Is naturopathic medicine right for you? It's not the right fit for everyone. If you're looking for a doctor to just give you a pill for your ill, naturopathic medicine is not for you. If you want the doctor to do everything while you just blindly do what he says, it's not for you. But if you are willing to be an active participant in your health journey and you are looking for something different than you have ever experienced before, then it might be a fit.
Every patient will be expected to embrance changes. We don't expect you to change everything overnight, but we do expect you to at least make baby steps. Like any baby, you will wobble and sometimes fall down, but we will be here to pick you up and help you to move forward again. It is the willingness to continue moving ahead that sets naturopathic patients apart and leads to better health outcomes. Below is out Foundations of Health. Are you up for the challenge?
FOUNDATIONS OF HEALTH
Many modern ills are due to our lifestyle choices. Just as one cannot build a house on a crumbling foundation, one needs a solid foundation in order to build health. Generally, we have not been given sound advice when it comes living a healthy lifestyle and we have not been given sound advice on the foundations of health.
Below are the main foundations and tips on what you can do to improve yours.
Vegetables and Fruits
Aim for at least 6 to 7 servings of vegetables and 2 to 3 servings of fruits per day. One serving is ½ cup expect for leafy greens where one serving is 1 cup.
Your diet should consist of mostly fresh veggies, some fruit, and quality animal protein. Avoid processed foods and sugar. Choose organic fruits and veggies whenever possible with the exception of the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Dirty Dozen which should always be organic. For the most recent list, see https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php The EWG also produces the Clean Fifteen, listing fifteen fruits and vegetables with the lowest number of pesticides and thus those you can feel more comfortable purchasing if you cannot find organic varieties. https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/clean-fifteen.php One thing to note about the Clean Fifteen list. It often contains sweet corn, papaya and summer squash. Unfortunately, many of these are now genetically modified (see next paragraph) and you will want to avoid them. The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists changes each year so be sure to check for updates yearly.
Always avoid genetically modified organisms (GMOs). GMO foods include Hawaiian papaya, some apples, some sweet corn, field corn, some summer squash (zucchini), sugar beets, soy, canola oil, cotton seed oil, some potatoes, and some farmed salmon. To determine if a fruit or vegetable is organic, look at the little sticker on it. If the sticker has a five digit number on it that starts with “9”, then it is organic. Conventional fruits and vegetables only have a four digit number on the sticker. Rarely you may find a five digit number that starts with an “8” indicating that it is genetically modified.
Try to eat some from each of the following groups. Fortunately, many of these are found in more than one group so it is not as daunting as it may seem at first glance and you have many options to choose from.
High Fiber: Soluble fiber – black beans, Lima beans, blueberries, Brussels sprouts, avocados, sweet potatoes, artichokes, broccoli, turnips, pears, kidney beans, figs, nectarines, apricots, carrots, apples, guavas, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, oats, barley (be sure to drink water with these) Insoluble fiber – whole grains, seeds, beans, skins of many fruits and vegetables
Soluble fiber is not only food for your microbiome, but it can bind cholesterol and remove it from the body thus lowering your levels. It also helps with both diarrhea and constipation by absorbing water thus reducing diarrhea or making hard stools softer and easier to pass. Because it is not absorbed well, it doesn’t contribute to blood sugar spikes. Insoluble fiber helps with constipation by bulking up the stool and helping to sweep it through the colon and moving it out. Both types are important.
Cruciferous Vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, turnips, bok choy, kohlrabi, arugula
Allium Vegetables: garlic, onions, leeks, chives
Dark, Leafy Greens: kale, microgreens, spinach, collard greens, beet greens, watercress, arugula, Romaine lettuce, Swiss chard, endive, bok choy, turnip greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens, but NOT iceberg lettuce
Dark berries: blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, red grapes, pomegranates
If any of these foods or groups cause you problems, please let us know as that provides a clue to digestive issues or other non-digestive symptoms you may be experiencing.
One serving of animal protein is 4 oz. or about the size of a deck of cards.
Animal proteins should be grass fed and grass finished. You will have to ask questions because some ranchers state their beef is grass fed and only admit to it not being grass finished when pushed on the issue. Even a week or two on grain (used to put weight on the animal before sale) can change the omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acid ratio to an undesirable, inflammatory number. Unfortunately alfalfa, often fed to cattle, is now GMO thus allowing Roundup to be used on it for weed control. This Roundup can get to you through the meat you consume. Organically raised animals cannot be fed this and still be considered organic. Additionally, non-organic animals are often given antibiotics for two reasons: 1) because feedlot animals are living in filthy conditions and 2) to add weight. These antibiotics are not out of their systems by the time their meat lands on your plate. This is why organic meats are important. Also know the word “natural” has no legal definition. Some ranchers raising “natural” beef are feeding GMO alfalfa. “Natural” is not an indication of healthy.
For fish, always choose wild caught. Farmed fish are fed GMO grains and have high exposures to pesticides and antibiotics. Smaller fish are preferable to larger fish as they have accumulated fewer toxins so sardines and anchovies are good choices. For salmon, stick with Sockeye whenever possible.
For eggs, choose humanely raised, cage free, organic eggs. Otherwise, the hens are likely fed a diet of GMO corn and soy. Note that a “vegetarian only” diet touted on many egg cartoons is an unnatural diet. While chickens do eat plants, they are also voracious bug eaters. Thus pastured raised hens is an even better choice.
Extra virgin olive oil is an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids. However, it should only be used cold. Do not cook with it. For cooking, avocado oil and to a lesser degree, coconut oil are excellent choices. Do not use corn oil, cottonseed oil, soy oil, or canola oil as these are all GMO. Organic grass fed butter is another good choice but watch that you don’t burn it if heating it.
A Few Other Points
Avoid all sugar as sugar depresses the immune system for hours after consumption, plus it is likely GMO and/or sprayed with Roundup. If you must use sugar, organic cane sugar or pure honey is the lesser of the evils.
Although wheat is not GMO, it is often sprayed with Roundup right before harvest to desiccate it in order to make harvest easier. It is not removed in the processing thus ending up in your food. Avoiding wheat is also advisable as gluten is known to contribute to leaky gut.
Avoid fortified foods, especially those with folic acid. Folic acid actually blocks the methylation pathway. Methylfolate and folinic acid are preferred. Be sure to check your supplements for folic acid.
Avoid cow’s milk in particular. If you feel you need dairy, choose goat or sheep’s milk instead. If consuming cow’s milk, always choose organic as non-organic cow’s milk often contains bovine growth hormone and even pus from infected teats.
Finally, always read labels! Why? Trick question. Real food doesn’t have labels!
Drink filtered water whenever possible. A whole house reverse osmosis system is best but not everyone can do that. Alternately, Berkey makes an excellent countertop filter and is one of the few that has optional fluoride filters. If your community fluorinates its water, you will want to use the fluoride filters. This does slow the filtration rate considerably so consider a larger filter size in that case.
Avoid plastic water bottles when possible and avoid “filtered” water when buying bottled water. Choose spring water instead.
For personal use, reusable stainless steel water bottles are an excellent choice.
Would you be surprised that newer homes often have the dirtiest air? Not only are many of the building materials, and any new furniture, still off-gassing, but new homes are tightly sealed and fresher, outdoor air is unable to get in. Should allergies and asthma be a problem, the IQ Air HealthPro Plus is a good choice for an air filter. For those with multiple chemical sensitivities, look to the IQ Air GC Multigas. www.iqair.com
If you have a natural gas or propane stove, be sure to use the vent each and every time the stove is used otherwise you are filling the kitchen, and the rest of the house, with combustion by-products. These combustion by-products include nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), possibly trace amounts of sulfur dioxide (SO2), and particulate matter (PM), all chemicals that should not be inhaled.
PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS
Shampoos, lotions, perfumes, makeup, toothpaste and the like are typically chemistry experiments gone wild, containing numerous artificial chemicals. The skin is our largest organ and it is quite porous. Whatever you put on your skin ends up inside of you. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep can help you find healthy products. https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/#.WpgqC4Pwb3g
Do not use Teflon pans or any other non-stick cookware. Store leftovers in glass. Recycled glass jars are excellent or purchase Mason jars at your local hardware store.
Never heat or microwave food in plastic. In fact, it is advisable to avoid using the microwave completely.
ELECTROMAGNETIC FREQUENCIES (EMFs)
Wireless Internet and cell phones are two of the biggest sources of EMFs. To decrease EMF exposure, use a wired Internet system rather than a wireless. If this is not possible, at least unplug the wireless router at night. Sleep is the time your body is making needed repairs. You don’t want to make that process more difficult with exposures to EMFs.
Similarly, do not have cell phones in the bedroom at night. During the day, try to keep your cell phone as far away from your body as possible.
Especially do not carry it in a shirt pocket over your heart and do not tuck it into your bra. In fact, don’t have it touching your body period.
Laptops can be a large source of EMFs also. Avoid using them in your lap.
Try to move at least 30 minutes 5 days per week. While a combination of cardio and strength training is ideal, if you are not up to it, find something that you are able to do. Even soft jumping on a mini trampoline, provided you have good support, is beneficial. Exercise and movement are needed to move lymph.
Stress can be internal or external. Internal stresses can be due to things such as infections or cancer. External stresses include bad relationships, financial difficulties, loss of a loved one, having a child, going through a divorce, work responsibilities, exposures to toxins, and a myriad of other stresses we experience. Many of these are impossible to avoid or difficult to reduce. Being aware they are a stress is the first step. Trouble shooting ways to reduce the stress as best as possible is the next step. Setting aside a little time for yourself to meditate or employing techniques such as tapping can be very helpful in reducing stress. https://www.thetappingsolution.com/tapping-101/
Stress is a big obstacle to cure as it suppresses the immune system. If you have stressful relationships in your life, seeking help to repair the relationships may be needed and in some cases, jettisoning the relationship may be the only solution. For example, if it is the relationship with your boss that is the cause of your stress, you may need to seek out a supervisor for assistance, you may need to ask for a transfer, or you may have to seek employment elsewhere. The same applies for personal relationships as well.
Friendships and support can be a lifesaver in times of illness. Be honest with your friends in your needs and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Most people are willing to help but just don’t know what to do.
If a spiritual life is important to you, cultivate it. Spend time with it. Embrace it in whatever way suits you the best.
Although listed last, sleep is arguably the most important item on this list. Getting at least 8 hours of sleep each night is critical to healing. Your room should be absolutely dark, even to the point of covering the clock. No night lights, including in any adjacent bathroom or hallway. Do not have cell phones in the bedroom. If possible, unplug the WiFi in the home if present. The temperature of the room should be on the colder side, around 65F or cooler. Be sure to avoid electronics, or at least use a blue light filter, for one hour before bed.