nutrition

Guide To Eating For Optimal Health (Food Sources Of Vitamins And Minerals)

Photo credit: Sharon Pittaway

Photo credit: Sharon Pittaway

In functional medicine (of which functional nutrition is the core), we often use supplements to enhance our health status, and doing so can be necessary to help replete nutrient deficiency, and to help address underlying metabolic imbalances and blocked biochemical pathways (for example).

 

It is important to keep in mind that while supplements can be helpful, they cannot and should not replace whole, real food sources of nutrition. Food is medicine and is our first line of defense against illness and disease. Food is also the primary vehicle for fueling our bodies with the nutrients we need to function.

 

Below are food sources of vitamins and minerals. This is not an exhaustive list, these are examples of foods containing these important nutrients. Do take into account your individual food allergies, sensitivities and tolerances, and health needs. Everyone is different, there is no one size fits all approach!

 

Incorporating food sources of vitamins and minerals into your diet daily is important for overall health and wellness, as well as for combating illness and disease. 

 

Vitamins: Biotin, folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K

Minerals: Calcium, chromium, copper, fluoride, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc

Essential amino acids (essential means you need to get them from your diet, your body doesn’t make them): Lysine, histidine, threonine, methionine, valine, isoleucine, leucine, phenylalanine, tryptophan

Other nutrients: Choline, essential fatty acids (need to get them from your diet, your body doesn’t make them), fiber

 

Vitamins

 

Biotin: Eggs, legumes, meats, oily fish, chicken, liver

Folate: Liver, chicken giblets, egg yolk, dried beans, lentils, split peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, beet root, Brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens, kale, bok choy, asparagus, oranges, peaches

Niacin (B3): Tuna, chicken, turkey, salmon, lamb, beef, sardines, brown rice 

Pantothenic acid (B5): Chicken liver, sunflower seeds, salmon, avocado, sun dried tomatoes, corn, mushrooms

Riboflavin (B2): Spinach, tempeh, crimini mushrooms, eggs, asparagus, turkey 

Thiamin (B1): Can be depleted with alcohol. Green peas, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, sunflower seeds, pistachios, herring, crimini mushrooms, ground flaxseed, spinach

B6: Tuna, turkey, beef, chicken, salmon, sweet potato, potato, sunflower seeds, spinach  

B12: B12 is found naturally only in animal products. Choose methylcobalamin for supplemental source, sardines, salmon, tuna, cod, lamb, beef, liver, chicken, fish, eggs, rainbow trout, haddock

Vitamin A: Beef liver, cod liver oil, egg, butter, milk, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, cantaloupe, mango, spinach, broccoli, kale, collard greens, butternut squash

Vitamin C: All will be higher in vitamin C if uncooked: Bell peppers, papaya, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, kiwi 

Vitamin D: Salmon, herring and sardines, cod liver oil, canned light tuna (lower in mercury), oysters, egg yolk, mushrooms

Vitamin E: Sunflower seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, avocados, turnip greens, asparagus, mustard greens 

Vitamin K: Grass fed butter, egg yolk, liver,  sauerkraut, and it’s made by gut bacteria

 

Minerals

 

Calcium: Seeds, canned salmon, sardines, beans (white, red, pinto), lentils, almonds, some leafy greens (collard, spinach, kale), broccoli, amaranth, dried figs, orange, yogurt, cheese, milk

Chromium: Broccoli, green beans, potatoes, grape juice, orange juice, beef, turkey, apples, bananas

Copper: Mushrooms (shiitake), nuts (cashews), seeds (sunflower seeds), garbanzo beans, lentils, lima beans, raw kale, oysters, avocado

Fluoride: Canned crab, rice, fish, chicken

Iodine: Cod, shrimp, milk (cow's), boiled egg, navy beans, baked potato with skin, turkey breast, seaweed

Iron (heme iron is found in animal products and nonheme iron is found in some plant foods): Beef, chicken liver, oysters, clams, tuna, mussels, raisins, prune juice, prunes, potato with skin, quinoa, spinach, Swiss chard, white beans, lentils, tofu, hazelnuts, cashews

Magnesium: Fatty fish (salmon, halibut, mackerel), spinach, chard, oatmeal, potatoes, black-eyed peas, brown rice, lentils, avocados, pinto beans, dark chocolate (70% and higher), nuts and seeds, legumes, tofu, buckwheat, quinoa, bananas, leafy greens

Manganese: Cloves, gluten-free oats, brown rice, garbanzo beans, spinach, pumpkin seeds

Molybdenum: Legumes, such as beans, lentils, and peas, and grain products and nuts

Phosphorus: Salmon, yogurt, milk, halibut, turkey, chicken, beef, lentils, almonds, cheese (mozzarella), peanuts, egg, whole-wheat bread

Potassium: Bananas, potatoes, prune juice, prunes, oranges, tomatoes, raisins, artichoke, lima beans, white beans, black beans, edamame, tomato paste, spinach, acorn squash, butternut squash, almonds, sunflower seeds, molasses, avocados, sweet potatoes, watermelon, coconut water, dried apricots, Swiss chard, beets, pomegranate

Selenium: Brazil nuts, tuna (yellowfin), oysters, clams, halibut, shrimp, salmon, crab, pork, beef, chicken, brown rice, sunflower seeds, milk

Zinc: Beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans, quinoa, turkey

 

Essential Amino Acids

Lysine: Meat, eggs, soy, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, black beans

Histidine: Meat, fish, poultry, nuts, seeds, whole grains

Threonine: Wheat germ, cottage cheese

Methionine: Eggs, grains nuts, seeds

Valine: Cheese, peanuts, soy, mushrooms, vegetables, whole grains

Isoleucine: Fish, meat, poultry, eggs, cheese, lentils, nuts, seeds

Leucine: Dairy, soy, legumes, beans

Phenylalanine: Meat, poultry, fish, soy, dairy, beans, nuts

Tryptophan: Cottage cheese, chicken, turkey, wheat germ

Other Nutrients

 

Choline: Beef liver, wheat germ, egg, beef, scallops, salmon, chicken breast, Atlantic cod, shrimp, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, milk, peanuts and peanut butter

Essential fatty acids (Omega 3s/DHA and EPA): Cell membranes are made of cholesterol and phospholipids, need to make sure there are plenty of healthy fats in your diet daily, and essential fatty acids reduce inflammation, and assist with gut and skin healing. Flaxseed, eggs, fish and fish oils, marine sources (sea vegetables/seaweeds), avocado, coconut oil

FiberLegumes (navy beans, split peas, lentils, kidney beans), cereals/grains (oats, bulgur, oat bran, quinoa, rice), vegetables (artichoke hearts, spinach, Brussels sprouts, winter squash, mushrooms), fruit (prunes, berries, apples), nuts and seeds (almonds, pistachios, pecans, peanuts)

Antioxidants: Vitamins A, C, and E, selenium, lycopene (pink grapefruit, watermelon, apricots, tomatoes), beta-carotene (peaches, apricots, papayas, mangoes, cantaloupe, carrots, broccoli, squash, sweet potatoes, beet greens, spinach, kale), lutein (spinach, collard greens, kale, broccoli, papayas, oranges)

 

Avoid high mercury fish

High mercury fish: Bluefish, grouper, mackerel (Spanish, Gulf, King), marlin, orange roughy, sea bass (Chilean), shark, swordfish, tilefish, and tuna (canned albacore, yellowfin, bigeye, ahi)

Low mercury fish: anchovies, butterfish, catfish, croaker (Atlantic),  flounder, haddock (Atlantic), hake, herring, mackerel (North Atlantic, chub), mullet, perch (ocean), pollock, salmon (fresh, wild), sardines, sole (Pacific), squid, tilapia, trout (freshwater), whitefish, and whiting


General recommendations

 

Go organic when possible for fruits and vegetables.

Go organic, pastured, free range, grass fed, wild caught, etc. for animal products.

Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day. For little ones, drink one 8 oz glass per year of age, per day.


Guide To Eating For Food Allergies

Photo credit:  Marta Branco

Photo credit: Marta Branco

Food allergy, food sensitivity, and food intolerance

Food allergy is an IgE immune response, and it can cause hives, itching, rashes and rash flares, gut symptoms, vomiting, trouble breathing, and swelling, and can be life-threatening.

IgE food allergies are different from IgG food sensitivities. An IgG immune response can cause gut symptoms, skin rashes and rash flares, brain fog, joint aches and pains (and more), and points to gut dysfunction and leaky gut. Reactions are not life-threatening.

IgE food allergies are also different from food intolerance. Food intolerance can cause symptoms like an IgG reaction and also isn’t life-threatening. It results from an inability of your body to appropriately metabolize a food or foods, and it won’t show up on IgE or IgG testing, in fact there really isn’t direct testing for food intolerance, other than to see if you feel better after removing the suspected foods from your diet. This means you can have food intolerances and be negative based on testing, so even if your IgE and IgG testing is clean, you still may not be free and clear.

Food allergy, those IgE reactions, is on the rise. It can affect anyone at any age, however it is more common in young children. Those with food allergies may be predisposed to having an immune system that responds inadequately to food triggers. Because the antigens in foods (the components of foods that trigger reactions) closely resemble each other between different foods, cross reactive allergic reactions happen often. This is most common with peanuts, legumes and tree nuts, and with cow, sheep and goat milk. 

Cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, crustaceans, and cephalopods cause 90% of allergic reactions.

Conventional food allergy treatment

Conventional treatment for IgE food allergies involves removing those foods from the diet, and being prepared with antihistamine medications, and an Epi pen in case of an exposure. There is research to find better treatment options and those being studied include:

  • Anti-IgE therapy to change the way the immune system responds to a food trigger

  • Oral immunotherapy, which exposes the allergic person to small doses of the problematic food, and the dose of that food in gradually increased to build tolerance

  • Early exposure, where in the past it’s been recommended that children avoid allergenic foods, it’s now recommended that children be exposed to these foods earlier in life

While it’s said that children outgrow their allergies, food allergies are generally life-long.

Food allergy, gut health, and the immune system

Interestingly, the gut microbiome of children with food allergies show signs of dysbiosis. Dysbiosis is abnormal gut bacteria, and can refer to overgrowths, imbalances and infections. Dysbiosis is associated with inflammation in the gut, and certain patterns of gut bacteria have been observed in those with food allergies.

This is because 80% of your immune system is located in your gut microbiome. The gut microbiome is important in balancing the activities of Th1 and Th2 cells. These cytokines, or immune system messengers (along with a range of others), are responsible for how the body protects itself against foreign invaders. Gut problems, like dysbiosis, can interfere with the Th1/Th2 balance. A shift in Th1/Th2 balance towards Th2 promotes a predisposition to allergic responses.

Th2 responses play a triggering role in the activation of cells that produce IgE antibodies, mast cells and eosinophils. Mast cells release histamine in allergic reactions resulting in a variety of symptoms, including itchy skin rashes, digestive symptoms, runny nose and watery eyes. High levels of eosinophils are seen in asthma, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and eczema.

Understanding the gut’s involvement in allergic reactions presents an opportunity for intervention beyond current methods. Restoring gut health and addressing gut inflammation may help lessen the severity of allergic reactions by bringing balance to the immune system.

Functional interventions for food allergy

There is testing to measure cytokine levels, and anti-inflammatory nutritional, lifestyle, hormonal, and supplemental recommendations for helping balance your immune messengers.

Nutrition for food allergy

Having to remove multiple foods from the diet long-term can lead to nutrient insufficiency and deficiency. Your body runs on nutrients from foods you eat. When nutrients are missing, imbalances develop and symptoms and health problems follow. 

If you or your little one is allergic to multiple foods, working with a professional that can help make sure the diet is complete is important. This is especially the case for little ones, who are growing and developing, and desperately need those nutrients.

Additionally, there are certain nutrients found to be lower in those with food allergies, compared to those without food allergies.

Incorporate these nutrients into your diet for food allergies

Nutrients important for food allergies (based on elimination of common allergenic foods including milk, eggs, soy, wheat, peanuts and tree nuts, fish and shellfish): Protein, calcium, vitamin B2, phosphorus, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B12, iron, biotin, vitamin E, vitamin B1, zinc, vitamin B6, vitamin B3, essential fatty acids (EPA/DHA), magnesium, selenium, vitamin C, lycopene, pycnogenol, flavonoids

Foods containing nutrients for food allergies (avoid foods you are allergic to)

Biotin: Eggs, legumes, meats, oily fish, chicken, liver

Niacin (B3): Tuna, chicken, turkey, salmon, lamb, beef, sardines, brown rice 

Riboflavin (B2): Spinach, tempeh, crimini mushrooms, eggs, asparagus, turkey 

Thiamin (B1): Can be depleted with alcohol. Green peas, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, sunflower seeds, pistachios, herring, crimini mushrooms, ground flaxseed, spinach

B6: Tuna, turkey, beef, chicken, salmon, sweet potato, potato, sunflower seeds, spinach  

B12: B12 is found naturally only in animal products. Sardines, salmon, tuna, cod, lamb, beef, liver, chicken, fish, eggs, rainbow trout, haddock

Vitamin A: Beef liver, cod liver oil, egg, butter, milk, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, cantaloupe, mango, spinach, broccoli, kale, collard greens, butternut squash (vitamin A from plant foods needs to be converted to the active form in the body, and this may not happen with gut problems)

Vitamin C: All will be higher in vitamin C if uncooked: Bell peppers, papaya, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, kiwi 

Vitamin D: Salmon, herring and sardines, cod liver oil, canned light tuna (lower in mercury), oysters, egg yolk, mushrooms

Vitamin E: Sunflower seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, avocados, turnip greens, asparagus, mustard greens   

Calcium: Seeds, canned salmon, sardines, beans (white, red, pinto), lentils, almonds, some leafy greens (collard, spinach, kale), broccoli, amaranth, dried figs, orange, yogurt, cheese, milk

Iron (heme iron is found in animal products and nonheme iron is found in some plant foods, nonheme iron is not as readily absorbed as heme iron): Beef, chicken liver, oysters, clams, tuna, mussels, raisins, prune juice, prunes, potato with skin, quinoa, spinach, Swiss chard, white beans, lentils, tofu, hazelnuts, cashews

Magnesium: Fatty fish (salmon, halibut, mackerel), spinach, chard, oatmeal, potatoes, black-eyed peas, brown rice, lentils, avocados, pinto beans, dark chocolate (70% and higher), nuts and seeds, legumes, tofu, buckwheat, quinoa, bananas, leafy greens

Phosphorus: Salmon, yogurt, milk, halibut, turkey, chicken, beef, lentils, almonds, cheese (mozzarella), peanuts, egg, whole-wheat bread

Selenium: Brazil nuts, tuna (yellowfin), oysters, clams, halibut, shrimp, salmon, crab, pork, beef, chicken, brown rice, sunflower seeds, milk

Zinc: Beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans, quinoa, turkey

Lycopene: Sun dried tomatoes, tomato puree, guava, watermelon, fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, papaya, pink grapefruit, cooked sweet peppers

Pycnogenol: Grapes, apples, cocoa, tea, nuts, some berries

Flavonoids: Rainbow assortment of colorful fruits and vegetables, green tea, black tea, white tea, nuts, dark chocolate

Animal protein (contains all essential and conditionally essential amino acids making them complete proteins) : Grass fed, pastured, free range, and wild caught organic animal products

Plant protein (not complete proteins, do not contain all essential or conditionally essential amino acids): Tofu, tempe (fermented soy, also prebiotic), lentils, chickpeas, nuts and seeds, quinoa, chia seeds, beans

Essential fatty acids (Omega 3s/DHA and EPA): Flaxseed, eggs, fish and fish oils, marine sources (sea vegetables/seaweeds), avocado, coconut oil

Avoid High Mercury Fish

High mercury fish: Swordfish, shark, king mackerel, tilefish, marlin, orange roughy, ahi tuna, bigeye tuna, yellowfin tuna

Low mercury fish: Anchovies, catfish, flounder, hake, haddock, herring, salmon (farmed may contain PCBs, not good either), mackerel, canned light tuna, trout, whitefish, pollock, sardines, butterfish

General Recommendations

Go organic when possible for fruits and vegetables.

Go organic, pastured, free range, grass fed, wild caught, etc. for animal products.

Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day. For little ones, drink one 8 oz glass per year of age, per day.

Guide To Eating For Healthy Skin

Photo credit:  Daisy Laparra

Photo credit: Daisy Laparra

Nutrition has been recognized for over 100 years as a very important factor in skin health. It’s well known that malnutrition or deficiencies of certain nutrients can significantly impact wound healing after injury and surgery.

Calorie intake, carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals all affect skin health.

In my FREE Guide to Eating for Healthy Skin you’ll learn:

  1. The important roles your skin plays

  2. How healthy skin is related to nutrition

  3. Why healthy skin depends on having a healthy gut

  4. How impaired detoxification affects your skin

  5. What REAL detoxification is (and it’s NOT juices, cleanses and detox diets)

  6. Why food sensitivities aren’t the root cause of your skin rashes, and what food sensitivities really mean

  7. The problem with elimination diets, and ‘healthy’ diets that restrict foods, food groups and categories of foods

  8. What nutrients your body needs for healthy skin, and detoxification, and what foods they are found in

  9. And much more!

Guide To Eating For Cancer (Breast and Prostate) Prevention And Support

Photo credit: Christiana Rivers

Photo credit: Christiana Rivers

Disclaimer: The information presented here does not and will not tell you to treat cancer or how to treat cancer. We have not treated cancer. Make sure you receive medical care and are under the supervision of a qualified physician.

Cancer

Cancer is the abnormal growth of cells, and there are over 100 types of cancer, including breast and prostate.

There are environmental, lifestyle and dietary factors that can contribute to, as well as lower your risk for cancer, and help protect against recurrence.

Each unique case has an intricate network of factors to address, so be sure to explore what will work for you with your health and medical care team.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors such as endocrine disrupting chemicals have been linked to cancer. Examples of these chemicals include (1):

Lifestyle Factors

Lack of exercise may increase risk for breast cancer, whereas moderate to intense exercise 4-7 hours per week may lower risk. Physical activity is associated with a reduced likelihood of developing cancer. Exercise may also influence cancer recurrence.

Stress may be a factor, and emotional stress may even contribute to the development of cancer, and reduce the effectiveness of cancer treatment (1).

Dietary Factors

Cancer cells need glucose to survive and proliferate, and much more of it compared to normal cells. Avoid excess glucose intake, as well as (1):

  • Commercially farmed meats and red meats

  • Charred and browned meats

  • Dairy products including processed and imitation butter, ice cream, all dyed and pasteurized milk and cheese

  • Simple carbohydrates and grains including white, refined flour, processed grains and seeds, white rice, refined cereals and refined flour pasta

  • Smoked and processed meats

  • Processed, GMO soy and soy products

  • Canned or bottled foods

  • Excess salt

  • Trans fats/hydrogenated fats

  • Processed junk foods and snacks, and beverages

  • Artificial colors and flavors

  • Alcohol

What should be included? A healthful, anti-inflammatory diet (1, 2):

  • Clean, lean protein sources

    • Wild caught salmon, mackerel, cod, sardines

    • Organic, pastured chicken and eggs, and organic turkey

    • Grass-fed beef, wild game

    • Grass-fed protein powders

    • Beans and lentils

    • Vegan protein powder

      • Organic rice, pea, hemp

  • Healthy fats

    • Ghee

    • Avocado and olives and their oils (cold pressed, extra virgin)

    • Coconut, coconut oil (cold pressed, virgin)

  • Nuts, seeds and butters

    • Coconut

    • Flax, chia, and hemp seeds

    • Raw pumpkin, and sunflower seeds

    • Raw almonds, macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts and walnuts

  • Rainbow assortment of organic, low glycemic vegetables and fruits

  • Herbs and spices

    • Turmeric

    • Variety of others

  • Beverages

    • Filtered water

    • Green tea and herbal teas, unsweetened

    • Nut milks

Ketogenic diets may be helpful, talk to a qualified professional to see if it is right for you.

There are a variety of nutrients found in foods that may be supportive in breast and prostate cancer, including (2):

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Resources

  1. Jurgelewicz M. Nutritional Support for Cancer, PowerPoint Lecture. University of Bridgeport. 2016.

  2. Kohlstadt I. Advancing Medicine with Food and Nutrients. 2nd Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2012.

Guide To Eating For Methylation And Detoxification

Photo credit: John Jackson

Photo credit: John Jackson

What is methylation? Methylation is a biochemical process in you body that acts sort of like a switch, to turn things on and off. It takes place in almost all parts of your body and it is constantly happening. It’s needed for DNA and RNA synthesis, it helps control inflammation, it's needed for detoxification pathways in the liver to help clear your body of toxins, and it also is necessary for the metabolism of neurotransmitters that control your mood.

MTHFR is a common genetic polymorphism. It affects the way your body metabolizes folic acid, and it plays a role in methylation. If you have the MTHFR mutation consider taking a supplement that contains the appropriate, activated forms of your B vitamins, including folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. If you are familiar with MTHFR, you may be familiar with the concept of taking methylated forms of these vitamins. The methylated forms aren’t necessarily the only ones you need to consider. Depending on other genetic polymorphisms you have in how you metabolize B vitamins, there are other forms of Bs you may need.

With MTHFR, it’s also important that you avoid folic acid, which is a synthetic form of folate. Folic acid is added to many food products, so make sure to read labels. Folate is the natural form of this important B vitamin and it is found naturally in a wide variety of foods.

Incorporate these nutrients into your diet to support methylation, detoxification and mood

Nutrients important for methylation: folate, B6, B12, Betaine, Magnesium, Zinc, B2, Choline, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, DHA (omega 3s), Probiotics

Nutrients important for detoxification Phase I: B2, B3, B6, Folate, B12, Glutathione,Branched Chain Amino Acids, Flavonoids, Phospholipids

Nutrients important for detoxification Phase II: Glycine, Taurine, Glutamine, N-acetylcysteine, Cysteine, Methionine

Important antioxidants that support intermediary metabolites (between Phases I and II):  Vitamin A (carotenoids), Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, Copper, Zinc, Manganese, CoQ10, Thiols, Flavonoids, Silymarin, Pycnogenol

Nutrients important for mood: B1, B2, B3, Biotin, B5, B6, Folic acid, B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, omega 3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA), magnesium

Nutrients and Foods Containing Them

B1: Can be depleted with alcohol. Green peas, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, sunflower seeds, pistachios, herring, crimini mushrooms, ground flaxseed, spinach

B2: Spinach, tempeh, crimini mushrooms, eggs, asparagus, turkey 

B3: Tuna, chicken, turkey, salmon, lamb, beef, sardines, brown rice 

B5: Chicken liver, sunflower seeds, salmon, avocado, sun dried tomatoes, corn, mushrooms

B6: Tuna, turkey, beef, chicken, salmon, sweet potato, potato, sunflower seeds, spinach 

Folate: Liver, chicken giblets, egg yolk, dried beans, lentils, split peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, beet root, Brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens, kale, bok choy, asparagus, oranges, peaches 

B12: B12 is only found naturally in animal products. Choose methylcobalamin for supplemental source, sardines, salmon, tuna, cod, lamb, beef, liver, chicken, fish, eggs, rainbow trout, haddock

Biotin: Eggs, legumes, meats, oily fish, chicken, liver

Vitamin A: Beef liver, cod liver oil, egg, butter, milk, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, cantaloupe, mango, spinach, broccoli, kale, collard greens, butternut squash (essentially all red, orange, yellow, and green plant foods contain carotenoids)

Vitamin C: All will be higher in vitamin C if uncooked: Bell peppers, papaya, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, kiwi 

Vitamin D: Salmon, herring and sardines, cod liver oil, canned light tuna (lower in mercury), oysters, egg yolk, mushrooms

Vitamin E: Sunflower seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, avocados, turnip greens, asparagus, mustard greens 

Betaine: Quinoa, beets, spinach, amaranth grain, sweet potato, turkey, veal, beef

Choline: Beef liver, beef, eggs, salmon, chicken, cod, Brussels sprouts

Magnesium: Halibut, spinach, chard, oatmeal, potatoes, black-eyed peas, brown rice, lentils, avocados, pinto beans 

Zinc: Beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans, quinoa, turkey 

Copper: Mushrooms (shiitake), sunflower seeds, garbanzo beans, lentils, lima beans 

Selenium: Tuna, sardines, salmon, turkey, cod, chicken, lamb, beef 

Glutathione: Undenatured whey protein, asparagus, curcumin/turmeric, avocado, spinach, garlic, foods high in vitamin C (e.g., citrus fruits) and selenium

Branched Chain Amino Acids: Whey protein, chicken, fish, eggs 

Flavonoids: Virtually all plant foods, including apples, apricots, blueberries, pears, raspberries, strawberries, black beans, onions, parsley, pinto beans, tomatoes 

Phospholipids: Sunflower seeds, eggs 

Glycine: Beef, chicken, lamb 

Taurine: Meat, fish

Glutamine: Beef, chicken, fish, eggs, beets, beans, spinach, parsley 

N-Acetylcysteine: Most high-protein foods (e.g., chicken), garlic, cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, arugula)

Cysteine: Beef, chicken, lamb, fish 

Methionine: Egg white/whole eggs, chicken, tuna, beef, chickpeas, pinto beans, lentils, brown rice 

Manganese: Cloves, gluten-free oats, brown rice, garbanzo beans, spinach, pumpkin seeds

CoQ10: Meat, poultry, fish 

Thiols: Chives, daikon radishes, garlic, leeks, onions, scallions, shallots 

Silymarin: Artichokes, milk thistle

Pycnogenol (antioxidant): Small amounts found in the peels, skins, or seeds of grapes, blueberries, cherries, plums 

DHA and EPA (Essential Fatty Acids/Omega 3s/healthy fats): Cell membranes are made of cholesterol and phospholipids, need to make sure there are plenty of healthy fats in your diet daily, and essential fatty acids reduce inflammation, and assist with gut and skin healing. Flaxseed, eggs, fish and fish oils, marine sources (sea vegetables/seaweeds), avocado, coconut oil

Probiotics: Prescript Assist, Ther-Biotic (both recommended - reassess probiotic when current one runs out)

Avoid High Mercury Fish

High mercury fish: Swordfish, shark, king mackeral, tilefish, marlin, orange roughy, ahi tuna, bigeye tuna, yellowfin tuna

Low mercury fish: Anchovies, catfish, flounder, hake, haddock, herring, salmon (farmed may contain PCBs, not good either), mackeral, canned light tuna, trout, whitefish, pollock, sardines, butterfish

General Recommendations

Go organic when possible for fruits and vegetables.

Go organic, pastured, free range, grass fed, wild caught, etc. for animal products.

Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day. For little ones, drink one 8 oz glass per year of age, per day.

Guide To Eating For Mood And Sleep

Photo credit: Hernan Sanchez

Photo credit: Hernan Sanchez

Imbalances in our neurotransmitters can cause depression, anxiety, OCD, problems sleeping, and a wide range of other troublesome symptoms. 

Neurotransmitters have nutrient based precursors including amino acids, in particular phenylalanine, tyrosine, GABA (gamma aminobutyriuc acid), and tryptophan. Also iron, BH4, B vitamins (active forms of B12, folate and B6), copper (don't supplement with copper without balancing with zinc) and vitamin C are needed to build neurotransmitters from these amino acids.

As an example, the amino acid tryptophan is required for your body to make serotonin. B vitamins, magnesium, and other vitamins and minerals are also required. Serotonin is then converted into melatonin. Serotonin is well known for playing a role in depression, and melatonin in sleep.

Eating foods that contain nutrients that are involved in neurotransmitter metabolism may help improve your mood and help you get a good night's rest.

Managing stress is also important for good sleep, as well as for improved mood. There are dietary interventions, and lifestyle interventions that can help you manage stress. 

Nutrients for Mood and Sleep

Nutrients important for mood: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, Folate, B12, Biotin, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, omega 3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA), magnesium, iron, copper, amino acids (phenylalanine, tyrosine, GABA, tryptophan)

Nutrients important for sleep: Selenium, vitamin C, tryptophan, potassium, magnesium, chromium, zinc, iron, calcium, vitamin D, omega 3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA), melatonin, B6

Nutrients and Foods Containing Them

B1: Can be depleted with alcohol. Green peas, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, sunflower seeds, pistachios, herring, crimini mushrooms, ground flaxseed, spinach

B2: Spinach, tempeh, crimini mushrooms, eggs, asparagus, turkey 

B3: Tuna, chicken, turkey, salmon, lamb, beef, sardines, brown rice 

B5: Chicken liver, sunflower seeds, salmon, avocado, sun dried tomatoes, corn, mushrooms

B6: Tuna, turkey, beef, chicken, salmon, sweet potato, potato, sunflower seeds, spinach 

Folate: Liver, chicken giblets, egg yolk, dried beans, lentils, split peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, beet root, Brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens, kale, bok choy, asparagus, oranges, peaches 

B12: B12 is only found naturally in animal products, Choose methylcobalamin for supplemental source, sardines, salmon, tuna, cod, lamb, beef, liver, chicken, fish, eggs, rainbow trout, haddock

Biotin: Eggs, legumes, meats, oily fish, chicken, liver

Vitamin C: All will be higher in vitamin C if uncooked: Bell peppers, papaya, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, kiwi 

Vitamin D: Salmon, herring and sardines, cod liver oil, canned light tuna (lower in mercury), oysters, egg yolk, mushrooms

Calcium: Tofu prepared with calcium sulfate (raw), plain yogurt, sardines, cheddar cheese, milk, white beans (cooked), Bok choy/Pak choi (cooked), figs (dried), orange, kale (cooked), pinto beans (cooked), broccoli (cooked), red beans (cooked)

Iron: Beef, chicken liver, oysters, clams, tuna (light canned in water), muscles, raisins, prune juice, prunes, potato with skin, quinoa, spinach, Swiss chard, beans, lentils, tofu, hazelnuts, cashews

Magnesium: Halibut, spinach, chard, oatmeal, potatoes, black-eyed peas, brown rice, lentils, avocados, pinto beans 

Copper: Oysters, shellfish, whole grains, beans, nuts, potatoes, organ meats (kidneys, liver), dark leafy greens, prunes, cocoa, black pepper

Zinc: Beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans, quinoa, turkey 

Potassium: Bananas, potatoes, prunes, plumes, oranges and orange juice, tomatoes and tomato juice, raisins, artichoke, avocados, broccoli, lima beans, acorn squash, spinach and other leafy greens, sunflower seeds, almonds

Selenium: Brazil nuts, tuna (yellowfin), oysters, clams, halibut, shrimp, salmon, crab, pork, beef, chicken, brown rice, sunflower seeds, milk

Chromium: Broccoli, green beans, potatoes, grape juice, orange juice, beef, turkey, apples, bananas

DHA and EPA (Essential Fatty Acids/Omega 3s/healthy fats): Cell membranes are made of cholesterol and phospholipids, need to make sure there are plenty of healthy fats in your diet daily, and essential fatty acids reduce inflammation, and assist with gut and skin healing. Flaxseed, eggs, fish and fish oils, marine sources (sea vegetables/seaweeds), avocado, coconut oil

Melatonin: Pineapples, bananas, and oranges can help boost levels. Tart cherries and walnuts contain small amounts.

Phenylalanine: Cheeses, nuts and seeds, lean beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, lean pork, fish, eggs, beans, lentils, whole grains

Tyrosine: Cheese, soybeans, beef, lamb, pork, fish, chicken, nuts, seeds, eggs, dairy, beans, whole grains

GABA: Almonds, tree nuts, bananas, liver (beef), broccoli, brown rice, halibut, lentils, citrus fruits (oranges), spinach, walnuts, whole grains

Tryptophan: Turkey, chicken, eggs, sweet potatoes, chia and hemp seeds, bananas, pumpkin seeds, almonds, yogurt

Avoid High Mercury Fish

High mercury fish: Swordfish, shark, king mackeral, tilefish, marlin, orange roughy, ahi tuna, bigeye tuna, yellowfin tuna

Low mercury fish: Anchovies, catfish, flounder, hake, haddock, herring, salmon (farmed may contain PCBs, not good either), mackeral, canned light tuna, trout, whitefish, pollock, sardines, butterfish

General Recommendations

Go organic when possible for fruits and vegetables.

Go organic, pastured, free range, grass fed, wild caught, etc. for animal products.

Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day. For little ones, drink one 8 oz glass per year of age, per day.

Guide To Eating For Stress Management

Photo credit: Nik Shuliahin

Photo credit: Nik Shuliahin

Chronic stress, whether it’s physical, chemical, or emotional, burns through nutrients and steals them from other needs your body has.

Chronic stress can lead to nutrient insufficiency and deficiency over time. This can cause imbalances in your body, and symptoms and health problems follow.

  1. Examples of physical stress include restricted diets, over exercise, and physical trauma

  2. Examples of chemical stress include prescription medications, environmental pollutants, pesticides and processed foods

  3. Examples of emotional stress include personal, financial, and work related concerns

Stress is a complex phenomenon and everyone has their own tolerance for it. Your stress response is triggered by a variety of factors, like the examples noted above. When you are exposed to ongoing stress, it becomes chronic.

Your body responds to stress by initiating a series of reactions that effect your behavior, nervous system function, the secretion of hormones, and cause other physical and chemical changes.

Your body doesn’t differentiate between the different kinds of stress, these changes happen regardless of where your stress comes from. In fact, chronic psychological stress is associated with the body losing its ability to regulate its inflammatory response, and this can promote the development and progression of disease.

All of the extra work your body does while under stress uses more fuel, and that fuel is in the form of nutrients.

You can support the needs of your body and help it cope with stress by nourishing it. Eating whole, real foods and not restricting foods, food groups and categories of foods has powerful stress reducing benefits. It can improve brain function, strengthen your immune system, improve circulation and lower blood pressure, and lower levels of toxins in your body.

Nutrients your body needs to respond to stress include complex carbohydrates, protein, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin C, vitamin E, B vitamins, magnesium, selenium, zinc, calcium, iron, and antioxidant nutrients. These nutrients play MANY roles in your body in addition to helping you cope with stress, so make sure to include foods rich in these nutrients in your diet.

Incorporate these nutrients into your diet for stress management

Nutrients important for stress management: Complex carbohydrates, proteins (tryptophan, phenylalanine, tyrosine, theanine), vitamin C, vitamin E, B vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants, magnesium, calcium, zinc, glutamine, selenium

Foods containing nutrients for stress management

Complex carbohydrates: Green vegetables, whole grains, starchy vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, squash), beans, lentils, peas

Proteins: High-quality proteins of any kind are the best choice, including lean, grass-fed, organic, non-GMO sources. Remember to choose wild-caught  fish, as farmed varieties may contain hormones and toxic chemicals called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

Tryptophan: Turkey, chicken, eggs, sweet potatoes, chia and hemp seeds, bananas, pumpkin seeds, almonds, yogurt

Phenylalanine:  Soybeans, cheese, nuts, seeds, beef, lamb, chicken, pork, fish, eggs, dairy,  beans, whole grains

Tyrosine: Cheese, soybeans, beef, lamb, pork, fish, chicken, nuts, seeds, eggs, dairy, beans, whole grains

Theanine: Green tea

Vitamin C: All will be higher in vitamin C if uncooked: Bell peppers, papaya, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, kiwi

Vitamin E: Sunflower seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, avocados, turnip greens, asparagus, mustard greens

B vitamins

B1: Can be depleted with alcohol. Pork, ham, dark green leafy vegetables, wheat germ, green pea, lentils, almonds, pecans

B2: Milk, yogurt, cheese, asparagus, spinach (dark green leafy vegetables), chicken, fish, eggs

B3: Chicken, turkey, salmon, canned tuna packed in water, legumes, peanuts, whole wheat

B5: Chicken liver, sunflower seeds, salmon, avocado, sun dried tomatoes, corn, mushrooms

B6: Poultry, seafood, bananas, leafy green vegetables (spinach, turnip greens, Swiss chard), potatoes

Folate: Leafy greens (spinach, turnip greens, Swiss chard), fresh fruits and vegetables

B12: Animal foods are the only natural source of vitamin B12, shellfish, sardines, salmon, tuna, cod, lamb, beef, liver, chicken, fish, eggs, rainbow trout, haddock

Biotin: Eggs, legumes, meats, oily fish, chicken, liver

Omega 3 fats: Flaxseed, eggs, fish (salmon) and fish oils, marine sources (sea vegetables/seaweeds), avocado, coconut oil

Antioxidants: Rainbow assortment of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables

Magnesium: Dark leafy greens (spinach, Swiss chard), dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, almonds, black beans, avocado, figs, bananas, yogurt or kefir

Calcium: Tofu prepared with calcium sulfate (raw), plain yogurt, sardines, cheddar cheese, milk, white beans (cooked), Bok choy/Pak choi (cooked), figs (dried), orange, kale (cooked), pinto beans (cooked), broccoli (cooked), red beans (cooked)

Zinc: Beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans, quinoa, turkey

Glutamine: Beef, chicken, fish, eggs, beets, beans, spinach, parsley

Selenium: Brazil nuts, tuna, sardines, salmon, turkey, cod, chicken, lamb, beef

Avoid High Mercury Fish

High mercury fish: Swordfish, shark, king mackeral, tilefish, marlin, orange roughy, ahi tuna, bigeye tuna, yellowfin tuna

Low mercury fish: Anchovies, catfish, flounder, hake, haddock, herring, salmon (farmed may contain PCBs, not good either), mackeral, canned light tuna, trout, whitefish, pollock, sardines, butterfish

General Recommendations

  • Go organic when possible for fruits and vegetables.

  • Go organic, pastured, free range, grass fed, wild caught, etc. for animal products.

  • Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day. For little ones, drink one 8 oz glass per year of age, per day.

In addition to nourishing your body, stress management techniques are an important piece of the puzzle.

Stress also adversely affects the gut and can lead to leaky gut and imbalanced gut flora, so addressing gut health is an important cornerstone of a comprehensive stress management protocol because if you can’t digest, absorb, and use nutrients from the foods you eat, eating the right foods won’t matter much, nor will it help reduce your stress levels.

Guide To Eating For Insulin Resistance And Diabetes

Photo credit: rawpixel

Photo credit: rawpixel

Deficiencies of specific vitamins and minerals that play important roles in glucose metabolism and insulin signaling pathways may contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes. Shifting from a diet that is nutrient-poor to one that is nutrient-dense, low glycemic and high fiber is important, and a diet rich in certain vitamins and minerals can help you avoid nutrient deficiencies that are associated with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. A diet rich in plant foods including fresh whole fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains (like a Mediterranean style diet) can improve how genes that control insulin function and obesity work (where obesity is associated with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes). Along with eating a nutrient-dense diet to resolve nutrient deficiencies, lifestyle modification (including stress management), engaging in interval training and physical activity, and the appropriate use of dietary supplements can enhance mitochondrial function (energy production) and reduce oxidative stress, where these factors are important for improved glycemic (blood sugar) control.

Incorporate these nutrients into your diet to help manage insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes

Nutrients important for managing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes: Vitamin B3, vitamin B12, biotin, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, inositol, carnitine, glutamine, CoQ10, glutathione, cysteine, lipoic acid, zinc, magnesium, chromium, vanadium, quercetin, resveratrol, omega 3 fats (EPA and DHA), PABA, GABA, antioxidants

Foods containing nutrients for the management of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes

B3: Tuna, chicken, turkey, salmon, lamb, beef, sardines, brown rice

B12: Choose methylcobalamin for supplemental source, sardines, salmon, tuna, cod, lamb, beef, liver, chicken, fish, eggs, rainbow trout, haddock

Biotin: Eggs, legumes, meats, oily fish, chicken, liver

Vitamin C: All will be higher in vitamin C if uncooked. Bell peppers, papaya, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, kiwi 

Vitamin D: Salmon, herring and sardines, cod liver oil, canned light tuna (lower in mercury), oysters, egg yolk, mushrooms

Vitamin E: Sunflower seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, avocados, turnip greens, asparagus, mustard greens 

Inositol: Inositol is found in cereals and vegetables as phytic acid (combination of inositol and phosphorus). Lecithin granules, beef heart, desiccated liver, wheat germ, lecithin oil, liver, brown rice, citrus fruits, nuts, leafy green vegetables, molasses

Carnitine: Beef steak, ground beef, pork, whole milk, cod, chicken breast, avocado, asparagus

Glutamine: Beef, chicken, fish, eggs, beets, beans, spinach, parsley 

CoQ10: Meat, poultry, fish

Glutathione: Undenatured whey protein, asparagus, curcumin/turmeric, avocado, spinach, garlic, foods high in vitamin C (e.g., citrus fruits) and selenium

Cysteine: Beef, chicken, lamb, fish 

Lipoic acid: Broccoli, spinach, red meat, organ meat, Brussels sprouts, peas, tomatoes, beets, carrots, Brewer's yeast

Zinc: Beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans, quinoa, turkey

Magnesium: Halibut, spinach, chard, oatmeal, potatoes, black-eyed peas, brown rice, lentils, avocados, pinto beans

Chromium: Brewer's yeast, mussels, oysters, pears, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, tomatoes, broccoli, egg yolk, prunes, herring, dried basil, turkey breast, cheese, organ meats. Food rich in vitamin C (red peppers, citrus fruits, strawberries) can improve absorption of chromium.

Vanadium: Mushrooms, shellfish, black pepper, parsely, dill weed, beer, wine, whole grains, tomatoes, green beans, corn, carrots, garlic, radishes, onions, cabbage

Quercetin: Apples, peppers, red wine, dark cherries and berries, cruciferous vegetables, tomatoes, leafy greens, citrus fruits, whole grains, raw asparagus, raw red onion, olive oil, black and green tea, beans/legumes, cocoa

Resveratrol: Grapes, red and white wine, peanuts, pistachios, blueberries, cranberries, cocoa, dark chocolate

DHA and EPA: (Essential Fatty Acids/Omega 3s/healthy fats) Cell membranes are made of cholesterol and phospholipids, need to make sure there are plenty of healthy fats in your diet daily, and essential fatty acids reduce inflammation, and assist with gut and skin healing. Flaxseed, eggs, fish and fish oils, marine sources (sea vegetables/seaweeds), avocado, coconut oil

Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA): Whole grains, folate rich vegetables (mushrooms, spinach, dried beans, lentils, split peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beet root, Brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens, kale, bok choy, asparagus, oranges, peaches), Brewer's yeast

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA): Fermented foods (kimchi, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, tempeh, yogurt). Flavonoid phytonutrients may enhance GABA function (berries, citrus fruits, apples, pears, tea, cocoa, wine).

Antioxidants: Virtually all plant foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, kidney beans, dark chocolate

Avoid High Mercury Fish

High mercury fish: Bluefish, grouper, mackerel (Spanish, Gulf, King), marlin, orange roughy, sea bass (Chilean), shark, swordfish, tilefish, and tuna (canned albacore, yellowfin, bigeye, ahi)

Low mercury fish: anchovies, butterfish, catfish, croaker (Atlantic),  flounder, haddock (Atlantic), hake, herring, mackerel (North Atlantic, chub), mullet, perch (ocean), pollock, salmon (fresh, wild), sardines, sole (Pacific), squid, tilapia, trout (freshwater), whitefish, and whiting

General Recommendations

Go organic when possible for fruits and vegetables.

Go organic, pastured, free range, grass fed, wild caught, etc. for animal products.

Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day. For little ones, drink one 8 oz glass per year of age, per day.


Guide To Eating For Your Immune System (Tonsils And Adenoids)

Photo credit: Nhia Moua

Photo credit: Nhia Moua

Tonsil and Adenoidectomy Post Op Nutrition

It is important to stay nourished and hydrated after surgery, therefore getting in adequate protein and liquids is important for healing and for overall health and wellness. 

Hot (temperature and spicy), acidic foods (like citrus and tomato), and crunchy foods may irritate the throat after surgery and should be avoided. Think cool and soothing.

Start with liquids and add soft solids as you are able.

What to eat and drink:

  • Lots of water

  • Coconut water is a natural and healthy source of electrolytes (instead of Gatorade or sports drinks)

  • Coconut ice cream (preferred over regular dairy* ice cream)

  • Milk alternatives: almond, coconut, flaxseed, hazelnut, hemp, and rice

  • Banana ice cream    

    • Frozen banana, berries, other favorite items (even raw cacao to make it chocolate), can add coconut oil and/or avocado for healthy fats and calories, blend in food processor or blender

  • Chocolate pudding (made healthy)

    • Mashed avocado, raw cacao powder to taste, honey or maple syrup to taste (really tastes like chocolate pudding AND is loaded with healthy fats)

  • Applesauce, soft canned fruits like peaches, mashed bananas

  • Cooled soups, bone broths (with soft, well-cooked rice, vegetables and protein sources like very soft tender chicken or fish) 

  • Oatmeal (cooled)

  • Well-cooked rice (cooled)

  • Mashed potatoes and/or sweet potatoes (sweet potatoes are more nutrient dense) (cooled)

  • Mashed butternut squash, other mashed squashes (even zucchini) (cooled)

  • Very cooked/soft/pureed vegetables (cooled)

  • Add grass-fed butter, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, or ghee to foods for healthy fats

  • Smoothies are a great way to get in all sort of nutrients

    • Add fruit, vegetables, coconut oil and/or other healthy fats, other as desired, include probiotics, vitamins, pain medications, etc.

    • If feeling adventurous, add some baby kale or spinach to the smoothies, it might turn them green, carrots (orange), or beets (red of course), etc., but really has no taste to it otherwise, and it’s a great way to get in some vegetables and extra nutrients (and fun to drink different colored smoothies!).

  • Protein ideas

    • Add a favorite protein powder to smoothies, banana ice cream, avocado pudding, yogurt, etc.

    • Use an unflavored protein powder to add to mashed potatoes and oatmeal (and other foods) for example

    • Coconut or Greek yogurt (full fat versions)

    • Canned tuna or salmon

    • Soft, cooked and cooled fish

    • Scrambled eggs

    • Mashed beans, bean dips, hummus and lentils

Dairy is a common allergen, is often loaded with hormones and antibiotics, and can contribute to leaky gut and inflammation.

For reference, examples of non-dairy foods high in calcium that can be eaten after surgery and as the area begins to heal include mashed canned salmon, mashed beans and lentils, spinach, kale, collard greens, and broccoli juiced/added to smoothies, and enriched rice, almond, hemp and coconut milks.

About Tonsils and Adenoids

Tonsils and adenoids are part of the immune system, and are made of lymphatic tissue. They trap germs that come into the body through the nose and mouth.

Because of their location, tonsils and adenoids are the first line of defense against pathogens that we eat or breathe in, making them an important part of our immune defense system. They also are important for the health of our oral and digestive microbiomes (good bacteria in our mouths and guts respectively).

When the tonsils and adenoids are enlarged, inflamed and infected, it can mean the immune system is in overdrive and something is chronically triggering it.

Removing the tonsils and adenoids (the usual treatment for persistent issues) does not necessarily address the underlying cause of why the immune system is chronically in overdrive. This can leave the root cause unaddressed, and lead to other health problems in the future. 

Eighty percent of the immune systems is located in the gut microbiome. Gut imbalances therefore can have a negative effect throughout the body. Examples of gut imbalances are gut dysbiosis (abnormal/imbalanced gut bacteria) and leaky gut, and these can be causes of systemic, chronic immune system stimulation, dysregulation, and inflammation.

Before undergoing surgery many patients have been on multiple rounds of antibiotics, and use over the counter pain medications to manage symptoms associated with their enlarged, inflamed and infected tonsils and adenoids.

  • Over use of antibiotics damage the gut microbiome and can cause dysbiosis and leaky gut. This weakens the immune system, and impairs digestive health.

  • Over use of pain medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can negatively effect the gut lining (contributing to leaky gut) and microbiome, and therefore the immune system.

We aren’t what we eat, we are what our bodies can do with what we eat. Problems in the gut adversely effect the digestion, absorption, and assimilation of nutrients from foods we do eat.

This can lead to nutrient insufficiency and deficiency over time. Our bodies run off of nutrients from foods we eat, and if they are missing, for any reason (including due to an inability to digest, absorb and use them because of impaired gut health), imbalances develop and so do symptoms and health problems.

Food is medicine and is our first line of defense against illness and disease

  • We start with nutrition!

    • Poor diet can adversely affect the microbiome and lead to dysbiosis and leaky gut.

      • First, we remove inflammatory foods including processed, sugary, and artificial foods, as well as gluten, and dairy.

    • Food sensitivities cause dysregulation of the gut microbiome, and dysregulation of the gut microbiome can cause food sensitivities, resulting in leaky gut. It’s a vicious cycle. Keep in mind that food sensitivities are not a root cause of the problem. They are a symptom of impaired gut health.

      • There is functional testing that can be done to explore gut health, and there are natural interventions that can be implemented to resolve identified imbalances including nutrition, lifestyle and nutrient supplement interventions.

    • Food allergies and intolerances are linked to enlargement of adenoids and tonsils

      • Food allergies are different from sensitivities and intolerances, and must be avoided. Food allergy testing can be done to identify offending foods so they can be removed from the diet.

We can also incorporate foods containing supportive, immune boosting nutrients into our diets.  

Incorporate these nutrients into your diet to help boost your immune system

Nutrients important for boosting the immune system: Vitamins A, B6, C, D, and E, folate, iron, selenium, zinc, probiotics

Foods containing nutrients to help boost your immune system

Vitamin A: Beef liver, cod liver oil, egg, butter, milk, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, cantaloupe, mango, spinach, broccoli, kale, collard greens, butternut squash (essentially all red, orange, yellow, and green plant foods)

Vitamin B6: Tuna, turkey, beef, chicken, salmon, sweet potato, potato, sunflower seeds, spinach 

Vitamin C: All will be higher in vitamin C if uncooked. Bell peppers, papaya, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, kiwi 

Vitamin D: Salmon, herring and sardines, cod liver oil, canned light tuna (lower in mercury), oysters, egg yolk, mushrooms

Vitamin E: Sunflower seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, avocados, turnip greens, asparagus, mustard greens 

Folate: Liver, chicken giblets, egg yolk, dried beans, lentils, split peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, beet root, Brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens, kale, bok choy, asparagus, oranges, peaches

Iron: Beef, chicken liver, oysters, clams, tuna (light canned in water), muscles, raisins, prune juice, prunes, potato with skin, quinoa, spinach, Swiss chard, beans, lentils, hazelnuts, cashews

Selenium: Tuna, sardines, salmon, turkey, cod, chicken, lamb, beef

Zinc: Beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans, quinoa, turkey

Probiotic foods*: Cultured vegetables (sauerkraut and kimchi), kombucha, coconut kefir, natto, coconut yogurt, apple cider vinegar, salted gherkin pickles, tempeh, miso, brine-cured olives

*Probiotic foods are also high in histamine, which some people are sensitive or intolerant to, especially those with skin rashes like eczema.

Avoid High Mercury Fish

High mercury fish: Bluefish, grouper, mackerel (Spanish, Gulf, King), marlin, orange roughy, sea bass (Chilean), shark, swordfish, tilefish, and tuna (canned albacore, yellowfin, bigeye, ahi)

Low mercury fish: anchovies, butterfish, catfish, croaker (Atlantic),  flounder, haddock (Atlantic), hake, herring, mackerel (North Atlantic, chub), mullet, perch (ocean), pollock, salmon (fresh, wild), sardines, sole (Pacific), squid, tilapia, trout (freshwater), whitefish, and whiting

General Nutrition Recommendations

Go organic when possible for fruits and vegetables.

Go organic, pastured, free range, grass fed, wild caught, etc. for animal products.

Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day. For little ones, drink one 8 oz glass per year of age, per day.