Category Archives: leaky gut
Iron-Deficiency Anemia is a very common health issue. Many women have been told at some point in their life they have Iron-Deficiency Anemia and that it is “chronic.” Unfortunately, the term “chronic” typically means the diagnosing doctor has chosen to not identify the cause of the condition. The doctor assumes the woman’s anemia is “normal” for her and therefore can only be controlled, not treated. I beg to differ.
Iron-Deficiency Anemia always has a cause or causes. It is never a “normal” state of being. Never. Let me clarify that I am speaking about Iron-Deficiency Anemia, the type of anemia that occurs when the body’s iron stores are below normal. Please note I am solely referring to Iron-Deficiency Anemia, not Sickle Cell Anemia, Thalassemia, Pernicious Anemia, Aplastic Anemia or any other form of anemia. Although the symptoms of the various types of anemia may be similar, they each have very distinct causes and cannot be addressed using the same approach. Please note that all references in this article are for adults, not children.
Iron-Deficiency Anemia results in a deficiency of red blood cells and diminishes the body’s ability to carry oxygen to the cells and carbon dioxide away from cells. The most common symptoms of Iron-Deficiency Anemia include:
- Easy bruising
- Cold hands and feet
- Elevated heart rate/heart palpitations/chest pain (Seek immediate medical attention for any form of chest pain)
- Swollen tongue/sore tongue/cracks in corners of mouth
- Muscle pain
- Pale skin
- Depression and/or a lack of motivation
- Brittle nails
- Frequent infection/illness
- Irritability/inability to concentrate
- Bluish coloration to whites of eyes
- Cravings for unusual items (chalk, clay, paper, etc.) or a strong desire to chew ice
Each of those symptoms could also be a sign of other health conditions, some more serious than others. Please consult a trained practitioner if you experience any of the symptoms listed above.
Possible Tests for Iron-Deficiency Anemia
Iron-Deficiency Anemia is typically identified via blood tests. When checking for Iron-Deficiency Anemia, the following tests should be run at a minimum. Please note that each lab has its own definition of what “normal” ranges are. The ranges provided below are general guidelines:
- Complete Blood Count (CBC): An overview of blood composition.
- Hemoglobin: A protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body. Normal range for men is between 13.5-17.5; for women 12.0-15.5. Please note that results which are within “normal” but are at the low end may still cause symptoms of Iron-Deficiency Anemia.
- Iron: A measure of the iron in the blood stream. Normal ranges between 60-170 mcg/dL.
- Ferritin: A protein that stores iron. Is a measure of the body’s iron stores. Although some labs state that levels as low as 10 are “normal,” most people do not begin to feel anything close to normal until their Ferritin levels are at least 40. Please note that levels as low as zero are not a definite indicator of cancer or other serious disease. Extremely low levels need to be researched in more detail to determine the cause, but are not necessarily an indicator of a terminal condition. I once had Ferritin levels of zero which my doctor erroneously assumed meant I had cancer. After having a bone marrow biopsy, the consulting hematologist looked at me and asked why on earth the doctor ordered a bone marrow biopsy instead of investigating the cause and type of anemia first. Good question!
- Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is essential for iron to be absorbed. A deficiency can lead to Iron-Deficiency Anemia. Normal ranges vary between 200-900 pg/mL.
- Total iron-binding capacity (TIBC): A measure of the number of proteins available for transporting iron. Normal ranges are typically between 240-450 mcg/dL.
- Transferrin Saturation: A measure of how saturated with iron the proteins responsible for transporting iron are. Normal ranges are between 20-50%.
Potential Causes of Iron-Deficiency Anemia
Your doctor may order other tests if s/he wishes to identify the specific cause of the Iron-Deficiency Anemia. Potential causes of low iron levels and Iron-Deficiency Anemia may include:
- Lack of iron in the diet
- Inability to absorb iron in the digestive tract
- Unidentified bleeding (in oral cavity, lungs, stomach, digestive tract, etc.)
- Other forms of anemia not yet tested for or identified
- Pregnancy and lactation
- Extremely heavy menstruation
- Frequent blood donation
- Excessive exercise (Iron-Deficiency Anemia is common in long-distance runners)
- Celiac, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Crohn’s or other digestive disorders
- H Pylori infection (stomach ulcer)
- Use of a proton pump inhibitor such as Prilosec, Nexxium, etc.
- Kidney disease
- Gastric bypass surgery/colostomy
- Thyroid imbalances or other hormonal imbalance
- Enlarged spleen or splenic dysfunction
- Lead poisoning
Further Testing to Identify the Cause of Chronic Iron-Deficiency Anemia
Consistent Iron-Deficiency Anemia can be caused by any of the factors discussed previously, but may also be an indicator of more severe health issues. I advise considering the following to identify the root cause of Iron-Deficiency Anemia:
- Check antiparietal antibody levels to ensure Pernicious Anemia is not the cause of the anemia
- Test for other forms of anemia if symptoms and blood work indicate a possibility
- Test for digestive disorders
- Test for vitamin and nutritional deficiencies and supplement as needed
- Test for food allergies (the inflammation caused by food allergies can impair iron absorption)
- Check for bleeding in the digestive tract and digestive disorders
- Check for bleeding in the respiratory system
- Test thyroid levels (with a complete thyroid panel including TSH, Free T3, Free T4, TPO and Reverse T3 at a minimum)
- Test hormone levels and have a gynecological exam if extremely heavy menstruation is suspected as the cause
- Test for pregnancy (if appropriate)
Reversing the Deficiency
Many factors may contribute to Iron-Deficiency Anemia, so work with your doctor to determine what approach should be taken to reverse the deficiency. The most common approaches used to reverse the deficiency include:
- Identify and Address the Cause: Although it is imperative to get iron levels up using supplements or other approaches, it is also essential to identify why the iron deficiency exists and address the cause. If the cause can be identified and eliminated or greatly alleviated, the body can more easily restore iron levels to normal levels. If testing reveals a more severe form of anemia exists, additional steps will be needed. I will share more about the other forms of anemia in future posts.
- Increase Iron Consumption: Increasing the amount of iron eaten on a daily basis can be helpful, but may not be sufficient in cases of absorption and digestion challenges. Please be aware that the iron contained in plants is called “non-heme” iron. It is not as easily absorbed as the heme iron in animal products. The body must convert non-heme iron into heme iron before it can absorb it. The best way to assist the body in making converting non-heme iron into heme iron is to eat fruits or veggies high in Vitamin C with foods containing non-heme iron. (Eating foods high in Vitamin C will assist with the absorption of iron in animal products, too, but is especially important for vegetable sources of iron.) This is one reason why spinach salads often contain oranges. The food that is highest in iron content is liver. Other foods high in iron include red meat, chicken and turkey, quinoa, organ meats, raisins, dark leafy greens, egg yolks, prunes, molasses, beans and lentils, salmon, nuts and seeds, dark chocolate (at least 80%), broccoli and others. I am not a fan of “iron fortified” milk and cereals because the iron those foods contain is in a form that is very difficult to absorb.
- Use Iron Supplementation: Iron pills or supplements should never be taken if testing has not proven you are deficient in iron. Excess iron in the bloodstream can have negative affects which are as bad or worse as an iron deficiency. Please also be aware the forms of iron most commonly sold in drug stores are difficult to absorb and often cause constipation. Ferrous sulfate is the most commonly sold form of iron, but is very poorly absorbed and often causes constipation. It is not a form I recommend. My preferred forms of supplemental iron include iron citrate, iron gluconate, iron bisglycinate and/or chelated iron. Iron is best absorbed when it is taken on an empty stomach. My favorite iron supplements are Hematinic Formula and Vitamin Code Raw Iron.
- Severe cases of Iron-Deficiency Anemia may require blood transfusions or intravenous iron. Those approaches are usually not needed unless other health issues are present.
In conclusion, I’d like to say that Iron-Deficiency Anemia can usually be quickly addressed and reversed. More difficult cases may require further testing and additional therapies, but quality of life can usually be restored fairly quickly.
Red Blood Cell Photograph courtesy of Wellcome Images
Anemia Blood Cell Photograph Courtesy of Alpha Images
Colloidal Silver has been used for centuries in a wide variety of ways. If you are unfamiliar with Colloidal Silver, please read Colloidal Silver: Valuable Tool or Snake Oil for more information about the myths surrounding Colloidal Silver. This article shares the most common uses for Colloidal Silver. There are many other uses, but the most common ones are described here with information on the safest way to use colloidal silver for each application.
Please note all information shared in this article is shared for educational purposes only. No information in this article is intended to diagnose, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Please discuss any changes in your lifestyle or health regimen with your physician. Never take any supplement without discussing it with your physician first.
The most common uses for colloidal silver include:
if you have any doubts about the purity of water, colloidal silver can be used to purify it and remove bacteria. Use at a ration of one tablespoon colloidal silver to one gallon of water. If you are trying to purify water from an outdoor source, filter the water first. Proof of its effectiveness is that NASA used a silver purification system on the space shuttles and many airlines use silver filtration combined with hydrogen peroxide to purify the water on their planes.
Soak your tooth brushes between uses to ensure they are free from bacteria, viruses and fungus. I have a dental partial which I also soak in colloidal silver a few times a week. As an added benefit, add a bit of colloidal silver to your oral irrigator to help control oral bacterial. I make my own toothpaste and mouthwash and always add colloidal silver.
Nasal Irrigation and Sprays
Colloidal silver can be used in a neti pot as a nasal wash. Many people have reported success in reversing colds and sinus infections using colloidal silver, but please do not substitute colloidal silver for an antibiotic if your doctor has identified a severe sinus infection. Colloidal silver can also be used as a nasal spray to help diminish symptoms of allergies.
Colloidal silver is known to be antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral. For that reason, it makes an effective household cleaner. Keep a spray bottle filled with it and use as a topical disinfectant on counter tops, as an anti-fungal spray in the bathroom, or as a means of preventing bacterial growth on kitchen sponges and dishrags. It is also a very effective cleaner for trash cans and diaper pails. If you make your own household cleaners, adding a few ounces of colloidal silver can boost their effectiveness.
In my household, we have always used colloidal silver at the first sign of an eye infection or conjunctivitis. I place 3-5 drops of 10 ppm colloidal silver in the affected eye every two hours until the issue clears. However, I watch the condition of the eye closely and immediately seek medical attention if the condition does not improve within two to three hours. Please do not substitute colloidal silver for a physician’s care. Any issue affecting the eyes should be immediately addressed by a medical professional.
Colloidal silver is popularly used for mild abrasions, burns, fungal infections and even acne and eczema. One advantage of colloidal silver is that it does not harm skin cells as many topical antiseptics do. (Please never use hydrogen peroxide on a wound or sore. It kills new cell growth and may slow healing.) Many people find that spraying colloidal silver onto minor burns and abrasions speeds healing and helps prevent infection. (The key word there is “minor.” Serious wounds and burns require medical attention.)
I purposely left this topic for last. Most of the controversy surrounding colloidal silver revolves around its use internally. Every person has his or her own opinion about whether or not colloidal silver is “safe” to use internally. The bottom line is that hundreds of thousands of people use it internally on a daily basis. These people experience health benefits with no negative consequences from the colloidal silver. If you’re comfortable using colloidal silver internally, then do so in a controlled manner and do plenty of research. If you are not comfortable using it, never let anyone talk you into doing something that isn’t right for you. Each person must decide what is right for him or her. I believe colloidal silver can be very effective and used without danger if:
- A true colloidal silver is used. Be sure your colloidal silver is a colloid and not a protein synthesis. Most of the products sold over the counter are ionic, not colloidal. Ionic silver solutions are clear; colloidal silver solutions are brown or rust colored, not clear. Ionic solutions are safe to use, but are not as strong as a true colloid. Beware of any product that foams when shaken and has bubbles that remain for several minutes, as that product is most likely a protein synthesis which may be dangerous.
- A realistic, safe dosage is used. Dr. Mercola recommends the following formula to determine the appropriate amount of colloidal silver to take on a daily basis:
12 times body weight divided by the colloidal silver strength (ppm) = drops that can be safely ingested on a daily basis
If someone weighs 150 pounds and is using a colloidal silver at a strength of 10 ppm, the equation becomes:
150 lbs x 12 = 1800 / 10 ppm = 180 drops per day. (One tablespoon is approximately 180 drops.)Having shared that,
I can also share that many people take much higher doses during an illness. Please contact a trained professional for guidance on what dosage is correct for your personal needs.
- Colloidal silver should never be used by anyone who has an allergy to silver jewelry.
- Use caution when reading about people who claim colloidal silver miraculously cured them of incurable diseases. I’m not saying their claims are not true, but each person’s situation is very different. Use caution and do extensive research.
I use colloidal silver on a daily basis. Since starting to use it daily, I have experienced fewer bladder infections, lower yeast levels, improved digestion and slightly lower blood glucose levels. My experience was very positive, but each person must monitor his or her health and make changes as needed.
We make our own colloidal silver using this generator: LifeForce Compact X-2 Colloidal Silver Generator. Please note it is imperative to use distilled water and extremely pure silver if making your own colloidal silver. We also use a TDS Meter to measure the potency of our colloidal silver so we know exactly what we’re using.
If you don’t want to make your own colloidal silver, I highly recommend Sovereign Silver colloidal silver. It is sold in most health food stores and is highly reliable.
What do you think? Do you use colloidal silver? If so, what do you use it for and how do you use it?
Few topics inspire as much confusion as the difference between lactose intolerance and dairy allergy. The two issues can both cause digestive distress, but each has a very different cause.
Lactose intolerance occurs when the body lacks sufficient lactase, the enzyme required to digest the sugars in dairy. The enzyme is lactase, dairy sugar is lactose. The symptoms of lactose intolerance can be as mild as a bit of gas or bloating, or may be extreme enough to cause vomiting and diarrhea. Each person will lactose intolerance will respond very differently. The symptoms result because the enzyme lactase is needed to break milk sugar (lactose) down into simpler sugars which can be absorbed and metabolized. If the lactose is not broken down, the body cannot absorb it and will experience digestive distress. Some people with lactose intolerance may also experience fatigue due to the strain caused when dairy is ingested. The amount of dairy required to cause a reaction in someone who is lactose intolerant varies from person to person. Some people must consume large amounts of dairy, while others can safely consume small amounts before experiencing symptoms.
Lactose intolerance may occur in infancy, but more commonly develops later in life. Lactose intolerance can be inherited and may run in families. It can also develop as a secondary challenge resulting from digestive disorders that damage the colon, such as Crohn’s, Celiac Disease, etc. Lactose intolerance can be diagnosed through a Hydrogen Breath Test in adults or via a Stool Acidity Test in children.
Most people can counteract the effects of lactose intolerance by limiting dairy consumption or by taking a digestive enzyme containing high amounts of lactase when they eat dairy. My favorites include:
Dairy (Casein or Whey) Allergy
Dairy allergies are an autoimmune reaction to one or more proteins found in dairy. Casein is the most common dairy protein that causes a dairy allergy. (A dairy allergy may also be the result of an autoimmune reaction to other chemicals in dairy, but casein and whey are the most common.) Reactions to a dairy allergy may be very mild or may be life-threatening, and can affect every body system. There are over 200 symptoms that may be caused by a dairy allergy. The symptoms may include severe or mild digestive distress, skin reactions, respiratory distress, cognitive and emotional issues, and many more.
The reactions occur when the body comes to regard chemicals in milk as “foreign invaders” that must be attacked and neutralized. To neutralize the invader, the body releases antibodies. These antibodies get carried throughout the body via the bloodstream and can therefore cause reactions in any part of the body. Dairy allergies are typically the result of one or more autoimmune genes getting turned “on.”
Dairy allergies can occur at any stage of life. Babies are sometimes born with a dairy allergy. Other people develop a dairy allergy much later in life. Dairy allergies often appear to develop very suddenly. Causes of dairy allergies have been linked to Candida overgrowth (click link to learn more), feeds containing genetically modified produce fed to dairy cows, genetics, environmental toxins, and many unknown causes. Sadly, the incidence of dairy allergies is rising at a rate that is much higher than population growth.
Dairy allergies require the affected person to completely avoid all foods containing dairy. This can be difficult because many processed foods contain ingredients that can set off a reaction but whose ingredient list does not contain words associated with dairy. Some people can reverse their dairy allergy by strictly avoiding dairy for six to twelve months, but others cannot. Some children outgrow a dairy allergy, while others do not. Because most allergies result when a gene is turned “on,” it can be very difficult to reverse milk allergies. Reducing or reversing a dairy allergy must include steps to also heal the digestive tract. Extreme measures are typically required to reverse the allergy, but it is possible for some people to eventually eat small amounts of dairy very occasionally without a negative reaction.
I personally had a dairy allergy so severe that I vomited multiple times per day and was extremely ill for many months. Before recognizing my allergy, I lost over 30 pounds, was extremely weak, had hair loss, was extremely grumpy and irritable, had severe acne, and had explosive diarrhea that made leaving the house difficult. To put it mildly, I was miserable. My dairy allergy was identified by a test called the ELISA Allergy Test. This is the test I recommend to my clients who have symptoms indicating a food allergy. (I’m now able to very occasionally eat small amounts of dairy without visible symptoms, although I know my digestive system remains healthiest if I refrain.)
Food allergies can be identified through blood tests, elimination diets, or muscle response testing. I do not recommend using “skin prick” testing for food allergies, as that form of testing is very inaccurate and often incorrect. Blood testing is also often inaccurate unless dairy is consumed within 72 hours of the blood draw, but there are tests which can identify the presence of dairy antibodies without recent dairy consumption.
One of the most popular ways of reversing dairy allergies is by following a diet called the GAPS diet. “GAPS” stands for “Gut and Psychology Syndrome or “Gut and Physiology Syndrome.” Click the link the view copies of the book that describes the protocol to be followed.
If you have digestive issues, constant congestion or cough, chronic fatigue, eczema or other symptoms you have been unable to remedy, you may have a food allergy or sensitivity. I have helped many people with food allergies and would love to help. Please contact me via email or by calling 317.489.0909 to schedule a consultation.
Have you dealt with lactose intolerance or dairy allergy? How did you figure it out? What tips can you share about coping on a daily basis?
Experts estimate that 80% of the US population is deficient in Magnesium, a very basic mineral that is essential for good health and which is used by every system in the body.
A lack of Magnesium in the body may cause any of the following:
The problem with these symptoms is that many are very vague and most could be caused by a wide variety of other issues. Unfortunately, it is extremely rare for a medical professional to consider a magnesium deficiency and act accordingly when faced with symptoms that indicate one. Additionally, plasma levels of magnesium measured during blood tests are very inaccurate because only 1% of magnesium in the body is stored in the blood. The majority of magnesium in the body is stored in the tissues, making blood tests almost worthless. We live in a society where mainstream physicians are taught to place more weight on blood test results than on symptoms, which makes it even less likely that a person exhibiting multiple symptoms of magnesium deficiency will be given magnesium. (There is a blood test that is more accurate, the ionized magnesium test, but it is not widely available.)
As the huge list of symptoms indicates, magnesium is necessary for the proper functioning of every body system. A deficiency can have devastating consequences. Magnesium is the most prolific mineral in the body and is responsible for almost 400 different biochemical reactions in the body. A short list of the body functions magnesium directly influences include:
- Allows the body to absorb calcium and to place it where it belongs
- Essential for the production of energy
- Essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats
- Relaxes muscles so they remain flexible
- Essential for the activation of B vitamins
- Helps build bone and keep it flexible enough to not shatter
- Helps maintain a normal electrical flow of nerve impulses in the heart
- Essential for hormone balance (especially during PMS and menopause)
- Essential for initiation over 300 different enzyme reactions essential for health
- Essential for proper digestion
- Essential for the production of key brain chemicals
- Essential for normal kidney and liver function
Obviously, you need magnesium. If you eat a standard diet, drink alcohol, or drink coffee, you are probably magnesium deficient. Many people are magnesium deficient because of digestive disorders and malabsorption. (Please read Top Six Ways to Maximize Digestion for tips on improving digestion.)
It is possible to maintain adequate magnesium levels by eating high levels of dark leafy greens, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds on a daily basis. If you’re eating well and don’t have absorption problems, you’re probably not deficient. If you don’t eat well, drink alcohol or can’t get by without your daily cup of java, you need to be getting supplemental magnesium other ways. (Coffee and alcohol sap the body of magnesium very quickly. It is not unusual for alcoholics to have anxiety and sleep disorders as a result of their magnesium deficiency.)
Drinking a daily Green Drink is a wonderful way to get sufficient magnesium and other essential nutrients. If you don’t care for the taste of green drinks (which taste like grass, to be blunt), try Green Vibrance Capsules by Vibrant Health. It is one of my favorites and is one I use frequently.
If you prefer to increase your magnesium using supplements, do NOT take Magnesium Oxide. It is a form of oxide that your body cannot absorb. It is worthless. Read labels and make sure whichever supplement you purchase does not contain magnesium oxide. Most people do best taking 200-800 mg of magnesium on a daily basis. I recommend starting with 200/day and very gradually working up (not exceeding 1200 mg) until your symptoms disappear. Having loose stools is a good indicator that you’re taking too much. If you develop diarrhea, take less magnesium.
I recommend doing or using the following to increase magnesium levels, in conjunction with a healthy diet:
- Take a very warm bath three times weekly with 2-3 cups of Epsom salts in the bath. Your skin will absorb the magnesium, eliminating the need for it to be absorbed through the digestive system.
- Use Magnesium Oil: Magnesium oil is not an oil, but has an oily feeling due to the high concentration of magnesium in the liquid. Note that it is necessary to use high doses of magnesium oil in order to receive a high amount of magnesium. Most oils need to be used in doses of eight sprays, three times daily.
- Take Magnesium Glycinate: Magnesium Glycinate is one of the more easily absorbed forms of magnesium. The magnesium molecule is bonded with glycine, which is an amino acid. The human digestive tract is maximized to absorb amino acids, and glycine is known to improve digestion, so the combination of the magnesium and the glycine greatly increases the absorption levels. The amount of glycine absorbed is minimal, so please do not use magnesium glycinate instead of a glycine supplement if you need supplemental glycine.
My passion is helping people improve their health by identifying and correcting nutritional deficiencies and other causes of illness. I have helped thousands of people improve their health, reverse symptoms and reduce their need for medication. If you are ready to improve your health using a holistic approach, please contact me to schedule a consultation.
As always, none of these statements were evaluated by the FDA and none were intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition. Check with your medical practitioner before starting or stopping any supplement or medication.
Yu ASL. Disorders of magnesium and phosphorus. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 120.
Rakel D, ed. Integrative Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007.
One question I get asked fairly frequently is, “What do you eat?” That is a great question, so I thought I’d start by sharing what I don’t eat. I also want to share that our eating habits should never become set in stone or overly rigid, but will need to evolve and be “tweaked” as our health changes and as deficiencies or weaknesses are eliminated. I eat a much different variety of foods now than I did three years ago. I encourage everyone to listen to your body and to make adjustments to lifestyle habits when you begin noticing issues that indicate a change is needed. As always, work with and rely on your health practitioner to help you identify problem areas and to provide medical intervention when needed.
Before I share my list, let me share that I try to eat “whole” foods, meaning I strictly avoid processed foods. A “whole food” eating style includes foods that are fairly close to how they appear in nature. Does it require a lot of cooking from scratch? Yes. Is it more time consuming? Not when done simply. I didn’t list processed foods on my list of foods I avoid, but know that few foods enter my kitchen in a box. Here are the top 10 foods you’ll never find in my kitchen:
- Margarine (all hydrogenated/trans fat oils): In my house, we use good ol’ butter … the real thing … and have no worries about high cholesterol. Hydrogenated oils, also known as “trans fats,” are known to contribute to heart disease, are known to be highly inflammatory, and are created in a chemical process that attaches a hydrogen molecule to natural oil molecules to make them solid at room temperature. They are patently unhealthy. The nice thing about eliminating trans fats and hydrogenated oils from my kitchen is that it automatically eliminates most baked goods, donuts, and other high-carbohydrate foods. An interesting note is that even though a food’s label states “0 Trans Fat,” the food can contain up to .5 grams of trans fat/hydrogenated oils and still be labeled “0.” Since many companies’ labels list the nutritional information for “serving sizes” which are incredibly small, this means that a “normal” serving size may deliver a high amount of trans fats but the label can still legally say, “Contains no trans fat.” It makes no sense. The bottom line is that absolutely no serving of trans fats is acceptable in terms of health, so the current FDA guidelines allowing 0.5 to be labeled “0” are in need of major overhaul. In our kitchen, we use extra virgin olive oil for cold products (salad dressings, etc.) and extra virgin coconut oil for any cooking that requires oil. The coconut oil does not deteriorate in heat and contains very healthy medium-chain fatty acids which are known to assist with balancing cholesterol levels. (The rumors that coconut oil is a saturated fat that is bad for coronary health are false and completely ignore coconut oil’s very special chemical structure.)
- Soy: I know including this on my list is controversial, but I avoid soy at all costs. Over 90% of soy in this country is genetically modified, it is one of the most rapidly rising allergens in the US, it is known to harm thyroid function, and it is highly estrogenic and may interfere with normal reproductive cycles in children, men and pre-menopausal women. The only form of soy I can advocate is organic and fermented, and then no more than once or twice a week. On a side note, I was a vegan for over two years and ate no soy. It is very possible to be a vegetarian or vegan, not eat soy, and still get more than enough protein.
- Artificial Sweeteners: I only use pure stevia, an herbal sweetener. I carry stevia with me at all times so I never need to use saccharin, sucralose, aspartame or any of the other potentially dangerous sweeteners. Please read Why You Should Never Eat Splenda (Sucralose) for more information. Let me also state that many products claiming to be stevia are actually highly processed chemical versions of stevia and are not much better than other artificial sweeteners. My favorite stevia is a pure extract that is well filtered. My brand of choice is Sweet Leaf. Click the link to view samples of their products.
- Non-organic meat and dairy: I refuse to purchase meat from animals which were given antibiotics and hormones during their life cycle. Ingesting meat containing those items is simply not healthy. My preference is to eat meat that was locally grown, pasture-raised/free range, and which was fed foods that it would choose to eat naturally. The reason for this is that the meat from organically, sustainably raised animals has a healthier fatty-acid content, lower acidity, and is healthier in general. I am willing to purchase meat that is raised this way but which is not organically certified. I ask a lot of questions of the farmer to ensure the very best methods for animal and environment were used while the animals were being raised.
- Genetically modified foods: This is one I really can’t do justice to in a single paragraph, but I aim for a 100% organic diet so that I can avoid having genetically modified foods in my home. I will share that I don’t always eat at home. I am very aware that the foods I eat in restaurants may contain many of the items included on this list. I make good choices when eating out and trust that my exposure is far too limited to cause grave damage. The most prevalent genetically modified foods include: soy & all soy products, canola oil, cottonseed oil, beet sugar (most white sugar is beet sugar unless specifically identified as cane sugar), corn, papaya, zucchini and summer squashes, cassava, golden rice and flood-resistant rice. Organic produce cannot be genetically modified, but there is rising concern that organic crops have been contaminated by cross-pollination from genetically modified crops. A group of almost 300,000 farmers in the US are currently suing the Monsanto company for cross-contaminating their crops. My hope is that these farmers win their suit.
- White sugar and flour: Processed sugars and flours obviously don’t fit the “whole food” lifestyle. They additionally have been stripped of almost all nutritional value. For this reason, they are banned from my kitchen, and I try very hard to ignore it when my son purchases white bread for his own consumption. (Teenagers … what’re you gonna’ do?)
- High fructose corn syrup: The commercials paid for by the Corn Refiners Association are lying to you. (It is interesting to note that the Center for Science in Public Interest has challenged these commercials and is lobbying to have them removed from the air.) High fructose corn syrup, now hidden and listed as “corn sugar” on food labels, is metabolized very differently from white sugar in the body. Multiple studies proved that rats fed high amounts of high fructose corn syrup developed pre-diabetic symptoms, metabolic syndrome, high triglycerides, gained weight around the abdominal area, and gained as much as 45% of their body weight in a short time. (Rats fed sugar-water instead of the high fructose corn syrup did not experience the same effects.) This same pattern is being repeated in the US population. One estimate I saw said the average person in the US eats 41.5 POUNDS of high fructose corn syrup each year. In addition to being excessively high in sugar and high glycemic impact carbohydrates, high fructose corn syrup has a metabolic effect that “turns off” the hormone in your body that tells you when you’re full. Ever notice you just can’t get enough to eat when you’re eating a food that contains high fructose corn syrup? There’s a true, hormonal metabolic reason. High fructose corn syrup is in everything. Start looking for it on labels. It’s in most condiments, many soft drinks, juices, many cereals and baked goods, many fruit-flavored yogurts, many breads, and many products you would never suspect to contain it. Eliminating this single ingredient has had an amazing effect on blood sugar and weight loss for some people. I encourage you to consider eliminating it.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: The Clinical Journal of Epigenics recently released a peer-reviewed study that definitely connects rising rates of Autism Spectrum Disorders to high fructose corn syrup and other environmental toxins. I STRONGLY encourage all mothers of young children and all pregnant women to please completely eliminate this food ingredient from your diet.
- Microwave meals: I never use a microwave. Period. I’d rather eat food cold than heat it in a microwave. There is a lot of controversy associated with microwave ovens, but the following facts remain: a) Microwaves convert the active, bioavailable from of B12 contained in food to an inactive form that is not easily absorbed (the same effect is noticed in other B vitamins); microwaving breast milk eliminates the protective antiviral and immune-boosting properties of the milk; microwaving garlic completely eliminates garlic’s antiviral and antibacterial properties; blood levels of hemoglobin were found to dramatically fall after a microwaved food was eaten but this drop did not occur when the same food was eaten after being cooked on the stove or in an oven. It is also very true that microwaving meats (blood-containing foods) changes the chemical structure of the meat. Among other things, the amount of carcinogens in the meat is increased. (A highly-publicized court case in the 90s occurred when a nurse gently microwaved blood before transfusing it into a patient. The chemical structure of the blood was modified in such a way that the patient’s body rejected it and the patient died.) It’s also interesting to note that chemists discovered long ago that chemical processes which should have taken days or weeks to complete were dramatically sped up if they were microwaved a short time. This correlates to other studies which showed that cell death (apoptosis) was hastened by microwaves. Those reasons are enough for me. I prefer to not change the molecular structure of my food before eating it. Period.
- White processed salt: There is absolutely no truth to the myth that sodium is bad for heart health. What is bad for heart health is processed white salt, the same type that is most commonly used in processed foods and restaurants. (And let’s be honest … any food in a box is processed. Read the labels and familiarize yourself with what you’re eating.) Every cell in your body maintains a very delicate balance of sodium and potassium. Sodium is essential for human life, but not in the the form most commonly added to foods. True salt has some color to it and contains essential trace minerals. I actually find that many people’s high blood pressure falls when they start using a mineral-rich salt (in small amounts) such as Himalayan Sea Salt (which is pink) or Celtic Sea Salt (which is gray). The truth is that common, iodized white table salt has been so heavily processed that all other trace minerals have been removed. The end result is a non-organic chemical – sodium chloride – which your body does not recognize. The water retention and elevated blood pressure caused by common table salt occurs because your body exerts so much energy to eliminating the salt from your body. Your body will isolate the sodium and chloride and will pull water out of your cells and tissues to surround the sodium and chloride molecules with water in order to neutralize them. This causes water retention and elevated blood pressure. Many sea salts sold today as “natural” are also highly processed and bear little or no advantage over common table salt. Another issue with regular sea salt is that it contains pollutants common to sea water. My favorite salt is Himalayan Sea Salt. Its pink color is an obvious indicator that it contains higher amounts of minerals than white salt does. Himalayan sea salt was deposited in the Himalayas thousands of years ago, so contamination is not a concern. Using an unprocessed, natural salt is definitely healthier than using a salt that is the result of a chemical process. On a side note, my husband often comments that Himalayan Sea Salt just plain tastes better, so it’s a win-win.
- Bacon, salami, sausage, hot dogs and lunch meats with nitrates: In addition to being highly processed, loaded with unhealthy fat and high in white salt (see above), these meats – sometimes of questionable origin – also contain preservatives called sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite. These chemicals interfere with red blood cell’s ability to carry oxygen throughout the body and have been implicated in erectile dysfunction and blue baby syndrome. They break down into nitrosamines in the body, which are a chemical known to be highly carcinogenic. The good news is that it is possible to find nitrate-free bacon and lunchmeats in many grocery stores. Unprocessed bacon actually tastes better to me than the processed variety. I don’t eat bacon very often, but when I do it’s always nitrate-free.
There you have it. Can you think of any foods that need to be added to this list? Please share!
Photograph courtesy of Daniel Y. Go
Before reading this post, please read my prior two posts related to Candida: Candida Basics-Important Information, Candida Self Assessment, and Dietary Options for Candida. Those posts provide a great foundation of information that will help provide perspective for this post.
One of the most common issues I see when people try to battle systemic yeast overgrowth is that they only attack it from one direction. Unfortunately, Candida requires a multifaceted approach that requires changes to dietary intake, lifestyle habits, and usually requires a supplement regimen. Carefully selected supplements are used to kill the biofilm Candida uses to protect itself, restore the balance of good and bad bacteria in the digestive tract, and kill Candida cells. I also find that many people benefit from including a liver-cleansing supplement to assist the body in eliminating the dead yeast cells; and many people require immune-boosting assistance and/or a program to restore gut health and address leaky gut. The Biofilm Protocol program I use has a 12-week regimen that addresses each of these factors. The regimen starts very slowly and gradually increases the intensity of the approach so that my clients don’t have to endure horrific die off symptoms.
A summary of the changes required to combat Candida follow. Please note that each person’s needs will be very unique, so the program must be tailored to fit the specific physiology and systemic needs of the person.
Temporary Changes in Eating Habits
I cannot stress enough that Candida cannot be effectively addressed without changing how the person eats. In other words, you can’t win the battle if you’re still feeding the enemy. You could take mountains of pills on a daily basis, but the supplements will be useless if your diet still contains high amounts of foods that feed the yeast. Please read Dietary Options for Candida for an overview of a typical Candida eating style. In addition to temporarily making changes to how someone eats, most people also need to follow a program to restore general gut health and restore normal gut permeability.
The primary lifestyle changes that are necessary to stop Candida overgrowth may include:
- Avoid antibiotics if at all possible. Work with a trained practitioner who can provide advice on alternatives. If an antibiotic is necessary during the 12-week program, the dosage of certain supplements may need to be increased and some may need to be taken at different times of day. Related to this, I strongly encourage my clients to only eat organic meat if possible so that they are not exposed to low levels of antibiotics contained in commercially farmed animals. (There are times that an antibiotic is absolutely necessary. Please never refuse an antibiotic if your doctor deems it necessary and/or if natural approaches have not reversed the issue.)
- Elimination of alcohol (It’s temporary … you can do it!)
- Avoid vinegars at all costs. Vinegars feed yeasts like crazy. Anyone who has ever watched vinegar be added to a petri dish filled with yeast cells can vouch that vinegars – even raw apple cider vinegar – should be avoided.
- In a perfect world, birth control should be discontinued, as most birth control pills used in the US create an environment that feeds Candida. If switching to a barrier method is not possible or desired (which I completely understand), some supplements may need to be taken in a higher dosage.
- Elimination of heavy metals in body – This may require removal of amalgam fillings or going through an internal heavy metal cleanse. Heavy metals have a tendency to create an environment that is acidic and devoid of oxygen, situations which Candida thrive on.
- Depending on the person’s health, I sometimes recommend an immunity-boosting regimen before starting the Candida protocol. I also often work to restore normal permeability of the digestive tract.
- Depending on the person’s symptoms, there are sometimes other lifestyle changes that may be necessary. These changes may include temporary changes in clothing worn, sexual habits or toilet habits.
Please note that I never use a “prescriptive” approach to helping people address their health challenges. I always select specific supplements to address specific issues, but I make sure the supplement(s) used are appropriate for other challenges the person is addressing. Having said that, the following types of supplements are typically needed during a Candida regimen. This is merely a starting point, as many people require additional systemic support during a cleanse. Please consult a trained practitioner to determine which options are best for your specific needs.
- Probiotics: I generally recommend taking a probiotic of at least 30 billion active cultures once daily on an empty stomach, but also recommend taking a probiotic of lesser strength with every meal. The importance of regulating the balance of good and bad bacteria in the digestive tract cannot be underestimated. My favorite probiotics include any of the following:
Doses will vary based on the person, the severity of the issues, and which day of the Biofilm Protocol the person is on.
I also like the products shown below. (Click to view):
- Anti-Candida Enzymes: Enzymes are an essential part of the Candida battle plan because they consume the protective layer Candida surrounds itself with and ultimately consume the yeast cells and the dead yeast cells. These enzymes MUST be taken on an empty stomach (at least 30 minutes before or two hours after eating) to be effective. The enzymes not only help kill the yeast cells, but can also help diminish the inevitable die-off symptoms. I like either of the following:
- Antimicrobials/Antifungals: There are a wide variety of options available for killing live yeast cells. The problem is that yeast are very adaptive and soon grow resistant if the same antimicrobial agent is used for too long. Some of the most commonly used antimicrobials, such as Oregano Oil and Garlic, are no longer as effective as they used to be. I like the following, although a wide array of other options exists:
- Agrisept-L: A powerful citrus seed extract that is antifungal, antibacterial, antimicrobial … pretty much anti-everything. This is a powerful remedy to keep on hand for a wide variety of uses. One word of warning: It tastes horrible. (Must be honest.) I recommend starting with 5-10 drops in two ounces of water with 1-2 drops of Peppermint Essential Oil added to diminish the awful taste.
- Solaray Candida Cleanse: This is a simple-to-use antifungal combination supplement that combines a fantastic array of antifungal agents. Each bottle lasts two weeks. Starting with this cleanse and then graduating to 20-30 drops of Agrisept-L on a daily basis is usually a nice approach for many people.
As I stated previously, this is merely a starting point of options. Most people require other assistance during a Candida cleanse. Please note this information is shared for informational purposes only. None of these statements were evaluated by the FDA and none are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health condition. Please consult your physician or a trained practitioner before making major lifestyle changes or before taking new supplements.
My passion is helping people improve their health by identifying and correcting systemic imbalances. I have helped thousands of people eliminate the challenges caused by Candida overgrowth If you are ready to improve your health using a holistic approach, please contact me to schedule a consultation.
What are your thoughts? Have you battled Candida? What worked for you? Please share!
Before I dive into this post, I want to welcome you to my new website! I’m excited to offer a new site and am working hard to fill in the areas that are missing content. Was it backwards to launch the site before it was done? Maybe … but desperate times call for desperate measures. Please forgive me. I welcome your feedback!
Let’s get down to business. Before reading this post, please read my previous post, Candida 101, to familiarize yourself with what Candida is, how it becomes overgrown and which issues it can cause in the body.
- Any (organic) meats and eggs, excluding processed meats and sushi with rice
- Most organic nuts and seeds (I eliminate cashews and peanuts because they are typically high in fungal growth)
- All veggies other than the starchy ones, beets and carrots
- Unsweetened milk alternatives
Subsequent phases re-introduce some of the ancient grains, low glycemic-index fruits, and legumes. During this phase, all condiments containing sugar and vinegar are also eliminated. (Vinegar is one of yeast’s favorite foods. Yeast cells grow very quickly when exposed to vinegars.)
Most people can return to a fairly normal eating pattern following the 12-week program, although they still need to be careful to limit sugars and grains. Is it possible to go back to eating Snickers for lunch after completing the program? Unfortunately, most people need to be cautious on a long-term basis. This doesn’t mean they can never enjoy a dessert or a dinner roll, it simply means they need to limit their intake of these foods and to listen to their body to recognize when Candida starts to rear its ugly head again. Most people report that they feel so much better and have so many health issues disappear while following the protocol that continuing to eat well becomes much easier.
My next post will cover the types of supplements that can be used to kill Candida and its bio-film, restore balance, and reduce die-off symptoms. The final post in this series will discuss common symptoms of “die-off” which may occur as the body works to eliminate dead yeast cells. You can view the next post here: Candida Battle Plan.
What do you think?
I confess I’ve started this post multiple times and then rejected it because the topic of Candida is too large to tackle in a single post. I therefore chose to share multiple posts about Candida and its effects. Those posts include:
- Candida Self Assessment: Read to figure out if Candida is an issue affecting you
- Candida Battle Plan: Provides information on the three-stage approach I use to bring Candida levels back into balance
- Dietary Options for Candida: Shares the dietary changes necessary to stop providing “fuel” for Candida to thrive on
- Why Kombucha and Candida Don’t Mix: Shares info on how kombucha feeds candida in some people
Candida is, quite simply, yeast. We all need a tiny bit of it in our systems to maintain balance in our digestive tract. In a perfect world, our immune system keeps Candida in balance. Sometimes, however, Candida growth can reach a level where it overwhelms the immune system. Please note that systemic fungal overgrowth may or may not 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.
As with any yeast, Candida feeds on sugars. Because the Standard American Diet (SAD) is loaded with carbohydrates that our bodies metabolize into simple sugars, Candida overgrowth is a very common problem in today’s world. Other factors that can trigger Candida overgrowth include antibiotics, birth control pills, diabetes, pregnancy, hormonal imbalances (including imbalances in reproductive, pituitary, thyroid, adrenal and hypothalamic hormones), drinking tap water (chlorine kills beneficial bacteria in the gut, which can lead to Candida overgrowth), immune challenges, genetically modified foods, and alcohol consumption.
Candida overgrowth can affect the body in a wide variety of ways. The overgrowth tends to start in the digestive tract. In the early stages of Candida overgrowth, symptoms may include indigestion, GERD, diarrhea or constipation, cramping and more. As the Candida continues to grow, it gains strength and will begin to bore holes in the colon. This results in what is commonly known as Leaky Gut Syndrome. Although Leaky Gut can have a variety of causes, Candida is one of the most common.
Things tend to go downhill after Leaky Gut Syndrome develops. The holes in the gut allow undigested food particles to enter the blood stream. Since the body doesn’t recognize undigested food molecules, it may launch an attack against those molecules, causing an immune response. Food allergies are a common result of Candida overgrowth. There is also a hypothesis that Fibromyalgia is the result of undigested food molecules in the bloodstream which become lodged against muscles and in joints, causing pain.
Candida can also cause other immune issues. One of the most common immune issue I see resulting from Candida overgrowth is an allergy to mushrooms and to environmental molds. This makes sense logically, since each are other forms of fungus. If the body is already reacting to and trying to control an internal fungal overgrowth, it will logically negatively react to fungi in the environment or fungi that are consumed.
Effects of Candida Overgrowth
Candida overgrowth can have a multitude of symptoms. It would take multiple posts to cover them all, but many of them are not issues most people would associate with yeast. The belief that the only indicators of fungal overgrowth are vaginal yeast infections, jock itch and/or athlete’s foot are false. Many mainstream doctors don’t believe there is any such thing as Candida overgrowth, in spite of multiple studies proving they do indeed exist and do indeed cause serious health challenges. Following are just a few of the most common side effects of Candida overgrowth. Please note that each of these may also be an indicator of other health issues and may not solely be related to a fungal overgrowth:
- Digestive problems
- Tan-colored stools
- Fatigue (sometimes extreme due to the energy the body exerts to fight the Candida overgrowth)
- Food allergies
- Brain fog and problems concentrating
- Sugar cravings
- Alcohol cravings (a treatment facility in California starts treatment with a yeast cleanse to help diminish alcohol cravings)
- Skin rashes including eczema, psoriasis, ring worm, etc.
- Weight gain or an inability to lose weight
- Mood swings, depression, irritability
- Anal itching
- Itchy skin
- Dandruff and itchy scalp
- Chronic sinusitis, sore throat, post nasal drip, cough
- Fungal infections of finger and toe nails
- Heavy white coating on the tongue
- Itchy ears and nose
- Athlete’s foot, jock itch, vaginal yeast infections
- Thrush (oral yeast infection)
- Joint and muscular pain
- Impaired immunity resulting in frequent colds and flus
Unfortunately, that long list is just the tip of the iceberg related to the symptoms Candida overgrowth can cause. The toxicity of Candida is the primary cause of these symptoms. Unfortunately, Candida overgrowth puts quite a strain on the body’s immune system and immune system. The most common test used to identify fungal overgrowth are tests of the stools. Many practitioners don’t do the stool tests, since the symptoms of Candida overgrowth are often easily recognized. Medical history and lifestyle habits are also often a sufficient means of identifying a Candida issue.
Correcting the Problem
The biggest problem with treating Candida overgrowth is that yeast are incredibly adaptive. One of the first organisms to return after fires or nuclear attacks, yeast quickly adapt to changes in their environment. This means they quickly become resistant to the more commonly used herbal treatments. Oil of Oregano used to be very effective, but in the past few years yeast organisms have become very resistant to Oregano Oil. Yeast also have a tendency to protect themselves with what are called biofilms.
A biofilm is a wall of minerals and organisms yeast use to create a protective barrier to surround themselves with. The biofilm effectively prevents antimicrobials and antifungals from reaching the yeast cells and prevent them from being killed. Unfortunately, biofilms can even prevent prescription antifungals (such as Nystatin, Diflucan, Nizoral, etc.) from killing Candida cells.
So how can Candida be brought into control? It takes commitment and a multi-faceted effort including dietary changes and a variety of different supplements. It also requires the use of specific enzyme supplements to “eat through” the biofilm so that the antifungal and antimicrobial supplements (and pharmaceuticals in extreme cases) can reach the yeast cells. It is also necessary to take large doses of probiotics to help re-establish a positive balance of good bacteria in the digestive system.
The process of bringing Candida overgrowth into control can take several months. It can also cause uncomfortable symptoms as the yeast cells die and the body begins eliminating them, but there are many ways to reduce those symptoms.
This is my first post in a series of posts covering Candida. Please read the entire series to get a greater understanding of how yeast overgrowth can affect health and how the overgrowth can be brought back into balance.
Please feel free to contact me if you would like to schedule an appointment to discuss your health issues and to begin my 12-week Biofilm Protocol and Gut Restoration Program.