Dr. Leat Kuzniar, ND Northern NJ Naturopath

366 Passaic Ave Nutley, NJ 07110 phone: (201) 757-5558
Thursday, December 12, 2013
This year, the American Academy of Otolaryngology â?? Head and Neck Surgery Foundation released new guidelines about the use of ear tubes (tympanostomy) in children. Given that this is the #1 surgery in kids, these guidelines are important! The guidelines suggest that tubes are NOT appropriate for children who have frequent ear infections but can clear the fluid quickly after the infection abates. This is a deviation from standard practice which advises tubes for all kids with frequent ear infections regardless of whether the fluid build-up is chronic. The fear of chronic fluid within the middle ear is that the child's speech and language development will be impaired by inability to hear clearly (all that fluid can make it sound like you're under water). In addition, the child's sense of balance and equilibrium can be affected by chronic fluid.$0My take: when we evaluate children with frequent ear infections (same goes with frequent tonsillitis), we need to ask two questions. One: what's the immune function of this child. Two: are there any other factors (? allergies) which are causing fluid to build up and not be efficiently drained.$0Natural medicine is fabulous at supporting the immune system and preventing fluid build up in both children and adults. Evaluation for allergies, dietary changes, topical lymphatic drainage massage, herbs and nutrients to support the immune system are among the treatments used.$0If your child has frequent infections of any kind, see a naturopath/ herbalist for help before considering a surgical approach.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Many of my patients are aware of the dangers of Bisphenol A (BPA) in hard plastics and the lining of aluminum cans. Most patients are already searching for BPA free cans and plastic containers. I've always warned against the dangers of plastics, particularly for hot or acidic foods/ beverages irrespective of BPA content.
Now, a new study links exposure to phthalates (which are used as "plasticizers" which increase flexibility and longevity of plastics but are also found in personal care products and even in some supplements) in pregnant women to pre-term labor. Women with the highest phthalate levels in their urine had a 2-5x higher risk of preterm labor.
The study's authors conclude: "These data provide strong support for taking action in the prevention or reduction of phthalate exposure during pregnancy."
Now here's what I think: yes, pregnant women and young children are more susceptible to phthalates (as they are to all toxins). Chemical toxins are ubiquitous in our environment. We should do our best to decrease exposure in adults, kids, pregnant women, elderly... everyone!
One easy step to take is to minimize the use of plastics. Tempered glass and stainless steel work well and are inert.
Time to toss that Tupperware collection (come on, you've lost most of the lids anyways)!
Monday, November 11, 2013

Question of the day: is there any truth to the old adage "Breakfast like a King, Lunch like a Lord, Dinner like a pauper"?
It turns out that finding published in the journal Obesity this year have found that eating your largest meal at breakfast may result in significantly greater weight loss in dieters.
The study followed 93 overweight women who were prescribed a 1400 calorie diet. Those who ate 700 of those calories for breakfast and a light dinner of only 200 calories lost more than twice as much weight as the women who, like many of us had the reverse calorie pattern.
In addition to greater weight loss, those who ate more in the morning felt less hungry during the day and had lower levels of the hunger hormone, grehlin which stimulates appetite and promotes fat storage. (Interestingly, ghrelin secretion increases when dieting. This may, in part, explain why weight loss is so difficult to maintain).
Eating a large meal late in the day may disrupt the circadian rhythm which is associated with weight gain.

So, the answer to the question: yes, following the old adage is definitely a good way to go!

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

A new review of studies supports the use of the Mediterranean style diet to lower cardiovascular risk.
The diet consists of the following:
(1) high monounsaturated/saturated fat ratio (read more olive oil, less butter, more nuts and seeds, less animal products),
(2) low to moderate red wine consumption (my recommendation is 1 glass of red wine a day for women, and 1-2 a day for men),
(3) high consumption of legumes,
(4) high consumption of whole grains and cereals (read the WHOLE grain and/or small amounts of al dente cooked whole grain pasta),
(5) high consumption of fruits and vegetables,
(6) low consumption of meat and meat products and increased consumption of fish, and
(7) moderate consumption of milk and dairy products.
The October paper in the Cochrane review found reductions in total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol, as well as reductions in blood pressure. More comprehensive interventions (i.e. those which included more of the 7 components mentioned above) had greater effect on lipids and blood pressure.

In addition to the Japanese diet, the Mediterranean style diet is thought to be a very healthy diet. The Japanese diet tends to be difficult for Western people to adopt. I very often recommend a low glycemic index Mediterranean style diet for my patients for overall health and for weight loss. In my experience, and according to the research, this is one of the best dietary approaches in terms of reducing risks of a number of the predominant chronic health conditions of the Western world.
So, grab some sardines in olive oil and Buon Appetito!

Thursday, October 24, 2013
The smoke point of various oils and fats is the point at which the oil begins to break down both nutritionally and from a flavor perspective. Weâ??ve talked about the down side of high heat cooking such as frying and broiling in the past. One of the major contributors to the detrimental effects of high heat cooking is the break down of the cooking oil.
Thereâ??s been much recent press about the high smoke point of coconut oil but thereâ??s still some controversy about the health effects of coconut since itâ??s a significant source of saturated fat (though plant-based saturated fat is different from animal-sourced saturated fat).
It turns out that unrefined avocado oil has a very high smoking point; significantly higher than most unrefined oils (including virgin coconut oil). Avocado is also a great source of heart healthy mono-unsaturated fats and Vitamin E. It is a light tasting oil so it works well in baking too.
In addition to its cooking properties, itâ??s absorbed very rapidly through the skin and is a wonderful lubricant and carrier oil into which you can mix essential oils for scent.
Costco is now carrying Chosen Foods expeller pressed Avocado oil at a very reasonable cost. Iâ??ll be picking up a bottle during my next trip to the warehouse!
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
 
Lipitor is the wold's best selling drug. It's ability to lower cholesterol is undisputed. It, like all other statin drugs, is by no means side-effect free. A new study finds a 48% increase in diabetes in patients on all types of statins (regardless of dose). The conventional medical community is not changing their recommendations regarding the use of statins. (Dr. Joanne Manson of Harvard medical ...school says the following: "For those who advocate even more widespread use of statins -- virtually "putting statins in the water supply" -- these findings give pause and suggest that perhaps if statins are used even more widely in those at lower risk and from very early ages, at some point this increased risk for diabetes could begin to offset some of the benefits of statins")!
From a naturopathic perspective, I find this quite alarming.
Firstly, dietary changes should be first line in anyone with elevated lipid levels- they can be very effective and are side effect free (in fact, they will improve overall health as well as cholesterol and blood sugar regulation in the long run).
Secondly, there are many natural supplements which are useful in reducing diabetes without the side effects of the statins.
Third, if the goal of prescribing statins is to lower cardiovascular risk, we really must take into account that having diabetes DOUBLES the risk of cardiovascular disease!
Cholesterol is a vital molecule in the body: it is a component of every cell membrane, it is a component of many hormones in the body, it is used in the manufacture of bile acids to digest fat. Without cholesterol, life ceases.
I believe elevated cholesterol should be looked at as just one factor in one's health. We should certainly not be micro-managing cholesterol at the risk of causing other health problems.
... Something to think about!
Wednesday, January 04, 2012

So, itâ??s that time of the year again: the time of year when we make promises and resolutions to change for the better. Whether it be resolving to finally quit that nasty smoking habit, add a yoga practice, or shed those last few pounds, making the resolution itself is the easiest part of the process. In fact, research suggests that even in those of us who are highly committed to behavior change, it will be difficult to maintain that healthy behavioral patter over time. In fact, the average dieter will fall off the wagon after only 15 days. In my commitment to help my patients achieve and maintain optimal health, Iâ??d like to explore the fundamentals of behavior change and how to increase your chance of success in sticking to that resolution this year!


It turns out that changing behaviors is not just about setting goals itâ??s about changing our consciousness and awareness. When it comes to behaviors we donâ??t perform too frequently, changing our attitudes can motivate change. In these cases, knowledge is definitely power. For example, you may resolve to finally write your will this year (obviously not a behavior which one does very often). Repeatedly hearing a commercial about the benefits of a will for your loved ones and organizations you wish to support or, conversely, hearing of the family arguments or unfulfilled dying wishes of a cousin may indeed inspire you to stop putting it off and take concrete steps to finally take care of that will. The task here is to gather enough information to create an awareness of why the goal is so significant and use that as a motivator for executing the change.


However, once a behavior is repeated often, particularly in the same setting, it becomes tremendously difficult to change the behavior despite the personâ??s best intention. About 45 percent of what people do every day is a habitual behavior which is repeated in the same environment. And it turns out that, over time, our environment tends to shape our behaviors so that our attitudes or intentions may just not be enough to overcome the unconscious behavioral direction we get from our environment. For example, that morning ritual of your cup of coffee at the kitchen table while reading the paper may feel completely automatic and unchangeable until you go on vacation and completely forget about your need for a java fix until much later in the day. Another prime example: if you smoke at the entrance of your office building, walking past your â??smoking cornerâ? becomes a very powerful mental cue for repeating that behavior (often despite our intentions). Over time, these environmental cues become very deeply ingrained and very difficult to resist. To illustrate: heroin is tremendously addictive but research has shown that the addiction can be more successfully extinguished if the addict is removed from the environment in which they habitually â??useâ?. (Heroin addicts returning from Vietnam had a very low relapse rate because the environmental cues back home were so vastly different from those at war).


Researchers have found that, in order to overcome a negative behavior, whether habitual or not, conscious thought and effort are required. Education, goal setting, planning, supports, and, sometimes even environmental changes are helpful in increasing your chances of successfully changing your behavior. So, if youâ??ve resolved over and over again to make dietary changes, to actually use that gym membership, or to meditate before bed, you may want to incorporate the following strategies:

1)     Focus on a single behavior youâ??d like to change: research suggests that even in highly motivated people, change is often limited to a single health behavior rather than multiple behaviors.

2)     Set a very concrete, manageable goal: â??I will lose weightâ? is not as powerful a goal as â??I will lose 10 pounds within the next 2 monthsâ?.

3)     Education and planning are important to motivating and achieving change: gather as much information as you can about why itâ??s important to change and how to go about achieving that change. Plan each step of the process. Writing things down has been shown to be very helpful.

4)     Break it up: focus on small, manageable steps (1-2lb a week of weight loss) as opposed to the end-goal (fitting into your skinny jeans).

5)     Evaluate past failures and successes: what has worked or derailed your efforts in the past? Knowing yourself and how to anticipate stumbling blocks and move forward in the right direction is critical if youâ??re going to prevent repeating the same resolution year after year.

6)     Get support: family and friends, a buddy, a support group, your friendly naturopathic doctor can all help you stay accountable and motivated. Remember to also talk with those friends/ family members who may (knowingly or unknowingly) derail your efforts. Is your thin husband a chocoholic? Is your best friend a fellow smoker? Talk to these people so that they are aware of your resolution to change your behavior. Ask for their support too.

7)     Change your environmental and sequence cues of habitual behaviors: Even a small change in your environment or the sequence of behaviors associated with a habit can be very helpful in consciously disrupting those very strong environmental cues. Even a small change seems to make a difference. It will allow your conscious mind to reassert control over the ingrained reflexive behavior. Think about the automatic sequences and environmental cues which may be at play and then try to make some changes. For example, take the back door to avoid the work entrance at which you often smoke. Eat treats only with your non-dominant hand. Put a water pitcher beside the office coffee pot.

8)     Reward your successes and anticipate some setbacks: the path towards your goal is not straight- there will be challenges and â??bumpsâ? in the road. View your change as a process. View your relapses as an opportunity to learn and continue to progress rather than getting stuck in the guilt. Reward your successes with rewards not directly associated with the behavior youâ??re trying to change (so, donâ??t give yourself a piece of chocolate if you lost a pound this week- go for a long bath, a manicure, or a date night).

9)     Keep frequent reminders of why youâ??ve resolved to make this change in view. Know that your motivation may wane over time. Find sources of inspiration and reminders to help keep you on track. Journaling is a great idea. Sticker charts work well (not just for kids). Set your calendar or alarm to remind you. Post-it notes on the fridge, car dash, and bathroom mirror can all be a help too.

10)  Finally, if your current approach isnâ??t working: CHANGE IT! Donâ??t give up. Reevaluate your strategy and develop a new plan.


As the National Institutes of Health Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research reminds us:

â??Human behavior accounts for almost 40% of the risk associated with preventable premature deaths in the United States. Health-injuring behaviors such as smoking, drinking, and drug abuse, as well as inactivity and poor diet are known to contribute to many common diseases and adverse health conditions. Unfortunately, there are few tried and true approaches to motivate people to adopt and maintain healthy behaviors over time. It is difficult for people to begin to change unhealthy behavior, even when they intend to do so and even more difficult for them to maintain positive behavior changes in the long run. Effective and personalized approaches to achieve sustained behavior change are typically outside the routine practice of medical care.â?


Iâ??m determined to help my patients achieve and maintain better health this year. I am now offering group sessions in FirstLine Therapy- a proved approach to making dietary, exercise, and stress management changes. Iâ??ve seen good success in many of my patients using this approach. The program is personalized and proactive and gives you all the support and the knowledge you need to make the changes you seek a reality. To learn more, call 201-757-5558 for a complimentary 15 minute phone consultation.


Best wishes for a healthy and happy 2012!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Why You Should Completely Eliminate Manufactured Trans Fats From Your Diet

 

The average American eats 6 grams of trans fat a day. The American Heart Association and World Health Organization recommend limiting trans fats to less than 1 percent of your daily caloric intake (that’s less than roughly 2 grams of trans fat a day for an adult). There are a small number of naturally occurring trans fats found mostly in animal products such as dairy, beef, and lamb. This naturally occurring trans fat does not, in all likelihood, have the same detrimental effects on our health as synthetic trans fats.

Manufactured trans fats are found in many of the processed foods we eat. These fats are created through the addition of hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. Food manufacturers use these hydrogenated fats because they extend the shelf life of foods considerably and they add taste and texture. Many restaurants use trans fats to deep-fry foods because these oils can be used many times without spoiling. Many baked goods, shortenings and margarines, and fried foods contain trans fats.

 (If you want to experiment, put a container of margarine in your garage- see whether it spoils or attracts any animal attention!). We now know that even small amounts of trans fat in the diet can be damaging to our health.

 

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, trans fats cause inflammation (internal swelling) which is an important factor in heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and many other chronic conditions.  Trans fats also increase LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, even more than saturated fats, and lower HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Trans fats decrease the responsiveness of the inner lining of our blood vessels and thereby contribute to high blood pressure and atherosclerosis (just imagine that margarine coating your blood vessels). Trans fats are also associated with obesity and insulin resistance (“pre-diabetes”).

 

Studies have found that a 2% increase in calories from trans fats, the amount consumed in a medium-sized serving of French fries, increases the risk of heart disease by 23% and the risk of diabetes by 39%.

According to a 2007 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, replacing 2% of dietary calories from carbohydrates or polyunsaturated fats with trans fats resulted in an increase in ovulatory failure of greater than 70%. It’s small wonder infertility clinics are expanding all over the country.

An important study in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that eliminating trans fats from the US food supply could prevent between 6 and 19 percent of heart attacks and related deaths (that’s more than 200,000 deaths) a year.

 

So, how does one minimize trans fats in the diet? Be sure that the ingredient list of the food products you purchase does not list hydrogenated oil. Unfortunately, the designation “trans fat free” requires only that there be less than ½ a gram of trans fat per serving. Because we, as a society eat so much processed food, all of those “½ gram servings” really do add up. Bakeries are not required to reveal trans fat and most of their products contain an abundance of it. Be an informed and healthy consumer!

 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Why You Should Completely Eliminate Manufactured Trans Fats From Your Diet

 

The average American eats 6 grams of trans fat a day. The American Heart Association and World Health Organization recommend limiting trans fats to less than 1 percent of your daily caloric intake (that’s less than roughly 2 grams of trans fat a day for an adult). There are a small number of naturally occurring trans fats found mostly in animal products such as dairy, beef, and lamb. This naturally occurring trans fat does not, in all likelihood, have the same detrimental effects on our health as synthetic trans fats.

Manufactured trans fats are found in many of the processed foods we eat. These fats are created through the addition of hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. Food manufacturers use these hydrogenated fats because they extend the shelf life of foods considerably and they add taste and texture. Many restaurants use trans fats to deep-fry foods because these oils can be used many times without spoiling. Many baked goods, shortenings and margarines, and fried foods contain trans fats.

 (If you want to experiment, put a container of margarine in your garage- see whether it spoils or attracts any animal attention!). We now know that even small amounts of trans fat in the diet can be damaging to our health.

 

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, trans fats cause inflammation (internal swelling) which is an important factor in heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and many other chronic conditions.  Trans fats also increase LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, even more than saturated fats, and lower HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Trans fats decrease the responsiveness of the inner lining of our blood vessels and thereby contribute to high blood pressure and atherosclerosis (just imagine that margarine coating your blood vessels). Trans fats are also associated with obesity and insulin resistance (“pre-diabetes”).

 

Studies have found that a 2% increase in calories from trans fats, the amount consumed in a medium-sized serving of French fries, increases the risk of heart disease by 23% and the risk of diabetes by 39%.

According to a 2007 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, replacing 2% of dietary calories from carbohydrates or polyunsaturated fats with trans fats resulted in an increase in ovulatory failure of greater than 70%. It’s small wonder infertility clinics are expanding all over the country.

An important study in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that eliminating trans fats from the US food supply could prevent between 6 and 19 percent of heart attacks and related deaths (that’s more than 200,000 deaths) a year.

 

So, how does one minimize trans fats in the diet? Be sure that the ingredient list of the food products you purchase does not list hydrogenated oil. Unfortunately, the designation “trans fat free” requires only that there be less than ½ a gram of trans fat per serving. Because we, as a society eat so much processed food, all of those “½ gram servings” really do add up. Bakeries are not required to reveal trans fat and most of their products contain an abundance of it. Be an informed and healthy consumer!

 

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Turmeric- the Spice of Life!

 

Turmeric is an orange-yellow powder used commonly in many cuisines. Americans commonly come into contact with turmeric in curries and when slathering mustard on their hotdogs! It is also used to produce yellow dye for cosmetics and textiles. Turmeric has been used medicinally in India and China for centuries and now, we in the Western world are finally catching up! If you run a PubMed (National Library of Medicine’s database) search for turmeric, you will find thousands of scientific journals presenting research on the health benefits of Turmeric. As one of my favorite home remedies and an ingredient many of you have in your spice cabinets, I’d like to give Turmeric some attention in this quarter’s newsletter.

 

Turmeric is technically known as Curcuma Longa. It is a low growing tropical plant which forms long, thin rhizomes (horizontal underground stems)  from which the spice is derived. As a relative of ginger, their rhizomes look quite similar (although not as “knobby”). Curcumin is the yellow component of turmeric and is generally considered the most active constituent. The medicinal actions of Curcuma are many and varied. Below are a few of Turmeric’s most important properties:

·                     It is a very potent antioxidant (more powerful than Vitamin E). Curcumin is an effective scavenger of free radicals and also enhances the synthesis of glutathione, one of the body’s principal antioxidants. This property makes it useful against many forms of cancer, even some which do not respond to common pharmaceuticals.

·                      It has strong and broad anti-inflammatory properties and can be used in a wide variety of conditions which we now know are linked with inflammation. These include common inflammatory conditions like arthritis. But also include heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis), Cystic Fibrosis, and Asthma to name a few.

·                     Turmeric also has antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties.

·                     Turmeric has been found to reduce total cholesterol and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol’s susceptibility to lipid peroxidation (that “rusting” that contributes to atherosclerosis).

·                     Turmeric aids in liver detoxification of many toxins and potential carcinogens.

 

Use in Cancer:

Turmeric has been found to be active against many human cancers. In addition to being a powerful antioxidant, protecting against DNA mutations which can sometimes lead to cancerous changes, curcumin also inhibits the replication and spread of these various types of cancer cells. Curcumin has been found to stop cell division of mutated cells in order for repair to take place. If the cell cannot be repaired, it induces apoptosis (cell death) in the cancer cell. It also prevents the spread of cancerous cells by by preventing new blood vessels from growing and supporting the requirements of the cancer cells for fuel and by inhibiting the invasion of these cancer cells into surrounding tissue. One very interesting study found that turmeric prevents the metastasis (spread) of breast cancer and also reversed the toxic effects of Taxol, a commonly used prescription chemotherapeutic drug used in the treatment of breast cancer. Adding turmeric to Taxol enhanced its effects and decreased its toxicity.

Pancreatic cancer is known to be one of the most aggressive human cancers which is very difficult to treat. One small human trial found turmeric to be active in stopping the progression of pancreatic cancer growth.

Turmeric has been found to be particularly helpful for cancers of the gastrointestinal tract where it is most bioavailable when taken in oral form.

 

Anti-inflammatory uses:

Turmeric has been found to inhibit many chemical messengers associated with inflammation and pain. It has been found to have activity similar to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS such as Ibuprofen and Naproxen) without the harmful gastrointestinal side effects.

Turmeric has been studied in inflammatory conditions as diverse as hernias and arthritis. In fact, it has been found to produce the same clinical improvements as NSAIDS in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

 

Alzheimer’s disease:

Curcumin has been found to inhibit the formation of beta amyloid which accumulates, in the form of amyloid plaques in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Inflammation and oxidative damage are also associated with progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Both of these effects are dampened by turmeric.

 

Safety:

Used in dietary amounts, turmeric is considered very safe. Serious adverse effects have not been reported in humans taking high doses of curcumin. In medicinal quantities, caution is warranted in the following situations:

The safety of turmeric in large doses has not been established for pregnant or breastfeeding women. That being said, there is no evidence of adverse effects with dietary consumption of turmeric in pregnancy or lactation.

Patients taking antiplatelet or anticoagulant drugs have an increased risk of bleeding when taking large doses of turmeric as it inhibits platelet aggregation.

Patients with bile duct obstruction or significant gallstone disease. Turmeric has been found to increase the contractions of the gallbladder. This effect promotes gallbladder emptying and can actually decrease the risk of gallstones in healthy people. However, in those with gallstone disease, these contractions of the gallbladder can increase gallstone “attacks” and the risk of bile duct obstruction by a large gallstone.

 

A note on “bioavailability”:

Despite the fact that turmeric seems to be a tremendously promising medicinal plant, it should be noted that many of the above-mentioned studies about the medicinal properties of turmeric have been conducted in animal models or in test-tube situations. Also, there are some studies which call into question the ability of orally ingested turmeric to be absorbed into the blood stream and disseminated into the body.

 

How to use turmeric:

I recommend that all of my patients include turmeric in their cooking as often as possible. I use it in grain dishes, on cooked vegetables, in egg, poultry recipes, and fish recipes on it’s own and as part of the curry powder I often add to my cooking.

In patients who have inflammatory conditions, compromised liver function, high cholesterol, or a high risk of cancer, I often recommend a turmeric tea:

Place 1tsp of ground turmeric and 2-3 slices of fresh ginger in a mug. Add boiling water. Cover and steep for 10 minutes.

 

In Summary:

Turmeric is a fantastic addition to the diet and a powerful medicinal herb. Its safety and efficacy make it a wonderful choice in many conditions involving inflammation and oxidative damage. So my recommendations: color your world yellow!

 

 

Please Note: This information is for educational purposes only. Consultation with a licensed health care practitioner is recommended for anyone suffering from a health ailment. You are free to use the information in this newsletter or pass it on to others, but please keep it intact and credit it to Dr. Leat Kuzniar, ND.

 

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