Posts in nutrition
Radiation protection, re-visited

It's been just over a year since the Nuclear meltdown in Japan.  We had a lot of concerns about radiation for a month or two, and then things sort of simmered down. However, I recently had a patient ask me what she could do to protect her young children from the effects of increased radiation in our atmosphere.  There's a lot out there on the web.  Weeding through all of it to determine an effective set of guidelines for families with little ones (or pregnant ones!) has been my pet project for the past few weeks.

Without further ado, I present "Dr. Roe's Radiation Protection Plan"

1. An apple a day.  Pectins (found in apples) are probably the most well-studied food source for radiation protection, even after exposure has occurred.  People in the Chernobyl radiation zone have been advised for years and years now to consume apples on a regular basis to help the body absorb and eliminate excess radiation.

2. Eat iodine-containing foods, and keep a source of iodine on hand for your family in the medicine cabinet.  There is no need to supplement Iodine on a regular basis, and this can, in fact, put people over the age of 40 at risk for thyroid cancer.

3. Add Spirulina to Smoothies or, even better, applesauce a few times per week.  Spirulina also shows the ability to bind radioactive isotopes so that the body can more readily eliminate them.

4. Find a reputable source for Kombucha tea, and drink it 3-6 times per week (8oz serving).  Besides, the hot-link there, I was able to easily find lots of evidence to show the anti-oxidant, free radical scavenging, radiation-busting effects of this ancient beverage.

5. Most of all, be healthy.  Eat whole foods.  Drink water.  Take a daily multivitamin (a good one!!!!)  Avoid sugar and processed foods to keep all of your organ systems intact and functioning properly.  Your body's ability to combat radiation exposure is only as strong as it is healthy.

So there you have it, the naturopathic doctor-approved, weeded-out version of Radiation Protection, 101.

Oregon is Rocking the breast-feeding stats!

Just read an interesting article about how the U.S. is really making the effort to ensure that babies are not only breastfed, but that they breastfeed for longer.  The recommended length of breastfeeding is 12 months for each baby. Last year, 75% of all newborns started life at the breast.  By 6 months, only 43% still nursed, and by 12 months, only 22%.  In Oregon, 40% of babies still nurse at their first birthday.  We know that breastfeeding is important in the prevention of asthma, diabetes, and childhood leukemia.  If you want to read the full article click here.

News on Agave Nectar

Well, it was too good to be true.  Just as Agave nectar is hitting the shelves en masse, we're finding out that although it doesn't mess with insulin resistance, it's not so innocent. It turns out that agave is being produced in such a way that it's about 90% fructose.  Fructose is a type of sugar that has to be converted to glucose by the liver.  People that are consuming agave on a regular basis are ending up with elevated triglycerides (part of a cholesterol panel), and some are experiencing high liver enzymes.

Wondering what to do if you've been using agave?  Switch to molasses, honey, or maple syrup---and even then, use minimally.  These sweeteners have more anti-oxidants in them to help your body process the sugars, and they're lower in fructose (higher in glucose, and easier for the body in general).

A few last words on Travel Tips.

I'd like to round out the Travel series with a few last tips.  Below you'll find naturopathic remedies for travel-related conditions.imagesJet Lag: 1.    Melatonin: 1-3mg 2 hours before you would like to go to bed.* 2.    Exercise: 30 minutes each day, even while on vacation to regulate stress and help with sleep 3.    Lavendar essential oil drops applied to the pillow or rubbed into the temples to help with sleep.

I also found this: the anti-jetlag diet.  If you have time on your hands, there are some folks out there who swear by it.

images-1Nausea/Motion-sickness: 1.    Ginger: 6 capsules taken 1 hour before travel to soothe stomach 2.    Candied/crystallized ginger: to chew/suck on during travel 3.    Sea-bands: worn on the wrists, applies pressure to acupuncture points known to relieve nausea

Bacterial and fungal skin infections: 1.    Fungal infections:  topical application of Black Walnut (juglans nigra) 5-6 times/day plus vinegar wash 3 x’s /day—1/2 cup apple cider vinegar with 10 drops lavendar essential oil and 10 drops tea tree oil.  Keep the area clean and dry. images-22.    Bacterial skin infections: External: •    Make a strong tea of calendula officinalis flowers and apply as a compress to skin (after it's cooled a bit) •    topical application of Black Walnut tincture (Juglans nigra) 5-6 times/day Internal: Echinacea tincture  30 drops 5-6x’s day *caution: do not take black walnut internally during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

images-3Urinary tract infection: 1.    Parsley tea: simmer ½ cup of fresh parsley in 2 quarts of hot water for 5 minutes and drink over the course of 3 hours to flush the bladder.  Caution during pregnancy—high dosages may stimulate uterus.  Please talk to your Dr. or midwife before taking. 2.    Unsweetened Cranberry juice: up to 3L/day with acute onset 3.    Uva ursi (Bearberry) tincture: 90 drops 4x’s/day

*Always check with your health care practitioner before starting this or any other supplement.

Swine Flu update

Good Morning! Well, it seems that we know a bit more about the Swine flu this week compared to last week.  It does not seem to be quite as contagious or deadly as originally suspected.  That being said, there are new cases every single day, and it's important that we keep ourselves healthy! Are you keeping your stress level down?  Well, you should be.  Stress can down-regulate your immune system.  Yoga, anyone?  Deep breathing?  How about a nice long walk (in the rain, for those of us here in the Pacific NW)?

Influenza can be contagious from one day before symptoms appear to 7 days after the onset of symptoms.  There are several other known strains of the flu going around right now in addition to the Swine flu.  Believe me, I've seen a LOT of people this week with the crud.  It's a bit late in the "flu season" for all this to be going around, but alas--it is.  It also happens to be high allergy season, and unfortunately this makes people more susceptible to things like the flu.  Here are some reminders from the CDC regarding contamination and cleaning to help decrease your chances of getting sick.

Contamination & Cleaning

Photo of hands and soapHow long can influenza virus remain viable on objects (such as books and doorknobs)? Studies have shown that influenza virus can survive on environmental surfaces and can infect a person for up to 2-8 hours after being deposited on the surface.

What kills influenza virus? Influenza virus is destroyed by heat (167-212°F [75-100°C]). In addition, several chemical germicides, including chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, detergents (soap), iodophors (iodine-based antiseptics), and alcohols are effective against human influenza viruses if used in proper concentration for a sufficient length of time. For example, wipes or gels with alcohol in them can be used to clean hands. The gels should be rubbed into hands until they are dry.

What surfaces are most likely to be sources of contamination? Germs can be spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth. Droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person move through the air. Germs can be spread when a person touches respiratory droplets from another person on a surface like a desk, for example, and then touches their own eyes, mouth or nose before washing their hands.

How should waste disposal be handled to prevent the spread of influenza virus? To prevent the spread of influenza virus, it is recommended that tissues and other disposable items used by an infected person be thrown in the trash. Additionally, persons should wash their hands with soap and water after touching used tissues and similar waste.

Photo of cleaning suppliesWhat household cleaning should be done to prevent the spread of influenza virus? To prevent the spread of influenza virus it is important to keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, kitchen counters and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant according to directions on the product label.

How should linens, eating utensils and dishes of persons infected with influenza virus be handled? Linens, eating utensils, and dishes belonging to those who are sick do not need to be cleaned separately, but importantly these items should not be shared without washing thoroughly first. Linens (such as bed sheets and towels) should be washed by using household laundry soap and tumbled dry on a hot setting. Individuals should avoid “hugging” laundry prior to washing it to prevent contaminating themselves. Individuals should wash their hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub immediately after handling dirty laundry.

Eating utensils should be washed either in a dishwasher or by hand with water and soap.

Getting Pregnant: 101.

Have you noticed all the babies lately?  You can't go anywhere without seeing strollers, babies in slings, babies strapped on the fronts, backs and sides of mamas & dadas, or toddlers bopping around.  You can likely name at least 5 people who have given birth in the past year.  They're calling it a baby Boomlet with 2007 being a record high for babies being born and 2008 not yet accounted for. Baby making is in the air.

img_0182 Health consciousness is in the air too.  I have a lot of women coming in these days saying, "I don't want to get pregnant right now, but we're thinking about having a baby in the next year or so.  What should I be doing in the meantime?"  I applaud these women for putting their baby's health as a priority.  Giving your baby the best possible start in life is the gift that keeps giving.  Here are a few guidelines for having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby:

*Eat as though you are already pregnant: during pregnancy your caloric intake increases about 300 calories/day.  That's not what I mean here.  I mean eat a whole foods diet.  Cut back on caffeine, sugar, and alcohol.  Make sure you're getting 60-80 grams of protein per day.  Drink 2-3 Liters of water per day.

*Take your vitamins: 6-12 months prior to "starting" to get pregnant, begin taking Pre-natal Vitamins.  This will ensure appropriate amounts of things like Calcium, Folic Acid, Iron, Zinc, and Vitamin A (all are different amounts than regular vitamins).

*Detox: pregnancy, breastfeeding, and trying to get pregnant are not the times to do any sort of cleansing, fasting, or detoxing**.  Any time you're going through this, you're putting toxins and waste into the bloodstream which goes to the baby as well.  I think it's a great idea to do a cleanse before or in between pregnancies.  If you've been thinking about doing any kind of detox, do it before you start trying or wait until you're done breastfeeding.

Next week I'll talk about nutrition during pregnancy.  So check back & have a great week!

**Any fasting, cleansing, or detox program should be supervised by a healthcare practitioner.