Friday, July 23, 2010

Thyroid, symptoms and Diagnosis

Thyroid Hormones
TSH, thyroid stimulating hormone, is the most common hormone tested to determine if the thyroid is operating correctly. Unfortunately, this is only part of the picture. T4 and free T3 are also very important key factors in determining whether the thyroid hormones are in balance.
Synthetic medicines only provide T4, which must be converted to T3 by the body. If the body has a problem making this conversion, the medicine will be poorly utilized. It's important that your doctor understand this metabolic process in order to manage your care in the best possible manner. Natural supplements provide T4 and T3 in the proper ratios, which are better utilized by the body.

Symptoms of hypothyroid can be many or few. Some patients exhibit severe symptoms and others have mild symptoms, which often go undiagnosed. Often people who have a thyroid condition are frustrated and confused about their health, and feel as if they can not get a straight answer from anyone regarding their condition. Many are prescribed anti-depressants because their doctor is unable pinpoint the cause for their discomfort. Blood tests which are the standard for diagnosis are often incomplete or inaccurate.
Hyperthyroid is a less common condition which speeds up the thyroid.

"Hypo"Thyroid Symptoms
· Brittle nails or nails with ridges
· Acne
· Dry hair and Skin
· Deeply cracked skin on elbows & heels
· Skin rashes
· Thinning eyebrows on outer portion
· Hair loss
· Slow healing
· Dry mouth/Dry eyes/Blurred vision
· Heat/Cold intolerance
· Cold hands & feet or being cold all the time
· Raynaud's Phenomenon (white fingers when exposed to cold)
· Low body temp of <98.2 when healthy
· Anxiety
· Depression
· Muscle & joint aches
· Weight gain with very little caloric intake
· Inability to lose weight
· Fluid retention
· Chronic infections
· Slow reflexes/Slow thinking/Indecisiveness
· PMS & Menstrual irregularities
· Infertility and Low sex drive
· High cholesterol
· High blood pressure
· Hoarse voice
· Asthma
· Allergies
· Gall bladder disease
· Chronic constipation
· Difficulty swallowing or Lump in throat
· Bad Breath

Diagnostic Tools
Blood tests are part of the testing process, but it is very important to discuss symptoms and a thorough medical history with the doctor. Many times blood tests appear to show normal results, but the patient exhibits symptoms which warrant further investigation.

Occasionally, a person who's blood tests show a hypothyroid condition have other hormonal imbalances which cause the thyroid hormones to be out of sync. Symptoms related to thyroid imbalance are not always caused by the thyroid. They could be caused by adrenal, pituitary, or other hormone imbalances.

Diagnosing a thyroid disorder is a complex task. Often times men or women can have symptoms for months, or even years, and their blood tests do not show that there is a problem.

It's important to work closely with the doctor to find the appropriate treatment for your individual condition. Supplementation, nutritional counseling, exercise and natural hormone therapy are often used as a holistic way to correct these imbalances.

Many people find that they prefer natural therapies to synthetic, and that they have less symptoms using a holistic method of treatment.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Stevia: A Better Alternative to Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners

We always recommend that our patients and friends and family use stevia instead of artificial sweeteners and sugar. I found the below article on the internet and thought it was a great way to explain why!

Most medical experts would agree that one of the best ways to improve your health is to reduce your sugar intake. Doing this can help decrease one’s chances of getting diabetes and being overweight or obese---both epidemics in this country with adults and children alike. Consider these facts:
Since 1985, childhood diabetes has increased ten-fold. The Centers for Disease Control predicts that if this trend continues, one out of every three children born beginning in 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime.

About 2/3 of U.S. adults are overweight or obese; while up to 30% of children are overweight, compared to 4% in 1982. In the past 25 years, obesity in children has more than doubled, affecting at least 15% of school-age children! The average American ingests over 150 lbs. of sugar annually! That represents a whopping 30- 5 lb. bags of sugar each year! In reality, much of this sugar is in the form of high fructose corn syrup prevalent in foods because it’s much cheaper than sucrose, common tabletop sugar.

While some might think that artificial sweeteners are the best solution to curb our love affair with sugar, others disagree. Artificial sweeteners do eliminate the high calories and carbohydrates associated with sugar, however many believe that these alternatives are unsafe and are actually worse than sugar. So is there yet another alternative available?

If there were an all-natural sweetening ingredient that’s been used safely for over 30 years in other parts of the world for food applications and diabetes management with no ill effects, would you be interested? Well, such a substance does exist and it’s called stevia.

Using stevia, an all-natural alternative to sugar and artificial sweeteners, is gaining increasing popularity worldwide. Stevia rebaudiana, its botanical name, is derived from a plant in the chrysanthemum family grown primarily in South America and Asia. The plant’s intense sweetening qualities are complex molecules called steviosides that are glycosides made of glucose, sophorose and steviol. These are what make stevia up to 300 times sweeter than sugar and non-caloric. These glycosides do not get absorbed into the body; rather simply pass through leaving no calories. The Japanese have used stevia in food applications from soft drinks to soy sauce since the 1970s and recent reports indicate that stevia commands up to an incredible 50% share of Japan’s commercial sweetener market. Moreover countries like Brazil use stevia for the treatment for diabetes.

The advantages to stevia are numerous, so the following are the most frequently cited. In its pure form, it’s non-caloric and doesn’t affect glucose levels, an advantage for diabetics and hypoglycemics. Also, it has no carbohydrates or fat, so it’s great for dieters, especially those watching carb intake. Unlike artificial sweeteners, high quality stevia has little aftertaste when measured properly. It has no known side effects like some chemical sweeteners and has been safely consumed around the world for decades. Actually, stevia’s original medicinal uses date back centuries ago with the Paraguan Indians who mixed the herb in teas for its healing properties. Since stevia is sugar-free, candida sufferers can use it. Health conscious consumers take advantage of stevia to avoid sugar and help prevent diabetes and obesity. The website, under the direction of the National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine and National Center of Biotechnology Information, offers abstracts from stevia studies that indicate it may also aid in lowering blood pressure and regulating glucose levels.

The average consumer may not have heard about stevia until recently because of its current FDA approval as a dietary supplement, not as a sweetener or food additive. Numerous studies worldwide tout its overall safety and health benefits. As of this writing, about ten countries, including Japan, Paraguay and Brazil have approved stevia as a sweetener and/or food additive.

The FDA approved the use of stevia only as a dietary supplement since 1995. This means stevia companies must maintain a fairly low profile, thereby limiting its distribution and marketing potential. For instance, health food stores and natural grocers must place stevia in the supplements section, not with the natural sweeteners for fear of the FDA mandate. The stores cannot promote the “sweetening” qualities of stevia, even though that’s why it is purchased.
Stevia can be used as a healthy substitute in most sugar applications, including baking and cooking since it is heat stable. The average conversion rate of sugar to stevia is one cup of sugar per one teaspoonful of pure stevia extract. Clearly very little stevia is needed to replace sugar. When used in beverages, stevia dissolves quickly and easily and, depending on your taste preference, only a pinch is needed. The real challenge to using stevia effectively is knowing what ingredients to use in a recipe to make up for the volume and consistency lost with the elimination of sugar, especially in baked goods. That’s why it’s a good idea to find stevia cookbooks with proven recipes when you’re starting out. You can also find some free recipes online. Finally, stevia is not appropriate in recipes that require sugar caramelizing or browning like meringues.

Stevia is available in many forms including liquid, teas, plants/leaves, pure white and green powdered extract and powdered blends with different fillers. In baking, the pure extract is used primarily and, in some cases, the liquid variety. Stevia can be purchased at health food stores, natural grocers, food coops and online. Currently a big push is underway to expand distribution into grocery stores, vitamin shops and drugstores.

Due to the number of factors that can influence your stevia purchase experience, the following guidelines provide some good advice:

  • You often do get what you pay for; don’t buy based solely on price; taste and quality matter.
  • Higher % of stevioside doesn’t necessarily make the stevia better; you can find excellent tasting stevia with this key plant composition at even 80%.
  • If you purchase the green powder for its slightly higher health benefits, it will usually have more aftertaste than the white powder.
  • The product’s country of origin doesn’t matter; it’s farming, manufacturing and processing experience and techniques do.
  • At this time, stevia production is not standardized, so taste and strength do differ depending on brand.

Use a minimal amount; can be overwhelming if you add too much initially; add more later if needed. Widespread use of sugar and artificial sweeteners are at dangerous levels. The negative side effects and controversial studies regarding their proposed safety suggest that another alternative is desirable and necessary. Stevia may be a welcome option for those who want to ingest more natural ingredients with no known side effects, no calories, no carbs, no fat, no affect on glucose levels and no sugar or artificial sweeteners. Stevia may also be advantageous in the prevention and treatment of diabetes, obesity and other health conditions. Check with your doctor before including stevia to your diet. If he/she doesn’t recommend it, politely ask why to see if the reason is satisfactory to you.

Stevia: A Better Alternative to Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners © Lisa Jobs

Monday, July 5, 2010

What is Ketosis? Is Ketosis Dangerous? How to Detect Ketosis

Question: What is Ketosis?
Answer: A lot of people are confused by the term "ketosis." You may read that it is a "dangerous state" for the body, and it does sound abnormal to be "in ketosis." But ketosis merely means that our bodies are using fat for energy. Ketones (also called ketone bodies) are molecules generated during fat metabolism, whether from the fat in the guacamole you just ate or fat you were carrying around your middle. When our bodies are breaking down fat for energy, most of the it gets converted more or less directly to ATP. (Remember high school biology? This is the "energy molecule.") But ketones are also produced as part of the process.
When people eat less carbohydrate, their bodies turn to fat for energy, so it makes sense that more ketones are generated. Some of those ketones (acetoacetate and ß-hydroxybutyrate) are used for energy; the heart muscle and kidneys, for example, prefer ketones to glucose. Most cells, including the brain cells, are able to use ketones for at least part of their energy. But there is one type of ketone molecule, called acetone, that cannot be used and is excreted as waste, mostly in the urine and breath (sometimes causing a distinct breath odor).
If enough acetone is in our urine, it can be detected using a dipstick commonly called by the brand name Ketostix (though there are other brands, as well). Even though everyone is generating ketones continuously, this detection in the urine is what is commonly called "ketosis."The higher the concentration of ketones in the urine, the more purple the sticks will turn. The Atkins Diet, in particular, advises people to monitor ketosis as an indication of fat burning. Other reduced carbohydrate diets don't pay much attention to this, or aren't low enough in carbs to make much of an impression on the sticks. (The latter type of diet is sometimes called a "nonketogenic" low-carb diet.)

Why do some people think ketosis is a bad thing?
There is an assumption that if a body is burning a lot of fat for energy, it must not be getting "enough" glucose. However, there is no indication, from studying people on reduced carbohydrate diets, that this is the case (though there is usually a short period of adjustment -- less than a week, in most cases). Although it's true that our bodies can't break fat down into glucose (though, interestingly, they easily use glucose to make fat), our bodies can convert some of the protein we eat into glucose. Indeed, this works well for people who don't tolerate a lot of sugar, because this conversion happens slowly so it doesn't spike blood glucose.A dangerous condition called ketoacidosis can develop in those with type 1 diabetes, and it is sometimes confused with normal ketosis. The body usually avoids this state by producing insulin, but people with type 1 diabetes are unable to produce insulin. Even most people with type 2 diabetes who inject insulin usually produce enough insulin of their own to prevent ketoacidosis.
What is Ketosis?By , GuideUpdated July 05, Health's Disease and Condition content is reviewed by our Medical Review Board