Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Get tested now!

Every adult should consider the invaluable benefits of cutting edge diagnostic testing that can provide important information regarding your health. Here are four of Dr. Graves' top picks.

1. The VAP lipids/cardiovascular risk assessment. Makes standard cholesterol testing obsolete.

2. Vitamin D. Profound implications on your health: cancer risk, immunity, heart disease....

3. Hormones: adrenal, testosterone, estrogen, progesterone. Imbalances are epidemic and can prevent you from feeling your best.

4. Food allergies or intolerance: very common, may be the obstacle that's been overlooked for years.

Enjoying the Holidays with a Healthy Conscience….

With the holidays just around the corner this is a good time to think about some of the unhealthy aspects of the season and find ways to minimize them. These days most social gatherings revolve around food and drink, with the typical holiday fare featuring high-sugar, fat-laden foods, and perhaps a drink or two. The result may be more than just weight gain; your holiday habits can also conspire to hamper your immune system, disrupt your digestive tract, and decrease your overall vitality. It thankfully doesn’t require abstinence from all the merry-making; some holiday foods have important health benefits. With a little forethought there is much you can do to have your fruitcake and feel good too.

Sugar, Fat, and Alcohol… Oh My!

In naturopathic medicine we refer to certain lifestyle habits as obstacles to cure. Good examples include smoking and excessive alcohol. Even doing things that benefit your health, while continuing certain habits, may prevent you from being totally well. Your eating habits can also be an obstacle to enjoying good health. Working with kids it is no surprise when I start getting calls from parents with sick little ones soon after Halloween. The season to be sick begins with Halloween and continues right on through the New Year. One of the prime reasons for this is increased sugar intake. Sugary foods and drinks do a good job of suppressing the immune system, not a good thing when we start clustering indoors at school or holiday gatherings. Excess sugar causes weight gain, stresses the pancreas, and increases one’s risk of blood sugar problems.

Like cholesterol, fat in the diet is typically thought of as bad. The reality is there are good fats and bad fats, but of course too much of any kind of fat means excess calories. Cholesterol and fat are actually important nutrients. Though we’ve been told to avoid cholesterol and fat, for many this is bad advice, especially children. The key is getting the right fats in your diet. Typically they come from natural foods like nuts, seeds, fish, eggs, and lean meats. Omega-3 fats from fish and some seeds are clearly beneficial and protective against heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other diseases. One the other hand, trans fats and fried foods are clearly detrimental. It’s important to check labels carefully on packaged foods. The trans fat label under the “Nutritional Facts” on food packages is misleading and you shouldn’t rely on it to determine if a food contains trans fats. Read the ingredients. Any food with hydrogenated oils will have trans fats; this includes margarine, shortening, and partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Cholesterol is really a red herring. It’s not only essential for proper brain and nerve function, it’s essential for producing many hormones in the body. The key is eating a healthy diet high in natural antioxidants, moderating stress, and getting regular exercise; your body will manage cholesterol just fine most of the time.

There is no question that alcohol can adversely affect your health, but like many things in life it is a question of excess. Besides helping you enjoy the holidays with your in-laws, the only clear benefit is from drinking very moderate amounts of red wine and a substance called resveratrol that has vascular protective effects. Now it’s possible to take resveratrol as a supplement and avoid the alcohol. What are some of the problems with alcohol besides the obvious? It impairs the central nervous system and immune system, is liver toxic, increases your risk of cancer, imparts empty calories, and increases triglycerides (blood fats). At least half of all automobile deaths are alcohol related and the American binge culture is alive and well on many college campuses. Knowing all this it is difficult to ever recommend alcohol for any health benefit. I suggest the only alcoholic beverage worth bothering with is a small glass of red wine with that special dinner.

Which holiday foods are good for you? Here are a few to consider:

Cocoa and chocolate are made from the fermented and roasted seeds of the cacao tree. Cacao is one of the richest sources of magnesium and also contains iron, zinc, and vitamin C. Very high in flavonoids and antioxidant power, cacao has one of highest ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) ratings of any food. Cacao has been shown to reduce cardiovascular disease risk and lower blood pressure. These health benefits are from the raw fermented cacao. Most commercial cocoa and chocolate have been roasted, which reduces their beneficial properties. In addition, by adding milk and sugar to chocolate, the health benefits are further reduced. Choose dark chocolate or use unsweetened cocoa powder and sweeten with agave syrup. Better yet use raw cacao to make this year’s holiday brownies. Cocoa production has a long history of harshness on the environment and the use of child labor has been common overseas. Buy organic and from fair trade sources for a health body and conscience.

Cranberries are an essential part of any holiday dinner, especially that Thanksgiving turkey. While also having a high ORAC score, they provide antioxidant protection against heart disease and cancer. Cranberries also reduce dental plaque and gingivitis, decrease kidney stones, and prevent urinary tract infections. Containing a moderate level of manganese, vitamin C, and fiber, once again nature’s signature of a darkly pigmented fruit is a winner. Buy fresh organic cranberries when in season and make your own cranberry sauce. Buy a little extra and freeze some to use later. Watch out for juice or sauces with excessive added sugar.

Pumpkins signal the arrival of autumn better than just about anything, whether carved into a Jack-O-Lantern or made into pumpkin pie. High in beta-carotene, they provide fat-soluble antioxidants and a source of vitamin A, along with traces of other nutrients and fiber. A pumpkin extract has been shown to improve pancreatic function in diabetics and pumpkin seeds are a power house of minerals and essential fatty acids, shown to benefit prostate health. Though most people buy canned pumpkin, once again fresh is best. The smaller and heavy for size pumpkins are better for eating. Prepare them by cutting in half and steaming for 40 minutes, remove seeds and skin (much easier after cooking), and puree into soup or for pie.

Persimmons, another orange fruit of fall, can be found in stores and at local farmer’s markets. Not surprising the Fuyu persimmon, the most common non-astringent variety, contains beta-carotene and other carotenoids. It is also relatively high in B vitamins, choline, potassium, and fiber. An interesting caution, especially for the pear-shaped astringent Hachiya variety, is that it should only be eaten when soft. Eating them unripe can create a mass in the stomach that blocks the movement of food through the digestive tract. That won’t make for a happy holiday. To ripen quicker place them in a brown paper bag with an apple or banana. The Hachiya variety can be put in the freezer for 24 hours and then thawed to speed ripening. Try making molasses persimmon cookies or just eat them fresh.

So with all the busyness of the season, don’t forget to slowdown and enjoy your blessings- family, friends, and good food. Key in naturopathic medicine, don’t overlook the importance of adequate sleep, a little sunshine, clean water, fresh air, and exercise. When you’re feeling stressed take a moment to breath deeply- in through your nose into your abdomen and exhale through your mouth. Give thanks and enjoy the best of the season.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Giant turkey confronts Pilgram

My daughter and I have been initiating the seasons with chalk drawings. Here a mild-mannered pilgrim is suddenly confronted by a ginormous turkey (and worm equally over-sized).

Monday, November 9, 2009

Of Pigs and Kids; Eliminating Fear

As we fall headlong towards winter leaving the September equinox far behind, we find ourselves in another flu season. This past year it seems we never left it. I've continued to follow the 2009 H1N1 flu data and continue to be amazed at the state of public health policy. What follows is my logic on all this, doing my best to consider the most reliable information available. Though we all have biases, my ‘opinion’ is based on what I see as best for my own family as well as for my patients. Sadly, the agenda of many outlets on the subject are not so clear.

I continue to get questions from concerned parents who are being pressured by pediatricians and family doctors to get the young ones vaccinated for the flu, seasonal du jour and swine. The two questions we most want answered are, “should we be worried about the flu?” and, “should we get the vaccine?” I personally believe that fear, though motivating, is a poor way from which to make sound health decisions. Much of medical care today uses this tactic to motivate (in some cases manipulate) people to action. Though it may be difficult to eliminate all fear, especially when you are a parent, it’s important to not let it be your sole motive in seeking a given course of action. I have found from personal experience with my own children that often the best course of action is patience and thoughtful consideration. Gut instinct is useful; my wife is especially gifted in this. If you sense something is wrong with the advice to medicate or vaccinate for every infectious concern, you’d be wise to heed that premonition. We can debate the risk/benefit of vaccines in general, but there are clear insights that are coming to light about the flu in general and the current ’09 H1N1.

Number one, it is indisputable that the virulence (severity) of this flu virus has been overestimated. Despite strong evidence to the contrary, public health entities and reporting media continue to act as if the “sky is falling.” The death rate for the H1N1 is no worse (in some cases lower) than past seasonal flu rates. Since August the CDC has stopped confirmatory testing for the swine flu, now using the criteria of “assumed to be the main circulating flu-like illness.” In reality, actual state statistics indicate that the vast majority of flu-like illnesses are actually NOT the flu, let alone H1N1. This alone means we can all take a deep breath and think about how de-stressing can improve immune function. In addition, most bad outcomes from the flu are due to pre-existing conditions and secondary infections like pneumonia. There is evidence that taking medications like Tamiflu or Tylenol may actually increase one’s risk for complications.

Secondly, does it make sense to get the vaccine? It’s too early to see what impact the new H1N1 vaccine will ultimately have. Unfortunately, with very little actual testing for H1N1 we may never fully know. What I do know is the following: The seasonal flu vaccine has NOT been shown to benefit children less than two years of age. Some studies actually show more flu-like illness for these young ‘uns who’ve been vaccinated for the flu. In addition, the benefits to older children and adults are very mixed. There is ample evidence of the harm and lack of efficacy that may come from some vaccines. Sadly this is the research your pediatrician is unaware of and gets left out of the evening news. It’s not that it isn’t legitimate; it just doesn’t fit with current public health policies; the golden calf of prevention is vaccination, end of story! The toxic and “immune irritating” ingredients in many vaccines will universally cause harm. It is difficult to measure the full impact. Those most at risk are those to whom vaccines are most pushed, pregnant woman and babies. Did you know that doctors and their families as a group are some of the least vaccinated in our society? Many are aware of the evidence of harm and believe the “benefits DO NOT outweigh the risks.”

Unfortunately there is no magic shot to protect us from all harm. What is actually protective is to nurture ourselves as intended by our Designer. The immune system thrives when allowed to mature without excessive insult, or malnutrition. The main reason for poor health in kids is due to poor dietary habits. There are epidemic deficiencies such as vitamin D. Couple that with wide spread sleep insufficiency in both kids and adults and it’s no wonder we are getting sick more. There is a human tendency to underestimate the effects of our own actions and overestimate the benefits of medical interventions. If we took half of all the fuss and money directed at vaccination and instead put it towards building personal wellness through good habits, we’d see dramatic changes in the health of society.

Recently I’ve put together the Four S’s of avoiding colds and the flu; two to do, and two to avoid.
1. Get appropriate sleep. Many adults aren’t and many parents under estimate the sleep requirements of their children.
2. Get sunshine or ensure adequate blood levels of vitamin D. This is essential. It’s estimated that up to 70% of some populations are deficient. You must get tested to figure out how much you need. If you avoid the sun, you need to supplement and it’s likely you need more than is in your “One A Day.”
3. Avoid too much stress. Chronic stress suppresses your immune system.
4. Avoid sugar. This isn’t the stuff found naturally in fresh fruit; we are talking about the gobs of sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup now in everything!

There are many remedies to help you when you do get sick that will not suppress your immunity, from herbal teas to healthy broths. For many there are health challenges that need to be dealt with, from thyroid and other hormonal imbalances to food and environmental allergies. Next time your doctor recommends a vaccine or medication, consider that there is another way; one that is directed at the root cause and truly seeks to “first do no harm.”
Dr. G

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Swine Flu & vaccines

If you are fearful of the H1N1, Swine flu, then you must listen to this recorded interview with Dr. Russell Blaylock and Dr. Joseph Mercola. The ever looming specter of vaccines is being played out in dramatic fashion with the current full-court press by convention medicine and the CDC. Concerns about vaccination can no longer be maligned as paranoid. This information is relevant to every parent, pregnant woman, man, woman, and child.

Read Dr. Blaylock's article at mercola.com

Monday, October 26, 2009

Don't Forget about Fiber

Eat fiber-rich foods and you don’t have to worry about it. Many natural foods contain sugar along with fiber, absolutely essential for good health. Fiber slows down sugar absorption, easing the burden on the pancreas and the toxic effects of high blood sugar. In addition, fiber carries toxins, excess hormones and cholesterol out the body and helps support healthy bacteria in the gut. I often recommend super fiber foods like stabilized rice bran, ground flax and chia seeds. More aggressive types of fiber can help where additional support is needed.

What about starch or complex carbs? There can be adverse consequences of eating too much of these as well, especially white flour. Further, many of us are actually carbohydrate “intolerant,” especially from grains, and may benefit from a higher protein and fat diet. It can make a huge difference to figure out if you have food sensitivities and what the unique balance of carbs, protein, and fat should be in your diet. Getting all this sorted out is the most basic and perhaps most important aspect of achieving good health. Contact Dr. Graves to get started on finding out what unique factors are most important to your health.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sugar High

Every human being is designed to respond to sugar as a matter of survival. It’s the fuel that drives our internal engine. When we taste it our brain tells us it’s something “good.” We get hungry (feel pain), we eat (feel pleasure). But what is sugar? In nature it guides us to food, an apple perhaps. But what happens when sugar is extracted, refined, and concentrated? How much sugar do you eat? Does it matter? What are the impacts of white sugar and high-fructose corn syrup on our health? Is sugar addictive? How does it affect children? Industry calls it “natural” while some believe it’s akin to a drug.

While sugar found in its natural state can direct us to healthy foods, when it’s extracted and concentrated our bodies are fooled. Most people eat more of something if it’s sweet. Food manufactures get us to consume more by adding sugar. Of course there’s lots of sugar in candy, cake, cookies, ice cream, and soda, but it’s also added to breads, muffins, bagels, condiments, salad dressings, yogurt, coffee, chai, and juice. In the era of getting food from warehouse club stores and fast food restaurants, we have definitely been inclined to consume more.

White sugar or sucrose is a disaccharide (two-sugars), meaning it’s made up of two monosaccharides (one-sugar) fructose and glucose. While glucose is our prime energy source, fructose can be used as fuel as well, but requires additional “work” to be useable. High-fructose corn syrup is basically glucose syrup with more than half the glucose converted to fructose. Our bodies have a series of biochemical pathways that convert sugar into energy. These steps require many nutrients, including a number of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Refined sugar is devoid of these nutrients. When we eat sources of calories without the nutrients required to burn the fuel (sugar), we must steal those nutrients from our body. If we fill up on empty calories, we are being overfed and undernourished. This is much of the reason we see escalating rates of disease. This is not simply a matter of putting on a few extra pounds. The health consequences are devastating, ultimately leading to loss of quality of life, expensive medical care, and a shortened life span. And don’t be deceived in thinking taking supplements can make up for this.

An average teen in American is consuming 34 teaspoons of added sugar per day! For an adult the average is about 22! Multiply those numbers by 4.2 (grams of sugar in a teaspoon) and you get about 143 grams and 92 grams respectively. That’s about 370 calories for adults and 570 for teens. Now it takes about 3,500 extra calories to equal one pound of extra body fat. Divide 3,500 by 370; so in as little as nine and a half days you can gain a pound from that much extra sugar in the diet. Multiply that out for the year and you’ve just gained over 38 lbs! At least half of the excess sugar is coming from sugar-laden beverages. A can of soda has about eight teaspoons of sugar or 130 calories. And even diet sodas are associated with more weight gain; likely the result of a confused satiety mechanism and increased caloric intake.

Is sugar addictive? Most assertively yes! It is not an exaggeration to compare sugar consumption with heroin or cocaine addictions. Both sugar and heroin trigger the same pleasure centers in the brain. Wikipedia defines addiction as: [simply substitute “sugar” for the words “a drug”]
In medical terminology, an addiction… is characterized by one of the following: the continued use of a substance despite its detrimental effects, impaired control over the use of a drug (compulsive behavior), and preoccupation with a drug's use for non-therapeutic purposes (i.e. craving the drug).
In addition, ample scientific evidence exists to conclude that many processed foods containing concentrated food flavoring additives, salt, and sugar as sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup are addictive.
The observational and empirical data strengthen the hypothesis that certain refined food consumption behaviors meet the criteria for substance use disorders, not unlike tobacco and alcohol.

This is no surprise considering how humans were designed to live in a harsh world. The survival of higher life-forms is guided by three powerful forces: seeking pleasure, avoiding pain, and conserving energy. These three have been called the “motivational triad” and until recently served us well. With the invention of modern chemistry and food processing our internal pleasure guidance system is easily short-circuited. The sensation of sweet that led primitive peoples to eat whole foods have been replaced with foods full of trickery, namely sugar and flavor additives. Instead of guiding us to nutrient dense foods in nature, we are directed towards modern nutrient depleted foods, such as those containing refined sugar and flour. Research has shown that combining lots of sugar with high fat foods like whole milk, aka ice cream, suppresses the satiety mechanisms in the brain. Now you know why it’s tough to only eat half a pint.

It’s now certain that sugar in all its artificially concentrated forms is contributing to the epidemics of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, anxiety, poor concentration, and premature aging, not to mention all the other conditions related to poor nutrition like low immunity and tooth decay. Kids are even getting diseases once reserved for the old, as each subsequent generation falls prey to the pleasure trap of sugar.

Well meaning parents trying to get their child to eat become inadvertent “pushers” of sugar. Most parents know the challenges of getting kids to eat well; with regular exposure to junk food, it can become nearly impossible to get your child to eat anything wholesome. Hyperactivity and other neurological and behavior problems in kids are often related to a diet high in refined sugars and carbohydrates. We live in sad and tragic times when a child gets medicated when all he needs is real food. He’s getting plenty of calories while his little body is starving for nutrients.

What’s the answer? “Eat less sugar.” That’s easy to say, but tough to implement. Understanding the long term ramifications and recognizing the addictive power of sugar can help you take the matter seriously. In my experience, there are often associated problems such as adrenal fatigue, hypoglycemia, and hormonal imbalances that promote sugar cravings. Taking a holistic approach by discovering your metabolic type (what your unique diet and nutrient needs are) and balancing your internal signals can put you on a health improvement plan that works for life.

Contact Dr. Graves and doctors at the Janzen Health Center to discover how to begin.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Don't Wallow in Fear

Should you be afraid?

Wondering what you can do to protect yourself & your family from the flu?

Should you get the flu shot?

How can you maximize your own natural defense against infections?

Dr. David Graves will present the facts on this important topic. You will learn what you can do to eliminate fear and maximize your immunity. Learn about common misconceptions that put you at increased risk of getting a nasty cold or flu this year.

Thursday, October 22 at 6:30pm

at the Janzen & Janzen Health Center.

256 E. Hamilton Ave. Suite F, Campbell, CA 95008


Monday, October 12, 2009

Breast Cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Free Breast Health Awareness Presentation

How to Lower Your Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

Cutting Edge Breast Screening Technology: Thermography

Bio-identical Hormone Therapy

Chinese Medicine for Menopausal Symptoms

For additional information or to make an appointment for thermography screening call 1-866-766-2468

Slide 1


Fri, October 16th, 2009 6:30pm to 8:30pm


Winchester Garden Plaza 1101 Winchester Blvd. Rm #M250

San Jose, CA 94125

About the Presenters

Nancy Gardner-Heaven, Ph.D. has a Masters Degree in Nutrition and a Ph.D. in Clinical Research. Dr. Gardner has made a commitment to educate women about preventing breast cancer worldwide. She also provides Mobile Thermography Screenings in San Jose Area every 3 months. www.HealthyBreasts.info.

Shasta Tierra, L.Ac.,Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM), is one of the very few western second- generation acupuncturists with over 3 decades of exposure to Chinese Medicine. Shasta has a very broad background in natural healthcare and currently operates a practice as a general practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

David Graves, ND is a Naturopathic Doctor with a family practice in Campbell, CA. He specializes in effective non-drug therapies for many conditions including hormone imbalances, allergies, autoimmune diseases, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. http://gravesnd.blogspot.com/

Friday, September 11, 2009

Real healthcare reform?

Not surprisingly, most of the healthcare debate ignores the real reasons for rising healthcare costs. At least some out there get it!

Big Food vs. Big Insurance

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, three-quarters of health care spending now goes to treat “preventable chronic diseases.”

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My Green Dream

I have a dream... that everyone will eat five servings of vegetables per day, not counting potatoes, ketchup, or corn. Fresh fruits are great to, but lets face it, most people fail to eat enough of the greens (and the oranges, reds, purples, and yellows). Perhaps it's because most "fast-food" whether from home or Burger World is majorly deficient in plant-foods. Have you ever noticed how bleached your kid's diet is? Where does the bulk of Johnny's calories come from? White flour? Fruit juice? Cheese sticks? Milk? Don't get me wrong, some of these foods might be OK, but where is the color? Where is the fiber? Where are all the phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals?

When you look at your plate as you go to eat dinner, you should see a rainbow. Or at least more than two colors. Most dinners in America are "black and white," or perhaps "brownish and off-white or yellow." When it comes to plants, color is the Creator's "highlighter" to say, "eat this." Green means chlorophyll, pre-vitamin A, magnesium, protein, folate and other blood and bone building materials. Red, orange, yellow, blue, and purple means carotenoids, flavonoids, vitamin C, and many other cancer-preventing, cell-protecting compounds.

So what to do? So many colors, so little time. I have long taken some of my red, blue and greens as powders. This makes getting the five servings per day a snap. I scoop some Best of Greens, along with some Bio Fruit into a little water and juice, shake, and I'm on my way. This is a small price to pay to prevent cancer, heart disease, and arthritis. Green food or Superfood powders are the rage. Health food stores have an increasing number lining the shelves. Or I'm sure you've been confronted by an overly excited "Moma Via" or "Juice Less" distributor (..."testomonials, testomonials! ...here, drink the Kool-aid; it will make all your wildest dreams come true!"). These products may be just fine, but I've found them to often be overpriced and oversold. You don't need to get your superfoods out of a wine bottle, but if you can't get your day's salad, broccoli, and berries you need to take some no-nonsense food powders as part of your breakfast or lunch routine.

By nonsense I mean all the fillers that most expensive superfood powders contain. These include rice bran, lecithin, and perhaps other fiber like psyllium. There's nothing wrong with these ingredients except they are quite inexpensive and when you read the fine print on the nutrition label you'll discover that more than half of your "green powder" is actually "brown powder." This is one of the reasons I've been using Best of Greens from Purium Health Products for almost 10 years. It's simple, pure, and contains the most powerful greens derived from high quality sources. They also make Bio Fruit, which is a conglomerate of the best flavonoid-rich fruits, without too much sugar.

I also don't recommend the so-called "Nano-" supplements, such as NanoGreens. We really don't know enough about the these nano-foods and how they might influence our biochemistry. With increasing rates of allergies and food intolerance, we should get nutrition the old fashion way, normal digestion and absorption.

So get yourself to the Farmer's Market every week for all your fresh fruits and vegetables, and if you just can't get the five-a-day, keep some "instant color" on hand with superfood powders. Your cells will thank you.