Nutrition is a very dynamic science. I look back to the 90’s when everything in my household was “fat free” and thought I was eating right! Luckily, most of the population has turned away from the low fat frenzy where bagels and pasta were unlimited and realized that carbohydrates may be a target of dietary modification.
Two specific nutrients I get many questions on are calcium and vitamin D. Below you will find some thoughts on the utility of dairy products and sun exposure!
Myth: You must eat dairy products to get calcium and keep bones strong
Calcium is found in a wide variety of foods, including dairy products. The problem with dairy is that some people have sensitivities (can present as eczema, acne, IBS), it tends to be pro inflammatory/mucus producing (chronic sinus or respiratory issues) and many people do not have the enzymes (lactase) necessary to digest dairy. The belief that dairy prevents fractures and supports bone health has not been supported by research. The Harvard Nurses’ Health Study, followed more than 75,000 women for 12 years, showed no protective effect of increased milk consumption on fracture risk. In fact, increased intake of calcium from dairy products was associated with a higher fracture risk.
Calcium is a very important mineral, but choose your sources of calcium wisely. Try to get a variety of calcium containing foods in your daily diet:
Bone strength depends on more than just calcium. Vitamin D, magnesium and vitamin K are also important for bone health.
Myth: You only need vitamin D supplementation in the winter.
It is true that our vitamin D levels can dip in the winter, which may be a cause for seasonal depression. When the sun is out in the summer months, are you getting enough D on a daily basis? Individual requirements for vitamin D vary widely, making follow up blood testing important to see if optimal blood levels are being achieved. Target blood values are usually > 70 on standard blood panels.
The ability to make vitamin D from the sun is dependent on our geographic location. In areas north of 35-37 degrees latitude, little to no vitamin D is made November to February. For reference, Chicago is at 41 degrees north and Phoenix is at 33 degrees. Also, any sunscreen over SPF 8 will block the sun’s ability to make vitamin D. Caucasians need approximately 20 minutes per day between 10 and 2pm of direct sunlight, most of skin uncovered (think bikini or swim trunks!), to make their daily dose of vitamin D. Darker skinned individuals need a longer duration in the sun to allow for absorption, approximately 40 minutes or more. During sunbathing, the body can make up to 20,000 units in this 20 minute time period.
Food sources that are high in vitamin D are fortified; therefore sun exposure and supplementation are critical.
Vitamin D is best absorbed and utilized with vitamin K (both K1 and K2), so I usually recommend supplementation containing D and K. Look for cholecalciferol (D3) which is the active form of D that you make from the sun!
Something called “leaky gut” could be the root cause of your health concerns.
Your gastrointestinal (GI) tract:
Signs that general functions are not carried out properly:
Could leaky gut be the answer?
In very simple terms, leaky gut may be the cause of some of the above listed symptoms. Leaky gut is when the barrier between the outside world (food, medicines, or supplements) you put into the body begin to “leak” into the bloodstream. Normally, the mucosa (lining of the digestive tract) has tight junctions between the cells that line the digestive tract. When these cells are no longer tightly lined up due to chronic inflammation, toxins, pathogens (bad bacteria or yeast), or stress, symptoms as listed above can occur. Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words…
As you know, health starts with the gut! Hope this finds you with a happy digestive system!
Your body is made up of about 60% water! We lose water via urine, perspiration, and respiration. Have you ever wondered how much water you should drink in a day? Is the recommended “8-glasses” enough? What about other beverages (coffee, tea, etc.)– do those count? Below are some tips on how to stay hydrated this summer and year round!
Fun water ideas:
Cheers to water!
Bone broths are becoming a popular drink! It is especially great for those with digestive concerns (like food allergies) or inflammatory conditions (like arthritis or acute cold/flu). Some of the benefits of bone broth include:
Mineral-Rich Bone Broth
Yield: Approximately 14 servings
4 quarts of filtered water
1.5- 2 lbs of beef knuckle bones or marrow bones (or any other kinds of bones – especially oxtail, which lends added gelatin and a delicious flavor). Chicken turkey or necks are inexpensive and also work great. You can get these by asking for them at the butchers counter.
Cloves from 1 whole head of fresh garlic, peeled & smashed
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (organic, unfiltered- I like Bragg’s brand)
1Tsp unrefined sea salt – or more/less to taste (I like Celtic Sea Salt)
If you choose, you may brown or roast the bones in a separate pan/pot. If you are using a crockpot, but this isn’t a necessary step. I usually just use leftover bones from a whole roasted chicken or a bone-in steak. If you don’t have enough bones for a batch, save the bones in a plastic bag in the freezer until you have accumulated enough to make the broth.
Place all ingredients in a 6 quart pot and set the heat to HIGH. Bring the stock to a boil, then reduce the heat setting to LOW. Allow the stock to cook for a minimum of 8 hours and up to 24 hours. The longer it cooks, the better!
(I really prefer the crockpot for this reason– set it and forget it!)
Turn off the pot or crockpot and allow the stock to cool.
Strain the stock through a fine mesh metal strainer to remove large pieces. Discard bones, herbs, spices or veggies you used to cook with. Place the stock into glass or metal bowls and allow to cool completely in the fridge. After it cools, determine how much to leave in the fridge and how much to freeze. Store in the fridge in glass canning jars. I like to freeze in quart size bags and ice cube trays so I can have various quantities on hand.
You can drink stock any time of day, before or after meals, or use it as the base for soups and stews!
Perfect in any recipe that calls for broth. Keep in mind it will make your soup or stew thicker than using commercial pre-prepared broths.
Use any other kind of animal bones you like – chicken, in fact, will take less time due to the smaller pieces.
Add chopped veggies like carrots, celery and onions for more flavor or variety.
Add ginger for warming spiciness!
I have often recommended meditation to patients to help calm their mind and ease stress. Sometimes, I am met with puzzling looks: what does that mean? How do I meditate? Is it hard? Here are some simple ways to make meditation a part of your routine.
Give them a try and see which technique sticks for you!