Category Archives: immune system


When Probiotics Are Not A Good Choice

Health supplements are expected to reach a global market share of $278 billion by 2024. That’s a sizable market and it continues to grow. Probiotics are one of the fastest growing items in the category in the U.S. With so much focus on the microbiome and the as more information points to their effectiveness in minimizing digestive issues and promoting gut health, the demand for probiotics is all set to explode.

A recent report reveals that Canada could save up to $100 million CAN per year through probiotic use designed to minimize instances of upper respiratory infections. The supplement market in China, with probiotics at the top of the list, is also set for rapid expansion.

However, while probiotics are a great choice to combat many digestive issues, they are not always the best choice. That’s why it is important to know when to take probiotics and when to seek alternative treatments.

What Are Probiotics?

While bad bacteria can make you sick, good bacteria can help break down food and support your immune system. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeast that work in harmony with your biological systems. Many probiotics specifically help support good digestive health, combating issues like diarrhea, nausea, malabsorption, and dozens of other symptoms of a leaky gut. 

You can get probiotics through consuming probiotic-rich foods such as lacto-fermented vegetables and yogurt or through beverages like kombucha and kefir. Or you can get them through supplementation. However just because they can have some health benefits doesn’t always mean that they always have health benefits. There can be times when it’s best to not take probiotic-rich foods or supplementation and you should actually avoid them.

3 Reasons to Avoid Probiotics

Below is a quick list of those occasions when it might be better to seek alternative treatments for digestive issues. In each of these cases, use of or consumption of probiotics is contraindicated until the condition has been resolved.

1. SIBO

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) refers to a condition where you already have too much bacteria in your small intestine. Adding more is not a healthy solution to anything, even when it is otherwise helpful bacteria. For those with SIBO getting a diagnosis can sometimes be difficult. But once you have a diagnosis there’s a specific dietary protocol and supplemental support required to support your system.

The symptoms of SIBO are quite diverse and can include

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal bloating and pain
  • Joint pain
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Depression
  • and more

2. Candida Overgrowth

Candida is a type of yeast that can overrun your intestinal tract and cause a variety of symptoms. When your candida levels are under control, this yeast helps with digestion and nutrient absorption. When levels get too high, symptoms can range from simple things like a white coating on the tongue to more serious symptoms like:

  • Exhaustion
  • Brain fog
  • Joint pain
  • Chronic sinus and allergy problems
  • Gas and bloating
  • Weakened immune system
  • Frequent UTIs

This is just a small sample of the potential problems associated with an out-of-control candida overgrowth. While some low-level imbalances can be treated with over-the-counter medications (such as fluconazole for yeast infections), chronic overgrowth needs to be addressed through dietary changes, nutritional support, and possibly antifungal medications. The use of a self-scoring quiz can be helpful for diagnosis. Many people who switch to a candida protocol after scoring high on the test have good results ranging from clearer skin and better digestive function to clearing of infections and weight loss.

3. Probiotics Don’t Fix Everything

The effectiveness of probiotics depends entirely on the cause of your problem. If your gut flora is out of balance or you have too little bacteria to help with digestion, probiotics can be a great way to rebalance everything. If you have been on antibiotics, pairing those with probiotics might help prevent conditions like H. Pylori. Since H. Pylori can cause systemic and prolonged digestive upset, a bit of prevention is well worth the investment in probiotics. If you don’t suffer from any of these conditions or your digestive upset has nothing to do with your gut biome, probiotics won’t help.

While probiotics can be a great way to improve your digestive health, it is important to know when to take them. Unless directed by a doctor, you likely won’t want to take probiotics on a daily basis.

Added Probiotics

Unfortunately with all the news about the benefits of probiotics many food producers are starting to add them to a wide variety of items at the grocery store. Cereals, chocolate, cold brew coffee, salad dressings, and more are all being promoted as a healthy choice due. However, overconsumption of probiotics can lead to an imbalance of the gut and is not a healthy choice. 

If you suspect you have gut health issues it’s best to work with a health professional and be evaluated to see if you need to add or avoid probiotics in your diet.

All About Eggs, Mira Dessy, The Ingredient Guru

All About Eggs

Nutrition from eggs

For the purposes of this article, we are discussing eggs from chickens. Duck is becoming easier to source and can be a preferred source for those allergic to chicken eggs.  It is, however, important to note that the nutritional support from duck, turkey, goose, quail, or any other type of egg can vary slightly from those of chicken.

A favorite food for many people, eggs are easy to prepare and highly versatile. They can be used for any meal of the day, as a quick protein snack, or incorporated into other foods.  At approximately 70 calories each, they are a great source of protein, providing approximately 6g of protein. They are also a good source of beneficial nutrients such as lutein and zeaxanthin as well as iron, choline, selenium, biotin,  B12, and B2.  

Top Health Benefits

In addition to being a great source of protein, eggs provide other health benefits.

  • A good source of cholesterol, which the body needs to make hormones, consuming eggs does not raise blood levels for cholesterol. And pastured or free-range are even better as they can help reduce triglycerides
  • Most people don’t get enough choline in their diet. Yet it is vital for liver function as well as nerves and muscle tissue. As listed above, eggs are a good source of choline
  • Supportive for eye health due to high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin

Allergy symptoms

For a small percentage of the population, eggs are a source of allergic reaction. Approximately 2% of all children have an allergy to eggs. Nearly 70%, however, tend to grow out of the condition by age 16. For those allergic to chicken eggs, there may also be a response to other eggs as well. An allergenic response can include:

  • Asthmatic symptoms or wheezing
  • Diarrhea
  • Digestive upset, cramps, nausea, or bloating
  • Hives
  • Nasal congestion, sneezing, a runny nose, or post-nasal drip
  • Skin irritation or rash

In severe cases of true food allergy, there can be an anaphylactic reaction which might include low blood pressure, faintness, dizziness, or restricted airways.  If you suspect an anaphylactic reaction seek medical care immediately.  For those with a true food allergy, it is important to monitor your reactions as the response can get worse with repeated exposures. 

It is important to be aware that the influenza vaccine is made using a small amount of egg protein and therefore may not be safe for those with this type of true food allergy.

On the label

Eggs are used in a wide variety of ways. In addition to homemade goods such as omelets or quiche, they are also used as a binder for baked goods, meatloaf, and other foods. However, a wide variety of prepared and packaged foods may also contain eggs as one of their ingredients.  These can include mayonnaise, crackers (such as matzo), noodles, pasta, dressings, sauces, and other condiments.

Because eggs are one of the seven most common food allergens (the others are corn, wheat/gluten, soy, fish, dairy, and nuts) labeling laws require that manufacturers disclose on the label if their product contains eggs.  

Names that appear on the food label that can indicate the presence of eggs include:

  • Anything starting with “ova” or “ovo,” such as ovalbumin or ovoglobulin
  • Albumin
  • Globulin
  • Lecithin
  • Livetin
  • Lysozyme
  • Vitellin

Food intolerance

In addition to true food allergies, there is a possibility for people to develop a sensitivity to eggs due to intestinal impermeability, or leaky gut. Testing is the best way to determine if there is any kind of delayed hypersensitivity or food intolerance. If there is a food sensitivity or intolerance, avoiding eggs for a period of time while adding supportive protocols for the gut is helpful.  The period of time required to avoid eggs can vary depending on the individual, the severity of the intolerance, and compliance with dietary changes.  

If you suspect sensitivity issues using a food journal can help to identify when you eat eggs, or any other items that you suspect an intolerance to, and your physical response. This can then be followed up with a visit to a professional for nutritional support.  If you suspect a true food allergy, working with an allergist or immunologist is recommended.

 

 

Sources:
Effects of omega-3 fatty acids on serum markers of cardiovascular disease risk: A systematic review
Nutrition Facts for eggs
Rethinking dietary cholesterol
Choline: an essential nutrient for public health
Identification of lutein and zeaxanthin oxidation products in human and monkey retinas

oral allergy syndrome

Do You Have Oral Allergy Syndrome?

You wake up in the morning and you brush your teeth then wash your face with your all natural face wash.  You’re in a hurry to get out the door for work but know you need to at least try to eat something, so you grab a ripe peach, or my favorite a crisp apple, to eat on the way to work.  You take a few bites and then it starts, your mouth gets itchy and your tongue starts to burn.  You start to think, “Was there something in my toothpaste?  Maybe I got some of the facewash in my mouth?  I think I would have known that.” While there are real concerns with the products we use for our oral hygiene, there is another concern that may not have crossed your mind, pollen food syndrome, also known as PFS. 

What is PFS?

PFS is an allergic response marked by severe itching of the skin of the lips and mouth that can come with swelling or tenderness in and around the mouth or lips.  PFS, also known as oral allergy syndrome, OAS, is distinct from another condition affecting the lips and mouth, burning mouth syndrome, or BMS.  The difference between the two conditions is the cause of the itching and burning.  In BMS, the symptoms can be caused by a variety of things such as a systemic issue like diabetic nerve damage, nutritional deficiencies, hormonal changes, psychological disorders or from other causes like chemotherapy, neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, simple mouth infections like cold sores, or a candida infection. When the condition is BMS the issue can sometimes be resolved by removal of the causative factor, such as changing to a different brand of toothpaste if the is caused by a specific chemical in it, such as sodium lauryl sulfate. In the case of systemic causes, dietary changes and treating any nutritional deficiencies can help to solve the overarching issue.  In PFS the cause is from an antibody cross-reaction with proteins in the problem food. 

For our immune system to work properly a protein on a bacteria needs to be recognized by our immune system.  Once recognized, our immune system can then identify and go to work attacking the problem organism.  The issue in PFS, like all allergies, comes when your body starts to recognize proteins as problematic when it shouldn’t.  Fortunately, unlike other food allergies, PFS is rarely life-threatening, though this fact won’t comfort someone who suffers from PFS.  A diagnosis of PFS is typically done on a case by case basis and those with PFS often have a history of hay fever with skin tests to the pollens or foods in question.  Due to the need to rule out other causative factors, people typically don’t get diagnosed until they have a medical history documenting issue. This explains why children are often undiagnosed. Some doctors will look at total or specific IgE antibodies to try and confirm an immune response and to rule out other factors.

How is PFS different?

While the itching, pain, and discomfort from PFS may seem like BMS, there are important differences.  One of these differences is that those who suffer from PFS often have an allergy to something else such as a classic food allergy, or an allergy to pollen.  Another factor is that in people with PFS, the trigger foods typically come when raw food is consumed, and sufferers don’t have the same reaction when the food is cooked.  If you reacted to a raw apple or peach, you typically don’t get the same reaction to a cooked fruit dessert such as an apple or peach pie. This is because the proteins that cause the reaction in the food are not heat tolerant.  When these foods are cooked, the proteins will start to break down and thus won’t result in an immune response because our body is no longer able to recognize these proteins it thinks are harmful. 

PFS is often seen in people who have cross-reactions to birch, grass, or ragweed pollens.  People who are sensitized to birch pollen often cross-react with apple, pears, carrots, or celery and those sensitized with grass pollen will often cross-react with celery and carrots. There is concern that pesticides applied to plants may increase the expression of cross-reactive proteins in plants.  This means that eating clean foods and minimizing the chemicals in our environment can go a long way in terms of prevention PFS prevention.   

 

The Cross Reactors
Environmental AllergenFruitsVegetables>NutsSpicesOther Foods
Tree Pollen (typically birch and alder) Apple, apricot, cherry, fig, kiwi, lychee, nectarine, pear, plum, peach, prune, persimmon, strawberry Beans, carrot, celery, green pepper, potato, parsnip, peas Almond, hazelnut, walnut Anise, basil, dill, caraway, chicory, coriander, cumin, fennel, marjoram, oregano, parsley, paprika, pepper, tarragon, thyme Lentils, peanut, soybean, sunflower seeds
Grass Date, fig, kiwi, melons, orange, tomato, watermelon Peas, potato     Peanut
Mugwort
(More common in Europe and Asia)
Apple, melons, orange, peach, tomato, watermelon Carrot, celery, green pepper, onion, parsnip     Chamomile, sunflower seeds
Ragweed
(pollinates in autumn)
Banana, melons (e.g. cantaloupe, honeydew), watermelons Cucumbers, zuchhini      

What to do if you have PFS?

If you suspect you have, or have been diagnosed with, PFS one of the first things you may be told is that there is no treatment available and to simply avoid the food that is causing the reaction.  As mentioned above, cooked foods don’t result in the same reaction most of the time. When the food is from a fruit like an apple, you can also remove the skin as a way to weaken or remove the reaction.  The reason removing the skin works for some foods is because the skin often contains more protein than the rest of the food.  When you remove the skin, you also take the problem causing proteins with it.  This should be done with caution though because fruits and vegetables can contain different amounts of the problematic protein depending on the conditions the food was grown in or how ripe it is.  This means that removing the skin of one type of apple might not work while it may for another.  It’s been estimated that 47-70% of people who suffer from allergic rhinitis also have PFS.  So if you have seasonal allergies it may be worth finding out if you have minor PFS symptoms that have gone unnoticed.

References:

Allergic Living. (2010). Oral Allergy: Plants, Foods That Cross-React.  Retrieved from: https://allergicliving.com/2010/08/30/the-cross-reactors/

Coculescu, E. C., Ţovaru, Ş., & Coculescu, B. I. (2014). Epidemiological and etiological aspects of burning mouth syndrome. Journal of Medicine & Life, 7(3), 305-309Hofmann, A., & Burks, A. W. (2008). Pollen food syndrome: update on the allergens. Current Allergy and Asthma Reports, 8(5), 413-417.

Ludman, S., et al. (2016). Pollen food syndrome amongst children with seasonal allergic rhinitis attending allergy clinic. Pediatric Allergy & Immunology, 27(2), 134-140. doi:10.1111/pai.12504

Ivković-Jureković, I. (2015). Oral allergy syndrome in children. International Dental Journal, 65(3), 164-168. doi:10.1111/idj.12164

Portnoy, J. (2015). IgE in clinical allergy and allergy diagnosis. World Allergy Organization. Retrieved from: http://www.worldallergy.org/professional/allergic_diseases_center/ige/

Rivinius, C. (2009). Burning mouth syndrome: Identification, diagnosis, and treatment. Journal of The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, 21(8), 423-429. doi:10.1111/j.1745-7599.2009.00424.x

Seto, C. (2010) OAS- When raw food is forbidden.  Allergic Living. Retrieved from: https://allergicliving.com/2010/07/02/oral-allergy-syndrome-a-life-without-fruit/

 

What Is Leaky Gut?

You may never see the term “leaky gut” on a hospital chart, but that’s not because it isn’t real or acknowledged by the functional medical community. Leaky Gut Syndrome, sometimes referred to as Intestinal Permeability, is a colloquial term used to describe a set of symptoms that have an undiagnosed cause. It can be challenging to get your doctor on board when you have the symptoms, primarily due to the fact that there are no specific diagnostic criteria for leaky gut. In addition, identifying the cause is not always easy. That can leave you struggling to find answers, much less a solution. The good news is that there are ways to combat leaky gut syndrome.

Symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome

Leaky gut syndrome can have a myriad of symptoms, though all of them are a result of the digestive organs. The most common symptoms include:

  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Cramps
  • Aches and pains
  • Food sensitivities

In fact, the first four symptoms often point toward a food sensitivity that may be triggering the other symptoms. Many doctors fail to find the reason why. Why do you have these symptoms after eating gluten, large amounts of fat, red meat or whatever your triggering food or ingredient happens to be? Research hasn’t caught up to the symptoms, but many doctors acknowledge that there must be some underlying cause for food sensitivities. Until mainstream medical care catches up, you can still mitigate your symptoms by avoiding foods that trigger a negative response.

Identify Your Food Sensitivities

If you want to say goodbye to the worst of your leaky gut symptoms, you need to know what is causing the reaction. One common starting point is to implement an Elimination Diet. Eliminations diets usually remove the seven most common food allergens–corn, eggs, soy, wheat/gluten, nuts, fish, and dairy. You’ll also avoid added sugars and processed foods where possible and follow this dietary plan for approximately 6-8 weeks.  One issue with an elimination diet, however, is that you might not find everything. As you start adding foods back in on a weekly basis, you could be missing delayed reactions or attributing them to the wrong foods. An elimination diet also does not easily incorporation or identify additives or environmental exposures that can be contributing to the issue.

Another, often simpler, way to identify food sensitivities is through the use of an LRA by Elisa ACT. Through blood draw and analysis, the LRA test identifies all three of the different reactions to food sensitivities on as many as 505 distinct items, including foods, food additives, toxic metals, molds, and environmental chemicals. That means that even if you don’t notice a reaction, the test will. That’s really good news when you have delayed reactions that can be easily overlooked or attributed to a different cause.

Control Your Symptoms Through Diet

Once you know which foods trigger your sensitivities, you can just avoid them, right? Unfortunately, it’s not really that easy. Simply knocking food items off of your grocery list can leave you with an increased risk of developing new sensitivities. This is because you often wind up substituting something you’re sensitive to for a new food and then eating large amounts of that food.  A common example is people who choose a gluten-free diet and then start to consume large amounts of corn or rice starch.  They then find out six months down the road, when they retest, that they have now developed a sensitivity to corn or rice.

Rotation diets can help you handle this issue. Following a four day plan, you eat foods on a strictly controlled schedule. By limiting exposure to proteins so you only consume them once every four days, you reduce the likelihood of developing new sensitivities or intolerances. This is one of the biggest benefits to the rotation diet since the last thing you want is to develop an endless cycle of additional allergies.

Additionally adding in functional foods, where allowable, such as bone broth and lacto-ferments can help support good gut health. Lacto-ferments can include kombucha, kefir, and lacto-fermented vegetables such as kimchi.  Increasing collagen peptides in the diet is also supportive as this is very healing for the gut.

Get On Board With Treatment

There is no cure for leaky gut syndrome, primarily because there is no single cause. Those with celiac, Crohn’s, IBS or several other autoimmune disorders can have many of the same symptoms. Your gut is the heart of your immune system. When it isn’t working properly, you are more vulnerable to disease and other illnesses. A leaky gut can leave you feeling generally worn down, and causes can range from poor stress management to diagnosable diseases. When you can’t find the cause, you should still work toward mitigating your symptoms. Run the tests and come up with a nutrition plan and rotation diet that works for you.

Our suggestion is to run an LRA test and come up with a nutrition plan and rotation diet that works for you. It’s important to remember that the more compliant you are with your new nutrition plan, the more effective these changes are going to be when it comes to improving your gut health. Strict elimination, combined with good nutrition and gut support, can often be very helpful in reducing or removing the uncomfortable symptoms that lead you to test in the first place.

 

Could You Have Scurvy (even Though You’re Not An 18th-century Pirate)?

What is Scurvy?

Scurvy is a disease caused by a vitamin C (ascorbic acid) deficiency.

Without vitamin C, the body is unable to synthesize collagen necessary for wound healing and healthy skin, bones, teeth, joints, and blood vessels.

Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant that effectively fights free radicals and prevents oxidative stress throughout the body.

In addition, it plays a critical role in adrenal and thyroid function.

Scurvy Symptoms

If you’re not eating fresh fruits and vegetables regularly, then you’re likely at risk of developing scurvy. This should be your first clue.

Other early warning signs and symptoms include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Muscle spasms, cramping or pain
  • Brain fog
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Fever
  • Bruising
  • Wounds that won’t heal
  • Bleeding or swollen gums
  • Tooth decay or tooth loss
  • Weight loss
  • Coiled hair
  • Skin rashes or red spots
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression

Resurgence of Scurvy

In the 18th century, scurvy caused the teeth of sailors to fall out due to a lack of vitamin C in their diet aboard ship. However, it appears scurvy isn’t just a disease of the past.

Based on data collected between 2003 and 2004, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found 6 to 8% of the general population had a vitamin C deficiency severe enough to qualify as a scurvy diagnosis.

Between 2009 and 2014, almost 25% of patients admitted to a hospital in Springfield, Massachusetts with unexplained symptoms were diagnosed with a vitamin C deficiency.

In the United Kingdom, the rate of scurvy-related hospital admissions increased by 27% between 2009 and 2014.

And a researcher at a Diabetes Center in Australia documented more than a dozen cases in recent years as well.

Why is Scurvy Making a Comeback?

This resurgence is surprising to doctors and health officials because the amount of vitamin C needed to prevent scurvy is relatively low. For example, one large orange or one bowl of strawberries a day provides enough vitamin C to do the trick.

But the sad truth is that more and more people don’t regularly eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Or, if they eat these foods at all, they are either from a package or overcooked, which almost entirely diminishes the vitamin C content.

Other modern day factors may also deplete the body of vitamin C, which includes:

  • Chronic stress
  • Environmental toxins
  • Illness
  • Injury
  • Synthetic hormones and birth control pills
  • Steroid medications
  • Diuretics
  • Aspirin

It’s also worth noting that a well-functioning digestive system is necessary to properly digest and absorb vitamin C (and all other nutrients) from food. Thus, with the rise of gastrointestinal diseases and dysfunction, this could also be a contributing factor.

Best Sources of Vitamin C

Uncooked, fresh fruits and veggies are the best sources of vitamin C. Those you can enjoy raw with the highest vitamin C content include:

  • Papaya
  • Bell peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Strawberries
  • Pineapple
  • Oranges
  • Kiwi
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Grapefruit
  • Raspberries
  • Tomatoes

And in the case of a vitamin C deficiency, it may be necessary to supplement with collagen until optimal levels are reached. 

In Conclusion…

Scurvy, a condition caused by a severe vitamin C deficiency, is making a comeback around the world mostly in part to our modern way of life. This means your risk may be real even though you’re not an 18th-century pirate.

Therefore, it’s important to consume fresh vitamin C rich fruits and vegetables every day to prevent a vitamin C deficiency and the development of scurvy.

References
National Institutes of Health – Vitamin C Fact Sheet for Professionals
Pelton, R. (2001). Drug-induced nutrient depletion handbook. Hudson, OH: Lexi-Comp.
Scurvy makes surprise return in Australia. (2016, November 29).
Scurvy Is a Serious Public Health Problem. (2015, November 20).
The World’s Healthiest Foods – Vitamin C

The Healing Powers Of Bone Broth (plus Recipe)

Have you ever been told to eat a bowl of chicken soup when you’re sick?

I bet you have. But do you know why?

It’s truly an ancient tradition. But the truth is, not all chicken soups will do the trick. Especially those found in a can.

Traditionally chicken soup was made by simmering vegetables, meat and bones to create a nutrient rich broth (a.k.a. bone broth). However, most commercial soups today simply use broth made from water and chicken “flavor.”

Bone broth has been used throughout humankind for its rich flavor and healing powers. Many cultures use it to cure illnesses, such as colds and flu. In fact, bone broth is sometimes referred to as Jewish penicillin. It’s also been prized for its ability to treat conditions related to the digestive tract, skin, joints, lungs, muscles, and blood.

And fortunately, bone broth is making a comeback.

Bone Broth Nutrition

Bone broth contains a soup (pun intended) of health promoting nutrients in highly absorbable forms. Thus, it’s much more potent (and enjoyable) than taking a variety of synthetic supplements.

Below are several key nutrients in bone broth along with their health benefits:

Minerals

Minerals are essential to life. They play many important roles in our bodies, such as nerve signaling and the initiation of most enzymatic processes in our bodies. They also impact the health of our digestive system, heart, cells, and bones.

Bone broth is rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicone, sulfur, and a variety of trace minerals.

Amino Acids

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and have numerous responsibilities when it comes to our health. Bone broth specifically contains high concentrations of glycine and proline.

Glycine acts as an antioxidant, which protects our cells from free radical damage. It also aids in detoxification as well as wound healing, digestion, sleep, memory, and performance. It keeps our muscles strong and is used to make glutathione (another powerful antioxidant).

Proline is essential for healthy skin and joints. It also helps to repair the lining of the digestive system.

Collagen and Gelatin

Collagen is a protein found in bones as well as other connective tissues. Its name comes from the word “kolla,” which means glue. Essentially, its main role is to hold the body together.

When collagen dissolves in water, it forms gelatin. Gelatin has been studied extensively and is often used to heal and soothe the digestive tract, support bone health, overcome food allergies and sensitivities, improve digestion and detoxification, and boost the body’s natural production of collagen.

Glucosamine

Glucosamine lubricates our joints and provides a cushion within them. Expensive supplements are often used to treat conditions involving bone and joint pain, but bone broth is an all natural (and effective) alternative.

Chondroitin Sulfate

Along with glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate supports healthy bones and joints. But it’s also essential for heart and skin health as well as maintaining optimal cholesterol levels.

Chicken Bone Broth Recipe

Bone broth can be made using beef, poultry, lamb, pork or fish bones. There are many recipes available online. Below is an easy to make chicken bone broth recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 whole organic chicken
    or 2 to 3 pounds of bony chicken parts, such as carcass, necks, and wings plus gizzards
  • 2-4 chicken feet
  • 4 quarts cold filtered water
  • 2 T raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 shitake mushrooms
  • 1-2 pieces kombu seaweed
  • 1” piece of turmeric root, sliced (or 1/2 tsp turmeric powder)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 12 peppercorns
  • 1 bunch parsley

Directions

If using a whole chicken, cut off the wings and remove the neck, fat glands and the gizzards from the cavity. Cut chicken parts into several pieces.

Place other ingredients into a cheesecloth or jelly bag for easy removal later. Otherwise place carcass and parts in a large stainless steel pot with water, vinegar and all ingredients except parsley.

Let stand 30 minutes to 1 hour. Bring to a boil, and remove scum that rises to the top. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 12-18 hours. The longer the stock cooks the richer and more flavorful it will be. About 10 minutes before finishing the stock, add parsley. This will impart additional mineral ions to the broth.

If using a whole chicken, let cool and remove chicken meat from the carcass. Reserve for other uses, such as chicken salads, enchiladas, sandwiches or curries. Strain the stock into a large bowl and reserve in the refrigerator until the fat rises to the top and congeals. Skim off this fat and reserve the stock in covered containers in the refrigerator or freezer.

Delicious Ways to Add Bone Broth to Your Diet

Cup of Bone Broth
Once you have a batch of bone broth, here are several ways to enjoy it:

  • Sip it plain (or seasoned with sea salt and minced spring onions)
  • Use it in soup, stew, sauce and gravy recipes
  • Use it instead of water or other liquids to cook grains, steam vegetables, make mashed potatoes and bake casseroles

To make a “miso-style” soup, follow this recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 C broth
  • 1 fresh mushroom, diced
  • 1 spring onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrot
  • sea salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat broth on stovetop
  2. When broth is fully heated add remaining ingredients
  3. Heat on medium 2-3 minutes until all ingredients are warmed
  4. Enjoy!

I also encourage people to pour cooled bone broth into ice cube trays and freeze. Bone broth ice cubes are a great nutrition boosting addition to smoothies. They also give smoothies a thicker consistency.

To sum it up:

Consuming bone broth on a regular basis is probably one of the most beneficial things you can do to support your health.

  • It contains a variety of easily absorbable nutrients;
  • It warms your heart and your soul;
  • It’s easy to make; and
  • It’s absolutely delicious!

 

References:
Bergner, P. (1997). The healing power of minerals, special nutrients, and trace elements. Rocklin, CA: Prima Pub.
Daniel, K. (2003, June 18). Why Broth is Beautiful: Essential Roles for Proline, Glycine and Gelatin [Web log post]. Retrieved January 10, 2017, from https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/why-broth-is-beautiful-essential-roles-for-proline-glycine-and-gelatin/
Fallon, S. (2000, January 1). Broth in Beautiful [Web log post]. Retrieved January 10, 2017, from https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/broth-is-beautiful/
Fallon, S., Enig, M. G., Murray, K., & Dearth, M. (2001). Nourishing traditions: the cookbook that challenges politically correct nutrition and the diet dictocrats. Brandywine, MD: NewTrends Pub.
Vital Proteins, Why Collagen, Retrieved March 27, 2017

Avoid Sugar If You Have A Cold

 

I just spoke with a friend, Sarah, who is feeling a little under the weather.  She’s got a bad cold and is generally not feeling well.  She wanted to know if there was anything she could take in addition to orange juice and tea to help her feel better.

Where to get your vitamin C

Most people reach for orange juice when they’ve got a cold.  They’re thinking they need vitamin C and this is their best source.  It’s been shown that vitamin C can prove beneficial in lessening the duration of a cold.  One particular study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that cold and flu symptoms could be reduced by as much as 85% with the administration of megadoses of vitamin C.
 
But orange juice is actually not your best choice.  Yes, vitamin C boosts the immune system, but sugar suppresses it and there’s a lot of sugar in orange juice (approximately 22g per 8 ounces). Even eating fruit is not necessarily recommended as the fruit sugars will still work to suppress your immune system.  If taking vitamin C in supplemental form you’ll need to take several doses through out the day as our bodies don’t tend to absorb more than 1,000 mg at a time.
 
Good non-fruit food sources of vitamin C (not in order of nutrient density) include Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, swiss chard, collard greens, spinach, winter squash and green peas.  There are others but these tend to be the highest.

Cold remedies

Other good choices for supporting the system are zinc lozenges and elderberry syrup.  Long considered to be folk remedies, these are being studied for their effectiveness in supporting cold symptoms.
 
According to one study published in the journal BioMed Central:
 
Zinc acetate lozenges shortened the duration of nasal discharge by 34% (95% CI: 17% to 51%), nasal congestion by 37% (15% to 58%), sneezing by 22% (−1% to 45%), scratchy throat by 33% (8% to 59%), sore throat by 18% (−10% to 46%), hoarseness by 43% (3% to 83%), and cough by 46% (28% to 64%). Zinc lozenges shortened the duration of muscle ache by 54% (18% to 89%), but there was no difference in the duration of headache and fever.
 
Another study published in Nutrients which looked at air travelers and cold symptoms, cold duration, and symptoms found:
 
Placebo group participants had a significantly longer duration of cold episode days (117 vs. 57, p = 0.02) and the average symptom score over these days was also significantly higher (583 vs. 247, p = 0.05). These data suggest a significant reduction of cold duration and severity in air travelers.

Traditional hygiene and wellness strategies

These still apply.  We know them but sometimes we get a little lazy.  During cold and flu season be sure to protect your health by incorporating the following:

  • Wash hands, especially after shaking hands or touching door knobs, elevator buttons or stair rails. 
  • Get enough sleep.  Lack of sleep can contribute significantly to reduced immune function
  • Go outdoors.  Fresh air and sunshine are an important part of wellness.  Although we do not get as much vitamin D from the sun in the winter, we’re still making serotonin which can help with Seasonal Affective Disorder.
  • Drink up.  Include soups, fresh juices, and herbal teas to stay hydrated and keep your system functioning well.
  • Eating a colorful diet.  In the winter we have a need for certain nutrients found in the seasonal vegetables.  These would include dark leafy greens and winter squashes.  

Understanding Food Intolerance Testing

Food sensitivities, or food intolerance, can cause a number of different health-related issues.  Some people refer to food sensitivities as food allergies.  It’s important to note that a sensitivity is different than an allergy, sometimes referred to as a True Food Allergy.  A true food allergy, such as a life-threatening response to peanuts, can be dangerous and may require the use of medication or, in extreme circumstances, an epi-pen.  Food sensitivities can cause significant discomfort but, to the best of my knowledge, are not life-threatening.

Symptoms of food sensitivities

One of the issues when it comes to diagnosing food sensitivities is that there may be a delayed hypersensitivity response, meaning it can take several days for symptoms to appear. 

Symptoms are varied and often can be misdiagnosed as being something else. These include:

  • Bloating
  • Coughing or continual throat clearing
  • General Malaise (feeling “under the weather”)
  • Hives
  • Headaches/Migraines
  • Irritable bowel symptoms
  • Sinus issues
  • Stomach ache
  • Repeated sneezing for “no reason”
  • Runny nose

My story

I noticed several significant changes in my health that lead me to believe I might be developing some food sensitivities.  I realized that I was getting frequent rashes or flushes on my neck, my sleep was more interrupted (I kept waking repeatedly for no particular reason), I also noticed occasional low level aches in my small joints, and I realized I had developed a craving for cheese.  Sadly when we “crave” foods it often turns out that this is because we have developed a sensitivity and become intolerant of them.

Because it had been a while since I’ve had food sensitivity testing I decided it was time to go ahead and retest myself.  Here is my thought process after I received my results and read the report:

  • Strong reaction – honey – “Darn!  My favorite sweetener to deal with seasonal allergies.  I often take a spoonful of raw, local honey in tea to help me through the winter allergy season.  Oh well, I guess I’ll have to give that up for now.”
  • Strong reaction – fusarium vasinfectum (an agricultural fungus) – “Rats!  Hard to deal with.  I’ll really have to be extra vigilant about washing produce and drying it carefully before use.  Time to get out the humidity monitor and make sure the house isn’t too damp.”
  • Strong reaction – sodium benzoate (a preservative) – “Say what?!?!  I’m guessing my exposure is coming from eating on the road because I KNOW I am not eating it at home.”
  • Moderate reaction – Blueberry – “Darn!  My favorite berry.  Luckily there are lots of other berries, I’ll just have to switch for a while.”
  • Moderate reaction – Canteloupe/Honeydew – “Huh?  Another fruit?  I don’t even eat that much fruit to begin with.”
  • Moderate reaction – Cottonseed oil – “Again probably from eating out, I certainly don’t have this at home.”
  • Moderate reaction – Cheese (cow) – “Dagnabit [and yes, I do say this, it’s my favorite “swear” word followed closely by dagnabitall] I was afraid of that.  NO CHEESE!  Seriously!”  [That’s when I realized the craving part was worse than I had thought]
  • Moderate reaction – Raspberry – “Excuse me??  What???  No berries????” [note: a food sensitivity to more than one thing in a food group often means that there is a reaction to the group as a whole.  For me the berry sensitivity means no acai, blueberry, blackberry, boysenberry, cranberry, elderberry, goji berry, gooseberry, raspberry, and strawberry for six months.]
  • Moderate reaction – FD&C Yellow #10 – “Oh man I seriously need to look at how much I am eating out or away from home.”
  • Moderate – Dibutyl Phthlate – “hmmmm, time to look more closely at my personal care products.”
  • Moderate – Ethylene Dibromide (a chemical solvent) – “no earthly idea where I could be getting exposed to this but I’ll have to be more aware of my surroundings.”

These reactions are very similar to the sort of mental gyrations that many of my clients go through when we review their results.  Although a significant reaction requires a six month avoidance of the substance and a moderate one only three months.  I often just ask that they avoid everything for six months.  We also embark on a healing gut protocol.

In my case I’m already doing most of what the healing gut protocol involves, however there are some gaps, especially when I travel.  I’ll be working hard to address those.

However, I’m going to confess that none of this will take place until after Thanksgiving.  The results came after I had planned my menu, purchased food, and started cooking.  I’ll admit that I’m human and not able/willing to completely revamp my holiday menu with just a couple of days notice.  I’m also not thrilled about mashed potatoes with no butter or cream, no homemade cranberry orange relish (made this year with kumquats picked fresh off the tree instead of oranges), no whipped cream on the pumpkin pie/custard.  But believe me, I know how much better I will feel once I start on my new eating plan and clean up my food intolerances.  I also know that the more compliant I am the better I will feel and that in six months it is highly likely that most if not all of these food sensitivities will have gone away.

Testing for food sensitivities

If you suspect you have food sensitivities you can talk with your doctor or order a test online.  The test I used looks at 212 different potential allergens.  You can see them listed below. 

EAB pg 1

 

EAB pg2

 

 

One of the reasons I like this particular company is because their test comes with a dietary rotation plan (you can get more information about what a dietary rotation plan is and how it works here).  The report also comes with a laminated wallet card. The wallet card is so you can take it with you to the grocery store or when you are on the road to help you remember what exactly you are supposed to avoid.

kombucha scoby - make at home

Making Kombucha

I’m a fan of consuming fermented foods. They’re good for your gut and a very healthy way to add probiotics to your system.  While I certainly don’t make all of the fermented foods that I could, I do make some; I buy others.  The challenge is finding the time to make everything while still finding time for family, work, and real life. One of my favorite foods to make however is kombucha.

This is in part because the price for kombucha has risen to an incredible $4.19 at my local grocery store.  That seems rather steep for A 16 ounce bottle of fermented tea.  Especially when you consider that all you need to make your own is a glass one-gallon jar, some kombucha (or raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar) to get you started, 8 tea bags, 1 cup of sugar, and water.  All of that will make a gallon of the stuff.  That’s eight pints or more than $32.00 at grocery store prices.  The at home price (not including the cost of the jar) is less than $1.00. It’s definitely worth it to make your own.

Making scobys

The picture at the top is my lovely jar, full of scobys.  That’s an acronym for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast.  The “pancake” that takes all of the sugar and consumes it while fermenting the tea and adding beneficial colonies to it.  Amazingly enough each time you brew a batch it makes a new “baby.”  Eventually you have so many that you wind up giving them away.  It’s a great way to make friends and share the healthy benefits of this wonderful drink.

The collage directly above is photos of the process of making kombucha.

Secondary fermentation

After my initial batch of kombucha is done brewing I do a secondary brew by adding fruit, sealing the jar, and letting it sit at room temperature for 24 hours. This extracts the sugars (and flavor) from the fruit and makes a fizzy drink at the same time. The longest I’ve ever let it sit is 36 hours because it generates so much fizz I’m afraid to let it go longer, I don’t want to shatter the jar. One of these days I’ll get around to buying a fermentation lock and then I won’t have to worry about exploding jars.

After it’s done I decant the flavored kombucha into recycled kombucha bottles. This time I used strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries.  The blackberries, unlike most fruits, were still firm, pretty tangy, and delicious, rather than bland, sour, and soggy. If you mash them first you get a better flavor in the kombucha but I wanted to try eating them afterwards to see what it was like. Most fruits are not okay and definitely not nearly as delicious as I thought they would be. That’s probably due to the fact that the fermentation process sucks out the sugars from the fruit in order to create that secondary fermentation.

A testimonial

The best thing about kombucha is how healthy it is for you. I recently had a friend visiting who has been having a lot of gut issues. We talked about fermented foods. I happened to need to brew a new batch of kombucha so I showed her the process. She got to eat some fermented foods while she was at my house. I sent her home with a baby scoby and she’s been adding fermented foods to her diet. She says that her stomach has not bothered her once since she started adding fermented foods. Yay for live food!!

If you’d like to know more about kombucha, including specific brewing instructions and recipes using kombucha be sure to get your copy of my ebook.

 

Pasteurize Eggs With Radio Frequency

  Eggs are a wonderful part of a balanced nutritional plan.  Despite all of the kerfuffle about the cholesterol in eggs, it’s a healthy food which provides protein and choline.  Each egg delivers a whopping 6 grams of protein while choline is an essential nutrient.   Part of the b vitamin family it is responsible for supporting methylation as well as overall nervous system health.

However eggs can also be an infection vector especially for salmonella.  I was shocked recently when I gave a talk to discover, chatting with attendees afterwards, that not one of them was aware of the huge recall involving nearly half a billion eggs back in 2010.  I have a couple of articles about that time frame from my blog here and here.

According to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, “Pasteurized eggs or egg products shall be substituted for raw eggs in the preparation of Foods such as Caesar salad, hollandaise or Béarnaise sauce, mayonnaise, meringue, eggnog, ice cream, egg-fortified beverages and recipes in which more than one egg is broken and the eggs are combined.”  This ruling is for susceptible populations such as the elderly in care home situations, children in preschools, or those who are ill, immuno-compromised, or in hospitals or other health facilities.

Currently in order to pasteurized “raw” eggs they are bathed in hot water for one hour.   In a new process, The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) claims that pasteurizing eggs through radio frequency (heating the egg) followed by a water bath to cool it off will be sufficient to kill salmonella.

Given that salmonella comes from the hen laying the eggs doesn’t it make more sense to treat the hens so they don’t get salmonella?  Unfortunately in this country we prefer to treat the outbreak and the affected ill population.  But it doesn’t have to be this way.  Below is a graphic from the presentation I gave at the Weston A. Price Foundation Regional Conference last weekend.

Screenshot 2014-04-03 14.52.29

 

As you can see from the graphic above, reducing salmonella at the source not only creates a healthier poultry industry, it reduces health care costs.  I’m not sure how much it costs to treat salmonella poisoning for 80,000 people.  And the truth is that may not be an accurate number as no one knows how many cases went unreported.

So while industry may pat themselves on the back for adding another systematic process to food production I have a few issues with this:

  1. I do not consider these eggs to be raw.  Raw means raw, not heated, not radio treated and heated.  True they are marked ‘pasteurized’ but they are not raw.
  2. We are focusing on the wrong side of the equation.  We should be removing salmonella at it’s source.
  3. We are missing an opportunity to reduce health care costs and save lives by changing how we raise poultry (and in Denmark they do it without antibiotics)

The government wars that even undercooked eggs (such as over easy or soft cooked) can be a potential vector for disease.  If you choose to eat raw eggs you may want to consider getting to know your egg farmer and not purchasing from large, confined, commercial egg operations.

photo:  Phichet9707