Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Are you Allergic to your Food?

Having an allergy to food is not uncommon. There are many people who know they can’t eat peanuts or shellfish because of the massive reaction they have afterwards. But, could you be allergic to dairy or maybe just reactive? What about red peppers, corn, soy, gluten? There are tons of foods out there that people can be allergic to, or at least reactive to, but they may never realize this. Why? Because the reactions are small, can result from a cumulative effect (so little is fine, but it adds up), these items are hidden in foods so we can’t always correlate a reaction with a specific food, or because we don’t realize we’re having a reaction. For instance, acne can be an allergic reaction to corn or gluten, your IBS like symptoms that are off and on and never predictable could be a reaction to gluten or dairy, or the headache you always seem to have could be an allergy to soy. These are just some examples, but I think you get the idea.

Another problem with food allergies is that blood tests are extremely unreliable. Again, you may not even be allergic but just reactive/sensitive to a substance which would not show up on blood work. So, how do you know if you are allergic to a food item, and how do you know which item? Answer: with an elimination diet.  If this is something you want to do, I suggest talking to your health care professional, but in general this is how they work: for 30 days you eliminate all possible allergenic foods (like gluten, soy, corn, and dairy) and during this time support your GI system (through probiotics, increased fiber, and some other herbal remedies). Then once the 30 days is up you have ‘splurge’ meals. That is you pick a food item like diary and then you have a dairy heavy meal. You then wait about 2 hours and see how you feel. If you feel fine then you are not allergic to dairy, otherwise dairy may be a substance you are allergic/reactive to. You do this with each allergic food making sure to only add one food back at time.  So, if you are having problems with low energy, headaches, GI issues, or acne doing an elimination diet may be a great tool to see if the problem is something you are eating.  

Friday, April 6, 2012

What does eating healthy even mean?

Do you eat healthy? It seems like a simple questions right? The problem is what is healthy for me may not be healthy for you. So what is healthy then? The answer it typically based on your past experience with food (what you ate growing up and your cultural heritage) and any health concerns you might have.  If you grew up eating McDonalds and other fast-food every night for dinner, you might consider homemade chicken and rice (without any veggies) a healthy choice. But if you grew up in a house that typically ate that, you might consider a salad with grilled chicken a health choice. If you grew up in an Italian household eating pasta with veggies might seem like a healthy choice, but not if you have problems with gluten.  When it comes to a healthy diet, like most things in life it’s all relative. With that being said here are some general advice on what makes a healthy diet (for those without dietary restrictions).

1.       Don’t forget the vegetables! Many people look at their diet and say… It doesn’t have a lot of fat, it’s not fried, it’s high in protein, there’s not butter, ect but forget to ask the most important question… where are the vegetables and other foods that are packed full of nutrients. It’s not enough to not eat ‘bad’ foods; you have to make sure you eat ‘good’ foods that are high in nutrients.

2.       Make sure to eat enough protein. For whatever reason women tend to not get enough protein in their diet. Protein is an essential part of giving the body the energy it needs on a daily basis.

3.       Minimize simple carbs like white bread, high fructose corn syrup, and sugar. In moderation these things are fine (again depending on your health concerns this may not be true), but a lot of American do not realize how high their diet are in these items and the negative health consequences they can have.

4.       Snacking is a good thing. It’s true, eating many small meals throughout the day is one of the best ways to create a high metabolism.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Acne… it’s not just for kids anymore

I was a really lucky teenager, I may have had the occasional blemish but overall I never really had acne. That is until I started my Chiropractic internship and then opened my own business.  Here I thought once I passed my teenage years this would be a problem of the past, FALSE! So, I started to look into all the different causes of acne… and there are several.  This is why it can be really hard to treat acne, you have to first determine the cause.  For those who have acne here are a couple of the causes with some suggestions on how to help. 

  1. Oily skin – the best way to treat this type of acne is by keeping it clean, which means always washing your face in the morning and night. Also, there are several oil absorbing products that can help throughout the day, such as oil absorbing sheets and oil absorbing powders.
  2. Inflammation – watching your diet will help the most, during outbreaks you’ll want to limit the amount of simple sugars and simple carbs you eat since they will make the outbreak worse. Also, anti-inflammatories like fish-oils could be helpful.
  3. Hormones – the best way to help this type of acne is by helping right your hormones. For this you should talk to your health care professional.
  4. Stress – that’s right stress. During stressful periods you can get acne breakouts on your face or your back. The best was to treat this type of acne is by finding ways to relax and get out of your own head. Suggestions… yoga, meditation, watching 30 minutes of mindless/funny tv, and singing out loud to music during your commute.
In general, not matter what the cause of your acne you should make sure to have a good cleanser to remove dirt and oil, be careful of heavy moisturizers that can make acne worse, and make sure your cleanser doesn’t strip your skin or it will change the pH and cause more oil to be produced.  Also using primer can help make-up stay longer.