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

 

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.

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.

 

 

The Secret Power of Honey

Honey can be considered the edible gold, due to all its medicinal properties. Honey have been part of peoples diet since the ancient times. While excavating the great pyramids in Egypt, archaeologists recently discovered jars of honey in an old tomb dating back 3000 years, and the honey was still perfectly edible.  That means that due to many of the medicinal properties in honey, it can virtually last forever.

Honey comes from the laborious process of bees assimilating pollen from the flowers in the area. To make one pound of honey,  it is estimated that around 60.000 bees have collected pollen from about 2 million flowers! That is a lot of hard work, which I think is also good to be mindful of when consuming honey.

 

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In this article we will discuss the various healing benefits of honey, which are:

  • Reduce allergy symptoms to pollen. By eating a daily dose of honey, you also ingest trace amounts of pollen. Therefore ingesting honey on a regular basis, and at least several months before the pollen season starts, can be an effective way to reduce allergy symptoms to pollen. Additional tip: I would recommend using honey from your region for optimal effect, as the pollen in the honey comes from where you live.
  • Treat wounds to speed up the healing. Honey has long been considered a good remedy to treat woulds, dating back to the teachings of Aristotle. When you cut your skin, I would advice to put a bit of honey in the wound. This will speed up the recovery time of the healing. Recent discovery have found even better effect upon using a particular honey called Manuka Honey for this purpose. Further research have also found a healing factor, and the reason why this is so effective in treating wounds. At the time I am writing this, it is uncertain what this ingredient is, so it is simply called the “Unique Manuka Factor” (UMF).
  • Treatment of stomach ulcers. Here also Manuka Honey comes out as the most effective, as it has shown effect in killing the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, which are commonly causing stomach ulcers. Honey in general is good for the stomach lining, so therefore all honey is beneficial. Honey can therefore also help treating gastro-esophageal reflux (GERD) and soothe acid reflux and heartburn.
  • Treat herpes breakouts. If honey is applied directly on sores, it can have a healing effect. The reason for this healing effect is as with wounds, that it heals the mucosal lining and helps treating microorganism. Also, honey contain a bit of hydrogen peroxide, which further cleanses the wound.
  • Energy enhancer. Honey can be used to boost ones vitality. Honey is useful to give a boost when one feels fatigued. Ingestion of honey right before, during or right after a workout session can increase athletic performance.
  • Cough suppressant and treat sinusitis problems
  • Sleep inducer. The simple sugars in honey causes your insulin level to rise, which then elevates the neurotransmitter serotonin. This, in turn, converts to melatonin (also called the sleep-inducing hormone)honey-823614_1280
  • Treats a dry and itchy scalp. Honey has anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties, and therefore works well for an itchy scalp. To help with these matters, apply a diluted solution of honey and water to the hair and scalp, and leave for a few hours, before rinsing it out. Honey can also be great as a conditioner, as it moisturizes your hair.
  • Anti-fungal and digestive aid. Evidence have shown that honey have anti-fungal properties. Therefore, daily consumption of honey can be a great supplement as a digestive aid
  • Treat acne. Honey contain humectants that acts as moisturizer on your skin, and at the same time kills bacteria that causes acne. For best effect, leave raw, unprocessed honey on the skin affected with acne, and rinse off after 30 minutes.
  • Hangover cure. Honey helps to speed up the oxidation of alcohol in the liver, and at the same time gives you an energy boost. Try adding turmeric and lots of fresh water, and you will get back in shape in no time.
  • Boost libido. Honey is a natural aphrodisiac, and therefore good to boost ones desires in the bedroom. According to Hippocrates, intake of honey will increase your sex drive.

To boost ones energy, I recommend as a morning routine of lemonwater with honey.  In Ayurveda there is also a healing elixir called Golden Milk, a healing tea that is made by adding turmeric, honey, almond milk, and pepper to hot water and let it simmer for 10 minutes. This has anti-inflammatory and soothing properties for a good night’s sleep.

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The Health Benefits Of Garlic

“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine thy food”

These are the famous words of the ancient Greek physician called Hippocrates Asclepiades, living in the Classic Greek time. He is considered the founder of modern western medicine, where physicians nowadays recite the Hippocratic oath. Interestingly enough, Hippocrates Asclepiades used garlic for a range of medical disorders.

I want to dedicate this article to this marvellous and diverse herb. Already in 1858 the well renowned French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur recognized the antiseptic properties of garlic. The many uses of garlic stems from the fact that it contains a range of medicinal properties. Sulphur compounds called Allicin are formed when the garlic is chopped, cut or grated, and occurs due to exposure to oxygen. Heated or cooked garlic does not have the same health benefit, but tastes great in dishes anyway! Here are some of the most widely known health benefits of garlic:

  • Reduce elevated cholesterol, both the total amount of cholesterol and the LDL cholesterol, that will be harmful in excess amounts in the blood stream. Using garlic on a regular basis will therefore have a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system, and reduce the risk of arteriosclerosis and plaque. Dr. Budoff, MD, FACC, FAHA, is an associate professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. After having done numerous studies on aged garlic Dr. Budoff is a strong believer in aged garlic in treatment of calcification of arteries. Calcification of arteries are directly proportional to the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Aged garlic is aged up to 20 months witch changes the harsh chemicals in garlic to safe, stable and odourless compound. Kyolic garlic has been the subject of over 650 studies. “Supplementing with Kyolic Aged Garlic Extract can halt, and even reverse the accumulation of deadly low-attenuation plaque in arteries”, according to new research in The Journal of Nutrition.
  • Reduce elevated blood pressure. Studies have shown that supplementation of aged garlic extract of 600 – 1500 mg shows a significant reduction of blood pressure
  • Reduce risk of Alzheimers and Dementia due to its range of sulphur and antioxidant compounds
  • Reduce the risk of heavy metal and radiation toxicity, due to its high sulphur content
  • Treat the common cold. Studies have shown that using garlic upon getting sick will reduce the length and severity of the common cold.
  • Balance the gut flora. In my clinic I have used garlic for a range of gastrointestinal disorders. Garlic haw powerful anti-fungal and anti-parasitic properties. The fresher the garlic is the more effective it will be. For people with chronic anal itch, chronic fatigue (may be accompanied with a skin rash) this may indicate a parasitic/intestinal worm infection. Using grated garlic as a poultice directly on the skin may be beneficial. With intestinal worms, consuming garlic at least four times daily is a good way to rid yourself of these worms. Please consult your doctor if these symptoms persist.

Scientists by Kyungpook-university in South Korea have figured out that the amounts of antioxidants in garlic increase tremendously when it starts to sprout. The sprouts will stay fresh for about 5 days. Also, freezing the garlic is also a good way to enhance the antioxidant capacity of garlic. Garlic could stay fresh for half a year in the fridge and 3-4 days in room temperature.

Bear in mind, garlic is not for everyone. A few have developed allergies to garlic, and those who are following a FOODMAP diet should avoid garlic while they react adversely to it. Even so, I am a huge fan of garlic, and believe most people will benefit by ingesting this herb. Besides, it tastes great, both in salads, sauces/soups, and a range of other cuisines. Enjoy!

The Benefits Of Fasting

Fasting is an ancient way to restore one’s health, from the Ezekiel’s 40 days’ fasts, to the Muslims 30 days Ramadan. Aristotle used to demand that his potential students embark on a fasting period before commencing his teachings.

If we go back in time several thousands of years (a speck in time for the history of the world), humans naturally fasted in times when there were scarce amounts of food. Hence, when we consider evolution, most of the human existence we were forced to have intermittent fasting. It is only in the modern time that we have a surplus amount of food available at all times. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a negative thing in its self. It is great that we are able to have a more varied and rich diet than our forefathers. The only problem is that in this time and age, where we tend to think more on efficiency and how to get food fast, food also tend to lack a lot of the essential nutrients that we have available, virtually at all times.  The diet tend to be too rich in fast sugars and starches, and nutrients lacking in enzymes that will leave a more sluggish digestive system. Studies have shown that in the west we typically carry many kilograms of partially undigested food in the colon. Fasting is therefore a way to restore health in the body by sweeping clean the gastrointestinal system of the excess food particles.

The concept of fasting is also a time where you focus not on what you ingest. This has the potential to relieve addictive behaviors.  It is also a good way to clear ones mind, as less energy goes to the digestive system. This is the reason why Aristotle demanded that his students fast before studying, as this increased the efficiency of their learning capacity.

There are many ways to fast. I do not suggest you start with a long fast if you are not used to fasting, as this may be too big of a shock to the body. Therefore, it is better to start with intermittent fasting’s, lasting a day or two. If you look at Anthony Weils recommendations to a healthier lifestyle, fasting one day a week is a good way to go.

Now, how does one fast. There are many ways to do this:

  • Water fast. This is the most common way to fast, where one only consume water for the entire fasting period.
  • Juice fasting. Drinking solely vegetable juice, alternatively with some fruits such as lemon and apple.
  • Absolute fast. This is where you ingest nothing for a period of time. An example of this is the days of Ramadan.
  • Fasting could also be just being conscious of eating/drinking more simply. Whole grain rice fast is a good fast, and could be particularly beneficial with parasitic infestations.

Once one gets more in the habbit of fasting one can try the 7 days fast. This commonly is a water fast, done once a year, preferably in the spring or autumn. Here it is advisable to do this in a time of less stress, as it turns out to be a contemplative period. Here it is advisable to consult a physician before the fast to make sure the liver and kidney values are up for the task. It is also advisable to consume lots of leafy green vegetables and herbal teas a few days prior and after the fast, to ease in and out of the fast.

Fasting is a way to reset the body and mind, where one can spend more time on doing other hearty things, such as being more out in nature, and bring the nature in to your home by buying plants or flowers. Fasting could also include fasting from media and news for a day, so as to relieve more of ones collective stress. Remember, fasting is about enjoying more of what life has to offer, while regaining more energy and clarity by doing so.

Happy fasting!