The Power of Vitamin C, Taking the Correct Dose.

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Cold and flu season is upon us, and that combined with the business of everyday life can make it much more challenging than usual to stay healthy. I’m sure many of you are wondering what you can do to avoid getting a cold or the flu (or get better!) in the new year without having to slow down. One recommendation I have is to find a way to include more Vitamin C in your diet. While it has the reputation of being mainly a pirate’s cure for scurvy, Vitamin C can have a constellation of positive effects on a person’s health, helping to overcome illnesses like bronchitis, gum disease, influenza, stomach ulcers, bladder infections, to name only a few. It’s all a matter of taking it at the right time, in the right form, and in the right amount, all of which I will explain in this newsletter.

If you’re skeptical of the power of Vitamin C, you should know that its effect on the body has been thoroughly tested and understood by researchers and scientists. In a normal, healthy person, the vitamin acts as an antioxidant and helps generate the synthesis of collagen, which helps strengthen blood vessels and body muscles. Because of these regenerative properties, Vitamin C has been tested as a healing agent against many viruses. Scientists have found it to have significant therapeutic power in the face of even devastating diseases like AIDS and Polio. Today, Vitamin C is believed to play a valuable role in a person’s general health, doing everything from treating a common cold (and other viruses), boosting the immune system, and lowering hypertension, to curing cataracts, treating cancer, combating stroke, maintaining skin elasticity, and even controlling the symptoms of asthma. Vitamin C has also been found to speed up wound healing by facilitating the growth of connective tissues. The vitamin can even affect the mood of a person by assisting with the production of neurotransmitters—key for proper brain function!

Given all this scientific evidence, we can see how important it is to include Vitamin C in our diets—and there are a few different ways to do this. Vitamin C supplements come in tablets, capsules, powder, and food. Going with regular, low-cost, ascorbic-acid is my recommendation. I know there are several mineral ascorbates on the market, touting better absorbance; however, these forms of the vitamin only carry about half the antioxidant content of regular ascorbic-acid, and therefore are only about half as effective—so skip the minerals. Additionally, when you’re ingesting Vitamin in large amounts, you’ll want to stay away from most tablets and go for a capsule instead. Tablets often contain a lot of fillers, things you don’t want in high amounts. Be sure to check the ingredients of any supplement you buy; you want as few chemicals/fillers in it as possible. You’ll also want to look into liposomal Vitamin C if you plan on taking ascorbic acid in large amounts. Liposomes help the body absorb Vitamin C, so it’s a good idea to alternate between doses of regular Vitamin C and liposomal Vitamin C to get the best results out of your supplements.

Finally, The most cost effective way to take ascorbic acid is to just buy it in powder form and dissolve it in water. This approach is fine, but be sure to measure carefully and drink the water through a straw (to protect tooth enamel). Of course, you can also modify your diet a bit to include more Vitamin C rich food if supplements aren’t your thing. See the chart below for some great examples of foods by Vitamin C content:

 Do know that, whichever form of Vitamin C you choose, you’ll need to ingest it in rather large amounts in order to experience any of its therapeutic properties. Most people don’t take nearly enough Vitamin C to really be effective. If you’re currently healthy, I would suggest taking about 500-1,000mg of Vitamin C a day as a preventative measure. But if you are actively trying to fight off a cold or the flu, you need at least 8-10g (8,000-10,000mg) of vitamin C a day. My suggestion is to take 2,000mg every hour, alternating between regular ascorbic acid and liposomal Vitamin C, in order to have a chance at beating a cold or the flu.

Perhaps even more important than the amount of Vitamin C you take is the timing at which you take it. Scientists, doctors, and nutritionists alike will tell you that all the benefits of the vitamin are entirely contingent upon how you take it and when, so lets go over a few basic rules for taking Vitamin C.

The first rule to remember is to pay careful attention to the timing of when you take each dose. I cannot stress this point enough. The thing about Vitamin C is that it helps with illnesses because, when taken in large doses, not of all it can be absorbed in the blood; some stays in the gut, and can then be pulled in by the body to fight a virus. In order to achieve these sort of vitamin C reserves in the gut, you’ll want to take medium-sized doses of Vitamin C often as opposed to one large dose once a day, in order to keep a steady flow of it in the body. Remember, Two doses of 3 grams, taken twelve hours apart, are better than 6 grams taken all at once. 

The second rule is to start small. Vitamin C intake is going to be limited by your bowel tolerance, so start at about 500-1000mg and see how it affects your stomach. If you’ve exceeded bowel tolerance, you may experience gas or loose stools. At the first sign of these side effects, simply scale back your dosage a bit and let your stomach acclimate before taking more Vitamin C. However, so long as your bowel is tolerant, don’t be afraid to take it in what may seem like excessive amounts. With Vitamin C, there is a “threshold” that needs to be reached, above which the vitamin can have dramatic effects. You’ll need to take Vitamin C in very large amounts in order to reach this threshold; if the threshold isn’t reached, the Vitamin really doesn’t have much an effect at all. Again, 10,000mg is needed to fight off a cold or flu, but for more serious diseases, like Cancer for example, 60,000mg-100,000mg of Vitamin C a day is needed. This large of an amount can only be taken through IV therapy. 

Lastly, to ensure that large doses of Vitamin C have a positive impact on your health, you’ll want to create optimal conditions in your body so that it can use the vitamin effectively. I advise you cut back on carbs/sugar and smoking, both of which mute the vitamin’s effects. Further, if you’re worried about kidney stones (which are truthfully a very small risk of taking large amounts of Vitamin C), you can add magnesium citrate to your supplement regimen. If you have kidney-disease, iron overload disease, or glucose-6-phosphatase deficiency, however, you shouldn’t take Vitamin C in high doses at all.

I hope you will all consider adding more Vitamin C into your health care regime, either as a complement to existing flu/cold medications or even as a non-drug alternative—you really can never be too safe at this time of year.

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.

Detox 360

Why Should I Detoxify?

Never before in human history have we been exposed to so many environmental toxins!  The air we breathe and the chemicals in our food, water, houses, and workplaces – as well as the various products we put on our bodies – all expose us to environmental toxins.  Low-level bioaccumulation from multiple sources increases our toxic food, which may have the potential to affect our health.  This is especially true with persistent bioaccumulative toxic (PBT) chemicals, since they are not readily destroyed and can remain in our systems for a long time.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency, many chemicals that can be harmful to humans, including PBT chemicals, are not even subject to reporting under the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) program.

Our bodies’ detoxification organs – the kidneys, liver, lymph, lungs, intestines, and skin – are equipped to neutralize these toxins and work hard each day to either clear them out or store them.  However, due to factors such as genetics, stress levels, dietary issues, lifestyle practices, nutritional balance, and exposure, our ability to neutralize and excrete these toxins may vary.  Unless we take active steps to address toxic exposure, our health may be affected to varying degrees.

The best approach is to support the body on many fronts.  A simple cleansing diet or supplements, although helpful, may not be enough to make a major difference.  The Detox 360° program has been designed by healthcare and nutrition experts to provide a coordinated, multifaceted approach.

More Than a Cleansing Program

The goal of Detox 360° is to provide dietary and lifestyle recommendations, with supportive nutritional formulas, to support health and wellness.  It is a multifaceted program that is intended to support the immune, filtering, cleansing, and metabolic systems, as well as much more.  The program helps anchor health-supporting habits, so that dietary adjustments can be easy to follow.  It can be used as a stand-along program or in conjunction with the regimen designed by your healthcare professional and can be repeated periodically.  The dietary recommendations in this program help reduce problematic foods in one’s diet.

This four-week program includes educational DVDs, a manual with easy-to-use food guides and recipes, daily journals, detailed explanations of sources of toxicity, detox mechanisms, detox-supporting lifestyle practices, targeted nutrition, and nutritional and homeopathic products.  You are taken through a simple, step-by-step approach with clear explanations of how to complete each week’s regimen.

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 Adrenal Glands: The Body’s Alarm System

The Adrenal Glands: The Body’s Alarm System

Adrenal Fatigue: What is it?

With more and more stress at home and at work, it is unsurprising that adrenal fatigue is on the rise. The pressures of life put many in a constant state of “fight or flight,” leaving our adrenal glands working overtime until they can no longer keep up. Adrenal fatigue is a direct result of this overworked, stressed, and rushed lifestyle, and can result in some serious health consequences in both the short and long term. Unfortunately, some medical doctors only treat patients for adrenal fatigue when these patients exhibit symptoms of Addison’s disease (extremely little adrenal function) or Cushing’s disease (hyperactive adrenal function). Addison’s and Cushing’s disease are on opposite ends of the spectrum, and only affect 2% of the population. However, some experts believe that over 80% of the population suffers from some level of adrenal malfunction. In the following article we will describe what the adrenals are, their role in the body, and some simple methods for determining how effectively your adrenals are working for you.

What are the adrenal glands?

The adrenals glands are walnut-sized glands located above the kidneys. Each gland is composed of two separate functional entities. The outer zone, also known as the adrenal cortex, is comprised of roughly 80-90% of the glands size and secretes adrenal steroids (Cortisol, DHEA(S), estrogen, testosterone, and Aldosterone). The inner zone, or medulla, accounts for roughly 10-20% of the gland, and is responsible for secreting adrenaline. Cortisol, DHEA and adrenaline are the three main adrenal stress hormones.

What is cortisol?

Cortisol helps us meet the big challenges of the day. It converts proteins into energy and counteracts inflammation. In short bursts, it is very useful. In urgent situations, cortisol can increase heart rate, blood pressure, release energy stores for immediate use, slow digestion and non-emergency functions, and sharpen senses. Our bodies are not meant to maintain these states for very long, nor enter into them very often.

It can be very detrimental when cortisol release is sustained at high levels for long periods of time. Over-production of cortisol means the underproduction of other necessary hormones. We remain stuck in a state of overdrive while our energy levels, bone health, muscle production, mood, joints, sex drive and immunity all suffer.

The Adrenal Rhythm

The human adrenal gland releases cortisol in a cycle with the highest value released in the morning, the lowest value released in the evening. This 24-hour cycle is known as the circadian rhythm. These hormones help supply us with the necessary energy we need throughout the day.

How modern life contributes to adrenal malfunction

Unlike our ancestors, we live in a state of constant stress. Instead of sporadic, immediate demands followed by rest, we live in a world of constant communication, fast food, environmental toxins, and worry. It’s no wonder that many adults suffer from adrenal malfunction. That’s why it’s important to keep on the watch for these 7 common signs and symptoms of abnormal adrenal function.

9 Most Common Signs and Symptoms of Abnormal Adrenal Function

1.      Low energy. Abnormal adrenal function can alter the cells ability to produce the correct amount of energy for the day’s activities. People who struggle to wake up and keep themselves going through the day often have abnormal adrenal rhythms and poor blood sugar regulation. Additionally, cortisol levels control thyroid hormone production. Fatigue and low body temperature, symptoms of hypothyroidism, can be attributed to adrenal malfunction.

2.      Behavior, mood, and memory problems. Cortisol regulates the electrical activity of neurons in the brain, greatly influencing behavior, mood, and memory. Symptoms include depression, decreased tolerance, clarity of thought, memory, and memory retrieval.

3.      Muscle and joint pain. Abnormal adrenal function can compromise tissue healing, often leading to breakdowns and chronic pain.

4.      Weak bones. The adrenal rhythm determines bone health. If our cortisol levels are too high, our bones will not rebuild well and will become more susceptible to osteoporosis.

5.      Poor Immune System Health. The immune system’s white blood cells follows the cortisol cycle. If the cycle is disrupted, the immune system cells will not receive the conditioning, nourishment, and instructions necessary to protect the body. These immune system failures can be seen in the lungs, throat, urinary and intestinal tract, leading to increasing susceptibility to infection and allergy onset.

6.      Asthma, bronchitis, or chronic cough. The lungs react poorly to stress. Asthma is often considered an emotional disorder because stress can trigger attacks.

7.      Un-restful Sleep. When cortisol values are high at night, REM sleep cycles are more difficult to achieve. Chronic lack of restful sleep reduces mental vitality, bodily strength, and can induce depression.

8.      Skin problems. Human skin regenerates when we rest at night. High cortisol values during the evening reduce skin regeneration.

9.      Food allergies, specifically to gluten. Genetic intolerances to grain can inflame the gut and spur an adrenal stress response. Since almost ¼ people living in the U.S. suffer from gluten intolerances, this is a common cause of adrenal malfunction.

If you or a loved one suffers from any of the above symptoms, it is crucial to visit a health practitioner. Some medical doctors prescribe pharmaceutical hormones for issues related to adrenal malfunction. Due to the pharmaceutical hormones' side effects many medical practitioners, such as those at Digestive Health Ann Arbor, are now instead turning to changes in lifestyle and diet, as well as bio-identical hormones. It is crucial that you find a health practitioner who understands how to incorporate a variety of treatments that work for your needs.

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.

 

How to Raise Healthy Families: What Parents Must Know about Immune System Barriers

Raising a child is one of the most challenging and rewarding life experiences. However, as the technological age allows us access to boundless information, making healthful decisions for our families seems to become increasingly difficult. Particularly confusing and complex are decisions about diet and lifestyle. We understand more about the biochemical effects of food to a greater degree than ever before, yet Americans are increasingly challenged by preventable chronic disease. How can we help our children, and our selves, to navigate the competing arguments about what we should eat for dinner?
 
Since 1998, there has been a 265% increase in hospitalizations related to food allergies among children under 18, according to a 2008 CDC report. With an 18% increase in food allergies between 1997 and 2007, an unbelievable 3 million children now have food allergies. Food allergies, which complicate and often compromise the digestive process, are instrumental in poor nutrient absorption, leading to health problems throughout the body. More and more studies point to our digestive system and emotional distress in the development of skin and respiratory issues, not to mention autoimmune disorders. This month’s newsletter is about the gut-brain-skin-lung axis, and how understanding the relationship between these not-so-separate parts of our body contributes to our emotional and physical well-being.
 
History of Chronic Skin Conditions and Mental Health Disorders
The connection between chronic skin conditions and mental health disorders has long been recognized. The 70-year-old gut-brain-skin unifying theory was first discussed by western medical practitioners in 1930 by the dermatologists John H. Stokes and Donald M. Pillsbury, in The effect on the skin of emotional and nervous states: theoretical and practical consideration of a gastrointestinal mechanism. The authors recommended bacterial remedies such as Bacillus acidophilus and cod liver oil. These and other bacterial substances are now referred to as probiotics.
 
History of Chronic Respiratory Conditions and Mental Health Disorders
When we are stressed our breath becomes faster and shallower. Conversely, if we breathe rapidly our level of anxiety increases. The correlation between respiration and mood is apparent in our fight-or-flight response to a stressful event. However, scientists and medical practitioners increasingly point to stress as a major contributing factor to the onset of respiratory disease. Psychiatrists Holmes and Rahe examined the medical records of over 5,000 patients as a way to determine whether stress had influenced their illnesses. Their results were published as the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS), or the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, a scale that found a positive correlation between stressful life events and physiological ailments. More recent studies, such as those conducted by Isenberg et. al (2009) have correlated bronchial constriction and stress in cases of asthma.
 
(1) Skin-Gut, (2) Lung-Gut, (3) Brain-Gut Connection
 In 1967, psychiatrists Holmes and Rahe inspired health practitioners everywhere to consider stress as a major factor in the onset of any physiological disorder. As technology improved over the years a new generation of scientists has demonstrated the correlation between 1) skin and gastrointestinal distress and 2) the lungs, or respiratory system, and gastrointestinal distress, and 3) emotional and gastrointestinal distress. Since 70% of our immune system is located in our digestive tract, it is unsurprising that our bodies are affected by what we eat and absorb.
 
1) Skin and gastrointestinal distress: 
Acne. One study by Zhang et. al published in the Journal of Dermatology in 2008 involving over 13,000 adolescents showed that those with acne more often experienced gastrointestinal symptoms such as constipation, halitosis, and gastric reflux. In the same study, abdominal bloating was 37% more likely to be associated with acne, eczema and other skin diseases.
Psoriasis. John Pagano writes in Healing Psoriasis: The Natural Alternative (2008) that “psoriasis is the external manifestation of the body's attempt to “throw off” internal toxins. In other words...the skin is doing what the bowels and the kidneys should be doing.”
Eczema. Though there are a variety of causes, one of the main contributors to chronic eczema is an allergy to dairy. This is especially true in children.
 
2) Respiratory and gastrointestinal distress
It has been proven that food allergies cause such respiratory disorders as rhinorrhea and sneezing, nasal congestion, wheezing, coughing, stridor, dyspnea and asthma.
Asthma. Asthma is a chronic lung disease characterized by airway spasm and inflammation. It is often triggered by environmental factors, infections, food allergies, exercise, temperature changes and other potential irritants. Discovering and removing food allergens can ameliorate digestive issues contributing to mild to severe cases of asthma.
General congestion and symptoms of a cold. According to the University of Maryland, congestion is a result of inflammation in the sinus cavity which leads to irritated and swollen sinuses. Discovering and removing the offending food can clear up cold-like symptoms.
Dyspnea. Dyspnea, or shortness of breath, is often caused by an undiagnosed food allergy.
 
3) Emotional and gastrointestinal distress: 
Stress severely alters intestinal functionality.Studies, such as those by Wang et al in World Journal of Gastroenterology in 2005, have shown that psychological distress stalls normal intestinal transit time, spurs an overgrowth of unhealthful bacteria, and compromises the intestinal barrier.
Increased gut permeability found in those with depression.New findings by Maes, Kubera and Leunis in Neuro Endocrinology Letters (2008) correlate a leaky gut and intestinal distress with emotional disorders.
 
Why and Where Do These Gut-Brain-Skin-Lung Axis Breakdowns Occur?
We have evidence that supports the gut-brain-skin-lung axis, but why do these breakdowns in this normally healthy alliance occur? Investigations point to nutrition and lifestyle choices that are easily changed with proper analysis and diagnosis.
 
1) Unbalanced intestinal microflora. Though very few English-language health journals touch on this subject, much has been written in Europe. One Russian investigation by Volkova, Khalif and Kabanova in 2001 reported that 54% of acne patients have drastically altered intestinal microflora - they lack healthful microbes.
2) Unhealthful foods that are sugary, fried, calorie-rich and low in nutrients. Again, few studies in the United States deal with this subject matter. But many international scientists are increasingly convinced that consumption of sweet, fried, dense and nutrient- absent foods are major contributors to skin conditions.
3)Consumption of unfermented dairy products, especially processed or homogenized varieties. Many studies, such as the work by Melnik and Schmitz (2009), also find correlations between dairy from cows that were administered unnatural hormones to be particularly detrimental to our digestive tract, emotional well-being, skin organ, and respiratory system. It is interesting to note that there have been no notable studies linking fermented milk products (i.e. yogurt) with similar health issues.
4) Food allergies. Consumption of foods that trigger latent allergic reactions are responsible for a wide variety of systemic reactions including, but not limited to, eczema, psoriasis, acne, and asthma. Even autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis or neurological disorders such as ADD/ADHD can be caused by consumption of an allergen.
 
Childhood: A Critical Time 
It's important to teach our children not only to eat their vegetables, but also to listen to the messages their bodies send. If they feel depressed, anxious, or have a case of eczema, acne, or asthma, their body is telling them that something is wrong. With proper dietary and lifestyle changes, physical and emotional well-being can be improved. Our children will not be children for much longer. As parents, we have the responsibility to counsel and support our children through hardships to prepare them to do it alone in the future. Give your child as many tools as possible so they more gracefully navigate their coming-of-age years and avoid chronic emotional and physical conditions.
 
The Gut-Brain-Skin-Lung Axis: Not Just for Kids
The gut-brain-skin axis applies to adults, as well. Acne, psoriasis, eczema, asthma and dyspnea are just a few examples of many possible manifestations of disruptions in our bodies or emotions. Other possible manifestations include:
 
1. Neurological disorders such as Parkinson's, ADHD, multiple sclerosis, numbness, tingly extremities.
2. Stomach bloating, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, flatulence.
3. GI disorders including, Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis & IBS
4. Tiredness, drowsiness, no energy.
5. Frequent headache or migraines.
 
Help your Child Grow into a Healthy Adult
The best way to help our families and ourselves is to undergo food allergy testing, eat natural and organic foods, and avoid environmental toxins – both emotional and physical. The ALCAT (antigen leukocyte cellular antibody test) is a simple and cost-effect food allergy test which can quickly determine which offending foods may be causing behavioral, mental and physical issues in your body. The test identifies physiological reactions to over 350 foods, chemicals and other potential inflammation triggers. This food allergy test is available at Ann Arbor Holistic Health and Digestive Health Ann Arbor.
 
Raising a child can be challenging, but it can also be an opportunity for personal growth. Take your family's health seriously and pay attention to the body's messages - your children will thank you.
 
Please call 734-222-8210 to schedule a free consultation and evaluation.  
 
People know that we provide professional and compassionate care. We strive to guide you towards a comprehensive and holistic healing strategy. Restoring your body to health will restore the quality of your life.