Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful Food

This was my first white Thanksgiving. Here in Spokane I've had to adjust my climate expectations from the balmy bay area. The snow has been falling since last week more or less, with more to fall over the next three days. It's quite lovely and makes a warm holiday meal that much more satisfying, especially after shovelling a bunch of snow. My biggest worry over the long weekend is that we don't lose power.

Every year about this time I remember a 20/20 I watched many years ago where John Stossel investigated what became of the turkeys that receive a Presidential pardon each year. He was amazed (and so was I) that the ranch they are sent to had very few turkeys enjoying their retirement. These mass bred birds usually die shortly after arriving, most not even able to walk. Why? They have been so hybridized and inbred that they can't survive beyond a year or so. Watching one bird, so oversized, and barely able to walk, I vowed to never eat a typical $.29/lb overgrown bird from the grocery store.

I recently read how most turkeys in the store are injected with saline and flavorings just to cover the usual dry texture and bland taste of these "unnatural" birds. When I've cooked a turkey myself I would usually get a Diestel free range bird or this year it was a Fred Meyer Private Selection Organic. There is now a growing trend to raise the wild varieties of turkey whose numbers are now in some cases close to extinction. The nutritional difference between the wild varieties (what are called heritage birds) and those that are mass raised in feed lots is stark. Not to mention the load of hormones and drugs you get from your "free turkey with a purchase of $50 or more."

Of course our organic bird cost more. But I only do this once a year. So I paid $39 for a 13.5 lb bird compared to $20 for an overgrown behemoth with wings. Would you eat one of these if you had to shoot and clean it and then inject it with flavor enhancers?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

21 Day Detox...... Postscript

There is a reason the 21 Day Detox is 21 days long. It takes about that long to develop new habits. How long they stick depends on how committed you are to setting a new course for your life. How well they stick also depends on how well you followed the diet during the preceding 21 days. If you cut corners, took detours, and didn't fully remove unhealthy foods from your diet, then in the days that follow you will most likely return to those entrenched habits.

I think some people view supplements as "magic." The supplements used in this detox program are food and botanical extracts that support the process, but it's the diet that detoxifies. What is most important and why I've used this program is that it transitions you into a healthy diet for life. That is how you will truly detox and heal.

Unfortunately our society is obsessed with the pursuit of the quick-fix. We want to look good and feel good, but don't want to work too hard or change our habits. It's a personal responsibility thing. If you are trusting someone else to make you well you never will be. It's just like sitting around and playing the lottery with your welfare money, hoping for that big break. It won't ever come. At least not that way.

I'm going to let you in on a deep secret. You don't need to send your money or do another "Race for a cure." We have the cure; we've had it all along. You have the healing power within you and all around you. I'm speaking of the top causes of death here: heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and don't forget nosocomial and iatrogenic causes (death from hospital interventions and acquired infections, prescriptions, and doctor induced).

Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease are curable. It simply takes the fortitude and personal responsibility to make the changes necessary... at least before it's too late. Same goes for cancer. The jury is out on how successful you'll be with only alternative treatments once you have cancer. Cancer is apripos to "an ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure." Or in this case a milligram of prevention equals a ton of cure..., or no cure at all, just lots of very expensive and toxic chemicals that may or may not prolong your life. But I digress.

I think some people think they are taking responsibility, but fail to think critically. How many times will you seek help from someone that leaves you no better... or worse off? I think others really want to live in denial, afraid to give up what's become what they live for.... lets not mince words, "SUGAR" and "CAFFEINE." Wasn't it Stephen Covey who said, "begin with the end in mind." Do you have a defined purpose for your life? Do you believe your life matters? If not, what is the point of taking personal responsibility for it?

On the other hand you may be sincerely wanting to be healthy. You may be listening to your doctor, getting your flu shot, keeping your little one on schedule and yet you and your kids never seem to be fully well.

My path has led me to conclude that much of our modern culture has a flawed view of health and what constitutes good healthcare. Many of us live off balance from creation or nature. We live addictive lives. To change requires filling your mind with knowledge, translated into action and application (wisdom). Left to our deep-seated habits and biological instincts within our modern milieu of industrialized food conveniences, we will not reach our true potential.

So my day after the 21 day detox was not unlike the day before. I skipped the shakes, but made homemade split pea soup and yogurt whole-grain bread, warm out of the oven with melted organic unsalted butter. I move onward, ready to do battle against sugar, unnatural fats, and toxic food additives. Thankfully, I love real food and I learned to cook. And thanks Mom for making me eat my veggies.

He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; he who cherishes understanding prospers.
Prov 19:8

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day every day

In celebration of Veterans Day, Naturopathic Med is now offering a discount to anyone who has served or is serving in the US Military.

I want to thank all those out there who put their lives on hold and on the line so I can do what I do: have a family, make a living, worship God, and help others.

Thank you, thank you!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

21 Day Detox......The last few days

With just a few more days left in the 21 day detox It almost seems effortless to eat like this. The shakes are a nice convenience. As has been my routine, always preparing my own food takes time. With this program, it takes just a few minutes to make my smoothies for the day, that's breakfast and lunch. One can get used to feeling good.

As I mentioned previously it's important to be intentional about reintroducing foods back into the diet. You don't need to reintroduce foods you don't plan on eating and you'd be better off continuing to avoid processed, sugar-laden, and devitalized foods. I highly recommend controlling your sugar intake like the FDA controls heroin; then again, you should do a better job of it. A few rules of thumb: counter an occasional high-sugar food with fiber and protein; ground flax and chia, rice bran, whey protein powder are great in this respect. When it comes to reading nutritional labels on packaged foods, I never buy or eat anything that has a higher added sugar content than the sum of the fiber and protein content per serving. For example if your favorite cold cereal has 10 grams of sugar and one gram of fiber and two grams of protein, you're getting a very unbalanced food. A better option is something with less than 3 grams of sugar per serving, 3 grams of fiber and protein.

It's also best to reintroduce foods starting with the least allergenic foods first. If you've suspected you are sensitive to milk then start with a high quality plain yogurt, then aged cheese, maybe cottage cheese, and lastly fluid milk. You may find that you are sensitive to the cheap homogenized stuff you were consuming, but can tolerate high quality organic whole milk. You may find that a high quality yogurt (unsweetened) and aged cheeses like Swiss and sharp cheddar are fine but drinking any kind of milk is out. For some raw cow or goat milk is best. Then there are certain people who don't do well with dairy at all. The challenge phase is the time to figure out where you stand.

Next you might start introducing grains and starches. Start with potatoes and other nightshades if you've eliminated them. I'd save wheat until last and consider only eating wheat that has been soaked, sprouted or soured. That goes for spelt, rye, kamut, oat, and barley as well.

The other concept to come away with is the idea of rotating your diet. It's possible that anybody can develop a sensitivity to any food if eaten daily year-round. Diversity is key. I recommend eating a variety of healthy foods as you alternate your meals throughout the week. In addition, eating seasonally and locally produced foods makes health and economic sense. Depending on where you live, locally may need to be within 1,ooo miles. But eating summer fruit right through winter grown in South America, New Zealand and who knows where, isn't necessarily good for you or the environment. And by all means support your local farmers. Better still, grow your own food as you are able, but don't eat bananas everyday, unless you live in Ecuador. Some foods are going to be worse than others from repetition.

Those I treat with food allergies are most often sensitive to a food or foods they love and eat two or three times a day. A rotational diet doesn't have to be difficult. It just takes some planning. For each meal, breakfast, lunch and dinner, have at least four options. Make enough for leftovers, and alternate.

The worst thing you can do is end a detox diet with a binge party. Then again, it may be the lesson you need to stick with healthy eating. Most of those I know who've done this get quite sick.

A post-purification diet is ideal, which continues the main principles but ensures you are covered, given your unique nutritional needs. The shakes or smoothies can be continued, but take a break even from them now and then. Everyone needs some core supplement support. This will be individualized depending on your needs. For example, a common core for an adult is SP Complete or Catalyn and a fiber supplement, along with essential fatty acids. You may need additional bone nutrients, trace minerals, and B vitamins.

Take time to assess and document what changes you've experienced through this journey: weight loss, more energy, better sleep, no more constipation. It's amazing to see the changes that can occur in blood work, cholesterol numbers for example.

I'm looking forward to staying healthy through the winter, how about you?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

21 Day Detox......Day 13 - 15

Aren't the best gifts ones that appear unexpectedly and are just what you wanted... even if you didn't know you wanted it? A couple of days ago a friend and colleague stopped by my office bearing gifts, wild Alaskan salmon. Since moving to Spokane my family hasn't eaten as much fish as when we lived in California or Seattle. Now on day "what-ever" of the detox I've been ravenous for meat. It's really satisfying when you sense your body's need and can satisfy it.

Needless to say I brought the salmon home and ate it straightaway. I've been feeling the need to horde some of my food. My girls are like vultures sometimes. They seem to always want to eat what I'm eating no matter what they've already eaten. Briley kept wanting more of my salmon (after she's had a healthy portion) and I finally had to cut her off. It was good stuff. I baked it for 1o minutes and then broiled it briefly to finish it off. Salmon can not be overcooked. That is, you do not want to overcook it. I didn't.

Tonight we finished it off with some winter squash curry soup and mixed green salad. I was especially hungry after mountain biking this afternoon. It's been awhile so I was feelin' it. But I kept up with my fitter fellow bikers... most of the way. Mountain biking was something I took up in the early nineties. I was avid until moving to Seattle. Then I took up road biking more and running. By the alignment of Jupiter in the third house of Neptune or was it Chicken of Sea? I was able to ride today. It was very therapeutic and I was amazed how quickly my trail skills came back. And tomorrow, by about 4 pm, I'll need a warm Epsom salt bath.

I thought I might have trouble having energy for the ride being on the detox and all. I haven't been able to stay as prepared with my meals. I've been eating a lot of apples because we bought a box of Fuji's. I'll throw some veggies in my smoothies: carrots, celery and beets. My digestive system has been moving steady. I eat three meals; I eliminate three times. I've been losing weight, not my wish. I've tried to up my calories and protein. Hopefully I've levelled off. With a little more consistent exercise I can put some muscle on.

I've challenged a few things back into my diet. Eggs, almonds, oatmeal, and tonight because of guests I ate my wife's delicious salad with a little Gorgonzola. So far no reactions, but I haven't felt like I had any strong food sensitivities. I do notice if I eat certain grains too often I might get a minuscule patch of eczema and just not feel as good. Prior to the detox I'd been hitting some super-dark chocolate and sweetened banana chips fairly regularly. The night before I started I polished off our supply. I've missed something sweet and crunchy in the evening sometimes. I try to eat a hardy dinner and maybe have a piece of fruit and don't have the snack attacks.

Only one week to go. The other day I told my wife maybe I should give up eating anything with added sugar for a year. She thought that was extreme. I thought to myself... "I could do that." I probably won't. But After this detox my desire for sweet has been reset again and eating our low-sugar homemade delights will be just fine. I don't plan on buying any more banana chips.

Next time I'll talk about how it's important to rotate your diet, daily and seasonally. Food allergies are borne from repetition and excess.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

21 Day Detox......Day 11 - 12

Cruising along now, I wish I could say I'm not even tempted by the cheese and rice chips my wife is munching on while we chat in the kitchen. I had to turnaround and converse while I searched the cupboard for some kosher snack that had somehow just magically appeared there to satisfy my desire for salty and crunchy. Alas, I had to resort to my banana coconut pudding with a little cocoa. I topped it off with cracked-cell chlorella, a detoxifying blue-green algae, and feel even more satisfied in my mind and palate. It's really pretty good (I have a greenish-brown ring around my mouth).

Over the last few years when I speak on detoxification and lead patients through the process, I am always asked about other programs, The Master Cleanse, Isagenix, liver flushes, etc. Although there are many I haven't looked closely at, the one's I've examined often come up short. Some of these do work to some degree, weight loss, an improved sense of health, but I've found most of them lacking what I consider basic and important attributes in a healthy cleansing or detoxifying diet.

For example I finally just looked over the Isagenix products, a very popular program. As is often the case I see some real problems with their ingredients. Most glaring is their use of fructose as a sweetener. For all you who read my liver articles recently you'll recall that fructose as an added sugar is very bad news. An effective and safe cleanse needs to support the liver, one of the most important detox organs. Fructose effectively congests the liver and is efficiently converted to fat. Next, I noticed in their fiber product Isagenix uses something called Fibersol-2 (produced by a proprietary method of controlled enzymatic hydrolysis of cornstarch). While this newfangled fiber may provide some of the health benefits of increasing fiber in the diet, it seems completely unnecessary to use a Franken-fiber created in a lab, when all around on God's green Earth is nature's fiber ("so turn Frakenstein into Franken-fine"). Lastly, I noticed some odd herbal additions that could be problematic, especially for those suffering from acid reflux; namely mint.

Not to pick on this one company, but my goal is to really feed the body while detoxing, support the organs of detoxification, and weed-out hidden food sensitivities or allergies. To that end, as we proceed through the last half of the 21 Day Detox, now is the time we can prepare for the "challenge phase."

Right, your asking, "wasn't the challenge phase days 1 through 10 or so?" Yes it was and continues to be challenging at times but one of the great opportunities we have nearing the end of the program is to begin to re-introduce foods back into the diet. One of the biggest mistakes I see by those finishing this program is to start haphazardly eating foods that have been eliminated. At this time, like no other, the body is primed to detect hidden food allergies. Food sensitivities and allergies are quite common, but often undetected. After a few weeks on a diet of this sort, the body will often produce a more obvious symptom after exposure to a food you were unaware was a problem. To know which food is to blame, one must introduce only one food at a time, in a sufficient amount, for a sufficient length of time.

Another important aspect of this program is that it teaches you or reminds you how to eat wholesomely. The diet is not intended to be permanent. It's not an ideal diet for life for most individuals. Dietary needs are individualistic, and I'm not talking caloric needs. Some need more meat, some do OK on vegetarian sources of protein. In both cases I'm talking about eating real food, from real (healthy) animals and plant foods from nutrient-rich and chemical free sources. Keeping your sugar, caffeine, and alcohol intake in check. By the way, have I told you about my nickname for Kettle Korn? "Cancer Corn;" Perhaps I'll explain that later.

Inevitably we are exposed to dietary burdens, intentional and un. That's why I recommend some form of detox diet yearly.

By the way, if you slip up, don't give up! "It's not what you've done it's what you do next."
Restoring Hormone Balance and Renewing your Vitality

Did you know there are powerful forces within you to keep you energized, youthful, and healthy?

While powerful, these forces can be easily disrupted.

These forces influence every cell in your body, from skin to bones.

An imbalance can cause low energy, low libido, poor immunity, weak bones, sleep problems, and even increased cancer risk.

Invite some friends and come to a free talk on how you can restore your hormone balance and reclaim your vitality.

Tuesday November 16, 2010 @ 6:00pm

2607 S. Southeast Blvd. Suite B-111

Please call to sign up; seating is limited!


Presented by Dr. Graves, along with Empire Digital Imaging

Monday, November 1, 2010

21 Day Detox......Day 9 - 10

What day is it? I've lost track. Actually this is an exciting time in this detox program. Today is the day I can begin to eat animal protein again. It's not anything goes, however, choices include what I call lean and clean meats: wild cold-water fish, poultry, and grass-fed or wild sources of red meat such as bison, beef, lamb, and game. It should be kept to one serving per day and leaner cuts. It's also essential it is "clean" meaning it was raised without chemicals, hormones, antibiotics, and any number of unnatural techniques. In other words, it's not what you'd pick up on sale at a typical grocery store. The reasons for being choosy should be obvious; this is a detox.

Whether you are on a detox or not you'd be wise to be choosy as well. I'd recommend the documentary, Food Inc. if you haven't explored the issues surrounding industrial food production in this country. Or you can just pretend that your food is just fine and ignore the escalating problems like obesity and cancer.

Meat should cost more. Because we need to eat less. As I've said before elsewhere, I don't even bother eating animal products unless I can find and afford "real food." The proof is in the data. The nutritional content and toxic residue levels between say free-ranged organically produced meats and conventional is like night and day. One is wholesome, the other is disease promoting. Which would you choose? For you children?

Hallows eve has come and gone. I made it through with just a sampling of chile with meat of unknown origin. I am truly not tempted by candy. Even as a kid I was particular. I especially disliked the hard candy. I liked the candy bars of course. Later I started to prefer the nutty stuff. Ten years ago when I had a major nutritional awaking and began to eliminate unhealthy foods from my diet, I noticed how heightened my sense of taste and smell became. Desserts became too sweet and many prepared dishes were too salty. It's very difficult to eat out and not find the food disagreeable. This isn't completely a mind game. It takes some thought process to preconceive what that treat will taste like and ultimately yield for my being. After a while I was able to look at a bakery cake and immediately not see anything desirable in it. But I do eat cake, as long as it's wholesome. Just not at the moment.

I was pondering recently the quandary of sugar. With all the dietary advice I give, I think that regarding sugar is the most important and difficult for most of us to follow. It's especially difficult because it's everywhere (and stimulates the pleasure centers of the brain). I'm especially disturbed by how it's used to seduce kids into the habit, typically first by parents. Am I the only one who thinks it's abusive to give a one-year-old a plate of sugar in the guise of a birthday delight. There is no doubt that sugar is a drug-like substance. It's destructive power is just slower than cocaine. I guess that's why we have to start so young. Otherwise, they'll miss out on some of the fun. You know, the obese child with elevated lipids, insulin, and heart disease. Lot's of fun.

So........ that's another benefit of the detox diet, it provides a reset of your senses so that you can begin to really taste real food again. And break addictions, at least for a time and hopefully you will begin to really feed and heal yourself.

Next time I hope to talk about another benefit of this program: finding hidden food allergies or sensitivities.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

21 Day Detox......Day 7 - 8

Day 7 came and went. Things are stable. I actually couldn't grab lunch (a shake) until about 4pm and did just fine. Watching the family enjoy patties with melted cheese for dinner was.... forgive me, I had lustful thoughts. But I filled up on baked carrots and yams drizzled with olive oil, 3-Cs (cumin, cinnamon, cayenne), and salt; and artichoke dipped in olive oil and apple cider vinegar. Dessert was banana, ground flax, psyllium, stevia, unsweetened cocoa powder and chopped apple. Oh, and I also found a few stale brown rice crackers in the cupboard and dipped them in some salsa.

This morning, however, I am enjoying waffles right now! Last night I put some batter on to soak. How am I enjoying waffles on the 21 Day Detox you ask? In the past I've explored waffle making to the point of trying just about every variation of wheat-free, gluten-free, grain-free, etc. etc. This morning's version was made with lentil flour, black quinoa flour and a little brown rice flour. Soaking grains is an institution in our house. There are no eggs in this recipe, just a bit of guar gum and arrow root, salt, dash of vinegar, baking soda, melted ghee and high heat safflower oil. I also often add a little vanilla and stevia. I'll caution anyone attempting this recipe that because of the flours and overnight fermentation, it is prone to stick and brown. You have to watch the iron and open carefully. Still it came out. The whole family ate them. That along with today's smoothie surprise, the usual fruit with carrots, celery, and purple cabbage.

I have to run... stayed tuned.

I'm back. We had to run off to the last day of the farmers market. It's colder now than winter in San Jose. I have to say that Spokane has felt a lot like Seattle since moving here last April. We've really missed our year-round farmers market at Princeton Plaza, the citrus, yams, persimmons, and all the other fresh produce. But the changing leaves are beautiful. A little sunshine would be nice to. Halloween here will look like a bunch of kids in the same costume: "vinter-vare."

Something I've noticed while on this detox is how pervasive added sugar is in our lives and how much we desire it. If you've followed my blog you know I've addressed this before, but I'm reminded of how we are wired to fall for sugar. Sugar lead us to life supporting calories in times past. Now it's used like a drug to spike every packaged food under the sun, almost.

Now at day 8 I have found that my sense of smell and taste are amplified. Fresh produce is so full of flavor. I can smell cheese from three houses down (or at least from across the room). Dinner tonight was what I call open burritos, something we have regularly, but I ate mine with some modifications- a brown rice tortilla, black beans, lettuce, bell pepper, saute'ed veggies, avocado (essential food for this diet), cayenne, salsa, and my cheese substitute (all-purpose sesame seed savory spread). The way we eat this is to basically build a salad on your plate, top with black beans and everything else. I warm the tortilla and then fold and tear it into fourths. Using the fourth with a fork I scoop and eat. It's easier to get plenty of the veggies and stuff without the back of your burrito exploding. For dessert I watched the girls enjoy homemade Halloween cookies with Sunspires. After a week it's easier to not even think about eating the cookies. I did have to ask Jill to move the grated cheese away from me during dinner because every time I looked at it I wanted to grab some and put it on my plate.

Happy Halloween

Thursday, October 28, 2010

21 Day Detox......Day 6

Only day 6! How long can this go on? I'm having random thoughts of baked goods thanks in part to my wife mentioning Rocket Bakery and cinnamon rolls. So spouses out there, if your mate is on a detox diet for 21 days (1st off try to be on it to) try not to eat like business as usual or at least keep your gustatory fantasies and indulgences to yourself.

Actually my wife is a Godsend. To be married to someone as passionate as I am (well almost) about good health helps. Much of our meal prep, at least for dinner, just needed little adjustments to stay within the diet. We had begun to eat a little more wheat products here and there. It seems especially easy with children to gravitate to the processed snack foods and "Annie's Mac N Cheese Bunnies." I was making this for my girls the other day for lunch and realized that it's probably just as nutrient devoid as the Kraft version. OK, it's organic so you aren't getting as many pesticides/herbicides and you are supporting sustainable agriculture, but I hope no one thinks noodles made of refined white wheat flour and mixed with some reconstituted cheesy sauce is a balanced meal. I personally don't find these boxes much more convenient then say cooking up some quinoa, add a little butter, salt, brewer's yeast, and romano cheese. Of course I know the kids like the little bunnies or shells better. So... just add some rice bran or something to provide some fiber, B vitamins, and minerals. Vegetables anyone? Kids (and adults) can't live on white flour and sugar alone.

The timing of this detox hasn't paired well with the weather. Ideally you want to do a fall diet of this sort before the cold sets in. For someone who grew up with endless Indian summers, eating fresh produce year round, this is a little rough. I weighed myself today and think I might need to increase my calories. But then again, what is the ideal weight for a 42 year old male who's 5' 8 1/2" and isn't working out enough? Probably less than we might think. Do a little reading about longevity and caloric intake and you'll discover that the fountain of youth is eating just enough to stay healthy.

We are all imbued with natural mechanisms to eat (assimilate) the right amount of calories. And not just calories but of what sort, animal, vegetable, mineral. The data is in.... and is overwhelming; placing a laboratory animal (or you and me) into the feeding experiment we now find ourselves, a world with drive throughs and the nutritional catastrophe that are our grocery stores, and we end up with high rates of excess body fat, deficiency, poor fitness, and all the diseases that result: cardiovascular dz, diabetes, hypothyroidism, cancer.............................
These foods fool our bodies and minds to think we are being well nourished when in fact we are being poisoned.......... slowly. They fill our bellies but leave our cells wanting..... for the stuff they need to run, not just the fuel, the oil, the coolant, the cofactors and detoxing agents that the body uses to prevent self-destruct.

Think about it.

Soon I get a serving of meat; it that Monday or Tuesday? I will dream on that. In the mean time I'll whip up something exciting for my evening snack

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

21 Day Detox......Day 5

This was a good day. No more brain fog like yesterday. If anything, I had a little difficulty focusing, but not too much worse than I might have now and then. My girls have been gifting me with extra sleep in the morning. This morning I awoke to my eldest tapping me and glancing at the clock was surprise to see it was eight-o'clock. I was a little sluggish getting going, but felt fine after breakfast. I made brown rice hot cereal with a little butter and sweetened with blended fruit. The girls loved it and I found it quite satisfactory.

My energy was good through the morning and didn't feel as hungry as lunchtime approached. My smoothie, carrot sticks and celery with sesame spread was filling and lasted me until dinner, black-eyed peas and sautéed kale with garlic and soy sauce. I just polished off an evening snack of pumpkin seeds, coconut, grapes, whey protein, unsweetened almond milk, a cal/mag powder, ground flax, and topped off with SP Cleanse powder. I thoroughly enjoyed this, ceasing the temptation to hit the cold cereal.

I'm trying to exercise more. So far it's mostly stretching and strengthening exercises at home. Did some squats tonight with more stretching. I prefer outdoor aerobic exercise. With the shorter days and colder weather it's been less inviting. I just need to get back into my routine when I lived near Seattle. You layer up, hat and gloves, night or day, and just get out and go. Running mainly. I'd still like to get on my bike before the snow and ice hit. I'll probably have to stick with resistance training with our double-wide jogger stroller and two turkeys along for the ride.

Oh, my family continues to taunt me with candy corn, rice and corn chex, mint chocolates, and plenty of cheese. Maybe tonight in my sleep I'll have visions of sugar plums.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

21 Day Detox......Day 4

This morning I awoke feeling like someone had drugged me. It was mostly my head, very groggy. I felt a little light headed as I tried to prepare breakfast and had a few mild waves of nausea. Some of this was my blood sugar but I'm definitely stirring up an internal toxic soup. Yesterday I took my 2nd and 3rd dose of SP Cleanse at 5pm and bedtime respectively. Since just like drugs, doses of herbs should take body weight into account and individual sensitivity, I may decrease to 5 or 6 caps 3x day. I've also found SP Cleanse sits better if I take it blended in the smoothie. Swallowing 7 capsule brings some air into the stomach and I've been having heartburn after my last dose. It's mild and doesn't last. Last night I took a little herbal remedy and it went away.

I didn't feel clear headed until after lunch today. Oh, breakfast was an apple and banana smoothie and some beet. Midmorning I felt low blood sugar so I had a piece of brown rice bread with ghee. Technically the program allows cooked brown/wild rice, but I caution eating things made from brown rice flour, say bread, pasta, crackers, and tortillas (it's easy to get too much starch). Lunch was leftover vegetable soup, winter squash, and a brown rice cake (yes, that's my second serving of rice today) with sesame spread on it. My gourmet dinner, exquisitely prepared by my lovely wife, was spaghetti squash with a vegetable sauce. Not sure everything that was in it but I think it included kale, zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms, onion, garlic, EV olive oil, Redmond salt, basil, oregano, thyme, and a little balsamic vinegar. I topped it with a little brewer's yeast. I also put some butter on my squash.

I didn't seem to have any cravings today. I've been keeping up my water intake to about 64oz without too much trouble. I've been lucky to drink half that prior to the detox. The only way to do this is to have a water bottle bottle you can see the water level and keep it nearby at all times. Oh, the other new symptom I had all morning was dry mouth. My eyes were also dry. I just kept drinking and finally this improved after lunch.

I'll probably close the evening with a light snack. Not sure what yet. I want another smoothie but the kids are all in bed. I'm thinking of jello. I'll have to make my gelatin dessert soon. I use agar, as I suppose that gelatin isn't totally legal. I'd say it's fine after day 10. I'll probably just add blended fruit, beet, carrot and maybe some stevia.

Monday, October 25, 2010

21 Day Detox......Day 3

Today everyone slept in a little, which felt great but made for a crazy morning. I managed to get the girls fed with my buckwheat pancakes from the freezer, topped with blackberries and honey-molasses syrup. Then I made them a smoothie to split and finally I made mine with one golden delicious apple, a few remaining raspberries out of the freezer, a little ground flax and all the supplement powders. I made a double batch so I could have it for lunch.

Made it to the office and felt good this morning, very satisfied and alert. By noon I was feeling hungry and made cheesy bread for my daughter (picked her up from preschool and she wanted to have an afternoon with daddy). I gave her some roasted salted mixed nuts I had at the office as an appetizer and I was salivating at this point. It's amazing how acute your sense of smell and taste become while doing a detox. I finally pulled out my smoothie from the fridge and had that with some baby carrots, celery and an apple. I was content after that. I didn't feel hungry until about five when we finally headed home.

I haven't had cravings or low energy. Quite the contrary; I have more energy, seem to sleep more soundly, and my bowels are working well. The only time I desire something outside the diet is when I see or smell it. This is more difficult having my family eat outside the program. But we generally eat very healthy, so it's not like they are holding a Big Mac and fries in my face and saying, "naanahhh naanahhh na na nahhh!" On the way home from the office in the car, my daughter said, "it smells like popcorn." I didn't smell it but it made me want it, and then I could smell it... in my mind's nose.

Dinner was leftover lentils, korma and rice. While the family topped their lentils with plain cream top yogurt, I added my sesame spread, which really tastes great. I'm feeling very good now; I may just have some cut up fruit in a bit.

By the way, this detox is an excellent way to detect food allergies/sensitivities. On day 22 I can begin to add foods back into my diet, one at a time. This can elicit a reaction even though I've previously never noticed anything.

Recipes from day 2

Here are a few recipes

Curried Lentils
2 cups dry lentils
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 quart water (for cooking)
2 tsp curry powder (3 parts each ground cumin seed, corriander seed, tumeric; 1 part fenugreek, black pepper, mustard seed, fennel seed)
1 tsp clarified butter or ghee
1 inch piece of dried kelp (kombu) (or 1/4 tsp of ground)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp lime juice
1-2 tsp dried onion

Inspect lentils for pebbles/stones. Place in pot and cover with water, about 1 quart. Cover and let soak overnight or 6 to 8 hours (this is optional but will allow them to cook faster and be more digestible). Drain and rinse once. Add 1 quart water, bay leaf and kelp and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to med/low and let simmer covered for 1 hour. Stir occasionally and add water if level drops below level of lentils. Add curry powder, dried onion and clarified butter for the last 15-20 minutes of cooking. You can let it simmer longer as long as there is enough water. Add salt only after the lentils are at your desired tenderness. Adding it too soon will prevent the lentils from softening. Add the lime juice, stir and enjoy.

This pairs nicely with brown basmati rice, but for the program just watch the starch. We also like to make vegetable korma to go with this.

Vegetable Korma
1 cup chopped cauliflower
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 cup chopped summer squash
1 cup chopped carrots
1 yam
1 large onion
2-3 cloves garlic
2 cups water
1 1/2 cup coconut milk
2 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp clarified butter or ghee
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice (might want to add a little more)
2-3 tbsp curry powder
1/4 cup ground pumpkin seeds (optional)

Add vegetables (note, I prefer to chop them with a food processor so they cook faster), garlic, onion, clarified butter, curry powder, 1 cup water, and salt to large cooking pot on medium high heat. Cook covered stirring regularly until vegetables begin to soften, about 40 minutes. Add apple cider vinegar and water as needed. Continue simmering until vegetables are very soft and mixture thickens a little. Reduce heat to low and add coconut milk and ground pumpkin seeds. Continue simmering another 10 to 15 minutes. Serve with basmati rice and lentils. Note you can substitute just about any vegetable.

1/2 apple cider vinegar (or balsamic or white wine)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt (I also like to add a little fish sauce)
1/2 tsp each dried oregano, basil
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/2 cup water
2 tsp ground flax or chia seed

Add all ingredients to a 16 oz jar or shaker. Attach lid and shake vigorously for 1 hour (just kidding, 10 sec should be sufficient). Let stand for 10 minutes or so and flax/chia seed will thicken. You can add more ground seed or a little more liquid to get desired consistency. You can vary the seasoning to your taste, i.e. add ground mustard seed, ginger, and stevia (or a little honey) for a honey mustard dressing.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

21 Day Detox......Day 2

Good day and welcome to day 2. Things went well today. A little churning inside but things are moving in the right direction, if you catch my drift. The point of doing a cleanse or detox is to move things that shouldn't be in the body, out of the body. I wanted to highlight the main herbal product I am using for the first week to support and open the detox pathways in the body.

SP Cleanse from Standard Process is an impressive list of herbs formulated to support the emunctories (elimination organs). Here are the ingredients:
Juniper berry powder (Juniperus communis), red clover (flower) powder (Trifolium pratense), collinsonia (root) powder, apple pectin, burdock (root) powder (Arctium lappa), barley (grass) powder, dandelion (leaf) (Taraxacum officinale), Spanish black radish (root), Oregon grape (root) powder (Berberis aquifolium), cayenne pepper powder (Capsicum annuum), fenugreek (seed) powder, choline bitartrate, inositol, globe artichoke (leaf) (Cynara scolymus), fennel (seed), oat flour, dried beet (leaf) juice, beet (root) powder, milk thistle (Silybum marianum) (80% silymarins), Tillandsia usneoides, carrot (root) powder, broccoli (whole plant) powder, and kale (whole plant) powder.

"The phytonutrients from these multiple ingredients help the body eliminate toxins that originate in the environment, as well as metabolic toxins that are given off internally. The vitamin complexes, minerals, and phytonutrients in SP Cleanse support the body's internal waste-removal systems to encourage healthy kidney function, help purify the blood, support lymphatic system function, promote efficient gastrointestinal elimination, and maintain healthy liver detoxification function."

I will consume 150 capsules of this over the first seven days. Then the diet and protein/nutrient shakes continue for the duration of the program. Why go through all this trouble?

Obviously the "carrot" for some is guaranteed weight loss, lowering BP without drugs, or maybe giving that statin drug the boot. These are all worthy motivators, but for me none of these are why I'm doing it. I weigh the same as I did as a sophomore in high school, I have low blood pressure and my cholesterol level is ........ I actually don't know but 5 years ago it was normal (by the way, cholesterol level is a red herring).

My motivation is the same as it was ten years ago when I buried my father after he succumbed to pancreatic cancer. I decided I can either live in denial or fear, or be proactive in caring for myself and others. To that end I've encouraged my patients to seek a healthy path. Inevitably we all live in a world that exposes us to increasing levels of toxins, those from without and those we make inside just by being alive.

I battle the same forces as everyone else, the desire for easy pleasure- quick unhealthy food, while not exercising (though I do find some types enjoyable if I'd just make the time) and not getting enough sleep. Anyway, so since grad school I've certainly amassed additional strains on my body that can be helped by a purification process. Just like fasting regimes or retreats, the idea is to clean the inside of the body (physically, mind and spirit). Satiety mechanisms are reset, habits are broken, new ones are made and I am reminded of the supreme responsibility I have in my own health. Not my genes, not my parents, not MacDonald's, not fate, not my victim status.

So back to today. To hasten the GI tract I added beet to my smoothie at lunch and it did the trick. I had some vegetable stew and apple. Then dinner was vegetable korma, lentils, and brown rice. Sound boring? Not when it's made with fresh homemade ghee (google it), fresh ground spices for the curry, coconut milk and sea salt. Since I couldn't eat the homemade pumpkin cookies with cream cheese frosting that Jill made, I'm hunkering for my banana chocolate pudding....
Mashed banana
1 heaping tablespoon of ground flax seed
1/4 tsp of stevia powder
dash of cinnamon
1 tbsp of carob powder (OK, I'm out, so I used organic unsweetened cocoa powder)
enough liquid to mix it into a delicious gelatinous dessert
Oh, and topped with shredded coconut.

Tomorrow it's time to take the detox diet to work. Wish me luck.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

21 Day Detox......Day 1

I've decided to embark on a cleanse/detox for the next 21 days with a few of my patients and thought I'd post updates on how things are going.

The program involves an all-you-can-eat paleolithic diet with no grains except at most one serving of brown or wild rice, millet, or quinoa per day; up to two servings of lentils; eating twice as much vegetables as fruits; no corn, potatoes, soy, eggs, dairy, animal products EXCEPT organic unsalted butter or ghee; no sugar, sodas, fried foods, unhealthy oils, HFCS, canola oil, margarine, shortening, and most processed foods with additives. One serving of wild fish, FR chicken or turkey, wild game or grass-fed beef or bison is allowed after day 10. The core of the program is protein/fiber shakes, 2-3 per day, with a greens and fruit powder. In addition, there is an intensive herbal supplement to support the detoxification pathways in the body.

Today was a little rough watching the family eat one of our usuals for breakfast- apple pie oatmeal... a proprietary recipe. After my first smoothie I had to make a sesame butter spread to dip my baby carrots in or fear I'd fade away before high noon. Lunch was another blackberry smoothie, green salad with a vineigrette and pumpkin seeds. Dinner was winter squash soup, a little brown rice.. and yes, a slight "cheat;" we had left over salmon enchiladas made with Ezekial sprouted tortillas. Yes there was a little cheese, potatoes, corn, and black beans in there, but I limited my portion and it was for the sake of using up leftovers. (Hopefully none of my patients will read this.)

Really this program is about taking a break from unhealthy patterns and really allowing the body's elimination pathways to work unhindered. My weakness lately- banana chips fried in coconut oil and lightly sweetened. Oh, and very dark chocholate; like so dark I have to eat it wearing a headlamp. Anyway, hoping I can get to bed early... at least earlier than usual.

Stay tuned for my Klingon banana pudding recipe that will definitely be made (and eaten) tomorrow.

Friday, September 24, 2010

No Pain, Starve the Heart and Brain

Prescription and over-the-counter medications are often a double-edged sword. Recently another warning was issued by a team of researchers at a meeting of the European Cardiology Society about the cardiovascular risks of taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). Back in 2004 you may recall the much publicized withdrawal of Vioxx from the market due to increased cardiovascular events. What may not get much publicity is the fact that all drugs in this class, including acetaminophen (Tylenol), can substantially increase your risk of heart attack or stroke.

The recent study looked at the use of various NSAIDs by healthy individuals and occlusive stroke. They looked at the population of Denmark, using a 1/2 million "healthy" people, with no previous or current disease or medications. They compared the use of five different NSAIDs and found an almost 30% to 90% increase in stroke, which increased depending on the dose and frequency of use. Taking more obviously increased risk, but they found increased risk even for the lower-dose user. The risk increased to 90 and 100% for those taking over 200mg of Ibuprofen or 100mg diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam) respectively.

This report adds to the growing body of evidence that NSAIDs promote the number one killer by far, cardiovascular disease. This raises the question, "if it promotes CVD, what other harm is it doing?"

These drugs inhibit pathways in the body that obviously blocks pain. But nothing in the body happens in a vacuum. If you are blocking pain, you are blocking other necessary processes. It's been long known the adverse effects these drugs have on the digestive tract. Buffered aspirin was an attempt to help reduce these effects. As other related drugs were developed some had less effect in this regard, but as a class they all cause the phenomenon of leaky gut, or increased gut permeability. This in turn is associated with autoimmune disease and allergy, not to mention maldigestion and nutrient deficiencies.

Oh, and by the way, NSAIDs are liver toxic, which along with antibiotics are the most common cause of drug-induced liver injury.

To use Tylenol or prescription NSAID for that rare trauma is one thing, but chronic use will set you up for more trouble down the road, far worse than that headache or sore back. Pain is your body's early warning system. If you have to use pain reliever for chronic pain you are putting a piece of tape over the "check engine" light on the dash board of your body. And sooner or later your engine is going to blow up. If your doctor(s) can't figure out what is going on... you need another doctor... and soon.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tell Your Children

I always hope I'm teaching (and modeling) what is right to my kids. I can't say it better than this.... After all, your health priority #1 is remembering your eternal destiny and what life is for.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Death by Sugar

This video of UCSF physician and professor Robert Lustig perfectly explains the root of the weight problem in our society. I came across this just after writing my last post about fructose and liver disease. It is so important that we wake up and start looking at what is in our food supply. Parents are unwittingly setting up their kids for a life of health problems. I also have the video viewable in the right column below.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fatty Liver part 2

In my last post I discussed the issues surrounding fatty liver disease. I'd like to delve a little deeper into that discussion and explain how a common ingredient in our food supply is wreaking havoc on our health.

As I mentioned previously, the main cause of fatty liver disease is a diet high in refined carbs and sugar. While this is true, I neglected to mention probably the biggest culprit, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Fructose is a sugar molecule found naturally in... fruit. It was widely promoted as a diabetic and blood sugar friendly sweetener because it didn't raise blood sugar as much as sucrose. Unfortunately this has been bad advice and the food industry has done us all a disservice by loading up the food supply with this insidious substance.

Fructose and especially high-fructose corn syrup is especially deft at raising blood triglyceride levels. This is fat in the blood. Our cells run primarily on glucose. Fructose must be converted to be used as energy in the body. This conversion happens in the liver and as you might imagine requires a host of micronutrients. Fructose is most easily converted to fat. We can burn fat for energy, but with a diet already plentiful in carbohydrate and glucose there is little need to utilize fat or fructose for energy. Therefore the body is constantly making fat from the all the ingested fructose. The consequences are weighty... literally!

High-fructose corn syrup is perhaps the main contributer to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, obesity, and certainly contributes to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The cluster of symptoms known as metabolic syndrome is therefore also closely associated with the high refined sugar/carb diet. Metabolic syndrome or syndrome x is the combination of high blood sugar, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol (LDL), and excess abdominal fat. Fructose promotes weight gain even more by suppressing our satiety mechanisms. It literally decreases the signaling in the brain to tell you you've had enough to eat.

It's been my observation that many of us underestimate our intake of sugar. I've had many patients tell me they don't use sugar. In reality they are consuming a large amount, including high-fructose corn syrup. Why the oversight? To cut you some slack, sugar is easily hidden throughout the food supply, at least to those who don't read ingredient labels. Sugar or HFCS is added to everything from yogurt to bread. It's in your spaghetti sauce and whole grain cereals. Even things like apple sauce or MacDonald's "real fruit" smoothies have added sugar. A common ploy is to use concentrated fruit juice, which of course is sugar.

So what about fruit? It has sugar and depending on type can have a fair amount of fructose. Here is the difference between man-made adulterated foods and naturally grown foods on God's green Earth. Sugar in fresh fruit is in a matrix of enzymes and nutrients. God has place within the apple all the co-factors for our bodies to extract the energy and nutrition. Any alteration leads to degradation in nutrient quality. While a little fresh apple juice is fine, though I always recommend diluting all juice with 50% water, sugar without the fiber can cause problems.

If, like most of us, you've had years of processed and sugar-laden foods, you'd do well to do some serious liver restoration. I recommend a 21-day Purification program (see the home page of my web site or read here) to jump start your body back to good health.

Sugar is one of the main issues affecting liver health, but I haven't even discussed the toxic load we all encounter from prescription and OTC medications, toxins in our food, air, and water, and normal metabolic burdens our bodies face every day. If you feel like your "health balance" has tipped in the wrong direction, now is the time to take action to be healthier. Don't put it off.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

vitamin E treatment improves liver damage in fatty liver disease

To quote a recent study, "Vitamin E treatment is associated with an improvement in the histologic grade of inflammation in NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease)."

The chief of liver diseases at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City stated, "I think these results should resurrect our efforts to use antioxidants and, more important, to develop very potent antioxidants."

NAFLD is the most common liver disease among adolescents in the United States.
NASH (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis) is the third most common cause of chronic liver disease in adults in the United States (after hepatitis C and alcohol). It is now probably the leading reason for mild elevations of transaminases (ALT and AST "liver enzymes" or LFTs on blood tests).

I found this study interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, it classically depicts how conventional medicine is reluctant to disclose the cause(s) of some diseases for which there is good evidence of cause. It's becoming obvious there is major influence from drug companies on how research is conducted and how doctors practice medicine. The mainstream drug-medical model extenuates "causes" while accentuating drug treatments. Let's hope common sense becomes mainstream.

In the case of NAFLD/NASH though there can be predispositions that put a person at higher risk, it is clear that these disease are ushered in by a lifestyle of excess, especially an excess of processed foods.

We can trace the problem to an intake of too much refined carbohydrates (sugar, white flour, rice, etc.) and too little micro-nutrients and fiber. What happens when you overfill the gas tank in your car? It overflows; thankfully there is an auto-shut off. Too bad there isn't one for junk food. Our liver takes the excess sugar out of the blood and converts it to fat. That fat gets shuttled all around the body to fat cells; our abdomen, breasts, buttocks, thighs, and the back of your arms. Some people can do this efficiently enough to keep the fat from congesting the liver, say the person who's ever expanding. In some people, the fat begins to accumulate in the liver and the toxic gunk begins to cause inflammation and damage.

Often because a diet high in refined calories is low in essential micro-nutrients, the liver lacks the co-factors to process the fat, inactivate free-radicals and detoxify. So where does the vitamin E come in?

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant. It protects lipids (fats) from oxidative or free-radical damage. This can translate into protecting our liver cells from the inflammatory assault from excess oxidized and damaged fats. Again these are being created from an excess of calories plus an intake of the typical fats in modern cuisine (trans-fats, fried foods, processed oils).

So how do you prevent and treat fatty liver? While vitamin E used like a drug can help, to prevent and cure you need to eat a diet rich in the naturally occurring vitamin E complex, while avoiding the sugar-drug habit. As other studies have shown, taking vitamin E in an isolated form can lead to worse outcomes. It can deplete the body of other micro-nutrients. This is the reason that food created by God is best, along with the therapeutic food concentrates created by ingenious individuals like Royal Lee.

Wonder if you're at risk? Have elevated liver enzymes and your doctor just scratches his head? Every adult should have regular screening blood work and if your doctor doesn't know what to do, give me a call....

Friday, July 16, 2010

Grand Opening

Naturopathic Med is now open! After much planning and preparation our new clinic is finally opened for business. It's been a work in progress after carefully searching for the ideal location. Conveniently located near Southeast Blvd and 29th Ave we primarily serve South Hill, but it's a short trip from Spokane Valley and downtown. Here is our new contact information.
Naturopathic Med., your natural medical solution
2607 S. Southeast Blvd. Suite B-111
Spokane, WA 99223

Stop by and say hello!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

New web site (and office)

Well it's simple, but it's online! For the first time I have an actual self-standing web site. This is the prequel to my soon to be open South Hill office in Spokane, WA.

Check out the site here:

This blog has more or less served as my web site. I've had "" which simply featured my profile with, a practitioner finding service. This new site, and domain name- "" will begin to be my primary site online. I will continue to post articles here at Links to these articles will appear on soon.
Let me know what you think.

Dr. G

Friday, May 28, 2010

Saturday Night Fever

Anyone who has moved knows the stresses and disruptions it causes. When I was single, relocating was simply another adventure. Add two kids and an expectant wife and the complexity factors goes up exponentially. Despite relocating 1,000 miles north our family has fared well. Perhaps with the cooler weather, my two trips back to California and our new microbial environment it was inevitable that we'd have a bug or two pass through our home. Three weeks ago my littlest came down with Roseola, a fairly mild viral exanthem. She recovered in time for another respiratory virus, perhaps the "dog" flu, (we are surrounded by canines in this neighborhood), to hit her first, then the Misses, followed by yours truly, and lastly my first born. Though it's uncomfortable to have body aches and a fever, it reminded me of the intelligence and elegant power of the immune system... when it's left unhindered to do its job.

I remember when I was little if my fever climbed to 102 or more I was given children's aspirin, now of course it's Tylenol. Unfortunately many parents continue to give their children Acetaminophen at the first sign of a fever. Studies have demonstrated that doing this prolongs the symptoms of colds and the flu. This is no surprise when you consider that fever is a natural defense mechanism of the body to fight off infection. Increased body temperature makes our internal environment less hospitable to the bugs, while increasing the activity of our immune cells and speed of enzymatic reactions. The bottom line is that using Tylenol for infections is suppressive and does not encourage healing.

The good news is there are plenty of non-suppressive treatments for infections. We all want to keep our kids free from pain. The aches, chills, headaches, and fever can be grueling. Providing pain and fever relief needs to be weighed with the detriment of suppression. When a child can't sleep and is in acute pain, a fraction dose of acetaminophen allowing the child to sleep can out weigh the negatives, but I have found this rarely necessary. My first born has received pain reliever maybe twice in her lifetime. The cool thing about kids is that left unhindered, their symptoms are robust and short-lived. For example during this last bout my youngest spiked a fever of 102.4 one evening, we gave her some supportive herbal medicine, a homeopathic remedy, and put her to bed early. The next day she was back to her happy self again. As we get older, our fevers tend to be lower and our symptoms last longer. Once again avoiding suppressive medications is best.

During this time it's also best to avoid other factors that hamper our immune response. Sugar-laden foods, so prevalent in kids diets today, are best avoided. Light meals, plenty of water, and immune enhancing supplementation is ideal. Dilute juice with mineral water can be settling and a number of kid-friendly plant extracts like elderberry and echinacea can encourage a healthy immune response. Extra sleep is imperative and if your child seems to get more then her fair share of colds check in with your holistic pediatrician for an evaluation.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Kids and Chemicals

As parents we want to keep our kids safe and healthy (You must watch this short video). In case we forget common sense there are laws that remind us to use car seats, bike helmets, and not leave kids unattended in cars. The days are gone when most kids walked to and from school; our fear of child abduction means we drive our kids everywhere. Though these issues are important it is clear that one of the most pervasive yet hidden threats to our offspring are the toxic chemicals around us.

It's easy to ignore this issue, falsely believing government agencies and industry will protect us. Unfortunately they are slow to act. In addition, since our exposure to harmful chemicals isn't always obvious it's easy to downplay the threat. Studies on total body burden (levels of harmful chemicals in our bodies) show that all of us carry as many as 200 different potentially harmful chemicals inside. Even newborns come into this world already carry a burden unintentionally transferred from mom. For example, small children have toxic levels of PBDE (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) a common flame retardant used in the US in mattresses and elsewhere. Though voluntarily discontinued around 2004, most people still have products containing PBDE in their homes. Kids often have body burdens many times worse than adults. This is because pound for pound they are consuming and breathing much more volume than an adult. Their rapid growth means they are even more sensitive to the chemicals; they have immature guts, immune systems, and nervous systems.

A study a few years back in the Seattle area looked at the chemical load in children of parents who purchased predominately Certified Organic produce versus conventional produce. They tested for organophosphates, a family of pesticides that are neurologically harmful. Kids fed Organics had undetectable levels of pesticide markers in their urine and saliva, whereas those eating conventional produce had high levels. They also showed after switching kids to an Organic diet, after 36 hours the pesticides were undetectable.

One of the prime sources for chemical exposure is sadly our homes. Do a survey in your own home. Take an inventory of the chemical laboratory under your sinks, in the laundry room, and in the garage. Do you use pest-control services? Do you use antibacterial soap? Read the labels on your sunscreen, shampoo, laundry detergent, and even the packaged foods in your pantry. A few chemicals here and there might be fine, but the scale has tipped and increasing dis-ease is the result: infertility rates, birth defects, cancer, neurological, and immune-related disease are just a few examples.

Here are a few areas to consider.

With summer approaching reevaluate your sun-exposure plan. Most sunscreens contain harmful ingredients, notably the hormone disruptor oxybenzone -also written as benzophenone-3. Other ingredients such as methylparaben, propylparaben, ethylparaben, propylene glycol, synthetic fragrances, and dyes may be harmful. It’s interesting to note that most sun blocks containing harmful active ingredients may actually increase the potential for cellular damage and skin cancer. After an hour of sun exposure, despite preventing sunburn, the UV energy is directed deeper into the skin. The best option is to slowly expose your skin to the sun. If you have to be out for extended periods either cover with clothing and hats or use natural sunscreens with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Remember that sunshine is necessary for good health. To little or too much (getting sun burned) is bad.

Learn what produce you should purchase Certified Organic (or not at all). See the list composed by the Environmental Working Group ( showing the worst to best produce for herbicide and pesticide levels. A simple rule of thumb is to buy Organic fruits and vegetables that you eat the skin (peaches, nectarines, strawberries, plumbs, grapes). Ones you peel that are conventionally produced usually have lower residue levels. See the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 list at: Another useful tip I learned is that you can tell from those annoying stickers they put on fresh produce, which are Organic, Conventional, and GMO (genetically modified). Those with a five digit number starting with “9” are Organic, those starting with “8” are GMO, and those with a four digit number are conventionally grown.

Look for ways to reduce your use of plastic, especially in terms of your food and drinks. Not all plastic is equally toxic, but avoid PVC, DEHA, adipate and phthalate, typically in the softer plastics and cling wraps. There is PVC-free cling wrap; a source I found indicates Glad and Saran are, as is Natural Value and Diamond Food Wrap. Also avoid polystyrene (LDPE), labeled “PS” #6 inside the recycle symbol. Better plastic container options are #’s 2, 4, and 5, also labeled as “PET,” “HDPE,” and “PP.” Never heat or store hot food in plastic. Microwaving in plastic or with cling wrap is really bad idea. Oily and foods higher in fat will also interact more with plastic containers. If possible use glass, ceramic, or stainless steel. Plastic containers breakdown over time; if they begin to show wear it’s time to recycle.

Lastly, one of the most pervasive problems I see in homes and offices is the use of antibacterial soaps. Even the American Medical Association recommends avoiding products with Triclosan, the common agent in liquid hand soaps. Not only are chemical antibacterial agents unnecessary to adequately clean your hands, but Triclosan is toxic to the environment and your body. Most notably it suppresses proper thyroid function. By the way, don’t eat conventional strawberries, which are treated with methyl bromides, another thyroid-toxic compound.

Though we all live in a modern chemical soup, little bodies are much more sensitive to the many toxic chemicals that are now so pervasive. We need to protect our kids.