The straight poop on fecal transplants

It’s so easy to think that our high-tech, modern culture means we understand the laws of nature and know more than our ancestors.

When it comes to maintaining health, however, this is not necessarily true.

I’m often struck by the wisdom of ancient cultures, and every day modern science validates this wisdom, be it a new appreciation for acupuncture, or scientific support for time-honored herbal preparations, or even documentation of benefit for strange practices like bloodletting (which we now know can be very therapeutic), and, yes, fecal transplants.

If you’re interested in just what all the talk about common, everyday poop might mean for you, tune into on my humorous and informative interview with Martie Whittenkin, CCN, author of The Probiotic Cure.

Watch the video now

 

Here’s more about fecal transplants . . .

As gross as it sounds, treating disease with fecal matter (a practice documented in 4th-century Chinese medical literature as well as WWII-era observations of Bedouin nomads) has been used for centuries to treat many gastrointestinal disorders.

Recently, modern science has found that a simple fecal transplant — and yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like: taking poop from one person and putting it into someone else — has the capability to cure an intestinal infection that is widespread and that can be fatal: Clostridium difficile. Now, this is big news! And it’s interesting because it reminds us of the essential and varied roles our microbiome (the “good bacteria” we carry with us) plays in human health.

Curing of Clostridium difficile in humans is amazing, but it could be just the beginning. Animal studies have been pushing the envelope on just what we can “import” from a fecal transplant.  For example, fecal microbiota from a fat mouse transplanted into a thin mouse resulted in the skinny mouse gaining weight. Even more interesting: shy, fearful mice became more aggressive and competitive after a fecal transplant from a very aggressive, competitive mouse.

 

6 fall tips for better digestion

 

As the days get shorter and colder, I load my wood stove to keep myself warm. And I stoke my “other stove” as well — my digestion. It’s the “burner” of our physical body that miraculously transforms food into energy to keep us strong during the long winter.

Try my 6 tips for strengthening digestion:

  1. Fall is when we transition from light, raw summer salads to more substantial, hot, cooked foods like soups, stews baked and roasted dishes that warm both the house and our digestion. Cooked fall fruits make a great dessert. Try the Apple oat and nut muffin recipe below.
  2. Sip warming teas like fresh ginger root tea and my favorite toxin-busting cardamom, fennel, ginger tea. You can always just drink hot water after your meals too. If that doesn’t seem appealing, I challenge you to try it for just one week. I suspect you’ll make it a regular habit because it feels so good.  Let me know!
  3. Warming spices and herbs not only provide antioxidants, but also warm and enhance digestion. Turmeric and ginger root are my favorites, but cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, mustard seed, red and black pepper are close behind. Try using more of these spices in your everyday cooking.
  4. Eating a larger lunch and an earlier, lighter dinner allows digestion to be complete before going to bed and making for a more successful and restful sleep-repair stage.
  5. Even if your meal is simple, enjoy the food in peaceful surroundings. Take time to chew well and savor different tastes. Just last night, I prepared a quick one-pan meal and enjoyed it while watching the sunset.
  6. One day a week, give your digestion a rest and eat only easy-to-digest liquid foods like soups, smoothies, and juices (made with warm water), protein shakes, pureed foods and plenty of hot water.

Apple oat and nut muffins recipe

From The Amazing Acid Alkaline Cookbook

Yield: 12 muffins

Ingredients:
1 1/3 cups light spelt flour (option: gluten-free flour)
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
½ cup Sucanat sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup finely chopped peeled apples
½ cup unsweetened almond milk
½ cup finely chopped and shelled raw pumpkin seeds, unsalted cashews or macadamia nuts
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
¼ cup melted clarified butter
¼ cup rice syrup

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly coat a 12-cup muffin pan with vegetable oil or clarified butter, or use a silicone muffin pan or paper liners, and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and baking soda. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the apples, milk, pumpkin seeds, applesauce, butter and rice syrup. Mix well with a spoon until blended.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
  5. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
  6. Let the muffins cool in the pan for no more than 2 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

 

5 tips to protect bone from toxic metal damage

No matter how we may try to eat “clean,” our food, water, and environment brings us a serious load of toxic metals — lead, arsenic, mercury, and cadmium.

Lead and cadmium, for example, are “tucked away” in the skeleton to limit damage to the rest of the body — but bone cells are damaged during storage. Worse, during periods of high bone breakdown, such as menopause, in pregnancy and lactation, or excessive weight loss, they are freed up to injure other body systems.

That’s why it’s so critical to do what you can to reduce toxic metals in your body. Here’s what I recommend:

1. Get enough alkalizing nutrients

Chronic low-grade metabolic acidosis makes toxic metals more toxic. Alkalizing nutrients help reduce uptake and enhance excretion of toxic metals. Many of the best detoxification allies are also key bone-building nutrients:

  • Calcium can help limit your absorption of both cadmium and lead. Maintain a calcium intake of 1200 mg a day —more if pregnant or lactating.
  • Zinc is an essential mineral in key toxic metal–removing compounds called “metallothioneins.” Most folks should get at least 15 to 30 mg zinc daily.
  • Magnesium deficiency encourages uptake of toxic minerals. Strive for 500–800 mg magnesium a day.
  • Vitamin C is important for successful detoxification and binding of the average daily toxic metal exposure. Take at least 2000 mg of ascorbate (vitamin C) daily.

All of these nutrients are included in my Better Bones Builder supplement.

2. Limit exposure

You can’t avoid toxic metals altogether, but you can drink pure spring or filtered water, breathe clean air, and avoid products contaminated by heavy metals (such as some seafood, dental “silver” amalgams) to limit exposure.

3. Focus on the “toxic metal–buster foods”

Consume “super foods” high in available sulfur, including garlic, onions, ginger, eggs, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. Such foods enhance production of glutathione, a key antioxidant. Also, high fiber foods help the body bind and excrete toxic metals. Set a goal to consume 30 g of fiber a day.

4. Remember the beneficial bacteria

Microbes (probiotics) in the gut play important roles in protecting you from toxic metal absorption. For example, Lactobacillus microbes can sequester arsenic, lead, and cadmium from the environment. Eat fermented foods and take probiotics daily.

5. Water, air, exercise

Drink several glasses of pure water a day, relax, and breathe deeply several times a day, and exercise often to a light sweat.

As you can see, there’s a lot you can do – right now – to start limiting the effects of toxins on your bone!

What are your favorite ways to detoxify?

 

References:

Engström, A., K. Michaëlsson, M. Vahter, B. Julin, A. Wolk, and A. Åkesson. 2012. Associations between dietary cadmium exposure and bone mineral density and risk of osteoporosis and fractures among women. Bone 50(6):1372–1378.

Gulson, B. L., K. R. Mahaffey, K. J. Mizon, M. J. Korsch, M. A. Cameron, and G. Vimpani. 1995. Contribution of tissue lead to blood lead in adult female subjects based on stable lead isotope methods. Journal of Laboratory and Clinical Medicine 125(6):703–712.

Jaffe, R. 2013. Ascorbate/vitamin C: Effective removal of toxic metals. Presented at International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, June. Available: https://youtu.be/TM_z-cMYplc.

Khalil, N., J. A. Cauley, J. W. Wilson, E. O. Talbott, L. Morrow, M. C. Hochberg, T. A. Hillier, S. B. Muldoon, and S. R. Cummings. 2008. Relationship of blood lead levels to incident nonspine fractures and falls in older women: The study of osteoporotic fractures. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 23(9):1417–1425.

Sears, M. E. 2013. Chelation: Harnessing and enhancing heavy metal detoxification—A review. Scientific World Journal, Article ID 219840. DOI: 10.1155/2013/219840.

Symanski, E. and I. Hertz-Picciotto. 1995. Blood lead levels in relation to menopause, smoking, and pregnancy history. American Journal of Epidemiology 141(11):1047–1058.

Research suggests parsley has anti-cancer effects

 

You’ve heard me say “better bones = better body” — but the reverse is also true! If you take care of your body, you’re by default improving your bone health.

One fascinating example is parsley, which turns out to be a simple herb with not-so-simple effects.

We hear a lot about “cancer-fighting foods” but parsley always seems to be overlooked. While most people use it as a garnish, several studies suggest it may have anti-cancer effects as well.

Here’s what the research says about parsley and cancer:

  • Parsley contains a flavone called apigenin, which recently was discovered to suppress an enzyme complex called IKKα. Without going into the complicated details, IKKα is used by cancerous cells to support their reproductive cycle, so in suppressing it, apigenin helps prevent cancer cells from reproducing themselves.
  • Many different vegetables and herbs contain apigenin, but it’s especially plentiful in parsely. A cup of chopped, raw parsley has about 180 mg of apigenin, which is 18 times the dose used in a German clinical trial that found that a mix of apigenin and EGCg (an ingredient in green tea) could help prevent recurrence of colon cancer.
  • Another study in prostate cancer cells found that apigenin shut down progression of cancer.

An important note: a third study found some drawbacks when used with chemotherapy drugs often used to treat leukemia — which means people who are actively getting treated for cancer probably shouldn’t add apigenin-containing foods to their diet.

For the rest of us, though, the lowly parsley plant represents an opportunity to give our body some support. It doesn’t take much — parsley has so much apigenin, a tablespoon or so a day is equivalent to the dose in the study. So just add a little tabbouleh to your sandwich for some alkalizing, anti-cancer punch!

 

References:
Hoensch H, Groh B, Edler L, Kirch W. Prospective cohort comparison of flavonoid treatment in patients with resected colorectal cancer to prevent recurrence. World J Gastroenterol. 2008;14(14):2187-2193.

Ruela-de-Sousa RR, Fuhler GM, Blom N, Ferreira CV, Aoyama H, Peppelenbosch MP. Cytotoxicity of apigenin on leukemia cell lines: implications for prevention and therapy. Cell Death and Dis. 2010;1(1):e19. doi:10.1038/cddis.2009.18.

Shukla S, Kanwal R, Shankar E, et al. Apigenin blocks IKKα activation and suppresses prostate cancer progression. Oncotarget. September 2015. DOI: 10.18632/oncotarget.5157

Forest bathing: Healing in nature

With Japan ranking #1 in life expectancy — while the U.S. ranks 34th — I am fascinated by Japanese health innovations. One I love the most is called “forest bathing” (Shinrin-yoku).

What is forest bathing?

Forest bathing is the simple act of taking time to enjoy the forest with all of one’s senses in order to decrease harmful stress.

Leave electronics behind and just let your senses explore nature. You can listen to a babbling stream, inhale the many forest fragrances, note the breeze on your face, touch the bark of a tree and focus on the many striking colors and shapes you’ll see.

Breathe deeply with intention. Japanese researchers suggest a major benefit of forest bathing comes from inhaling the aromas of essential oils.

What are the benefits of forest bathing?

The “Japanese Society of Forest Medicine” has thoroughly documented the multi-faceted health benefits of spending time in the woods. These include raising cancer-fighting NK killer cells, increasing vigor, improving sleep and DHEA levels, as well as reducing cortisol, anxiety, blood pressure, depression and anger. Plus, if this restful activity reduces stress hormones as much as it seems, it will help build bone also.

Planning your forest bathing

Summer is a great time to “forest bathe” and submerge yourself in the beauty of nature renewing itself. Here are some guidelines to get started:

Make your plan based on your current daily physical activity and do not get tired during the forest bathing. This is a restful, mindful stroll in the forest, not a cardiovascular workout.

If you take a whole day, try spending 4 hours in the forest and walking about 3 miles.

If you take half a day, try spending 2 hours in the forest and walking about 1.5 miles.

Drink if you feel thirsty and sit down to rest or read in a beautiful spot.

If you want to boost your immunity, a 3 day/2 night bathing trip is recommended. Research shows that the increase in NK cells persists for 30 days after this forest bathing.

If you can’t make it to a forest, the Japanese researchers say a 2 hour walk in a city park with good tree density can significantly boost vigor and decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression. Please let me know your experience with forest bathing!

 

References:

Quig Li et al., Acute effects of walking in forest environments on cardiovascularv and metabolic parameters. European Journal of Applied Physiology, Nov. 2011, V.111, Issue 11: 2845-2853

Bum Jin Park et al., The physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku (taking in the forest atmosphere of forest bathing): evidence for field experiments in 24 forest across Japan, Environmental Health Prev Med.2010 Jan;15(1):18-26.

Top bone health blog topics you requested for 2016

A big thanks to each one of you in the Better Bones Blog community who took the time to complete our first ever survey!

To my great pleasure, more than a thousand of you sent us your thoughts and suggestions about what you find useful and how to best move forward with the Better Bones blog. Here are some of the major points that jumped out at me that will help guide my blog writing this year:

Your top 5 areas of interest

I will definitely be writing more blogs about new bone health research — which was a favorite topic for an amazing 72% of readers.

1. New bone health research
2. Exercise
3. Successful aging
4. Special bone health concerns of thin women
5. Alkaline diet

If you would like to get even more frequent updates on research, you can always like the Better Bones Facebook page where I post daily.

You’ve got great ideas

I read with great interest all the 125 topic comments and suggestions for additional topics. Here are just a few of your ideas that caught my eye:

• Menopause and bone
• Bone concerns for women over 75
• Osteoporosis in men
• Loss of cartilage
• What negatively affects bone health
• Anxiety
• Inflammation and the effect on bones
• Functional medicine
• Essential nutrients
• Absorbability of various forms of calcium, magnesium, other minerals
• Why would bone breakdown be elevated?

You like recipes too!

As so many of you said you liked recipes, here’s a fun St. Patrick’s Day cabbage recipe to accompany corned beef. While it is impossible to make corned beef alkaline, that’s OK—we need 60 grams of protein a day for strong bones. Cabbage, the typical St. Patty’s Day corned-beef companion, however, is highly alkalizing and here is a tasty variation. And for the Irish green, why not a serving of lightly steamed baby kale sprinkled with apple cider vinegar!

St. Patrick’s Day cabbage recipe

Ingredients
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• ½ head green cabbage, cut into 4 wedges
• 1 pinch garlic powder, or to taste
• 1 pinch red pepper flakes, or to taste
• salt and ground black pepper to taste
• 2 lemons, halved

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C).
2. Brush both sides of each cabbage wedge with olive oil. Sprinkle garlic powder, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper over each wedge. Arrange wedges on a baking sheet.
3. Roast in the preheated oven for 15 minutes; flip cabbage and continue roasting until browned and charred in some areas, about 15 minutes more. Squeeze lemon over each wedge.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2016 Allrecipes.com
Printed From Allrecipes.com 2/19/2016

What stood out to me about the survey results?

Finally, you are an impressive group when it comes to your commitment to finding natural solutions to bone health issues — no matter what! For example, many of you asked for information about “how to scientifically and knowledgeably argue back to doctors who push big pharma drugs and use scare tactics to do so” or “Find a way to educate physicians. When there is a bone problem for aging women they prescribe Fosamax®.”

Empowering women like you to make the best choices for their own bone health is one of my life-long goals. Based on my experience, creating bone health without drugs is possible and I will continue to provide you with the information you need to do so. Thank you again for everything you do to help me make that possible.

All the best,
Susan

 

We want to hear from you! What do you want to hear about in 2016?

What will 2016 bring?  When it comes to my Better Bones Blog, I would like YOU to help me find the answers!

Here’s a summary of our 2016 survey.

If you still have some ideas, please leave them in the comments section below. I always enjoy hearing from you.

 

 

Top 5 Better Bones blog posts of 2015

 

What a year!  From the hazards of sitting, to the benefits of watching cat videos to reversing joint damage, we covered a lot of fascinating ground together.

But when I take a look at the year’s top Better Bones blog posts, the most popular topics cover nutrients and foods needed to protect your bones.  Here are the top 5 Better Bones blog posts of 2015:

The most popular blog posts according to readers

  1. Big benefits of MK-7. Getting optimal amounts of vitamin k2 as MK-7 (menaquinone-7) helps to prevent osteoporosis, protect the heart and even reduce overall mortality. Why isn’t MK-7 getting more attention?
  2. Calcium, magnesium, vitamin D and more. The 7 top nutrients for bone health, what they’re needed for and where to get them. The list may surprise you!
  3. Benefits of protein for bone health. Too much or too little? Do you know how much protein you should be getting?
  4. Does milk increase fracture risk? Drinking three or more glasses of milk a day may actually increase the risk for fracture. See what else the researcher discovered.
  5. How a lack of nutrients harms bone. Get the highlights from the findings from the 9th International Symposium on Nutritional Aspects of Osteoporosis.

All this reader interest in food makes sense to me. After all, eating the right foods and getting the right amount of nutrients is one of the best things you can do for bone health.  And, who doesn’t like to eat?  You’ll be sure to see more food-focused blogs soon!

Why you should be excited about Functional Medicine

There’s an exciting change taking place in medicine that’s been a long time coming!  Instead of focusing on drugs as the answer to everything, many doctors are realizing that a new approach — called Functional Medicine — is a better approach to health.  I couldn’t agree more, and here’s why:

What is Functional Medicine?

Functional medicine sets itself apart from conventional medicine by:

  • Focusing on uncovering the causes any health problem rather than just treating symptoms with a pharmaceutical agent.  I use the Functional Medicine approach when I ask about the causes of a woman’s excessive bone loss, rather than first suggesting a drug.
  • Looking at how the different body systems work together and teaching physicians to look for the causes of disease.
  • Being a more patient-centered approach.
  • Encouraging doctors to seek natural remedies for the recovery of full health. Doctors who practice Functional Medicine place diet and lifestyle in high regard, know the detrimental effects of stress, and are often willing to partner with their patients to develop a strategy for health recovery.

Recently I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Sarika Arora, MD of the Aum Healing Center in Boston. Dr. Arora is an internist who also practices Functional Medicine.  You might enjoy my chat with her and see that, indeed, medicine is changing, and it’s coming in our direction!

Functional Medicine and bone health

If you have experienced a needless fracture, have been told you have a high risk of fracture, or have been needlessly frightened about your bone health, consider seeking out and consulting with a doctor trained in looking for the root causes of your bone health concern. Find a physician who is willing to look at your situation carefully and to order the appropriate medical tests to help you uncover any hidden causes of bone loss.

3 free tools for a healthy holiday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In my home, Thanksgiving involves the gathering of family and friends for a mega cooking event — and the once-a year pie baking contest.  This year, however, we’re doing something different and going to one of our favorite local restaurants, as an act of appreciation for the many faithful cooks.

This Thanksgiving, I also want to take a moment to appreciate you, my readers.  I’m very thankful that my work gives me an opportunity to connect with you and all of the women (and some men too) on their journey to better health.  You challenge me every single day with your experiences and thoughtful questions, which I truly appreciate.

I’m also grateful for your openness to new ways of bringing health and joy into your lives.  Keeping that in mind, I invite you to try some more ideas to help you maintain wellness in body, mind and spirit this holiday season.  These simple tools below will help you prepare holiday meals, deal with the frenzy of the season or think about resolutions for the New Year.

Find Thanksgiving wellness

Choose healthy produce. Each year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) creates its Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in produce known as the Dirty Dozen (fruits and vegetables with the most pesticide residue) and the Clean Fifteen (fruits and vegetables with the least pesticide residue).   After looking at this list, you may want to include extra sweet potatoes in your Thanksgiving dinner.

Reduce worry. Many of the women I talk with feel a little out of control. Meditation is one way to relax, and also to alkalize. In this 8-minute meditation, I guide you through the Alkaline Breath Detox Exercise.

Take 10 action steps to build bone naturally. With this free booklet you can learn the same 10 steps I use with my clients at the Center for Better Bones.  I wrote this booklet to empower women who are worried about bone loss, osteoporosis or osteopenia. There’s too much information designed to create fear and self doubt, and instead I believe women should be encouraged to take positive action to increase their self care programs.  You have more power than you realize!

Sending you my warmest wishes for a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.