GMO’s And The Danger of Eating “Frankenfood”

As the old adage goes, “You are what you eat.” People who consume a healthy diet balanced with ample fruits and veggies ultimately lead longer, healthier lives than those who are grabbing meals on the go. Most of us have seen Fast Food Nation and Super Size Me, the message was received loud and clear.

What then, can we deduce of the rapidly growing trend of GMO foods in our supermarkets?

If this phrase hasn’t made its way into your vocabulary yet, GMO Stands for genetically modified organism, and has become the latest trend in farming. GMO foods are bred in laboratories where scientists cross the DNA from one species -i.e. tomatos, with the DNA of a completely unrelated organism, i.e. salmon, to make crops more resistant to certain factors.  In our example this hybrid makes tomato crops more resistant to frost. While the resulting product may sound like innovative thinking, the dangers of this current trend are likely to have long-term consequences for the consumer. Currently 70-80% of foods contain some sort of GMO component and to date, producers are not required to inform the end consumer of which foods are GMO and which food have been grown with conventional methods.

Ultimately the risks are high. Corn and cotton are the most genetically modified products on the market with over 75% of the crops being farmed using these methods.  In these cases, there are pesticides built into the genetic makeup of the crop that kills any insect that tries to feast on the plant.  While in many studies these pesticides are safe when used topically for farming, when bred in GMO’s the levels of toxicity are hundreds of times more concentrated and unlike topical pesticides cannot be washed off.

The end result, for many, is ingesting items that your body cannot completely break down leading to possible deregulation of the immune system. This causes various inflammatory conditions associated with asthma, allergies and digestive disorders. Not to mention the toxic side effects on our organs. Remember, corn is used in most processed products on the market today. Oils, sugars and all items that contain MSG have ingredients made from some form of corn, making it virtually impossible to avoid for many consumers.  Although the FDA has claimed that there is not yet enough information to link GMO’s to major health conditions, independent research is proving otherwise.

A 2011 study conducted in France found that mice fed a 90 day diet of GMO soy products developed severe liver and kidney damage in over 40% of those tested.

100’s of studies conducted throughout the United States and overseas are producing similar results causing consumers to question how safe these products actually are.

The idea of being able to eat organic was once a safety net for those concerned about GMO’s.  However, recent crop testing is showing that contamination of organic crops is occasionally occurring due to cross-pollination from bees and other insects roaming from farm to farm.

Because of these and many other issues relating to GMO farming, numerous organizations have developed over the years to urge the FDA to label GMO products. Education is the first step to ensure that you are eating the highest quality food possible, the second is demanding conclusive testing and labeling.

If you are interested in GMO products or are looking for information on how you can become involved in petitioning for change, the links below can provide you additional information.

The Acupuncture Facelift

I’ve been getting a lot of calls lately from people interested in the recently hyped “Acupuncture Facelift.” Does it work? Is it really a facelift? How often do I need to come in?

First things first, if your goal is to find a non-invasive therapy that can help you look 10 years younger this is probably not the alternative you’ve been searching for. While facial rejuvenation through acupuncture can absolutely decrease fine lines and wrinkles, increase muscle tone and even out areas of pigmentation, it is not a facelift (and in my opinion you should proceed with caution if anyone tells you differently).

In order to understand how acupuncture can help you turn back the hands of time, I think it’s important to first understand how our skin changes as we age. Lets start with collagen.

Collagen is a protein fiber that is responsible for binding most of the tissue in our bodies. It gives elasticity to our skin, joints and ligaments, protects our arteries and moistens our eyes. It is the closest thing that we have to the fountain of youth. About 70% of the collagen in our bodies is found in the skin and as we age its production declines. This is because collagen is largely related to the hormones estrogen and testosterone.

Hormone levels can start to decline as early as our late 20’s taking with it an abundance of our skin’s moisture. For men, the loss of testosterone happens gradually, allowing for progressive onset of the realization that our youth is fleeting. Women however experience a rapid decrease in estrogen following menopause. For many these abrupt changes in our skin’s elasticity leave us shell-shocked, as we immediately start looking for alternatives to replace what was lost.

It is also important to understand that collagen is a very large molecule, therefore it cannot, and I repeat, CANNOT be absorbed through the skin. The skin is a barrier and meant as the first line of defense for our bodies. I’m sorry ladies but I’m going to have to say it- those creams that you are spending a fortune on, the ones that have collagen in them, the ones that promise to improve the condition of your skin…can’t and don’t work. While they may give you additional hydration, they are incapable of rebuilding elasticity as the collagen molecules are left sitting on the skin’s surface until they are swept away the next time you wash your face.

Smoking, prolonged sun exposure, poor hydration and stress are all collagen killers. Smoking is, in my opinion, the worst thing you can do for your skin. Not only does it damage the collagen that your already have, it decreases vitamin c (which is essential for collagen production) and causes blood vessel constriction which impedes circulation to the tissues and deprives you of your healthy glow. Stress produces cortisol which can directly inhibit collagen production and unprotected sun exposure can cause damage to the dermis of the skin (the area where collagen is most abundant) causing an increase in collagen destruction. As collagen declines, our skin becomes thinner and discoloration from sun damage very often becomes visible (also known as liver or sun spots).

So what can we do?  My answer is always the same… rebuilding collagen has to happen from the inside out.  A combination of diet, exercise, a generous dose of sunblock every morning and regular trips to your acupuncturist are your best chance to keep old man time at a comfortable distance.

So, now on to the good news!

Acupuncture for facial rejuvenation was actually born out of treatments for Bells Palsey (a condition which affects the facial nerve and causes rapid paralysis of one side of the face). Acupuncture needles stimulated manually or through the use of very mild micro-currents proved to be an effective therapy for increasing facial tone by causing repeat muscle contraction and increased tissue perfusion. Applying the same principles yield similar results to musculature that has lost tone due to age.

While acupuncture for facial rejuvenation delivers less dramatic results than invasive therapies, it is an ideal alternative for those who desire natural looking results without the side effects of surgery.  Facial rejuvenation works under the same constructs as treatments for all other ailments. Inserting tiny needles subcutaneously can help stimulate collagen production locally by bringing additional circulation to the needling site. As needles are seen as foreign to the body, our protective mechanisms work quickly to “heal” the tissue that has been affected by the treatment. This can leave you with a more youthful appearance on your first visit!

Additionally, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine focus on much more than symptom management.  We want to improve your complexion and in order to do so we strengthen your entire system to not only leave you looking, but also feeling better. Regular treatments coupled with herbal therapies aim to rebuild your body and restore some of the vital substances lost during the aging process. We can work  toward regulating hormone levels and to some degree, replenish what you have lost, naturally.

Any good age-defying regimen wouldn’t be complete without a healthy daily dose of collagen building vitamins and minerals! Increasing your intake of Omega 3’s (salmon, mackerel, tuna and flax-seed) to prevent collagen destruction, Garlic (which is high in lipoic acid and taurine, necessary to rebuild damaged collagen), Vitamin C (essential for collagen synthesis), zinc and copper (sesame seeds, cashews) will give your body the building blocks it needs to help keep your skin glowing for years to come.

To Cleanse Or Not To Cleanse, That Is The Question…

It’s that time of year again! The weather is warming up and the sudden urge to emerge from our winter hibernation hits us.  We’ve put on a few pounds and we need to get ready for summer. The question that I’m being asked more and more frequently is, “What do you think about a cleanse?” To cleanse or not to cleanse?

Let me start by making the general statement that I don’t believe that “cleansing” the body is a good idea for everyone or that one particular methodology is safer or more effective for the general population. That being said, I also don’t believe that mixing lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne into a jug and drinking it solely for a week is an effective or safe way to cleanse or create any sort of healthy change in the body. But I digress.

I believe that for many of us, our diets have become less clean. We are overrun with processed foods, hormones, antibiotics and genetically modified products that are wrecking havoc on our bodies. These are often coupled with undue stress, lifestyle choices and constant overstimulation. Because of this, a solid break from our daily eating habits and rituals once or twice a year can be beneficial if approached in a safe way.

I again use the word safe for several reasons. Cleansing isn’t for everyone. If your body is constitutionally deficient, or you have just come through a long-term illness, cleansing under the assumption that you are making  your body stronger  can actually leave you depleted.  Also, many current day popular cleanses are cooling to the digestive system. This cooling mechanism makes the stomach less efficient and therefore, individuals with digestive disorders or weaker stomachs may actually be further impairing  their bodies  by choosing these types of cleanses. If you have any concerns it’s always best to consult your physician before beginning any type of regimen.

The next thing that you need to decide is what you are hoping to accomplish from your cleanse. Are you looking to lose a few pounds? Wanting to feel better? More energetic? Or is your goal to make an improvement in your metabolism or some greater physiologic change? All of these things can alter the type of cleanse that is best suited for you.

I stand by the opinion that a majority of the population is dehydrated. Additionally, most are nutrient deficient. That being said, a three or four-day juice cleanse is going to make you feel better because one, you will eliminate many of the toxic food sources going into your system for those days, and will supplement with nutrient dense juices that will hydrate the body. Notice that I am saying nutrient dense. Juice cleanses are usually calorically low so individuals with multiple ailments ranging from anemia to menstrual inconsistencies may not be great candidates for this type of cleansing. Will you feel better and most likely lose a few pounds? Sure. Will you create lasting change in the body? No, not in four days.

There are many medical grade cleanses on the market that serve this purpose. A medical grade cleanse is meant to provide clean, nutrient dense calories to the body while working on liver detoxification and metabolic acceleration. Most times this is done with a food elimination diet where carbohydrates and sugars are eliminated and medical grade shakes are slowly substituted for meals. Additionally, supplements that focus on the systemic rebuild are taken two or three times a day. In most cases, these cleanses last anywhere from 10-30 days, and can leave you with marked improvement in energy, digestion, skin condition and weight stabilization. In my clinical experience, I have seen the Metagenics Cleanse (the cleanse I recommend to my patients) also decrease the frequency of headaches, stabilize moods and increase focus and concentration.

Regardless of which you choose, my hope is that with your decision to cleanse will be the decision to curb some of the habits that brought you to the cleanse in the first place. Choose smarter foods. Prepare your meals. Cut down on sugars and refined carbohydrates. Your body will thank you for it in the long run.

Happy spring everyone!

Fight Back This Flu Season With Five Simple Tips

No one wants to get sick. Between flu shots, home remedies, and over-the- counter  quick fixes, everyone seems to have their own idea of the best way to  ward off those bugs that keep us bed ridden. While some of the best home remedies work, and work well, there’s a science to keeping our bodies healthy. If you’re starting to feel run down it’s probably too late. Prevention starts when you’re feeling your best! Adding these five quick fixes into your wellness plan may be the best chance for staying strong this cold and flu season.

Get some sleep!

As our lives get busier the demand for sleep increases. Currently the recommended nightly slumber is between 8-9 hours for your body to perform its best. The average working class American gets less than seven hours of sleep per night. During sleep our bodies repair itself, reboot our immune system and process information learned during the day. Adding one extra hour gives you an added boost to the immune system that can help keep you healthy this winter.

Decrease Sugar!

Everyone knows that sugar should be eaten in moderation. But did you know that your immune system could be depleted for up to an hour after eating your favorite treat?! White blood cells that fight infection are fueled by vitamin c. However, sugar molecules temporarily bind to those vitamin c sites weakening our ability to fight infection. Choose healthier snacks this winter and ditch the sugar!

Increase Vitamin D!

Last year 70% of Americans were lacking in vitamin D3. We get most of our D vitamins from the sun, which may explain why winter layers block our bodies from absorbing this vital vitamin. D3 enables your body to produce over 200 peptides responsible for fighting infections. Supplementing 1000 IUs per day will give your body an additional boost against that winter chill.

Take a breather!

Stress less this season. When we are experiencing any type of stress the body produces cortisol. Cortisol lowers the number of white blood cells in the body making you more prone to illness. It’s that simple. Hit the yoga mat, mind your mindfulness, take a time out and don’t sweat the small stuff.

Hydration Nation!

Most Americans are dehydrated. Which is terrible because our bodies are mostly made up of water! Water not only helps flush toxins out of our system but it increases the amount of lymphatic fluid, which filters bacteria and waste from our tissues. Increase your intake this winter. A good rule is to drink at least half of your weight in ounces of water each day. Your body will thank you for it.