10 Best Food High in Calcium

17 Oct 2017 Medical

10 Best Foods High in Calcium:

  1. Collard greens: 268 milligrams per 1 cup cooked
  2. Broccoli: Calcium content: 86 milligrams in 2 cups raw
  3. Broccoli Rabe: Calcium content: 100 milligrams in one 2/3-cup serving
  4. Kale: Calcium content: 101 milligrams in 1 cup raw, chopped
  5. Edamame: Calcium content: 98 milligrams in 1 cup cooked
  6. Bok Choy: Calcium content: 74 milligrams per 1 cup shredded
  7. Figs: Calcium content: 121 milligrams per 1/2 cup dried
  8. Oranges: Calcium content: 74 milligrams in one large orange and 27 milligrams in a    cup of orange juice
  9. Tofu: Calcium content: 434 milligrams per half cup
  10. White Beans: Calcium content: 63 milligrams in 1/2 cup cooked


17 Oct 2017 Medical

Urinary Tract infections are categorized as a bacterial infection of the urethra, bladder or kidney. This infection is usually from a bacteria in the intestinal tract such as E.coli and can infect both males or females.

What are the symptoms of Urinary Tract infection?

  • Strong and frequent urges to urinate
  • Painful or burning sensation when urinating
  • Strong smelling or Foul smelling urine odor
  • Back pain
  • Bloody or cloudy urine
  • Fever and fatigue
  • Chills and aches

How do we get a Urinary Tract infection?

The two most common ways to get a urinary tract infection are not wiping properly and during sex (coitus). Men have gotten a bad wrap for having the dirty penis causing the UTI’s but typically in either scenario the infection of the urethra comes from transmitting bacteria in the ones own intestinal tract to the urethra. Our own bacteria is causing the infection. When our own intestinal E.coli or other bacteria go up the urethra, we get an infection. Women are more likely to get UTI’s than men due to the relative short nature of our urethra, but men also get UTI’s and unfortunately for men if there isn’t some sort of contact infection, it can often be an indicator for prostatitis or other male health issues.

How do you diagnosis a urinary tract infection?

Doctor’s direct a patient to do an in-office urinary dipstick test and if this is positive they may decide to send it out for a culture or they may not. Treatment is usually given based on a lab culture, if a doctor thinks that the white blood cell count in the urine is high enough. Blood in the sample usually indicates the infection is in the bladder and possibly to the kidney. The doctor may perform what is called a kidney punch test to determine if the infection has spread that high and if sensitivity is present to that point or not.

How are Urinary Tract infections Treated?

Western Medicine will usually treat using antibiotics but as many know, antibiotic use can alter the flora in your gut and reduce the body’s natural immunity.  There are alternative methods of treating mild UTIs that are just as effective and have fewer side effects than antibiotics.

In Chinese Medicine, we view a UTI as a damp heat accumulation in the Kidney and Urinary Bladder channels.  There are several acupuncture points along these channels that specifically benefit urinary function.  We would also use points on these and other channels to clear excess heat from the body.

If a patient has a full urinary tract infection they are treated with a course of antibiotics, our office will add D-mannose and Saccromyoces Boulardii to help prevent side-effects of the antibiotics and to prevent adherence of the bacteria while the antibiotics work. Cranberry pill or cranberry juice unsweetened are also excellent choices to help getting over an infection.

If you are someone who has chronic infections, it may be wise to do a stool sample to determine your good and bad bacteria that are present and balance them so future infections are not as easily contracted. Drinking cranberry juice somewhat regularly also can help prevent UTI’s. Practicing good habits, such as wiping front to back and urinating after sex can both be helpful. Changing toilets to the oval shaped bowel so that when men sit their penis doesn’t have contact with the toilet rim during bowel movements.

Chinese Herbal Remedies:

  • Ba Zheng Tang: This is a classic Chinese formula that clears damp heat from the urinary organs.
  • Long Dan Xie Gan Tang: This formula also clears damp heat from the kidneys and bladder but targets liver channel symptoms as well such as headache and dizziness.
  • Chuan Xin Lian: This formula is antibacterial and antiviral and is great for decreasing inflammation and clearing toxic heat.

What are the best Herbs for Preventing Urinary Tract infections?

  • Uva Ursi
  • Oregon Grape
  • Horsetail
  • Berberine
  • Corn silk
  • Cranberry

What are the best Home Remedies?

  • Drink natural cranberry juice (not the sugary kind)
  • Take 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar per day
  • Up consumption of healthy fats to balance hormones (cod liver oil, butter, chia)
  • Vitamin C
  • Acidophilus based probiotics
  • Crushed garlic as a natural antibiotic


Acid Reflux & Acupuncture

6 Jun 2017 Medical

What is acid reflux?

Also commonly known as heartburn, acid reflux can range from mild and infrequent to severe and constant.  There are many causes of this painful problem.  Some cases are diet sensitive, meaning the issue is caused or exacerbated by the intake of specific foods and drinks.  Some common culprits are coffee, alcohol (especially red wine), citrus fruit and juices, eggs, chocolate, and spicy foods.

Other cases involve structural problems such as a hiatal hernia.  This is when a portion of the stomach pushes up above the diaphragm.  Other people might suffer from overproduction of stomach acid.  This is also a common issue during pregnancy especially during the later months as the uterus takes up more space in the abdomen and creates upward pressure on the stomach.  Also, during pregnancy, the hormones relax the valve separating the stomach from the esophagus, allowing acid to move up out of the stomach.

Not only is heartburn unpleasant and painful, it can also cause damage to the lining of your esophagus if left untreated.  You can read about the long-term effects of untreated heartburn here: http://www.webmd.com/heartburn-gerd/guide/untreated-heartburn#1

How does Traditional Chinese Medicine help?

From a TCM perspective, acid reflux is diagnosed as Rebellious Stomach Qi.  The flow of the 12 main channels in the body all have a specific direction they follow.  The stomach channel flows from the face down to the feet.  This makes sense when you think about digestion in general.  We want the food to move down and out.  When the flow of qi is disrupted for whatever reason, the natural direction can be reversed which can cause belching, hiccuping, vomiting, and reflux. Think about when you have experienced indigestion.  Instead of food moving through your digestive tract as it should, it feels like it won’t go down and you may feel that upward movement of gas or food for several hours as your stomach and other digestive organs work hard to move it through.

Acupuncture redirects the qi in the stomach channel by opening blockages along the channel and restoring the channel’s natural downward movement.  Herbs are also extremely helpful, especially in cases of chronic heartburn.  Herbs can replace your over-the-counter heartburn medications such as Tums, Zantac, or Pepto Bismol as a natural alternative with fewer side effects and issues with long-term use.

What else can I do to lessen my discomfort?

Here are some simple tips for beating the burn:

  1. Sleep with your upper body slightly elevated.
  2. Don’t eat late at night.  Try to eat several hours before going to bed to give your body time to digest before laying flat.
  3. Try peppermint or ginger to aid general digestion.
  4. Take probiotics to ensure proper gut health.
  5. Reduce intake of exacerbating foods.  Pay attention to what flares your heartburn and remove it from your diet.
    Iris Martin, Light & Joy Acupuncture Inc.

Stomach Pain: Peptic Ulcers And Acid Reflux

6 Jun 2017 Medical

What are the common causes of stomach pain?

Some of the most common causes of stomach pain are gas, acid reflux, peptic ulcers, constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, SIBO, food sensitivities and over eating.

What helps to differentiate the cause of the pain?

• Gas – Bloating and pressure in the tummy that may cause flatulence or just pain.
• Diarrhea – bowel changes and frequent bathroom trips.
• Stomach flu – Bowel changes, vomiting
• Food Sensitivities – stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea or bloating.
• Constipation – bowel changes, straining during bowel movements, feel like have to go but not being able to
• Acid Reflux – burning in the throat, pain in the stomach or chest pain
• Peptic ulcers – stomach pain, burning in the stomach, belching
• SIBO – stomach pain, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, joint pain, fatigue

What is the treatment for each of these conditions?

• Gas – Activated Charcoal, removing gas causing foods, digestive enzymes or probiotics
• Diarrhea – change diet, probiotics, l-glutamine powder, food allergy testing
• Stomach flu – Drink broth and electrolytes when able, rest and BRAT diet
• Food Sensitivities – Remove irritable foods from diet, get allergy testing that tests both IgG and IgE antibodies (blood test), do a gut healing protocol with a doctor (see a standard protocol below).
• Constipation – change diet, probiotics, aloe vera liquid drink, fiber, food allergy testing, plenty of water, exercise, omega 3’s, prunes
• Acid Reflux – spoonful of baking soda (1/2 tsp baking soda in glass of water), aloe vera juice, no laying down after a meal, apple cider vinegar, stop smoking or drinking, chamomile tea
• Peptic ulcers – H. Pylori testing (stool or breath test), fenugreek, bananas, cabbage juice, DGL supplements
• SIBO – Glucose and lactulose breath testing, oregano oil, berberine, antibiotics, probiotics

When to go to the Doctor for stomach pain?

Any stomach pain that has lasted greater than 2 weeks and hasn’t responded to any of the home remedies you have tried warrants further investigation by a competent doctor. Pain that wakes you up at night is a good time to see the doctor, blood in your stool, eczema or rashes that won’t go away, not pooping daily even after taking probiotics, trouble eating or significant weight loss. If you have any of the above symptoms going on it is important to seek out a doctor. Our digestive health is very important and this is how we absorb nutrients to fight off infections. Living with an unhealthy gut can be detrimental to your overall health and your doctor will take these complaints very seriously.

What are Gut Healing Protocols? How would I do one?

Gut healing protocols usually come in several forms.
A stool sample can be taken to determine what imbalance exists. This type of individual should consult with a doctor to determine which substances can be used to help kill the harmful bacteria and restore balance to the Gut.
To determine true leaky gut, a blood test is needed and zonulin (intestinal permeablilty marker) is tested to determine if extra healing is needed in the tract to close the gaps and restore balance. If symptoms aren’t very severe you can attempt an at home protocol like the one seen below; however if more severe symptoms persist or the protocol isn’t helping, please seek a doctor for help.
Remove commonly Gut harmful foods: Sugars, wheat grains (that aren’t sprouted), Conventional meat products, Dairy products, and sometimes eggs.
Add healthy Gut healing foods: Bone Broth, Fermented Foods (sauerkraut, kombucha, veggies, kimchi), Coconut products (medium chain triglycerides are easier to digest than other fats), Sprouted seeds (Chia, flax, pumpkin, hemp etc.)
Repair with Healing supplements: L-Glutamine, DGL, Quercetin, Digestive enzymes
Probiotic Balancing: Probiotics that have diverse species count and a prebiotic either from food (Soluble fiber items: legumes, beets, okra, apples, peas, carrots) or in a supplement form

Pregnancy Protocol for Acupuncture

30 Mar 2017 Medical

Acupuncture is extremely beneficial for pregnant women.  At Light & Joy, we specialize in caring for you during this special time.  We often get questions about how it can help and how often patients should be treated throughout pregnancy.  Our basic protocol for pregnant patients is as follows:

Weeks 0-14

Weekly treatments are invaluable to support the pregnancy during the early weeks if there is a history of miscarriage and/or infertility.
For patients undergoing various western infertility treatments such as IVF or IUI, acupuncture can help to moderate the side effects of synthetic hormones the patients are taking and improve the chances of a healthy pregnancy.

For more typical pregnancies, treatment is recommended on an as needed basis for the variety of things that can come up and cause discomfort during the first trimester.  Women are often more anxious during the first trimester as they wait to get confirmation that the pregnancy is viable and the baby is healthy. Acupuncture relieves stress and anxiety and also helps with fatigue, headaches, and changes in mood as our bodies adjust to everything going on within. Chinese medicine is beneficial for managing nausea and hormone fluctuations as well.

Exercise tips: It is very important to stay active during your pregnancy.  We recommend getting some form of exercise 3-5 times per week. For the first trimester, exercise can be very difficult if you are not feeling well.  If nothing else, do your best to take walks.  You can take shorter walks 2-3 times a day if a longer walk doesn’t seem feasible.

If you are feeling good and want to be more active, just make sure you aren’t overdoing it. A good rule of thumb is to not start any new kind of exercise that your body isn’t accustomed to doing.  Stick to the basics and don’t overdo it.  The hormone relaxin is pumping through your body helping to prepare your body to carry a baby and birth it, so be careful not to overstretch as the relaxin makes your joints and muscles more mobile than normal.  Ask your health care practitioner if you are unsure about what types of exercise are appropriate for you.

Weeks 15-35

In the second trimester, pregnancy symptoms have usually subsided.  This is a time to take care of yourself and allow your baby and body to do their thing. We recommend treatments only as needed for things that may come up such as aches and pains, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, acid reflux, and dermatological changes.

During week 34 or 35 the baby is checked for position.  If you find out that your baby is breech, we highly recommend coming in for treatment as soon as possible as this gives us the best chance of helping to turn your baby to a head-down presentation with our breech protocol. For breech presentation, we work in tandem with the chiropractors of In Health Clinic to achieve the best results.

Exercise tips: In the second trimester, most women are starting to feel much better, have their energy back and can eat normally.  Take advantage of the energy spurt and consider upping your exercise frequency or intensity. Yoga and swimming are great choices for pregnancy because they are very strengthening but gentle on the joints.

Weeks 36-40+

During these final weeks, we recommend weekly treatments to prepare your body for birth.  Again we focus on relaxing and opening up the hips and sacral area, creating space for the baby to move down into the birth canal.  Depending on your doctor’s instruction, we tailor the treatments to fit your birthing schedule and will often move into labor induction treatments just before or at 40 weeks. Induction treatments are usually performed every other day leading up to the birth. If there is a set medical induction date due to high blood pressure or gestational diabetes, for example, treatment will be performed daily.

Exercise tips: Kegels are always a good idea throughout pregnancy to help strengthen your pelvic floor and vaginal muscles.  This can help to prevent prolapse, incontinence, and more.  As you get bigger and maneuvering becomes more difficult, you may need to scale down your exercise program.  Consider taking more walks, as walking is good for birth prep as well.

Iris Martin LAc.
Light & Joy Acupuncture Inc.

The WooHoo of Chiropractic

30 Mar 2017 Medical

How Adjustments can benefit more than just the bones, joints and muscles.  The most common time for a patient to seek out a Chiropractor is when they are in pain or have just been injured.

We as a profession are known for our ability to treat Headaches, Neck pain and Low back pain.  For optimal health of the back, neck and head, it is suggested to get adjusted at least twice a year? We get our teeth checked twice a year but we never really think about the spine and how the nerves are affected when a spine or muscle isn’t functioning properly.  The common objection people have against seeing a chiropractor is: “if I start going, I will always have to go”.  The answer is, “Yes, if your body would only be so lucky to see a chiropractor all the time!”. The actual answer is NO, you will not have to keep coming back week after week.  We ask that you get checked two times a year to make sure you are maintaining proper function.  Every function in your body is determined by the nervous system as a whole and we know that the nervous system protector is the spine.  When a nerve is affected because your body is mis-aligned in the spine, we can measure that its electrical output goes down, meaning whatever that nerve controls will have a decrease in function.

Based on research, an adjustment of the L4 vertebra in athletes will strengthen the quad muscle.  We can measure this and see an improvement after an adjustment.  Do we know exactly how this happens?? “No” this is the WooHoo factor.  We also see that babies with constipation getting adjusted will suddenly be able to poop more effectively; we can observe it and measure it but we haven’t exactly been able to explain it yet and until our understanding of neurology expands in the medical profession we may not know, we have idea’s but no proven mechanism.

In our office I have also seen where adjusting the T9 vertebra will improve someone’s stomach pain and because I am a bit of a skeptic myself I always try this as a last resort looking for more organic and more explainable causes first.  But we are now taking a more holistic approach if someone comes in with stomach pain or a cough we will treat those symptoms and disease classically through oral supplementation as well as to adjust the patient, because there is no known way to tell by examining a patient externally if the nerve and interference to the nerve are part of that problem or not.  So we always make sure the spine is aligned so that we remove nerve impingement as part of problem, leaving other issues to be treated and dealt with.  Here is a short run down of what nerves innervate what organs:
Heart T1-T8

Lung T3-T9

Esophagus T5-T6

Stomach T5-T9

Doudenum T6-T10

Jejunum T8-T11

Large Bowel T8-L1

Appendix T9-L1

Liver T6-T11

Spleen T7-T10

Gallbladder T6-T11

Pancreas T7-T10

Kidney T9-L2

Ureter T9-L2

Testis/Ovary T10-T11

Prostate T10-T11

Uterus T12-L1

Before you go too long between your next adjustment remember two things; first, your nerves affect your organs and mis-alignment’s don’t just come from falling down but simple repetitive activity like sitting at a desk in front of a computer. Second, a joint that is unmoving for as little as one month will begin to show and develop arthritic changes (meaning that arthritis can develop from simply sitting at a desk and allowing a joint to remain stuck for long periods of time).

What is the Definition of Running?

30 Mar 2017 Medical

Running: to go quickly by moving the legs more rapidly than at a walk and in such a manner that for an instant in each step all or both feet are off the ground.

What are the main Muscles and Joints Involved?

  • Muscles used during running:
  • Hamstrings – works when your foot leaves the ground and your leg moves forward to the next foot strike.
  • Quadriceps- this muscle is used when your lower leg move from bent to a straight position.
  • Gluteal Muscles – these muscles move your foot from a parallel position to the back of the body and you will especially notice the glutes when you run up hills.
  • Hip Flexors- you feel the motion after your foot leaves the ground behind you and moves it forward to the next foot plant.
  • Calves: once your foot leaves the ground when your heel is in the air behind and places behind your body, you will feel the calf muscle with running up hill specifically.
  • Tibilais Anterior- this muscle dorsiflexes the foot and plants it down on the ground.
  • Peroneals- this muscle works when your heel is elevated then drops to the ground.
  • Joints:
  • Hip joint – Acetabulum joint
  • Knee Joint- Tibiofemoral Joint
  • Ankle Joint – Talus joint

    What are the most common Injuries from running?

  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Hamstring tendonitis
  • Shin Splints – tibial stress syndrome
  • Illiotibial band Syndrome
  • Achilles Tendonitis
  • Runners Knee – Patellar-femoral pain syndrome

    How do to prevent Running Injuries?

  • Improve flexibility by stretching after runs – will prevent most tendonitis issues by properly stretching and keeping someone flexible
  • Include strength training to keep muscles equal and balanced
  • Stay hydrated and eat proper meals to prevent a glucose crash during running
  • Warm up before any run
  • Gradually increase mileage to prevent overuse injury
  • Take periodic breaks in the training

How to Start Running?
Keep it simple, start running 20 minutes a day for 3 days. Then gradually add more time to your run and more days. Never increase either the time or the days till you feel comfortable at your current amount.

How are running Injuries treated?
This will depend on the severity of your injuries. Some injuries will require surgery, while others are treated with surgical alternatives like chiropractic, acupuncture, physical therapy and massage. Some botanical or pharmaceutical options can help with pain and inflammation.

In our office we use muscle release, massage and adjustments to keep our athletes healthy and running a peak efficiency.

Sports Injury Special:
Sports injuries can occur while either falling down while running or getting kicked in the shins during a soccer game, either way we have pain and want to get back on the field to continue to play. Homeopathic medicine is about healing the body at a basic level relieving the discomfort of the symptoms while allowing your body to do its natural healing process.
The following items are 3 homeopathic remedies(called the Acute injury trio) Dr. Walker suggests you have on hand to be ready to treat a young players injuries. Or for the husband/wife who likes to run half marathons, or even for work tired joints and muscles after a long day.

  1. Rhus Tox – for joint pain and inflammation take 3 pellets 4 times a day away from food.
  2. Arnica – for all over body soreness or injury 4 pellets 4-5 times a day.
  3. Bryonia – When it is painful to get back to running or back to your sport 4 pellets 4 times a day.

*If symptoms or pain persist please seek direct professional or medical care.

TMJ and Acupuncture

6 Feb 2017 Medical

TMJ and Acupuncture

What is TMJ/TMD?
TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joint.  The actual disorders associated with this joint are more appropriately termed TMD and refer to issues in the muscles and bones around the jaw.  Often patients report pain, clicking, lock jaw, headaches, and neck pain associated with TMJ dysfunction.

What causes TMJ/TMD?
The patient might have a history of clenching or grinding their teeth or inflammation in the joint itself.  This could be from an injury in the area or chronic muscle tightness in the neck that affects the jaw. Dental work can also contribute to TMJ pain.  The patient may feel jaw pain following a root canal, implant work, wisdom teeth extraction, amalgam removal etc.  Other possible issues that can contribute to or exacerbate pain in the jaw are fibromyalgia, stress, systemic imbalances, and sinus problems.

What can I do to relieve TMJ/TMD pain?
Acupuncture can work wonders!
We look at patterns in the body and use needles and/or massage to open the channels and bring balance to the affected area.  Acupuncture helps to move qi and blood thereby reducing inflammation, increasing circulation and relieving pain.  Other specialists can help in conjunction with acupuncture such as chiropractors and physical therapists. We recommend seeking practitioners who look at the body as a whole to identify stress/injury patterns. Please ask for referrals if needed!

Case Study
A 48 year old male presents with TMJ pain after having several amalgams replaced by his dentist.  He was experiencing acute pain in his jaw accompanied by neck and shoulder pain, headaches, and sinus congestion. The range of motion in his jaw was limited. He had a chiropractic treatment to address the alignment and spacing in the jaw area and felt that after being adjusted, the pain remained and the range of motion had not improved. He had also tried physical therapy and diligently did the recommended stretches and strengthening exercises.  With this treatment, he felt some improvement but the issue was still unresolved.  The patient had been dealing with high levels of work-related stress for the past 6 months.

Outcome: After 6 acupuncture treatments, the TMJ pain had completely resolved and the range of motion returned to normal. The patient reported improved sleep as well!

The practitioner focused on opening circulation in the face and jaw area.  Reducing stress and rebalancing the channels was also a major component of the treatment plan.  His high levels of stress were causing an underlying holding and tightening in the body and face that was preventing the release of pain. The chiropractic treatment addressed the misalignment of the jaw. Physical therapy worked to strengthen and balance the muscles in the face area. Acupuncture addressed the stress patterns so the body was able to relax and release the tension.

written by Iris Martin


6 Feb 2017 Medical

Many people have heard of Craniosacral therapy but in the chiropractic forum there is another technique that delves deeper into this notion and realm that craniosacral therapy rests upon. Sacro-occipital therapy (SOT) is a chiropractic technique that analyzes the body through the membranous connection of the sacrum to the occiput or skull. This membrane is called the dura. The dura has connections inside the skull, at certain points in the spine, and in the sacrum. The dura surrounds the brain and the spinal cord and holds them in the cerebral spinal fluid. This system works very closely with the respiratory system. With each breath the sacrum tilts forward just enough to create a pumping mechanism for the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF). Circulation of the CSF serves an important role in flushing the brain of waste products and toxins.

Craniopathy is used to determine and adjust misalignments of the separate cranial bones. The cranial bones each have their own movement pattern with each breath as the CSF surges in the skull with each breath. The movement should be equal and free on both sides. One side or both sides of a particular cranial bone can be restricted due to muscle tension on the outside of the skull or due to an increase in pressure on the inside of the skull if the CSF flow is inhibited and therefore building up.

Craniopathy includes craniosacral therapy but is more specific in correcting distortions in the cranial bones and in the micro movements of the cranial bones. The technique will include palpation of the cranial bones and of the palate to determine which corrections may be needed. The palate is an important part of the analysis as it relays information of the position of all the cranial bones. For this reason, it is important for all infants to have their palate felt by a certified practitioner as the infant may have a distorted pattern present due to the passage through the birth canal. The infant’s latch and suck reflex is directly affected by their palate as well.

The corrections are often performed with breaths and there are extra-oral (outside the mouth)and intra-oral (inside the mouth) techniques to make the adjustments. This technique is extremely gentle and is performed with light holds with the finger tips. Craniopathy is a branch under the Sacro-Occipital Technique (SOT) which is considered a low-force technique. Practitioners certified in Craniopathy and SOT often will work in conjunction with dentists because the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) can be directly addressed with Craniopathy.

You may have cranial misalignments or asymmetries if you continue to have migraines or headaches, jaw pain, recurring sinus congestion, or low back pain or tightness that is not resolving with traditional care. Other issues that have plateaued may also be helped with cranial work.

Gut Brain Axis

5 Dec 2016 Medical

We have long since discovered the brain to be the master control center of of the body and its organ systems. More recently we have begun to understand that the body has a “second brain” via the vast network of neurons in the gut known as the enteric nervous system. The number of neurons in our gut equals that in our spinal cord which we suspect is so vast for the purpose of regulating the trillions of microbes that reside there.

Though it seems some people still want to believe that what we eat doesn’t have a big impact on health, there is plenty of research to suggest otherwise. For example, our diet and gut health directly impacts our mood because ninety percent of the serotonin in our system is made in the gut. Serotonin keeps our mood balanced and a deficiency leads to depression. In turn, neurotransmitters including serotonin are key regulators in gut function.

The brain is still the master controller of the body and it communicates with the gut via neurons, neurotransmitters and hormones. We would have to further discuss each one of these pathways to see all the ways our digestion can be affected. Digestion is so much more than eating and having a bowel movement. It determines the health and integrity of our tissues and if structure is negatively impacted then so will function.

Let’s see what poor function means for the two systems in question. Some indications of poor brain function are poor memory, inability to find words, and difficulty learning new things. Indications of poor digestive function are difficulty digesting food, constant episodes of bloating and gas, alternating constipation, etc.

The first thing we can do to directly impact and help our gut’s micro biome is to take probiotics. If there has been no significant change after a course of probiotics, it would be wise to do an anti-inflammatory diet or a blood test to rule out any food intolerances that would be causing inflammation and an adverse environment in the gut. We can also rule out vagal nerve involvement by doing a few tests in the office. Let’s discuss the vagus nerve more and give it its due reverence.

The vagus nerve is the direct nerve pathway by which the brain communicates with the gut but it also innervates the heart, lungs, throat and facial muscles. The vagus nerve is responsible for calming down the organs after stress or a period of the fight or flight response. The better your vagus nerve is working, the more quickly your body can be calm again and resume its healthy and regular activities. If the vagus nerve is functioning sub optimally and one of its organs, such as the gut, is compromised we can prescribe exercises that would bring it back into full gear. The vagus nerve can also be kick started with coffee enemas.

Here is the take-home message: If your brain or gut function is not working at the level you want it to, you can take steps now to begin to address that. We can help.
Dr Eugenie Giasson-Gomez

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