Friday, September 12, 2008

Blood Work: Did My Body Get "Passing Grades?"

It was Thursday, and I was sitting in one of those clever lab chairs that allow the technician to draw blood from either arm. I cranked myself around and offered up my left arm as my "good arm." I was at the Pioneer Comprehensive Medical Clinic in Draper, Utah, where Dr. Rodier practices.

The lab technician wrinkled her brow and said, "That's your good vein?" Now, why do they say things like that?! I closed my eyes, ready for a bad poke, but she got it just right and emptied several vials worth of blood to send off for testing.

Why do this? I decided that I should have all the tests that the patients at Pioneer will have when we do the Constant Health study. So, the little vials will be assessed for:

  • Lipid Panel - cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • c-Reactive Protein - otherwise known as c-RP to test inflammation markers
  • Glycated Hemoglobin - 2-hour fasting glucose test for insulin resistance levels
  • Vitamin D - most people are low, which leads to all sorts of chronic disease
  • Celiac Panel - gluten intolerance antibody and malabsorption detection
  • Heavy Metals - many people are unexpectedly high in these toxins associated with disease
The carotid IMT, which is a non-invasive measure of inflammation that is more accurate than the c-RP, but it requires a trip to another facility.

But back to that lab chair. I was fine with the first blood draw. My job was then to scurry off to have an incredibly high carb/high sugar meal and start my stopwatch at my last bite and clock back into the clinic for a second blood draw at exactly the 2 hour point. The second stick was not as perfect, but still fine.

The technician told me to go eat pancakes and syrup or something like that, but since I'm watching all gluten intake of late, I canned that idea. I had white rice, saving most of the stir fried chicken and veggies for after my test.

I had some Hi-C "fruit juice" to ensure I boosted my sugar intake (weird to feel competitive about "testing" my system, but I did). I finished with an English toffee candy (the other sugar-laced dessert choices involved dairy and wheat, which I am avoiding).

I was satisfied that I had done the deed, ingested a boatload of sugar in one meal, without blood sugar-stabilizing portions of protein or fiber.

I felt fine, for the first couple of hours, long enough to get my blood drawn again. However, after I drove back to my office, I started feeling wired, like I had had coffee. I started flushing and feeling nauseous and it was clear my blood sugar had spiked and started to crash. I didn't feel well last night and woke up feeling wretched at 4 am on Friday morning.

I felt like I had just taken the SATs and flunked. I'm not sure why my body is so sensitive this summer. I have not had Hi-C in several decades and usually don't eat much artificially-colored, corn syrup sweetened foods. I wondered if my reaction was due to the additives in that red sugar water that kids seem to mainline.

Then, reading more about the 2-hour glucose test online, over and over, the guidelines said that patients are directed not to restrict carbohydrates in the preceding days or weeks before a test.

The reality is that with the ocular rosacea diagnosis this summer, I have eliminated all sorts of things (wheat, sugar, refined foods, in short, carbs). My hope is that this is why I was so affected by the sugar loading.

Anyway, like a kid who took a test, I am eagerly awaiting my results. Did my body get passing grades? I'll know more on the 25th, when I go in to see Dr. Rodier. More when I know more.

Resveratrol in Cocoa Powders

The industry is abuzz. Cocoa powder has the goods. Resveratrol compounds, that is.

Researchers have found in cocoa powder the flavan-3-ol polyphenol class of antioxidants known as resveratrol -- 1.85 micrograms per gram to be exact. Alas, that's less resveratrol per serving than red wine or grape juice but more than peanuts. Little known factoid, my friends.

Granted, the research was done by Hershey's Center for Health and Nutrition, but that doesn't automatically undermine the research results.

However, an important little tidbit to know is that many studies on the antioxidant value of chocolate don't tell you that "Dutched" or "alkalized" cocoa loses many of its antioxidants.

So, word to the wise. Ask for raw, non-alkalized cocoa if you want the most nutritional bang per serving. And, hey, why wouldn't you, as this cocoa offers antioxidants you can enjoy and not just take.

For inquiring minds, yes, we are using raw, organic, non-dutched cocoa powder in our new production of Constant Health -- a whopping 4 grams per serving, so some extra free radical combat duty from our "flavoring" agent!

As for me, I adore chocolate, but I'm staying away from it right now, as it's a "trigger food" for rosacea flushing. Once I get that figured out, perhaps I can rotate some of these trigger foods in and out. For those of you with better complexions, live it up!

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Gut, Nuts & Beta Glucans

Scanning my online news sources today, I saw a piece that made me think of a dinner party I threw a few years back. My neighbors up in Park City said they were fine with just about anything, except nuts because of a little problem with, ahem, diverticulitis.

How I could forget the one and only thing they asked me to remember? I'll blame faulty audio-processing neurons (I'm more visual/kinesthetic in my learning styles, alas).

Anyway, I made a dish with wonderful ground nuts. My guests were gracious and scraped the offending nut paste off their entrees. Ooops. I felt bad, idiotic even, and I can say that I never again forgot that nuts are a "no no" for people with worries about the linings of their colons.

Now, surprise, surprise. Nuts and seeds are now deemed healthy rather than deleterious for diverticulitis, with an 18-year study confirming that doctors had unfairly demonized popcorn, nuts, and seeds over the years:

"No associations were seen between corn consumption and diverticulitis or between nut, corn, or popcorn consumption and diverticular bleeding or uncomplicated diverticulosis."

Okay, what else? Right now, I'm not so interested in heavy science.

I'm more intrigued with stories, like this one: Victorian-age folks in England often lived longer and had healthier lives than we moderns. I kept reading.

According to medical pharmacologist, Dr. Paul Clayton, who recently published his findings in the Journal Of The Royal Society Of Medicine:

"'Victorian foods were either made or unknowingly 'contaminated' with yeasts that have recently been clinically proven in both animal and human studies to boost our innate immune function. Although mould and brown spots were often visible, these yeasts contain complex compounds called 1-3, 1-6 Beta Glucans which are beneficial to health. And if you have a sufficient amount of them in your diet, they help the immune system fight off invasion by bacteria or viruses."

Dr. Clayton argues that modern foods don't have these beneficial yeasts, due to refining and sanitizing efforts, and that our immune systems are the worse for it. He further argues that brewers yeast offers a manno protein (bad for folks who suffer from Celiac disease or gluten sensitivities, but otherwise okay).

Dr. Clayton states in a recent interview:

"Beta glucans are a great breakthrough in improving immune function - protecting us against infection, cancer and allergies."

Purified beta glucans are indeed potent immunomodulators, which are especially good for healing intestinal issues (where most of the immune system resides).

Beta glucans are also favored by our good friend and nutritional consultant, Bill Henderson, who is in the midst of updating his Cancer-Free book, by the way.