Autism Spectrum Support

Do you know anyone with Autism or Asperger’s that needs a new perspective? There are natural interventions that can help them be their best.

Check out my recent interview on Mother’s Guide Through Autism podcast to learn more. I discuss how genetics, environment, gut health, hidden infections, and many different factors may be contributing to the disorder.  And provide some simple interventions to consider.

https://bmvlifecoach.com/episode-15-autism-is-my-super-power/

Sugar is a Toxin

Do your New Year’s resolutions or health goals include?

  • Losing weight
  • Being healthier
  • Having more energy
  • Detoxification
  • Helping your brain stay sharper
  • Being happier
  • Having clearer skin
  • Getting better sleep
  • Saving money
  • Not getting diabetes like your grandmother

Well, maybe your resolution wasn’t as specific as this last one, but these are just some of the potential health benefits from minimizing your sugar consumption.

Health risks of sugar and carbohydrates

A study in The Lancet showed there was a correlation between a high carbohydrate diet and total mortality risk. This massive study with over 100,000 participants from 18 countries didn’t show the same health risk with consumption of dietary fats. This is just one of many studies that are helping us rethink our dietary recommendations.

How sugar is toxic

  • Insulin resistance, the cause of most diabetes, is partially caused by cells trying to protect themselves from the damage caused by excess sugar.
  • Cell-damaging reactive oxygen species are a natural byproduct of cellular energy production from sugar.
  • Increased sugar consumption leads to more of these reactive oxygen species in your cells.
  • Reactive oxygen species contribute to insulin resistance because cells reduce their insulin receptors to protect themselves against this damage from excess sugar.
  • Then the body starts producing excess insulin to try to force the cells to take up sugar.
  • This excess insulin is the beginning of other health problems like pre-diabetes and obesity.
  • Other toxins such as heavy metals and pesticides amplify this oxidative stress and these problems.

So basically, if we eat too much sugar or carbohydrates, our cells try to protect themselves by ignoring insulin’s message to remove sugar from the bloodstream. But this either leads to elevated insulin levels or high blood sugar. If you cut down on the sugar and carbs, you can help stop this cycle of damage.

Tips for Cutting out Sugar

  • Go cold turkey. We often crave sugar less after avoiding it for a week.
  • Eat fruit. The fiber and antioxidants in fruit protect us from oxidative stress and diabetes.
  • Use natural alternative sweeteners. I use stevia, monk fruit, and occasionally xylitol.
  • Ditch soda. Try flavored sparkling water or tea.
  • Don’t keep high sugar treats in the house.
  • Eat more protein and fat. These can help reduce hunger.
  • Add stress reduction activities, such as mindfulness exercises. Stress can spur sugar craving.
  • When it is time for a sweet treat, have one that includes antioxidants, such as those in dark chocolate or cinnamon.

Sugary temptations are everywhere these days, and it can be easy to give into them. But remind yourself of your health goals. My grandmother had diabetes so I know my risk might be greater. If I find myself tempted in the grocery store, I remind myself that too much sugar is a toxin. Yes, most of us can handle some amount of sugar in the diet. But with all the other toxic stresses in our lives, let’s minimize this one to support our health goals.

 So here’s to a lower-sugar, healthier New Year!

Add Homeopathy to Your Spring Cleanse

Any time of year is a good time to think about doing a detoxification protocol, but spring especially so. Winter can be a time when we accumulate more toxins due to being less active and sweating less. A comprehensive detoxification plan includes diet, exercise, herbs, and dietary supplements. Now, we also understand how homeopathic remedies can enhance this detoxification plan.

Homeopathy is the use of a highly diluted version of a substance that in its undiluted form causes symptoms similar to what the individual is experiencing. A classic example is the use of homeopathic dilutions of onion to help eye irritation and tearing during allergy season. We also sometimes use the homeopathic dilution of the exact substance that is causing the problem. These homeopathic remedies are so dilute that they don’t pose any harm to the body but are enough to help stimulate its defenses.

globuli-3163134_1920

Currently, I am concerned about the toxin arsenic. The most common sources of arsenic exposure are things we consume regularly: water, rice, and chicken. This low level chronic exposure may be contributing to health issues such as fatigue, headaches, anxiety, neurological issues, and increased risk of diabetes and cancer. While this is not the only toxic metal in our environment and food supply that concerns me, arsenic has some interesting research that might help us understand how to use homeopathic remedies in our detox plans.

In a study where E. coli bacteria were exposed to a form of arsenic, clear toxic effects were noticed such as DNA changes and disrupted growth. When identical E. Coli exposed to arsenic were also given homeopathic arsenic (Arsenicum Album 30C), these negative effects were reduced. The new theory on homeopathy is that these highly dilute substances are stimulating cellular defense mechanisms, such as increasing the production of enzymes used during detoxification, without causing any harm from the remedy itself.

After reviewing studies such as this one, I have begun including homeopathic preparations in the detox protocols for people that I suspect have heavy metal exposure. I don’t rely on the homeopathic remedies alone. I include healthy diet changes, exercise, herbs, and other nutrients such as N-Acetyl Cysteine that the enzymes involved in detoxification use. It was always thought that homeopathy stimulates the body’s natural healing processes, and now with this better idea of how, we can further harness the potential of the unique form of medicine to help unburden our bodies from toxins.

Switching to Spring Resolutions

IMG_0499

Wintertime strikes me as a very challenging time to keep some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. With the shorter amount of daylight and cold weather, I am not feeling very ambitious.

If I had made a resolution to write a new blog every week, I might not succeed.

Now if I had made a resolution to go to bed earlier, that might end up working out.

But I haven’t made any resolutions. I have decided to switch to Spring Resolutions.

Anytime can be the right time to commit to restoring health or renewing your life. I know the seasons affect me in meaningful ways, and I will use that knowledge to make more satisfying goals for myself. To let the rising energy I feel during the spring to remind me to commit to my health. So I will see you in 3 months for a spring cleanse.

Leveraging Protein for Weight Loss

There is an interesting theory from scientists in Australia that is helping us view protein in a new and balanced light. They believe that there is a set amount of protein that we need and that we will feel a drive to keep eating until we have reached that level of protein intake. They claim the obesity epidemic is partially to blame on the increased availability of cheap, low-protein foods. If we are choosing more of these types of foods, we have to eat greater quantities of them to reach our protein requirements. Interestingly, scientists don’t believe there is the same set point amounts needed for carbohydrates or fats.

The amount of protein we need daily is still under debate, but most people agree it is in the range of 50 to 60 grams per day. To meet this need, I try to eat at least 15-20 grams of protein with all three meals. Some examples of foods that provide 15-20 grams of protein are:

  • 2 extra large eggs
  • 3 ounces of meat
  • ½ cup of cottage cheese
  • 1 cup of cooked black beans

471375_95979247

Since 1961 the percentage of protein in the average diet has dropped by 1.5% (from 14% to 12.5%). During this same time we have seen a 14% increase in overall calorie consumption. Imagine trying to get your daily protein needs from eating potato chips. You would have to eat 3.5 ounces to reach 7 grams of protein, but doing this would also mean you ingest around 550 calories. If you were to eat one extra large egg, you could get the same amount of protein, but only ingest 80 calories.

When I have been places were the food choices were only these low nutrient offerings, I never felt like I was full and satisfied. I kept eating even though my calorie intake was higher than normal.

What role might protein play in a weight loss lifestyle? By eating our protein first, we might be able to manage our appetites better by fulfilling this fundamental need. This doesn’t mean we have to eat excess amounts of protein like the Atkins style diets suggest but just the right amount for us. Also a moderate amount of fat in the diet might also increase our sense of satiety because, like protein, it helps us feel full longer.

Of course, lack of protein isn’t necessarily going to be the only factor contributing to food cravings, but increasing quality protein intake can give a boost in the right direction.

An Apple A Day

It is apple season, and my apple tree gifted me with a nearly perfect ripe apple. It was delicious, and I was equally grateful for the health benefits it provides, beyond just the vitamins and minerals that most people think about. I use apples (as well as other fruit) as a method of detoxification!

apple

I intentionally make a point to eat fruit any time I eat fish. While fish is still a healthy food that I eat occasionally as part of a diverse diet, I am concerned about the levels of mercury and other heavy metals that are present in our waters and our seafood. Did you know that seafood is the number one source of toxic mercury exposure for most Americans? While I avoid the most contaminated species of fish, I also eat an apple or other piece of fruit any time I have seafood.

Why fruit after seafood? I started this habit after reading about a study in the Amazon among women who regularly consumed fish . They found that the women who ate more fruit accumulated less mercury in their bodies compared to those who didn’t eat much fruit. Although they were eating tropical fruits, the researchers thought that it might be the fibers in the fruit that bond the mercury so less of it was absorbed, rather than any specific fruit.

I decided there was no reason not to apply this idea using our local fruits. I tend to favor apples because they are high in the fibers that may help bind toxins. The peel of apples is also full of antioxidant nutrients that can help protect the body in other ways.

It is unfortunate that our world is now so polluted that we need to consider these types of daily detoxification and protection activities. These toxic metals are particularly troublesome for one of our most valuable resources: our minds. Mercury might have negative consequences for our memory, attention span, and even moods.

This simple life hack provides another safe way to live a detoxification lifestyle and stay in balance in our modern world.

Dr. Laurell is the resident homeopathic advisor for Grato Holding, Inc.

Practicing Having an Emotional Moment

Emotional health like physical health is so vital to having a balanced and productive life, but in many cases it’s a topic that gets swept under the rug.   I was raised in a family that taught me to suppress my emotions. So as an adult, I have to continuously work on improving my emotional intelligence. Emotions are there for a reason, and suppressing them isn’t going to help me be the healthiest, well-balanced person I can be.

Here are some of the techniques I use to deal with emotional times. I hope they might help some of you.

  • Feel emotions deeply

I give myself a minute or two to let the emotion wash over me with its full intensity. If it is something sad, I let myself tear up. If I am angry, I might shake my fist in the air. In the past, my tendency was to shut down these feelings as fast as I could. Now I give them their own moment.

  • Take ten breaths

After that moment, I work to regain some calm and perspective by taking ten deep breaths. If this reminds you a little bit of needing to count to 10 before you address a toddler who is acting up, you are right. In this case, I think of my emotional self as the toddler who needs someone calm and loving to take care of them.

  • Love yourself

Next, direct some compassion and love towards yourself. I do this by thinking of the person or animal that brings up the deepest feeling of compassion in me. Then I picture myself as the recipient of that compassion.

  • Reflect

Take another moment to think about what your emotions were telling you. Emotions can help us understand our needs and what we truly deeply value. For more insight into the message behind emotions, Lara Fielding shares her perspective in this fantastic blog.

  • Assess

When you gain some understanding of the underlying needs and values behind your emotions, you can plan some small steps to address those needs. If your landlord did something that made you angry, is there something you can do to protect yourself from that happening again? If you experienced a loss, can you give yourself some time to grieve and honor what you lost?

Giving emotions their own space and honoring their message can be a powerful healing tool, which can lead to better unity between the body and mind.

Dr. Laurell is the resident homeopathic advisor for Grato Holding, Inc.

The Real Benefits of Coconut Oil

Enjoy all the benefits for coconut oil, but don’t assume all the claims about it are true. I love coconut oil, and there is a huge list of the possible benefits to be gained from adding coconut oil to the diet. Some of these are supported by studies and others are just theoretical. Many of the studies only look at the short-term benefits, and one on palm oil (similar fat composition to coconut oil) showed excess consumption contributed to fatty liver while sunflower oil didn’t.

Most oils contain long chain fatty acids, while the ones in coconut oil are known as medium chain, hence the term medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). The shorter size of these fats in coconut oil does have several implications for our health. Coconut oil can be absorbed easier by the digestive tract, making it beneficial for many people with poor absorption of fats. These medium chain fats can also rapidly burn for energy in the body.

SONY DSC

Let’s look at the better-supported benefits of coconut oil:

Antimicrobial, antiviral, and antifungal benefits- Yes, the high lauric acid content of coconut oil can be useful internally or topically to help us fight certain infections.

Brain benefits- Loved ones of people suffering from dementia have told me about impressive improvements in symptoms from adding coconut oil. On small study from 2004 also showed cognitive improvement when Alzheimer’s disease patients were given MCT oils, but the amount of improvement was affected by certain genetic markers. For a great way to support brain health with coconut oil, try my bulletproof turmeric tea.

Weight loss- Studies have shown both reduction in calorie consumption and a mild increase in calorie burning. I have gotten reports from friends that eating coconut oil about a half hour before meals does reduce their appetite.

Energy- MCT oil is a preferred calorie source for some athletes, and several studies have shown that MCTs can enhance athletic performance. Some people notice coconut oil can reduce their sugar cravings possibly because their bodies are happy to use another quick energy source.

Unanswered questions about coconut oil:

Oil pulling– This process where coconut or sesame oil is swished in the mouth like a mouthwash has been show to improve oral health in several ways. Most of the studies have used sesame oil, so we are not sure if coconut oil is equally beneficial other than from anecdotal report. I like the taste of coconut oil over sesame.

Heart health- A 2009 study showed a reduction in total cholesterol and an increase in good HDL cholesterol in obese women given coconut oil along with overall calorie restriction and exercise advice. The control group was given soybean oil and didn’t see the cholesterol changes. This was only a 12-week study so we don’t know what the longer-term effects will be or if these cholesterol changes will affect heart health in any real way.

Diabetes- Some coconut oil proponents say it can improve blood sugar related issues. In a study using rats, coconut oil led to decreased insulin resistance compared to the control group that was given lard. But the rats fed coconut oil also developed fatty liver. So…humans aren’t rats, but the tendency toward fatty liver reflects the palm oil study showing the same issue in humans.

In the study I mentioned where the palm oil contributed to fatty liver, the subjects were eating too many calories as well as too much fat. Let’s not make that mistake. Remember there are individual variations in what foods “agree” with us. And as with nearly every dietary consideration, we need moderation and diversity in our choice of fats.

Uplifting Bug Spray

Make an insect repellant you actually want to use.

I live in the country and a lot of bugs have been biting me recently. I have a natural insect repellant, but I only use it if I know I am going into the backwoods. I don’t like how it smells so I don’t use it most days and find myself swatting mosquitoes and worrying about ticks.

Most natural insect repellants use citronella or lemon eucalyptus as their main ingredients, but these scents don’t appeal to me. Fortunately, there are a number of other essential oils that can help repel insects. They might not be quite as strong as citronella, but I figured that if I actually used my new bug spray because I liked it, I would still be ahead.

I looked at the list of essential oils commonly used to repel insects (basil, citronella, geranium, grapefruit, lavender, lemongrass, lemon eucalyptus, and peppermint) and picked out the ones that I would want to smell all day. I particularly love the smell of grapefruit essential oil and it contains a compound that ticks and mosquitoes hate.

2079023560_fc719efd88_o

Here is the recipe I came up with:

Uplifting Bug Spray

16 drops Peppermint essential oil
16 drops Lavender essential oil
16 drops Grapefruit essential oil
16 drops Lemongrass essential oil

Mix into 4 ounces of water in a spray mister.
Shake well before each time you use it. Reapply frequently.

You can modify this recipe based on what essential oils you like. I chose mostly energizing and uplifting essential oils for my blend, but you can go another direction too as far as the additional benefits of the essential oils. Also consider adding aloe or witch hazel to replace some of the water.

Have fun, smell good, and tell the insects to buzz off.

Cure Heartburn Naturally

A new study gives us another reason to pause before we take some of the common drugs for heartburn. The use of these drugs known as proton pump inhibitors correlates with a 20% higher risk of heart attack. These drugs were intended to be used for 6 months or less while many Americans are using them for much longer periods of time. This longer use is possibly part of the problem.

This study doesn’t necessarily show that proton pump inhibitors are to blame for the increased heart attack risk. We only know heart attacks happen more often in people taking these medications. The good news is there are other ways to deal with heartburn.

As one researcher commented, some of the same lifestyle choices that contribute to heart disease can also cause acid reflux. He mentions bad diet, excessive alcohol consumption, and smoking. So yes, it makes absolute sense to improve our diet and lifestyle instead of using a drug to mask the symptoms of heartburn.

heartburn

When I am discussing acid reflux with my patients, I generally start with diet and stress as the two most common factors contributing to heartburn. Sometimes people know the foods that trigger their heartburn, such as fried or spicy foods. Other times there can be a hidden culprit like gluten or dairy.

INTEH-VI0104

While my patients are working on appropriate diet changes, I might treat the symptom temporarily to help them feel more comfortable while the body heals. On popular product is DGL, a chewable licorice tablet that soothes as well as promotes healing. Blends containing zinc carnosine like Endozin may also help protect and heal the lining of our digestive tracts. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, I might also employ some of the other steps of my gut healing protocol.

Fix the underlying problem driving heartburn and you often can prevent other health complications later in life. If you have been using medication for heartburn, discuss your heart disease risks with your doctor and see what steps you can take to improve both your acid reflux and your long-term health.