What you need to know about your diet
The correct diet is not just a diet; it’s a tool that will launch you into a total health transformation. When done properly, it can help fight diseases like diabetes, obesity, heart disease, autism, digestive disorders, fatigue, depression, hormone imbalance, and cancer prevention.
It is not a great mystery that humans have experienced great changes, especially in diet and lifestyle since the industrial revolution. The technological advancements in both agriculture and animal husbandry have rapidly improved the availability and variety of foods we consume, but at what price? From an evolutionary perspective, our genes have not been able to "catch up" with this shift. Because of this, we are starting to see a spike in certain diseases that were rarely seen before anthropologically.
In the article below, Loren Cordain dissects Western diet, and looks at how staple foods found in the modern world have fundamentally altered seven nutritional characteristics of our ancestor's diets: 1) glycemic load, 2) fatty acid composition, 3) macronutrient composition, 4) micronutrient density, 5) acid-base balance, 6) sodium-potassium ratio, and 7) fiber content. "The evolutionary collision of our ancient genome with nutritional qualities of recently introduced foods may underlie many of the chronic diseases of Western civilization." (Cordain)
Phospholipids – How They Affect Your Health
by Dr. Kyle Ross
Lecithin is a generic term to designate any group of yellow-brownish fatty substances occurring in animal and plant tissues, which are amphiphilic—they attract both water and fatty substances (and so are both hydrophilic and lipophilic).
Dietary sources for lecithin will be in the fat containing part of foods and include egg yolks (an important source of phosphatidylcholine), milk, meats, poultry, fish, legumes, seeds and nuts and some whole grains, like rice. Lecithin is a “glycerophospholipid”– a mixture of several phospholipids, very roughly about 15% phosphatidylcholine, 10% phosphatidylinositol, 15% phosphatidylethanolamine and a remainder of other phosphatides (including phosphatidylserine), all in a liquid base of about 30% fat, a mixture of a variety of fatty acids.
Granular de-oiled lecithin has a higher concentration of phospholipids. Phospholipids are essential nutrients because although humans can synthesize some, we cannot meet all our needs this way and additional amounts are required from the diet.
Glycerophospholipids, like lecithin, are highly absorbable with greater than 90% absorption. They are hydrolyzed by pancreatic phospholipase and the body then uses the components (such as choline or inositol) in various ways or they are reesterified. However, of interest, is that almost 20% may be absorbed passively, without hydrolyzation, and incorporated directly into high-density lipoproteins (HDL). From HDL, they can be transferred into cell membranes.
Phospholipids are a key component of cellular structure, maintaining structural integrity while ensuring cell walls remain fluid so they can effectively regulate nutrients coming in and waste going out.
The use of lecithin or supplemental phospholipids and their effects on cardiac health have been extensively studied, showing highly beneficial effects on blood lipid profiles by significantly lowering LDL and raising HDL.
Phospholipids are especially crucial to the health of brain cell membranes and neurotransmitters. Phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylserine, phosphatidylinositol and sphingomyelin represent the five most abundant phospholipids of brain cell membranes, and they are all present in lecithin. The terms “lecithin” and “phosphatidylcholine” are often used interchangeably because phosphatidylcholine is usually the most abundant phospholipid that lecithin contains. Phosphatidylcholine (PC) is the main phospholipid molecule in cell membranes and necessary for continuing growth, maintenance, and repair of each cell.
Dietary PC is our main source of choline, another essential nutrient we need every day. Among other things, choline is the precursor molecule for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, one of the most abundant neurotransmitters in the human body and involved in many brain functions, including cognition, memory and muscle control. Dietary intake of choline ranges from 300 to 900 mg a day, but our actual daily intake needs are still unknown. In addition to PC, lecithin contains phosphatidylserine (PS), which has specialized importance in the function of brain and neural cells. PS is able to revitalize memory, learning, concentration and even vocabulary skills—all those functions which can decrease with age.1
Gastrointestinal Tract Protection
Phosphatidylcholine, the major lipid in the protective mucus layer of the gastrointestinal tract, has been shown to exert an anti-inflammatory effect. Studies have shown that PC has an intrinsic anti-inflammatory property with beneficial effects for ulcerative colitis as well as providing protection against drugs like NSAIDS, which are harmful to the entire GI tract.
PC is also vital for normal liver function. Research indicates one of PC’s most beneficial roles is in the prevention and treatment of various forms of liver disease and toxicity, protecting liver cells from viral damage, reducing fibrosis and preventing cell death from drugs, alcohol and other chemical toxins.  We also know that choline deficiency can result in the development of hepatic steatosis or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and that choline supplementation reverses this condition.
Currently, standard soy, non-GMO soy and sunflower lecithins are all readily available as sources for dietary phospholipid supplements. Ensuring a steady supply of phospholipids through diet and/or supplementation has been shown to be beneficial in preventing and improving many health conditions as it helps to maintain a vast array of normal physiological processes.
 D. Küllenberg,L.Taylor,M.Schneider,U.Massing. Health effects of dietary phospholipids. Lipids Health Dis. 2012; 11: 3.PMCID: PMC3316137.Published online 2012 Jan 5. doi: 10.1186/1476-511X-11-https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3316137/
 Treede I et al. TNF-alpha-induced up-regulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines is reduced by phosphatidylcholine in intestinal epithelial cells. BMC Gastroenterol. 2009 Jul 13;9:53. doi: 10.1186/1471-230X-9-53.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6278902
 Chirkin AA et al. Effect of polyunsaturated phosphatidyl-choline on lipid transport system in alcoholic liver injury. Addict Biol. 1998 Jan;3(1):65-70. doi: 10.1080/13556219872353
 Jenkins PJ, Portmann BP, Eddleston AL, Williams R. Use of polyunsaturated phosphatidyl choline in HBsAg negative chronic active hepatitis: results of prospective double-blind controlled trial. Liver. 1982 Jun;2(2):77-81.
 Sherriff J, O’Sullivan T, Properzi C, Oddo JL, Adams L. Choline, Its Potential Role in Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, and the Case for Human and Bacterial Genes. Adv Nutr. 2016 Jan; 7(1): 5–13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4717871/
How Many Grams of Protein Per Day Do You Need?
by Dr. Kyle Ross
One of the most common questions I get is, “How much protein should I consume a day?”
Protein foods are essential for building muscle, burning fat, supporting metabolism, and even bolster the health of certain organs like your thyroid and adrenal glands — in other words, we need protein to heal and to be healthy. But how much protein should you have per day? It really depends on what your health goals are.
Your Daily Protein Needs
To discuss how many grams of protein per day you need, I’m going to really break things down into three categories:
- How much protein do you need on a regular basis to generally heal and for your body to regenerate?
- How much protein do you need to burn fat?
- How much protein do you need to build muscle per day?
First, in general, if you just want to have general health and longevity, consuming about 50 percent of your body weight in grams of protein per day is about what you want. Let’s say you weigh 160 pounds and you’re looking to be generally healthy, then I’d recommend having about 80 grams of protein a day in your diet.
Therefore, if you’re eating three meals a day, you’re going to be getting about 25 grams of protein per meal, and that’s going to really get you to where you need to be in terms of the amount of protein you need in your diet.
Second, let’s say you’re trying to really burn body fat fast and looking for the right fat-burning foods. Well, you need to start with a substantial amount of protein, as so many people (especially women) who hope to lose body fat actually have a protein deficiency. Thus, I recommend about 0.7 grams to 0.75 grams of protein a day overall for burning fat. Essentially, you’re going to replace some of those extra carbohydrates in your diet with more protein.
In this case, if you weigh 160 pounds, then multiply that figures by 0.75. You’ll want to then consume close to 100 to maybe 120 grams of protein a day if you’re trying to really burn fat. So if you eat four meals a day, you’ll want to get in 25 to 30 grams of protein each time.
Third, you’re either trying to build more muscle tone or simply trying to build muscle fast. In general, you want to actually take your weight and multiply that times one. Eat that many grams of protein a day. So if you weigh 160 pounds and want to pack on some muscle, then you should be trying to get 160 grams of protein a day. Over four meals, that’d be 40 grams of protein per meal.
So, to answer that original question about how many grams of protein per day you need, it really depends. Is your goal for general health? In that case, half your body weight in grams of protein. If your goal is fat burning, 0.7 to 0.75 grams of protein; if your goal is to build muscle, you need an equal amount of grams of protein a day to your body weight.
Don't want to think too hard? Use the Protein Calculator!
Why Protein Is Important — Plus Best Sources
Protein is not only important for building lean muscle tissue, but it’s also critical for organ function. In fact, a lot of your organs, cells and tissues require protein for proper regeneration.
Protein also helps in the healing process. There are studies that show if you have burns or cuts on your body, you actually need more protein intake during those times.
Some of the best forms of protein to get are foods like grass-fed beef, free-range chicken and turkey, free-range eggs, and high-quality grass-fed protein powder (like a benefit-rich whey protein). One of my favorites is collagen protein, which are actually amino acids that are easily absorbable and digestible.
Also, you’re going to get some protein from high-quality nuts and seeds like nutrition-packed almonds, chia seeds and flaxseeds. You’re going to get some protein from certain types of beans and even particular grains (like gluten-free oats) that have lower to moderate levels of protein.
I ask you to be really conscious of your protein consumption this week. Examine your health goals and look at how many grams of protein per day you’re getting on a regular basis. Do they match up?
Good sources of protein
3 ounces tuna, salmon, haddock, or trout---21g
3 ounces cooked turkey or chicken----19g
6 ounces plain Greek yogurt----17g
½ cup cottage cheese----14g
½ cup cooked beans----8g
1 cup of milk----8g
1 cup cooked pasta----8g
¼ cup or 1 ounce of nuts (all types)----7g
Source: USDA National Nutrient Database, 2015
1. Axe, Josh "How Many Grams of Protein Per Day Do you Need." https://draxe.com/how-many-grams-of-protein-per-day/
2. Pendick, Daniel. " How much protein do you need every day?" Harvard Men's Health Watch. POSTED JUNE 18, 2015, 4:22 PM , UPDATED JANUARY 08, 2018, 11:29 AM. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-much-protein-do-you-need-every-day-201506188096
The Five Primary Goals of Walking
The first goal of walking is to move the body forward toward a desired location and at a desired speed.
The second goal of walking is to use the least amount of energy possible to achieve the first goal. The body does this by moving in as straight a line as possible while moving forward. During walking, the most energy efficient movement is one in which the body moves up and down very little.
The third goal is to cause the least amount of pain for people with painful foot conditions. Our brains have a variety of strategies for achieving this goal, including putting less pressure on a painful foot, or alternating the foot's position when we walk to limit discomfort.
The fourth goal for walking is for the foot itself to act as a shock absorber for dispersing the force of the body as it lands.
The fifth goal is for the foot to form a rigid lever toward the end of the phase of gait where the foot is on the ground, in order to provide a way to propel the body forward.
The Phases of Walking
One way to think about the phases of walking is to think of what happens to each foot when we walk. In this situation, there are two phases: Stance phase and Swing phase.
- Stance phase is the time when the foot is on the ground. It comprises about 60% of the walking cycle. For part of the stance phase, both feet will be on the ground for a period of time.
- Swing Phase occurs when one foot is on the ground and one in the air. The foot that is in the air is said to be in the "Swing" phase of gait.
Stages of Stance Phase
A more convenient and precise way to think about the stance phase (foot on the ground) of walking is to consider the five sub-stages that a single foot undergoes (Figure 1). They are as follows: Heel strike, Early flatfoot, Late flatfoot, Heel rise, and Toe off.
The heel strike phase starts the moment when the heel first touches the ground, and lasts until the whole foot is on the ground (early flatfoot stage).
The beginning of the "early flatfoot" stage is defined as the moment that the whole foot is on the ground. The end of the "early flatfoot" stage occurs when the body's center of gravity passes over top of the foot. The body's center of gravity is located approximately in the pelvic area in front of the lower spine, when we stand and walk. The main purpose of the "early flatfoot" stage is to allow the foot to serve as a shock absorber, helping to cushion the force of the body weight landing on the foot.
Once the body's center of gravity has passed in front of the neutral position, a person is said to be in the late flatfoot stage. The "late flatfoot" stage of gait ends when the heel lifts off the ground. During the "late flatfoot" phase of gait, the foot needs to go from being a flexible shock absorber to being a rigid lever that can serve to propel the body forward.
As the name suggests, the heel rise phase begins when the heel begins to leave the ground. During this phase, the foot functions as a rigid lever to move the body forward. During this phase of walking, the forces that go through the foot are quite significant: often 2-3x a person's body weight. This is because the foot creates a lever arm (centered on the ankle), which serves to magnify body weight forces. Given these high forces and considering that the average human takes 3000-5000 steps per day (an active person commonly takes 10,000 steps/day), it is not surprising that the foot can easily develop chronic repetitive stress-related problems, such as metatarsalgia, bunions, posterior tibial tendon dysfunction, peroneal tendonitis, and sesamoiditis.
The toe off stage of gait begins as the toes leave the ground. This represents the start of the swing phase.
The defining difference between walking and running is that when running, there is a period of time both feet are off the ground (the "float" phase). Also because running is associated with greater speeds, the forces that go through the foot when it lands can be substantially greater than during walking (often 4-5x body weight during running and even up to 6-7x body weight during sprinting).
Movement of the Main Joints During Walking
There are a number of joints in the foot and ankle that move during walking. However, two "joints" serve critical functions during normal walking. These two joints are the ankle joint and the transverse tarsal joint (Figure 2). In fact, the transverse tarsal joint is not a single joint but rather the combination of the talo-navicular and the calcaneo-cuboid joint.
This joint allows the foot to move up (dorsiflexion) and down (plantarflexion), using the muscles located in the front of the leg (the anterior muscle compartment) for upward movement, and the muscles located in the back of the leg (the posterior compartment) to pull the foot back down.
Transverse Tarsal Joint
This joint is composed of the talo-navicular and calcaneal cuboid joint. The transverse tarsal joint also relies on normal function of the subtalar joint, in order to move normally. Along with the subtalar joint, it allows the foot to have some side to side motion and thereby accommodate uneven terrain. Because the transverse tarsal joint is made of two joints, the transverse tarsal joint can be either loose and floppy (early flatfoot stage) or rigid (late flatfoot and heel rise) at certain points in the walking cycle. The transverse tarsal joint is floppy when the joint axes of the two joints involved are parallel to each other (early flatfoot stage). When the two joint axes are not parallel, the transverse tarsal joint becomes rigid and prevents movement through the joint (late flatfoot and heel rise). The locking and unlocking of this joint is very important to a normal gait cycle. When the heel hits the ground, the ankle joint is lowered gently onto the ground and the transverse tarsal joint is locked. During early flatfoot, the transverse tarsal joint unlocks, allowing the foot to become floppy and allowing movement through this joint. This action allows the foot to serve as a shock absorber. As the center of gravity passes over the neutral position, the posterior tibial tendon pulls on this joint and locks it, once again creating a rigid lever. This way, when the heel rises off the ground, the calf can channel force into the ground to propel the body forward.
How the Muscles Work During Walking
Heel Strike - Early Flatfoot
The anterior compartment is most active, which means that the tibialis anterior muscle, the extensor hallicus longus, and the extensor digitorum longus work to gently lower the foot onto the ground. If these muscles do not work, such as would be the case in someone with a drop foot, the foot will tend to slap onto the ground when it lands.
Late Flatfoot - Heel Rise
As the body's center of gravity passes over the foot, the posterior compartment muscles begin to contract. This contraction of the calf muscle serves to control the body movement as it goes forward so that the body does not fall forward. During this phase of gait (late flatfoot), the calf muscle is strongly contracting and lengthening. This is called an "eccentric" muscle contraction, and it serves to generate an extraordinary amount of internal force within the calf muscle and Achilles tendon. This is why most Achilles tendon ruptures and calf tears occur during this stage gait.
Heel Rise - Toe Off
During the heel rise phase, the calf muscle continues to contract, but is now shortening rather than lengthening (performing a concentric contracture). This lasts until the toe off phase.
Abnormal Gait Problems
Antalgic Gait (painful walking)
The primary sign of an antalgic or painful gait is the reduced amount of time spent in the stance phase. This is because people do not want to spend any more time than necessary on a foot that is causing them pain. While the stance phase is usually divided equally between the two legs, someone with a painful foot will spend substantially less time on the injured foot, perhaps only 20-30% of their gait rather than 50%. Another sign of painful gait is a decreased stride length, which results from patients not wanting to push off from their painful foot as powerfully as normal. Therefore, one stride tends to be much longer than the other.
High Steppage Gait
Another example of an abnormal gait is a high-steppage gait pattern. This form of walking is seen in patients whose anterior compartment muscles do not function normally (ex. Patients with a drop foot). This lack of anterior muscle compartment functioning causes the foot to slap onto the ground during the heel strike phase of walking. Patients normally respond to this problem by bending their knee more than normal during the swing phase of gait (the time when the foot is off the ground) to lift the foot higher off the ground. One type of treatment for this type of gait abnormality is to fit the patient with an AFO (Ankle Foot Orthosis), which is a rigid brace that keeps the foot locked in a 90 degree angle.
Antioxidants & Anti-inflammatory Foods: They're Important AF!
by Dr. Kyle Ross
Oxygen is essential to life, but as our bodies use oxygen, we generate by-products known as reactive oxygen species (ROS) or, more commonly, free radicals. These compounds are a normal part of the body's stress response, but they can damage healthy cells and are especially likely to attack the fats that provide structure to the membranes surrounding body cells. Free radicals are also produced from exposure to cigarette smoke, excess exposure to the sun, drinking alcohol, from exposure to large amounts of heavy metals and during any inflammatory response. Antioxidants neutralise the effects of free radicals, but activity may be limited to specific antioxidants.
Sales of antioxidant supplements and cosmetics have increased dramatically with the hope they may have anti-ageing effects, although their true role is much more than skin deep. Antioxidants function in many body systems and it’s important to sort out the genuine research from the marketing hype.(1) Free radicals contribute to chronic diseases from cancer to heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease to vision loss. This doesn’t automatically mean that substances with antioxidant properties will fix the problem, especially not when they are taken out of their natural context. More research is still needed for definitive answers. At the same time, abundant evidence suggests that eating whole fruits, vegetables, and whole grains—all rich in networks of antioxidants and their helper molecules—provides protection against many of these scourges of aging. (2)
Inflammation and free radicals go hand-in-hand. Inflammation is the body’s way of initiating healing responses. However, inflammation that is unregulated can result in excessive free radical activity and tissue destruction. Immune signaling is one of the primary mechanisms for initiating the inflammatory pathways. One of the most notable immune-signaling molecules are cytokines.
Cytokines are signaling proteins that orchestrate intracellular communication. Cytokines include the large family of interleukins, interferons and TNF’s (tumor necrosis factors). Cytokines are responsible for triggering cell apoptosis (death) as well as inflammatory cascades.
High levels of cytokine activity such as tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a), has shown to damage insulin-signaling, and is implicated in the development of insulin resistance, type II diabetes and a wide variety of disease processes.
Cytokines trigger the phospholipase A2 inflammatory pathways, 5-LOX and 5-COX. TNF-a stimulates the stress response, by activation of the HPA axis. TNF-a also has shown to activate leukotriene production. Leukotriene’s are the virulent and pathological fatty acids which result in free radical activity and tissue destruction.
Regarding autoimmune conditions, there are nutritional factors that play a roll in inhibiting TNF-a, leukotriene activity and subsequent free radical activity.
Types Of Antioxidants
Antioxidants are of pivotal significance for the prevention of harmful free radical activity. Antioxidants are either exogneously obtained from diet, or they are endogenously produced. An antioxidant is any molecule that can inhibit the oxidation of other molecules. Examples of antioxidants derived from diet are Vitamins E (tocopherols, tocotrienols), A, C, polyphenols, catechins, carotenoids, certain phytonutrients.
The most significant, endogenously-produced antioxidants are: Uric Acid, Glutathione, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Catalyse, Superoxide Disumtases, CoQ10. Many researchers would argue that Cholesterol is also an antioxidant, as cholesterol has been shown to inhibit pro-inflammatory fatty acids such as leukotriene.
In fact, cholesterol is powerfully anti-inflammatory and is of critical importance in order for the body to regulate inflammation and free radical activity. Low cholesterol values are associated with a number of degenerative conditions, including many types of inflammatory autoimmune conditions.
Markers Of Inflammation: Insulin, CRP
One of the primary markers of inflammation is hyperinsulinism. It has been demonstrated in medical literature for many years that hyperinsulinism is a primary factor associated with the development of cardiovascular disease. Increased levels of insulin are strongly associated with a diet high in sugars and carbohydrates.
Insulin has demonstrated in studies to increase TNF-a and the initiation of pro-inflammatory mediators.
Insulin is associated with increased levels of C-Reactive Protein (CRP). CRP is a protein synthesized by the liver and is a primary marker for inflammation. Studies have shown that trans fatty acid consumption (from sources such as fast foods) increases CRP levels by an average of 73%. (3)
So what foods should I be eating?
The Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Standard American diets (appropriately called SAD) are never touted as exemplary, but when talking about inflammation, it becomes vitally important to rethink our typical diets. As a report from the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases reported:
While today’s modern diet may provide beneficial protection from micro- and macronutrient deficiencies, our over abundance of calories and the macronutrients that compose our diet may all lead to increased inflammation, reduced control of infection, increased rates of cancer, and increased risk for allergic and auto-inflammatory disease. (4)
To move toward an anti-inflammatory diet and anti-inflammatory foods, we primarily move away from the abundance of overly processed, unbalanced diets of the West and toward the ancient eating patterns of the Mediterranean. A Mediterranean diet comprises plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, little to no red meat, certainly no chemicals or meat additives, and an abundance of omega-3 foods.
As we look into the anti-inflammatory components of certain foods and herbs, we can see how this kind of diet is linked with lowered inflammation. Among the many compounds found in fresh produce, a few general categories stand out as beneficial when attacking inflammation and inflammatory diseases at their source.
- Antioxidant foods
- Essential fatty acids
There’s little doubt that the pursuit of a healing diet or a Paleo diet begins with a menu high in vegetables, fruits, wild meats and sprouted seeds rich with omega-3 benefits. The evidence is clear that such anti-inflammatory foods can regulate the immune system and impact the way inflammation affects our bodies and our lives.
Top 15 Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Inflammatory Foods to Avoid
With anti-inflammatory foods filling the diet, you naturally begin to eliminate pro-inflammatory foods and substances — they’re not as satisfying as a diet rich in whole foods.
A prime suspect is the duo of saturated and trans fatty acids (trans fat). Found in processed foods, these fats cause inflammation and increase risk factors for obesity (such as increased belly fat), diabetes and heart conditions. The same foods are also likely to be higher in omega-6 fatty acids, which are necessary but only to an extent.
In excess and without the balance of omega-3s, omega-6 fats actually create inflammation in the body. Sadly, the University of Maryland Medical Center reports, “The typical American diet tends to contain 14–25 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids.”
Simple, refined sugars and carbohydrates are more inflammation-causing culprits. Limiting refined grains is an important factor in an anti-inflammatory diet. Whole grains should replace the refined carbohydrates, as truly whole grains are important sources of nutrition. Sourcing these grains as fermented sourdough allows the nutrients to be broken down and better available to the body.
Finally, establishing a regular routine of physical activity can help prevent systemic inflammation from building up or returning. (6) An active life fueled by fresh, whole anti-inflammatory foods and unrestricted by processed, toxic compounds can set you on the path toward freedom from inflammation.
(4) Nutr J. 2014 Jun 17;13:61. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-13-61. Fast food fever: reviewing the impacts of the Western diet on immunity.
Six Principles For Restoring GI Health
by Dr. Kyle Ross
Gastrointestinal (GI) health is at the core of health of the whole person. Without healthy GI function, other systems—the immune system, the skin, the musculoskeletal system, the cardiovascular system—cannot function optimally. Clinical interventions that effectively support GI function have been shown to help maintain and restore wellness and support health. Dr. Ross' Six Principles For Restoring Gastrointestinal Health is designed to promote optimal GI function, re-establishing balance for patients with a diverse range of health concerns.
Principle 1: Optimize Digestion
Principle 2: Provide Soothing Gastric Support
Principle 3: Restore Healthy Intestinal Mucosa
Principle 4: Support Intestinal Defense
Principle 5: Promote Detoxication and Elimination
Principle 6: Re-establish Healthy Microflora
An optimally functioning digestive system is the cornerstone of good health. In addition to supporting the digestion and absorption of nutrients from the diet, the GI tract protects the body by participating in detoxification and immunological processes. Eating a healthy diet may not necessarily be enough. To insure optimal GI function:
GI secretions are produced at adequate levels (e.g., hydrochloric acid, pepsin, pancreatic bicarbonate, amylase, lipase, protease, intestinal lactase, sucrase, and maltase)
- The gastric mucosa is protected by appropriate mucin production and microbial defenses
- Intestinal mucosa maintains integrity for proper absorption of nutrients as well as to provide a selectively permeable barrier to permit passage of needed nutrients while barring absorption of undesirable substances
- Stool frequency and composition is predictable and regular. Cell mediators in the colonic mucosa have proper balance and activity
- Microorganisms in the gut lumen are in proper balance to assure healthy intestinal pH, immune activity, and microbial defenses
- GI motility and peristalsis are regular
- Hepatic function - assures proper metabolism of dietary lipids and detoxication of xenobiotics and endogenous toxins
Age-Related Digestive Challenges
In addition, in healthy individuals the aging process can contribute to a decrease in basal metabolic rate (BMR) and altered gastrointestinal function. The following digestive changes have been associated with aging:
• Reduced salivary production and decreased salivary amylase
• Decreased gastric acid secretion potentially affecting nutrient absorption
• Compromised capacity of the gastric mucosa to rebound from environmental, dietary, and oxidative stresses
• Alteration of bacterial micro ora balance in the small and large intestines
• Slowed digestion and many secondary effects that can result from these changes
Principle 1: Optimize Digestion
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, tens of millions of visits are made to healthcare professionals seeking support for digestive comfort and function.
Supplementation with microbial enzymes can provide effective basic support for digestive function. Improved digestion can help to relieve gas, bloating, and occasional indigestion.
Microbial enzymes are vegetarian enzymes that degrade all dietary macronutrients into absorbable components. Because they are acid-stable, these enzymes are not destroyed by gastric acid and do not require enteric coatings. Active under both acid and alkaline conditions, they are effective beginning in the stomach and continuing in the intestines, across a broad range of pH conditions in the GI tract.
Other nutritional supplements can also be used to support digestion depending on individual needs:
Betaine Hydrochloride (HCl) supports healthy stomach acidity, gastric function, and protein digestion.
Pepsin also supports protein digestion under acidic conditions in the stomach.
Pancreatin supplies pancreatic amylase, lipase, and protease for digestion of carbohydrates, fat, and protein under alkaline conditions in the upper small intestine.
Ox Bile Extract supplies bile salts to aid in the emulsification and assimilation of dietary fats.
Principle 2: Provide Soothing Gastric Support
Hydrochloric acid secretion by the parietal cells into the lumen of the stomach supports digestion and promotes microbial defense, but an acidic pH could damage epithelial tissues of the stomach were it not for protective secretions such as mucin. The stomach’s mucin barrier must be intact in order to protect stomach health and comfort, and the lower esophageal sphincter must remain tightly closed during digestion.
Occasional discomfort after consuming coffee, spicy or fried foods, and experience relief after eating food or drinking milk, may suggest a need for soothing gastric support. The following dietary supplement ingredients support upper gastric function:
Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL) has been shown to support a healthy gastric mucosal lining and to stimulate increased mucin production. Removal of the glycyrrhizin component preserves mucosal benefits while removing licorice’s aldosterone-like activity and potentially adverse effects on blood pressure.
Gamma-Oryzanol, derived from rice bran oil, has been shown to produce soothing effects on stomach tissues in the presence of stress.
Marshmallow Root has a long history of traditional use as a demulcent herb. Its mucilaginous properties form a soothing coat over mucous membranes of the gastric mucosa.
Slippery Elm is a botanical demulcent with a long history of traditional use in soothing mucous membranes.
Zinc-Carnosine, a unique ingredient that combines L-carnosine, a dipeptide, with elemental zinc, has been clinically shown to support mucosal integrity and gastrointestinal immune defenses. It also helps relieve occasional indigestion.
Principle 3: Restore Healthy Intestinal Mucosa
The healthy human gut must accommodate a diverse range of non-food substances, including endotoxins and microbes. Under healthy conditions, the epithelial lining of the gastrointestinal tract provides a selectively-permeable membrane that permits the absorption of nutrients from the diet while preventing passage of potentially harmful agents. Maintaining optimal structure and function of the intestinal mucosa plays an essential role in supporting overall health and wellness.
Intestinal permeability can be assessed by laboratory tests, such as the mannitol-lactulose test or measuring sucrase enzyme activity via breath test. Identifying and temporarily eliminating foods to which the body is sensitive also supports healthy intestinal permeability. Research indicates that nutritional factors may help to support mucosal health and promote normal intestinal permeability, including certain antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, and mucusal nutrients.
Additionally, healthy cell mediator balance in the colonic mucosa influences intestinal comfort, as well as stool frequency and composition. Laboratory tests as well as clinical assessment can help to evaluate and monitor colon health and normal function.
Nutrients for Intestinal Barrier Function
L-Glutamine is a conditionally essential amino acid used as fuel by enterocytes. Many well-designed clinical studies have shown that L-glutamine supports healthy gut barrier function and permeability.
N-Acetyl D-Glucosamine (NAG) is a precursor for production of intestinal mucin, the protective glycoconjugate (glycosylated protein) secreted by goblet cells that makes up the intestinal glycocalyx. The glycocalyx forms a protective coating on the surface of epithelial tissue, but its functions may also include contributing to normal cell-cell recognition, cell-to-cell communication, and intracellular adhesion. NAG is a component of glycosaminoglycans and glycoproteins of the intestinal mucosa.
Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA) is an omega-6 fatty acid that may support healthy intestinal mucosal integrity.
Gamma-Oryzanol has been shown to support gastrointestinal comfort and health of the gastric mucosa.
Phosphatidylcholine is a major component of cell membranes and a key constituent of the glycocalyx that protects the gastrointestinal mucosa. It may also reduce transepithelial permeability of endotoxins, although this effect has not yet been demonstrated in humans.
Antioxidant Pathways Support for the Intestinal Mucosa
Quercetin has been shown to support healthy regulation of histamine release from human intestinal mast cells in vitro and to enhance intestinal barrier function in human intestinal cells in vitro.
Ginkgo biloba is a free radical scavenger. It has shown cytoprotective effects on cells of the gastrointestinal mucosa in vitro.
N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC) is a precursor to glutathione.
Vitamins C and E help protect intestinal mucosa cells from oxidative stressors.
Zinc may play a role in the maintenance of healthy intestinal permeability.
Principle 4: Support Intestinal Defense
A healthy intestinal defense system is affected by the balance of intestinal microflora. An individual’s intestinal flora can be influenced by many factors such as travel, diet, or various stressors. Several nutrients and botanical extracts have been shown to support intestinal microbial defense, which may help restore optimal gastrointestinal health and comfort.
Broad Microbial Defense
Berberine is an alkaloid found in goldenseal, barberry, and Oregon grape. Research indicates that the supplement ingredient, berberine sulfate, can enhance intestinal health by promoting the balance of a broad spectrum of bacterial and fungal organisms.
Goldenseal extracts have been shown to support a healthy balance of intestinal flora, including bacteria and fungi.
Garlic and its key compound, allicin, have been shown to support bacterial and fungal (e.g., yeast) balance.
Sweet Wormwood has been shown to support healthy intestinal defense and improve microbial balance.
Healthy Yeast Balance
Oregano Oil has been shown to affect the growth of bacteria and yeast in vitro.
Thyme contains a key constituent, thymol, which has been shown to be active in controlling yeast growth in vitro.
Pau D’Arco Bark bark has been used traditionally to promote a healthy balance of yeast.
Caprylic Acid is a medium-chain fatty acid that has been shown to control yeast growth in vitro.
Undecylenic Acid is a monounsaturated fatty acid that, like caprylic acid, has been shown to control yeast growth in vitro.
Principle 5: Promote Detoxification and Elimination
Foreign chemicals, or xenobiotics, are ubiquitous in the environment. The human body produces endogenous toxins as a normal part of its everyday metabolism, while other toxins are produced as waste products by the bacteria that inhabit the GI tract. In a healthy gut, these toxins and waste products are detoxified by the liver and eliminated via the bowel. Efficient metabolism and excretion of xenobiotics support the health of tissues and organs throughout the body, not just in the intestinal tract. Lifestyle and environmental factors can play a significant role in determining the extent of exposure to xenobiotics. Despite the ubiquity of these chemicals in the environment from multiple sources, it is food that represents the most common source of exposure to xenobiotics. Numerous studies have found pesticide residues in a significant percentage of food samples. Use of organic and minimally processed foods can help to reduce exposure to these toxins, but one cannot completely avoid exposure to xenobiotics.
Nutritional factors play an essential role in supporting healthy detoxification and elimination. Phase I and Phase II detoxification pathways in the liver require many cofactors and conjugating agents supplied by the diet. Other nutrients, such as lipotropic factors, are able to mobilize fat from the liver, facilitating the hepatic metabolism and excretion of xenobiotics and hormones.
Agents that Support Liver Detoxification Pathways
Calcium-D-Glucarate supplementation supports Phase II conjugation reactions by forming glucarolactone, a powerful inhibitor of beta-glucuronidase.
Beta-glucuronidase is an enzyme expressed by some gut bacteria that deconjugates products of Phase II liver metabolism; deconjugated hormones and xenobiotics become available for reabsorption through the enterohepatic recirculation.
Glycine, Glutamine, and Taurine are amino acids that act as conjugating agents to support Phase II detoxication. Glutamine and glycine are also precursors to glutathione.
N-acetyl L-cysteine (NAC) supports Phase II sulfation and promotes glutathione synthesis, thus supporting cellular health and aiding the excretion of toxins.
Reduced Glutathione (GSH) is a conjugating agent that plays a crucial role in the detoxication of xenobiotics. GSH participates in the regeneration of antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E.
Vitamin E supports Phase I detoxification and protects cell membranes from damage by quenching free radicals.
Choline, Methionine, and Inositol are lipotropic agents (i.e., they catalyze the breakdown of fat during metabolism in the body and promote the export of fat from the liver).
Dandelion, Fringe Tree, Greater Celandine, Beet Root, and Black Radish Root are botanical cholagogues and choleretics. They support healthy liver and gall bladder function by stimulating healthy secretion and flow of bile from the liver to the gall bladder to the intestines.
Milk Thistle Extract includes the bioflavonoid silymarin, a flavonoid with hepatoprotective properties.
Agents that Support Elimination
Flax Seed, a good source of dietary fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and lignans, enhances intestinal peristalsis, thereby supporting elimination.
Rice Bran is a source of insoluble dietary fiber and also contains gamma-oryzanol, which has been shown to support gastrointestinal function.
Dried Plum is well-known for supporting healthy elimination.
Fenugreek, Slippery Elm, and Marshmallow Root are botanical demulcents that form a soothing film over the intestinal mucous membrane.
Triphala is an ancient Ayurvedic herbal blend of three herbs: amla, belleric myrobalan, and tropical almond fruits. This combination promotes healthy digestion and detoxification, and supports the immune response.
Principle 6: Re-establish Healthy Microflora
Normal bowel microflora, such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria, support healthy gastrointestinal function through numerous mechanisms: they help maintain optimal pH and produce important nutrients and enzymes. Bacteria that dwell in the large intestine help break down dietary fiber to produce short-chain fatty acids, the fuel for enterocytes that make up the intestinal lining. Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria also help to support healthy digestion, support immune health, promote healthy bacterial and yeast balance, support skin health, and promote normal intestinal permeability.
Everyday factors such as poor diet, stress, and travel can disrupt healthy intestinal microflora, contributing to digestive upset and irregularity.
Research has shown that supplementation with probiotics (beneficial microflora) and prebiotics (probiotic growth promoters, such as fructooligosaccharides), supports healthy bowel flora as well as gastrointestinal function and comfort.
Lactobacillus species primarily inhabit the small intestine.
Bifidobacteria species primarily inhabit the large intestine.
Fructooligosaccharides are prebiotics, factors that have been shown to promote the growth of beneficial microflora in the large intestine.
In conclusion, digestive health forms the foundation of wellness. Through the Six Principles For Restoring Gastrointestinal Health, you can improve your overall well-being and help them respond more effectively to other measures to improve specific health concerns. For some with GI health concerns, it may be necessary to address all six principles of digestive health. Others may only require support in a few areas. A seasonal program to promote detoxification and healthy elimination is another method that has been used to promote health and wellness.*
For questions regarding digestive issues, call 262-676-9370.
*THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN EVALUATED BY THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION. THESE PRODUCTS ARE NOT INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT, CURE, OR PREVENT ANY DISEASE.
Dr. Kyle Ross
Stretching is vital to any fitness program because it helps your muscles gently adapt to your fitness regimen. Stretching can help increase your range of motion, which not only feels good but also helps your muscles resist injury. What’s more, many people don’t realize how important stretching is to being able to maintain your ability to do everyday tasks, even as you get older. These tasks include reaching high places, bending down to pick things up, and turning around to grab something – all without pain. Gentle stretching before exercise and more intensive stretching after exercise are both beneficial.
What is flexibility training?
Flexibility training includes stretching exercises for the purpose of increasing one’s range of motion.
Prior to flexibility training (stretching), a warm up should be performed at a low intensity for 5-10 minutes. This increases the temperature of the muscles and decreases the risk of injury. Flexibility training is best performed when the body is very warm. Many individuals will therefore perform stretching exercises following cardiovascular endurance training, which greatly increases the temperature of the body.
Why should I train this way?
Flexibility exercises can increase the range of motion throughout a joint. Increased range of motion can improve mobility in sporting events as well as everyday activities. Proper range of motion in the joints allows for the natural alignment of the body to be maintained throughout the day, which may prevent or decrease pain or injury.
For more information on flexibility training seek professional advice from a personal trainer and follow the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines.
American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Guidelines for flexibility training
Activities: Perform a general stretching routine following exercises that have warmed-up the body, targeting the major muscle and/or joint/tendon groups using static (non-bouncing) techniques
Frequency: At least 3 days per week
Intensity: Slowly stretching to a position of mild discomfort
Duration: Hold stretch for at least 10 seconds, working up to 30 seconds
Repetitions: Perform each stretch 3-5 times
These guidelines are for the general population to increase range of motion of muscles and joints. Athletes or advanced exercisers may want to consult a personal trainer for more specific guidelines.
Stretch after warming up the muscles and joints
Stretch slowly and smoothly only to the point of mild discomfort; avoid bouncing
Maintain normal breathing throughout each stretch
Focus attention on the muscle being stretched; try to limit movement in other body parts
Not sure where to start?
Click here for lower body stretching video
Five Signs You Should See a Chiropractor
Many people only think about seeing a chiropractor after something has gone terribly wrong. Maybe they’ve been in a car accident or slipped on a patch of ice and hurt their back. Maybe they woke up one morning with a stiff neck that just won’t go away, or maybe their regular doctor has been unable to cure what ails them. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that most people think of chiropractic medicine as a cure for something that’s wrong instead of a way to prevent things from going wrong in the first place.
While a chiropractor will be able to help you overcome pain and other symptoms resulting from an injury or accident, visiting a doctor of chiropractic medicine is also a great way to prevent many types of injuries.
Contact Ross Chiropractic & Wellness today to learn how we can not only help you recover from a current injury, but also help ensure that you avoid common injuries in the future.
If you’re wondering whether a chiropractor can help you, here are five signs that you should see a chiropractor.
#1: You Have Chronic Pain in Joints or Muscles
The first place many of us go when we experience chronic pain is to our medicine cabinet. When the aspirin doesn’t work, we head to the doctor’s office for the “good stuff.” If the doctor can’t figure out what’s wrong, we either suffer through the pain, or continue taking pain medications that can cause even more damage in the end.
The pain in your joints and muscles may be due to problems with your musculoskeletal alignment and myofascial (muscle and fascia) balance. The body is designed to work as one big machine with many moving parts. Just like a car engine, when one of those parts slips out of place, the whole engine can break down. A chiropractor is trained to make sure all of your parts are where they should be so that your body can function in the way that it’s supposed to.
#2: You Sit for Long periods or Perform Repetitive Tasks at Your Job
Sitting for long periods, especially when hunched over a keyboard or phone, often results in poor posture and unwanted pressure on the neck, upper back and shoulders. That pressure can ultimately cause bones and discs to shift just enough to cause problems later on, like a slipped or herniated disc. A doctor of chiropractic medicine will ensure your spinal column is properly aligned so you don’t run into problems later.
Performing repetitive tasks also takes a toll on your body. Whether it’s typing or standing at a cash register twisting and turning all day, the repeated movements can lead to overuse injuries that cause parts of the body to shift out of place.
#3: Sharp Pains Shooting Down Your Leg
Sharp pain shooting down the leg, tingling or weakness may be a sign of a pinched nerve or slipped disc. You may think that only your doctor or physical therapist is trained and relieving these symptoms. However, chiropractic has been shown more effective than both pain medications and physical therapy when chiropractic modalities and physical therapy are combined. In the event that traditional treatment has been unsuccessful, it’s possible that a compressed nerve is the cause of the problem. A chiropractor will examine you, perform spinal adjustments to alleviate the disc pressure on the nerve, give McKenzie home exercises to maintain disc healing, so you recover faster with fewer days in pain.
#4: You Suffer From Frequent Tension Headaches or Migraines
Frequent headaches can have many causes, but one of the most common is misalignments in the upper back and neck. If you have frequent headaches and your doctor hasn’t been able to give you an answer, chiropractic care may help reduce their frequency.
Similarly, many migraine sufferers have reported a significant reduction in the intensity and frequency of episodes with the help of chiropractic therapy.
#5: You’re An Active Person
If you’re an active person, your body likely takes a beating. While that beating is helping improve your physical and cardiovascular health, it may be causing problems as well. When we do things like exercise or engage in sports, our body is subjected to additional strain, pressure and jarring. These can all cause the spine to become misaligned. After years of engaging in these types of activities, our body can become prone to slipped discs, pinched nerves and other alignment problems. Regular visits to a chiropractor will ensure that your spine stays healthy while you’re keeping the rest of your body fit.
Chiropractic Medicine in Chicago and Southeastern Wisconsin
Chiropractors aren’t just for people who already have a problem; they’re also a great way to help prevent problems in the future. Even if you’re not currently in pain, it’s a good idea to see a chiropractor every now and then to keep your back and spine in proper working condition. Contact Ross Chiropractic & Wellness today to learn more about the benefits of preventative chiropractic care.
Dr. Kyle Ross
Mindfulness Helps Us Digest and Enjoy Our Food
Besides breathing and sleeping, eating is life's most vital activity. We cannot sustain ourselves without eating. But we seem to have forgotten this, spending very few hours (or even minutes) gathering, preparing, and eating food. As Jon Kabat Zinn, psychologist and author of multiple books on mindfulness, says,
"For the most part, we eat with great automaticity and little insight into its critical importance for us in sustaining life and also in sustaining health."
Food gives us energy, and allows us to think, move, and prosper. But we are no longer attentive to the impact of food on our functioning. Our food preferences and choices are now influenced more by food companies, ad campaigns, and the notion that "faster is better." We don't always (or perhaps even often) pick foods based on what our bodies need for optimal wellness.
Our busy lives and stress prevent us from taking the time to really nourish body and soul. We eat for convenience, not health.
How does mindfulness help?
If we begin to pay attention to how specific foods impact our body, we can start to make better choices about what foods to buy and eat.
For example, Jennifer was tempted in the supermarket to buy one of the sweet cereals, and she ate a bowl of this cereal each morning. But she noticed that she was always hungry a few hours after breakfast, craving a muffin or sweet roll. On the suggestion of a friend, she started eating eggs for breakfast, and found she wasn't so hungry and didn't crave sugar. (This was probably because the protein and fat in the eggs made her feel full while her previous breakfast, which had more sugar, probably increased her insulin level. The insulin reduced the glucose level in her blood, making her feel hungry.)
If we pay attention as we eat, we are likely to eat less and to better digest what we eat.
Susan Albers, author of Eating Mindfully, suggests that in our fast-paced world, attentiveness to the things you "have to do takes on a greater priority than what is going on internally." She states, "Slowing down is a foreign concept to busy individuals. Doing several things simultaneously is considered a more efficient way of doing things." We may not even care that multi-tasking registers as stress in the mind and therefore triggers a stress response in the body.
But when we eat while under stress or when experiencing busyness or unpleasant emotions, it affects not only what we eat, but how we digest what we eat.
Stress impacts our digestion
When our bodies perceive a threat, a whole host of physiological reactions occur within seconds. Our bodies move into a state of readiness, a chemical version of "code red." This is called the "fight or flight response," also known as the stress response. In this state, the following processes occur:
Your body perceives distraction as stress
You might think that the stress response doesn't really apply because you don't eat much when you are stressed. But distraction can act just like stress in terms of the impact on your digestive system.
An often-cited 1987 study, published in the journal Gastroenterology, illustrates how metabolism and digestion are altered under perceived distraction and stimuli. In this study:
Participants consumed a mineral drink while they were in a relaxed state. Researchers found that participants absorbed 100 percent of the drink's nutrients in this relaxed state.
Then the participants were asked to concentrate as two different people spoke to them simultaneously. In one ear, someone spoke about intergalactic space travel, while in the other ear, someone spoke about financial planning. When the subjects were exposed to this listening conflict and given the same mineral mix, they showed a significant reduction in assimilation that lasted up to an hour afterward.
The simple act of attending to two stimuli at once dramatically altered their metabolism, even though we might not normally consider this to be very stressful. Consider that people often read the newspaper, watch TV, or drive a car while eating. These distracting stimuli can to some degree impair the ability to digest fully.
Stimuli impacts digestion
The bottom line is: if you are eating while overloaded with stimuli and under stress, your body doesn't know that it's supposed to be digesting. As you dash out the door in the morning, toast in hand, or eat lunch in front of a computer screen, or when anxiously worrying about the day or experiencing negative emotions tied to a relationship, the message you are giving your body is "don't digest."
To your body, these stimuli, while not as dramatic or intense as being chased by a saber-toothed tiger, are still being registered as "emergency." So you can experience digestive symptoms, such as heartburn, a feeling of food just sitting in your stomach, bloating, belching, and overall stomach pain. The nutritional value of even the healthiest meal is diminished because the digestive system isn't functioning optimally to absorb the nutrients.
Stress also inhibits concentration, memory, and reason, which can impact your planning and choice of food as well.
More about mindfulness and digestion
Mindful eating has health benefits. Paying attention while eating assures full digestion as well as full nutritional benefit.
There is an initial phase of digestion called the cephalic phase that occurs before we actually start to eat. Cephalic means "head," so it is not surprising that this initial phase of digestion begins with the brain seeing, smelling, and anticipating food. An example of the cephalic phase happens when you smell bread baking. Anticipating the delicious flavor of the freshly baked bread causes the mouth to water, preparing you to eat the bread.
In this phase, the brain informs the stomach that it should prepare for a meal by initiating a number of digestive activities. The body begins to prepare for the breaking down and absorption of nutrients. Salivation is activated (saliva is used for the initial break down of carbohydrates) and pancreatic enzymes and stomach acids (also used to break food down) are released. The conveyer belt that is the digestive tract begins its rhythmic movement so that nutrients can be absorbed and moved along.
It is estimated that as much as 30 to 40 percent of the total digestive response to any meal is due to the cephalic phase. So if we aren't paying attention to food before we begin to eat, if we are not fully aware of what and when we are eating, it stands to reason that we are not provoking the full beneficial digestive response.
How can I eat mindfully?
Mindful eating is the full experience of our meal. The Enlightened Diet authors Deborah Kesten and Larry Scherwitz describe mindful eating as being present, moment-by-moment for each sensation that happens during eating, such as chewing, tasting, and swallowing.
"When you take time to experience your food through all your senses; taste (flavor), smell (aroma), sight (presentation) sound (of surroundings), and touch (movement of utensils and the feel of the food)," they suggest, "you are likely to be truly nourished."
Is mindful eating part of the "The French Paradox"?
The French and other Europeans demonstrate the benefits of dining in a relaxed state. During the early afternoon, the French and many other Europeans take hours to eat lunch. Lots of high-fat food and wine is served, and the meal tends to be the largest of the day.
However, the ingredients are fresh, and the company is enjoyable; there is conversation and engagement. They are dining rather than simply eating. They are experiencing pleasure. The body is aware of eating and digestion occurs. This presents quite a contrast to the fast food, rushed lunch "minutes" Americans tend to experience.
The paradox between the high-fat, alcohol-rich diet and the excellent weight and health of the French has been confounding researchers for years. Diseases such as heart disease were supposed to increase as people ate more fat. Thus the search for the "magic bullet" in the French diet was conducted in earnest. Was it the wine? Was it the quality of the fats? Was it the fresh ingredients? The answer is yes to all of these factors.
But there is more. As Marc David, author of Nourishing Wisdom points out, "First and foremost the French consistently eat under parasympathetic dominance (opposite of the stress response), the physiological state of relaxation and maximum digestive function. Even if they are stressed out, taking a generous amount of time to eat a meal and savor it probably helps them let go. It is the optimum state of digestion and assimilation."
Albers, S. (2003). Eating Mindfully. Oakland, California: New Harbinger Publications, Inc. Barclay, G.R., Turnberg, L.A. (1987). Effects of psychological stress on slat and water transport in the human jejunum. Gastroenterology, 93(1), 91-97. David, M. (1991). Nourishing Wisdom. New York: Random House. Heller, R.F. (1994). Hyperinsulinemic obesity and carbohydrate addiction: the missing link is the carbohydrate frequency factor. Medical Hypotheses, 42(5), 307-312. Kabat-Zinn, J. (2005). Coming to Our Senses. New York: Hyperion. Kesten, D., Scherwitz, L. (2007). The Enlightened Diet. Berkeley, California: Celestial Arts. Pelletier, K. (1993). Between Mind and Body: Stress, Emotions, and Health in Mind Body Medicine. New York: Consumer Reports Books. Carolyn Denton, LN (www. takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/mindfulness-helps-us-digest-and-enjoy-our-food)
Home Remedies for Acne
Our skin is a reflection of our overall health, which is why glowing, beautiful skin often results from proper care, hydration and eating a nutrient-dense diet. On the other hand, skin ridden with whiteheads, blackheads and other types of pimples can indicate oxidative damage, poor nutrition and hormonal imbalances — making it all the more important to find home remedies for acne.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne is the most common skin condition in the United States. (1) Occasional breakouts and chronic acne plague tens of millions of Americans of all ages every year. About 85 percent of teens experience some type of acne, but even many adults deal with at least occasional breakouts too. About half of teens and young adults suffering from acne will have severe enough symptoms to seek out professional help from a dermatologist.
From mild to severe, acne can cause painful and unsightly outbreaks on the face, back, chest and even arms. Left untreated, acne can also lead to diminished self-esteem and long-term hyperpigmentation or scarring. Genetics, changing hormone levels, lack of sleep and stress are all contributing factors to acne.
The good news is this: many safe home remedies for acne, blackheads, whiteheads, and hyperpigmentation due to acne scars are all available. Below I’m sharing my favorite natural home remedies for getting rid of pimples and keeping them from returning. If you’re someone who has chosen to use potentially dangerous prescription drugs and/or topical medications on your skin, instead of natural home remedies for acne, then know that clearing your skin naturally is possible, as is minimizing acne scars. A healthy diet, applying essential oils, proper gentle cleansing and balancing hormones are all home remedies for acne you can restore your skin’s health, reduce unsightly pimples or other types of irritation, and prevent scars.
What Is Acne?
Acne vulgaris is the term for a group of skin conditions that cause most acne pimples. (2) Acne is typically categorized into two main types: non-inflammatory and inflammatory acne. Acne is also described as mild, moderate or severe acne, or sometimes given a grade of either grade I, II, III or IV acne. (3)
The main types of acne include:
Non-inflammatory acne—characterized by whiteheads and blackheads, but not cysts/nodules.
Inflammatory acne— usually caused by small infections due to P. Acnes bacteria.
Cystic acne (also called nodulocystic acne)— an intense form of acne that results in large, inflamed cysts and nodules that appear on the skin
Acne Fulminans— a severe form of inflammatory acne that usually affects adolescent males on jaw, chest and back.
Acne Mechanica:— triggered by excess pressure, heat, and friction. Often affects athletes, causing small bumps and some inflamed lesions.
Here is how acne is graded depending on the type of symptoms it causes:
Grade I— causes mild whiteheads, blackheads, and small pimples that are not inflamed.
Grade II— Moderate acne that causes frequent breakouts of pustules and papules.
Grade III— large amount of inflammation, numerous papules and pustules, and some nodules.
Grade IV— the most severe form of acne, causing many nodules, cysts, pustules, and papules that often appear on the face, back, chest, neck, and buttocks.
Signs & Symptoms of Acne
Acne symptoms will depend on the specific type of acne someone has and the underlying cause of the skin irritation/inflammation. The most common symptoms that acne causes include: (4)
Blackheads, or small black dots on the skin, usually around the nose, forehead or chin. These are also called “comedones” and result from debris getting trapped inside of a follicle.
Whiteheads, which can form when pus builds under the skin and forms a “head”. These result from follicles getting plugged with sebum and dead skin cells.
Papules and pustules (the technical name for pimples) which cause small or medium sized bumps on the skin that are round, red and don’t always have a visible “head”. These are caused by “moderate” types of acne and are not as severe as cysts or nodules. (5)
Cysts or nodules, which are severe pimples that are infected and painful. They can form within deeper layers of the skin, become very swollen or tender, and take longer to heal then papules and pustules.
Dark spots on the skin (hyperpigmentation).
Scars, most often left behind from nodules or cysts, especially if they have been “popped” or picked.
Increased sensitivity to products, heat, sweat and sunlight.
Decreased self esteem, self consciousness, anxiety and depression.
Common Causes of Acne
The main causes of acne include:
Clogged pores, caused by things like excess oil production and dead skin cells. Sebum is the type of oil released into hair follicles that can become trapped beneath surface of the skin and clog pores.
Hormone fluctuations or imbalances. For example, when androgen hormones increase oil production rises. This often happens in teens and young adults suffering from acne, especially women experiencing PMS, irregular periods, pregnancy, early menopause, and other hormonal conditions such as poly cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
Poor diet, such as the “Standard American Diet” that includes lots of refined grains, sugar and unhealthy fats.
High amounts of stress and related problems like psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Use of certain medications, including corticosteroids, androgens, birth control pills and lithium (6).
Friction and irritation to the skin, such as from sports equipment and backpacks that can lead to acne breakouts on the chin, forehead, jawline and back.
Smoking and other causes of inflammation.
Once believed to strike most often during teen years, acne is now affecting millions of adult women, many of which never had a problem with acne in the past. Some women (and men too) will only deal with acne during puberty and their teenage years, but others will suffer well into adulthood, especially during times of stress and hormonal changes. While acne among adult women is usually linked to hormonal shifts and imbalances that occur during the menstrual cycle, or when transitioning into menopause, it’s important to consider elevated stress levels, a lack of sleep and a poor diet might also be root causes.
A review published in the Archives of Dermatological Research found evidence that sleep deprivation, stress and other aspects of “modern life” are linked to adult female acne. The researchers point out that “Modern life presents many stresses including urban noises, socioeconomic pressures and light stimuli. Women are especially affected by stress during daily routine. Women also have a higher risk of developing psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety. Sleep restriction is added to these factors, with several negative consequences on health, including on hormonal secretion and the immune system.” (7)
Conventional Treatments for Acne
Most people either choose to live with acne, or out of frustration turn to medications or chemical treatments that often have side effects or simply don’t work at all. Dermatologists can prescribe medications to treat acne, including gels, lotions, cleansers and even antibiotics. The harsh chemicals used in over-the-counter and prescription acne products can cause further irritation to already-sensitive or inflamed skin, so using these is not always the best option, or safe for continued use.
According to doctors, which is the best medicine for treating acne?
Two ingredients used in many acne treatments are called benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. Concentrated vitamin A derivatives are also sometimes used, in addition to sulfur or zinc compounds.
Benzoyl peroxide helps kill bacteria found inside pores, which helps prevent pore clogging. This can reduce infections, redness and inflammation, but sometimes causes negative reactions like dryness, burning and peeling. Always start with a lower concentration to test your reaction, such as a lotion with 2.5 percent benzoyl peroxide.
Salicylic acid is another common active ingredient that helps remove excess cells that trap sebum and bacteria inside pores. It can also cause redness and dryness, especially on sensitive skin. Start with a product containing 0.5 percent to 3 percent salicylic acid.
Dermatologists sometimes prescribe antibiotics to help reduce the amount of bacteria getting trapped inside pores. Examples of antibiotics prescribed to treat acne include clindamycin, doxycycline, erythromycin, and tetracycline. (8)
Once acne is resolved, how do dermatologists remove acne scars? A peel might be recommended to remove the appearance of dark spots or scars, such as a glycolic peel. Peels and other acne treatments can increase photo-sensitivity, so you’ll need to protect your skin from the sun.
12 Best Home Remedies for Acne & Acne Scars
Everyone’s skin is different, so keep in mind that effectively treating acne breakouts at home requires a multi-disciplinary approach. The home remedies for acne described below can be used in combination to provide the best results. However, keep in mind that while you overcome acne it’s also very important to avoid the biggest mistakes that can make skin irritation or scarring worse:
Over cleansing with harsh chemicals and cleansers
Believing only topical care of the skin is necessary to fight acne
Not giving skin the chance to adapt to new care
Failing to stay properly hydrated
Failing to start treating acne from the inside, out
1. Cleanse Gently
Getting rid of stubborn pimples, blackheads and whiteheads starts with thorough but gentle cleansing of the skin. Try my recipe for Homemade Honey Face Wash to cleanse skin without causing irritation. It features apple cider vinegar, honey, coconut oil, probiotics and essential oils (like tea tree oil). The honey soothes the skin, the coconut oil helps to fight bacteria and fungus, and the tea tree oil helps to invigorate the skin. Dampen skin with warm water, and massage into face and neck. Rinse well and pat dry. Do this each morning and evening and, if needed, after workouts. Refrain from cleansing more often, as this can irritate the skin and cause an overproduction of oil.
If you find that acne appears around your hairline, commercial hair products may be to blame. Shampoo, conditioner, hair spray, gels and mousses contain acne-causing ingredients, including petroleum, parabens, silicone, sulfates, panthenol and other chemicals.
Like hair products, makeup and skin care products contain ingredients that can cause acne. Common offenders include lanolin, mineral oil, aluminum, retinyl acetate, alcohol, oxybenzone, triclosan, parabens, polyethylene, BHA and BHT, and formaldehyde-based preservatives. Read ingredient labels to avoid putting these types of chemicals on your sensitive skin.
2. Tone to Restore pH Balance
Toning is an important step in proper skin care. It helps to remove any residue after cleansing and helps to restore the skin’s natural pH levels.
You can use pure apple cider vinegar (with the mother culture) as your evening and morning toner. Apple cider vinegar is packed with potassium, magnesium, acetic acid and various enzymes that kill bacteria on the skin. Chronic acne can be the result of bacteria and fungi that continue to spread and grow on the surface of the skin. With a cotton ball, smooth ACV over skin paying particular attention to active breakouts and acne prone areas.
3. Use Healing Masks
To hydrate and heal your skin, try applying masks a couple of times per week. Yogurt, honey, cinnamon, essential oils and other ingredients can be used to create soothing masks that help to hydrate skin and fight common causes of acne. Here are two mask recipes that are easy-to-make home remedies for acne:
Yogurt and Honey Mask: Mix one tablespoon of raw honey with one tablespoon of yogurt. Apply to face, paying particular attention to hairline, jawline and other acne prone areas. Relax for 10 minutes and gently wipe off with a damp cloth.
Cinnamon and Honey Mask: Mix two tablespoons of raw honey, one teaspoon of coconut oil and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Smooth over face. Keep away from eyes, as the cinnamon can be an irritant. Relax for 5–10 minutes and gently remove with damp cloth. Honey and cinnamon used together helps to fight acne because of its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial properties.
Add a couple of drops of tea tree oil to either of the masks above during an active acne breakout. Tea tree oil is considered one of the best home remedies for acne.
4. Exfoliate Regularly (But Gently)
Clogged pores and dead skin both contribute to acne. (9) It’s important to exfoliate properly to remove buildup, however keep in mind that commercially available scrubs are ridden with chemicals that can further irritate skin.
DIY scrubs to fight acne and keep skin fresh are easy to make and economical. First, you need something that is gritty. Sea salt, brown sugar and ground oatmeal are good choices. In addition, you need a base. Coconut oil, kefir and honey are all good choices. These bases help to fight bacteria, fungi and candida overgrowth on the skin while the textured ingredients help to unplug pores and remove dead skin.
To make your own exfoliate mix two tablespoons of the dry ingredient of choice with 1–2 tablespoons of the base of choice. Rub into skin in a circular motion. Start at the forehead and work your way down, paying particular attention to problem areas. Remove with a damp cloth, and rinse well.
5. Spot Treat with Tea Tree Oil
Acne responds well to melalecua, more commonly known as tea tree oil. It’s used the world over as an antiseptic and to treat wounds. Like coconut oil, honey and cultured milk products, it fights bacteria and fungi.
According to medical research, tea tree oil gels containing 5 percent tea tree oil may be as effective as medications containing 5 percent benzoyl peroxide. (10) Researchers do indicate that tea tree oil may work more slowly for some individuals, so try to be patient. To make a simple home remedy for acne using tea tree oil mix 4–8 drops of tea tree oil and one teaspoon of coconut oil or jojoba oil. Dap lightly onto the problem areas. Slight tingling is normal, but if the application causes lots of burning then discontinue use. Always use a carrier oil, as tea tree oil can be too harsh when applied directly to skin.
There are also several other ingredients you can use on skin to reduce inflammation, such as chamomile oil and aloe vera. These can especially be beneficial if your skin is irritated due to using products containing salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or both.
6. Fight Bacteria With Holy Basil
Holy basil and sweet basil essential oils have been found to fight acne caused by bacteria, according to a report published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Sciences. (11)
In this study, sweet basil oil slightly outperformed holy basil oil in topical applications. Holy basil oil tea, or Tulsi tea, supports healthy blood sugar and hormone levels. As these two conditions are linked with acne, consuming herbal tea daily will help to balance hormones naturally, fighting acne from the inside out, making this one of the best cross-over home remedies for acne. Additionally, Holy basil tea can be applied topically to the skin as a toner, serving as another of the many home remedies for acne. Either sweet basil or holy basil essential oils can also be added to the masks, cleansers or exfoliating recipes mentioned above.
Contrary to popular belief, acne-prone skin still needs to be moisturized. Using topicals that focus on drying out the skin tricks the skin into producing even more oil, thereby further contributing to clogged pores and more acne.
What is the best product for acne if you have dry skin? Coconut oil is one of the most versatile and healthy oils on earth. While it can be too heavy for some skin, coconut oil is generally an excellent moisturizer. A study published in Biomaterials found that lauric acid found in coconut oil demonstrates the strongest bacterial activity against acne caused by bacteria. (12) There is an increasing demand for coconut oil beauty products because the lauric acid, antioxidants and medium-chain fatty acids hydrate and restore skin and hair.
To make a homemade daily skin moisturizer, warm ¼ teaspoon of coconut oil in the palms of your hands. Smooth over your cleaned face and neck. Allow to soak into the skin for five minutes. Gently wipe off excess oil with a dry cloth. The amount that has been absorbed is all your skin needs, but any excess may cause a breakout.
8. Avoid Too Much Sun Exposure
For acne-prone skin during breakouts, it’s important to protect against sun exposure. Ultraviolet rays stimulate pigment producing cells, increasing the risk of acne scarring. (13) The best option is to use natural sunscreens and to only get an appropriate amount of direct sun exposure daily (about 15–20 minutes most days).
Commercial sunscreens are packed with harmful chemicals that can irritate sensitive skin and acne-prone skin. Research shows that coconut oil has an SPF value of 8, as does olive oil. (14) To use as sun protection, apply a moderate amount to exposed skin every couple of hours and try to avoid spending too much time in direct sunlight during “peak” hours, which is about from 10am-3pm each day.
9. Take a Probiotic Supplement
Remember, fighting acne requires both external treatment and an internal treatment. Live probiotics support healthy digestion and immune system functioning, plus improves skin health by fighting acne. According to a recent study published in Dermatology Online Journal, researchers indicate that probiotic foods and supplements are promising and safe home remedies for acne. (15) The study indicates that larger trials are still needed, but evidence thus far is promising for using probiotics to improve gut health and fight acne.
10. Take Guggul
For individuals suffering from the cystic form of acne, a controlled clinical trial has found that Guggul supplements (also known as guggulsterone) outperformed 500 milligrams of tetracycline by a small margin. (16) In the study, 25 milligrams of guggulsterone taken twice daily for three months resulted in the reduction of acne, but more importantly, 50 percent fewer participants had acne relapses. Researchers noted that patients with oily skin responded remarkably better to guggul than others in the study.
11. Eat A Healthy, Low-Glycemic Index Diet
There’s evidence that eating a low glycemic diet, meaning one that doesn’t include lots of processed grains/flour products and added sugar, is one the best home remedies for acne because it can help prevent it. Glycemic index measures how quickly foods raise blood sugar. Processed and refined foods, like those common in the Western diet, are high-glycemic, while meats and whole plant foods are low on the glycemic scale.
Glycemic load is a measure of glycemic index times carbohydrates minus fiber. Most of the time, refined and processed food will have a high glycemic index AND high glycemic load, while certain vegetables will have a higher glycemic index, but very low glycemic load on the body.
In 2007, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that glycemic load can greatly affects acne. 43 males with acne, aged 15 to 25, were separated into two groups. For twelve weeks, one group ate a diet that was 25 percent protein and 45 percent low-glycemic carbohydrates. The other group ate carbs without any control of glycemic index, resulting in a higher glycemic diet. At the end of the study, the acne had decreased in the low-glycemic group by almost twice the rate of the high-glycemic group! (17)
As part of the protocol to treat acne from the inside out, it’s important eat foods that don’t cause blood sugar spikes or increased inflammation. Here are tips for following a acne-free diet:
Focus on eating lots of leafy green vegetables, berries and clean protein.
Increase consumption of wild fish, grass-fed meat and cage-free chickens.
Healthy fats are essential to good skin health and treating acne breakouts at home, so include foods rich in omega-3s like wild-caught salmon.
Add zinc-rich foods such as kefir, yogurt, lamb, pumpkin seeds and chicken. According to a recent study published in BioMed Research International, there is a correlation between low zinc levels and the severity of acne. (18)
Eat more high fiber foods since fiber found in vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds supports cleansing the colon and growth of good bacteria in the gut.
Add vitamin A-rich foods to your diet, including spinach, carrots and beef liver.
Foods to avoid for acne-free skin include hydrogenated oils, gluten, wheat, sugar and conventional cow’s milk dairy products.
If you must have your dairy milk, consume goat’s milk or raw milk, as researchers have found that conventional milk products can contribute to acne. (19) In addition to conventional dairy, it’s important to exclude known allergens or foods you have a sensitivity to — common food allergens include gluten, tree nuts, soy, peanuts and shellfish.
Sugar and carbohydrate rich foods — Consuming excess amounts of sugar and grain products can feed yeast and candida in the body increasing acne.
Gluten and wheat — These foods cause inflammation of the gut, which also affects the skin.
Chocolate — Is high in compounds that can trigger acne. Eliminate chocolate completely if possible but if you consume it then make sure it’s pure dark chocolate.
Fried and fast foods — These foods contain a number of ingredients that cause inflammation including hydrogenated oils, sodium, chemicals, flavorings and sugar.
Hydrogenated oils — Causes oily skin and are one of the main causes of acne. Hydrogenated oils can be found in foods like pizza and in packaged foods that contain soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil, and vegetable oil.
12. Use Essential Oils to Reduce Acne Scars
If you’ve ever suffered from acne in the past, then you’re probably wondering how to get rid of acne scars that can remain for months or even years. Treating acne scars takes patience and perseverance. The sooner you start treating a scar, the better possible results. The vast majority of individuals who get acne will experience some degree of scarring. The most important thing you can do to prevent scarring? During a breakout, never pick or pop pimples, whiteheads or blackheads!
For 6–12 months after an acne breakout, stay out of the sun as much as possible to avoid making dark spots and scars worse. When you are in the sun, use an all-natural sunscreen to protect skin. If scars do develop, dot a drop of rosehip seed oil or carrot seed oil on the scars twice per day until you notice a difference in the scar.
Coconut oil, lavender essential oil, honey and gentle exfoliation can also help prevent scars, depending on your skin tone and texture. To naturally help treat acne scars you can make a paste of raw honey, lavender essential oil, tea tree oil and frankincense oil. Check out my recipe for a homemade acne scar removal face mask.
Precautions Regarding Acne Treatments
Acne will sometimes go away on its own with time, especially if you get acne as a teenager or during a stressful period of your life. But if you’re suffering from ongoing cystic acne then it’s best to visit a doctor for help, since this usually points to a bigger problem.
Big, inflamed, painful cysts under your skin indicate that an underlying health problem may be to blame, such as PCOS, a thyroid problem, etc. Talk to your doctor about potential causes and ways to treat acne holistically depending on your unique situation.
Final Thoughts on Home Remedies for Acne & Acne Scars
Acne (acne vulgaris) describes several different types of skin conditions that cause acne symptoms like whiteheads, blackheads, papules, pustules, cysts and discoloration or scars.
Causes of acne include clogged cores, bacterial infections, hormonal imbalances or fluctuations, inflammation, a poor diet, stress and lack of sleep,
Some of the top home remedies for acne and acne scars are gently cleansing skin, toning, moisturizing, balancing hormones, protecting skin from sun damage, using essential oils and eating a healthy diet.
After you have gotten rid of acne using home remedies for acne, it’s important to stick with a healthy diet, drink plenty of water, keep up with your new skin care routine and change your pillowcase every week to prevent breakouts from returning.