BECAUSE AN ANTI-INFLAMMATORY DIET JUST ISN'T GOOD ENOUGH

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There is a lot written about anti-inflammatory diets, and there is a ton of research looking at the anti-inflammatory effects of foods and supplements.  Fish oil and tumeric are examples of supplements that have been extensively researched.  Take a minute and google 'anti-inflammatory diet', or 'top anti-inflammatory foods', and you'll see just how much information is out there.  Dietary approaches that are anti-inflammatory emphasize vegetables, fruit, healthy fats such as olive oil and the omega-3 oils found in fish, and nuts and seeds.  At the same time they eliminate foods that contribute to inflammation such as refined grains, sugars, and deep-fried foods.  The Mediterranean Diet is a good example of a well researched anti-inflammatory diet.

People can experience some great benefits when they make changes to their existing food choices that include more anti-inflammatory foods.  There is a dilemma with this approach though.  The problem is that an anti-inflammatory diet just manages inflammation.  It does not address why there is inflammation in the first place.  It can be a bit like trying to put out a fire that is still being fed fuel at the same time.  Imagine a fire that is being sprayed with water, while at the same time gasoline is also being continually added.  A similar thing can happen in your body.  You can be feeding it anti-inflammatory foods, but if the inflammation is still being fuelled, then the inflammation might diminish, but will never go away.  If you have an ongoing health condition, then this is likely the case.

WHAT IS FUELLING MY INFLAMMATION?

All chronic health conditions have an inflammatory component.  Whether you have a skin condition, a brain condition, an autoimmune condition, heart disease, digestive struggles or any other ongoing health issues, inflammation will be part of that condition.  Inflammation is a normal part of your body's healing cascade.  It is a part of your immune system's response to fix whatever is wrong in your body.  When a health problem becomes chronic, you need to ask yourself "what's fuelling my inflammation?"

HOW DO I FIGURE OUT WHERE MY INFLAMMATION IS COMING FROM?

To understand what is fuelling your fire, it is important to start digging into possible contributing factors.  Here are some steps you can take to help determine where your inflammation is starting.

1.  Visit your family doctor and request some blood work.  Good markers of inflammation include:
- CRP (C-reactive protein) - this test is a good indicator of overall inflammation
- Fasting insulin and Hemoglobin A1C - these tests will provide a good picture of blood sugar imbalances, which can help you determine if this imbalance is fuelling your fire

2.  Visit a naturopathic or functional doctor.  There are some private lab tests that will help you figure out where your inflammation is stemming from.
- Urine Element Analysis - this test identifies heavy metal toxicity.  Heavy metals can include mercury, aluminum, cadmium, arsenic, lead, and thallium.  If you have worked with any of these substances in your job, if you wear lipstick (many contain lead), if you eat a lot of predatory fish such as tuna, shark or swordfish or if you have received vaccinations, then you may have accumulated some of these metals in your body.  These can be inflammatory, and your doctor can help support safe removal of these from your body.
- Environmental Toxicity - in addition to heavy metals, we are constantly being exposed to other toxins through the air we breathe, the body care products we use, the cleaning products we use, the pesticides and herbicides that are sprayed on our food etc.  As with heavy metals, these can accumulate in some individuals and contribute to inflammation.
- Food sensitivity testing (IgG and IgA) - these tests measure whether or not certain foods are causing an immune reaction.  Any immune reaction involves inflammation.  If you are reacting to foods, then there is something deeper going on, so you'll still need to go one step further to figure out the origins of your inflammation, such as testing for leaky gut.
- Leaky gut - there are a variety of tests available to test if your intestines are permeable.  Intestinal permeability (or leaky gut) allows a variety of molecules (including food molecules that trigger an IgG response) to leak through the intestinal barrier into your body.  When this happens your immune system reacts, resulting in inflammation.
- Comprehensive Stool Analysis - this test gives you a general picture of what is going on with your gut microbiome.  Your microbiome plays a large role in modulating and regulating your immune system, so if something shows up with this test (an overgrowth or an insufficiency) it can directly or indirectly impact inflammation.  Food sensitivities can result when your microbiome is imbalanced.  This test can also help determine if you have a parasitic infection.
- Organic Acids Test (OATS) - sometimes metabolic products resulting from your body's own processes, or those produced by your gut microbiome can contribute to inflammation.  This test will show you if some of your metabolites are outside of the normal range.  I find this test useful when you have had some of the other tests done, and have addressed those aspects of your inflammation, but are still struggling with ongoing inflammation.
- Infections - infections can be bacterial, fungal, parasitic or viral.  Acute infections are easy to identify, but low-grade chronic infections can be harder to figure out, and might be fuelling your inflammation.  The kind of testing you do will be based on a doctor's evaluation, but might include the amount and type of antibodies found in your blood, white blood cell counts, or testing for something specific like H. pylori.  It's important to work with your doctor to figure out if any type of infection is present.

A DIET THAT ADDRESSES INFLAMMATION

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There are dietary approaches that address the root causes of your inflammation.  A Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), The Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) Diet, and Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) are all designed to address leaky gut, and feed your microbiome in a way that supports beneficial species and starves out pathogenic ones.  An AIP diet also addresses many of the most common food sensitivities, but SCD and GAPS can also be customized to address these. All three of these protocols can be considered Paleo or ancestral types of diets that are gut-healthy.

Once you have explored possible sources of toxicity or low-grade infection, then the option exists to pursue various treatment options through your naturopathic or functional doctor, and you can support those treatments with dietary recommendations specific to your area of concern.

If you are eating a lot of anti-inflammatory foods, then keep up the good work!  You are already  well on your way!  

 If you are still struggling with your symptoms, then maybe its time to start digging a bit deeper, and ask yourself where your inflammation is coming from.  Start by scheduling an appointment with your family doctor.

What is fuelling your fire?

Happy, Healthy Eating!
Tracey
PS - I'll be taking a break for the summer, so you won't see a blog article until the fall.

 

 

CALGARY'S BEST JUICE CLEANSES

Ever done a juice cleanse?   Or maybe thought about it?  Holiday season is already here!  Maybe after indulging in too much holiday merriment your gut could use a bit of a rest, and your body a bit of cleansing.  I’m going to give you the scoop on Calgary’s best Juice Cleanses, and help you decide which one is the right choice for you.

Usually the goal of a cleanse is to support liver detoxification, give the digestive system a rest, and to help bring inflammation down in the body.  The first few days can be a bit rough, but then you start to feel better and see positive changes in your body.   A few people shouldn't cleanse.  If you have diabetes, are pregnant or are breastfeeding, then a cleanse is not for you right now.  If you are on pharmaceuticals, you should discuss with your doctor to find out if it's a good idea.

In the past I’ve done 3-5 day juice cleanses using juicers I have in my kitchen, but the problem is that cleaning them is a lot of work.  Recently that has been a significant deterrent to juicing, because my schedule has gotten busier leaving me with little time to clean a juicer.

Amazingly it had never occurred to me that I could buy my juices, until recently when I met a woman who had just completed 30 days of juicing.  She runs her own business and has kids, but managed the 30-day cleanse successfully because she could order her juices.

So I decided to try a 21-day cleanse where I would sample the best cleanses that Calgary had to offer.  My criteria were that the juices had to be organic, cold-pressed and unpasteurized.  I found 4 places that met these criteria and the cleansing began.  I’m presenting the cleanses in the order I tried them.

The Juice Shop

 The Juice Shop's Liver Cleanse

The Juice Shop's Liver Cleanse

The best thing about The Juice Shop is that it has a menu of cleanses to choose from.  Not only do you have the option to choose from the menu, but you can have a cleanse completely customized to be unique to you.  The Juice Shop was the only company to actually screen me, and make sure I was suitable for a juice cleanse.  I tried both their liver and skin cleanses.   They are about to launch bone broth in their line of products.

Length of cleanse:  Options include anything from 1-5 days.
Delivery: available.  Price varies depending on distance of delivery.
Customize option:  Yes.  Best customization available of the cleanses I tried.
Flexible start date: Yes.
# of cleanses: 14 different cleanses on the menu, plus the ability to customize further.
Provides instructions:  Detailed pre and post cleanse instructions are emailed out once screened.
Ingredients/nutritional info on bottle:  Ingredients are on the label, but no nutritional label.
# of bottles:  Varies depending on the cleanse.  4-6 bottles per day.  Some cleanses come with a "shot", which is added to hot water.  Shots include Immune Shot, Candida Shot, Flu Shot...
Cost:  Starting at $40 per day up to $60 per day.
Order to drinking juices:  Juices are labelled in the order they should be consumed.

JUSU bar

 JUSU bar's Easy Cleanse

JUSU bar's Easy Cleanse

The best thing about JUSU bar is that it has multiple locations throughout the city, so if you want to pick up your cleanse, then you can choose the location closest to you.  Since it is a store with branches in various cities, it is well branded and packaged.  On the down side, staff may not be very knowledgable at these locations, but I was able to get my questions answered through email.

Length of cleanse: 1 or 3 day options
Delivery:  available
Customize option:  Similar juices can be swapped out if an allergy or sensitivity exists.
Flexible start date:  Tuesday or Saturday afternoons.
# of cleanses: 2.  An Easy and a Deep Cleanse.
Provides instructions:  Available on the website.
Ingredients/nutritional info on bottle:  Ingredients and nutritional label on each bottle.
# of bottles:  6 bottles per day.
Cost:  $60 for 1 day cleanse and $165 for 3 day cleanse.
Order to drinking juices:  Juices are labelled in the order they should be consumed.

Wild & Raw Bava Juice

 Wild and Raw's Bava Juice

Wild and Raw's Bava Juice

The best thing about Wild and Raw is the depth of flavour in their juices.  They pride themselves on their use of Superfoods.  The bottles are beautiful, which might have some appeal to gourmands or someone who can reuse them.  You have the option of adding bone broth to your cleanse.

Length of cleanse: 1 or 3 day options.
Delivery:  included in the price, but pickup is an option.
Customize option:  Can be customized if allergies or sensitivities exist.  There is an option to add bone broth to the cleanse.
Flexible start date:  Yes.
# of cleanses: 2.  Basic Cleanse and Deep Cleanse
Provides instructions:  Detailed instructions on what to expect during the cleanse, and post cleanse are emailed.
Ingredients/nutritional info on bottle:  Neither is on the bottle.
# of bottles: 4 large bottles, plus an elixir to add to water between juices
Cost:  $120 for 1 day and $333 for 3 days
Order to drinking juices:  Indicated in instructions

Juice Because

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The best thing about Juice Because is that you can take the glass bottles back and get store credit.  If you are concerned about your environmental foot print, then this is the best option.  You can also save some money using their Cleanse with a Friend option.  You have the option of adding bone broth to your cleanse.  I have to admit that I was disappointed with the flavours of these juices, and to see agave in one of their juices.  Agave is a high-fructose sweetener that is not gut-healthy.

Length of cleanse: 1 or 3 day options.
Delivery:  Available
Customize option:  Similar juices can be swapped out if an allergy or sensitivity exists.  There is an option to add bone broth to the cleanse.
Flexible start date:  Tuesday or Saturday start days.
# of cleanses: 2.  Cleanse I (and JB Cleanse 9.0 which I'm not covering in this article)
Provides instructions:  Brochure provided in the box with pre and post cleanse instructions.
Ingredients/nutritional info on bottle:  Ingredients and nutritional label on each bottle.
# of bottles: 6 bottles per day.
Cost:  $65 for 1 day and $190 for 3 day cleanse.  There is a discount if you cleanse with a friend.
Order to drinking juices:  Juices are labelled in the order they should be consumed.

Which one do I choose?

Determining factors for whether I'll use any of these cleanses again are taste and convenience.  The Juice Shop, JUSU bar, and Wild and Raw all have my vote for great juices in the flavour department.  Convenience for me means grabbing the juices I need and throwing them into my backpack to take to work.  This was very difficult to do with the glass bottles from Juice Because, and Wild and Raw.  They are very heavy, and if I had more than one in my bag I had to be careful they didn't bang against one another.  If you are doing your cleanse at home, then this isn't an issue, but if you need to carry juices with you, then it could become a problem.  When looking at both taste and convenience The Juice Shop and JUSU bar worked best for me.

If you are brand new to juice cleanses, then the Easy Cleanse from JUSU bar, the Beginner's Cleanse from The Juice Shop, or Cleanse I from Juice Because are your best choices.  JUSU bar and Juice Because only have two delivery/pick up dates, so if you need more flexibility, then The Juice Shop offers that.  

Moderate cleanses would include Wild and Raw's Basic Cleanse, JUSU bar's Deep Cleanse, and The Juice Shop's Intermediate Cleanse.

If you already lead a healthy lifestyle that includes an organic, whole foods diet, and you want to do a more intense cleanse, then The Juice Shop's Advance Cleanse, or their Liver Cleanse, or Wild and Raw's Deep Cleanse are your best choices.

If you want to add bone broth, then you can choose Wild and Raw, or Juice Because, and The Juice Shop is anticipating having their broth out soon too.  Of course you can also add your own broth, which is what I did for most of my 19 days.  Why would you add broth?  Amino acids are needed for phase 2 of liver detoxification, and broth will provide you with the specific amino acids you need to also nourish the gut lining.  It offers all of that without requiring digestion, so still let's your digestive system rest.

If you need customization, then Calgary's local shops offer the best choices.  The Juice Shop, Wild and Raw, and Juice Because have knowledgable staff that you can talk to.  JUSU bar allows you to swap similar juices, which may or may not be easy depending on your food sensitivities.  The Juice Shop comes out on top for customization, with Wild and Raw being the next choice.

If flavour is your biggest determining factor, then here are some considerations.  Wild and Raw had the richest depth of flavour in their juices.  JUSU bar includes a chocolate almond milk, so if you have a bit of a chocolate addiction then this has you covered.  The Juice Shop has the greatest variety of juice blends, which is especially nice for longer cleanses.

Lastly, if cost is the biggest determining factor, then JUSU bar or Juice Because's Cleanse with a Friend are the best choices.

I hope all those criteria help you decide which cleanse is right for you.  With the holidays right around the corner, think about adding a Juice Cleanse to your holiday wish list, or pre-order a cleanse for yourself or a loved one.

Winter Cleansing Tip

Coming off a cleanse requires a slow reintroduction to solid foods.  In the winter months the best way to transition back to whole foods is to eat a lot of blended soups made with meat stock or bone broth.  These will help warm you while adding foods in a way that are easy to digest.  Gradually make your soups chunkier and heartier.  The longer you have cleansed, the longer this transition period will be.

Click on one of the websites for juice cleanses above, and place your order for a January cleanse.  Do it for yourself or a loved one.  What are you hoping a cleanse will do for you?

Happy, Healthy Cleansing!
Tracey

 

 

 

BECAUSE YOUR BRAIN MATTERS: THE 9 POINT BRAIN PLASTICITY CHECKLIST

You know your brain is important, but do you know how to take care of it?

There are some simple steps you can take to ensure your brain stays healthy and to make sure your brain plasticity isn’t compromised.

WHAT IS BRAIN PLASTICITY?

Plasticity is defined as changes in neural (brain) pathways and synapses due to changes in the environment, which allows for changes in mental and motor function to occur.  A simple definition of plasticity is that it is the brain's ability to change itself.  Whether you know it or not, you want good plasticity, and there is a lot you can do to support it.

WHY YOUR BRAIN MATTERS?

If you want to develop a new skill, prevent mental decline as you age, or keep learning throughout your life, then you want a plastic brain.  Learning requires brain plasticity.

Brain plasticity has far reaching implications.  There are a growing number of fascinating therapies that utilize brain plasticity.  These therapies challenge the brain in areas where there are weaknesses, such as with learning disorders, or developmental delays.  There are therapies to help stroke victims regain the function lost in the damaged area of the brain such as movement, vision or speech.  People with Alzheimer’s can gain lost cognitive function using specialized computer games.  Plasticity is being utilized increasingly in neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s or Multiple Sclerosis where movement may be compromised, and there are even applications for regaining movement after a spinal cord injury. 

If you want to find out more about some of the therapies that can help your brain regain lost or missing skills, then I would highly recommend Norman Doidge’s books The Brain That Changes Itself and The Brain’s Way of Healing.

WHAT YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW!

Here’s a 9 point checklist you can use to make sure your brain has everything it needs to be primed for learning or to get the most out of rehab therapies.

1.  Vitamin D:  Make sure your vitamin D levels are good.  Ask your doctor to do a blood test to check your levels.  Supplement if your levels are low.  Get plenty of sunshine too – when the sunshine hits your skin, your body makes vitamin D.

2.  Omega 3:  Like vitamin D, omega 3 fatty acids are an important nutrient for brain plasticity.  Eat wild, cold-water fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel and sardines regularly, or supplement with a fish oil.  My favorite is cod liver oil, because it contains vitamin D as well.

3.  Biomarkers:  Go to your doctor and request blood tests for homocysteine, fasting insulin and CRP (c-reactive protein).  If these aren’t in the normal range it could be affecting your brain.  Diet, exercise and supplementation can help improve these biomarkers.

4.  Hormones:  Hormonal balance is important to brain health, so while you are getting other biomarkers tested, you might as well ask your doc for a full hormone panel that includes estradiol and testosterone. There are different ways to bring your hormones back into balance.  If you have eliminated toxins, are eating organic food, managing your stress and exercising (see below) and your hormones are still out of balance you can talk to your doctor or naturopathic doctor about options.

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5.  Exercise:  Do whatever you enjoy to get yourself moving.  Exercise promotes BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor), which is a necessary protein in the body that stimulates brain growth, and is necessary to support plasticity.

6.  Sleep: Most people don’t get adequate sleep. If you don’t wake up feeling refreshed then it could be a sign that you are getting too little sleep or your sleep is interrupted.  Your brain takes a “bath” when you are asleep to clear out metabolic debris and detox itself.

7.  Stress:  Finding ways to reduce or manage stress can be challenging for many people, but it is extremely important.  Ask yourself if you have enough time to do the things you love, spend time with the people who make you happy or to just be lazy.  If not, then it’s time to simplify life or start implementing some strategies to manage stress such as restorative exercise such as yoga, deep breathing or whatever works to calm you.  Sometimes counseling or additional support may be needed.

8.  Toxins:  Your brain is very susceptible to toxins, so take a look at some of the toxins you expose yourself to daily and try to reduce them.  Start with your body care products (shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant etc) and look for a natural ingredient list free of chemicals.  Do the same thing for your household cleaners and laundry products.  Health food stores are great places to find natural body care and cleaning products.  Is the air you are breathing clean?  If not get an air filter.  Is the food you eat clean or is it sprayed with chemical pesticides and herbicides?  Start eating more organically grown foods.

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9.  Good nutrition:  Eating to support your brain goes a little deeper than just healthy eating.  If your biomarkers showed problems with homocysteine, blood sugar levels or inflammation, then diet can be customized to help bring test results back into a healthy range.  Eating to support plasticity also involves getting the nutrients the brain needs, as well as providing the building blocks for nerves and neurotransmitter production.  Eating to feed your gut microbiome is also important.  The organisms that live in your gut communicate a lot of information to your brain via the microbiota-gut-brain axis.

Wondering how your brain is doing?  Visit  Food For the Brain  and do their Cognitive Function Test.  Whether your score isn't as high as you'd like, or you just want to do everything you can to keep your brain at its best, then follow these 9 points.
Start by scheduling a doctor's appointment to get biomarkers tested, including vitamin D and hormones.  Then decide what your next step will be.

Happy, Healthy Eating!
Tracey

 

HEALTHY FOODS HIGH IN HEAVY METALS

Do you try to eat the best you can?  Maybe you add a green supplement or a rice protein powder to your smoothie in the morning?  You want the best for you body, so you try to fill it with the healthiest choices you can!

What if I told you that some of those choices might not be as good as you think.

Just last week I was talking to the Calgary Gut Health = Good Health Support Group members about heavy metals, some of the sources of these metals and the health implications of these metals on the human body.  Heavy metals include things like lead, mercury, aluminum and cadmium.  The accumulation of these metals in the body can be a contributing factor to autoimmune conditions, neurological conditions, thyroid problems, kidney problems, as well as many other health conditions.  Common sources include things like silver mercury amalgam dental fillings, consumption of predatory fish like tuna or shark, vaccinations, antiperspirant use and wearing makeup.  There are a variety of industrial sources of exposure as well, such as mining and pulp and paper.

I was recently surprised to learn that there are many food sources that I had previously not known about, so I am excited to be able to share them now.

Food Forensics

Food Forensics is a book written by Mike Adams, "The Health Ranger" and founder of NaturalNews.com.  In this well-researched book, he looks at ingredients that are used in our food supply that are harmful to our health, as well as chemical contamination and heavy metal contamination.  While I was familiar with many of the additives and chemicals that are used in processed and packaged foods, I was surprised at the extent of heavy metal toxicity present in commonly eaten foods

Here is a brief summary of some of the heavy metals and the food sources they are especially high in:

Arsenic:  apple juice, rice, poultry and swine

Mercury:  high-fructose corn syrup

Lead:  chlorella from China, calcium supplements, pet treats made in China, chopped clams, sea vegetable superfoods, cacao superfoods, organic rice protein, cooking spices, fish treats for cats, sunflower seeds

Aluminum:  seaweed superfood granules, gingko supplements, a popular children's multivitamin, calcium supplements, baking powder

Copper:  children's multivitamin, line of "raw" multivitamins, popular mineral supplement

Steps to Take

1.  If you drink apple juice, then buy juice that is locally grown and produced.  Don't be fooled by the "made in Canada" label.  Many of the apples are imported from China.

2.  Replace items that use high-fructose corn syrup with items using natural sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup.  High-fructose corn syrup is bad for your health for so many reasons, so this is just one more to add to the list.

3.  Replace "green" blends with fresh greens.  Add  spinach, kale, shoots or your favourite leafy greens to smoothies.  If you use chlorella then choose from outside China.  I like Giddy Yoyo's chlorella, which is sourced from Taiwan, and Mike Adams produces Clean Chlorella, which is grown in a controlled environment.

4.  Research where your supplements are sourced from.  Talk to staff in health food and supplement stores, or contact a company directly and ask what country the ingredients come from.  

5.  Replace rice protein powder with an alternative protein.  My favourite is hydrolyzed collagen such as Vital Proteins or Bulletproof.

6.  Buy an aluminum free baking powder.  These can be found in health food stores.

7.  Make your own pet treats, or visit a local farmer's market for treats, so you know exactly what is going into your pet.

8.  Buy as much locally grown and raised food as you can and prepare meals yourself.  Take a couple of hours on a weekend to do some batch cooking to last you through the week.  Casseroles, stews and soups are great things to make in large batches to get you through the week.

As a general rule, ingredients imported from China, India or Thailand tend to have much higher risk of heavy metal contamination that foods grown in North America, Europe, New Zealand or many South American countries.

For a much more detailed look at all the foods that are contaminated, and the health implications of specific heavy metal toxicity read Food Forensics by Mike Adams.  It's an easy read.

Were you as surprised as I was about the heavy metal contamination of certain foods?
What is the first change you will make?

Happy, Healthy Eating!

Tracey

COFFEE ENEMAS FOR CONSTIPATION

Do you have to add bran, flax seed, psyllium or take a supplement to help you poop?  Do you have to strain to initiate a bowel movement?  Do you have less than one bowel movement a day?  If you answered yes to any of these questions then you are amongst the many people who suffer from constipation.  Many people don't think too much about their regularity unless it gets to the stage where it becomes uncomfortable to pass stool or unless hemorrhoids develop from straining.

Constipation and Neurological Conditions

Constipation needs to be taken seriously!  Did you know that constipation occurs in people with Parkinson's before the Parkinson's symptoms show up.  It is an early indication that communication between the gut and the brain is compromised.  It is not uncommon for children with autism to only have one bowel movement per week.  Poor bowel function is associated with a number of other neurological conditions as well including Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis and mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.

Constipation is both a sign and a complication of neurological conditions.  Changes in the gut are one of the root causes of neurological conditions, and once neurological symptoms appear communication between the brain and the gut can become impaired which further complicates the issue.

Constipation and Autoimmune Conditions

Constipation is also associated with autoimmune conditions.  As with neurological conditions, a change in gut health is one of the root causes of autoimmunity.  In autoimmune conditions the body is attacking its own tissue, and there are many conditions in which the gut tissue is under attack.  The most well known are celiac, Crohn's and colitis, but there are many other autoimmune conditions that are systemic and can affect the whole body such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. So similarly to neurological conditions, a cycle can occur where poor gut health contributes to autoimmunity, and then the autoimmune response in the body further worsens the gut condition.

Enemas

Enemas are a fast way to resolve constipation, and they have been used for thousands of years.  Doing an enema involves purchasing an enema kit from a pharmacy.  A kit will have a bag or bucket with a hose and nozzle attached to it.  The nozzle needs to have a tap.  The bag or bucket gets filled with a solution, the nozzle gets inserted into the rectum, and the tap is opened to allow the contents to fill the colon.  Once the contents are in the colon, the tap is closed, the nozzle removed and the individual sits on a toilet to evacuate the contents.  This is a simplified description, so if you decide to do this yourself, make sure to get detailed instructions from a qualified practitioner.  

According to Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride, author of The Gut and Psychology Syndrome, enemas are completely safe if done correctly, and are useful for relieving constipation, reducing the toxic load in the body, healing hemorrhoids and for removing fecal compactions from the colon.

Coffee Enemas

Coffee enemas are done with coffee as the solution that fills the colon.  They are used extensively in the Gerson Protocol, which is a cancer treatment program, as well as for people seeking pain relief or relief from constipation.  Coffee enemas can be particularly useful in restoring normal bowel function.  According to Datis Kharraziac, DHSc, DC, MS, author of Why Isn't My Brain Working?, "distending the intestines with an enema activates the vagus.  The caffeine stimulates intestinal motility by acting on the cholinergic receptors."  He also states that "...enemas help develop positive plastic change in their vagal system pathways."  In layman's terms this means that coffee enemas can help you overcome chronic constipation by changing the signals your intestines receive from your brain.  Once your brain begins communicating normal bowel motility again, then changes start to occur towards more frequent bowel movements.

 This is one example of an enema kit.  They come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  The bag or bucket style is appropriate for adult use only.  Coffee enemas should not be performed on children.

This is one example of an enema kit.  They come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  The bag or bucket style is appropriate for adult use only.  Coffee enemas should not be performed on children.

If you or someone you know suffers from constipation that hasn't been resolved through conventional approaches, then coffee enemas may offer a solution.  If neurological or autoimmune conditions are present, then performing enemas under medical supervision is advisable.  Discuss your wishes with your MD or ND to find out if there is any reason you shouldn't try coffee enemas.

Thinking this might be an option for you or a loved one?  Talk to your doctor.

Have you ever tried any kind of enema?  What were your results?

Happy, Healthy Pooping!

Tracey

 

 

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF GUT REPAIR WITH DETOXIFICATION

Which came first?  The chicken or the egg?  We can ask the same of leaky gut and toxicity.  Which came first?  Leaky gut or toxicity?

To understand that question, you need to understand a bit about gut health and also where toxins come from.  

GUT HEALTH

Gut health involves two components:  the health of the gut microbiome and the health of the intestinal cells that line the small intestine.  The microbiome and the intestinal cells have a codependent relationship, so the health of one affects the health of the other.  If the health of either of these two pieces is compromised, then eventually the health of the other will become compromised as well.  I'll provide an example to help illustrate this point.  

Most people are familiar with the impact that antibiotics have on the gut organisms.  Antibiotics typically kill off all species of bacteria, including the beneficial ones that live in our guts.  When those species are killed off then that leaves organisms such as yeasts, fungi, parasites and viruses to propagate.  These organisms are always present, but in small numbers.  When the bacteria get killed off by antibiotics, then the opportunity exists for organisms that are usually present in small numbers to expand.  When this happens it is referred to as dysbiosis, meaning that the balance of organisms has shifted into an unhealthy state.  

As mentioned previously, the health of the microbiome affects the health of the cells in the small intestine, so once dysbiosis exists, then the intestinal cell's life cycle is altered.  With this alteration in the life cycle, these cells are no longer capable of consistently producing tight junctions.  Tight junctions are what hold the cells together to create a barrier.  When those tight junctions aren't formed, then a condition known as leaky gut develops.  Without those tight junctions, the cells are unable to create a barrier, so various particles start to leak through.  To understand the barrier, imagine a brick wall.  A brick wall is very strong, and doesn't allow anything to get through.  Now imagine that the mortar used to build that wall has deteriorated significantly.  With  crumbling mortar, water leaks through the wall, insects can crawl through, and plants might even take root and start growing through the cracks, further breaking down the mortar.  The same thing happens in your gut.  The loss of tight junctions is like the crumbling mortar.  Undigested food molecules leak through, undesirable organisms get through, and some of our opportunistic gut organisms can burrow in and take root.  The other thing that leaks through are metabolic products from our own gut microbiome.  Each species that lives in our gut, metabolized the food you eat, and produces different end-products known as metabolites.  These metabolites can be TOXIC.  Normally these metabolites would get excreted with your fecal matter, but if your gut is leaking, then these metabolites leak through.

Toxic metabolites add to your body's burden.  Your liver has the job of clearing hormones, neurotransmitters, cell waste and toxins, so when metabolites are leaking through the gut, it just increases the work load of the liver, and when the liver can't keep up, then toxicity results.

So gut health has a huge role to play in toxicity.  What about the role of toxicity on gut health?

  Small intestinal cells:  Without the tight junctions, leaky gut develops.

Small intestinal cells:  Without the tight junctions, leaky gut develops.

TOXICITY

Whether you like it or not, we take in toxins on an ongoing basis.  We breathe toxins in, we ingest them from our food supply, and we absorb them through our skin.  Unfortunately, we have created a world in which we have surrounded ourselves with toxins.  These toxins have huge implications on the health of our guts.  Toxins can act directly on either the gut microbiome or on the intestinal cells.

Let's look at our food supply as an example.  Crops typically get sprayed with pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and desiccants. When ingested, these products upset our gut microbiome negatively.  Just like the pests that get killed in the field, the organisms in your gut are affected as well.  As we've already discussed, once the gut microbiome is disrupted, the the intestinal cells are affected, and leaky gut results.  Once leaky gut is present, all those chemicals we unintentionally eat have a greater chance of getting into our bodies.  

WHICH CAME FIRST?

The answer to the question, "Which came first, leaky gut or toxicity?" will differ from person to person (and is not very clear cut, as you'll see).

If you have been on repeated courses of antibiotics, or a long course then leaky gut will likely have occurred first.  Leaky gut then increases your toxicity.

If you have been on pharmaceuticals then it's very likely that leaky gut and toxicity were happening side by side.  Many pharmaceuticals impact either the microbiome or the intestinal cells, while adding to what the liver has to metabolize.

If you consume conventionally raised vegetables, fruits, grains and animal products, then it's also possible that leaky gut and toxicity were happening side by side for the same reasons as pharmaceutical use.

If you've had job exposure to chemicals, then it's likely that toxicity happened first.  The toxic exposure likely altered your gut microbiome.

THE IMPORTANCE OF GUT REPAIR

Regardless of which came first, fixing leaky gut is a vital step in supporting your body to detoxify.  You can take measures to support your liver, or to help clear toxins from your body, but unless you fix leaky gut, toxins will continue to have easy access to your body, and toxins that are normally excreted through your digestive tract will have the opportunity to re-enter your body.

Have you done a detox with only short-term results?
Have you done a detox and not seen the results you'd hoped for?
If you answered "yes", then maybe repairing your gut is the next step.

Happy, Healthy Eating (and repairing)!

Tracey