A Comprehensive Naturopathic Guide for Complete Digestive Wellness

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At the beginning of the new year, we checked in about following a 3-4 month plan for wellness.

The main thing to focus on is that it takes time to change habits, and sometimes having a tough diagnosis, like Crohn’s, IBD, colitis, celiac disease, diverticular disease, etc., can really scare us and throw us for a loop. Dede has found that taking control of your life and learning everything you can about your auto-immune diseasee, is a good first step. Ask questions of your doctors during interviews, and seek out local health practitioners that are recommended and certified—finding a naturopathic physician with a four-year degree and experience is an important step. Remember, naturopathic physicians can suggest a variety if options for your health plan, and augment what you are doing with the GI clinic.

A few years ago, when my GI was adamant that I start 6MP and Remicade, I was despondent and scared. My naturopath said to look at it another way, that if a patient has no choice (given their quality of life), there could be other supplements and a range of beneficial treatments to help alleviate symptoms from the drugs. Many of us have no choice! We are lonely and confused, to say the least.

After sobbing on the kitchen floor after my recurrence in November of 2012, I picked up the phone and called Portland, Oregon (where Jessica Black, ND, my co-author lives and practices naturopathic medicine), and asked for help. She recommended the curcumin-high-potency turmeric I now take daily (along with other supplements), and reassured me so I felt less overwhelmed. (I never did start the drug regimen, and remain in remission for the second year!)

Since we are embarking on the “new year plan of wellness,” let’s check in about some goals, and where we are now:

Weeks 3–4: 

1. Continue previous points: a no-wheat, sugar-free diet that focuses on fruit and veggies and is organic; getting lots of restorative sleep (see photo of a how to make your bedroom a sanctuary!–this is from Hotel Vermont, but still!), daily yoga, meditation, and exercise, and a positive attitude….

2. Add an additional supplement or herbal medicine—talk to your doctor or naturopath about Vitamin D, or Omega 3.

foot3. Begin the Tapping for Energy technique (in our book) or daily acupressure. Dede likes to massage her feet before bed, using a nice mix of moisturizer and sesame or apricot oil. It is amazing how much stress is in our feet and the acupressure points relate to organs in the body. It is a great routine to press gently on some of these points — the bowel area is at the bottom of your feet (on both sides), and mostly I just press in gently and firmly and relax into the pressure—especially before going to bed. Look for a recommended acupuncturist, and make appointments for once a week for 4-weeks… See if it helps (if you don’t like certain needles, ask for Moxa!)

4. Experiment with adding more anti-inflammatory foods and spices into your diet.  Last night, I made a fish curry with garnishes of bananas, raisins, chopped apples . . . yum!

Message me if you want the recipe. It was mild, not too spicy, and used Haddock filet.

A macadamia and fish curry.

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Tryptophan is one of the 10 essential amino acids that the body uses to synthesize the proteins it needs. It’s well-known for its role in the production of nervous system messengers, especially those related to relaxation, restfulness, and sleep.

I am now aware why I love turkey so much—I sometimes even crave it. I always feel more relaxed after I eat turkey, and this may explain why….There are many researchers who study the way tryptophan manufactures serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is found—guess where?—in the intestinal tract. Just about 90% of the body’s serotonin is actually found in the gut, so my gut tells me to eat it, and I am not even a biochemist!

Since it is almost Thanksgiving, I thought I would write a post about this, and it may help those with UC also.

Tryptophan has the ability to raise serotonin levels, too! Wow, who knew this? I love the fact that I can eat turkey, nuts, seeds, bananas, soybeans and soy products, tuna, shellfish …. organic, locally-raised red meat as well, AND feel better due to the addition of this amino acid. I have tuna fish once a week, and I crave it also—I only buy tuna caught sustainably, such as by pole or line methods, without the use of what is called “bycatch,” which sounds like what it is—a horrible method of using nets called purse seines (Watch this horrible video to see the damage!) . Tuna is a delicacy, and should ONLY be purchased from a fully accredited and Greenpeace-certified company.

Tryptophan also boosts the production of B3, and since I had a partial bowel resection in 2006, I need to keep track of my B vitamins (especially since my terminal ileum is completely gone, I have lost the capacity to fully absorb vitamin B12).

Everything I eat is sourced, and mostly bought from local farms. It is not that hard to do. For instance, our turkey is a Vermont-raised, free running turkey 🙂 Potatoes are from here, butternut squash, apples, pumpkins—all from Vermont; cranberries are organic and from Cape Cod.

So, cool. A bit or dietary research unravels mysteries of cravings from this writer with Crohn’s disease!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Note: My new cookbook just came out! Check it out here–maybe buy a copy! 

Dede Cummings has Crohn’s disease and she is working with Adam (http://www.ihaveuc.com) on this awesome new site to give people with Crohn’s disease, and other types of IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), a place to go and connect (yes, and to even vent!), and share stories. on November 23, 2011 at 8:35 am