Monthly Archives: February 2015

What Is That You’re Eating?

Many of my patients often tell me they feel confused about what to eat.  This is a complicated question based on the individual patient, but I have a couple of recommendations that are across the board and apply to just about everyone.

  1. Eat a diet that is based on whole foods.  Technically a whole food is a food that isn’t processed and has no parts removed.  OK, so you’re going to chop and cook your food – that’s fine.  But eat food!  Start with as close to the whole food as possible and avoid packaged foods.  Shop around the perimeter of the grocery store.
  2. Eat less sugar.  By sugar I mean anything containing sweeteners (sugar, agave, honey, brown rice syrup, maltodextrin, fructose, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, maltose, malt, fruit juice sweetener, evaporated cane juice, etc.)  Generally if you’re eating a whole foods diet, this will happen naturally.  Baking and sauces is where we tend to add sugar if we’re cooking at home, so watch out for this.  If you’re buying any premade food assume that it is sweetened unless you read the ingredients and see otherwise. This is true even if you’re at a restaurant and even if you’re shopping at the local natural foods co-op or Whole Foods.  When I ask my patients to really break the sugar habit, meaning I ask them to read ingredients on everything they consume, typically they are shocked by the amount of sugar in everything.  I cannot emphasize enough the degree to which sugar intake is implicated in almost every chronic illness on the rise in this country.  That list includes (and is not even remotely limited to): cancer, diabetes, heart disease, digestive complaints, hormonal imbalance, anxiety, insomnia, fatty liver disease, depression, and arthritis.
  3. Stop eating chemicals!  Maybe you’re thinking:  “I’m reading a blog by a naturopath about what to eat; of course I wouldn’t eat chemicals!”  Maybe that’s true.  Take this challenge: go home and look in your pantry.  Pull out anything that has an ingredient that you don’t really know what it means.   This includes the statement “natural flavors” and “artificial flavors”.  Ever wondered what those terms mean?  So do I.  Unfortunately they are so vague, I can’t even tell you.  What I can tell you is that a typical flavor includes around 100 ingredients and about 80-90% of those ingredients are synthetic chemicals that companies are not required to report.  One known ingredient even in “natural flavors” is propylene glycol, which is no longer allowed in pet food due to the fact that it causes anemia in cats.  I think I’d rather leave it out of my food as well.  The fact is that we really don’t know what a lot of food additives and preservatives do.  We often discover later that some of them contribute to cancer and other illnesses.  My general rule is stick with eating things that humans have been eating safely for thousands of years and avoid chemicals and additives with unknown or harmful impacts on the body.

What is in your supplements?

Every few months we hear reports in the media of supplements that either don’t contain what they say they do or are contaminated by toxins.  We do sell supplements in our office and use them regularly with patients.  We choose the companies we work with because of their quality.  The companies we use test each batch of raw material for purity and each batch of finished product to make sure that it contains what it’s supposed to and nothing else.  Our fish oils, for example, are tested to make sure that they do not contain dangerous levels of mercury.  We avoid products that contain unnecessary dyes and chemical preservatives whenever possible.

Because the supplements that we recommend are of high quality and there is a lot of testing that goes into the manufacturing process, they are often more costly than other brands.  Often my patients want to save money and buy a different brand or buy something they can find more easily.  While I understand this desire, I always try and steer them back to the companies I trust.  The latest article on this issue from The New York Times (http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/03/sidebar-whats-in-those-supplements/) refers to some testing on products from some of those cheaper brands.  It turns out that many of the products contained absolutely none of what was supposed to be the main ingredient.  What I try to explain to my patients is that buying these other brands may mean throwing your money away.  You won’t get the results that you’re looking for and it could impact your health in ways that you don’t want.

If my patients prefer not to buy their supplements directly from the office, I have no problem with that.  Many high quality brands can be purchased at places like Pharmaca, which sell physician quality supplements.  What I do care about is that my patients get what they think they are buying and take supplements that are safe.  Often my patients have researched on the internet and found a supplement that is supposedly useful in their condition.  I will always look at the supplement with them and sometimes the ingredients in the product do seem to make sense for that patient.  Even so, I’m not familiar with the quality of every brand out there.  In those cases I usually tell them that the product could potentially be helpful, but I can’t speak to the quality or purity of ingredients.  I will continue to recommend brands that I’m familiar with, brands that I know do regular quality and purity assessments of their products, brands where I have seen good results with my patients.

By Dr. Erin Westaway, ND 

Measles Vaccine Scare

I have been getting lots of emails and questions about whether my clients made good decision not to immunize their children and rather to reconsider their decision in the light of the Disney measles outbreak.  I support you in re-examining your decisions but my medical advise generally speaking is that the risk of live vaccines, with preservatives and chemicals in them, outweigh the risk of the possibility of catching the disease.  A healthy immune system is designed to withstand these immunological insults and actually have been designed to be stimulated an improved by these child hood diseases if caught at a young age.  Minimally, a good immune system is the best defense against any illness along with frequent hand washing.

This media frenzy and medical scare tactics are convenient for the dominant medical model to continue to pressure families into immunization decisions.  It is true that of all the childhood diseases we immunize for, the measles is one of the riskiest diseases to get.  Unfortunately, there is no way to get the measles vaccine solo without the others as well. Opening up a conversation individually about your choices,  your children’s individual health and immune status is legitimate but should not be done over emails if you have concerns.  The best approach is to analyze individual risks and benefits of either immunizing or not as well as some of the alternative energetic approaches we can also engage in once you make an appointment with your Emerald City Clinic physician.

By Dr. Molly Niedermeyer, ND

Bone Broth to Keep you Healthy During the Winter!

Despite Seattle’s recent mild weather we are still in the winter season, which in many traditions is the ideal time for nourishing the body through diet. One of the simplest ways to do this is with bone broth. Bone broth has been prepared in cultures across the globe for centuries both in times of sickness (i.e. chicken noodle soup), and in health (supports hair, skin, bones, nails. GI tract, tendons, etc). Bone broth has gained a lot of attention recently as a new fad food with shops similar to coffee shops serving bone broth in New York. Bone broth is easy to make, tastes yummy, good on its own or used as a base for other cooking. See the Emerald City website’s handouts section for yummy bone broth ideas and recipes.

By Dr. Chad Borys, ND, LAc