Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fibromyalgia and a Plant-Based diet

The August meeting of our Fibromyalgia Support Group was extremely powerful! Dr. Candace Corson is a tremendously inspiring and gifted speaker. Her enthusiasm is truly contageous. It seems the more we learned, the more we wanted to know!

Dr. Corson is a Yale-trained Medical Doctor who has spent the past ten years focusing her energies on healing through teaching others about the importance of proper nutrition for health, something that was not addressed in her medical training, nor in her residency in New York. Not until she began working for the Public Health System via the National Health Services Corporation, and witnessed first-hand the major health problems that are so preventable with basic nutritional information, that she knew where she wanted to focus her life's work.

In the 1990's while a consultant for the Healing Arts Center in Mishawaka, events and specific cases to this point led her to begin seriously delving into all aspects of nutrition, supplements, and natural healing, complementing and adding to her medical knowledge. She began studying the works and information of Dr. Johnathan Wright and of Dr. Allen Gaby who is the current President of the American Holistic Medicine Association and one of the foremost authorities in nutritional and natural medicine.

Dr. Corson now works tirelessly at speaking, teaching, training and encouraging others to learn more about nutrition and the importance of a plant-based diet. That is, a diet who's base is plants, using meat and dairy as the "extras on the side," rather than the other way around. Our Western diet has long been basing meals on meat and dairy with the plant world taking a distant third or even fourth place, following sweets! This is what has led our rich country to sit at 47th place in health throughout the world--while we experience record and rampant chronic and degenerative diseases-- even to our children!!!! By the way, the Netherlands - Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden - are among the most health conscious and healthiest people in the world!

With this background of Integrative Medicine (a combination of Western and natural medicine), Dr. Corson has been sharing her knowledge and expertise in seminars, talks and a variety of venues just like this. Tonight she shared with us three of the most important things we can do for ourselves to help our bodies get back on track, with a solid base, that supports healing. The top 3 things we can do are:

1) most crucial of all, is to get ourselves back to a plant-based diet with loads of fruits and vegetables - lots of phytonutrients;
2) add Omega 3 EPA-DHA essential fatty acids - found in deep sea cold-water fish and/or good quality supplements, wild or free-range animals (who've NOT been fed grain), sea vegetables like kelp and other seaweeds, walnuts, and Omega 3 ALA in the form of flax seed;
3) add Vitamin D - which is not really a vitamin at all, but a very necessary hormone!

--> A plant based diet is crucial to everyone's health. Not only are plants balanced in vitamins, minerals, enzymes, probiotics, fiber, phytonutrients and more, but the antioxidants within neutralize free radicals! Free radicals are not only eaten in our foods, but they enter our body through air, water, noise, physical contact with certain things, electromagnetism - free radicals are everywhere...and they are NOT Fibro-friendly! Free radicals are also created by your cells when they function normally - they are the waste product that occurs after a successful transaction within the cell. You cannot get away from them.

When you eat a diet full of fruits, veggies and berries, you are keeping up with the constant creation and bombardment of these free radicals. When your diet is low in fruits, veggies and berries, these free radicals are allowed to run amok within your body, acting like razor blades in your blood stream, attacking organs, muscles, brain and heart tissue, and if allowed to grow there unchecked, without the proper nutrients to neutralize them, they can create very serious chronic and degenerative problems, up to and including cancerous tissue.

In the past, 5-9 servings of whole fresh fruits, veggies and berries were recommended. But today with so much more "stuff" added to our air and water and so much more electronic "static" around us, the recommeded servings are now 7 to 13 servings a day. But even more would be better, especially if you are living with a chronic illness like Fibromyalgia, Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, Chrone's Disease or any other chronic illness. All the stress put on your body by having these conditions, creates even MORE free radicals within your body.

The moral of the story is to eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and berries - the more the better! This not only protects against free radicals, but also inflammation, heart disease, diabetes, toxicity, premature aging, cancer and all those other degenerative diseases described above.

--> Dr. Corson shared with us samples of flax seed so we could all see and taste them. She described how flax is like a wash cloth to our intestines and how, over time with regular use, it has been found to help heal diverticulitis (a serious intestinal disorder). The delicious nutty-tasting seeds are eaten raw, sprinkled over yogurt or cereal or salad, added to a smoothie, or green tea, etc. But because the outer shell is so dense/hard, flax seeds are best used when ground up to release all the beneficial nutrients within. Then they should be stored in the fridge for up to one week. After that they can oxidize and create free radicals. So grind as much as you'll need per day or per several days at a time and then store it in a jar in the fridge.

Flax seeds also help clean the blood vessels and arteries, again acting like a wash cloth to gently scrub loose bad cholesterol (LDL), as well as toxins, helping to flush and clean out those arteries like a good fiber and lignan should. Flax seed is very nutriant-rich-- very high in fiber, a number of B-vitamins, Omega 3 ALA, magnesium, manganese and phytonutrients, including antioxidants. They are also very filling as a few of our group can attest, having nibbled on them during the evening.

You may want to ease into this treat gently as it can have a powerful laxative effect if you're not used to it, because it is so high in fiber. Start with a little, then graually increase the amount used to prevent overflow (diahhrea).

Omega 3 EPA-DHA essential fatty acids are absolutely necessary to our diet. That's why they are called essential fatty acids. This Omega 3 is found in deep sea cold water fish, wild or free-range animals (who've NOT been fed grain), sea vegetables like kelp and other seaweeds, walnuts and free-range (or cage-free) chickens and their eggs.

This EPA-DHA is what coats the cell walls of each and every cell in our body. EPA and DHA make the cell walls flexible and porous and act as an conduit, enabling nutrients and oxygen to enter the cells which then create energy (ATP), among other things. When there is not enough EPA-DHA, the cell walls will use saturated fat. This makes these walls much harder, making it more difficult to to allow nutrients and oxygen in, causing stress to all of your cells, and by extension to your entire body. It is clearly better to add these essential fatty acids.

There is concern over eating too much fish or ocean fish due to contamination by mercury and PCB's, so many have begun to rely on supplements, which have been purified (not processed). Several brands which have repeatedly proven safe are Carlson's, Nordic Naturals, Barlean's, Coromega and others. Check the labels for the amount of EPA-DHA within each capsule for the proper dosage, not the amount of fish oil per capsule. Suggested doses are 1,000 mg to 1,500 mg of EPA-DHA per day for inflammation, pain, heart issues, eye care, and so much more.

--> Most people are low in Vitamin D - the sunshine vitamin. Dr. Corson highly recommends everyone have their Vitamin D level checked. Ask your doctor, or go to Any Lab Test Now at 207 N. Main St. in South Bend, IN where you can just walk in and request this test (and others, like B12, etc) at any time.

Proper levels of Vitamin D (D3 specifically) helps pain, osteoporosis, diabetes risk, heart attack risk, helps balance blood pressure, helps Reumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis and so much more.

Most people north of the equator (and south of the equator) are extremely low in this hormone, especially older adults, those with darker pigmented skin, people who spend most of their time indoors and people who live in the northern or southern latitudes. Even if you do get outside regularly, for nine months out of the year your body cannot make sufficient Vitamin D due to the sun's being so low in the sky during those winter months.

On the first warm, sunny summer day when you do get outside for fifteen to twenty minutes, your body will make an average of 25,000 IU of Vitamin D all by itself! Because your body uses Vitamin D every day, in so many ways, you need to replenish it every day. But during the fall, winter and spring you may need to replenish this vitamin with a supplement. Dr. Corson recommends 2,000 to 6,000 IU per day. Vitamin D3 supplements are available nearly everywhere now, but Dr. Corson recommends Carlson's brand of liquid drops, where one drop in water or juice is 2,000 IU.

Aside from a great discussion on all of the above, Dr. Corson also discussed gluten and lactose intolerance and the fact that oats have been proven to have no gluten - rather any gluten reaction to oats may be due to the processing machines that may have gluten residue embedded in it. Many migraine headaches may be helped by doing an elimination diet - eliminating gluten and/or lactose for a period of time. [Also, hydrating has been shown to help relieve some migraines.] The nasty long-term effects of excess soft drinks was described by Dr. Corson from her personal experience while working with the Public Health System. (It wasn't pretty!!!) The benefits of juicing was discussed and importance of Vitamin B12 (sublingual tablets). She spoke of the Engine 2 Diet, the book written by a fireman named Rip Esselstyn who writes about the importance of a plant-based diet.

She spoke on all of the above and much more, but already there is here a very long epistle...Use your search engine to find out more about any of these topics...The more you know the better you can help yourself - knowledge is power!