Food allergy, food sensitivity, food intolerance, testing, elimination diet, treatment

What is food intolerance?

Food intolerance is a non-allergic hypersensitivity to food that leads to certain negative physiological repsonses. Such as intolerence to lactose(dairy), fructose, wheat and sulfite sensitivity.

How is it different from food allergy?

Food allergy is known as a true allergy, one where the body produces elevated IgE levels in response to a certain foods eg.peanuts, seafood, shellfish, tree nuts, soya etc. Generally, allergic responses can include but are not limited to the skin, digestive system, respiratory distress, and life-threatening anaphylactic reactions.

The most common and well known example is an allergy to peanuts. This type of allergy may result in severe anaphylaxis which can lead to death. Anaphylaxis is life threatening allergic reaction that can progress quickly and requires immediate emergency intervention. Therefore it is recommended that people who have these types of severe allergies carry an epi-pen. An epi-pen is an easy to use epinephrine injection that opens the air passages and allows people to breathe when the develop anaphylaxis.

Food intolerances (such as lactose or milk intolerance), food poisoning, and toxic reactions are abnormal responses to food that produce symptoms similar to food allergy. But food intolerance may be more common, and can be a hidden cause of many different diseases. The main difference between food intolerance and food allergy is the difference in the immune response.

To prevent serious complications and negative consequences due to food, it is important to know if you have a true food allergy or a food intolerance.

How does it develop?

First a person has to be exposed and then sensitized to a certain food. In food allergy this means that lymphocytes will release allergen-specific IgE (antibodies) in response to a certain food. These IgE antibodies attach to mast cells, that release histamine. This histamine release produces the symptoms of food allergies. The next time the repsonse can be amplified and the symptoms can become stronger over time. Some food intolerances, such as lactose intolerance, develop when the person doesn’t have enzymes needed to properly digest certain proteins in food.

Which symptoms can be caused by food sensitivites?
Food intolerance can cause a wide range of insidious symptoms that may affect you constantly or with ups-and-downs over time, including:

General: Fatigue, anxiety, depression, insomnia, food cravings, obesity.
Infections: Recurrent colds, urinary tract infections, sore throats, ear infections, yeast infections.
Ear, Nose and Throat: Chronic nasal congestion, postnasal drip, fluid in the ears, Meniere’s syndrome.
Gastrointestinal: Irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, gallbladder disease.
Cardiovascular: High blood pressure, arrhythmia, angina.
Dermatologic: Acne, eczema, psoriasis, canker sores (aphthous ulcers), hives.
Rheumatologic: Muscle aches, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis.
Neurologic: Migraines and other headaches, numbness.
Miscellaneous: Asthma, frequent urination, teeth grinding, bedwetting, infantile colic.

How to test for food intolerance? What is elimination diet?

There are many different tests that can be done to determine if you have a food sensitivity. The main test we use is called an Elisa Food Test. From my experience, the testing has provided good clinical results for my patients. Meaning that when we eliminate the foods that the patients are sensitivie to, they feel better, their symptoms improve and we are able to eliminate the underlying cause of their problem .They generally notice an improvement in migraines, eczema, digestive problems etc. The other option is to do a food elimination diet. First, the patients remove the most common allergenic foods from their diet. Then they wait from 5 to about 21 days for a resolution of symptoms that are bothering them. Later comes the challenge phase when the patient is told to reintroduce those foods one by one and see which one causes the return of symptoms. It is a simple and effective way to test for foods if the patients are committed to the restricted diet and taught how to challenge the foods.

How to treat?

We start the treatment with the primary focus on digestive system. Food allergies can lead to dysbiosis(imbalance of the good and bad bacteria in the gut) and leaky gut syndrome ( increased intestinal permeability). By eliminating the foods that a person is sensitive to, the digestive system gets a chance to repair. Our body has an amazing ability to heal itself, but just needs the obstacle to be removed that prevents it from healing. Then we use specific herbs, probiotics, and nutrients to heal the intestinal lining.

Once you correctly identify which of the foods you are intolerant to (gluten, dairy, fructose or yeast etc) , and discover how to eat correctly to control your intolerance and repair your gut with guidance from your naturopath; your sensitivities may diminish or even disappear.

http://www.medicinenet.com/food_allergy/article.htm#reactions
Reference: Dr. Gaby’s Allergy Elimination Diet “A”

Antibiotics and overuse, side effects, pregnancy, immune system, resistance, candida/yeast

Introduction

Antibiotics have saved countless lives since the discovery of penicillin in 1928 by Sir Alexander Fleming.  But now there is a growing concern that overuse of antibiotics can lead to unnecessary side effects and the development of drug resistant bacteria such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).  MRSA has become the most common organism responsible for skin, soft tissue and surgical-site infections in the United States. Findings in a study of the genetic code of MRSA samples, have added support to the theory that the introduction of widespread antibiotic use in the 1960s may have spawned MRSA. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/7045108/Widespread-antibiotic-use-in-1960s-sparked-MRSA.html)

Why are antibiotics overused?

Antibiotics are commonly used for upper respiratory infections. But the majority of these infections are actually caused by viruses. Therefore in this situation antibiotics are not required as they only kill bacteria. The other concern is that patients are beginning to demand antibiotics from their doctors. They pressure them to give antibiotics because they want the quick fix so they can feel better and get back to work etc. Maybe physicians prescribe them because they feel they don’t have the time to explain why they are not necessary or they are overly cautious for medical legal reasons. But why would you ask for an antibiotic, if your cold is likely caused by a virus?

Side effects of antibiotics?

If I start listing the side effects of anitbiotics then I would have to write a another blog about it, that no one wants to read. But, according to one study, an estimated 142,505 visits annually were made to US emergency departments (ED) for drug‐related adverse events attributable to systemic antibiotics. Antibiotics were implicated in 19.3% of all ED visits for drug‐related adverse events, allergic reactions being the most common. They say “minimizing unnecessary antibiotic use by even a small percentage could significantly reduce the immediate and direct risks of drug‐related adverse events in individual patients.” (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/591126)

Antibiotic use during pregnancy

Taking certain antibiotics during pregnancy may be a risky proposition since women who take them may deliver babies with increased risk of birth defects because they have not been fully tested for safety during pregnancy. This is important since about 30 percent of women take antibiotics during pregnancy, mainly during the third trimester. According to research, commonly used penicillins, erthyromycins, and cephlasporins were not associated with birth defects, whereas sulfonamides and nitrofurantoins were associated with several birth defects. Therefore researchers concluded that more scrutiny is required. (http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/163/11/978)

Your immune system and antibiotics

The immune system is your body’s natural defense mechanism against illness. It allows your body to fight against the invasion by bacteria, viruses, yeast, fungus etc. Taking antibiotics reduces the level of bacterial infection, but your immune system still has to completely finish fighting the infection. Once you have a particular infection, and your body fights it without the use of antibiotics, your immune system will develop ‘memory T cells’. The next time you contract the same infection, these memory T cells “remember” the previous infection and mounts an immediate immune response to fight it. With the use of antibiotics you are giving the responsibility of fighting infection to the antibiotics instead of your body’s immune system. So overtime, and with the overuse of antibiotics your immune system can become less effective.

Antibiotic resistance

Overuse of  antibiotics results in “stronger” and resistant bacteria through mutation and natural selection. So new antibiotics have to be created to kill more and more resistant bacteria. But how long can this go on? Taking antibiotics too frequently, for too long, or not completing the course of antibiotics will result in increased resistance of bacteria by different mechanisms.

Chronic antibiotics use and candida/yeast

When we take an antibiotic its function is to kill bacteria but it usually cannot differentiate between ‘good bacteria'(such as lactobacillus sp.) and ‘bad bacteria’ in our gut. So unfortunately, along with killing ‘bad bacteria’ it also kills some good bacteria. ‘Good bacteria’ and ‘bad bacteria’ compete with each other for territory in your body. Common use of broad spectrum antibiotics can definitely disturb this balance.  ‘Good bacteria’ help keep candida and bad bacteria at bay. Therefore losing  good bacteria can cause various problems such as bloating, indigestion, diarrhea, increased yeast (candida) infection.

Conclusion

Take responsibility for your own health and trust your body’s capacity to fight the infection. Don’t think of antibiotics as the only solution, especially in minor colds. Work hard on making you immune system stronger so you won’t need antibiotics that often, or at all. Remember though, your doctor may need to prescribe them in some medical conditions.

See my blog about how to boost your immune system.

Dr. Dhillon, ND

“Better health for a better you”

How to get better sleep and treat insomnia, tips on getting better sleep habits, how to relax and get ready to sleep, what can interfere with sleep, sleepy, not sleepy, can’t sleep

Do you take your worries to bed with you? Do you toss and turn during your sleep?  Wake up not refreshed or tired? Sound sleep is a under appreciated repair mechanism for your body. It is likely that you only appreciate good sleep when you no longer have it. If you don’t sleep well, then the consequences are felt throughout the day. You can’t get your day started the right way. You may feel more irritable and work performance suffers. Read this for better Zees.

Are your symptoms from inadequate sleep?

Let’s start with the most obvious symptoms: drowsiness, more fatigue, decreased concentration, and impaired memory. The lesser known symptoms you may not have thought about are: reduced stress tolerance, mood changes, irritability, muscle tension, or increased health problems such as infections.

From my experience sleep has a lot to do with stress and a lot to do with routine. So how do you get the right routine?

But first, why is sleep so important?

To maintain and improve long term health; regeneration occurs during deep sleep when growth hormone(GH), or the “anti-aging” hormone(as it is fondly known as). Growth hormone secretion promotes: tissue regeneration, liver cleansing, muscle building, break down of fat stores and normalization of blood sugar. Sounds good doesn’t it. Free radicals are scavenged in the brain, minimizing its aging during sleep as well. This regeneration can also help explain “beauty sleep.” But beware that many conditions are aggravated by inadequate sleep-don’t take it for granted. Adequate sleep gives us an improved outlook on life and the energy to accomplish what we set out to do.

Tips on getting better sleep habits

  • Consistency is the key to better sleep. Have a set schedule. Keep your “wake-up” and “go to bed time” consistent. In other words, sleep when you feel sleepy and don’t push yourself to stay up “past your bedtime.” This will cause increased epinephrine production, and lead to more difficulty getting to sleep later. Have a “getting ready for bed” routine to relax and prepare your body for sleep. (Keep reading for ideas) Avoid taking naps if you have trouble sleeping at night. According to Ayurvedic medicine, the body repairs itself mainly from 10pm to 2am , so if you’re a “night- person” then  you’re losing precious repair and regeneration time for your body.
  • Your bed is primarily for sleeping. Try not to use the bed for anything other than sleep, such as watching television, eating, doing homework, using your laptop, or texting your friends with your high EMF(electromagnetic field  phone), worrying or problem solving. If you are trying to sleep and are unsuccessful then after 15-20 minutes then don’t stay in bed because then you will create a habit of poor sleep. The trick though is to do a mundane activity that will bore you to sleep.
  • Do not worry about sleeping. If you have poor sleep one night then and the next and the next then you may begin to worry about your lack of sleep. You need to realize that you should be tired and you won’t have to worry about sleep. You are tired enough to sleep. You shouldn’t have the energy to stay awake. As a side note don’t stare at the clock every time you wake up or while you’re trying to sleep.
  • You need a peaceful, quiet, cool and comfortable sleep environment. A messy room will be distracting, and electronic clocks, mp3 players, stereos, computer monitors all have electromagnetic fields that can upset sleep for some individuals. You can use an EMF shield or move the electronic equipment out of the room. White noise is very helpful for people who can’t sleep in absolute quiet. For example you can use a fan to create background sound.
  • Your adrenal gland secrets a hormone known as cortisol during the day to help you get moving and the levels of cortisol decrease as you get to sleep. So to help regulate cortisol levels you need routine, meaning wake up and sleep at the same time every night and every day, including weekends. Exercise is also helpful can improve energy levels during the day and allow for better sleep at night. Most people will enjoy better sleep if the exercise in the morning as opposed to evening. Stress management is also important to help your cortisol levels stay in balance. Avoiding sugar can also help.
  • Circadian rhythm (internal body clock) is a approximate 24 hour cycle that regulates biological processes. The hormone melatonin is secreted by the pineal gland in darkness and suppressed by light, so to help regulate the rhythm you should sleep in the dark and even dim the lights before you sleep to create the right mood to sleep. Also, turn on the all the lights in the morning, open the blinds or drapes, and let the light into your room, so you body knows it’s time to wake up. A sunlight lamp can be helpful for some people, especially those who live where there is little sunshine during the days. (Vancouver and Seattle come to mind.) This rhythm can be out of balance in shift work, jet lag (travelling outside of your time zone), and pregnancy, certain medications and changes in routine.
  • If you have difficulty actually staying asleep it could be because your blood sugar levels are not stable during the night. To help with that you can eat a protein snack before bed and avoid high glycemic index foods and sugar at bedtime. If you’re a diabetic then a 24 hour monitoring of your blood sugar will help the doctor assess if a change in the time that you take your medicine can help.
  • Any health problem can interrupt sleep, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, fatigue. So get a health and wellness evaluation to know where to start to improve your health.

Ideas on how to relax and get ready to sleep, and stay asleep

  • Warm baths with Epsom salts, and lavender can be a way to achieve spa-like relaxation
  • Relaxing breathing exercises and meditation can help within minutes.
  • Another great tool is progressive muscle relaxation. In fact many CD’s are available on the subject. CD’s that increase certain brainwave activity to help sleep are also available
  • Herbal combination or individuals herbs such as scutellaria, ziziphus spinosa, Californian poppy, lemon balm, hops(the herb and not the beer), valerian, passionflower can all be helpful but you should consult your naturopath or health professional before using these or any other herbs.
  • Magnesium supplementation of high quality such as magnesium citrate or glycinate can be helpful in combination with calcium

What can interfere with sleep?

  • Sleep apnea is a very serious condition that needs to be properly diagnosed by a medical professional whose expertise is in that area. If you don’t have much energy, are overweight and get sleepy during the day and take naps, or sleep when you are a passenger in a car, or while watching or reading, then it is a possibility–especially if you snore. You may actually stop breathing at night. Even if you partner doesn’t think so. By the way alcohol also worsens a type of sleep apnea.
  • Alcohol might get you to sleep but studies show that the sleep is not a deep but fragmented.
  • Caffeine is a stimulant and may not be eliminated from the body for 10 hours or more. So avoid it in the afternoon or evening. Even green tea, black tea and chocolate have caffeine, not just coffee and energy drinks.
  • Sugar (especially refined sugar) also has a stimulating effect on the body and can raise your cortisol levels thereby temporarily disturbing your sleep or not allowing you to get to sleep.
  • Nicotine smoke also has a stimulating effect on the body so avoid it as well, even second hand smoke.
  • Too much liquid before bed can have you up all night going to the bathroom so avoid drinking water after 8pm. It’s best to drink small amounts of water throughout the day.
  • B-vitamins can help people deal with stress, but they also improve energy levels in some people if taken at night, so just take them in the morning.
  • Don’t just blame your B-vitamins, certain prescription drugs contain caffeine and can be stimulating to the body. For example decongestants and pain killers. Weight loss products and energy supplements containing guarana and the like will be stimulating as well.
  • Heavy dinners, fried food, sugary desserts and food that doesn’t digest easily such as large amounts of protein (ie. Meat) can be stimulating to the body. Definitely shouldn’t eat and go straight to sleep. Give you body a chance to digest. About three hours should suffice.

Goodnite   : )

Resources

  • Dement MD PhD, William. The Promise of Sleep. 1999. Dell Publishing. New York, NY.
  • Jacobs PhD, Gregg. Say Goodnight to Insomnia. 1998. Henry Holt and Company. New York, NY.
  • Ross DC, Herbert, Brenner Lac, Keri and Goldberg, Burton. Sleep Disorders. <AlternativeMedicine.com> Tiburon, CA. 2000.

Food is Medicine (Health and Nutrition)

Hippocrates, the father of medicine, once said “let food be your medicine and medicine be your food”.

Here are some facts: four of the ten leading causes of death in US and Canada – heart diseases, cancer, stroke and diabetes are linked to the way we eat and what we eat. Diet also contributes to the causation of many other diseases ranging from acne to arthritis, hair loss to memory loss, from premenstrual syndrome to chronic headaches.

With the advancement in the technologies and digitalization of our world, we are forgetting the most important fact of our life, the fact that has been known since the beginning of time : FOOD IS STRONG MEDICINE. This change in attitude did not come overnight, it took hundreds of years. Until the dawn of twentieth century food therapy was commonly practiced, as we were primarily a nation of small farms. People largely ate what they grew: ‘whole foods’ high in nutrients and fibre and low in fat. But then came the industrial revolution and with it a new attitude towards food, and new ways of eating. Our diet went from low fat, high fibre and plant based to one that has high fat, low fibre and is primarily from animal source.

With the change in diet, we also saw a change in the pattern of diseases over the same period of time: increase in heart attacks, cancers and strokes. How can we ignore this link? It seems so obvious. People rarely got heart attacks and cancers back then. Heart diseases and hypertension are the twentieth century problems. I’m not saying these diseases did not exist then, but they were not as prevalent as they are now.

With the advent of televisions and their introduction into people’s homes, the quality of food was further downgraded to processed and refined foods. People started eating these Quick-to-prepare snacks in front of their TV sets, further encouraged by the extensive advertisements of such foods on TVs.

Why have people made these quick-to-prepare and nutrition-lacking foods a part of their daily diets?

–          To save time: no “hassle” of preparation and cooking and moreover it saves people time to watch their favourite TV show in the evening. But think about it- Is your health not worth the 20 mins of healthy cooking?

–          Advertisements: they are all over the place, the flashing bill boards on the road side, the flyers and coupons in your mail with exciting food deals and not to forget the TV. Next time when you sit to watch your TV, try to count the number of advertisements that are promoting fast foods with a deal of free pop soda, burgers with extra meat, pizzas with extra cheese.. as if their regular meals were not doing enough harm. How could a person stay immune to these unhealthy advertisements that are right on his face throughout the day? But think about it- Who benefits out of these advertisements, you or these big food companies?

–          Lack of commitment and strong will: I could say lack of knowledge about healthy and unhealthy food, but I would be wrong. People know what is good for them and what is bad? Don’t people know that white meats are better than red meat? Still they make their choice to eat a BIG MAC over a self prepared grilled chicken sandwich. So what is lacking…knowledge? No, it’s not the knowledge and information that is lacking… It’s the commitment to your health that is lacking. You are responsible for your health and not your doctor. He is there to just help you with your ailments and diseases.

When it comes to eating, most of the people give in to taste of the food . When I talk to people about healthy choices, I often hear a similar response “ ….but that burger tastes so good, it’s hard to resist” or they would say “ I don’t eat it everyday…just once in a while”. Unfortunately, their definition of ‘once in while’ may be 3-4 times a week.

I sometimes wonder how the definition of good food has changed over time. I am sure you must have heard this familiar expression “ Mmmm…  so creamy, smooth and rich…it just melts…so GOOD”. My translation of this expression is “ Mmm.. so full of FAT…so bad for you”. It is strange how the term ‘fresh food’ has been replaced from our dictionary of daily diet with ‘processed food’.

When you are sitting down to eat remember- you are what you eat, so dosing yourself with huge quantities of unhealthy food ultimately determines what type of fat, proetin, carbohydrate is passing through your and into you cells for the rest of the day. Most people do not think of food as a medication, but in reality, it is the single biggest medication that we are exposed to–daily. In fact, the reason many of us are sick and remain sick is nutritional imbalance.

How many of you and the people around you complaint of low energy, fatigue, insomnia, mood problems, headaches, eczema, acne, allergies, digestion problems (bloating, burning) and so on..? far too many..right?

When I say nutritional imbalance, the problem may be at multiple levels:

–          Too many of the wrong foods going in and not being processed and eliminated. Our bodies are physiologically created to digest and absorb foods in their natural form and not artificial and processed forms(ie. trans fats).

–          Deficiency of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fibre and essential fatty acids.

–          Harmful effects of many additives and preservatives eg. Aspartame (artificial sweetener sold as Equal or NutraSweet), nitrates and nitrites (preservatives in meat and fish), Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) etc.

In a nutshell, I would say: Your taste buds will love the heavenly taste and feel of the melting cheese, the creamy dips, the savoury steaks but remember the once you swallow that food, within minutes  every cell of your body will have to deal with it.

Your body is your responsibility, take charge of your own health and make healthy choices.

Dr. Dhillon, ND

visit my website at naturopath surrey

Food nutrition labeling, MSG(monosodium glutamate), Sodium, Potassium

It’s not surprising that parents are being misled by food nutrition labels. In fact most “nutrition” labels should just be called food labels, since most products that come out of a box seldom resemble nutritious food. Everyone knows that nutritious food comes from real, fresh ingredients and home-made cooking, if we take into account moderation of fat, carbohydrates, sugar and calories.

In a BHF, British Heart Foundation, survey women surveyed thought that anything labeled “whole grain” was thought of as being healthy. In this BBC news article, “Nestle’s Honey Shreddies, which claim to be wholegrain and to “keep your heart healthy and maintain a healthy body”, contain more sugar [13.6g] than a ring doughnut [9.2g] in an average serving.” In my opinion that amount of sugar is actually unhealthy.

In the article, “Kellogg’s Coco Pops cereal and milk bars are labelled as “a source of calcium, iron and six vitamins” and 63% of mothers in the survey thought they were healthy. The BHF said that for every 100g they were higher in saturated fat and sugar than the average chocolate cake.” So the even though the recommended daily intake is important, the benefits are often outweighed by more saturated fat, and sugar.

Generally speaking, when making comparisons of similar food products we should make not of the grams per serving so we don’t make a mistake about which food contains more or fewer calories, sugar or fat.

It is also important to pay attention to the amount of sodium and potassium. Organic food typically has more potassium according to the label than its non-organic counterpart. The sodium to potassium ratio is usually higher in processed foods. We know to be careful of the amount of sodium we consume. But are we getting enough potassium for good health? The recommended daily potassium intake is 4.7 grams a day. Potassium is important in nerve function, muscle control and blood pressure. You should obtain potassium from your diet as supplementation is not usually a general recommendation. So pay attention to the amounts of both in processed food.

Another ingredient to watch for on food labels is MSG also known as monosodium glutamate. Some people are sensitive to the effects of MSG and can develop headaches, migraines, mood change, nausea, joint pain, sleep and disorders among others. MSG is “hidden” in foods under the label “hydrolyzed vegetable protein.”

Read more about MSG here: http://www.naturalnews.com/025066_MSG_the_FDA_health.html

Resources

http://www.bhf.org.uk/news-and-campaigning/press-office/latest-news–views/how-parents-are-being-misled.aspx

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8421326.stm

Dr. Dhillon, ND

High blood pressure and dark chocolate not milk chocolate

Another note about high blood pressure. It improves with dark chocolate. Dark chococalte has many heart benefits. Likely due to the high polyphenol content and antioxidant status. Milk chocolate did not show those benefits since the milk protein binds to the polyphenols and decreases absorption in the body.

In the one study they compared dark chocolate to white chocolate and its effect on blood pressure. The researchers noted that the blood pressure decreased in the group randomized to take 100 grams of dark chocolate per day for 2 weeks. But don’t get carried away, dark chocolate can be loaded with sugar and calories–that will have its drawbacks. Especially, for example, if you end up consuming a dark chocolate bar a day that will be 400-500 calories per day. If you just add a chocolate bar everyday to your diet it will likely contribute to obesity which is a risk factor for high blood pressure. So chocolate isn’t the sure answer to hypertension, but it might prove useful if one has a balanced diet. Remember the main lifestyle changes that will generally help with blood pressure are losing excess weight, not overconsuming salt, and exercising regularly.

In another more recent study, small amounts of dark chocoalte have been show to modestly decrease high blood pressure.  This time, 44 adults with borderline hypertension were randomly assigned to to have 6.3 grams of dark chocolate or 5.6 grams of white chocolate to their usual daily diet. Interestingly in this study they chose to give one square of a 16-square bar of dark chocolate per day, not the whole bar. But the results weren’t spectacular. The systolic blood pressure dropped by about 3mm Hg and the diastolic blood pressure dropped by about 2 mm Hg. The authors recognized that the numbers weren’t amazing but stated in their conclusion that as a whole population a 3 mm Hg reduction in systolic blood pressure would reduce the relative risk of death due to stroke by 8% and coronary artery disease mortality by 5%, and all-cause mortality by 4%.  So as a treat, a dark chocolate square may be a good idea, according to this study since they looked at the benefits of smaller amounts of dark chocolate. But if you consume too much, then the negative effects of the sugar and the fat will outweigh the benefits of the dark chocolate.

In another observational study, researchers compared elderly men who ate an average of 4.2 grams of cocoa per day to men who didn’t eat any. The blood pressure reductions in the men eating cocoa were again small; probably not enough to solely account for a a whopping 50% reduction in cardiovascular mortality and all-cause mortality in the group that consumed the highest cocoa during a 15 years of follow-up. This difference may be because dark chocolate has beneficial effects on other cardiovascular risk factors such as insulin sensitivity and blood clotting tendency, not only blood pressure.

Dr. Dhillon, ND

visit my website at naturopath surrey

Reference:

Journal of the American Medical Association (2007; 298: 49-60).

Journal of the American Medical Association (2003;290:1029–30).

Arch Intern Med. ( 2006;166:411-417).

Hypertension or High Blood Pressure, Lifestyle and Natural Treament

Hypertension or high blood pressure is one of the leading causes of disability or death, due to stroke, heart attack, and kidney failure. Hypertension is the force of blood against your artery walls. The first number is systolic(when the heart beats)and the second number is diastolic(when the heart relaxes between beats) they are measured in mmHg and both numbers are important risk factors.  Normal blood pressure is considered to be 120/80 mmHg for healthy individuals, but this is just a guideline. You should consult with your doctor if the numbers are higher, especially if you are diabetic.

There are two types of high blood pressure: essential hypertension and secondary hypertension. Essential hypertension does not have a known cause although genetics play a role. Yet it is the most common type of hypertension (about 90 percent of all cases). Secondary hypertension can be identified and is usually treatable or reversible.

Lifestyle – likely the most important aspect of hypertension treatment.

If you currently rely on prescription medicine to control your blood pressure and you “feel completely healthy” then you should pay attention to this section of the blog.

More than one-third of the adult population of the United States is obese and Canada isn’t that far behind either. Obesity is a significant risk factor for hypertension.  Many studies have shown obese hypertensive patients can reduce their medication with weight loss. I have personally seen patients reduce their blood pressure medication with the supervision of their doctor by weight reduction even if they weren’t obese but were “slightly overweight.” A sedentary person has higher risk of developing hypertension than does an active person.

One study found insufficient sleep can contribute to increased blood pressure in hypertensive individuals. The researchers theorized this may be due to increased sympathetic nervous activity during the night. Therefore it makes sense that stress management and relaxation techniques such as meditation help control high blood pressure. Transcendental Meditation can help to control blood pressure in particular and may be more effective that progressive muscle relaxation.

Salt restriction has been helpful in sodium sensitive people to lower blood pressure. One teaspoon of table salt has about 2000mg of sodium. Recommended daily intake is 1500mg to 2300mg.

The DASH diet includes eating a variety whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. It allows fish, chicken and legumes. Less red meat, fewer sweets and less fat. The result is a diet low in saturated fat, cholesterol, total fat and sodium. But with adequate protein, fiber and healthy nutrients, particularly magnesium, potassium and calcium.  See this link fo rmore information: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/hbp/dash/new_dash.pdf 

References

http://hyper.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/hypertensionaha;27/6/1318      Effects of insufficient sleep on hypertension

http://www.nature.com/ajh/journal/v12/n1/abs/ajh199910a.html     Effects of insufficient sleep on hypertension

http://patient-research.elsevier.com/patientresearch/displayAbs?key=S0002914905001839&referrer=http%253A%252F%252Fscholar.google.com%252Fscholar%253Fq%253Dschneider%252520and%252520TM%252520and%252520muscle%252520relaxation%2526rls%253Dcom.microsoft%253A*%253AIE-SearchBox%2526oe%253DUTF-8%2526sourceid%253Die7%2526rlz%253D1I7RNTN_en%2526um%253D1%2526ie%253DUTF-8%2526sa%253DN%2526hl%253Den%2526tab%253Dws        Long-Term Effects of Stress Reduction on Mortality in Persons ≥55 Years of Age With Systemic Hypertension

http://hyper.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/26/5/820?ijkey=QaSXB6Iy2Vwkk      (TM versus progressive muslce relaxation)