Posts Tagged ‘nutrition’

Do Supplements Really Boost Your Health?

Saturday, January 15th, 2011

Supplementing with vitamins has become big business. Americans spend an average of $17 billion per year on their supplements. I have been among them until recently. I took a break from my vitamin regimen after I learned that I was not properly absorbing my nutrients and was deficient in several areas. I wondered how that could be…

It seems that those of us with Leaky Gut Syndrome, a condition in which the lining of the intestines becomes more permeable than it should be, tend to be malnourished. Food molecules that normally wouldn’t pass through the intestinal wall, slip by and alarm our immune system. Consequently, microphages come to the rescue and attack the foreign invader and we develop antibodies as a result. The next time that same food passes through our system, whether it slips through the intestinal wall or not, our body says, “There’s that foreign invader again!” and goes in for the attack. More and antibodies develop until we have a whole slew of food sensitivities—but that is a subject for another day.

I have been wondering how a foodie like me, who eats whole grains, beans, greens, fresh fruits and vegetables could become malnourished. Ironic, huh? Well, after much reading and discussion with my functional medicine and osteopathic physicians, I have a few answers.

When people with Leaky Gut take supplements, their digestive systems work about as well with vitamins as they do with food. Some of the nutrients get metabolized and reach their intended destination and some fail. According to my doctor, it is the metabolic pathway that is to blame. If that isn’t functioning properly, we seem to get stuck in a rut of compromised health. He explained that going after the resulting food sensitivities and allergies is like trying to catch the fragments once a bomb has gone off. You may get some, but many more will elude you and you will go around and around chasing after them.

The key is healing the underlying malfunction of the system. That takes probiotics, targeted supplements to heal specific areas in the metabolic pathway, and an increase in certain vitamins. Most of us don’t get nearly enough of the nutrients our bodies’ desire from our food or multi-vitamins. Years of single crop farming, pesticides and synthetic fertilizer have left our crops fairly malnourished as well. And, like us, in their compromised state, they require intervention to keep them from dying. Fortunately, we can get tested for our nutritional deficiencies and specifically target them with the correct supplements.

It seems that the quickest way for someone with food sensitivities to get their fair share of nutrients is by juicing. Max Gerson, MD, discovered after World War II a regimen that could literally cure cancer. Of course everyone is different, and it can’t cure all forms and all people, but it seems to have prolonged the life of many patients. Gerson’s daughter, Charlotte, has continued his work both in the US and in Mexico. I decided to take a page from their nutritional book and began juicing carrots and apples every day during the holidays. My husband and I continue to drink a delicious, 8-ounce glass of organic juice to raise our level of nutrients every day. Next, we will add in a daily greens juice with an apple to make it more palatable.

As for the vitamins, I’ll take my C, B, minerals, magnesium, calcium, and fish oil, as well as a multivitamin. I need whatever nourishment can get through my system. I won’t rely solely on any one source, though. I am also careful to make sure I know what is in each supplement I take, so I don’t get lots of synthetic fillers that my body doesn’t recognize or use.

The bottom line is that we are an undernourished overweight society. Convenience and easy access has cost us much more than our dollar. It has long-term health costs and consequences we are only beginning to understand. We would probably all do well to take a page from Gerson’s book and nourish ourselves back to health through whole fresh foods, juicing and targeted nutritional supplements.

Menopause or Menoforward?

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Experiencing a window on my clients’ lives has made me think menopause should be called menoforward or menosurge instead. This is a time when women reawaken to themselves.

We no longer care so much what others think, and seem to get a powerful urge to express…be…do…whatever our heart desires. It is only when we try to squash this drive to live authentically that we run into trouble.

I tried to keep plugging away at a job that I no longer felt passionate about and I was getting chronic symptoms like backaches, migraines, a pinched nerve and IBS (let alone the hot flashes and weight gain of menopause) until I took action.

When I pursued my passion for nutrition, commuting to the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in NYC, the four-hour train ride on weekends and extra studying during the week should have exhausted me, but instead I felt revived and refreshed by the people I met and the information I learned. I felt even better when I began losing weight and balancing my hormones with whole, fresh food.

I learned that steadying my blood sugar with beans and whole grains helped me to reduce my cravings for sweets. Without all that sugar, my hot flashes weren’t so frequent or intense. I also supplemented with Evening Primrose Oil to balance out my hormones.

So many women have spent most of their lives caring for others, that when they finally do have the time to care for themselves, they have forgotten how. That’s where the quick fix comes in. When you are last on your list, popping something sweet, rich, and decadent into your mouth becomes an easy reward or pacifier. The problem is that the need for expression, nuturing, friendship, support or relaxation still isn’t met. It is just stuffed down and waiting for the next piece of candy or some wine with cheese and crackers.

My yearning to help women feel stronger and healthier developed into a business, through which I could guide those who want to lose weight, eliminate cravings and live a life that supports and excites them. Someone recently wrote on FB that the best thing we can do for the world is to “be ourselves.” That is what we were created to be and, actually, who are we NOT to be. So, if you are connecting with this at all, the time is now! It may take a temporary “pause” until you know just how you want to surge forward. But don’t let anything stop you. Your whole being is ready to soar once you start listening–and the world needs you!