Archive for February, 2013
By now you’ve probably heard the news that came out in September, 2012 announcing the finding of “worrisome” levels of arsenic in ordinary rice sold in the U.S. Arsenic is a common, naturally-occurring, but toxic element. It occurs in both organic and inorganic forms. When speaking of chemistry, the term organic does not mean safe or created without man-made chemicals; it simply refers to the chemical compound, which has carbon-hydrogen bonds. Inorganic molecules are those without carbon-hydrogen bonds. Arsenic occurs naturally in our environment in both forms, but the inorganic form seems to be the more toxic, and this is the form that Consumer Reports wrote about in September 2012. This form is known to cause bladder, skin, and lung cancer. Organic arsenic is found, for example, in seafood.
Can we detoxify and protect against arsenic?
Our bodies do have ways to deal with this, as well as other toxic compounds. Ensuring optimal nutrient status (including all the B vitamins) is one way. Using specific detoxification compounds like the Daily Detox Drink or Detoxication Factors can help. This gives us B12, folate, and various other nutrients that help support the methylation and sulfation detox pathways, two ways that arsenic compounds are excreted. In addition, make sure you have adequate protein in your diet. This will give you the sulfur-containing amino acids needed for these detoxification pathways. Also make sure you have optimal amounts of selenium and iodine; deficiencies of these two minerals will increase uptake and storage of arsenic in the body.
How can we deal with this toxic element in our food supply?
Consider exploring the use of other grains such as millet, quinoa, and teff. And, if you are using rice, you can remove some of the arsenic by rinsing the rice very well several times and/or soaking for several hours and rinsing thoroughly before adding fresh cooking water. Also, cooking it in a more traditional 4:1 or 6:1 ratio of water to rice and then pouring off the extra cooking water is another way to decrease your exposure. We applaud regulatory agencies’ efforts to more closely monitor toxins in our food supply and to find the cleanest, safest products. Dealing with toxins in our modern environment is inevitable, but identifying their source and supporting your body’s efforts to detoxify is a sure-fire way to stay healthy.
Over the last four decades, the rates of asthma and allergy have been steadily climbing, and with good reason. Many of the most common environmental toxicants have been shown to imbalance the immune system, resulting in increased rates of allergies (and a reduced ability to fight infections). These pro-allergenic toxicants are common in outdoor and indoor air: diesel and gas engine exhaust, as well as plastics and a host of other compounds that most people are exposed to daily. With the stage set for increased allergic reactivity, the immune system is exposed to the same food antigens daily, because most people eat the same few foods over and over again.
When a person is having food intolerances and adverse food reactions they can present with a wide range of symptoms:
- Alternating constipation and diarrhea
- Depression and anxiety
- Food cravings
- Gas and bloating
- Otitis media (recurrent)
If you are having any of the above problems, then you are likely to be reacting to one or more of the foods that you are eating regularly. For these symptoms to be a chronic health problem, you would need to be consuming one of the following foods at least three times a week or more. Foods that you are consuming only twice weekly or less will NOT be the cause of the above listed chronic health complaints.
The most common foods to have an adverse reaction to are:
- Milk and milk products
One day I was working with a patient who told me: “Doc, I have finally found out how I can tell if I am reacting to a food! ” To which I excitedly responded “Great, tell me how”. She simply replied: “If I love it”. And, she was quite right. If you love and crave any of the above foods (and eat them more than once daily) you are undoubtedly reactive to that food. Sorry! But you are.
The next step is to take the suspected foods out of your diet for at least four days (but 14 days would be better) and see how you feel. Then add the foods back into your diet one-at-a-time and see what symptoms show up. If you experience your typical battery of symptoms, take some alkalinizing agents to help reduce reactivity. You can then try the suspected foods a second time along with the digestive enzymes necessary for those specific foods and see if enzyme supplementation is sufficient to address your intolerances.
The enzymes that I have found most beneficial in persons with adverse food reactions include:
Dipeptidyl peptidase-IV – very helpful in breaking down gluten in the small intestine, dramatically reducing one’s reaction to grains.
Xylanase – breaks down plant cell walls – helpful in digesting fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains.
Blended proteases – for breaking down proteins at the various pH levels that are found throughout the digestive tract.
Blended amylases – for breaking down carbohydrates at the various pH levels that are found throughout the digestive tract.
Blended lipases – for breaking down fats at the various pH levels that are found throughout the digestive tract.
Alpha-galactosidase – for digesting the carbohydrate lectins that are found in most foods.
Lactase and maltase – for helping the digestion of sugars.
Identify what foods you have an intolerance to with the Enzyme Science Food Intolerance Identification Program.