And why eating Alaskan salmon is the best way to get it! Courtesy of Sandro Lane, owner, Alaska Protein Recovery — the only fish oil I recommend to my patients. Fish oil can come in three main forms:

GERD, or heartburn, is not CAUSED by stomach acid. That’s a ridiculous idea that has had the American public buying billions of dollars worth of TUMS, or worse, drugs that block the formation of stomach acid (proton pump inhibitors such as Nexium, Zanax, Protonix, etc) for decades. Stomach acid is critically important not only for proper digestion, but it also sterilizes your food before going deeper into your body, thus acting as a major protectant against infection. Heartburn is caused by an incompetent valve at the base of your esophagus

Overheard in the Healthfood Store Two friends, Linda and Jenna, who work at Rainbow Foods in beautiful downtown Juneau, Alaska, agreed to pick out a few quirky popular requests from customers and pass them along to me.

Q: I’m not sure I am absorbing my nutrition.  I try to eat well; no alcohol, sodas or fried food.  Despite that I continue to gain weight, become hypoglycemic easily, have low energy and sometimes break out in hives.  My bowel function is all over the place.  Please tell me what I’m doing wrong — I have spent thousands of dollars on doctors already! A: Sounds like you may have “Irritable Bowel Syndrome” or IBS.

Would you benefit from cleansing? Yes, if you: Smoke Are regularly exposed to environmental toxins Drink less than a litre of water daily Drink soda pop, coffee or alcohol Eat processed foods such as white flour baked goods and candy Crave junk food Are tired, constipated, bloated and lack focus Have sticky or malodorous bowel movements Have pasty skin or dark circles under your eyes Have blood sugar problems Have unstable emotions Have unsatisfactory libido or sleep Are over or under-weight Use prescription or recreational drugs regularly If you peruse natural health news, you certainly have read the word “detox” lately.  You may have heard about how “body burden” of unnatural chemicals is higher than ever before. Industrial run-off into our rivers, pharmaceutical pollution flushed down toilets, burning fossil fuels belching into the air, fake food, plastic everywhere — all of this and more comprises an enormous burden for our internal self-cleansing systems. The amazing human body has several mechanisms by which to rid itself of non-nutrients which come in daily through our nose and mouth. We process food across...

Milk thistle (Silybum marianum), particularly the seeds, has been used medicinally for over 2000 years.  Ancient writings recommend milk thistle not only for liver and gall bladder disorders, but for poisoning of all kinds including from toxic mushrooms and snakebites. The modern use of milk thistle extract began in 1949 when animal studies showed that it could protect the liver against carbon tetrachloride poisoning.  Since then over 100 clinical trials have been performed on this miraculous medicine and it is carried in the Emergency Department pharmacies of most major European hospitals.  Milk thistle has successfully saved lives by reversing acetaminophen (Tylenol) and Amanita mushroom (one of the most deadly) poisoning. Milk thistle is thought to work in three main ways: first as an antioxidant, “quenching” free radicals created from poisoning or environmental pollution.  Folks living in a smoggy area are well advised to take 600-750 mg daily of standardized milk thistle.  The best quality milk thistle is standardized to contain 70% by weight of the major ingredient silybin.  The other mechanisms of action are by protecting the cell membranes (most...

I know you’ve heard this before, but it is SO important that it bears repeating: CHEW, CHEW, CHEW. This means both slowly and thoroughly. To be totally graphic about it, you want anything you swallow to be a soupy consistency. Especially meat. For starters, digestion starts in the mouth. There are thousands of tiny neuro-receptors in the mouth that send messages to the brain about what is about to come down the pike. These messages “prep” the entire digestive system to gear up for the meal or snack that’s on the way. Fatty foods will trigger the liver to produce extra bile, and cause the gallbladder to contract. The gallbladder is a handy little sack that hangs just under the liver, collecting an extra repository of bile in case you have a Mac-attack. Bile is extremely potent stuff (so precious to the body that 95% is recycled — the other 5% is responsible for the wonderful deep brown color of a healthy poop. Excuse me, I mean bowel movement). Bile is the main agent for digesting fat. But I’m getting...

Diverticula are pouch-like projections from the inner wall of the large intestine. They are caused by slow-moving stools which increase pressure within the colon, requiring more vigorous muscular contraction (peristalsis) to expel fecal matter. Approximately 40% of people over age 40 have them, 60% over age 60 and 90% over age 90. They are more common in men than in women. Often, they aren’t a problem at all. But they are also the cause of one of the most common bowel disorders, called Diverticulosis. This disease occurs when fecal matter becomes lodged in the diverticula, making them subject to inflammation, ulceration, bleeding, or more seriously, fistulas. A fistula is an abnormal tunnel, in this case through the intestine wall, which can release fecal matter into the abdominal cavity. This causes peritonitis, which, like appendicitis, requires urgent medical attention. The most common symptoms of diverticular disease are pain in the left lower part of the abdomen, blood in the stools, and irregular bowel habits mimicking irritable bowel syndrome, which presents as mostly constipation alternating with bouts of diarrhea. Pain can also...

Despite its prevalence, constipation is often not understood, nor mentioned to doctors and thus may go untreated for years. While perhaps not the most scintillating topic for polite conversation with new friends, I personally, as a naturopathic physician and mom, am fascinated with digestive health and, well, poop. Constipation means all or any of the following: difficulty passing stool, incomplete passage of stool, or infrequent bowel movements. Ideally people would poop shortly after each meal, just like cats. The two main reasons few Americans have 3 easy-to-pass, formed, darkish brown, half-floating/half-sinking poops daily (the ideal) is because of chronic dehydration and a low-fiber, high refined-food diet. “Sinkers” mean the fecal matter has been in there too long and has become compacted, dense and heavy. The optimal “transit time” is 18 to 24 hours. Beets or corn are useful foods for evaluating how long it takes to go the several dozen feet from your mouth to your anus.

You may have heard the aphorism “You Are What You Eat.” That’s true, to a certain extent, but perhaps it would be even more accurate to quip “You Are What You Assimilate.” In other words, you need to extract the nutrition from your chow, and successfully eliminate the rest, for the food to have been truly useful. Some basic tips on maximizing your chances of healthy assimilation and proper elimination are: