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Dr. Gregory Pais, ND
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Home arrow Naturopathic News arrow Issue #71 - August 2008
Issue #71 - August 2008
  4. FOOD WISDOM - Swiss Chard
Welcome to this issue of Naturopathic News, issue #71. It's my mission to help you find optimal solutions to health problems. This newsletter is one way to do that. The more educated you are about your health options the better able you will be to take control of your health. If you would like to stop receiving my newsletter please send me an email and let me know. If you have a friend or family member who you think would appreciate the information provided, send me their email address.

Here are some pages that are of particular interest:

Store : There are 223 products from Emerson listed on this page. If yours isn't one of them please let me know and I will add it so you can order online. This is particularly convenient after hours or on the weekend. Of course, you can always order by phone from Emerson at 800-654-4432.

Newsletter : Here you will find all 71 issues of my health newsletter, "Naturopathic News".

Optimal Health Points : This is my blog that I update every week. Check out the entry for Aug. 5 concerning how kids get fat.

I want to share this letter with you that one of my patients sent me a while back. He was visiting a community where many individuals had been recently diagnosed with giardia (nasty intestinal parasite). Though undiagnosed himself he was feeling sick and experiencing vomiting and diarrhea. It was not possible for me to treat him homeopathically. I made some nutritional recommendations that he used. His letter is reproduced here in its unedited form.

>>>> This illness continues to be a learning experience for me. For one, I realize that being sick is not necessarily a problem that needs to be eliminated quickly so that we can get back to our 'things as usual' lifestyle. I'm seeing that illness has many causes and is an opportunity to learn about ourself. I see that vomiting and diarrhea is not a problem that should be suppressed but the body's own wisdom in dealing with and eliminating illness.

I confess that during my period of vomiting and diarrhea I was looking at these activities through an allopathic approach of suppressing symptoms. I never conceived until after the fact that this was my body's natural response to getting rid of my 'bug'. I believe this process was enhanced by the garlic and pumpkin seeds which I did not give due respect to initially.

To be honest, after I vomited I really felt much better. I wonder if it was actually necessary to take the flagyl at that point. Still, I don't know if it was the flagyl or the pumpkin seeds that helped me to feel better.

On the other hand, in taking flagyl I could clearly see how ingrained the allopathic process is within my mind. I like homeopathy as an 'idea', but when push comes to shove I was ready for the antibiotics. I didn't see that my body's wisdom was showing me how it deals with illness. I admit of being very afraid of what my body was doing. In addition to the diarrhea and vomit I was breaking out in hives all over my body, which subsided once I vomited. I really believe now that this was the wisdom of my body speaking and not necessarily a problem.

I also have come to appreciate the homeopathic view of allowing an illness to run its course and not just suppress the symptoms. You taught me a big lesson. >>>>

DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: This level of integrated understanding and awareness is wonderful to experience. It really brings it home to you what the healing process is about. The opportunity to comprehend symptoms and their function is one to treasure when you have it. I encourage any of you that have questions related to this letter to submit them to this open forum.

Swiss Chard
This wonderful green has a flavor that is slightly salty, pungent, and bitter. Although Swiss chard is available throughout the year, it is at its most nutritious and greatest availability from June through August. It is a tall leafy green vegetable with a thick, crunchy stalk that comes in white, red or yellow with wide fan-like green leaves. Both the leaves and stalk of chard are edible, although the stems vary in texture with the white ones being the most tender.

1/2 cup of cooked Swiss chard provides a huge amount of both lutein and zeaxanthin, supplying 10 mg each. These plant chemicals, known as carotenoids, protect your retinas from the damage of aging, being some of the best nutrients to help prevent macular degeneration. The more lutein and zeaxanthin you eat, the better your internal eye protection will be.

Swiss chard gets excellent marks for its concentrations of vitamin K (bone health), vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, potassium, iron, vitamin E, and dietary fiber. Swiss chard also emerges as a very good or good source of copper, calcium, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, protein, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc, folate, biotin, niacin and pantothenic acid.

A simple way to include chard in your diet is to add its green leaf to soups and stews. Like other greens you can steam it and eat it with garlic, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar, Yum!

Physicians, who don't look ahead, can put you at risk for heart disease and stroke. Here are some of the most common blood tests that can help reveal risk factors for heart disease. You may be told that your blood test results are "normal", but over time non-optimal results can be lethal to you.

In other words, what the "Normal Range" allows is not always a practical indicator for where your "optimal" level should be. In many cases, a "Normal Range" reflects what is seen in the average population. Since heart disease is the number one killer of Americans, you don't ever want to be part of the "normal" range when it comes to heart disease risk factors. By keeping your blood levels in the "Optimal Range," rather than the average "Normal Range," you take advantage of the increasing volume of evidence showing that most heart attacks and strokes are preventable.

As you can see, the "Normal Range" often differs from what the published research indicates is protective against heart disease-Optimal Level.

Blood Test           Normal Range                Optimal Level (Where YOU Want To Be)
Fibrinogen           Up to 460 mg/dL            Under 300 mg/dL
C-reactive protein Up to 4.9 mg/L             Under 2 mg/L Some studies indicate C-reactive
                                                                               protein levels should be below 1.3 mg/L
Homocysteine     Up to 15 micro mol/L     Under 7 micro mol/L
Glucose               Up to 109 mg/dL             Under 100 mg/dL
Iron                    Up to 180 mg/dL             Under 100 mcg/dL
HDL cholesterol   No lower than 35 mg/dL     Over 50 mg/dL
LDL cholesterol    Up to 129 mg/dL            Under 100 mg/dL
Triglycerides        Up to 199 mg/dL            Under 100 mg/dL
Cholesterol          Up to 199 mg/dL            Between 180-220 mg/dL
Lipoprotein(a)      Up to 35 mg/dL              Under 30 mg/dL

Fibrinogen is a marker for how easy your blood cells clot.
C reactive protein is a marker for inflammation that can cause heart disease.
Homocysteine is an important marker for heart disease and stroke.
High glucose levels are associated with heart disease.
Too much iron can cause heart disease.
The higher your HDL cholesterol the lower your risk for heart disease
The higher your LDL cholesterol the higher your risk for heart disease
High triglycerides increase your risk for heart disease.
Lipoprotein(a) is an important marker for heart disease.

#1. Vitamin D is actually a hormone metabolized from cholesterol under the influence of sun exposure. It has direct effects on the following cells: cancer, bone, breast, prostate, ovary, uterus, liver, lung, muscle, intestine, kidney, brain, fat, adrenal, cartilage, nerve, hair follicle, intestine, parathyroid, parotid, pituitary, placenta, skin, stomach, testis, thymus, and thyroid.

#2. Even people outside in sunny climates like Arizona and Hawaii don't get enough Vitamin D from sunshine. Throughout history we spent most of the day in the sun, hunting, fishing, gathering, and farming. We physiologically developed to need that much vitamin D. The sedentary indoor lifestyle of modern day people gets much less. Add to that the huge error in telling everyone to stay out of the sun and you end up with sob-optimal levels.

#3. Vitamin D is mostly stored in fat tissue and is converted to 25(OH) D3, which is the best laboratory analysis of vitamin D levels in the body. 1,25(OH)D3, the most common test that labs and doctors run is the wrong test. It is not a useful measurement for disease treatment or prevention.

#4. The "normal" laboratory reference range for Vitamin D tests is not useful for disease prevention. Any value below 40 ng/dL shows a functional Vitamin D deficiency. Optimum levels are 40-70 mg/dL depending on an individual's state of health.

#5. The US government RDA for Vitamin D-400 IU-is a joke. It's flat out wrong. Dr. John Cannell, one of the most knowledgeable physicians involved in Vitamin D research, recommends the following amounts:
Well children under the age of two should take 1,000 IU per day, over the age of two, 2,000 IU per day. Well adults and adolescents between 80 pounds and 130 pounds should start with 3,000 IU per day, over 130 pounds but less than 170 pounds, 4,000 IU per day and over 170 pounds, 5,000 IU per day.

Two months later have your physician order your first 25-hydroxy-vitamin D blood test. Then adjust your dose so your 25(OH)D level is between 50 and 70 ng/ml, summer and winter. These are conservative dosage recommendations. Most people who avoid the sun - and virtually all dark-skinned people - will have to increase their dose once they find their blood level is still low, even after two months of the above dosage, especially in the winter.

#6. You can cause yourself harm by taking Vitamin D on your own. It's critical that you work with a practitioner who has professional training and experience. The main concern of excess Vitamin D supplementation is hypercalcemia, that's why periodic blood tests are so important.

#7. The only form of Vitamin D that you should take is vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol. Vitamin D2, or ergocalciferol is less active and not as easily absorbed. D2 was the most common form used to 'fortify' foods like milk.

#8. Osteoporosis and rickets (childhood softening of bones) are two of the most well known diseases treated by Vitamin D. Some of the diseases treatable/preventable by optimum Vitamin D levels are breast, prostate, and colon cancer, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, and depression.

On July 23, 2008 the head of a prominent cancer research institute issued a warning to his faculty and staff Wednesday: Limit cell phone use because of the possible risk of cancer.
The warning came from Dr. Ronald B. Herberman, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. It goes against studies that haven't found a connection and highlights the lack of concern expressed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Herberman is basing his alarm on early unpublished data. He believes that people should take action now, especially when it comes to children.

"Really at the heart of my concern is that we shouldn't wait for a definitive study to come out but err on the side of being safe rather than sorry later," Herberman said. In the memo he sent to about 3,000 faculty and staff, he says children should use cell phones only for emergencies because their brains are still developing. Adults should keep the phone away from the head and use the speakerphone or a wireless headset, he says. He even warns against using cell phones in public places such as a bus, because it exposes others to the phone's electromagnetic fields.
Still, Herberman cites a "growing body of literature linking long-term cell phone use to possible adverse health effects including cancer." "Although the evidence is still controversial, I am convinced that there are sufficient data to warrant issuing an advisory to share some precautionary advice on cell phone use," he wrote in his memo.

A driving force behind the memo was Devra Lee Davis, the director of the university's center for environmental oncology. "The question is, do you want to play Russian roulette with your brain?" she said from her cell phone, while using the hands-free speaker phone, as recommended. "I don't know that cell phones are dangerous. But I don't know that they are safe."

Of concern are the still unknown effects of more than a decade of cell phone use, with some studies raising alarms, said Davis, a former health adviser in the Clinton administration. She said 20 groups have endorsed the advice the Pittsburgh cancer institute gave, and authorities in England, France and India have cautioned children's use of cell phones.

Herberman and Davis point to a massive ongoing research project known as Interphone, involving scientists in 13 nations, mostly in Europe. Results published in peer-reviewed journals from this project aren't so alarming, but Herberman is citing work not yet published.
Cell phones emit radiofrequency energy, a type of radiation that is a form of electromagnetic radiation, according to the National Cancer Institute.

DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: At the least, I recommend the use of your speakerphone and headset all the time. For young children, who may be more susceptible, cell phone use should be restricted to emergencies. This is definitely a situation where it's better to be safe than sorry.

It is common for women undergoing a hysterectomy to also have their healthy ovaries removed. According to a new research review there is no clear evidence that it is beneficial to do so.
In the U.S. alone, at least 300,000 such procedures are performed each year. But for women at average risk of ovarian cancer, there is a lack of high-quality evidence of either benefits or harms, according to the researchers on the new review.

"Consequently, women should know that for the vast majority of women who don't have (elevated) ovarian cancer risk, removal of the ovaries during hysterectomy may not be justified," lead researcher Dr. Leonardo J. Orozco, of OBGYN Women's Hospital San Jose, in Costa Rica, told Reuters Health.

A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus. When women have the procedure for a non-cancerous condition, they may be offered the option of having their healthy ovaries removed as well. Called prophylactic oophorectomy, the procedure is done with the goal of lowering the woman's future risk of ovarian cancer, and to avoid further surgeries for problems like benign ovarian growths.

Currently, there are no good quality studies of the benefits or harms of removing the ovaries at the time of hysterectomy. Until well-designed studies that compare women undergoing hysterectomy with women undergoing hysterectomy and removing ovaries are undertaken, removing the ovaries at the time of hysterectomy should be approached with caution.
Orozco LJ, Salazar A, Clarke J, Tristan M. Hysterectomy versus hysterectomy plus oophorectomy for premenopausal women. Cochrane Rev 2008 Jul; 3.

DR. PAIS'S COMMENTS: There are many reasons why a woman might want to keep her ovaries-hormonal, emotional, physical, etc. The ovaries produce estrogens and androgens that serve important functions in the body. Before menopause, for example, women's higher estrogen levels help protect their heart health. Some studies suggest that women who have their ovaries removed face a heightened risk of future heart disease and stroke.

Even after menopause, the ovaries continue to produce hormones -- including androgens that are converted to estrogens in body tissues. The consequences of ending this normal ovarian function are not fully understood.

I am often asked what supplements I recommend. Many of you have been surprised to discover that I favor food over pills; lifestyle changes over fads. I have been working with nutrition for over 30 years, herbs for over 20 years. Where and when appropriate I recommend them to my patients. I strive to act from knowledge, experience, and research.

Emerson Ecologics (800-654-4432) carries almost all of the nutritional supplements and botanical extracts that I think are useful. Their customer service is excellent and their delivery is reliable (often only 2-3 days to this region). It's a great way to get physician quality products at reasonable prices.

To offset the cost of shipping, reference my name when you establish your account and receive a 10% discount on every order. If you have any questions about these items feel free to email me.

That's it for this issue of Naturopathic News. If you've thought a bit extra or learned something new, then I achieved my goal. As usual, if you have questions or concerns brought up by these subjects, let me know.

Gregory Pais, ND, DHANP