Beer: Could It Be a Healthy Part of Life?

Beer the most widely consumed fermented beverage in the world.  Let me repeat: The most widely consumed fermented beverage in the WORLD.  And when you come from a functional medicine perspective, the word fermented is like gold.  Fermented foods and beverages have been around as a method of preservation for food since before refrigeration and using bacteria and yeast to turn food into probiotic powerhouses makes them healthy for us.  That probiotic content is something people pay big money for in the world of supplements because of the profound impact it has on the health of their gut microbiome, and in turn, many disease processes like Crohn’s disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, anxiety disorders, and even obesity. 

Beer is simple, but the art is in crafting something tasty out of essentially water, starch, brewer’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), and hops.

{Side note: The starch listed above is where the grains come in.  Glutinous grains are traditionally used and trying to accomplish the same outcome with gluten-free options is a very difficult task. Tip your hat to your local brewers if they’re able to make your gluten-free beer dreams come true, because it is a next-level art.}

And here we are, back at the table, talking about how we have more bacteria in our gut than cells in our body and the health and diversity of those communities of bacteria are how we stay healthy as a human species.  Undeniable at this point, but where does beer fit in?  It’s a fermented beverage and tons of people drink beer, but many of them are NOT healthy.  Does it have a place in this conversation?  What parts of beer are the healthiest?  Does beer really help breastfeeding and hormones?  Did you know they’re even talking about this in the cancer world?  Isn’t alcohol unhealthy?  Are there better beers to choose than others from a health perspective? Can you overdo it….I’m asking for a friend.

If you’re a science geek, I’m going to make you cry by skipping over all the details and references because at the end of the day, it takes hours to cover all that, and if you’re like me, I really just want know I can trust the assessment and then give me the conclusion.  So, that’s where we’re at: my opinion based on the hours of going down the rabbit hole for fun.

There are 3 things to consider when talking about beer for health:

  1. The influence on the microbiome
  2. The method of production and consumption
  3. The interaction with hormones

Is Alcohol Healthy?

No.  But there are interesting data around blue zones showing moderate consumption contributes to health and longevity.  So, it begs the question: Is it the type of alcohol or the way it’s consumed?  My opinion is that unpasteurized, fermented beverages like traditional wine, beer, and ciders are better for you than other options, in moderation, and consuming them WITH people complicates the benefit around what we know about community, conversation, friendship and the physiological and biochemical changes that come with that alone.  Red wine has been shown in studies to have the least detrimental impact on inducing leaky gut, and unfortunately, we can’t say the same for my spirit of choice: gin.

Nutshell: traditionally fermented options are best, in moderation, WITH friends

Now that we have the elephant out of the way, let’s have some beer…

What makes beer healthy?  {because I would love to tell my doctor}

I want to focus on one component of beer here: hops.  Hops are plants which contain compounds like polyphenols.  These may sound foreign, but it’s some of the same stuff you know about wine! Resveratrol is the polyphenol in wine that has gotten all the love over the years, boosting wine sales significantly after the research was published.  Hops have up to a 14% polyphenol concentration in the dried cones and while that encompasses phenolic acids, catechins and proanthocyanidins, I’m mostly obsessed with the flavonoids. 

{If you ever read my article on UTI’s, then you know it’s the proanthocyanidin content (PAC) in cranberries that work some magic on E.coli. Read here.}

In terms of flavonoids in hops, xanthohumol is where it’s at.  It contributes to the bitterness in taste but it is probably more important that when that compound hits your gut, your microbiome takes it and transforms it into a different compound.  Here’s the kicker, the genus responsible for this is Eubacterium.  This kind of bacteria is one of the largest butyrate producers in your gut, which for those that don’t know, butyrate is a short chain fatty acid that acts as fuel for your intestinal cells to thrive, keeping leaky gut at bay. You may have heard of them when talking about PREbiotics; the stuff that you get when you eat fibers to feed healthy bacteria in your gut.  Polyphenols do the same thing to some extent!  If you or your doctor have done a stool test on you, you may be more familiar with these bacteria being in the phylum of Firmicutes. 

{Side note for clinicians: If you see absent Firmicutes, you are not only likely seeing low diversity in your patient, low butyrate production, etc, but you are also seeing someone who may be deficient in their ability to benefit from polyphenols that require that bacteria to transform them into other compounds for a health outcome!  This area is something that I feel strongly about in terms of personalized and precision medicine in the future.  We are already studying the differences in drug metabolism based on someone’s age, sex, genes, and MICROBIOME, but we should be exploring the same principles to herbal medicinal interventions, too.  It does no good to provide someone a compound that they lack the ability to transform if transformation is necessary for the health outcome. Back to regular scheduled programming…}

They have done studies to watch the microbiome shifts using alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions of wine to try and determine where benefits are coming from, and sorry guys, they see more benefit in the microbiome shifts of people drinking polyphenol-rich beverages WITHOUT the alcohol. 

Nutshell: Wine and beer have these healthy polyphenols, but if you were trying to be perfectionistic, you’d prioritize non-alcoholic versions to have healthy impact on your microbiome. 

What are the best options to choose?

Prioritize the following:

  • Craft beer may ensure more traditional methods of production
  • Buying from smaller brewers locally, on tap, may improve the health aspects due to lack of pasteurization
  • Consider choosing non-alcoholic hop beverages for all the polyphenol benefits without the alcohol down-sides
    • I’m not sponsored in any way, but I am obsessed with HopTea, which is a tea brewed with hops and carbonated to give you all the feels of a beer, without the hangover

Beer and hormones?

I didn’t even get the fact that hops are considered a galactogogue, which basically means, helps breastfeeding moms with milk production.  They are also a phytoestrogen, which means they have estrogenic influence.  Yes, estrogen is so important that even plants make them.  This is often used in menopausal women to retain hormone balance to help hot flashes and brain neurodegeneration.  

This could be an entirely different blog for an entirely different time.  For now, I just wanted to share what I was learning about hops and the microbiome as my obsession for research in autoimmunity and my love of HopTea grows.  Until next time!


Spiced Banana Bread {Paleo}

Apparently the most googled baking phrase during the quarantine is “how to make banana bread” and I ironically made paleo banana bread today without even knowing that!  I’m here to share the recipe with you in case that’s what you’re trying to figure out during your time at home! I adapted this recipe from one of my favorite primal cookbooks: Primal Cravings.  If you like the texture, feel free to adapt the recipe to make whatever flavor you like!
Spiced Banana Bread
Ingredients:
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup maple syrup or honey
2 mashed, ripe bananas
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
Directions:
Preheat oven to 325F, and line small loaf pan with parchment paper.  Combine the wet ingredients.  In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together and pour batter into loaf pan. Bake until the edges are golden and middle is cooked through, which is about an hour.  Let it cool in the pan before removing.

EMFs: How WiFi Impacts Your Health and Practical Ways to Address It

Whether you believe that WiFi is the worst thing that’s ever happened to humans or the best thing that ever happened for business, you’re right.  Well, using extreme words like “worst thing ever” may be excessive because who’s to validate the superlative?  Either way, it DOES impact you in a POSITIVE and NEGATIVE way.  I like to do some simple education about what something is, connect some dots around your health concerns, and give you practical advice on how to do your best without living in a bubble. 

What are Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs)?

The word EMF is simply referring the radiation that’s being emitted from something, and there are 2 forms: ionizing and non-ionizing. Non-ionizing is generally seen as safe and ionizing is categorized as toxic for humans due the DNA damaging abilities (think cancer). It may make you feel warm and fuzzy to know that most of your electronic devices fall in the non-ionizing category, but as research is evolving and more patients are being treated for EMF sensitivities, many countries are taking measures to remove their citizens from this exposure for health reasons.

In fact, in 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified EMFs from cell phones and wireless devices to be potential human carcinogens.

How does this impact your body?

Let’s just make a list:

  • Using your cell for a minimum of 30 minutes a day on one side of your head for 10 years increases your risk of brain tumor formation by 40-170%.  That’s a broad range because 3 studies that have been conducted have varying outcomes, but all show increased risk.
  • WiFi decreases melatonin production which is NECESSARY for sleep and is a very powerful hormone and antioxidant in the body impacting virtually everything.  This is a large reason why sleep issues are often connected to EMF as an environmental issue for patients.
  • EMFs increase free radicals in the body, which basically means increases damage from oxidative stress, driving systemic inflammation
  • EMFs contribute to leaky blood brain barriers, allowing toxins the ability to encounter the brain when the barrier would normally keep it safe and secluded
  • In the case of heavy metal issues in a patient due to amalgam fillings, consuming fish with mercury regularly, or heavy metal exposure due to where they live, work, or play, you see increased sensitivity to EMFs
  • If you have a metal surgical implant, it basically acts like a radio frequency antenna, causing major symptoms in some patients, especially those with implants in/near the spine
  • Children are at much higher risk of forming long term health issues due to exposure…

3G wasn’t a thing until about 2005, and the latency period for brain tumors is about 25 years.  Do the math.  Data will come.

How you can decrease risk without living in a bubble:

  • DISTANCE! As you double your distance from a device, you decrease exposure by 75%.  Try your best to stay 1 meter away from your devices, minimally…that’s about an adult male arm’s length.
  • Text. Don’t call.
  • Turn off your wireless router when you aren’t using it. In addition, the router is a big source of EMF, so place it in a room you don’t use much.
  • Ditch wireless baby monitors. 
  • Move your bed away from any walls that have a fridge on the other side. 
  • Don’t carry a cell phone on your person.  Men, you’re the biggest offender here because you don’t carry purses.  They have even shown bone density changes in the femurs on the side of the cell phone pocket.  My guess is that you store yours next to other important bodily parts.
  • Do not allow cell phones in the bedroom.  You spend 20 years of your life there….
  • Turn your phone on airplane mode when you don’t need to use it.
  • Disable blue tooth capabilities.
  • Ditch wireless headphones.

I know this seems like a lot, but when you consider the timeframe of wifi and cell phone existence, we’ve done a pretty great job existing without these things for a long time.  Just like you, I work and conduct business via electronic devices, and I couldn’t be happier to have information from all over the world at my finger tips (it beats that encyclopedia set I had to use in school).  However, the little things you can implement to decrease load will only contribute to your health, the health of your kids, and the health of your neighbors (have you ever tried connecting to their router?! We’re in this together). Especially if you have headaches and sleep issues that don’t improve despite living a healthy lifestyle, you may want to take inventory of the home.


Sweet Potato Brownies

This was an old friend that used to pop up at every party at my gym years ago.  I wanted to log it on the blog simply to capture the recipe, so I never forget it!  Julie Bauer was the brain child behind this creation, although this recipe isn’t exact to her original.  They are moist, hiding veggies, and hit the sweet tooth spot!
Sweet Potato Brownies
Ingredients:
  • 1 Sweet Potato, cooked (I poke holes with a fork, throw it in the microwave for 3-5 minutes, and scoop out the inside)
  • 1/4 cup grassfed butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 Tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease an 8×8 pan.  Mix all your ingredients together and pour into baking dish.  Bake for 30-35 minutes.  Let cool, and serve!

Cauliflower “oatmeal”

Cauliflower is one cruciferous veggie that is great for detoxification!  Cauliflower includes antioxidants that boost Phase 1 of detoxification, which is all about turning toxins from fat-lovers looking for storage and prepping them to become water-loving chemicals that are easy to eliminate. Cauliflower also has sulfur-containing nutrients that boost Phase 2 detoxification, which is where they get fully transformed into water-lovers. It also contains phytonutrients called glucosinolates, which activate detox enzymes and intensify their activity. Can I just also mention that it contains something called  indole-3-carbinol, which breaks down bad estrogens in the body to help with hormonal harmony!
For those keeping track of carbs, cauliflower is the low carb sub for potatoes in dishes, and it contains some fiber to health regulate bowels and blood sugar.
BUT, have you ever considered cauliflower for breakfast?! Now you can try it, even if just for your new year reset.
Cauliflower “Oatmeal”
Ingredients:
One bag of frozen cauliflower rice
Coconut milk/Almond milk
Pinch of salt
TBSP or more of cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
Toppings: feel free to top with berries, coconut, nuts
Optional additions: add nut butter or protein powder
Directions:
Pour the bag of cauliflower into a pan on the stove top and add about 1-2 cups of milk.  Start with less and decide what you like in terms of consistency.  Add you cinnamon and simmer for 10 minutes.  Cook longer for more mushy consistency.  Take off heat and add vanilla and a pinch of salt. Top with your favorites and enjoy!

Paleo Pear Crisp

It’s pear time! And while apples get all the attention, pear can be just as good!

Paleo Pear Crisp:

  • 4-5 pears, cored, and sliced
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 2 Tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp arrowroot powder

Topping:

  • half stick of butter (or 1/4 cup coconut oil)
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 Tbsp of apple pie or pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour

Directions:

Mix the filling ingredients together until coated and put in an 8×8 or 9×13 depending on how thick you want it.  Crumble the topping ingredients together and cover the filling.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes.  Turn the oven to  broil and brown the topping  for about 3 minutes!


Antibiotics? Now What?!

Let’s face the facts. Despite the best intentions, the healthiest lifestyles, and the desire to stay as natural as possible, sometimes antibiotics creep into the equation because it was an emergency, it was life-threatening, someone didn’t know better, or it was presented as the only option. I get it. I also get the uncertainty moving forward for those who know just how detrimental that round of antibiotics may have been to their precious microbiome (aka all the healthy bacteria living in your body making you healthy!). So, let’s jump over the guilt trip because you can’t change it now! Let’s get down to what you can do today, and for how long to put yourself in the best position possible for the future of you microbiome moving forward.

I want to start by saying, while not ideal, many people have been on antibiotics and gone on to live a life full of health if they take their body ecology seriously. So, it’s not the end of the world, but it does put ownership in your court. To me that can be a blessing in disguise because I’m sort of a control freak. I do better with things I CAN control then things I can’t. So, consider this moment a blessing in disguise.

The post-antibiotic plan:

  • Take a probiotic with 20 billion CFU and S. boulardii during and after antibiotics daily for 4-6 months. Giving your bacteria a crutch will be helpful despite the fact that probiotics are transient. I also know there has been some research suggesting that probiotics are not beneficial after antibiotic treatment, but clinically, I see otherwise, and there were some questions that I have regarding that study data. Although I do agree that a fecal transplant would likely be ideal and better! But unless you have a C. diff infection, you’re not likely going to have that option at your finger tips. I digress.
  • Eat a variety of fermented foods daily. Sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kevita, plain kefir, plain yogurt, and even some brands of pickles (Bubbies) are the bees knees when it comes to probiotics in foods. Not only do you get the benefit of the food nutrition, but those probiotics are abundant and essential to everyone, whether you’ve taken an antibiotic or not! Shoot for at least one of these options daily, and ideally you’d continue this habit forever!
  • Cut the sugar, alcohol, and processed foods. Opportunistic organisms can quickly become pathogens and overgrow quickly if the competition has just been wiped out! That means, in order to give the good guys a fighting chance to hold their own, you need to starve the potentially bad guys. They love sugar, alcohol acts like sugar, and processed foods are full of chemicals that kill good guys and sugars that feed bad guys. This, you guessed it, is probably a habit that should last a lifetime, too! I would say for 2 weeks following treatment, try to cut alcohol completely and keep your carbohydrates less 50g a day. Even some healthy carbs can act as a simple food source for pathogens. That can be short-term.
  • Go outside. Eat from the garden, put your hands in the dirt, and try not to be too clean. I know, I sound crazy, but sterile isn’t good. We want nutritious foods without chemicals, fresh air and sunlight, some sample of soil-based organisms to help our ecology. You’re a glorified plant.
  • Eat lots of organic plants and cook with coconut oil and grass-fed butter. Plants contain probiotics that feed your health bacteria, and getting them without chemicals that kill bacteria will tip the scales in your favor. Shoot for at least one big salad a day, and 2 non-starchy veggies as sides at dinner. Do this continuously throughout your life, but be diligent for at least 2 weeks. Use coconut oil and grass-fed butter to cook, as they are anti-microbial.
  • Manage stress. Stress creates chemical changes in your body that isn’t great for gut health and it actually causes leaky gut. That can predispose you to bad bugs or foods getting into your system because they aren’t staying in the gut. That’s why yoga, meditation, prayer, or walks can help your gut environment stay tip top!

Most of these things aren’t rocket science and should be a part of a healthy lifestyle for a lifetime! The difference is being slightly more strict for the first month following antibiotics by restricting carbs, sugar and alcohol, in addition to being sure to get as many probiotics in as many ways as possible. It will take you potentially 4-6 months to restore your microbiome and some studies suggest it will never be the same. So, staying on the probiotic and fermented food bandwagon could be essential. What we do know, is that now is not the time to throw caution to the wind if we want to set ourselves up for a future of health despite an antibiotic mishap. Do your best and let go of that which you can’t control.

*If you’re interested in my post-antibiotic probiotic suggestions, feel free to check out the “store” and sign up for an account, which will give you access to that template in my online dispensary, since some of my suggestions are not available through retail channels.


Increasing Testosterone Naturally

It’s super interesting to me that women speak so freely about their hormone issues and eagerly seek out solutions, but men tend to be more protective of the symptoms that they may be experiencing.  Trust me, I get it.  No one wants to talk about symptoms that impact their sexual performance or masculinity.  However, this topic is one that needs to be addressed because of 2 things:

  1. Women and men want men to feel good about themselves and function optimally.  It keeps everyone happy.
  2. Low testosterone impacts more than sexual function and traits of masculinity, it increases the risk of prostate cancer.

So, we are putting all embarrassment aside for the moment, and we are going to talk freely here. 

Healthy testosterone levels in men require a few things:

  • Proper enzyme function
  • Management of Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG)
  • Leydig cell health (the cells in the testicle that make testosterone)
  • Optimal Hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis function

If any of those things are not present, and a man is not producing enough testosterone, he may experience the following symptoms:

  • Breast tissue development
  • Small testes or penis (yes, there are measurements for what is normal)
  • Spattered hair growth patterns
  • Low libido
  • Decreased energy
  • Lack of spontaneous erections
  • Decreased muscle mass and increased fat mass
  • Poor sleep
  • Poor concentration
  • Joint and muscle pain post-workout

Why would someone’s testosterone levels be low?

  • Certain drugs such as spironolactone, corticosteroids, alcohol, and opiates all decrease testosterone production
    • Even hair growth (Propecia) or prostate growth (Cialis) medications that are alpha reductase inhibitors can loss of sexual functionality.  So, you end up keeping some hair, but losing some testosterone.  Pick your poison.
  • Endocrine disruptors in hygiene care products like lotions, creams, and fragrance
  • Age: Men start to lose testosterone production starting at age 30; 10% of men in their 40s and 25% of men in their 70s have definitive diagnoses for low testosterone
  • Decreased levels of SHBG due to hypothyroidism, liver disease, or obese men due to higher insulin levels.  It’s not uncommon for men with thyroid problems to gain weight, call me, and in the consult confess to having symptoms of low testosterone.  If SHBG is too high, you can see bone density loss.  You want SHBG to be not too high or too low.
  • Use of licorice or stinging nettles supplements
  • Stress: Stress causes the release of cortisol and cortisol is the enemy of testosterone production.  According to one expert, “cortisol castrates.”  Come on.  That’s pretty catchy.

What can someone do to optimize testosterone production or increase libido?

  • Optimize their blood sugar with diet.  Low carbohydrate is a good place to start.
  • Exercise.  Specifically lifting weights for big muscle groups (think squats and deadlifts) and NOT doing prolonged cardio activity.
  • Supplement with Horny Goat Weed.  It’s a PDE-5 inhibitor just like Viagra. (message me for a link to a brand I like)
  • Use adaptagens like maca, rhodiola, ashwaghanda to help balance cortisol levels
  • Sleep!  Sleep increases testosterone production and is a major player in the world of hormone balance in general.
  • Optimize vitamin D levels with supplementation, liver intake, and/or sun exposure.  You want your Vitamin D levels to be between 40-70ng/dL, and normal testing ranges allow for less than that.  Look at the test and do something if it’s less than 40ng/dL.

In all seriousness, this is an issue that many men experience at some point in time, and it doesn’t need to be something that they try to manage.  It can be corrected, and should be corrected not only for quality of life purposes, but to minimize the risk of prostate cancer.  I’m always here to help, and feel very strongly about demystifying sensitive topics!


Histamine Intolerance: What You Need to Know and Why Antihistamines Aren’t the Solution

Most of the time, when the word “histamine” comes up, people are speaking about the dreaded symptoms that present with IgE-mediated allergies, like runny nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing.  These types of allergies tend to be seasonal for most people, and they are typically quite predictable.  However, histamine can be a part of so many more problems than just those associated with seasonal allergies.  Elevated histamine levels in the body can contribute to indigestion, GERD, rashes, migraines, and even pain.  Because these issues tend to be so global, it can be a misdiagnosed or undiagnosed problem that is fairly easy to solve!  Now, take that with a grain of salt because while explaining the issue and how to correct it is fairly simple, actually taking the steps to do so can be more difficult.

Where does histamine come from?

Histamine lives abundantly in immune cells called mast cells.  When mast cells burst, they release all of their contents, including copious amounts of histamine.  Anyone who has true seasonal allergies knows exactly what that feels like because when you breathe in allergens, they attach to the outside of mast cells and cause them to burst open.  Boom.  Itching, watering, misery.  Over the counter meds, antihistamines, try to address all that excess floating around; however, supplements actually stabilize the mast cell, so even in the presence of allergens, the mast cell doesn’t burst.  This allows patients to feel relief of symptoms without having the drowsy-inducing chemicals that cross the blood brain barrier.  Not that that topic isn’t important, BUT, we are here to talk about all the reasons someone can have histamine issues WITHOUT seasonal allergies. 

There are tons of things that cause mast cells to explode and release all their histamine:

  • Stress
  • Heavy metals such as aluminum and mercury
  • Infections
  • Autoimmunity

Now, histamine doesn’t just live in mast cells.  We eat food with histamine every single day!  Most of us know nothing about this because when it reaches the intestines, our body produces an enzyme called diamine oxidase (DAO) that breaks it down and we never feel any ill effects from it.  However, many people have damaged gut linings where that enzyme is made and that means that when they eat foods high in histamine, it goes unbroken down and ends up in our system, causing issues like indigestion, brain fog, migraines, pain, or rashes.  You may be thinking: “Can’t I just take that enzyme and be good?!” or “Can’t I just avoid histamine foods and be good?!”  The answer to both of those questions is “You could absolutely take DAO or avoid histamine foods to decrease histamine load in the body, but that doesn’t fix the problem and is a very expensive or difficult-to-sustain bandaid.  The better solution is to reestablish the health of your gut lining, so your body makes enough of its own DAO, and you no long have unbroken down histamine causing issues.

High histamine foods:

  • Alcohol
  • Mature cheeses
  • Shellfish
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Chocolate
  • Processed meats like sausages and lunch meats
  • Leftover foods
  • Fermented foods

You can see how avoiding this list may be challenging, not a long-term solution, and may even contribute to nutrient deficiencies!

What are the symptoms of histamine intolerance?

  • Skin issues (eczema, hives, rashes, itching)
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Joint pain
  • Racing heart
  • Anxiety
  • Allergies

What are natural ways you can decrease the histamine load and heal the gut?

  • Stabilize mast cells with supplements containing quercetin and consuming plenty of onions, kale, broccoli, and asparagus
  • Healing gut cells by consuming bone broth daily and/or taking supplements with glutamine
  • Getting your gut bugs in check by consuming probiotics and/or eating fermented foods if tolerated
  • Treating any infections with antimicrobials like berberine
  • Do yoga or meditation to decrease stress
  • Cut out alcohol for a period of time
  • Take B-vitamins or eat lots of colorful plants because many medications deplete b-vitamins which are necessary for DAO to function and breakdown histamine.  Think birth control, blood pressure meds, and mood regulators
  • Try to decrease the intake of high histamine foods because histamine is dose dependent.  That means a little isn’t an issue, but it just takes a little once you’ve reached the threshold to cause a response.

It shouldn’t be any surprise that, once again, lifestyle choices matter for you to live a life free from histamine intolerance.  There’s no magic bullet.  There’s no quick fix.  It takes a few months before you can really see optimized gut restoration, so give yourself 3 months before assessing your progress.  Hope this was helpful, and if you want to establish if this information pertains to you prior to trying the things listed above, I encourage you to meet with a knowledgeable functional medicine doctor.


Urinary Tract Infections: Natural Solutions

Urinary tract infections are not something we sit around the dinner table discussing, but google searching on the internet, that’s another story. Believe it or not, this topic is one of the most highly searched health terms. That means, you are not alone, and let’s hope there’s valuable information out there. When I asked my audience on media the other day what conditions they wanted information for, this was what they decided! I had NO CLUE that so many people were interested in UTI solutions, but considering that if many people get them, especially women, elderly, and men with BPH, I shouldn’t be surprised. The other thing to take note of is that if you get them, they often reoccur, which means antibiotics over and over again if you go a traditional treatment route and are unable to prevent them.

Let’s get down to business.

What causes Urinary Tract Infections?

The short answer? E. coli getting into the urinary tract, penetrating the cell lining and taking up shop. This is just another case of infection due to bacterial overgrowth.

How do you treat or prevent Urinary Tract Infections?

This is where visiting a doctor who can diagnose the infection and evaluate the severity is important. If there is a severe active infection, you may want to consider antibiotics as the treatment option that is needed because no one wants it to progress into a kidney infection! However, if it is somewhat early and benign, you may be able to get away with an antimicrobial combo like Uva Ursi and Berberine to get the job done.

In the case of prevention, my preference in practice is the use of cranberry extract that contains at least 36mg PAC (proanthocyanidins). These plant compounds found in cranberries have the ability to attach to E. coli and PREVENT them from attaching to the lining in the urinary tract. Having said that, that’s why we use this in folks who have the tendency to get them over and over. You know you want prevention for these patients, and cranberry extract supplements tend to be a great solution! Studies show that if you combine a cranberry extract with 36mg PACs with a broad spectrum probiotic, that it has even slightly better prevention rates (which were already great!) I’m pretty transparent about the supplement industry and what is pretty standard across the board and what you need to be intentional about in terms of quality, and this is one that is notorious for not having many PACs when tested. Be sure to ask your doc for a good cranberry extract!

In addition to antimicrobials for treatment or cranberry extracts for prevention, whether they be prescriptive or natural, you want to make sure to do implement the follow lifestyle habits:

  • drink plenty of water because hydration will help drive urination, flushing out the urinary tract
  • urinate after intercourse
  • wipe front to back, ladies. You don’t want anything bacterial from the back entering the front.
  • steer clear of too much sugar and simple carbs in your diet, because that tends to be a fuel source that bacteria thrive on!
  • take a probiotic or eat fermented foods to help keep your internal environment balanced

Implement these simple solutions, and you could avoid a trip to the doc, another round of antibiotics, and all of the time you waste not being able to pee, having burning during urination, or pain in the back and pelvis!