Archive for the ‘Heart disease’ Category

The Specter of a Spectracell

Several years ago when I first met Dr. Robert Bruley he told me about a Spectracell blood test, a test that would measure my  amino acids, metabolites, minerals, fatty acids, vitamins, antioxidants and carbohydrate metabolism at a cellular level. I found the idea of getting a cellular report fascinating but told him I had several other things to deal with and I would do it “later”.

What Time is Later?

Later finally rolled around last November. Dr. Bruley provided the essentials from the company that does the Spectracell. All I had to do was take it to my local hospital lab for the blood draw. That cost me about $25 and the lab took care of everything else because they can send it with FedEx when they pick up other blood tests for the day (so ask when this pick up occurs to make sure your test goes out the same day).

On Being the Queen of Supplements

I waited for what seemed like forever for the results and to be honest I still don’t have the entire dossier of results (always, always request a copy of your blood tests) but I do have in my clean little paws the list of my deficiencies. I have to say the results took me aback. Me, the Queen of Supplements finds herself deficient in the very things I have taken as a preventive measure.

The Deficient Ones

Vitamin B12, Selenium, Inositol, Zinc,  CoQ10 and my Spectrox (comprehensive antioxidants) were all listed as deficient. Why is this troublesome? B12 is often noted to be low in people who have dementia and a B12 deficiency actually mimics Alzheimer’s Disease. Selenium deficiencies are rare (the SU says he already knew I was weird) but can contribute to hypothyroidism. Inositol levels must be optimum to assure healthy brain function and even healthy hair growth. Zinc is a common deficiency and most often noted by white spots appearing in the nail bed but it also can lead to excess hair loss. CoQ10 is essential for healthy breasts and heart. As for antioxidants they are our life blood as necessary as the air we breathe.

What to Do? What to Do?

January 31st I talk to Dr. Bruley to see things from a medical doctor’s perspective. In the meantime, I have started taking the two supplements I wasn’t taking, zinc and selenium. I increased my CoQ10 (that is ubiquinol, not the less easily absorbed form of Ubiquinone) to 200 mg twice a day as I was taking 100 mg once or twice a day and had been for, well forever. Inositol (1 teaspoon twice a day) comes in a tasteless powder that I can easily add to water and drink. B12 has me stumped as I already take about 5000 mcg of B12 (Methylcobalamin) every day. I can only guess that I will need an injectable form in order to see improvement.

Let me Guide You

I read a great quote this week that went something like “All you can do is try. If you win, you can lead. If you lose, you can guide.” This week I get to guide you dear reader. The best guidance I can offer is that you call your doctor and order a Spectracell today. If your doctor doesn’t know about it use my link to Ann Louise Gittleman’s site where she sells it very reasonably. Do not look at it as some specter to be feared but as something that offers the very help you need to live life to its fullest.

Santé,

Kris

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Color My World

This morning a new blog was born and if you would like to share the moments I have with my grandson you can go to http://nonnaspage.wordpress.com and read my latest entries. That said, before I got the self proclaimed “brilliant” idea to start a blog about my grandson I was thinking about something else altogether. The many colors of a healthy human body.

In dentistry, we look at the color of your gingiva, aka gums, to determine health and perhaps that is where I started looking at colors in the human being. Red gums indicate inflammation and there are even shades of red that we, the dental practitioners, see when we look in your mouth. Cyanotic, red gums are not only inflammed from lack of flossing or general bad oral hygiene the bluish tone of cyanotic red gums indicates an underlying infection called periodontal disease.

Marginal redness, a redness that occurs within the first 3 mm of gingival tissue,  usually indicates the presence of bacteria that are literally pooping acids on to your gingival tissues and causing them to possibly bleed and become puffy. Rosy Pink gingiva is generally healthy tissue indicating lack of bacterial plaque, no inflammation and overall health of the body.  A too light pink might be indicative of anemia and a blood test would be in order.

The only time that darker gingiva is not abnormal is in people with darker pigmented skin. Their gums are pigmented as well and the darkness does not denote dental dis-ease.

Color is just so revealing that I think I have become acutely aware of the various human colors in my world. If a person presents as florid and flushed there is something going on. If female she may be having hot flashes but often it is Rosecea and while the causes are debatable there is something off if you are suffering the redness and irritation of Rosacea. The medical community dismisses it but puts you on antibiotics to “treat” the condition. We all know how good antibiotics are for our gut, (not) and how important gut health is to your overall condition. The other causes of overt redness is heart disease and alcoholism.

The color I am most sensitive to is the greenish tinge that people get when their liver is under stress. Your liver is one big sieve for cleaning out the poisons are bodies deal with daily and when it becomes overwhelmed humans will take on a jaundiced patina. It has happened that patients will come in to our office and I will comment to my Reiki healer Donna, on the jaundiced appearance and voice my concern (to her and not to the patient). She can feel chaos and emotions as they come through the door but color isn’t her thing and she always look at me askance but never seems to doubt what I am seeing.

A few years ago at my sister-in-law’s funeral my brother and I were looking at photos of her taken just a month before her death sentence was pronounced by the Mayo Clinic, terminal pancreatic cancer. In the photo she was smiling and summer tanned but she had that telltale green to her skin and I was the only one who noticed it but now she was dead.

At the time it made me sad. When she first complained of terrible “acid reflux” or asked if it could be an ulcer (around the time of the photo I had been looking at) had her Michigan doctors noticed that green tinge to her skin perhaps they would have delved in to it more thoroughly thus giving her a few more months. Instead they took x-rays of her esophagus to rule out ulcer and put her on Prevacid or some such thing and sent her home.

I am not saying there was a cure I am just saying she might have had more time had someone thought to check her pancreatic health at that stage because as the disease progresses your liver cannot keep up with the poisons in your system thus the coloration of your skin. If there is one thing we know about pancreatic cancer it’s that it is often caught too late, that is why its victims are usually dead within weeks or months of their dreaded diagnosis.

How about the color gray? Hair might turn gray, clouds are gray but skin should not be gray or ashen. People with heart disease often have ashen skin color due to low oxygen circulation. You will see this tone in older folk’s skin and maybe that is normal given their advanced age or health but someone 90 and under should not be ashen unless they just had surgery and are deep in their recovery.

We can’t run up to people and exclaim loudly that they aren’t a healthy color. What you can do is look in the mirror. Are you jaundiced, are the sclera of your eyes yellow? Do you have a gray pallor? Or do you have lots of pinpoint red spots on your face in the area of the bridge of your nose? Look at your gingiva in a bright light do they appear stippled (grapefruit skin appearance), pink and are the papilla (the pink part between your teeth) sharply pointed between teeth? (Note: in the above gingiva link #3 is not unhealthy that is the pigmentation of a person with darker colored skin)

Take care of all the colors that are you and look for my next blog entry on Friday the 23rd. It is a slightly altered holiday schedule but I have a great recipe to share with you for Christmas morning.

Kris

‘Zymes for your Good Health

I ‘zyme, you ‘zyme, we all should take enzymes! They are a necessary part of digestion and good body health and yet they are sadly undiscovered and under appreciated. Most of us just accept that indigestion is part of eating, or burping is a polite way to say you enjoyed the meal. When all the gas and indigestion becomes too much we reach for Tums and down them by the handful. Folks there is nothing good for you in a Tums and it is merely a band-aid that temporarily covers up the problem but does nothing to help solve it. Improving digestion will actually stop the pain and the gas thus healing what ails you and this is where digestive enzymes enter.

So what exactly do enzymes do in the digestive tract? Whether a person has indigestion, acid reflux, gas , bloating, fatigue after eating, etc. these are all side effects of an inefficient digestive system. If your digestion is inefficient you are not getting the proper nutrition to support a healthy body and over time you will become debilitated and chronically ill. Your body is not keeping up with the demand for making its own enzymes and adding either plant based enzymes or animal based enzymes will help you digest your food completely thus allowing your body to use all the nutrients you are consuming.

I think of it as the same kind of reaction that occurs when you add baking soda to vinegar, (sorry but that is what comes to mind as I use that mixture to clean my toilets every week). If you add digestive enzymes to your mix of food it works like the vinegar on the baking soda and you have this kind of dissolution of the food (like the baking soda) thus making it easier for your body to utilize every morsel. That takes the pressure off your body which is constantly in overdrive trying to digest your food and allows it to use its energy to heal itself and you become a healthier human being.

Just think of how clean your toilet is after the vinegar works with the baking soda, the solution bubbles up, eats all the bad stuff off your toilet bowl and you flush it all down the drain. Your body has the same mechanism, the enzymes work on the food you eat mushing it all up, you absorb the more completely digested food, utilize the vitamins and minerals that have been made more available and the waste is flushed away leaving you with a healthier body. Food is therefore not allowed to sit undigested in your gut where it will ferment and cause burping , bloating and gas.

My family is notorious for indigestion, gas, and bloating and there are jokes around the world about the burping and farting that we are capable of. That is no exaggeration, my daughter had a British friend who when seeing her after years of being apart asked her, in her distinct Hampshire England accent, “Andrea do you still boorp and faht like you used to?” Sadly my daughter had to laugh and say she did. We have laughed about this and other digestive maladies over the years but I find it less humorous these days as I realize it is the sign of a troubled digestive tract. If your digestion doesn’t work properly eventually your brain won’t work properly, your eyes will fail you, your heart will become congested and lethargic, you will have aches and pains and life will seem less appealing. You will die one of those people who asks for death to be swift and merciful with the feeling it cannot come too soon. I do not wish for this future scenario and I feel digestive enzymes will help my digestion and make “boorping” and “fahting” something of the past.

Now if you are a devotee of Sally Fallon’s book “Nourishing Traditions” or Sandor Katz’ “Wild Fermentation” you have in your hands a mighty source of plant based enzymes. You can ferment food and get a tremendous benefit because the fermentation works just like enzymes on the raw food, breaking down the hard to digest particles and leaving you with an enzyme rich concoction that your body can easily digest. In fact, I made my favorite mixture this weekend and will share with you the technique.

First I gathered small and not totally ripe veggies from the garden. Green Roma tomatoes, tiny eggplant, small buds from the milkweed in our field, cucumbers, green beans, lots of fresh basil, 5 garlic cloves, peeled and one oak leaf (this will keep the vegetables crisp). I washed and dried them all and placed them carefully in a clean Ball jar. In with the mix I did add two dried cayenne peppers for a bit of  spice.

Next I put approximately a pint and half of filtered water in a measuring cup and to this I added 3 tablespoons of Celtic Sea Salt, stirring to dissolve the salt completely and pour this on top of the vegetables in the jar.

You need to assure that the vegetables stay covered with the salt brine, so I use a small porcelain ramekin, filled it with leftover salt solution and placed it on top. The jar thus prepared then went in a dark, coolish (as coolish as you get in the dog days of August) cupboard and will stay there about 4 days. After it has fermented to the taste I prefer I will skim off any muck that forms on top (usually doesn’t) and cap it and keep it in the refrigerator until we have eaten it all. This process mellows even the tiny, sometimes bitter eggplant and milkweed buds and creates a bite of vegetable that is at once luscious and  piquant and, need I add, full of digestive enzymes.

So what do you do if you don’t have a garden from which to pluck your vegetables?  First you can increase the amount of raw vegetables and fruit in your diet this small adjustment will increase the intake of plant enzymes. These can be purchased from your local grocery store, so no difficulty there. In addition you should take enzymes in capsules with your food to increase the digestibility of the food. Enzymes like protease help with protein digestion. Lactase will help you digest dairy. Catalase acts as an antioxidant by breaking down hydrogen peroxide in to water and oxygen. It is one of the most potent antioxidants found in nearly every cell of the body. All enzymes are useful and protective and can be used with or without food depending on what your specific purpose is for taking enzymes.

There are many reasons to take individual enzymes as they each serve a purpose but perhaps the easiest thing to do is to take a blend of enzymes.  Enzymatic Therapy’s Mega-Zyme are animal based enzymes according to Tom Bohager (Enzymedica’s founder and operating chairman) in his book “Enzymes: What the Experts Know”. He strongly believes that if you are dealing with gall bladder problems, pancreatitis, or liver cancer the animal based enzymes work better. He also mentions Michael’s and Jarrow formulas as being enzymes he has had good luck with in treating the above causes of indigestion.

I recently purchased Now brand Digest Platinum as the price was right and many people had had good experience  (iHerb reviews) with the Now brand relieving their indigestion and acid reflux. I have also used Digest Gold by Enzymedica but the expense puts me off. Having read Bohager’s book I may try Enzymatic Therapy’s Mega-Zyme  as my specific issue is at this point and time due to a congested gall bladder and it would be interesting to see if the animal based enzymes are more efficient than the plant based enzymes I have been taking.

Here is my final take on enzymes and on many things I try and write about. Taking digestive enzymes will not hurt you and it is possible that they will save your life, I guess you may never know. I am suddenly reminded of a story my husband always uses when I talk about preventing disease rather than curing it. He compares preventive medicine to the man standing in a room waving his arms. Another fellow asks him why he is waving his arms and he replies “To keep the elephants away.” “But there aren’t any elephants in this room,” the second fellow states with certainty. “See” the first fellow replies, ‘it’s working!”

Balancing Act

Imagine my glee last night when I really wanted to post something about the wonderful taste of coconut milk kefir but I knew I still had three more blogs to write about your digestive health, so I went to check my agenda and realized that this week’s blog was about the importance of a healthy gut flora. I almost got out of bed and started right away as there is little that is better to increase the good bacteria in your digestive tract than coconut milk kefir. Alas sleepiness overcame my compunction to create. Here I am at almost noon on Monday finally gearing up to share what I know about this balancing act called healthy gut flora.

What is gut flora all about? I am going to give you a very simplistic view but it you would like to read more on the subject I think Jemima Stockton’s information is presented in a thoroughly entertaining format.  A healthy gut flora is composed of bacteria with great names like lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, E. Coli and Enteroccoccus and these bacteria help to protects us from disease. Even as we come through the birth canal we ingest fluids from our mother’s body full of these bacteria, so they are literally with us from the beginning hanging around in our digestive tract. “Our normal flora produces essential nutrients and generates by-products that reduce the risks of developing certain cancers, digestive disorders, and heart disease. It serves our bodies from the cradle to the grave.”

What disrupts this normal flora? Antibiotics, aging and a diet full of processed foods and sodas can have a profound effect on your gut flora allowing bacterial warriors like Clostridium Difficile to wage war and cause diarrhea for instance. If normal gut flora is disrupted and/or altered it has a deleterious effect on your body’s ability to win battles with heart disease, cancers and allergies to name but a few.

Let’s consider a particular scenario for learning purposes. This morning when you got up your stomach felt queasy and within minutes you found your self on the “throne” gushing out noxious fluids. The best action at that point is to try and balance your out of kilter gut. While not pleasant, if the bad guys have taken up residence you really must allow them to occupy the space and then move out. It can be very cleansing to empty your bowels but then it is time to repopulate the gut with the good guys. Often probiotics in heavy doses taken at first sign of diarrhea will have an immediate effect and the healing can begin. But how do you get the probiotics and which ones are the best?

Now it gets fun for me because one of the best ways to increase your probiotic intake is to make your own kefir (pronounced Keh- fear). Kefir made with raw milk or my new favorite coconut milk is so rich in all the good bacteria and so easy and cheap to make that any other choice seems foolish. Dr. Mercola says kefir is the best way to take your probiotics and it is so simple and the results so good you will be amazed.

 

kefir grains

 

You start with “grains” of kefir which can be easily ordered from eBay or Cultures for Health. I often have extra grains to share with friends and co-workers and I love getting them started on the road to health.

They are odd little mushroom like organisms as you can see by the photo to the right but they are amazing when added to milk. The amount you see will ferment an entire quart of raw milk or two cans of coconut milk (yes you can ferment rice and nut milk but you will need to recharge the grains in milk or they will die). You place them in a quart jar add your “milk” of choice, mix it with a wooden spoon (it is better to not expose the grains to metals) cover lightly and put away in your microwave ( I use my microwave to store things not to cook things) or pantry where it will be out of direct light overnight or 24 hours. The longer they ferment the more tart the taste and also the warmer it is the faster the process.

The coconut milk kefir after 24 hours looks a lot like a whipped cream and it tastes wonderful. (You need to know that coconut kefir will bubble and ferment rather voraciously, so put it in a much larger jar to allow for growth). Admittedly if you don’t like coconut you may not like the taste but I have no such problem and I love the creamy texture and the mildly tart taste. Last night I put a dollop on my Avocado-Chocolate mousse and it was a tongue tingling addition.

Are there other ways to balance the gut flora? Yes, fermenting vegetables like cucumber, cabbage, turnips, eggplant, etc. is a simple and good way to get gut flora normalized as is kombucha (especially kombucha with ginger) and yogurt made with live cultures. Dr. Joe Mercola suggests eating one to two crushed garlic cloves every day as it will support the good guys and kill off the bad ones and of course, he is a raw milk  advocate and it, and its by-products, contain lots of probiotics (despite the media palaver). Also cleaning up your diet is a great help. Just restricting your intake of sugar and white foods, like white flour and white rice is a step in the right direction on the tightrope to good health.

Gosh  I think it is time for a break and some coconut kefir served atop my sprouted buckwheat groats sounds a treat.

Here’s to a healthy gut,

Kris

 

The finished coconut kefir

 

Mountain Dew anyone?

Perhaps this blog entry would better be titled “High Fructose Corn Syrup Anyone?” Whatever the title, whenever I read about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) the dental hygienist in me harkens to the dental chair where if we see someone who presents with rampant decay the first question we ask is “Are you drinking soda?” Invariably the answer is “yes” and the soda that seems to cause the most damage is invariably Mountain Dew, that  phosphorescent green slime that kids and adults seem to literally be addicted to (The Simpson’s did a great show based on the addictive properties of a green slime that oozed out of the bottom of this gross gigantic green caterpillar. No one who drank it could drink enough of the green slime).

We in the profession of dentistry even have a name for the rampant decay caused by Mountain Dew, Mountain Dew Mouth. But I do digress (Can you tell I am passionately opposed to people drinking Mountain Dew and all of its ilk?) as it seems tooth decay is only a small percent of the damage done to a human body by soda and its many additives and sweeteners, particularly high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

Several months ago I had posted something on Facebook that dealt with the subject of  HFCS and its use as a sweetener in most sodas and the damage being done to people who regularly consume it. A high school friend of mine responded almost immediately to the article I posted and told me that she could verify its negative impact on  one’s health. It seems a few years ago she had been diagnosed with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. She didn’t drink alcoholic beverages but she did consume soda on a daily basis. She was told by her doctor to discontinue drinking soda. Voila! Her fatty liver disease was corrected. Thus began my search for more information on the link between HFCS and fatty liver disease as I already had plenty of proof of its deleterious affect on the human dentition.

In a report published by HSI’s Jenny Thompson, “in a new study, Duke University Medical Center researchers gathered dietary information from more than 400 subjects with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. NAFLD is triglyceride fat accumulation in the livers of people who drink little or no alcohol. In advanced cases, inflammation and scarring destroy liver cells. It was “noted that the Duke team found that more than 80 percent of the subjects drank HFCS beverages, and nearly 30 percent said they did so every day. Liver scarring was most pronounced in those with the highest HFCS intake.”

“Another pair of studies from Princeton shows how HFCS might prompt fat buildup in the liver. In the first study, rats given water sweetened with HFCS gained significantly more weight compared to rats given sugar water. And in the second study, rats with access to HFCS for six months not only gained considerable weight, but also showed signs of developing metabolic syndrome, including a high increase of triglycerides.” So now I ask again “Mountain Dew anyone?”

If NAFLD seems like a remote possibility to you how about early onset heart disease? I had been investigating the connection between HFCS and NAFLD when I opened a letter from W. C. Douglass in today’s email. In his report he had this astounding fact: A “new study, presented at the American Heart Association’s Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention conference, estimated that sugary drinks helped to create 130,000 new diabetes cases over the last decade. The researchers also said that soda caused 14,000 new cases of heart disease in that time.”

Couple W.C. Douglass’ article with the devastating news this weekend that my good friend’s only son, who I thought was a fit 40, had two heart attacks last week and I saw another snake rear its ugly head in the argument against HFCS. I am certain that despite his slim build his lifestyle has contributed to his early heart disease. His mother has been worried for some time about the massive quantities of junk food and boxed food he and his family consume. She hated the fact that he and his spouse smoke (W.C. Douglass, by the way, is not an opponent to smoking, especially cigars) and, yes, the whole family drinks soda! Despite his normal size and his wife’s slim appearance both of his children (15 and 13) are obese couch potatoes, and the older boy already smokes cigarettes, so now, in my opinion, their future looks even more bleak if they don’t make some major changes. An unhealthy lifestyle as children could lead to an adulthood of early heart disease, diabetes or fatty liver disease and that will break their nan’s heart.

I am really sad about my friend’s only son and I hate it that I can actually report that I am intimately acquainted with at least one case of early heart disease, (that could easily have been fatal) that has most likely been caused or contributed to by the consumption of soda and its ever present ingredient: high fructose corn syrup. HFCS is ubiquitous, just look at any label on the boxed food you have in your pantry it is literally in everything that is in a box or can because it is cheap to produce, has a long shelf life and a little goes a long way.

In the end, maybe dental decay doesn’t threaten you enough to banish HFCS from your house but the threat of fatty liver disease, fatal heart attacks and the equally deadly diabetes really should. If it is hard to accept the possible and oft hidden consequences of consuming HFCS then call me at 1-555-555-5555. I have a house on a lake in White Sands National Monument’s dune field I would LOVE to sell ya and I’ll sell it to you “real cheap”.