Have Digestion Disorders?

Poor digestion can make anyone’s life miserable. On the other hand, good digestion promotes a more enjoyable and healthier life. Anyone can experience some stomach upset at one time or another. However, chronic stomach upset indicates there is an underlying problem.

Signs of Stomach Disorders

There are a host of problems that can occur from bad digestion such as, IBS, heartburn (referred to as acid reflux or GERD), bloating, gas and ulcers. Many people think these problems are just hopeless conditions diagnosed by their family doctor. But most don’t realize there are healthy, effective solutions to resolving these problems. And they don’t require taking medications!

Symptoms of a possible underlying problem:

  • Bloating.
  • Belching and gas.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • An acidic taste in your mouth.
  • Fullness during or after a meal.
  • Growling stomach.
  • Burning in your stomach or upper belly.
  • Belly pain.

Root Causes of Digestion Disorders

All digestive problems have a root cause. And it is not just about what you eat.

Digestive problems can be caused by many things. However, here are the main causes of digestive disorders:

  1. Poor microbiome balance. In other words, not enough probiotic (beneficial) bacteria in ratio to harmful bacteria. Just adding in probiotics has been linked to many more issues including activation of autoimmunity and flare ups of systemic inflammation. Therefore, testing is important to see what each body requires.
  2. Poor diet. We recommend eating real food. This means particularly avoiding processed foods and having a good portion of your diet containing plant based foods.
  3. Eating too quickly. Our bodies are designed to store calories. And unfortunately most Americans eat too fast. As a result, they take in too many calories before they realize they’ve eaten more than enough. This is especially the case with processed foods that are now so abundant in our society. On the other hand, leisurely eating allows enough time for your body to realize it is full.
  4. Being dehydrated. Digestion relies on proper hydration. For example, chronic dehydration is a major factor in constipation. Stools absorb water in the gastrointestinal tract. If a person is dehydrated there is insufficient water, the stool becomes hard and digestion slows down.
  5. Raw food. Some patients such as those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome have difficulty digesting raw foods. If a person’s digestion problems are symptomatic with raw foods it is really an indication that something else is going on and they need to visit with a Functional Medicine doctor.

Unfortunately when persons experience one or more of the above problems doctors often recommend over-the-counter medications. However, drugs usually only give temporarily relief. And worse, they can mask underlying problems.

How We Address Digestion Disorders

At Epic Functional Medicine we address the underlying causes of disorders. We utilize laboratory testing to get to the real root cause – we don’t guess at causes. Functional medicine involves understanding the origins, prevention, and treatment of complex, chronic disease. We engage both the patient and practitioner in a health-centered partnership to resolve the problem.

Benefits of Healthy Digestion

Digestion affects many necessary functions in life. When your digestion is working properly there are many health benefits. For example:

  • You have more energy and stamina.
  • Helps you think more clearly.
  • Enhance elimination of toxins from your body.
  • Improved absorption of nutrients.
  • Regularity of bowel movements.

Tips to Improve Digestion

Here are a few things anyone can do to improve their digestion:

  • Drink water 30 minutes before your meal and with your meal to stay hydrated.
  • Chew your food 10 to 30 times before swallowing to break it down.
  • Eat something raw or living with every meal which is filled with enzymes.

Don’t let stomach problems ruin your life or the life of a loved one. Contact us today so we can help!

Sincerely,

Dr. Jason Bradley

Cold and Flu Season Guide

It’s that time of year again, when we most commonly experience frigid weather ailments – the dreaded cold and flu! While these mild illnesses may be a nuisance, you don’t have to let them get you down. Remember, when your immune system is in a weakened and vulnerable state and “catches” something, it’s just the body’s way of telling you to slow down, hunker down, and nourish your cells. You’ve all heard it before…rest, heat, and fluids, right?!

Every fall season, the staff at EPIC gets an abundance of questions on how to maintain good health and a strong immune system throughout the winter months, when colds and flu are most rampant. So, this year, we decided to put together a guide with all of our favorite tips, tricks, and best kept secrets! Ultimately, while there are many things you can “do” to stay healthy, the point is to keep it simple, but be consistent. And be prepared! The moment you feel something coming on, THAT is the time to take action… not on day 3.

From all of us at EPIC – we wish you a happy and healthy holiday season. Be well!

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure…

  1. Get enough sleep on a regular basis. We know you’ve heard this before, but it really does matter.
  2. AVOID SUGAR. Sugar consumption hinders white blood cells from being able to fight off exposures to bad bacteria like the flu!
  3. Keep the back of your neck covered. Check out why Chinese Medicine practices recommend doing this.
  4. Exercise. Move every day. Exercise is effective preventive medicine.
  5. Take glutathione and Vitamin D. Glutathione is the chief antioxidant in the body, responsible for enhancing the immune system and helping the liver with detoxification. And Vitamin D is a powerful immune system modulator, meaning it is key to fighting off infections.
  6. Make and freeze chicken soup, so you have it on hand the moment something strikes! Click here for a yummy recipe.
  7. Dress in layers, especially base layers.
  8. Wash your hands. One of the best things to do is to wash your hands! Skip the antibacterial soaps and make your own hand soap using essential oils – here’s a great place to incorporate that Thieves or OnGuard!
  9. Optimize gut health. It’s one of your first and best lines of defense, so make sure to take “the right” probiotics for you!
  10. Practice daily relaxation and meditation. While we can’t totally eliminate stress from our lives, we can help our bodies “deal” with it so much better. Check this out!

 

And if you do get sick…

  1. Prioritize sleep.
  2. Forget about dairy. We don’t recommend dairy anyways, but definitely avoid when under the weather!
  3. Don’t work out! Gentle movement is fine, but strenuous exercise is taxing to your system when you’re sick. The lesson behind “getting sick” is a call from your body to rest, not kick it up a notch.
  4. Teas and warm beverages are a must (see #3 below), along with raw honey for extra soothing relief. Raw honey is also great for sore throats and coughs.
  5. Stay home when you’re sick! Rest, Heat, and Fluids.

 

Cold And Flu Season Remedies

While there are many things you can “do” to stay healthy, the point is to keep it simple, but do things consistently. And be prepared! When you feel something coming on, THAT is the time to take action…not on day 3.

Consider the following items part of your cold and flu season remedies “dream team”!

1. Immunoberry Liquid, by Designs For Health

A staple from October through April, elderberry is a must in terms of all-natural cold and flu season remedies!

Can be used daily to boost immunity with ingredients like Elderberry, Astragalus Root, Shiitake Mushroom, Maitake Mushroom, Wild Cherry Bark, and Beta-1, 3 Glucan.

To be clear, this is taken as a prophylactic to hopefully keep the bad bugs at bay! You can take this orally or add it directly to your morning greens drink.

Recommended dose: One dropperful a day.

2. Propolis Throat Spray, by Beekeeper’s Naturals

Propolis is a bee product (though no bees are killed in the process of extracting it).

Its immune supportive properties are well-known since it’s been used for several hundred years. Plus propolis part of the immune system of the hive itself!

As for the spray, it is slightly sweet with a hint of honey, but is incredibly soothing for your throat.

It’s also great if your voice or throat seems to get strained! The point is that you can use this as a prophylactic or when sick.

Recommended dose: For maintenance, 3-4 sprays of propolis once or twice daily. During periods of increased stress or fatigue, 4-5 sprays of propolis up to 5 times daily.

3. Echinacea Tincture, by Herb Pharm OR Echinacea Tea, by Traditional Medicinals

Echinacea is an herb that is stimulating to your immune system which is a good thing when you’re coming down with something.

Also, drinking Echinacea tea has been found to be effective in shortening the duration of your symptoms. Studies have shown that Echinacea can reduce the odds of developing a cold by 58 percent and reducing its duration by 1–4 days. (source)

Warning: if you have an autoimmune disease, it’s possible that using this herb can trigger a flare. Those with allergies to ragweed, mums, marigolds, or daisies should avoid echinacea. It’s also best to avoid if you’ve been diagnosed with HIV, MS, or Tuberculosis.

Recommended dose (tincture): 1 to 2 dropperfuls three times a day when you start feeling ill

Recommended dose (tea): 5-6 cups throughout the day when feeling ill

 

4. Do-It-Yourself FIRE CIDER

Similar to elderberry syrup, this tonic is revered by herbalists for its ability to support the immune system and shorten the duration of cold and flu symptoms if they occur. Fire cider is an apple cider vinegar infusion that contains the following powerful immune-boosting properties:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-bacterial
  • Anti-viral
  • Decongestant
  • Increased circulatory system

Fire cider takes about 2-4 weeks to “cure”, so make a batch early on so that you have it when you need it! The base ingredients are apple cider vinegar, garlic, onion, ginger, horseradish, and hot peppers, which are mighty by themselves, but there are plenty of other herbs that can be added for extra strength, depending on what’s available to you. This basic recipe can easily be adapted to your preferred tastes and sensitivities. If you don’t like or don’t tolerate something, just omit it! 🙂

Basic Fire Cider (another recipe, and another)

Ingredients (use organic whenever possible):

  • 24-32 oz raw & unfiltered apple cider vinegar
  • 10 cloves garlicgarlic, chopped finely or pressed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2-3” piece fresh ginger peeled and chopped or grated
  • 1/2 cup horseradish peeled and grated
  • 2-3” piece fresh turmeric root peeled and chopped or grated, OR 2 tbsp turmeric powder
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, chopped finely
  • Zest and juice from 1 lemon
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
  • raw honey to taste (optional)
  • Optional Seasonal Additions:
    • Sprigs of fresh organic rosemary, thyme or oregano; rosehips; star anise; astragalus; parsley; burdock root; black peppercorns; fresh orange, grapefruit, or lime juice and peels

Pack the prepared vegetables and herbs into a clean quart-sized glass jar. Pour apple cider vinegar over the herbs and fill to the top. This will take about 3 cups of vinegar, but it may vary slightly. Use a piece of parchment paper under the jar lid to keep the vinegar from touching the metal, or better yet, use a BPA-free plastic lid made for Mason jars. Shake well!

Store in a dark, cool place for one month and shake daily.

After one month, use cheesecloth or a nut milk bag to strain out the pulp, pouring the vinegar into a clean jar. Be sure to squeeze as much of the liquid as you can from the pulp.

You can use the tonic straight or, if you prefer, add raw honey (to desired sweetness) and stir until incorporated to make cider. If you’re really brave, you can use the leftover pulp in your cooking!

Recommended dose: 1-2 tablespoons throughout the fall/winter months as a preventative measure, or every three to four hours if symptoms are present.

*adapted from glutenfreeschool.com

We are not intending to diagnose or treat any medical conditions with this information and it is to be used for educational purposes only. If you need more help, please contact EPIC or your general practitioner.

One Super Simple Recipe for a Superior Brain

We’ve all had it happen.  We eat something we didn’t know we shouldn’t have (or maybe we did know …), and brain fog sets it.  Suddenly, it’s more difficult to follow along with or think through ideas.  Basic tasks seem daunting; all we want to do is crash on the couch.

How do you bounce back from these bad food choices?  In general, what should you eat when you want to be sharp and on your toes?

When thinking brain foods, think antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory, healthy fats, and probiotics.  Why?

  • Antioxidants work to neutralize free radicals that can harm the brain.
  • Healthy fats feed the brain with long-term, consistent energy, which helps when our brains are under metabolic stress and don’t have the same energy to reach high-processing states.
  • Probiotics create a healthy gut environment, which greatly reduces inflammation itself, and provides more nutrients to the body.  

One of my favorite recipes to fill all of these needs  is beet hummus. I encourage you to try this even if you are usually turned off by beets’ earthy flavor. The slight sweetness and tang of apple cider vinegar works to neutralize that in this combination.

To make beet hummus, boil beets until they are soft, then peel off the skin.  Cut into smaller chunks and allow to cool slightly.  Combine in a food processor or blender with olive oil, single garlic clove, apple cider vinegar, walnuts, and lemon juice.  If you want a little extra boost, throw in some fresh rosemary as well.  Blend ingredients until smooth.  Add salt or more apple cider vinegar to preference.  

Why is this recipe so fantastic for the brain?  Beets are anti-inflammatory, antioxidant rich, and full of nutrients.  Walnuts provide a source of protein, healthy fat, and antioxidants.  Olive oil, when extra virgin, is also wonderful healthy fat to feed the brain.  Apple cider vinegar adds a great dose of probiotics for a happy gut.  Lemon juice, rosemary, and garlic are also chock full of antioxidants to protect the brain, plus lemon helps to give the mind and body a little energy boost. If these benefits aren’t enough, the bright, beautiful color is hard to turn away from.  

So go ahead and grab some celery, broccoli or cucumbers, and dip them in this beet hummus for a quick and awesome snack before or after a workout, or just when you are on-the-go. This also works as a tasty salad dressing on some fresh leafy greens or can be paired with salmon for a main course.

What’s even more awesome? All of the things you’ll dip in beet hummus are also brain foods in and of themselves. So welcome to a food that tastes good and feels even better!

In fascia and politics, everything is connected

As fascia reminds us, everything is connected.

I was reminded of how important this concept is to healing movement when I attended a conference last year Gil Hedley, Ph.D., a doctor known for promoting a sacred appreciation for what’s inside of our bodies.

Gil provided us one of his close looks at the human body’s interior. We focused on fascia, the connective tissue woven throughout our bodies. Then he brought this into the political space: first, he showed our country’s 50 states as blue and red to represent concentrations of Democrats and Republicans. Then, he showed the same map with the two colors blended by percentage.

We were left with an image built out of many shades of purple. Gone were the stark reds and blues.

As we viewed images and videos of the different layers of fascia, I was so humbled. I was reminded that all of these layers are one — and yet, nature enables our body’s parts to also move separately, in different directions and ways.

And as Gil reminded us, this is happening all around us — not just in our bodies, but in politics, in our families, among our peers, and so on.

As you go through your day, take a little time with healing movement to remind yourself of this connectedness. Do it with a stretch: raise your arm over your head, for example, and feel the gentle pull that creates in other areas of your body.

Relax into the motion. Mind your movement. Feel the connections. And be humbled.

Lea Burke is Iowa’s first Essentrics instructor and offers healing movement classes and guidance through EPIC and in her hometown of Burlington. She is also EPIC’s enrollment coordinator. You can reach Lea at leab@epicfmc.com.