How Low of a Low Carb Diet is Correct for You?

As most of you know, I am a strong proponent of the Paleo lifestyle. My practice is very Paleo focused. Paleo eating leans heavily on vegies, fruits, nuts, seeds, eggs and grass fed protein. It strongly suggests a very limited consumption of grains, simple carbs and little dairy. Having said that, there is an important place for carbohydrates in your diet. They play are critical roles in many aspects of our health and metabolism. So the real questions is “What is the correct about of carbs you should be consuming?” This is the first of two news letters that will examine living a truly healthy life in relationship to the role carbs play in our diet.

Chances are, you have, at least once, been solicited to buy into some sort of miracle diet touting low-carb high protein intake as a fast and painless way of losing weight, such as Atkins or Southbeach. Many of you may even have entertained trying out this kind of extreme diet for yourself.  What most people don’t realize is that carb-intake can affect everything from your gut to your brain. Have your been feeling sluggish, anxious, or depressed? Having problems with digestion? These issues and more can all be influenced by carb-intake. When you choose to go low-carb, you are actually inviting a host of risks upon yourself. Let’s explore how to clarify the low-carb myth:

Let’s begin with the basics. For the sake of simplicity, carbohydrates are sugars, fibers, and starches. They can be found in a huge variety of foods including bread, potatoes, beans, milk, vegetables, pasta, and fruits, with the unhealthiest carbs being found in highly processed, refined foods like white bread, pastries and soda. When you eat any carb-containing food your body is provided with glucose, which is converted to energy. Our bodies need this energy to support daily bodily functions and physical activity. However, choosing unhealthy and too easily digested carbs (like white bread and soda) is a proven cause of weight gain, diabetes, and even heart disease (Harvard). In light of this new-age plague of obesity and heart disease that has stricken the country, it is no surprise that low-carb diets have been thrown into the spotlight in the past decade or so.

Low-carb diets are, obviously, based on limiting carbohydrate intake, while also encouraging consumption of foods high in protein and fat, like meat, eggs, and cheese. Most diets will give you a certain percentage of your daily calorie intake that should come from carbs. A diet low in carbohydrates would typically require somewhere around 10-20% of your daily calories to come from carbs (whereas the typical American will consume 45%-65% of calories a day from carbs) (Mayoclinic). These diets can be quite tricky, as avoiding carbs is surprisingly hard to do for most people. Imagine going to the grocery store and having to walk past all the grains, beans, nuts, fruits, pastas and starchy vegetables!

However, ad campaigns and the media will have you believe that managing to attain the sort of excessive discipline a low-carb diet requires can have great pay-offs. Carbs, particularly refined ones, can cause a quick rise in blood sugar and subsequently an increase in insulin, which can then lead to an increase in hunger and naturally, weight gain (UMM). Therefore avoiding carbs supposedly forces the body to burn stored fat for energy due to lower insulin levels, which in turn encourages weight loss (Mayoclinic). Some people have reported shedding up to 15 pounds in two weeks on the Atkins diet. However, it would be a fallacy to judge diets based on only the first few weeks of trials, for a lot can change—and reverse—when held to the test of time (US News). That being said, if a low-carb diet sounds a little too good to be true to you, you’re absolutely right! The following is a carefully researched list of what really takes place when you make the choice to go low-carb:

-As I hinted at before, low-carb diets seem a bit less promising when evaluated over long periods of time. In the short term, much of what’s shed on low-carb diets is actually just water-weight (US news). Most studies find that, after 12-24 months, low-carb diets don’t produce significantly more weight-loss when compared to diets based on mere increases in protein-intake unaccompanied by a carb decrease (Mayoclinic).

-A sudden and drastic decrease in carb-intake can inspire some pretty bad side effects including weakness, fatigue, bad breath, and headache. Severely restricted carb-intake has also been shown to result in vitamin or mineral deficiencies and/or bone loss over time (Mayoclinic). Further, carbohydrates contain valuable probiotics that help keep our guts healthy, so avoiding them could lead to an alteration of gut-flora, which often manifests as diarrhea or constipation. (Kresser).

-If you engage in moderate exercise several times a week, restricting your carb-intake can lead to severely damaging conditions, including but not limited to: decreased thyroid output, decreased testosterone, impaired cognitive function, suppressed immune function, and slowed metabolism. In other words, depriving your body of one of its main sources of energy is likely to make you feel sick and sluggish, and inspire more than just your average bad mood.

-Women are particularly prone to experiencing the negative side effects of carb deficiencies. Unbeknownst to many, low-carb diets can disrupt hormone production, leading to a stopped or irregular menstrual cycle, more body fat, and, more gravely, lowered fertility, hypoglycemia, anxiety, and depression (Precision Nutrition). 

-And finally, while low-carb diets almost always promise you heart-healthy benefits, a report from the American Heart Association concluded that there is not enough evidence to say whether or not diets low in carbohydrates are, in fact, good for the heart (Mayoclinic).

Given the evidence, it is safe to say that low-carb diets are not a good choice for most people, despite all that jazz you may hear about the Paleo diet and carb-free diets being “man’s original way of eating.” 

I would like to stress that, regardless of whether you need to diet or not, every one of you should be aware of the amount of carbs you are in fact ingesting. Many people who experience physical and mental ailments may not consider the possibility that the culprit is their diet; even worse, many are blissfully unaware of how skewed their diet is from the national recommendation, and how profound an effect these small divergences can have on the body. So if you find yourself suffering from any of the aforementioned symptoms (lethargy, indigestion, anxiety, etc.) please stay tuned for part two of this newsletter, which will be out in December and contain a guide on how to find your optimal carb–intake, without having to go to any extremes.

Please call 734-726-0153 to schedule a free consultation and evaluation. At Digestive Health Ann Arbor we are known for providing professional and compassionate care. We strive to guide people towards a comprehensive and holistic healing strategy. Restoring your body to health will restore the quality of your life.

The Dangers of Gluten

Modern medicine is preoccupied with cleaning up messes.

Once we have cancer, how can we cure it? Once we have high blood pressure, how can we reduce it? Doctors and medical scientists spend lifetimes isolating specific genes, mixing new molecular cocktails. The solution for the problem seems so...complicated. Einstein once said that “the fundamental ideas of science are essentially simple, and may, as a rule, be expressed in a language comprehensible to everyone.” This simplicity exists in all sectors of science, including the biochemical processes critical to human health. Instead of cleaning up messes, we can stop making them in the first place. Health can be more than just disease management. Sometimes it just takes a change in the conversation to learn to live truly well.
 
One of the biggest food allergy culprits is a protein found in most all baked goods - gluten. Gluten is what makes baked goods doughy and delicious, but our bodies have not evolved to eat as much gluten as we do today. The New England Journal of Medicine listed 55 “diseases” that can be caused by eating gluten, among them osteoporosis, irritable bowel disease, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis. Gluten was also linked to many psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, dementia, epilepsy and autism.

Do you have a gluten allergy

Chemical-Soaked Industrial Food: Tough Questions, Real Answers

Why are chemicals so pervasive in industrial foods?

The increased usage of chemicals in food production means more money for agribusinesses. With each new protein or hormone, the agribusiness is able to patent and gain exclusive sales rights. There is more money to be made off of engineered foods than foods that grow and reproduce naturally. 

Don't these chemicals protect the crop from pests and create a more stable food system?

Though this is certainly a selling point from agribusinesses, the usage of pesticides, herbicides, and genetically engineered crops has not created a more stable food system. The long-term effects of these chemicals on humans have not been adequately studied. Additionally, the increasing crop homogenization and decrease in species diversification leaves us vulnerable to a pest, virus or bacteria that could wipe out an entire crop. Though the chemicals do prevent pests in the short-term, the long-term public health effects are much more detrimental.

How does chemical exposure in food consumption effect our children's bodies?

Since 70% of our immune system is located in our digestive tracts, the foods we eat along with the chemicals they contain significantly impact our health. As these foods travel down the intestines, they can corrode the “pipes” much in the same way that chemical toxins corrode plumbing. The damage inflicted can leave a child vulnerable to a long list of autoimmune disorders such as food allergies, asthma, and ADD/ADHD, among many others.

What can I do to help protect my family? 5 Steps Towards A More Secure Diet:

  1. Educate yourself and others about industrial food.
  2. Eat a healthy, unprocessed diet.
  3. Buy local, organic fruits and vegetables.
  4. Avoid meat and dairy products that have been treated with hormones or antibiotics.
  5. Get a food allergy test for family members that display signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction.

Detecting Food Allergies: What Every Parent Needs to Know

12 Signs and Symptoms of a Food Allergy

  1. hives
  2. itching
  3. rash (eczema)
  4. behavioral/temper changes
  5. swelling of the face, lips, tongue and/or eyes
  6. diarrhea
  7. vomiting
  8. cramps
  9. itching and tightness of throat
  10. difficulty breathing (asthma)
  11. wheezing
  12. in extreme cases, anaphylactic shock.

What is a food allergy?

A food allergy is an immune reaction to a protein usually found in food that the body perceives as a foreign invader.

Can Children Outgrow Food Allergies?

Some children may outgrow their food allergy, though evidence increasingly suggests that autoimmune disorders such as asthma, Crohn's disease, and ulcerative colitis, among others, may result.

What Can I do to Keep My Family Safe?

  1. Cut “frankenfoods”

Manufactured by agribusinesses with suspect synthetic proteins, preservatives and dyes, these processed foods are built with foreign additives that our bodies often reject, resulting in allergic reactions and many other health issues.

  1. Eat real food

Local, organic fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy products are usually the cleanest and safest nutrient sources. Support these alternatives by shopping at farmer's markets.

  1. Food Allergy Blood Test

Simple, reliable, and cost-effective, these food allergy tests can quickly detect up to 96 possible food allergens particular to any one person. If a loved one is displaying the signs and symptoms of a potential food allergy, this is the quickest and easiest detection method.

8 Common Causes of a Leaky Gut

Now that we known some of the symptoms, let's take a look at some of the most common causes.

1. Chronic inflammation

Whether it be stress, IBS, or a food allergy, chronic inflammation is one of the biggest causes of a leaky gut.

2. Food Sensitivities/allergies

Food sensitivities can cause inflammation and worsen a leaky gut. Food sensitivities are also symptoms of a leaky gut because once our digestive tract becomes permeable, additional food sensitivities may develop.

3. Damage from taking large amounts of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)

Certain pain relief medications can be detrimental to our bodies, especially when taken frequently. Consult your medical practitioner for a less caustic pain reliever.

4. Cytotoxic drugs

Used to treat symptoms of arthritis, these medications can wear on our intestines.

5. Radiation

Used to treat cancer, radiation can weaken our systems.

6. Antibiotics

7. Excessive alcohol consumption

8. Compromised immunity

This can be a result of small intestine bacteria overgrowth, chronic stress, or intestinal infections. It is important to take even small infections seriously. If not addressed immediately, they can grow.

5 Easy Steps: Mend that Leaky Gut

A leaky gut sounds menacing, but they can heal with time and effort. Here are three easy steps to get you on your way.

1. Get a Food Allergy Test

Your leaky gut can only heal once you know what foods are harmful to you. Food allergy tests are simple, straightforward, and inexpensive. Removing trigger foods is a great start.

2. Easy on the Pill-Popping

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen often contribute to gut irritation. Ask your medical practitioner for a pain reliever that is more gentle on your digestive system.

3. Twenty-Chew Challenge

Chewing each bite twenty times until it becomes a liquid means less work for your stomach and digestive system. Eating your food slowly also has been proven to help people enjoy food more and eat less.

4. Get a Little Help from your Supplement Friends

A leaky gut generally indicates an imbalance between good and bad bacteria in the small and large intestine. There are plenty of supplements out there to help replenish good bacteria. Ask your medical practitioner for a recommendation that's right for you.

5. Don't Make a Mountain out of a Mole Hill...

...and by that we mean treat minor infections, such as candida, immediately and completely. Letting these infections fester forces the immune system to be constantly alert. This is physically exhausting and increases inflammation throughout the body, including the gut.

The 7 Most Common Systemic Symptoms of a Leaky Gut

How do we know if we have a “leaky gut”? Since 70% of our immune system is located in our digestive tract, poor digestion and absorption becomes a systemic problem. Our whole body feels the effects. This is why discovering and treating a leaky gut is so important.

While the following is not an exhaustive list of symptoms or systems affected by a leaky gut, here are some of the most common:

1. Digestive System

-        abdominal pain

-        indigestion

-        diarrhea

-        constipation

-        bloating

-        gas

2. Respiratory System

-        asthma

-        shortness of breath

3. Muscular System

-        chronic joint pain

-        chronic muscle pain

4. Integumentary System (skin, hair, nails)

-        skin rashes

-        acne

-        eczema

-        psoriasis

5. Nervous System

-        confusion

-        fuzzy or foggy thinking

-        mood swings

-        nervousness

-        poor memory

-        aggressive behavior

-        anxiety

-        fatigue

-        feeling toxic

6. Immune System

-        poor immunity

-        recurrent vaginal infections

7. Urinary System

-        recurrent bladder infections

-        bed-wetting

If you are experiencing some of these symptoms, the best course of action is to speak to a health practitioner that is familiar with leaky gut syndrome.

Leaky What? Gut Basics Explained

This month's blogs will focus on Leaky Gut Syndrome. We will cover gut basics, symptoms, causes, and easy steps to take to improve intestinal health.

 

The concept of a leaky gut is confusing and odd-sounding. It evokes an image of a tin pail riddled with holes, or a faucet with a constant drip. How can our guts be leaky?

Snapshot #1: Healthy Gut

Let's start with normal digestion. Our intestines are not solid barriers, as tin pails and faucets tend to be, but are permeable, like filters. Your digestive tract serves as a filter system, much like the ones people use in their homes to purify water. The digestive tract is essentially providing the same service for our bodies. The gut absorbs healthy bits and pieces of the food we eat and allows them to pass through to the blood stream. Larger molecules-  such as partially digested food, bacteria and toxins- that are too big to properly filter through are shuttled to the large intestine where they are expelled.

Snapshot #2: Leaky Gut

Have you ever gone camping and tried to purify water that was filled with sludge and particulate matter? Even if you haven't, try to imagine filtering drain pipe run-off in your Brita. It probably wouldn't be something to serve to friends. Those with leaky gut syndrome have malfunctioning intestinal filters. Often, however, these intestinal filters are malfunctioning because of what they have been forced to filter. Over time leaky guts develop gaping holes that allow toxins and undigested food to enter into the blood stream. This triggers an immune response complete with attacking white blood cells and flaring inflammation. What may have initially been only one food allergy or sensitivity could turn into many. You could even develop an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis.

“Gutting” it Right

Yikes, that last snapshot was a little gross. No worries. Keeping your gut healthy is relatively easy with a bit of awareness. In this month's blogs we will give you some great tips on keeping those filtering systems sludge-free.

U.S. Lags Behind Europe in Celiac Disease Knowledge

Did you know that 1 in 133 people in the U.S has celiac disease? (Archives of Internal Medicine, published 10 February 2003)

Unfortunately, only about 1 out of every 4,700 Americans has been diagnosed, which means 97% of cases go undetected in our country. Why is this? Dr. Alessio Fassano, the Director of the Center for Celiac Research at the University of Maryland, points to lack of research by medical professionals in the United States.

"Equal recognition of celiac disease has been frustratingly slow to reach the U.S," says a colleague of Dr. Fassano, Dr. Guandalini, who trained in Italy. "In Europe, it typically takes a few weeks to go from the first symptoms to a diagnosis. In the U.S., the average lag time between onset and diagnosis is 11 years." If ever.

In the mid-1970s, European scientists spearheaded a task force to determine celiac disease prevalence and presentation. These efforts allowed for both a greater understanding and management of the disease. In the United States, very few medical doctors attempt to understand the disease or its wide-spread implications. Unless your endocrinologist or pathologist knows about celiac disease, the diagnosis could remain a mystery for years.

Two Zero-Cost Tips: Potential Food Allergies Revealed

Dr. Doris Rapp, Pediatric Allergist and Mother of Environmental Medicine, mentions some simple ways to check for potential food allergies at home. The first question we must ask ourselves is: “My child was fine until they ate, touched or smelled what?” The sooner we think critically about our environments, the sooner we can help our children.

Food Allergy Test #1: Infants

• Food allergies tend to appear in infants when they switch to solid foods.

• If you notice food allergy symptoms, remove any common food allergens from the infant’s diet.

• Then add each food separately in a 4-day interval.

• Note any changes in your child's behavior.

• Infants that arch their bodies and toss their heads back are often displaying signs of an allergic reaction.

 

Food Allergy Test #2: Children

• Have your child write or draw before they eat.

• If your child suffers from asthma, have them blow into a peak flow meter.

• Wait twenty minutes after food is eaten.

• Have your child write, draw or blow into the peak flow meter again.

• Notice any changes.

• Observe their behavior.

• Repeat test with different foods and locations.

• If significant behavioral or physical changes are noted, your child should have an official food allergy test.

Food Allergies Tear Families Apart

“It's amazing my husband and I are still together,” says Laura. Laura's son, Brian, attempted suicide a few years ago with a leather belt. Brian had a long history of violence at school and at home. The class bully by day, he would sob in his room at night, pleading his mother to help him. Laura knew there must be something contributing to Brian's behavior because he would say to her “I don't want to be like this.”

The enormous stress of Brian's behavior spread from the classroom to their family life. A particularly violent episode forced Brian's family to move to a new city. After exhausting all other avenues, Laura called Dr. Rapp, Pediatric Allergist, to undergo some simple food allergy testing. Brian was diagnosed with severe and violent reactions to peanuts, ethyl alcohol, phenol, wheat, soy and milk. When the offending substances were removed from his diet, Brian morphed into a different child. He is no longer violent and is well-liked at school. His behavior is that of a normal boy.

Dr. Rapp's interview on the Phil Donahue show in 1989 catapulted food allergies and environmental toxins to the forefront of health debates in the Unite States. So many children, as in this video, were and are branded as “difficult,” “manipulative,” and “emotionally impaired.” Because of Dr. Rapp and the brave children willing to be interviewed on the show, families were able to find solutions.

We need to change the conversation when it comes to our families’ health. It's time to move from harsh and uninformed labels to educated, scientific diagnosis of what truly ails our children.

“I'm glad my Mom knows about allergies because other Mom's would just get angry at me and think I was bad,” says Darryl, another child interviewed in the video clip. We owe it to our children to discover the truth. 

Shocking Symptoms: What Every Parent Should Know

This month’s blogs will center around an eye-opening and informative interview of pediatric allergist Dr. Doris Rapp on the Phil Donahue show. The 45-minute long show can be viewed at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRDpcWZUEiU

Dr. Doris Rapp is considered the Mother of Environmental Medicine. She has received numerous awards for her work on the affects of environmental toxins and food allergies on the human body. More about her work can be found at her website.

A Word from Dr. Doris Rapp, Pediatric Allergist:

“We have managed to pollute our air, our water, our foods, our clothing, our homes, our schools and our work areas and the youngsters you are seeing today. Many of them can't go to school anymore because of all the chemicals. They can't go shopping. They can't go to a movie. There are many things they can't do. Everyone knows about allergies affecting the nose, and the eyes, and the lungs, but allergies and environmental factors can affect the way we think.”

 

Dr. Rapp, Pediatric Allergist and the Mother of Environmental Medicine hasmany tips if you suspect your infant has food allergies. Here is a comprehensive list:
Symptoms of Food Allergies in Infants
1. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and/or constipation, bloody stools
2. Hives, eczema, asthma
3. Prolonged colic, crying, inability to sleep at night
4. Poor growth, failure to thrive, inability to properly absorb nutrients
5. Acid reflux
6. Congestion of nose or chest, excessive spitting
7. Head banging, crib rocking
• Symptoms of Food Allergies in Children 
1. Red earlobes, cheeks
2. Dark eye circles
3. Bags or wrinkles under the eyes
4. “Spaced out” look
5. Wiggly, restless legs
6. Dislike of being touched or cuddled
7. Bedwetting after the age of five
8. Asthma, hay fever
9. Diagnosed with ADHD, inability to focus
10. Headaches
11. Depression, anxiety, irritability, mood swings
12. Violent behavior, temper tantrums, aggression
13. “Allergic Salute”- particular way of wiping nose as shown at 17:15 in Phil Donahue interview from 1989: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRDpcWZUEiU.

 

Cheeseburger Child Blues: How Diet Affects Mood in Children

During the early 1990s in the USA and Canada, children were prescribed an ever-growing barrage of antidepressants without sufficient evidence of results or safety. In 2003 paroxetine (Paxil) and venlafaxine (Serotax) were put to the test. In three different trials, two groups of children took either pharmaceuticals or placebos. The results indicated no benefit in taking the pharmaceuticals. In fact, according to unfavorable tests hidden by Paxil's maker, GlaxoSmithKline PLC, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts actually increased among children who took these drugs. When these trials surfaced, the U.S. public was outraged. How could a treatment for depression actually worsen this disease, and why would the maker of this treatment lie about its negative side effects?

Unfortunately, antidepressants are often mindlessly tossed at an already complicated problem. These psychotropic drugs are swirled into an already dysfunctional chemical stew. Food allergies, food additives, airborne neurotoxins and other environmental factors are rarely addressed. It seems these antidepressants perplex the problem at best, and exacerbate it at worst.

GlaxoSmithKline PLC was sued in 2004 for allegedly concealing negative side effects of Paxil on children. While they have followed through on their subsequent promise to post all trial results online,  GlaxoSmithKline PLC is one of many pharmaceutical corporations peddling antidepressants for children. Not all follow these guidelines, nor is it certain that all trials are honestly represented. If these corporations were willing to hide the truth and risk the health of our nation's children once, what is stopping them from doing it again?

If your child suffers from depression, the best course of action is to remove the cause. By assessing food allergies, food additives, airborne neurotoxins and environmental factors, optimal health can be attained without the use of potentially dangerous drugs. 

13 Warning Signs: Detecting Food Allergies, What Everyone Must Know

As we have seen, there is a surprising amount of evidence implicating food allergies and intolerances in digestive disorders. However, 60% of people with food allergies display symptoms that are seemingly unrelated to their digestive system.

Check out these 13 Warning Signs of possible food allergies:

1. Tiredness, drowsiness, no energy.

2. Frequent headache or migraines.

3. Stomach bloating, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, flatulence (IBD/IBS).

4. Mouth Ulcers.

5. Chronic cough, bronchitis, asthma, colds and 'flu'.

6. Eczema, psoriasis, and chronic skin problems.

7. Aching joints, backache.

8. Gradual weight change.

9. Tinea or Yeast (Candida) infections.

10. Clumsiness, lack of coordination.

11. Miscarriage, infertility.

12. Hemorrhoids and Ear pain.

13. Cravings, addictions.

Read the journal article yourself, and many others: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19559137