The Salad Secret

Love a great salad, but hate the expense and added calories of store-bought dressing?  

It’s a simple formula: 

1 T Oil – Extra Virgin, Walnut, Hazelnut, Avocado
1 t Vinegar – Balsamic, Sherry, Apple Cider, Red Wine, Rice Wine
1 pinch Seasoning – Garlic, smoked paprika, salt, pepper
2 pinches Herbs – Dill, Basil, Cilantro, Rosemary, Herbs de Provence, etc. 
1/2 t Mustard – Whole grain, spicy, dijon, honey mustard
1/2 t Sweet Stuff – Maple syrup, agave syrup, honey, jam

Combine these items, adjusted to your palate, and blend with your favorite veggies, legumes, and more for easy, tasty salads perfect for your palate. 

Misdiagnosis of Gluten Sensitivity?

Gluten sensitivity/gluten intolerance (not to be confused with Celiac Disease) is an immensely popular buzz phrase right now.  There is a great deal of controversy around whether or not it is a truly legitimate condition, and many speculate that going gluten free is a trend that will quickly pass for those who voluntarily chose it as a lifestyle.  For people who are dealing with very real symptoms, it is a very real problem.  In some instances, though, it is misdiagnosed either by the individual or a health care provider.

Gluten sensitivity has many of the same symptoms as a condition called Candida, or Candidiasis, which is caused by an overgrowth of a naturally occurring yeast (Candida albicans) in the body.  Left untreated, Candida can lead to major health issues down the line.

I’m not saying this to start a panic, and I’m not trying to alarm anyone.  The purpose of this article is to provide information.  If you or someone you know is living with the symptoms below, we strongly encourage consultation with a health care professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.  If you have Candidiasis, going gluten free may not be an effective enough solution.

Shared Symptoms
Gluten Sensitivity and Candidiasis share many of the same chronic symptoms, including:

  • Irritability

  • Mood swings

  • Depression/anxiety, especially after eating

  • Digestive distress (gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea)

  • Mental fogginess

  • ADD/ADHD behaviors

  • Fatigue

  • Headaches/migraines

  • Muscle/joint aches and pains

Candida can lead to the following if untreated:

  • Adult-onset allergies to foods and airborn irritants. Left unchecked, the number of allergies can continue to grow to the point that some individuals essentially become shut-ins.

  • Chronic yeast infections

  • Menstrual complications

  • Infertility

  • Impotence

  • UTIs

  • Thrush

  • Chronic infections (cold, flu, tonsillitis, bronchitis, ear ache) due to weakened immune system

  • Athlete’s foot

  • Psoriasis

  • Rough bumps on the sides of arms

  • Jock itch

These are only partial lists.  One of the reasons that Candida is often misdiagnosed is because it has so many symptoms (and so many shared symptoms with gluten sensitivity), and individuals do not always present with the same cluster of issues.  If not properly treated, Candidiasis can linger for life, especially in individuals who frequently consume eggs, meats, and milk treated with antibiotics, or women on oral contraceptives.

Causes of Candida
Candida albicans is a naturally occurring yeast in our bodies.  Diets heavy in refined flours and sugars trigger yeast growth and its related symptoms, which is one of the reasons that Candida is often misdiagnosed as gluten sensitivity.  Corticosteriods, chemotherapy drugs, and prolonged or frequent broad spectrum antibiotic use kill the bacteria that keep candida albicans in check, allowing for the yeast to flourish.  Additionally, individuals with long-term illnesses, excessive amounts of stress, and those who smoke, drink, or have inadequate exercise and diet programs, are vulnerable to Candida outbreaks.

Treatment of Candidiasis
Anti-yeast treatments and a modified diet help reduce the proliferation of Candida albicans in the body.  Once the yeast levels are regulated, it is necessary to repair the damage done.  Adding nutritional supplements, and acupuncture and/or naturopathy are also effective in treatment.

Candidiasis in Traditional Chinese Medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, defines 6 Yang organs in the body.  When one of the Yang organs is over or under-stimulated, it affects balance with Yin, and overall health.  The Triple Burner is one of the Yang organs.  The Upper Burner is the heart and lungs; Middle Burner regulates spleen and stomach; Lower Burner comprises the liver, intestines, bladder, and kidney.  The spleen processes the foods we ingest into Chi and Blood, which nourish everything in the body.  When Candidiasis affects the Spleen, it can spread and create Damp Heat in the Lower Burner and Heat and Fire in the Upper Burner, leading to a variety of the symptoms listed above.

Acupuncture needles placed along the body’s meridians regulate the Spleen, which can help clear waste, toxins, and phlegm from the body.  Once the body is cleansed, it must be tonified to repair damage and restore balance.

While acupuncture and other forms of Traditional Chinese Medicine are highly effective in treating Candida, it requires more than one session.  It took time for the body to get broken to the point people experience symptoms, and it takes time for the body to heal to the point symptoms are relieved.

The Candida Diet
Foods to Avoid
Highly processed and refined foods
Foods high in sugar (including honey, agave, syrup, and molasses
Starchy vegetables
Aged cheeses, especially blue cheese
Sweetened beverages – coffee, tea, energy drinks, fruit juice
Processed meats – bacon, packaged deli meat, sausages
Condiments/Dressings/Sauces – ketchup, tomato sauce, pickles containing sugar; vinegar based salad dressings (unless apple cider vinegar)

Friendly Foods
Free-range chicken and eggs
Grass-fed beef
Nuts and seeds
Yogurt and kefir
Fermented foods (kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut)
Daikon radish
Unsweetened coffee and tea (caffeine aggravates Candidiasis in some individuals)
Leafy greens – collards, mustard, spinach, kale, endive, Swiss chard
Full-fat dairy
Fish – mackerel, shellfish, sardines, halibut, wild Alaskan salmon
Non-glutinous grains such as buckwheat, millet, amaranth, and quinoa
Green beans
Butter and oils – olive, coconut, sesame, flax, sunflower
Radish, especially Daikon
Snow peas
Turnips (makes a great mash in lieu of potatoes; so does cauliflower)

Self-diagnosis is often mis-diagnosis.  You may have noticed that your body responds negatively to certain foods, and positively when you limit those foods from your diet.  That’s a great first step.  The next step is to carefully examine how effective dietary restrictions have been.  Did they reduce or eliminate all of your symptoms?  Do you have new symptoms that didn’t appear before?  Be mindful of your body, and thoughtful in how you treat it.  Consult a health care provider if you suspect that you may be living with Candidiasis, or if eliminating gluten from your diet has not alleviated the symptoms often ascribed to gluten sensitivity.

Contact Affinity Acupuncture for Nashville Acupuncture treatments and techniques.

Is Your Tea Unhealthy?

A recent study in Food Research International showed alarming levels of pesticides and synthetic flourides in popular bagged teas.  

How Does This Happen?
Washing teas before they’re dried isn’t a common practice. This leads to pesticide residues on non-organic tea- even some that are marketed as organic and pesticide free.  Tea plants accumulate synthetic flouride (a toxic byproduct) as they grow, so older leaves have higher concentrations.  Many of the less expensive teas are made from older leaves with higher accumulations. Levels are even higher in decaffeinated teas. 

What Does This Mean?
Some of the pesticides found in these bagged teas are known carcinogens, and present in quantities higher than the US and EU limits.  Some brands have 7 ppm of synthetic flouride, almost 2x the allowed level of 4 ppm.  The flouride can lead to bone, tooth, kidney, and other problems. 

Is My Tea OK?
Many of the most popular brands were noted in the study, including Tazo, Lipton, Allegro, Celestial Seasonings, Twinings, Teavana, Bigelow Tea, Mighty Leaf, Trader Joe’s, Tetley, Yogi, and Tea Forte. 

Do I Have to Give up Tea? 
Absolutely not. There are health benefits of many teas out there, but it may be time to switch brands or methods. Brew your own loose leaf teas, and try to focus on organic and white teas. Many of the bagged teas are made from low quality leaves which contain more flouride.

All the Pleasure, None of the Guilt

July is here, and we’re basking in the bounty of seasonal fruits.  The first few times I brought home fresh strawberries, our daughter could knock out a pint in a day.  When I finally bit the bullet and brought home a pound, she was fatigued by them, and we couldn’t go through them quickly enough.  We hate to see fresh, seasonal fruit go to waste, but so many recipes call for ingredients that our bodies don’t need or benefit from.  

This quick, easy frozen yogurt recipe calls for strawberries, but they can be replaced with -blueberries, peaches, or other fruits in abundance in your area.  It is important that the fruit be frozen before blending, though, to get the right consistency. 

Homemade Strawberry Frozen Yogurt
Makes 4 Servings

4 c frozen strawberries
3 T honey
1/2 c plain yogurt
1 T fresh lemon juice

Combine all of the ingredients in your food processor and blend until smooth, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a freezer container and freeze until solid.  Keeps for up to 1 month. 

What could be easier and more refreshing on a hot summer day?  Plus, there are health benefits to these ingredients!  Strawberries and other red fruits are rich in lycopene and are fantastic for women’s health.  Honey has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.  Lemons are rich in antioxidants.  Yogurt is full of probiotics for your gut – the center of your immune system. 

Acupuncture Regulates Insulin And Glucose In Diabetics

Acupuncture Regulates Insulin And Glucose In Diabetics

From HealthCMI

on 07 June 2015.

Acupuncture regulates glucose levels in diabetics and improves the performance of metformin, an oral diabetes medication. Combining electroacupuncture with metformin improves glucose lowering performance and regulation of insulin secretion. As a result of recent findings, researchers conclude that a combination of electroacupuncture with an insulin sensitiser may be a new treatment for type 2 diabetes.

Liao et al. conducted a laboratory investigation on the effects of electroacupuncture and metformin on insulin resistant rats. The researchers comment that their investigation design is a humane model in that the rats need not be killed at the completion of the experiment. Blood samples, insulin assays, and immunohistochemical staining with western blot revealed important facts about how electroacupuncture achieves its therapeutic effects.

Electroacupuncture combined with metformin results in higher insulin levels than using only metformin. The researchers note that while metformin increases insulin sensitivity and inhibits gluconeogenesis, it “does not directly affect insulin secretion in the pancreas….” This indicates that the higher insulin levels were due to the addition of electroacupuncture treatments to acupuncture point ST36 (Zusanli).

An acupuncture plus metformin group was compared with a metformin only group. The researchers discovered that electroacupuncture increases the expression of MAPK insulin signalling factors. Mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) regulate a variety of cell functions. The researchers note that higher MAPK levels in the electroacupuncture combined with metformin group were due, at least in part, to electroacupuncture induced muscle contractions.

Metformin mildly decreases plasma free fatty acid (FFA) levels. However, the addition of electroacupuncture significantly enhanced this effect. FFA increases are associated with insulin resistance and reduced insulin sensitivity. The researchers note that the results suggest that adding electroacupuncture (EA) therapy to metformin intake ameliorates “insulin resistance caused by FFAs.” 

The researchers note, “In conclusion, we found that EA–metformin resulted in a better glucose-lowering effect, higher levels of insulin secretion, lower plasma FFA levels and higher levels of MAPK than metformin alone. The glucose-lowering effect and increased insulin sensitivity associated with EA–metformin administration is governed, at least in part, by its ability to stimulate the activation of GLUT4 via upregulation of MAPK expression.” 

The researchers noted several reasons for initiation of their investigation. Prior research by Lin et al. indicates that 2 Hz electroacupuncture at acupuncture point CV12 (Zhongwan) “reduces plasma glucose levels in diabetic rats.” Lee et al. discovered that electroacupuncture stimulates beta endorphin releases that increase insulin production in diabetic rats. Electroacupuncture at 15 Hz to acupoint ST36 induced glucose lowering responses through stimulation of cholinergic nerves and adrenal glands that subsequently stimulate the release of insulin signalling proteins. Electroacupuncture was also shown to enhance the expression of insulin receptor substrate 1 (IRS-1), an insulin signal protein that results in FFA decreases.

Liang et al. demonstrate that low frequency electroacupuncture improves insulin sensitivity in diabetic mice via activation of PGC-1alpha and SIRT1. PGC alpha is a master regulator of mitochondrial biogenesis. The protein deacetylase SIRT1 is a metabolic sensor that affects PGC alpha. Together, the two substances are involved in metabolic fitness. Lagouge et al. note, in their study of the benefits of resveratrol on mitochondrial function and prevention of metabolic disease, that SIRT1 is indicated “as a key regulator of energy and metabolic homeostasis.”

Liao et al. note that human clinical trials “should be undertaken to obtain clearer information about the role of EA in GLUT4 translocation as well as the long-term effects on the control of DM (diabetes melitis).” They note that the data indicates that combining electroacupuncture with an insulin sensitizing agent may be a new treatment strategy for type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Liao, Hsien-Yin, Mao-Feng Sun, Jaung-Geng Lin, Shih-Liang Chang, and Yu-Chen Lee. “Electroacupuncture plus metformin lowers glucose levels and facilitates insulin sensitivity by activating MAPK in steroid-induced insulin-resistant rats.” Acupuncture in Medicine (2015): acupmed-2014.

Lin JG, Chang SL, Cheng JT. Release of beta-endorphin from adrenal gland to lower plasma glucose by the electroacupuncture at Zhongwan acupoint in rats. Neurosci Lett 2002;326:17–20.

Lee YC, Li TM, Tzeng CY, et al. Electroacupuncture at the Zusanli (ST-36) acupoint induces a hypoglycemic effect by stimulating the cholinergic nerve in a rat model of streptozotocine-induced insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

Liang F, Chen R, Nakagawa A, et al. Low-frequency electroacupuncture improves insulin sensitivity in obese diabetic mice through activation of SIRT1/PGC-1alpha in skeletal muscle. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2011;2011:735297.

Lagouge, Marie, Carmen Argmann, Zachary Gerhart-Hines, Hamid Meziane, Carles Lerin, Frederic Daussin, Nadia Messadeq et al. “Resveratrol improves mitochondrial function and protects against metabolic disease by activating SIRT1 and PGC-1α.” Cell 127, no. 6 (2006): 1109-1122.

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