Nutrition

Bottom's Up to Freedom!

Grab a drink and let’s CELEBRATE! It’s America’s 241st birthday! We may be a young country, but there’s certainly one thing we have mastered: drinking. America sure knows how to throw ‘em back with the best of ‘em. This Independence Day, make healthier drinking choices with a little help from Spectra Wellness.

[Warning: preachy advice ahead]… It must be said that we are a medical office so we do need to quickly note that this blog does not encourage excessive or binge drinking. Moderation is always key to a happy and healthy holiday.

That being said, here is a short guide to making the best alcohol choices now, and well, ever.

LIQUOR

Surprisingly, liquor can be one of the best choices for your diet. While not necessarily low in calories (in general, the higher the alcohol content, the higher the calories), most liquors have little to no sugars, carbs, or gluten.  We’re talking about unflavored:

Vodka
Tequila
Gin
Whiskey*
Rum

Brandy
Scotch*

As we have been learning in the nutritional world, calories aren’t necessarily a deal-breaker. It’s the sugar and carb content that can hinder weight loss or cause health issues. Liquor alone is very diet friendly, it’s the mixers we need to watch. Most mixers are basically all sugar. That means all those juices, soft drinks and energy drinks. Go ahead and switch those out for flavored or unflavored soda water (0 calorie, 0 sugar) and we’re back in business.

*There is a lot of disagreement among experts as to whether whiskey or scotch can be considered gluten-free due to the distillation process that is said to kill the gluten protein. Our advice: take it slow and drink with caution if gluten intolerant.

 RED & WHITE WINE

Dry wines are the lowest in sugar and carb content and generally very diet friendly. Wines can be a little deceiving because one would think that something made from grapes would be naturally gluten-free. However, gluten and yeast can be added during the aging process so just be wary if you’re going sans gluten this holiday. Whether you enjoy the reds or the whites, there are choices for everyone. You’ll just have to leave the sweet wines on the shelf and reach for these instead:

Cabernet Sauvignon (red)
Merlot (red)
Pinot Noir (red)
Pinot Grigio (white)

Chardonnay (white)
Riesling (white) 

Too bad there aren’t blue wines as that would round out this whole patriotic, Independence Day blog pretty nicely. That’s OK though, Meatloaf taught us that two out of three ain’t bad.

BEER

Obviously, light or gluten-free beers are a better diet choice but beer is just never going to be healthy. Sorry. At least there’s tequila???

 

Happy Independence Day from Spectra Wellness and a hearty CHEERS to your newly found dietary FREEDOM.

 

 

 

Let’s Talk About D, baby! Vitamin D, that is…

Let’s Talk About D, baby! Vitamin D, that is…

It may seem like a simple subject talking about a vitamin that most people are aware impacts our health, but just how aware are we? I know that years ago before I started in the medical field I was well aware that Vitamin D was necessary for our health. It was all over T.V. in milk or juice ads, I mean even tanning bed companies were touting the benefits of Vitamin D exposure in their tanning beds (please don’t use tanning beds to get Vitamin D, or a tan, or a nap, or anything -- that’s another blog that I don’t have time for right now). But until I started working at my first medical office 7 years ago, I was seriously under-educated about just how necessary Vitamin D is for humans and how much we should be consuming daily.

Let's start with what Vitamin D does for the body:

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin primarily responsible for the gut’s absorption of essential vitamins and minerals such as: Calcium, Potassium, Magnesium, Zinc, Iron, etc. It is also directly related to immune function, new cell growth, muscular function, and is a natural anti-inflammatory. Sounds just as important as you thought it was, right?

Well, there are some other little side-effects that Vitamin D is responsible for. No big deal or anything, you can skip this boring part if you want….

A healthy Vitamin D level can also be responsible for preventing CANCER, CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE, ALZHEIMER’S, AUTO-IMMUNE DISORDERS, OSTEOPOROSIS, DIABETES. Even DEPRESSION has been linked to low levels of Vitamin D.

So maybe it is a little bit more important than we all originally thought? It’s OK if you didn’t know just how much of an impact low-D can have on your body. Why would you know? It’s not like your traditional doctors are testing your levels or your insurance is paying for Vitamin D testing. So how could you have known?

It’s no secret in the medical community that Vitamin D is a major player. Heck, you can find all that I’ve written above on Big-Pharma baby, WebMD. So what gives? Why isn’t it being tested? Why does your insurance classify it as “experimental” when screened on a patient with no prior testing of Vitamin D, therefore no prior Vitamin D deficiency history? I don’t know the answer to that. I know there are some conspiracy theories we could lean into, but we’re not going to let this educational blog go down that rabbit hole.

Instead, we’re going to delve into how you can help yourself ensure your body it’s proper Vitamin D level.

So how do we know that you currently have a low Vitamin D level? Well, obviously, we don’t, hence the importance of testing. But, from just what I, personally, have seen in the 3 medical offices I have worked in over the last 7 years (2 holistic offices, 1 traditional office), is that most people just do.

The traditional primary-care medical world just doesn’t test for Vitamin D. They do the bare-bones, insurance mandated wellness screenings and only stray from the bare-bones test if there is an abnormality they need more information on (For example, a high fasting glucose level would lead to screening a confirming test for diabetes). Yet, they still don’t test for Vitamin D. The only time that I saw them get remotely close to testing Vitamin D is when they would have post-menopausal women do their bone density scan once per year. But, even then, if the results showed osteopenia (precursor to osteoporosis), these women were told to take calcium and if there was a confirmation of osteoporosis, they were put on a drug. I mean, didn’t we just learn that Vitamin D helps absorb calcium??

(…I know this is a bit long, but hang in there tiger, we’re getting to the good stuff & almost done…)

From what I have seen in the holistic offices I have been in, new patients transferring from traditional offices know something is missing. Turns out, there are usually many things that are missing but one common thread is Vitamin D. The vast majority of new patients coming into Spectra Wellness are Vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D is screened on almost every new patient. I spend a lot of my day informing these patients that their results came in and their Vitamin D is low and here is how much your provider is recommending you supplement.

These patients aren’t aware that they have not and probably will never receive enough Vitamin D from their daily diets to maintain a healthy level. That is not to say they are eating unhealthy, even the healthiest eater can be Vitamin D deficient. There just isn’t enough D in the foods we are eating to maintain what our bodies need. This comes down to:

We’ve been pretty conditioned to believe that milk alone can provide enough daily Vitamin D. Well, this simply is not true. You’re better off giving up the dairy and switching to almond milk if you want a decent helping of Vitamin D.

Also, most people have heard that sun exposure boosts Vitamin D levels. While, yes, this is true, it is not true for everyone. This route really only works (somewhat) on people with lighter skin tones whereas darker skin-toned individuals will need about 10x the amount of sun exposure to equal the Vitamin D absorption of their lighter-skinned counterparts. This just isn’t sustainable. Also, what about people that live in areas that only have a few months of sunlight per year? Where are they to get their Vitamin D if their diet isn’t enough and they have no sun to lean on? I mean, even I’m Vitamin D deficient and I’m a young person with light skin and living in THE SUNSHINE STATE. Is anyone Vitamin D heavy anymore??

OK, I am going to calm down now and tell you where your Vitamin D level should be and how you can get it there.

First of all, ask to be screened by your PCP so you can get a number to work with. Yes, you may have to pay out of pocket for it, but it’s worth it at least once. Your lab will probably tell you that anything equal to or greater than 30 NG/ml is a good level. This is actually the absolute minimum you want to be. You really want your level to be between 60-80 NG/ml. This is important to everyone, but especially important to post-menopausal women. Healthy bones are essential and a good Vitamin D level is how you can avoid osteopenia or osteoporosis.

If you are an adult and have a level that is lower than 60-80 NG/ml you can start to build your Vitamin D level by introducing green-leafy vegetables to your diet such as kale, spinach, collards, watercress, and broccoli as well as almonds or almond milk. This is a great start, but you will also want to add a Vitamin D3 or Vitamin D3/K2 supplement to your daily regimen. You will want to take 4,000-5,000 units of Vitamin D3 daily (with food) to increase your level. You can do this for about 2 months, then decrease to 1,000-2,000 units daily (with food) to maintain your level.

If you cannot obtain a Vitamin D level through lab testing, you can still add the dietary recommendations and a supplement of 1,000-2,000 units daily with food.

Also, slow down for a minute, put your bare feet in the grass, and soak up a few minutes of sun.
It’s good for your Vitamin D level and, more importantly, good for the soul.

LEAKY GUT: JUST AS GROSS AS IT SOUNDS

The term “Leaky Gut” may induce the same repulsive feeling that the word “moist” does, but please stick with me.. I swear it’s worth the mild discomfort.

So what genius decided to give this affliction the absolute worst name? Not sure. I didn’t research that little factoid. I did try to come up with some alternative names, however. Like: Loose Lining, Inflammation Station, Liver Attack, Belly Drip, etc. Basically, the poor soul did the best they could and who am I to judge? We’ll leave the name the way it is for now, though suggestions are welcome.

So what is Leaky Gut? Well, pretty much what it sounds like. Due to many factors (we’ll get to those in a bit), the lining of your intestines can “loosen” and allow food particles, bacteria, fungi,  parasites, and toxins to “leak” into the bloodstream.  Why is this important? Well, besides giving you intuition, your gut is the leader of the body’s immune system. A compromised immune system is no body’s friend. (get what I did there?) When these unknown particles start to infiltrate your bloodstream, your body’s first response is to start destroying them. Also, your liver will kick into overdrive to try and filter these particles that should have never made it that far through the digestive system. An overwhelmed and overloaded liver will allow these foreign bodies to get backed up, allowing their numbers to increase, and now you’ve got war.

So what happens when a foreign entity encounters your immune system? That’s right, your immune system will develop antibodies to fight and conquer. Well, when you have Leaky Gut, It isn’t just the bad guys leaking into your bloodstream, the food you eat is also getting in on the party. Food particles are not supposed to be in the bloodstream, so now your body has to create antibodies to fight and kill them. That may sound like a good thing, but that is now, technically, what us in the medical biz would call a food allergy.  You are not alone if you are able to eat a particular food one day, and suddenly cannot tolerate it the next. You are especially not alone if most of what you eat starts causing bloating, cramping, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, etc.

The body has officially set its site on public enemy number 1: itself. Now you’re inflamed, have pains that you cannot explain, have opened the door to a slew of autoimmune problems (IBS, Ulcerative Colitis, Fibromyalgia, etc), and have forgotten what normal ever felt like. Just to throw a cherry on top of if all, you’ve also most likely awakened a once dormant chronic fatigue virus such as Epstein Barr or Herpes Simplex. And now you barely have enough energy to hold your head up or form a coherent thought. Your traditional doctors don’t know what to do with you and you’re stuck. Now you’re depressed, can’t sleep, your thyroid and hormones are throwing in the towel and your emotional state, well we better not bring that up at this sensitive time. Oh, and one more thing, you’re now just ripe with fungus (yeast to be more specific).

So what on earth did you do to bring this on? We owe this mess to a few different things. The main culprits are stress, inflammation, gluten sensitivity, yeast overgrowth, medications and food-related toxins.

Stress, well we’ve all got that. Uncontrolled stress can lead to inflammation and lo and behold your gut just got leaky. Gluten, well over the last few years we’ve started hearing more and more about the downside of consuming this guy. He can be pretty mean. We aren’t only talking about people with diagnosable intolerances, like Celiac Disease. Little by little, the medical community is starting to accept that gluten can contribute to gut and inflammation problems in people without a condition like Celiac. This isn’t just some hippie notion anymore. It can be hard to convince people that they have a sensitivity they cannot see a clear-cut reaction to. Just because you ate a piece of wheat bread and didn’t immediately throw it up, does not mean that you can’t have a gluten sensitivity. If you are curious about the possibility of having a gluten sensitivity, you can test it by eating completely gluten-free for 3 weeks and then introducing gluten again to your diet. See if there is a noticeable change. I know when I stop gluten for a stretch of time and then eat it again, I swell up so bad that my clothes don’t fit and my face looks like I was crying all night. Not too much of a stretch to think it could be the cause of Leaky Gut.

Yeast (or Candida) overgrowth, another culprit that causes inflammation and, in turn, Leaky Gut.

Medications and food-related toxins… where to begin? I think we all know that half of what we consume is a mystery. Food dyes, pesticides, chemicals, fillers, preservatives, they’re in, like, everything. Drinking soda and eating chicken nuggets made from “pink slime” is basically a bomb to your digestive system, so, yeah, it can contribute to Leaky Gut. Medication has an important role in modern civilization, but it isn’t perfect. To keep this brief, I’ll just give one example: prolonged use of painkillers such as NSAIDs can have lasting and damaging effects on the stomach and intestinal lining as well as the liver. Once again, leading to inflammation, and all-around leaky-ness.

So, it’s pretty easy for Leaky Gut to develop. We see it in humans of all ages, even pets. Luckily, given the right tools, it can be an easy fix. You will need an arsenal of supplements like potent/high-quality probiotics to combat bacteria and fungi, enzymes to aid digestion, glutamine to heal your gut lining, a natural anti-fungal to kill the yeast, liver detoxification and some changes to your diet. You’ll want to avoid wheat/sugars to slow inflammation and avoid feeding the yeast. In a matter of weeks, you can be recovered.

For help in diagnosing and treating Leaky Gut, come in to Spectra Wellness Solutions. Like, really, we do this every day.

Natural Weight Management

Dr. Koche has developed a program for natural weight management unlike any other on the market today.  With a combination of supplements, personalized follow-ups and customized meal plans, her 12 week program can get you back on the road to health and happiness. 

The Koche Approach is the product of over 15 years of research and patient care.

Call our office to see if The Koche Approach is right for you.