Monthly Archives: September 2012

Identifying the Cause Eliminated This Child’s Challenges

Shadow of Boy Flexing His Muscles

I want to send a huge shout-out and thanks to my friend Rocky Walls of 12 Stars Media. Last week, Rocky casually suggested to a group of friends that sharing case studies about successes in our business was a great way to let people know what we actually do on a daily basis. That recommendation was a light-bulb moment for me. I realized I spend a lot of time sharing health information, but rarely talk about what I actually DO to help people. Starting today, I intend to share more information about the types of challenges I work to resolve. Please note I will never use real names and all case studies are shared with permission.

I met a charming little boy – let’s call him “Chris” – about a year ago. He was happy and healthy, but his mom brought him to see me because his teachers were threatening to have him removed from their classroom. Chris was a bit rambunctious and had difficulty focusing. The same child who could sit and play video games for hours couldn’t seem to concentrate for more than 30 seconds on school work. He had poor impulse control, spoke out of turn, and could not sit still. Although he was popular with other kids, he was sometimes overly rough during play and sometimes over-reacted when conflicts occurred. His teachers and the school administrators insisted that Chris needed medication. Chris’ parents had researched their options and were firmly committed to not putting their child on any medication.

When I talked to Chris about the challenges he was having, Chris said, “I want to do what I’m told, but I just can’t! My brain doesn’t do what I want it to!” (For the record, I focus on the child and usually ask him or her more questions than I ask the mom during a consultation. Most kids, regardless of age, have amazing insight into their health and behavioral issues. Letting a child know up front that I consider him the most important part of the team helps gain his trust and increases his willingness to participate in the adjustments I recommend. I often receive additional information from the parents before, during and after consultations.)

Physically, Chris appeared to be very healthy, but did have the following:

  • He often did not sleep well
  • His nose ran and he frequently cleared his throat due to post nasal drip
  • He had dark circles under his eyes
  • He had eczema
  • He caught every cold and flu that went around and had frequent ear infections
  • He alternated between normal, very loose stools and mild constipation
  • He had occasional stomach aches
  • His mom commented that he had mild tremors in his hands, but that they weren’t consistent

When I reviewed Chris’ eating habits, I noticed wheat and dairy were part of almost every meal. When I asked Chris when his tummy last hurt, he told me it “hurt bad” the last time he ate pizza. Tiny warning bells started to go off in my head. When I asked his mom when she first noticed his eczema, she told me it started shortly after Chris stopped breastfeeding. The warning bells in my head now became screaming sirens. I asked a few more questions about diet and was thrilled to hear Chris and his family ate almost 100% organic foods. The exception to this was the days when Chris ate the school lunch. His mom and his teachers recognized that Chris’ behavior was worse on the days he ate the school food.

As I began reviewing Chris’ physical appearance, I noticed he had white spots under his fingernails, had many hangnails, had a thick yellow coating on his tongue, had puffy lips, and had inflamed gums. He also had some unusual color changes in the irises of his eyes. At this point, I asked Chris a surprising question: “Do your feet smell?” He giggled and shouted, “YES!” while his mom agreed emphatically. I also noticed Chris moved his hands in a way that seemed to indicate his joints were stiff. When I asked about it, he said his hands “worked fine.” I tested his hand strength and ability to make a fist, which made it very obvious his hands were not working the way they should. His finger joints also looked slightly inflamed. His mom commented that his handwriting was horrible.

I then gave Chris a teaspoon of a liquid Zinc supplement and asked him to swish it around in his mouth and tell me what it tasted like. He swished it around and said it tasted like water. 

Based on what I observed and the matters Chris and his parents were hoping to address, I made a variety of recommendations involving dietary changes, techniques Chris could use to stop fidgeting and pay attention, and ways nutritional deficiencies could be addressed. The main recommendations I made included:

  1. I asked Chris to stop eating wheat and dairy for one month.
  2. I recommended three supplements designed to alleviate nutritional deficiencies for which Chris had indicators. I also recommended one supplement which has been used successfully as a substitute for ADD/ADHD medications. I recommended the final supplement be used on a very short-term basis.
  3. I suggested his mom request three specific blood tests from their doctor. (They were working closely with a functional medicine MD who ran frequent tests anyway, so adding a few more was not difficult.)
  4. I recommended that Chris receive a thorough screening for food allergies. I can do food allergy screening using an EDS unit, but it takes over an hour and is not always a good option for children with short attention spans. The blood test I recommended would provide very rapid results on a wide range of potential allergens.
  5. I asked his mom to stop allowing Chris to purchase the school lunch. I made a variety of recommendations of healthy lunches she could pack. I also recommended increasing several foods in his diet to boost his nutrition and alleviate potential nutritional deficiencies.

When I saw Chris two weeks later, he was starting to see improvements in how he felt, how he slept and in his ability to concentrate in school. He told me the techniques I had shared with him were helping him do better in school. (I often teach kids to use behavioral techniques to help them focus better.) I reviewed his food allergy test results and made further recommendations. As the months continued, I met with Chris and his family several more times made additional recommendations.

Within three months, most of the issues Chris was addressing had disappeared. He no longer had eczema, he was sleeping better, the dark circles under his eyes were gone, his digestion had improved, his hands no longer trembled, his post nasal drip had vanished, and he had not had any colds or missed school due to illness. The best part was that his grades had improved and he had far fewer behavioral issues in the classroom. Chris still had occasional struggles with paying attention in class, but he was able to maintain his focus much more easily. He also had fewer conflicts with his friends and no longer had outbursts when conflicts arose. After seeing so many improvements, I made a few additional recommendations which included some therapies designed to eliminate additional imbalances that became apparent.

I’m happy to say Chris now has no behavioral issues at school and always gets high grades in Class Behavior.

I see “miracles” like this occur every day. The teachers Chris worked with commented that he “was a new boy.” I cringe when I hear statements like that. Chris was the same boy, but he was a boy who no longer suffered from food allergies and nutritional deficiencies. Addressing the cause of his physical and emotional challenges eliminated them. This approach to problem resolution is called “root cause analysis.” It simply means it is to solve a problem without identifying what caused the problem. It is a model that has sadly disappeared from mainstream medicine. It is, however, a model that is highly effective at reversing health challenges and creating lasting change. This is the model I use in my practice. 

I hope you enjoyed reading about how I helped Chris reach his goals. To discuss your health challenges or your child’s, please contact me to schedule a consultation.

Photo used with permission of Rhino Neal

How to Brew a Healthy Cup of Coffee: Cold Brew

If you’re reading this post, chances are you want to enjoy a cup of coffee without worrying about potential negative health effects. For more information on the potential risks and benefits of coffee, please read Is Coffee Healthy Or Not?

My preference for brewing a healthy cup of coffee is to use a process called “Cold Brew.” Cold Brewing coffee is exactly what the name implies: it involves brewing coffee without the use of heat. It is incredibly easy, but most of the instructions you find online make it sound very difficult. My goal with this post is to show you how simple it is to make a pot of Cold Brew coffee.

Cold Brew Coffee Benefits

The primary benefit of cold brewed coffee is that the coffee it creates has a very low acidity level. The low acidity is beneficial for anyone with digestive disorders or who is concerned about bone density or body alkalinity. Another benefit is the taste. Cold brewed coffee has a rich taste that I have not found in any other brewing process. More good news is that cold brewed coffee provides the same amount of caffeine as other brewing methods. Cold brewing also creates coffee that is lower in some of the harmful chemicals found in coffee. It also makes less of a mess, so it’s a win-win!

How to Make Cold Brewed Coffee

French Press Coffee Maker

Simple steps follow that explain how to brew a pot of cold brew coffee. To simplify the process, I recommend using a French press (see picture at right) or a cold brew system like the one shown at the bottom of this post. A standard French press holds 34 ounces, but there are larger ones which hold 50 ounces and more. French presses are typically used with hot water, but they are a dream come true when used to make cold brew coffee.

Cold Brew Coffee Instructions:

  1. Measure 5-7 tablespoons of ground organic coffee into a 34-ounce French press. (Use more or less coffee to suit your personal preference for strength. If you are not using a French press, you can make cold brew coffee in any glass or ceramic container.)
    . 
  2. Fill the French press half way with purified water. (At this stage, I like to add cinnamon, nutmeg or cayenne to liven up the taste of the coffee.)
       .  
  3. Blend the coffee and water well, then fill French press to top brew line with additional purified water.
       .  
  4. Allow to sit, or “brew,” for anywhere from five minutes to twelve hours. I know all the online instructions you’ve read insist it takes 12 hours to brew a pot of cold brew, but I’m here to tell you it does not. You can get a rich, full-bodied aromatic cup of cold brew coffee in as little as five minutes. Trust me!
       .  
  5. Strain (press), pour into a mug, add your favorite fixings, and drink. (If you are not using a French press, pour the coffee through several layers of cheesecloth or through a coffee filter to separate the coffee from the grounds.)
         .  
  6. If you prefer to drink it hot, heat the coffee briefly on the stove. (We don’t use a microwave.) 

*Standard cold brew instructions say the coffee must be allowed to brew for 12 hours. My brilliant husband discovered you get the same rich taste if the coffee is allowed to brew for as little as five minutes. This simplifies the task immensely!

That’s it! Have you tried cold brew? If not, please give it a try and let me know what you think. I look forward to hearing your responses!

Update: Since this article was posted, we’ve discovered a new “system” for cold brew that is wonderful. It simplifies the process and makes it even easier than using a French press. Click the pic below to view the Hario Cold Brew System. (It’s inexpensive, too!)

Hario Cold Brew System

Is Coffee Healthy or Not?

Steaming Cup of Coffee

I am often asked what my thoughts are about whether or not coffee is “healthy.” As with most health issues, your personal physiology determines whether or not coffee is beneficial for you. Many people are shocked that I am not opposed to coffee. To be quite honest, I recognize that coffee does have health benefits. I also recognize that some people have such poor diets that a morning cup of java provides the only antioxidants they receive during the entire day.

If you’d like to learn how to brew the healthiest coffee possible, please read my article, How to Brew a Healthy Cup of Coffee: Cold Brew.

In the points that follow, please note that a “cup” of coffee is 8 ounces. Most coffee mugs hold far more, so use caution.

Coffee’s Benefits

Coffee may provide the following benefits. Please note that some people are extremely sensitive to caffeine. Caffeine sensitivity may counteract some of the positive effects I’ve shared below.

  • Coffee is a rich source of antioxidants.
  • Coffee contains certain minerals that are lacking in the Standard American Diet (SAD), including magnesium, potassium, chromium (necessary for proper blood sugar control), zinc, and others.
  • A Harvard study found that women who drink two to three cups of coffee per day have a 15% lower risk of depression than women who do not drink coffee.
  • Coffee is rich in Trigonelline, a chemical that helps protect your teeth from bacteria that can cause decay.
  • Over 17 different studies found that people who drink one to four cups of coffee daily have lower rates of Type 2 Diabetes and some forms of cancer.
  • In addition to antioxidants, coffee contains high levels of 3,5 Dicaffeoylquinic acid, a chemical that protects cells from free-radical damage.
  • Coffee is rich in niacin, a B vitamin that is essential for cardiovascular health, normal brain function, normal digestion, cell health, energy production and more.
  • Multiple studies found that those who drink two to four cups of coffee daily have lowered rates of Alzheimer Disease, liver disease, gallstone formation, Parkinson’s Disease, coronary rhythm disorders, heart attacks and more.
  • Several studies found that coffee consumption does NOT elevate blood pressure and actually improves coronary health. Hallelujah! If you have high blood pressure, test your pressure before drinking a cup of coffee and 20 minutes after to determine if drinking decaf might be a better option due to your personal sensitivity to caffeine.
  • A 13-year study conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine in 2012 found that coffee drinkers who drank two to three cups of coffee per day had a 10-15% lower rate of mortality than those who did not. The researchers said this effect cannot be directly attributed to coffee and that further research is needed, but those numbers are certainly interesting!

Coffee’s Risks

Coffee beans contain over 1600 different chemicals. Unfortunately, not all of them are healthy. Drinking coffee may have the following harmful effects:

  • Coffee has been shown to increase levels of LDL cholesterol, although the exact reason is not known.
  • Consumption of two or more cups of coffee per day has been associated with a higher risk of osteoporosis and osteopenia. Percolated or drip coffee is very, very acidic, which creates an overly acidic pH in the body. To counteract the acidity, the body will pull calcium out of the bones and teeth to alkalize the body’s pH. My personal belief is that acidic brewing methods lead to osteoporosis and not the coffee. See the section below for healthy ways to brew coffee.
  • Coffee is known to interfere with sleep and may cause irritability and anxiety in some people. Drinking naturally decaffeinated coffee may lessen this effect.
  • Coffee hampers the absorption of iron and has been connected to iron deficiency anemia. Women who take iron supplements should never take them within two hours of drinking coffee. (Iron supplements are best absorbed on an empty stomach, so taking them right before bed – at least two hours after eating – works best for most people. Please note that iron interferes with the absorption of some prescription medications. Check with your pharmacist to find out which medications should not be taken with iron supplements.)
  • Brewed and percolated coffee can irritate the lining of the digestive tract and may worsen the symptoms of digestive disorders, heartburn (GERD), ulcers and more.
  • Combining coffee with Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is known to cause liver damage.

The Healthiest Way to Make Coffee

Here are my tips for enjoying coffee in a healthy way:

  • ONLY DRINK ORGANIC COFFEE. I cannot stress this enough. Coffee plants are often sprayed with gallons of chemicals. Since most coffee is grown outside of the US, those chemicals may not be regulated. Although it would be nice to think that roasting the beans removes those toxins, the opposite is actually true.
  • Enjoy it in moderation. Try to drink no more than 16 – 24 ounces per day.
  • Don’t substitute coffee for water. Coffee is a strong diuretic which can cause dehydration. Always drink extra water for every cup of coffee you drink.
  • If you drink decaffeinated coffee because you are sensitive to caffeine, only drink coffee that was decaffeinated using the Swiss Water Process method of decaffeination. The standard method of decaffeination uses chemical solvents, some of which remain in the coffee after processing. These chemical solvents may be toxic and should be avoided.
  • Coffee is known to challenge the adrenal glands. The caffeine in coffee stimulates the adrenal glands to secrete hormones. Anyone who has adrenal fatigue should avoid coffee. Decaffeinated coffee has less of an effect.
  • Coffee raises blood sugar. When the adrenal glands are stimulated, the hormones they secrete stimulate the liver to release glycogen, a form of sugar the body stores for energy. Decaffeinated coffee has less of an effect.
  • Don’t drink it for dessert. Many people immediately ruin coffee’s health benefits by loading it up with sugar, artificial sweeteners, chemical creamers, flavored syrups, whipped cream and more. Black coffee is the healthiest. Adding a bit of stevia or a tiny amount of natural milk or milk alternative is fine, but don’t go crazy.

Healthy Brewing Techniques

My personal belief, based on much of the information shared above, is that cold brewed coffee is the healthiest. Cold brewing is very simple and provides all the taste (and caffeine, if you choose) of drip coffee without the acidity. I will share the cold brew method I use in my next blog post. Trust me when I say my method is far simpler than the methods shared online. I can brew a pot of cold brew in less than 15 minutes. 

If you prefer drip coffee, please only use a non-bleached filter. There is some evidence that a non-bleached, paper filter removes some of the chemicals in coffee that could potentially have a harmful effect.

If you’d like to learn how to brew the healthiest coffee possible, please read my article, How to Brew a Healthy Cup of Coffee: Cold Brew.

Did this article surprise you? I help many people evaluate their lifestyle habits to identify changes that may help improve their wellness or help them avoid future challenges. To schedule, please email me or call 317.489.0909.

What are your thoughts about coffee? Do you drink it? How do you ensure you get the benefits without the risks? Please share!

Conquering the Roaring Lion of Food Temptations

A tempting box of chocolates

I recently realized there were still posts which did not import when I imported my content from my former blog site. Unfortunately, this post was one of them. It’s a late addition, but one I knew would benefit others. 

This blog was inspired by my clients, patients and friends who have changed lifestyle and eating habits and experienced cravings as a result. It’s also for everyone who battles cravings as part of daily life. (Anyone who has dealt with cravings knows it is indeed a BATTLE. This post is for you!)

Chances are you’re reading this because you’ve decided to change your eating habits. You may have chosen to change because you want to lose weight, improve your health, delay aging, or for many other reasons. Regardless of the desire that prompted you to change your eating style, you’re probably battling food temptations on a daily basis. In this post, I’m going to look at what causes cravings, how to identify their cause, and provide suggestions for strategies you can use to successfully combat and eliminate your cravings. Ready? Let’s go!!

Food cravings typically stem from four sources:

  1. Psychological and physical habits
  2. Detoxification
  3. Hormonal fluctuations
  4. Unaddressed emotional issues

Cravings that stem from ingrained habits can be tough to beat because of the sense of security that are often tied to them. For instance, if you are used to starting every day with a big bowl of “Captain Death” cereal and whole milk, switching to a bowl of fruit and nuts may take some getting used to. Your ingrained habit will cause your mind to attempt to force you to reach for that box of death and to not change the status quo. Your mind and body will associate your daily habit with security and stability. Changing the habit will require re-teaching your mind and body to embrace the healthy habit and reject the unhealthy old habit. Research has shown that a bad habit can typically be replaced with a good one in 21-40 days. Want to shorten that time frame? Don’t rely solely on yourself. Ask God for help, ask your friends and family to encourage you and hold you accountable, and – most importantly – avoid situations that expose you to foods you’ve chosen to avoid. When you decide to change your dietary habits, clean out your cabinets and refrigerator and donate all of the off-limit foods to a food pantry or give them to friends. If you live with others who are not making the same dietary changes you are, designate one specific shelf in the fridge and one specific set of shelves in cupboards and pantry as yours and yours alone. This way you only need to look one place for your “safe” foods and won’t have to be exposed to the unhealthy foods of those you live with. Ask your family to respect your decision and to help you. If you need to ask your spouse to please eat his Big Macs, Snickers bars and banana splits in another room … do it.

It is also very possible and probable that we have addictions to some foods. Identifying those addictions can be very helpful in combating cravings and temptations. One study found that rats who were addicted to sugar and cocaine chose sugar over cocaine every single time. Another study found that sugar stimulates the same regions in the brain as cocaine. These two studies provide strong proof that it is indeed possible to develop an addiction to sugar. Other foods that contain addictive chemicals include wheat. Diet Coke, high fructose corn syrup, most fast food options, white sugar, etc. If you realize you have a food addiction, it is imperative to completely avoid that food. Having even a tiny amount of the food will send your cravings through the roof and will also make resisting temptation very difficult.

Cravings sometimes come as your body cleanses itself of the unhealthy residues of former food habits. This is commonly known as “detoxification.” The good news is that detoxification is temporary and not everyone experiences it the same way. Your personal detoxification experience will be different from everyone else’s. More good news is that detoxification happens in different levels. Your body will detoxify itself of the most recent toxins you’ve eaten or absorbed first, and will then methodically detoxify itself of toxins from the past. More good news is that your detoxification process will be lesser if you’re only making minor dietary changes. After making huge dietary and lifestyle changes, some experts believe it can take up to two years before full detoxification occurs. Detoxification may generate a wide range of symptoms, including pimples and skin rashes, diarrhea, a runny nose, fatigue, achiness, low-grade fever, feeling chilled all the time, strange dreams, body odor and bad breath, a coating of the tongue, grumpiness and irritability, and more. To minimize detox symptoms, do any or all of the following:

  • Drink plenty of purified water. It is recommended that everyone drink half their weight in ounces of purified water on a daily basis. Many people find it wonderfully cleansing to start the day with a big glass of water with organic lemon juice in it. This is known to aid liver detoxification and to be very alkalizing.
  • Take a hot bath 2-3 nights per week with 2 cups Epsom salts and 2 cups organic apple cider vinegar in it. This is a “detox bath” that will pull toxins out through the skin and help you feel better in general. This bath is also known to help eliminate colds and flu if you take one every day at the very beginning of the illness. (For more info, read How to Create a Detoxification Bath Using Common Ingredients.)
  • Do everything you can to help your body cleanse your liver. Things to try include drinking 1 TBS of liquid chlorophyll in pure water morning and evening; sipping on pure water with organic lemon juice throughout the day except close to or during meals; taking 175mg Milk Thistle three times per day; using liver cleansing herbal teas; etc. It is not uncommon for liver enzymes to elevate a bit during a prolonged detox, so helping your body cleanse the liver will ultimately help you feel better.
  • Use enemas or colon hydrotherapy to cleanse the colon. These tactics cleanse the colon of toxins and can greatly diminish cravings. I don’t recommend using these methods on an ongoing basis, but using them during a detoxification phase may be helpful.

Moving on … Hormonal fluctuations can and will cause cravings and can make resisting temptation more difficult. For those who are making minor dietary changes, I would encourage you to limit or eliminate sugar, coffee, alcohol and other caffeinated beverages, all processed foods, etc. These foods can exacerbate hormonal issues. Eliminating those foods may make a huge difference in how you feel. Regular exercise can also help balance hormones.

Emotional eating is perhaps the toughest challenge to battle. Sometimes we experience cravings which we cannot explain. Those cravings are often the result of unmet or unaddressed emotional issues. These issues could include unforgiveness, feelings of abandonment, feeling unfulfilled, feeling unloved, etc., etc. Feelings of unforgiveness or bitterness can be especially damaging to our willpower. My encouragement to anyone who realizes that emotional issues are sabotaging their dietary changes is to journal, find a friend to share your intimate feelings with, and to seek professional counseling if needed. I also encourage you to prayerfully seek wisdom in identifying the specific emotional issues that cause you to overeat or to make poor food choices. Hypnosis is a scientific method that can effectively help you identify and eliminate food barriers. I highly recommend Paula Presnoples, CH of UR Path Hypnosis for anyone in the Indianapolis area.

Remember that emotional issues sometimes need to be addressed one layer at a time. Choosing to identify and address emotional issues is a huge step. Promise yourself you will do that, then pay attention to the things that trigger overeating or making poor food choices. Once you recognize the triggers, see if you can connect emotions to those triggers, and then seek spiritual guidance on how to work through the unaddressed issue. Some people find help from EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), counseling, prayer, support groups, journaling, etc. Commit to working through your unmet emotional issues and you will find that you receive crystal-clear insight as to what issues are clogging your ability to eat the way you want to.

Let’s move forward and discuss strategies for rising above temptation and cravings. Please know that cravings and temptations are a problem for me, too. I have found several thing successfully combat those cravings. First and foremost, I would recommend writing down your reasons for making the dietary changes. Set personal goals for making the changes you are making. When you are tempted to eat the wrong foods, remind yourself of your reasons for changing and ask yourself if going back to old habits is worth not meeting your goals or destroying goals you’ve already met. Chances are that piece of pizza or donut will not seem so appealing when compared to a life spent being overweight or ill. Anytime I am tempted to eat something I shouldn’t, I ask myself the following questions:

– Does this food add to or subtract from my health? You could rephrase this by asking, “Will this food help or hinder my weight loss goal?” or “Will this food keep me younger or accelerate aging?” Ask yourself a question that targets your goals for making the dietary changes you’ve chosen to make.

– Does this food glorify God? (Or whomever your personal Higher Power is.) I had to realize that what I eat directly reflects my understanding of who God is. Seek direction from your own Higher Power and ask yourself what the food choices you make say to others about your personal God.

Other factors that can help combat temptation include prayer and finding encouraging affirmations, verses, quotations, etc., that will inspire you to stick to your goals. Verses that help me include Romans 12:1-2, Galatians 5:22-23, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, etc. I also have a collection of quotes from health gurus that help immensely. Memorize or write your affirmations or quotations on cards and keep them with you so that you have ready access to them at all times. Posting them on the door of your refrigerator or cupboard may be especially helpful. Most importantly, ask others to pray for and encourage you!

Finding a “food buddy” is also an excellent way to combat food temptations. Find someone who is making similar dietary changes and agree to support each other by being available via telephone, email, text, etc. Having someone available that you can contact when you’re feeling tempted is a strong motivator. This technique is a primary component of the Alcoholics Anonymous program. Each person has a mentor, or sponsor, whom they can call any time of day if they are feeling tempted to have a drink. Since our food temptations may be caused by food addictions, this technique can be very helpful for anyone who wants to make dietary changes and better food choices. It’s also very encouraging to have someone available whom you can laugh with and who will celebrate your successes with you.

As I said earlier, the best thing to do to combat your cravings is to avoid the situations and foods that make you weak. Don’t purchase foods that make you fall.

Here’s my closing encouragement for dealing with food temptations: If you stray from your set goals, don’t beat yourself up and don’t use it as an excuse to stray even further. We’re all human and are all prone to weakness. Remember that there is always a way to avoid your temptation if you’re willing to let go of the temporary pleasure the temptation will bring. Sticking with drastic dietary changes is a challenge that may be difficult to maintain. You can do it! If you stray, remember that straying from your new diet provides fantastic opportunities to learn more about ourselves and to learn new ways to meet our goals. You are in my thoughts and prayers as you strive to change your life to pursue new levels of health, wellness and weight loss.

Candida Self Assessment

Candida overgrowth has become an epidemic that is often unrecognized. I developed this Candida Self CandidaAssessment to help you identify whether or not Candida may be a factor that is negatively impacting your health. Please note that not all fungal overgrowths include strains of Candida. The natural health world has come to use the term “Candida overgrowth” to refer to any fungal overgrowth. It’s not accurate, but it’s a term people recognize and are becoming familiar with.

Unfortunately, Candida often gets ignored and few medical professionals recognize that Candida overgrowth can negatively impact every body system. Even fewer realize Candida overgrowth can be a contributing factor to many very common chronic conditions. This Candida Self Assessment is a very simple way of identifying habits, history and symptoms that may indicate your body has a yeast imbalance. This test is shared for educational purposes only and is not a diagnostic tool.

If you would like to learn more about Candida, please visit the following articles:

Please note that the Candida Self Assessment will not give you a diagnosis of Candida overgrowth and that Candida is not the sole cause of the factors mentioned in the assessment. The self assessment is simply a tool to use to evaluate whether or not Candida may play a role in your health challenges. The Candida Self Assessment can be used to help you determine if you should consider seeking assistance from a health professional to begin the process of balancing the yeasts in your body.

To take the Candida Self Assessment, score 1 point for every “YES” answer to each of the following questions. The scoring profile follows the assessment.

Candida Self Assessment

Do/did/were you now or during the past three years:

  1. Told you have a heavy metal toxicity?
  2. Belch frequently?
  3. Crave alcohol?
  4. Crave breads, pastas, crackers, etc.?
  5. Drink more than 16 ounces of beer or wine per week?
  6. Drink more than 6 ounces of distilled alcohol (vodka, rum, etc.) per week?
  7. Feel depressed?
  8. Feel fatigued frequently?
  9. Feel you have “brain fog?”
  10. Have a coated tongue?
  11. Have abdominal bloating or gas?
  12. Have acne?
  13. Have white, flaky patches on the skin?
  14. Have ADHD/ADD or lack of impulse control?
  15. Have amalgam fillings?
  16. Have an inability to concentrate?
  17. Have an inability to lose weight or an inability to gain weight?
  18. Have asthma or hay fever?
  19. Have athlete’s foot?
  20. Have dandruff?
  21. Have diabetes or hypoglycemia?
  22. Have discomfort during intercourse?
  23. Have dizziness?
  24. Have dry mouth?
  25. Have ear pain?
  26. Have elevated liver enzymes?
  27. Have endometriosis or infertility?
  28. Have fluid in the ear or frequent ear or sinus infections?
  29. Have food allergies?
  30. Have frequent bad breath?
  31. Have frequent boils?
  32. Have frequent colds or flus?
  33. Have frequent headaches?
  34. Have frequent heartburn?
  35. Have frequent hives?
  36. Have frequent hoarseness and/or postnasal drip?
  37. Have frequent insomnia?
  38. Have frequent irritability?
  39. Have frequent mood swings?
  40. Have frequent nasal congestion or stuffiness, especially on rainy days?
  41. Have frequent numbness or tingling?
  42. Have frequent rashes?
  43. Have frequent sore throat?
  44. Have frequent urinary tract infections?
  45. Have frequent vaginal yeast infections?
  46. Have frequent water retention?
  47. Have hemorrhoids?
  48. Have impotence?
  49. Have inflamed prostate?
  50. Have irritation in folds of skin or in areas where joints bend?
  51. Have irritation near areas rubbed by waistband, underwear elastic, bra, etc.?
  52. Have itchy skin?
  53. Have jock itch?
  54. Have loss of sexual desire?
  55. Have frequent mouth sores or blisters?
  56. Have mucous in stools?
  57. Have muscle aches?
  58. Have occasional or frequent constipation?
  59. Have occasional or frequent diarrhea?
  60. Have pain or swelling in your joints?
  61. Have persistent anal itching?
  62. Have persistent vaginal itching or burning?
  63. Have poor memory sometimes?
  64. Have premenstrual tension?
  65. Have psoriasis or eczema?
  66. Have rapid mood swings?
  67. Have ringworm or other fungal skin infections?
  68. Have thrush (oral yeast infection)?
  69. Have toe or fingernail fungus?
  70. Have urinary urge or frequency?
  71. Sometimes have abdominal pain?
  72. Take an antacid or prescription such as Nexxium, Prevavid, Protonix, Prilosec, etc.?
  73. Take antibiotics in the past five years? (Score 1 point for each time one was prescribed or refilled)
  74. Take Prednisone or other corticosteroids? (Score 1 point for every time one was prescribed or refilled)
  75. Taken oral birth control for more than two months in the past five years?

Candida Self Assessment Scoring:

  • 0-10 Points: Congratulations! The likelihood of Candida affecting your health is very low. Keep up the great work!
  • 11-25 Points: The likelihood of Candida being a factor that is affecting your health is likely, but the effects are probably minimal at this point.. You may benefit from making lifestyle changes to reduce the amount of Candida in your system.
  • 26-55 Points: Candida is probably an issue that is negatively affecting your health. Taking action to reduce Candida will most likely benefit your health in multiple ways.
  • 56-75 Points: It is highly likely that Candida is negatively affecting your health in multiple ways. Taking action now to reduce Candida will most likely improve your health physically, mentally and emotionally.

If your Candida Self Assessment score indicates Candida may be negatively impacting your health, please consider scheduling a consultation with Dr. Pamela. She uses a customized Candida protocol that not only helps kill Candida but also strengthens your body to help it naturally balance Candida. The 12-week program is comprehensive and very effective.

Are you familiar with Candida? Was your score a surprise? Please share!

Simple Solutions for Ingrown Toenails

I once heard a man say he couldn’t believe childbirth could hurt worse than an ingrown toenail. (I’ll Picture of healthy toenailswithhold comment on that statement.) Anyone who has an ingrown toenail knows how painful they are. An ingrown toenail occurs when the edge of the toenail starts to cut into the skin surrounding it. Toenails should typically grow upward, but occasionally start to grow in a way that cuts into the skin instead of growing over it. One hypothesis is that ingrown toenails have nothing to do with the nails and are caused because the weight placed on the foot causes the skin around the nail to “bulge” around the nail and puts enough force on the nail that the edge of nail cuts into the skin. If you think about the amount of pressure put on the foot with every step, this makes a lot of sense.

Regardless of the cause, ingrown toenails hurt. Although ingrown nails typically occur on the big toe, they can happen on any toe or finger if certain situations exist. Left untreated, an ingrown toenail can create an open wound and may become infected.

Please note that any wound on the foot needs immediate treatment. If you have diabetes or know you have poor circulation, please seek medical intervention for any foot wound. Left untreated, these wounds can worsen to create life-threatening situations caused by non-healing sores. The American Diabetes Association has estimated that the death rate from foot ulcers may be as high as 55% when ulcers are left untreated or when mainstream medical treatment fails. Please note that ANYONE can get a foot ulcer from a severe ingrown toenail, not just people with diabetes. My father died from a sepsis infection resulting from an ingrown toenail. Please do not ignore ingrown toenails. Please don’t continue self-treating any foot condition that does not respond quickly to home treatment methods.

Let’s look at some of the possible symptoms of an ingrown toenail, what potential causes are for an ingrown toenail, and what some possible treatments are. 

Symptoms 

Pain is the primary indicator of an ingrown toenail, but other symptoms may include:

  • Mild pain and faint redness and swelling may be seen in the early stages. This is the best time to take action and address the issue.
  • Pain may be extreme. Even a tiny bump of the affected toe can cause extreme, sometimes excruciating pain
  • In time, the redness and swelling around the ingrown portion of the toenail will increase.
  • Infection surrounding the ingrown toenail may occur, which may cause cloudy, white or yellow liquid to ooze from around the nail. 
  • The area around the toenail may be very hot to the touch. In extreme cases of infection, a person may develop a fever. If this occurs, seek medical attention immediately.
  • Extra skin may begin to grow around the affected area as the body tries to protect itself

Causes

A variety of causes are suspected, although the specific cause for each person varies and is based on lifestyle habits, weight, shoe choices, etc. Causes of ingrown toenails may include:

  • Improper hygiene
  • Improper methods of trimming toenails
  • Wearing tight shoes
  • Excess weight
  • Fungal overgrowth – causes thickening of the toenail and may create an ingrown situation
  • Injury or trauma – past injury or trauma to a toe or finger may cause an ingrown nail in some situations
  • Genetics – whether it’s truly genetic or more a case of lifestyle habits being passed from generation to generation, people who had a parent with an ingrown toenail are more likely to have one themselves
  • Poor self awareness – people who ignore the early warning signs of an ingrown toenail tend to develop more severe problems as the problem progresses. People with circulatory problems need to check their feet on a daily basis to check for any developing issues.

Prevention

The following may help prevent ingrown toenails:

  • Don’t cut toenails too short: Cutting toenails extremely short, although more convenient, can potentially make it easier to develop an ingrown toenail because it allows the nail to grow into the skin instead of growing over it.
  • Cut toenails in a square shape, not tapered: Toenails should be left square, not tapered into pretty curves. This helps create separation between the skin and the nail and may help prevent ingrown toenails. Cut toenails straight across. It’s fine to file the corners if you find they snag socks and hose.
  • Stop wearing tight shoes: Yes, this includes high heels with tapered or pointed toes. One of the most common causes of ingrown toenails is wearing shoes that are too tight. The cramped space in the shoe pushes the toenail into the skin and sets the stage for an ingrown toenail. If you must wear shoes that are tight for tapered, try to wear them only for short periods of time, or remove them frequently.

Home Remedies

The following methods may be used to assist ingrown toenails in the very early stages and to help prevent infection. If these techniques don’t bring quick relief, seek medical attention.

  • Switch shoes: Stop wearing any shoes that put pressure on the toes. Switch to shoes with wide toes and with a heel less than an inch high. In the summer, try to wear sandals that put no pressure on the toes and which expose the toes to fresh air.
  • Avoid colored socks: The dyes used to create colored yarns often leech out of the socks when the socks are exposed to damp, sweaty feet. An ingrown toenail may provide an opening for these toxic compounds to enter. Stick to white, cotton socks until your situation improves.
  • Wash feet twice daily: It is important to keep the area surrounding an ingrown toenail clean to avoid infection. Wash the foot twice daily with warm water and soap, then thoroughly dry it.
  • Soak the foot twice daily: Soaking the foot will help reduce inflammation and will soften the skin enough that the toenail may be able to withdraw from the inflamed area. Soak in a solution of one half gallon warm water with 1/4 cup Epsom salts, 10 drops of Tea Tree Oil and 1/2 cup of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide. Soak for 10-20 minutes and then thoroughly dry the foot.
  • Elevate the toenail: If the toenail has not yet grown into the skin very far, roll a small piece of gauze into a small cylinder and insert it under the toenail. This may be slightly painful, but will help “redirect” the growth of the toenail. Leave the gauze in place for one week, changing the gauze after every wash or soak, at least twice daily.
  • Don’t go to extremes: Please don’t execute minor surgery on yourself. If none of these methods work to eliminate your ingrown toenail, please get professional help. Very simple surgery can be done by a podiatrist or MD to remove the portion of the toenail that is growing into the skin. The surgery is usually done in a doctor’s office and recuperation is very quick. For most people, the ingrown toenail does not occur after surgery.
  • Forget the V: There is an old wive’s tale that says cutting a “V” in a toenail will help eliminate an ingrown toenail. This is false. Toenails grow from the base of the nail upward, so cutting a V in the end of the nail has no effect on how the toenail grows. It’s also a great way to ruin socks and hose. 

I cannot stress enough that any foot ailment needs to be addressed quickly and should be handled by a professional if home remedies don’t bring relief quickly. As always, none of these statements were evaluated by the FDA and none are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition. These statements are not intended to replace medical care and are solely shared for informational purposes.

Simple Ways to Cut Carbs from Your Eating Habits

It is a simple – although often overlooked – fact that most people in the US are obese because they are insulin resistant. It The word "Carbs" spelled in pastais true that we live in a society that constantly overeats, but the rising rates of obesity are primarily due to the fact our bodies simply cannot process and metabolize the high amounts of unhealthy carbohydrates we eat. (I use the term “we” very loosely.) If weight loss were a simple math equation where weight loss occurrs if more calories were burned than were eaten, obesity would not be an epidemic. The simple fact is that our society subsists on foods laden with low-quality, high-glycemic carbs. The Standard American Diet (which I like to refer to as the “SAD”) creates metabolic imbalances that cause weight gain. If losing weight has been a problem for you, please read my article, The Top 7 Reasons You Can’t Lose Weight for more information on the potential physical reasons  that prevent weight loss. I promise to share more about battling insulin resistance in future posts. For today, let’s simply acknowledge that insulin is a fat-storage hormone. Eating excess carbs causes your body to secrete high amounts of insulin, which causes the body to produce and store fat instead of burning it for energy. When people eat high amounts of foods requiring the body to produce large amounts of insulin, their cells may eventually become “overwhelmed” with the constant flow of insulin. Cells which are overwhelmed with insulin will protect themselves by not absorbing and using the insulin. The excess insulin in the blood stream causes the body to store even more fat. This is what is commonly referred to as “Insulin Resistance.” If someone has even low levels of insulin resistance, it means their body does not use the insulin their body produces. This causes their body to produce higher amounts of insulin to try to lower blood sugars, which causes worse insulin resistance and increased weight gain.  The solution to this problem is to reduce the amount of insulin being produced. The most direct way of allowing the body to produce less insulin is to pay close attention to the types and quantities of carbohydrates eaten. Please note that in this blog post, I use the word “carbs” to refer to simple carbohydrates your body metabolizes into simple sugars. Foods that fit this category include breads, cookies, rice, juices, candy, desserts, donuts, pastas, processed grains, etc. I am not referring to vegetables. Fruits  are natural, but must be treated respectfully when dealing with insulin resistance. Some fruits elevate blood sugar very rapidly and require high amounts of insulin, which can contribute  to weight gain for some people. The simplest – although not complete – approach to weight loss involves eating fewer carbohydrates. Following are simple tips to help cut the carbs without losing nutrition:

Substitute lettuce or kale wraps for bread

Not all bread is bad, but it is ALL extremely high in glycemic impact. High glycemic foods rapidly raise blood sugars and require large amounts of insulin. It is a very sad truth that almost all gluten free grains (with the exception of quinoa and millet) have a higher glycemic impact than wheat and require more insulin to be metabolized. This explains why some people experience extreme weight gain when going gluten-free. (Some people lose weight, but the incidence of people gaining weight after going gluten-free is rising rapidly.) Eating a grain-free diet is ideal for a variety of reasons, but most people have such a strong emotional attachment to grains that eliminating them completely seems impossible. Wrapping your sandwich ingredients in lettuce or kale may take some adjusting, but it’s a great option and the lettuce requires zero insulin.

Be extremely careful with portion sizes

People from Europe are often astonished at how much food people in the US eat at every meal. Europeans eat to live, whereas people in the US live to eat. Europeans eat extremely small (aka: NORMAL) portion sizes and don’t snack as often as we do. In the US, we supersize everything … especially portions. Here’s a quick run down of recommended portion sizes of popular carbs:

  • Rice: 1/2 cup (Yes, seriously.)
  • Pasta: 1 cup
  • Grapes: 10
  • Beans and Lentils: 1/2 cup
  • French Fries: 10 (I’m not kidding. Probably best to skip this one.)
  • Dairy: 1 cup (Dairy counts as a carbohydrate serving, even though it contains protein.)

Start every meal with a salad or big bowl of veggies

Filling up on veggies before attacking the other items on your plate often leads to eating fewer carbohydrates. It is also a very easy way to increase your consumption of veggies, and you know you need more.

Eat veggies first, protein next, then carbs

The order you eat foods can affect how much of it you eat. Again, filling up on veggies first and then eating your protein will leave less room in your stomach for the carbohydrate on your plate.

Stick to one carb per meal

You don’t need more than one carb serving per meal. Trust me. The simple act of limiting yourself to one carb serving per meal will often create rapid weight loss. It also eliminates the “3 o’clock slump” many people experience when their blood sugar plummets after a high-carb lunch.

Think about breakfast in a new way

The dietary surveys I use with my patients reveal that most people eat 3-5 servings of carbs and no protein every morning before they leave the house. I’m not sure why we associate carbs with breakfast, but we need protein and healthy fats to boost energy and keep us going until lunch. A typical breakfast I see listed includes three or more of the following: bowl of cereal or oatmeal, banana on the cereal, toast, pancakes/waffles, glass of orange juice, fruit smoothie, etc., etc. Mega carbs and zero protein or fats. This creates a syndrome where your blood sugar skyrockets after breakfast, but plummets a few hours later. This can make you hungry and may make you crave sugar around 10 am. Adding protein to your morning regimen can make a huge difference in how you feel mid-morning and right before lunch. Combining protein with healthy carbohydrates for breakfast helps stabilize blood sugars. Having a huge veggie omelet with a single piece of toast is a great option. I know one lady who has guacamole on zucchini slices with a slice of turkey most mornings. She feels great and has lost 10 pounds doing this. For more creative low carb breakfast ideas, read Top 11 Low Carb Breakfasts. Other great breakfast options include:

  • An apple with almond butter
  • 1 cup of berries in a smoothie with an avocado, handful of spinach and a cucumber
  • 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal with 1/2 cup nuts and seeds and 1/2 cup almond milk
  • Two eggs and 1/2 cup of mixed berries. 

Let yourself think outside of the box and stop eating nothing but carbohydrates for breakfast … you’ll feel and look better as a result. Are you eating to live or living to eat? What changes can you make to help you make better choices at every meal? I wish you luck and success!