, zinc, iron, and folate.

Your family can enjoy the natural, nutty sweetness of pecans as a snack (plain or roasted), sprinkled over yogurt or oatmeal, or sautéed with savory seasonings such as curry powder, sea salt, or paprika. Consider baking with pecans—from cookies to cheesecake and even homemade ice cream.

When purchasing pecans, fresh is best and organic is even better. Look for pecans in the bulk foods section at a grocer that regularly “turns the stock.” Store pecans, and all nuts, in an airtight package away from heat, preferably in the fridge to retain nutrient content.

 

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