Supplements

Eliminating intolerant foods – good idea or not?

Posted by | Uncategorized | No Comments

Food elimination can sometimes change the quality of your life for the better, once you’ve worked out what food it is you need to avoid. But is this a good idea long term and is it necessary to avoid this food then for the rest of your life? The good news is no! Most people don’t have to do this forever.

People eliminate certain foods for many reasons. There are of course particular cultural, ethical and personal beliefs behind many dietary eliminations. People also cut certain foods because they believe they have an intolerance. They may have experienced symptoms such as stomach upsets, rashes or insomnia. Sometimes people are truly allergic, in which case, consuming that food can be dangerous or even life threatening.

In actual fact, the only people who really need to completely avoid a particular food are those who do have a true anaphylactic allergy. However, only 2-5% of food reactivity is actually due to a true allergic reaction. The rest are generally intolerances that have developed over time.

Digestive processes

Food intolerances can develop for a number of reasons. For example, a reduction in stomach acid and digestive enzyme levels as we age can make it more difficult for us to properly digest a food. This means it is still relatively undigested when it reaches the bowel, leading to bloating, diarrhea, cramps and other irritable bowel like symptoms as the bad bacteria in the gut have a field day. Reflux medications often make this situation much worse.

Gut lining health (leaky gut)

When the integrity of the lining of the digestive tract is compromised it can lead to a situation termed leaky gut. This often happens post a viral sickness, food poisoning, stress or having consumed antibiotics or something that has irritated the gut (like NSAID anti-inflammatory drugs). Having leaky gut allows toxins, bacteria and whole proteins to enter the blood stream, confusing the immune system. The immune system sees these things as non-self and goes in for the attack, allowing allergic, hyperactive and autoimmune types of conditions to be expressed.

Microbiome balance

When the colony of microbes in your gut are unbalanced (usually due to poor diet, stress or illness) this too can lead to the development of symptoms from eating foods you once had no issue with.

FODMAPs

FODMAPs are certain classes of natural foods that are often found to be the culprits of irritable bowel symptoms. People who suffer from FODMAPs issues usually find that eliminating the foods in the category they have an issue with clears up their IBS symptoms. However, the FODMAPs diet was never meant to be long term. Usually a FODMAPs issue arises due to one of the above changes in the digestive tract. The idea is to temporarily remove the food, allowing the digestive system to heal and recover. After a period of 1-3 months, slow reintroduction of the food should occur without issue.

Food diversity is so important

Eliminating a food permanently is not getting to the underlying reason of why that food is causing issues. Limiting foods long term has been shown to reduce quality of life and in some cases may even worsen health. This is mostly because good health is correlated with a good diversity of the microbes in your gut (your microbiome). The more diverse the variety of natural foods you eat, the more diverse your microbiome and the better your general health.

The good news

The idea is to eliminate the offending food or foods for a period of time while working on healing the gut lining, righting digestive insufficiencies and adding diversity and harmony to the gut microbiome using certain nutrients, herbs and probiotic strains. Once the healing is complete, the foods can be added back in one at a time to ensure they are now tolerated. If you have irritable bowel issues or food intolerances you would like addressed, se me for a tailored treatment plan.

What the MTHFR!

Posted by | Uncategorized | No Comments

Ever heard of MTHFR?  It’s a somewhat suggestive acronym for an important enzyme in the body used to convert folic acid into a useable form. It’s been getting a lot of press lately because about 50% of the population has a mutation in the genes that produce this enzyme, potentially leading to a whole host of common symptoms and health complaints. This enzyme (called methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase or MTHFR for short) is extremely important for a process called methylation. Methylation takes place in the body over a billion times a second and is required to:

  • process and eliminate toxins;Folic Acid graphic
  • produce cellular energy;
  • create neurotransmitters (which can affect mood and memory);
  • produce internal antioxidants important to protect the body;
  • build and maintain DNA, cell membranes and myelin (which coats our nerves so they function properly); and
  • promote effective immune function.

Methylation is also needed to reduce the level of homocysteine in the body. Increased homocysteine is a known cardiovascular risk factor. Another very important thing impacted by this mutation is pregnancy. We know it is important to take folic acid to prevent neural tube defects, however, if you have this mutation, folic acid may not be as effectively utilized by the body. It is now thought that this un-metabolised folic acid could accumulate to toxic levels in genetically susceptible people, increasing the risk of miscarriage and other birth defects.

Poor functioning of MTHFR is associated with around 60 different health conditions, including diabetes, infertility, anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, cancer, cardiovascular disease, insomnia, allergy, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and dementia.

There is a simple, inexpensive test you can take to see if you have this genetic mutation which naturopaths can order.

The good news is there is much you can do to lower the impact of this gene mutation. The most important thing you can do is to eat your greens!  They provide you with naturally occurring folates which are more easily utilized in the body than the cheaply produced, synthetic folic acid form used in so many supplements. This is the safest way to ensure you are providing your body with useable forms of these important vitamins as overdoing supplements containing activated or methylated forms can potentially lead to other health problems. Therefore it is important to see your naturopath who can prescribe the correct forms at the correct dose according to your needs and genetic make up. They can also directly assist your detoxification processes and improve your general health and vitality which in turn reduces the expression of any detrimental gene mutations such as MTHFR.

Recent Successes at Balm

Posted by | Uncategorized | No Comments

Here at Balm Naturopathy we believe in celebrating our successes. Below are a couple of success stories that have emerged from the last month.

Rising PSA Levels

Prostrate problems are of concern to all men. Two of the main issues are benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which occurs in 90% of men over the age of 70, and prostate cancer which kills thousands of men every year.

The symptoms of BPH and prostate cancer include frequent, difficult or painful urination, slow, interrupted flow and blood in urine or semen. Ignoring these symptoms can be dangerous and Balm always recommends a visit to your doctor to have such symptoms explored medically. The good news is there is much that can be done naturally to improve prostate health and lower cancer risk.

Recently a 76 year old male presented to Balm Natural Health with rising PSA levels after having had a prostatectomy a few years ago. This was the last thing he expected after such a procedure. The client wanted to ensure he was doing everything he needed to decrease his cancer risk and increase his general health and wellbeing.

After 2 months of treatment focusing on diet and supplements to increase antioxidant intake, improve prostate health and an increase in exercise, his next PSA reading had reduced from 0.11 to 0.06.

The client is very pleased and is continuing to follow the recommendations and supplements prescribed and will continue with ongoing monitoring of PSA levels to ensure he remains on the right track.

Frequent colds, sinusitis and antibiotic use

So many people find they get every cold and flu going around and can’t seem to get through a single season without having to resort to antibiotics at lease 2 or 3 times. Antibiotics have a very detrimental effect on the microbiome oThumbs up man - picturef the gut and this can actually have a lasting negative effect on the body’s immunity. Much of our immunity originates in the gut and when gut health is suboptimal, this opens the body up to all sorts of immune issues such as infection, allergy and autoimmune issues. Last year, a 40 year old male with a history of frequent colds, sinusitis and antibiotic treatment presented to Balm Natural Health. On average he was receiving antibiotic treatment every 1-2 months. After 8 months of treatment involving supplements to regulate his immunity, particularly via gut health, adjusting his diet, and addressing stress, he is now feeling better than ever and has not had a single cold or need for antibiotics for over 4 months.

This client has now adopted some permanent changes in his diet and lifestyle and has moved to exploring other health goals such as maximising his already raised vitality and boosting fertility with the hope of soon adding another member to his family.

Do you know someone who is constantly unwell and seems to fall victim to every cold and virus going around? Or do you know someone concerned about rising PSA levels, or anyone who has any other sort of health complaint who might need the help of Balm Naturopathy? If so, please send them the link to this blog and encourage them to book in online for a consultation.

Image courtesy of artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Published with consent from the clients involved.

Self Prescribing from the internet – What could go wrong?

Posted by | Uncategorized | No Comments

There is so much information available on the internet right now, as well as plenty of opportunities to purchase “miracle cures”.  Many people self prescribe according to “Dr Google” but this can be very dangerous.  For example:

  • Desiccated thyroid extract purchased from international sites for hypothyroidism. Without taking the correct dosage and constantly measuring thyroid hormone levels, a person can easily throw their body into an opposite, and extreme hyperthyroid state. This can lead to side effects such as crippling anxiety, paranoia and mood swings, not to mention hair loss, excessive sweating and insomnia.
  • Even more common is the self administration of iron when people feel tired. Many other things can cause tiredness, plus there are types of anaemia not related to iron levels. Taking iron when you already have good levels is dangerous and can directly damage the liver and nerves and increase the risk of heart attack.
  • Some magic bullets for depression and mood disorders can throw out your balance of neurotransmitters making your situation dangerously worse, or adding other problems such as anxiety, aggression or phobias.
  • Even seemingly innocent vitamin supplements can be dangerous if not correctly assessed for the amounts present and accounting for amounts that may already be obtained from other supplements. For example vitamin A in excess of 700mcg retinol equivalents per day may lead to birth defects in pregnant women and excessive amounts of the trace mineral selenium can be toxic.
  • Cheap, bulk purchase fish oils usually are partially oxidized meaning the quality and quantity of EPA and DHA is significantly lower and the capsules are probably causing more damage than good. They are also usually high in contaminants such as mercury.

One problem with supplements bought on the internet is that they are not approved by the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) which is a department set up by the Australian Government to ensure that health products manufactured, prescribed and sold in Australia are registered, regulated and meet safety standards.

Quite often, herbs purchased on the internet don’t contain the correct species of herb in the correct quantities or even from the correct part of the plant. They may also contain dangerous, undisclosed excipients such as heavy metals and other contaminants. In Australia we are very lucky to have a number of manufacturers of safe, Practitioner Only products which have been TGA approved and have passed potentially hundreds of quality control steps.

When you see a qualified naturopath, you can be sure you are being correctly prescribed TGA approved, practitioner quality brands of herbs and supplements. They will work with you to discover why your body is not functioning correctly, what is causing your tiredness or why your iron levels may be low, and will give carefully considered dosages of natural herbs and supplements to help your body heal itself. They will know what herbs/drugs/nutrients may interact and should not be taken together and what supplements will be contraindicated in pregnancy, with high blood pressure or any other conditions in which you should be aware of possible interactions.

Picture of pillsNote: Always check that your naturopath is qualified and that they have been accepted as a member of an industry association. There is currently nothing stopping unqualified people calling themselves Naturopaths. This makes them potentially very dangerous, giving qualified naturopaths who have studied for at least 3 years, a bad name.

Image courtesy of tungphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net