Saturday, August 29, 2009

Victory Lunch!

On the last day of a student's internship at the pharmacy, he or she gets a "victory lunch" on the house to celebrate. I picked a place called "Vegadeli", which serves up some delicious and healthy vegan fare. Most of the staff was open to my pick and expressed excitement when selecting their lunches from the menu. Luckily, the food was great and hopefully broke the stigma that vegan food is from outer space.
Here are the eats:
Creole red bean wrap with a side of herb-roasted potatoes,
Portabello stuffed with herbed brown rice/broccoli/carrots
Raw tostado with raw nut cheese, veggies, and added avocado
Hemp granola salad with cucumbers/carrots/onions/raisins/orange spice dressing
Side of caribbean black eyed peas and brown rice
Chili cheddar vegan burger
Vegan carrot cake, chocolate chip muffin, and walnut muffin

On a side note, I had a chance to use the electronic acupuncture machine at the pharmacy and found out some valuable information. When you use the machine, you hold one electrode in one hand and have someone put the other on different acupuncture points. The machine measures some sort of frequency or conduction and gives you a reading. Well, my test results said that I have food allergies, heavy metals (my boyfriend is a smoker), a subclinical UTI, low stomach acid, low vitamin C, an infection above and below my diaphragm, and liver overload. My preceptor told me that when you eat a vegetarian/vegan diet, you stop producing as much stomach acid because you are eating less protein (protein requires more acid to be metabolized). Therefore, whenever I would eat a higher protein meal, it would sit in my stomach like a rock. She told me to take Betaine HCl during a protein-heavy meal, which I did....and what a difference it made! It actually felt as if everything had been digested and wasn't just sitting in there fermenting/causing bloating. With vitamin C, I always avoided large doses of vitamin C because it pulls estrogen out of the body (not the best thing if you are taking birth control). You should be getting between 2,000-4,000mg per day and I had been aiming quite a bit lower because of the interaction. She told me it wasn't anything I needed to worry about and just to keep an eye on my cycle for any changes, so I now take 2,000mg daily (for prespective, 60mg/d saturates red blood cells, 400mg/d saturates the serum, and >400mg/d actually increases the concentration in tissues; the RDA is 60mg/d) With the infection, she told me that some bug was trying to get me but wasn't having much success, so I'll just thank my immune system for that one. I also started taking sublingual B12 because the low stomach acid minimizes oral absorption. B12 is involved in so many cellular functions that it is probably a good idea for most people to do the sublingual route to insure adequate absorption. My liver was always a concern for me because of the heavy drinking back in the day and because I can't tolerate caffeine at all (suggests Phase I problems). I also take birth control, which goes through the liver, so I avoided taking things like milk thistle and dandelion root for fear that it would make the pill less effective. Well, she started me on a supplement called "Amino-D-tox" which has supportive vitamins/amino acids for both phases of metabolism. Since my phase I may be out of whack, you don't want to just support that and overload phase II. It also contains calcium d-glucarate, which is beneficial for breast cancer prevention in that it prevents the cleavage of the glucuronic acid-estrogen bond by beta-glucuronidase (in non-medical terms, it helps get rid of excess estrogen). Again, I expressed my concern for the pill and she said to just keep an eye out for any changes. Anyways, so I take 2 Amino-D-tox at night and also supplement Filter and Flush (milk thistle, NAC, dandelion root, uva ursi, etc) during the inactive pill week in place of Amino-D-tox. I know that this is a lot to comprehend but I've actually begun to notice a difference. In terms of the testing, the machine is incredibly accurate. One woman's results said that she had parasites....she, of course, denied that she did. However, she did a parasite cleanse and passed a tapeworm a few days later. A previous intern's results said that there was a problem with her heart ventricles. She went to see her doctor and he actually found a problem. It is a pretty cool machine and hopefully I will get to use it again as follow-up to see if I've improved!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Clinical Nutrition for Dummies

So I've decided to become a certified clinical nutritionist (CCN) in addition to a PharmD! With a higher degree in health care, it only takes 56 hours of online lectures to prepare for the CCN Board exam. I really think that the clinical nutrition and pharmacy go hand-in-hand because it looks at disease from an entirely different viewpoint. I'm really learning a lot during this rotation and have spent the majority of it relearning the biochemistry of nutrition. Prescription drug side effects are starting to make a lot more sense as I understand their correlation with nutrient depletion and blocked biochemical pathways. For example, when you prevent cholesterol synthesis by taking Lipitor, you are preventing the formation of everything else made from cholesterol (or somehow connected), including DHEA, CoQ10, and your sex hormones. When your body can't make sex hormones that way, it makes you gain hormone-producing abdominal fat to correct the imbalance....which can lead to a whole slew of problems like hypothyroidism and depression. Anyways, I've been taking advantage of my 50% discount off vitamins and supplements. I always say, one of the best investments you can make is in your health. Although I try to get all the necessary vitamins from food, it really is impossible when the food supply is so nutrient depleted. Additionally, we require a much higher quantity of vitamins than the RDA suggests. Such and such number of recommended milligrams of a particular vitamin is just above the point where you develop physical symptoms of deficiency and far below the point where the inadequate intake starts effecting your body on a cellular level. It also does not take into account disease, stress, or other factors that may require higher levels. My preceptor told me that the 3 keys to excellent health are "nutrition, digestion, and liver health". Basically, eat the right stuff, support your digestive tract, and support your liver's ability to detox. Here are some examples of what I'm taking: Ultra Preventive X MVI QID; UBQH 50mg qam; L-carnitine 300mg qam; Enterobiotic 2 caps at bedtime; Osteoshealth TID; Vitamin D 1000mg BID (trapped in the pharmacy all day with no sunlight); Filter and Flush (for liver); I'm also considering a B-complex for the increased stress when I start my hospital rotations :) This list does not include green mixes or therapeutic teas. Anyways, it would be pretty difficult to overdose on vitamins because you just urinate the excess (in most cases; whereas others like vitamin A you have to be more careful). If you take too much vitamin C, you get diarrhea and just taper down your dose. Vitamins and minerals play such a significant role in every aspect of your cellular processes that I would want to be absolutely positive that I was getting enough.

If anyone is looking for a good combination bone health product, Osteosheath is probably the best you can find over the counter. Check the label on your current calcium supplement. If it says calcium carbonate, you are only getting 5-9% of that amount of calcium. Osteosheath has 3 types of calcium--MCHC (90-95% absorption), Calcium Amino Acid Chelate (70-85%), and Calcium Citrate (70-85%). It also has 1200 iu of Vitamin D (we need about 5,000 iu per day), magnesium, and an array of other important synergistic vitamins/minerals for bone health. After screening about 40 elderly women for osteoporosis last week, I can say that prevention is very important. As far as liver health goes, the Filter and Flush has N-AC, which is what becomes glutathione and binds to toxic metabolites in your liver. It also has milk thistle, which protects your liver from damage, in addition to several other components. With all the garbage and xenoestrogens floating around our world, good digestive and liver health are crucial.
Anyways, enough of my ranting and lecturing...I'm just eager to share!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Variations of Lara

I love Larabars as much as the next person but when I saw this:, I was pretty excited since I'm all about making things myself. Below is my variation of the La "Raw" Bar.

2 T ground flaxseed
1/4 cup + 2 T ground raw cashews
1 cup chopped dates
1/2 T extra virgin coconut oil
1 1/2 T raw cacao powder
Dash of vanilla

Just follow the directions on the link and enjoy! I've found that cashews make a better tasting bar than the almonds but a mix of the two are good as well. Also, I added the extra virgin coconut oil and flaxseed for the added health benefits and flavor. On a side note, there are new flavors of Larabars coming out and I can't wait!

The Concept of Health and Moderation

One thing that I've noticed is that no matter the diet or lifestyle, everyone thinks that they are and will be healthy. I think that this idea stems from the concept of indestructibility and the feeling that "it will never happen to me". It seems like most people think that they have a balance in their lives, living by and repeatedly stating the mantra "everything in moderation". I am not writing this from a "holier than thou" position since I am certainly not perfect either. However, when people who are chain smokers, binge drinkers, only eat fast food and junk, do not exercise, and get 4 hours of sleep a night tell me that they are "healthy", I get a little concerned. I suppose that the difference is in how we define the word "health". The aforementioned population may see it as a lack of disease (at least what they can tell). Personally, I see it as a state where my body is functioning at its best, has the ability to prevent disease, and is strong enough to keep everything in balance. For example, I used to eat the typical American diet and engage in other destructive behaviors. At that point, I was constantly sick, tired, depressed/anxious, and lethargic. Based on my former view of health, I would have told you that I was healthy, despite the fact that things were clearly out of balance. Once I made the decision to start a vegetarian, then vegan lifestyle, things changed dramatically. I no longer felt tired, my year-round congestion disappeared, I felt motivated to take care of myself, my grades improved, I never got sick, and my depression/anxiety dissipated. My view of health shifted to something tangible--for the first time in my life, I can actually FEEL health. I hope that one day people will be motivated to find what gives them "health".
As I stated earlier, some may defend their habits by stating that "everything is okay in moderation". The problem that I have with this phrase is that most people do not understand what is meant by moderation. One soda per day is not moderation, considering it can double your chance of Type II Diabetes. A person who consumes several alcoholic drinks a day may think they are drinking in moderation but unknowingly fall under the category of a binge drinker. For women, having more than one alcoholic beverage a day can greatly increase your risk of breast cancer. One Denny's double cheeseburger has 7 grams trans fat, which is over 3x the daily recommended limit, and over half your daily calorie intake. You could make the argument that these could be consumed every once in awhile; however, damage adds up. Chemicals, preservatives, and modified foods cause immune reactions in your body and deplete enzymes that would otherwise be used to fight serious infections. If you body identifies something you eat as a foreign invader, you probably should not be eating it. I think that the food supply has become far too contaminated and information is being withheld from the public such that term "moderation" has become skewed. As a consumer, being informed is your greatest tool in determining a level of moderation that achieves and maintains balance for you.
I was prompted to write about this topic after my boyfriend was unable to donate a kidney to his cousin because of his health. Despite being a smoker and chronic drinker with a poor diet, a family history of diabetes, and no exercise regimen, he told me that he was healthy and would pass his checkup with flying colors. Unfortunately, his liver enzymes were elevated (indicating liver damage) and his heart was not conducting signals properly. They also wanted to perform additional diabetes tests because he was borderline. I think that many people experience this type of wake-up call when they are diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, etc. It is a realization that it CAN happen to them and is likely a result of their lifestyle (in most cases). What they do with that information is up to them. My boyfriend chose to ignore it and continues with his destructive lifestyle. I am only writing this from a personal standpoint and I acknowledge that what is right for me might not be right from someone else.

What does health mean to you and how has that idea changed over the years?