Tag Archives: immune system

April is IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) Awareness Month

Put-Your-Gut-on-a-Healthy-Diet-722x406.jpgIrritable bowel syndrome or IBS is one of the most common health conditions in the US affecting at least 10% of the US population.  It is often classified as a chronic condition because it often recurs after it is treated, but this doesn’t have to be the case.

The symptoms of IBS include one or more of the following: abdominal pain, cramping, flatulence, bloating, diarrhea and/or constipation.

It is often possible to minimize the symptoms of IBS by cutting out high FODMAP foods.  While this is helpful in enabling the person to carry on a normal life, it is not a good long-term solution.  High fiber foods are food for the good bacteria in our large intestines. Limiting high fiber foods, such as while on a low FODMAP diet, for an extended period of time, decreases the total quantity of bacteria in the gut. A decrease in good gut bacteria leaves room for pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria to colonize, should we happen to ingest some of them. This puts us at increased risk of an infection.

The Food Co-op carries peppermint oil and peppermint tea, both of which can be helpful for the cramping pain that may occur before and during treatment of IBS.

In one study of people with IBS symptoms, 80% of them tested positive for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).  This is a condition in which there is a greater than normal amount of non-pathogenic (non-disease-causing) bacteria in the small intestine.  It is associated with the same symptoms as those associated with IBS.  While there has not been a cause and effect relationship established between IBS and SIBO, the IBS symptoms usually resolve when the SIBO is treated.  Natural medicine involves treating the cause of IBS so that it won’t recur.

For more information, contact Dr Joan Waters at Practical Health Solutions, LLC at 970-482-2010.


Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin

vitamin-d-sunlight1What we call vitamin D is actually a steroid hormone that is essential for numerous processes in the body. It is important for utilizing calcium to build and maintain strong bones, for fight infection, enhancing the self-destruction of mutated cells, slowing the production and spread of cancer cells, and improving seizure control in epileptics. Having adequate vitamin D levels reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, preterm births, the risk of respiratory and vaginal infections and gingivitis. There are vitamin D receptors on most, if not all cells so it is likely that vitamin D is necessary for more processes than we are aware of.

Most people who don’t supplement with vitamin D are deficient in it, even those who live in sunny places like Florida and Arizona. The rule of thumb to obtain Vitamin D from the sun is to expose your face and arms to the sun for 20 minutes per day, during a time when you are taller than your shadow. It is important to have your serum vitamin D level checked at least once per year. It appears that the optimal serum vitamin D level is between 50 and 60 ng/ml. A vitamin D level above 60ng/ml may increase the risk of certain cancers.

If you supplement, consider using Vitamin D3 and in an emulsified form, as this makes it more readily usable by the body. The Fort Collins Food Coop carries several forms of Vitamin D, including an emulsified vitamin D. If you need to take more than 2000 IU per day, consider taking it in divided doses, as taking greater than 2000IU at one time has been known to cause acid reflux in some people.

By Joan D Waters, ND Practical Health Solutions, LLC Fort Collins

Thanks is for Giving

BLogIMageHappy Sweet Potato Awareness Month (did you know they are different than yams?);Happy National Peanut Butter Lovers’ Month (did you know you can freshly grind your own at the Fort Collins Food Cooperative’s bulk section for just $5.99/lb?); Happy Movember furry–faced fellows!

Much there is to be happy about this time of year (like Yoda speak), and even more to be grateful about (like The Force Awakens). As earth tones catch your eye, with spiced cider/tea to warm your bones and abundant squash/root vegetables fill your belly with some slices of apple/pumpkin pies to delight your taste buds; indeed it is a timely celebration of our hard–earned harvest of 2015.

Like the Ancient Greek Hippocrates, the western pioneering physician, once stated, “Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.”

I have since consciously adopted a diet that works for me, without attaching any rigid labels to myself because I know that just as certain ailments require certain remedies, so also do I feel the need for different foods, based on their symbiotic effects on my overall health.

It’s important for people to be in tune with their own individual needs, as the eastern Ayurvedic tradition notes will differ based on body constitution.


Staying Healthy over the Holidays

During the holidays, we are more susceptible to infections due to increased stress and the fact that most of us attend more social functions at this time of year, increasing our contact with viruses and bacteria.

Naturopathically, we speak of optimizing our ‘terrain’, or our inner environment, so that we can be around pathogens and not get sick.  Since 70 to 80% of our probiotic foods resides in our gut, maintaining healthy gut flora is the key to maintaining our health. We do this by eating a mostly whole-food diet, eating probiotic foods or taking a probiotic supplement and by managing our stress effectively.

We can further support our immune system by finding out what we are allergic or sensitive to and by avoiding those substances. This frees up our immune system to fight infection.

Sugar and refined carbohydrates are inflammatory, and are taxing to the immune system. In one study, it was shown that the immune system was suppressed by up to 50% for 7 hours after subjects ingested 2 sugary soft drinks. Cutting down on ‘artificial food’ is always the best, but if you choose to indulge and you are around sick people, consider using a neti-pot before you go to bed to cut down on the immune system’s workload.   Also, get plenty of sleep most nights, so you don’t stress your body excessively when you stay up late for a holiday party.

If relational stresses come up, consider performing ‘bilateral cross-crawl’ activities such as walking while swinging your arms, while focusing your thoughts on the distressing situation. Using bilateral cross-crawl movements connects the right and left sides of your brain, making it easier to process through difficult emotions. After dealing with the difficult situation, focus on what you are grateful for.

By Joan Waters, ND   www.practicalhealthsolutions.com

For more article’s like these visit Joan’s website and blog.


Natural Immunization Awareness Month


August is now the month of National Immunization Awareness here in the United States, where conventional immunization often entails making a (rather dreadful, although seemingly necessary) trip to the doctor’s office. Where waiting longer than expected to receive a painfully arm–/leg–numbing needle injection of some vaccine that will most likely cost you an arm and a leg is quite common.

What I suggest, as the title of this post subtly alludes to, is to consider the natural healing process of sustaining ourselves (the kind that doesn’t require being poked with pointy, micro–poisonous objects), with a focus on the interpersonal relationships we each have with one another.

As we know, the body (and the mind) constantly seeks equilibrium, some semblance of balance in a world of designated duality, polar opposites and temporal extremes.

Vaccines introduce into the biochemical equation an ‘agent’, which “stimulates the body’s immune system to recognize the agent as a threat, destroy it, and keep a record of it, so that the immune system can more easily recognize and destroy any of these microorganisms that it later encounters.”

Now, I invite you to think about a time when someone (including yourself) harmed you (un)intentionally in some way, whether it was verbally, (non)verbally, physically, or emotionally.

Did you not need some time to allow the toxic dosage of that interaction to seep and circulate throughout your body, to experience it deeply and fully, however much it may have hurt, in order for your healing mechanisms to perform nothing short of a miracle?

There is so much emphasis in our modernized society to do things to be happy, which oftentimes comes at the expense of being happy while doing things.

While we may think we are separate individuals, we are never completely immune from the ills of our society, from the ilk that is our humanity, from the ink that shares our story.

We are interconnected reflections, boosting our collective immune system with simple smiles and sincere acts of kindness (suggested daily, repeat as necessary.)

Jordan encourages you to be happy and healthy by acknowledging your body’s intuitive healing process, with the help of a cornucopia of local, organic food, medicinal herbs, essential/body oils, locally made tinctures, and other organic remedies you will most excellently find at the Fort Collins Food Co–op. BlogWriterFooter_Jordan

Maintaining Gut Health while Traveling Abroad

When traveling abroad, your immune system encounters exotic pathogens for which it is unprepared, increasing your risk of infection.

When our immune system recognizes a new pathogen (potentially harmful microorganism), it makes memory B cells so that the next time we encounter that organism, the body rapidly makes antibodies to it. As we grow, we develop memory B cells for all the pathogens that we have been exposed to, allowing our body to react rapidly to them, often without us knowing it is occurring. When abroad, we don’t have this protection because we are encountering some pathogens for the first time. For this reason, we need to be more careful about what we eat and drink and the water we swim in while we are abroad.

Stomach acid kills most pathogens that we ingest. If you are taking a proton pump inhibitor or other acid-blocking agent, you are more susceptible to infection. You may want to consider suggesting to your doctor that you begin taking it between meals instead of before you eat. Taking an apple cider vinegar tablet (available at Fort Collins Food Coop) before each meal has been shown to stimulate the production of stomach acid, which, in turn, stimulates the secretion of digestive enzymes. The body needs to be in a relaxed state to enable the stomach to produce enough acid to kill pathogens and digest food. Prayer, deep breathing or meditation may help you relax.

Taking a probiotic (available at Fort Collins Food Coop) will help prevent colonization of a pathogen in the intestines. The probiotic bacteria will fill the spaces vacated by bacteria that die, crowding out pathogens, preventing their attachment, and allowing them to pass right through you.

By Joan D Waters, naturopathic doctor