How “healthy” foods can make us fat and sick


You’ve heard that one man’s medicine is another man’s poison, but did you know that one person’s health food is another person’s junk food?

Millions of Americans suffer from at least one food intolerance/sensitivity. You can be intolerant to any food: apples, lettuce, chicken, and even olive oil. Besides making it impossible to lose weight, food and food chemical intolerance has been found to play a role in many chronic health conditions including:

  • Celiac Disease
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Headaches & migraines
  • Fatigue
  • Weight imbalances
  • Cravings
  • Skin conditions such as eczema
  • Heartburn/GERD
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Chronic diarrhea

Food intolerance is also considered a major stressor to the adrenal glands. Unhealthy adrenals can wreak havoc on gut health, immune system, detoxification capabilities, hormones, fertility and muscle and fat gain and loss.

What is food intolerance?

Food intolerance is a negative reaction to food that happens when your body is hypersensitive to a food and launches an attack with mediators (chemicals from your immune system such as eosinophils, basophils, neutrophils macrophages, T-cells and NK cells). Every time the trigger food is consumed, systemic disruption takes place and can cause chronic inflammation in the body resulting in a variety of symptoms (see above).

The difference between food intolerance and allergies

Food intolerance is different than food allergies in a couple of ways. One is the way that the body responds and the other is the speed in which the body responds.

With an allergy, your body’s immune system (mast cells) reacts to the offending food very soon after exposure. Food allergies occur in 2-4% of the population. The body releases histamine, prostaglandins and other proinflammatory mediators. If you have a strong enough allergic reaction, exposure to the allergic food can result in life-threatening anaphylaxis. Because the reaction occurs so quickly after exposure to the allergic food, most people who have food allergies are well aware of what they are allergic to. Food intolerance or sensitivity can be much trickier since the reaction is delayed. You can also have a food intolerance that doesn’t give you clear symptoms unless you have a lot of it or eat it a few days in a row. This is why it can be so challenging to figure out!

Food intolerance pathways

There are many, many ways that the body can react to an intolerance because there are multiple hypersensitivity pathways. The four main categories of hypersensitivity are: Type I, II, III and IV. Types III and IV are much more common in people than Type I reactions; 15-25% of population compared to 2-4%.

  • Type I hypersensitivity categorizes true food allergies as given in the above example. It is also called an IgE reaction.
  • Type II hypersensitivity has not been found to be linked to adverse reactions to food.
  • Type III hypersensitivity includes IgG reactions (commonly tested for by most food intolerance tests). Type III reactions usually take place 3-8 hours after exposure.
  • Type IV hypersensitivity is the most common pathway for adverse food reactions and yet many tests do not test for Type IV reactions. In Type IV reactions, the T-cells react with offensive foods and symptoms occur anywhere from 4-72 hours after exposure. Herein lies the challenge with identifying delayed food intolerances. How many people are going to make the connection between not feeling well with what they ate 72 hours earlier?

Finding out if you have a food intolerance

There are several methods for food intolerance testing.

  • Finger prick IgG can be done easily at home and mailed to a lab if ordered by your doctor or nutritionist. Many doctors and nutritionists in the can facilitate this method of testing.
  • Serum IgG involves a blood draw and must be done at a medical clinic. This testing is more commonly done with naturopathic doctors, but if you do not have an ND, can be requested by any doctor.
  • Serum IgG and Type IV tests offer the broadest spectrum of pinning down food intolerance trigger foods. Oxford Labs offers a test called the MRT (Mediator Release Test), which is currently considered one of the best, most accurate food intolerance tests (also tests for food chemicals). This test is offered through licensed nutritionists such as myself with special certification in Functional Diagnostic Nutritionand Metabolic Typing

To heal your body, you’ll need to get a good plan for replacing your trigger foods with gut healing, anti-inflammatory foods. Getting those stressful foods out of your diet for awhile may allow you to eat them later without it causing inflammation and all those other symptoms we talked about.

Your body is designed to be healthy. Sometimes it needs a bit of extra help so you can look and feel your best. As you now know, food intolerance is a major obstacle that may be getting in your way and causing you symptoms. You don’t need to keep wasting your time and energy struggling and guessing. Let’s figure it out together and help you feel like your best self again!

In health,

Rebecca

Is Chocolate Healthy?

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, let’s take a look at the potential health benefits of chocolate and some key considerations.

Everything that you eat effects your gut, the part of your body from your mouth all the way to the other end. Why is your gut so important? Your gut is where you take all the good stuff you eat and drink and transform it into the many building blocks your body needs to make energy, think clearly, sleep well, maintain a healthy weight, build muscle, and clear out toxins that need clearing out daily so you can thrive. 

It is my passion is to work with people like you whose health symptoms–like low energy, gut/digestive issues, excess weight, mood imbalance, and skin & sleep problems–are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully.

So let’s dive into chocolate!
 

Chocolate Health Benefits

Right off the bat, it’s essential to know that not all chocolate promotes health. I’m going to briefly explain the difference between chocolate and cacao, review some top health benefits, and then provide some suggestions for what to look for.

Okay so before chocolate is processed into chocolate, it starts out as a pod on a tree with beans inside. The pods are cracked open, beans taken out and they are fermented and dried under low temperature. They’re quite bitter at this stage! I’ve had cacao beans fresh out of the pod as well as fermented before they were powdered and processed further and they taste very different than the chocolate many of us are used to having. 
Much of the research on the health benefits of chocolate are actually referring to cacao and cocoa powder that hasn’t been heated at high temp (which lowers its beneficial antioxidants), not processed chocolate. 

Does that mean chocolate isn’t healthy? Not exactly (thank goodness!), but it does mean that there are some things to look for so that you’re choosing the good stuff.

Chocolate Health Benefits

When choosing chocolate or cocoa, choose 70% or higher cacao content and unsweetened raw cacao or cocoa powder. Why? It’s richer in flavonoids & it’s lower in sugar. These plant-based compounds exert numerous benefits on our health. A recent meta-analysis of 24 studies conducted at Harvard showed that flavonoids can reduce risk of heart disease and diabetes for several reasons, including:

  • Boosting HDL cholesterol (the lipid taxi that returns cholesterol back to the liver for recycling)
  • Stopping the oxidation of LDL cholesterol for improved cardiovascular health
  • Helping thin the blood (reducing the potential for dangerous blood clots)
  • Enhancing the function of red blood cells
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Reducing insulin resistance

Aside from the high levels of flavonoids, some of the greatest benefits of chocolate are the result of its potent antioxidant activity. Raw cocoa powder is off the charts high in antioxidants, but dark chocolate rocks too. In an article by Kelly Herring of Healing Gourmetshe explains that

“The best measure of a food’s antioxidant power is called the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC). Foods that have a higher ORAC score have a greater ability to neutralize free radicals, the unstable molecules that damage cells and DNA and contribute to aging, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and more. The ORAC score of raw broccoli, for example, is 1,362. That’s pretty good. But it’s nowhere near blueberries, which rank near the top of all fruits and vegetables at 6,552. However, even blueberries don’t come close to cocoa, with an ORAC score of 80,933!”

Chocolate is good for your brain

As if we needed any more reasons to love chocolate, it turns out that cocoa is also rich in a natural chemical called epicatechin. According to The Journal of Neuroscience this compound helps to stimulate blood vessel growth and nerve development in the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning.  Epicatechin was also found to turn on genes that are important for cognitive function, while turning off the genes that play a role in inflammation and neurodegeneration. How awesome is that?!

Quality Cacao and Chocolate

There are many quality options to choose from with new brands popping up everyday so here are some general guidelines for choosing good quality chocolate products.

  • Short ingredient list (with easily identifiable, quality ingredients)
  • Says “minimally processed” on the label
  • Low in sugar (4 grams of sugar is equal to 1 teaspoon)
  • No soy lecithin. Soy lecithin is an emulsifier and so is used to enhance texture, but many people have issues with soy,
  • Dairy free if you have a dairy sensitivity…and it may go without saying, but if you have an allergy or sensitivity to cocoa, don’t eat it.
  • Avoid chocolates made with Dutch cocoa (they use some nasty chemicals to make this & the process reduces the antioxidants by half), preservatives, and/or trans fats.

Here are a few brands I like:

  • Navitas Naturals  OR Divine Organics raw chocolate powder
  • Alter Eco, (i.e. the Dark Blackout 85%) 
  • Equal Exchange Chocolates, their 80% Panama Extra Dark is amazing! Plus they are organic and fairly traded. Bonus!
  • Divine, fair trade cocoa from Ghana, 85% dark is truly divine!
  • Endangered Species, Extreme Dark 88% deeelicious
  • Dolfin Belgian Chocolate, Chocolate Noir 88% smooth and dark
  • Green & Blacks, 85% dark

Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!

~Rebecca

P.S.
If you are tired of being on the hamster wheel with your symptoms and you’re ready to take your health to the next level FOR GOOD, I’d love to connect with you. Apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. http://bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).

References

Journal of Neuroscience (Society for Neuroscience), May 30 2007, Volume 27, Issue 22. “Plant-Derived Flavanol Epicatechin Enhances Angiogenesis and Retention of Spatial Memory in Mice” Authors: H van Praag, MJ Lucero, GW Yeo, K Stecker, N Heivand, C Zhao, E Yip, M Afanador, H Schroeter, J Hammerstone, and FH Gage.
Maron DJ. Flavonoids for reduction of atherosclerotic risk. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2004 Jan;6(1):73-8.Knekt P, Kumpulainen J, Jarvinen R, Rissanen H, Heliovaara M, Reunanen A, Hakulinen T, Aromaa A. Flavonoid intake and risk of chronic diseases. Am J Clin Nutr 2002 Sep
ORAC Report 2007, USDA
American Heart Association’s Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism/Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention 2011 Scientific Sessions.
Shrime MG, Bauer SR, McDonald AC, Chowdhury NH, Coltart CE, Ding EL.Flavonoid-rich cocoa consumption affects multiple cardiovascular risk factors in a meta-analysis of short-term studies.J Nutr. 2011 Nov;141(11):1982-8. Epub 2011 Sep 28.

3 surprising causes of fatigue

Feeling tired often? Today we’re going to look at 3 causes of fatigue that are often overlooked.
Feeling tired is a symptom that something in your body/brain isn’t working the way it was designed to work. It often overlaps (not always) with other symptoms like inflammation, weight imbalance, poor sleep, and gut issues. And in most cases of fatigue, the root cause ties back to gut health.

Your gut is where you take all the good stuff you eat and drink and transform it into the many building blocks your body needs to make energy, think clearly, sleep well, maintain a healthy weight, build muscle, and clear out toxins that need clearing out daily so you can thrive. 

Without this basic function, your energy doesn’t stand a chance.

It is my passion is to work with people like you whose health symptoms–like low energy, gut/digestive issues, excess weight, mood imbalance, and skin & sleep problems–are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully.
 

3 Surprising Causes of Fatigue

  1. Adenosine imbalance. Adenosine is a brain chemical that makes you feel relaxed/sleepy. You have lots of receptors on your brain (like locks on a door) for various chemicals including adenosine. Caffeine fits these same receptors! Like a key that can open a door, caffeine’s “key” fits the adenosine locks which blocks adenosine from fitting there and making you feel sleepy. That’s why caffeine is a stimulant. The bad news is that over time your brain adapts to caffeine by increasing both adenosine and adenosine receptors (this is why caffeine withdrawal can feel brutal–eventually your brain will turn back down adenosine production and you feel normal again. There’s much more to this process and if you’d like to geek out on it, click here).
  2. Low orexin. So orexin is your peppy, upbeat, happy brain chemical. When it’s up, you feel alert, focused, and energetic. When it’s low, you feel exhausted, depressed, and sleepy. What crushes orexin levels? Refined sugar, foods/drinks that cause big spikes in blood sugar, caffeine, and inflammation. True, you’ll get an initial spike in energy (from your “reward” brain chemical dopamine”, followed by depletion of orexin and all that goes with it.
  3. Inflammation. Sugar (refined sugar, blood sugar spikes and crashes) leads to increased cytokines from your immune system which suppresses orexin (remember, low orexin=low energy).

For more detail on these brain chemicals and fatigue, check out this podcast. It’s excellent.

There’s plenty you can do with diet and lifestyle to support robust brain chemicals (eat whole, unprocessed foods whenever possible, hydrate, get 7-8 hrs of sleep/night, move your body, etc). And it’s probably not a surprise to read that sugar isn’t a health food!  For many of you, you may know what to do but don’t have a system in place that allows you to do it consistently and experience the benefits: having good energy being one of them.
If you are tired of being on the hamster wheel with your energy or other symptoms and you’re ready to take your health to the next level FOR GOOD, I’d love to connect with you. Apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. http://bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).

Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!

~Rebecca

3 surprising causes of fatigue

Feeling tired often? Today we’re going to look at 3 causes of fatigue that are often overlooked.
Feeling tired is a symptom that something in your body/brain isn’t working the way it was designed to work. It often overlaps (not always) with other symptoms like inflammation, weight imbalance, poor sleep, and gut issues. And in most cases of fatigue, the root cause ties back to gut health.

Your gut is where you take all the good stuff you eat and drink and transform it into the many building blocks your body needs to make energy, think clearly, sleep well, maintain a healthy weight, build muscle, and clear out toxins that need clearing out daily so you can thrive. 

Without this basic function, your energy doesn’t stand a chance.

It is my passion is to work with people like you whose health symptoms–like low energy, gut/digestive issues, excess weight, mood imbalance, and skin & sleep problems–are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully.
 

3 Surprising Causes of Fatigue

  1. Adenosine imbalance. Adenosine is a brain chemical that makes you feel relaxed/sleepy. You have lots of receptors on your brain (like locks on a door) for various chemicals including adenosine. Caffeine fits these same receptors! Like a key that can open a door, caffeine’s “key” fits the adenosine locks which blocks adenosine from fitting there and making you feel sleepy. That’s why caffeine is a stimulant. The bad news is that over time your brain adapts to caffeine by increasing both adenosine and adenosine receptors (this is why caffeine withdrawal can feel brutal–eventually your brain will turn back down adenosine production and you feel normal again. There’s much more to this process and if you’d like to geek out on it, click here).
  2. Low orexin. So orexin is your peppy, upbeat, happy brain chemical. When it’s up, you feel alert, focused, and energetic. When it’s low, you feel exhausted, depressed, and sleepy. What crushes orexin levels? Refined sugar, foods/drinks that cause big spikes in blood sugar, caffeine, and inflammation. True, you’ll get an initial spike in energy (from your “reward” brain chemical dopamine”, followed by depletion of orexin and all that goes with it.
  3. Inflammation. Sugar (refined sugar, blood sugar spikes and crashes) leads to increased cytokines from your immune system which suppresses orexin (remember, low orexin=low energy).

For more detail on these brain chemicals and fatigue, check out this podcast. It’s excellent.

There’s plenty you can do with diet and lifestyle to support robust brain chemicals (eat whole, unprocessed foods whenever possible, hydrate, get 7-8 hrs of sleep/night, move your body, etc). And it’s probably not a surprise to read that sugar isn’t a health food!  For many of you, you may know what to do but don’t have a system in place that allows you to do it consistently and experience the benefits: having good energy being one of them.
If you are tired of being on the hamster wheel with your energy or other symptoms and you’re ready to take your health to the next level FOR GOOD, I’d love to connect with you. Apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. http://bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).

Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!

~Rebecca