What Is Food Intolerance?

Around a fifth of the Western Worlds’ population believe that they themselves react to some kind of food. The reasons for food intolerance are many, and vary greatly in severity. I will in this article focus on unraveling various ways someone can react to certain foods, and then what to do about this.

Even though the food we eat is medicine for most, parts of food sources can for some be like a poison. The reason why someone react to foods are multifactorial, and often include a combination of genes and environmental factors.

We can divide food reactions into three main categories: Immune-reactions, enzyme breakdown problems and toxic reactions.food-salad-restaurant-person

Immune reactions to foods are what we call hypersensitivity reactions. Possibly the most familiar way for food immune reactions is food allergy. Even so, this is a relatively rare condition, and occur in only about 2-3 % of the Western population. Common food sources that may give food allergies are wheat, milk, egg white, soy, nuts and shellfish. With food allergy, consumption of the food source will potentially lead to a swift reaction, often occurring within seconds to minutes after ingestion, potentially with a fatal outcome if nothing is done. What is physiologically happening, is that the food activates an antibody called IgE (Immunoglobulin E). This will consequently lead to a surge in histamine, creating an allergic reaction. Allergic reactions can lead to serious, and potentially life threatening conditions, due to the throat and tongue swelling up and obstructing the airways. One can also have allergic reactions to a range of non-food particles such as dust, mold, animal hair, pollen, fungal spores and much more. There is often a cross-reaction to similar biological complexes. We therefore see that for example people with birch allergies could also react to apples.

In addition to IgE mediated food reactions, there are other hypersensitivity reactions to foods. Here other Immunoglobulins are activated by ingestion of the food, with an activation of other immunoglobulins called IgG or IgA. Here the time it takes from the activation of the food substance and activation of the immunoglobulin, to the actual appearance of symptoms may take from half an hour up several days. Even so, in my experience the symptoms often start to appear within half an hour. Common food sources relating to this delayed hypersensitivity reaction can be gluten, milk proteins such as whey and casein, eggs and soy. Here symptoms can relate to gastrointestinal problems, but also generate a whole range of symptoms such as fatigue, migraine, joint/muscle aches, skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis and much more. Many world renowned researchers have shown how ingestion of these proteins can cause an immune reaction. Alessio Fasano, a world renowned researcher at Harvard Medical School and University of Maryland Celiac Research Center have conducted countless studies proving how gluten sensitivity can potentiate a range of issues.gluten

Because it often takes a while before symptoms appear, the origin for the immune-reaction may be obscured.  A famous Norwegian researcher called Peder Brantsæg, have shown the pathophysiology between food intolerances and the evolution of auto-immune disorders, where the immune system not only does their job of fending against invading bacteria and viruses, but over-react, and start to attack ones’ own cells. Common Auto-immune disorders include Diabetes Mellitus Type 1, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Hashimotos Thyroiditis and Psoriasis, to name a few.

Breakdown Issues related to food occur due to enzyme failures. The enzymes essential for the breakdown of a certain food malfunction or is lacking. Breakdown problems can relate to proteins, carbohydrates or fat. Breakdown issues related to proteins may lead to undigested protein particles called peptides. Another famous Norwegian researcher called Karl (Kalle) Reichelt proved the co-existence of neurological problems and peptide breakdown problems. The research shows how undigested peptide particle complexes lodge in the neurological opioid receptors, and hence cause a great deal of problem. Opioid receptors are what is the receptor upon what Morphine works, even though there are many different types of opioid receptors, with different chemicals triggering them. Several studies show the link between opioid peptides and diseases such as Schizophrenia, Autism, ADHD and Dementia.

Another example of a breakdown issue is that of carbohydrates. The most common case here is that of lactose intolerance. This is by far more common amongst Asian population, due to the genetic profile, but may also occur amongst all populations. Here a reduction of enzymes leads to less digestion of these carbs in the small intestine, where they then pass to the large intestine. Here these complex carbohydrates may serve as a food source to the wide range of bacteria in the gut, often leading to very distressing gastrointestinal symptoms such as flatulence and diarrhea.milk

Breakdown issues related to fat, implies problems breaking down the fat one has ingested, leading to less absorption of the fat. The definition of fat malabsorption is that over 7% of ingested fat in the food is found in the feces later on. The reasons for this breakdown problem is often due to liver and gall bladder issues, or reduced secretion of digestive enzymes from the pancreas. Certain bacteria dysbiosis may also contribute to fat malabsorption.

Toxic food substances can also give quite severe reactions when eating them. Examples of this is rotten food, infected food and foods containing ample amounts of detrimental chemicals and heavy metals. Ingestion of these foods can give rise to everything from acute to chronic complaints, and vary a great deal depending on what has been ingested. poison-bottle-medicine-old-159296

Examination to evaluate whether someone has got a food intolerance implies a thorough walkthrough of the patient’s diet and food habits, clinical symptoms, genetic and family history, risk of gut flora imbalance, and possible ingestion of toxins.

Investigation to determine whether someone has got food intolerance can start by doing a blood works looking for elevations in the immunoglobulins and enzyme depletions, in addition to signs of malabsorption. When there is a strong suspicion that someone has a food intolerance, it is advised to undertake an elimination/provocation diet, where one first eliminate (stay away from) the suspected food(s) for a period of around 4-6 weeks, and then “provoke”, by introducing the food again. When there is a “positive” reaction, meaning there is an improvement by elimination and a worsening by provocation, it will be advisable to stay away from the food(s) for a while. Eventually, (unless it is purely genetic such as lactose intolerance) after months or years, it may be possible to introduce these foods again, without any problems.

It is not uncommon to see a great improvement in someones’ chronic ailments after eliminating the food that give rise to the symptoms. I have experienced patients with severe migraine and chronic fatigue syndrome to suddenly feel revived and thriving after eliminating those foods. So if there are someone you know that have chronic ailments, with symptoms not passing with standard therapy, it would be wise to consider if there may be an underlying food intolerance giving rise to the problems.Thrive

 

The Miracle of Water

How much water do you drink? Seriously? Let me tell you that water is by far the cheapest and healthiest drink you can have. Do you ever stop to wonder about just how important it is to drink enough water? We literally consist of 70-80 % water (interestingly enough just about the same number as the amount of water covering the surface of the earth).

Water has an enormous healing capacity when you have enough of it. Consumption of water will hydrate the body, while enabling toxins to more easily be flushed out of you. When the body gets rid of toxins, your body will function better and more smoothly. As an extra motivator, having enough water in your body will make your skin smoother, and hence your appearance more beautiful.water showerSo, how much is enough? How much water should you actually drink to make sure that your body stays healthy. Well, that depends. It depends on what you eat, what you drink, your fitness level, the climate where you live, and so much more.

Several drinks could function as a diuretic, meaning you more easily excrete fluids through your kidneys. In some cases, this is a good think, especially for people who more easily retain water in their tissue. Patients who take diuretic medications need to take this to lessen the burden on the heart. Even so, it is also here important to drink enough water.

So what about coffee. Coffee is not in fact a diuretic, but it causes a fluid loss due to its laxative effect. You see, we retain a lot of the water in the colon, and when it goes faster through, we lose more water. Therefore, a golden rule when drinking coffee is: By one cup of coffee, drink two glasses of water. The Italians are usually very good in this respect, where they always provide you with a glass of water with the shot of espresso.

water coffeeSo back to how much water should you actually drink? I have got this question a LOT in my practice. The answer is that there is no one exact answer. This depends on a lot of factors.

Elderly people have a tendency to more easily become dehydrated. If I mention this to my grandmother, who is now 101 years old, she finds the whole concept of drinking water rubbish. She thinks the sight of “all these people walking around with water bottles in their hands” to be amusing. Then again, every elderly person is not like her. I have had many elderly people come to my clinic with obvious signs of dehydration. One of the most obvious is the “skintest”, where you pinch and drag up a part of the skin, then let go, and see how long time it takes before the skin goes back to its normal position. If it takes more than a few seconds it is an obvious sign of dehydration, and I would generally advice on drinking more water (Not more coffee).water drinking

As a rule of thumb I say that it is wise to drink at least 1,5 liters of water, and if you are drinking caffeinated beverages (coffee, tea, chocolate) I advise you to drink around two liters of water. This number could drastically increase if you reside in a hot environment, where you are perspiring profusely. Sometimes, drinking four liters of clean water is essential to stay hydrated.

Of course we will function on less water intake, but we are here talking about how to really feel energized. Drinking water regularly is a great investment for your health. So drink up!Refreshing drink in the gardenYou could try to make water more exciting by infusing it with various herbs or fruits

Things You Didn’t Know About Turmeric

If you have ever eaten Indian food, I am sure you have encountered this colorful herb in your food. This herb is an extremely colorful root, and if you get it on your fingers, you will have an orange pigment stuck to your skin for days! Traditionally, besides using Turmeric in various cuisines in Asia, Turmeric has also been used as a coloring agent, due to its strong color.

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In my practice I have commonly used turmeric to treat chronic ailments, particularly related to inflammatory conditions. Turmeric has lately undergone a lot of research, especially the healing constituent called curcumin, plus a range of healing antioxidants and nutrients.

Research has shown that Curcumin has a potent anti-inflammatory quality. Recent use to treat inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, osteoarthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and psoriasis have shown remarkable effects, when used consequently over time. Also, I have seen great improvement on pulmonary inflammatory conditions upon taking turmeric for a period of time. In fact, in contrast to the NSAIDs (such as Ibuprofen), while Curcumin doesn’t usually have as swift effect, the long term effect has proven as good (or in some cases even greater).

I would argue that the main effect of Turmeric is on the gut lining. We now know that between 70-80 percent of the immune system is located here in the gastrointestinal tract. Upon ingesting Turmeric, the anti-inflammatory qualities will therefore have a direct effect on lowering inflammation related to the gut lining. I would therefore advice those of you suffering from irritable bowel syndrome or other digestive discomforts, to give Turmeric a shot.

Speaking of inflammation, I should also mention neurological inflammation. Recent evidence has linked the most common cause of dementia called Alzheimer’s Disease with the development of neurological inflammation. Due to Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory qualities, it has promising evidence in the treatment of dementia, and other neurological inflammatory conditions.

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One main biological effect of Curcumin is how it mops up free radicals. These free radicals are created when we are exposed to chemical irritants, heavy metals, bacterial or viral infections to name a few. When these free radicals are gathered, they can cause havoc in the surrounding tissue. Therefore, supplementation of Turmeric in the diet can prove to be an important preventative measure in making sure you stay healthier, and have less free radicals roaming around in the body. This also explains why Turmeric is known to have a healing effect on the liver.

I would advise to first heat up turmeric before consuming it. This potentiates the effect of this herb. Also, there is evidence that show the importance of adding other herbs to turmeric, to have a symbiotic effect, and therefore a greater healing effect on the body. Adding piperine (from pepper) or tea (green/black) have shown a better absorption of the healing constituent Curcumin in the gut.

There are several ways you can ingest Turmeric. The most common turmeric extract have a 95% potency. You could also ingest Turmeric (Curcumin) capsules as a supplement. The clue nonetheless is to use Turmeric on a regular basis for its health rewarding effects.

One way to ingest turmeric is to have what in Ayurveda is called “Golden Milk”. We in the west have adopted another name, notably “Turmeric Latte”. So, a daily intake of Turmeric can do you a lot of good, both as a preventative measure, and also if you want to heal any inflammatory conditions. So Cheers!

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What Is Parasite Dysbiosis?

One of the most common complaints I encounter in my practice is gut related conditions, ranging from a ten year old, who have suffered his whole life with stomach pains, to a frail elderly woman unable to digest and absorb nutrients properly. One thing I would consider in these circumstances is if there is some kind of parasite infection in the gut flora. This is where a normal gut flora has been disrupted by infection by one or many types of parasites.

Some parasites cause an acute condition, that may be life threatening. This could be infections with parasites such as Entamoeba histolytica or Giardia lambda. Often due to its severity, these infections usually need a swift therapy to prevent a severe outcome.

What is less evident are all the chronic conditions where parasites do not give a clear picture of what is going on, where symptoms such as chronic fatigue or diffuse stomach ache is the presenting complaint.Nonetheless, these parasitic infections can have a debilitating effect over time.

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Imagine having a kid who is in constant pain from his very first years of age. You go to the doctors, hoping that they will figure out what to do. Your family GP can’t find anything wrong, and after repeated visits, where “everything is normal”, your son is refered to a specialist. You have great hopes, but even here no one can find anything wrong. You and your son is left with your problems, and over several years the symptoms persist. Most of his time goes to lying in bed, not being able to do normal activity like other kids in the block. You then eventually come to a functional medicine practitioner, who, due to a different framework of though, manage to find possible solutions. Upon investigation the practitioner find a parasite in the kids gut flora. Your son is given a short antibiotic cure, and after only a few weeks his symptoms starts to fade away, and after a few months he feels completely fine. You are thrilled, and wonder why this hasn’t been addressed before.

Now consider this frail elderly woman coming in to the clinical office. Her health has deteriorated over a course of several years, where she has noticed a gradual wasting, even though she has a good appetite and eats plentiful. Apart from her energy being low, she doesn’t have any other symptoms. Upon seeing her physician, she is told that there is nothing wrong with her. She then comes to a functional medicine practitioner, who, upon a thorough investigation discoveres a parasitic dysbiosis. Also here, her symptoms gradually improves after a gut flora cure, using antibiotics and antibiotic herbs, in combination with other nutritional therapies.

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These cases are not uncommon for a functional medicine practitioner to encounter. In fact, I have had many similar cases in my practice. It is therefore very touching when they, upon the follow up consultation, have flowers in their hands and crying because of how happy they are of being cured.

Now, why hasn’t this been addressed more in clinical practice. The reason is basically that some of these “gut dysbiosis” are not considered detrimental for ones’ health, and often is difficult to diagnose. One place where a lot of study has been undertaken on the matter of chronic parasite dysbiosis is at Centre for Digestive Disorders in Sydney, CDD. Amongst others, they have found two common parasites called Blastocystis hominis and Dientamoeba fragilis, that may be important to treat if there are chronic and diffuse symptoms that may be related to the ailments.

What usually follows a diagnosis of these parasites in someones gut flora, is the question “How they managed to contract this parasite in the gut flora”. The answer for this is multifocal. First, usually the beneficial gut flora is weakened. Then there may have been a period of stress, or poor diet, that have weakened the gut functioning. Then there follows an infection with one or more parasites, maybe also accompanied by intestinal worms. The parasites is commonly contracted fecal-oraly, meaning the hygiene of someone has been poor, whereupon someone else eats or drinks what has been handled by that person.

What is tricky with these parasites is that there are several subtypes of them, whereas some om them can cause disease, while other types are asymptomatic (and will therefore not cause any harm). Centre for Digestive Disorders have come to the conclusion that if the patient has symptoms that can be related to the parasite located in the gut flora, it is adviced to treat it.

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What is also tricky is how to treat these parasites. In a smaller study there was evidence that using the herb oregano extract, caused half of the patients to be relieved of the symptoms. What is important if you are to use oregano extract is to use the emulsified form, so that it doesn’t erode and irritate the gut lining.

Centre for Digestive Disorders are very much aware of treating patients with antibiotics. Often, a combination therapy using various antibiotics, including antibiotic herbs, are the best way to rid someone of these parasites. I find it essential when clearing away unwanted parasites, to also make sure to build up with beneficial flora. There are many beneficial probiotics that have a good effect, such as VSL#3/Vivomix, or other probiotics with a broad spectrum effect.

In addition, there are many folk remedies that will possibly have a good effect on treating these parasites. Most commonly garlic. Also, I would consider using lemon water or cold pressed extra virgin apple cider vinegar as well, as this benefits the general gut flora.

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I think the main message from this article is: Do not give up if you have chronic ailments and are told there is nothing to do. There may be a solution under the next rock, if you look hard enough.

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What You Didn’t Know About Vitamin C – From The Sea, WW1 And Other Stories

Now, here´s a quick history lesson: Vitamin C and its importance was discovered in 1747, during the “Age of Sails”. Seafarers would travel for long distances, set on a mission to explore the world. The diet would often constitute processed beef and biscuits. The seafarers started to get a condition commonly called Scurvy. The condition starts with symptoms such as fatigue, muscle weakness, joint and muscle aches, bleeding gums and leg rashes. Imagine being on board a boat set for “The new world”  in the early 1700’s. For no apparent reason, people around you were loosing their teeth, their skin would turn yellow (due to jaundice), and gradually everyones health would deteriorate.  This mysterious epidemic claimed the life of thousands upon thousands of seafarers, without anyone understanding why. That is, not until a controversial experiment was led under the physician James Lind. James Lind discovered that if seafarers ingested citrus fruits (a common folk remedy to treat scurvy) upon their voyages, the seafarers could avoid this fatal situation. In fact, British Royal Navy officer James Cook then used this advice and his team which enabled him to sail from England all the way to Australia and New Zealand.

Scurvy was also a common disease during the First World War, where soldiers often suffered from malnourishment. It was then proven through studies that 10 mg of vitamin C was the minimal requirement to prevent scurvy in these conditions. This has later been used to set the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance), which later was adjusted to 75-90 mg / day.

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In the 20th century, several well renowned researchers contributed extensively to the importance of vitamin C on health such as Alfred Hess. The two-time Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling stated how administering vitamin C was crucial for the treatment of cardiovascular conditions.

Another important name in the vitamin C history book is Dr. Fred Klenner, who conducted many successful studies in the importance of vitamin C to counter viral infections such as polio, herpes zoster, chicken pox, measles, mumps and viral pneumonia. Most of these treatments are described in his book “Injectable Vitamin C: Effective Treatment for Viral and Other Diseases”.

The most convincing evidence comes from Klenners research he did around the Poliomyelitis Epidemic in North Carolina in 1948. Here, 60 patients were suffering from this neurological condition, and after only 72 hours, after taking vitamin C injections, all of the 60 patients were entirely healed.

Some of the reasons why vitamin C is so effective for viral infections are multifold: The ability for immune cells such as white blood cells to accumulate vitamin C in their cells, and henceforth increase the ability of specialized immune cells and interferons to protect against infection. Also, vitamin C boost the mitochondrial energy production, essential for energy production in various immunological cells.

On the other hand, researchers and physicians Goodwin and Tangum published findings that mega doses of vitamin C could lead to kidney stones. But since these “findings” were based on earlier literature stating that there may be a linkage, this statement is inconclusive. There is no conclusive evidence to this day that supplementation of vitamin C will have any adverse side affects.

There are only a few animals on the planet that are not able to produce their own vitamin C, and humans are among them. Since we can’t produce vitamin C ourselves, it´s essential to therefore consume it in our food, and maybe also in the form of supplements.  Species that produce vitamin C create it in their liver by converting glucose into Vitamin C. Humans, apes, and a few other animals lack the final step to convert glucose into Vitamin C. Linus Pauling concluded that one should look at the intake of vitamin C consumption amongst other primates, which like ourselves, can’t produce vitamin C themselves. Specifically, a gorilla ingests on average 4.5 grams of vitamin C, while humans mostly consume an average of 500 mgs a day in their diet!

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Now, that´s all you need to know about vitamin C historically, for now, and we will conclude with the health benefits of this necessary vitamin:

  • Vitamin C boosts the immune system to protect against infection and work as an effective antiviral therapy, and a good therapy in the early stages of colds and flus
  • It protects against the harmful effects of free radicals formed by harmful chemicals, heavy metals, nitrites (from pre-packaged foods, which most in the Western world seem to consume a lot of unfortunately)
  • It acts as a to cure against harmful chemicals such as smoke and other chronic stressors that may have weakened the immune system
  • It´s a treatment for cardiovascular conditions, and decreases the risk of cardiovascular risks such as stroke
  • Vitamin C lowers the skin aging process, and there´s less wrinkling and better moisturizing of the skin (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition).
  • There is a reduction in general inflammation and a reduced risk of auto-immune symptoms
  • It decreases the risk of developing conditions such as macular degeneration

Now, where to find good sources of vitamin C and other essential vitamins.  I will cover this in later articles. For now you could have a look at this list.

10 Secrets To A Healthy Mind

Here are a few tips on how to generally have a healthier and more positive mind:

  1. Healthy gut = Healthy mind. Having a healthy gut increases the likelihood of having a healthy mind. This becomes clearer when we see that about 90 percent of the serotonin in the body is created in the intestines. Recent research has focused on the gut flora, and how this can affect the mind, but we are just at the brink of understanding how this works.
  2. Breathe! In our day and age we tend to surround ourselves with a lot of stimuli and keep ourselves very busy.. Too much of these stimuli can make us feel wary and overstressed. I therefore believe that it is important to balance this activity with stimulating the calming part of our nervous system. In technical terms this is to balance the sympathetic (activating) and the parasympathetic (calming) nervous system. Even though it’s good to have some stimulation to the activating nervous system, too much and chronic stimuli may cause significant stress. This can lead to a range of both mental and physical ailments, including anxiety, depression, fatigue and so on. A good preventative measure is to focus on the parasympathetic nervous system and keep this calming part of the nervous system in good shape. To achieve a better stimuli to the parasympathetic nervous system you should consider breathing exercises, meditation, or the practices of qi gong, tai chi, and yoga. Even getting a good nights sleep is very good to give a proper boost to the calming nervous system.Man nature
  3. Exercise consistently. Researchers at Duke University discovered that regular exercise is better that anti-depressants in treating anxiety and depression, and in fact, people who worked out encountered fewer relapses. It is speculated that one reason for this is that during exercise we see a controlled increase in the stress hormone cortisol, and enable the body to release locked up stress in the body. This will leave the body and mind more relaxed after a good workout.
  4. Be more social. A study at Harvard University showed that being more isolated increased the risk of depression, and consequently shrinkage of parts of the brain, primarily the hippocampus. Being more social further showed an increase in neuronal enrichment, and therefore increased the capacity for learning new things.play
  5. Eat less junk. Even though eating simple sugars have shown to increase insulin, and consequently serotonin, ingestion of refined sugar have shown an addictive behavior in the consumer (rodent study showed that they preferred sucrose water to cocaine), leading to higher intake of sugar and sweeteners. Bear in mind, alcohol is also considered a sugar, and can also have a detrimental effect on ones mind, if used excessively. An increase in the intake of simple sugars and refined starches leads to a range of negative effects on the body, primarily by leading to higher amount of inflammation. In the brain there may be an increased neurological inflammation, due to a buildup of free radicals (waste particles). There is now evidence that this can be linked with neurological conditions such as Alzheimers Disease, a debilitating disease where Amyloid plaques build up in the brain, leading to the number one reason for dementiafood clean
  6. Be positive. According to the Japanese researcher Masaru Emoto, being and thinking positive will have positive effects on ones surroundings. He discovered this though extensive research on how our water reacts to various words, by creating specific crystals for that particular word/emotion. I find the most interesting of his studies is the discovery that if you place two identical bowls of rice next to each other, and on one bowl have the word “Love” on it, and the other have “Hate” written on it, you will see something interesting after a few days. The bowl of rice with the word “Love” stays the same, but the bowl of rice with the word “Hate” will start to rot. I think this just sighifies how important it is to keep a positive attitude, as it affects both yourself and the ones you surround yourself with.
  7. Be kinder to yourself. By being kinder to yourself and allowing room for error you will generally be happier. We have a tendency to judge ourselves with negative criticism. By giving yourself a slack, and not be so hard on yourself, this will have a can good effect on your own happiness.girls-1487825_1920
  8. The healing sounds. Listening to music can have a profound and direct effect on your mind. Listening to that tune you just love, can make your endorphins going through the roof. Even just listening to nature sounds have a soothing effect on your mind.
  9. Get rid of the excess clutter. I believe that to have less clutter surrounding you will have a lightening effect on your mind. Marie Kondo has written a very good book on how to clear your environment of clutter, called “The Life-changing magic of tidying up”.
  10. Happiness. Even seeing images of happy people is in it self enough to lift your spirit. Also, to regularly laugh and smile is very good for your mental health.

Why Ghee Is Good For You

If you love Indian food, like I do, I am sure you have heard about ghee, or clarified butter. Many tend to consider this to be unhealthy, but I dare to challenge that.

In this time and age, we have become very afraid of everything that contains fat, and fat reduced foods are reckoned to be the healthier option. The problem occurs when you remove the (tasty) fats from the foods, you are left with a very bland food, and therefore have to substitute with even more sugar and refined starches to make it edible.

I dare say that fats are good for you. Saturated fats contain good amounts of energy. Problems arises when you ingest too much of it, and especially with large amounts of refined starches and sugars. If you look at epidemiological studies, and compare it with our food trends, you will see that after we started eating less fats and more starches, the obesity rate went up. There are many reasons for obesity, but what I will say is that solely reducing saturated fats is not the way to go to cure people from this epidemic that is causing so many health issues down the line.

So what is Ghee? In short, ghee is butter that has been clarified, meaning you remove the dairy proteins and lactose, and are left with only fat. What is interesting about the fat in ghee and butter is that it is the richest food source of small chain (saturated) fatty acids you can get hold of. This fat is the main fuel for intestinal cells, primarily in the colon. Granted, this can also be produced from bacteria breaking down starches called Fructo-oligo-saccharides (FOS), from foods such as Jerusalem artichokes and Chicory, but still I consider ingesting good amounts of small chain fatty acids to be very good to preserve good intestinal health.

Ghee also contain great amounts of medium chain fatty acids, almost to the same extent as coconut oil. You may have heard about all the health benefits of coconut oil, but I think it is less commonly known that ghee have many similar health benefits. Medium chain fatty acids are considered to give the body, muscles and mind a great boost of energy.

Ghee and butter contain quite a bit of cholesterol, but studies have shown that the cholesterol we ingest doesn’t necessarily mean an increase in cholesterol in the blood, but rather work as fuel, and conversion to other essential hormones in the body including cortisol and the sexual hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Too low ingestion of cholesterol could also be a health risk.

I am not saying that you should start eating huge amounts of ghee from now on, just that this food is in many ways considered a healthy option. Also, for people suffering from lactose intolerance and dairy protein intolerance (make sure there are no traces of dairy protein in the ghee) this clarified butter can be a great food source in your cuisine. Besides, when cooking with ghee, the amount of saturated fats renders this fat very stable, and is from my point of view the best oil you can use for high heating.

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There are many ways to make ghee. The easiest is to just take a block of butter (preferably from grass fed cows) in a pot, heat it up slowly, and after a few minutes when the butter has melted the fat goes up and the dairy protein and lactose falls as sediment to the bottom of the pot. It is now safe to pour the oil over in another container, careful not to get any of the sediment with you. If you want a ghee with a smoother texture, you can try to add olive oil to it. Otherwise, it works perfect on itself.

Enjoy!

The Benefits Of Exercise On The Brain

You may know that a regular workout improves the body. What is less clear has been the effect of physical exercise on the brain. The brain is considered to be a muscle (although 60-70 percent is really fat), and as with the body, if you don´t use it enough, it may start to deteriorate. The good news is that there are a range of precautions to boost a healthy mind.

  • An effective training to boost the neuronal connections in the deeper parts of the brain such as the brain stem is neuromuscular training. This basically constitutes doing slow (the slower the better) movements, diagonal movements (ie. right arm and left leg) and rotational movements (ie. moving the thumbs in opposite directions).
  • Recent discovery of a protein called BNDF has led to an increased understanding of the link between the body and mind. After a workout, we see a general buildup of BNDF in the brain, primarily the hippocampus. BNDF has crucial effects on the neurons. Generally it encourages the growth of neurons (and thicker myelin sheaths), by building stronger links, and at the same time protects against cell death. In fact, in 2007 a German researcher discovered that people learn  20 times faster following physical exercise than before they worked out. These findings correlated with the levels of BDNF in the brain.
  • The Human Growth Hormone (“HGH”) can be considered the fountain of youth, due to its age reviving effects on cells. Ways to boost the HGH production from the pituitary gland is by either having spurts of a high intensity workout and/or muscle training. What is interesting is that this increase of HGH in the circulation lasts many hours after you exercise. Conversely, a high intensity workout leaves higher amounts of BDNF in the brain as compared to a lower intensity workout. I would point out here that it is better with shorter burst of high intensity, as this will have better effect on the generation of HGH than longer stretches of high intensity. In a comparative study, Doing a series of squats doubled the HGH levels compared with running at high intensity for thirty minutes.
  • Exercise boosts the amount of dopamine, which sparks motivation. Sticking to an exercise regimen will boost the reward centers in the brain, and make it easier to stick with the workout schedule.

Overall, exercise improves learning in three ways:

  1. Increases alertness, attention and motivation
  2. Encourages nerve cells to bind to one another, an essential aspect of learning new tasks
  3. Boosts the production of nerve cells in the hippocampus (from stem cells)

So get to it and start exercising today!

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Tips To Improve Your Eating Habbits

Here are some simple tips I generally advice patients so that they have a better and healthier diet:

  • Start the day with a fresh lemon/limewater. Simply squeeze 1/2 a lemon/lime in a glass of cold to lukewarm water, and drink this on an empty stomach. For those suffering from lack of energy, adding 1/2-1 teaspoon of raw, unprocessed honey is also good.
  • Drink some fresh juice on an empty stomach for an extra cleanse and energy boost. Any fresh vegetables will do, including cucumber, celery, wheatgrass.
  • Drink plenty of clean water, about 2 liters daily. Try to substitute some of the coffee/tea and other beverages with drinking clean water. Your body will thank you for it!

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  • Chew your food thoroughly, and do not stress when you are eating.
  • For a poor digestion it is wise to add some bitter herbs/vegetables in the beginning of a meal. Simply eat a fresh salad, with the additions of herbs such as rucola, dandelion, watercress and many more.

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  • In between meal snack I would advice eating nuts and seeds. For even better effect it is best to soak the nuts in water overnight. Then digestion of the nuts will be far better, and you get more out of eating them. Also, cutting up some vegetables and have it with a nice dip is a good snack in the middle of the day.
  • Skip the snacks that are overtly processed, salty, greasy such as chips and cookies. Focus on less processed foods. Rule of thumb is that what is fresh or home made is much better that what has been pre-packaged.
  • Limit intake of refined sugar since ingestion of pure white sugar have shown detrimental effects on peoples health, primarily linked to increased inflammation. Rather substitute refined sugar with some honey, maple syrup, stevia, yacon syrup, lucuma or dried fruits such as dates and figs. Remember, less is more in terms of these sugars!
  • If you really want to boost you gut functioning I would recommend adding fermented foods such as sauerkraut to your diet. This is great to help assimilate and absorb the food you eat even better.

Bon apetit!

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What Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

It is estimated that about 20% of the population have symptoms associated with irritable blowel syndrome (IBS). Irritable bowel syndrome is not accounted to be a disease, but rather a disturbance in the normal intestinal function.

Patients with irritable bowel syndrome usually suffer from a range of stomach related ailments. Even so, conventional investigations can’t find a specific reason for their suffering. That means that even though they have real symptoms, extensive investigations will not find any abnormalities. In colonoscopy there may be seen an irritated mucosal lining, but no real damage that can explain the patients suffering.

Because conventional investigations can’t find any abnormalities, patients are often told that there is nothing they can do about their suffering. They may be told that the reason for their ailments are psychological, which can often be very frustrating.

Symptoms that are often associated with irritable bowel syndrome include stomach pain, gas/flatulence, diarrhea, constipation, slimy feces. The gastrointestinal discomfort often come after intake of food, or in accordance with stress. It is also very common for irritable bowel syndrome patients to have psychological problems such as anxiety and depression (often as a bi-effect of longterm ailments), as well as other problems such as tiredness and joint pains. The symptoms can vary from mild to so severe that they influence the patients’ quality of life.

Irritable bowel syndrome is different from diagnoses such as Ulcerous Colitis, Chrons, Coeliac Disease, Cholecystitis and other gastrointestinal problems where one can see real physical abnormalities by standard investigations.

Through extensive research and experience in functional medicine we see that complicated and chronic intestinal problems often have a multitude of underlying causes and triggers. Only through an extensive investigation through the functional medicine scope will it be possible to unravel the real reasons why patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome have developed their ailments, and consequently what to do about it. The reasons for irritable bowel syndrome can be about gut flora imbalances, food intolerance, irritation on the gut/mucosal lining due to an irritant, and psychological issues. Irritants such as heavy metal exposure or ingestion of other chemical irritants can be a reason for irritation to the gut lining.

Treatments in functional medicine follows the “5R” Method, not necessarily in this order:

  • Remove:
  • Replace:
  • Reinoculate:
  • Repair:
  • Remain:

This means to remove the irritants (from food or chemicals), allergens and/or dysbiotic flora. Then replace and make sure that there is enough beneficial stomach acid, digestive enzymes, gall and so forth. Then reinoculate with beneficial flora, and repair the mucosal lining and gastric functioning. Here the diet plays a major role, and also correct other imbalances such as a lack of essential vitamins and minerals. Less stress and focus on physical activity also play a major role in repairing and treating the gut. The last step is by far the most important, and that is to maintain a good digestive functioning once it has healed.