Monthly Archives: October 2010

The Folic Acid Controversy

I have been getting lots of emails in regards to the April issue of Prevention magazine’s article entitled Is Your Breakfast Giving You Cancer?  In case you did not see it, you can find it online at

This story has generated significant media and public concern regarding folic acid so I would like to tell you exactly what that means for you.

The Prevention magazine article presents research which suggests that folic acid fortification of white flour, rice, breakfast cereals, nutrition bars, beverages, most multi-vitamins and many other nutritional supplements, has lead to significant increases in cancer, particularly colon, prostate, and lung cancer.

“The more we learn about folic acid, the more it’s clear that giving it to everyone has very real risks,” says folic acid researcher David Smith, PhD, a professor of pharmacology at the University of Oxford in England, as quoted in the Prevention magazine article.

It is estimated that this practice of synthetic folic acid fortification has resulted in 15,000 additional cancers per year in the United States alone. However, other health concerns such as spina bifida and cardiovascular events have been significantly reduced because of folic acid fortification.  The key word here is synthetic.

In my practice, I fully understand and appreciate the critical roles that folates play in regard to health and I’m happy to report that is a way to benefit from folates without contributing to cancer risk and incidence. So the question changes from how much folic acid is too much to which kind of folic acid is safe.

Folate is a generic term for a group of water soluble B-vitamins that includes folic acid and naturally occurring folates in food. The terms “folic acid” and “folate” are often used interchangeably, but in reality, they are 2 very different things.

What is Folic Acid and How Does it Differ from Folates?

Folic acid refers to the fully oxidized synthetic compound (pteroylmono­glutamic acid) used in most dietary supplements and in food fortification (and the one reported on in the article), while folate refers to the various tetrahydrofolate derivatives naturally present in foods. 

Humans are unable to make their own folate, making it an essential nutrient that is typically obtained from the diet.  Important sources of natural folate are leafy green vegetables, fruits, legumes, liver, eggs, dairy products, and orange juice. Food folates are mainly pteroylpolyglutamate forms of tet­rahydofolate, 5-methyl-tetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF), 10-formyltetrahydrofolate and 5-formyltetrahydrofolate.  (This is technical I know, but hang in there with me).

Folic acid, which is again, the fully oxidized synthetic compound (pteroylmonoglutamic acid), is obtained in the diet mainly from folic acid-fortified grain products and folic acid-containing supplements. Unlike any of the natural folates in foods that are in reduced forms, folic acid is a fully oxidized compound. Human exposure to this form was non-existent until its chemical synthesis and use in food fortification and dietary supplements.

Health Concerns with Synthetic Folic Acid

The risk of higher than desired folic acid intake is compounded by concerns over the appearance of unmetabolized (unaltered) folic acid (pteroyl­monoglutamic acid) in the blood.

“Unlike folate, folic acid isn’t found in nature, so we don’t know the effect of the excess,” says folic acid researcher David Smith, PhD, a professor of pharmacology at the University of Oxford in England, in the Prevention magazine article.

It has been demonstrated that even a modest intake of less than 400 micrograms per day of synthetic folic acid from fortified foods or supplements may lead to the appearance of unmetabolized folic acid in the bloodstream. 

Unlike the natural folates (e.g., 5-methyltetrahydrofolate and 5-formyltetrahydrofolate), folic acid is not a normal metabolite and must be converted to a compound called tetrahydrofolate, which is its usable form. In some individuals, low enzymatic activity in the liver where folic acid is first metabolized, could result in unmetabolized folic which poses various risks including potential cognitive decline and susceptibility to certain cancers. In the article, this folic acid is what they are referring to, but not the same goes for the natural folates.

What We Are Doing About This Problem

For this reason, in the last few years (way before this article was even written) professional brands that I use have changed from the oxidized, synthetic form to a folic acid to a natural folate blend called NatureFolate. It is made from concentrated vegetable juice powder containing a blend of natural folates, including 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF) and 5-formyltetrahydrofolate with additional fortified 5-formyltetrahydrofolate as calcium folinate.

These are safe, natural forms which are quickly and easily utilized by the body. NatureFolate provides the proven benefits of optimal folate supplementation without the risks. All the products we carry including our Multi-Vitamins, B Supreme and the new Prenatal Vitamins contain this natural formulary blend.

A vast majority of nutritional supplement companies still use 100% folic acid in their supplement line. Others use methylated folates, such as 5-MTHF, in featured folate products only, while using folic acid in their multivitamins and formulary products. There are others that claim they only use “whole food” nutrients, when in reality one can simply read their labels and see products that contain some amount of food mash combined with synthetic USP vitamins, often including folic acid.

One well known company, when recently quizzed by a nutritionist as to why they haven’t changed to natural folates, replied that the costs of natural folates and of redoing all of their product stability testing would be too expensive. How inexpensive does a formulation change have to be for a company to choose to improve the safety of a product? How is this not an important enough issue to act right away?

While the cost of using a natural folate blend like NatureFolate is more expensive than folic acid for the manufacturer, the companies I carry are willing to make this investment in raw materials because their aim is to optimize wellness and never compromise safety. You can always trust that our brands have the highest potency and purity and keep up with necessary modifications based on emerging research.  

If you have any further questions about folates, need advice on what to take or want to see if your vitamin measures up, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Vitamin D

There are various nutrients that work great in up-regulating the immune system and can be taken for a few weeks to increase immunity or in larger amounts at the first onset of symptoms to nip it in the bud.

This time of year, I find that vitamin D is crucial. We get vitamin D from the sun and because it is a fat soluble vitamin, we store it pretty well in the adipose tissues. However here in the northeast, the sun is only strong enough to provide sufficient vitamin D in the summer months, so from mid September to late April we are left to fend for ourselves. Vitamin D is very important for a proper functioning immune system and by February, most of us usually use up our stores from the summer and can quickly become deficient.  Studies show that over half of Americans are deficient in the winter months and the ADA is even talking about raising the RDA for vitamin D.

Levels of D can be obtained through a simple blood test done at the doctor’s office. The range for D in most labs is listed as 30mg/dl-100mg/dl and as you can see, this is rather large. There is a big difference if you are 31 or if you are 99 but many doctors see it in the normal range and do not get alarmed. While sun exposure is the absolutely best way to get vitamin D, when that is impossible in the winter months, I suggest supplementing with 1000-2000 IU of D found in Vitamin D Synergy daily for anyone that is between 30 and 40, and up to 5000IU’s such as in Vitamin D Supreme per day for anyone under 30. It is very important to get retested in a month however to make sure you do not go over what you need. If you are taking higher doses of D for long periods of time, it is essential that the vitamin D formulation contains a little vitamin K to prevent calcification. All of our vitamin D formulations contain K for this reason. If you have digestive problems, it is possible that your absorption of D can be hindered. For this reason we can use liquid vitamin D which can be taken orally or applied to the skin for trans-dermal absorption which is also very effective.

An extremely important thing to keep in mind is that there are 2 types of vitamin D. One is called ergocalciferol (also known as D2) which is the synthetic vitamin D and it is not recommended. The second one is D3 (known as cholecalciferol) and it is the D3 that we want to use. Once either form of the vitamin is in your body, it needs to be converted to a more active form. Vitamin D3 is converted 500 percent faster than vitamin D2. However, nearly all the prescription-based supplements contain synthetic vitamin D2!  And in case you didn’t know, the vitamin D that is added to milk is not D3 but the highly inferior vitamin D2. Please be on the lookout for the D2 (ergocalciferol) form and avoid it.

Vaccines and Immunity

In the last couple of weeks, I have been getting hundreds of emails from patients asking my opinion on the H1N1 vaccine as well as the regular flu vaccine, so I wanted to address these viruses and vaccines to help you make the choice that is best for you.

H1N1 virus is a relative 1918 Spanish flu virus. However even though there has been much hype about the dangers of this virus, there is a lot we can do about it.

Yes there have been some deaths, particularly in people under 20, but research shows that H1N1 is not any more lethal than other flu strains and furthermore, many of the deaths are actually not caused by the virus itself.

A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that of the 36 children who died from H1N1 from April to August, six had no chronic health conditions. But all of them had a co-occurring bacterial infection. The most common co-occurring infection that causes flu-related deaths is staphylococcus aureus. A third of the population actually carries it in their nose or on their skin. The flu causes upper respiratory damage, which allows the strep to make its way into the lungs.  While antibiotics are not effective against viruses, it is very important to watch for secondary infections and in those cases, the use of antibiotics may be warranted to prevent further problems.

Recent studies have also indicated that strep infections, rather than the flu virus itself, may have killed most people during the 1918 influenza pandemic, which further adds to the notion that the swine flu is being over-hyped. During the 1918 flu incident there were no antibiotics, no IV fluids and no respirators so all the doctors of that time could offer was rest, fluids and aspirin. Strep is much easier to treat than the flu using modern medicine, so a new pandemic might be much less dire than it was in the early 20th century.

How vaccines work

The flu vaccine is created within chicken eggs, and is processed to create a large batch of antigen, which will provoke an immune response within the vaccinated individual.  A vaccine that is intended for injection contains only purified pieces of dead flu virus which is unable to cause an infection, but stimulates the production of antibodies within the body.

Inhaled flu vaccine however, contains a weakened version of the living virus. The fact that the virus is alive makes this type of vaccine slightly more effective in the prevention of the swine flu, or other strains of influenza but it also makes the vaccine riskier. Live virus vaccines carry a risk of genetic instability, which can cause them to revert to their previous virulent state.  For this reason, extensive testing must be done on new vaccines as they are created to treat new viral influenza strains. Without comprehensive testing, a live vaccine can increase the spread of the disease, rather than stopping it.

In terms of accuracy, the beneficial thing with H1N1 vaccine is that we know the strain of the virus to use in the vaccine. The problem with regular flu shots is that they are never 100% sure which strain is going to develop and the strain used in the vaccine is not always the one that may infect you.

In terms of efficacy however, studies show that developing an H1N1 antibody after getting an H1N1 vaccination has no correlation with not getting sick and that a sizable antibody level only protects up to 50% of people from getting the flu. The protection percentage is even lower than that with a regular flu shot.

According to an article published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews  in 2008, in a review of more than 51 studies involving over 294,000 children, it was found there was “no evidence that injecting children 6-24 months of age with a flu shot was any more effective than placebo. In children over 2 yrs, it was only effective 33% of the time in preventing the flu. In another review of 48 reports including more than 66,000 adults, “Vaccination of healthy adults only reduced risk of influenza by 6% and reduced the number of missed work days by less than one day (0.16) days. It did not change the number of people needing to go to hospital or take time off work.”

With these statistics, we have to ask ourselves – with the benefits being as low as they are, is it worth the risk?

What is in a flu shot?

  • Egg proteins: including avian contaminant viruses
  • Gelatin: can cause allergic reactions and anaphylaxis are usually associated with sensitivity to egg or gelatin
  • Polysorbate 80 (Tween80(tm)): can cause severe allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis. Also associated with inferility in female mice.
  • Formaldehyde: known carcinogen
  • Triton X100: a strong detergent
  • Sucrose: table sugar
  • Resin: known to cause allergic reactions
  • Gentamycin: an antibiotic
  • Thimerosal: mercury is still in multidose flu shot vials

It has also come to my attention that younger people are catching the swine flu more often than other age groups. Looking into this further I learned that if someone was born before 1950, they most likely have antibodies and tend to be immune which is why there seems to be more deaths in younger people than the elderly population.

The other point that is being made is looking at children that are getting
sick and the breakdown of the ones who were vaccinated versus the ones
that were not. Is it possible that getting more vaccines and an annual flu
shot makes the immune system “lazy” and thus this is the reason these
children are not being able to fight off the flu on their own? Not sure
anyone has a concrete answer for this one but makes you think doesn’t it?

What you should do to protect yourself

Bacteria and viruses are everywhere but the portals of entry into your body are through the eyes, nostrils and mouth/throat. Once the virus enters the body, it can be fought of by your immune system, or it can proliferate and develop into a full blown flu.

Most people know it is very important to wash hands regularly, but in addition to that, you want to make sure to keep hands away from your face, especially eyes, ears, nose and mouth.

If you have been around someone that is sick or frequent crowded places such as trains or busses where people are sneezing and coughing, it is helpful to clear out your nasal passages and throat. Use a neti-pot filled with salt water and gargle twice a day with salt water or a product I often use in the practice called Lomatium which has very strong anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. It can also be taken orally to help fight off infection if you feel you are getting sick or already have a full blown infection.

Boosting the immune system- the most important protocol

You can have enormous exposure to infectious agents and you simply will not get sick IF you have a healthy immune system.

Lifestyle if the first step to boost your defenses.

  • Practice good sleep habits and get between 8-9 hours of sleep a night.
  • Avoid stress and over obligating yourself.
  • Participate in a regular balanced exercise program that includes cardio and     resistance training that works all major muscle groups.
  • Eat a balanced diet and reduce or avoid sugar and sugary foods as that is the fastest way to drop immunity
  • Run a hair analysis and/or metabolic profile to find out your deficiencies   and replenish the nutrients your body needs.

There are also various immune boosting nutrients I successfully use in the practice with great results.

This year we introduced a new homeopathic formula from Germany called Lymphonest. It’s a lymph drainage formula that goes to work by aiding in elimination of viruses and bacteria from the lymph and boosting the immune system. The great thing about this formula is that is works great for prevention but also a very effective remedy for when you are starting to get sick or are already sick. Simply take it throughout the day if you are feeling ill and watch it drastically cut your symptoms and reduce sick time.

ImmunoBerry is another great formula which is especially great for children due to its natural great taste. The liquid contains Certified organic extracts of Astragalus, Wild Cherry Bark, Shiitake mushroom, Maitake mushroom, Elderberry and Beta 1,3 Glucan.  Research suggests that these herbs, mushrooms and other natural compounds have  potential  antiviral  and  antibacterial ability, as well as the ability to stimulate natural killer (NK) cell activity, necessary for a strong immune defense.

Colostrum is an exceptional nutritional substance, produced by mothers for their newborns, that supports and nourishes the immune system. I recommend colostrum for anyone with weakened immunity and especially if you have gastrointestinal complaints because part of our immune system lies in the gut. It is great to take for 1-2 months to help rebuild the immune system.

Vitamin D has shown great promise in boosting the immune system as well. I recommend testing for vitamin D levels and if they are below 30ml/dl, supplement with 1000-3000IU daily of natural D3, especially during the winter months.

Most of us have heard of healing and protective capabilities of Vitamin C, but I wanted to mention it here again because dosages and forms are very important and vary in different situations. Vitamin C is most potent when combined with bioflavamoids in the buffered form to avoid stomach discomfort. I do not usually recommend that people take vitamin C on a daily basis without testing, as too much vitamin C can lower copper levels. A hair test can help determine what amount if any the body needs daily. However with an onset of a cold or flu, vitamin C can be taken short-term to support the immune system and fight the infection on site. In those situations I recommend taking 3000-5000 mgs of C per day in divided doses for a few days.

Some of you are already familiar with Immunitone Plus from last year. It is a combination I still use often with great results. This powerful immune supportive formula combines herbs that have antiviral and antibacterial properties as well as the ability to maintain Natural Killer cell activity and cytokine synthesis. This formula is extremely powerful yet safe enough to use in high doses for acute applications, while also being suitable for long-term use in chronic conditions.

If you are looking for ways to improve your immunity, please do not hesitate to contact the office so that we can put together an appropriate program for you.

Toxins In Our Water

The Associated Press released information on an investigation showing a vast array of pharmaceuticals – including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans. The presence of so many prescription drugs and over the counter medicines like acetaminophen and ibuprofen in so much of our drinking water is heightening worries among scientists of long-term consequences to human health. The water was tested in 24 major metropolitan areas, from Southern California to Northern New Jersey, from Detroit to Louisville, KY and you may be taking drugs every day and not even realize it.

The AP’s investigative team found traces of drugs in 24 of the 62 major metropolitan water systems it checked. In Philadelphia, for example, tiny amounts of at least 56 pharmaceuticals or their byproducts were found and Lake Meade, which is about 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas, found trace levels of birth control pills, steroids, narcotics and other drugs in their water.

These drugs are coming out in the water because people’s bodies are not able to absorb 100% of the medications they take and some is excreted into the sewer system.  Water treatment plants are not suited to remove drugs so these byproducts are passed through to the lakes and rivers and eventually make their way into the water supply. The pharmaceutical industry points out the levels of drugs detected are minuscule, and that the amount of medication in the water supply is the equivalent of a single small pill in an Olympic-size swimming pool, however this is a poor excuse because it is ongoing and is a great reason for concern. What will happen after say 50 years of exposure? In addition, with so many different drugs in the water supply, people are ingesting them in combinations never intended. Medical experts are worrying that overexposure to antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance and an inability to fight infection.

Scientists are already seeing effects of some of these drugs on animals. Some male fish are developing female traits and reproductive problems believed to be due to exposure to human birth control hormones.

To avoid exacerbating the problem, it is recommended that instead of flushing unneeded medications down the toilet, discard drugs by diluting them with water or coffee grounds, putting them in a tight container and throwing them in the garbage.

One of the best ways to filter drugs out of tap water is through reverse osmosis, but it’s considered too expensive for treatment plants to implement without proof that the pharmaceuticals in the water are a real health threat.
However, home Reverse Osmosis kits are available from major plumbing supply outlets and online. Regular filters like the Britta are not designed to filter out drugs and are also weak on other metals, toxins and chlorine.  RO Systems are very effective and they are also inexpensive and very easy to install so no special plumbing is needed. They have easy filter change mechanisms and are virtually maintenance free. RO filters out up to 99% of all unwanted substances commonly found in tap and well water. They also filter out heavy and chlorine.

There are many websites including EBAY where you can get a good quality reverse osmosis filter for your home.

Shower Filters

While most of us only think about the water that we drink, shower water can also have an effect on our health because hot water opens pores and toxins are readily absorbed. Chlorine is one of the biggest offenders in shower water and is linked to diseases of the lungs, heart and even certain cancers. Chlorine contains THM’s and haloforms which are potent chemical pollutants that can trigger the production of excess free radicals in our bodies causing cell damage.

Several studies reported that chronic exposure to chlorine concentrations of around 5 ppm caused respiratory complaints, corrosion of the teeth, inflammation of the mucous membranes of the nose, and increased susceptibility to tuberculosis. Animal studies have reported decreased body weight gain, eye and nose irritation, and effects on the respiratory tract, liver, and kidney from chronic inhalation exposure to chlorine. Other studies have indicated that exposure to chlorine, via inhalation, may alter disease resistance in animals, with higher incidences of emphysema, pneumonia, and tuberculosis reported.

Studies published in Nature and Health magazine indicate the likelihood that regular exposure to chlorinated water can promote the aging process of the skin, much like extended exposure to sunlight. “One out of every two clients coming into the salon has chlorine damage to their hair,” says Vancouver’s top hairdresser Derek London, “It’s almost the same as oxidation from peroxide burning, except chlorine adds density to the hair. You see a lot of breakage and splitting. Hair tangles when it’s shampooed and becomes difficult to comb.”

The chlorine concentrations vary through out the country, and unfortunately Hoboken/Jersey City area has one of the highest concentrations. Using a shower filter is an extremely easy and inexpensive way to take chlorine out of water and have a more pleasant showering experience. Not only will it better your health, but you will also notice softer skin and smoother hair with less frizz. The 2 best technologies for shower filters are KDF and Vitamin C filtration. Both can be found for $30-$50 online. They are super easy to install and work with any standard shower head without losing any water pressure.

Seasonal Allergies

Change of seasons usually means better weather but all the blooms can pose quite a problem for many of us suffering with allergies! There are many different approaches from shots to medications, but for many that are looking for a more natural way, there are several alternatives.

One of the best things to do from a food perspective is to eliminate or significantly lower sugar, dairy and grain carbohydrates. These foods instigate an insulin release which in turn causes production of inflammation and can exacerbate allergies. Unfortunately even fruit and whole complex grains like stone ground whole wheat bread and brown rice can do this to some extent.  It is recommended to stick to vegetable sources of carbohydrates as those break down the slowest thus causing the least insulin to be released.

For breakfast, instead of doing an egg sandwich, try making a delicious omelet and stuff in a bell pepper. It will still feel like a sandwich but without the effects of the bread. If you normally have bread with your salad, try adding it lentils or black beans, those carbohydrates are very filling and usually take away the craving for having bread. For dinner, start with a protein (fish, chicken, turkey) and add a non starchy vegetable of your choice. (Corn and carrots do not count as non starchy!) Limit your fruit intake to 1 serving per day of berries or a green apple.

This type of diet has proven very helpful with allergies and while it could be a little challenging if you are not used to it, you don’t have to eat this way forever. Just do it for 4-6 weeks during allergy season to minimize symptoms.

In addition to changing the diet, there are some natural anti-histamines that work as well or even better than medications.

One product that I use the most in the practice is D-Hist which combines natural potent ingredients for allergy relief that is fast acting and does not cause any drowsiness!

The formulation includes:

Quercetin-Naturally found in onions, quercetin stabilizes the cells that produce histamines and has been shown to inhibit compounds that typically affect sinus and respiratory health.

Stinging Nettles Leaf-Studies have shown that stinging nettles have demonstrated both promising mechanisms and clinical results for supporting nasal passageway health.

Bromelain-A strong pineapple enzyme, bromelain supports normal mucosal tissue function and enhances the absorption of quercetin.

N-Aceyl Cysteine (NAC)– An amino acid that reduces the viscosity of mucus.

While each of these nutrients can be effective for allergies, their combination is what makes this formulation such a success.

There is normally a loading dose of 2 capsules 3 times per day in between meals for the first 10 days and recommended right before or as allergy season starts. After the loading dose is complete, 1-2 capsules per day are taken as needed.  Because these are pure ingredients, D-Hist can be used long term and there are no side effects and no interactions with other nutrients or medications.

Gluten Intolerance

Do you suffer from fatigue, digestive problems, depression or weight gain but can’t seem to find the cause? It is very possible that you may be sensitive to gluten. Gluten intolerance has been found to be most common among people of Irish, English, Scottish, Scandinavian, and Eastern European. Often times it is assumed that gluten intolerance is a food allergy, but it is not. It is actually an autoimmune process, which affects an alarming percentage of the population.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. A person with gluten intolerance cannot digest the protein portion of these commonly eaten grains. When this protein is ingested it combines with the enzyme transglutaminase to form an immune complex that deposits on the lining of the intestines. The body recognizes this as a foreign substance, and begins an immune reaction to the complex. Immune cells come into the area and release a series of toxins to try to “kill” this unidentified immune complex. These toxins from the immune system cause inflammation in the digestive system and damage the lining tissue. This is what causes the unexplained digestive symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, constipation, gas, and cramping. The toxins are also responsible for feelings of fatigue and malaise after a meal containing these foods.

The walls of the digestive tract are lined with immune cells that form a protective barrier called Secretory IgA. This lining protects against infectious agents such as bacteria, parasites, and funguses. If a person with gluten intolerance continues to eat the gluten, in time the constant inflammation and irritation in the digestive tract wears away the Secretory IgA. This depletion of immune cells makes a person very susceptible to infectious agents it would normally be able to fight off. The inflammation also begins to damage the small intestine. This affects the person’s ability to absorb the nutrients they need. You quite literally are what you eat and if your body isn’t able to properly absorb your food, you will suffer a myriad of symptoms.

The number one symptom associated with mal-absorption resulting from gluten intolerance is a combination of fatigue and weight gain. If you are not properly absorbing your food you will not be getting any of the nutrients from the food you eat. This will leave you constantly hungry and endlessly tired. Without proper absorption of nutrients, mineral and vitamin deficiencies can develop. Muscle cramping is a common symptom that can arise. The lack of magnesium impairs muscle contraction. Magnesium deficiency has also been linked to cardiovascular disease. An inability to absorb calcium can lead to osteoporosis. Mineral deficiency can also create feelings of restlessness and an inability to relax. It can also make sleep difficult and create insomnia. If you cannot absorb your B vitamins you will develop weakness, fatigue, and malaise. If you cannot absorb fats then you cannot control inflammation and since most hormones are made from cholesterol, you will not have the building blocks to synthesize hormones. This among other things can create hormone imbalances, interfering with your ability to handle stress and maintain a balanced emotional state. This also contributes to weight gain in a substantial way. Your hormones have a large effect on your metabolism and your ability to process fat and carbohydrates.

There is also a phenomenon that causes people to crave things that they are allergic to. There are many theories as to why this happens and the exact mechanism is not yet fully understood. But this is the reason why many people crave carbohydrates or become “addicted” to them much the way an alcoholic becomes addicted to alcohol.

Lining your intestinal tract are cells that create enzymes to digest food, unfortunately they too are damaged in this process. Lack of enzymes causes many digestive disturbances. For example, if the body cannot secrete the enzyme lactase, lactose can no longer be digested and the person becomes intolerant to dairy. They may also lose their ability to digest protein which can lead to a deficiency in amino acids, the building blocks for neurotransmitters such as serotonin. Low levels of serotonin have been medically linked to problems with depression and insomnia.

Eventually the digestive tract develops gaps in areas of constant inflammation which is referred to as leaky gut syndrome. When this occurs, food particles, parasites, bacteria, viruses, fungi and any other invaders can exit the GI tract and enter the blood stream and increase the body’s susceptibility to illness. This is also the origin of many food allergies as explained in previous newsletters. Food is meant to be fully digested, broken down and filtered through the liver before it ever enters the blood stream. As undigested food particles slip through the gaps into the blood stream, the body’s immune system sees them as foreign invaders and creates immune cells to them. Then next time you eat these foods the body remembers them as a potentially threatening invaders and creates a reaction to them resulting in a food allergy

Do any of the below symptoms apply to you?

Weight gain
Unexplained fatigue
Difficulty relaxing, feel tense frequently
Unexplained digestive problems
Female hormone imbalances, (PMS, menopausal symptoms)
Muscle or joint pain or stiffness of unknown cause Migraine like headaches
Food allergies/sensitivities
Difficulty digesting dairy products
Tendency to over consume alcohol
Overly sensitive to physical and emotional pain, cry easily
Cravings for sweets, bread, carbohydrates
Tendency to overeat sweets, bread, carbohydrates
Abdominal pain or cramping
Abdominal bloating or distention
Intestinal gas
“Love” specific foods
Eat when upset, eat to relax
Constipation or diarrhea of no known cause
Unexplained skin problems/rashes
Difficulty gaining weight
Osteoporosis/bone loss
Iron deficiency/anemia
Chronic fatigue

Count the number of yes answers in the above quiz. If you scored 4 or less it is very unlikely that you have a gluten sensitivity. If you scored between 5 and 8 there may be a reason to suspect it. If you scored 9 or higher there can be a good chance that you are gluten sensitive.

If you scored 5 or higher on the questionnaire, you have a few choices. You can confirm this by getting an Alcat or Stool Test from our office which will accurately show if you are sensitive to gluten. Some conventional doctors may also offer the test, but be careful and make sure it is the correct test as many allergists only offer skin prick tests which are not accurate for gluten sensitivity. If you prefer to do it yourself, you can just eliminate all gluten-containing foods from your diet for two months. At the end of the two months you will notice significant relief (if not elimination) from your symptoms if you are in fact gluten intolerant. If you identify yourself as gluten intolerant via the test or food elimination you will need to remain gluten-free to avoid the unwanted and harmful effects of gluten on your body.

Gluten-free means avoiding all foods containing gluten, including wheat, rye, spelt, bulgar, semolina, couscous, kamut and some oats. Gluten can be hidden in processed foods and thickened products such as sauces and soups so read labels carefully. While this can be an adjustment at first, eating gluten free if you are sensitive will make a huge difference in your health. It is also much easier now because more and more people are finding out they are sensitive and thus manufacturers are making many more gluten-free items.

Prenatal Vitamins

One thing that people always ask me is about their prenatal vitamin. Is there a difference between the prescription brands and other brands and if what they are taking will be good for them and the growing baby. I found there is a large amount of variance between these vitamins and, believe it or not, ones that patients think would be best and acquired by prescription are often some of the worst. I want to discuss this issue in detail so that you can look at the ingredients of your vitamin and know exactly what you are getting.

Variety of Vitamins

As with all vitamins, there are generally four categories: prescription brands, drug store brands, health food store brands and professional brands. Most of my patients know to stay away from the drug store brands as they use very cheap raw materials leading to very low nutrient content, poor absorption and potential toxic buildup due to fillers and binders they contain.

What many people do not realize however, is that many of the prescription brands are actually not much better.
When I started looking further into this, I was shocked to find what was inside.

What is important in a Prenatal Vitamin?

Studies show that the minimal nutrients crucial for a healthy pregnancy and growing baby are:

Essential Vitamin/Mineral: Why You Need It:
Vitamin A 5000 IU Helps bones and teeth grow
Vitamin D 400 IU Helps body use calcium and phosphorus; promotes strong teeth and bones
Vitamin E (50IU) Helps body form and use red blood cells and muscles
Vitamin C (120 mg) An antioxidant that protects tissues from damage and helps body absorb iron; builds healthy immune system
Thiamin/B1 (1.4 mg) Raises energy level and regulates nervous system
Riboflavin/B2 (1.4 mg) Maintains energy, good eyesight, healthy skin
Niacin/B3 (18 mg) Promotes healthy skin, nerves and digestion
Pyridoxine/B6 (1.9 mg) Helps form red blood cells; helps with morning sickness
Folic Acid/Folate (600-800 mcg) Helps support the placenta, and prevents spina bifida and other neural tube defects
Calcium (500-1,000 mg) Creates strong bones and teeth, helps prevent blood clots, helps muscles and nerves function
Iron (27 mg) Helps in the production of hemoglobin; prevents anemia, low birth weight, and premature delivery
Zinc (12 mg) Helps produce insulin and enzymes
Essential Fatty Acids EPA/DHA (300mg) These essential fats, particularly the Omega 3’s, are key for the proper development of the baby’s brain and immune system.  EFAs are also believed to lower the likelihood of post-partum depression.  The optimal dietary balance is best achieved by consuming omega-3 fat from at least two different sources, thereby mixing and matching, in order to achieve a net daily consumption of 1,000 mg of combined EPA/DHA with at least 300 mg coming from DHA.

There are of course many other nutrients that act as synergistic components to the above vitamins and minerals, but since these have been thoroughly studied, most prescription vitamins concentrate on including only these.

Potential Problems with Rx Prenatal Vitamins


Many Rx brands are formulated with a one a day dose. While this is very convenient, please know that your body can only absorb a little at a time, so if you take a big dose of everything at once, you would only be absorbing a portion, wasting the rest. It is much better to have a 2 or 3 a day nutrient so you can have a little at a time.

Types of Nutrients

I also find the many Rx brands only have a few ingredients, specifically the folate and iron, but much less of everything else. Many do not even have calcium or the very important essential fatty acids which would then need to be taken separately.


Another big issue is the quality of the actual vitamins and minerals in these formulations. They often use synthetic ingredients and cheaper forms of vitamins and minerals which require much more processing in the body to actually absorb and use them. Many brands also contain fillers, binders and artificial colorings which is toxic to both the mom’s and baby’s body.

EPA/DHA quality is extremely important. You may have heard about the study that came out last weekend testing several brands of EFA’s such as CVS and Costco brands and found they contained toxic PCB’s. Because Omega 3’s come from fish, it is very important that they are purified to remove harmful mercury and other toxins found in the oceans. The problem however is that fats in general, but especially Omega 3’s are extremely fragile and can become rancid very easily. Once rancid, these fats create very harmful free radicals that destroy your cells and can mutate DNA. Many companies purify their fish oils but they do it through the use of heat which denatures the oil and makes is more dangerous for you. Thus, it is imperative that you know where the oil is derived, how pure it is and how it was cleaned to preserve its purity.

Let’s See What is Inside Popular Rx Brands

Let’s take a look at an example of a popular Rx brand and go through exactly what it contains and what it is potentially missing.

Each softgel contains

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) ……………………………………………………..85 mg

Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) …………………………………………………200 IU

Vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol) …………………………………………….10 IU

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine HCl) …………………………………………………25 mg

Folate…………………………………………………………………………………….1 mg

(L-methylfolate as Metafolin® 600 mcg, folic acid USP 400 mcg)

Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) ……………………………………………. 12 mcg

Calcium (calcium carbonat.e…)…………………………………………….140 mg

Iron (ferrous fumarate) ……………………………………………………….27 mg

Magnesium (magnesium oxide) ……………………………………………45 mg

Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)………………………………………………..300 mg

(from 330 mg omega-3 fatty acids)

The above vitamin has sufficient C. The vitamin D is in the natural form which is great, but there is only 200IU compared to the minimum of 400-600IU. Remember that if you live in the northern hemisphere, you can only get vitamin D from the sun during summer months.

The vitamin E is in the natural form indicated by d-alpha tocopherol, but there is only a small amount included. (The synthetic form of vitamin E is labeled as dl-alpha tocopherol, so be on a look out for that).

B6 and Folic acid look good, but B12 is a bit low. Also the B12 is in the cyanocobalamin form which is not the active form of B12. Methylcobalamin is the coenzyme or active form and can be used by the body immediately where as several conversions need to take place for cyanocobalamin to be absorbed and used.

The calcium amount is very low, only at 140mg and the calcium carbonate form is the cheapest and least absorbable form of calcium. Best are combinations of citrate, malate and glycinate in their chelate forms.

The iron dosage looks great, however it is not in the chelate form and may cause constipation in sensitive individuals.

Magnesium is very low. It is best to have a 2:1 or even a 1:1 calcium to magnesium ratio for proper balance but here the ratio would be 3.5:1 which is too low.

This one does have 300mg of DHA, but contains no EPA which is also essential. Furthermore, they do not list how the fish oil was extracted and purified so its quality is unknown.

As you can see, there are various problems with this vitamin, but wait, we are not yet done. Right below all the nutrient facts, we have “other ingredients”. Many people forget to read this part but it is also crucial as it contains everything else not listed above.

Other Ingredients: Soy lecithin, beeswax, fish oil, hydrogenated vegetable oil, gelatin, sorbitol, glycerin, propylene glycol, titanium dioxide, vanillin, FD&C blue No.1, hypromellose.

I highlighted each of the ingredients that pose a problem. First is hydrogenated vegetable oil. As many of my patients know, hydrogenated oils are another name for trans fats which are very toxic to the body. If you try so hard to avoid these in the diet, why take a vitamin on a daily basis that contains them?

The second problem here is FD&C Blue No 1. This is an artificial coloring agent. Many patients have sensitivities and allergies due to colorings thus taking them on a daily basis can cause problems. You may think a little coloring won’t hurt you but I encourage you to think about your size in relation to the size of the fetus.  Even if you are not sensitive to the colorings and it’s only a small amount, it can very easily affect a baby which is a fraction of your size.

Let’s look at another popular brand.  This one is actually suitable for vegetarians and vegans because it uses a plant form of essentially fatty acids.

Each Softgel capsule contains

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid, USP)………………………………………………………………………..28 mg

Calcium (tribasic calcium phosphate, NF)……………………………………………………..160 mg

Iron (ferrous fumarate, USP)………………………………………………………………………..26 mg

Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol, USP)………………………………………………………………….400 IU

Vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol, USP)…………………………………………………………….30 IU

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine Hydrochloride, USP)……………………………………………….25 mg

Folic Acid, USP…………………………………………………………………………………………….1.2 mg

DHA (docosahexaenoic acid, contained in the oil derived from microalgae)….300 mg

Docusate Sodium, USP………………………………………………………………………………….55 mg

Inactive Ingredients: Ethyl vanillin, FD&C #1, FD&C red #40, FD&C yellow #6, gelatin, glycerin, lecithin, palm kernel oil, sodium benzoate, soybean oil, sunflower oil, titanium dioxide, yellow beeswax, water and white ink (ammonium hydroxide, isopropyl alcohol, n-butyl alcohol, propylene glycol, shellac glaze in SD-45 alcohol, simethicone, titanium dioxide). Contains Soy.

In this vitamin, the C and calcium are low. Iron is same as the previous one and vitamin D looks a little better. Vitamin E is natural which is good, but still low. B6 and folic acid look good. The DHA is from a plant source, but studies show it may not absorb as well and may not provide the same benefits as omegas from fish. This brand is also missing EPA.

The last ingredient is a stool softener, however if the proper chelate form of iron was used, the stool softener would not even be necessary.

Looking at the “Inactive Ingredients” you can see that this contains 3 artificial coloring agents. Since they are first on the list, they are the highest percentages. Also, this vitamin contains other oils like soybean and sunflower and while they are not hydrogenated as the previous vitamin, they are used here as fillers for the missing EPA essential oils.

Both of the above vitamins are also missing many other essential nutrients such as Zinc, Copper, Selenium and Chromium just to name a few.

As you can see from the above, these vitamins are far from superior. Take a look at your brand using the discussion above and see how it measures up.


What We Are Doing About This

I am excited to offer several great option for great prental care. For those interested in the most convenient option, the Prenatal Pro Essential Packets are here!

There are many advantages to our prenatals over both prescription and other store brands.

  • They contain the highest quality nutrients from several raw material suppliers that I whole-heartedly trust.


  • It is complete to include not only the needed folates and iron, but all the essential vitamins and minerals, the purest form of fish oil (DHA) and plenty of calcium which lacks in other vitamins.
  • They contain natural folates and free of synthetic folic acid. For more information about the problems with synthetic folic acid, please read the full article on the folic acid controversy.


  • They are designed to promote the best possible absorption. I used capsules with powder inside which is easier to digest than tablets. The pills are split up into 2 packets, morning and evening for easier compliance and each dose has nutrients that absorb better at that time of day. Calcium is known to hinder iron absorption, therefore the iron is in the morning packet and calcium is in the evening one to bypass that problem.


  • There are absolutely no additives, colorings, allergens or toxins of any kind as opposed to many prescription brands that contain these fillers. I get the certificates of analysis on every batch to back up this claim no matter of when they were manufactured.


While it is more than just one pill, patients report they are very easy to take. They are extremely gentle on the stomach and the fish oil will never repeat on you as with other brands.

Another great option for those who are not interested in packets is a combination of Prenatal Pro which supplies all the essential vitamins and minerals and OmegAvail Ultra for the essential fatty acids.

If you have any questions about our prenatals, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Food Allergies and Sensitivities

Food Allergies has been a controversial topic for many years and there is a lot of confusion and misinformation over its diagnosis and its management so I wanted to devote some time to bring clarity to this hot topic.

Let’s start with what is an actual food allergy because it has become a very misapplied term. The word allergy in medicine means that there is an antigenic protein that is generating an immunologic reaction and this reaction has to be protein mediated. So saying food allergy to sugar or a certain fat is technically not possible in immunology. However that does not mean you can not have negative reaction or symptoms when you eat certain foods, whether they are protein containing or not. There are other reactions that occur when you eat foods that are not allergies. For instance, lactose intolerance is when someone can not digest milk properly, but it is not correct to say that person has a milk allergy, because technically it is not an allergy, but an intolerance, and means that this person does not make the proper amounts of enzymes that are needed to digest milk sugars, which then lays in the stomach and starts causing problems.

Once foods are ingested, they are broken down to different intermediaries. Some of those intermediaries can actually be somewhat toxic and would need to be cleared through detoxification pathways (Phase I and II as we talked about in last month’s newsletter). If people are deficient in relevant liver enzymes or have any other detoxification issues, they may get a buildup of a toxic intermediate and produce symptoms such as a headache or other negative reactions every time they eat a certain foods. This is not an allergy, but a sensitivity.

True protein mediated food allergies can be divided into 2 groups, fixed and cyclical. Fixed allergies are when someone eats a certain food, such as shrimp or peanuts and they get an immediate anaphylactic shock type reaction called IgE mediated reaction. People are usually born with this type of allergy and the only way to avoid it is to eliminate that food from the diet. This amounts to about 10% of food allergies.

The other 90% are cyclic allergies, so they come and go depending on exposure. These types of allergies are usually developed by overexposure to certain proteins combined with bad digestion of that protein and poor intestinal health. So they are more like learned allergies.

Symptoms of food allergies are all over the board. Some of the most common are dermatological symptoms, like rashes and dermatitis, gastrointestinal problems, loss of appetite, mal-absorption syndrome created by inflammatory bowel reactions to the offending protein, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, ulcerations, auto immunes phenomenon like arthritis, lupus, MS, autoimmune thyroiditis, neurological degenerations, migraines, anxiety, seizures, asthma and other respiratory disorders, as well as fatigue and obesity.

The above delayed reactions are called IgG reactions and those are on the rise today due to the increase of immune dysfunctions. There are a lot of the same proteins in our food because of convenience and processed foods. If you read labels, you will find there is wheat, corn, soy and dairy in almost every packaged food. We tend to develop delayed allergies to foods that we are overexposed to day in and day out and processed foods are the perfect vehicle to deliver these proteins all the time. There is less variability in our diet because of transportation and while that is very convenient, we do not have seasonal foods. If you go to the grocery store, doesn’t matter if is January or June, we have the same foods to select from and most Americans eat the same foods over and over again. When you combine that with declining gastrointestinal health, impaired detoxification, and high stress, the allergies become more and more widespread.

Conventional allergists use skin prick testing. Those are great for contact allergies like dust, dander and the like; however it is not great for food allergies. First off, we do not stick our food under our skin; it goes in our stomach which is a completely different environment. But even if we did stick our food under our skin, the only reaction you would see is an immediate IGe reaction and it would not show the more prevalent IgG delayed reactions. So when people come in and say they have already been tested and have no allergies, if they only had the skin prick, their allergist did not evaluate 80+ % of reactions.

When testing for IGg reactions, if the patient comes back to with allergies to things they eat all the time it is because they are overexposed to those foods. However that does not mean they can never have that food again. With the combination of fixing the digestive system and GI barrier, and taking that food out of the diet for long enough for the immune system to come down, fixing the gut and then reintroducing that food slowly, it is possible to get over that allergy and be able to eat that food again. We can retrain the immunological response to many of these delayed food reactions because these reactions (IGg) antibodies are usually developed as a protective mechanism to coat the antigen so more aggressive pathways would not be affected. So it is not that these IgG’s when detected are inherently a bad thing, they are not a disease or disorder, they are just down stream things from bad digestion and stress. We would then need to focus on gut restoration and healing. Once the body is able to digest better and absorb, it can then render those proteins less antigenic.

Currently, the best ways to test for delayed reactions is through E.L.I.S.A, A.C.T or ALCAT tests, which are simple blood tests (finger prick or blood draw) available at our office.

Exposure to Everyday Chemicals

During an ordinary day, we are all exposed to a myriad of toxins that will attack the body. From the moment we wake up and get in the shower we are bombarded with chemicals in our personal care products, (cosmetics alone have over 160 ingredients, many of which are categorized as toxins) water, food and environment. These toxins can be inhaled, absorbed through the skin or eaten in food. The real danger these days comes from a combination effect of all the different chemicals. These different toxins may interact with one another in a different and alarming way and cause a synergistic effect harming your health more than each chemical can independently. Toxicologists are calling this the “cocktail Effect” – from a recent issue of Alternative Health Magazine and it is linked to various chronic diseases including cancer, respiratory illnesses and neurological conditions.

The good news is that our bodies can take toxins in small quantities because our livers can either excrete them out or neutralize them. Your best defense is being aware of what is in the different products you are using and taking small steps in changing or eliminating those products as well is up-regulating detoxification pathways to maximize toxin excretion.

Below are some common harmful chemicals to watch out for

Perfluorochemicals (PFC’s)

A family of fluorine-containing chemicals that make fabrics stain resistant. They are also found in teflon pans and waxed dental floss.  Avoid stain resistant products and try using stainless steel cookware and unwaxed floss.


Manmade chemicals added to cosmetics, shampoos, lotions and other personal care products as thickeners and fragrance preservers. They are also used to make plastics more pliable. These compounds are absorbed by the body and stored in fat cells.
Phthalates pose a great risk to children and also babies still in the womb.
Choose products that are labeled organic and avoid anything that lists fragrance as the ingredient as it is most likely a synthetic cocktail. The scent should come from essential oils or be listed as a non phthalate fragrance. There are several products on the market that do not use phthalates and are safe for personal care.

I am a big fan of Belegenza products, so much so that I started carrying them at the office. Belegenza is a natural salon line of hair care and skin products which uses food grade ingredients that are not watered down. They do not contain any phthalates and furthermore are silicone free.
Silicon (also listed as dimethicone, phenyl trimethicone, amodimethicone, dimethicone copolyol, cyclomethicone, silicone quaternium-8, trimethlysiloxyamodimethicone, dimethiconol and dimethicone peg-7) is basically liquid glass which seals the scalp and suffocates its ability to absorb nourishment through the skin. These products worked so well on my hair that I started carrying a full line of their shampoos and conditioners. You can also learn more about the dangers of chemicals in personal care products and check out how your products measure up on


Used as a disinfectant in antibacterial soaps and detergents.
You really do not need antibacterial soap! There are many studies that show antibacterial soap is not anymore effective than regular soap at preventing bacterial overgrowth. It only causes harm by draining chemicals into our water supply and harming our bodies. You can use products with oils that have natural antibacterial properties such as tea tree, sandalwood and peppermint.


Found in crude and refined petroleum, benzene is found in tobacco smoke, gasoline and motor vehicle exhaust that you can inhale and absorb through the skin.
The greatest exposure occurs when you fill up your tank so keep the windows closed and air the car out as soon as you leave the station. Filling the whole tank at one time will help limit trips to the gas station.

Also, watch out for areas with a lot of exhaust such as areas of heavy traffic especially during exercise when your breathing increases.
How You Can Protect Yourself

Unfortunately we are all exposed to these to some degree as we cannot live in a bubble. The trick is to limit the exposure as much as possible (without letting it completely take over your life however as that is not healthy either) but also to make sure our bodies have protection against them.

Nutrients that support the liver and highly potent antioxidants are our best defense. Glutathione is our body’s most important water-soluble antioxidant and is found in impressively high concentrations inside cells. Both endogenous and exogenous chemicals and free radicals can destroy glutathione hence it is very important that glutathione and its precursors are well maintained.

I often use products such as N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC), Resveratrol, Multi Tocopherols and Tocotrienols (different potent forms of vitamin E) found it Ultra Gamma Vitamin E and Detox Antioxidant.  High doses of Vitamin C and non-isolate whey such as the one found in Paleo Meal are also great. All of these work wonderfully to help scavenge free radicals and revert glutathione it to its active state.

Liver and full body cleansing is also very beneficial to pull out already existing toxins and is recommended once a year. I have seen great results with clients using the Standard Process 3 week purification cleanse. It does not require fasting and thus can be used by everyone, regardless of job schedule, pre-existing health conditions and the like.
Including these in your regimen will keep the toxins at bay and help keep your body looking and feeling young.

Estrogen and Breast Cancer Risk

There is a growing body of research showing that it is not simply the amount of total estrogen circulating in your body that is critical to your health. How estrogen is broken down, or metabolized in the body may also play an important role in the cause of a variety of estrogen-dependent conditions such as osteoporosis, autoimmune disorders, and cancer. The metabolism of estrogen can change as a person ages and goes through natural changes in cycle etc. Estrogen is metabolized in your body through two major pathways. One involving 2- hydroxyestrone and one involving 16-hydroxyestrone.

2-hydroxyestrone is sometimes called the “good” estrogen. It does NOT stimulate your cells to divide which can cause damage to your DNA and tumor growth. Furthermore, by latching onto available estrogen cell receptors, 2-hydroxyestrone may exhibit a blocking action that prevents stronger estrogen products from gaining a foothold in your cells. Therefore, 2-hydroxyestrone is suggested to be anti- cancerous. The other major pathway whereby estrogen is metabolized is 16-hydroxyestrone. This metabolite is much more active and powerful. It has a strong stimulatory effect. 16-hydroxyestrone binds strongly to special receptors inside your cells that can increase the rate of DNA synthesis and cell multiplication. Consequently, 16-hydroxyestrone is associated with a higher rate of cancer.

Therefore, if you metabolize a larger proportion of estrogen through the 16-hydroxy pathway you may be at a higher risk for breast cancer than if you breakdown more estrogen through the 2- hydroxy pathway. A recent study of postmenopausal women who went on to develop breast cancer showed that they had a 15% lower 2/16 hydroxy estrogen ratio than those in control groups. Likewise, in women who already have breast cancer, the survival rate is greater than in women with higher ratios.

It is very important to know the levels of 2-hydroxy and 16-hydroxyestrone as well as the ratio between these two metabolites and the goal is to normalize your estrogen metabolism. You can measure your urinary metabolites through the newly developed Estronex test by Metametrix. And ladies this is not just for older women! Even if you are in your 20’s, 30’s or 40’s you should have your hydroxyestrone levels measured to see if you are at risk so that you can modify your diet and supplement regiment accordingly.

Below are some things that can raise your good (2- hydroxyestrone) estrogen levels:

  • Moderate exercise
  • Cruciferous vegetables
  • Flaxseed
  • Kudzu
  • DIM (Dindolylmethane)
  • High protein diet
  • Omega 3 fatty Acids
  • B6, B12, and folic acid
  • Some soy in small amounts

One important factor on how your body metabolizes estrogen is your weight. Body fat, particularly belly fat, has a significant effect on estrogen production and storage. Being overweight increases the action of estrogens in three ways:

  • Estrogen production and storage occurs in your fat cells.
  • Concentrations of sex hormone binding globulin are decreased if you are heavy. This increases the amount of unbound estrogen available for usage by your body.
  • Being overweight, decreases 2- hydroxyestrone and increases 16-hydroxyestrone production.

The second factor is the presence of xenoestrogens, chemicals that imitate estrogen. Researchers have identified 50 of such chemicals. Yes, that’s correct. I said 50 CHEMICALS! Some sources of xenoestrogens include:

  • Pesticides
  • Synthetic hormones fed to animals
  • Plastics
  • Additives in cosmetics

These xenoestrogens influence the ratio of 2/16-hydroxyestrone and may account for an increase in breast cancer.

In order for estrogen to be produced through the 2- hydroxyestrone pathway (the “good” estrogen), your body uses indole-3-carbinol which is present in cruciferous vegetables. Vegetables that contain indole- 3-carbinol are:

  • Broccoli and Cauliflower
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Rutabaga and Turnip
  • Collard
  • Bock Choy and Watercress
  • Horseradish
  • Kale
  • Mustard Seed
  • Radishes

Some interesting facts about indole-3-carbinol:

  • Studies have shown that people given indole-3- carbinol demonstrated a 50 to 75% elevation in the good metabolism of estrogen.
  • If you overcook your vegetables, it destroys the indole-3-carbinol. Therefore, it is best to eat them raw or lightly steamed.
  • Antacids interfere with the absorption of indole-3- carbinol. Consequently, I do not recommend the long term use of ANY antacid.
  • Indole-3-carbinol may help protect obese women from the effect of excessive estrogen production.

Folate and Breast Cancer Prevention

Drinking alcohol significantly increases the risk of breast cancer, according to most research. However, among women who drink alcohol, those who consume relatively high amounts of folate in their diet have reduced risk of breast cancer compared with women who drink alcohol but consume less folate. In a similar report, consumption of folic acid containing supplements was associated with a lower risk of breast cancer in women who drank alcohol, compared with women who drank alcohol but did not take such supplements. The association between both dietary folate and folic acid supplements and protection against breast cancer in women who drink alcohol fits with our understanding of the opposite effects of these substances. As a result, nutritionally oriented doctors now recommend that women who wish to reduce their risk of breast cancer but are unwilling to totally avoid alcohol should supplement with 400-800mcg of folic acid.

Cancer Risk Higher with Western Diet

A western diet has also been implicated in greater incidence or breast cancer. Our unlimited access to countless varieties of food, from meats to rich desserts, has long been considered a privilege, but new research indicates that some of those indulgences create dietary patterns that increase the risk of breast cancer. A new study suggests the more Western your diet is, meaning heavy in meat, starch and sugar, the higher your risk for cancer may be.

The study followed older Asian women who had been placed on two separate diets: traditional cuisine rich in vegetables and fish and a Westernized diet heavy on red meat and sugar. Women who adopted the Western diet had higher rates of breast cancer. “Our study shows a Western-style diet seems to increase the risk of cancer in Chinese women, which traditionally is a low-risk population for breast cancer,” said Marilyn Tseng, a study researcher at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. Breast cancer rates in China are a quarter of those in the United States. That is slowly changing however, as menus around the world, especially in urban areas are moving toward more Westernized foods.

Action to Take

Eating right and the above prevention techniques are great for reducing your chances of getting breast cancer but it is hard to know how much each person needs as we are all so different. Thus I am also very excited to have this tool and offer my patients the Extronex 2/16 Assay Urine Test. This test is important for women of all ages, even women who have previously had breast cancer. Some people may be more prone to bad estrogen metabolism and if that is the case there is a lot we can do to change it!

If you are interested in running this test, please contact us.