Category Archives: Allergies

Omega 3’s- why are they anti-inflammatory?

Omega-3’s are polyunsaturated fatty acids that the body derives from certain foods. They are considered essential because they are critical for good health and the body cannot make them on its own. There are two main types of omega-3 fatty acids: Long chain (EPA and DHA) and short-chain (ALA).

Although they have many vital effects on one’s health including anti-blood clotting effects, reducing blood pressure, and lowering cholesterol, they also play in important role in fighting inflammation and are considered anti-inflammatory.

Inflammation is a critical mechanism your body possesses to help protect you from pathogens, irritants, and heal injuries by sending proteins and white blood cells to the affected area. While inflammation is very essential process, uncontrolled regulation can result in consequential tissue damage and contribute to many disease formations including cardiovascular disease and even cancer. That is why consuming anti-inflammatory foods, like Omega-3 essential fatty acids, is so imperative.

Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in several foods. These foods include:

• Grass fed beef

• Fresh deep water fish

• Raw flaxseeds, hemp seeds,

• Soybeans

• Shrimp

• Cauliflower

• Brussel sprouts

As you can see, there aren’t many foods that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and it is difficult to obtain the amount of Omega-3 that your body needs. Most people require a supplement to get this essential amount. Many health conditions require additional Omega-3. There are many types of supplements that are abundant in Omega-3’s. The most common and beneficial are:

• Fish oil

• Krill oil

• Cod liver oil

• Flax oil

• Hemp oil

Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) are abundant in fish and shellfish, and short-chain omega-3 fatty acids (ALA) are typically found in plants, such as flax and hemp. It is possible for the body to synthesize DHA and EPA from ALA, but conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA is extremely limited. Therefore, fish oils are usually the most efficient source of Omega-3 fatty acids.

If you are experiencing signs of inflammation or are interested in having an analysis of your Omega-3 intake, please contact Dr. Lee at Seattle Naturopathic and Acupuncture Center or call 206-319-5322.

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Importance of vitamin D in the Pacific Northwest

Vitamin D is important for good overall health with its wide range of benefits. Its primary role is to increase the movement of calcium into the bloodstream by promoting the absorption of calcium from food. This is why it is essential in bone growt

h. Some other health benefits of having a healthy level of vitamin D are: decreased inflammation, decreased risk of cancer, decreased dental cavities, prevention and treatment of depression, and reduced risk of diseases like multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis and heart disease.


What happens when vitamin D levels are low?

Seattle is at a latitude of 47° north of the equator, which sets up the population for widespread vitamin D insufficiency. Without vitamin D, bones become thin and brittle. Being vitamin D deficient also increases risk of cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Low blood levels of vitamin D also relate to cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. Multiple Sclerosis, which causes progressive nerve damage, has been linked to low vitamin D levels. Washington State has one of the highest multiple sclerosis rates in the nation, and it has been theorized that the low levels of sunlight in the winter contribute to this statistic.

How can you get vitamin D?

Vitamin D is often called “the sunshine vitamin” because our bodies synthesize it naturally through direct exposure to sunlight. This is the most natural way to get vitamin D and can happen very quickly, especially in the summer. How much vitamin D is produced from sunlight depends on time of day and where you live. You can also get vitamin D by taking supplements. This is a good way to get vitamin D if you can’t get enough sunlight or don’t want to expose your skin.

There are very few foods that naturally contain vitamin D. Some of these foods include fish with high fat content such as salmon, catfish and tuna. Milk and some cereals are usually fortified with vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is extremely common especially in northern populations like the Pacific Northwest, where solar radiation in the autumn and winter is much too small to maintain healthy levels.

Your vitamin D level can be easily assessed with a simple blood test. Feel free to contact Seattle Naturopathic Center if you are interested in finding out your vitamin D level.

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Where you get your food allergy testing matters!

The problem with the standard food allergy tests, run by most doctors, allergists, and dermatologists is that they missing out very important food allergy reactions in the testing methods. Most clinics tests for IgE reactions only, which is only found in a small population. Most food allergies are not IgE mediated but are rather IgG reactions or sometimes IgA reactions, such as in celiac disease.

 

IgE hypersensitivity immune response is commonly known as a food allergy.  This reaction typically occurs very quickly (minutes to hours) after eating an offending food and symptoms are generally severe.  Many are aware of food allergies causing anaphylaxis (the most common example being peanuts and kids) but they may also experience itchy lips/tongue/throat, stuffy nose, headaches, belly ache, diarrhea, gas, bloating, skin reactions, and sudden fatigue.  This test is typically done through the blood or a skin prick test. However most adults have their ‘trigger food’ figured out because the reaction is so quick.  If ice cream causes immediate diarrhea, or strawberries create lip swelling, and peanuts close your throat – one does not easily forget. It’s usually fairly obvious because the symptoms occur so quickly to the offending food.

 

IgG and IgA food allergy response is different from an immediate IgE food allergy response in that symptoms may not show up for hours or days after ingested offending food allergens. This makes it very difficult to pinpoint exactly what foods are causing what reaction in the body especially as people tend to eat the same foods over and over.  Symptoms of an IgG and IgA response include: sore throat, stuffy nose, congestion, headaches, belly aches, constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, hormone issues, foggy head, headaches, weight gain, fatigue, joint pain, depression, behavior changes, anxiety, and skin issues (particularly acne, eczema, psoriasis).  How do you know if dairy products cause your mental fogginess or gluten causes fatigue or almonds increase your acne if you eat them everyday?


Testing for IgG and IgA food allergies is confusing for many healthcare providers as they are not typically trained on these types of reactions as they are neither obvious nor life-threatening. However food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities are gaining public awareness as people are removing offending food groups in order to help support autism/spectrum disorder treatment plans, chronic diseases, and reduce inflammation in the body with success.

 

For more information about food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities, please contact Dr. Lee at Seattle Naturopathic and Acupuncture Center or call 206-319-5322

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Identifying the problem: food allergy vs. food sensitivity

Knowing the difference between a food allergy and a food sensitivity can better help you determine the type of testing best suited to the problem. A food allergy is when the immune system targets a specific food protein as an allergen. The body attacks it and as a result produces large amounts of immunoglobulin E (IgE). The release of IgE causes the release of histamines and other chemicals which cause what is known as an allergic reaction. Food allergies symptoms range from mild to severe such as hives, swelling, dry cough, intestinal problems, eczema, headaches, etc. Only about 4-5% of the population has a true, immediate food allergy; some common allergens are peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish. A delayed response in food allergy is more frequently seen. Instead of the production of IgE, the body produces IgG. The result of IgG production can lead to symptoms such as asthma, eczema, headaches, joint pain, fatigue and more. Delayed response to food allergen generally takes about 48-72 hours for symptoms to occur.

On the other hand, sensitivities to food are not caused by an immune response but instead an unpleasant reaction to certain foods commonly in the form of stomach upset, acid reflux, and nausea. Nearly 70- 80% of Americans have a food intolerance; common foods include dairy products and gluten rich foods.

Ways to tackle food intolerances is through an elimination diet method to first detect the suspect foods. If this alone doesn’t eliminate symptoms, getting a food sensitivity blood test such as an ALCAT test can match what types of food one is sensitive to. Two common ways to test for food allergies are a blood test that measures the amount of IgE and or IgG present for certain types of food. A basic skin prick test which tests for immediate IgE immune reactions to foods is also used.

For more information about food allergy and/or food sensitivity testing, please contact Seattle Naturopathic and Acupuncture Center at 206-319-5322 or info@seattlenaturopathiccenter.com

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Everything you want to know about Vitamin B12!

Cobalamin, also known as vitamin B12, is an essential vitamin critical to function and health that is not naturally synthesized in our bodies. This vitamin can be obtained through the consumption of animal products in which bacteria within these foods synthesize it or through synthetic forms such as tablets, injections or additives. Some of the most B12 dense foods include shellfish, cow liver, fish, crab, fortified soy products, red meat, low fat dairy products, cheese, and eggs. As an alternative to these animal products, rice milk, fortified energy bars, and yeast extract have high B12 content as well.

Some major health benefits of B12 include lowering the levels of homocysteine, a protein in the blood which is known to lower nerve and heart health. Therefore, by lowering this protein level in the blood through the increase of B12, it increases protection against heart disease, increases DNA protection and repair which helps reduce cancer risks and slows aging, and increases protection against dementia and cognitive decline. It is also known that B12 and B9 (folate) deficiencies can double the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease as well as lower energy and endurance. Slight deficiencies in B12 can have adverse health effects including immediate signs of anemia, fatigue, mania, depression, and long term affects including permanent brain and nerve damage.

During normal absorption of vitamin B12, proteins in the stomach combine with the vitamin and aid in its absorption in the small intestine. Those at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency include people who have Atrophic Gastiris, an inability to absorb B12 from natural food sources, those with anemia, vegans or vegetarians, pregnant or lactating mothers, and those on certain medications. Also, individuals over the age of 50 have a declining ability to absorb B12, those who have had GI surgery, or those with pernicious anemia which decreases levels of proteins that aid in absorption. Recommended treatment or prevention for people B12injections or supplements. Also, topically B12 can be applied in combination with avocado or coconut oil to help treat skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis.

For more information about vitamin B12 injections, please visit Seattle Naturopathic Center or call 206-319-5322

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Are You Vitamin B12 Deficient? Take a Self-Awareness Survey

What are the symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency?

Weakness and fatigue, brain fog, light-headedness, loss of balance, rapid heartbeat and breathing, pale skin, sore tongue, easy bruising or bleeding, including bleeding gums, stomach upset and weight loss and diarrhea or constipation are all symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency.

If the deficiency is not corrected, it can damage the nerve cells. If this happens, vitamin B12 deficiency effects may include: tingling or numbness in arms, legs, fingers and toes, difficulty walking, mood changes or depression, memory loss, disorientation, and dementia.

What Diseases are Linked to Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

  • Alzheimer’s, dementia, cognitive decline and memory loss, (collectively referred to as “aging”)
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS) and other neurological disorders
  • Mental illness (depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, psychosis)
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Learning or developmental disorders in kids
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Autoimmune disease and other immune system dysfunction
  • Cancer
  • Male and female infertility
  • Asthma
  • Arthritis
  • Anemia
  • Inflammatory bowel disease 

Who is at risk for Vitamin B12 deficiency?

Many people over age 50 lose the ability to absorb vitamin B12 from foods.  This happens as specialized stomach cells slowly lose their ability to release an enzyme called intrinsic factor that helps break down dietary B12. 

Strict vegans (people who don’t eat any animal products, including meat, eggs, or milk) are at greatest risk. Vegetarians who eat eggs and milk products are also at risk, because, on average, they consume less than half the adult Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of vitamin B12.  Studies consistently demonstrate that up to 50 percent of long-term vegetarians and 80 percent of vegans are deficient in B12.

A common myth amongst vegetarians and vegans is that it’s possible to get B12 from plant sources like seaweed, fermented soy, spirulina and brewers yeast. But plant foods said to contain B12 actually contain B12 analogs called cobamides that block B12 absorption and increase the need for metabolically useful B12.  See the following study for explanation: (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10552882)

Others who may be low in Vitamin B12 are those who have had gastrointestinal surgery, such as weight loss surgery and people who have digestive disorders, such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease.

What are the Functions of Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 works together with folate in the synthesis of DNA and red blood cells. It’s also involved in the production of the myelin sheath around the nerves, and the conduction of nerve impulses. Vitamin B12 is also needed for building proteins in the body and helps keep levels of the amino acid homocysteine in check, which may help decrease heart disease risk.

Where can I get Vitamin B12 From my diet?

The body absorbs animal sources of vitamin B12 much better than plant sources. As mentioned above, non-animal sources of vitamin B12 are not reliable sources of the vitamin. 

Can you benefit from vitamin B12?

Take the survey in the next section to see if you can benefit from vitamin B12. If you have a score of 10 or higher, you will likely benefit from vitamin B12 injection. 

Are You Vitamin B12 Deficient?   Take a Self-Awareness Survey  

* * *

On a scale of 0 to 4, with zero being “experience not at all” and four being “experience greatly,” rate yourself on these symptoms and keep a running point total:

  • Depression (double your score)
  • Fatigue  (double your score)
  • Brain fog  (double your score)
  • Numbness or tingling in hands and feet  (double your score)
  • Dandruff
  • Bleed or bruise easily
  • Slow reflexes
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Memory problems
  • Menstrual problems
  • Nervousness/Anxiety
  • Pale, chalky skin
  • Pale nail beds
  • Pale tongue
  • Sore tongue
  • Feeling of weakness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Difficulties with balance
  • Bleeding gums
  • Weight loss
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tremors
  • Palpitations
  • Frequent colds and flus
  • Tender calves

Scoring:  When adding up your total score, double the values for the first four symptoms (Depression, Fatigue, Brain fog and Numbness or tingling in hands and feet).  All other symptoms are 0 to 4.

  • Under 10 points — most likely not Vitamin B12 deficient
  • 10 to 15 points — probable to benefit from Vitamin B12
  • 15+ ponts — likely to benefit from Vitamin B12

From more information about Vitamin B12 injection and if you would like to schedule a 15 minute appointment for your B12 injection, please call 206-319-5322 or visit Seattle Naturopathic and Acupuncture Center.

 

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How food intolerances affect your health?

The relative frequency of food intolerance and food-related complaints in the general populations is very high. Many food intolerances produce minimal symptoms, yet the long-term consequences are astonishing including thyroid disease, neurological disorders, increased cancer risk and accelerated aging.

 

Food intolerance is caused by a food substance that triggers a toxic reaction on contact with our intestinal cells. Contact with susceptible cells produces inflammation that can result in intestinal damage. The inflammatory cells release chemicals that cause our immune system to release antibodies against the offending food.


Some misconception of food intolerance

 

Food intolerances are diseases of childhood. Intolerances are more likely to be symptomatic in children but are found in adults of all ages. Food intolerances are perpetrators of ongoing intestinal inflammation, which may eventually exhaust the body’s defenses.


Food intolerances are only present in symptomatic patients. Food intolerances can be subjectively silent in many individuals. Nonetheless, they continue to drain our defenses and weaken our intestinal immune system. Food intolerance occurrence is underestimated in our symptom-driven health care system.


Food intolerances are simply intestinal irritations. Food intolerances can be more than a local intestinal problem, and may increase the risk of autoimmune diseases and cancer as well as accelerated aging.

 

Manifestations of Food Intolerance

 

  • Diarrhea or soft to loose stools are the most common digestive tract symptom
  • Constipation
  • Acid reflux
  • Changes in intestinal wall integrity
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Skin: hives, rash, eczema
  • Respiratory: asthma, nasal congestion, sinusitis
  • Brain: headache, migraine, sleeplessness, irritability

 

For more information about food intolerance and/or food intolerance testing, please contact Dr. Lee’s office at 206-319-5322 or visit us: Seattle Naturopathic and Acupuncture Center

 

 

 

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Filed under Allergies, Antiaging, Arthritis, Digestion, Eczema, fatigue, Food allergy, IBD, IBS, Inflammation, Leaky gut syndrome