Have you heard of lectins and what they may be doing to your health? Love Them or Leave Them?

 

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We’re all familiar with that schoolyard rhyme: “beans, beans, they’re good for your heart….” As adults we roll our eyes, but have you ever wondered where the rest of that rhyme came from, or why foods like legumes are so tough to digest?

Turns out that most of our foods contain certain compounds that, by nature, are difficult on our digestive systems – because they’re not really meant for our digestive systems at all! Now, that doesn’t mean we can’t tolerate them but more and more research is helping us learn the reasons why some foods can be tough on our systems, and what the implications are of consuming them. In the case of beans and legumes, amongst other foods, the main culprit we’re learning more about is lectins.

Lectins are a kind of protein that’s found in a variety of plant- and animal-based foods. In fact, almost all plant and animal substances contain them in small amounts!

We know proteins are the building blocks of muscles and are critical to our health so the question for most of us is: if lectins are just proteins, how could they be bad for us?

Simply put, lectins bind cells together, and in particular, they bind to sugars. Their ability to lessen the body’s ability to properly absorb nutrients puts lectins in a special category known as ‘antinutrients’. Because we can’t digest lectins, they tend to pass through our systems unnoticed which, for most people, means antinutrients like lectins don’t pose much of a problem at all! In fact, in small amounts, lectins can have numerous health benefits. They’ve been shown to have an important role in immune function, cell growth, and might even be helpful in cancer therapy.

However, lectins can wreak havoc for people who consume a diet with lots of high lectin foods and for those who suffer from GI disorders or immune deficiencies. In more severe instances where GI disorders and immunity dysfunction are at play, lectins can have quite a serious effect on the gut lining and tight junctions that keep the intestines functioning well.

 

 

If they’re not meant to be digested, what purpose do lectins serve? Lectins have a distinct and important purpose in nature – it’s just that the purpose is for the organism’s survival, and not for human consumption! The most important function lectins have in the plant world is to act as a natural insecticide, protecting plants, grains, and legumes from natural predators. And they’re great at it too! When predatory insects come in contact with them, the lectins completely disrupt insect metabolism, preventing invasions and attacks on the plants. Part of a plant’s defense mechanisms, lectins are a natural way to strengthen crops against common pests!

To update that schoolyard rhyme: the more lectins you consume the more discomfort, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, flatulence, and importantly, malabsorption of nutrients you might experience.

If these sound like familiar symptoms, that could be because the 30% of foods that have high levels of lectins are ones we commonly eat such as dairy, nightshades (like tomatoes and peppers), whole grains, seeds, GMO foods, and yes – beans and legumes!

Some experts have suggested that removing all lectins from your diet can help the gut to recover from antinutrient-caused distress and that this could be critical to treating GI and immunity disorders. Still, many others have pointed to the various preparation techniques that people have used around the globe to help weaken and eliminate lectin proteins, making these staple foods much easier to enjoy!

I caution against removing whole categories of foods unless truly necessary, especially because foods high in lectins also have other essential benefits such as fibre and minerals, that our bodies need. Instead, we want to provide you with a variety of methods you can use to prepare high lectins foods that are centuries old, and globally trusted to make these foods easier to digest.

These are my favourite four ways of preparing legumes, grains, and seeds so you can keep them in your diet without worrying about the negative effects of lectin protein. Prepare them mindfully, and with the help of a few tried and true techniques to get the most out of them:

1. Soak Beans (canned or dried) in particular benefit from soaking, as do many harder grains and pseudograins like oats, rye, barley, wheat, and quinoa. Soaking and rinsing legumes and grains help to shake free starches, acids, and proteins, making minerals more bioavailable as well as make them easier to digest. Put yours in a larger bowl and cover with water by about 2 inches. Allow them to soak for a few hours up to overnight. Drain fully and rinse again until the water runs clear. As an extra tip: we like to add a 1” piece of kombu or dulse seaweed to the water when soaking beans – it further helps to break down lectins and make beans easier to digest!

2.Sprout For most beans and seeds sprouting deactivates lectins completely. Why? Because you’re no longer eating them in their contained form. Rather, since they’ve begun the initial stages of germination, they’ve evolved from that seed state. The nutrients are even more available when you sprout, and it’s a lot of fun for the family when you have a hand in ‘growing’ your own food. This works for almost all legumes except for alfalfa in which, interestingly, lectins increase when sprouted!

3. Boil or Pressure Cook It seems obvious that if you were going to eat legumes or grains that you would boil or pressure cook them first – but these techniques actually have many benefits and ridding beans of lectins is one of them. Studies show that boiling soybeans, red beans, and many others at 212°F/ 100°C for a minimum of 10 minutes reduces lectins to negligible amounts.

4. Ferment Fermenting foods is the act of allowing good bacteria to grow in the food. The new good bacteria break down and convert would-be harmful proteins including lectins. This is an ancient and common approach across many cultures to consuming foods that are otherwise difficult to digest. In fact, fermented foods are great for you for many reasons because that good bacteria is also known as probiotics – one of the most important factors in overall gut health. Just think of tofu, tempeh, miso, kefir, and natto as great examples of fermented foods that would contain high levels of lectins prior to fermentation and you can see why this technique is so far-reaching!

In my practice I want to see you and your family on a path towards your optimal health, and I have the tools to help make that journey clearer and easier. If you’re curious to learn more about how reducing or removing lectins from your diet could be beneficial to you, please call or email me at dr@drguynd.com and I will be happy to have a detailed consultation with you.

Yours in good health,
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Dr. Vivienne Guy, ND

References:

 

Rhodes, Jonathan M. Genetically modified foods and the Pusztai affair. BMJ. 1999 May 8; 318(7193): 1284.

Miyake K, Tanaka T, McNeil PL, 2007 Lectin-Based Food Poisoning: A New Mechanism of Protein Toxicity. PLoS ONE 2(8): e687. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000687

DeMarco, Vincent G., et al. Glutamine and Barrier Function in Cultured Caco-2 Epithelial Cell Monolayers. J. Nutr. July 1, 2003 vol. 133 no. 7 2176-2179.

5 Ways to Reduce or Remove Lectins From Your Favorite Foods

http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/lectins-phytates-autoimmune-disease-separating-fact-fiction

 

How to avoid getting sick on holiday

vacWith winter in full swing now is the time our minds wander to warmer climates – and the opportunity to travel to them isn’t far behind! While we often seek out sunny destinations for a brief reprieve during these colder months, some aspects of travel can cause a pause in the fun. While we look forward to being whisked away to somewhere new, we often forget that drastic shifts in climate can open us up to attacks on our immune systems, new environments hold a variety of unexpected flora and fauna, and experimenting with local cuisines can play roulette with our digestive systems.

 

In spite of all of this, I love to travel too! That’s why I’ve developed a list of the most important precautions to take prior to taking off for your next exotic destination so you can get the most out of your upcoming vacations!

 

Pre-Travel Vitamins

Taking a daily multivitamin to ensure you’re getting the vitamins and minerals you need for optimal health is always a good idea, but it’s extra important when you’re preparing for a trip that could include flying and staying in various accommodations. Be sure to include Zinc, B-complex, Vitamin C, and Vitamin D3 to strengthen your immune system before and after your trip.

 

I provide personalized intravenous vitamin treatments that I customize specifically to your needs. Not only will I be sure to include the potent vitamins you need, but I do so in a saline solution that bolsters your hydration levels – one of the most important factors in maintaining optimal health during travel.

 

Hydration

Making sure you’re well hydrated is critical preparation for trips as dehydration is a major factor in travel. Since travel generally includes conditions such as travelling in un-humidified airplanes, being in hot or arid climates, or exerting more energy than usual; we need to ensure that our hydration levels are optimized to support changes in bodily functions. When the airline attendant asks for your beverage order take it as a signal to have a glass of water and avoid those cups of coffee or glasses of wine. And – never be shy to ask for refills. If anyone knows in-flight dehydration, it’s the cabin crew!

Travel Supplements

It’s not just fun to experience new places, travel can be so exciting that it can send your body into high gear. Think for a moment about your last vacation. How many new situations, thrilling moments, and unexpected occurrences did you experience? While you worked through each of them, your body’s coping mechanisms were in full effect, helping you to experience joy, exhilaration, and stress – all heightened by brand new circumstances. When you consider it that way, it’s clear that everything including your digestive system, immunity, circadian rhythm, and even your adrenal glands are on active duty. Help your body to manage these ups and downs with natural supplements:

Adaptogens like reishi, ashwagandha, and holy basil can help fight stress, anxiety, and fatigue. Begin taking your preferred adaptogen at least a week before you travel. Natural supplements take time to build in order to reach peak efficacy.

Antimicrobials are proven pathogen killers that can assist your digestive and immune systems in warding off new strains of bacteria to which your body might not be accustomed. Sometimes our best efforts to avoid foods like washed salads and raw vegetables that cause common stomach bugs still don’t keep us safe. In that case it’s good to know you can start early and ward off traveller’s tummy and diarrhea with antimicrobials like oil of oregano, grapefruit seed extract and colloidal silver.

Melatonin helps your body rebalance its circadian rhythm, or find homeostasis in its wake and sleep cycle. This is the supplement of choice for fighting jet lag! Most melatonin supplements suggest taking the dose before going to bed in your new destination, and to do for a couple of days until you feel you’ve adapted.

Probiotics we talk about the benefits of these good bacteria often – and for good reasons! Keeping your gut flora nice and strong is of extra importance when travelling since there are many instances when you could encounter new or different foods and beverages. Even a seemingly innocent salad could harbour a surprise when eaten in a foreign land, since bacteria in water differ greatly around the world, as do food care standards! Help your gut to be as healthy as possible prior to and during your trip by supplementing with a great probiotic.

Ginger is world renown for easing nausea, stomach upset, indigestion, and even motion sickness. Sometimes there’s no need to try over-the-counter medications when a good natural supplement can also do an effective job. Keep some natural ginger chews with you at all times for when those unforeseen moments strike.

First Aid Kit

A classic first aid kit is always welcome when going away. You can purchase a travel sized one at any pharmacy or make your own. I always include:

  • Adhesive bandages (multiple sizes)
  • Adhesive tape
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Antiseptic wound cleanser (like alcohol or iodine pads)
  • Blister pads or moleskin
  • Gauze
  • Safety pins and scissors

 

Suncare

Whether you’re going surfing or snowboarding or something in between, you always need to protect your skin from sun exposure. The reflective glare from sea and snow can make your skin more prone to burns which not only make your trip less enjoyable but it can also be dangerous in the long run. Look for natural ingredients such as zinc oxide which is a mineral used to create a physical block from the sun. Additional ingredients such as vitamin E or C are also nice ways of giving your skin a nice boost of topical antioxidants.

Prescriptions

If you’re taking any prescription medication, please be sure to have enough for the duration of your trip, plus a couple of extra doses, in case of unanticipated travel changes. Always make sure that your prescriptions are in labelled bottles and that you also have a doctor’s note if necessary, as some medications might not be universally understood or accepted in different countries. You might also consider bringing a valid prescription for a refill of your medication as a just in case measure.

Travel is exciting and has so many benefits from providing a well-deserved break from routine to exploring history and learning about different cultures to taking on new challenges and building new skills. We want you to get the very most out of your adventures, no matter how relaxed or extreme they might be.

If you’re travelling soon and want to review how to best prepare you and your family before heading away, please call or email me at dr@drguynd.com and book an appointment. Together we can make sure that you’re ready for all the excitement that lies ahead in good health!

Here’s to your next adventure!

Dr.Vivienne Guy, ND

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Get a little Sunshine in your life !!

I love this thing!!

This is a Yumalite and it is a fabulous portable light therapy device.

I like that I can put it on in the morning and be able to move about with it. There are other lights out there, that are equally as good, but I don’t always have the time to sit down at a table where a lamp is plugged in and to be honest that can feel like I’m stuck.

Now, I don’t say that it’s a beautiful fashion accessory LOL but in the comfort of my home as I’m getting the kids out of bed and making lunches, or when at the office in the evening doing paperwork. I don’t hesitate to put it on. I will use it for 15 – 20 min in the morning and now as things are threatening to be dark at 4pm yikes !! I will be using it then for about 15 min to get me through the evening.

You don’t have to be diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder to benefit from having this light in your life. (That got me singing Total Eclipse of the Heart 🙂 )

I often find our long Ottawa winters challenging and do notice a dip in energy and have found this little device to be a great little boost for energy and mood.
We have the Dragon’s Den superstar product here for sale in the clinic. As a naturopathic doctor I am allowed to sell them cheaper than you might find on line. So you can pick one up here for $89.99.

Call Janice and she will set one aside for you and she will order more as needed. 613-736-5200

Dr. Vivienne Guy, Seminar Series

This educational seminar series is different than other talks that may be on offer. It’s not just for general knowledge. Heck, you could just stay home and Google that!

“Doctor” means teacher, from the Latin docere, to teach.  It is my pleasure to be able to share my knowledge. In clinic I tend to see the greatest success with my clients when they have a clearer understanding of what is happening with their body, physically and chemically. So I’m looking forward to this lecture series and helping empower and motivate people in the area of their health and wellbeing. Dr.Vivienne

Dr.Vivienne shares her expertise from years of medical studies and naturopathic clinical practice.

She is well known for her ability to explain how the body functions, why symptoms are occurring and what can be done to improve health.

Her personality mixture of science geek and fun loving carefree person, allow for her seminars to be extremely informative, fun and dynamic.
You’ll learn lots and you’ll have a good time.

Dr.Vivienne will cover:

  • Basic anatomy and Physiology
  • Signs and symptoms to look for when things go wrong
  • Naturopathic insights to diagnosis and treatment
  • Take home tips and tools for you

Day and time: Thursdays 7:00 pm-8:30pm
Location: Sunrise Wellness Centre, 2211 RIverside Dr, Suite 104
Register: $25 for one, series of 3 $60
Space is limited to 10 people per session

Dates 2014

November 20 – Immune Health 101 vs 911

December 11 – Menopause

January 15 – Healthy Skin

February 19 – Healthy Weight Loss

March 19- Hormone Balancing (Adrenal, Thyroid)

April 18 – Childhood Wellness: Digestion, Allergies, Stress

May 21 – Stress Management

June 18- Detoxification Demystified

Four Seasons of Health – Dr.Vivienne Guy, ND

4seasons

Do you find yourself getting sick when the weather changes?

Do you suffer with allergies; Spring Pollen, Summer Ragweed?

Are you worried about your kids catching the cold from their friends at school?

Are seasonal changes affecting your mood, energy and productivity at work or school?

Do you want to know how to enhance your health year round?

 

This program is Naturopathic Medical philosophy at its best. Looking ahead throughout a year and taking steps to ensure that you are feeling great! Whether you currently aren’t feeling your best, looking for a little tune-up or are already healthy, the Four Seasons of Health Program is designed to empower you and your family with the knowledge and tools to achieve and maintain optimum health throughout the year.

There are unique health situations in each season. In Chinese medicine for example, we strengthen the intestines in the Fall (this enhances immunity), focus on heart health in the Summer. For the different seasons we must prepare our bodies and immune system for optimal function to deal with the seasonal changes and transition smoothly from one season to the next.

The Four Seasons of Health Program consists of 4 visits throughout the year, where Dr. Vivienne, ND will assess your current state of health, and work with you to address specific health concerns that arise. She will work with you to create a personalized naturopathic plan to improve your health and well-being and provide you with a health tool-kit to use in the upcoming season.

As you know, naturopathic medicine is all about balance with physical , emotional, environmental and social health. Recommendations will include diet specific for the seasons (healthy BBQ, Winter Soup recipes) , seasonal health concerns (allergies, colds flus), healthy activities, healthy home tips. It is quite a comprehensive program and you can pick and choose from the recommendations for that season and focus on those that you want.

Who can benefit from the Four Seasons of Health Program?

This program is beneficial for adults and children of all ages, and is designed to empower you to take a proactive approach to optimize your health and prevent illness all year round. Perhaps one of your visits coincides with your annual Wellness Check up physical.

When should I book my 4 visits?

To experience the most benefit from this program, it will be best to book your quarterly appointment 3 to 4 weeks before the start of the next season. You may choose to start whenever you want, here is an example of an annual plan.

Fall Health : late August to early September

Winter Health : early to mid-November

Spring Health : early to mid-March

Summer Health : late May to early June

Please contact Janice at reception to book your first appointment or to book a free 15 minute consultation to see if the Four Seasons of Health Program is a good fit for you.

Spring Cleaning with Whole Foods – Dr.Vivienne Guy, ND

Does the idea of a detox sound extreme or a little bit daunting?  Do you think “Rehab” and not just a trip to the whole foods section of your grocery store?

What if you don’t drink alcohol in excess and you mostly eat well? Do you still need to detox?

Maybe you do.

Toxins may enter your system through the air you breathe, chemicals in food, drugs, they may come from allergic reactions. It doesn’t matter how they get in, it matters just that they get out again.

toxins

But why the need to detox?  Doesn’t the body know what it is supposed to be doing?

Yes indeed, toxins move in the body through blood and get filtered through the liver for processing out of the body to prevent damage. But with chronic exposure in daily life, the liver can get congested and sluggish. This result in the liver not performing at its best and we can experience problems.

 

Ask yourself some questions.

Do I feel sluggish? Do I suffer from skin rashes or eczema? Do I eat fried food and junk food? Do I crave bread or swedetox badets?  Is my stomach bloated? Do I suffer with PMS ? Are either my moods or my bowels irritable? Do I have less energy than I used to have?

 

 

 

 

A lot people reach the conclusion that there is some level of toxin build up for them and this time of year proves to be a good time to do a little Spring cleaning.  We’re good at this at home. We open the windows and let in fresh air, we clean under the beds, clear the dust bunnies.  I encourage my clients to do the very same for their bodies and their minds. open window

 

What does a detox look like?

For some it is more extreme with fasting, colonics, there may be necessary liver supporting supplements. For others it can be a simpler matter of eating whole foods, ie foods that don’t come packaged, drinking more water and perhaps using herbs to improve the process of removing toxins from the body.

Why is a whole food detox is a great place to start?

vegetablesA food detox helps improve the digestive system, reduces the toxic load and helps improve elimination through the liver and kidneys.  Diet and herbal programs are designed to stimulate toxin breakdown as well as proper digestion of foods and nutrients to enable you to move toxins from your cells and ensure that you are eliminating them and not reabsorbing. The goal is to feel better energy, have better digestion and better moods.  

 

Speak with your ND or other health practitioner for specially designed programs for you and to find out if it is safe for you to detox.  There are some people such as those who are ill, pregnant, taking certain medications that should not detox.

 

While on a whole foods cleanse you will be giving your liver a break and you can support this by improving other ways we detox:

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We detdry brushox through our skin and this can result in rashes, little bumps, eczema. To clear this, use a loofa sponge daily to gently brush off any dead skin cells just before showering. Use circular movements, beginning in the extremities and working towards the trunk.

 

 

 

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breathing

We detox through our lungsGet outside daily for 20 minutes of fresh air. Open your windows and let stale air out and fresh air in.

Take a big deep breath in and slowly let it out while saying in your mind.

“Breathing in I Cleanse My spirit. Breathing out I smile.” * Try it now!  How did that make you feel?

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We detox through our kidneys. We need to drink enough water for them to get carried out and flushed away. A goal is to drink half your body weight in ounces every day.

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We detox through our lymphatic system.  Massage therapy, dry brush massage, contrast shower will help with lymphatic circulation and improve detox. Visit my blog for the how to’s.

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We detox through our bowels. If we get constipated we can reabsorb waste into our blood stream. We might get headaches, get tired or grumpy. We become susceptible to diseases like cancer and other chronic degenerative diseases.

To change this, increase fibre to at least 25g a day.  I recommend clients track their diet for a number of days and then calculate the fibre content in each day. Many are unpleasantly surprised by how little fibre there is in their normal diet.   Why don’t you track a few days of food intake and then calculate out how much fibre you are getting?

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meditate We detox through our mind and remove negative thoughts and emotions which may be clouding our day. Stress, tension, anger, resentment create an unpleasant state in the body.  Our digestion is affected, our hormones are out of balance and when you aren’t thinking well, you are less able to take good care of your health. It’s easier to slip into bad habits, choose quick unhealthy snacks.

Spend at least 10 minutes a day with relaxation therapies, journaling, in meditation. Learn about EFT or NLP and see if those therapies might work for you.

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You may not be suffering with a disease; you may take good care of yourself most of the time.  But if you aren’t feeling the absolute best that you could be feeling it is worth taking a few days and improving how your body is clearing chemicals, waste and inflammation.

The end result will be a rejuvenated, clearer, refreshed, Spring cleaned you!!

apple woman

For further advice and recommendations to help you make the healthiest and safest detoxing choice for you, feel free to give me a call.

Dr.Vivienne, ND

*From Peace is Every Step by Thich Nat Han