Feeling Sluggish and Bloated?

Literally Weighing You Down

Feeling sluggish and bloated are signs of the good old American diet.  A diet high in refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, dehydration and insufficient level of plant fiber lead to a slow digestive tract.  When our digestive tract is slowed by poor diet it actually slows our whole body down.  Sluggish digestive tracts lead to decreased absorption of food and decreased metabolism.  This sluggish digestion also leads to uncomfortable bloating and the distended abdominal appearance.

So it is no wonder that it is so common to see patients who feel sluggish and uncomfortable along with pain.  Once one system in our body is failing it stresses the rest of the body. I am sorry to say that I know of no herbal remedy or vitamin that can reverse the digestive issues related to improper dietary habits.

The proper diet consists of eliminating refined carbohydrates and replacing them with whole gluten free grains such as rice, beans and quinoa.  Limit saturated fat intake by mainly eating good omega 3 fats found in fish.  Start the good habit of 4-5 servings of fruit and 4-5 servings of vegetables every day.  Look into following the Anti-inflammatory Diet which is very similar to the Mediterranean diet.

The changes in how you feel will be your motivation to keep it up.

Should I Avoid Night Shades?

Night shades are a group of vegetables that contain similar chemicals within them that have been associated with toxicity and inflammation.  These vegetables are also very nutrient dense which begs the question should they be avoided. The answer is not straight forward because not everyone is affected the same by them.  Some people have reactions to a small quantity of them while others are ok with small amounts but have ill affects when they eat to much or to often.  I suggest that any patient I have that suffering from chronic pain, auto-immune disease, skin sensitivity or intestinal issues should do an avoidance for a 4 week period.  If they feel a difference in their symptoms they know that night shades affect them but the next question is do all of them need to be avoided.  We then suggest adding one at a time that they wish to have in their diet to test the affect on them.  I also use Allergy Testing as a guide if elimination attempts are inconclusive.  I always stress kinesiology has its limits but elimination followed by reintroduction is usually most accurate test.

What Vegetables are Included?

  • Tomatoes (all varieties, and tomato products like marinara, ketchup, etc.)
  • Tomatillos
  • Potatoes (white and red potatoes. However, sweet potatoes are not nightshades.)
  • Eggplant
  • All peppers (bell peppers, jalapeno, chili peppers, and hot peppers)
  • Red spices (curry powder, chili powder, cayenne powder, red pepper)
  • Paprika
  • Pimentos
  • Tobacco
  • Goji berries
  • Ground cherries (different from regular cherries)
  • Ashwagandha

What are the Common Adverse Reactions?

  • Joint pain
  • Inflammation
  • Fatigue
  • Migraines
  • Skin flares
  • Digestive distress
  • Flares to any preexisting conditions


5 Ways to Decrease Inflammation

How to decrease the inflammation in your body

1. Eliminate saturated fats from your diet

This is the hard part for most people you need to give up eating protein sources from land animals.  All land animals store fat as saturated fat in high amounts.  Saturated fats are inflammatory by their chemical make up, they mimic natural inflammatory signals our body uses. This includes giving up dairy and many unhealthy oils such as corn, safflower, soybean, peanut, and cotton seed oil.

2. Eat foods with high omega 3 fat  content

Eating foods with high omega-3 oil is highly anti inflammatory.  This includes all seafood but especially salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, sardines, and anchovies.  Cooking with high omega-3 oils such as avocado, olive, and coconut oil.  Eating more nuts especially walnuts. Adding chia and flaxseeds to cooking.

3. Eat foods with high antioxidant content

That means greatly increasing your fresh fruits and vegetables.  Especially good fruits are cherries, berries, mangos, oranges, pomegranate and apples.  Especially good vegetables are broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, spinach, and collard greens. All fruits and vegetables are good but the fore mentioned are the highest antioxidant foods.  Antioxidants decrease inflammation.

4. Give up sugar and gluten

Research shows that eating processed sugar negatively impacts our blood chemistry in many ways but it has also been shown to increase blood levels of C-reactive protein.  Many of us also have a negative reaction in our small intestine when we are exposed to gluten.  Gluten causes an autoimmune response in our intestinal lining causing inflammation.  This results in poor food absorption and increases in inflammatory mediators such as C-reactive protein in our blood.

5. Give up processed food

Food processing adds preservatives, flavor enhancers, artificial sweeteners, dyes, and hidden forms of sugars such as high fructose corn syrup.  All of these are chemical irritants to the digestive tract resulting in inflammation. These chemicals also enter the blood stream resulting in many inflammatory reactions in our body as our immune system, liver, and kidneys deal with eliminating them.

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is a major part of any immune response ranging from a broken bone to an allergic reaction.  The first step of the inflammatory process the capillaries become more porous to flood an area with fluid causing swelling.  Injured tissues release a cascade of inflammatory chemicals as communication mechanisms to attract white blood cells and start the healing response.  Tissues can be injured mechanically and chemically but both start with the first response of local inflammation. As our immune system moves in to clean up dead tissue and activate the repair process they release pro-inflammatory mediators.  The mediators such as Interlukin-6 and C-reactive protein circulate throughout the entire body in our blood. Our bodies are in a constant state of dealing with minor injuries. Micro-trauma occurs in our blood vessels as they go through regular increases and decreases in blood pressure caused by our heart beating.  High blood pressure obviously exacerbates this amount of micro-trauma.  Our tendons, muscles, and cartilage are taxed every with activities of daily living. As we age these areas start breaking down with cumulative overuse.  Our intestinal lining and respiratory lining is exposed to pathogens and toxins from the environment.  These occurrences are a normal life maintaining reactions that are usually short lived or so minor we never know they are occurring.  The problem arises when these inflammatory response become excessive or prolonged becoming chronic resulting in high levels of Interlukin-6 and C-reactive protein in our blood.

Our lifestyle has a strong impact on our level of inflammation smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, alcohol abuse, stress, and poor dietary habits greatly exacerbate inflammation.  When we allow our bodies to be overwhelmed by poor life style factors, we develop what I refer to as systemic inflammation.  This most notably can be seen as water retention which occurs in the entire body but is most noticed by us in our hands.  Rings feeling tight is a common sign my patients note when we discuss how inflammation maybe affecting the complaint they present to my office with.  I always advice patients who are suffering with inflammation to follow the Anti-inflammatory Diet and I start them off on the 5 ways to decrease inflammation.

Why is losing the first 5 pounds on a diet so quick

First 5 pounds melted off in a week

When someone goes on a diet they are amazed at how fast the first 5 pounds are dropped.  The bad news is much of this weight loss was not lost fat at first.  To lose fat during a diet that means you have to consume 3500 less calories than you burned off.  The best way to look at it when on a diet is realistically to restrict 500 calories less than burned per day which equates to 1 pound per week is a goal.  Anyone who has done the calorie counting diet and figured out how much they burn in calories exercising plus regular calorie burn during normal activity knows this pace of 500 calorie deficit is hard to maintain.  So during the first week of a diet a highly motivated person may have burned 1 pound of fat.

The common theory about the early weight loss is that it is water weight.  This is for the most part true but it is way more complicated than that.  Most diets restrict processed foods, carbohydrates, saturated fats and alcohol.  Processed foods usually contain lots of chemicals as preservatives, artificial flavorings, dyes, and simple sugars. All of the changes are really good because these foods are pro-inflammatory, which means they elicit inflammation in the body.  The first step in the inflammatory process is flooding the extracellular fluid with water as the immune system starts the inflammatory process.  When we eliminate these inflammatory foods our body reverses this inflamed state and we rid ourselves of all the excess water thru urination and sweat.  Our immune system also backs off the assault of inflammatory response.  This is why we lose weight very fast when we clean up our diets.

This decreased inflammation also makes you feel really good.  That is why aches and pains ease during the early part of a diet not because we have less weight on our joints.

Cheating on the diet has the opposite effect

Everyone has experienced the grief on the scale after a bad weekend.  You can also gain inflammatory weight just as fast as you lost it when you cheated for a short period.  This is why when you are eating well as soon as you cheat you feel so uncomfortable and bloated.  The sad part is how many people feel this way all the time and just do not know it.

For more information on how the eat and Anti-Inflammatory Diet follow the article in our blog.

Difference between Gluten Intolerance and Celiac Disease?

Difference between Gluten Intolerance and Celiac Disease

This article will describe the difference between Gluten Intolerance and Celiac Disease.  Much confusion and disinformation is on the internet and social media relating to these 2 topics.  I am going to outline each separate to give a clear picture.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is by far the least understood and most misdiagnosed condition.  It is not easy to test for because most methods of testing are inaccurate and need to be repeated multiple times to detect the disease.   The disease is an autoimmune disease that is triggered by exposure of gluten to the small intestine.  Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and sometimes oats.  When a susceptible person eats these grains their immune system reacts by attacking the lining of the small intestine. Our small intestinal lining is not flat it has millions tiny fingerlike protrusions which make the surface area much larger allowing more surface locations for nutrient absorption.  When this lining swells it closes off the spaces between the fingers greatly decreasing absorption surface area leading to malabsorption.  The autoimmune reaction can lead to many symptoms in the gut such as gas, bloating, abdominal pain, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation. These intestinal symptoms are usually dismissed as irritable bowel syndrome or stress. The autoimmune reaction can also set off many others symptoms related to generalized inflammation such as rashes, exacerbation of any musculoskeletal inflammation (arthritis, tendonitis, neuritis, or myofacitis), fatigue, fertility issues.   The non-intestinal symptoms which are secondary to issues of malabsorption of food are weight loss, anemia, hair loss, dental, bone and joint problems, bruising easily, and vitamin/mineral deficiencies.  In young children this condition can be detected because the child is not growing and failing to thrive as a result of the failure of the small intestine to absorb food.  In adults that develop this condition slower or have a lesser degree of the illness, it will not be detected as a child or just blamed on lactose intolerance or food allergies.


Gluten Intolerance

Gluten Intolerance is more evasive as a diagnosis because it is the same etiology as Celiac disease but it is less intense overreaction of our immune system.  Therefore the symptoms are less intense as related to malabsorption. The immune system has degrees of severity of out autoimmune response in almost all autoimmune diseases.  In the case of Gluten Intolerance it has to do with how inflamed the small intestine lining becomes in the presence of gluten or in other words how intense our autoimmune response has become.  The intensity of the response is obviously less than full blown Celiac Disease so it usually goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed which leads to it becoming a chronic process.  Many people have been suffering with multiple of the Intestinal and Autoimmune symptoms but not to a degree that raised the alarm of their physician so they usually go diagnosed with IBS, Food Allergies/Intolerance, Chronic Fatigue, Migraine, Hashimoto’s, and orthopedic conditions.  The orthopedic conditions are related to exacerbation of any inflammatory condition such as tendonitis, arthritis, neuritis, and myofacitis.  Neuritis presents as conditions like carpal tunnel and thoracic outlet syndrome to name a few, with fluid retention due to inflammation causing nerve compression.  Myofacitis presents as generalized or localized muscle soreness.


Treatment for Gluten Intolerance and Celiac Disease.

Unfortunately the only treatment gluten intolerance and Celiac disease is avoidance entirely.  Your body gets triggered into attacking your small intestine lining anytime you consume gluten.  People note that some intestinal symptoms improve within 2 weeks.  In 3 months most of the symptoms disappear but it takes 6 months for your intestinal lining to fully recover and proper digestion to return.  During the process heavy dosing of natural probiotics such as Kefir, live cultured sauerkraut, and Kampuchea tea instead of relying on usually ineffective probiotic supplements will help speed the process.  I also recommend going on the Anti-Inflammatory Diet which can be found in my blogs.

Avoidance must be strict and foods with wheat, barley, rye and other grains.   You can substitute many other carbs such as rice, potatoes, quinoa, and corn.  It is very important to watch ingredients because gluten is added to many products but if you follow the Anti-Inflammatory Diet you will find you no longer eat anything with ingredients other than the 1 ingredient you are preparing such a broccoli, salmon, rice, potatoes, and apples to name a few.  Opening a box of prepared rice or quinoa or using salad kits put you ask risk because who know what ingredients are in it.   Avoiding packaged and processed food is a centerpiece of any good diet plan.  The hardest part is sauces you use as condiments but you can find organic healthy preservative products by reading labels closely.  When you are not sure skip it.


Anti-Inflammatory Diet

The anti-inflammatory diet is an eating plan designed to prevent or reduce low-grade chronic inflammation, a key risk factor in a host of health problems and several major diseases. The typical anti-inflammatory diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, omega 3 fat rich protein, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats.


Often resulting from lifestyle factors like stress and a lack of exercise, chronic inflammation results when the immune system releases chemicals meant to combat injury and bacterial and virus infections, even when there are no foreign invaders to fight off.

Since our food choices influence the level of inflammation in our bodies, the anti-inflammatory diet is thought to curb chronic inflammation and help prevent or treat the following conditions: allergies, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, asthma, cancer, depression, diabetes, gout, heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease (such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and stroke.

Foods to Eat on the Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Research suggests that people with a high intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, healthy oils, and fish may have a reduced risk for inflammation-related diseases. In addition, substances found in some foods (especially antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids) appear to possess anti-inflammatory effects.

Foods high in antioxidants include:

  • Berries (such as blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries)
  • Cherries
  • Apples
  • Artichokes
  • Avocados
  • Dark green leafy vegetables (such as kale, spinach, and collard greens)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Nuts (such as walnuts, almonds, pecans, and hazelnuts)
  • Beans (such as red beans, pinto beans, and black beans)
  • Whole grains (such as quinoa and brown rice)
  • Dark chocolate (at least 70 percent cocoa)

Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include:

  • Oily fish (such as salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies)
  • Flaxseed
  • Walnuts
  • Omega-3-fortified foods (including eggs)
  • There’s also some evidence that certain culinary herbs and spices, such as ginger, turmeric, and garlic, can help alleviate inflammation.

Foods to Avoid

Foods high in saturated fats and omega 6 fatty acids are known to increase the body’s production of inflammatory chemicals. Since omega-6 fatty acids help maintain bone health, regulate metabolism and promote brain function, you shouldn’t cut them out of your diet altogether. However, it’s important to balance your intake of omega-6 fatty acids with your intake of omega-3 fatty acids in order to keep inflammation in check.

Foods high in saturated fats and imbalanced Omega 6 fatty acids include:

  • Meat from land animals (such as beef, pork, chicken, and turkey)
  • Dairy products (such as milk, cheese, butter, and ice cream)
  • Margarine
  • Vegetable oils (such as corn, safflower, soybean, peanut, and cottonseed oil)
  • Instead of vegetable oils, opt for oils like olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil.

Additionally, studies show that a high intake of high-glycemic index foods like sugar and refined grains, such as those found in white bread and many processed foods, may rev up inflammation. Avoid sugary drinks, refined carbohydrates, desserts, and processed snack foods.

The Benefits of an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

More and more research suggests that an anti-inflammatory diet may play a key role in scores of health conditions. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2017, for instance, assessed the association between dietary inflammation (measured by a dietary inflammatory index) and atherosclerosis (the buildup of plaque in the arteries) in women over the age of 70. Researchers found that dietary inflammatory index scores were associated with subclinical atherosclerosis and heart-disease-related death.

Adhering to an anti-inflammatory diet may help reduce levels of certain inflammatory markers (such as a substance called C-reactive protein) in people with type 2 diabetes, according to a study published in Endocrine in 2016. For the study, people with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes followed the Mediterranean diet or a low-fat diet. After one year, C-reactive protein levels fell by 37 percent in people on the Mediterranean diet but remained unchanged in those on the low-fat diet.

Most importantly in my Clinic we encourage this diet as a way to aid in decreasing inflammation causing chronic pain.  My patients who have suffered for years with osteoarthritis, chronic tendonitis, and autoimmune arthritis find a noticeable in their pain when adhering to this diet.