Diarrhoea

I’m writing this blog to answer a question in the Ask the Vegan Naturopath Facebook group. The question is about chronic diarrhoea, with a known gluten sensitivity. While the person I’m answering has had medical testing done and was able to provide a fair bit of information, I’m answering this in a more general manner for the benefit of others who may be suffering from diarrhoea without the benefit of having done this investigation:

First, make sure you have fully researched all gluten sources. Make sure you haven’t missed anything. And double check the ingredients labels on everything he is eating. Has this been medically diagnosed? I’ve seen children who appear to have diarrhea but it’s actually constipation with loose stool running out around this blockage.

If it is diarrhea, ask yourself if there is too much raw food or fruit in his diet. These can lead to diarrhea in some people. Loose stool in Chinese medicine is often thought to be due to weak or deficient spleen-pancreas qi, or if it gets really bad, deficient digestive fire. These people can have a pale tongue with a thin white coating, tend to be tired, have food sensitivities and other digestive troubles. They advise reducing excessive raw vegetables, fruit (esp citrus), sprouts, cereal grasses, tomato, spinach, tofu, wild blue-green microalgae, seaweeds, salt, dairy, sweets and vinegar (eg fermented foods). Helpful foods to add or increase are: sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, parsnip, turnip, garbanzo and black beans, onions, leek, ginger, cinnamon, fennel, garlic, nutmeg, and fruits cooked rather than raw. Food needs to be chewed well! Continue reading

Neuralgia

I was recently asked to talk about neuralgia by one of the members in our group “Ask the Vegan Naturopath”. Whenever my replies are longer than a few paragraphs, I prefer to turn them into blogs. 

Neuralgia is nerve pain, tingling and/or pins and needles from inflamed or damaged nerves.

Each client is treated as an individual and remedies are chosen that suit each unique case. The first thing to consider is the underlying cause, if it can be identified. Is the problem being caused by something structural in the musculoskeletal system tied in with injury or bad habits like poor posture and sitting too much? Is it damage caused by too much alcohol or drugs, or by too much glucose in the blood? Other causes might be too much artificial supplemented vitamin B6 or some kind of environment poisoning eg arsenic, mercury, lead, organo-phosphate residues from weed-killers and so on. An example of a nutrient deficiency that might cause nerve pain is vitamin B12 deficiency. Nerve pain can also be caused by infections like shingles. And the list goes on! Continue reading

Oats

Don’t you just love the look of this breakfast?! I’m not much of a cereal-for-breakfast person myself, but if I do have cereal, porridge is it! This is whole-oats porridge with rice milk, coconut yogurt, banana, apple, strawberry, mandarine, chai seeds, LSA (ground up linseed, sunflower and almonds).

I love food-herbs like oats. Food herbs are often also nutritive herbs, herbs that are packed full of nutrients; a whole-food multi-mineral/vitamin source. Oats is extremely rich in silicon, iron, chromium, sodium and magnesium. It also contains high levels of phosphorus and calcium, reasonable amounts of iron and selenium, and smaller quantities of iron, zinc, manganese and potassium. The magnesium-calcium-potassium team is a classic nervous system team and in herbs like this it’s present in beautifully synergistic or perfectly balanced ratio’s that the body loves. Continue reading

B12 update

I’ve been doing some research into vegan B12 options, and as always, it sinks in how little we really know, how much more we have to learn, and the uncertainties of it all. I can tell you what science has worked out so far, but remember that everything is always changing as new evidence comes to light. Science is, and always will be, an incomplete art: we cannot know what we don’t know, or where the blind spots in our vision are, and without this understanding, we are always going to be seeing only part of the big picture. Continue reading

Vegan Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding doesn’t work out for everyone, but if you can do it, there are some wonderful bonuses.

For the baby, breastfeeding provides food in its ideal form, just as nature intended, with all macro and micronutrients in perfect ratio to one another. Besides being filled with all of these nutrients, human breast milk also contains plant chemicals that boost health and protect your baby against disease, along with powerful gut-flora and immune boosting gifts from the mother’s body such as antibodies, cytokines, anti-microbials and oligosaccharides. Breast-fed babies are less likely to develop colds, ear infections, asthma, allergies and stomach upsets, and later in life, they are less likely to suffer from diabetes, heart disease, obesity, or childhood leukaemia. It’s amazing to think that there is this incredible symbiotic relationships between the mother’s body and the child’s, with the composition of the mother’s breast milk adjusting itself constantly in response to the babies changing needs. Continue reading

Eating disorders and vegan/vegetarian diets

I’ve been meaning to write this blog for a while, and now feels like the right time. Essentially, what I’m doing here is simply sharing some brilliant information from the “Weighty Matter’s” chapter of one of my favourite books, ‘Becoming Vegan’, written by vegan dieticians Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina. It really does pay to source vegan dietary support from people who actually specialise in this field, and these two women are two of the best! Brenda is a leader in her field and an internationally acclaimed speaker. Past chairperson of the Vegetarian Dietetic Practise Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Brenda has written more than eight books and is the lead dietitian in a diabetes research project in Majuro, Marshall Islands. Vesanto taught nutrition at the University of British Columbia and Bastyr University in Seattle, co-authored the joint-position paper on vegetarian diets for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Dieticians of Canada and is a consultant to the government of British Columbia.

As the authors point out in their “Weighty Matter’s” chapter, there are many experts who believe that vegan and vegetarian diets can increase the risk of eating disorders and some treatment centres will force a reintroduction of meat into the diet as part of the recovery process. These ideas are based on data from 1997-2009 that reported significantly higher rates of disturbed eating among the vegetarian population in comparison to non-vegetarians. And the statistics are significant: approximately 50% of adolescents and young women with anorexia nervosa eat some form of vegetarian diet whereas only 6-34% of their non-anorexic peers eat a vegetarian diet.

The problem with these statistics lays in the way they are interpreted: we can’t look at them and simply assume that vegan and vegetarian diets lead to anorexia. Quite the contrary, research has shown that people with eating disorders adopt vegetarian diets, “using them to facilitate calorie restriction and legitimise the removal of high-fat, high-calorie animal products, and processed or fast foods made with these products.” In other words, the vegetarian or plant-based diet becomes a ‘front’ and can easily mask an existing eating disorder. This has been referred to as “pseudo vegetarianism.” Continue reading

Eggs

Health Concerns about Eggs


I’ve been intrigued with eggs lately, and thought I would compile all the research I’ve been reading into one place, as a blog. Please keep in mind I was only looking at the negative risk factors associated with eggs, rather than the benefits. From a health perspective, it makes sense to avoid eggs altogether if you have diabetes or a cardiovascular disease, or you want to avoid certain cancers that might run in your family such as colon cancer and prostate cancer.


Environmental contaminants:

The main dietary source of environmental contaminants for humans, comes from animal body parts and secretions. One study compared the concentrations of 7 contaminants in the breast milk of 12 vegans with that of the general population and found that for all contaminants except PCBs, the highest vegan value was lower than the lowest value in the general population. This does varies depending on the vegans studied however, but what does seem to be consistent across the board is the very low levels of organochlorine pesticides in vegans. (2) From what I have read though, it seems as though meat and dairy are a higher risk source of environmental contaminants than eggs are. Continue reading

Synergy

From a nutritional perspective, synergism is the way certain nutrients within a food are interlinked and work together as a team. The fact that iron is absorbed better in the presence of vitamin C is a very simple example of synergism, but if I pick up my Nutrition Bible, the synergistic nutrients listed for iron are Vit B2, B12, citrate, copper, clic acid, histidine, lysine, molybdenum, and selenium.

In this, one of my favourite textbooks by Henry Osieki, Henry describes synergistic nutrients as those who “work together in particular metabolic pathways as well as cofactors that activate the nutrient in question.” He says that “supplementing a synergistic combination of nutrients with the nutrient in question will result in better health outcomes at (a)lower dose of the star nutrient for a condition.” Continue reading

Holism, reductionism and cultural relativity

It’s strange to think that the idea of everything being interconnected is considered by many scientific thinkers to be a novel, somewhat hypothetical, or even dubious idea. Science hobbles itself with it’s own scientific method, because it must isolate and separate whatever it studies from it’s environment in order to control the study process. And yet nothing in reality is ever separate from it’s environment.

A single cell is one of many, coordinating it’s activity and function within a tissue, and the collective structure and function of these cells is what creates the tissue they are part of. The tissue these cells are a part of, is one of many tissues which interlock and overlap to form an organ. The specific character of these tissues, and the way they interact, is what governs the structure and function of the organ they are a part of. And from here, it is the organisation of many organs, all structurally and functionally interconnected, that creates the human body as a whole. Continue reading

Keeping your blood sugar stable

Have you ever had a naturopath say “you need to keep your blood sugar steady”? There can be lots of reasons for doing this, such as improving energy levels, mental clarity and mood, and reduced cravings for unhealthy food options like refined sugar.

When your blood sugar drops, you can feel tired, foggy in the head, grumpy or anxious, and shaky. Our instinctive solution is to eat, which is perfect, but we tend to opt for fast-sugar (refined sugar) fixes, which just exacerbates the problem. And some people reach for other pick-me-ups like caffeine, cigarettes and drugs.

Why might blood sugar drop in the first place? Usually because you haven’t eaten enough, you’ve gone too long without eating, or your meal choices are making your blood sugar rise too high and too quickly, with a rebounding drop.  Continue reading