Food & Nutrition

Friday's Food for Thought: The Importance of Gut Health 

We need to treat the root cause rather than just the symptoms 

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Pursuing true health care is not as simple as following a flowchart. We’ve been conditioned to want to control our symptoms with the use of a pill. Unfortunately, fast and easy symptom management WITHOUT also addressing the root cause allows progression of the underlying disorder. It is not enough to give a laxative for constipation, Beano for gas, Imodium for diarrhea, or steroids for inflammation.

Masking the symptoms does not effect a cure. These medications never address the WHY, nor do they achieve remission. Rather, you are left dependent on a pill to control your symptoms for life, without treating the cause.

Discussing conventional medicine’s compartmentalized approach vs naturopathic medicine’s integrated systems approach to digestive health

Naturopathic medicine sees your digestive system as one component of a fascinating integrated system. It does much more than digest your food — it supports your health from your immune system to your mood and your complexion. This is a primer on how we see your tummy.

The GI tract is not an isolated system

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In the conventional model of medicine, the body is segmented into its respective parts, and individual specialists focus on diagnosing and treating specific areas. But this specialization can interfere with seeing the bigger picture. The body’s systems do not function in isolation, rather our body functions as a WHOLE, and dysfunction in one area can have drastic impacts on the other systems.

The gut and your immune system

When it comes to any health concern, it is important to understand the powerful effects of gut health on the rest of the body. The system most significantly impacted by gut is the immune system.

Eighty percent of the immune system is wrapped around the intestines, and any sort of infection, inflammation, or food sensitivity can trigger an immune response with consequences such as reduced immunity, chronic inflammation, and autoimmune disorders.

For this reason, as a Naturopathic Doctor, I feel that the health of the digestive tract should be a primary focus in almost every patient. In addition to the connection with the immune system, the gut has prominent impacts on skin health and mental health.

How We Approach Digestive Health:

Optimization

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It is not enough to get a patient to a more “manageable state,” especially when it comes to the health of the digestive tract. Because the digestive tract plays such a pivotal role in our overall health, it is essential that it is functioning at its optimum. Therefore, we look at all of the following areas when treating the gut:

Digestion/Absorption

Improper digestion and absorption will not only cause GI symptoms, but can also leave the individual with insufficient nutrients. Vitamin and nutrient insufficiency can lead to a number of critical conditions; therefore, it is crucial to address this as soon as possible.

This can happen for a variety of reasons. The most common are: deficient stomach acid, issues with the release of bile from the gallbladder, insufficient pancreatic enzymes, and blunting of the intestinal villi.

Inflammation

Inflammation in our gut can lead to destruction of the intestinal lining, leading to conditions such as Chron’s and Ulcerative Colitis. It can also lead to systemic inflammation (which is the number one risk factor for cardiovascular disease).

Microbiome

We have 10x as many bugs in our gut as we do cells in our body! These bugs are crucial to our overall health, and finding the appropriate balance is key. Dysbiosis is the term we use when the microbiome has a higher concentration of pathogenic or “bad bugs” compared with commensals or beneficial bacteria. They each have their function, and the goal is to create a healthy thriving ecosystem. Antibiotic use can have quite drastically negative results on the balance of this ecosystem; therefore, it is quite common in our society to find people with a less than optimal balance.

Intestinal permeability

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The gut should be sealed off from the rest of the body. Unfortunately, there is an epidemic of what we call “leaky gut.” Leaky gut is a term that is used to describe the lack of integrity between the tight junctions, which are responsible for holding the cells of the gut lining together. This makes a leaky barrier between what is in the gut and the bloodstream, allowing for large food particles and bacteria to translocate into the bloodstream. Because these particles should NOT be in the bloodstream, the body treats them as pathogens and the immune system is triggered. This is a MAJOR cause of many autoimmune conditions and systemic inflammation.

Pathogens

We de-worm our animals, but we never think about de-worming ourselves. Whether it be parasites, pathogenic bacteria, or yeast — we see it ALL the time on stool panels. These guys are tricky to catch and many tests offered in the conventional world don’t have the sensitivity or breadth of information that we offer in our office. If you have an infection in the gut it is CRUCIAL to treat; however, in order to know what to treat, we must conduct proper testing.

 

Advanced Testing

Comprehensive Stool Panel

This is my favorite place to start with a patient specifically coming in for gut dysfunction, as it gives a COMPLETE picture of the above. Our stool panels not only have the highest sensitivity when it comes to testing for pathogens (parasites, yeast, bacteria), but they also evaluate digestive function (ability to properly break down food), inflammation/immune function, gut microbiome, and intestinal permeability.

 SIBO Testing

Tests for small intestinal overgrowth — a common cause of post-meal belching/flatulence/bloating and what is diagnosed as IBS. It can present with constipation, diarrhea, or both!

Organic Acid Tests

 Looks at indirect markers of gut health through urine metabolites. This test is particularly helpful in chronic illness with neuro/mental health symptoms or a suspicion of environmental toxicity.

 Food Allergy Panel

Not often utilized, as elimination diet is the gold standard and FREE, but for those that are data driven, it can be extremely helpful to see which foods your immune system is currently reacting to.

Address root cause rather than suppress symptoms

Comprehensive Plan   

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Effectively addressing gut disorders takes a COMPREHENSIVE plan. One or two supplements isn’t going to cut it.

We need to consider diet, lifestyle, supplementation, and sometimes medication. Often, treatments will occur in stages, and new things will be introduced and taken away as a patient progresses. The ultimate goal is to get the patient to a place where they are supplement/medication FREE and can enjoy a diverse diet.

This article was written by our Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Ari Kasprowicz.

 

Sugar-Free Challenge: How & Why You Should Quit Sugar

Our 7-Day Sugar Free Challenge begins on April 23rd!

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That means no processed sugars for one week.

The purpose of this challenge is to encourage you to be more conscious of what you are feeding your body with. Reading past the labels and reading the actual ingredients on what you purchase. Familiarizing yourself and learning to recognize other names for processed sugars.

It is to help you realize that you do not need processed sugars in your diet to enjoy your food. It is to help you discover healthier alternatives to meet your sugar cravings.

And finally, it is learning how to approach nutrition with a balanced mindset. 

Why you should cut out sugar from your life:

If you haven't already heard why processed sugar is bad for your health, here's a few reminders. 

1. Sugar causes weight gain. One study found that people who increased their sugar intake gained about 1.7 pounds in less than 2 months. 

2. Sugar is addicting. Eating sugar gives your brain a big surge of dopamine, a feel-good chemical. This is what causes the cravings for sugar, because your brain wants more and more sugar to receive the same feeling of pleasure. 

3. Higher intakes of sugar have been linked to greater risk of depression in adults. 

4. Sugar causes inflammation in the body, which can cause joint pain. Sugar can also increase your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis

5. Sugar ages your skin faster. Sugar attaches to proteins in your bloodstream and creates harmful molecules that can damage collagen and elastin in your skin. This means more wrinkles and saggy skin

6. Too much sugar can cause your liver to become resistant to insulin, meaning that it can lead to type 2 diabetes

7. Sugar increases your risk of heart attacks, heart disease, and strokes. 

8. Sugar can lead to kidney damage if you have diabetes. 

9. Chronically high levels of sugar in the bloodstream can make men impotent.

What to avoid:

For the challenge, avoid any type of processed sugar or substitute. Take a look at all the different kinds and names of sugars. 

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Please note that stevia is not listed here. Although the plant leaves of stevia itself can be a good substitute for a sweetener, you need to be aware that there are many advertised "stevia" products that are processed, bleached, and can be just as bad for you as normal sugar. 

If you would like to use stevia, you should find a naturally derived stevia, which is most likely in a liquid form. 

How to Prepare Yourself for the Challenge:

1. Eliminate temptations. Check through products you purchase often that are already in your home-- breads, chips, crackers, cereals, sauces, dressings, etc. Unless you are already very conscious about this, you will probably find some form of sugar as listed above in it. 

Put the foods that you currently have that have sugar in it aside or in the back of your pantry or fridge for the week. Freeze foods like bread if you think it may go bad. And of course, clear out sugary desserts-- cookies, icecream, etc. 

2. Stock up! With healthy foods of course. You want to keep yourself nourished, satisfied, and happy during the week to help ease the cravings and withdrawals that you will likely experience.

When you go to the grocery store and are buying products that involve a list of ingredients, take your time to actually read through the ingredients, not just the label. Look for any sugar derivatives and try to avoid that product if possible. Also note that there are many products that claim to be "sugar-free". Most of the time, this is NOT true-- they usually just contain a type of sugar labeled under a different name, so it is very important to read the ingredients!

While you are reading through ingredients, you will probably notice other ingredients as well, including preservatives or maybe things you cannot pronounce. Familiarizing yourself with ingredients will help you to become more conscious about what you are feeding your body!

3. Prepare for cravings. Try to stop cravings with a piece of fruit, or something with healthy fats like nuts or avocado.

If you really need something sweet, or need to break the challenge, try going for healthier alternatives to sugar. We suggest using these alternatives in general when you are wanting to make or eat something sweet. 

These are sweeteners that we think are ok in moderation:

- Honey

- Agave

- Natural Stevia

- Coconut Sugar

- Coconut Nectar

- Pure Maple Syrup

- Monk Fruit Extract 

- Dates

* This does not mean you should just replace all other sugars with these alternatives. Try to challenge yourself to make it through the week without any sugars other than the natural sugar from fresh fruit. We listed these alternatives in the event (hopefully after the 7 Day Challenge!) that when you do decide to eat or make something sweet, that you try a healthier alternative. 

We hope that you make it through the 7 Day Challenge so that you can feel your best! Just remember that in the end, good health is about balance. Try to purchase and eat consciously, but don't beat yourself up about it if you make a few wrong decisions. 

Preparing for Symptoms of Sugar Withdrawal

You may experience withdrawal or detox symptoms due to the addictive nature of sugar.

Take a quick read at this article discussing 9 symptoms you will most likely experience, and how to cope or remedy them. 

How to Help Curb Cravings

20 tips on how to ease and eliminate sugar cravings. Read here. 

Sustainable Seafood Guide

Eating healthy and sustainably can be challenging for many reasons. One major reason is the lack of easily accessible information. 

If you eat fish, take a look at this Seafood Guide created by the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

It shows you the "best choices", "good alternatives", and what to avoid. They have made a guide that you can print, easily fold up, and keep in your wallet-- for when you are out grocery shopping or perhaps at a restaurant.

 - If you're in California, use this guide

- For other states, select your state first then download the guide here.

OR

you can download their guide, along with other features using their app here

For sustainable seafood meals, check out these recipes

Eat Seasonally & Eat Local: Local Farmer's Markets to Explore

We are big believers in buying and eating local for a variety of reasons:

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1. To eat seasonally (eating more fruits and vegetables that are currently in harvesting season). Eating seasonally adds good variety to our diets, is beneficial to the environment, often tastes better, is fresher, and is usually more economic. Eating what is currently being grown and harvested is much cheaper to produce and purchase than buying produce that is out of season. Produce that is out of season can be more difficult to grow, must be shipped for long distances, and is usually more expensive. 

2. To support the local economy. 

Purchasing from farmer's markets supports local vendors and growers. You can also often meet the farmers who grow your food. This can help cultivate a better relationship and consciousness of what you nourish your body with.  You can also feel that your money is not going to a big and  greedy food corporation, but to hard working people that you can actually meet. Farmer's markets can also be less costly than grocery stores. 

3. To reduce our environmental footprint/impact. 

Purchasing local means less carbon emissions since the produce does not have to travel as far. It also means supporting small growers who are often certified organic or use organic practices to grow their produce. Organic practices are more sustainable, less-intensive on the land, and they reduce toxin and pesticide exposure to farmers and yourself. So not only is organic better for the earth, but better for your health. 

There is usually little to no packaging at farmer's markets, which also makes it less wasteful and less resource-intensive as grocery stores. Just be sure to bring some reusable bags!


Here are some nearby farmer's markets that are closest to us. The best farmer's markets tend to be on Saturdays and Sundays! For a complete list of all the farmer's markets in Orange County, click on the link at the bottom of the page. 

 

Wednesdays

Old Capistrano

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El Camino Real/ Forster & Yorba St. in SJC

3:00 pm - 7:00 pm

 

Saturdays

The New Dana Point

Pacific Coast Hwy & Golden Lantern

9:00 am - 1:00 pm

Laguna Beach

Lumberyard parking lot- adj. to City Hall

8:00 am - 12:00 pm

 

Sundays

San Clemente Village

Avenida Del Mar & Seville

9:00 AM - 1:00 pm

Laguna Niguel

27241 La Paz Rd.

8:00 am - 12:00 pm

Newport Beach

Base of Newport Pier

McFadden Square

9:00 am - 1:00 pm

Great Park

Sand Canyon/Marine Way in Irvine

10:00 am - 2:00 pm

 

For more information and other farmer's market locations in Orange County, click here. 

 

Friday's Food for Thought: How to sneak more greens into you diet (without eating a salad!)

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We should all know by now that the more leafy greens we eat, the better. However, many people still struggle to meet their daily greens requirement, and many people think that eating a salad is the only way to eat greens. 

Although we love salads here at HP2 Wellness, we understand that sometimes it can get boring. So here are 5 ways for you to get more greens into your diet (without eating a salad!)

1. Blend It

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If you have trouble eating the greens that you know are the best for you, try throwing them into a smoothie. Blending it with organic and naturally-sweet fruit masks the taste while still giving you all the nutrients! Add nutrient-rich greens like organic kale and spinach to your smoothies. Also try adding cleansing greens such as celery and cucumber. Try this recipe if you're new to making green smoothies, or follow these instructions in "The Simple Green Smoothie Formula."

2. Sautée It

Sautée leafy greens as a side to whatever dish you're making. Simply chop it up, and season as you like-- an easy seasoning that goes with many dishes is to add fresh minced/crushed garlic and a healthy fat such as coconut oil, olive oil, or ghee (clarified butter), and a pinch of salt and pepper. Here's a simple and quick sautéed greens recipe that can accompany many dishes. You can also make your greens as a main dish-- try creating a stir fry and adding protein and maybe a complex carbohydrate with it!

3. Drink It Down

Not sure about blending your greens? Try purchasing a concentrated green superfoods powder. Most have many nutrient-rich and immune boosting vegetables and fruits in a concentrated form that you can add and mix with water, or add it to your smoothie! Check out this awesome green powder.

4. Roast It

Roasted green veggies may change the way you think about them. Don't like kale? Maybe you would like it in chip from! Try this recipe for kale chips here.  Also try roasting brussel sprouts and broccoli in the oven! Try this recipe for simple brussel sprouts here and this recipe for broccoli here

5. Scramble It

How do you like your eggs? Try throwing some greens in the next time you make scrambled eggs. Are there other ways that you add greens into your diet besides salads? Comment and let us know!

The Dirty Dozen

About three-fourths of the 6,953 produce samples tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2014 contained pesticide residues, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

The EWG has created a list of the produce that contains the highest amount of pesticides to help consumers shop mindfully and to understand what they are putting in their bodies. Produce on this list should be purchased as organic, due to their high levels of pesticides and the effects it can have on the body and mind.

This list is known as The Dirty Dozen, which we highly recommend following. 

The EWG also released a list of produce that has the least amount of pesticides. It is known as the Clean Fifteen. While we advocate for purchasing mostly organic foods, as it is better for your bodies, our earth, and for farmer's health conditions, the produce listed on the Clean Fifteen are suitable to be purchased as conventional.

For more information, click here to see details on the pesticide usage for these fruits and vegetables.