organic food at farmer's market

"Organivarian" or "Organitarian"- that is the question...

Organivarian or Organitarian. Yes, it's a question of semantics. However, I hereby consider myself an Organivarian, yes, siree. Unfortunately, the studiously researched verdict is still out, especially after a large Stanford study showed "insignificant benefits" to eating organic. However, I think it is just a matter of time before the pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, as well as the chemicals used during the storage, shipping, and ripening process of conventional produce and other foods just doesn't make logical sense to the consumer anymore. Genetically, we're just not primed for that kind of toxic load.

Organic produce contains fewer pesticides. Pesticides are chemicals such as fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides. These chemicals are widely used in conventional agriculture and residues remain on (and in) the food we eat. Organic food is often fresher.

For more info, go to Organic Foods: All You Need to Know

woman using smart phone

Regarding cell phone use and cancer, ADHD

Cell Phone use & Cancer. The World Health Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer, has classified radio frequency electromagnetic fields (aka cell phones) as possibly carcinogenic to humans. Moreover, in-utero exposure of a fetus to cell phones can increase the baby's risk of ADHD. Read the full study here.

Below is an outline of the Study into Cell Phone Use and Cancer.

Neurobehavioral disorders are increasingly prevalent in children, however their etiology is not well understood. An association between prenatal cellular telephone use and hyperactivity in children has been postulated, yet the direct effects of radio frequency radiation exposure on neurodevelopment remain unknown. Here we used a mouse model to demonstrate that in-utero radiofrequency exposure from cellular telephones does affect adult behavior.

Mice exposed in-utero were hyperactive and had impaired memory as determined using the object recognition, light/dark box and step-down assays. Whole cell patch clamp recordings of miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (mEPSCs) revealed that these behavioral changes were due to altered neuronal developmental programming. Exposed mice had dose-responsive impaired glutamatergic synaptic transmission onto layer V pyramidal neurons of the prefrontal cortex. We present the first experimental evidence of neuropathology due to in-utero cellular telephone radiation. Further experiments are needed in humans or non-human primates to determine the risk of exposure during pregnancy

Glutathione supplements

Glutathione - What is it?

Glutathione is one of the most misunderstood, and still to many people (including physicians) quite unknown, molecules. However, every cell in the body NEEDS it. In fact, without it, the cell dies. There has been a plethora of research conducted on glutathione, amounting to tens of thousands of studies, that has demonstrated the profound importance and influence of it within the body. Needless to say, keeping your glutathione levels up is of critical importance. It supports detoxification and healthy liver function, helps keep your antioxidant levels up (including Vitamins C and E), helps protect the body from the damage caused by free radicals, and supports immune function.

Comprised of three amino acids- cysteine, glycine, and glutamine, glutathione is a simple molecule. However, it is a, if not THE, master detoxifier, antioxidant, and immune regulator. It is a critical component in the body's ability to stay healthy and prevent disease. Under normal, healthy circumstances, the body recycles its own glutathione. This recycling ability is critical in keeping cells healthy and viable, and has been found to help slow down aging, prevent/reverse cancer, dementia, and heart disease. Glutathione has been used successfully in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, autism, AIDS, and a host of other illnesses, but I also have found it helpful as a main player in detoxification regimens, reversing symptoms of Fibromyalgia, and improving autoimmune markers and symptoms.

Being a sensitive molecule, it is easily depleted by exposure to pollutants, toxins, and pharmaceutical medications. Dietary triggers, stress, trauma, and aging all decrease it as well. Thus, in our modern world where exposure to toxins is unavoidable, and most of us don't eat 100% organic, power-packed, nutrient-dense food, we are left quite susceptible to glutathione depletion.

But here's the real crux of the glutathione matter: Glutathione-S-Transferase is an enzyme, of which there have been 8 subclasses identified, that enables glutathione to be recycled within the body. Of these subclasses, GSTM1 is particularly involved in the detoxification of drugs, environmental toxins, carcinogens, and products of oxidative stress. And guess what? GSTM1 has been found to be completely absent in 27-65% of the population (depending on ethnicity). Those are high percentages!! These individuals, who have absent GSTM1 function, have a serious impairment in their ability to make glutathione, rendering them much more susceptible to chronic illness (think FMS, chronic fatigue, neurological dysfunction, autoimmune illnesses, etc etc). Moreover, prescription drugs only worsen the problem.

Now, primary care practices have the ability to run the genetic tests for most of the Glutathione-S-Transferase subclasses, as well as check actual glutathione levels. I do these tests all time time, and it is amazing to see the correlation between my patients' states of health and their GST status.

gut model

What does the gut have to do with autoimmune disease?

Autoimmune disease. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, is known to have said "all disease begins in the gut." After that, it seems the Western world had a sort of Medical Middle Ages. However, the profession is shifting towards (I hope) a more whole body-oriented way of diagnosing and treating people. Just a few years ago, routine testing for Vitamin D was unheard of; it is now commonplace.  The same is true for the VAP test, a comprehensive cardiovascular check that is much more thorough than the standard "bad cholesterol, good cholesterol, total cholesterol" test. Same goes for the more and more commonplace recommendation of taking probiotics along with antibiotics.

Now on to autoimmunity, and back to the gut. When a person is diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, such as Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, Grave's Disease, Celiac Disease, or one of many others, there are a few elements that absolutely have to be considered.

Determining Autoimmune Disease Factors

  1. Determining and regulating immune function at the level of the intestinal epithelial barrier is key to diagnosis and treatment.  In this age of poor dietary habits and strong, often toxic medicines, many of which directly and indirectly trigger leaky gut (which will the be the topic of another post) and mucosal inflammation, the risk of dysregulating the fine balance of GI flora and cellular structure and function increases.
  2. There are now some excellent predictive autoantibody tests that can determine one's chance of acquiring specific autoimmune illnesses, sometime decades before symptoms present themselves.  This is a medical breakthrough. My opinion is that these tests should be selectively conducted during preventive visits. An ounce of prevention...
  3. Chronic infections can over activate and in a way confuse the immune system, which may then attempt to go after its own proteins, hence predisposing to autoimmunity.
  4. Pro-inflammatory dietary & lifestyle triggers can severely interfere with proper balanced functioning of the immune system, especially when repeated offenders enter the body on a daily basis.
Two of the four stated points underlying the initiation of autoimmunity have to do with the gut.  My lovely grandmother told me when I was a child: "food is your best medicine."  I remember those words every day when seeing patients, feeding my children, shopping for groceries. There is a simple trick which I encourage my patients to implement. It can make a world of difference to the gut, and thereby can help the whole body move towards better health and reduce autoimmune triggers. Here's the trick: When about to eat or drink something, ask the simple question: "Is this good for me OR bad for me?"  It really is that simple. But it gives the body that one second to recalibrate away from mindless eating and towards thoughtful dietary choices.
Where to start? I recommend the Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis, which tests for a number of inflammatory, digestive, infectious, and other elements in the stool, thereby giving a clear and objective measure of gut health. I also highly recommend testing for specific predictive antibodies. And eating your veggies.