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5 Tips To Control Your Allergies From An Integrative ENT

Tips to beat allergies

Allergy season is upon us, and for those of us troubled by seasonal allergic symptoms, it’s still not too late to find help.  While nothing substitutes creating a pre-season allergy plan, here are some useful tools that might give you relief.

Stay Indoors.  Check pollen counts on the radio or internet before you leave the house in the morning. (Great source: www. Pollen.com). Though pollen levels vary over the course of the day, a pollen count (the measure of pollen levels and type in a given area over the preceding 24 hours) can tip you off when it’s particularly hazardous outside. Many people start having trouble when the count reaches the 20 to 100 grains per cubic meter range. Note that the time of day when levels are highest is from 5:00 to 10:00 am and early evening. The time of day when levels are lowest is from mid- to late-afternoon.  If you must be outdoors, shed your clothing before you bring the allergens into the house, and immediately jump into the shower.

Try Nasal Irrigation.  Cleaning the nose with saline spray will decrease the amount of allergen that gets into your system. I like the squeeze bottle variety, such as the Neil Med brand – simply mix the enclosed packets with distilled or boiled water. Then, bend your head forward, and while squeezing the bottle into one nostril, pant like a puppy – it will keep the solution out of the back of your nose, so you can avoid that drowning feeling. You can find nasal irrigation kits at your local pharmacy.

Take Herbs or Supplements that Reduce Inflammation. Inflammation is one the biggest contributors to the allergic process in the body right behind repeated allergen exposure. Probiotics, Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, herbal blends, such as Natural DHist or Histaeze, and homeopathy, such as Sabadil and Histaminum, can all be used to control and prevent symptoms. For dosing, check instructions on the package – some need to be given in higher doses first to attain a loading dose. Also check for any interactions with medications that you may be using.

Consider Immunotherapy. Allergy shots are a conventional option that can be useful, however, there is a new hot option for the allergy prone: Sublingual Immunotherapy. You simply place drops under the tongue that act like allergy shots, which reduces the immune response to the allergen. Like allergy shots this kind of treatment requires weeks to months to become effective. The great thing is that making allergy drops the foundation of your pre-season allergy plan changes your potential to have allergies for years to come. These can be useful for adults or children with allergies, and no shots in the arm! And for children, it can prevent the “allergic march” – the tendency for children to progress from eczema to allergies and then asthma later on in life.

Leverage Diet to Reduce Allergy Symptoms. Even if you don’t have food allergies, eating a healthy diet keeps inflammation at bay – and makes you less prone to an allergy attack even if it’s your worst season. The Mediterranean Diet is a great anti-inflammatory diet. It is a sensible way to eat overall — reducing your animal based proteins, increasing your grains, vegetables and plant based proteins.  Of course, be sure to avoid foods that you are allergic to.  And remember, the body recognizes certain foods as the same allergen that is produced by certain trees.  If you have birch allergy, for example, you might find that you get an itchy mouth to “stone fruits” – apricots, cherries, plums, peaches – as well as to apple and pear.  These symptoms can be worse if the birch tree is in bloom.  You can find lists of cross-reactive foods at:

https://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/allergy-library/outdoor-allergies-and-food-allergies-can-be-relate

Wondering if you have food sensitivities? You might want to follow our 21-Day Simply Detox Plan. With our program you will discover, through a process of elimination and reintroduction, exactly which foods you have sensitivities to. You’ll detox your body and walk away with your own personalized food plan. The Do-It-Yourself E-Guidebook helps you every step of the way with daily instructions, a healthy eating food plan, and easy-to-follow recipes. Learn More 

 

Meet Dr. Gereau: Sezelle Gereau, MD, is an integrative ENT/Allergist with more than 20 years of experience. She uses an integrative and functional medicine approach to conditions such as allergies, chronic sinusitis, sleep apnea and headaches. She is one of the few physicians in the New York City metro area certified to prescribe allergy drops.

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Savor Spring with Sauteed Spring Vegetables

Green Vegetables to Sautee for Spring

Choosing produce in-season allows you to get the most flavor and nutritional bang for your buck.  These sautéed Spring vegetables can easily serve as a health supportive, and colorful addition to any meal, or even on their own. Pair with cooked quinoa for a quinoa-vegetable pilaf, or roll with red cabbage leaves with a lemon-tahini dressing for a refreshing wrap.  

One of our favorite things about this recipe is how versatile it is. Take a walk through your local Farmer’s Market and add, or substitute, the Spring produce calling your name. In fact, a saute is a great way to try new vegetables — start with a small amount and see how you like it.

Here’s a list of what is in season right now that you can try in your Sauteed Spring Vegetables: Asparagus, beets, beet greens, cabbage, garlic scapes, peas, scallions, spinach, summer squash, Swiss chard, and turnip greens.

Looking for more clean-eating recipes? Check out our BlumKitchen Recipe Book.  Created in our test kitchen, our recipes are free of gluten, dairy, corn, soy and egg to support your anti-inflammatory eating style. Further, BlumKitchen recipes are designed to reduce inflammation, support your thyroid, improve your liver’s detoxification function and heal your gut. 

Bon Apetite!

Sautéed Spring Vegetables

Servings: 8

Serving Size: 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb yellow onion, peeled, medium diced
  • ½ lb leeks, white and lite green portion only, cut in half lengthwise, thinly sliced on bias, washed after sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger root, peeled, minced
  • 1.5 lbs zucchini with skin, ends trimmed, cut in half lengthwise, sliced into ½-inch thick half moons
  • 1 lb broccoli florets, tough stems removed, cut into 1-inch pieces, blanched
  • 1.5 lbs bok choy, leaves and stems separated, leaves rough chopped, stems sliced on bias into ½-inch thick pieces
  • ½ lb sugar snap peas
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Fill a medium saucepan ¾ full with water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer.
  2. In small batches, add the broccoli carefully into the water until it turns bright green and is just fork tender.  With a slotted spoon, transfer the broccoli from the simmering water, to a colander in the sink, running under cold water until broccoli is completely cooled.  
  3. Blanch the sugar snap peas similarly to the broccoli.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and leeks and sauté until just caramelized, about 4 minutes.  
  5. Add the garlic, ginger, zucchini, and bok choy stems and cook another 2 minutes until just tender.  
  6. Add the blanched broccoli florets, blanched sugar snap peas, bok choy leaves, salt, and pepper, and stir to combine until vegetables are warmed through and bok choy leaves are just wilted, about 2 minutes.  

Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters.

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What’s the Difference Between a Detox and a Cleanse?

The terms cleanse and detox are often used interchangeably, and while they both remove toxins from your body, a detox and a cleanse are two different things! At the root of the word “cleanse” is clean, and you should think of a cleanse as a way of cleaning your body. Often a cleanse uses supplements or pills to eliminate substances directly and cleanses normally focus on the digestive tract. On the other hand, detox programs strive to support your body’s natural toxin-eliminating processes. Since the body’s main detoxing centers are the liver and the kidneys, good detox programs focus on supporting your liver and kidneys by giving them the nutrients and supplements they need to function optimally.

So what are toxins anyway? Heavy metals including mercury are top of mind, but the lists also include persistent organic pollutants, plastics, and pesticides. Basically, toxins are harmful particles that can stay in your body, irritating cells, causing inflammation, and interfering with your body’s normal functions.

Signs of toxicity or a high toxic load (and thus the need for a detox or cleanse) include:

  • fatigue,
  • headaches,
  •  joint pain,
  • depression,
  • anxiety,
  • and constipation.

But there’s much more to detoxes and cleanses, in fact, season is important. Watch the short video above to see why spring is a great time for a cleanse, to find out why a toxin load is important, and what lowering your toxin load can do for you. Or view the whole video on my Facebook.

For more information, we offer a Detox Treatment kit with our Detox Guidebook, Fiber Blend, Liver Support with Antioxidants, Daily Detox Support, and Magnesium Tablets and you can take our Medical Symptom Questionnaire for toxins.

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Why Detoxing is a Spring Cleaning Must-Do

Spring Detox

The idea of Spring cleansing is ancient.

For 3,000 years most of Asia, the Balkans, the Black Sea Basin and the Caucasus have celebrated the Persian New Year, the first day of Spring, by cleaning everything from the curtains to the furniture.  Passover, in the Jewish tradition, also asks us to Spring clean our homes.  Almost all religions have a period of fasting that are considered spiritual cleanses.

Cleansing is Synonymous with Detoxifying

At Blum Center for Health, spring is the best time to cleanse the body, with a focus on the liver, your primary detoxifying, or cleansing, organ.  Your liver safely removes toxins out of your body with the help of antioxidants, B vitamins, and amino acids.  With over 8,000 chemicals in circulation in the environment, we need to constantly support this process with the food we eat, and sometimes with supplements, otherwise, the liver pathways can get jammed, become overburdened, and toxins can bioaccumulate in tissues and fat cells.  This can make us feel unwell and lead to excess accumulation of weight.

We strongly believe that periodic liver support cleanses are essential for good health.

Here are 7 signs that you are carrying a toxic load:

  • You constantly feel tired.
  • You experience achiness in your joints.
  • You experience brain fog.
  • You suffer with headaches.
  • You experience mood swings.
  • You feel heavy in your body and in your mind.
  • You have difficulty losing weight.

One place that you might be exposed to toxins is in your water supply. Water is so important and yet our water has become a big issue.  This is something you are exposed to on a daily basis — multiple times a day — due to showering, baths, washing your hands and hair, brushing our teeth, and washing our clothes.

Here are the possible chemicals commonly found in water and their potential toxicity issues:

 Lead — from leaching lead from pipes, or solder, in our water system

  •      in children, colic, developmentally delayed and learning difficulties
  •      fatigue, irritability, nausea, constipation, miscarriages, anemias, kidney issues

According to the New York State Department of Health: Lead affects all organs and functions of the body to varying degrees. The frequency and severity of symptoms among exposed individuals depends upon the amount of exposure.

There are also chemicals that can found in your water supply that create havoc in your body:

Copper, from our pipes

  •      vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea
  •      associated with liver and kidney damage

Fluoride, fortified in our water

  •      can cause bone disorders

Pesticides, a problem if your well is shallow, or if you live near a farm or golf course

  •      nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, night sweats, muscles aches

This is our water and it is not good news.

We are also exposed to chemicals in our food, our cars, our homes, our clothes, our furniture – and the list goes on.  Safe removal of these compounds is possible with a liver that functions well.  I hope you agree, that it is MANDATORY that you detoxify and tune-up your liver on a routine basis.  A good detox program can lead to a reversal of symptoms, improved metabolism and a decrease in weight. Spring is a great time!

If you live near Blum Center, consider joining our popular 5-Day Intense Detox Group Program, a medically-sound jumpstart to reducing your toxic load. The group kicks off on Monday, May 15th at either 10am or 6pm. Join Now

If you don’t live near the Center and want to detox, purchase our quintessential 21- Day Simply Detox Kit, which includes a step-by-step guidebook and all the liver cleansing supplements you need to detoxify your body and eliminate your toxic load.
Learn More

About Mary: Mary Gocke, Director of Nutrition at Blum Center for Health, has been successfully using food and nutrition science to treat and heal people with chronic illnesses and acute conditions for over 25 years. When Mary’s not helping people feel better through nutrition, this mother of two grown children can be found practicing yoga, which she has taught for years, or in her kitchen cooking something colorful.

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An Integrative Gynecologist’s Advice for Teens and Young Adults

Gynecological advice for teens

Making the transition from childhood into the teenage years and young adulthood is a tender time for most young women. Navigating the world of menstruation, sexual relations, sexual health, and even understanding how her body works, can create anxiety, wonder, excitement and, inevitably, loads of questions.  How can we best support young women as they make this transition? The answer lies with using a more holistic approach to Gynecology.

Traditional gynecology is solely focused on reproductive health. It can feel cold and medicalized no matter how warm the practitioner is. And, let’s face it, our reproductive system is only a small part of our entire body.

The Integrative (which includes Functional Medicine) approach to Gynecology focuses on the entire body. This holistic way of viewing a woman addresses nutrition, exercise, stress management techniques, and lifestyle choices, all of which positively sets up a young woman for a lifetime of excellent reproductive health. Often, all kinds of issues, like PMS, painful periods, and polycystic ovarian syndrome, can be treated using lifestyle approaches, either alone or coupled with herbs and supplements.

Perhaps the most important difference between me and a conventional gynecologist, is that when I start working with you or your daughter, my goal is to develop a relationship. It is important to create a partnership based on trust and respect in order to most effectively help you, the woman sitting in front of me. What are your goals?  These drive everything. I start with a detailed history, paying great attentiveness to your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.

In creating a reproductive wellness plan I incorporate nutrition, exercise, mind/body techniques, supplements, and herbs.  I may recommend acupuncture, massage/manual therapies, energy work.  Of course, if birth control is desired also, we do include contraception with or without hormones. Again, it is co-created with you, and It all depends on your goals.

For a teenager or young woman an initial appointment often may not include a pelvic exam.  This is because, truthfully, many questions/concerns don’t require one.  Eventually we’ll get to an exam but first there is benefit in educating you about your own anatomy.

Often our first visit is just a “talk” visit.  I understand that there can be fear surrounding a pelvic exam. My belief is that we don’t need to do anything that is not necessary, especially if it is uncomfortable or anxiety provoking!  Even for mature patients, we are moving away from reflexively doing a pelvic exam at each visit because the evidence shows that it is not always necessary.  I would rather spend our time with education.

So many routines that are started in our youth carry forward.  What better time to take the steps needed to build your bones up, maintain your gut microbiome, establish food choices that support reproductive health and decrease the long term risks of cancer, diabetes, heart disease?  We also teach mind/body techniques like deep breathing, meditation that helps you to handle all the stress that our crazy world throws at us.  As a young woman, the sooner you learn to manage this, the better off you will be.  It’s also important for you to learn about how toxins in the environment, food, plastics, cosmetics impact your reproductive health.  If you take steps early in life to lower the toxic load, we can ensure your future wellbeing.

You can see that I believe strongly that if we can teach the young women of today the principles of nutrition, exercise, stress management and toxin avoidance, they will be a much healthier generation tomorrow!  And my goal is to help make that happen.

Would you like to learn more and live in our neighborhood? Join Dr. Bronwyn Fitz at Blum Center for Health on May 4th at 7pm for her free community talk, An Integrative Gynecologist’s Advice for Teens and Young Adults. Dr. Fitz will describe the Integrative approach to some of the common health concerns that face young women: irregular and difficult periods, birth control, HPV vaccination, sexually transmitted infections.  Register Now 

About Dr. Fitz:

Dr. Bronwyn Fitz is a board certified Obstetrician Gynecologist who is fellowship trained in Integrative Medicine.  In her practice she melds traditional medicine with non-Western approaches, nutrition, botanicals, mind/body therapies and lifestyle interventions to help women address their gynecological and reproductive health concerns. Her interest in mindfulness and meditation led her to pursue a two-year Fellowship at The Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, under the leadership of world-renowned Integrative physician, Dr. Andrew Weil.

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How To Choose The Right Supplement

Choosing the right supplements

You eat a healthy diet—fresh vegetables and fruits every day, lean animal protein or high quality vegetarian protein, and whole grains—and you limit your intake of processed foods, right?

Do you still need a multivitamin or any kind of supplement?

In functional medicine, we often find the answer to be yes, because there are multiple reasons why you might not be getting what you need just from food.

First, we eat food for energy and nutrients:

The food we eat is more or less nutritious depending on the soil it is grown in or, in the case of animal protein, the feed the animals have been given.  Conventional farming puts only a limited number of nutrients back into the soil through fertilizers, so food grown on those farms tend to have lower nutrient quality over time.  In particular, zinc often becomes depleted.

Organic farming has a greater potential for higher nutrient quality because the soil is often fertilized with richer nutrient sources than just standard fertilizer.  But again, if the soil has been used for decades for agriculture, it may become depleted especially of trace minerals.

Before we became such an urban culture, people ate much more of the “whole” of whole foods—nothing was thrown away.  We ate organ meats like pancreas, kidneys, liver, brain that all have nutrients that aren’t necessarily found in vegetables or the usual meats we eat.  We ate much more fish and so got our omega- 3 fatty acids we need for healthy cell membranes.  We also used vegetable skins to make soup stocks and roasted pumpkin seeds for snacks (think zinc) to get minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants.  Overall, then, we have narrowed our nutrient sources by just eating the “good” parts of our foods.

Supplement Suggestion: In order to compensate for these changes in our foods and diets, we recommend a daily regimen of:

  • A daily multivitamin-mineral
  • Omega 3s, and
  • Vitamin D

These will meet the basic needs of almost everyone.

Looking for these essentials in an easy daily packets? Our specially-formulated Once Daily Vitamin and Mineral Essentials  has everything you need, and is third-party tested for purity.

Then there is your digestion:

If you are not digesting your food well, then you may not absorb your nutrients well.  We can determine what the problem is with your digestion by doing functional testing.

Then, while you work on improving your digestion, targeted supplements based on what’s going on in your body can really make a difference in how you feel.

We determine that based on symptoms or medical conditions that are associated with certain deficiencies in addition to the testing.  We do with each person who comes to Blum Center to tailor a program specifically to you.

When choosing supplements you also want to be aware of the quality of the products you are taking. 

News reports come out frequently about how the supplements at some of the chain stores don’t have the nutrients they are labeled to have.  Professional quality supplements have third party verification of their ingredients and also have testing for contaminants like lead.  We are careful at Blum Center to choose high quality, third party verified supplements.  We can advise you on resources to check supplement testing for products as well.

Do you live near Blum Center in Rye Brook, NY? Join Elizabeth and Darcy McConnell, MD for their community talk, What You Need to Know about Supplements, on Wednesday, April 19th at 7pm. Register Now! 

Meet Elizabeth: In her dual role as our Functional Medicine Nurse Practitioner and a teacher in our Mind.Body.Spirit programs at Blum Center for Health, Elizabeth Greig, MSN, FNP, helps treat and heal patients with complex chronic health conditions. Whether she’s treating a medical condition or leading a class in meditation, Elizabeth helps people understand that when it comes to healing, it’s more about nourishing life, than it is about battling illness.

 

 

 

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8 Reasons All Women Need Non-Negotiable Self-Care

Woman practicing yoga for self-care

Women are told that they can have it all — parenthood, families, careers, relationships, and community involvement.

Women are not told, however, that by juggling all these hats they put themselves at risk for feeling perpetually burned out.

Many women become so busy taking care of kids, partners, parents, in-laws, pursuing careers, and managing the day-to-day maintenance of running a home (cooking, cleaning, shopping), that everyone else gets their best. They get shortchanged.

Some women even put basic needs on hold — doctor’s appointments, haircuts, coffee with a close friend. If this resonates, you might feel dissatisfied, lonely, unappreciated, haggard, cranky, disheveled and even unattractive.

Having it all leaves you with no strength and no time to care for yourself.

I remember one particular Mother’s Day, sitting in one of my favorite cafes overlooking a park in bloom, surrounded by my two daughters and my then-husband. I was absolutely exhausted — caring for two small children, working, taking care of the house, attempting to keep it all together. Sitting there, on Mother’s Day, fighting to keep my eyes open, all I could think was, “What about me?”

Research (1) has shown that women today are less happy than they have been over the past 40 years. Why? Theories abound, but l suspect a lack of “me-time” is a major reason. All the hats we juggle leave many women not taking adequate care of ourselves — the very thing we need to give us the strength and energy to address all the responsibilities we have.

It’s a depletion loop. We keep taking and taking and taking from ourselves without giving anything back.

In fact, the chronic underlying stress of keeping all these hats in the air can lead to serious health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, headaches, digestive problems, weight gain, memory issues and even autoimmune disease. Self-care is an important antidote in battling all of these conditions.

Yet, in my health coaching practice at Blum Center for Health, most women tell me that they “don’t have time” to take time for themselves. When we delve a little deeper, however, it becomes clear that “time” is not the issue.

What’s the issue? There is an insidious undercurrent of guilt for taking care of herself.  Many women internalize the implied message that it’s her “duty” to minimize her needs in order to care for others. That, if she is taking care of herself, then she is taking time away from caring for someone else.

Every women requires self-care for peak performance and heightened self-esteem. After all, if you don’t carve out the time to truly care and love yourself, if you avoid things that make you feel mentally and physically well, you deplete your self-esteem. Essentially you’re robbing your own bank!

So, I ask you: “What do you want for you?”

8 Reasons to Put You First on Your List

  1. You will be better equipped to communicate your needs, and the support you require, to your partner, family, friends and co-workers.
  2. Putting yourself first will make you stronger and healthier.
  3. Attending to your needs, and learning to put yourself first, will raise your level of contentedness and happiness.
  4. Setting compassionate boundaries will make you feel cared for, nurtured and loved.
  5. Putting yourself first will recharge your battery, make you better rested and give you the space to discover (or rediscover!) your passions.
  6. You will feel more appreciated, and in turn, you will feel more appreciative and grateful toward the people in your life.
  7. You will be a more patient, attentive and attuned partner, parent, sibling, daughter, and/or professional.
  8. If you are a parent, you will demonstrate to your children what it looks like respect yourself. Kids learn from their parents. Do you want to teach them to put their needs last, or do you want to role model what it looks like to take care of themselves?

Ultimately, self-care is essential and non-negotiable. From getting enough sleep, to taking care of our basic needs, to setting personal limits and boundaries, to being honest with our partners, it’s making our health and wellness a non-negotiable priority.

Need help getting started?  Melissa can help!  Head over to our CoachMe page and learn how you can work with her to begin your self-care journey.

Do you live near Blum Center in Rye Brook, NY? Join Melissa for her special 4-session series, Reclaim Your Body, Love Your Life: A Women’s Group for Lasting Change, that begins April 26th: Learn More and Sign Up Now

Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters.

 

Reference:

  1. http://www.webmd.com/women/guide/womans-guide-to-me-time#1
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Your Microbiome: Caring For What’s Inside You

Microflora

There are literally trillions of bacteria in our digestive tracts.  They make up what is called the microflora, because under a microscope they look like little (micro) flowers (flora).  We refer to it collectively as our microbiome and they play an unbelievable role in synthesizing vitamins, producing natural antibiotics and degrading and eliminating toxins.  There are more of them in our bodies than human cells.

Think about it, we are walking around harboring and supporting this microbiome, an entire ecosystem within us.

Recent science has taught us that the microbiome also dictates aspects of who we are – our personalities, what diseases we will get, our mood, the size of our girth. Most of us are oblivious to it, we pay no attention to it at all except for to take a probiotic, until it hurts.

Internally we are 98.6 degrees, very moist and we have a tube that runs through us that is 30 feet long that has an opening on each end (the mouth and the anus).   This internal environment is the perfect breeding ground for microbes – both good and bad.

Outside, external, influences often upset the balance.  How we control the external influences determines the delicate balance of good and bad players.  It is up to us – we must care for them, it is critical to good health and requires more than a probiotic.

Factors That Affect the Microbiome:

Stress, the food we eat, genetics, how much time we spend outdoors, if the windows of our homes are open or closed, our exposure to animals, toxin and chemical exposure, antibiotic use throughout our lives, how we were born — C-section or vaginally — whether we were breast-fed, how often we bathe – all affect our microbiome.

For most of us, our guts are a mess.  We have created a microbiome that looks very different from what nature intended for each of us.  So how do we get back to the farm?

Increase These Foods to Support your Microbiome :

  • Eat a rainbow of colorful vegetables and some fruit every day. They will provide fermentable fibers that feed our healthy flora.
  • Include coconut products like coconut oil, milk, yogurt and kefir. Coconut is filled with medium chain triglycerides which feed the cells lining our intestines, and has yeast-killing properties.
  • Include Ghee, which is clarified butter. Ghee is filled with butyrate, a critically-important fatty acid for the care and feeding of cells in our colon.
  • Eat organic, non-GMO These foods are low in pesticides and have not been genetically modified, which can alter your flora and damage you intestinal lining, causing leaky gut.
  • Include healthy anti-inflammatory oils like fish, flax, olive oil.
  • Choose grass-fed, pasture-raised, or free-range organic animals when possible. This will limit the hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides that we are expose our microbes to when eating animals raised in typical feed lots.  Also, the meat from grass fed animals have higher quality, anti-inflammatory fats than corn fed animals.

It is Equally Important to Remove These Foods:

  • Processed food high in sugar, white flour, baked goods, food dyes and preservatives. These foods and chemicals promote the growth of the wrong kind of bacteria in our gut.  Eating this way should be a permanent change.  This includes fruit juices, dried fruit, and all added sugar or artificial sweeteners except stevia.
  • Gluten, dairy, soy, corn, eggs and peanuts because these foods are the most common triggers for reflux, constipation and abdominal discomfort, as well as other non-gut related symptoms.
  • Foods high in histamines: Shellfish, processed or smoked meats and sausages, wine.  Many people are affected by histamine intolerance, caused by the body’s inability to break down histamine in the gut causing crazy allergy reactions. Reactions to histamines can look like allergic reactions, including nasal congestion as well as headaches, dizziness and digestive discomfort.
  • All alcohol

 

Live in our neighborhood? If you’d like to heal your, consider joining my HealMyGut 30-Day Program on Tuesday, April 17th at either 10am or 6pm Blum Center for Health. To learn more or enroll, Click Here.

Don’t live near Blum Center?  Try our online HealMyGut program that includes daily email support, a private Facebook group, and weekly live one-hour coaching calls.

About Mary: Mary Gocke, Director of Nutrition at Blum Center for Health, has been successfully using food and nutrition science to treat and heal people with chronic illnesses and acute conditions for over 25 years. When Mary’s not helping people feel better through nutrition, this mother of two grown children can be found practicing yoga, which she has taught for years, or in her kitchen cooking something colorful.

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Healing Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Stomach pain from IBS

In my Functional Medicine practice, many people come to me with stories of terrible digestive distress, often labeled as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or “IBS. ”This diagnosis is often given to people with a wide range of functional digestive issues like GERD or reflux, heartburn, burping, bloating, feeling full, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation,  or incomplete bowel emptying. Conventional approaches to treatment usually begin with an acid blocking medication, called a proton pump inhibitor (PPI), like Prilosec or Prevacid.  Many studies show these medications cause more harm than good and are not the ultimate answer.

Instead, we need to get to the root cause of these issues and this is where Functional Medicine really shines!

Here are the most common causes of digestive issues that need to be explored and treated to heal Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Once you address these, you can be cured once and for all:

  • Food sensitivities or allergies
  • Lack of appropriate digestive enzymes or stomach acid
  • Motility disorders
  • Inflammation of the gut lining
  • Imbalance of the microbial flora
  • Digestive disorders that don’t allow nutrients to be absorbed
  • Leaky gut causing systemic inflammation
  • Overgrowth of certain bacteria that are associated with systemic illness.

Using Functional Medicine To Treat IBS

  1.  Fix your food.
    This can be as simple as modifying your diet — adding gut-healthy foods and eliminating your personal food triggers are imperative to healing your gut and reducing symptoms. We always start with an elimination diet for 3 weeks, removing gluten, dairy, soy, corn and eggs, the most common triggers for IBS. Remember, this is an experiment and has 2 parts: after the 3 weeks are finished, carefully reintroduce each food, every 3 days, one at a time, and this is when you can really determine if the food is a trigger for you.
  2. Consider stool and breath testing to take a closer look at your gut microbes and digestion.
    If changing your diet doesn’t fix the problem, then we recommend further testing. We need to evaluate your gut microbes, which are the 100 trillion bacteria that live in your intestines. They need to be in balance….. after all, your microbiome is your inner garden and you want to be sure your garden is flourishing. We also need to make sure your digestion is working well.  We use functional testing to get more information, and the results help guide my treatment with herbs, supplements and probiotics to gently nudge the bacteria into a healthier state, support your digestion, and resolve your symptoms.Here are some suggestions to try on your own and get you started.
  • Digestive enzymes
  • Bitters or ginger
  • Probiotics
  • Magnesium citrate – when constipated.
  • Cleansing herbs like berberine – in cases of bacterial overgrowth.
  1. Remember, the single most important thing to do is to change your understanding of your gut.
    Let’s start to think of the gut as what it really is – a seemingly simple but actually incredibly complex tube, responsible for grabbing the necessary nutrients out of the food you eat, keeping you healthy by killing infectious disease, removing toxins from the body through the stool, supporting your immune system, and even moderating your mood by producing and affecting neurotransmitters and hormones like serotonin and estrogens.  The gut is important!

In our practice at Blum Center for Health we take a multi-pronged, holistic approach, a combination of medical and lifestyle considerations, to address your gastrointestinal condition. We help you change your relationship to food, make necessary adjustments to exercise, sleeping and stress reduction, all things that influence motility and the health of your gut. Lifestyle changes works in unison with dietary and our medical solutions to provide lifelong relief.

Are you ready to calm your irritable bowel? A great place to start is with our 10-Day or 30-Day HealMyGut program — it’s a total gut reset with a nutritional plan, recipes, just-right supplements, daily email support, and a private online community. Our 30-Day program includes the added bonus of a weekly chat with our Functional Nutritionist to answer all your questions. Find out which program is ideal for you: Take the Assessment

 

Meet Darcy McConnell, M.D.:  Dr. McConnell brings her broad expertise in prevention, mind-body medicine, and women’s health to Blum Center for Health, in Rye Brook, NY. She is board certified in Family Medicine and Integrative Medicine, with postgraduate training from the Institute for Functional Medicine. Darcy lives with her husband and three sons and enjoys the outdoors, cooking healthy meals for her family and friends and is an enthusiastic yogi.

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Do You have Estrogen Dominance?

Estrogen Dominance

In Functional Medicine we often refer to the relationship between estrogen and progesterone as the “dance of the hormones” or the “hormone orchestra.”

Ironically, what sounds like a beautiful evening at the ballet often plays out each month as a real hand-banging, body-slamming cacophony!

So what gives?  Why is it that we often feel out of control, and sometimes out of body, for days at a time?

The answer could be Estrogen Dominance.

Here are typical symptoms that can be attributed to a relative excess of estrogen in relationship to progesterone:

  • irregular bleeding
  • mood swings
  • depression
  • water retention/bloating
  • painful breasts
  • hot flashes
  • heavy periods
  • painful periods
  • fatigue
  • brain fog
  • sleep disturbance

How did we get here?  Unfortunately, there are many roads that lead to estrogen dominance.  Let’s start at the beginning.

The Typical Menstrual Cycle

During a typical menstrual cycle, the first half of the month, known as the estrogen dominant phase, progesterone is relatively low and estrogen levels steadily rise. Due to some nifty feedback loops that involve the brain and other hormones, ovulation occurs at around Day 14, and an egg is released from the ovary.  During this second half of the menstrual cycle, estrogen levels fall somewhat and progesterone levels rise significantly. This is when progesterone takes the lead in our hormone tango.

5 Roads that Lead to Estrogen Dominance

  1. Irregular Ovulation — One road that leads to estrogen dominance is if ovulation doesn’t occur and progesterone doesn’t have the opportunity to take that lead. We see this type of problem in young girls who haven’t started ovulating regularly, and in peri-menopausal women who are close to the end of their ovarian reserve, and also aren’t ovulating normally.
  1. Any Type of Stress — Often stress can lead to skipped ovulation. Typically we think of extreme episodes of stress such as a severe illness, anorexia/malnutrition, intense athletic training. But commonly, your average woman who goes through a stressful time will notice that her period becomes irregular. Even long standing, chronic stress can take a toll on your female hormones.
  1. Foods and Food Packaging — In this day and age of genetically-modified, pesticide-laced, prepackaged food to go, we are constantly exposed to xenoestrogens. These are toxic chemicals that act like weak estrogens in your body. These nasty chemicals can be found in pesticides, plastics that our food comes wrapped in, that “to-go” coffee lid, even the lining of your canned goods and drinks.
  1. Cosmetics and Household Products — Other examples of endocrine disruptors are phthalates and parabens that are used in hygiene products, cosmetics, and fragrances. This is where women are potentially very vulnerable considering how many bath, haircare, cosmetic, nail, feminine hygiene products we use daily. These just add to your total estrogen “load” that your body sees on a regular basis and that your liver has to metabolize and detoxify.  It turns out that optimal liver function is very important in estrogen metabolism and clearance.
  1. Your Gut Flora — The gut microbiome and your gastrointestinal function is another major player in this hormonal dance that is now looking more like a square dance with all its moving parts. It turns out that the bacteria that reside within our GI tract plays a very important role in helping us eliminate our estrogen by-products once the liver has packaged them up nicely for excretion. Sadly, the average American diet, full of high fructose corn syrup and other inflammatory foods often keep our livers working over-time just trying to detoxify lunch, let alone efficiently remove spent hormones from our systems.  Obesity itself is a problem since estrogen is stored in fat cells.  The fact that 2/3 of Americans are overweight or obese points to how prevalent this form of estrogen exposure is.

As you can see, there are many, many influences that lead to Estrogen Dominance. It’s not just “the way you are.”

The great news is there is something you can do about it.

First, you don’t need to treat Estrogen Dominance with birth control pills!

While birth control pills may help alleviate symptoms, they do not solve the root problem, In fact, taking birth control pills to treat estrogen dominance could possibly lead to more longer-term problems. (There are other excellent uses for birth control pills, such as actual birth control, and it is important to understand a woman’s goals for her health when deciding how to treat her.)

As a fellowship-trained Integrative Medicine and Functional Medicine doctor, I attack this problem of Estrogen Dominance from many angles.  The truth is we have so many ways to help women feel better, without the use of medicine and surgery.  We can, and should, use food as medicine, weight loss, botanicals, mind-body modalities for stress management so that women can actually heal themselves.

About Dr. Fitz:

Dr. Bronwyn Fitz is a board certified Obstetrician Gynecologist who is fellowship trained in Integrative Medicine.  In her practice she melds traditional medicine with non-Western approaches, nutrition, botanicals, mind/body therapies and lifestyle interventions to help women address their gynecological and reproductive health concerns. Her interest in mindfulness and meditation led her to pursue a two-year Fellowship at The Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, under the leadership of world-renowned Integrative physician, Dr. Andrew Weil.