Category: Nutrition

  • Tips for Preventing Arsenic Toxicity From Your Food

    As I stated in my previous post, worrisome levels of arsenic have been found in rice as well as grape and apple juice. If this concerns you, like it does me, here are a few tips to limit your risk of arsenic poisoning:

    First of all, test your water. If your home is not on a public water system, have your have your water tested for arsenic and lead. To find a certified lab, contact your local health department or call the Federal Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791. If you are on public water, check your municipal water report for arsenic.

    Secondly, change the way you cook rice. You may be able to cut your exposure to inorganic arsenic in rice by rinsing raw rice thoroughly before cooking – make sure the water runs clean. Use a ratio of 6 cups water to 1 cup rice for cooking and draining the excess water afterward. That is a traditional method of cooking rice in Asia. The modern technique of cooking rice in water that is entirely absorbed by the grains has been promoted because it allows rice to retain more of its vitamins and other nutrients. But even though you may sacrifice some of the rice’s nutritional value, research has shown that rinsing and using more water removes about 30 percent of the rice’s inorganic arsenic contents. And children should not drink rice milk & serve infant rice cereal no more than once a day.

    Thirdly, be picky about what rice you eat. Eat more aromatic rice such as basmati and jasmine since they have been shown to have the lowest levels of inorganic arsenic. Limit brown rice consumption, even though it is healthy for you, because bran holds on to higher levels of arsenic. Choose California rice over other states because their arsenic levels were lower.

    Also, experiment with other grains. Vary your grains, especially if you eat more than two or three servings of rice per week. Though not arsenic-free, wheat and oats tend to have lower levels than rice. And quinoa, millet, and amaranth are among other options for those on a gluten-free diet, though they have not been studied as much

    Finally, eat a varied diet. Some vegetables can accumulate arsenic when grown in contaminated soil. Make sure you clean vegetables thoroughly, especially potato skins. Some fruit juices such as apple and grape juice are high in arsenic, as our previous post discussed. To prevent obesity and tooth decay, pediatricians advise that infants younger than 6 months shouldn’t drink juice, children up to age 6 should have no more than 4 to 6 ounces a day and older children no more than 8 to 12 ounces. Like grape juice, wine also can be a source of exposure, according to data collected in the FDA’s Total Diet Study, which provides more complete information about arsenic content in a variety of goods. Go to fda.gov and search for “total diet study analytical results.

    If you eat a lot of rice and are concerned about arsenic toxicity, here are some symptoms to watch out for: dermatitis, respiratory tract infection, muscle aches, headaches, weakness, convulsions, neuropathy, anemia, pigmentation of nails, drowsiness and confusion. If you have any of these symptoms, make sure you contact your healthcare provider.

  • Could You Be Getting Arsenic Poisoning From Your Food?

    In November 2012 Consumer Reports published an article of their findings of worrisome levels of arsenic found in rice products (to read their article, you can click on this link: Arsenic in Your Foods). Before this, they published another article (to read, click link: Arsenic in Your Juice) in January 2012 revealing arsenic in apple and grape juice. Most of you probably know that arsenic is a potent human carcinogen and can cause health problems in children later in life. This finding is very disturbing, but are we really surprised by it? We know that the excessive amounts of pesticides and herbicides that are used have to have some effect on our biological system. Arsenic is used as a neurological agent against bugs. It then ends up in our waterways and since rice is grown in water, it tends to accumulate in rice more than other grains.

    It is my hope that the Consumer Reports findings as well as others like it will open up serious discussions about our approach to the food we eat and our long term health. For years alternative healthcare providers have preached to our patients about the need to eat clean food, increase their consumption of plants and do periodic detoxification to remove some of the toxins which accumulate in our system over time. And now an independent organization is sounding an alarm that certain foods we eat or drink may cause serious health problems.

    I believe that we should have serious concerns about our food supply: Roundup-ready corn, soy and alfalfa; mercury in the fish; bad fats; hormones and antibiotics in beef and chicken; and 70% of the processed foods in the grocery store which have been estimated to contain GMO derivatives. Because of these things, our diets and the supplements we use to support our diet should be geared to repairing the damage done by the chemicals and heavy metals that we are unknowingly ingesting. Heavy metals inactivate enzymes in the body and increase free radical damage which can lead to an increase in cardiovascular disease, autoimmunity, and some forms of cancer. So it’s important to get rid of any excess heavy metals. Doing a regular detox can help you with this.

    My next post will discuss tips for lessening your chances to get arsenic in your food.

  • Natural Remedies for Acid Reflux

    There are ways to naturally reduce acid reflux. One way is to avoid the triggers of acid reflux.

    Stress
    Citrus fruits
    Peppermint
    Chocolate
    Soda
    Coffee
    Tea (herbal teas are OK)
    Certain supplements or medications such as antidepressants and sedatives
    Eating before going to bed – simply being vertical helps your stomach contents stay in your stomach
    Eating large meals
    Frequently eating greasy, fried, and fatty foods
    Smoking
    Alcohol
    Drinking lots of bubbly (carbonated) beverages such as soda
    There are certain lifestyle modifications that you can make to help with acid reflux. First of all, if you have a little weight to lose, this would be a good time to do it. You can read some of my other posts on exercising and weight-loss to help with this. Being overweight pushes up on your stomach. Also, eat well to promote healthy bacteria in your gut. Eating foods that contain good bacteria including yogurt, sauerkraut, kombucha tea, and miso.

    Good eating habits also helps to alleviate acid reflux. Make sure you cut out bad fats, including hydrogenated oils and saturated fats. Instead eat good fats such as olive oil, flaxseed, coconut, and sesame oils. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. The fiber they contain act as an acid buffer, and they contain lots of vitamins and minerals that help the digestive tract. Quit eating refined sugars and carbohydrates. This excess sugar and lack of fiber promotes the bad bacteria that is often found in the lower intestine to grow up into the small intestine causing abdominal problems. You can always supplement with probiotics to help with the intestinal bacteria.

    Chewing a piece of sugar-free gum 30 minutes after eating can help wash away acid.

    Chiropractic Care

    Chiropractic can often help heal your gastric reflux. To begin with, chiropractic care can help treat hiatal hernias, a common cause of gastric reflux. A hiatal hernia is when your stomach gets lodged up into the diaphragm. This pinches the stomach and causes its contents to regurgitate into the esophagus. Often chiropractors can adjust for a hiatal hernia and help to alleviate the symptoms of reflux. Secondly, as I stated in a previous post, the nerves that come out of the upper spine innervate the stomach and esophagus. If those nerves are irritated by a problem with the spine, the organs they irritate may not function optimally. So eliminating nerve irritation can help promote the healing of the stomach and esophagus and make sure they function normally.

    Home Remedies for Acid Reflux

    Apple Cider Vinegar

    Apple Cider Vinegar is a wonderful remedy for acid reflux.

    Add 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to 1/2 glass of water.
    Sip this glass of water while eating your dinner.
    Ginger Root

    Ginger Root is known to absorb stomach acid and have the secondary effect of calming the nerves. For an effective natural remedy from the symptoms of acid reflux, try the following:

    Purchase ginger root capsules from a natural health food or nutritional store.
    Regularly take one capsule immediately after dinner.
    Fennel Seeds

    Fennel seed is an aromatic but powerful herb that helps in digestive conditions and has many other benefits. Fennel seeds contain a compound known as Anethole, which is known to suppress spasms of the stomach or gastrointestinal tract spasms. Therefore, it is considered to be an effective remedy for Acid Reflux.

    Take half a tea spoon of Fennel Seeds and chew them slowly after your meals.
    Anise and Lavender Tea

    You can make this tea to reduce the amount of acid you have in your stomach. Note that some variants of this remedy suggest adding peppermint, but this is NOT recommended since peppermint is known to relax the LES (described earlier), which is exactly what you don’t want to do.

    Mix together equal amounts of aniseed and lavender.
    Boil 2 1/2 cups of distilled water.
    Pour the boiling water over a teaspoon of the herbal mixture.
    Let this tea sit for 3 to 5 minutes.
    Strain the tea and add a little bit of honey as a natural sweetener.
    Drink up to 8 oz of this tea in the morning and 8 oz in the evening to get relief from acid reflux or heartburn.
    Other Remedies:

    Licorice

    Experts say licorice has stomach-healing properties that can get to the root of the problem rather than just calming symptoms. But be careful – eating too much could have serious side effects. One alternative is to take licorice extract. The extract is better than plain licorice because there is a substance in licorice (glycyrrhizinic acid) that may increase blood pressure. This substance is removed in the extract. The extract is called deglycyrrhizinated licorice or DGL. DGL actually increases the number of mucus secreting cells in the upper part of the stomach and esophagus that protect the lining from stomach acid. Chewable DGL seems to work better than the pills. Take 700-800mg 2-3 times per day between meals.

    Baking Soda

    Mixing a half teaspoon into a glass of water can help neutralize stomach acid. But it shouldn’t be used for chronic heartburn because it’s high in salt.

    Slippery Elm

    Research suggests that adding a couple of tablespoons of this herb to a glass of water can help coat and protect the stomach.

    Aloe

    This plant can reduce inflammation in the stomach. Some experts suggest drinking aloe juice, but use caution, because it can also be a laxative.