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Natural Health News and Articles

New Ideas about Diet and Supplementation for Thyroid Health

Thyroid disease, in its many forms, seems to be more common today than ever before. In my holistic health coaching practice, whether people come to me for skin issues, weight loss, or other health issues, more than half of them either have an existing thyroid condition or have it in their immediate family health history.

Even I have a family history of thyroid disease

I didn’t learn this until I developed my own subclinical hypothyroid condition during the years I was overweight. Once I told my parents about it, they responded with “oh yeah, so and so in the family had that.” I was really fortunate that my thyroid levels were still considered “normal” in the eyes of most Western medical doctors, meaning they were too low to require medication or operation. After my initial freak out, I took a deep breath and realized this was an opportunity to really see if my condition could be managed—or reversed—naturally. I did a lot of research with many different health practitioners—naturopathic doctors, nurse practitioners, endocrinologists, herbalists, and health coaches who specialize in healing the thyroid naturally. I had already lost a significant amount of weight and felt that I was already doing what I needed to do. I was comforted by the understanding that natural healing takes time—the body knows how to heal itself and will do so if you give it what it needs in terms of proper nutrients, rest, physical activity, and self care. Even though my own condition is now under control, I still continue to pay attention to thyroid articles and studies when I see them pop up, whether they are from Western medicine or the more alternative realm of healthcare. I was offered an opportunity to interview endocrinologist Dr. Jason Wexler, who works closely with The Endocrine Society and I got some great information. I always enjoy asking traditional allopathic doctors questions about natural ways to manage or prevent diseases, because even though it’s not part of their medical education, it’s always good to hear if the latest research supports any of these more natural or preventative measures.

In this conversation, I had two specific areas of focus

Dr. Wexler and I discussed the benefits of a whole foods-based diet in general, in conjunction with healthy lifestyle changes in general—of course we agreed that any changes should complement medical care (I’m sure he was referring to Western medical care but I would expand that to include any properly licensed and qualified healthcare provider). I had two specific topics that I wanted to ask Dr. Wexler:

  1. Are there any supplements or foods that are known to improve thyroid levels or that can worsen them?
  2. Is there any evidence that consuming a large amount of poultry contributes to thyroid disease?

Iodine supplementation might not necessarily be a good thing

I asked the first question because one of the most common remedies for regulating the thyroid is iodine supplementation. In Western medicine this comes in the form of potassium iodine supplements, and in holistic health it comes in the form of kelp supplements or adding sea vegetables to the diet. Dr. Wexler did confirm that the treatment protocol for severe hyperthyroidism does include pharmaceutical strength iodine. However, on the subclinical level, any type of iodine supplementation concerns him. “Iodine-containing substances can exacerbate a subclinical thyroid condition either way—hypo or hyper.”

I then asked him if a diet rich in iodine-containing food or regular iodine supplementation could have a protective or preventative effect regarding thyroid disease. Dr. Wexler responded: “ If thyroid function is normal, it is not clear that these supplements or substances would cause a problem or inhibit disease progression…however many people have an existing subclinical condition and are unaware of it, in which case increased iodine intake would likely make their condition worse.”

Dr. Wexler went on to explain that “we need iodine—it produces thyroid hormone—and there are multiple reasons that a subclinical condition might exist, some of them we know, some we do not yet know.” My thinking cap was on during this interview and at this point in the discussion something clicked from my own holistic perspective.

The thought process went like this: If the body is already getting enough iodine from dietary sources (although the Standard American Diet has many issues, it is still thought to be an adequate source of iodine), and is not able to properly absorb and utilize it to produce the proper amount of thyroid hormone, then how would pouring more iodine into an already malfunctioning system possibly help regulate it? Shouldn’t we go deeper and find the reason WHY the body is not properly utilizing the iodine it already takes in before we flood it with more iodine? I posed this question to Dr. Wexler and he confirmed that it was a legitimate question.

What about other supplements?

Since I know my clients, and many health conscious consumers are always interested in supplements, I asked Dr. Wexler if there is any evidence of benefit from other supplements. He reported that the one micronutrient with positive data is selenium. Specifically, “selenium supplementation may be helpful for women who are either pregnant or postpartum who have tested positive for thyroid antibodies. It has been shown to decrease thyroiditis both during pregnancy and postpartum.

“It has also shown benefit for patients with mild Grave’s Disease (on the hyper side of the spectrum) with the symptom of orbitopathy. Selenium supplementation has been shown to decrease the amount of eye involvement in this condition.” I asked Dr. Wexler about the safety of selenium supplementation and he said that “the daily dosage should NOT exceed 200 mcg. A daily dose above 200 mcg has been linked to development of diabetes.”

The chicken question

You might be thinking “why on earth did she ask him if eating chicken contributes to thyroid disease?” I know. It seems totally random and farfetched. When I was going through my holistic nutrition education, I remembered hearing some study that people in cultures/countries that don’t consume poultry as part of their traditional diets are virtually free of thyroid disease. I even heard the joke that there is no such thing as thyroid disease…it really should be called “chicken eating disease”. I’ve gone back over my course materials and I’ve Googled the heck out of this question but can’t find any specific studies that confirm this. I tried eliminating poultry from my own diet for one month and I have to tell you that I experienced a significant reduction in my own thyroid symptoms. This is a more holistic/Eastern idea, which means that the only “evidence” in existence is probably anecdotal, like my own experience—but I figured I’d ask anyway.

Dr. Wexler had never heard of a thyroid-poultry connection, but he did say that there is a considerable link between soy consumption and thyroid disease. In fact, a study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism revealed that “excessive soy protein intake demonstrated a 3-fold increase of developing overt hypothyroidism.” Furthermore, soy has been linked to increased estrogenic effects on the body. Dr. Wexler pointed out that the links between high estrogen and thyroid disease have not yet been established in research, but it’s reasonable since thyroid disease is more prevalent in women than men. He also mentioned that certain toxins we take in from foods and personal care products are known endocrine disruptors, which have been shown to increase estrogen over time.

My light bulb went on again here—maybe the link between poultry and thyroid disease only includes conventional and commercially raised poultry. Chickens and turkeys raised in factory farms—even the “nice” factory farms that supply organic and “all natural” chickens and eggs are fed “vegetarian” pellets made primarily from corn and soy. When a person consumes “vegetarian fed” or conventional chicken, he or she is also consuming soy. Soy is also present in nearly all processed foods, many personal care products (soy lecithin is a very common emulsifier in foods and products). If you consider how much soy people actually consume in processed and packaged foods (even “healthy” options) in addition to how much they are taking in by eating eggs, chicken, and turkey, the rising prevalence of thyroid disease makes total sense.

While some of the information provided by Dr. Wexler surprised me, and some of it did not, the overall interview gave me a solid foundation to draw conclusions about a common thyroid remedy, as well as the not-so-common notion that eating poultry causes thyroid disease. Based on Dr. Wexler’s comments, and my own postulation, I will definitely be more cautious with iodine in my own diet. I also now only consume and recommend to my clients traditionally pasture raised poultry products. These can be hard to find even in specialty health food stores, but it’s a great opportunity to form a relationship with a local farmer.

Thank you to Dr. Jason Wexler and The Endocrine Society for the informative and very productive interview.

By Rachael Pontillo, AADP CHC, BS, LE

Rachael is AADP board certified holistic health coach, licensed aesthetician, and wellness entrepreneur. She is the founder of the health and wellness company, Holistically Haute™, LLC and is the publisher of the popular skincare and wellness blog, Holistically Haute™. Additionally, Rachael has had articles published in leading aesthetics trade publications and several leading online magazines. She currently works with individual clients and groups in the Philadelphia area, nationwide and in Canada and teaches classes in the Philadelphia metro area on the topics of natural skincare, health, nutrition, and wellness. Rachael also enjoys public speaking, and has lectured at national holistic health and skincare conferences.

Reference: 

  • The Endocrine Society, 2013
    endo-society.org
  • Massachusetts Medical Society, 2013
    nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1012985

Photo Credit: projects4success.com/projects/starch1/index.html

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Natural Health News and Articles

Understanding Processed Foods and Weaning Away From It

We all know what it means to feed our kids well –  Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, eat whole foods, and cut out the sugar and junk food. In short, avoid the processed stuff.  However, for many well-meaning moms the avoidance of all processed foods can be a great challenge. Convenience, cost, marketing, and societal pressures are all hurdles in our quest for healthier eating. In addition, our children can often be our greatest obstacle – they want the stuff that tastes “good” which translates as “processed.”  Additionally, we don’t want them feel like the oddball if we bring in bottles of water and gluten-free, organic muffins filled with raisins for a school celebration when the other moms are showing up with juice pouches and frosted cupcakes!

We know what the best food choices are, yet sometimes we need encouragement and a little  reminder as to WHY a daily diet consisting of too much processed foods affects the health of our growing children.

What is Processed Food?

The definition of what constitutes processed food can be a bit varied, but it is essentially any food that is canned, frozen, dehydrated, boxed, bagged, or jarred.  Basically, if there is a list of ingredients on the label, it is considered processed. If the food is not in it’s “natural state” (as found in the “wild”) it is processed. Of course, there are different degrees of processing. For instance, the stricter definitions include any food that has been peeled, chopped, cooked or husked. By doing your own research and determining your personal comfort level, you can determine where you want to draw the line for your family.

What Makes It Bad?

When food is highly processed to increase shelf-life, preserve appearance, color and texture and re-introduce flavor lost during the processing, it ends up stripped of any pre-existing nutrients and filled with many chemicals. Some of these additives and preservatives such as nitrites, trans- fats, food colorings, and sodium, have been linked to health issues such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity and cancer.

Why Is Processed Food So Hard To Quit?

Most families try to educate themselves on healthy eating and the perils of processed foods as best they can. With so much information out there, it is not uncommon for parents to become quite overwhelmed, feeling like all they can safely feed their family is raw, organic fruits and vegetables bought at a specialty store for high prices. In addition, parents may feel that if they can’t go full throttle, then why bother at all? If it feels too hard, too labor intensive, and too restrictive, parents may lean back toward the “everything in moderation” approach.  However, the insidiousness of processed food is that it is difficult to keep it in  “moderation” – we actually eat much more processed food a daily basis than we might think, often because we are lead to believe it’s healthy by savvy marketing and packaging! 

Small Changes Make A Big Difference

If a complete pantry overhaul and a Paleo diet feels too extreme for you, don't beat yourself up.  Never underestimate the positive effect of making any changes that decrease the amount of processed food your family consumes. You may not want to give up your family’s favorite breakfast cereal or the convenience of canned beans, but there are so many ways to start chipping away at the processed food in your home.  Below are a few simple substitutions that will actually save you money instead of breaking the bank.  Try making one small change a month from this list.

Easy Homemade Substitutions To Many Common Processed Foods

Taco Seasoning– Making your own seasoning eliminates massive amounts of sodium and MSG.  It can be whipped up quickly with about five common pantry ingredients and made in large batches to be stored in an airtight container for months of use. 

Salad Dressing– Bottled dressings have a laundry list of unhealthy additives. Instead, search the web for a few simple, healthy recipes. Balsamic and olive oil with some salt and pepper is always a hit. A few examples are at

Hummus– Store-bought hummus is yummy and feels healthy, but is unfortunately loaded with unwanted additives and rather expensive.  Chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and a few spices whirled up in a food processor makes this delicious, healthy snack much cleaner and healthier.

Yogurt and Real Fruit Ice Pops– Though parents feel they are choosing a healthy snack for their kids, one glance at the ingredients reveals several unnatural ingredients. Invest in a few BPA-free ice pop molds and puree up any super-ripe fresh fruit (alone or with plain greek yogurt) then freeze. 

Granola Bars– Granola and cereal bars fool us into believing they are far healthier than they really are. High fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, and loads of sugar put these snacks low on the healthy list. Search granola bar recipes on the web and test out a few to see which one your family enjoys.

Fruit Roll Ups– The recipe for homemade fruit leather is super easy and fun to make with the kids.

Veggie Dips– Kids are more likely to eat veggies if accompanied by a yummy dip.  Use a base of non-fat plain greek yogurt and add your own seasoning rather than using a bottle, jar or flavor packets filled with MSG.

Don’t Give Up

Just like anything in life, you need to develop a routine.  Routines forms habits and habits create life changes.  By making small changes and understanding how foods are processed, you can bring more whole, unprocessed foods into your household.

By: Alicia DiFabio, Psy.D.

Alicia DiFabio, Psy.D. is a freelance writer with a doctorate in psychology. Her personal essays and parenting articles have appeared in various newspapers and magazines. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and four girls, one of whom has extensive special needs. She can be found writing about her adventures in parenting at her blog, Lost In Holland.

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Natural Health News and Articles

He Crushes Crohn’s with Diet, Yoga, Supplements and Exercise

Ari Meisel was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.

Crohn’s is a chronic condition that causes inflammation of one's digestive tract. Symptoms are abdominal cramps, pain after eating, frequent diarrhea, weight loss, and a fever.

With the help of change in diet, yoga, natural supplements and exercise he's been able to stop the prescribed doctor's medication – and be deemed disease free!

He's now also an Ironman and Crossfit competitor!

Hear him tell his story in this TEDx video and read more about Ari on his blog, Less Doing

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Natural Health News and Articles

Foods: Which are the Best of the Best?

As much as we might hate to admit it, it looks like mom was right—we really are what we eat. Maybe even more than she realized.

It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to know a diet full of fruits, veggies and whole grains can help us maintain a healthy weight and fight cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

It has taken research scientists, however, to figure out why. “Healthy foods can reverse damage done to the body—certain vitamins and antioxidants can help repair DNA after sun exposure, for example, or help remove oxidative stress that would otherwise cause disease in our bodies,” says Rania Batayneh, MPH, nutritionist, America’s Eating Strategist and owner of Essential Nutrition For You.

Not only that, specific nutrients even have the power to turn off genes that cause diseases and may be able to activate other genes to protect against these illnesses. The key, of course, is not only making the healthiest food choices but having the knowledge to do so.

Case in point, even within an individual category of food there can be nutritional differences.

For example:

Apples

While all apples are good for you, some may be better than others. A 2009 study looked at 15 varieties of apples and found the Pendragon apple was the most nutritious in that it contained the highest amounts of seven out of eight phenols.

Other good choices out of those tested include Red Delicious which has the most antioxidants and Golden Delicious which have the most quercetin (a flavonoid that may reduce cancer and inflammation).

Tomatoes

All tomatoes offer lycopene, beta-carotene and vitamin C but some types have more of these nutrients than others.

If you’re looking for vitamin C, the Doublerich tomato (a medium-sized Heirloom variety) may contain up to twice as much of this vitamin as other tomatoes.

Researchers at Ohio State University believe Tangerine tomatoes may offer more health benefits like protection against cancer and cardiovascular disease due to having a different form of lycopene (tetra-cis-lycopene) that is more bioavailable.

A relatively new type of tomato that is purple has special plant pigments which have been shown to have more antioxidants than blueberries and blackberries. “Choose a tomato that is soft to the touch, juicy and vibrantly colored,” says Aynsley Kirshenbaum, MS, a fitness, nutrition and wellness coach.

“In general, the deeper the color the bigger the nutrient density.”

Grapes

Red grapes tend to provide more nutrients than white or green with the Muscadine variety having more than 43 times the resveratrol (an antioxidant that may help cognitive health and reduce the effects of aging) than that found in Pinot and Chardonnay grapes.

Yogurt

“Picking the right yogurt can be the difference between a sugar-laden dessert and a healthy, protein-packed breakfast,” says Ms. Batayneh.

The winner? Plain Greek yogurt with about twice as much protein as the regular type (and less carbs and sugars).

Plain regular yogurt is the runner-up while flavored kinds and/or fruit-on-the bottom varieties come in last with more likelihood of added sugars (in some cases up to 30 grams per serving!). Also, keep in mind plain yogurt (whether Greek or regular) doesn’t have to stay that way.

“You can mix in your own sweeteners such as jam, honey, fresh fruit or even a little sugar,” says Amanda Cook, health coach and creator of Vintage Savoir Faire. “It’s almost guaranteed that you’ll add less sugar than is included in a normal flavored yogurt.”

Pasta

In the old days the biggest choice in the pasta aisle was which shape of noodles to buy. Not anymore.

For people looking for fiber, try rye pasta with 8 grams per serving (rice and corn pasta have the least with only 1.8 grams). Kamut pasta has the most protein (10 grams) followed by soba and spelt noodles (8 grams each).

Ultimately healthy eating is all about making good selections. By keeping these suggestions in mind you can not only “eat right” but “eat smart” as well.

By Kristen Stewart

Kristen Stewart is a freelance writer specializing in health, nutrition, parenting and lifestyle topics. To learn more, visit her website at www.kristenestewart.com.

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Company

Nutraplex

www.nutraplex.com

What does your company stand for?

“Nutraplex is dedicated to providing lines of tasty bars designed to give you superior nutrition and energy for the long haul while being gluten free, non-GMO, vegetarian and kosher.”

Nutraplex Megaberry BarWhat is your most popular product?

“Megaberry Bar”

Why do people love it?

“People love the Megaberry Bar because the taste is amazing, it is easy to chew and it gives you plenty of energy.

Follow Nutraplex:

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Our Magnesium Deficiency

Natural Healthy Concepts created this infographic on how many people are deficient in magnesium and the many related health conditions.

Magnesium can help also with the pain associated with menstrual cramps.

Fortunately, there are many seeds and nuts that contain high levels of magnesium that can help raise one’s levels.

The original image can be found here.

Mg-deficiency

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Company

Hampton Creek

www.hamptoncreek.com

 

What does your company stand for?

“We started Hampton Creek because we noticed that healthy food is absurdly expensive, and unhealthy food is insanely cheap. We want to live in a world in which food is not only healthier, more sustainable, and safer, but also tastier and more affordable. We quickly realized that this dream couldn’t be achieved by building upon the current, deeply dysfunctional system, so we asked ourselves a question…

“What would it look like if we started over?”

Our mission is simple: quality food should be available to everyone, everywhere.

We are working hard to construct a food system that’s radically better in every way. We believe it should be easy for good people to do the right thing—for their health, the planet, and their wallet. That’s what Hampton Creek stands for.

 

What is your most popular product?

Just Mayo“Just Mayo is the #1 selling mayo in Whole Foods and is flying off the shelves in major retailers countrywide! Just Mayo tastes like the homemade mayo Mom used to whip up—simple ingredients, with a bright burst of lemon and a creamy consistency—but with all non-GMO ingredients, none of the cholesterol and less sodium. Just Mayo is also available in Chipotle, Sriracha and Garlic—three flavors that add an extra kick to our original recipe, perfect for salads, sandwiches and dips with a twist.

Our newest product, Just Cookie Dough, is also wildly popular. Healthier, more sustainable, and yummier—the world was asking for a cookie dough they could safely eat by the spoonful, and Just Cookie Dough was our answer. Pick up a tub at Whole Foods and enjoy it raw or pop it in the oven for the perfect batch of cookies.”

 

Why do people love it?

“Our first two years as a company have shown us that people aren’t the problem—our systems are. The moment an opportunity to do the right thing was presented, the world didn’t hesitate to join our cause. We have the support of a global community that’s committed to building this new food system with us, and they love Hampton Creek because they get to use their power as consumers to improve the world. This isn’t our mission, our movement—it’s theirs.

 

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Company

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods

www.manitobaharvest.com

 

What does your company stand for?

“Hemp Foods of course! We are solely dedicated to manufacturing the highest quality hemp foods on the market. All of our products are Non-GMO project verified and vegan-friendly. We are also a BCorp Certified company. Our focus is health, nutrition, quality, digestibility and sustainability. We carry Hemp Hearts (raw shelled hemp seeds), hemp protein powder and hemp oil.”

 

Hemp HeartsWhat is your most popular product?

“Hemp Hearts”

 

Why do people love it?

“They taste great, are easy to use & nutritious too!

 

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Food vs Pharmaceuticals infographic

In our opinion, this infographic created  by Best Master of Science in Nursing Degrees and originally found here, should be titled “Food vs Pharmaceuticals” as medicine comes in many forms, including food!

 

70% of Americans are on prescription drugs. We’ve been over-prescribed!  Simple dietary changes can have a dramatic effect on one’s health. A vegetarian diet can reduce blood pressure and eating vegetarian is also cheaper than buying pharmaceutical drugs.

Food vs Pharmaceuticals infographic

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Image

A Vitamin D Deficiency

70% of people do not have adequate Vitamin D in their bodies. Vitamin D is critical for many bodily functions, including aging, as seen in the infographic below.

People are not getting enough Vitamin D due to:

  • Sunscreen
  • Body Fat
  • Aging
  • Living in a Northern latitude

People ideally should have between 40 to 60 ng/ml as measure through a blood test.

The infographic was designed by Jason Wright Studios and found on Dr. Rhonda Patrick’s web site, FoundMyFitness.com

Vitamin D Defficiency


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Syndicated

Get Fat for Great Skin

Fat gets such a bad rap, and most of the fat-bashing misinformation out there is a direct result of the mass marketing efforts of fad diet companies and of course our friends at Big Pharma. So much time has been spent telling people that “fat makes you fat,” and causes heart disease and other health conditions; which, thankfully is starting to change.

Now research is showing that all fat isn’t the enemy–it’s mostly manufactured fats like trans-and hydrogenated fats (shortening, margarine, etc.) that cause these health issues. Integrative, functional, and other holistically-minded doctors and researchers even place less blame now on saturated fats (butter, whole milk, fat found in red meat), which, of course used to be the devil.

People need fat.

Fat serves many purposes. It provides support to the skeletal system and cushioning/protection to vital internal organs, it helps to lubricate joints and other connective tissue (like the skin), it helps to build strong cellular membranes to prevent water loss and maintain overall cellular health, regulates body temperature, and also (along with carbohydrates–the other devil) provides energy.

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Read the full article here

Written by Rachel of Holistically Haute

Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/dermatologycom/7281515234