Pretty Smiles, Breathing Well, and The Power of Food Choices

Have you ever considered the influence that your food choices have on the way you breathe, your facial appearance and the health of your body? Our diet influences the way the muscles and bones in our face develop and grow. Our food choices also influence our smile, the spacing of our teeth and the shape of our dental arches. Food choices even influence the way we breathe and the development of our airways.

A diet that consists of soft, processed foods negatively affects the development of facial structures and the dental arch leading to a under developed midface, short jaws, high vaulted palate, crowded smile and missing teeth. Dr. Weston Price spent 10 years observing various indigenous tribes who had perfect dental arches, minimal tooth decay and excellent health while eating their traditional diets. He found when a modern diet including refined flours, sugar, oils and canned foods was adopted signs of disease and degeneration quickly became observable. According to archeologists, tooth decay became prevalent 10,000 to 14,000 years ago during the agriculture revolution. We began suffering from poor alignment and wisdom teeth impaction 200 to 300 years ago during the Industrial revolution, presenting with smaller mouths and jaws.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21300266/https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24809573/https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27319035/

 There are many essential nutrients needed for our dental and overall health, but the most important is oxygen. Cardiovascular disease, sleep apnea, digestive dysfunction and behavior issues such as ADHD are linked to oxygen deficiency. One classification of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea, where breathing stops temporarily when the airway is obstructed by the tongue and soft palate. Obstructive sleep apnea has been commonly thought to be a problem of the overweight but there is a classification of breathing disorders that affect the young and thin called Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome(UARS). These patients have airways that collapse more easily due to their smaller mouths and jaws. Symptoms of UARS include: digestive issues like IBD, Crohn’s disease, chronic diarrhea, constipation, bloating or acid reflux; cold feet and hands; low blood pressure, dizziness, and light headedness; Chronic runny or stuffy nose; sinus pain, sinus headaches, migraines, tension headaches; stress, teeth clenching, depression, teeth grinding, ADHD in children.

When the muscles and jaws to not develop correctly, this affects the development of the arch, the nose and placement of our tongue in our mouths. Our bodies compensate by breathing through our mouth. Mouth breathing affects facial development and appearance. Normal development presents with well-defined cheeks, closed mouth at rest and a square jaw angle. Signs of poor development include dark circles under eyes, open mouth at rest, a long face and rounded jawline. Most common complaints with mouth breathing are dry mouth and bad breath. These complaints are valid and noteworthy, but the implications of mouth breathing are more vast and severe. When we breathe through our mouths, nitric oxide can’t be produced. According to Patrick Mckeown in his book, The Oxygen Advantage, “Nitric oxide plays a vital in role in reducing blood pressure, maintaining homeostasis, immune defense and neurotransmission.” Mckeown explains that a habit of breathing through the mouth for an extended period of time, puts our bodies in a constant sympathetic state known as the “fight of flight” state. The fight or flight mode is important in an emergency situation, like running from a bear, but not healthy for extended periods of time. This puts stress on the adrenals which has wide spread consequences to our health such as digestive dysfunction, blood sugar dysregulation, hormone imbalance and adrenal fatigue. https://www.oralhealthgroup.com/features/mouth-breathing-physical-mental-emotional-consequences/

In his book The Dental Diet, Dr. Stephen Lin suggests“To properly digest your meals you need to be in parasympathetic state, the “rest and digest” state. It is helpful to take 5 deep breaths through your nose. Breathe in for 3 seconds and breathe out for 4 to 5 seconds. This will help to switch on your parasympathetic nervous system, and you’ll absorb nutrients from food more effectively.” Mouth breathing while sleeping has also been associated with an obstructed airway contributing to the above-mentioned sleep apnea. Dr. Lin states, “ When people breathe through the mouth, their lungs get dry, unfiltered air and no nitric oxide, the lack of which can damage their heart muscles, brain tissue, and potentially every cell in their body. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18494947/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5656452/

Seasonal allergies are a common affliction of millions, which can complicate the ability to breathe through the nose contributing to the problematic mouth breathing habit. Seasonal allergies are caused by the immune system responding to an allergen in the air like pollen, dust, mold or pollution. The immune system is often on high alert due to an imbalance of the gut microbiome and chronic intestinal inflammation. The immune system then overacts when faced with these environmental irritates. Chronic inflammation in the gut is often referred to as intestinal hyperpermeability or leaky gut. Poor digestion of foods due to a dysfunctional upper gastrointestinal tract can often be the underlying cause for imbalance of the gut microbiome and intestinal hyperpermeability. Because of intestinal hyperpermeability, sensitivities to foods can develop to foods we eat on a regular basis. Food sensitivities can increase gut inflammation and heighten seasonal allergies. Eliminating food allergens, restoring the gut lining and flora, as well supporting digestive function alleviates the severity of seasonal allergies. Consequently this will improve our breathing. You can read more about intestinal hyperpermeability here. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20345982/https://hopefoundwellness.com/are-your-guts-leaking/

Removing large, swollen, tonsils and adenoids are often recommended to open the patient’s obstructed airway. However, a protocol that includes myofunctional therapy, airway orthodontics, and nutritional therapy should be considered as a nonsurgical approach. In some cases, surgery may be necessary but including the aforementioned protocol ensures a better long term outcome for the patient.

Orthodontic interventions include the placement of palate expanders at a young age to encourage proper growth of the facial structures including the maxillary and mandibular jaw bones. This allows for space for the tongue to rest and proper facial muscle development. The use of metals in the mouth can be a concern so supporting gut health and detox pathways through nutritional therapy while using orthodontic appliances would be an important consideration. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3310133/

Myofunctional Therapy is basically physical therapy for the muscles of the face that are used to chew and swallow. The purpose of myofunctional therapy is to retrain the muscles and to obtain a proper posture of the tongue, lips and jaw. Exercises to promote nasal breathing are also part of the protocol. The Buteyko breathing method is commonly utilized to help patients learn how to permanently switch to nasal breathing. There is an application available to download that walks you through some of these exercises at https://buteyko.app

Nutritional therapy would focus on a protocol to encourage optimal dental and overall health. The exclusion of processed foods, refined sugar, flours, and oils are key along with including a variety of whole foods, quality fruit and vegetables, clean proteins, good fats and clean water. Minerals, fat soluble vitamins, protein and collagen are key nutrients and must be present. Supporting gut heath and balancing the microbiome are important as well as identifying and eliminating food allergens. Check out my last post for more detailed information regarding recommendations that promote good dental health. https://hopefoundwellness.com/your-health-is-in-your-mouth/

Food has influence and power over the development of our faces, smiles and health. The modern, soft, processed diet negatively influences the structural development of the face, jaws and airways which is linked to many health issues. We can promote proper facial growth, tongue posture and adequate airway utilizing a multifaceted approach including airway orthodontics, myofunctional  and nutritional therapy. 

Resources:

1.Price, W.A. (2018) 8thed. Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. Price-Pottenger. Lemon Grove, CA.

2. McKeown, P. (2015). The Oxygen Advantage.HarperCollins. New York City, NY.

3. Lin, S. (2018) The Dental Diet. Hay House. Carlsbad, CA.

Your Health is in Your Mouth

I have been a dental hygienist for over 20 years. The dental community has known for decades that there is a link between poor oral health and the presence of many common chronic diseases such as  heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s. Improving the dental and overall health of my patients has been my passion throughout my career.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6560319/

Being a hygienist, one of my roles is to educate patients about the proper techniques for plaque removal. I would dare to say, I am an expert in oral hygiene instruction. Despite this, I feared my dental check-ups. I would have a cavity every time even though I brushed diligently 2-3 times a day and flossed nightly. It was very frustrating to say the least! 

After an autoimmune diagnosis five years ago, I turned to nutrition to help improve my health. I made some drastic changes to decrease inflammation in my body. I have seen first-hand through my own health journey, the power of real food!  I have found that nutrient-dense, healing foods can influence and improve both dental and overall health. I haven’t had a cavity in 5 years! My oral health care routine didn’t change but my nutrition did! My focus wasn’t on my dental health, but the improvement was a wonderful consequence.

Weston Price, a pioneer in nutrition and dentistry made some very interesting observations as he traveled worldwide to study tribes who had been eating their indigenous diets who then began to adapt a western diet full of refined sugar, flour and oils. These tribes who once had beautifully straight teeth, wide arches, minimal tooth decay and strong immunity began to have crowding, narrow arches, rampant decay and weak immunity. During his travels, Dr. Price was able to repeatedly observe the connection between diet, dental, and overall health. He noted foods that promoted health and foods that promoted disease. 

I will be discussing some of these foods that will improve both your mouth and body. Foods that benefit dental and overall health must include nutrients such as fat-soluble vitamins, minerals, collagen, and fats. Supporting the oral and intestinal microbiome are also important to achieving optimal dental health and whole-body wellness. Consuming foods that send good epigenetic messages influence and shape our health as well. 

These beneficial nutrients can be found in a nutrient dense whole foods diet that includes quality meats that are grass-fed, pasture raised and wild caught. It also includes pasture raised eggs, organic fruits and vegetables and good fats. Using traditional preparation techniques like fermentation of vegetables and dairy along with soaking and sprouting of nuts, seeds and grains are important as well. In his book, The Dental Diet, Dr. Stephen Lin discusses specific nutrients that benefit our dental health such as fat-soluble vitamins, minerals, collagen and fats. These nutrients include the following:

Fat-soluble Vitamins

  • Vitamin D- needed to absorb calcium which our body uses to grow and strengthen our teeth and bones.
    • Best sources of Vitamin D are animal products, like fatty fish, liver, cheese, and egg yolks. The form of vitamin D in plants(D2) is harder for our bodies to process.
  • Vitamin A-important for your body to grow and repair itself.
    • Best source of Vitamin A-  Grass fed beef and lamb liver, cod liver oil, colorful vegetables and salads cooked or dressed in fat.
  • Vitamin K2- is crucial for your bone and teeth health. It’s also important in making sure calcium stays out of your blood vessels. Grass-fed animals produce healthier meat, higher in Vitamin K2.
    • Best Sources are pasture- raised eggs, grass-fed butter. Organ meats, shellfish, and emu oil.
    • Fermented foods such as natto, sauerkraut, and cheeses like Gouda and brie.

*If you take warfarin, consult with a physician about your vitamin K intake.

Support Nutrients

  • Magnesium- activates enzymes and interacts with vitamin A , D and calcium. Magnesium supports the pumps that keep calcium out of our soft tissues and make it available for our bones and teeth. To control the flow of calcium and fully utilize it, your body needs fat soluble vitamins.
    • Foods rich in magnesium include spinach, pumpkin seeds, avocado, black beans, yogurt, dark chocolate, and bananas.
  • Calcium – Your body needs calcium to build and maintain your teeth and bones. It’s best to consume calcium in its biologically absorbable forms. To control the flow of calcium and fully utilize it, your body needs fat soluble vitamins.
    • Best sources of calcium include grass fed dairy, green vegetables (especially dark, leafy greens), almonds, whole fish, and soups with meat cooked on the bone.
  • Zinc- helps maintain the structural integrity of the proteins in our bodies and like magnesium it helps regulate gene expression. Zinc also plays a key role in how our bodies process vitamin A.
    • Sources of zinc include oysters, grass-fed beef, turkey, cheese, swiss chard, pumpkin seeds, and almonds
  • Collagen- one of the most crucial structural building blocks of our skin, joints, gums and all of our connective tissues.
    • Dietary collagen is found in its natural state mainly in animal connective tissue. Broths and soups with meat cooked on the bone are important to our health.
    • For added benefit, supplement with grass-fed collagen by adding to smoothies, soups, and your morning coffee
  • Fat – To get fat soluble vitamins and many other crucial nutrients where they need to go and for our cells to absorb them, we need to eat certain fats. Your body needs the full range of dietary fats to fully absorb the fat- soluble vitamins and other fat -soluble nutrients. Fat sources include:
  •  Saturated- meats, tallow, lard, butter, cheese
  • Monounsaturated- olive oil, almonds, avocados
  • Polyunsaturated- fish, walnuts, flaxseed
  • Cholesterol- liver, fish, eggs, butter
  • Check out this article for more nourishing foods for the mouth https://www.todaysrdh.com/dental-diet-10-foods-strengthen-teeth/

A Diverse and Balanced Microbiome 

Your overall health depends on the health of the bacterial microbiome(ecosystem) in your mouth and gut. It needs a balance of the “good” slow metabolizing bacteria and the “bad” fast metabolizing bacteria. These thriving organisms depend on the food you put into your mouth. Bad bacteria thrive on refined sugar, flours and oils; shifting the balance of oral and intestinal flora and feeding those bad bacteria that are present in dental diseases such as gingivitis, periodontitis and caries(cavities). It is helpful to consume a balance of foods that contains probiotics and prebiotics that will feed the good bacteria of our oral and intestinal microbiome.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles

https://askthedentist.com/oral-microbiome//

  • Best sources of probiotics are fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, natto, kombucha, kefir and yogurt.
  • Prebiotics feed the bacteria in our gut. They are mainly found in fiber such as carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, artichoke, cassava, apples, bananas, asparagus, jicama, chicory root, and dandelion greens.
  • Supplementing with a quality spore-based probiotic that will successfully survive the digestive process will aid in balancing the microbiome.

Eat Food with Healthy Epigenetic Messages

  • The food you eat contains not just nutrients that you absorb, but the collective epigenetic messages that eventually shape your gut bacteria, immune system, metabolism, and hormones as well. It’s important to remember that every meal is an opportunity to make sure your microbiome and your genes are getting the right epigenetic messages from your food.
  • You can directly control the epigenetic messages that your food sends to your genes by buying fresh, organically grown produce, choosing pasture raised animals, wild caught seafood, and raw grass-fed butter and cheese. 
  • It is important to avoid the unhealthy messages that refined sugars, flours, oils and GMO grains send to our cells.

The mouth reflects our overall health. Oral inflammation, dysfunction and disease is a sign of imbalance in our bodies. How we choose to fuel our bodies will have lasting effects on our dental health but also on every cell in our bodies. It’s important to include nutrients that nourish, send healthy messages, and support our oral and intestinal microbiome. In my next post, I will go in more detail how the  foods we eat influence the development of our facial structure, dental arch and airway quality.

Resources: 

Price, W.A. (2018) 8thed. Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. Price-Pottenger. Lemon Grove, CA.

Lin, S. (2018) The Dental Diet. Hay House. Carlsbad, CA.

Less Sugar, Better Health

Blood Sugar Regulation is important to optimal health and well-being because it affects all aspects of our physiology. It is involved in energy production, tissue integrity, hormone balance as well as brain health; including mood, memory and cognitive function. Blood Sugar regulation also plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy immune system. As the world is dealing with the COVID 19 pandemic, supporting and maintaining a healthy immune system is a priority for a lot of us.

On average, Americans consume 150 pounds of sugar a year. That’s a lot of sugar! It’s everywhere. Sugar is a major ingredient in most processed  and refined foods. It’s in bread, soft drinks, fruit juices, breakfast cereals, yogurt, ketchup, salad dressing and even cigarettes. Sugar has many names which makes it challenging to identify. Some of these names include corn syrup, rice syrup, agave, barley malt, maltodextrin, dextrose, and sucrose. You can find a more complete list can here. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/56-different-names-for-sugar

https://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/nhp/documents/sugar.pdf

The body likes to keep blood sugar(glucose) levels at 70 – 90 mg/dl. High intake of sugar can send your blood glucose levels on a roller coaster ride with extreme ups and downs. When we eat large amounts of sugar and refined foods, our blood glucose levels spike, and insulin is released by the pancreas to bring levels back down. Blood glucose levels can then fall below ideal, in which case the central nervous system signals the adrenal glands to release epinephrine and cortisol to raise levels back up. If and when we consume more bad carb foods, the blood glucose levels again spike and the cycle repeats itself all over again. When blood glucose levels are constantly elevated after eating, large amounts of insulin are continuously being released as well. Over time our cells begin to ignore the presence of insulin and become resistant, which is known  as insulin resistance. The adrenals also become taxed with the constant demand to secrete cortisol and epinephrine.

When we eat more sugar than our body can use, it is stored  in the liver, skeletal muscles and ultimately as fat in adipose tissue. Obesity and chronic inflammation results from over consumption of simple sugars. Higher inflammatory markers are commonly found along with the increase of inflammatory messengers known as cytokines. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/91/1/280S/4597143?searchresult=1

Sugar consumption is also is a major contributor to conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease, cancer and immune dysfunction. A diet predominately consisting of processed foods and refined sugars lacks vital nutrients that our cells need to function optimally. This leads to nutrient deficiencies and a weakened immune system. Sugar also wreaks havoc on digestive health and the protective microbiome. It’s a contributor to intestinal permeability, commonly referred to leaky gut. You can read more about my explanation of leaky gut here. http://hopefoundwellness.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-leaky-gut/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20573797

Anyone stressed right now? Under stressful conditions, elevated levels of cortisol into are released into our systems, thereby raising blood glucose levels.  Stress blocks your body from releasing insulin and that leads to glucose to accumulate. Chronic stress and high sugar diet are not a good combination! 

https://www.diabetes.co.uk/stress-and-blood-glucose-levels.html

Fortunately, there are dietary and lifestyle recommendations that help regulate blood sugar and improve your health. We will look at a few helpful recommendations. Eating a balanced plate that includes quality proteins, fats and lots of low carb veggies will keep blood glucose levels stable. A nutrient dense, whole foods diet will fuel your body and supply vital healing nutrients. Make sure to include plenty of:

  • high quality grass-fed meats, pastured poultry, wild caught seafood
  • organic, local, seasonal produce 
  • healthy fats like olive oil, ghee, avocados, nut, seeds and coconut oil
  • aim to eat a plate that consists 50% of low carb veggies, 25% quality meat as protein and 25% starchy veggies such a half a sweat potato, and 2 tablespoons of good fats such as olive oil,  grass fed butter/ghee, or coconut oil.
  • Avoid drinking sugary drinks, refined sugars and flour. Check out these tips concerning sugar detox. https://drhyman.com/blog/2014/03/06/top-10-big-ideas-detox-sugar/

Managing stress is essential to regulate blood sugar levels. Common forms of stress include work, relationships, death of a loved one, and loss of a job. Other causes of stress that may be subtle include diet, chronic illness, lack of self-care, fears and environmental toxins. Prioritizing the need to identify, manage and reduce stress is essential to improving your health. 

Getting a good night rest is a must! Chris Kresser says in his book The Paleo code“ improving the quality, duration, and timing of sleep is one of the single most powerful interventions you can make to improve your health.” Sleep reduces stress, improves blood sugar regulation, as well as allows your body to heal and detoxify. Tips to getting good sleep include:

  • Have a set, consistent schedule of going to bed and getting up, allowing for adequate rest; ideally without the need for an alarm clock to wake up.
  • Make sure the bedroom environment is dark, cool and comfortable. Black out curtains are a great way to ensure proper darkness. Make certain to charge your phone in another room.
  • Avoid eating 2-3 hours before bed time, especially high carb, sugary snacks. A handful of almonds would be a better choice if you feel the need.
  • Avoid using electronics 2 hours before bed time due to the blue light stimulation that will disrupt your circadian rhythm.
  • Avoid caffeine after 12:00 pm.

Appropriate movement has many benefits of course but it is a great way to help manage stress, lower blood glucose levels and improve quality of sleep. Appropriate is the key word here. Excessive exercise can be harmful to your health similarly to a sedentary lifestyle. Excessive exercise can lead to dysregulated cortisol, increased risked for immune related illness and digestive conditions. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3587394/

Don’t let lack of time be a deterrent to getting movement in. Moving throughout the day still has great benefits. If you are pressed for time do 10-15 minutes in the morning, take a 10-15-minute walk at lunch and add another 10-15-minute workout in the evening. If you spend a lot of time at a desk, make certain to get up and move/stretch every hour, it will make a big impact on your health and stress level. Here are some ideas to get moving at different intensity levels

  • Low Intensity
  • Walking
  • Stretching
  • Restorative Yoga

  • Medium Intensity
  • Swimming
  • Pilates
  • Dancing
  • Jogging
  • High Intensity
  • Running
  • Cycling
  • HIIT
  • Hot Yoga

After reading this post, I hope you have a better understanding of the role that blood sugar regulation has on our health, the negative effects of high sugar foods, as well as the role that stress plays in blood glucose dysregulation. I also want you to be empowered with the knowledge that you can take actionable steps to improve and balance your blood glucose levels and overall health. Diet, sleep and movement are great areas to focus on, so you can live a life with vitality and health. 

Resources: 

Trescott. M, Alt. A, (2016) The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook. Rodale. New York City, NY.

Kresser. C, (2013) The Paleo Cure. Little Brown Spark. New York City, NY.

Sanfilippo, D. (2012). Practical Paleo. Victory Belt. Las Vegas, NA.

https://www.thediabetescouncil.com/45-alarming-statistics-on-americans-sugar-consumption-and-the-effects-of-sugar-on-americans-health/

Tips to Staying Healthy in the Midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic

My planned post was about the foundational blood sugar regulation, but instead, I want to talk about what is on all of our minds right now. We are truly living in crazy times! Our lives have been disrupted by this novel Sars-Cov-2 virus and there is a lot of concern and anxiety about the COVID 19 illness that it causes. I want to be of service and my intent in this post is to give some helpful ways that we can support our immune systems and better our over-all health. There is no better time like the present to focus on our health and well-being! Just as a reminder, I am not a doctor. If you are feeling unwell, please contact your physician or call a COVID 19 hotline near you. As a holistic, functional nutritionist, I would like to focus on dietary and lifestyle recommendations that can help us support our health.

  • Whole foods are the best way to lower inflammation and strengthen your bodies on a cellular level. Avoid ultra-processed foods that are full of refined flours and sugars. 
  • Eating colorful, fresh fruits and veggies will give you vital nutrients that your body needs. Organic and seasonal is even better. The good news is that fresh produce has not been lacking recently! Farmers markets and co-ops are great places to find fresh local produce. Apples, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, butternut squash, turnips, cabbage, onions,  and garlic will last a long time on the counter.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18855727

  • Consuming quality proteins such as grass- fed beef, pasture raised poultry and eggs along with wild caught seafood. It has been difficult to find meat at times, but I have seen plenty of eggs and packaged sustainably wild caught salmon, tuna, and sardines on the shelves.  Wild planet and Safe Catch are great safe options. A quality beef jerky is a good, shelf stable option. Quality meats are still available through local ranchers and farmers if you can’t find it at the store.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17403271

  • Eating good fats like nuts, avocados, flax oil, olive oil, coconut oil, ghee and grass fed – butter, tallow, and duck fat for essential fatty acids. They will supply the omega 3, 6, and 9’s that our bodies need to help with inflammation and immune regulatory function. Some fats are more shelf stable than others. Make sure you store nuts, flax oil and butter in the fridge.
  • Consuming foods that contain high in cysteine and glycine are important for glutathione production which is helps with for lung protection and offers defense against infection. These foods include quality whey, spinach, pastured poultry, low-toxic seafood, legumes. Consider supplementation with glutathione and NAC. If you have Hoshimoto’s try to eat most of your spinach cooked to avoid suppressing your thyroid.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3048347/

  • Eating 2-3 Brazil nuts per day for selenium. Shrimp, sardines and salmon are also high in selenium.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4288282/

  • Include Vitamin A and D rich foods such as responsibility-raised animal foods, especially liver, egg yolks, and fish eggs. Plant sources are orange, red, and yellow veggies. Get outside and make some vitamin D!  Your abdomen produces the most vitamin D by the way.

https://www.reaearchgate.net/…/14402480_Vitamin_A_retinoids

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3308600/

  • Zinc rich foods such as oysters, grass fed meat, almonds are helpful for immune function

https://www.researchgate.net/…/47794995_Zn_Inhibits_Coronav

  • Vitamin C rich foods such as papaya, kiwi, red bell peppers, acerola cherries  and more exotic fruits like camu camu and amalaki may decrease the inflammation associated with COVID- 19

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/305624280_Vitamin_C_inhibits_the_activation_of_the_NLRP3_inflammasome_by_scavengin g_mitochondrial_ROS

  • Increase in melatonin may be helpful, so try to get some good sleep. Foods that contain melatonin include tart cherries and pistachios. Some postulate that children are not being affected due to their much higher levels of melatonin.
  • Luteolin inhibits viral activity via furin inhibition. Luteolin is high in juniper berries, dried oregano, celery seed, celery and radicchio.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0166354216306635?fbclid=lwAR3HiuF9sbhkZPGK9o60-E2FaR9JpQCOsqFOmAgUppnG1xLF39h_Pt2Yps

  • Tannins in black tea  and Chinese Puer tea may inhibit viral replication of SARS -CoV-2. An organic decaf black tea will still be beneficial. Proper hydration is important for your over all health. A good rule of thumb is to drink half of your body weight in ounces of clean filtered water.  For example, someone who weighs 150 lbs. will want to drink a minimum of 75 ounces of water a day. A pinch of sea salt or a drop or two of trace minerals will help with the absorb and uptake of water. Be cautious of the intake of diuretics such a caffeinated drinks, alcohol and fruit juices. 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1142193/?fbclid=lwAR1nEXWI25kezt95A1E0jZCAK23vflAm84AF0TofvqMCE2cXN0EncTbyM0U

  • Since about 70 percent of our immunity is in our gut, supporting the gut is important. Eating fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir and grass-fed yogurt. Bone broth is gut healing and a good source of glycine, a precursor to glutathione. Consider supplementation with a good quality spore probiotic and beneficial yeast S. Boulardii.  

Lifestyle recommendations are important to strengthen  and support your system along with helping to stop the spread of the COVID- 19 illness. Managing stress is essential to our mental, emotional and physical health. Movement, Sleep, Prayer, Meditation and Mindfulness help with stress management.

  • Movement- Exercise increases the production of nitric oxide which provides antiviral protection and sweating aids in detox. FYI- Beets and spinach are rich in nitric oxide. Going for a walk offers fresh air and exposure to sunshine. Since gyms are closed and we physically distancing ourselves, virtual workouts a great way to keep moving. There are a lot of free virtual workouts available right now. I have posted some of these resources on my Facebook page. Make certain to be gentle with yourself, listen to your body and don’t over do it. Personally, I enjoy walking, yoga and have added barre workouts to get a good sweat in. These are all low impact forms of movement and easier on my joints.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2803113

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/articles?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0031688

  • Adequate Sleep- Healing and detoxification happens while we sleep and as I stated earlier melatonin may be important in the fight against the viral infection. Make sure you practice good sleep hygiene habits like at sticking to a set bed time, maintain a cool dark room, and avoiding blue light from electronics  and sugar intake at least 2 hours before bed time. As well, avoiding caffeine after 2pm is a helpful to a good night’s sleep.
  • Prayer and Meditation relieves stress, helping our spiritual ,emotional and physical well-being. Giving our concerns and anxieties over to God, takes a heavy burden from our shoulders. Breath work and meditation are useful tools in managing stress levels. Often, I focus on a favorite bible verse or pray while I’m doing yoga stretches.
  • Mindfulness is essentially a practice of being present in the moment. Mindful eating, where you are focused on your meal with gratitude, connecting with your loved ones with out distraction form electronics is a great way to practice mindfulness. As well, just refocusing your attention from the current situation to being present with your family, enjoying the time that you have been given to enjoy the moment is a great way to be mindful. Our family has been playing games and trying to have fun as much as possible.

There are specific recommendations that can help to flatten the curve of the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

  • Wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds taking care to scrub all surfaces of your hands. Sing happy birthday twice through as you scrub.
  • Don’t touch your mouth, eyes, or nose
  • Disinfect commonly used surfaces such as door knobs, keys, counters, remotes, computers and cell phones often.

https://examine.com/topics/coronavirus/

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html

  • Physical Distancing of 6-10 feet from others. However, staying socially connected is still vital so stay connected virtually! Call, text, skype, zoom, and google hangout with your loved ones! Laughter strengthens immunity

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2686627/

  • Stay close to home if possible. Trips to the market, pharmacy or your healthcare provider are exceptions.
  • If you have symptoms, please stay quarantined for 14-21 days. Cough and sneeze into a tissue or elbow. Where a mask if you have one available. Isolate yourself away from family as best you can. If symptoms become severe, immediately call your health care provider for guidance on how to best proceed.
  • There have been concerns about using ibuprofen and scientists are currently studying the possible risks of these medication worsening symptoms of COVID 19. My recommendation would be to avoid Ibuprofen and other NSAIDS at this time and consult your physician. If needed, Tylenol would be the safest. Tylenol does binds Glutathione so make sure to compensate with consuming glutathione promoting foods that I have mentioned.
  • Be mindful of the more susceptible populations such as the fragile, immunocompromised, elderly and those who have chronic illnesses. Consider and tend to their needs while keeping your distance.

Let me know if there is anything I can do for you. I am happy to visit and discuss your concerns. Hopefully you found this information informative and educational. Together we will get through these stressful times! I am choosing not to live in fear and am striving to trust God through this! 

I would like to thank my colleagues at Nutritional Therapy Association for compiling resources and the latest research. Stay safe and healthy!  

Are Your Guts Leaking?

In my last post, I discussed digestion and its important role in our optimal health. When digestion is dysfunctional, many issues arise. One of those issues is leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut syndrome is a digestive condition that can wreak havoc on your health. The lining of our small intestines is made up of a single layer of cells with tight junctions. These tight junctions are like little gates that allow small molecules to be absorbed by the body. In the case of leaky gut or hyperpermeability, the tight junctions become damaged and leaky; allowing larger molecules and particles from food, waste, bacteria, and toxins through the intestinal lining into blood and lymphatic vessels. The immune system is activated and goes on the defense because these molecules are recognized as foreign. The result is an inflammatory response by the immune system that can lead to food sensitivities, autoimmune disease, skin issues, hormone imbalances, mood disturbances and systemic inflammation. 

Leaky gut can be caused by poor digestion, chronic stress, food intolerances, nutrient poor diets, alcohol, infections, imbalanced gut microbiome, pesticides, strenuous exercise, and medications such as antibiotics, NSAIDS, and the birth control pill.

Signs and symptoms of leaky gut include:

  • Multiple food allergies
  • Trouble digesting foods
  • Constipation/ diarrhea
  • Brain fog
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Acne, eczema, psoriasis, rashes
  • Autoimmunity
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Low energy
  • Anxiety/depression

To feel your best, healing the gut must be a priority. Healing the gut involves a step by step process: Remove, Repair, Reinoculate, and Reintroduce. Here is a summary of those steps.

Remove common irritating foods such as processed and refined foods, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, refined seed oils, and sugar. Sometimes nuts, seeds, night shades and eggs need to be eliminated as well. Avoid NSAIDS.

Repairthe gut by drinking a quality bone broth. You know its rich in collagen when it turns to gel in the fridge. Eating 2-3 servings omega -3 rich salmon, mackerel or sardines per week which provides beneficial anti-inflammatory fatty acids. Including vegetables such as sweet potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, and butternut squash which act as food for the good bacteria in your gut. Fruits such as bananas, apples, and plantains are helpful as well. L- glutamine, slippery elm, chamomile, marshmallow root and deglycerized licorice help to repair the mucosal lining of the gut.

Its important to be supporting the digestive process to be able to absorb all the nutrients you are taking in to heal your gut. Digestive enzymes, bitters, diluted apple cider Vinegar and HCL aid in breaking down nutrients to be able to absorb them. Mindful eating and stress reduction support digestion as well. See my last post Digestion is Fundamental for more information. http://hopefoundwellness.com/digestion-is-fundamental/

Reinoculate the gut with probiotic foods such a raw sauerkraut, kimchi, and coconut yogurt. Drink probiotic drinks such as kombucha and water kefir, and supplement with probiotics capsules. A spore-based probiotic is a great choice. 

Reintroduce eliminated foods one at a time to discover which foods that may be problematic. You should wait 3 days in between each new introduction to evaluate for any reactions that may include headaches, joint pain, brain fog, digestive distress, skin irritation, and allergies.

Healing the gut can take time and shouldn’t be rushed. You should only start to reintroduce foods when most of your symptoms of leaky gut have resolved. The process can seem overwhelming, but it is very doable and makes great improvement in your health and well- being. I would love to guide you through the process of healing your gut! Nutritional therapy allows us to find the best supplements that work for your body and its ability to heal. I would love to guide you through the process!

References: 

Brighten, J. (2019). Beyond the pill. Harper Collins. New York City, NY

Ballantyne, S. (2013). The paleo approach. Victory Belt, Las Vegas, NA

Sanfilippo, D. (2016. Practical paleo. Victory Belt. Las Vegas, NA

Digestion is Fundamental

One of the body’s fundamental foundations of health is digestion. Proper digestion is just as important as the food that we put into our bodies. We are what we absorb and assimilate. Digestion needs to be working properly to get the most out of our food.

Let’s talk about how the digestion process should function. Where does digestion start? The mouth maybe? It actually starts in the brain, with the thought, sight and smell of food. The brain sends signals and we begin to salivate, and gastric juices begin to fill the stomach. Pancreatic enzymes are released to ready the stomach for digestion, absorption and assimilation of the meal we are about to eat.

As we chew, the teeth break food down into small particles mixing with saliva and its enzymes. Downstream the stomach is being primed with digestive enzymes. As we swallow, the food passes into the esophagus and becomes the bolus. The bolus inches down the esophagus into the stomach where the stomach acid and digestive enzymes denatures and breaks down the food. The process is chemical but also mechanical as the stomach churns physically moving the food with the gastric secretions. The resulting denatured food and secretions becomes the chyme.

One of the many jobs of the liver is to produce bile which is stored and secreted by the gallbladder. When fats are consumed, cholecystokinin signals the release of bile into the duodenum, the first section of the small intestines. The bile mixes with dietary fats and emulsifies them, making it possible to digest  and assimilate them into your body’s cells and tissues.

The pancreas secretes hormones such as insulin and glucagon, but it also secretes additional digestive enzymes as well as sodium bicarbonate to raise the pH of the chyme to neutral after it passes into the duodenum of the small intestines.

The small intestines are where vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins, fats and bile salts are absorbed. The small intestines also release mucus, secretin and cholecystokinin.

The large intestines are the place of water absorption and the uptake of any left-over vitamins and minerals. The flora of the large intestines produces vitamins K2, B1,B2,B12 and butyric acid. The large intestines also are responsible for the elimination of fecal matter.

This is the process when everything is functioning correctly. If there is disruption in the process, you can experience symptoms such as belching, bloating, gas, diarrhea, gurgling, constipation, undigested food in stools and chronic inflammation. Conditions such as autoimmunity and depression have a link with digestive dysfunction. There are many scenarios  that can lead to digestive dysfunction. We will examine a few here.

  • Since digestion begins in the brain, it’s important to be in a parasympathetic state which is dominant when you are in a rest and digest state. The fight or flight mode of the sympathetic state is not ideal for digestive function. If you don’t take the time to chew your food properly, your brain doesn’t get the message to trigger the proper digestive processes for the foods you’re eating. The production of saliva is not triggered. The break-down of starches by salivary amylase doesn’t begin and the pancreatic enzyme amylase can’t effectively break down starches which can feed candida overgrowth further down the digestive track. Improperly digested food can putrefy, and ferment causing damage to the intestinal lining contributing to intestinal permeability and autoimmunity.
  • Stomach acid plays a major role in our digestion. Factors that can inhibit stomach acid production are stress, excess refined sugar and carbohydrates, nutrient deficiencies, food allergies, and excess alcohol consumption. If there isn’t enough stomach acid in the stomach, the pyloric sphincter doesn’t receive the signal to open to allow the chyme to move from the stomach to the duodenum. Stuck in the stomach, the chyme begins to rot, causing gas and pressure to build up which can cause a back flow into the esophagus, burning the delicate tissue.
  • Gallbladder issues can happen due to the consumption of bad fats as well as low- fat diets. Low fat diets don’t stimulate the release of bile and it becomes thick and sludgy similarly bad fats will have the same effect.  The gallbladder tries to contract but is unable to release the viscous bile and gallstones and inflammation can develop. Undigested fats can rancidify in the colon and stress the liver leaving you deficient in fatty acids.

This is not an exhaustive discussion of digestive dysfunction. However, these examples show  how our lifestyle and behaviors can have a direct influence on our digestive health. Here are a few suggestions for how you can improve your digestive and over- all health:

  • The practice of mindfulness will allow you to be in a rest and digest mode as you eat your meals. 
    1. Take a few slow deep breaths 
    2. Eat your meals without distractions
    3. Express gratitude for your meal
    4. Enjoy and taste each and every bite
    5. Eat slowly and thoroughly chew your food
  • Include plenty of the following therapeutic foods in your diet
    • Pineapple, apple cider vinegar and papaya  to aid in digestion
    • Beets, radish and dandelion root to support the gallbladder and liver
    • Beets and radishes can act as a laxative
    • Cabbage juice for healing stomach and duodenum ulcers
    • Bone broth, ginger and okra soothe and heal the digestive tract
    • Chard, kale and spinach for fiber
    • Fermented foods as probiotics
    • Water to aid as a stool softener, and elimination
  • Movement and Meditation
    • Relieves stress
    • Moderate exercise keeps digestion moving without causing digestive distress 

Digestive health is key to feeling your best. Digested dysfunction can be quite debilitating. Try out the practice of mindfulness and these therapeutic foods. If you are needing guidance and support  through nutritional therapy I would love to work with you!

References: 

Wright,J. Lenard, L. (2001) Why stomach acid is good for you; natural relief from heartburn, indigestion, reflux and GERD. M Evans, Lantham, MD

Sanfilippo, D. (2016) Practical paleo. Victory Belt Publishing. Las Vegas, NA

Ballantyne, S.(2017) Paleo principles. Victory Belt Publishing. Las Vegas. NA

Finding Balance Through Nutrition

In my last post, I discussed the foundations of health and the need to balance these fundamental factors to achieve optimal health and wellness. Today, nutrition is my focus; more specifically, how to best nourish our bodies.  A diet rich in nutrient dense, properly prepared, whole foods is vital to giving our bodies what it needs to balance  our digestion, blood sugar, fatty acids, hydration and mineral status. Let’s break that down a bit.

What does nutrient dense mean?

Simply put, it means foods that are dense in nutrients. Foods that are jammed packed with nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids and phytochemicals are considered to be the most nutrient-dense. Fruits and vegetables that have vibrant deep color such as kale, spinach, swiss chard offer more vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals and amino acids. Sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, and blueberries are also full of these healing nutrients. Wild caught fish, grass-fed beef, pasture-raised chickens and eggs offer great nutrient density, free of GMO’s, antibiotics, and growth hormones.  Organ meats are among the highest nutrient-dense foods around! Liver and onions anyone? If tolerated, raw grass-fed cheese and butter are great nutrient dense options as well. Oh, by the way, the pasteurization process of milk kills all vital nutrients and helpful enzymes. Pasteurized milk has to be fortified with vitamins.

Foods that are organically, seasonally and locally grown have more vitamins and minerals than conventional versions and sends healthier messages to our cells. Healthier messages to our cells translate to healthier versions of ourselves! If buying all organic produce is a strain on the pocket-book, consider buying organic at least the produce listed on the EWG’s dirty dozen list. 

What does properly prepared mean?

Nuts, seeds, beans and grains can offer great nutrients, but they contain antinutrients like lectins and phytates which can cause irritation and inflammation to the digestive system. Traditional methods such as soaking and sprouting takes care of most these irritating effects and boost the bioavailability of nutrients. However, even sprouting and soaking methods aren’t enough for some sensitivities and digestive issues. Fermenting foods is another great way to increase nutrient density and digestibility. Kimchi, sauerkraut and kombucha offer gut helpful vitamins and probiotics. Fermented sauerkraut is different from the sauerkraut you may be familiar with. It is found in the cold section of most health food stores.

Cooking methods influence the amounts of nutrients that are retained in cooked dishes. For example, eggs retain more vitamins and minerals if they are poached or cooked over-easy rather than cooked until the yolk is hard. Veggies should be lightly steamed or sautéed rather than boiled because most of the nutrients would be leached out. Roasting and baking meats are better than grilling or frying which can create unhealthy toxic substances. 

Nutrient dense, stable cooking oils include coconut oil, grass fed butter/ghee, avocado oil or beef tallow. For light sautéing extra virgin olive oil can be used. Olive oil and walnut oil are great to season salads and vegetables. Refined, hydrogenated oils such canola, corn, and soy cause inflammation, releasing toxins at high temperatures and should be avoided.

What are whole foods?

Whole foods are real foods that are unprocessed, unrefined, or processed and are close to their natural form as possible. Whole foods include produce, nuts, seeds, meat, seafood, and eggs. Think of foods that don’t come with a complicated list of ingredients. Most packaged foods are ultra-processed with harmful additives such as refined sugar, sodium, refined oils and preservatives. If you buy something in a package, a good rule of thumb is to limit ingredients to 3-5.

So, where do you go from here? How can you implement a more nutrient dense, properly prepared whole foods diet? If you are the all-in kind of person and want to revamp your fridge, pantry, and lifestyle right this minute; go for it!  You will start to look and feel better quickly! Another option is to take baby steps and choose a new goal every week or so. Here is an example of some doable goals or feel free to make your own plan of action.

Step 1.  Change out your cooking oil

 Step 2. Buy EWG’s dirty dozen produce list as organic  

Step 3. Buy pasture-raised eggs and grass-fed butter

 Step 4. Buy grass-fed beef or pasture-raised chicken

 Step 5. Swap bread for an organic sprouted, sour dough bread 

Step 6. Try fermented kimchi or sauerkraut

Step 7. Soak beans for 24 hours before cooking

Step 8. Swap prepackaged ultra-processed snacks for more wholefood versions

Step 9. Change out refined sugar for honey or coconut sugar 

 Step 10. Swap out dairy for nut milk-based products

Making changes can be overwhelming. Remember, health is a journey!  By taking small, transitional steps, you can better your health and be well nourished. Let me help you make the journey easier! I’m currently taking clients and I would love to show you how powerful and healing functional nutrition can be!

References:

Hyman, M.(2018) Food, what the heck should I eat. Little Brown Spark. New York, New York.

Sanifilippio, D. ( 2016) Practical paleo. Victory Belt. Las Vegas, NA

Lin, S.(2018) The dental diet. Hay House, INC. Carlsbad, CA

Triscott,M.(2019) The nutrient-dense kitchen. Chelsea Green. White River, VT

HEALTH IN THE BALANCE

Becky Latorre, FNTP

Do our food choices influence our over all health? Will the weekly fast food burger and fries affect our bodies on a cellular level? Can we change the expression of our genes and ultimately influence the our state of health, by the food that we put in our mouths? The answer to these questions is a big Yes!

Nutrition pioneers, Dr. Weston A. Price and Dr. Francis M. Pottenger Jr., noted rapid declines in health when healthy populations gave up traditional diets and replaced them with processed, refined, nutrient poor diets. The good news is that health returned when the processed, nutrient poor diets were replaced with a nutrient dense, whole food diet.

We are all unique, so our genes will respond differently to certain foods and lifestyles. However, certain foundational principles must be in balance for us to achieve optimal health. These foundations of health include nutrition (aka nutrient dense, properly prepared, whole food diet), digestion, blood sugar regulation, fatty acid balance, hydration, and mineral balance.

 Each person’s unique needs should always be considered but basic recommendations for proper nutrition would include the following:

  • eat whole foods rather than processed and refined
  • include clean sources of fats, avoiding refined, industrial seed oils
  • eat a variety of local, seasonal, organic fruits and vegetables
  • when tolerated, eat properly prepared foods by soaking and sprouting nuts, grains, and legumes to maximize the bioavailability of nutrients and minimize effects of antinutrients
  • choose grass-finished meats, pasture-raised poultry and eggs and wild caught seafood

Digestion is fundamental to nutrition because we are what we can absorb. The diet is important of course, but digestion must be functioning properly for our cells to get the nutrients they need to be fueled and to do their jobs well.

Blood sugar regulation is important to prevent sharp spikes or drops in blood sugar which can cause damage to our cells and tissues. We can better maintain a steady  balance of blood sugar by adjusting the quantity and quality of proteins, carbohydrates and fats that we consume. Reducing stress levels, getting adequate sleep and moving regularly help to maintain steady blood sugar levels as well.

Proper fatty acid balance influences health in the body and plays numerous important roles including healing, regulating inflammation, provide building blocks for cellular membranes and hormones. Fats also act as a calorie-dense energy source and also keeps us full longer. It is best to get fats from quality sources such as grass-fed animals, pasture raised eggs, nuts, avocados, cold pressed olive oil and organic coconut oil.

Mineral balance is important for a body to function properly. Minerals are considered the “spark plugs” for our cells. However, we can’t make them on our own. They have to be consumed through our diet. The best way to get more minerals is by consuming a properly prepared, nutrient dense-dense, whole foods diet and drinking clean electrolyte-rich water.

Speaking of water, water is the most important nutrient and is also one of the most common deficiencies. Proper intake of water is important in supplying adequate water to cells and tissues. Similarly to digestion, we must be able to absorb the water that we drink so we need clean electrolyte-rich water for that to happen. A good rule of thumb regarding proper intake is to drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of water. For example,  if someone weighs 150 pounds they should drink at least 75 ounces of water a day.

Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of the foundations of health. As well, understand that we influence these foundations by the foods that we consume. Your health is in the balance, in the balance of the foundations.  Please reach out if you have any questions or would like help in balancing your foundations. With a little help and guidance, you can make important changes that will better your health and your life. 

References: 

Nutritional Therapy Association.(2019). Student Guide. Basics of Nutrition Module. Olympia, WA

Price. W.A. (2018, 8th editon).Nutrition and physical degeneration. Lemon Grove, CA, Price-Pottenger