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September 2008 posts

Probiotics and Our Children's Health

Probiotics are one of my favorite things to talk about.  "Why?"  

Probiotics are extremely important for a healthy digestive tract, assimilation and absorption of specific nutrients, keeping infections at bay and maintaining a healthy immune system.  Research into the role of probiotics have shown some interesting results.  The World Health Organization recognizes the importance of probioics in the role of a healthy body as reflected in this statement, "Live microorganisms which, when given in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host." 

It is speculated that most of the growing sites for the Lactobacillus species in the human gastrointestinal tract are established in utero and within the first two years of life.  Within those first two years many things can disrupt the proper colonization including formula feeding, maternal diet affecting breast milk, digestive health, food introduction and antibiotic use.  It is estimated that after several courses of antibiotics before the age of two, the normal flora may be severely compromised, resulting in an increased risk for common childhood illnesses. 

One can begin cultivating a healthy digestive tract in children by supplementing either the mother in breast fed babies or in children's formulas or food.  It is always important to choose a good quality probiotic that has in it what it claims on the label.  So be careful to do your homework on the brand and talk to someone knowledgeable about dosage. 

What is the goal? Symptom management or finding the Cause?

In medicine throughout time the goal has been to help patients feel better and to reverse the cause of disease.  Many times in conventional medicine the treatment option involves suppressing the symptoms with chemical medications.  This model is called the Disease Model, because it is based on the idea that a symptom is the problem and the therapy chosen should eliminate the symptom.  This disease model does not allow the patient to return to optimum health because it often does not address the underlying cause.  It never allows the individual to remove accumulated toxicity and so while the patient may for the short-term feel some improvement in their symptoms they are never allowed to fully express their vitality. 

Naturopathic medicine prides itself in the search for the underlying causes of disease.  We do this by asking why and searching for patterns in the way the body is expressing itself.  The goal is not always to cure but to bring the individual back to a state of balance.  This is where the real healing occurs. 

How are you doing with managing symptoms versus finding your vitality and balance in your healing process?

In Health,


Flax Seed Oil and Their Benefits

Fresh flax seed oil has a pleasing, light, nutty flavor and contains a nutritionally unique composition of essential fatty acids (EFA's).  They are essential because they cannot be synthesized by the human body.  Barleans-flax-oil

Flax seed oil contains both linoleic and alpha-linolenic acid, omega 1 and omega 3 oils.  These oils promote a non-inflammatory pathway in the body and are considered the "good" fats.  They help to lower cholesterol and keep blood clots from forming in the arteries, reducing the chance of heart disease.  These oils also reduce joint inflammation and are useful in arthritis.  They improve the immune response, decrease prostaglandin levels aiding in the prevention of breast cancer and menstrual cramps, improves dermatological conditions such as psoriasis and eczema and may even reduce the severity of migraine headaches. 

The best way to use flax seed oil is in cold dishes because too much heat destroys the healthful properties of this oil. 

Essential fatty acids increase metabolic rate, therefore, flax seed oil is less likely than any other oil to result in weight gain.  In fact, studies have shown that many overweight people actually lose weight by adding fresh essential fatty acid-rich oil to their diet. 

Some suggestions for using the oil:

  • On cooked or steamed vegetables, instead of butter.
  • On baked potatoes or sweet potatoes
  • In shakes or smoothies
  • In homemade salad dressing

I like Barlean's Flax Seed Oil, but any quality brand will do. You can find it in the health section of a grocery store or a health food store for approximately $10 per 16oz bottle.

Do you have a favorite way of using flax seed oil? Let us know!



Five Allergy Minimizing Ideas

Allergy season is here again and from what I am seeing in the office it appears to be a bad time for many.  If you are one of the many who suffers from a stuffy or runny nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing you can follow some easy at home steps that will reduce the severity of your reaction.

1)  Add more essential fatty acids to your diet

Things such as fish and or fish oil, flax seeds, walnuts, almonds are great sources of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an oil that will fight inflammation.

2)  Minimize your food sensitivities and mucus-producing foods

It is thought that some foods such as dairy, wheat, and sugar will both increase the inflammatory response and stress an already taxed immune system.

3)  Water, Water, Water

Drinking 1/2 of your body weight  in ounces will help thin mucus and hydrate your tissue.

4)  Change your clothes when you get home

Pollen stays on our hair, skin and clothing, so, it is wise to take a shower and change your clothes immediately upon coming home.

5)  Use a Netti pot 

Most health food stores carry this little pot.  It allows you to wash out the allergens trapped in the nasal passages and encourages mucus release.  The Netti pot comes with directions and may take a little practice to get the hang of it.  

Alison Finger, ND