Every organism on the planet needs water to regulate its every function — especially human beings. Keep in mind that every breath, thought, sensation, and muscle twitch relies on millions of tiny processes happening at a microscopic level. Let’s look at the major ways water works within our own bodies. 

Heat Regulation

Critical to every biological process is heat regulation. Energy expenditure puts out heat, and our bodies need a cooling mechanism to keep that heat in check. Because water requires a very particular level of heat to raise its temperature, it’s able to absorb a significant amount of excess heat that would otherwise cause enzymes to burn out and cease to properly function.

Your body cools itself by sweating. So of course the water that leaves your body when you sweat needs to be replaced. Drinking water throughout the day revives the body by allowing it to maintain its natural cooling process and by preventing dehydration — particularly important during the summer time when people are more prone to heat exhaustion and stroke.

Universal Solvent

Water is made out of two hydrogen atoms, and one oxygen atom. This chemical bond draws both positive and negative ions, so when water mixes with other substances, positive ions move toward the water’s oxygen atom, while negative ions move toward the hydrogen atoms. This setup allows water to break down a variety of compounds. Within our bodies, water dissolves many of the chemical material we need to survive — like the glucose in the food we eat. That content can then be moved throughout the body via our bloodstream and catalyzes all the crucial reactions our body executes to stay alive.

Metabolism 

Take all the chemical reactions that go on inside of an organism — we refer to that summation as metabolism. Water is the chemical that contributes to these reactions and fuels ALL the processes that keep plants and animals alive from moment to moment.

In plants, water facilitates photosynthesis, the process plants use to turn sunlight into food. In animals, water facilitates respiration. Respiration brings oxygen into our cells which is then used to make ATP. ATP gets divided into ADP and phosphoric acid. This division releases the cellular energy that powers every reaction, and removes waste molecules from the body after the respiration cycle has finished.

This metabolic cycle is part of the process that naturally removes the build-up of toxins within our bodies — toxins that typically come in the form of cellular waste.

Detoxification 

The pile-up of cellular waste throughout the body de-optimizes the lifecycle of our cells. Cells rely on water to turn over regularly and efficiently, and to provide for the healing, growth, and recovery we need to live our best lives.

We can’t build muscle, lose fat, gain flexibility, or improve our skin if cellular waste weighs down our metabolism and slows the process. This is why many sports physiologists actually suggest drinking plain water rather than sports drinks that tout an abundance of electrolytes. Because electrolytes comprise much of our typical diet anyway, and we ingest these salt ions via vegetables and other nutrient-dense foods, it makes more sense to workout with pure water that can dilute and flush out the cellular waste our bodies need to remove.

The process of anaerobic respiration breaks down sugars and results in waste like:

  • Carbon dioxide 
  • Nitrite
  • Succinate
  • Sulfide
  • Methane
  • Acetate

Water helps to eliminate all of this.

Inner Environment

Through our bloodstream, water also acts as the insulation and conduit that delivers energy to all regions of our body, and keeps every organ system in operation. The unique ecology of our gut bacteria requires a continual supply of adequate water to break down and synthesize the nutrients we consume. And all of it must be sorted and allotted for use in energy, growth, maintenance, and healing.

Picture the complicated job of our digestive, urinary, and circulatory systems. These systems are tasked with breaking down every substance that enters our body, using it as energy, delivering it where it’s needed, and then expelling it as waste. How could our bodies achieve this without water as a processing agent? 

Water makes way for every bodily operation by clearing space for new cells and diluting the debris that needs to be flushed out in sweat or urine. Traces of heavy metals, for example, sometimes get stored in fat and must be cleared out to improve our functioning. This process of diluting and flushing works toward the health of every system — including the lymphatic system. Metabolic waste molecules impair our immunity when they build up to clog the lymphatic system and create a honey-like consistency that needs to be more fluid.

Weight Loss 

If you’re attempting to lose a few pounds, water intake is crucial. Water helps you suppress your appetite and metabolizes the fat you want to be breathed out and excreted a little at a time. If your kidneys aren’t operating with the correct amount of water, the liver steps up to do the job of eliminating toxins. The downside of this? If the liver is needed to fulfill the role of the kidneys, it’s not converting your fat into energy. Instead, your fat stays in place and continues to store itself.

Any aerobic or weight training program designed to shed body fat must be accompanied by plentiful water intake to maximize your success. When your system is working harder than its use to, you have to give it every advantage.

Disease Prevention

Because of water’s role in these many crucial processes, every doctor advocates property hydration as a defense against:

  • Chronic joint diseases
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Inflammation
  • Poor cartilage health
  • The visible signs of aging
  • Constipation
  • Diabetes 
  • Hypoglycemia 
  • Obesity 
  • Arthritis 
  • Kidney stones
  • Dry skin 
  • Wrinkles 
  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma

You can see why water is such a critical component of our makeup, as it leads all of the biological interplay that allows us to exist. Just as the earth is an ecosystem reliant on water for its many cycles and dynamics, the human body is also its own complete ecosystem, and the right choices keep it healthy! 

In upcoming blogs, we will discuss the different kinds of drinking water on the market, and which provide the most benefit for our daily functioning and extended longevity. Stay tuned! I’ve got more valuable tips and techniques right around the corner!

Click here to watch a short intro video to kick off the water series!

As we move into the peak weeks of summer, those outdoor activities continue to beckon. We welcome the warm weather and fresh air of beaches, parks, and walks around the neighborhood. With social distancing still in effect, we’re opting for open air spaces as often as possible.

But more time outside means sun and bugs and expended water. Let’s take a minute to refresh on the skincare tips that help us fend off free radicals, avoid mosquitoes, and maintain the hydration that allows us to function.

Sun Exposure

Although the best way to improve your vitamin D level (optimal: 50-70 ng/mL) is from small doses of daily sun exposure, you still have to be aware that 9,500 people receive a skin cancer diagnosis every day in the US. Yes! That’s EVERY DAY! In the last fifty years, melanoma cases have tripled, and non-cancerous sun damage grows increasingly pronounced as we age.

But before you lather on the sunscreen for protection, read the label and be mindful of its content. For optimum defense, find sunscreens that offer UVB protection — not simply UVA. Avoid products with oxybenzone (most toxic), octocrylene and homosalate. These common sunscreen ingredients have damaging side effects — altering birth weight, interfering with male sperm function, and acting as a potent estrogen and androgen hormone disruptor. 

Instead, look for an organic mineral-based formula (not a spray that can irritate eyes, nasal and lung mucosa) containing zinc oxide. Zinc oxide is my favorite way of protecting my sensitive skin without the harmful chemicals found in typical sunscreen formulations. Don’t forget to apply it frequently during your outdoor events, especially after water sports such as surfing and snorkeling, as well as if you’re excessively sweating during your afternoon run or hike. 

BTW, did you know there is a big difference between sunscreen and sunblock formulas? Sunscreen chemicals such as oxybenzone and octocrylene absorbs the UVA and UVB rays and scatters it before the rays can penetrate and damage the skin, whereas sunblock agents such as zinc oxide actually sits on top of the skin as a barrier and protectant, directly blocking the harmful rays by reflecting them.

Stay mindful of the environment as well, and don’t use products with petrolatum or titanium dioxide, which is known to hurt marine life. Hawaii has already passed a law banning products with coral-bleaching oxybenzone and octinoxate. It goes into effect in 2021. Mahalo!

Mosquitoes 

You definitely want to keep those blood-suckers at bay. One minute you’re enjoying the peaceful mood of a beautiful sunset, the next you’re maniacally scratching a cluster of fresh bites. 

People think of mosquitoes as an unavoidable summertime pest. An annoying presence that simply forces us to make do. But keep in mind, just because they’re commonplace doesn’t make them less dangerous. 

Mosquitoes might be a nuisance, but their bites can often be harmful to your health. Mosquitoes can carry deadly pathogens which enter the bloodstream and cause mild to severe symptoms or even disease. Mosquitoes are vector insects that can spread viral infections such as West Nile, Dengue Fever, Chikungunya disease, Zika infections and more. Mosquitoes can also carry blood parasites causing diseases such as malaria and babesiosis which comes with its own bundle of acute and chronic complications.

A solid repellent seems like an easy solution, but remember, perhaps more than sunscreens, many insect repellents on the market contain extremely detrimental components that are harmful to your skin, lungs and major organ systems. 

The chief ingredient in most repellents is N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide aka DEET — a chemical that won’t stop the mosquitoes from landing on you, but does prevent them from biting you. My concerns with using DEET are the studies indicating how it affects your ability to break down a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, triggering movement and neurological disorders. Another older study connected DEET to childhood seizures and brain toxicity. 

Although many scientists and doctors consider DEET to be relatively safe, just the smell of it makes me think it’s toxic in some way! I am a mosquito magnet, and for years I have tried the all-natural approach of lotions and potions that include herbal ingredients such as citronella, rosemary, lemongrass, clove and more, but nothing…nothing works as well as magnesium oil! Really!

I found this amazing secret by accident 7 or 8 years ago, on one of my many trips down to Mexico.  Every vacay I would come back with at least 5 to 7 or more mosquito bites, even after using a mosquito net over my bed. One day, my muscles were really sore after working out hard with push-ups and beach sprints, so I put magnesium oil all over my arms and legs several times a day for the pain and stiffness. And as my muscle soreness dissipated over the three days of application, I noticed I didn’t have any mosquito bites either! 

My theory is that mosquitoes have a strong aversion to the taste of magnesium chloride oil because it’s super bitter. So ever since, I have been using magnesium oil as my all-natural alternative to the toxin-filled sprays. It delivers excellent results on top of your daily magnesium dose. Try it out and tell me if it works for you too!

There is one other natural solution if the magnesium oil isn’t an option for you…and that is cedar oil. That’s right, it comes from the cedar tree and actually kills and repels all types of insects including mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, flies, ants, mites, chiggers, noseeums, cockroaches and more. It’s for people, pets and can also be sprayed indoors. BTW, cedar oil will not harm the bee population, which is good…we need more bees on our planet! I get the cedar oil spray from cedarcide.com, and I have also used the lawn spray to get rid of ticks and fleas in the yard to protect my little pup Lola!

One more thing: be practical about your attire. If you know you’re going into intense bug infested terrain, look into broad-brimmed hats with mosquito netting, and wear long-sleeved thin cotton shirts and pants that provide you a stronger defense, although some mosquitoes have been known to bite you through your clothing! 

Hydration

We all sweat or glisten, depending on the verbiage you prefer. But sometimes our hydration levels can sink imperceptibly throughout the day as we fail to keep up with our water needs. You don’t have to be outside running marathons in the heat. You can dehydrate in the coolness of your air conditioned office simply from long periods of talking and interaction. 

Your body’s water should be continually replenished and replaced — and more often during the warmer months. Drinking half your bodyweight (pounds) in ounces of water is a good rule of thumb for your minimum daily intake. Make sure you’re opting for drinking purified water rather than tap water that’s been chemically treated and contaminated with chlorine, fluoride, chloramines, lead, arsenic, MTBE (methyl-t-butyl ether) and more. 

Be cautious of mineral water or spring water — both of which may contain minute levels of toxic metals (arsenic and nickel) or other “natural” metals such as thallium, titanium and silver that you might not want mixed into your system. Definitely ask the water company for the 3rd party water analysis test. Fresh water bodies across the US have tested positive for mercury, so that spring water you think is so untouched actually may harbor its own share of trace contaminants. 

On that note, if you are interested in digging deeper into the health benefits of water, hold on tight…my next blog will be all about my favorite natural healing element: water! 

In the meantime, take advantage of every outdoor opportunity while you can! This time of year can be extremely soul-nourishing — a small reprieve from the stressors of the pandemic. With a few slight adjustments to your purchases and routines, you can count on a summer of good health, great skin, and a thriving lifestyle.

People frequently underestimate the damaging effects of high oxalate levels within their system. Oxalates originally evolved in particular plant species as a deterrent to the animals wanting to consume them. (Obviously, if you’re a plant, the harder you are to digest, the less likely you are to be eaten.) But people neglect to understand that by interfering with human digestion, oxalate accumulation also contributes to a slew of chronic conditions that effect that entire body.

Like most dietary content, oxalates are typically broken down by the gut microbiome, properly excreted and processed without incident. The danger comes when it fuses with calcium that disperses itself in a spread of inflammatory over-absorption. The term “leaky gut” refers to the state of maldigestion when weakened intestinal mucosal barrier allow the wrong molecules to pass through their walls and enter the bloodstream. This loss of regulation sends oxalates into urine, tissues — and potentially to the regions of the brain that regulate hormones.

It’s a vicious cycle. Oxalate shards fail to break down in the gut, microbial overgrowth permits them to bind and thrive, and they tear at intestinal lining causing excessive inflammation. Before long, you’ve got chronic diseases playing out across multiple organ systems in a situation that will only continue to exacerbate itself without diet and lifestyle modifications.

Kidney stones, autoimmune diseases, irritable gut symptoms — the scary reality is these conditions build up slowly over time, sometimes barely registering in our awareness until it’s too late. Take urinary stones for example. Nobody plans a 3am trip to the ER because they woke up feeling like a knife was lodged in their kidney, but eight out of ten kidney stones are classified as calcium oxalate stones. That stone that has you writhing in the waiting room has actually been in the process of forming over weeks, months and even years.

Combatting both oxalate levels themselves, along with the conditions they inflict, requires a threefold approach:

  1. Improving gut health by curbing microbial overgrowth
  2. Monitoring incoming oxalate in the foods you eat
  3. Taking the supplements that will counteract their danger

 

Correcting Microbial Overgrowth

Most healthy adults harbor trace amounts of candida yeast within their digestive tract. Healthful bacteria like probiotics will typically keep it in line, but when antibiotics, consuming too much sugar and other factors offset one’s microbial balance, candida can get out of hand — sometimes to the point of infection — and accelerate oxalate production.

The better you can attend to your gut health by treating and preventing candidiasis (yeast infections) the better you’ll limit oxalate production and the barrage of health liabilities it presents. Eliminate any food with yeast or excess sugar so the infection has nothing to feed on. Olive leaf extract is an excellent herbal formula that helps reduce yeast overgrowth in the gut and skin.

In addition to minimizing microbial overgrowth in your gut, remember to rotate in fermented foods such as kimchi with high levels of lactic acid bacteria (probiotics) that aid in the breakdown  of oxalate molecules and fight against those sharp calcium clusters that tear up your intestines. These strains of good bacteria are essential to a balanced microbiome and must be regularly replenished.

 

Monitoring Oxalate Intake

Now is the time to familiarize yourself with the foods and dishes that might be filling your gut and body with an undue volume of oxalate excess. The Oox App for the Dietary Management of Kidney Stones and Gout brilliantly lists and describes a variety of potentially problematic food, and the amounts of oxalate they contain, plus more. Get the Kidney Stones tool (highly recommended to get the upgraded version for $4.99) and use it as a fast and accessible resource for planning meals and double-checking the oxalate levels you’re likely to encounter.

Oox App interface

 

Of course, you won’t have to place a ban on every food you enjoy, but this is an easy way to keep track of just how much oxalate you’re consuming and ensure that your total intake isn’t more than your gut can sensibly handle.

Use the app to count up how much oxalates you are eating per day in milligrams. There are two types of oxalates you can count up that is in the OXX app– oxalates and soluble oxalates. Soluble oxalate means how much you are absorbing into the blood stream and oxalate is referring to the total amount of insoluble and soluble oxalates. I look at the total number of oxalates ingested, not just the soluble. Insoluble oxalates that’s not absorbed directly into circulatory system can still cause a great deal of discomfort and inflammation in the digestive tract.

Once you know your total, cut the number of milligrams by half, and that will be your daily allowance for 3-4 days. If your body feels good, then you can go down further by 50 mg less for another 3-4 days, until you have reached 150 mg of oxalates per day. For example, you are ingesting 500 mg/day of oxalates, divide it in half, then 250 will be your daily allowance of oxalates for a few days. Then go down to 200 mg of oxalates per day, after a few days, you can go down to 150 mg. This may be your daily limit for weeks, if not months. The more you have been eating oxalates, the longer it will take for you to cleanse out and minimize your symptoms. If you find that you are taking in thousands of milligrams, then cut it down by half again and again until you get to 250 mg, and then drop 50 mg every few days until you get down to 150 mg.

Some of my patients really feel good at 150 mg of oxalate intake, for others who are highly sensitive, they may do better at 100 mg per day.

If oxalates are one of the root causes of your chronic symptoms or illness, you will be pleasantly surprised how good you feel in a short period of time! Everything, from minor irritations like gas, bloating, constipation or diarrhea, to serious illnesses like fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and eczema — all can be improved and potentially prevented.

 

Can Supplements Help?

Regardless of what’s on your plate, taking specific supplements alongside your mealtime food servings can drastically aid in oxalate reduction. Vitamin E, selenium, and arginine can fend off oxalate damage, and calcium citrate is your best friend. As it binds with the oxalates in consumed foods, it prevents them from absorbing into your body and invading your tissues and kidneys.

It may take weeks or even months to reduce oxalate crystals from forming internally, but once you reduce your body burden of oxalates, even kidney stones can be broken down and gently eliminated without pain! After a protocol of proper supplementation, urine samples will present with tiny glass-like crystals or sand — the remnants of stones that were broken up and passed without intervention.

Although calcium citrate with meals can mitigate oxalate overload, vitamin C (ascorbic acid) intake can increase the synthesis of oxalates in the body. Minimize your vitamin C intake down to 250 – 500 mg per day if you are prone to kidney stones and high oxalate symptoms.

Remember: lowering oxalate levels must be done slowly and methodically to avoid aggravating detox symptoms from “oxalate dumping.” This is a gradual healing process but, with diligence and attention, and by carefully following the recommendations above, you’ll be well on your way to a more optimized and disease-free life!

If you follow nutrition news at all, then you’ve probably heard about a molecule present in many plant foods called oxalate (aka oxalic acid), which has been at the heart of some debate in the health world for years now, due to it’s potentially damaging effects within the human body.

Many plants produce oxalates as a natural pesticide, which helps to deter insects and other critters from eating them. Our body has the ability to eliminate oxalates through our kidney/bladder system, transporting it in our urine as with any other metabolic waste, but proper gut health and a balanced microbiome are also necessary in order for the oxalates to be broken down and excreted from the body. 

And we’re pretty much all dealing with some degree of compromised gut health these days due to factors like chronic stress and lack of quality sleep, the overuse of antibiotics in our medicine and also found in the dairy/animal proteins we eat, highly processed foods, and pollution. 

But if you have leaky gut, SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), parasites or another inflammatory gut condition, you’re more likely to absorb and retain higher amounts of oxalate in your body. So it’s no surprise then that many people are experiencing health issues related to oxalate consumption. 

The good news? Certain strains of good (probiotic) bacteria living in our gut can break down oxalate in the food we eat, which is another reason that a healthy, balanced gut microbiome is so critical for our health. Wild fermentation of high oxalate vegetables like kimchi, sauerkraut, and pickles has been found in studies to lower the levels of oxalates significantly during the culturing process.  

Healthy Kimchi Low Oxalate

So please eat your fermented veggies every day for optimal health!

Have you experienced any of these troublesome symptoms or health issues? If so, check out the list of high oxalate foods and consider whether oxalate consumption may be an issue for you. 

Health Issues Linked to Oxalate Consumption

 

  • Kidney stones (once is enough!) or interstitial cystitis (painful urination)
  • Irritable gut symptoms such as pain, gas, bloating, constipation or diarrhea
  • Joint pain and inflammation (arthritis, polyarthritis)
  • Muscle stiffness and aches 
  • Sleep and mood disturbances
  • Itchy skin or rash
  • Autoimmune diseases (fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriasis)

Oxalate molecules combine with calcium (calcium oxalate crystals) inside your body and create a build-up of sharp glass-like grains (aka kidney stones, bone spurs, and tissue calcification) that can cause mechanical damage in various organs and tissues. If you’ve ever had a kidney stone, you know that the pain is excruciating (it’s said to be more painful than childbirth), so anything we can do to avoid those is very well worth it.

Many autoimmune diseases have been linked with high oxalate consumption, but sadly most people suffering from these conditions have no idea that the reportedly ‘healthy’ foods that they’re eating may actually be exacerbating their symptoms by triggering inflammatory reactions throughout their body.

Here is a list of some of the highest oxalate-containing foods that are commonly eaten, so you’ll want to avoid these as much as possible while on a low-oxalate diet.

Highest Oxalate-Containing Foods

High Oxalate Dark Chocolate

  • Dark leafy greens like spinach and swiss chard
  • Beetroot and cassava root
  • Celery and bamboo shoots
  • Dark chocolate and cocoa powder
  • Grains such as quinoa, amaranth, wheat, brown rice (wild rice is low in oxalates)
  • Berries (especially elderberries, black berries and dried goji berries)
  • Buckwheat which comes from the rhubarb family
  • Excess consumption of black tea
  • Beans including soy, black, fava, navy beans
  • Nuts and seeds (almonds, hazelnut, brazil nut, cashews, peanuts, pecans, chia seeds, sesame seeds)
  • Spices like cardamom, cinnamon and turmeric
  • Potatoes and sweet potatoes
  • Fruits like star fruit, pomegranate, rhubarb and dates

Although all of these foods contain a lot of high quality nutrition in general, their high level of oxalate means that they may be contributing to some of your underlying health issues.

You can find a comprehensive list of oxalate levels in foods as well as build your favorite low oxalate recipes in an app called OOX (says it’s for gout and kidney stones). I highly recommend that you get the upgraded version for kidney stones, and if you suffer from gout, then this app will also be very helpful for you! 

I suggest this app regularly to my patients for it’s comprehensive oxalate level info in foods, and I also appreciate that it provides you with the nutritional values of each food, such as calories, types of fats, vitamins and minerals, etc. 

The first thing that you want to do is count up how many milligrams of oxalate you’re eating per day. 

On the app, there are two versions of oxalates listed for each food item: “Oxalates” and “Soluble Oxalates”. Count up your daily intake of “Oxalates” in milligrams (mg) for each food per serving, not the soluble oxalates.

Soluble oxalate levels are referring to the oxalates that are actually absorbed into the bloodstream, which can cause systemic issues including kidney stones and arthritis. 

Insoluble oxalates can stay in your intestines and irritate your digestive system as they’re moving down the tract for elimination, so I feel that the insoluble oxalates are just as important to limit as the soluble type. 

Please note: If you’re currently eating a very high oxalate diet (over 500mg per day) and you reduce your intake too quickly, you may experience detox-like symptoms called “oxalate dumping”, such as a candida yeast flare up, rashes/hives, painful urination, and mood disturbances. I’ll go more into this in my next blog post!

If this happens, you can simply back off of the reduction plan for a bit and then resume once you feel ready, but I work closely with my patients to help ensure that this doesn’t happen, or if it does, the detox symptoms are minimal.

Lab Testing Available for Oxalate Levels

 

I use the Great Plains Laboratory Organic Acids Test (OAT) for my patients to provide the exact level of oxalates excreted in their urine, and as a bonus, it also gives us an indirect read of my patients’ candida levels. 

This is helpful because candida actually produces small amounts of oxalate, so if you have a candida overgrowth, you can still have symptoms even if you’re keeping your dietary oxalate levels extremely low.

If you think you may benefit from a low oxalate diet and need help with testing or support in implementing a low oxalate diet, contact my office at help@drsusanne.com or (310) 315-1514 to set up a consultation with me.

And stay tuned for my next blog post, where I’ll go into a lot more detail on the potential dangers of eating a high oxalate diet and how to best taper down without detox symptoms, including an oxalate cleanse challenge that we can do together!

To your most vibrant life,

Dr. Susanne

 

 

Here is my list of supplements I take every morning with my Apple Fresh Green drink (ingredients below)!

You can find them in my store…and I have also hyperlinked each supplement for you for your convenience. Some of the formulas you will need to call my office for assistance 310-315-1514.

Use the Promo Code: HNY2020 for 20% off on all supplements until 2/29/20!

Apple Fresh Greens, with walnut milk, Arthroben Collagen, and almond butter

🌟 Daily Vitamin/Minerals

Apple Fresh Greens

Activated B Complex

Ultra Potent C

Vitamin D 5000

Ultra K2

Essential Minerals

Readisorb Methyl B12 spray

3ACalcium

🌟 Brain Support

Super ALC- Acetyl L Carnitine

GPC clarity

Pure PC Phosphatidyl Choline

CDP Choline

Acumen (Bacopa Extract)

Annatto E300

Annatto GG

Liposomal Glutatione (Tri-Fortify Watermelon)

Siberian Spirulina F3-BioSuperfood

🌟 Structural Support

Synovox DJD Factors

Regenemax Plus

TestoPlex Plus

Pycnogenol

Arthroben Collagen

Are you familiar with the term ‘functional foods’?

All foods ideally contain some nutritional value, but the ones that are considered ‘functional’ go beyond basic nutrition and can provide specific health benefits, especially if they’re consumed regularly.

Think oats for their cholesterol-lowering fiber or yogurt for its gut balancing probiotic bacteria. These are a couple of the most well-known functional foods in the US.

In my opinion, kimchi may be the #1 functional food around, because it has so many unique and diverse health benefits, packs in so much nutrition, and tastes amazing!

A community member recently responded that he believes bone broth to be the best functional food out there, after he read my last newsletter where I named kimchi as my favorite functional food. I want to extend my gratitude to him for reaching out to me, I truly appreciate his email!

And while I do agree that bone broth is definitely nutritious and can be healing for certain health issues, I still feel that kimchi has more overall health benefits to human bodily systems (digestive, cardiovascular, immune/inflammatory, neurochemistry, dermatological, metabolic and more), higher nutritional value,  and more to offer as a functional food… and science confirms it.

So let’s do a quick comparison of the two and see how kimchi and bone broth stack up against each other.

What’s Kimchi?

If you aren’t already familiar with kimchi, it’s a fermented vegetable dish that originates from Korea. It’s Korea’s national food and is happily eaten by most Koreans every single day.

Kimchi can be made from many different vegetables, but the most common one is Baechu-kimchi, which is napa cabbage kimchi. The veggies are combined with salt, red pepper powder, garlic, and other spices. Sometimes seafood or fermented seafood pastes are included for additional flavor. Then the kimchi is left to ferment for days to weeks to months, depending on your needs and how fast you eat it.

The result is a tangy, flavorful side dish or condiment that pairs especially well with rice and soups. The texture of the veggies starts out crunchy and becomes softer as the fermentation process continues.

Kimchi Key Benefits

  • Loaded with Probiotics – One of the main benefits of kimchi is that it’s loaded with billions of lactic acid bacteria.
  • Postbiotics are important too – these are organic acids and metabolic end products of the lactic acid bacteria in kimchi that are now being discovered to be beneficial to human health.
  • Packed with Nutrients – Kimchi is high in lots of different vitamins, minerals, live enzymes, antioxidants, and phytochemicals, making it one of the most nutrient-dense foods available.
  • High in Fiber – The veggies used in kimchi are high in fiber, which gut bacteria love to eat and produce short chain fatty acids (SCFA’s) from, and these acids have their own unique health benefits.
  • Environmentally-Friendly – Because it requires no fire, electricity or gas to produce (only electricity for refrigeration to store it).
  • Vegan/Plant-Based – Just leave out any seafood ingredients when making it or check ingredients when purchasing it pre-made.
  • Delicious – I can taste all 5 flavor profiles in kimchi… tangy, sweet, sour, salty, and umami. This makes it so satisfying to eat!

What’s Bone Broth?

Bone broth has become super trendy in the last decade, and in the past you would have had to make it from scratch to enjoy it. But today, you’ll find many delicious commercially produced bone broth in the grocery store. Bone and veggie based broths have been a dietary staple in many cultures around the world for centuries at least! And for good reason – they’re super comforting to both body and spirit.

It’s made by simmering bones (sometimes along with veggies & spices) for many hours in order to extract the maximum amount of nutrients from the ingredients.

The result is a gelatinous broth with a mild flavor that’s usually drank warm or hot, either by itself or as a base for soups and stews.

Bone Broth Key Benefits

  • Best for Collagen – Helps soothe and heal the gut (especially gut permeability issues) and keeps skin and joints supple.
  • Rich in Minerals – Like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, and sulphur – all necessary in proper amounts for optimal health and hundreds of bodily processes.
  • Low in calories – Averaging at 45 calories per cup of bone broth, mainly from protein. Zero calories from carbs. Fat calories depends on if the meat or bone marrow is included in the bone broth preparation.
  • High in proteinsProtein level is around 9 grams per 1 cup of bone broth (usually 0 grams of protein and 3 grams of carbs in vegetable broth), so it’s great for building muscles, connective tissue, intestinal mucosa, skin and joint health.
  • Easy to digest – Because it’s liquid and low in fiber, bone broth and the nutrients it contains can be easily and quickly absorbed by the body.

Why Kimchi Is My #1 Functional Food

Both kimchi and bone broth have super powers as a functional food, but I find that kimchi throws a bigger punch in overall value for your health. Kimchi is delicious, highly nutritious, and loaded with enzymes, probiotic bacteria and organic acids that aren’t found in bone or veggie broth.

If you’re torn on whether to add kimchi or bone broth to your diet, why not enjoy them both?! That’s what I do! My favorite bone broth is Korean oxtail soup with the knuckles. And I can hardly pick a favorite type of kimchi, because there are so many different delicious ones to choose from. Cucumber, mustard greens, radish, napa, white… I love them all!

But if it’s your first time trying kimchi or you have some gut issues, start with cucumber kimchi. Cucumbers have low levels of fermentable carbohydrates (FODMAPs) and won’t cause gas or bloating like napa cabbage kimchi can for some individuals.

For my cucumber recipe you can find it on my instagram feed @drsusanne! Don’t forget to swipe to the left for the full recipe and photos. And if you don’t already, follow me on instagram. I post awesome health and lifestyle info for the whole family!

Kimchi will always have a special place in my heart. It’s a big part of my Korean heritage and I associate many happy memories with making and enjoying it with my friends and family. But beyond this, kimchi just kicks butt all around!

To your most vibrant life,

Dr. Susanne

The Gut/Brain Connection

Are you familiar with the gut-brain axis? In short, it’s the complex signaling pathway between our brain and our digestive system, and it’s controlled in part by the microbes living in our gut! This means that the health and composition of our microbiome greatly impacts the functioning of our brain and entire nervous system.

In fact, the microbes living in our gut (mostly in our large intestine) play an absolutely critical role in our overall health and the functioning of our various organ systems. They help to digest our food, synthesize vitamins, modulate our immune system, and so much more. But we need to have enough of the ‘good guys’ (probiotic bacteria) present in order for things to stay in balance.

Unfortunately though, due to the overuse of antibiotics in modern medicine and in our food supply (in factory farmed meat & dairy), along with a chronically overworked and under-slept way of life, chemical exposures from our environment, etc., many people’s gut microbiome has become severely compromised and imbalanced, which can contribute to the development of an array of chronic diseases and other health issues.

The good news is that we can easily work on rebalancing our gut microbiome and treat many chronic health issues with the help of functional foods like kimchi, as they contain a multitude of probiotic bacteria, including psychobiotics.

What Are Psychobiotics?

Psychobiotics is the term used for probiotic bacteria strains which have the ability to positively alter our brain function, including the prevention and treatment of anxiety and depression.

Some of the beneficial bacteria present in kimchi and other fermented foods have been found in multiple studies to exert a number of positive health effects when consumed, such as increasing tryptophan levels (a precursor to serotonin, necessary for proper mood regulation), decreasing cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and increasing GABA levels (an anti-anxiety neurotransmitter).

And this just the beginning! We still have so much to learn about how the microbes in our gut affect us. But when you consider what we’ve learned so far, you can clearly see that we’d be missing out on major health benefits by failing to consume them regularly.

Kimchi – My #1 Psychobiotic and Functional Food!

I’ve been eating kimchi almost daily since I was a baby, and I still love it as much as ever! I was born in Korea where kimchi is the national food and is eaten by almost everyone every day, usually multiple times per day! Even before I knew about all of the amazing benefits of eating kimchi regularly, I understood how good it made me feel compared to periods where I didn’t eat it as often.

Kimchi contains powerful psychobiotic microbes that can help to kick anxiety and depression to the curb. But the trick is, you need to eat it daily (or even 2-3 times daily, like my fellow Koreans and I often do!) in order to really see and feel maximum benefits.

If you’re a kimchi newbie, you may want to start with 1 tablespoon per day and work your way up, otherwise you may feel a bit uncomfortable for a while with gas and bloating, as there will be a significant change in microbiome flora diversity happening in your belly!

I find the study of our gut microbiome to be incredibly fascinating and I can’t wait to see what new discoveries will be made in the area in the future. But for now, I’m thankful knowing that eating functional foods like kimchi every day is going a long way towards maintaining my health and vitality, thanks to the billions of probiotic bacteria present in each serving, even if we don’t yet know all of the ways that they’re helping us.

 

To your most vibrant life,

Dr. Susanne

P.S. Follow me on Instagram to stay up to date on my latest ultimate wellness tips and daily adventures!

I’ve been seeing more and more anxiety cases in my practice lately, so I’m creating a couple of blog posts on the topic to help you better understand anxiety and how to best treat (and prevent) it.

In this post we’ll quickly review what anxiety is and then dive into a patient story which highlights a disorder that’s linked to anxiety, one that most people have never heard of but many are suffering from.

Anxiety 101

Anxiety in one or more of its many forms affects about 18% of the US population (40 million people) each year, making it the most common mental illness plaguing us today.

And it’s no wonder, with our crazy hectic lifestyles… burning the candle at both ends… eating too much processed junk food… lacking enough quality sleep… and the list goes on. Our modern society puts us all at major risk of developing anxiety. Even young children are experiencing anxiety at record levels.

Anxiety comes in many varieties and each one has its own specific signs and symptoms. There’s Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Panic Disorder (PD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and specific phobias like extreme fear of spiders or flying in an airplane.

Many cases of anxiety subside over time, especially with proper treatment. Other cases may be more of a long-term battle to manage. There are many different causes or triggers for anxiety, ranging from stress, lack of sleep, physical or emotional trauma, drug or alcohol use, nutrient deficiencies, and more.

A Patient Story

I want to share a patient story where nutrient deficiencies triggered severe anxiety in a teenage boy, along with how we completely resolved his debilitating anxiety.

Justin was referred to me through his father, who was already a patient of mine. Justin was 17 years old and had been experiencing terrible anxiety, which resulted in him using marijuana excessively just to stay calm. Justin’s father thought that food allergies may be the cause of his anxiety, but after gathering more info during our first appointment, I suspected that Justin may have a genetic predisposition called Pyrrole Disorder, which is linked to various types of anxiety.

Pyrroles are naturally occurring molecules in our body which bond with zinc mineral and vitamin B6 molecules. Pyrroles are normally excreted to some degree in the urine, but in people with Pyrrole Disorder (also known as Pyroluria), excessive amounts of Pyrroles are excreted too rapidly, taking valuable zinc and B6 molecules with them, leading to deficiencies in these critical micronutrients.

Around 10% of the population has Pyrroles, but many are never tested for it.

I had Justin tested and found out that he (and his father, it turns out!) has this condition which meant that he was most likely deficient in zinc and B6. Problem solved! So we immediately started him on nutrient repletion therapy to get his zinc (zinc gluconate and citrate combo) and vitamin B6 (active form Pyridoxal 5 Phosphate) slowly titrating up to optimal levels and within six weeks, his anxiety totally subsided and we were able to wean him off the marijuana. He found himself much better with his focusing and completing his school homework and started exercising four times per week. His father recently let me know that Justin was so excited with his “new self” that he was now applying to colleges – something that seemed out of the question when he was riddled with severe anxiety.

Test for Pyrrole Disorder

If you’re suffering from an anxiety disorder and suspect that you may have Pyrrole disorder, I use and recommend DHA Laboratory for lab testing. You’ll need to order the Kryptopyrrole Quantitative Urine Test and review the results with a qualified health professional to determine your next steps in terms of supplements and lifestyle changes that you can make.

Click here to learn more about my services or to book a consultation with me to review your lab test results. Helping my patients to manage and reduce their anxiety is one of my specialties and I’d be honored to work with you or your loved one on this so that you can get back to feeling happy and relaxed as soon as possible.

Next Up – Treating Anxiety Disorders Naturally

In my next blog post, I’m going to share my top strategies for naturally preventing and treating anxiety disorders. Unfortunately, it’s the norm these days to be prescribed a pharmaceutical drug by your doctor if you go in complaining of an anxiety issue. But this only covers up the symptoms rather than looking for the root cause of the issue and then treating it naturally before jumping straight to pharmaceuticals.

Thankfully, there are many simple and effective ways to help ease anxiety, so stay tuned for the next blog post!

To your most vibrant life ever,
Dr. Susanne

 

 

Surely you’re familiar with the tangerine (aka mandarin), with it’s sunny orange hue and juicy, vibrant burst of sweet citrus flavor, but did you know that you can use the peel of the tangerine to make a delicious tea, which can help to soothe what ails you? Read on to learn why this is the perfect time of year to incorporate this elixir into your routine.

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By Dr. Susanne Bennett

Your body is constantly going through key biochemical reactions and one very important process is referred to as methylation. In basic chemistry terms, it means that the metabolic process takes a single carbon and three hydrogen atoms called a methyl group and adds it to another molecule or substitutes an atom of that compound with a methyl group. For methylation to occur properly, you need optimal functioning enzymes, which are produced by your genes.

I hope I haven’t lost you already!

Bear with me now, because once you understand that methylation can turn your body’s genes on and off; meaning it can affect your genetic code (DNA), that’s when it gets really sexy and exciting!

What this means is that every one of us who’s been dealt with crappy genes by our parents and grandparents, whether it’s allergies, migraine headaches, heart disease, diabetes, manic depression, Alzheimer’s or even the Big C (cancer), we have the ability to turn those bad genes off by manipulating your methylation processes.

In this article, I am going to explain why methylation is important to look at for restoring your health and how to start improving these biochemical pathways in your body to start feeling better today!

The methylation processes control billions of on & off switches throughout your body that are vital to important cellular functions such as:

  • The natural detoxification of chemicals, mercury and other heavy metals, environmental toxins and even hormones.
  • Your body’s inflammatory and immune response.
  • Repairing DNA and cellular damage caused by free radicals.
  • Energy (ATP) production by the mitochondria
  • The production and recycling of antioxidants such as glutathione (a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals and reduces inflammation throughout the body!). You can go to my RadioMD page to check out one of my recent Nature’s Secret’s segment on Glutathione.
  • Methylation helps in the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine and supports other brain chemistry.

As you can see, methylation is extremely important to a healthy immune system, your energy level, your mood and brain activity, as well as naturally detoxifying your body of poisons!

Sounds pretty important, wouldn’t you agree?

Some of the symptoms and diseases associated with methylation issues are:

  • Elevated homocysteine (associated with heart disease and stroke)
  • Decreased ability for detoxification which shows up as headaches, tiredness, nausea and brain fog
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Fibromyalgia
  • Allergies and Multiple Chemical Sensitivities
  • Autoimmune conditions such as Multiple sclerosis and Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Infertility and miscarriage
  • Birth defects including spina bifida and cleft palate
  • Cancer
  • Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Bipolar, depression, anxiety and other mental disorders
  • Autism
  • Insomnia
  • Thyroid disease

We all suffer from some of these issues don’t we?

Cutting edge science tells us the best way to circumvent these bad genes is through nutrigenomics (foods and nutrients that alter your genes) and epigenetics (your environment and lifestyle factors).

Let me give you an example to help you understand how food and environment can cause chronic and debilitating illnesses.

My son Cody was pretty much born with crappy genes, I had eczema and irritable bowel issues growing up and my husband George had asthma and chronic infections as a child.

Little did I know about mercury toxicity in the early 90’s, and I ate a great deal of tuna fish during my entire pregnancy and while I nursed Cody for a full year. I would eat tuna 4-6 times a week, and sometime twice a day! Cody started showing skin and respiratory symptoms at around 3-months old. His eczema and asthma got so bad that at 5 months old, I shaved off his hair and had it analyzed for toxic metal levels.

His level for mercury was over the top in dangerous poisonous levels! I felt so bad that I had been poisoning him with mercury during his entire life, even when he was in my body.

The mercury overload in baby Cody caused a great deal of stress and inflammation in his organs and cells, damaging them, especially his liver and lungs, where methylation is crucial to clear out the heavy metal.

The cellular stress and mercury was blocking the enzymes necessary to detoxify the mercury out of his little body, which triggered his food and environmental allergies, asthma, mucus filled loose stool, and the most severe– anaphylactic reactions. Mercury toxicity was just one of the reasons why he was so sick but a big reason for sure.

So what was the #1 strategy to turn off Cody’s bad genes and improve his enzyme reactions, his methylation pathways?

I immediately stopped eating tuna, cleaned up our nutrition, and cleanup our environment to reduce the toxic load and cell burden and within days, Cody’s symptoms subsided and he started to improve!

The body does amazing things when you take all of the chemicals and toxins away… it wants to be healthy, it wants to be free of symptoms.

By manipulating all of the different foods, nutrients, environmental and lifestyle factors we turned the bad genes off and turn on his good genes to heal and restore!

By the time Cody was 3 ½ years old, all of his debilitating symptoms disappeared, even his anaphylactic reactions.

Cody got healthy through Nutrigenomics and Epigenetics.

Nutrigenomics is the study of how food and nutrients influence gene expression. And Epigenetics is the study of how environmental and lifestyle factors influence gene expression.

Identical twins may have the exact same genetic variants that increase the risk for a disease, but only one gets the disease.

It’s because each twin affected the methylation process in the body differently… remember methylation is the volume control of our genes, and it all depends on the food we eat, the supplements we take, the environmental factors, the lifestyle decisions we make, it all affects the methylation process.

“If you’re going to eat junk food, you’re going to have junk genes!”

There are a number of dietary “do’s and don’ts” that can help provide you the key nutrients that will best support your methylation process.

As usual, please consult with your doctor before changing your diet, taking supplements or exercise program substantially in any way, as only your doctor knows your underlying health condition and medications.

Where do you start?

In my book The 7-Day Allergy Makeover, I go into detail on how to clean up your nutrition and environment, I will go into just a few strategies today.

Clean up your Environment with the 3 C’s

  • Clean Water- drink purified reverse osmosis water not tap water filled with toxins and chemicals, that is damaging to your genes
  • Clean Air- we live indoors 90% of our time! Get some fresh air, get an air purifier, with HEPA and charcoal filtration
  • Chemical- Free: use less chemicals in your home and what you put on your body

Clean up your Lifestyle with the 3 S’s

  • Sleep- 8 hours of deep uninterrupted sleep (ideal sleep cycle: 10pm-6am, or 11pm-7am)
  • Stress- Deep Belly Breaths and Nature bathing!
  • Stop- Smoking, Alcohol, Drugs

Clean up your Nutrition

  • Eat only whole, natural, real foods!
  • Dark, leafy green veggies have a lot of natural folate, very important nutrient for methylation support
  • Foods rich in B vitamins (B2, B3, B6, B12, folate, choline): eggs, animal proteins, nuts and seeds, dark green veggies and beans.
  • Better yet, get on a good B complex supplement. Note that many people (especially vegans) are deficient in B vitamins, in particular, vitamin B12. Best to use sublingual B12, such as liposomal methyl B12 that absorbs rapidly
  • Eat healthy protein to promote healthy methylation: animal protein, poultry, chicken, eggs, wild salmon, .
  • Organic, non-GMO, no hormones/antibiotics, etc.
  • Try a modified allergy elimination diet to reduce inflammation in the gut and body… Remember that anything that increases inflammation will affect your methylation pathways.
  • Heal your gut to maximize absorption of healthy nutrients and improve stomach acid levels (take a daily probiotic!).
  • Optimize micronutrients by taking a multi-vitamin and multi minerals… All of these nutrients are necessary to optimize the function of the methylation enzymes!
  • One more thing: Stay away folic acid in fortified foods and supplements, folic acid is synthetic version of folate and it actually can hinder the methylation process.

Discuss methylation with your doctor, and ask him/her to test for your homocysteine level, and check your vitamin B levels. Ask your parents about their health too! Start with the basics and improve just one thing, today, either in your diet or your vices!